Posts Tagged ‘hypothyroid’

Winter Blues

???????????????????????????????Last night, I sat outside with my SU while soft, white flakes of frozen precipitation gently fell on my shoulders. The water in our spa was warm. The air was quiet. It was that kind of hush that only comes with freshly fallen snow. It was sublime.

Suddenly the quiet of the evening was interrupted by a very distinctive and recognized sound, a certain woosh of feathers and a coo. I identify birds by their calls, so I looked around for the source because I knew it sounded like mourning doves but this it too early.

If this were the halcyon days of spring instead of the dead of winter “my” doves, letting their presence be known, would not be unusual but doing so on February 3 is most uncommon. I finally spotted four of them, one lone scout and three fluffy companions resting comfortably in a decorative crab tree not far from where we lounged.

This morning, I was somewhat relieved to read that while they prefer to spend all year in the Greater Antilles and most of Mexico  (and who doesn’t?) they will also stay as far north as central Minnesota even through our nasty winters. I like to think they know they will be safe at my house where the feeder is always full and the bird bath is warm but still winter is winter and we have months of it left to endure.

In the middle of our winter blues spring tries to sneak in with the coo of one of the loveliest birds I know. Winter is here to stay for a while but seeing my doves has given me a certain confidence that spring will arrive sooner or later.

FYI

I was spurred to action on my blog by the recent conversations on Facebook. If any of my readers are not on Facebook and are not participating in the conversations on the thyroid groups you should know that our supply of T3 from south of the border has dried up.

I do not know all the details but here is what I do know. I placed an order the first of January 2015. Payment was accepted and I received a note that it had been shipped. I paid no more attention until this discussion came up on Facebook.

After I read several comments it seemed clear that yes, payments are being accepted but it doesn’t mean they have T3 on their shelves. One person who has been in touch with the pharmacy said they told her their credit card system is antiquated and doesn’t know how NOT to accept payment.

That comment prompted me to check the email that had been sent right after my order was placed in January. I clicked on the “track your package” link provided and much to my surprise it took me to my last order that had indeed been delivered. In November. It was not, as I thought, an email regarding my January order it was an automatically generated email from months ago.

Screwed

There I said it, I think those of us who order from this pharmacy are screwed. I don’t think they are being intentionally dishonest but their supplies ran out and they don’t know how to handle the situation. There aren’t just one or two people not getting their T3, their lifeline, there are many of us who placed orders as far back as November who are not going to be getting our T3.

Many folks are now reporting that they have been sent an email saying that the transaction “failed”. Those folks feel that this means the problem is not temporary it is permanent. Why the manufacturer would suddenly stop making Cynomel, I do not know but it is starting to point in that direction. Fingers crossed that this an erroneous conclusion and they will fill their shelves again and we will receive our T3.

Choices

Okay, so now that those of you who get your T3 from Mexico know your T3 supply is in danger it is time to pursue another source. I have resorted to begging my doctor to provide a prescription for an American made T3 from Perrigo (formerly Paddock). It is gluten-free unlike the American Cytomel which, by the say, is not guaranteed to be gluten-free. She will not be willing to prescribe the dose I need but anything is better than nothing until I figure this out. At the moment I have three months of Cynomel left and I can supplement what she is willing to prescribe to get my normal dose.

I suppose another choice is to try a natural desiccated thyroid med again. The most popular one right now is Westhroid. It is gluten-free and most people are feeling really good taking it.

Armour is another choice but most people feel it doesn’t  work as well as it used to. Armour has never recovered their reputation after they apparently made a formula change several years ago that they would not acknowledge but the humans taking it noticed a decline in their health.

ERFA (Canadian NDT) has reportedly been causing a return of hypo symptoms, just like Armour. Seriously, if a pharmaceutical company makes a formulation change why not tell the consumer that they have made a change no matter how slight or inconsequential. Patients need to be told before they start feeling a return of hypo symptoms, or worse, are sick on the couch again.

Thyrogold is an over-the-counter natural thyroid med that Dr. Lowe (who died three years ago after a bad fall and trauma to his head) developed and it is now being sold by his widow, Tammy. It sounds great but the cost might make it prohibitive. The general starting point is 2-3 capsules a day and 90 capsules are $54.95 plus shipping. That is approximately $60 a month if taking 3 capsules a day.

