As a nurse, Laura had a “normal” TSH for two decades along with PCOS, miscarriages, osteopenia and other hypothyroid symptoms. When finally diagnosed, she was put on Synthroid, but only when she switched to Armour did her life really change! (this would also be true with T4/T3, or T3-only, and getting optimal)
I was probably hypothyroid and undiagnosed for at least 20 years. By age 49 I had PCOS, had two miscarriages and two live births, two surgeries for endometriosis and a hysterectomy for uterine fibroids. I also had been told I had osteopenia but refused to take Fosamax or Actonel, so had to change doctors because my old one was insisting that I “do something” about my bones. This is the same doctor who treated me for years for PCOS with Provera, birth control pills, and surgeries while my TSH gradually increased from 2.1 to over 5 – still in the normal range though, so neither of us thought of hypothyroidism. I don’t blame this doctor, she was only doing what she had been taught. As a nurse, I was taught pretty much the same thing, you diagnose hypothyroidism by a high TSH value. BUT – now I know different.
So the new doctor I went to did bloodwork which showed a TSH of 6.1, so diagnosed hypothyroidism and put me on Synthroid. After almost a month on the Synthroid, I really was noticing that I felt different. REAL different. I barely had the strength to get out of a chair, I fell asleep if I sat down on the couch, and couldn’t even read aloud to my children because WHILE I WAS READING I was falling asleep. I had constant headaches, couldn’t remember my own phone number, and my eyes burned. Oh, and I felt tired all the time and was grouchy. At night, my husband woke me several times because he said I was not breathing. Even I could tell that something was wrong. Before I took Synthroid I had been “normal” and now I was really in trouble. The last straw was when I tried to go for a walk, I had to turn back and start for home but could hardly walk up the gradual slope to the house and was really really scared. My legs had no strength at all and were shaking terribly. I stopped taking the Synthroid and called my new doctor.
By this time I had read STTM and knew I needed adrenals tested and I also needed to be on Armour. To my surprise, he prescribed Armour but also told me my adrenals were fine because the AM cortisol blood test he had done was “fine”. It was in the low normal range, and my TSH was lower so I only needed a small dose of Armour. 15 mg daily was going to do it from there on, he was pretty sure. I knew he was wrong, but I started on the 15 mg and right away noticed a difference in how I felt, at least in the mornings. From the first pill under my tongue I knew I was on the right track, the colors had come back and I had energy. To make a long story short, this doctor ended up getting fired because he was totally clueless about prescribing Armour and adrenal fatigue. I was hesitant to treat myself on my own so looked around for a good doctor.
Over the next few months I found a doctor that did most of what is recommended on the STTM website. I tweaked my supplements and Armour, and am currently taking 3 grains of Armour. I think my adrenals are fine, but believe I am dealing with a few problems due to a high RT3, probably from very long term untreated hypothyroidism and low ferritin levels. My “new” doctor disagrees and says my ferritin of 28 is fine and I shouldn’t take iron, also my RT3 is within normal values. My FT3/RT3 ratio is 14. I recently bought the STTM book and am reading it now for the second time.
Right now I feel better than I have in over two years, since this whole ordeal began with taking Synthroid. I struggle still with trying to lose weight but know that it will come in time. I am now able to exercise and that is quite a big deal. One year ago I was barely able to take my sons on a picnic at the beach, and this summer I was able to take them on an all day trip to Mackinac Island, riding rental bikes all over – and THEY wanted to quit and turn in the bikes, I didn’t! Quite a change from a mom who couldn’t get out of a chair without using both arms and rocking like an old lady. Oh, and I am able to knit again! My hands hurt so badly for months, I was afraid I would never be able to knit again. I literally did feel like an elderly lady.
At the beginning of all this, I had started jotting notes down with the date each time I called the doctor, and noted what he said, or what labs were, etc. I also noted how I felt and what dose Armour I was on, when I started new supplements, anything new. In the midst of all this, I felt like I was making no progress at all, but when I looked at my notes, I was able to see that I WAS making progress. So my advice is to keep a journal! It helps with more than keeping you from despair, you can refer to it and recall things that your hypo brain forgot and help you figure things out. There are so many little things that have improved for me, like the tailbone pain I had for several years that made playing the organ sheer agony. It’s gone. My headaches are pretty much gone, so is the chronic tight back muscle problem I’ve had for years. Last week at church no one would believe that it was my 50th birthday, they said I looked like I’m around 35, that is about how I feel right now too.
I have recently talked with a female relative who had the same symptoms as a teenager that I had when I was in my 20’s, skipping periods and hair growth on her chin. Her doctor put her on thyroid (probably desiccated thyroid–this was in the 1940’s) and things got better. When that doctor retired and she went to a younger guy he did a TSH test and told her there was nothing wrong with her thyroid so wouldn’t prescribe anything. Right now she is in her 70’s, has been obese for years, had a hysterectomy for fibroids, has had a heart attack, but her TSH finally came up to the “abnormal” level so she’s on — Synthroid.