Monday, July 23, 2007

Low Thyroid Daze

I really don't know how I end up at some of the blogs I have read recently. Basically, I am visiting one blog, click on a link to another blog in the margins that is "recommended" or is regularly visited by that blogger -- and I just keep moving through the blogging world that way.

Thankfully, I do bookmark a number of them or I would never ever be able to find them again. (You should see the -- l o n g -- list of links in that "favorites" file ... I still may never find some of those blogs ever again.)One that I visited tonight has an entry on Hashimoto's Disease, a condition that causes hypo-thyroidism (or low thyroid). Below is the link to that blog entry. At least she has a sense-of-humor about the situation. Which is, in the end, the only way to deal with it.

Now that you have visited that site and read her entry on low thyroid, I'll tell you my take on it.

About 14 years ago (gee, has it really been THAT long ago??), I decided I was not going to go on a real "diet" per se, but would be a little more careful about what I ate -- in other words, I would regulate the portions a bit better. Over the course of about 2 1/2 years, I lost about 75 pounds.

In 1996, I moved from New Jersey to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota -- to finally finish up my Bachelor's degree but in a different field than I had originally studied. I had already been through majors like Pharmacy and on to Psychology. Now I was finally going to pursue the field one of my high school teachers had suggested a thousand years before -- art. Particularly, pottery.

In the first six months in Minnesota, I continued to lose weight but now lost another 55 pounds in that short time. To those who condemn fast food as causing the weight problems of America, I can tell you that is not true. I ate McDonald's or Burger King almost every day for lunch in that time; and Perkins for dinner two or three times a week. However, I didn't supersize my orders, didn't get the free refills on the soda. I just couldn't make my own lunch (or dinner, either) for the low prices I was paying. I did, however, drink a lot of water (bottled because I do not like the taste of chlorinated city water) and walked most of the places I wanted to go (the city buses were not my favorite mode of transportation).

In my studies, I took a class on formulating your own clays and glazes. Other students in the course were using white lead in the glazes they were making. And I was noticing a couple things-- I had a very embarrassing "startle" reflex; I could hear someone coming and be totally aware of their presence, but the second they appeared in my peripheral vision, I would jump out of my skin
-- I was getting a tremor in my hands that made it hard to do some of the fine drawing that I like to do
-- And my memory, I thought, was getting worse

I knew that the last two could be symptoms of lead poisoning and had an inkling that maybe the first could be too (though, I don't know for sure). So, I went to the University Hospital Clinic for a blood test. It came back negative (good news, no lead poisoning) -- but bad news, because that meant finding out what was causing these problems.

A couple of blood tests later came back with Graves Disease. This is an auto-immune problem that causes the thyroid to be over-active.

Over-active thyroid, I was informed by the endocrinologist could cause all kinds of terrible things if it wasn't taken care of, the worst was an enlarged heart. Since I already had a fast heart rate, I really was worried about this possibility. My father had died when I was 12 of a second massive heart attack in three years. I didn't want that to happen to me. Besides, I was not coping well with the startle reflex problem nor the shaky hands. So, I agreed to let him order the radioactive iodine for the death-to-the-thyroid treatment. Right now I do not remember which isotope was ordered, but the radiology department did question whether that was really what they wanted to use.

I had the treatment but a few months later was extremely overactive again. A second treatment was ordered, this one was just under the dosage that I had read about at the AMA website that has been linked to leukemia ...

That was toward the end of 1998 and into the summer of 1999. Now, I have a different doctor. She had once promised to get my thyroid levels into the middle of the "normal" range -- that is, she would increase my Synthroid prescription to a sufficient level that I would get off the bottom basement floor of the normal range. That was a few years ago and I am still laying on the floor of the normal range. Maybe, since we've moved a little over an hour away from that doctor's clinic, it is time to find another doctor?

Low thyroid has its "moments" -- like "I should be folding laundry" says -- you go bananas over little things that shouldn't even be an issue; just deal with it an move on.

Worst, though, is the mental lethargy and fog that can creep up on you. And the scatter-brained behavior that sneaks into your life (on top of the mental slip that just happens as a matter of the course of aging) ...
like I could not find my keys one day. I finally told myself to look in all the illogical places since they were not in any logical spot in the house, nor in the lock of the front door nor still in the ignition of the car. I looked inside shoes, bureau drawers, in cups and saucers in the kitchen cupboards. I searched through the bookcases, and on my husband's desk. I dumped out my purse for the tenth time just to be sure I had not somehow overlooked them the first nine times. Finally, I decided to look in the veggie crisper in the fridge. Not there, but I did find them sitting on the shelf where the oj container should have been. Found the oj in the pantry beside the butter dish (with a stick of butter in it). Went back to the fridge for the peanut butter. Threw away the oj and put the butter and peanut butter where they belonged.

That doesn't happen all that often anymore as I have tried to develop a few habits that will, hopefully, help me cope with being forgetful and scatter-brained as the years go on.Oh, remember that diet I wasn't going to go on? And how regulating what I ate allowed me to lose so much weight?

Well, it found me again. But now, getting rid of it is just about impossible. The rapid heart rate has gone, thankfully, but so has a decent metabolic rate. Dietary methods of increasing the metabolism usually work by increasing the thyroid activity. As I have little to no natural thyroid activity, such methods just don't work. (It's almost like I had it surgically removed.)

Moodiness is something I really wasn't susceptible to in the past, but now -- I won't even go there.

Things that should have changed but did not:
-- Sensitivity to bright sunlight is a symptom of overactive thyroid -- still won't go outside without my sunglasses which frustrates my husband when I have done something with them (like with those keys) and need to take the time to find the sunglasses before I'll go anywhere. Having three or four pair of sunglasses does help but isn't always a foolproof solution.
-- For a while I thought I had been born to live in Minnesota instead of New Jersey. I hate the heat of summer but didn't have a hard time with the cold of Minnesota winters. Killing the thyroid was supposed to help me deal with the heat. (My normal body temperature was 2 degrees low, making me feel heat more and cold less ...) My body temperatures now "normal" but I still hate the heat of summer and now can't bear the cold of winter.
(We moved out of Minnesota to Wisconsin. And the winters aren't nearly as bad here --
now that might be, as one joke puts it:
A government agent came to a farmer and told him that the state lines were being redrawn. "You now live in Wisconsin and not in Minnesota any more." The farmer was ecstatic, "GOOD!" he exclaimed. "Maybe the winters won't be so bad over here."Or it just might be global warming -- most of the local farmers did get their corn planted this year about 2 to 3 weeks earlier than "usual.")

1 comment:

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