Hypothyroid: One Year(ish) After Starting Treatment

Well, this malady definitely has its ups and downs. It’s lovely that there is such a quick fix for it in the form of a little pill, unlike many other maladies that could befall me, but man do I wish my body would pick a lane.

I’m still feeling significantly better than before, but my symptoms are slowly escalating again. My thoughts are creeping back into the sticky and sluggish.

Unfortunately, living with hypothyroidism means trying to hit an ever-moving target — produce/take too little T4, you’ll suddenly find yourself too tired to move. Take too much, and suddenly you’re facing heart-palpitations and other unpleasant side-effects. Fortunately, I have yet to experience the latter, but the former fatigue has been steadily creeping back up on me.

It’s been a slow march back toward my old symptoms, so small at first I was pretty sure I was imagining it. Dry skin on my face and feet, my hair has stopped growing as quickly (though oh WOW is it long now, and thick!), my nails are back to breaking easily, my weight loss has slowed considerably, and the ever-present Exhaustion, my frequent companion, has returned to gum up my brain.

IMG_5337
Puffy faced, for sure. I miss my old heart-shaped face, and also having a consistent single chin.

I’ve been here before. SIGH.

So, off we go with a new, higher dose again!

My dose has recently been adjusted by my new endocrinologist, based on my symptoms. I’m *so* glad he was willing to listen and try a higher dose, unlike my last doctor (lord knows I’m nowhere near hyperthyroid). I’ve been boosted to 88 MCG from 75, and already I can feel a spike of energy. Placebo? Maybe, but I’ll take the clearer thinking any day of the week, mind over matter or not. They’ll retest me in six weeks to see what it does to my TSH, T3 and T4.

I also asked my new doctor about diet, and he told me that, in his opinion, the diet side of my specific condition is unrelated–it shouldn’t impact anything, provided I’m eating healthfully and in a balanced way. Considering I don’t have the gastro-intestinal issues that many hypothyroid folks experience, I’ll continue to eat my broccoli and whole grains in all their various and healthy forms.

I’m going to utilize this spike of energy to start working out consistently again. My husband and I were doing great (weight training 3-4 times a week) until his gall bladder gave up the ghost, we moved across states onto an island (in the summer in the 95 degree humidity heat, lol), said some really hard but expected goodbyes, and then spent the last month or so settling in and replacing appliances that were literally making us sick (garbage disposals are gross–that’s all I’m going to say about that).

It’s been a whirlwind, but life is slowly settling back down to normal, which means it’s time to prioritize a healthy lifestyle.

qg5tXTEgQlaT%zFJvlY1ag
Unfortunately, T4 won’t help me become less of a messy person, though I’ll have more energy to pick up, if not the will!

I’ll check back with you in a few weeks (probably six from now when I get my levels tested again) with an update on the combination of working out consistently 3-5x a week and the new dosage. 🙂

Hypothyroid: One Month Since Starting T4-Only Treatment

I can’t believe how many small, tiny details of my life were negatively influenced by my under-active thyroid. Mayo Clinic covers a lot of them, but “dry skin” doesn’t even begin to address the small life annoyances that drove me crazy.

“Thinning hair” didn’t equate to the hair I was losing in the shower – my hair looked fine and had always been on the thin side–losing a few more strands, and then a few more, and then a few more, didn’t exactly raise any warning bells.

“I thought it was normal.” Over and over, I told myself this.

It wasn’t.

This little pill feels magical. Sure, I’m still tired first thing in the mornings and do seem to still have less energy than everyone else (might just need a higher dose), but I am functional. I am functional. I am not broken. ❤ It’s a touch rough, not being able to eat or drink anything of substance for an hour after taking my pill, but the benefits SO outweigh the drawbacks.

One Month of Taking 25mg of Levothyroxine: The Difference

My hair is growing! There is far, far less hair clogging my drain in the shower. It’s been essentially the same length since I cut it over a year ago; now, it’s shoulder-length! The downside is that I have to pluck my eyebrows more often, but I’ll take it!

