Monday, July 19, 2010

Hypothyroidism Update: Odds and Ends

By Diana Hsieh

As I reported some weeks ago, my thyroid labs in early May showed that my TSH dropped below normal, suggesting that I was a bit over-medicated. So my doctor asked me to shave a bit off my desiccated thyroid by reducing my daily dose from 1.5 grains to 1 grain once or twice per week. As I said in that post, "[My doctor] thinks that might help with my lingering symptoms, given that the symptoms of mild hypothyroidism are often the same as the symptoms of mild hyperthyroidism. (Nice, eh?)"

To my surprise, that strategy seemed to work. Starting in late May, my skin wasn't so dry, my basal temperature stayed above 97, I never felt unbearably cold, and my mind seemed sharp, and my energy levels increased. However, I'm not sure if that was due to the slight reduction in desiccated thyroid or not. I began CrossFit in the same week as that change in medication, and that clearly kick-started my metabolism.

Then, for most of June, my life was far more stressful than usual. I had two very hard deadlines: the podcast on finding good romantic prospects and then my OCON course on luck. On top of that, the debate about the NYC Mosque was personally stressful for me. After that, OCON disrupted my usual quiet routine, required me to teach every morning at 9 am, and cut down my sleep to merely tolerable levels. Of course, OCON was a blast, but such blasts are stressful for mind and body.

Unsurprisingly, some of my hypothyroid symptoms have returned over the past few weeks, particularly just after OCON. After I returned home on Sunday, the skin on my hands, particularly around my nails on my hands and feet, dried up and split open. It looked like the early stages of some nasty disease. (Ick!) After my first CrossFit workout in weeks on Tuesday, then skipping the second half grain of desiccated thyroid on Wednesday, that skin returned to normal, even though I did nothing for it. In addition, I experienced serious memory problems early in the week: I couldn't retrieve proper names, including of people and places that I've known and used regularly for years. I noticed similar problems in the stressful weeks before OCON, although far more mild. That problem has faded to a minor nuisance, thankfully. I've not had as much energy as I'd like, and I've had some minor problems sleeping too.

In short, my body is acting strangely. The stress of the past few weeks has likely had some impact, not just on my production of thyroid hormones, but also on cortisol production too. I'm curious as to the overall impact of the CrossFit workouts, as well as the reduction in my dose of thyroid medication. I wonder about the long-term effects of my high-dose iodine supplementation. All that might be difficult to sort out, unfortunately.

I don't want to give the wrong impression: I'm doing very well, overall. Yet I'm trying to be very sensitive to changes in how I'm feeling: I want to see the patterns, as that might enable me to adjust my dose of desiccated thyroid downward even further. I would love that, and I'll definitely talk to my doctor about it when I see her in October. I'll have another thyroid panel in early August too, so I'll be curious to see what's happened with my TSH.

Of course, I'll report back about what I find!

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