July 2, 2012 by dontbringlulubook
One of Ron and Doris Onions favourite tunes, made so by the relevance to their personal situation, was “You can bring Pearl, she’s a darned nice girl but don’t bring Lulu” – a tune that brought smiles tinged with sadness and poignancy due to the condition, first brought to Ron and Doris’s attention at a country fete on the South Coast in the early 1960s, that would blight Lulu for the rest of her life. Hypothyroidism, caused by the lack of her thyroid gland meant her body was therefore not making enough thyroid hormone, thereby creating an iodine deficiency and resulting in the need for a medication called thyroxine to be taken daily in tablet for the rest of her life with the dosage depending upon the severity of the condition.
Hypothyroidism can affect anybody at any time. Politicians such as George and Barbara Bush, Olympic athletes such as Gail Devers, actresses such as Kim Cattrall, and singers such as Rod Stewart and Robbie Williams all suffer with thyroid problems to varying degrees that affect their daily lives and require medication to keep the problem under control.
I also have first-hand experience of dealing with a thyroid problem – my partner was diagnosed with Graves Disease two years ago, a similar medical condition related to the thyroid. Rather than an underactive thyroid as was Lulu’s problem, Graves Disease means your thyroid is overactive. In both cases, the thyroid’s function needs to be regulated – as the Doctor who initially diagnosed Lulu said, if the thyroid gland located in front of the windpipe at the front and sides of the neck does not function properly the person concerned may demonstrate both mental and physical sluggishness. After all, the thyroid gland is known as being the body’s own thermometer, vitally needed to regulate the body’s emotions, temperature, behaviour, and general alertness. As Ron and Doris were advised, severe hypothyroidism in children can result in cretinism and they spent all of Lulu’s life fighting to give her the best care and as normal a life as possible.
Nowadays, much more is known about a thyroid problem such as hypothyroidism and the drugs to control the problem and, as such, the prognosis and treatment is far more humane and enables the sufferers to lead a far more normal life than was possible fifty years ago. As Lucy, Lulu’s niece writes in the book “Don’t Bring Lulu” ‘whenever we visited Louise, you sensed a difference between the way they (her mother and grandparents) regarded Louise and the attitude of her carers. The staff showed fond affection, while her parents and sister expressed love, but with it there came an underlying tinge of sadness.’