Get A Grip: Internet can provide answers

Sunday morning I got up and mopped the floor.

I mopped the tiles in the kitchen and the bathroom, the wood floors in the living room and hallway, and then the porch.

Then I cleaned up, jumped for joy and got on with the day.

Having clean floors is a good reason to jump for joy but that wasn't my motivation.

My motivation was the fact that I was able to mop without resting.

Able to start the job and finish it.

Able to complete the task and move on instead of take a nap.

I can't remember the last time I achieved such a mundane victory.

When I was 17 I was diagnosed with thyroid disease.

I am hypothyroid which means that my thyroid gland (located in the lower neck region) doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone.

It took five different doctors and a battery of test before I was diagnosed because the symptoms of a thyroid problem are subtle.

They include: exhaustion, dry skin and hair, weight gain, depression and trouble sleeping.

People think sufferers are moody because they have difficulty socializing and lazy because they're always so tired.

The doctors told me I was lucky since thyroid hormone can be synthetically replaced.

All I had to do was take a pill every day and I'd be fine.

And for a time, they were right.

I took my pill every day and got along more-or-less normally.

While they did not go away, my symptoms abated.

Over the years the dose of my medicine has been altered slightly as necessary but things were generally stable.

But a few years ago things started to go downhill.

My symptoms flared up with a vengeance and it was all I could do to get through the day without collapsing in a heap.

Back to the doctors I went.

I saw an endocrinologist, a gland specialist, and my dose was slashed.

I got worse but my blood tests were normal.

Despite my laundry list of symptoms the doctor would barely look at me during an office visit.

The doctor just glanced at the blood test results, said I was fine and sent me home.

After a few more months and more doctors I was desperate.

I got on the Internet and a whole new world opened up for me.

I discovered information about my disease that no doctor had ever shared with me.

I was astonished to find that my ailment had a name I'd never heard: Hashimoto's Disease.

I also found a community of other people with the same complaints I had.

At an invaluable website (thyroid.about.com) I read notes from other people whose doctors would only look at their blood test results and ignore their pleas for help.

I also read about some doctors who looked beyond the numbers (or deeper into the numbers) to help their patients.

Doctors who realized that this wasn't a problem to be treated lightly but a potentially debilitating disease.

Turns out there are millions of people in the United States who suffer from a thyroid disorder.

Specialists suspect many more people have the disorder but don't know it because of the subtle symptoms.

Reading messages from other people in the same situation helped me to not feel so alone and gave me the impetus to seek out yet another doctor.

This time I read through a list of doctors recommended by others on the site.

I found one that sounded good in Tucson.

A long way away but worth it if he can help, I thought.

The husband made me an appointment and made the long drive with me.

The doctor changed my medicine (turns out Synthroid, the most popular thyroid medicine, hasn't gone through the FDA approval process and has been accused of producing imprecise doses as well as falsely claiming the drug was superior to generic options).

He talked to me for at least a half hour before even looking at my blood test results and then explained all the numbers to me before upping my dose by 50 percent.

That was a month ago.

Sunday was a breakthrough, when I knew things were finally getting better.

Now I feel like the Internet saved my life.

This whole experience has taught me to keep pushing when I have questions and not accept answers that I know aren't right for me.

The beauty of the Internet is that you can find a sort-of second opinion without moving from your desk.

As with any source of information, it is critical to question what you read and scrutinize the data.

But for anyone who is suffering, it's a great way to connect, find comfort and maybe even some help.