My yoga instructor turns out to have had a thyroid condition – he has Hashimoto’s, and says that he was symptomatic for twenty years before he got treatment. His thyroid has been removed – he told me that it was springing nodules all over the place; I picture his thyroid gland looking like runny cheese or a wormy plank, riddled with complex holes, worn down on its surfaces – and swollen so much that it distended his throat.
He describes the removal as strategic in part: having had his thyroid removed, he could now demand thyroid hormone, since he was demonstrably incapable of any condition but hypothyroid.
He also mentioned that he experienced “brain fog” – that it caused him to “question his sanity” – and he recognized my own experience of not being able to think very well.
This is the common thread of thyroid problems, so far as I can tell: a bunch of minor deficiencies and lapses, blurring around the edges, an inability to keep track, sluggish processing. For me, it felt like a computer virus – or the advent of a biological one – a subtle yet constant problem.
I decided it must be an inherent problem. I developed a sense of myself as slow, prone to failure. I was flaky, absentminded, unreliable, sloppy. I had no sense of direction, no memory for names, no skill with numbers. I – and who knows, maybe this was common to expats? – wasn’t very good at keeping track of time zones.
And now I’m forced to reevaluate my whole personality in light of my clarified memory. It turns out that I am not overwhelmed by simple tasks. I can manage multiple deadlines. I can keep track of errands and papers. I can finish long-term projects. I can remember where I am and what time it is. I can clean my own house more or less as a matter of routine.
It went deeper than competency, too. I thought I was a failure in a global sense – I thought that the dirty laundry heaped on my floor meant that I couldn’t have a household; I thought the difficulty I had getting up in the morning meant that I would never have a career. And it was worse for being so subtle, so ambiguous: it wasn’t that I had sudden amnesia or fainting spells. I felt a little dim, a little stupid.