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My Thyroid Story

I’ve been holed up in my house, sans kid, sans everyone, for three days now. Besides sitting on my porch for some daily Vitamin D I’ve been using this time to do some major housecleaning. Not cleaning my house… cleaning my self. My body. My Google Reader subscriptions. My Gmail inbox and filters and labels, oh my. My Lightroom catalog. My blog posts. You get the idea.

But why the staycation? you might ask. And as some of you may know already, some of you don’t.

I had radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment on my hyperthyroid on Wednesday. Yupper.

A Brief History


I was diagnosed with a hyperthyroidism back in 2006, after a stressful time in my life came to a head (The Incident) and ultimately put me into a mild thyrotoxic crisis (thyroid storm) which caused me to faint. Because I had never fainted before (and have never since) and because I wasn’t even actively exercising at the moment (I was watching Boston Legal on TV,) this fainting spell scared the crapola out of me.

For the most part, the symptoms I have had over the years didn’t really bother me. Out of breath, sweating unless wearing a tank top, oily hair, ringing in my ears or tinnitus, increased heart rate. These were annoying, extremely so at times, but completely liveable. Shower. Baby Powder. And I believe that I had been living with a few of them for years, attributing them to my lifestyle. I never exercised because I hated the way my heart would race and my lungs would ache. But, the symptom that I absolutely loved, and I’m really not crazy here, was my fantastic metabolism. I could literally eat anything – and lots of it too – and not gain more than 5 pounds.

But I got progressively worse over the next few years and when the heart palpitations set in and I got pregnant, it was time to face facts. I had an over active thyroid, likely the autoimmune disorder called Grave’s Disease, and I better begin to deal with it. So to avoid giving the baby thyroid issues, I was put on Propylthiouracil – an antithyroid medication that is the safest for pregnant ladies. PTU quickly returned my levels to normal and everything was fine when Grayson was born.

I felt great, despite being in the throes of my new life role – single motherhood – and I went off the PTU and hoped that I was fixed for good.

Shortly after Grayson turned two I felt the palpitations come back. The ringing in my ears was louder than before and then my 20/20 vision slightly doubled and got fuzzy for about a month. Yikes! I went back in to check my levels and discovered that I was very close to having another toxic episode. I was put on PTU again, twice a day, but in my crazy world of chasing after Grayson, I was really really bad at remembering to take my pills. I skipped doses. I skipped days even. So, it was no surprise a month later that my levels check reflected only slightly better results.

I was so disappointed that I had relapsed and even more disappointed that I couldn’t even remember to take two pills a day FOR MY HEALTH, yo. So my doctor increased my dose to three pills a day, hoping that taking three pills would help formulate the pill-habit that I needed to form, or at least compensate for the doses that I would inevitably miss because I was so forgetful. It’s not even because I dislike pills. I don’t mind them at all. I just forget.

Well, three pills didn’t work. I blame the hyperthyroidism for my forgetfulness, but really, I’ve always had a bad memory (especially for things that bother me – is that so wrong?) So I found one of those weekly reminder pill boxes and dutifully dropped 21 pills into their daily containers, in the hopes that I’d do better this time ’round. Then scheduled myself for RAI treatment.

By the time I had to drop the medication to have the scan, I was taking roughly 18 of my 21 pills a week. Pretty good considering my history. The scan showed that I was back to normal. The nuclear medicine doctor thought either a.) I had gotten better, or b.) More than likely my thyroid was burning itself out and no treatment was needed.  I had an inkling it was because I had been doing so good with pill-taking, pat-my-self-on-the-back. So we scheduled a thyroid uptake and scan and I prepared myself to get the treatment pending the results.

And So Now

This is what I had on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. And when all was said and done (my levels had begun to increase again in the 3 weeks I had been off PTU – showing that I was heading into relapse. again.) and they asked if I was ready for the treatment, I broke down and cried like a baby girl.

I had given my body countless chances to heal itself and it was clear it wasn’t.

I didn’t want to purposely kill a part of myself.

I am terrified of making myself dependant on a drug – Synthroid.

But my biggest fear is that since this is autoimmune, and my 2nd autoimmune disease to boot, that if I did treat my thyroid, how long will it be until my antibodies attack something else in my body. Do you know how many autoimmune diseases there are?

Treating the hyperthyroid means taking the focus off being hyper and putting it in hypo. But it doesn’t fix the issue. It doesn’t correct my body. What’s next? Chrohn’s? Lou Gehrig’s? Lupus? MS?

And the doctor kept saying, “We’re not trying to push you.” But my doctor and this doctor and other doctors I have seen all say that the hyperthyroidism is causing extra stress on my already defective heart* and that untreated hyperthyroidism can be fatal. So I did it.

Bye Bye Thyroid.

*Bicuspid Aortic Valve

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