I Am a Science Experiment

I’m trying to look at my current thyroid predicament as a science experiment. Eventually – say within the next three to six months – it will be figured out, and until then, I’m trying to dispassionately observe my habits and how I feel. Subject reported fatigue over the weekend despite sleeping 10 hours concurrently on both Friday and Saturday night. Subject reports no change in energy levels after first week on increased Synthroid dose.

My parents, Dave, and my CrossFit pals (Maggie, Stacey, Blake: I’m particularly looking at you) will tell you I’m having limited success with that particular scientific perspective (a.k.a., I’m whining and fretting a lot). It’s damn hard some days not to fall into the “woe is me” trap. While I am grateful that my biggest health problem is the fairly-easy-to-treat hypothyroidism, I’m not being a good patient. Because I’m not patient.

I want to feel better now.

Some days, I feel almost like my old self for a few hours: I find myself unexpectedly singing or feeling the urge to write. The fog in my noggin clears. The winter air is brisk not cold. Birdies chirp in the trees.

Other days, like this morning, the alarm startles me out of a creepy-deep sleep, my eyes and fingers are puffy, I can’t get warm, and I want nothing more than to stay in bed. All day.

This morning, I almost turned the car around three blocks from my house because the desire to lie down was so strong.

But I decided that I can’t wait until I feel 100% to go to my workouts. If I’m tired, I can go slower or lift less, but I can’t use my thyroid as a blanket excuse to skip training. 1) I will be a lunatic without movement and seeing my friends. 2) Doing my workouts at a reduced capacity, if necessary, isn’t going to hurt anything except my ego.

So I went to class to face CrossFit Total.

The warmup was pretty awful. Everything felt creaky, and I was way behind everyone else on my reps. Like… they were on number eight and I was still languishing back in five’s territory. The 400m run would have brought me to tears if Blake hadn’t been by my side talking about socks. I was feeling quite sorry for myself.

Then something unexpected happened.

Stacey and I started warming up for our back squats to attempt our new One Rep Back Squat Maximum™, and I started having fun. I have to give the credit to Stacey; she has a “let’s try it and see” attitude that makes it impossible to get lost in thinking about how I should be better or I should be stronger. She makes it easy to admit the heavy weight is scary and to go ahead and try it anyway.

I got new PRs on my back squat (155#) and shoulder press (80#), up five pounds from last time… because Stacey encouraged me to try it.

Thanks a lot, Stacey, for robbing me of a reason to whine today.

Report From The Midst

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Sorta Update & Things I’m Loving

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  • girlblake says:

    I had an urgent need to discuss my neon green socks with you at that particular moment:) You're doing all you can do and then some, and you keep putting one foot in front of the other. I'm proud to run beside you, and you certainly motivate me to show up even when the comfort of blankets call. Way to go on overcoming not only the urge to stay home, but also on achieving new PRs on your lifts. I am, as always, inspired.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Blake, seriously. You saved my ass on that run this morning. And seriously: you should invest in a pair of good socks 😉

    Thank you for being one of my most trusted cheerleaders. I really appreciate it.

  • Mary says:

    Very cool! Congrats on the TWO PRs. Hang in there — you have a whole group of online supporters who are routing for you too!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Thank you, Mary! I've been trying to write a blog post since last Friday that wasn't just a bunch of whining. I'm glad I had an excuse today to WHINE and to post some good news.

  • Aaron and Marcy says:

    Awesome pulling your attitude into shape and getting a PR.

    I have to say as much as I have loved reading your blog ever since I discovered it, these last few posts about your struggle have been really great for me to read.

    I have been having the same problems you've mentioned (among others) and I, too, just want to feel better NOW. I do feel better to know that not only are you facing it, but you are doing your best to kick ass. It really makes my whole week feel better!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Marcy, thanks for your comments! I'm never sure how much of my internal monologue and whining I should share. I don't just want to be the "Thyroid Girl" but I also sometimes think that the experience/knowledge I'm gaining through this whole thing might be helpful to someone else.

    Best wishes for weathering your stuff, too — hang in there!

  • Mindy says:

    Hey Mel!! I am sorry to hear you are feeling so tired. It is definitely the worst feeling in the world. Just a thought…have you talked to your doc/endo about adding cytomel to your synthroid? Cytomel is T3, it might help with your energy? My doc just switched me to levoxyl and we added cytomel cuz my energy is non-existent. I've only been on it for a couple days, so I can't tell if its making a difference, but apparently it is suppose to help. Maybe it could help you too?? You are soo beautiful, strong and motivating. I have no doubt that you will get through this and I pray that you and your doc can figure out your dose asap. Everything is going to be okay. I am not patient either, and it is super frustrating, but what keeps me from the constant pity-party/"woe is me," are my friends and family, and I hope that you know that you are never alone and that we all love and support you and are always here for you! <3

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Thanks, Mindy! Glad to hear you're working out the kinds in your doses, too.

