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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thyroid, Thyroid!

I just wanted to post a quick update that might help any of you guys that have thyroid issues. I was reading this tonight and I realized how accurate a lot of this has been for me in this short time I've been working on my thyroid issues. It comes from the "Stop the Thyroid Madness" website. I really like this website because it has a lot of information from real people with thyroid problems, and what they've learned along the way. I always value and respect a doctor's opinion and find it very important, but I also know that each body is made up differently. We can't always fit into one set treatment or regimen. Here's the article:

20130712_144657Over the years, a lot of mistakes have been made, and learned from, in the treatment of our hypothyroid state and all our related conditions.
And these mistakes ended up with either continued problems, or issues which eventually got worse as time went by. 
Below are the most common mistakes patients, or their doctors, make when a switch has been made to desiccated natural thyroid (NDT)…or when you are working to improve your hypothyroid state.  It’s all based on our experiences.
Can you find yourself below? Share these with your doctor! 
  1. STICKING WITH TOO LOW A DOSE. For a myriad of reasons, this happens often and will make you feel even more hypo due to feedback loop suppression. Have one of these been true of you?
    a) being held on a starting dose longer than two weeks (such as one grain, 1 1/2 grains or less)
    b) being bound by the directives of a TSH-obsessed doctor. The TSH lab test only keeps you sick.
    c) failing to get a raise of desiccated thyroid until the “next labwork”, which can be weeks and months away
    d) following an inaccurate Synthroid-to-Armour type conversion equivalence chart.
    e) being afraid to go higher!
  2. BEING ON AN OPTIMAL DOSE and FEELING GREAT, BUT BEING LOWERED DUE TO THE TSH LAB RANGE Similar to #2 above, this is the person who made his/her way up to an optimal dose which was working well, but having the dose lowered by a doctor who saw your suppressed TSH (i.e. below the range). This is doctor who thinks that ink spots on a piece of paper tell the truth more than your symptoms! When on an optimal dose of desiccated thyroid (or being very near), you WILL have a suppressed TSH without being hyper. (If you do feel hyper, see #3 below)
  3. THINKING NATURAL DESICCATED THYROID DOESN’T WORK BECAUSE YOU FEEL WORSE!  In reality, what natural desiccated thyroid does is “reveal” two certain problems:  adrenal insufficiency or low iron (both common in patients who’ve remained undiagnosed for years or were poorly treated on T4-only medications). You might find yourself with a high FT3 lab result with continuing hypothyroid symptoms (T3 pools rather than gets to your cells). Or experiencing anxiety, shakiness, fast heart rate, or other problems while on NDT.
  4. FAILING TO MULTI-DOSE Occasionally, some patients take their natural thyroid all at once in the morning and say they do fine. But, most individuals report better results by dosing at least twice a day. For example, a person on 3 1/2 grains might take 2 grains in the morning, and 1 1/2 grains by early or mid-afternoon. Multi-dosing better imitates what your own thyroid would be doing, and gives you the direct T3 throughout the day when you most need it.
  5. SWALLOWING NATURAL THYROID WITH ESTROGEN, CALCIUM or IRON. Estrogen, calcium and iron bind some of the thyroid hormones and makes them unusable, we’ve learned the hard way! So, it’s wise to avoid swallowing these at the same time you swallow your natural thyroid.
  6. TAKING DESICCATED THYROID BEFORE DOING LABWORK  Bad idea! T3 starts moving up after you take desiccated thyroid, giving a false high serum result. And your doctor freaks out when he sees the lab result, and directs you to lower your thyroid. Patients have learned to take their normal desiccated thyroid the day before, then do labs the next morning.
  7. STAYING ON A STARTING DOSE TOO LONG (same as #1 above). The key to understanding this mistake is with the word “starting dose”, which for many, is one grain. Starting doses help your body adjust to the direct T3. But if a necessary starting dose is held too long (from two weeks to several weeks) there’s a normal suppression of the feedback loop between the hypothalamus, pituitary and thyroid gland, i.e less messenger hormones are released, making you even more hypothyroid than you began (plus you may experience the results of extra adrenaline).
  8. THINKING DESICCATED THYROID IS NOT WORKING WHEN A PROBLEM ARISES (OUTSIDE OF ONE’S ADRENALS OR IRON).  Desiccated thyroid contains direct T3, and the T3 can initially aggravate certain conditions. When this happens, doctors have had patients stop the increase of their desiccated thyroid, or decreased it to give the reaction time to go away. An example is Mitral Valve Prolapse–one patient noted that with each raise, she had palps. But they went away within the first 5 days after each raise. One gal got itchy when she got on desiccated thyroid, and was so determined to blame Armour that she got off, got back on Synthroid, and is STILL itchy.
