My Life with Hypothyroidism

My Symptoms

About three years ago I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Finally putting a name on why I had been feeling so poorly for so long was a welcome relief.

The road to this diagnosis had been a long and rocky one. I had been wrestling with ever deepening depression and really having to fight to get out of bed every morning. No matter how much sleep I got or how early I went to bed, I always woke up exhausted. I always felt empty in my chest as if I was deflated somehow, and it took an immense amount of mental "gearing up" to pull myself out of bed every morning.

My outlook had suffered too. I was perpetually pessimistic, and had become short with my wife over little things that weren't worth worrying over. Everything I did required that I drag myself up a very steep slope of absent motivation.

My tolerance for stress plunged as well. The slightest drama at work and I would spend days sitting in my armchair in my living room unable to move.

At first, I thought that I was simply over-stressed from work (which was also true), and that if I could burn off this stress through exercising more intensely I would feel better. After all, whenever I was overly stressed out in college, I would go to the gym or go running and I would feel better, and after each gym session, I did feel better but it didn't last.

This fleeting "feeling better" sensation drove me to workout even harder believing that by running that extra mile or lifting that extra rep would burn off enough stress to let me feel better longer. Ultimately, this ever increasing intensity in my workout session resulted in several significant injuries (some of which I'm still dealing with).

I ended up separating my right shoulder and getting very severe shin splints since I wasn't giving my body enough time to recover in between gym sessions. These injuries robbed me of my only ways to burn off stress, but they did send me to my doctor.

My physician gave me physical therapy exercises for the shoulder injury and looked at several options for how to treat my shin splints (which is a whole other pain-laced story), but he suspected that my depression may be biochemical in nature and recommended a simple blood test for hypothyroidism.

The Diagnosis

After a blood test and a few days wait, the results showed that I had hypothyroidism.

The thyroid is a small gland that sits just below your voice box in the front of your neck. It is responsible for producing several hormones that are tied to your body's metabolism. If there is an imbalance in these hormones you can end up with either hyperthyroid or hypothyroid. In Hypothyroidism, the thyroid is not producing enough of its hormones (called T3 and T4) which can cause weight gain, depression, swelling around your ankles, dry skin and hair, joint pain, and other symptoms nearly all of which I had. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid is producing too much of the T3 and T4 and can cause weight loss, anxiety, and other symptoms.

The current treatment for hypothyroid, as offered by modern medicine, is a prescription to a synthetic T3 and/or T4 replacement. As such, I was prescribed 100 micrograms of Synthroid since my doctor told me that it works better than the generic brand and, so far, the results have been good.

There are a few dietary alterations that can also help improve one's hypothyroid symptoms.

Fairly quickly, I could tell a difference in my overall mood and outlook. Others around me also remarked that I had "come back."

Living with Hypothyroid

Fast forward to two years later. My system seems to have stabilized and I am feeling pretty good, but I am still having trouble with a few of the hypothyroid symptoms such as dry skin and hair, and a little bit of very minor joint swelling around my ankles. I have now met several other people with hypothyroidism who, while on Synthroid, experience the same nagging symptoms. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely happy that these are the only remaining symptoms.

I was then told about a supplement that several friends had started taking that was helping eradicate these last few symptoms as well. I was told that one of them was being weened off of their Synthroid prescription by their physician (please do not ween yourself off of your prescriptions without prior physician approval). So I figured that I would try it myself.

The supplement is called Thytrophin PMG and is manufactured by a company named Standard Process. I began with one pill three times a day with my meals, and after one month I upped it to two pills three times a day with my meals. I remember my physician telling me that the endocrine system (of which the thyroid is a part) needs to be dealt with gently and that any changes to my prescription would be very gradual. I treated the Thytrophin the same way and have eased onto it.

The Results

I had been on the Thytrophin for almost two months (one month at one pill per meal and the remainder at two pills per meal) by the time my next blood test came around to check my thyroid levels and had just begun the two pills with each meal dosage. My blood tests came back normal; indicating that my Synthroid dosage level was good and that there didn't need to be any changes to it, which while not "stop the presses and throw a ticker tape parade" kind of news is better than the alternative.

I've now been on the two pills per meal for a couple months and am interested in whether or not there will be a difference on my next blood test. I have noticed that my skin seems less dry and that I feel less achy in general with better overall energy and mood so maybe that's a sign that the Thytrophin is starting to make some headway.

I'll post an update whenever I have my next blood test and keep you apprised of any developments.

Comments 2 comments

Arden 2 years ago

So this doesn't appear to have a date on it. Is there any update to share?


Trip Barthel 14 months ago

Any updates since 2011?

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