What can be done about the absence of an important, metabolism-regulating gland and all the hormones it produces? Well, you can just take the synthetic version of the hormone. It’s that easy. There’s no horrible catch or weird side effect of the medication. (The name brand is called Synthroid, but I actually take a generic version). There’s only a few rules to deal with when taking synthetic T4, which comes in a small pill:
- Take your normal dose (mine is 175 mcg) daily
- Take it at around the same time every day
- Take it on an empty stomach
- Get regular blood tests to check T4 and TSH levels
- Get a good endocrinologist to help regulate your dosage
As long as those rules are followed, nothing else really needs to be worried about. Sure, if you’re under-dose you’ll be weirdly energetic and it’ll feel like there are reptiles crawling around in your stomach (happened to me when I was three or four). If you’re over-dose you’ll be lethargic and tired. That effectively comes from under- and over- suppression of TSH, respectively. But once you get a handle on the dose, you’re pretty darn normal. I’ve had the same dose for years, because it stabilizes after puberty. Up until this point, I’ve had a mostly normal life.
The only catch to the whole situation is the needles. I am really used to needles. I have my blood tested about once a year these days, since my dose is stable and I’m an adult. But throughout my childhood, I had to be drawn up to three times a year. That has pretty much desensitized me to needles (although I will not claim to have been stuck with them a lot. No way. There are people out there who are way more used to needles than I am).
The endocrinologist and blood tests went hand-in-hand. They’d interpret my results and tell me if I was screwed up or not, basically. We started out at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, but got kind of frustrated with them. It was hard to find an independent, consistent endocrinologist, and we ended up trying a lot of different places for blood tests / doctors. And that is quite the basis for some stories, let me tell you.
There was this one lady we went to–how old was I, six? Under ten, I don’t know–and she was OLD. Like, not just old, OLD. It normally took only a few minutes, maybe five or ten, to get all my information entered into the early-model computer at whatever medical place I was. This lady hadn’t finished after a solid half hour. This was concerning. My mom was obviously antsy (She did not want this shriveled dinosaur to stick me with a needle. Um, no). I, being the giant accommodator I am, was like, “no no it’ll hurt her feelings if i don’t let her stick a hollow needle in my arm,” but my mom was eventually (after maybe 45 minutes) like, “We are leaving. Bye.”
This is where things got weird. We were the only three in there, and I was getting kind of creeped out by this ancient fart as well, so I was pretty much okay with leaving. Still a little sorry for the old lady, but not eager to give her my life substance. So, as we headed out the door, all was well until I hear,
“Wait! Don’t you want me to take your blood, sweetie?”
She was sort of shuffling after us and everything. Absolutely terrifying. It was like watching a zombie slowly shuffle after you, calmly asking to bite you in the face. You know the zombie won’t reach you, since it’s as slow as a crippled sloth, but you still would like to give it a polite “no thank you” to its generous offer. Suffice it to say, my mom got us out of there fast. We didn’t ever go back there. Hm.
We ended up at Quest Diagnostics. That’s where I still get blood-tested. They’re polite, efficient, and know what they’re doing. I’ve never gotten a bruise or puncture from them (unlike a lot of places), and they always seem impressed with my blood-drawing savvy. Roll up the sleeve, sit on the chair, give them your info. Watch the needle go in (I have to watch, always), wait, and that’s it. Whatever. Only weird experience I ever had there: I had to get tested for Lyme disease, mono, and allergies at the same time as my thyroid test. That meant four vials o’ blood. This is before I had ever donated, so it seemed like I would basically die. It was probably my freshman year of high school. I sat down, put on my brave face, and let the phlebotomist do her thing. I had told her before the drawing how much I loved science, and was actually fascinated by this whole blood thing. I even briefly considered going into phlebotomy, which I also mentioned.
After vial #4, I see her calmly put a fifth one in. ??? Um?? That is my blood you are taking???? Not yours to have?? My mom looked ready to jump the lady, but she just removes the vial o’ blood and hands it to me. Turns out, she knew it was mine to have and went one step further by giving me my own blood. Huh. She then proceeds to take a bunch of the different types of vials (even the fancy glass ones with chemicals in them), stuffs them in a bag, hands it to me, and is like, “I probably shouldn’t give you some of these, but.” I’ve still got that vial. Somewhere.
This whole post went a little off the rails, didn’t it?
Moral of the story: get born without a thyroid and you will get a vial of your own blood to keep. Also, you will sound like a badass to anyone you talk to.
POSSIBLE BADASS CONVERSATION STARTERS:
- I am missing an important part of my body. Guess which one!
- *at blood drive* Oh yeah, I’m fine with all this needle stuff. Stick it in there. Yep, right there is fine.
- Yes, I have some of my own disembodied blood in my room. Oh? You don’t? Hm.
- My IQ might be lower than it should be because of a developmental deficiency. IDK, tho.
- I am also probably fatter than I would have been if I’d been born right. Oh well.
WARNING: It may possibly be in your own badass interest to not use those last two. I don’t know where they came from, as they do not sound badass.