My name is Jacqueline A. Shibalira, most people call me Jacky.
My journey with thyroidism started way back in 2007, when I started having certain symptoms which I did not comprehend. I started to collapse and lose consciousness.
Im my search for answers, I have visited countless clinics and hospitals. At first I was told to loose weight. Then followed a diagnosis that left me baffled and horrified, heart disease and diabetes.
I continued to take these medicine but the symptoms were still intense. I started to sweat, have palpitations. I became irritable and could not sleep. I would sleep only an hour a day. Then I started shedding weight. I lost so much of it so fast.
It was not until 2011, that I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. I was put on Carbimazole, popping nine tablets a day. I took these for about 2 months when my body limbs went numb on the right side. The doctors again said I could be having problems with nerves and I had to have support bands for my wrist and ankle.
It was not easy for me
It was taking a toll on every aspect of my life; finances, marriage, and relationship with friends. I could not go out most of the time to socialise with friends because of the sweating that comes with this condition.
It transitioned from hyperthyroidism to hypothyroidism meaning that the thyroid gland was not producing enough of some hormones (under-active thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine.
Then came one of the most overwhelming chapters of this disease. The heavy menstrual flow that would go for even two weeks. If it stopped for 4 days, it would start again. It would just start and probably I would be in the company of friends. How does one deal with that? Even with the highest level of hygiene, I would find myself messed. I was emotionally beaten by it all.
In 2013, on advice of the doctor, I underwent a complete removal of the thyroid gland since both the left and right gland were already toxic. When I did the surgery, my parathyroid glands were damaged, these are the glands that control calcium in the body. The amount of calcium in the bones and even blood depends on these glands. Yet I cannot live without calcium hence the reason I am on life long calcium supplements.
To tell you that my journey has been difficult is to oversimplify a very complex ailment whose indignity has stripped me of so much in life. But time, as they say, heals. I have accepted my condition, embraced every challenge that comes with it, and I am walking a journey of fulfilment.
I would like to let people know that “Early detection saves lives”. If the right diagnosis was done then, I would not have ended up with a complete removal of the thyroid. If the tumour is left to grow, there is a chance that one can develop cancer.
I urge people to take regular body wellness tests.
If you are on medication, always purchase from authorised chemists or pharmacists. There is a lot of counterfeit medicine. When I was put on thyroid supplements after surgery, I would buy medicine from different chemists and due to financial constraints, I started to look for cheaper medicine. I got chemists that offered the same medication at a cheaper price not knowing that the medicine was counterfeit.
One of my personal vows is to make a difference where I can.
To reach out to people and create awareness on this little known disease. That is how Doors of Hope Kenya was born. It is a Non-Profit Organisation that runs health awareness programmes.
Currently we are running a cerebral palsy programme to help children with cerebral palsy get an education. That is one of the challenges for people living with CP.
You can read the story of Elsa Koi, a 26 year old girl with cerebral palsy to understand how difficult it i for parents and guardians to navigate the challenges. There is more information here too
- We need to take care of our bodies and do wellness tests regularly
- Ensure our Medical Insurance (NHIF) is paid on time
- God has been my strength and I am more closer to him
- Thyroidism /thyroid cancer can be prevented by early detection
FOUR THINGS I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW
- Take regular tests (Body wellness)
- Life does not stop, embrace and accept, get treatment and live a full life.
- Eat healthy and drink plenty of water
- Reach out. You could save a life.