Overactive thyroid – open and shut case

overactive thyroid
Apparently random sickness in the night can be a symptom of coeliac disease for young people

Why did I think it was an overactive thyroid?

Tamsin has long been very slim, prone to catching illnesses that are doing the rounds, not wildly energetic and that bit shorter than her peers, but for the first 14-and-a-bit years of her life I didn’t consider that to be a sign of illness as she was otherwise a perfectly normal little girl. Both her grandmas are small and slight, her father’s not that tall and neither he nor I are sporty, so I thought she’d just copped a particular combination of genes. Until recently. One day I was listening to a podcast from the Radio 3 Essay series focussing on parts of the body (A Body of Essays: Chibundu Onuzo – The Fire of Life: The Thyroid) and the list of symptoms had me wondering – is it an overactive thyroid?


Listen to the essay yourself as it’s a lovely piece, but I’ll pull out the salient points: sweaty hands, unflushable stools (when I think of the number of times I blamed that on my little boy – I’m so sorry), tiredness, illness – you get the picture. I’ve been tested for an underactive thyroid as has my mother and I have relatives with thyroid problems, so Sherlock here was on the case. I took Tamsin to the doctor who said, interestingly, “it could be a number of things”. What surprises me is that my antennae didn’t immediately stand bolt upright wanting to know more – I think I was just so sure of my diagnosis that I thought the doctor was just being cagey. An appointment was made for a blood test.

Blood test

Tamsin doesn’t like needles. Lots of people don’t like needles but Tamsin becomes hysterical. After a recent cervical cancer innoculation at school the MI officer rang me to explain how Tamsin had reacted and how they’d cared for her, and that she was now recovering. Blimey. We had quite a tussle at the surgery but eventually she allowed herself to go through with it, tears rolling down her face.


The online results didn’t seem to show a great deal beyond the odd very fractionally abnormal result for one or two functions, but none the less we received a letter from the doctor asking us to make an appointment. An actual printed out letter sent with an expensive stamp from a surgery less than a mile away – would email not have done? I shudder at the wasted resources. We made the appointment and Tamsin went away on a school trip for a few days. During that time I had an email exchange with a friend whose young daughter has both thyroid problems (like her mum) and coeliac disease. My friend mentioned that her daughter was sick in the night randomly which was what had prompted them to see a doctor, and I gaily thought ‘oh no, Tamsin doesn’t do that’. The night Tamsin returned from her school trip she was sick, and I stopped thinking ‘is it an overactive thyroid?’ and started thinking ‘oh my god, it’s coeliac disease’.


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