Sunday, May 30, 2010

Well, that explains a lot…

After years now of decreasing energy and slowing metabolism, I reached a point where I was more tired more than alert, and even extra naps were not helping. A couple years back, I took a thyroid test and it came back normal. Apparently this happens often. I also had blood tests at the time showing that I was anemic, so I started taking vitamins… I’m at a good age to make sure that happens anyway, why not give that a try? Well, it didn’t help… although my iron levels are much better! I was still dealing with fatigue and a few other symptoms, not to mention a family history, that suggested I was facing thyroid issues, so I went to the doctor again.

I had more blood tests done, and again, the basic thyroid (TSH) was normal, at least according to the lab (and please, check out the web site link above – even if you aren’t interested in the TSH test… it’s a great site that explains all kinds of lab tests!). Here is a little important(!) tidbit of information that I found all over the web, that you might want to keep in mind if you ever find yourself worried about this: At most labs in the U.S., up until late 2002, the normal reference range for TSH is from around 0.5 to 5.5. That range changed to .3 to 3 as of early 2003. Guess what? Most labs still use the older range. Yea… .5 to 5.5. I was under 4.5, but above 3, so I was ‘borderline’… which is fine by me… actually, I’d rather NOT have any issues, I’d rather be closer to normal than not(!), but this meant more blood tests. There are additional thyroid function tests to take, and yet the one that caught my doctor’s attention, was a repeat of the same one. In a single week, it jumped significantly – not super high, but much higher than it was. Lesson learned… do NOT stop with a single TSH test. If you have suspicious symptoms, esp. if there’s a family history, ask for additional tests! Here are a couple of good About.com article to get you started, if you are curious:

http://thyroid.about.com/cs/testsforthyroid/a/newrange.htm

and

http://thyroid.about.com/od/gettestedanddiagnosed/a/tshtestwars.htm

My doctor sent me to see a local specialist (who I was quite impressed with, although I won’t mention her name here… if you are in the area and in need, send me an email. The lab I used is called Biolab – they are wonderful, and they have at least two branches in the area.) and while the doctor agreed I was borderline, she was also concerned. All my other tests have been very good. I even had a full physical last summer. Something was obviously going on. She did an ultrasound of my thyroid – which was clear – and ordered more blood tests, including blood sugar, liver and kidney function, more in-depth iron retention studies, and vitamin levels. Everything was great, except the vitamin D, and calcium… both were a shock. How could they be so low? My diet is balanced. I take good vitamins. I spend time outdoors. What’s up? Well… apparently when the thyroid is messed up, it messes up these two levels too.. and/or vice versa… low calcium and vitamin D mean the thyroid gets off balance trying to compensate. I am getting a very good, and interesting, lesson in human chemistry!

Anyway, I am now on thyroid meds, calcium supplements, and will be on Vitamin D supplements as soon as my order from the Vitamin Shoppe arrives. I think it is making a difference already. I hope that I can stay on a very low dose of thyroid meds, maybe even come off of them if things level out… I’m still learning about this. At any rate, it’s good to know this might be the explanation I’ve been looking for. I am tired of being tired.

12 comments:

bettyl said...

That's all quite interesting since I had a major thyroid episode--strange muscle weakness, heart/lung issues, was OD's on heart meds in the hospita (43days there)l, disappointing radiation procedure.

So glad you got help! The links are fascinating, btw.

Connie said...

Betty - It's amazing how much is tied to that little gland! I wasn't too interested in investigating something that might put me on meds for life, but after reading up on it, it's too important to ignore. The thyroid plays a huge part in keeping your body - and important things like your heart! - chemically balanced. (43 days in hospital - scary! Glad you are ok!) I was truly shocked to see my low calcium and vitD results - knowing my diet and habits, I didn't think there was any way, but the blood tests were very low! What is the saying? Steal from Peter to pay Paul? Naughty thyroid! This is one thing worth the cost/time of additional testing.

A Daring Adventure said...

Oh, Connie. I'm so sorry. Many, many hugs to you.

I'm glad that they're making progress in understanding what is wrong.

Connie said...

Thanks! I don't like having to take meds, not even vitamins :p but it is a relief to get an answer. This is an insidious thing. The symptoms are so easy to explain away... tired, it happens; dry skin, living in a desert, duh; dry hair, same... etc. But taken together, despite attempts at correcting the separate issues... and in general, I am physically fine, there are no excuses for it. It just didn't make sense! I like having an answer. :)

srsr said...

Glad to hear you are getting some of your questions answered. Hope you are feeling tip-top soon!
Missing you all, especially this weekend.

We are all reading your latest e-mail with great interest and anticipation!!!

Rebecca said...

I'm glad you are on the way to feeling better! My symptoms seem the same as yours, and I've wondered if it's thyroid. I used to bounce back so quickly when I was younger.. I guess getting older makes you "feel" things a bit more.

Hope your energy improves!

Connie said...

srsr - We can't wait to get home to visit everyone :) We miss you!!

Connie said...

Rebecca - that's why I got the test - and additional(!) tests done. So many of the symptoms are easy to explain away.. getting older, lower iron (I didn't take vitamins before a few years ago)... pregnancy will get you.. climate and other conditions. But enough's enough! Some of the reading I did suggested that thyroid testing should be done on a regular basis as you get older... as important as mammograms and other tests in your annual physical. It makes sense. I'm glad I did.

Limningedge said...

And knowledge is power, as it is good to have questions answered.

Connie said...

I like answers! :)

Rhianna said...

Low thyroid levels are bad! I've been on thyroid replacement treatment for most of my life and if my dose is even a little off it is noticeable. Great job being proactive and getting more testing. It is amazing how much the thyroid does!

Connie said...

Rhianna - I've only been on the meds and extra vitamins for about 3 weeks and already I'm noticing an improvement - like not needing naps to function all day, or waking up in the morning and actually feeling rested, not groggy and wondering why my alarm was ringing! It is nice :)