If you know of other possibilities please let me know. I will share the ideas on the Facebook groups but it will also help those who read Krisinsight and are not on Facebook.

Krisinsight

This blog entry has been almost entirely my viewpoint but let me share one more thought with you. Allopathic medicine is seriously damaged. Our system is so dysfunctional that it is harming the patients who have to use it. Doctors simply do not understand the thyroid and how it affects our bodies when it doesn’t work properly. They go by the book and the book is old and out of touch with reality.

We are forced to treat ourselves because our doctors look at low FT3 numbers and say all is well. They do not understand RT3 ratios and as long as you don’t have Wilson’s syndrome they tell you all is well when your ratio is revealing a thyroid resistance issue. When you take NDT or T3 your TSH will most likely be suppressed when you finally feel good. However, when your doctor sees a suppressed TSH they assume you are over medicated even when your body temperature is low, your pulse is low and your blood pressure is low. Come on, doc, you should know better.

Sadly, too many doctors tell patients who say they just don’t feel good on their current dose of T4 thyroid meds that they may need psychiatric help. Or worse than that, if a patient asks too many questions they are rudely informed that they are Google experts and will be dismissed as patients if they continue with this nonsense.

Ugh. This is our reality. I faced it five years ago and solved my heart problems (inappropriate release of adrenaline) by treating myself with T3-only. It wasn’t easy and I don’t recommend it to anyone but I did solve my problem so effectively that the SU has completely forgotten how ill I was 5 years ago today.

My wish for all of us. That some day this will change. I pray that “some day” is just around corner.

Santé,

Kris

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Reading for Thyroid Health

???????????????????????????????It is officially autumn everywhere in the northern hemisphere. In south central Minnesota this morning, the long grass has a heavy coat of rime and mittens warmed my hands on the morning dog walk.

This, my friends, is the time of year when I break out Rosamunde Pilcher’s last book, Winter Solstice. Somehow her words help me adjust from the outdoor life of summer to the cozy, indoor life of winter with nary a whimper.

Suddenly a warming cup of tea seems so much more appealing or a morning coffee inside a cozy coffee shop in nearby Stillwater, Minnesota sounds heavenly. Cloudy, gray days become days of reading by the fire. Rainy days can even seem appealing when you read. This power of words on a page is remarkable and it reminded me that there is healing power in books as well. With the influence of words on my mind I thought I would share some thyroid resources with my readers.

Isabella Wenz

I actually have not read Isabella Wenz’ book but from reading the reviews I can tell that she has helped people immeasurably with her self-published book, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause.

She is a pharmacist with Hashimoto’s Disease. When she was diagnosed she made it her mission to find all the root causes of the disease and her research is invaluable to those of us with thyroid dis-ease.

I signed up for her newsletter and received her free first chapter and nutrient dense gluten-free recipes. In reading for exactly 5 minutes I have already learned something that is worthwhile. I eat out very seldom but when I do there is a good chance of cross contamination because I know very few restaurant kitchens have dedicated areas for preparing gluten-free foods.

There is a supplement that I am going to order that can help if I am exposed to gluten. Pure Encapsulations has a product called Gluten/Dairy Digest. As she says it doesn’t mean you can eat gluten again; it simply helps with cross contamination issues and I need that help if I want to enjoy an occasional meal out with friends.

Janie Bowthorpe

My favorite thyroid book and one I always recommend is Stop the Thyroid Madness. If you suspect you have thyroid issues or have been recently diagnosed with thyroid issues buy this book. It is also the best book to purchase if you have been on T4-only drugs (Synthroid, Levothyroxine) for years and really haven’t improved. This book has now been revised and in the second edition she has added information from patient experience and all the latest research.

In her book, Janie has compiled a list of “good docs” because honestly there are so many ill-informed doctors that one needs to know where to start. Every state should have at least one good doctor to help you finally get better. Unfortunately, Minnesota is rather lacking and I do not understand why.

Another issue that Janie’s book helps with are the questions that you as a patient need to ask your doctor. If you take your questions to your doctor and they laugh or are rude about their superior position and these silly questions, as she says, “fire” your doctor and find someone who doesn’t laugh at you or find your questions objectionable.

Thanks to books like STTM, doctors are no longer considered gods, they have been exposed for what they are. They are humans, just like you and me, with a certain set of skills (some with very little skill when it comes to healing a thyroid issue).

