So now that it's been a full week that I have been on medication for my burned-out adrenals and my high reverse T3 count, I want to give an update:
I am taking Armour thyroid in what the ARNP calls a low dose, but it seems to work very well for me. Armour is different from Synthroid in that it contains both T4 (which Synthroid has) and straight T3, which is the biologically active form of the thyroid hormone. In other words, your body manufactures T4, but it must then convert the T4 into T3. TSH is a pituitary hormone that is involved in how much T4 your body produces, not T3. So you could have a normal TSH and T4 reading, and still have big problems because you don't have enough T3 for your body to actually use.
In my case, my body makes plenty of T4, but when it converts it, it turns some of it into T3, but also turns too much of it into Reverse T3. Reverse T3 is like those little plastic things you put into electrical outlets so that babies don't stick hairpins into them. It is biologically inactive, but it prevents real T3 from binding to receptors in cells, so it sort of "turns off" the cells to metabolic activity. This is why people with high reverse T3 feel exhausted and can't lose weight, even on low calorie diets.
So I am on Armour and Bio-Adreno (which is a bio-identical adrenal glad supplement that supports healthy adrenal function). I have also stopped eating wheat and dairy, and I don't drink caffeine anymore. I am limiting my sugar but I do eat fruit and I have had some dark chocolate and orange juice here and there. What has happened to me this week? Here are the highlights. :)
When I sleep, I feel rested. This is a really big deal for me because for several months now, when I slept, I would wake up just as tired as I felt when I went to sleep. And in the event that I got to sleep in, once every few weeks, it didn't really do me any good and just made it harder to sleep the next day. To actually wake refreshed is... it's kind of amazing. I wake up ready for the day. Not exactly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but I feel like the new day is a good thing and not just "oh geez, one more day to get through until I get to go to bed again."
When I eat, I feel nourished. I had been noticing for a while that when I ate, I felt like I wasn't really getting anything from the food. It's hard to really explain, but while I never really felt "stomach hungry," I felt "cell hungry," like my cells were crying out for something that they just weren't getting. I know it sounds crazy, but that's the best way I can think to describe it. Now, when I eat, I feel that I am really getting what I need. I am not sure the exact relation of this feeling to the medicine, but I have noticed it. I have also been craving really healthy foods, like the other day I just really needed a bunch of tofu and kale. Explain that.
My body handles food better now. It used to be that when I ate anything with grain, or with sugar, my body would just freak out. I recorded my blood sugar for a while, and I would get really, really low readings sometimes -- in the 40s and 50s. I would routinely feel awful if I didn't eat once every hour or two. I started with the medicine and was prepared for a hypoglycemic diet as well, but I have found, strangely, that I feel actually less hypoglycemic than I did before. For example, the other day I was just really feeling like I wanted a little glass of orange juice, so I thought, well, I'll just go ahead and have some. And I drank it, and I didn'thave a sugar crash 30 minutes later. That hasn't happened since I was in middle school, seriously. It was kind of amazing. I don't have to eat every 1-2 hours anymore -- I can eat every 3-4 hours instead, and I feel completely fine the whole time.
Other stranger effects. I have noticed some other more incidental effects. First, my memory is slowly getting better. It is not instantly repaired, unfortunately, but I have been recalling things that I normally would have forgotten. For example, I remembered to put a bag of paper towel rolls into the car and then actually give it to the art teachers at Chris's school. Normally I would have collected the rolls and then just never, ever remembered to give them to the school. I wish the memory recovery were more dramatic, because I really miss being mentally sharp, but it is getting better, and that's a start.
Emotionally speaking, I have a much longer fuse when it comes to getting frustrated and angry. I have had the normal challenging situations this week with my two little kidlets, and I have noticed that I have more mental space to decide how I will react -- my reactions are more thoughtful and controlled. This is really big. For example, at the store the other day C said he had to use the bathroom, and I was trying to get us to the restroom, and someone was blocking the entire aisle with their cart parked diagonally. I tried to do the polite thing but she wasn't taking the hint so I had to sort of drive all the way around her and between her and her cart, kind of like a really mundane sort of slalom. Just as I finally get around her, I hear Chris go "uh oh..." and we rushed to the restroom but he had already gone. Of course I have no extra clothes with me, nothing, but I got through the entire situation, including a broken hand dryer, a non-functioning paper towel dispenser, and a very clingy 18 month old, with very little emotional strife. It actually went very smoothly, in the context of how well your child wetting their pants in the middle of a grocery trip can really go. Chris got through it understanding that he had done everything right, and the situations just piled up to make it so he had an accident, and he recovered really quickly without being embarrassed. I didn't try to start a fight with the woman with the diagonal cart, although I was definitely irritated. It was really good to see a good outcome in a situation like that.
A strange emotional effect is that I have a wider range of emotions than I used to. It's strange. I feel a little more weepy, but not in an out of control way -- instead, if something happens and I feel like I need to cry, then I just immediately cry a couple of tears and then I'm over it for good. I guess it's more like I deal with my emotions right in the moment, rather than saving them up for weeks and then shutting down or freaking out. It's different, but it's not bad.
My memories are "waking up." This morning suddenly I started singing this old rhyme that we used to say when we were jumping rope in second grade.
She can wibble, she can wobble, she can do a split.
I bet you ten dollars you can't do this:
Close your eyes and count to ten
Open your eyes and do it again
There's a little bit more of that little blue-eyed girl back in me now, again, dancing in the double-dutch ropes, eyes shut, daring herself to get all the way to ten.