Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Evidence To Back Me Up

Our I.T. Department was kind enough to clean and dry out my cell phone, so I have my mind back a little. I am just feeling so poorly most of the time. The mornings are usually ok, but after lunch- watch out! I called my doctor's nurse again yesterday afternoon. She told me I still need all the Vitamin D and Calcium I am taking, which stinks. More pills. She also told me my TSH was 15.8!!! Wow, now that is some evidence to back me up a little. I am NOT crazy, I am just imbalanced.

Here's a little anatomy lesson from The thyroid gland is controlled by the pituitary gland. When the level of thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) drops too low, the pituitary gland produces Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which stimulates the thyroid gland to produce more hormones. The pituitary gland itself is regulated by another gland, known as the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is part of the brain and produces TSH Releasing Hormone (TRH) which tells the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid gland (release TSH).

The so called "normal" TSH is said to be between 0-3, but this is still debated in the medical community. If the TSH is a high #, then the thyroid is not responding to it's commands and is not producing the appropriate hormones. Obviously, I have no thyroid now, so I expected to see some high numbers. In January, my TSH was less than 1, and I felt pretty good. I was taking 100mcg of Levoxyl daily to replace the deficient hormones. Yesterday, my doctor upped my dosage to a mere 150 mcg. I know I am complaining, but I figure it should at least be doubled. If I have 15x's higher TSH, I would think doubling my dose would not be overkill. I haven't had this doctor for very long, so I am trying hard to trust her judgement. Some typical symptoms of overmedication of levothyroxine include: anxiety, difficulty sleeping, elevated pulse, weight loss (or in some cases, weight gain), diarrhea, muscle aches and weakness, hair loss, fatigue, exhaustion, irrtations or sensitivity in eyes or neck area, among others. Since I am already having many of these symptoms, I am willing to take the risk, but I must yield to my doctor's judgement. We can argue about this later.

I hope to feel the effects of my increased dose in a couple of weeks. I know that the full effect could take 6-8 weeks, but surely I will tell some difference in 2 weeks. It was only about 2 weeks after surgery that I was feeling some symptoms of a low dose. It is hard to differenciate between surgery fatigue and low tyhroid fatigue initially. I guess only time will tell.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crying Over Spilled Milk (With Coffee)

I am so fortunate to have a loving, patient and giving husband. I have been testing his patience lately I am sure. This weekend I fell UP the stairs for no apparent reason, and then I fell down the stairs too. The same day. For no reason at all. I guess my balance is off. I blame my missing thyroid for this too. I wasn't in a hurry, I wasn't carrying anything, I wasn't on the phone or distracted in any way at all. I just fell. Hard! My lower back hurt so bad that evening, but thankfully the pain has subsided now. Pain does not help with my irritability.

Each morning, my lovely husband wakes me up with coffee just the way I like it and a sweet kiss. It is my favorite part of the day. Not the waking part, but the love part. :) He doesn't mind that I have morning breath or bed head. This morning was no different than any other morning. "Good morning Love", smoochie smoochie. So, I sit up and take those first precious sips. I hear my husband leave the house for work. Ahhh, coffee. It usually is a great way to start the day. This morning something bad happened. Normally it would just be an annoyance, but today I couldn't handle it. I get occassional weakness in my arms these days. I think that must be what happened. My very full coffee mug fell out of my hand. I just lost my grip for no reason at all. My coffee went all over. The wall, the lamp, my sheets, the floor, and the worst- my cell phone. I absolutely LOST IT! I immediately started crying uncontrollably. I couldn't stop. Not even long enough to take a shower. Time started to run out on me. So, I called my husband, eager to hear his calming reassuring voice. As he was talking to me, I realized that I was behaving like a five year old girl who broke something of Mommy's. This realization did not halt the crying, it only made it worse. I still don't know how I managed to get ready for work and get there, but I did. Somehow. My cell phone has everything in it. My Outlook calendar reminds me of things I would forget (which is everything these days). So now, my phone doesn't work. Now what was holding me together is not working. I am lost yet again!

I have lost myself! I don't recognize the woman in the mirror. The VERY heavy woman with dark circles under her eyes. The woman that rarely smiles, and snaps at everyone. The woman whose clothes don't fit anymore. The woman who is SO tired that she sometimes doesn't care what she looks like, even when going to work. The woman who has no motivation, no spirit, no life, no energy, no control over emotions, no memory, no concentration, no stamina.... and no joy! Who is this person? A month ago she was stressed about her upcoming thyroidectomy and the possible big "C". But at least I knew who she was. She was recognizable. That was me. Who is this woman now? She is 10 lbs heavier and looks and feels like all joy and energy and life has just been sucked out of her. I should be joyous. The tumor was benign. I am healing. My neck hardly hurts at all anymore and life can go on. But it's not.

I know that my missing dear thyroid is why I am not me. I had blood tests last week. So, I called my doctor to check on it. My meds take a while to be effective. Which means, even after I get my dose adjusted I have more waiting. I had to leave a message for her nurse. I am sure that I sounded like a lunatic. "Help! I am not well. Please hurry and adjust my meds."