Finding a good doctor could be likened to finding good friends, some are more compatible than others and if you have thyroid problems you need a “good doc” to assist you on your path to wellness.

Paul Robinson

Paul’s book Recovering With T3 is the book to turn to if your adrenals become a hindrance to your healing journey. He also has a new book published The CT3M Handbook that goes into more detail on how to treat fatigued and worn out adrenals by dosing your T3 in a circadian rhythm.

His method has helped me a great deal. After being on T3 for two years I was still having issues taking enough T3 to eliminate symptoms. After I read Paul’s first book I started taking a dose of T3 at a time between 1-3 in the morning. After doing this for a while I was able to increase my dose to 50 mcg and with slight seasonal adjustments that dose has kept me pretty healthy for two years now.

I have never followed his method to the letter but my altered method has worked for me. For one, I couldn’t set an alarm clock to wake me up at an exact time every morning. If I did that I would just be up for the rest of the night. I am a restless sleeper at the best of times, so I awake many times to turn over or adjust my covers.

Since I am awake to turn over or adjust my body on the bed at 1, or 2, or 3 (not necessarily at all three times but at least at one time or the other) I just take my 25 mcg of T3 whenever I wake up to turn. That does mean that some days there are barely 4 hours between taking my dose and being up for the day but it hasn’t affected me negatively and I have only seen improvements. I advise anyone who asks what they should do about their adrenals to try Paul Robinson’s method as it is so much better than taking yet another drug.

Krisinsight

Those are only three books on the subject of treating thyroid disease but they are three of the most useful in my opinion. If you seek other voices on the subject there are many and they are all qualified in their own way. Researchers, doctors, and other people with thyroid issues like Mary Shomon, Broda Barnes, Mark Starr and  Datis Kharrazian. Any of their books will enrich your life and improve your health.

I love to read and I read daily, several different times of day no matter the season. Often books on health be it thyroid, diet, exercise, Reiki, chakras, and even meditation are my books to read when I want a break from housework. My Kindle is loaded with all of them. I get a task done and turn on my Kindle or my Kindle app on my iPad. I am presented with a plethora of books from which to learn something, anything.

That getting a task done to be able to read was a great idea I got from my sister-in-law, Jody. She gave me that very sage advice and I follow it to this day. She is an avid reader and in order to read as much as she wants she makes sure she accomplishes a work task like cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming the house, completing loads of laundry. When the task has been accomplished she makes a cup of tea and sits down to read.

Another bit of reader’s advice from a person who doesn’t sleep terribly well (me). I think t is important to read appropriately. I find feel good books (like Winter Solstice) are my bedtime books and mysteries (any book by Deborah Crombie for instance) are my get-me-out-of-bed books in the morning.

If you aren’t sleeping well and you love tension filled television shows before you go to bed or you must watch the horrible television news before you nod off, take a break, read one of the three books on healing your thyroid. You may just sleep a little bit better and, at the very least, if you don’t sleep well you can spend the night ruminating over the facts you have just discovered and put them to work for you the next day.

Santé,

Kris

When Asked, Do Your Research!

???????????????????????????????It is a gorgeous late summer day in Minnesota, one of a handful we get each year, but last night was a harbinger of colder days to come. I awoke to frost and, of course, the end to the fragile vegetables that grow in my garden.

I had plenty of warning of this impending rime of ice, so yesterday, with some reluctance I picked every tomato, ripe or not. Every pepper was plucked and the yellow summer squash was gently removed from the vines that would soon be dead. With a lot of reluctance I left my garden a mere shadow of its summer self.

I am always sad to see the seasons change and my once burgeoning garden die but, just like we humans must change, the seasons must morph from summer to autumn, autumn to winter, winter to spring and back to summer again. It’s the cycle of life.

 

Iodine or not?

Speaking of change helps me segue to my next topic. I had an interesting experience this week that has caused me to change my mind. I was asked to be a moderator on a thyroid group, to try to help people who have this perplexing disease. That is what Krisinsight is all about, so at first I jumped at the chance to help even more people but then turned it down.

Why you ask have I turned down this opportunity? It seems I turned it down because I am not up-to-date with the latest thinking on iodine. I had said I would help out but then decided I should make sure I agreed with the recommendations the group makes. In asking some questions I discovered that they recommend iodine supplementation. I am not a supporter of iodine supplementation and that did it for me, I turned them down.

