MY THYROID STORYBy placing this story, I want to help others who are suffering needlessly with thyroid conditions or diseases.
Notice the "lump" visible (slightly off-center, lower LHS in pictures) on the bottom part of my throat.
(2) Ask your doctor to examine your neck for an enlarged thyroid or thyroid nodule - goiter. This is done while drinking water and holding your head up and back. An enlargement of the thyroid will be seen as a protrusion moving up and down in the neck (below the Adam's apple).
(3) Ask for a blood test to test for thyroid antibodies as well as TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels. If there is a thyroid nodule or enlargement of the thyroid is present, the antibody test is even more important to test for an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. In this case the body attacks the thyroid and eventually destroys it completely. Each year it goes undiagnosed and untreated there is a 5% chance of full blown hypothyroidism. At the same time, diffused enlargement of the thyroid gland is common.
(4) If TSH comes back over 2.5, this may be quite fine, but request a FT4 and FT3 test anyhow, even if you have to pay for it yourself!
(5) If TSH is normal, but hypothyroid symptoms are pronounced, some doctors rely on a TRH test - thyrotropin releasing hormone. This is a very important test for those who are suffering from hypothyroidism, but tests come back in the normal ranges.
(6) If you have a thyroid nodule, often the doctor will suggest an ultrasound to see where it is located and to see if it is single or multi-nodular.
(7) Radioactive iodide uptake tests track how much iodide the thyroid takes in within a certain time period. Higher-than-normal amounts indicate possible hyperthyroidism; low levels indicate hypothyroidism. However, there is a small chance of the cells of the thyroid gland being damaged in this procedure. I skipped this test as I already knew from the blood test that I was hypothyroid as opposed to hyperthyroid. Many doctors in the States, especially, only perform this test, if necessary, after the FNA and antibody tests are done, and then only if it required.
(8) If you have a thyroid nodule, it is important to rule out cancer, but it is not always conclusive. A fine needle biopsy (FNA - fine needle aspiration) will help diagnose the nodule. If you have any photos displaying the nodule clearly in your neck from a few years ago - that can help enormously in the diagnosis. If the nodule has not grown much and the lymph nodes in the neck are not swollen, chances are it is a benign adenoma, especially if they also detect high levels of Thyroid antibodies.
(1) definitively benign,
(2) definitively cancer - one type is easy to detect, another not so easy but only appears in elderly women and yet another mimics a follicular neoplasm (which is what I had), but with all the other diagnoses taken into account, such as the antibody test, the photograph of years before with the same size nodule, and the hypothyroidism, this becomes a much less likely scenario - and a benign adenoma is favored.
(3) Inconclusive - too little specimen available for diagnosis or the follicular neoplasm as described in #2. Very often only surgery can rule out cancer in the inconclusive cases, but since cancer of the thyroid is very rare, many needless surgeries are performed.
(2) Even TSH levels above 5 do not seem to alert most doctors - but "lumps" sure do!
(3) They often over-react to "Lumps" and regard surgery as a preferred choice.
(4) High TSH levels coupled with high antibodies generally preclude cancer.
(5) T3 taken along with T4 alleviates symptoms noticeably and quickly, but doctors do not often offer this choice.
(6) Learn to say "NO"! Do not hesitate to get a second opinion; it's your body.
(7) PRAY! You are going to need "supernatural help". With God clearing the way before me, I was able to get a favorable resolution to this 7 year old "curse" in just 7 short weeks, and in 12 weeks I was on appropriate treatment (T4 and T3) - substantially less time than by just relying on doctors alone, which often does not even deliver results, or can take many years to do so. Two, of the 4 doctors I saw, were helpful, and even the other 2, who really could have so easily been used to hurt me and to delay proper treatment, when targeted by our concerted prayers, were ultimately also used to help me. Now, if you read the "horror stories" of other women trying desperately to get appropriate diagnosis and treatment, you will fast begin to realize the significance of these assertions - our prayers, humbly beseeching God for help, really did help!
