One thing about this illness is that it appears to prematurely age you. I can vouch for that as I continually shocked a colleague in work who would look at me and gasp ‘ Gosh you’ve aged 10 years in the last 5 minutes!’.
I’ll have to get the pictures out to prove this but
5 years ago everyone thought I was between
10 and 12 years younger than my actual age!
3 – 1 year ago people thought I was
10 years older than my actual age!
Now, I’m still looking older than 51 and people accept my comment that I’m retired – far too easily.
I’m just hoping they are thinking
‘lucky woman to be able to retire so early!!!
So early ageing, for me it was true. It was what I called my muscle collapse, when I’d run out of adrenaline, my thyroid had given up and I just collapsed into myself. My muscles could no longer support the weight of my skin and what was visible was that my face dropped. I suppose I looked like a stroke victim. Not everyone saw that I was having the same problems with my arms, legs and whole body.
It then happened when I was with a good friend. She’d heard me talk about the invisible illness and just nodded and said, ‘well that sounds awful’. Of course I was managing my meetings with her to times when I felt OK and also cutting them short.On this occasion I couldn’t do either. She needed her son looking after and then thoughtfully cooked a meal for me to say thanks.
The look of horror on her face as she saw the muscle collapse in my face, my loss of co-ordination, my inability to think of words and to then say them! I could see the expression of disbelief that this was happening to me and the effect it was having on her.
This is the other side to Thyroid illness. Not what happens to the sufferer but also to those close to you and those observant enough to catch the signs of this invisible illness. It’s not invisible at all, all the signs are there, you just need to be a good enough colleague, friend, partner to stop, look and recognise what you can do to help.
Don’t accept ageing as natural and certainly get concerned if it is early ageing.
The signs could be
intolerance to heat
intolerance to music – who hasn’t said ‘turn that TV down?’
pains, especially in the morning
going to the toilet in the night.
We don’t always notice these things ourselves but if you notice them in a friend then you can help them by asking them just one great question and that is….
What can I do for you?
It’s an offer of support for an invisible illness that whilst it may appear small it is in fact incredibly huge. There is no inferred complaint that you think the person is lazy, it just gently wakes up the mind that maybe something is wrong and that accepting help is the right option.
Thanks to Elizabeth Turp and her book on CFS– Help for family and friends that helped me see through that part of the fog and accept help that was being offered and also as a reminder that someone cared for me to want me to stop pushing myself and hurting myself and them.