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Sisterhood of the Uppity Thyroid

 
 
sozobe
 
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 03:18 pm
So, I know that at least Bella and Jes have had to deal with this (at opposite ends of the spectrum -- hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, if I remember right). I had my annual physical and some blood tests and just got the results -- evidently I have hypothyroidism.

I know very little at this point, am writing this an hour after getting the letter and after some 45 minutes of online research.

One thing is that it's very early, in terms of symptoms. I don't have any in particular, and what I have is minor (depression, weight gain). I've been through that before in my life and my solution then was an exercise regimen, which I've been meaning to do but haven't gotten to for no good reason at all, and had already started the process of doing so before I got the letter. (Toured the gym where I want to start exercising this weekend, looked good, membership in process.)

It seems like hypothyroidism is pretty definite and measurable, though, and that if I have it, it has to be dealt with more thoroughly than with exercise... is that right?

Can exercise alone get things back in balance?

Is starting medication (I got a prescription for Synthroid with the letter) any guarantee of solving the problem, or does it get worse anyway? (I seem to remember that medication helps you, Jes, but it's still an ongoing problem).

I have no numbers yet. (TSH level, etc.) All I have is "your thyroid appears to be underactive" on the letter. ("Appears to be" is probably bedside-manner-speak but is not nearly as conclusive as I would like.)

My most immediate plan is to talk to my doctor before going ahead with any medication, but I want to cast my information-gathering net wide, and I know there are people here who have experience with this. I like this doctor, but I still want to be as informed as possible as he is generally a little more interventionist than I am comfortable with. (He is also sozlet's doctor, and was an early proponent of tubes...)

Thanks!
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 6,876 • Replies: 113
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shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 03:23 pm
( psssst ) you dont have to pay a gym to take a walk. ;-)


if you would like, I can do some herbal hunting in my books and see if I can find some good tea recipies that you can make to help ya?
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 03:25 pm
Thanks!

Oh, I walk plenty, but I'm happiest with a serious gym regimen. This one is reasonably priced, has a cheap and cool babysitting area (that's one thing I wanted to check out, sozlet wholeheartedly approved), and would allow me to go and seriously work out on a regular schedule. That's what works best for me.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 03:26 pm
Welcome to the club. <brings over a chair>

I find that, if the meds have to be upped, I tend to know it before the doc does, 'cause I just get so dang tired, and for no good reason. Might be a bit of depression, or weight gain, or whatever, but it definitely seems to come with the hypo territory. You just don't want to do squat sometimes (and so exercise can seem like the toughest thing to do, ever, even though you know damn well - intellectually speaking - that of course it isn't).

Eventually, you may also notice some eyebrow thinning at the outer edges. Meds don't seem to slow that down. Seems silly to do rogaine for just that (unless you just put it on your eyebrows -- I'm smiling to myself, thinking of how odd that would look/be). Oh, and skin can be drier, itchier, too. Jergens and Oil o' Olay are my friends.

Anyway, it's a process. They start you off at a low dose and try to keep you there. With me, my thyroid has been failing since, erm, 1993? 1991? I've forgotten, it's something like that, it was definitely when we still lived in NY. I take a little pill every morning, with my BCPs. I find it easier to remember to take them if I do both at the same time.

Will come back later - I gotta dash now - but hang in there. Sythroid, Unithroid and Levoxyl are, I think, all the same thing. I'm visiting my doc on Monday and she'll probably have the test done again, we'll see; I've been on whatever the heck my current dosage is for over a year and I feel okay, so it probably won't have to be upped. But we'll see.
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shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 03:29 pm
Ooohh.. never thought about the babysitting thing.
Right on.


Do you drink teas at all? Or have a store close to you that you could get some loose herbs?

Alot of times, a simple tea can help side effects.

I know that Tansy helps with weight gain and water retention.

Made in a very thin tea, it actually tastes pretty good.
I have been using that myself and it has helped me drop 10 lbs in a month. With little exercise.. aside from following Bean around.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 03:38 pm
Oy!


Just here to say bummer...



