Sunday, October 2, 2011

HypoT Update

I finally got a call from my doctor's office on Friday, and it turns I have elevated thyroid antibodies and high reverse T3. From what I know so far (which might be an incomplete picture), the high reverse T3 is related to stress-related failure in the conversion of T4 into T3, and the use of T3 by the cells, although I am sure I do not understand exactly the way it works. Basically, "Reverse T3" is a slight variation of regular T3, which is the active hormone that regulates metabolism. So the reverse T3, which is sort of a placeholder "dummy" hormone, will block the receptors and not allow the actual T3 to bind and become active. So it's like a key that doesn't work being stuck in the lock, and you might have the key that works, but you'll never get it in the lock. In normal functioning, reverse T3 is created to slow down the metabolism when necessary -- for example, famine -- but sometimes when there is a lot of extended stress, the body will just sort of chronically produce too much reverse T3, so the metabolism keeps slowing down and slowing down until you get slow, tired, overweight, and really cold (95.9 degrees at one point last week). So the treatment is to clear all the extra reverse T3, and reducing your stress response with holistic changes and medication.

The elevated antibodies indicate some kind of autoimmune response, so I am interested to see what kind of treatment might be available for that, and how much functioning thyroid I have left.

I have to wait 8 more days for my doctor's appointment, which seems like not much in comparison to all the time I have been dealing with this trouble, but it seems like forever now that I know there is a problem and maybe even a solution out there waiting for me.

What I am dealing with now is some of the same types of symptoms as always, except now I am recognizing them rather than ignoring or downplaying them, thinking there is nothing really wrong with me. I'm coming awake to the distress signals my body has been giving out for so long, that I have been ignoring because I had been told that there was nothing wrong with me.

A bit of anger is coming up as well. It's been 18 months of my life, gone and wasted it feels like. I know that's an overstatement, but I have been operating at about 60% since my daughter was born. She doesn't even know who I really am, and I barely even remember it either. I am angry because I tried to address this problem at a time when I still could have had some breastfeeding time with my daughter, and when I could have enjoyed part of her infancy, but the doctor just tested my TSH and told me I was completely fine, and to get more sleep. Hypothyroid problems disproportionately affect women, and the symptoms are often dismissed because I suppose we expect that women will be fat, tired, and puffy whenever there is something vaguely "hormonal" going on -- childbearing, menopause, PMS, whatever. Women are brushed aside, and not just me -- look it up and you will see hundreds of personal stories of women who knew that they weren't healthy but their doctors just tell them to eat less and exercise more and take some antidepressants. The patients' expressions of what they know of their own bodies are ignored. In addition to this I guess I am also mad that I didn't pursue it farther until now -- that I didn't try harder to find out what was wrong before. Doesn't it seem backward that I should have to pursue a doctor who will listen to me and not tell me I'm just supposed to be fat and tired? Doesn't it seem like a doctor should want a patient -- even a female patient -- to have a better quality of life, rather than just getting used to things sucking just a bit more than they ever did before?

A lot of sadness comes up too. Sadness for the times that I have already lost with my family, for the past year of doing as much as I could, which was always less than I wanted to. I take my kids to the playground about 3 times a year. I haven't been to the beach since 2009. I don't do anything where I might run out of energy in the middle, so I don't do much. I am so used to being tired and sluggish that it's almost the new "normal" for me. I have to really focus to identify what's "not right" about me because it's been so long.

I am kind of curious about what might emerge if I get to start some treatment. I am curious if I will be able to keep up with the housework. I am really curious about whether I will be able to lose some weight and exercise enough to build muscle and things like that. I am curious about what my brain will be able to remember when I am not dialed down anymore. Do you know that yesterday I forgot about a birthday party that I had been planning to go to for weeks? That on Friday I confirmed that I was going, but come Saturday, I just didn't remember it, at all. That kind of malfunction is humiliating and really difficult to explain to other people. And that's the kind of shit I do these days, every day. But I never know when it's coming. I buy ketchup three times in a row when I already have it. I go to the store to get hot dog things for dinner, and I buy everything... except the hot dogs. I forget to mail a check for nine days, even though it's "on my mind to do it."

For so long I have been afraid that all of this was a signal of mental illness that I just haven't shared it with anyone. I assumed that the physical symptoms were all due to me being overweight, and I focused my energy on losing weight, which came to nothing. I assumed the mental symptoms were from a combination of sleep deprivation and emerging insanity, and I was hoping for a way to get past those things as soon as I lost the weight.

While I'm waiting for the next appointment I've kind of hit a wall where I stop trying. I don't have a reason to keep acting like it's okay, so I'm done with it. I'm exhausted and forgetful and only 25 lbs down from the day I got home from the hospital, after 14 months of dieting. I can't do half of what I used to be able to do. I'm spending all my energy doing my work and doing what I can for my family.

I know this is all sounding pretty dramatic, and I'm sorry for that. I know that this problem is not very big in comparison to other problems in the world. It's kind of overwhelming right now, though, to dig through all the things I have started to believe about myself (lazy, fat, disorganized, out of shape, boring, exhausted), and to see that some or most of them might be due to a pretty simple imbalance of chemicals. I'm kind of interested to see who I might get to be.

For a little more information on some of the stuff I am talking about, here are some good links:

High Reverse T3:
Adrenal Fatigue:
High Thyroid Antibodies:

I am considering calling and trying to get an earlier appointment. I have been feeling bad for so long, I am ready to start getting better!!

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