Sebastian Kern, Thyroid Thrivers
40 years young
New York, USA
Diagnosed in 2015
My name is Sebastian, but all my friends call me Baz. I am a forty-year-old male
living in Staten Island, New York, and I have been living with Hashimoto/
Hypothyroidism for about two and a half months now. Actually, let me
rephrase that – I was diagnosed with Hashimoto/Hypothyroidism within the last two
and a half months. As many of you know firsthand, it’s more than likely that I have
been living with this my whole life without even knowing it.
I wish I can give you specific instances in my past where I know without a doubt
that my Thyroid was out of whack, but the truth is I can’t. I can only look back at
instances, and knowing what I know now, say “Oh OK, I get it, that makes sense.”
But, you know what they say about hindsight.
From as far back as I can remember, there are certain things that have always been
associated with me medically: I was considered underweight, and I had high blood
pressure and cholesterol. I never made anything of it because I just thought that it
was what it was, me. Looking back now, I wonder if this was an indication of what was to come.
There were two instances in my life where things had gotten pretty bad personally,
and my family thought it would be best to put me under psychiatric evaluation and
care. In both instances, I was immediately diagnosed as Bipolar, Depressed, and
placed on the “appropriate” medication. However, in both instances, after seeing
a therapist for only a month or two, the therapist would take back the diagnosis
and take me off the medication. Knowing what I know now about Hypothyroidism
and Hashimoto, I question if those times of high stress in my life manifested itself
The first time I had ever even heard the word Thyroid was in 2010. Around that
time, I was gaining weight (not much, but a noticeable amount on my face and
belly), and I went to the doctor for a routine check-up. After blood work was done,
my doctor at the time came back and said that my blood pressure and cholesterol
was high and I had put on about 25 pounds. He said it could have been attributed to
many things, one of which was my Thyroid. In the end, he put me on something
called Simcor, which I just learned, is primarily used for cholesterol. The following
month, I went for a follow-up, and my numbers were great. I was told I didn’t have
to take Simcor anymore, and there was no mention of my Thyroid ever again.
Around Thanksgiving 2013, I started to feel very run down and tired. Actually,
tired isn’t the right word. I felt exhausted. At the time, my now ex-boyfriend’s
mom was really ill and in and out of the hospital, where I would spend my nights
or any time I wasn’t working. Professionally, I just was given a pay cut and was
struggling to make ends meet. So, I figured it was just stress. I spoke to a few of
my friends about it, and they said I should go to the doctor because I wasn’t
myself as my focus was on my ex and his mom, and being there for him. Sadly, in
January 2014, his mom passed away. From that point forward, my health and
well being started to significantly change.
I started noticing I was getting bigger – not fat, but swollen. I was also noticing
that I was exhausted all the time. My ex and I would go to shows or parties or
family functions, and I would constantly say I couldn’t wait to go home and get
in bed. I would spend most Sundays sleeping. My hair began to really thin out,
which I attributed to turning 40, and my skin was pale. My desire to fool around
went down, despite how much I loved him, and I was moody all the time. The
stupidest little things hit every last nerve I had. My concentration wasn’t there,
and I would actually lose interest mid-conversation with people. My ex doesn’t
know this, but many times I would go into his bathroom and sob, not knowing why.
He felt that I was using things as an excuse to avoid his friends and family, and as
much as I swore I had no issues with anyone, he didn’t want to believe me.
I can actually tell you the moment where things changed, and I knew something
was definitely wrong. It was in the summer of 2014, and we were in the car
returning home from Kmart. We had gotten into a fight, and I was told I was a
negative person, antisocial, standoffish, and even a snob in some situations. He
called me a terrible name and I just went off. At some point, in my head, I
realized that this wasn’t right, or even like me. I looked out the window, and I
remember turning back to him and saying something is wrong. I didn’t feel like
myself. I even said, I think it has something to do with my Thyroid. For months
following, I kept feeling something was wrong, but would put off looking into it.
For me, other things were going on that took priority.
