Chillin' at CRT on Xpu Ha Beach

Chillin' at CRT on Xpu Ha Beach
How I'd spend every day if I weren't redecorating, cooking, sewing and blogging!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Life with Hypothyroidism, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I was 38 years old when my sister called me and asked the following questions,

Are you having problems maintaining your weight? 
Yes, for the first time in my life, but that’s part of aging, right?

Are you tired all the time? 
Yes, I have 3 kids, a husband and a full time job, what you do expect?

Are you cold all the time? Is your skin dry? Do you lose a lot of hair? 
Well……..

Then she told me she had just been diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  My other sister was already being treated for this condition. Her doctor recommended I have a blood test.  Sure, ok.  I’ve always tried to take care of my health, so I went for my check up and told my doctor about the family history and the test came back…..

Positive

I was devastated when I was told I needed to take a little pill every day for the rest of my life. There's just something about anything that is for the REST OF YOUR LIFE.   I would need frequent blood tests to monitor my TSH, T3 and T4.  I didn’t know what all this meant but I didn’t like it.  After a few days I told myself to be happy that I had a treatable condition. At least I wasn’t told I had a disease with no treatment. 

But what I have learned over the last 11 years is that while the medication may protect my organs from permanent damage it doesn’t necessarily relieve the symptoms. I have also learned that I had passed this disease on to both of my beautiful daughters.

My brother was also tested and he was fine.  After looking at a list of hypothyroidism symptoms, he told us, “Now you have an excuse for everything.”

My oldest daughter was in college and she had gained about 40 pounds.  After my diagnosis I hauled her in to the doctor for blood work and her tests came back positive as well.  She was only 19.  Hypothyroidism in younger people is harder to regulate, her numbers were much worse than mine and she had to have even more frequent blood tests.

Initially we were treated by our family doctor, using the TSH number to determine medication.  I really wanted a doctor who would treat not just from that lab number but pay attention to how I felt, so we found an endocrinologist.  The endo doc prescribed our meds not just on the lab number but on how we were feeling.  He told me no one knows what your normal was before the onset of this condition.  Normal range for TSH is .4 to 3.0, I feel best in the .4 to 1.0 range and the new doctor was willing to push that number down with medication.  But even with my fatigue somewhat improved, I still didn’t lose weight easily.

Prior to the onset of my hypothyroidism I had weighed 131 pounds for 22 years, no matter what I ate, without a regimented exercise program.  The only exception was during my three pregnancies where my weight topped out at 140, 146 and 152. After my children were born my weight quickly went right back to normal. 

Since acquiring hypothyroidism my weight has never been “normal” again. For the last 11 years I have lived on a reduced calorie diet and tried to increase my activity level – I don’t sit around, but I don’t care much for working out at the gym at the end of the day. 

My days are already full – work, errands, buying groceries, cooking meals, cleaning house, doing laundry, driving my kids around and going to doctor appointments. 
At the end of the day, even 30 minutes for exercise seems like a burden –

I’m exhausted I HAVE HYPOTHYROIDISM. 

THE NUMBER ONE SYMPTOM – FATIGUE! 

And now I have to find energy to exercise to keep fat pants at bay!  My weight keeps creeping up, the first 20 I could live with; I was still in the recommended weight range for my height and bone structure.  The second 20 I can’t accept.  But it isn’t coming off easy. Am I doomed to a life of working out on exercise equipment several times a week?  I feel like my life is being reduced to work, work at home, exercise and sleep.

Four years ago due to some growth issues I asked my doctor to check my youngest daughter’s TSH. She was 14.  Her numbers were off the chart.

Since she started taking thyroid meds she has grown 3 or 4 inches in height.  We have no idea how long her thyroid gland had not been functioning properly. At age 5 she was in the upper percentiles for height and by age 11 she was at the bottom.  She had regular medical checkups, but the doctor’s office was not charting her growth after she got older.  I believe if they had put those points on the growth chart we might have realized sooner she needed medication.  So make sure your doctor charts your child's growth rate right up through middle school.  She was small for her age, but so was I until I was 14 and my husband got his height in high school also, so we thought it was genetics.  We were right, just not about which genes she inherited.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of Hypothyroidism
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain or 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
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles
  • Decreased libido
Each individual patient may have any number of these symptoms, and they will vary with the severity of the thyroid hormone deficiency and the length of time the body has been deprived of the proper amount of hormone. 

Hypothyroidism is completely treatable in many patients simply by taking a small pill once a day. However, this is a simplified statement, and it's not always so easy

The internet is full of helpful information regarding hypothyroidism. The medical info on page came from the website below.  If you suspect you have this condition, please see a doctor.


The estimates vary, but approximately 10 million Americans have this common medical condition, as many as 10% of women may have some degree of thyroid hormone deficiency.  Hypothyroidism is more common than you would believe, and millions of people are currently hypothyroid and don't know it.

Although not listed above one of my main symptoms is weak brittle fingernails.  When I was younger I had long strong beautiful nails.  I also have the fatigue, weight gain, feel foggy headed (almost like I'm on pain meds), hair loss, dry skin, cold intolerance and more.  And I've been on medication for hypothyroidism for 11 years. 

I'm sorry if it doesn't sound very encouraging.  But I'm not giving up.  I'm eating light, exercising, taking my medicine and living my life and trying very hard not to be discouraged.





Live, Love, Laugh, Eat Healthy and Exercise,

(and if you have symptoms of thyroid disease, please see your doctor)

Laura

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