Lyn Mynott founded Thyroid UK and is Chief Executive Officer.
She worked as a secretary to solicitors and probation officers in her early working life and after her first child was born, she became a bank manager’s secretary. Prior to being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, she trained to become an English teacher, teaching English to both adults and child students from all over the world and English grammar to UK adult students and their children in local schools.
You can read her full story below:
“I believe I first became ill when I was 29 when my first child was three – although I was ill with a lot of stomach trouble when I was 19 and lived on indigestion medicine for four years until I became pregnant with my first child. It first started with knee pain, then neck pain, then back pain. I was off work for months. I then started getting vertigo, odd dizzy spells, menstrual problems, allergies – you name it, I had it.
I saw different specialists for the separate symptoms, all to no avail. My file was so thick, even I was beginning to believe I was a hypochondriac! At this point, it was never suggested to me that I may have thyroid trouble, even though my sister had been overactive, then underactive. I didn’t, at that stage, know that it ran in families and that I could have the same problem.
I struggled on but eventually gave up work and became pregnant with my second child. I felt much better during my pregnancy but soon after birth, I became ill again with joint and back pain. I changed doctors and although the new doctor suspected thyroid problems and sent me for blood tests on two separate occasions, they both came back in the normal range.
I was lucky in that I refused antidepressants and therefore didn’t suffer more problems associated with that, as many people have. I saw many private alternative therapists – osteopaths, chiropractors, iridologists, healers, and homeopaths. My reflexologist told me that I had problems with my thyroid.
I was classed as having postnatal depression. I was constantly cold, I had no hair on my body and my head hair was falling out in handfuls. My skin was very dry and I was incredibly tired all the time. I put on even more weight even though I’d tried every diet club going and was eating very little. I felt like I was in a continual fog – I couldn’t concentrate, would forget what I was going to say in the middle of a sentence and my eyes were giving me trouble. I had pins and needles in odd places, strange numbness in strange places and cried all the time. I was then given blood tests for menopausal symptoms, but these came back normal too. I went home from the surgery in tears of fear, anger and frustration.
I carried on as usual and one morning (Thank God) a lump appeared in my throat. As you can imagine, I zoomed to the GP thinking the worst. Tests were carried out which were all inconclusive and so eventually I was booked for a thyroidectomy. Fate stepped in at that time and whilst I was in the waiting room waiting for my pre-admission appointment, I read an article in Woman Magazine regarding the thyroid blood test results. Now I was convinced that I had an underactive thyroid.
After the operation, in 1996, I was given 200 mcg of thyroxine. I didn’t want to take this, as I knew it would be too much in one go, but the district nurse insisted that the doctor was right – so I took it. I was so ill – I thought I was dying – my heart was banging away all night, I was so hot and I was sweating profusely. My GP suggested I reduce the dose. I then decided I was going to take control of my own health and reduced the dose down to 75 mcg and slowly upped it 25mcg at a time until I felt better.
When I went back to see the consultant who did my operation, he told me "You’ve probably been underactive for some time". I could have kissed him!
Very, very slowly over a period of 18 months, I got much, much better. One by one, the symptoms improved and this proved to me that there was a problem with the diagnosing of thyroid disease and that it is possible to be hypothyroid (and indeed hyperthyroid) and still be within the range.
With a few remaining symptoms left, I swapped from levothyroxine to Armour Thyroid, a natural desiccated thyroid medication, which completed my recovery to a degree where I could go back to work. I still have one remaining problem left – muscular problems in my back. I realise that I will never be 100% and that I will always have some back pain but I am happy with this.
I wanted to help others who were in the same position as I was in so I started campaigning. I never imagined my campaigning would involve setting up a charity that would grow to such proportions but I’m so glad I did it.
My story shows that however long you have been ill with undiagnosed thyroid disease, there is still hope for a normal life. Don’t give up!”