Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Thyroid

I knew my mom has to take thyroid medication. I thought my grandma has taken it in the past. But it wasn't till last year when Billy was diagnosed with hypothyroidism that I realized what total havoc this disease can wreak on your body and mind. It can truly be debilitating disease, as much as any other debilitating disease, if you don't discover it and get treatment. From severe head-to-toe body aches, coldness (low body temperature), extreme exhaustion, forgetfulness and confusion, and panic attacks--Billy had a bad case, but we didn't know what it was. That's a scary feeling. Thanks to a good doctor friend, he got to the bottom of it. Three medications, a lot of side affects and 6 different dosages later, he found what worked for him and regained something like normal health.

He kept telling me that I had hypothyroidism too. I kept telling him that he was crazy. I was just tired from being up all night with babies, this was mommy brain, hormones, normal. I even got my thyroid tested. The studies came back normal. The problem is that this crazy brain and exhaustion has been "normal" for six years.

Finally I realized that something really was wrong a few months after Sarah was born. I felt like I was losing my mind. I faxed my OBGyn a detailed letter describing my symptoms. His nurse called me back and told me that I must have post-partum depression and they wanted to put me on prozac. I said no thanks.

Taking care of myself with excercise, water, sunlight, a good diet, and as much rest as a mom of 3 little ones can get helped. It helped enough that I still felt like it was just adjusting to a new baby and that with time it would pass. But a couple weeks ago after a series of particularly goofy mistakes, Billy made me take my temperature. No surprise to him, it was 96.9. The next day, even lower. Then he made me make a doctor's appointment. I felt pretty sure that my studies would once again come back normal, and I was sure that the doctor would just want to treat me for post-partum depression again. But I went anyway and told the doctor what he told me to tell her.

She felt my thyroid and said that it was "nodular". She said that based on my symptoms and family history, I probably did have hypothyroidism. And even though my studies indeed came back within "normal" range, she perscribed me a small dose of natural Armour thyroid.

The very first day I could tell a difference. Within a three days I felt like a new woman. Last week my house was on the way to getting organized for the first time in three years. I finally had the energy and mental clarity to go into a room and organize it! I was no longer just barely keeping my head above water! I feel human again! If I feel this much better after just a few days, I can't imagine how much better I will feel in a few weeks or months.

Hypothyroidism is on the rise, due in part to the soy products and fluoride we consume, as well as other factors. It's also grossly underdiagnosed and undertreated. Different labs have different standards for "normal" and consequently a lot of people aren't getting the treatment they need.

If you are tired all the time, depressed, gaining weight (or not able to lose weight), achy, confused, forgetful, and cold, chances are that you could have hypothyroidism. After several stubborn years I am so glad that I listened to Billy and did something about it. If in doubt, get it checked out. Educate yourself as well. The most helpful resource we've found is the book Living Well with Hypothyroidism by Mary Shomon. Read, read, read. If you have hypothyroidism you don't have to suffer any longer!

3 comments:

Valerie said...

Wow, that's awesome that you figured something out. Its got to be really hard to self-diagnose, as all of the things you listed are relative and easily caused by other things. It would be really easy to be un-diagnosed for your entire life.

Charity Grace said...

Right. Which is why I've gone for years with these symptoms.

Windy said...

I am so glad you were able to get it treated!! I have a history of it in my family too... I usually do run low on the temperature scale but I have MS, so a lot gets chalked up to that. I have a GYN appointment in March and I will have to bring this up.

I also was told by Aunt, just recently, to ask for the doctor to run all of the panel test for thyroid (have it writen down, cant remember... LOL HHhmmm, you think). I guess they usually only run one and she had to have all of them done before she was diagnosed.

Hannah is 6 and I have no more room to blame that. Although with school, Todd and Hannah and... I thought that might be it. :)