I am in the midst of some big changes since my appointment with Joanie almost 3 weeks ago but before I begin I have to say this continues to be such an unpredictable journey. I really have no idea where I am going! As confusing it has been for me to understand what is going on with my health, I imagine it is as confusing to anyone who reads this.
After 6 months of hearing that “thyroid issues are not presenting in you,” despite ongoing symptoms and after supporting my adrenals with hydrocortisone, Joanie decided at my last appointment that it was time to start me on Armour Thyroid. In fact, the conversation went something like this:
Joanie: Robin, how would you feel about us trying Armour? You haven’t responded the way I thought you would on hydrocortisone alone. I think it’s time we try dessicated thyroid.
Me: (Forcing myself to not jump out of my chair and start hugging her) Well…yes, (very calmly) I would be very open to that.
I am stunned, frustrated that it has taken this long, but very happy that she is willing to explore thyroid treatment for me.
Before I explain the details I want to review my experience with Hydrocortisone. When I got the saliva test results back and learned I was in Maladapted Phase II of Adrenal Fatigue I started on hydrocortisone in early August. At first, I really started to feel some relief of some of my most troubling symptoms: anxiety and fatigue/lethargy. I finally realized how vital my diet is to my health when I learned I am actually gluten intolerant and adopted a strict gluten and dairy free diet as well as no sugar, no coffee and no simple carbs to help heal my leaky gut issues which I believe are improving. At the end of August, she increased my hydrocortisone from 7.5 mg daily to 12.5 mg. I was hopeful that this would help me feel even better as she said it was pretty clear I was dealing with adrenal issues. Instead, it had the opposite effect. I started to feel a real increase in anxiety and depression. I gained 5 pounds in a month (NOT awesome). I was weepy, avoidant and overwhelmed constantly. For a few weeks I doubted my ability to continue to work. I was a mess and my fatigue only made matters worse. My posts during the month of September are very telling of this. I was withdrawn, which is my “normal” way of coping when I feel overwhelmed.
I shared all of this at my last appointment, and Joanie immediately backed me off the hydrocortisone to only 5 mg a day (2.5 am, 2.5 noon). Once I reached 5 mg I started on 30 mg Armour Thyroid for 2 weeks, then to 60 mg daily. I just started 60 mg yesterday. As I was stepping down the dose of hydrocortisone my anxiety and especially depression started to ease off and become more manageable.
About a week after I started on the 30 mg of Armour, I noticed a change in the way I felt during some of the most unexpected times. Like at 4:30 am when I wake up for no reason and can’t fall back to sleep because I am anxious about the fact that I’m not asleep or my mind is racing thinking about all of the things I need to do that day and to not forget this or that. Instead, on most occasions, I’ve been able to relax my mind and drift back to sleep until it is time for me to wake up. This morning, I didn’t wake up at all before my alarm. Or when I get home from work and I am tired and hungry, but the first thing I need to do is start dinner and take care of my 3 dogs that are also very hungry and have missed me all day. For the last week, I’ve been able to do this most days without breaking down into tears because all I really wanted to do was crawl into bed and pull the covers over me and sleep until morning. Instead, I have realized that I have had energy to spend time playing fetch with my dogs, make dinner and still have a little energy to take a relaxing bath, or to spend time reading, or sewing. On Saturday, I went to the grocery store to shop for this week. Usually, this trip exhausts me and puts me in a very foul mood for the rest of the day. I dread it. I loathe it. I have grocery aisle rage—no one is safe. It wasn’t until I was unloading the bags from my car to take into the house that I realized I was thinking about what I wanted to do after I had unloaded the groceries. Usually I’m lucky if I get everything unpacked before I am lying on the couch.
One thing I am concerned about is my menstrual cycle. I seem to be going in the opposite direction. Most recently I went from a 23 day cycle to 21 days. I’ve been taking progesterone since April, only 2 months have I lengthened my cycle to 24 days. 21 days seems really short to me. I see Joanie again next week, I will definitely talk to her about this.
That’s my update for now. I will be curious to see how I feel over the next week. I am cautiously optimistic.
I also wanted to share a blog I found recently, Hypothyroid Mom. Dana brings a well informed voice to the tragedy of miscarriage and hypothyroidism as she lost a child after being diagnosed as hypothyroid. I am SO GLAD that she has started this blog and I am reading her posts with a fine tooth comb. It’s really nice to know there is someone out there who can relate to my nightmare. I would encourage you to read her blog, too.