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Be Your Own Medical Advocate
I had many medical problems since the age of 27 that not one doctor could really put their finger on and definitively diagnose. I was told by a handful of doctors what they thought was wrong. I ended up hearing things that ranged from pre-menopausal to mildly depressed. I even saw a psychologist to make sure it wasn’t depression. How stupid is that? In February 2007, I saw a surgeon at the University of Penn in Philadelphia. I was told I had to have my thyroid removed because of a goiter. Naturally, in shock, I go home and research thyroid function and read all the information I can about it. I then start researching what it will be like to live without my thyroid gland and what the changes in my body will be. What I found is that all the research and all the knowledge in the world could not even begin to prepare me for the journey I was about to take.
For any of you who are not familiar with the thyroid gland or its function, I will give you a brief synopsis. The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. It’s a butterfly-shaped gland located in your neck, just in front of your trachea. Its main task is to produce thyroid hormone. These hormones are chemicals secreted by the gland to act as messengers that tell specific body parts what to do, such as regulating heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, proper brain function, and most importantly, converting food into energy. The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine, found in many foods, and convert it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body that can absorb iodine. These cells combine iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make T3 and T4. T3 and T4 are then released into the bloodstream and are transported throughout the body where they control metabolism (conversion of oxygen and calories to energy). Every cell in the body depends on thyroid hormones for regulation of its metabolism. The normal thyroid gland produces about 80% T4 and about 20% T3, however, T3 has about four times the hormone “power” as T4.
Without proper thyroid function, you can expect to see these symptoms:
• Minority and weakness
• Low basal temperature (cold intolerance)
• Dry and rough skin
• Hair loss
• Cold hands and feet
• Weight gain
• Poor memory, forgetfulness
• Nervousness and tremors
• Immune system problems
• Heavy menstrual periods.
The terrible thing about having a thyroid problem is that any symptoms I had could absolutely have been menopause or depression. Each and every one of these symptoms go hand in hand with many different problems, but today most doctors will immediately jump to depression without looking deeper into the problems. This is how I was NOT diagnosed with a thyroid problem for years.
I was told that after the surgery by an endocrinologist that I would be able to live a fairly normal life while taking thyroid medication for the rest of my life. Part of the research I did prior to my surgery was about the various thyroid medications on the market today, most of which are synthetic. However, I found that there was one thyroid medication that was made naturally from Pig thyroid hormones. Learning all this during my research, I feel that I know my body and how it reacts to synthetic things and that my only option was the natural hormone. Armor Thyroid, the natural hormone has been used successfully since 1891. In the 1960s the big pharmaceutical companies replaced Armor with the synthetic brand, which is very different from Armor in that all synthetic hormones are only T4. What’s the problem with this, you may ask? If you read it earlier, T3 has about four times the hormone “strength” as T4. T3 is the one that puts the spring in your step because it is so potent. So my doctor, like many others, wouldn’t even listen to me wanting to start the Armor Thyroid. She says we’ll go with Synthroid first, and if there’s a problem, she’ll talk to me about Armor. OK, I decide, I’m not the doctor, so against my better judgment I’ll do what she thinks best.
I continue for the next year and a half, taking Synthroid, and getting sicker and sicker. Every one of the side effects of Synthroid AND being hypothyroid were mine to have. Over the next 8 months I gained 25 pounds. I had a lot of muscle pain which I was sure had to do with the weight gain. I am five foot nothing and was always about 110 pounds after my son was born. With twenty-five extra pounds, my body always felt physically sick and then I was emotionally sick because of the extra pounds I saw. I was still so tired that I had gotten used to drinking energy drinks to keep me going, so I’m sure I attribute that to the weight gain. To make matters worse, I had severe constipation that would make or break each day with discomfort and bloating. I rarely slept through the night, which made my life during the day a struggle to keep it together. I would forget things a lot and couldn’t think straight, so soon I became seriously depressed because of all these symptoms and the fact that my doctor kept telling me to hang in there. I cried all the time and couldn’t control my emotions.
