Both taken with no make up on, no filters or edits, first thing in the morning and just out the shower.
What’s the difference then?
In the first photo I was incredibly ill. I was hypothyroid with low iron stores and refused medication for my thyroid. I was told I was ‘borderline’ and so didn’t need thyroid medication. I was told that iron tablets would fix everything.
I waited a few more months and got no better. I actually got worse. I was then put on Levothyroxine and I was officially ‘mildly hypothyroid’ going by the TSH test. Does it look ‘mild’ to you?
Levothyroxine, considered the ‘gold standard’ of medicine made me feel even more unwell. Doctors told me that it was all I needed and I was just depressed. They told me my complaints of it not helping me were all in my head. They told me I was ‘fine’. Do I look ‘fine’ in that first photo? My eyes are purple-black, my eyebrows thinning badly particularly from the inner third, my skin dry and tight, I looked a bit gaunt and generally very sick. I look hopeless.
But doctors gave me the medicine they say will fix it all and tested my TSH which is ‘all that’s needed to be done’. My TSH came back ‘fine’. So I was ‘fine’.
After hitting a point where I couldn’t bear to live any longer in physical pain 24/7 in every inch of my body, where I couldn’t take being so unbelievably exhausted that every blink I took was a conscious effort to open that eyelid again, where the thought of work, socialising and keeping up appearances made me breakdown because I couldn’t pretend I was ‘fine’ any longer, where I was told I was a hypochondriac and I shouldn’t do my own research, I decided to take back my own health.
I learnt that doctors going by TSH alone are leaving many thousands of people undiagnosed and under treated. I learnt that T4-only medicine like Levothyroxine is massively inadequate and according to Thyroid UK’s research last year, resolves just 7% of hypothyroid cases, and is basically favoured because of the money to be made on it. I learnt that I could be well, happy and actually living my life again. I no longer had to heart-achingly drag myself through painful, lonely and horrendous days anymore. I wasn’t doomed to a life of being suicidal or feeling close to ending it all. And most importantly, I learnt that I DESERVED to feel well again. I deserved to be listened to. I deserved to receive a treatment that makes me better. I deserved to be treated like the individual that I am. And so do many other people who are undiagnosed and inadequately treated from thyroid disease.
In just a few months, my physical and mental health is recovered. I’m almost back to the old me, fully. My heart breaks when I think about the Rachel who couldn’t bear to live another day of being so unwell and so fed up. When I think back to how much physical and mental pain I was put through, because of this ‘gold standard’ medicine and TSH test, it makes me so so angry.
I will not stop spreading the word about this until people are treated like PEOPLE. It’s an absolute scandal that medical professionals are leaving many, many people living a sub-standard quality of life, or like in my case, no quality of life at all. I was 20 and had to be aided up stairs. My brain was so starved of thyroid hormone, that brain fog and confusion impacted my ability to do my job. I was given the diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, because I couldn’t walk more than 10 steps without needing to sit down or collapse.
Does that sound like the ‘gold standard’ of testing and treatment?
Gold standard definition: “A thing of superior quality which serves as a point of reference against which other things of its type may be compared.”
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I also run a group for the spouses, partners and other halves of hypothyroid patients, called Hypothyroid Patients Other Halves – Support & Advice Group. This is for the other halves only and not patients.