This past February, I went to Urgent Care due to a case of Bronchitis. Blood work
was done, and the results showed that my blood pressure was so high, I was at
heart attack level, my cholesterol was skyrocketing, I was diabetic, I needed to
stop smoking and excessive drinking and I was overweight. Those results didn’t
sit well with me because some of the findings were not accurate to my life, and I
decided to go to my doctor for a second opinion.
My doctor ordered a complete batch of lab work, including tests on my Thyroid.
Sure enough, my Thyroid levels were completely off, and I was diagnosed as
having Hypothyroidism. She explained to me that under extreme stress, the
Thyroid can go completely out of whack. Hypothyroidism would make a person
extremely tired, extremely moody, puffy, kill your libido, and some people
would even say depressed or bipolar. Things I actually would have no control
over, but would affect me. I was also told my Liver enzyme levels were very high.
She prescribed 100 MCG of Synthroid for my Thyroid, Crestor for my
Cholesterol, Chlorthalidone for my Blood Pressure and a Potassium pill because
the Chlorthalidone is a water pill that would make me pee all the time, causing
me to lose Potassium. I also was told to change my diet, and stop eating red
meat, fried foods, cake, cookies, soda, candy (A BIG ONE FOR ME) and
anything else I actually enjoyed. My weight at the time was 189, and I was
For the first two weeks after starting all these meds, I felt great. I had energy
again, I was able to concentrate and I started to drop weight. Within two weeks,
I had lost 23 pounds. People, including my ex’s family, were saying I seemed
like my old self. My libido returned and it was all I could think about. The
following week, my ex broke up with me. He felt I was very negative, and
questioned our compatibility.
In the weeks to follow, I have had many doctor appointments and tests done.
I was told in my first doctor’s appointment that depending on how long my
Thyroid had gone untreated, it could open the door to things like Alzheimer’s,
Dementia and even Parkinson’s. Because my paternal grandfather had
Alzheimer’s, my doctor felt it was best I go for neurological testing. I went
and had neurological tests and a CT Scan done. Weeks later, I found out that
the CT Scan of my brain showed scar tissue in my Prefrontal Cortex, signifying
signs of a stroke. They couldn’t give me an exact date of when it happened,
only that it occurred within the last two years.
It was explained to me that the Prefrontal Cortex is responsible for a
person’s social abilities, moods, and emotions, among other things. With
damage to that area, things that would normally be shrugged off would
become “code red” very easily. I also would be socially awkward and
standoffish. Again, something that I can’t actually help or control, no matter
how much I tried. I actually wouldn’t even know it was happening. Between
that and my Thyroid, I now had an explanation for the last year and a half.
Something called Biofeedback was recommended to help me with different
ways to compensate for the damage done to my brain, and ways to stop myself
from hitting “code red.” As of today, I have gone twice, and the techniques
taught have done wonders.
About four weeks ago, I began to notice things getting weird again. All of a
sudden, my energy dropped significantly, and I couldn’t focus on anything. I
was having trouble getting stuff done at work. I also was cold all the time. I
would sleep with the heaters on, and still be under my covers in sweats,
shivering. My weight was dropping significantly, and by then, I couldn’t tell if
it was diet, Thyroid, or the break-up. Something wasn’t right, and I kept saying
to my friends that there was more going on than just my Thyroid.
At my next doctor’s visit, I found out I was now about 111 pounds. She
ordered more blood work and a chest x-ray because I had a cough, and she was
testing for Walking Pneumonia. She also wanted to test for things like Lyme’s
Disease, Lupus, and Mono, just to find out why I was so exhausted. When the
test results came back, I found out that I tested positive for Epstein Barr,
which would cause me to be extra tired, especially when combined with
Hypothyroidism. She also informed me that the x-ray found a lump above my
right lung, and set-up a CT Scan.