My husband misses his wife, my 4 boys miss their mom, my employer misses their competent employee, and I MISS ME. Please help me find her!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Blame Game

I don't know about you, but information to me can sometimes be dangerous. Over the least several years, I have read a lot about Hypothyroidism online. I could tell that some of the sites were not good resources, so I tried to discard that. Hypothyroidism is a chronic disease. Even without a thyroid now, I am still considered hypo. So here are what I know my symptoms are for sure, at least for today. They seem to change frequently:

  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Depression (not always)
  • Weight that just won't leave
  • Brittle nails
  • Brain Fog/Memory Loss
  • Irritabilty
  • Diffulty regulating body temperature
The Thyroid controls SO many functions of the body, that when things go awry, I always blame it. Some other symptoms that I could have include:

  • Weakness
  • Increased difficulty losing weight
  • Coarse, dry hair
  • Dry, rough pale skin
  • Hair loss
  • Cold intolerance (you can't tolerate cold temperatures like those around you)
  • Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
  • Constipation
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles
  • Decreased libido
Can you see why I always blame my thyroid? It's really hard to know if there is something wrong with me. I can almost always chalk up my symptom to the thyroid. I have recently had a lot of pain in my lower back, nearly at my tail bone. At first I just assumed that it was because I was not very mobile in the weeks following my surgery. But then it got worse, much more painful than my surgery. So I finally went and had it checked. It was a pinched ciatic nerve. Apparently this is fairly common for people who have longer surgeries. Mine was nearly five hours. Dr. Arguello did say that they had to "beat me up" during surgery to get all the tumor out. Oh what fun! I get to do some exciting exercises every night. The good news is that I should feel much better in a few weeks. Now I have 2 additional pills to add three times a day to my current pharmacy. I do not know what I would do without quality insurance. I am very blessed with my job and benefits.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My New Favorite Word- BENIGN

I should have updated my blog much sooner, but I've been busy--- celebrating! Yes, the pathology results are in and are benign. Whew. When I sat down for my appointment, Dr. Arguello starting saying lots of big medical words- hurtle cells, neoplasm, parathyroid, follicular, etc. Blah blah blah! It was like listening to the teacher on the Peanuts cartoon. I am usually focused at my medical appointments but I seemed to be in a fog, listening for only two words- benign and malignant. Finally, I just interupted and asked what it was. Yes, it was benign!!! Woo hoo! I felt the weight of the world lift from my shoulders. After that I was able to pay attention and found out that the tumor was much bigger than he anticipated, it was actually 4.2 cm instead of the ultrasound diagnosis of 3.6 cm. He said that it was everywhere! He even had to scrape it from the base of my tongue. So, it is reasonable that I am still so sore. For right now, Dr. Arguello doesn't think the radioactive iodine is necessary. We will just follow up with another ultrasound soon. He ripped off the steri-strips and was pleased with the way the incision looks. He told me I could go back to work the following week and I could drive again immediately. Yeah!

So, I went back to work a couple of days ago. My head feels very heavy at the end of the day. I wonder how much my head really weighs? It is SO hard to be back and try to focus and remain upright for 8+ hours. I went home early on Monday and Tuesday and I think I will just plan on doing the same for the rest of the week. I forgot to mention that soon after surgery I had some twitchig in my lips and arms and fingers. This was due to a calcium deficiency. So, I am taking lots of Tums right now. This is in addition to the other meds I am on. I used to hate taking anything and rarely even had a Tylenol for a headache. Now I take 50,000 units per week of Vitamin D, and 3,000 mg of Tums (calcium), my Levoxyl (which hasn't been adjusted since surgery), and my generic Yasmin. I have also been eating ibuprofen like candy for the pain because I hate the way the Ultram makes me feel so jittery and restless. I am still not sleeping well, but I also have some new pain in my lower back, so who knows what the cause of that is.

I am starting to get concerned about the incision though. I still have irritated skin beneath the incision and the incision looks too red to me. It is exactly the same length so I don't think it was the adhesive. I will call Dr. Arguello's office if it doesn't go away soon. Prior to my surgery, I scoured the internet searching for pictures of the other people's incisions. So, below is a picture of my neck 19 days after surgery.

I will see my endocrinologist, Dr. Henley next week. I am sure she will order at least a TSH because I am still taking just 100mcg of Levoxyl. I already have an order for a calcium test from Dr. Arguello, but I have been procrastinating. I foresee lots and lots of appointments in my future and I guess I am just stalling. I'm afraid that the calcium has not leveled off and that I will be eating Tums forever in addition to everything else. I guess I won't know until I get the test done, so I might as well do it, huh? I know it could be worse, but I used to depend on my body. I used to trust that it had everything that it needed. I am pretty active and generally eat healthy foods, so it is frustrating that I need so many pills to make my body do what it needs to! Guess I should get used to all this. After all, I am only 33 and have lots of time left to live!