You see, 4 years ago my mentor was a “no iodine if you have Hashimoto’s” kind of gal. Her thinking, which is still correct, was based on the fact that iodine supplementation can cause flare-ups of Hashimoto’s and believe me flare-ups are not pleasant. She used to tell all of us that our thyroid medication filled all of our iodine needs and any further iodine would just make us sick.

I have adhered to this philosophy pretty stringently and it has worked for me. However, I have done many things that have improved my health including taking T3-only and healing my adrenals with Paul Robinson’s Circadian method of taking T3. I got my electrolytes normalized by taking slow release potassium and Celtic sea salt. I regularly take selenium and two years ago I went completely gluten-free which was one of the best things I ever did.

It is really hard to pinpoint that one thing that has made the difference but the hard truth is I may be healthy enough now to start supplementing iodine.

My Iodine history

I have a good reason for being wary of iodine despite the fact that it helps our bodies fight disease. I did take iodine about four years ago and I took 50 mg of Iodoral upon recommendation of another thyroid site dealing with iodine and Dr. David Brownstein. The idea is you detox bad things and the iodine feeds your thyroid and you get healthy with no other intervention. (Keep in mind that is a very simplistic and succinct statement it is far more complicated.)

At the time I took iodine my TSH went up to 13 which has never been the case not even when I was first diagnosed with thyroid problems umpteen years ago. That scared me and I lowered my dose but did not stop taking it. Once I started following advice on the RT3 Yahoo group I gave up additional iodine completely.

On changing one’s mind

Fast forward to my thinking as of today, my mentor’s advice is still sound when dealing with really sick and fragile people but there has been good patient feedback, according to Janie Bowthorpe, with healthy people taking small doses of iodine (as little as 3 mg of iodine and up to 12.5 mg of iodine).

My mentor was also correct we do get iodine in our thyroid medication but the amount of iodine in thyroid medications like Cynomel/Cytomel and NDT is measured in mcg and is inadequate to provide enough for your body as “the body is made up of about 1500 mg of iodine in all our tissues”. With the constant bombardment of fluoride and bromide (we need iodine to push the fluoride and bromide out of our thyroid receptors) it is reasonable to think that we need more iodine (measured in mg) than our thyroid medication (measured in mcg) is providing.

Krisinsight

In conclusion, it seems reasonable to me to start supplementing with iodine but in very small doses. I am going to start with capsules by Pure Encapsulations (If you would like to order from iHerb you can use my coupon code YAN884 and get a discount on your first order) that only provide mcg of additional iodine. I already supplement 200 mcg  of selenium which is a must (start with selenium and then add iodine if you want to try it). I am going to add additional B1 and B2 because iodine works synergistically with those co-factors and also Vitamin K (which is also needed to utilize Vitamin D).

My thinking, and no one else’s, is if a small dose has no ill-effect on me I will raise my dose and eventually take 6.25 mg but no more. High dose supplementation as recommended by Dr. Brownstein and others just did not work well for me and I do not care to repeat my experience.

I have always really respected Dr. Joe Mercola and his ability to rethink his advice. Over the years he has changed his recommendation on the amount of water one needs to drink, how much protein your body requires and even the type of exercise that is the most efficient. I think we really need to be willing to change. If patient’s are being helped with some iodine supplementation and not experiencing an autoimmune flare-up, my time has come.

Santé,

Kris

P.S. My recent Vitamin D test result was lower than February’s result yet again. In March my result was 74 ng/ml August’s results were 61 ng/ml. Every summer it is the same, my result is lower than the winter result when I am using my Mercola Sunsplash D-lites. This has now been true for 5 years.

 

 

Back On The Tundra

IMG_1663Phew! At last I am back on target for my June post. I am overjoyed that June has arrived and with it warmer weather and the ability to be outside.

I am sorry for the delay in posting (you may or may not have noticed I didn’t post anything last month). Sometimes life just gets in the way but let’s get right to what’s been happening to fill my days.

Winter Blues take their toll

Life getting in the way, started as I shared with you last time, sometime late winter when we decided we were tired of Minnesota. Tired of Minnesota winter. Tired of the traffic in the Twin Cities. Tired of the big city, period.

When we left Idaho 8 and a half years ago we left more than a little bit of our hearts there, so we decided to check out Boise, Idaho as a possible place to live. Our hope was that Boise, being smaller might provide us with the big city advantages without the BIG city challenges.