Oh, and I think some find acupuncture helpful, along with the meds.
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 04:03 pm
Don't forget about me, soz. <pulling up chair>

I had thyroid cancer and have no thyroid cells left in my entire body now. I am on full thyroid hormone replacement now, not just supplements. That means I'll take a much larger dosage of Synthroid than you'll ever need every day for the rest of my life.

I can tell you firsthand that Synthroid is one of the "cleanest" drugs out there. Very, very few side effects, not even long-term. And it's been around for a long time. I've been on it for 11 years and have experienced no side effects at all, even at my dosage (150mcg). So I think you don't need to worry about taking this at all.

If I miss taking my pill at night, I notice it by the next afternoon. Very tired, can't concentrate well, etc. But at regular supplemental dosage, you probably won't notice anything at all unless you miss 2 or 3.

If you're experiencing dry skin, sluggishness, need more sleep than usual, etc., these things will go away once your thyroid levels have returned to normal on the Synthroid. And they'll check your blood levels regularly (I have mine done every 3 months) so they can tweak the dosage if necessary. Of course, like Jes, you'll probably learn to recognize it before they do. Mine hasn't changed in 8 years, though.

Synthroid....'Tis a wonderful thing, it is. Really!
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 04:09 pm
This is one of my main concerns at this point:

Quote:
The next question is: When is low too low, and when is high too high? Blood levels have "normal" ranges, but other factors need to be taken into account as well, such as the presence or absence of symptoms. You should discuss your levels with your doctor so you can interpret how they are helping (or not?) fix your problems.


I'm worried that it might be within the normal range and then too much is being made of other symptoms. I had the physical early in the morning (never my best time of day) on the day before a long-awaited "day off" to recharge -- I knew I was on thin ice, emotionally speaking, and had arranged for the day off for that reason. (E.G. watched sozlet all day, I had complete freedom, got a ton of stuff done, it was GREAT.) The weight thing threw me for a loop -- we don't have a scale, and it's happened gradually enough that it just wasn't really on my radar, though I knew I wasn't as fit as I wanted to be -- and I was kind of morose and weepy during the exam for a few reasons. (Another was that he found a small lump in one of my breasts, getting a mammogram next week. Major history of breast cancer in my family, packed a bit of an emotional wallop. Sigh.)

Anyway, after the day off I'm feeling MUCH better and raring to go -- none of that hesitation about starting to exercise, for example, I'm really excited about finally getting back to that. (I've exercised regularly for most of my life.)

What I'm worried about is if it's borderline and then he made the diagnosis based on other stuff. From the Mayo site:

Quote:
If you have subclinical hypothyroidism, discuss treatment with your doctor. For a relatively low level of TSH, you probably won't benefit from thyroid hormone therapy, and treatment could even be harmful.


(Emphasis mine.)

So I want to find out some numbers and whether the circumstantial stuff pushed it over the edge.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 04:10 pm
Oh, thanks, Eva! That's a really encouraging summary, there.
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Bella Dea
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 04:19 pm
Sorry to hear that soz! I can tell you that a lot of symptoms of hyper and hypo are the same. <<dragging chair over next to Jes and eva>>
Fatigue, depression, loss of concentration and headaches are some of the most common symptoms.

I know I am on the other side of the scale here but I needed to educate myself so that I could recognize when I was sliding into hypo, which by the way, is much harder to deal with than hyper.

You want to try and avoid eating goitrogenic foods; these are foods that naturally slow down the thyroid. Foods like brussell sprouts, cauliflower, millet, cabbage, peas, kale, soy, radishes, turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, spinach, peaches, pears and almonds. Cooking generally decreases these effects so just don't eat them raw and you should be ok. :wink:

You need to determine what the cause of your hypothyroidism is: imflammation of the thyroid or Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Hashimoto's is different because it is a chronic autoimmune disease versus an acute inflammation.

There is tons of information out there...both for hyper and hypo. You need to know the symptoms of hyper as well to make sure you are not being overmedicated.

Welcome to the club. :wink:
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 04:19 pm
Oh and also I'd requested a terp and there wasn't one and I was profoundly not in the mood to lipread and feeling a mite sorry for myself (again, that was about my lowest day in six months, or since my previous "day off...")
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 04:22 pm
Thanks, Bella!

