Friday, August 23, 2013

Here We Go Again Part 5

As sad and crazy as it seems, there is of course more to this tale.  I'm sure I've lost 99.9% of my readers by now.  I know this is supposed to be a gardening stained glass quarry blog, I truly do, and I promise some day it might be again. 

But not right now.  

I was lying in bed early this morning with the ol' sleep apnea mask squawking since I didn't have it adjusted correctly and got to thinking about these last posts.  I have debated deleting all of them, this whole shebang smacks of self-pitying TMI (too much information) and yet, I feel driven to get it in writing.  Some people want their parking validated, well, boo hoo,  I want my feelings validated.  Reading back through what I've written so far, I can't help but shake my head.  Look at that, I'm validating myself. 

And, still lying in bed at 8AM, because I still feel lousy, I recalled even more Close Encounters of the Thyroid Kind.  (Hmmm...that is a catchy title for a book that only thyroid patients would read, should I write it?  Never mind, I already am.  War and Peace will end up having less pages than this.) 

Hard to believe, but I had forgotten about some of the other doctors I'd seen.  There was this one, and that one, and oh, yeah.....THAT one, I remember him all too well. 

The most frustrating part of the whole ordeal so far has been the realization that so much of it was completely unnecessary.  I do have to take the blame for not advocating for myself more assertively.  It has taken me years to find my voice, and I'm still not great at it.  There is still that part of my personality that wants to people-please and craves acceptance, but let's face it, when you're a thyroid patient, you have to be one Tough Mudder. 

Unfortunately, being tough with other people doesn't come naturally to me.  I am always tough on myself, which is yet another character defect.  I know I put myself down continually, even in my own head, and that's a survival mechanism from childhood best left in the dust.  Better to call myself stupid than have someone else say it first.  It hurts less coming from me.  A narcissist I am not. 

My father passed away in 2001.  I miss him terribly at times, but, and this may sound callous and reprehensible, it has been a relief, too.  While I was a patient of the wonderful Dr. E, I confided in him how life with my father was difficult.  A check of Dad's thyroid panel turned up nothing significant, so I guess whatever disorder he suffered from wasn't thyroid disease.  I was 43 when he died and up until that time, I had a lot of stress dealing with him on a daily basis since we live next door to each other.  Thankfully, the last year of his life was a bit easier; he'd suffered a series of slight strokes they think, and his personality mellowed quite a bit.  True, he didn't know me or my mother most of the time and he needed constant supervision (imagine a three year old with access to car keys) but he was less angry.   I used to take him for car rides and he would hold my hand.  He probably had no idea who I was, but I remember those times fondly.  When he lost his balance on a staircase and struck his head at the age of 88, it was all over so fast.  He passed away less than ten hours later.  Mom and I were free.

So, where was I?  Oh, yes.  I was back at Square One in 2011.  Having just left the hospital in 2010 due to another medical mishap and acquiring and fleeing from the Mean Polar Bear Doctor (yes, she has her own post dedicated to her, the b...., ok, diva)  The Polar Bear Doc had insisted I go on statins, and I had absolutely dreadful side effects of sore muscles and lowered stamina and took myself right back off.  I was told I will suffer untold heart problems and an early death.  Ok.  You warned me.  But until then:

Could I please try Armour?   If not, could I please have my synthetic medication increased to lessen my symptoms?  Would you please check more than just the TSH level?  What about the T3 and T4 levels?  What about the reverse T3 and T4 levels?  How about my hormones? 

This brought on more doctor-y wrath. 

I read too much.

I don't have a degree.

She's the doctor here.

And if I don't like it, don't let the door hit me on the ass on my way out of the exam room.

There I was, a hapless, hypothyroid wanna be Armour junkie,  back out on the streets once again, looking for help in all the wrong places.
And yes, what about my hormones?  Through all these years of struggling with the thyroid, I often wondered if my other hormones were out of whack, too.  I remember asking at least six doctors or more about my PMS issues and low libido, but was told I was a 'normal' perimenopausal woman.  I was to keep track of my symptoms during my menstrual cycle back then and after a year, they would look into it.  I blinked at one doctor and told her I didn't need to keep track of my symptoms, I had them all memorized by heart. 

"This is normal for perimenopause," I was told.  "We just have to take what comes and learn to deal with it."

And later, much later,

"This is normal for menopause."

(WHY am I never considered 'normal' when I ask for a different thyroid medication??  Anyone have an answer for that question?) 

So many doctors have all told me my problems are in my head. 

I need psychiatric help.  (Check.)

I need an antidepressant.  (Check x five or six different kinds.  And gained weight.)

I need a statin.  (Check, ouch.)

I need a beta blocker (because my heart pounds when my thyroid meds are too LOW, yes, that happens to hypo's too, not just hyperthyroid patients)  (Check, did the betas and ACE inhibitors, gained more weight)

I need migraine medication. (Declined that.  But I do have horrendous headaches when hypothyroid.)

I need blood pressure medication.  (Check, three or four of them were tried.  I am currently not on any.)

I need to keep my mouth shut when yet one more doctor tells me that I don't know what I'm talking about when I gently suggest and then tearfully insist that the thyroid is very, very possibly at the core of all of the above and then some. 

And heaven forbid if I become demanding, there will be a ride to the Loony Bin in my near future.  The little white men in their little white coats, coming to take me away, ha ha hee hee.