Here are a few reasons for considering Boise, Idaho:

  • The climate. I actually like winter but not for 6 months. Winters exist in Boise but they are much shorter. Winters are cold but not as cold as Minnesota. Summers are hotter in Boise but it is a dry arid heat and is fairly short-lived. Spring, ah blessed spring, it is much longer in Boise as winter is mostly over by the end of February.
  • Proximity to our land and cabin. Boise is an easy two-hour drive from Fairfield, Idaho. Our isolated cabin is approximately 10 miles out of Fairfield, so we would have better access to our cabin without living in the mountains.
  • The people. The people in Boise seem really happy to be there. They are friendly and welcoming with the laid back attitude that is much more prevalent in the western United States.
  • Access to easy air travel. Boise airport is small and easy to use. There is a direct flight to Minneapolis at least twice a day.
  • Access to all of the western United States. There are a multitude of National parks within hours of Boise. The ocean is only 8-9 hours away and the ability to stay active and fit is amazing.

To be honest, we loved Boise. We were shown the town by a really nice realtor, Eric DeBord. Between Eric and a friend and co-worker of my husband’s we were introduced to every corner of the area and we fell in love with it all. We came within seconds of making an offer on a really nice house near Boise in a town called Emmett and then…….

What is really important in your life?

Suddenly yours truly had to evaluate what she really valued in her life. I think the SU already knew that winter was not the evil thing I had conjured up during one of the worst winters I have encountered in my 60 years. Family, friends and even where we live near Stillwater, Minnesota were all things we love. They were all things we valued, so at the last-minute, (and thanks to Eric being rather busy and not getting right on it) we did not make an offer on the house we liked.

I have to admit that the biggest reason I could not leave Minnesota was my bond with my grandsons. We had a two-week trip to Scotland in the midst of all this decision-making. Two weeks of thinking, considering and contemplating our lives.

When we got home, the first thing we did was see our boys and I have never, ever experienced the heart wrenching feeling of holding them in my arms after two weeks of thinking I was going to move away from them. My oldest grandson, who is now 3, had a meltdown when his mommy had to get home after being with us most of the day. That caused this Nonna to meltdown and in a flood of tears my decision was made.

So now what?

We could not tear up our roots in Minnesota and replant them in Boise no matter how much we loved the city and surrounds, not now anyway. I knew my friends would visit and I knew from asking them that we would stay in touch no matter where I lived. I knew leaving my house was not an issue. A house is just that, a box that houses a family.

The family is the soul that gives a house life and as long as I had my family with me I could live anywhere. My daughter and her family have no interest in leaving Minnesota, so I knew I needed my soul much more than a box.

It wasn’t as easy as it sounds but for the sake of keeping this post somewhat succinct let’s just say that over the course of two months other decisions were made that have now been undone. We are busily making our house more comfortable for us. I am getting my long-awaited spa (I will report on this later) which I am hopeful will allow more outdoor time during the long, cold winter months. We are going to make life here in Minnesota comfortable but whilst we are doing that we will enjoy the closeness of our family and friends.

Other news

As I also mentioned in my last post, in the midst of all this palaver of moving away I took my first level of Reiki healing. Now that I understand Reiki and its healing abilities it has changed things for me. My Reiki training was the best thing I could have done during this time of upheaval.

I find Reiki has helped me deal with life and its ups and downs. My sleep has improved more than I can tell you and one reason is if I wake early in the morning I say my Reiki mantra and perform Reiki on all my chakras. Before I know it I am back to sleep, and it is a deep restorative sleep.

I am also more meditative either through meditation or just Reiki self-treatment. I have found an inner calm that I have never possessed before. I am even doing yoga and signed up for Yoga classes at the nearby Pure Yoga studio.

I feel like a new person and I believe I owe much of this inner peace to the calm that Reiki instills. I look forward to my second level of Reiki training this summer. It seems that the more I know about Reiki, the more I want to know, so now I am even considering becoming a Reiki Master. Aside from an increased knowledge of Reiki, and its history, the master level would allow me to teach others this fabulous healing modality.

Krisinsight

I have already shared much of my insight with you in the words above. I mentioned last time that I am much healthier than I was which is still true. I think just as a reminder that I still have things to share there have been some ups and downs with my thyroid in the last month. I will be brief but hopefully enlighten those who share my dis-ease.

