I have just returned from running two miles, including two wind sprints (of sorts). Earlier this week I played two sets of singles. Tomorrow morning I have a lesson with a pro who is teaching me how the college guys hit their big forehands. I know I will never “get there” (Armour thyroid is not that miraculous), but I am going to have fun trying. I am 56 years old, and I am confident of many more years of an active life. I may not win any beauty contest (too old and too much sun for that), but I am going to be the granny still playing singles at age 83+.
Not too long ago, I had lost that vision, and no thanks to heredity and my various doctors, I was struggling just to make it through the day, thinking foggily that growing older was going to be a lot more difficult than I had always envisioned. I thought I was getting Alzheimer’s disease, and one doctor suggested I try nicotine gum, which studies had shown might help prevent Alzheimer’s. I immediately got hooked on the energy boost and lost weight. Another doctor had me diagnosed as ADHD and started me on Ritalin, which gave me the energy to go through a house remodeling and also helped with weight control. But I still had memory problems, my skin was dry, my hair was falling out, my hands were cold, I was hoarse, I was easily winded, I had carpal tunnel syndrome, etc. I had read that these were symptoms of hypothyroidism and also that the standard thyroid (TSH) test was not reliable, but my doctors, including a young endocrinologist, just treated me as if I “had too much time on my hands.” One nurse asked me “Is everything okay at home?” And I have always wished that I had replied: “No, everything is not okay at home. It’s normal. I just need the energy to deal with it all.” When she called me to tell me my TSH test was normal, I told her it was not and begged her to learn more about it, not just for me, but for all of the others I knew had to be suffering the same as I.
Actually, even back in college I wondered what was wrong with me, and I even wondered if I was hypothyroid. I researched endocrinology, but hypothyroidism seemed like a freak disease because the articles usually included a picture of a middle-aged woman suffering from a disfiguring goiter. I did not look like that, and aside from not having a lot of energy, I did not have any of the other listed symptoms. I was a good athlete and a good student, but when others wanted to go party, I was too tired. I knew something was not right, and I went to the student health center, but the doctor just told me I was too concerned with my bodily functions.
Throughout my adult life I continued to struggle with fatigue issues. I remember reading somewhere that chronic fatigue is never normal, and I agreed. But somehow I could never get to the bottom of it all. To give one doctor credit, he did help me with food allergies and candidiasis, but he missed the underlying problem of hypothyroidism, and thought I was a hypochondriac, which is another symptom of long-term undiagnosed hypothyroidism. My file is embarrassingly thick, because I was always trying to figure out what was wrong with me. In addition, I have always been sensitive to the cold, which I really did not realize until I went on thyroid medication. Instead of merely tolerating cold weather, I now find it inviting and invigorating.
Finally three years ago, I talked a young doctor into giving me thyroid medication (Synthroid). I threatened “or else I will go to Mexico and buy some,” so he agreed to prescribe a low dose and told me to come back in six weeks. I felt immediate relief: it was the proof I needed to confirm that my problem really was hypothyroidism. I did not return to see that doctor because I knew he was too traditionally trained to help me with thyroid issues. I moderated my own dose according to the books I was reading. Then I went to an endocrinologist who had written one of the books, and he helped with the dose, too. But he was only interested in thyroid and pituitary problems, and he relied on the synthetic thyroid hormones for treatment. I had heard of the Hotze Clinic but thought I could work out the various issues on my own. After three years of struggle, I went to the Hotze Clinic. I would have saved myself and my insurance company a lot of time and money had I gone there first. Above all, the Armour thyroid medication given at the proper (higher than usually prescribed) dosage is miraculous. However, I am not sure where I would be if I had not been given the incentive to follow the anti-candidiasis diet as well as provided with the allergy treatment and other natural hormones.
I feel very optimistic, now, that I will not fade away into oblivion and live many years in bed at a nursing home like my paternal grandmother did. Nor will I be dozing off in the chair all the time like my father, who though he had low blood pressure, suffered from clogged arteries and congestive heart failure. He was a problem child, who for some reason even as an adult, never quite got his act together. I am grateful that there are doctors, such as those at the Hotze Clinic, who are willing to throw off the yoke of their medical school training and really pay attention to what is going on with their patients. These doctors realize that the thyroid gland is a lot more involved in our health than currently thought and taught, and they are willing to act upon their conviction. Likewise, when my two teenagers started complaining about being cold and having memory problems, I felt confident about where to take them. I wanted to be sure that they will not be victims of undiagnosed hypothyroidism. This family trait is treatable!
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