It certainly was mine. It’s amazing to me how impactful that tiny little butterfly shaped gland is. And when it’s not working? Man, it can mess you up! Here’s a brief timeline of what I’ve gone through:
- March, 2010: 34 years old, Amelia born
- August, 2010: Dad died suddenly and rather tragically
- February, 2011: friend/coworker approached me to find out what was wrong with me
- Fall, 2011: annual visit to cardiologist – I broke down in tears when my sweet Dr asked me how I’d been feeling. Tests ordered. Hypothyroidism confirmed.
- May, 2014: I finally am starting to feel like a human being again.
At the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011, I was so incredibly stressed out from having a baby, working full time, dealing with my Dad’s death, and the aftermath thereof, that I hadn’t even really realized how terrible I felt. It took that friend asking me what was going on for me to even realize that I wasn’t feeling like myself. I’ve now been through 4 doctors, 3 thyroid medicines, 2 anti-anxiety meds, and lots and lots of blood tests.
I’ve learned that there are sort of 2 schools of thought about how to treat hypothyroidism. The first is the now traditional Western medicine approach: check blood levels for thyroid hormone, prescribe synthetic thyroid hormone, done. Easy peasy. Except that everyone I’ve ever encountered (including myself) who has been treated this way is left with lingering symptoms: fatigue, irritability, sluggish metabolism, thinning hair, mood swings, weight gain, low body temperature, brittle nails, achy joints, brain fog, and the list goes on. When patients share these symptoms with their doctors, they are told that their levels are fine and dismissed. Sometimes they’re treated with anti-depressants or with nothing at all.
That was my initial treatment. I quickly realized that there had to be more to it than this. I could barely function most days, and my doctor was totally and completely uncaring about my symptoms since my blood work looked normal. Fortunately, I have a friend who told me about something called a DO, or Doctor of Osteopathy. Still a Dr, DOs have training that make them treat the “whole patient” and sometimes use crunchy granola-y techniques like NDT, or natural desiccated thyroid.
Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired
I started doing a lot of research, found a few good resources and began to understand what most doctors choose to ignore. I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ll give you some links to read on your own if you’re so inclined at the bottom of the post. Suffice it to say that NDT is made from porcine thyroid (yes. pig.), and contains all of the thyroid hormones. This is important, because the synthetic medicine only has the inactive hormone. The drug companies think that if they give you the inactive form, your body will convert it to the active form. For many, this is just not the case.
And it wasn’t the case for me. Even after finding a wonderful DO who put me on an NDT drug, I still felt like poo most of the time. I begged her to increase my dose, but she wouldn’t do it because of my blood tests and all their “normalcy”. In all the reading I had done, I knew I needed a doctor who was willing to treat by my symptoms, but didn’t know how to find one. The answer came one day at work. I was talking to a friend about why I was feeling cruddy. She remembered that she had another friend who had gone through something similar, but who had found a doctor who treated her successfully. After getting hooked up on Facebook with this friend and dragging my feet about making an appointment, I finally went and saw the nurse practitioner at this practice.
Relief In Sight
And this brings us to the second school of thought. They practice what they call “integrative medicine,” and I couldn’t be happier about it. They ran ALL the tests I had read about, immediately changed my medication to a different formula that is known to be more consistent and increased my dose. I’ve spent the last few weeks feeling better than I have in years. When I went in a few days ago for my follow up appointment, I finally heard someone say “it wasn’t all in your head. Looking at your test results, I don’t know how you were making it through the day.” As a result of their treatment, my body temperature is up, my blood pressure is more steady, I’m sleeping better, I have more energy, my chiropractor can adjust me, I’m HAPPIER, more patient, and clearer-headed. And no anti-anxiety meds needed, thankyouverymuch. (Not that there’s anything wrong with them…but only if you actually need them!)
If you’re feeling like garbage, but can’t figure out why, you might want to have someone check your thyroid. Hypothyroidism is more prevalent in women, even more so in women who have recently given birth, and increased stress can bring it on. Looking back through the years, I truly believe my thyroid has been under-active since I was a teenager, but the birth of my daughter and the death of my father must have made it come to a screeching halt. I’m so thankful to all my friends who helped point me in the right direction. Now that I’m feeling better, I can tell how truly awful I was feeling before. And I’ve learned that we have to be our own health advocates. If you think something is wrong, push your doctor. And if they won’t work with you? Fire them. And find yourself one who will.
Here are some resources for you if you want to learn more about NDT and hypothyroidism:
www.stopthethyroidmadness.com (this will explain it all)
www.wilsonssyndrome.com (if you can find a Dr on this site, they’ll likely treat you the way I would want to be treated)
www.birminghamintegrativehealth.com (my Dr’s site – LOVE them)
Wishing you all optimized health,