  9. “GUESSING” YOU HAVE AN ADRENAL PROBLEM and ACTING ON THAT GUESS…and/or prescribing HC when you may not need it, and/or starting on too low a dose if you do need HC: Symptoms of high cortisol can be very similar to symptoms of low, patients have learned the hard way. So it’s important to find out the right way with a24 hour adrenal saliva test, which you can order on your own, if needed, and then share the results with your doctor. See #10 below on how to read those results.
  10. THINKING BEING IN A NORMAL RANGE MEANS YOU ARE DOING GREAT:  To the contrary, patients figured out that it’s where you fall in the erroneous range, not the fact that you fall in it. Learn how to read lab results.
  11. STAYING ON YOUR T4 AS YOU RAISE NDT:  Most patients report that they do perfectly fine on desiccated thyroid alone, especially when they have taken the time to raise and find their optimal dose. But a mistake can be made if you keep up with the T4 you were once on–it will start converting to excess RT3 due to an excess. which in turn will start to make you more hypo. NDT is 80% T4 anyway!
  12. GOING UP WITH DOSAGES WAY TOO FAST. This was observed a few years ago: a doctor put his patient on desiccated thyroid.  One grain, then 2 grains, 3 grains, 4 grains, 5 grains, then 6 grains. But the problem was that he did this within 4-5 weeks! OUCH. He started to find himself majorly overdosed with symptoms to match (high heart rate, sweating). He had to stop for a few weeks… then resume again at one grain and do it the right way–approx. 1/2 grain raise every two weeks, slowing down in the 2-3 grain area (and for some, slowing down on even lower amounts).
  13. BELIEVING THAT DESICCATED THYROID IS “HARD TO REGULATE”. Totally and completely false. Patients have found nothing hard about desiccated thyroid. You simply raise it high enough to rid yourself of symptoms, which in turn gives you a free T3 towards the top of the range and a suppressed TSH. Believing that desiccated thyroid is hard to regulate is akin to believing that tricycles are hard to ride. :lol:
  14. THINKING THAT SYNTHETIC T4 ALONG WITH SYNTHETIC T3 IS JUST AS ADEQUATE AS NATURAL DESICCATED THYROID Adding synthetic T3 to your Synthroid or other T4 brands is definitely a step up from being on T4 alone! We applaud that addition. But….to say it’s equal to being on desiccated thyroid t’ain’t so. Too many patients who have been on the synthetic combo, and switched to desiccated thyroid, report that the results were even better. That’s impressive. Besides, with desiccated thyroid, you are getting exactly what your own thyroid gives you–T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin. Makes a difference.
  15. AVOIDING NDT BECAUSE YOU HAVE HASHIMOTO’S  Sadly, some doctors will state that those with Hashimoto’s should avoid NDT because it can increase the attack. It’s true that at first, antibodies raise, say patients. But the higher they raise, the lower antibodies become, as reported by many, probably due to a better immune system due to the T3! A large body of Hashi’s patients need to avoid gluten to get those antibodies down. Others use 200 – 400 mcg selenium to lower antibodies, while more difficult cases may need Low Dose Naltrexone. Many even report that their iodine use lowered their antibodies.Overall, Hashi’s patients have soared with NDT if they do it right,
  16. THINKING YOU SHOULD TRY WHATEVER SOMEONE ELSE REPORTS IS WORKINGThe hardest part about patient groups is the wrong influence by one patient on another…and you don’t really know the full story about that individual!  For example, a patient may say that whatever she tried, NDT did NOT work and they are doing quite well again on T4 or another kind of combination. But what you may not know is that they never optimized their iron and/or cortisol levels to do well on NDT, for example, even if they state they did. Or, they might have an unusual cellular problem that you don’t have. NDT has worked for all-too-many as long as cortisol and low iron are optimized.
  17. THINKING THAT IF YOU HAVE HIGH RT3 (or poor ratio), YOU NEED TO BE ON T3-ONLY. Since RT3 come from T4, patients were switching to T3-only to lower high levels. Soon though, patients discovered they could lower RT3 simply from lowering NDT. Some added T3 to the lowered amount of NDT, as well. We learned that you do NOT necessarily have to be on T3-only, which can be a rougher treatment. It’s individual.
  18. THINKING YOUR DOCTOR KNOWS MORE THAN YOU DO. Granted, we have great respect for education, and we appreciate the knowledge that a medical school trained doctor brings to our health quest. It’s important! BUT… that education does NOT take away from our OWN knowledge and our OWN intuitive sense about our bodies… about what works, about what doesn’t work… no matter what that doctor says.
I hope some of you will find this useful! I am trying really hard to get back to a gluten free diet. I did really well on it for quite awhile and I felt amazing! It isnt easy to stick with and I got busy with work, but no excuses! Its time to get back to it. I may try some new recipes and post them soon if I like any of them. I have also started my new medicine and my higher dose of Armour...I'm feeling good on the Armour and a few side effects from the LDN. I have read they should straighten out in a few weeks and I'm willing to wait it out to see if this will help me. I appreciate prayers as always! 

