Those who follow my tweets know about this, but it's continuing to weigh on me... I hoped writing about it would take some of that weight off.

I went to my OBGYN a couple weeks ago for my yearly exam. She decided to run some extra blood tests along with the normal stuff. One of the tests was thyroid related, measuring TSH levels. I can't remember why she wanted to run it, but I guess it doesn't really matter. I was called a few days ago with the results - my TSH levels are elevated. I was told to go see my primary care physician. I'm going tomorrow, where I assume more blood will be taken and a full panel of tests will be run.

I've scoured the internet for info, and the elevated TSH levels mean one of three things: (1) I have hypothyroidism, (2) I have a problem with my pituitary gland, or (3) the results were inaccurate. I would love for it to be #3, but I have a suspicion that it'll turn out to be #1. Hypothyroidism has a genetic component - my grandma had it (but was misdiagnosed/treated, and ended up with a thyroid that was completely killed off). I also have a few of the symptoms (though admittedly there are many things that could explain them away - tiredness? lack of exercise; cold hands & feet? I get cold when it's cold!; irritability? just my personality! ha).

As a result of what happened to my grandma, my mom is extremely opposed to the treatments available from doctors; she thinks changing my diet and exercise is the way to go. I found websites that supported that line of thinking. And I found other sites where people couldn't function without taking a pill daily.

I went to the dentist this morning, and I mentioned my test results when the dentist was examining my neck/thyroid. Later, her assistant came up to me and said she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and the doctor wanted to immediately operate on her. She refused, changed her diet, and 6 months later was fine. She claimed that the doctor just wanted to operate to make money off her - thousands of dollars for the thyroid surgery.

I can't say her anecdotal evidence swayed me one way or the other, but for now, I don't see any harm in trying out the natural route. Even if the results of the new tests come back normal, and the doctor says I'm fine, it'll still be good to stick to the routine proposed by the sites I've read - at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, and cutting out any goitrogenic foods.

Something else that scares me is how this will effect my current and future insurance. If I'm diagnosed with this, and do need to take medication, it'll be for the rest of my life (so I've read). Will my insurance cover the medication? And will the condition bar me from switching to another insurance provider in the future?

Do you know anyone who's suffering from a thyroid condition? Any sage advice for me?


eemusings said...

I hope it turns out to be nothing, but if it's not, I definitely think it;s good that you have something to encourage you into a healthier lifestyle. There can't be anything bad about exercising and eating better :)

Anonymous said...

I definitely understand your fears. My doctor thought there was something wrong w/ my thyroid function, but my TSH levels were fine, as were T3 and T4. It wasn't until she did a test for reverse T3 (RT3) that she found the issue. Some call it "Wilson's Temperature Syndrome," but it's technically categorized under hypothyroidism. I was put on medication for it, but thankfully it is temporary until my body can once again take up the TSH, etc., that I'm already producing.
Unfortunately, it's commonly brought on by stress, and I am pretty sure what caused mine in the past 3 years. I will have to be careful the rest of my life to make sure that I manage stress better, because I could easily develop the imbalance again.
My prayers are with you! Please do continue to update your progress here on your blog, if you feel comfortable doing so.

Abigail said...

I think it depends what your doctor wants to do. If we're talking a pill, you might want to try it. If it's surgery, ask if you can try alternative methods for awhile.

It depends also how much you trust your doctor overall. Most doctors are amenable to trying diet and exercise first, so long as nothing's too severe.

I had a friend with hypothyroidism and she was helped by pills I think. But she still had trouble. Then again, she worked one regular job plus a part-time job so that she could afford to go out every night. And most of those nights included some drinking. So the pills might have been completely effective if she'd made any other attempts to help herself.

Ten Bucks said...

I actually have hypothyroidism and I've never been told I had to be operated on. My doctor is awesome, and when I first had my bloodwork done, he sent me to have an ultrasound because my thyroid was enlarged and he wanted to make sure it wasn't anything serious (like cancer). I've been taking Synthroid, which is a pill, every day for almost two years. My dosage started small and he gradually increased it until my TSH levels were normal. All of this is covered by my insurance, but the generic version of Synthroid is fairly inexpensive, depending on where you go.
Also, I can tell you that I feel 100% better since being on the medicine. I've lost weight, I don't feel lethargic all the time, even my skin and my eyesight has improved. I would recommend hearing your doctor's diagnosis and plan for you, and if you don't agree, get a second opinion.
Feel free to email me if you have any other questions. my.ten.bucks at gmail dot com.

Kiloko Designs said...

surgery wouldn't be necessary unless they found nodules on your thyroid. and even then, they need to determine if they're hot or cold (possible cancer, etc.)

find a GOOD endocrinologist. they're hard to come by, but invaluable in your treatment.

i technically don't have hypothyroidism, i have Hashimoto's, an autoimmune disease that is slowly destroying my thyroid gland for me (no need for surgery to remove it...hahaha...). i was tested 3 times in a six-week period and was found to be technically hyperthyroid, hypothyroid and euthyroid. it's a freakin' rollercoaster.

my sister did have suspicius nodules and a biopsy on hers, and it was recommended that she had hers removed. she did about a year and a half ago and we're on the same meds, Synthroid. there is a generic, but most endos will recommend staying with Synthroid. the difference for me was $10.00/mo. for the generic and $13.95/mo for the Synthroid.

as for the insurance, you should be fine as long as they're is no gap in coverage.

my thyroid problem is fairly "cheap" for me, insurance-wise. it's the MRIs for my pituitary tumor that kill me! >:(

best of luck. hope all goes well!

Shirley Donalds said...

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