My energy levels have evened out some; I’ve stopped waking up in the middle of the night, but it’s still less difficult to wake up in the morning. Now, I stay awake during every movie I try to watch after five p.m. Before, I used to fall asleep the moment a movie started playing.

Now, it doesn’t take all day to wake the hell up. For example, I awoke at eight a.m. this morning, and stayed awake. Even without coffee, by nine, I felt like a normal person. Previously, I would feel exhausted for hours (usually not feeling fully coherent until three or four in the afternoon).

No more unexplained bruises. I’ve stopped bruising constantly. I always had random, unexplained bruises all over my body, and no recollection of trauma. That has stopped. I’m not a banana anymore!

Lady perks: My period has gone back to the clockwork 28-days of my youth and is far more normal. Before taking my meds, it was bizarre — 31 days between cycles, 34, 37, and the last one, 62 (?!) – my periods were basically non-existent, way lighter than they should have been (contrary to the super-heavy-intense-pain that many women with hypothyroidism experience). The point? Not all symptoms will match the diagnosis exactly. The downside? Normal lady-time symptoms have come back with a vengeance, so that’s less pleasant, but again, I’ll take the energy thank you very much!

Fingernails: My fingernails have stopped breaking off. Literally the day I was diagnosed, my pinky toe nail just fell off. Yes, the whole thing. It didn’t hurt, just separated from the nail bed. It has since grown back in a single month!

My pedicure will LAST this time! My feet look like NORMAL FEET. No more disgusting, peeling, painful, cracked dry skin all over the soles of my feet; before this, I had no idea how everyone else had smooth, pink heels. Mine were dry, crusty, painful, and cracked, always. I just figured everyone else invested much more heavily in pedicures, or wore house shoes like my boyfriend. I haven’t done anything else to them, and the callouses and nastiness are wearing off, all on their own. I’m thrilled!

I have a chin again! My face seems thinner (could just be my imagination) and my chin is back to being pointy; for awhile there, it was rather puffy and unpleasant. This one could be my imagination, but I’ll take it!

Easier time exercising: I no longer feel HORRENDOUS after every bout of exercise. This weekend, we spent all day on a pontoon and I spent literal hours just swimming around. Sure, I was tired at the end of the day, but I didn’t feel like absolute death!

Fortunately, even before being diagnosed, I escaped some of the less fun gastrointestinal issues many people with hypothyroidism face, but I suspect a lot of that has to do with my pre-existing diet. We cook at home constantly, eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, which likely helped all along. Additionally, I have always avoided fried foods and generally don’t consume a ton of added sugar–just fruit (hurray for fiber and nutrients!) I’ve switched to black coffee instead of drinking sweet chai lattes in the morning, cut any lemonade I do drink with unsweetened black tea (Arnold Palmers for the win!), and drink soda water with lime instead of any sort of sugary beverage. With this in mind, I’m not implementing any of the super restrictive diets many of the hypothyroid books suggest. I’ll probably stick to mixed greens over kale and limit my cruciferous vegetables just in case, but generally, most doctors don’t think there is any benefit or credence to aiming for a “hypothyroid diet”. This may not be true for everyone, especially if your tummy is often upset, but for now, this works for me!

We’ll see how this continues – I suspect my dose is a touch low still, but I had blood drawn today to see if my TSH levels have gone back down to normal levels or not. I am just so absolutely relieved!

Hypothyroidism – First Week Taking T4-Only Medication (Levothyroxine)

Imagine listening to your favorite music; you set it to turn on the moment you awaken, excited about your favorite lyrics, how it makes you feel, the actions it inspires you to take.

Except the moment you open your eyes, an AIRHORN/MEGAPHONE/SIREN gets screeched directly into your ear.

SLEEP! It wails. SLEEP! SLEEP! YOU MUST SLEEP! SLEEP NOW! SLEEP FOREVER!

It goes on and on until you either give into it (it stops the moment you shut your eyes) or you stagger through it (you know, so your life doesn’t collapse when you 1. get fired or 2. miss deadlines or 3. piss off all your friends/significant other, all of which matter more than the airhorn, though it still blares deafeningly most of the day.)

