Tag Archives: Thyroid

Medical Microfiction: Hypothyroidism

Recess on the Moon

At noon, the teacher summoned her students to dress for their daily run across the moon’s surface. They piled into the locker room and pulled on their jumpsuits, gravity boots, helmets and oxygen tanks. Lori lagged behind.

In her absence, the other girls huddled around Lori’s boots. “Who’s got the screwdriver?” asked Violet. They made the usual adjustments.

“Slow Lori!” the children chanted as they lapped her around the crater again. Lori choked back sobs. Every day, she ran a little harder. Every day, she clocked a slower time. Lori ran with the weight of another world on her shoulders.


English: Moon view from earth In Belgium (Hamo...
Would you go for a run on the moon? I know I would! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hypothyroidism is an insidious and frustrating medical condition for those who suffer from it. It famously causes weight gain, lethargy, and a host of other symptoms that start out faint and grow increasingly more severe with time. Because the symptoms come on so gradually, it’s also an extremely underdiagnosed condition: many people whose thyroids are producing abnormally quantities of hormone won’t know it for years until the symptoms grow more pronounced and troublesome.

Since thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) govern metabolism and energy levels, a person whose body is deficient experiences life much like Lori does with her gravity boots. To perform at the same level as the other children, Lori has to in exponentially more effort, and the problem only escalates over time. She has an unfair disadvantage that is entirely invisible from the outside but is very, very real on the inside.

What causes hypothyroidism? The single biggest culprit is iodine deficiency, which is especially a problem in countries where iodine is not abundant in the local diet. It can also be caused by stress, radiation, certain medicines, and complications related to pregnancy.

Fortunately, the fix for hypothyroidism is very simple. Sufferers simply take a daily dose of synthetic thyroid hormones to bring their bodies back to normal. From what I’ve heard, it often takes some experimentation to hit upon the right dosage for the individual, but once the balance is struck, a person’s energy will return and the symptoms will abate.

In other words, just recalibrate the dang gravity boots!

English: Slow Loris in Sabah, Borneo
A clue about today’s hidden pun. Hover over this photo for the answer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Conditions like hypothyroidism demonstrate why, in a world where obesity is increasingly a problem, it’s important to exercise kindness toward people who struggle with their weight. We never know what level someone’s gravity boots are set to, or how they’d perform if the boots were calibrated to be in line with a person’s peers. Besides, recent research demonstrates what common sense told us all along: that cruelty causes people to gain more weight, not lose it.

Bonus points if you caught the hidden zoology pun in this story. Let me know in the comments below if you found it!