http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/mistakes-patients-make/

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Moving Forward

I saw this post tonight and I thought it was really good so I wanted to share. I really liked the part of having a " thick skin" throughout this process and how we don't go into it that way. I know I didn't! It took me quite a while to learn to ignore people's insensitive comments or actions, it's something that really upset me at one point in time. So for those who aren't to that "thick skin" point yet, I hope this can offer some help to you and to those who are involved in your life. Sometimes we just need a little insight from someone else.

Things Infertile Couples Want Others to Know

I met with my doctor today and I really just want to take a minute to brag on her. I've been to a couple doctors throughout the past three years and I really have liked them. But, I often found they had a set plan for what to do as far as treatment, and that's not a bad thing, except my body doesn't always respond to their plan. I am thankful that Stephanie will take the time to listen to me and to value what I am thinking. She is willing to think outside the box when a lot of doctors won't and I appreciate that because that's often what I need! For those with thyroid issues (and others issues for that matter) I highly recommend Stephanie Mallett! I am a research girl, I love to read and learn, I've talked with several people who say it is very hard to find someone who will take the right approach to treating Hashimoto's and Stephanie is one of those few. I know it was God's hand putting me at her office because I didn't even know I needed to be tested and I am so thankful!

Today we talked about how I am still having hypothyroid symptoms even though my tsh is low. I forgot to take my medicine for a few days so I doubled up on it for about 3 days and I felt amazing...I had energy, wasn't forgetful, just good overall. She agreed that I do need to be on a higher dose of Armour so will be increasing that. I had read that if you stay on a dose too low for you too long it can cause your antibodies to rise, so we are hopeful this dose increase will lower my antibodies. I would appreciate prayers for that!

I also talked with her about some medicine I had read about in a pharmacist's book who actually has Hashimoto's. It's called low-dose naltrexone. It is actually suppose to calm the immune system and shut off the part of the body that causes autoimmunity, which means it would also lower my antibodies. Stephanie agreed that as long as I'm up for it we will give it a shot. I'm hopeful we will see some improvement with the combination of this and my thyroid medicine increase before I see the endocrinologist in June. I will have labs drawn in about 4 weeks so please pray!

I had a friend message me Sunday night to tell me that she had felt led to ask for prayer for Bobby and I at her church that night and that everyone had prayed for me. It really touched me to know God had layed us on her heart and to know so many people are praying. I really can't thank everyone enough. God does hear and prayer does work! It was so funny because that night at my church our pastor had preached about claiming a promise of God by faith and to not doubt it. I thought about the rough few days we had before that and I just felt so encouraged to just keep believing and moving forward.