Since my last post I have increased my dose of T3 from 50 mcg. to 62.5 mcg. Now I cannot seem to stabilize my temperatures. One day they are close to 99, the  next day at the same time they are 97.8 (as they are right now at 2:30 in the afternoon and I just took a 12.5 dose of T3). I am concluding that it is possible that my dose of T3 is actually too high and my adrenals cannot support it but there are many things to be considered.

My reasons for increasing my T3 a few weeks ago were my basal temperatures were incredibly low (one morning my basal was 97.3). I increased by 6.25 mcg but my basals did not come up to a normal range of 97.8-98, so after a few weeks I increased my dose to 62.5 mcg. After about 10 days my basal temperatures are now closer to normal but my daytime temperatures are much too varied and, to me, that is indicative of too much stress on my adrenals.

For those of us who ride this roller coaster we know the ins and outs and ups and downs of thyroid dis-ease. There are many reasons that things can suddenly change, adrenal fatigue is only one possible cause, so I have to consider all things.

For instance, I know that it takes 6 weeks after making an overseas trip (one in which you cross several time zones) to get some semblance of normalcy. I have not been home from Scotland for 6 weeks yet, so perhaps that is causing some of my issues.

Another reason for possible variation is that the Cynomel could be from a bad batch or a new formulation. I did inquire about this possibility and was told the pharmacy was unaware that there were any other complaints and/or changes. By the way, for those on ERFA NDT, I did recently read that people are having hypo symptoms and the thought is the maker changed the formulation. Knowing that this happens all the time and no one is informed of the change, it is possible that something changed with Cynomel.

I also know that for me, and for many others, if we take too much T3 it can lower our temperatures, so the one way that most people can tell if they need more thyroid medication, our body temperature, becomes invalid. Paul Robinson’s book on Recovering With T3 deals with this subject very well and I know what I need to do is some testing and then consultation with Paul or the RT3 group to rule out any of those reasons.

First, with a blood test, I need to see where my FT3 is and if it is not in the upper range I know I actually do need more T3. If it is in the upper range and my temperatures continue to vacillate then I need to test my adrenal health with a diurnal cortisol test through Canary Club.

To this end, I recently took advantage of Life Extension’s blood panel sale getting a very complete blood panel including all my sex hormones, CMP, CBC, cortisol, insulin, A1C, FT3 and TSH for $97.50. Now I need to get to Labcorp in Edina, MN for my blood draw and I will have more information at my fingertips to help me and/or the group figure out what is happening on this exciting ride.

The good news, because there is always good news, is my energy is good. My sleep is great. My mood is happy and upbeat. Overall, most people with hypothyroidism would be happy to be where  I am at the moment but I know this body temperature issue is not right. I can tell when my temps are falling, as they are right now, because my toes and fingers start feeling very cold, so as always the quest continues. Where it takes me only next month will tell.

As for next month, I think I will stay on track for what Krisinsight currently entails, a pursuit of optimum health. I feel I have survived a crisis of small proportion. Perhaps turning 60 was more upsetting than I understood and having dealt with all the possibilities for change I learned that life as it is, is really quite good. So thank-you for bearing with me and I look forward to sharing more insight in the coming months.

SANTÉ,

Kris

 

Summer and Other Things

IMG_1917 (2)Last week I was sitting on my canopied deck sipping my milky Keemun Congou tea when my ears were suddenly assailed with the chattering of birds. Not just any birds, no, not these birds, these are MY orioles, the Eastern and Orchard orioles. When they arrive in April and May they tell me their winter stories of joy and sorrow. Stories about their long flight north and who made it and who didn’t. They tell stories of their hunger and show their appreciation by gobbling bowl upon bowl of the purple goo that I lovingly put on my deck railing. After all they need the energy to start their nests and raise their broods and their time with me is brief. Within weeks of first hearing their songs they will nest and their visits will wane.

Then around this time of the summer (August) they return in profusion. Only this time they are accompanied by their young, their very demanding, very hungry offspring who have gone from infants to teenagers in a matter of weeks. They yell at their parents and flap their wings demanding more and more jelly be put in their mouths. At times I will look out at the crab tree they sit in and it will be aflutter with a dozen or more orioles and I just smile. These orange and black lovelies make my summer days complete (so I guess you could say they complete me).

