I’ve been aware of your activity in my body since approximately 2011. So, that’s around 6 years of knowing you. I can’t say that it’s been enjoyable getting to know you. In fact, I would say that it has been a most unpleasant experience.
Initially, I had no clue that you existed and/or that you were systematically trying to take down my thyroid. To be honest, I don’t know that I even really knew I had a thyroid. Until, I started to feel really really shitty. By shitty I mean that I couldn’t get through a day without breaking into a post-5-mile-run-type-sweat after doing a simple task like walking through a store or walking up a flight of stairs in my house. By shitty I mean that there was this one point where I was trying to eat soup and my hand was shaking so badly and I was seriously concerned that I might have Parkinson’s like Freddie Roach (no disrespect intended). By shitty I mean I had these experiences of waking up around 3 or 4 a.m. drenched in sweat with my heart pounding in my ears and out of my chest. I had no clue what was happening. They fitted me with a heart monitor despite the fact I was in my early 30s. I would sometimes feel slightly better after I ate something and so I wondered, did I have diabetes? Luckily, the first doctor that I saw, who did not know me from Adam (since I generally avoid doctors), recognized that these symptoms weren’t due to mental health (which they certainly could have considered based off of my symptoms) and ran some blood work. Diagnosis: Thyrotoxicosis a.k.a. Hyperthyroidism a.k.a. Grave’s Disease.
Now, at this point dear reader you’re probably wondering, am I on the wrong site? I thought this was a blog about music, not medical issues. And you are correct! This is a blog dedicated to music. This is NOT a medical blog. Please, be patient and bear with me. I’ll get to the music part eventually. Can I give you some advice? Whatever you do, do not google Grave’s Disease. Okay, you’ve probably already done it. And you’ve probably already looked at some of the same images I also viewed initially. You know what I’m talking about. The ones of people with eyes popping out of their heads like some sort of novelty squeeze toy you would find at Spencer’s Gifts in your local mall.
The good news is that my eyes haven’t popped out like that (yet). Additional good news includes the fact that there is a medicine for Grave’s Disease and my body tolerates it (Yay!). The bad news is that gland doctors (who are more politely referred to as endocrinologists) have a real thing about keeping people on this medication. They like to wean you off of it to see if you will go into remission or relapse. Then, when you relapse they try to convince you to take one of two more permanent routes of treatment which are (1) swallow radioactive material which will be absorbed into your thyroid which theoretically nukes it into oblivion (crazy…right?) or (2) allow some stranger with a scalpel and credentials to slit your throat and take the darn thing out.
BUT WAIT!!!!!! This is a letter to those vicious antibodies. Back to you, you confused and nasty little suckers.
After a great deal of research I have learned that this thing that you’re hell bent on attacking in body, my thyroid, is not so much like an organ (such as the heart, liver, lungs) but is much more like something from the deep sea that just happens to be attached to the inside of my throat. Apparently it’s squishy, not unlike a jelly fish. Continuing on with this deep sea creature analogy, it also seems important to note that like a starfish that loses an arm, the thyroid can indeed grow back even if you try to blast it into some nuclear oblivion and/or scrape it away like a blob of grape jelly that leaked out of your PB&J sandwich and onto your rug. To be clear, I don’t plan to remove it with nuclear warfare or via surgery.
Okay, finally, here’s where the music part comes into play. All of my life I have loved music. As a little kid I was exposed to “Solid Gold Saturday Night” via the radio during weekend outings to restaurants and shopping plazas with my family. I can still remember the phone number jingle that you could use to call in requests. 1-800…..634-5789 doo da doo doo da doo, 634-5789!!!!!
My Dad had the American Graffiti soundtrack on 8-track. I may have been the only girl in elementary school in the mid to late 1980s who knew about Wolfman Jack, let alone actually cared about him. I. loved. music. My senior year I had a (pretty severely belated) revelation that despite the fact that I had only really exerted any effort in my preferred classes in high school (English & Art) that I probably should figure out what I wanted to do with my life/time post-graduation. As I remember it, I made the the decision to go to college (something my parents were not pressuring me to do) after laying on my bed and listening to numerous Beatles albums back to back. Paul and John had faith in me. They would approve of me studying writing. Even if it wasn’t guaranteed to yield a “real” job. If the lads believe in you, you can accomplish anything.
So here’s the deal antibodies; every time you launch another round of attacks on that gelatinous starfish wrapped around my vocal chords and I don’t have the proper medication to keep you at bay I know things are going seriously south when I stop wanting to listen to music. That is indicator numero uno that I need to call up that gland doctor in Beverly Hills (Prince reference).
From November 2016 to Januaryish of 2017 things got really bad. I knew they were bad because I had zero desire to listen to pretty much anything. No doowop. No Beatles. No girl groups. No demos. No live Replacements bootlegs. Nothing (except maybe a little Tom Petty and a little Neil Young). My turntable got dusty. I wondered why Weird Al never did a spoof of the Aerosmith song “Livin’ On The Edge” with the title “Livin’ On The Couch” because it required a great of effort for me to do anything but spend time on the couch. Proposed lyric, “You can’t stop yourself from sleeeeeeping.”
Mid-January I finally convinced my endocrinologist, who reminds me of the main bad Nazi whose face melts at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark (I say this with affection), to put me back on medication. Within a week I was like one of those elderly people featured in that documentary Alive Inside. One minute sitting listlessly in a chair, eyes glazed. The next minute tapping my feet to the beat, waving my hands in the air and crying.
The first letter I wrote for this blog was focused on Jens Lekman. Suspiciously he has a new album out approximately 1 year later. The opening track “To Know Your Mission”* manages to encapsulate everything I love about music. Most specifically, it highlights and simultaneously captures joy and transcendence.
In short; continue to wage your war antibodies. I won’t give up! I will drive to Philadelphia in March to see Jens Lekman live. You can’t stop me!
Eat my dust,
* I don’t want to spoil anything for anybody, but Jens is totally on top of his game on this new album. He’s doing all the classic Jens stuff (beautiful singing, clever/witty lyrics, referencing himself in songs, sampling things so well you don’t even know that he’s using samples, making you cry in your car etc. etc.) and he’s doing it PERFECTLY.
2 thoughts on “Dear antibodies that are attacking my thyroid,”
I love this piece; it’s well-written, emotional, and fully invested in the personal, individual meaning of music. Conjuring up my own memory of the Solid Gold Saturday Night jingle is a bonus, too. Good luck with everything, April; I’m a lot older than you, and I know the ravages of time and ailments, but I’ve seen how love and music can help to see us through.