I have to be honest, I had a bit of a pity party for myself Thursday and Friday. I'm not proud of it, but it's the truth. I can't tell you how many times I have started feeling sorry for myself and God will remind me of someone else's situation that is much worse. I really do have so much to be thankful for. I have seriously the best husband. Hands down. And I have a wonderful family and friends. It's easy to feel sorry for ourselves and to want to give up, but I just want to encourage you to keep moving forward. God does have a plan and like I've said before, He will give us answers in His time. I can think of times when I felt like giving up, when I had no answers or clear direction about what to do, times when it seemed hopeless, but you just have to be patient and keep going. That is part of infertility, to keep praying and moving forward even when times are tough.

I will never forget the time frame that I realized a lot of people we know had basically given up on the idea of us having kids. They didn't all come out and say those exact words (though some did) but they knew we were trying and wouldn't ask questions anymore, or they would subtly mention adoption and things like that. It was really hard to take. I remember telling Bobby that I felt like everyone had given up on that idea and it was disheartening to realize WE were to that point, the point of people thinking we wouldn't have kids. Something I never would have imagined. I didn't blame those people, if it hadn't been me I might have though the same thing! It's times like those you really have a decision to make, it doesn't matter what others are thinking. Sure, they are entitled to their opinion, but this wasn't something that we were ready to give up on, and it still isn't. God can do anything and I do believe He will give me children! So I just want to encourage you, don't lose hope.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lab Results

I got my lab results today and I appreciate everyone who has been praying! I almost didn't post today because it's been a rough day, but I want to be open and honest. Part of infertility is getting bad news and working through those times when they come.

The nurse called to tell me my antibodies keep rising, but my tsh is supressed. I'm not 100% certain, but from what I've read I'm thinking this means my doctor can't keep increasing my thyroid medicine since my tsh is so low, it would drop it even lower. But it also means the medicine isn't lowering my antibodies, so we are at a standstill. She said that my doctor wants to refer me to an endocrinologist. It took me by suprise for sure, as I was just expecting a dose increase. It also makes me nervous because I've talked with other women who have Hashimoto's and they say that most endocrinologist aren't the best at treating thyroid issues. I'm feeling a little stuck and not sure what to do, or if I'm going to get the help I need, so I would appreciate prayers. I'm hoping the doctor I'm going to see will be knowledgeable about Hashimoto's and be able to offer solutions. Regardless, its still disappointing that this is becoming more complex and won't be a quick fix like we had hoped. Hopefully there is a solution and I can get pregnant. I would so appreciate prayers for wisdom and peace. Sorry this isn't an encouraging post, I try to make sure I'm positive when posting,  but today just isn't the day. We are all human and have emotions, sometimes we struggle. I often need to have a good cry about it and just take a few days to sort through my feelings. It's so good to know I have friends praying for me.

I will update when I can, I'm supposed to make an appointment with the endocrinologist and hope to see my current doctor soon to ask some questions and figure out what is going on.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Finally Some Answers!

Sorry I haven't updated in so long, I have been so busy with work that I haven't had time for much else.

I want to forewarn you that this is a blog to help others with infertility, so if you don't want to read about womanly issues, you may want to stop here. I don't mean to be rude, but I do want to be real with people also. Being open and honest is the best way to help others.

So Bobby and I took a break from trying for quite awhile, I mean really, we were frustrated. After several years of no baby and no reason why it gets frustrating. I had always been so regular and honestly had never had the thought that I might have issues getting pregnant. After taking a break for quite awhile my friend Amber, who also struggled with infertility, told me about something called Mercier Therapy. She said there was a lady in Rogers, AR named Karen who did it and that it had a really high success rate of helping people with pcos, endometriosis, scar tissue, and a ton of others issues. I have always had horrible cramps for as long as I can remember, I wondered if it was endometriosis, but it can only be diagnosed with surgery. I really didnt want to have surgery, so i was hoping this could help. I called Karen and she told me she did free consultations, so I set up an appointment with her.

