It Wasn’t All In My Head

December 9, 2021

I went to bed a few days ago after reading a news article online regarding the theory that COVID is a systemic issue, causing inflammation all throughout the body, damage that patients and doctors may not be aware of until months or years down the road. The doctor interviewed theorized this is why patients who have experienced COVID could have longterm issues that can cause organ failure long beyond when the illness is said to have cleared their system, sometimes resulting in death. That’s unsettling information for a COVID survivor, to say the least. But somehow this news didn’t surprise me. I have been dealing with long COVID symptoms for 18+ weeks now. I know the detoxing and healing in hidden, damaged places hasn’t run it’s course. Nevertheless, unrest infiltrated my subconscious mind and followed me to sleep.

When I woke the next morning, the scientific dreamer in me postulated this crazy thought: “I think I know why I never had a fever when I had COVID, and it might even explain why others only have low-grade temps, as well.” Before you go writing off the thought—like I almost did—due to my lack of expertise in the field, hear me out. I admit, science class didn’t rank even close to first place in my list of best subjects in school, but I’ve had first-hand experience on a daily basis for 46 years to know with insane accuracy what is going on inside my body. You see, God gifted me with an acute awareness of touch, sight, sound, and smell from a very early age. Some may call it hypersensitivity. I call it precision awareness.

So, this thought developed: what if COVID fevers spike due to the rapid nature of how the inflammation in one’s body presents itself? And what if the root cause of my unexplained weight gain I’ve been battling for six years is actually inflammation and not true fat? Let me explain how these thoughts came together.

I am almost positive that my exposure to COVID happened on July 15, 2021. From the time it entered my body to the time the first symptoms showed signs of illness, fourteen days had passed. So why not the common five to seven days incubation period talked about in many cases? Why did my case seem different or not the norm? This became my lightbulb moment. I think it’s because I already had inflammation in my body. Lots of it. Over the course of six years, my stomach, neck and face ballooned 35 pounds. So, in theory, my body had already adjusted and accommodated for my chronic condition by the time COVID came along. Where this gets more exciting: on December 8, 2021, I read on that, “Body fat used to be thought of as inert, a form of storage. But scientists now know that the tissue is biologically active, producing hormones and immune-system proteins that act on other cells, promoting a state of nagging low-grade inflammation even when there is no infection.” (Emphasis mine.) This means, for six years, my body had been fighting constant inflammation, thus, the reason I believe I presented with only a slight temperature when COVID hit. The article went on: “Inflammation is the body’s response to an invader, and sometimes it can be so vigorous that it is more harmful than the infection that triggered it.” The reason I know this statement to be true? I’ve lived it.

By the time I reached December of 2015, my body had undergone extreme fight-or-flight type stress from a volatile divorce for more than five years, as I fought in court to stay in my daughters’ lives. (We won’t even go into prior stress on my body leading up to that point.) As you can imagine, during this time, my nervous system took the brunt of surviving an onslaught of verbal abuse and lies. The damage created by intense day-in-and-day-out stress left me with brutal consequences. However, not being a medical professional, it would be 2021 before I realized my thyroid had been under attack and compromised this whole time.

When I started gaining weight “for no apparent reason,” the doctors ran all kinds of generic tests, including checking my TSH levels. As you may have guessed, “We don’t know what is wrong with you. All your tests came back normal.” It took getting COVID to discover that all my tests had NOT been normal. Actually, I had been dealing with a thyroid issue for SIX YEARS. But you know how it had gone undetected? No doctor had listened to my repeated concerns or had taken me at my word when I claimed, “I’m not eating unhealthy.” They assumed my definition of health must be skewed. It couldn’t possibly be the nonspecific TSH results. The doctors had all they needed to diagnose me, insisting, “it’s is a very accurate tool,” despite all my symptoms pointing to hypothyroidism. You know what the generic TSH test is accurate in? Telling the doctor whether or not certain hormones are in your blood. You know what it doesn’t tell them? Whether your body is recognizing nutrients and actually using what’s in your system. Example: B12 and folate can be in your blood; but, if your body doesn’t recognize them, or isn’t able to break them down, they just float along in your body, unused. What good is that to you? It isn’t. That’s also how you end up with faulty “normal” tests. Wish I had known this sooner!

So, how did I learn of my thyroid problem? On August 2, 2021, I received the monoclonal antibody infusion for a severe case of COVID. As the infusion took effect, I felt the antibodies attack my thyroid, adding to some swelling in my neck. It also went up and over the right side of my skull—the same place I had experienced pain after whiplash from a car accident December 2020. You know what the antibodies were attacking? Inflammation!

In October of 2020, prior to the infusion, a trip to the ER had uncovered a nodule on my thyroid. In November, that same year, a thyroid ultrasound showed not one, but FOUR suspicious nodules. That’s when my new, sought-out endocrinologist ordered a biopsy. That procedure took place May of 2021. The results came back “noncancerous,” but the doctor wanted to do a follow up ultrasound in six months. In the meantime, COVID breached my immune system and flipped my internal switch, causing all the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism. I called the doctor and arranged a Telemed appointment to discuss my suspicion of thyroiditis after some research online. She ordered lab work September 2021, but this time it included additional, extensive tests. Results came back “low, but normal.” Frustration settled over me. Too in tune with my body, I couldn’t believe the symptoms had all been in my head. However, we couldn’t prove I had been dealing with hypothyroidism or that it had switched to hyperthyroidism when COVID hit, we could only assume I had possibly had issues with my thyroid because of my medical history. Assumptions aren’t good enough for me!

Jump ahead to December 2021. One evening, I’m having a discussion with my husband about thyroid issues and decided to google whether or not you can have both hyper- and hypothyroidism at the same time. My search took me to an article from June 3, 2011, by Shawn Bishop on Mayo Clinic’s website that said: “Thyroiditis may be to blame for switching between hypo- and hyperthyroidism.” How do I know this pertains to me? Remember I told you the doctor wanted me to follow up in six months with another thyroid ultrasound? Well, those results came back with noted impression on December 2021: “Nonspecific diffuse heterogeneous glandular echotexture which is likely sequela prior thyroiditis.” Laymen’s terms? Sequela means: “an after effect of a disease, condition, or injury; a secondary result.” The ultrasound showed prior thyroiditis—a hallelujah discovery if ever there was one!

Sometimes the wait or the explanation is slow in coming, but God is slowly making all my medical unknowns make sense. As a bonus, my most recent thyroid ultrasound states that no future imaging follow-up is needed at this time. That means all of the nodules on my thyroid have shrunk in size and “don’t meet criteria” for concern. *tears of joy!!* God is answering my prayers for healing, and I will testify of His goodness as long as I have breath!

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