Thursday, February 27, 2014

Update on my journey with Auto-Immune Thyroid Disease

Disclaimer: Please be aware that I have no medical degree or formal medical training of any kind. This post is my opinion only, and should not be taken as any kind of medical advice. No information in this post is meant to diagnose or treat thyroid disease or any other medical problem. My intent is simply to share the story of my own experience with auto-immune thyroid disease. 

You can read about my journey with auto-immune thyroid disease here: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

I haven't updated for quite awhile, so I'm going to have to back track for a bit. Around December of 2012, I pretty much stopped taking Armour (the thyroid medication I take for Hashimoto's). As I skipped days here and there, I told myself that I actually felt better without Armour. And for awhile, maybe I did. But eventually, the symptoms came back, and I was feeling pretty rough.

Somewhere along the way, I came to my senses. It was probably when I admitted to my mom that I had been off thyroid meds for nearly a year, and she became really concerned about me. "You just don't know what it could be doing to your body to NOT have that medication," she gently told me. I used My Med Lab to run a TSH test, and it came back just under 10. I have symptoms when it is as low as a 2, so yes, it was way too high, but not as high as I expected it to be at after almost a year of no thyroid meds.

In January of this year, I went back to my very wonderful thyroid doctor, and very sheepishly told him my story of why I had been away for so long. He didn't scold too much, and he even said that it was pretty common for people to stop taking their thyroid meds and think they are ok without it for a while. He promptly put me back on Armour, 1 grain a day for 10 days to let my body adjust to being back on the medication, and then two grains a day after that. After 4 weeks, I went back for my follow-up, and I could honestly say that I could tell a difference already. I was feeling better, and some of my symptoms had lessened considerably. The two biggest symptoms were very painful joints and muscles in my arms, and a racing heartbeat that had me panicking several times a week. There were times that I seriously thought I might have a heart attack, it was that bad! The joint pain has lessened considerably, and my heart hasn't been racing since I started back on Armour. Lesson learned!

He prescribed N-acetyl cysteine twice a day, to essentially help the thyroiditis calm down. He also suspects I am probably insulin resistant (which apparently often goes hand-in-hand with thyroid problems), and prescribed berberine, an herbal supplement similar to the function of metformin. I have been tested many times for diabetes, and thankfully, I am NOT diabetic, but I know that I need to lose weight. So that is the next step. It feels like a daunting task to lose a lot of weight with a very slow metabolism, but I think I'm ready to just start with some small goals! As always, whenever I talk about thyroid conditions, I want to encourage those that are struggling with this to NEVER GIVE UP hope that you will feel better! Keep researching, keep learning, keep doing what you can to feel better each day! Don't be afraid to ask for help!

* If you would like to read more about the herbal supplement berberine, this LINK has some great information!