Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Six Week Check-In

     I've only recently started taking medication for my thyroid, so my 6 week check-in to retest blood levels seems to have flown by.

My new results are:

  • TSH level  0.37 (normal range 0.3 - 3.0)
  • Free T3     3.72  (normal range 2.0-4.4)
  • Free T4     1.32  (normal range .90-2.00)

     Doctor likes my results, and i'm quite pleased with them too, so no changes for now. One wonderful thing about the German doctor i’m currently seeing is he too has hypothyroidism. I don’t wish the condition on him, but it is nice to have a professional know really what its like.True to the doctor's advice, it takes 3-4 weeks for the medicine to really kick in, so you have to stick with it.

     Currently I'm on a German brand called L-Thyroxin Henning 100. In preparation of seeing the doctor, however, I looked into Liothyronine (generic name) / Cytomel (brand name) / Novothyral (german brand). Currently my medicine is purely T4, but I’ve been reading that people that take liothyronine, which contains T3, have improvement with concentration issues and “brain fog.”  That and fatigue, are two continuing symptoms I have.

     I suspect that I also have some adrenal fatigue going on from all the stress these last few months. I never thought to ask for a look at my cortisol levels. I'm gonna have to get use to requesting tests if I suspect. In a few weeks I will be returning state side and will pursue both matters later when I have to switch my medication over to an American brand anyway. 

     In the mean time, are there any other avenues I should be looking into in terms of medications, supplements, etc?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Diagnoses

A goal for me in this blog is to stay positive, but I also want to start off with my (abridged) months into diagnoses which will most likely sound melodramatic. Apologies if I dip into some suppressed teen angst.

     In March I was on a short vacation with my family in North Carolina.  I remember the exact moment I began to feel sick. The second day in, I was getting ready for bed when this wall of exhaustion hits. Now I don’t mean the usual, “Oh right, I’ve had a long day, my body is weary” kind of tired. This was an oh-my-god-my-body-is-shaking ordeal. I didn’t tell anyone because I mostly just found this odd. That night, and for the next month straight, when I closed my eyes I had the sensation of phosphene until I fell asleep.

     The next day my exhaustion was continual. Sitting actually made it worse so I opted to stand all the time. I would get pressures in my skull that made me feel like I was going to pass out. Headaches that moved around during the course of the day. I promptly went to a doctor when I returned only to have a multitude of blood work done on me. Inflammation? No. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? No. Thyroid issues? No (TSH Level was at 0.6 at the time).

     A month passed and I felt I was taking crazy pills. The doctors couldn’t come up with anything, and yet I felt horrible. I was tired all the time, there was nausea and the muscles in my arms always felt weak. The worst sensation was the pressure in my head that made me feel faint. Work was becoming a strain.

     In April, breathing issues started up. One day I was out walking in the local park about 2 blocks from my apartment when I felt a pressure in my chest. To this day I have a hard time explaining this sensation, but later the E.R. doctor described it as being “oxygen hungry.” And that I was. I could take a full breath, strain my lungs to the max, but it never felt like enough. These episodes would last sometimes for hours and all I would do is hope it wasn’t anything serious.  Chest pains came a week later and prompted a doctors visit. They listened to my heart and my lungs, and I was given a clean bill of health.
     For this visit I went to a new doctor, my TSH levels were tested again. My doctors were very suspicious of hypothyroidism. In a month it had increased to about 3.0, starting to borderline on “healthy”. I didn’t commit the previous number to memory and hadn’t notice the sudden change in just over a month.

     Later that month I went to the E.R.  Anxiety got the best of me, with chest pains and my breathing issues, I was driven to the hospital from work.

     One of my good friends was on her way to keep me company but in the mean time, I had a mini-pity-party. If I called my friends, who would actually come to the hospital? Why had I lost touch with so many people?  Would I lose my job over this? What if they find something serious?

     And strangely enough, this thought scared me the most: What if they didn't find anything wrong?

