Reality is just now setting in.
At first I saw my diagnosis as a blessing. Just finding out that I had Hashimoto’s felt like a cure, in and of itself. To have a reason for feeling so shitty was to have a way out, or so I assumed. It didn’t seem like a very serious disease, and it isn’t, compared to many. All it does is make me tired, grumpy, unable to get consistent nights of sleep, and it makes me really, really weak. It makes me a cat 5 on the bike. I’d take all the other symptoms times 10 if it meant I could still ride hard.
I assumed the pill I’d be taking would get me back to normal, or at least close enough to normal that I wouldn’t know the difference. Unfortunately, the more I research and the more I read first hand accounts, the more worried I get that this is something that could potentially end my athletic career. Not just my athletic ‘career,’ but something that could end my ability to work out in general. I’m not worried that I won’t be able to go on hikes and jogs. Those things will still be possible. I’m worried that I won’t be able to go out on a five hour ride in the mountains and climb 12,000 feet. I’m worried that I won’t even be able to compete in bike races or triathlons at the local, amateur level. I’m really worried that I simply won’t have the power to ride over 200 watts anymore.
This past week I’ve been going out for rides and averaging 170 watts, and feeling tired afterwards. That should not happen to me. It’s one thing to feel tired and crappy after a hard day or two of training. But that’s an entirely different feeling than what I’ve been struggling with. I go out on rides and don’t feel tired, per say; I go out and my legs just won’t push the pedals harder than recovery pace without catching on fire. I’ve felt lethargic in the pool too, and I cut my run short today because my entire body just felt weak, incapable, and out of breath.
Yesterday I went through my training journal and saw that I was more fit last November than I am now, or this August, or July, or June, or, May, or April. I was riding harder back in November with zero fitness, having just taken Adelaide home from the hospital, than I was at any other time of the year. I’d been off the bike for three months at that point and was dealing with more stress than I’d ever encountered in my life, yet I was still able to ride somewhat hard.
I find the majority of my joy in life, not to mention my identity, through training and being able to compete. I’ve been somewhat obsessed with working out since before I reached the double digits. I don’t know if I’ll ever be truly happy again if I’m not able to exercise. Hard exercise. While it’s true that even if the pills don’t kick in, I’ll almost certainly be able to go out on long easy rides once in a while when I find the motivation, I’ll never want to compete again if I’m this tired and weak.
But I still have hope that sooner or later the medicine will start working. It takes a long time to kick in, from what I’ve read. For now I refuse to leave the comforts of denial, like a dinner guest lounging on the living room sofa long into the night, seemingly unaware that the appropriate time to leave is well past. The grandfather clock over in the corner slowly ticking and tocking towards 11:00 fills long pauses in conversation, yet he continues on, dragging out the night into infinity. Everyone else has eaten, socialized, and said their thank you’s and goodnights. Except for this one guy, who has nowhere to go and apparently no one else to talk to. He continues on in animated bursts of dialogue, mostly speaking to hear himself heard while the two, fleetingly polite hosts try to conceal yawns with the backs of their hands, wishing and praying to whatever god will listen to just make this fucking guy go, vanish into thin air, clutch his heart in agony and cry out “goodbye, thanks for the chow” as a thin stand of spittle drips out the corner of his mouth and cardiac arrest finally silences him.
I’ll be that guy, clutching to the last few minutes of the night for as long as I can. Work you fucking thyroid pills. Just work.