My doctor told me that this had nothing to do with the thyroid, but I felt like my body was rebelling against me and I had no control over anything. I went through a dose change of Synthroid every three months until we got it right. The dose change would sometimes make the symptoms so bad that I just didn’t know how to handle either myself or my family.
During this period of time while taking Synthroid, I researched and researched things that would help with all my symptoms. It was Rebecca, my healer, who turned me on to a natural product that would help with some of my physical problems.
After reading all about this “holy tea” I was intrigued and because of its claims I tried it. I can say right now, I will never be without it. I haven’t had the physical slowing down of my gastrointestinal tract because of this detoxifying tea that clears out the so-called gunk that builds up in your system over time. It has been used with great results for many things such as: Crohn’s disease, IBD’s, spastic colon, enlarged abdomen, excess stored fat, skin conditions, allergies, fibromyalgia, joint pain, insomnia, low energy, loss of clarity, and forgetfulness, just to name a few. This wasn’t a cure all for me, but man how beautiful life becomes when your body starts to feel like it’s functioning again!
After having great success with the tea, I started researching their other products, one of which is Coral Minerals. Without my thyroid it is very important to keep my calcium levels up because in the surgery most of my parathyroid was also taken. The most important function of the parathyroid glands is to maintain the body’s calcium level within a very narrow range, so that the nervous system and muscles can function properly. I have found that calcium is the most abundant mineral in Coral Complex 3. Coral Complex 3 has helped people keep their bones strong, people with tendinitis, periodontal disease, varicose veins, and even mood swings. I’ve been using this too and it’s been a great extra boost.
OK, so I found a few things that helped make life a little more bearable, but the next time I was in to see the endocrinologist, I told her that enough was enough. I was ready to try the natural hormone, and hopefully feel better. She finally agreed, after a year and a half. I can tell you that within a two week period, all the aches and pains I was going through were gone. I wasn’t so sad anymore. I started sleeping through the night. My head was a little clearer, and things were looking up. I still had a few ways to go but at that point life was good, FINALLY!! At this point in my life, three years later, I can say that I am still struggling because I have not been able to stay on one dose for the past three years. Looks like I’m finally on that track now, and it was only 3 years in February. I’m sure I’ll always have some kind of struggle, but I’m on the right track, I can feel it.
So at this point I finally found the right medication that works with my body and the manufacturer now has the product on national back order. Boy, I was starting to feel like I couldn’t catch a break. No fear, when I have issues regarding my thyroid I always go back to http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com. This is a website that has helped me with a lot of questions I had and also being able to chat with people who have the same problems as me. Every now and then, you learn something from someone that you didn’t know would help you. It is a wonderful site, and I highly recommend it to anyone going through this struggle themselves.
Over the past three years I have found many things that have helped me through this struggle. The most important thing that got me to the point I am today is my support system. I have the best husband, family and friends that anyone could ask for. They have helped me get through this time, by listening to me talk through it, or sometimes cry and complain. They helped me make sense of it all every step of the way. So to all the people in my life I have to say “I love you!” and “Thank you”. This doesn’t even begin to make you understand how much each of you is an integral part in my life. I treasure you all and feel blessed to have so much love in my life to get me through one of the hardest times I’ve ever faced. And my husband, God love him, was the best support system anyone could ask for. I know during this period how terrible I felt constantly and that I was never easy to cope with. But Dave stood by me, and supported me, every step of the way. What I learned most from all of this and especially from my husband is that no matter what you have to trust yourself and be your own advocate in this world. You know your body better than anyone…including doctors. They know medicine, but only you know when something is really wrong, and despite the fact that they may think you’re perfect, you have to stand up for yourself and keep fighting until you know in your heart that everything is fine.
Thanks to all for listening, and be well.
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