    I just increased my Synthroid prescription, so we can't try anything new until we find out if this works or not. BUT… the doctor did mention the T3 option when we talked as something we could consider if my labs LOOK good, but I still don't FEEL good. For now, it's a waiting game. It's only been a week, so I have to try to be patient … and enjoy my couch time.

  • mlw says:

    this may be a bit irreverant but I kind of want someone to draw you as an animated superhero – Thyroid Girl.

    Hee hee.

    I am having one of those funk weeks right now. I think I'm premenstrual. Don't feel like cooking, eating well, or cleaning. Ice cream is majorly calling my name. I'm sleepy. BLECH. Now that I read what you wrote I feel soooo obligated to the gym tomorrow so THANKS A LOT. 🙂

    Just kidding, you rule.

  • Melissa says:

    You are SUCH a badass for pulling off two PRs while feeling as bad as you do! I think you should know, too, that in your blog you are managing a great balance of showing us your concern, fears, and struggles with your current situation without going into Whiny Baby Territory. (We would still love you even if you did, anyways!) Keeping on sharing what you are going through and keeping it real – it's very motivating and inspiring to see your dedication in action through good and bad.

  • themurr says:

    The wife has the same issue with the thyroid, at least she's using Synthroid and yeah, similar symptoms. It sucks, and I hope things level out for you sooner rather than later. I'll have to mention viewing it as an experiment to her and see what she says.

    On an entirely unrelated note, the recipes of yours that I've tried rock. All first attempts were at least marginally successful, and some were quite good (I'm batting about 500 with them, which is rather better than normal). So yeah, thank you for that.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    mlw –> I'm intrigued now by the idea of what Thyroid Girl's costume might look like! Did you get to the gym today? Do tell! I slept 9 glorious hours last night and while I'm not bouncing with energy, today is feeling OK so far.

    Melissa –> Thank you for your kind words! I'm definitely within eye sight of the border of Whiny Baby Territory, but little things by my workout yesterday and my clear head this morning are keeping me from crossing over into the badlands.

    themurr –> Give my best to your wife. My friends who are also on Synthroid have told me that when it kicks in, I will feel much better… it's all a matter of getting the dosage right. Keep me posted on you and your wife are doing.

    I'm glad you're enjoying the recipes. Let me know if there's anything I can do to make them easier to follow. I'm never sure how much to talk about technique, etc. Bon appetit!

  • mlw says:


    I don't know why my signature suddenly switched from Meghan to mlw. But it's Meghan, sometimes commenter and immediately reformed wallower. Yes I went to the gym this morning and recommitted myself after my day of feeling bleh. I suggest Thyroid Girl for Halloween or maybe just a blog photoshoot? LOL.


  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Meghan/mlw/superstar –> Yay! Congratulations on hitting the gym today. For the record: some days I think it's OK to wallow… as long as you do what you did: get back on it post-wallowing. Good on you, girl!

    The thyroid is butterfly-shaped, so there might be some kind of tricked-out, superhero, butterfly badass costume in that Thyroid Girl idea somewhere. Although, if I'm not careful, my imagination goes somewhere gooey, which I don't think anyone wants.

  • Lauren says:

    I am SO glad I found you! I know this is an archived post – but I want you to know that it’s inspired a fellow “Thyroid Girl.” If a bad-ass like yourself struggles with this crappy gig – well, then I don’t feel so bad that a not-so-bad-ass gal like myself struggles too. However, in the same breath, if you can drag yourself to do workouts my healthiest self could only dream of, I can suck it up and at least attempt a 30 min cardio session. I look forward to reading through the rest of the Thyroid Archives – and I can’t wait to see how far you’ve come (and dang it – see what kind of lifestyle ideas I can steal from you to feel better too!!). 🙂 Many thanks.

    • Mel says:

      I’m glad you found me, too! And there have been many updates since this post. Whew!

      I’m in a somewhat happy, optimistic state right now because after 18 months of more experimentation, I finally feel really good AND my blood work looks great. It’s like a clean slate to just breathe, relax, and keep up my current habits. No more self analysis for a while. YAY!

      If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up in email at mjoulwan@gmail.com. My #1 recommendation for handling the thyroid challenges is kundalini yoga. It’s dramatically changed my mental state AND it’s really good for thyroid function. Wishing you good things!