Florence has a good story of doctors silly reliance on the TSH, followed by the folly of adding T4 to her desiccated thyroid instead of simply raising the desiccated thyroid according to clinical presentation.
I went to the doctor at the beginning of 2008 because I was always very tired and had not felt well for about a year. I probably had hypothyroid symptoms earlier but thought it was just due to my job and raising active children. I didn’t know anything about thyroid disease at that time.
My blood work showed a TSH of 4.7, which the doctor said was “borderline hypothyroid”. He suggested I take the iodine supplement Iodoral, but it didn’t help. I was next put on an adrenal supplement, which ended up making me sick with pain in my upper back and chest.
When seeing a different doctor because my normal one was out of town, he offered to draw blood for another TSH, which ended up being 35.7.
When I went to the doctor two weeks later, I was tested again with the TSH and the antibodies. TSH was 15.4 and the Anti-TPO-Ab antibody test was 776, about 20 times higher than the upper range of normal. The doctor put me on 2 Â¼ grains of Amour and ordered an ultrasound which confirmed a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. This was July 2008.
In Sept, I did blood tests again for TSH, Free T4 and Free T3. The results were now too low, says the doc, so the dosage of Armour was reduced. The situation was the same six weeks later and then again in another six weeks. By January of 2009, I only on 1 grain of Armour. Within 3 weeks I couldn’t warm up my feet for anything.
In February, the doctor felt the TSH was too low once again, but I was able to raise to 1 Â¼ grain of Armour. In March and April I was still cold and getting more tired each day. In April, my TSH swung high again, but instead of raising my Armour, he added 25mcg of Levothyroxine.
The first couple of weeks on levothyroxine were okay, but I then went from being tired to being absolutely exhausted. I also felt like I was shaking on the inside and I felt more anxious.
Since I felt so bad, I was worried about how I was going to drive a long car trip. The worry started to turn into panic. Thinking I was not on enough levothyroxine, I started taking 50mcg levothyroxine. In 4 weeks, I became more exhausted. I stopped exercising because it was too tiring. I was adding extra shots to my espresso drinks in the morning and afternoon and still could fall asleep any time I went to bed. My hands were shaking, I had hypotension, leg cramps at night and the last couple of days I was on levothyroxine I would wake up feeling like I didn’t sleep. I was probably converting the extra T4 to much RT3, even though I didn’t know this at the time.
I called the doctor’s office to state that the 50mcg levothyroxine was not working, and I wanted to take 1 Â½ grains of Armour. The last time I remember feeling well (not that my memory was very good any more) I was taking 90mg of Armour. Even if the doctor wrongly felt my tests were too low on 90mg of Armour, that couldn’t possibly be as bad as living (if you can call it that) the way I was. Right before I stopped the levothyroxine, I had more blood tests.
The doctor gave me a prescription for 90 mg of Armour and within 10 days of being on this dosage I felt like I was among the real living again. My hair loss was about 50% better along with the hypotension. By 2 weeks I went back to Yoga and I was staying awake until 10 pm. What a change. I had the lab send me a copy of the blood tests I had done when I was taking levothyroxine and my TSH, FT4 and Free T3 were all wonderful. According to my blood work I should have been ready to run a marathon instead of feeling like I was on chemotherapy.
I then read on Stop The Thyroid Madness that when taking enough Armour to alleviate symptoms, the TSH will be suppressed and the Free T3 will be at the upper range of normal. I had the lab send me the results of my blood test from six months ago when I was last on 1 Â½ grains of Armour and the TSH was .24 and Free T3 was 6.6. This may be good for me, or I have an adrenal problem or low ferritin–both which I need to find out.
A year and a half ago when I was first told I was “borderline” hypothyroid, I had no idea hypothyroidism could be like this. I thought the doctor gives you thyroid replacement and you feel better. I now know better and think it is an outrage that so many women must suffer because the medical establishment misdiagnoses and undertreats thyroid disease. I believe the medical establishment chooses to believe that levothyroxine is great for everyone because they don’t want to lose the funding and grants the drug companies provide to the physician associations (AACE), conferences and medical schools. To use a phrase from Al Gore, those of us that can’t take levothyroxine are an “Inconvenient Truth”.
PS. I’ll update as I continue to raise and whether I have adrenal fatigue that needs treatment.