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“In the Neck of Time”, Part I

Submitted by on January 31, 2011 – 10:57 PM3 Comments
“In the Neck of Time”, Part I

Some of you may have heard that I am writing a blog on thyroid disease.  Far be it for me to disappoint. January is national “Check your Neck” month and as this is the last day of January, I made it in the “neck” of time.  I have been living with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis for over twelve years.  And while it is not life ending, it IS extremely life altering.  And, left untreated, can cause life ending complications.

What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?  Simply put, it is the body’s cruel joke of developing antibodies to first toy with and then ultimately degenerate your thyroid gland to the point of completely nonfunctional (which is where I have been for over 12 years).  The thyroid gland regulates so much of our body’s daily functions, that when affected it can change almost everything about your daily being.  The gland itself is a butterfly shape located in the bottom front portion of your neck.  Because of the effect on the body and more importantly, on the mind and self esteem, I refer to the thyroid as the “Ugly Butterfly”; the metamorphosis that the gland undergoes is not one of strength or beauty.  And, the metamorphoses of the patient’s inner strength and spirit can be one that fluctuates along with the gland.

Before providing you with the scientific facts, let me tell you a story about this “Ugly Butterfly”.

1998, a Manhattan girl, successful, athletic, chic, size 4 and 11 percent body fat;   Energy of Hammy the Squirrel (from Over the HEDGE). From 5:00am till midnight;  Every waking hour filled with workouts, clients, more workouts, races every weekend including three NYC marathons, shopping and of course fun(I was single and living in Manhattan, would you expect anything else?)   Add a Fire Island summer home, Upper East Side apartment and my dream career.   All was right with the world.  Suddenly, I began to feel tired; every day all day. Started to gain weight and not just a few pounds, I’m talking every week 5 pounds for what seemed liked months. I continued to buy my favorite designers (in bigger and bigger sizes), not realizing that this would be an ongoing trend.  From being able to bench press my weight, now I couldn’t even open a jar of pickles.  Four “Friends” size coffee cups per day didn’t even rev me in the slightest.  I tried to continue my morning runs, but just getting out of bed was a chore.  I would take a few steps and the pain throughout my whole body was debilitating.  This was the beginning of my incessant list making.  If I didn’t write it down, I could no longer remember what I had to do.  Basically, if “it wasn’t on the list, it didn’t exist”, became my new catch phrase.  I was becoming someone I didn’t recognize, inside and out. Not only did I not feel like myself physically or even look like myself physically, if you add the weight, the dark circles, the dry skin, and thinning hair, but I was no longer the confident person that worked as a Regional Sales Manager for a fitness equipment manufacturer and had a personal training business.  I started to feel like I was being judged everywhere I went.  The first thing I would say to people after I said hello, was I have Hashimoto’s Disease.  I don’t normally look like this.  “Please don’t judge me” was the underlying message. BTW, did I mention the cold? The slightest hint of air blowing on me felt like chards of glass digging into my skin.  Not fun when you have to endure NY winters.

Now, I will admit, I had no idea what was happening to me. The unknown to me is the worst case.  I lived in Manhattan where it’s lit up enough all day and night that you are never in the dark (literally or metaphorically).  You always see what’s coming at you and can prepare.  But for this, I had no preparation and instead blamed myself.  “I’m working too much, I’m on the road too much, I ate that frozen yogurt the other day, I missed my workout on Tuesday”.  This only made my state of mind worse.  Have you ever blamed yourself for something?  Um, are you a woman?  Of course you have.  Then you know the psychological ramifications that come along with that.  I finally decided to go to the doctor.  My primary care physician told me I needed to relax.  That perhaps I should talk to someone.  She also said maybe I had a virus and should just let it run its course.  Finally, I went to an endocrinologist, who was supposed to be this “great” doctor.  (BTW, whenever someone tells you that, find out why he’s so great doc),  My “great” doc had the bedside manner of a warthog.  Basically he looked at me, compared me to his other patients (who were morbidly obese, had limbs taken off due to complications from diabetes, etc) in his waiting room and said in a very condescending tone “Aw poor baby, what’s the matter, you can’t run as far as you used to?” Now while that was true, it was so much more than that.  He made me feel like I had no reason to be upset.  I had every right.  I didn’t know what was happening to me.  I had so many symptoms that I didn’t know what was related to what, or if any of it was real.  How dare he make me feel “less than” or un-entitled to my ailments.  I wasn’t making this up.  To me, the changes were devastating.  My life and career was spent in health & fitness, and now I no longer could do the things or even look like I could do the things I used to do.  My credibility and my identity were slipping away. Everything that I had worked hard so hard to achieve, was on its way back to being a distant dream.  My quest going forward… to get some answers.   (stay tuned for part 2)

With that said, did you recognize any of the symptoms in yourself?    What I would like to do this month is ask you to participate in a survey to recognize if you have any thyroid disorder symptoms.