Something still didn’t sit right with me, and so I decided to make an
appointment with an Endocrinologist. She did a batch of blood work herself,
and a Sonogram of my Thyroid. She informed me that what I have is an
autoimmune disease called Hashimoto Thyroiditis, which causes
Hypothyroidism. It had weakened my immune system so that it was more
susceptible to things like Epstein Barr. Her test results showed that my
Synthroid levels were way too high and that it was making my Thyroid go
from hypo to hyper. With Hyperthyroidism, there is extreme weight loss,
anxiety and panic attacks and fainting spells. A few days prior to this
appointment, I had my first ever anxiety attack and fainting spell in the
middle of Central Park, in front of many people, including my ex,
The Endocrinologist immediately lowered my dosage of Synthroid from
100 MCG to 25 MCG. She also found three lumps on my Thyroid, and
ordered another Sonogram to confirm. Since starting on the lower
Synthroid dosage, my energy level and appetite have returned, my head is
not so foggy and I haven’t had an ounce of anxiety or panic or fear of
fainting. I also had a moment while getting a haircut recently. The
person cutting my hair asked me if I was a Cancer patient. When I asked
why, she said that she saw hair beginning to grow in the places where it
was thinning, and thought I had gone through Chemo.
I also met with a Gastroenterologist regarding my liver. As he explained to
me, a fatty liver is nothing to worry about most of the time. But, because
I have high enzyme levels, a fatty liver, and Thyroid issues, it’s more than
likely I am dealing with a form of Hepatitis. He ordered blood work and
an Ultrasound of my abdominal area. As of today, I am still waiting on
This past week, I went for all my testing. The CT Scan of my chest
showed that the lump by my Lung was a 2mm benign calcium node.
Unfortunately, the Sonogram confirmed a 4mm nodule on the right side
of my Thyroid that the Endocrinologist is concerned about. Because the
nodule is small, she doesn’t want to biopsy it. Instead, she wants to wait six
months and then do another Sonogram to see if it grows.
This has been my journey up until today. If I can impart some wisdom
from my journey onto others, it would be the following:
1. No matter what others want to say or think, know that you are not crazy. If you think something is wrong, you know yourself better than
anyone else, so follow your gut.
2. Always trust your instincts and don’t accept any diagnosis if you don’t
agree. Get a second, third and fourth opinion, if you feel it necessary.
3. Ask questions and educate yourself. I’ve been extremely proactive in
my journey. As soon as the doctor gave me some kind of news, I looked it
up and asked about things I didn’t understand. The doctors may get
annoyed, but as long as you are paying the bills and it’s your health, they
can just deal.
4. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and ask for help. Being an extremely
independent person, this is one of the biggest lessons I learned through
all of this. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
5. Surround yourself with the right people. I have had people who claim
to love, care and that I matter to- completely turn their backs on me. I
even had people question all my medical issues. For me, I needed to
step away and put everyone at a distance, then slowly bring back in the
people who genuinely cared about me and my well-being.
6. Be very vocal with your support team and doctors in regard to your
needs. They can’t help you unless you are open and honest.
7. Although no two people’s journeys are the same, know that you are
not alone in this. There are support groups and websites with lots of
people going through things similar to you. Reach out. Another thing I
learned, is that nobody will understand this situation more than
someone else going through it.
8. It is not your job to change people’s minds. If they would rather
choose to believe the worst of you, that speaks about them and their
character, not yours.
9. Learn to forgive yourself for things you couldn’t control or know
10. Find something you enjoy to make yourself feel better. For me,
that was getting back into my writing. But, it can be anything you love like yoga, the gym, dancing, painting or whatever puts a smile on your
This journey has definitely been an emotional roller coaster. Now
people tell me all the time how brave and strong I am, but the truth
is I cry, I panic, I freak out, I’ve asked “why me” and I get upset and
angry. I’ve even gotten to the point where I thought I could never
come back from this. I don’t understand a lot about everything going
on, and it can be completely overwhelming and messes with your
mind at times. I guess that’s one of the reasons I felt the need to be
vocal about what I’m going through. Maybe, all the craziness I’m
dealing with will help make someone else’s path easier. I know that
I will be dealing with this for the rest of my life.
There will be good days and bad days, but knowing I’m not alone in this
and that others get it, gives me a strength I can’t describe or even knew I had.
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