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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Diary of a thyroid: Thunder Pig!

It's been awhile since I've tabulated my latest thyroid exploits. I've been taking Synthroid since May, with an increase in dose in July. It was then that I accidentally discovered that my antibodies (peroxidase and thyroglobulin or whatever it's called) had gone up, which meant my dose was not strong enough. At that point we doubled the dose to 50 mcg and while I didn't really notice a butt-kicking boost of energy like before, at least now I had more stamina and energy to get things done. By the time I get to bed, I'm usually exhausted.

A thyroid ultrasound a few months ago yielded no nodules, which is good news. But it still feels like a rubber band snapping in my neck sometimes, like someone is very slightly starting to strangle me. Which is kind of ironic, I guess. The shortness of breath that troubled me while doing mundane things like having a conversation or reading my children a story (not anxiety, thank you very much) went away after I first started the meds, but slowly came back. Actually, I've noticed in the past few days that the need to just suck all the air out of a room has slowly subsided, but realized a few new symptoms have started up - difficulty swallowing and my hair began falling out. Not gobs and clumps, but kind of like many, many strands that come off into your hands while shampooing or brushing your hair - like they did in pregnancy. Thankfully my hair is pretty thick, but geez, are you kidding me? I still have the swollen neck that makes me look like I have jowls, despite weight loss, and one swollen ankle. Whatever. My antibodies are going down, which is good, but are still quite high compared to normal.

So I went to my doctor for a check up last week. As I waited, I thought, What the crap? I am actually nervous about this, like I had to "ask permission" about switching meds to Armour Thyroid (the natural desiccated pig stuff that my husband calls "Thunder Pig.") It has T3 and T4 in it, whereas the synthetic stuff only has T4 and is twice the price (which my insurance absolutely butt-headedly refuses to pay for, even though my doctor has written Dispense as Written on the script). Recent studies have shown that a combination of both T3 and T4 work well for some people and are more beneficial than T4 alone, something that I haven't heard reverberating through the medical community just yet. Which is sad - and annoying - because it means that if they do act on it, they're more likely to prescribe synthetic T3, which means two prescriptions and more $$$.

I spoke with the pharmacist about possible shortages of the medication and he confirmed my suspicion - that it's really hard to get. Apparently "world-wide shortages" make it hard to fill prescriptions, and I asked the pharmacist why (expecting to hear about mass outbreaks of hoof and mouth disease that claim the lives of pigs everywhere). He just simply said, "There's not as much demand for it," which means drug companies and physicians are trying to discredit the product (that is, unless you've already been on it and are doing okay and know it works) and are now funneling everyone down the T4 route. Fantastic!

My mom snagged some of my grandma's for a few days just to try it out and she said it was awful. It left her with a burning sensation in her throat, and I thought, Oh great, I can't wait to try this! My mom is pretty sensitive to things, though, and some people are apparently allergic to some of the new fillers in the reformulated product. We decided to start on the equivalent dose of Armour, and here is a handy conversion chart that makes no sense at all. Since I am completely mathematically-challenged, I'm hoping that I'll be able to figure out something that works for me, not makes all my hair fall out and gives me chest pains. Since T3 hormone is much stronger than T4, I'm waiting for all that energy to make me hike ski hills like never before...

More reading:
The FDA does away with Armour Thyroid (well, not quite, but close enough)
Stop the Thyroid Madness
Study Finds Patients Prefer combination T4/T3 treatment
New Study Shows that the Addition of T3 is Superior to Levothyroxine/T4 Only Treatment for Hypothyroidism


Sandara said...

Although it’s prevalence in older individuals, hypothyroidism is one of the most overlooked conditions in those over sixty and older. In order to ease the thyroid problems porcine capsule is recommended.