It strikes women more than men because it is reflective of hormonal changes.  However, the symptoms are the same and equally hard to correct. This disease has changed my life and honestly, it has been a long and difficult road.  It has changed the way I view health & fitness not only for myself but for others as well.  It has made me a better trainer, person, mother and friend. And I would like to share with you starting today and going forward all I have gone through in the hopes that it will help you or someone you love.  BTW, my husband has Hashimoto’s Disease also and I am glad that I had experienced it so that we could catch his at its early onset.

There are three basic types of thyroid disorder/disease.  There is hypothyroid, where your thyroid gland is underactive.  Hyperthyroid where it is overactive; And Hashimoto’s Disease; where your gland fluctuates between the two disorders.  Each person will experience symptoms differently.  You may experience all or some.  This survey was designed to help you determine if you need to talk to your doctor about what you have been experiencing.

Click here to take your “Ugly Butterfly”  survey.

If you answered yes to three or more, please talk to your doctor.

Or feel free to post comments or email me directly at connectedfitness@cfl.rr.com.  I have spent my career researching and focusing on how to live healthy with thyroid disease.  You too can get the answers that you need.    Next month, the continuing story of “the Ugly Butterfly”.

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  • sarah marks says:

    Thank you for making people aware of their thyroid. I am a trainer and mother as well. I made a career of training expectant mothers and postpartum. I also trained cardiac and cancer patients through recovery. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2005. I had a complete throidectomy. That little butterfly gland controls sooo much. I have been learning alot about other thyroid disease. My new thyroid is a pill. I have to be closely monitored. I need my medication so my thyroid functions to make the other organs function. Or Else…. Without the medication my cancer would grow back. The doctor also monitors my heart. Of course medication also could tax your heart so the levels have to be tweeked all the time. Living with a thyroid disorder is life changing. I know who you are in the community and applaud you for the amazing knowlegable trainer you are. You are very pretty, too. The fact that you have a thyroid disorder and are in amazing shape makes me respect you even more. I myself hate gaining weight for no reason. I am cold I am hot maybe menopausle. Sometimes you just kinda feel crazy. I do not train much now I am relatively new to the area. I only do special events. I love health and fitness. I am a full time mother of five with one on the way. I really enjoy your blogs. I read them on this site as well as charm magazine. Thank you for all your writings! Not only on this very subject, but all the motivating articles on health and fitness. It’s the best medicine!!!! Cheers!!!

  • nancy matican bocj says:

    Hi Sarah –

    Thanks you for responding. And yes definitely thyroid cancer is obviously a growing segment of the category. I have several friends who have undergone tyhyroidectomies as well. I am so sorry that you had to experience any of this. But so proud of your reaction to it all. Just being in tune with your body completely gives you a jump start. It allows you to know your strengths and weaknesses. Both important to living a full life with thyroid disorders. To that, I am humbled by your honesty and thank you for sharing your story with me. Your response brought tears to my eyes for so many reasons. they were tears of empathy, tears of pride and tears of joy. I definitely have heard your name (all good) in the community as well.

    Thanks so much for reading! Feel free to send me a friend request and become a member of my fan page.

    I wish you continued health and happiness,


  • Dear Nancy,

    What a nightmare! I can’t imagine what you’ve been through. One day your fine, the next fatigue, weight gain, etc. I would have been loosing my mind. Your story deeply touched my heart.

    Thank you so much for enlightening all on the “Ugly Butterfly”. The fact that 1/2 of the people living with this aren’t even aware of it is extremely scary. I applaud you for creating awareness. People must have this information.

    Now that I know the beginning (and of course the end, as I know you now) I can’t wait to hear the middle. I’m sure it is an amazing, informative, inspirational story…my favorite kind!

    On a side note, I am blown away by the fact that your daughter (1st grade, right?) ran 25 laps (along with her beautiful mother) in 30 minutes!! All of this with a broken arm. Like mother, like daughter! You must be extremely proud! Way to go, Gaya!!

    As always, I can’t thank you enough for your contribution! You always bring such awesome ideas to the table. I feel extremely blessed to know a person of your caliber. You’re one in a million, Nancy!!