Thursday, March 08, 2007

Anybody Out There Tired? Depressed? Fat? Read This.

(The following post is by my wife, Annie Phenix.)

I am a writer. It is in my bones. What you are about to read is the single most important thing I have written in my 40 years of life. It could change your life and I am not selling anything. Well, I will admit to pedaling knowledge.

I have been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. Basically that means that my thyroid is underproducing and my body reacts negatively in all sorts of fun ways such as: extreme fatigue, low body temperature, thin hair, dry eyes, aching bones, slower thinking, puffy face . . . . I could go on and on.

Why is this important to anyone but me and my wonderful husband who has had to deal with a hypothyroid wife all these years (can a husband get the Nobel Prize for being the Best Husband Ever? If yes, Jeff deserves that prize)?

Because low thyroid is an undiagnosed epidemic in this country. It is estimated that 40 percent of Americans have some degree hypo or hyperthyroidism. I think there are almost 300 million Americans in this country so that means close to 150 million of suffer (needlessly) from this problem. (Sorry folks that is the best math I can do.) That means more people suffer from this problem than suffer from breast cancer or diabetes combined. Please read that statement again.

Did you know that all of your blood – approximately 5 quarts – circulates through your thyroid gland once every hour? What if that puppy wasn't functioning correctly, wouldn't that have a bad impact on your body? It does.

Here is a list of some of the most common symptoms of low thyroid. Yes it also sounds like many other things but perhaps things like fibromyalgia and even arthritis have a foundation in the thyroid? If you have something like arthritis, a low functioning thyroid will only make your symptoms worse. Not everyone has the same symptoms but most have more than a few:

  • Fatigue/lethargy (I felt like a Zombie most of the time—zero energy)

  • General Weakness (I couldn't open packages from the grocery store without help)

  • Dry, coarse skin

  • Slow Speech

  • Swelling of the face and eyelids

  • Coldness and cold skin

  • Constipation

  • Unexplained Weight gain or great difficulty in losing weight

  • Excessive or painful menstruation

  • Sore Muscles or bones (I invented the terms "bone cramps and "tired blood" to describe how I felt)

  • Low libido

  • Depression

  • Headaches

  • Low Resistance to Infections (do you have sinus infections like I did every year?)

This problem seems to affect women more than men and the older you get, the more likely it is that you will have a thyroid issue.

Did you know that if you have zero thyroid, you will go insane? That hits home for me because my maternal grandmother was diagnosed as a Paranoid Schizophrenic in her mid 30s and she lived in that nightmare for 40 more years. Perhaps she could have been helped? What is she just needed thyroid supplementation? How I wish I could reverse time and try to help her! I can't, I know, but if this info helps even one person reading this, that at least makes her terrible suffering not need to repeat in someone else's life.

Here is a simple test to do that you can do at home. I HIGHLY recommend you do this as a starting point and I will tell you why in a second.

Put an old-fashion thermometer by your bedside for at least several days, 10 days are recommended. Before you get out of bed, put the thermometer under your armpit for several minutes, 10 minutes are recommended. Record your temps for at least 5 days. If your temps are on average lower than 98.2, chances are extremely high that you have an underfunctioning thyroid.

The good news is that medicines can help you, even make you feel normal and you can live a highly productive life.

The bad news is that the lab test doctors use to determine your thyroid lever are outdated and many feel they are useless. Many patients feel that the standard medicines prescribed – usually Synthroid or Levothyroxin – do little good and can even do more harm. I am now on Armour, a natural form of thyroid and I feel as though I got my life back.

I got all of my thyroid knowledge first from reading books. I took that knowledge to doctor after doctor but they all literally shrugged their shoulders and said I was one of these things or probably all of these:
  1. perimenopausal

  2. eating too much and exercising too little

  3. depressed

  4. a hypochondriac

NONE OF THESE WAS TRUE. My low body temp should have been an indicator but the doctors are in general behind the times on thyroid issues.

I am on the road to getting well thanks to the internet. It is the first time I have learned to love technology! Other patients helped me help myself to heal. Doctors did not. They removed half my thyroid when they did not need to. Do no harm did not apply to me and it does not apply to seemingly hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide.

Here are some of the best websites to start educating yourself if you want to know more:

Best support groups:
Thyroid Support Groups USA.

Best books:
  • "Living Well with Hypothyroidism" by Mary J Shomon (she is the top guru and top patient advocate)

  • "Solved: The Riddle of Illness How Managing Your Thyroid can Help you Fight and Control: Arthritis, Cancer, Diabetes, Obesity, Heart Disease, Fibromyalgia, Sexual Problems" by Dr. Stephen Langer and James Scheer

There are MANY more great books but these two are excellent starting points.

I said in the beginning of getting my health soap box that this is the most important thing I have every personally written: if you feel like holy hell everyday and even getting out of bed is difficult and you cannot function, nothing else matters in your life. You must get well and I have learned that you CAN get well.

Be well! I can help you and please email here if you have any questions:

P.S. I am "Annie" on this blog which is my nickname and my preferred name.


Denise said...

Annie -- thank you so much for posting this information. I'm going to print it out and put it in a central place at work. I'm glad you finally got a diagnosis and can do something about it. Thank you so much!!!

Dollface said...

Annie - I totally agree with everything in your hit on my daily frustrations perfectly. I'm so glad you posted this information so that others who needlessly suffer (like us) on a day to day basis will realize the severity of the condition and go get help. I am presently looking for an endocrinologist myself because I've hit a wall with my current Doc...she won't even think of putting me on Armour or letting me try any different therapy...I KNOW I can feel better and I'm tired of not feeling better. Thanks again! - Stacy

Anonymous said...

Hey Stacy. So glad the info was helpful!! Before you go to an Endo, be sure to read this website:

Endo's seem to have very old info on thyroid issues and many in the patient-driven forums HATE Endo and even call them Endocrimeologists! The website above gives you some great doc recommendations.