Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I got blood test results back today. They match almost exactly results from tests in December, and together they present pretty compelling evidence of hypothyroidism.

That I might have hypothyroidism is not that shocking or surprising to me really. I’ve had symptoms of Graves Ophthalmopathy for more than 10 years, and my doctor and I have been talking regularly about what how the condition might represent a symptom of a bigger problem on the horizon.

Apparently, I’ve found the horizon.

It certainly explains a lot. As my wife said today when I told her, “...when you look at hypothyroidism, the classic symptoms are your favorites -- fatigue and sensitivity to cold, along with mild depression (not that you are clinically depressed, just that you get down, particularly when it's cold out). She didn’t mention the other things that I’ve been fighting strongly the last couple of weeks: Weight gain (despite eating less), muscle soreness and difficulty concentrating (at a time when I can hardly afford it). This list of symptoms together with the blood work makes it pretty clear what the cause is.

The question is what’s causing it? As I’ve been learning, there are a few reasons apart from the basic “your thyroid is failing”. One that attracted my attention was iodine deficiency. I’ve asked my doctor to look into this because, even though it’s practically nonexistent in the U.S. as a cause for hypothyroidism, there are two reasons why it might be possible in my case. First, we don’t use iodized salt at home, which is the biggest reason why Americans don’t suffer from iodine deficiency. Second, we don’t eat a lot of processed foods, which are often made with iodized salt.

If iodine deficiency proves to be the root cause, the solution is simple: Eat things with iodine. If it’s not, the likelihood of needing synthetic thyroid hormone to regulate my system increases to “nearly certain”. I am exceedingly nervous about this. Dosing with synthetic hormone to regulate the endocrine system is a delicate balancing act, and carries the risk of doing things to my eyes that will force some very difficult and irreversible treatment to avoid optic nerve damage. Potentially, it is a very slippery slope. I’ll also admit I’m not a fan of having to be engaged in this balancing act for the rest of my life. I’m only forty years old, for crissakes! If my father’s side of the family (which I take after quite a bit) is any indication, I’m gonna see ninety with no problem. That’s 50 damn years of having to adjust meds and take trips to the doctor for blood tests and dealing with the worry that I might go blind! This is not appealing.

Of course, that’s a couple of blood tests down the road. In the meantime, I will continue to find ways to work around the fatigue and other things so I can live my life. I’ve got stuff to do, after all! Nobody living my life has time to be tired all the time!

1 comment:

the passionate hairdresser said...

And, now you know. Knowledge is power, Schoolhouse Rock says so...I, too, need to get into the dr's office...almost afraid of what they might say...sigh