How being on the wrong thyroid meds aka Thyr-odyssey made me sad, mad and a sight of woe
Firstly, let me assure you that I'm feeling better. I did not miraculously drop to 15% body fat, not sure if I lost any weight at, all but at least my head is feeling like it is occupied by a functional brain and not by a depressed sponge. Mind over matter! But how did it all start?
In a nutshell, for some reason my thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormones which have a huge effect on your metabolism. A sluggish thyroid is connected to a slow metabolism. You see where I'm going?Let's focus on the thyroid hormones T4 and T3. The human thyroid produces more of T4 than T3 at a rate of 80% to 20%. Simply put T4 is the storage form of T3. Once T4 is converted to T3 it becomes four to five times more biologically active in boosting your metabolism.
First of all, the body needs a bit of T3 to properly convert T4. The caveman needs rock tools to make some more. Also some patients will not convert T4 into T3 but into reverse T3. Reverse T3 or RT3 is an inactive form which blocks T3 receptors, preventing the active T3 to do its job. To stay with our metaphor, the caveman transforms the rocks not into tools but weird figurines which only take up space on the mantlepiece.
And you already probably guessed it: I was put on T4-only medication and my caveman kept hammering out ugly RT3 figurines. Every 6-8 weeks I did a blood test to check on my thyroid hormones (free T3, free T4 and RT3) and my RT3 was always on the very high end. Reminder: RT3 blocks T3 receptors which prevents T3 from connecting with cells to work it's magic. For some reason the doc kept me on the artificial T4-only treatment and I started encountering some dwarves of thyroid disease: sleepy, pudgy, cranky, draggy and achy.
This went on for 7 months until I looked into the mirror, then went on a scale, realized I gained the extra mass of a maxed-out Cebu Pacific carry-on, and decided it was time to succumb to drama and despair.
To be fair to Doctor Bramley, within those 7 months I only saw her twice at the beginning. I wanted to save money and tried to avoid consulting her. I would only drop into the practice to have my blood drawn for the thyroid investigations, she would quickly look over my results and then adjust my meds. At a later point she added some artificial T3 to the mix. But I can't help but wonder why she kept me on high T4 meds although my RT3 was super high meaning that most of the T4 was not converted properly.
After I managed to claw myself out of my misery, I decided to make another appointment with Doc Bramley and tell her that I was a thyroid ruin, about to burn and collapse. Unfortunately she was out of town (which happens often) and I saw another endocrinologist in her practice, Doctor Leung. While listening to my tale of woe and symptoms, and reading my test results, he kept shaking his head and seemed a bit morose. "I will put you on natural desiccated thyroid and will adjust your dosage based on your symptoms and your blood test." he grumbled, "you start feeling better in a few weeks."
And he's right. Based on what I read on Stop That Thyroid Madness, natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) is made from pigs thyroid which produce the same ratio of T3 and T4 like human thyroid glands, meaning it's easier for the body to handle. I will write a more detailed blog post on my consultation with Doctor Leung. He's quite a character, and reminds me of a strict High-school Math teacher I liked. If you consider seeing him this might be of interest to you.
I have been on NDT for almost 3 weeks now. And I feel slightly better. It's still too early to say anything definite. But I'll be having another thyroid investigation beginning of next week and see Doc Leung a few days later once the results are in. I just want to function normal again and level up to lively and learned.