Her thyroid now seems to be somewhat rejuvenated, since she is now beginning to show hyperthyroid symptoms on her medication, and has had to reduce it. We have not yet figured out what it needs to be reduced to, but it is clearly too much! So what she did is started taking just the 88mcg of T4, since whenever she takes just the 2 x 5mcg T3 (Cytomal) as well, she starts to show symptoms of being over-medicated. However, we found that too little, and so cut the T4 down to 62.5 mcg (1/2 of a 125) and added back 1 x 5mcg of T3 split into 2 - 1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. What we are finding is this is probably still too much, especially when she has tea as well as the T3. However, time will tell. She does plan to investigate the "Natural" T4 + T3 combination (and we believe it has T1 and T2 in it as well) - which several people seem to tolerate very well. She will do this for a while and then have her TSH and Free-T4 and Free-T3 levels tested, and perhaps also her Thyroid Anti-body levels tested? Anyhow, we will let you know what happens. What we are finding is that Thyroid treatment never stays static for long, and needs to be closely watched. For now though, this is mostly very good news! Her Thyroid nodule has shrunk substantially, her weight is much easier to keep under control and her moods and energy levels have been great over the last year ... though of late (as noted) she started getting a little too "energetic/excitable" ... and has had to reduce her consumption of tea (caffeine) and T4 (Synthroid) and T3 (Cytomal) which (perhaps) is a sign that the treatment has allowed her thyroid to "rest-up" and it is now re-juvinated?
My update today in 2008: I was on natural thyroid hormone for a long time, but recently I reduced the dose slightly and added a little T4 (just a smidge - less than 5 mg a day), which seems to help in keeping me awake longer in the evenings. One thing about people who are on thyroid hormones, is that they tire more easily.
The good news is that one can feel well again. It just takes time to find what level of medication (and which kind) works best for you. I was diagnosed in 2002 and have been medicated for 6 years. I'm sure I had the autoimmune disease begin at least 5 years or more prior to 2002.
My Update December 2012: My thyroid nodule is smaller and stays smaller when on medication. The surprise is that I am on a very low dose of thyroid hormone: 30 mcg natural thyroid hormone daily. Anything more and I feel very hyper and it is noticeable to my husband. Now, you're probably still wondering how after this many years I am on such a little thyroid hormone. Fact is, I discovered that I have a mycoplasma infection and have been on 25 mg of doxycycline (1 tablet divided in quarters) for years, which incidentally reduces inflammation in the body by about 40% (CRP levels - that was true in my case - see, CRP levels are higher in people with autoimmune diseases) and it's great for healthier gums and keeping plaque buildup on teeth down. Both my husband and I had been remiss and hadn't had a cleaning in 2 years (crazy busy lives and living far from the city). Our cleaning at the dentist was a breeze! We both take doxycycline and in such tiny doses it is no longer similar to taking an antibiotic - it is at subclinical levels, so no longer considered an antibiotic. It has no effect on the gut flora. It keeps the organisms inside my thyroid from being able to reproduce possibly (or simply reduces inflammation - not exactly sure the mechanism) but it doesn't kill the mycoplasma unfortunately. I still have a compromised thryoid, however, my eyebrows have grown back and my thyroid nodule is smaller, so that tells me I am getting enough thyroid hormone help. I have to have enough carbs to help with the T4 to T3 conversion; very low-carb is not the way to go for me (so, around 50 to 150 grams is what I consume daily). My weight is okay, but not great (5 lbs up). I need to lose some weight again, but I've just finished a cookbook again, stress levels this last year have been very high (3 big cookbooks out in one year) at times and it is Christmas time! Over here you can read more about mycoplasma infection. My experience is that most people don't take me seriously on this one, but I'm very content that I have found my answer. http://www.thyroid-info.com/articles/brownstein.htm and http://www.digitalnaturopath.com/cond/C670329.html AND READ THIS (very interesting!) (Click highlighted text for the articles on mycoplasma infections causing other conditions too.
UPDATE May, 2013: I am in remission and completely off thyroid hormone. Thank you, God.