It’s a Lot Like Panning for Gold
(Written by Theresa, Graves’ disease patient, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroidectomy, Dear Thyroid Letter)
The best decision I am making is to fire my endo and go to a ND/MD this week. I know she treats with natural thyroids instead of synthetic and I am hoping she believes in treating the whole body to fix thyroid levels….
I started taking vitamins and supplements and I am determined to stick to it so I can get my cortisol, Vitamin D, Vitamin B’s and iron healthy. Last week I went through my refrigerator and pantry and threw out all processed and high sugar foods, you only see lots of high protein low sugar options and fresh fruits, vegetables and meats.
You see I’ve had a five-year Graves’ Disease battle and total thyroid removal in 2009, and I have lots of regrets. I know now that I probably had a thyroid problem since my 20’s if not sooner. I do know I had my thyroid checked three or four times in 25 years because I was always tired, jittery, light headed. I had several episodes of what was considered to be panic attacks over the years (which I now know was caused by a hyperthyroid). Each time was so scary, I’d break out in a sweat, my stomach would get nauseous and my pulse and heart would start racing. I was sure I was going to die of a heart attack, and after each one I would be wiped out for days.
It wasn’t until a yearly female examination by my GP that I mentioned I just wasn’t feeling well and my hands were shaky. He didn’t really seem concerned about that, but when I told him my hair was falling out he suggested we do some thyroid testing. and it came back with what he suspected was Graves’. I did the iodine uptake and it was off the charts, and so began my five-year descent to removal.
I suppressed my thyroid with methimazole and it was impossible to stabilize, every four to eight weeks there was a med adjustment. Four years in, we thought I was in remission, then it raised its ugly head three months later. I noticed my nodules were getting bigger and mentioned it to my endo, and she decided after four years to do an ultrasound to check the sizes on them. Lo and behold, they had grown instead of shrunk with her four years of suppression. I was then given the choice of iodine or remove, and I decided to remove them. In May 2009, I had surgery and was immediately put on .125 mg Levothyroxine, then a few weeks later my dosage was upped to .150 mg and she told me not to come back or test levels for six months.
And then my spiral to hell began.
My thyroid was removed in May and the first three months I was all right, I felt better than before my thyroid was removed. I was tired but I thought that was because I was recovering from surgery. But I was getting more and more tired, and my hair was falling out by the handful.
I had always had very heavy periods but after surgery my periods got much worse, I had several days of hemorrhaging and I went to the emergency room and after a ultrasound the doc said my uterus was enlarged and to see my regular doc the following week. I did see my gyno and I had to have a DNC the week after and several large, non-cancerous fibrocystic cysts were found. In November, several non-cancerous fibrocystic cysts were found in my breasts.
During my emergency room treatment the doctor ran my thyroid levels because it had been so recently removed. He told me that my TSH levels had significantly changed from my previous lab test and I should notify my endo, because of the thyroid cancer my TSH should be adjusted lower. I called my endo and told her about the thyroid level changes and she refused to make med adjustments.
I continued to feel worse and worse, I couldn’t hardly pick my head off the pillow in the morning and drag myself to my full time job in customer service. I had bouts of extreme rage and depression. I’d cry all the time and have feelings of worthlessness.
I had an open order for labs so for the next two months I went in and had my blood tested each month because I was feeling awful and I was just sure my endo would see that when she got the tests back. Each time I’d call and ask her if my levels had changed, and could I have a med adjustment, but each time she said no, and told me to wait my six months and then come in at that time and we’d discuss them. I knew that something was off; I was feeling awful and she wouldn’t let me come in. She didn’t ask for any other tests to be run until after that six month timeframe.
If only I had educated myself about thyroids, adrenals and sex hormones sooner, I may have won the Graves’ battle. Instead, now I’ll be considered sick all my life. Not what my endo told me when she convinced me to take it out. One pill a day and you will be great, so much easier to treat than Graves’ she said. Yes, easier for her, as she never checked anything but T-4 the entire time, of course I was fine in her eyes,. Liar, Liar, Liar!
Mind over matter has got to work, because I just can’t stay on the same road any longer. Thank goodness I’m a little vain because it seems I could have felt like crap for life, but the hair is getting so thin. It was like, my goodness, I can do something about this and stop putting my head in the sand and accepting it.
Gone is the T-4 only doctor, and in with knowledge and healing…
The above was something I wrote up a week before I went to my new doc.