Great info, I appreciate it.

I'm sure I will be full of questions.

Would like to nail down exactly what my situation is, and go from there.

Really nice to know that I have access to all of these wonderful and knowledgeable women, though, thank you so much.

(Don't want to leave out guys, if there are any, but sounds like it's a lot more common with women and you women are who I thought of when I got the letter...)
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Bella Dea
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 04:24 pm
sozobe wrote:

So I want to find out some numbers and whether the circumstantial stuff pushed it over the edge.


Generally speaking, for hypothyroidism, your TSH will be high and your T4 and T3 will be low.

Low TSH and T3, T4 indicate a pitituary problem.

Being on the border should not be treated. I was considered a moderate case and my numbers looked something like this [] being the Normal range:

FT4- 3.4ng/dL {.8-1.8}
FT3- 12.3pg/mL {2.3-4.2}
TSH- <.01L {.4-5.5}

As you can see, I was way over and way under and I was considered moderate. A mild case might just be watched.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 04:27 pm
Facts!

Numbers!!

Thank you!
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 07:26 pm
Question:

Do levels ever fluctuate on their own, sans medication?

E.G.'s take was something like, "Well yeah, that was when you were feeling like crap, so they do tests and say 'gee, this indicates that you are feeling like crap.'"

He had some theories about long-term stress taking a toll, and that he would worry more if the levels are bad now -- when I'm feeling infinitely better -- than what the levels were at what happened to be my lowest point in a long time.

But I'm not sure if they move, or how that works.

Any thoughts welcome.

(Still at, talk to the doc before starting meds, what would you guys think of a re-test? Pointless?)
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 07:51 pm
I, of course, am off on the b/c worries. You know to stay on top of that, so I won't lecture. My pov is stay on top of staying on top.

I am in nowhere's-ville, still with terrific md's who happen to be about 1500 miles away, and also facing the land of Medicare in about eight months. Bet attitudes change. Anyone wanna lay bets?
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 07:58 pm
Yeah, that's kinda poking me in the back of the brain ("quit!!") but I have the mammogram on the 16th, not too long of a wait, hopefully something more conclusive then.

My doc actually wasn't that worried, he said to wait and see what happpens, see if it's grown at next years' physical, I was the one who was saying nonono not with my family history, I want to get this checked out.

But that's part of the annoyance, too, when I'm in high lipreading mode especially in that situation where there are right and wrong answers, and lots of questions, ("are you allergic to any medications"/ "no", ad nauseum), I lean a bit on giving the answer I see is expected. A time-saver. So he, doing the exam for the first time (I had an exam with old doc right before we left Naperville), said something like "you know about this right?", as in a lump that had been there for a while, and I said yes, in that groove, and then had to backtrack with a wait no actually what?

Pff.

Hope you find some local terrific MD's, Osso.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 08:33 pm
Well, I am laggard in that, where is the phone book..
Actually, my opthamologist found about seven retinal experts at UNM. Noted... but later. Not too much later, as I need to do this while I have so called insurance.

On mammo, my stuff was tiny and real. But I know you won't just let it go.
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 08:35 pm
Soz, about the possibility of being tested on a "down" day...the levels take a loooong time to change. That's why, even when we were trying to get my correct level established, they only wanted to test every 90 days. Even if you'd had a bad MONTH, it wouldn't have varied your results.

After my experience with thyroid stuff, my sister and mother got tested. Sure enough, both of them were hypo. Undoubtedly we all had been, for years. We just thought the slow metabolism, dry skin and needing 9 hrs. of sleep a night were family traits. (Well, they were, but you know...) So my sister has now been on supplemental Synthroid for 10 years. She's an RN, and allergic to practically everything, but she's never had a single problem with the Synthroid.

If it makes you feel better, you can always be retested. Just ask them. But I doubt you'll get results that differ much.

Now...about the lump. YES! Absolutely! Check it out as soon as you can! Can you move up the mammogram date? (A pox on that doctor...Sad )
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2006 08:44 pm
Thanks Eva, that's helpful.

Your comments about Sythroid are very encouraging.
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