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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Making Progress

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2003. I had been tested for hypothyroidism a handful of times prior to being diagnosed beginning around sixteen years of age. My TSH levels have NEVER been outside of the "normal" range so it was certainly the Lord intervening on my behalf that led to that diagnosis because the doctor based it on my symptoms as opposed to my test results.

I started taking Synthroid shortly after diagnosis and my dosage has been adjusted 3 or 4 times over the past 9 years. I was off the medication for about 4 months when I lived in the UK because my GP / doctor wasn't comfortable refilling my prescription since he didn't diagnose me. He gave me a bottle of anti-depressants instead and told me to come back in six months to see if my numbers reflected my diagnosis. I knew the numbers wouldn't show anything so on my first visit home, I got my meds refilled in the states and never went back to the GP again. In that 4 month time period, my symptoms came flooding back and the worst day that I can remember involved having huge waves of nausea hitting me, heat flashes rolling up my body from my toes through the top of my head, being so dizzy I could barely stand up, followed by being completely disoriented while riding on the bus to get to work. I managed to stagger to the front of the bus but I couldn't stay upright and ended up slamming my cheekbone into one of the poles on the bus. The driver finally stopped and let me out and as soon as the cold air hit my face, I dropped to the sidewalk and stayed in a kneeling position while everyone got off the bus. I'm sure I looked like I had just had too much to drink the night before, but one woman stayed with me until the color came back into my cheeks. The bus stop was about 1/2 mile from my office so I still had to walk to work and ended up being about 20 minutes late which was VERY frowned upon. Thankfully, my manager could see it in my face that things were just not right.

Hypothyroidism for me has been a journey of ups and downs. The medication would work pretty well for a few years and then we would need to adjust. I have been on 150 mcg of Synthroid and I was VERY hesitant to go any higher in dosage because Synthroid (among other side effects) can cause bone density loss. I had begun to experience a lot of joint pain in my hands and the point that I couldn't hold a pen or use my sewing scissors or type on the computer without having to wear a brace. My feet were hurting to the point that they would ache at night when I was trying to sleep and sometimes, the pain would cause me to wake up in the middle of the night. I was taking 800 mcg of Ibuprofen each night to help me sleep. And, after diligently following Weight Watchers online for 8 weeks, I had actually gained a pound. I had swelling in my face, hands, feet, legs, and stomach to the point that I couldn't wear my wedding ring any longer. I was also experiencing migraine headaches several times a week.

I finally realized that all of these things were hypothyroidism symptoms! I shouldn't be experiencing ANY of these things, in my opinion, because I've been on my medication and have been diligent in watching what I eat and drink. I decided to do some research and after reading some great books and researching my medication options, I switched from Synthroid to Armour about 3 weeks ago.

In that three weeks, I have lost 7lbs. My face, hands, feet, legs, and stomach are no longer swollen. My joints have stopped hurting COMPLETELY. I haven't had a migraine in almost a week. I am sleeping at night. I don't have any fuzziness in my thinking. I am able to concentrate on what I'm doing. I just feel GOOD.

I'm excited about these changes, but I'm even more excited to see where I am 6 months down the road. Do I think Armour is a cure-all? No. But, for me, it is the missing piece needed to round out the good habits I have developed and the things I was already doing to make sure I had things under control healthwise. So, if I can keep up my end of the bargain, hopefully, my broken thyroid can meet me halfway and I can finally fit into my GAP jeans from my freshman year of college (which was the smallest I have ever been since going through puberty at age 11)...140 lbs is the smallest I have been since I was 11. Wow.