Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thyroid Hormones & Bone Marrow Biopsies

Sorry, all. I know I'm long overdue to post a blog that actually contains educational information about a natural health topic. This one does, but is being written primarily to allow me to vent a bit. Thanks for supporting me through this. I want to stress that I am very committed to treating myself and any health issues I may have using completely natural methods. Because of the natural supplements I have used for many years, my thyroid gland (which "died" in 1994) is regenerating and has begun producing hormones again. Unfortunately, my thyroid gland has not yet regenerated to the point that I can function without taking prescription thyroid hormones. Luckily, there are natural medications available via prescription. The most popular natural thyroid med, Armour Thyroid, disappeared off store shelves about four months ago, leaving approximately two million US thyroid patients unable to get this necessary medication.

The thyroid gland produces several different hormones, the most important being the T3 and T4 hormones. Mainstream thyroid medications such as Synthroid only contain the T4 hormone. Although most people's bodies easily convert T4 to T3, a large number of patients' bodies are unable to convert the T4 to T3. Mine is one of those bodies. The beauty of Armour Thyroid, which is made from desiccated thyroid glands of bovine origin, is that it provides the patient with both thyroid hormones. At my lowest point in my thyroid journey, I was on Synthroid but was almost bedridden due to crippling exhaustion. My neurological symptoms were so extreme that I was incorrectly diagnosed with MS three times. I had ballooned up to almost 200 pounds and was unable to function normally. All of these issues were caused because my body had too much T4 and almost zero T3. I had to go to four doctors before finding one willing to prescribe Armour. My symptoms disappeared after one month on Armour.

Then Armour disappeared.

I am blessed to live near a compounding pharmacy that can custom compound a medication very similar to Armour. I've now been on that med for about four months. The problem I'm experiencing is that the dose of Armour I was on when Armour disappeared was not the correct dose, so my current Endocrinologist and I are basically starting from scratch in figuring out what dosages I need of the T4 and T3 hormones. Among other issues, one of the side effects of having low thyroid levels for over 6 months is that my metabolism and my body's ability to digest and absorb protein have been negatively impacted. This has caused the iron level in my blood to be almost zero, a level deemed "impressive" by my doctor. Lucky me. In addition, my body is not producing normal amounts of several types of red blood cells, which naturally affects the oxygen content of my blood. I am counteracting this using an oxygenating product called Cell Food. I am also taking high doses of Hawthorne Berry to ensure my heart and circulatory system are working at the highest efficiency possible. I hate to think how badly I would feel if I did not eat an all-organic, whole food diet and if I were not using supplements to support my body.

I had another Endocrinology appointment today. My ferritin (a form of iron) levels are so low my doctor wanted to do a bone marrow biopsy to rule out much more severe issues. I refused. I went down that road twelve years ago during another phase of extreme thyroid issues. I appreciate my doctor's concern, but know that my blood count issues are all related to my current thyroid insufficiency. She didn't agree, but she hasn't received the same training or done the same research I have. I'm ok with that. Although my symptoms have been indicating that my thyroid levels are currently way too high, she found that my reflexes are all extremely slow, which is indicative of low hormone levels. My speech is also a bit slurred, also indicative of low levels.

She commented that she can't believe I'm working or even able to get out of bed with blood counts as low as mine. Lucky me, again. I didn't mention that I'm carrying a full practice load, still working as a consultant at a health food store, and still have four children, two dogs and a husband. LOL. Needless to say, getting out of bed is a challenge. Being tired is easily dealt with. The achiness, constant headache, bitchiness (forgive my use of the word ... it's the only one that works), brain fog, slurred speech, dizziness and skipped heart beats are a bit tougher to deal with, but I'm forging ahead. If I had my druthers, I'd probably spend all day every day wrapped in a quilt sleeping and watching old movies. That's just not an option for me. I've been pulling myself up by my bootstraps and doing what needs to be done every day. On my "off" days, I'm a bit of a slug. A really, really lazy slug.

My doc and I worked together to devise a plan which I'm confident will work. Instead of taking T3 and T4 combined in one capsule, she's going to phone in scripts for separate doses of T3 and T4. That will enable us to easily change the level of each. I will get blood work much more frequently so that we can keep much closer track of where my levels are.

My TSH level, which should never be above 4.5, is still in the high 70s. (That earned me another "impressive," LOL.) I'm confident all of my numbers will soon return to normal. Until then, I'm honestly thankful that God is allowing me to experience this. I know that what I'm going through is preparing me to help others with greater compassion, knowledge and wisdom. I'm looking forward to ending this lesson. :)

Thanks for letting me vent a bit. Take time today to give thanks for your health and live in a way that protects it!