In 2006 I started to lose my hair, I was perpetually cold and was borderline narcoleptic, always needing a nap. Knowing both of my grandmothers had dealt with thyroid issues, I had bloodwork done confirming I had Hypothyroidism. After further antibody testing, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism. This is the autoimmune version where my body is basically attacking my thyroid. Cool.
I started taking Synthroid shortly after and everything was A-ok. Fast forward a few years, I was working out a lot, eating great and felt great. I ran out of meds, missed them for about a week and just....never got a refill. I lived with always being cold but I didn't have any other glaring side effects- weight gain, hair loss or being tired. So, I just went about my business....for years.
Fast forward to as recently as fall of 2018. I stopped hormonal birth control and started to feel like garbage. I went back for blood work because I was attributing most of my symptoms to my thyroid. I figured the disease didn't just go away, rather stopping HBC started to make it worse.
Blood work showed my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels to be 34. For reference, a normal level is 0.5-3.0. Needless to say, I went back on medicine. My symptoms subsided and everything was great again...until I ran out. Damn refills I tell ya, they will be the death of me...literally.
More recently I was referred to a local endocrinologist. In all my years of living with Hashimoto's, I never went to a specialist, rather my general practitioner prescribed all my thyroid medicine. So, this was new to me. I was nervous but also a little apprehensive.
I am plant based. I do the best I can to rely on whole foods, I am mindful of the processed foods I eat, but I am human and do eat processed foods. That being said, there is often a bit of grumbling when people find out I am plant based, there is concern that the diet is having a negative impact on my thyroid function more so than if I ate animals. Furthermore- I am an in the midst of doing a bit of long distance running- which I am always concerned with how the training will impact my cortisol levels- and eventually my thyroid.
So- I am anxiously waiting to see the doctor when a tall, thin man in his mid 50's walks in. I was instantly nervous.
It was hands down the best experience I have had at a doctor. He sat and talked to me. Asked me about my medical history, my occupation, how I spend my free time, what my lifestyle looks like. He talked to me and we conversed, I never once felt like I was being interviewed.
And, I shit you not- he was a plant based ultra runner who had run more than five 100 mile races. Like, what are the chances!
He answered questions I had about my diet, foods to avoid, workouts that might negatively impact my health. And of course we geeked out on most things long distance running and plant based foods.
More than that, he brought a few things to my attention.
I could die if I don't take my medicine. Legit. I knew the thyroid was important for metabolic functions- but I FEEL great. I don't get it.
Well, my latest labs show my TSH at 22, which still puts me at risk for Myxedema coma. Apparently this is fatal. It is defined as "severe hypothyroidism leading to decreased mental status, hypothermia, and other symptoms related to slowing of function in multiple organs. It is a medical emergency with a high mortality rate."
Yes, this is the rare case, but still, why risk it.
In all the years I had been with doctors and talked to about taking my medicine, I was never EDUCATED on the side effects. I was never talked to and asked questions about more than just "You take your meds on an empty stomach, right?"
Needless to say, I am back on my Synthroid and will be going for bloodwork monthly until I am in a normal range.
I know I say that I feel great, but it has me wondering. I think I feel great. What if I am not living at my highest potential because I don't really know what great feels like? What am I leaving on the table by low-key not taking care of myself.
I drink the water. I do the exercise. I work on my mental health, yet I am stubborn about getting gd refills. The one thing I thought was not a big deal turns out, is a pretty big freaking deal.
What did I learn? That while I thought I was smart and educated and did my research, nothing beats talking to an expert. A real life expert that will talk to you, take their time and make sure you understand to the fullest extent what is going on with your health.
Your health is your responsibility. But remember, there is always more to learn, more questions to ask and more education to be had. You deserve to continue to strive for feeling your best, even if you aren't quite sure what your best looks like.
Anyone need a referral for a local endocrinologist? My dude was legit!