About nine months ago I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. It was quite by accident that my thyroid problem was even found. I had gone to a doctor for a wellness check-up. Part of that check-up included doing extensive blood work which indicated that I had an elevated tsh level. Now up until this point I didn't even know what the thyroid's role was in the body (it controls the hormones and metabolism...). However, over the past nine months I have researched that little butterfly shaped thing extensively.
Like I said, I never even realized that I had a thyroid problem until I had those blood tests performed and had no idea what some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism were. Sure, I felt cold a good bit and was often tired but those things never really bothered me per se. A "normal" tsh level is still being debated by many physicians. The old standards say that anything under 5 is OK; the new standards like for your tsh to be around 2. My first blood test showed that my tsh was 9.8. A second test, a month later, showed 9.1. Although these numbers were not terribly high, they were not considered "normal", thus I was put on a medication to get that number into a normal range. Little did I know how difficult that would be.
The doctor I was using then (I have since changed doctors...) prescribed a drug called Armour Thyroid. From what I understand, this is an older drug, made from dessicated pig thyroid. He started me on a dose of 45 mg. which brought my numbers down. Now, remember that I said there is some controversy about how low some doctors would like that tsh number to be. Well, my doctor wanted it lower and tried to up my dosage to 65 mg. OK...so, let me interject here that I have often times had trouble taking medications, so I read all the material about the medications that are prescribed for me. And not only that...I also research them online. I KNOW...the Internet is good and bad in that way but I feel like I need to be well informed about my health. And that is exactly how I knew when I began having problems with that larger dosage that was prescribed for me. I began feeling shaky, my heart was sort of skipping around; I felt like someone who had been drinking coffee all day long. I told the doctor that I just could not stay on that dosage and he did another blood test that showed my numbers had dropped down to 1. I told him that I just didn't feel well taking that large dosage so he reduced me back to the 45 mg. I now knew how I felt when my tsh was too high AND too low. But still this daily battle to conquer my thyroid continued.
I was having blood tests done every month to keep up with those numbers and somewhere around April my blood work showed that my tsh was around 4. That was sort of when I decided to change doctors. He decided to put me back on the 60 mg. dosage, which immediately caused me to have all of the same side effects that I was having before, including mild chest pains now. I knew that there was NO WAY I could get up and feel like that every day. I called the doctor back and told him that he had to either reduce my dosage again or change me to another medication. He agreed to lower the dosage again but told me that he wasn't going to do anything with my medication yet. It seemed to me like I was just spinning my wheels. I had talked to my sister who told me it had taken her doctor 2 years to get her thyroid medication adjusted just right...WOW! That sounded terrible. I needed to make some changes and quick. The first thing I decided to do was to consult another doctor.
May was a very busy month for me. I had three graduations to attend out of state, Caitlin's wedding and two surgeries. I did not get my blood test done again in May but planned to have it done around the first part of June. As things turned out we got to go on that beach trip and that's when things got worse for me. I was still taking that lower dosage of my medication but I began to feel shaky and have heart palpitation and was feeling sort of weak. I didn't want to complain too much but one morning I asked Robby if he would call this new doctor I was planning to see (he is a partner of his...) and make me an appointment for the Monday I got back in town. I also told him that I noticed that I felt OK when I woke up in the morning but after I took my medication I began to feel worse. I said, just ask him if I can quit taking this stuff. He did ask and I was told not to quit taking my medication but that he would see me when I got back in town and he felt certain he could straighten things out with my thyroid. Do you see now why I say I HATE my thyroid so much?!
The day we were packing up to leave the beach I woke up feeling pretty bad. I not only felt shaky and weak but now I felt sick to my stomach. We spent the night in New Orleans where I went to bed early and awoke the next morning feeling a little better. I couldn't pin point exactly what was wrong, I knew it had something to do with my medication. Maybe the dosage needed to be increased. I also felt like perhaps the Armour Thyroid wasn't the best medicine choice for me. All I was really certain of was that SOMETHING had to be done!
That Monday morning Robby took me for my doctor's appointment. I had a fasting blood test done again and then waited to see this new doctor of mine. When he came into the room, he asked me how I had been feeling. He also asked how I had felt when I had taken a higher dose of medication. I answered all of these questions and then he told me what my tsh numbers were that morning (without taking my medication...)...My tsh was .5! Now .3-.5 is still considered the very lowest end of a "normal" reading but that was crazy low for me. If my tsh was that low and then I was taking my medication, it was dropping it even lower. The doctor explained to me that it could definitely make me feel sick. He decided to remove me from my medication for one month. At that time he will be able to determine what the situation with my thyroid is; whether I need a small dosage or none at all.
And so I went home, happy that someone at least was listening to me about how I felt and going to try to do something to help me feel better. It took about four days before my heart settled back down to normal. I actually began to feel better than I had felt in a long time. So while things were looking up for me, I decided to get back out in the gym and begin working out. That first day was hard but I stayed with it, doing only cardio. I did cardio two more days that week and considered myself a success. Week two, I added some weights to the cardio three days; once again, I survived. This week is week three. I worked out five days this week and although I have been a bit sore, it is not unbearable; I actually have enough energy and strength to get out there and work out and feel pretty good. I still have a couple of weeks to go before I have to go back for my blood test. I am looking forward to seeing what it shows. Trying to get a thyroid "normalized" is more difficult that I could ever imagine. It has been a daily battle for me but I think things are looking up and I am beginning to feel positive about it. I have found that the worst thing one can do when feeling down is to just sit around and do nothing and get consumed with the problem at hand. My advice? Listen to your body. It speaks to you and tells you when you need to get help. Be proactive...Get that help (even if it means changing doctors...)...Get up and get out of the house and get a positive attitude! All of those things will go a long way on your road to recovery. My thyroid is still a work in progress but I am NOT going to let it beat me down!