Going For The Throat: What Exactly Does Euthyroid Mean, Anyway?
(Written by Robyn Davis Hahn, Editor-In-Chief Health Care, Dear Thyroid. Column: Going For The Throat)
A couple of weeks ago, I reached a milestone during my visit with my endocrinologist. I was not the 1,000,000th customer, and there were no party hats or confetti. In fact, there was very little in the way of fanfare. But at the end of my exam, lab review, and discussion, he wrote something in my chart that was monumental:
(Just so we’re all on the same page–the medical definition:, euthyroid,n: a state of normal thyroid function.)
Here’s a quick review of my thyroid history. Basically, I’d been feeling run down, gained some weight, my skin and hair looked dry and aged–you know, normal–for years. But then my thyroid decided to really jump into the crapper and I got compressive throat symptoms and extreme lethargy alternating with heart palpitations and increased heart rates for weeks, prompting me to see doctor(s) and gain a Hashimoto’s diagnosis almost a year ago.
Like most of you, that’s when the work really began. I joined Dear Thyroid, I Googled and PubMed-ed, I renewed my interest in overall healthy living, and I started on Levoxyl. Encouraged by Liz Schau, my diet radically changed to gluten free. I began taking all manner of supplements to decrease inflammation and promote thyroid function. And I went to see my endocrinologist, every 6 weeks. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
And because I’ve learned that with most things in life “it’s always everything” I kept finding things to change or improve that could positively impact my thyroid and my health in general (still do). All my non-stick pans have been replaced with cast iron, now becoming well seasoned and slick, with no chemical intervention. I switched my toothpaste to a non-fluoride variety. I replaced my cleaning supplies with naturally derived products.
Slowly, I have been improving. About a month ago my energy made an upswing, along with my motivation. My athletic stamina improved and my muscle tone noticeably increased. I’ve been more content and happy.
Ten months ago, I had just detectable anti-TPO antibodies. Ten months ago, my TSH was almost 5.0. Ten months ago, I felt like I swallowed half a walnut and lodged it in my throat.
Two months ago, I had spiked very high anti-TPO antibodies. Two months ago, my TSH was 2.5. Two months ago, I felt like I swallowed a pistachio and lodged it in my throat.
Two weeks ago, I had ZERO anti-TPO antibodies. Two weeks ago, my TSH was 0.5. Two weeks ago, my throat felt clear.
But despite my improvement, significant as it is, I don’t feel, for lack of a better word, healed. I feel better, but not, better. Some of my symptoms have not changed at all–my skin is still dry and stiff, my body temperature still rarely crests 97 degrees, and my hands and wrists still ache.
So what DOES euthyroid mean?, Clearly, it doesn’t mean feeling normal even if my thyroid is “functioning normallyÃ¢â‚¬. How do we ever know if we are, indeed, better?, Are my remaining symptoms related to my thyroid (as many argue) because it’s not all about the numbers?, Or should I be happy that I feel like I’m running at about 90%?, Surely the remaining 10% could be attributed to, something else, including age-related wear and tear.
I consider myself lucky. I have been feeling great, and while I know that this feeling may not last, I’m gonna bask in its glory right now. But it’s not all luck, it’s been work too. I will continue to strive for healthier living and eating, because it’s the right thing to do–for me, for the Earth, and great modeling to set my daughter up for a healthier life. I will continue to strive for a positive attitude and focus on what feels good instead of dwelling on what’s not right. My challenge for you this week is to focus on the good in YOUR life and YOUR thyroid (or your scar)–as we all aim to reach for the EUTHYROID brass ring.