Friday, September 28, 2007

An Open Letter to Oprah: "You're Not Alone, My Sister."

Dear Oprah,

When you recently announced you had a problem with your thyroid, I immediately thought, “Welcome to my world.” I’ve been suffering from hypothyroidism for several years now. As a matter of fact, there are more than 10 million of us (90 percent women) struggling with this disease. And believe me when I tell you, it can be a STRUGGLE. An underactive thyroid often results in weight gain, fatigue, depression and other symptoms.

Oprah, I have to be honest with you, I never gave one thought to my thyroid gland in the past. I didn’t even know where it was because that wasn’t one of the things that ever got checked during my “routine” annual exams.

I heard you say your condition was triggered by stress. Girlfriend, so was mine! Being in a loveless marriage and the sole provider for a child---coupled with working in a thankless job sent my thyroid into overdrive. I know those weren’t YOUR issues, which just goes to show you stress comes in all kinds of ways.

Initially, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroid---also known as Graves Disease. That’s when your thyroid glands are TOO active. I was walking around with bulging red eyes, looking like I was high all the time. To make matters worse, I was jittery and had a hard time focusing. That would sound like a drug addict to me. I was a mess!

The only course of treatment for me, according to my doctor, was to have the radioactive iodine therapy. The name sounds lethal doesn’t it? But I believed it saved my life. Now I am resigned to spending the rest of my life taking a drug called Synthroid. Oh, and I’m battling the battle of the bulge with vengeance.

You know, I’m really glad you came forward with this news. You have the kind of power that can make a difference in how this disease is treated by medical professionals, the media and society in general.

It’s always something though—isn’t it bad enough that we also have to deal with menopause?

Oh well…so goes life.

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