Last week I went to my new doctor prepared with the following introduction letter. She kindly read it and everything I brought to point, she agreed with it all. She also told me that the DNC that I had in September has now thrown me into full-blown menopause, as my body thinks I had a hysterectomy.
I told her I could hug her, and left with natural hormones, biogenetic estrogen/progesterone and adrenal gland support meds as well as Vitamin D-3, evening primrose, multivitamins, fish oil, DHEA and iron. I have read when you take DHEA you should also take Vitamin E and melatonin so I am going to start those as well.
I hit the mother lode with her and I appreciate her. I have never been a vitamin taker, but after five years of prescriptions for my thyroid, I have learned it is okay to take the pills you need. Educate, learn and never stop searching for answers and never, never, let a doctor make you think you do not know what you feel. No one else knows you better than you.
Below is the letter I wrote and took to my new doctor. It really worked to explain the path I came from and the path I want to take in the future. I got the suggestion from another thyroid blog or web site, I think one of Mary Shomons. Feel free to copy it and tweak it for your next visit to your doctor. If they do not know the tests you are requesting, that is your sign to jump ship and run to find someone that does.
“Be good to yourself and demand good treatment is what I say to all.
Best wishes to you all.
Dear Dr.________ ,
I am 52-year old female; I have four children, the first birth when I was 15. I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease approximately six years ago. I had my thyroid removed May 7, 2009, because of the inability to manage it on suppression drugs and I had several nodules that were continuing to grow. My endocrinologist Dr Carroll suggested RIA or removal. Upon removal of my thyroid a small nodule measuring 0.6 centimeter of papillary cancer was found. It was determined because it was small, and surgery had successfully removed the gland, that RIA would not be necessary, it was felt that the cancer could be managed with TSH suppression and Thyroglobulin testing for monitoring. I am currently on .15MG of Levothyroxine daily.
Since I have been on Levothyroxine I continue to have the following hypothyroid symptoms: Depression,(I am sad all the time and I cry very easy), Low Stamina, Rising Cholesterol, Hard Stoles and Constipation, Dry, Brittle Hair and Nails, Hair loss with no regrowth, Forgetfulness, Foggy and Lack of Concentration. No Sex Drive, Weight Gain, Exhaustion, Complete Lack of Motivation. I am extremely crabby and irritable. I have Joint pain and Carpal Tunnel symptoms. I had several large fibrous cysts removed from my Uterus in September and have Fibrocystic Breasts. (Until my periods stopped five months ago, I had extremely heavy and painful periods).
I would like to try Natural Thyroid Hormones such as Armour, Westhyroid or Naturethyroid to see if I respond to the medication better than T-4 only, in hopes to alleviate many of my symptoms listed above. I also have concerns that I may have Adrenal Fatigue as many symptoms of Hypo Thyroid and Adrenal Fatigue are much alike. I’d like to test my adrenals with a 24-hour adrenal saliva test, which tests my cortisol at four different times a day. This will help rule out any issues I might have due to low cortisol.
I have brought with me lab results for Estrogen, Testosterone and Progesterone, Ferritin and others for you to analyze. I would like to integrate vitamins and supplements into my lifestyle such as Vitamin D-3, Iodine, B-12, Fish Oils and their importance to healthy Adrenal and Thyroid levels.
As I do not have a thyroid, I am sure you could recommend my conversion starting dosage equivalent to my current dosage of Levothyroxine. It is my understanding that after 1-2 weeks on a starting dose, the dosage is raised every few weeks according to the elimination of symptoms, and NOT by the TSH range, since the TSH is simply a pituitary hormone, and thus doesn’t accurately measure thyroid levels with the addition of oral thyroid hormones. Once a person gets up to approx. 2-3 grains, they hold each dose about 4-5 weeks to allow the T4 to build in their system, and get more accurate symptom & lab results. As far as labs, most prefer to keep track of their free T3 and free T4. Patients on Armour are stating that when they completely rid themselves of symptoms, they have a free T3 towards the top of the range, a mid-range free T4, and a suppressed TSH, with no hyper symptoms whatsoever.
Tags: Dear Thyroid Letters from patients with Graves disease, Dear Thyroid Patient Letters, Graves disease letters, graves' disease, Graves' support, hyperthyroid blog, hyperthyroid support, thyroidectomy