     I had been sick for 6 weeks at that point, and no answers, just more and more symptoms building up that couldn’t be explained. It was at this point I felt like I was going to die. Melodramatic, I know. I kept imaging my body was slowly falling to pieces around me. That something quiet , but deadly was lurking somewhere in my body. Too small for doctors to pick up, but being that it was in my own body I could feel its manifestation.

     Doctors ran a D-dimer that tested for the presence of a clot. It was slightly above average and so a CT Scan of my chest was performed to see if that was the cause of my chest pain/breathing problems. It may be strange to read, but I was hoping that it was a blood clot at the time because finally I would have some answers. The results came back negative, which really was a blessing despite my feelings in the moment.

     My mood started to change. I started to get angry at people as a scapegoat. People who had truly done nothing wrong to me. Most people didn’t even know the extent to which I was feeling sick, but I assumed they should check in on me. Me, me, me.  I became spiteful when I saw pictures online of friends having a good time. No one could please me. If I was invited someplace, I felt too bad to go and I felt like I was missing out on life. If they didn’t invite me, I felt like they had simply given up on me.

     Fast forward to May. I’d come to a point where I was seeing specialists and still no answers. I was afraid of driving because I would get dizzy and I had a hard time concentrating.  It hit a point where I called in sick from work  because getting out of bed and getting dressed was expending too much energy. And yes, the breathing issues were still happening. In the end my dad flew in for a week to check in on me.

     With support, I started to feel okay and went back to work. This only lasted about another 2 weeks before things got seriously bad again. Breathing issues, fatigue, and now horrible stomach pain had emerged. On the last day I went into work and was asked to leave because I obviously was not okay.

     That was my breaking point. I was on week 10 and I didn’t even make it to my car in the parking lot before I started to cry. I called my mother and bawled my eyes out. I felt like I had lost everything I had worked for. I was loosing my social life. I wasn’t able to do anything outside of work, and than, I couldn’t even work. I gave up.

     From that phone call in the parking lot I remember two big things ;  I kept telling my mother “I feel like i’m between a rock and hard place,” and my mother suggesting I come live with her and my dad for a few weeks.

     It didn’t take much to convince me at this point. Anxiety of being sick all the time with no answers had wrecked havoc on my calm. I was always stressed out and hated to be alone. I started asking my roommate to stay in the apartment with me because I had become so paranoid that I was on some kind of downfall. 

     My family lives in Germany, I lived in Colorado. In late May I settled matters at home and flew over there. My saving grace was actually my forgetfulness. I could not find, at the time, my paperwork from previous doctors outlining blood-work already done so we wouldn’t have to start from scratch again. TSH levels were missing so for a third time they tested my thyroid and surprise surprise - I was a 4.6.

     In just 13 weeks my TSH levels went from .6 to 4.6.  The average range according to American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists is 0.3 to 3.0. I’m not sure  what in March, or perhaps even late February caused my thyroid function to start its downward spiral so abruptly.

     I am grateful for the answers though because now I can take steps to fight back. I want to be the person I was before March and I'm going to see it through. So watch out thyroid!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why This Exists

     To cut to the chase: Not too long ago I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at the age of 22.

     Recently, I was *trying* to research troubling symptoms and was disheartened by the lack of support sites where people could share their personal experiences. Which is odd. If you were to look on endocrineweb.com and search hypothyroidism you’d find the following line : “..as many as 10% of women may have some degree of thyroid hormone deficiency.” That means  a whole lot of ladies out there are working through fatigue, depression, muscle aches and pains, etc, without knowing if or what their feeling is common.

     My blog is about my personal experience with hypothyroidism. I began writing a lot of things down before and after I had a firm grasp of what was happening to my body, but never shared them. In many ways this is therapy for me as I work through where i’ve been and where i'm going. However, I want to keep this open and share this with others, with thyroid disease, and hopefully turn this into advice and support as I discover things along the way.

IN NO WAY do I want to replace medical advice. Seek your physician if you are concerned with your symptoms, medication, etc. I am not medically qualified, nor will I ever claim to be. I just write from where I stand on this.