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Kicking Thyroid Old School

Post Published: 24 May 2011
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Category: Dear Thyroid Letters
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In the 1960’s-70’s I grew up in the toxic crosshairs of a paper mill, steel mill and “secret” uranium processing plant and beside farm fields that were fertilized and pesticide-d right next to my open window.

As a child I was sensitive to smells, soaps, metals, medicines and foods (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity).

I had surgery for endometriosis at 16.

Pain was a constant companion through my 20’s.

In my late 20s I was diagnosed with IBS and nonspecific myalgias following a boating accident that wrenched my neck. I was sent to rheumatologists and hematologists and finally a psychologist. She assured me the problem was not in my head. I pinpoint the neck injury as the point where things declined significantly. I think my thyroid was injured then. Every four weeks I’d turn into Quasimodo, take Skelaxin and Tramadol (I never could tolerate narcotic pain meds) and be unable to stand up straight for a few days. I had lower back surgery at 29. The neck the problems continued.

I often felt tired, foggy and achy. My muscles cramped and felt inflamed after exercise. I suffered orthostatic hypotension. My cardiac capacity declined. I couldn’t hold a pencil and had to give up painting because of hand cramps. The doc told me buy bigger pencils. No one tested my thyroid. I managed to work and raise a family, but every day was a challenge.

I started my “doctoral thesis” worth of research on Fibromyalgia since none of my docs seemed to know what to do about it except hand me pain medication. I had pieces of the puzzle.

I had cervical spine surgery in 2001 that didn’t fix the neck issues. In June 2007 my hips became so painful I couldn’t walk half a block. I was offered more pain meds. Then my vision blurred. I was told I was over 40 and needed bifocals. In Feb of 2008, My heart rate went up to 160 bpm resting after a root canal. I waited for the strange reaction to pass. It didn’t. I gained 30 lbs, lost a lot of my hair and developed tremors. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see. Finally got a diagnosis of Graves.

They put me on Methimazole in June 2008. I slept for 4 1/2 months, waking up long enough to eat and go to the bathroom. My cats loved having another sleeping lump to lie on. They were the only ones.

My husband is a pathologist and while we were discussing treatment options he had two specimens cross his microscope of thyroids that had been radiated, grew cancer later, and had to be removed anyway. We decided, since I had precancerous nodules, to have the thyroid removed in Oct 2008.

I woke up in level 9 pain and couldn’t use my arms. I lost my short term memory and couldn’t concentrate. I had no drive. I either slept too much (Synthroid .100) or not at all (Synthroid .125). My tongue swelled and cracked. I was on Methadone, Baclofen, heart medication, Lyrica, one pill to wake up, one pill to go to sleep, one pill for nausea. It was insane. One doc recommended the date rape drug to treat the level 9 pain because nothing else worked, I didn’t go back to him.

I researched further and found that some people can’t synthesize Synthroid. I asked for Armour. My endo said “No.”

I did more research and found out about thyroid resistance. Too much T4 and my body made reverse T3 to counter it. Some people can’t convert T4. Some have problems on the uptake end.

I found Dr. John C. Lowe’s research on fibromyalgia when I began researching Cytomel/T3.

When my Endo finally agreed to the Cytomel in April 2010, it was like a magic wand had been waved over my body. I didn’t need any of the other medications anymore, not even for my spine. My memory, cognition and ambition all came back on line. My brain cranked like a well-oiled machine. My sleep cycle and appetite regulated. My mood stabilized. My pain disappeared within a few days – the level 9 arm pain, hip pain, the myalgias and muscle cramps.

At 48, I can do things I haven’t been able to do since I was in my 20s. I wake up every morning energized and ready to take on the world. I started off exercising in a chair. I am slowly building muscles and can do squats and lunges and lift light weights.

I didn’t let the TSH rubric rule my life. My TSH stays as close to 0 as I can get it. That is the number that works for me, even though it is considered “low.” I take 0.112 of Synthroid. I take 5 mcg of Cytomel. If my heart rate rises to 100 and my tongue swells, I back off the Cytomel for a day.

It’s a balancing act. I still occasionally wake up feeling like Quasimodo, but it only takes a day or so for the 6 herniated disks to behave again without pain medication.

In closing, if Synthroid or Armour isn’t working consider asking your doctor about trying Cytomel/synthetic T3. We have the right to get our lives back.

The Endos are trained to follow a certain rubric. Fight for what we need. What we need may not follow their rubric. If someone you know or love has fibromyalgia, check out Dr. Lowe (www.drlowe.com). His research, which explains fibromylagia is and always has been a metabolic/thyroid resistance disease, gave me my life back. It might help you or someone you love too.

Diana Hurwitz

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One Response to “Kicking Thyroid Old School”

  1. joissingingagain says:

    Diana – what an amazing post. Inspirational. I love your ‘toxic crosshairs’ reference. I feel so lucky to be well myself now and I feel the joy coming through your writing. Life seems so much better when it is returned to us having lost it for so long. With love
    jo
    x

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