Ok, 2011 and I was looking for another DO (Doctor of Osteopathy) since I had good luck with Dr. E ten or eleven years prior.  I found the one I currently have, Dr. N, who is a pleasant-enough younger lady doctor, but who is underwhelmed by my persistence about getting my thyroid adequately treated.  She wasn't interested in prescribing Armour, either, and kept me at the same dose of Synthroid while still a bit leery of my TSH being 1.5 by then.  (It was creeping up.)  She felt that number was bordering on too low, my cholesterol and weight numbers were too high, but took my word for it when I said I would do my best to get healthy in other ways.  Just give me a year, I pleaded.  I didn't want to antagonize her, she seemed fairly reasonable, and let's face it, where can I go next?  I'm running out of options. 

Maybe I am crazy.  

So, I sat myself down and did a personal inventory.  Many of my health habits weren't great.  I was overeating, this I knew.  It hurt to admit it, but there it was.  I took the Polar Bear's advice about the exercise, ok, I was going to do this thing, and from January 2012 to now I've managed to maintain a weight loss of forty pounds.  I'm still a long way from where I need to be on the BMI charts, which would be at least forty pounds more.

I took up the weight lifting with a vengeance right up until gardening season this June, lifting as heavy as possible three days a week, alternating with aerobics four days a week.  Not a day goes by I don't get in excess of 10,000 steps and some days, twice that.  I took up the Exerstriding and credit much of my firming up to that alone.  I joined a calorie counting website and spent exhaustive hours on online research reading up on resting metabolic rates, basic metabolic rates, activity levels and calories required to lose weight. (That's why I wasn't posting much, I was reading, reading, reading.)

  And exercising.

 I bought a food scale.  Everything I eat is measured and weighed, and there have been significant changes to my diet.  We eat home cooked meals as clean as possible, quality grass-fed beef from a friend's farm and eggs from the Girls in the coop here.

You'd think I'd be a Skinny Minnie by now, wouldn't you?  How big am I?   I'm 5' 9" tall and still a size 14/16, depending on the cut of the clothes.   And as of yesterday, I am still just over 200 pounds. 

Say what??  Did I just put that in print?  

Yeah, I did.  Because I think it proves something.

 I know my thyroid is not being adequately treated. 

Years ago, I saw someone on one of the thyroid forums had coined an acronym for TSH.  They said it stood for, 'Try Something Harder'. 

Try Something Harder. 

That's what the Polar Bear and just about every other doctor has told me over the years.  I wasn't working hard enough.  I didn't want it bad enough.  No pain, no gain.  There is no way I will ever find a doctor who will believe me about my thyroid status, so I guess I had to face it, this is all my fault.

Ok, let's hit the kettlebell workouts, and HIIT (high intensity interval training) along with Callanetics and of course, Leslie Sansone.  Lift heavy or go home.  I never did get into P90X or any of the 'Insanity' workouts since I do still have to work in the gardens here and couldn't afford to cripple myself entirely.  I did make it through the New Rules of Lifting for Women, which is a rigorous program I still plan to revisit, albeit with some modifications.   I still attend the aerobics class at our church twice a week, too.

 I've been told I look better than I actually weigh, if that makes any sense.

 I can't see much difference.

And by June of this year, I was feeling the effects of what I assumed was too much exercise.  Yes, I had more stamina, but I woke up each morning feeling like I'd been in a car accident.  My muscles weren't recovering from the weight lifting.  It is normal to have DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness, after strenuous exercise, but this was a lot more than that.  My joint pain has never really decreased, but again, Fake it Til You Make It, or in my case, Break It.  I brushed it off as just the additional wear and tear of running this crazy garden here on top of the exercise, and decided I would take a hiatus from lifting heavy until fall.  I kept up with all the other exercise, though.

Fast forward to the 'What Have We Been Doing" series I was writing before this drivel hit the blog, and I can tell you this, what I was doing was going downhill.

  It was getting scary.


El Gaucho said...

I've been reading your posts intently, please don't stop them or think they're too self-indulgent, far from it. They're great to read and it sounds like they're pretty cathartic for you too. I enthusiastically request you keep going!

For what it's worth, sorry you've had such terrible luck with doctors. It wasn't until my late 20's when a buddy of mine was dating a medical student that I realized that some/most doctors aren't a) any smarter than you or I, and b) are never taught much about bedside manner or relating to their patients. I've seen a good number of people who went through medical school and I can tell you that two of the primary factors that decide whether or not you'll become a doctor is the ability to study for 10, 12, or even 16 hours non-stop, and the ability to memorize vast quantities of information. IMHO Many doctors aren't much smarter than us, they're just really good at memorizing lots of information and maybe use Ritalin off label to help them study.

Beth said...

Karen, I'm still reading, and I'm so sorry for the things the medical establishment has put you through. I'm praying for you to feel a lot better, and happier. Hoping you find a great dr. who will work with you. Around here there are doctors and nurse practitioners who are into the bioidentical hormone thing; maybe one of them can help?

Alison said...

Please don't delete these posts, and please keep them coming. I'm still here, and rooting for you.

Karen said...

El Gaucho, thank you for your vote of confidence. I have to admit, I'm starting to feel the same way about the intelligence levels. I now know doctors are very human and not infallible. Ritalin....hmmmmmm maybe I could use that for the thyroid. lol

Beth, thank you, and I'm investigating that route as we speak! Thank you for your prayers.

Alison, thank you so much, I appreciate your care and concern!