Though you know your favorite music is playing, you have no hope of hearing it, so unless your world is about to be set on fire by life responsibilities, you give in. Your eyelids flutter closed.

You go back to sleep. Again.

^ That’s the best way to describe the life I led with hypothyroidism.

tired
Teaching while the megaphone was blaring into my brain was super fun. ^ Accurate depiction of me as a teacher, yo.

It’s been four days since I started taking levothyroxine, a synthetic version of the T4 hormone my body is not producing nearly enough of.

Verdict? It is DEFINITELY making a difference.

Getting up in the morning has become a choice. I wake up, and though I am still sleepy, I am not groggy. I lay in bed and consider whether I should up and at ’em, or if I think my body needs more rest. I base it on the number of hours I slept the night before. I use logic. The airhorn dictating my life has gone mostly silent, or is at least much quieter. I can think through it.

Hypothyroid Reality: Getting up was not a choice before treatment.

I really tried everything. Every night, I’d think about all the amazing things I wanted to do–get up, do yoga, make a nutritious breakfast that I LOVE, spend time quietly reading and sipping coffee, get to work on my latest novel idea that I was excited about–but nothing roused me.

I could prep breakfast and my clothes, set my coffee maker to go off right as my alarm did so it would be waiting for me. I could make sure I was ready to go for whatever it was I was excited about doing. I could set my alarm across the room, or better yet, outside the room entirely. I prepared a self-talk speech to recite to myself the moment my alarm went off, bought nummy lotions to pamper myself in the morning if I woke up and functioned like a person as a reward. Hell, I even “practiced” getting up a few times at night by setting an alarm, putting my feet on the floor, stretching, getting out of bed and going downstairs in an attempt to make my muscle memory work in my favor.

Nothing worked. 

IMG_5428
Not whiskey; COFFEE!

Well, except for drinking an entire carafe of coffee at the first alarm, then going back to sleep for an hour. That helped… until it didn’t. Turns out, you build an immunity to drugs like caffeine. Shocking, I know.

Before, unless I would lose a job, a doctor’s appointment, or a friend over not showing up on time, my brain refused to let me get up until it was absolutely necessary or I finally felt somewhat awake.

I was never rested, but sometimes awake.

Today, I feel rested; I feel like a person. I feel like ME.

First Week Taking Synthetic T4: Differences

I wake up every morning and take my pill between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m., aiming for 9:30. I drink it with a full glass of water, and eat and drink nothing else for at least sixty minutes. These are the results:

Pros

1. I can actually wake up early and think clearly. I have a choice.
2. When I get a touch sleepy in the afternoons, it’s no longer debilitating (and it hasn’t happened yet today!)
3. I’m still sleepy at night; it still sometimes gets to the ‘groggy’ level, but that’s probably a good thing in the long run, but I no longer feel like puking if I stay up a touch later than my brain wants.
4. The vericose veins in my legs and in my hips have faded significantly! They’re still there but I’ll be curious to see if they go away entirely!

My boyfriend also says my voice is higher. Whether that’s a pro or a con is up for debate, but I’m sure it’ll help my lilting soprano tones! Early Mariah Carey, here I come!

Cons (If you can call them that.)

  1. I wake up at night more often, or at least, remember it.
  2. I have a much harder time going back to sleep once I wake up in the middle of the night.I think I wake up a lot anyway (as evidenced by sleep talking and having entire weird conversations with people I never remembered the next day) but my body would drag me back under so fast, I would have no recollection of it. Now, I wake up and spend some time looking at my ceiling or the back of my eyelids. I remind myself that this is a small price to pay for feeling like a person 80% of the time instead of 20%.

    And hey, if I’m awake for longer than half an hour in the middle of the night, there’s no reason I can’t get up and do all the things I haven’t been able to for so, so long! #optimism

    Fingers crossed this keeps getting better and better! I know my levels will need to be adjusted throughout my life, but it is SUCH a relief to feel like a person again!