Bobby and I went to the consultation and both loved her. It was such a relaxing environment and she was very sweet. I set up my appointments with her over the next 6 weeks. After each appointment with Karen, I felt so much better. I used to have horrible period cramps, taking 4 ibuprofen every 4 hours and still being in pain for the first two days of my period. I dreaded if I started at work because I was miserable. After going to Karen, and the numerous months following Mercier Therapy, my cramps are pretty much nonexistent, no I'm not pregnant yet, but I also have others issues going on we just found out about a few months ago. Honestly though, to have relief from that pain was so worth it, I would cramp midcycle, several days before my period, and then really bad during my period. Now most of the time, I don't even notice I'm on my period! My friend Amber, had tried for several years to get pregnant (she has pcos) and was pregnant after just a few months of seeing Karen. It's been such a blessing to me to meet Karen. She has an amazing heart and truly wants to help others.

So...after seeing Karen she said everyone she had treated for infertilty had conceived within 6 months. When my friend Amber got pregnant after a few months of seeing her, I was thrilled for her, and myself..I was thinking anytime now it's gonna happen. Well, as you obviously know, it didn't happen in those 6 months. I remember talking to Karen when my cycle was all crazy and she asked me, are you sure you're ovulating? Several more months went by with some crazy cycles, and I remembered it was time for me to get a pap since I was long overdue for one. After going to fertility doctors so often I had gotten a little tired of it...so I kept putting off going for my pap. God has a perfect time for everything, and He has shown me answers when He is ready, not when I'm ready. This was another one of those times that God just worked out perfectly. Karen had told me she was concerned there may be some other issues we were missing, but we didn't know what. I was starting to feel hopeless again..ugh! So I booked my appointment with Stephanie Mallett in Harrison  with no intention of getting tests or answers, I was thinking maybe I just wasn't meant to have kids. God had others plans. Honestly I kinda felt like giving up. I have always wanted to be a mom, for as long as I can remember, and I know my husband would be the best dad ever, but it just wasn't working out..maybe I just needed to accept it. I've had those moments more than one time in the past four years, and God has always given me a reason to hope again. This time was no different.

I went for my appointment with Stephanie, and she already knew Bobby and I had issues with getting pregnant, she asked me if she could run some tests on me and I said sure. I honestly didn't think anything would come back abnormal, so I didn't think much more about it. Several days later I got a call from the nurse saying my thyroid labs had come back abnormal and I could come in that day to meet with Stephanie and she would talk to me about it.

Bobby and I went to see Stephanie that day and she told me I had an autoimmune thyroid disease called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. What? Haha, I had never even heard of it, much less knew what it was, or how it could affect my fertility. Stephanie did an amazing job of explaining it to me, pretty much my body makes antibodies that attack my own thyroid, killing it off over time. I have struggled with cold hands and feet, low energy, heart palpitation, gaining weight easily, and several other issues for many years, but never knew what it was. Stephanie told me it was all related to my Hashimoto's. She also said it could cause hormonal problems, lack of ovulation, and a few others things that could definitely cause fertility issues and that this very well could be my issue. Finally after 4 years someone was giving me an answer to what could be the problem! She put me on Armour thyroid and said we would have to do monthly labs and adjust my dose to get it to the right amount...the Armour is suppose to help lower thyroid antibodies once you're on the right dose, and that's what our goal is. We want to lower my antibodies so my thyroid isn't being attacked, if it can function properly then I can conceive.

I've been on my medicine for several months and so far my antibodies have been going up, not down. So each month we increase my dose until we get to the right amount that lowers my antibodies and helps my symptoms. I actually will go tomorrow for more labs so would appreciate prayers that this month my levels will have dropped.

This morning at church our pastor read a verse and it really encouraged me..

Hebrews 5:8 "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered"

God has a plan for our suffering, He has a plan for my years of not having kids, to learn to obey Him, and to love Him. To have compassion on others, to have a tender heart, and to help my husband and I to grow closer. So I am thankful for the trial. I'm also thankful when I'm tempted to give up hope, God always sends me some encouragement