Saturday, December 30, 2006

My history with Hypothyroidism and experience with doctors

Up until now I have been so frustrated with doctors. I have said on many occasions "doctors are stupid" or "I hate doctors" or "Western medicine sucks", ect. I don't really think that way, it is just an easy way to say how frustrated I am. I do think our system is flawed, and that most doctors don't really have a clue about how human hormones work, and how to fix them. That also makes me figure there are a lot of other illnesses and diseases that they don't know much about. They also seem to just be interested in patching the symptoms, not actually healing the problem. It isn't their fault though. They just know what they are taught, and they are only human, and can't know everything. I do wish they would realize that though, and listen to the patients more. *sigh*

My experience with doctors I have seen about my illness, and the "progress" made thus far:

Doctor#1 Early 2001
I had been so tired, and knew there was something wrong. I went to a doctor, and told her my symptoms, and asked her to check for anemia (I was diagnosed with it before) diabetes (grandfather has it) and my thyroid (father has Hypothyroidism.) She said to me, "I think you are just depressed. I will check for these, but I think they will come back normal, and that you are just depressed." She was recommending Prozac.
I came back to see her after my test results came back, and she said "yep, all normal, just like I thought" and was ready to write me that prescription for Prozac. How stupid to give a girl that is exhausted Prozac!!! I was like, "if there is a problem with me, shouldn't I see a physiologist?" I got a card for one, but never called. I knew that wasn't my problem. I didn't know any better, so I just lived with it. I guessed it was just me.
(Later, I looked back to the letter I got from the clinic. Everything just said "normal", there were never any numbers to check.)

Which takes us to doc #2, one year later.
I was in for a pap, (I made sure to get a different doctor, but it was at the same clinic.) He said "good, I see you got your thyroid checked." I asked that he check it and he did. It came back that I had Hypothyroidism. Yay, thank you doc for finding something! Was prescribed Synthroid. Felt better, but not great. Asked him twice to raise my dose when he wouldn't have. He did it, but not without saying "many of my patients want more Synthroid than they need." Ummm... doc, shouldn't that be telling you something!??!?!
Once my TSH was low enough that I figured I was normal (that was the only test ever taken, and I didn't know any better to ask for more. Most doctors only do a TSH test, which isn't even made by the thyroid. It is made by the pituitary gland, telling your thyroid to produce more hormone.... so many things can interfere with that.... but doctors just don't seem to get that.) I did feel better, but still tired and not normal.
I just figured it was because I was working nights, and also that was just the way I was.
Ended up on 1MG Synthroid.

For 2 more years I lived like that, just figuring it was because I was working nights.

Doctor#3 early 2004
I was pregnant, and this doctor was great, I really liked him. I still didn't know any better about my thyroid, and he kept me where I was. I think if I had learned this stuff then, he would have worked with me though.
I did feel better during pregnancy, and blamed the tiredness I did have on my pregnancy. (Which was probably mostly true.)

Doctor#4 early 2006
Asked me a few of the "do you have this or that" questions. I replied with all the right answers. Nope no more tired than usual (I do have a baby waking me up during the night after all, and what is normal anyway, I had forgotten.)
Kept on the same dose of Synthroid.

Which brings me to this last summer. I finally weaned my daughter, she was mostly sleeping at night, and I was feeling more tired and drug out than ever. My neighbor said to me one day that she was worried about me, and maybe I should see a doctor about getting on antidepressants. I tried to explain to her "it is just because of my Hypothyroidism, I am just like this, this is just the way I am."
I went home and really thought about that, and thought, "why should it have to be like this? There has to be a way to get better!"

So I started to research. WOW! I learned a lot. I won't get into all those details now, but I have listed, and will list helpful sites and books if anyone wants to do their own research.

Anyway, I read a lot about Armour Thyroid, the natural thyroid medication that has T4 and T3 in it, along with some things that nobody really knows what they are for. (Synthroid only has T4, which has to be converted to T3 to give you energy. Some people have a hard time converting.)
So I decided that was the first step. Made an appointment with a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, who are supposed to lean more toward healing than M.D.s.) that someone I know likes. I was so excited! I waited 3 weeks to see her. I told her how I was feeling, and that I really wanted to try Armour. She really didn't want to give it to me. I asked her what she would do if I wasn't pushing for this. She said she thought I was depressed..... Yeah, that route again. I told her I really wanted to try this, and that I would just find someone else who would.... so she agreed.

WOW!!!! I felt better in a day. I felt so great! First of all, the "fog" lifted. It was like when you get a new pair of glasses, and everything looks clearer.... The world was clearer to me. I could concentrate better. I had energy to get through the day. I had the ambition to get things done. I went out and exercised just because it sounded like fun. My libido skyrocketed. I think I was a better mom, because I had more of ME to give to my daughter.

That lasted about two weeks, and then I regressed right where I was before.... worse in some ways. Those two weeks were such a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I now have hope that I can feel normal, on the other hand, now I remember what I am missing. *sigh*

So, I went back to the doctor for blood tests. My TSH was low, but so were my T4 and T3 levels, which really should be looked at more closely than the TSH to begin with. I called her to ask her to raise my Armour dose. Her nurse called back and told me that I need to go see an endocrinologist. I guess she just didn't want to deal with the "difficult" patient. *sigh*

So, I raised the dose on my own while I searched for a good doctor.

To be continued: