An Unnecessarily Long Journey Back to Health
(Dear Thyroid Letter, written by, Charles Taggart – Enlarged Thyroid, among other conditions)
I’ve had thyroid problems since they found my thyroids to be “oversized” in eighth grade. Every three months the local doctor would have me tested, starting with radiology tests, then just blood tests, until I finished high school. It wasn’t until I was in Syracuse University in 1990, that I started to experience problems.
I am a male and now 44ish, I didn’t seem to need any extra medical help with my thyroids until I was in college in 1990. My grandparents lived near Syracuse University, so moving in with them was nice; I started to gain weight (which I just contributed to my grandmothers great cooking), but then I gained a lot of weight, over 70 pounds in one semester and I started to get odd mood swings. My thinking seemed to be challenged, easy things started to be hard to figure out, and even my creative ideas seemed hard to come up with. One day I blew up over my sneaker being untied. I tripped over it, then got more mad, kicking it off and getting so upset at denting the bedroom door, I tore the door off its hinges;
It was at this point, my grandmother said, “Something is amiss, and we need to get you checked out by a doctor…, They found my thyroids weren’t doing anything, and tried to jump start them, with small doses, then stopping, and starting over again, until they felt certain I needed supplement thyroid meds, which he told me I would be on for the rest of my life. I discuss this in more detail in a blog entry.
Once the doctor in Syracuse found my correct level, all was good and told I shouldn’t need testing but every two to four years. He gave me med refills for six months at a time, telling me that if I noticed any problems, to call to get my thyroid blood levels tested. I lost the extra weight, and my grades went up and I finished college. I had no problems until I after I finished college and moved back home to my small town with no stoplight. The local doctors said they weren’t sure my thyroid levels where “correct”, so they had me come in for more testingÃ¢â‚¬”one visit to weigh me, the next visit for the blood test and a third visit to tell me in person my levels were fine, three or four times a year at the cost of about $350 for the three visits, a total of $1000-$1400 just in testing, paid out of pocket.
Eventually, I was able to get the doctor to just call me on the third visit part, and just let me know if there was a change, but about eight years later I wasn’t able to afford the time to go in and get tested. I was working and the work crew depended on my driving them to the work site, so a couple hours at the doctor’s office would cost the client more then five hours of work time for the project. The doctor’s office didn’t seem to like this, stating they needed to “make sure my levels where correct, and refused to call in my meds without a test. I told them, “without the meds, the tests would be off anyway, but they still refused to call in the meds. So I went without for two months, and found that my chest started hurting while I was hiking up hills for hunting. So back I went to the doctor’s office and they got me back on my meds, and back to level fairly quickly.
Then two years ago, the same thing happened. They again refused to call in my meds without a blood test, saying that I hadn’t been in or called in two years. I asked, “Then who has been calling them in?” and I added that I still felt fine. They still refused to call them in, even to get the next test for the following month, so I tried looking for another doctor. The next one wanted to restart me at a 25 mcg with increases of 25 mcg every six weeks until I was back to level. Since my last prescription was 175 mcg, I estimated that with six to eight week increases, it would take me seven blood tests and over a year to get back to the correct level. The doctor told me it was the “lawÃ¢â‚¬ that I be tested every year. This I found odd, as I knew other people who where only tested every two to four years, or if they where noticing problems with weight gain or loss, and problems with too much or little sleeping, so I stopped going to her and looked for another doctor. Again.
During this time, I continued to gain weight and started falling asleep without notice, sometimes at the keyboard, and once while driving. While visiting my mom, she noticed my slow speech and falling asleep, and noticed my legs feet and hands seemed to be getting enlarged, and my face was gaining weight. She thought I might be showing the signs of being off my meds far too long, and I should go see a doctor when I got back home. I planned on it, but was still looking for recommendations from friends as to a doctor who would listen. I started to notice I was also fighting off colds a lot, which was odd. I could count on one hand the number of colds I had had since high school, but I wrote this off to just getting older. I also started to notice I was feeling cold all of the time, even when the house was at 80 degrees with my wood stove going full, I felt cold in my legs and arms. My hunting season I didn’t get to do, because I was always fighting off a cold, and the hike up the hill seemed to cause pain in my chest again. One day, while sawing a tree down for firewood, I felt pain in my chest and became dizzy and slipped onto the ground, with chainsaw in hand, and I felt pain in my chest. This just wasn’t right, so had a friend bring me to the ER.
The ER did a bunch of tests, and told me my heart was fine, and that they didn’t believe there was any association to this with my thyroid levels or not taking my meds, which didn’t sound right, but I listened to them. They arranged for me to see a doctor and made it sound like he was a specialist with a six-week waiting list. I saw him and they went to do the same tests they did in the ER. I said something about this, and then they found my records and made an appointment for five weeks later to come in for a stress test and then thyroid blood work testing. I blew up, cussed up a storm, and said, I could get the correct tests done sooner at my own town doctor’s office. So I made arrangements to do that.
The local doctor’s office had gained a new doctor, and I requested meeting him. He stood there with file in hand, and truly listened as I gave my tale of the years of thyroid problems. I told him that I felt like my health was being blackmailed into more tests than needed, that it didn’t seem right, that I knew other people who were tested every two to four years, when this office seemed to think after 18 years, my levels still aren’t correct. He agreed, and started me out on the meds at half dosage, telling me to get another blood test in six weeks, then he would approve an increase, and should be close to only two increases to get me back to the level I had been on before, and he also told me to rest a lot.
I spent the last few months resting, and took the second blood test; I get the results this coming Monday. My room renter has said he noticed that I’m losing weight in my face and body, and my speech is becoming clearer. I’ve also noticed I am no longer falling asleep as often in the middle of typing or being online, and my thoughts are back to full color pictures in my head. I’m starting to see 3D again in my ideas and mapping concepts out, and I’m not feeling as tight in my chest either, when lifting something I use to think as light, like my chainsaw. I’m planning on going out again soon to cut firewood for my house, instead of using electric heaters. I should be back to getting to 110% mental and physical health in another two to four months! This new doctor ROCKS, he seems to truly listens!!!- Dr. Glosenger at Candor Family Practice in Candor, NY.