Filled as I am at this time of year with the Holly Jolly Spirit (AKA the Blessed Parakeet), I shall begin with a parable.
Ever have Sea Monkeys when you were a kid? I got them so long ago that I had to order them from the back of a comic book. I saved my money, gave it to my mother, she wrote a check, and the little devils duly arrived parcel post. It was magic! They came with a plastic Sea Monkey Palace, powdered water purifier, a packet of instant hatch eggs, and some Growth Food that you measured out with the end of a matchstick. I read the enclosed booklet, followed the instructions very carefully, and voila! I had Sea Monkeys!
Being a third grader, I was of course pissed that they didn’t actually wear little crowns or smoke pipes, nor could they be trained to read Aristotle or swing on the flying trapeze, but I got over that. It was fun to watch them swim around and occasionally devour one another in a cannibalistic frenzy. What sucked was when they kicked the bucket. They were supposed to live three years, but instead, they lived three months. They just shriveled up and died.
But the handy Sea Monkey booklet had a ready-made solution. If I just let the water in the Sea Monkey Palace evaporate — let it completely dry out — I could add some distilled water and, Bob’s yer uncle, my Sea Monkeys would be reborn! They’d unshrivel, rehydrate, and come right back to life.
Except they didn’t, and this is where my thyroid comes in. The damned thing is acting like a Sea Monkey. It has dried up, petered out, gone with the wind, and no matter how much water I drink — and I drink a damned lot — it’s not coming back. Once your thyroid gives up the ghost, you might as well bury it and sing Danny Boy.
Why my thyroid died, I do not know. My doctor speculates that I may have had a hyperactive thyroid in my hyper-athletic youth, and perhaps I wore it out, like an old pair of sneakers or those awful Mark Knopfler sweatbands I used to wear to my softball games. Whatever the cause, all I know is that a dead thyroid makes you depressed. Deeply depressed. Sometime in early December, I began to feel wretched. On a scale of 1 to Sylvia Plath, I was hovering around Robert Lowell. So, I went to see my doctor, Clever Elise, and we went over the usual things that bum me out. Sleep (poor). Work (drag my ass there every day but am underpaid and very tired. The weather (oh, God). The in-laws (oh, Cthulhu). And then there was that general feeling of lethargy, misery, hopelessness and malaise. We also talked about the weird cholesterol spike that had shown up in an August blood test, a 100 point jump that had neither a genetic nor a dietary explanation. Hmm. One of the hallmarks of a dead Sea Monkey . . . I mean thyroid.
[Side note: Want to knock a quick 30 points off your cholesterol? Try taking 500 mg no flush Niacin. Man, that stuff is magic.]
So. I felt like the last passenger on the Titanic. It was jump into the icy sea or listen to that Celine Dion song. My choices were not good. It was on Dec. 11th while I was sitting in the Spokane Airport waiting for my flight to Raleigh that Clever Elise called to tell me that the source of my misery was a dead thyroid, that it was tired and shagged out after a long squawk, that it had rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible, etc., etc. She suggested that I needed to begin taking Levothyroxine as soon as possible, i.e., tomorrow. I said that I could start taking it next week as I was off to visit my mother for five days. She wasn’t happy — no doctor with a bad Sea Monkey on her hands is — but I pointed out that Raleigh has both hospitals and mortuaries, so I was covered for all eventualities.
That’s the medical news in Opyrland. I feel like an old woman blogging about it — like my paternal grandmother, who fills her letters with the juicy details from family obituaries. As my grandmother is 88, I cut her a lot of slack. Why shouldn’t she take pleasure in the obituaries? She’s lived for nine decades. When you spend as much time as she does dwelling the details of your cousin’s cancer or your brother’s cirrhosis, it’s clear that you don’t fear death, and I can’t help but be glad of that. However — and this is a big however — I am less than half my grandmother’s age. That means that I am way too young to be going on about what the hell is wrong with me. Soon I’ll be blogging about moles I’ve had removed, about bunions, about my rotten eyesight and the hearing in my left ear (blew that eardrum out at a Police concert in 1984).
And to think that my downhill slide will have started with a Sea Monkey thyroid.