Beverly Wright, 43, from Rotherham explains how her TV debut had her running to the doctor's...
As my family and I gathered around the telly last January, my tummy flipped with excitement.
‘No likey, no lighty!’ I giggled as Take Me Out’s host Paddy McGuinness emerged.
My daughter Bailey, 16, and I were squirming like kids on the edge of the sofa because, this time, I was a contestant!
I’d filmed the show back in November 2015, and had such an amazing time.
Despite being old enough to be many of the girls’ mums, I was the lucky lady who got picked – and bagged a trip to the Isle of Fernando with a 21-year-old hottie!
While the date was heaps of fun, we parted ways afterwards.
Now I couldn’t wait to relive it all again. Except, as my face flashed up on the screen, I gasped in horror.
I didn’t recognise myself!
‘Why is my face so bloated?’ I blurted.
‘Don’t be silly, Mum, you look gorgeous,’ Bailey said.
But, to me, there was no denying I looked different. My eyes were puffy, my cheeks filled out like a chipmunk’s.
Between filming and the show airing, I hadn’t really noticed a change!
I’d also been more tired than usual, but I hadn’t thought much of it.
Over the next few days, things got worse. I started having palpitations, was constantly cold, and lost my appetite. And, if I did eat, I couldn’t stomach much.
Plus, I was permanently shattered, struggling to climb the stairs or drag myself out of bed. And I’d started to dread showering. It left me feeling so wiped out, I could hardly do a thing after.
A beautician, I could barely keep my eyes open either.
Initially, I assumed it was the after-effects of the stress of being on the show. It was fun, but a bit full-on.
‘You must go to the doctor,’ Bailey insisted.
So I did. Tests revealed I had hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid. If left untreated, in rare cases it can be life-threatening, as it causes dangerously high blood pressure and heart rate.
Researching online later, I discovered it can be linked to Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder.
Back at the doctor’s, a blood test confirmed it. A chronic, lifelong illness, Hashimoto’s meant my immune system was mistakenly attacking my thyroid. The damage had stopped the gland from producing vital hormones.
‘At least I have an answer,’ I said, trying to be positive. ‘How do we treat it?’
But I was in for another blow when the doctor told me there’s no cure. It means I’ll be on medication for life, to help my body produce the missing hormone.
‘At least you’ve found out now,’ Bailey said.
Now, after joining the Thyroid UK forum, I have amazing support. I’ve also gone gluten-free, and feel fantastic.
My next goal is to join a gym.
It’s taken a good year, but I’m finally looking and feeling like myself again. I dread to think what could’ve happened if I hadn’t gone on telly.
I may not have found love, but it certainly saved my health.