Sometimes I am left heartbroken by their stories and it seems every year there is one heartbreaking tale to be told. One year it was a female oriole with a tumor on her beak. Every day she returned for more jelly and would often sit right by me and eat what she could get in her mouth and stare me in the eye. She struggled and I cried but every day she returned and every day we “talked”. One day she came and I could tell she was suffering; really just asking me for relief but coward that I am I knew Mother Nature would offer her solace soon enough and let her be but kept her fed as best I could. Then one day she didn’t come anymore and I knew her suffering was over. I still cry over her (I cry now telling her story).

My orioles will soon be migrating south to escape our brutal winter winds. They will bulk up for the next month on cheap, Target grape jelly because that is the jelly they have requested (believe me I have tried organic this and that and the bowls sit there and are emptied in to the trash) and as soon as Mother Nature alerts them they will leave for Florida and Mexico. I will miss their discussions and their bossy attitude about my deck but I know, as sure as I know winter will come in Minnesota, they will return and I will joyously welcome them home.

Little things can be important

For some my orioles are little unimportant things but to me they are a huge part of my summer joy, so it is with other things in life. Take a night of sleep for instance. For some people sleep is never a problem. For others, like my daughter, sleep is a precious commodity as her nights are still interrupted by the demands of a hungry, growing baby boy. For me, sleep continues to be one of those perplexing issues. I have nights when I sleep the sleep of kittens and then other nights I am fitful and restless all night long and morning simply cannot come soon enough.

This past week I finally took the bull by the horns because I had regularly been waking up all night long with horrible dreams and aches and pains. I decided I had to experiment a bit and suffer the consequences if need be. I have been doing the CT3M dosing for T3 for about two months I think (time does fly so it may be longer than that).

My normal dosing for some weeks has been to take 25 mcg of T3 sometime between 1 and 2 in the morning. My next dose of 12.5 mcg would be between 8-10 a.m. and my final dose around 5-6 in the evening. Almost every night I was waking at midnight in a real huff as the result of some horrible dreams (nightmares). I would settle back down but my sleep wouldn’t be good until I took that 1-2 a.m. dose of T3. After that dose I would sleep like a kitten again.

Think Kristin, think

This got me to thinking, if I am waking at midnight and only sleeping well after I take 25 mcg of T3 at 1 or 2 in the morning, I am not providing enough T3 at the midnight dump. When my demand for T3 is at its greatest (typically midnight) my T3 was mostly used up having not taken any since 5 p.m. Perhaps if I went back to taking T3 at bedtime, lights out, my sleep would improve and there wouldn’t be the shocking nightmares.

In the past week I started dosing my T3 more like this:

  • Bedtime (8:30-9:00 p.m.)- 12.5 mcg
  • 3 a.m. -25 mcg
  • 12 noon-12.5 mcg

Krisinsight

Here is what I think was happening. I am not saying I am right but it is what I think. At midnight I was running low on T3 after not taking any for 7 hours. If you don’t take enough T3 to feed your thyroid your adrenals will kick in some adrenaline to compensate. That mass-produced adrenaline startles you awake and even can produce nightmares. You heart will beat rapidly, your breathing will be elevated and you are  in a sweat, like a hot flash.

By taking a bedtime dose of T3 when my demands are their greatest I have T3 to offer my body and it uses every bit but I don’t wake up with a jolt, nor in a sweat. I have pleasant dreams as I did last night that I can’t quite remember. I was recalling with vividity my disturbing dreams during those weeks of taking my last dose at 5 p.m..

I knew my body was getting enough total T3 because of my recent blood test and that was really perplexing for me. I would go over and over all the possibilities and sometimes even feel somewhat hopeless. I mean, would I ever sleep normally again? Was it time to do a diurnal cortisol test (well, yes it is but money, money, money) and see how the old adrenals were faring?

I don’t know everything and every day I learn something new or I consider it a wasted day. That said, I know one thing for sure, there will be further tweaking. I know, as almost all thyroid resistance folks know, this thyroid stuff is a continual journey and I will not be put off by the need to make a change to improve my quality of life. That is my solemn promise to self.

Like my orioles come back every spring I will return next week. Until then have a great week and if you need help please feel free to ask. Ask me, ask your friends, ask your medical provider because by dealing with the crisis you will find an answer.

Santé,

Kris

How Time Flies

I don’t know about my readers but I can hardly believe an entire month has passed since I last shared some of my hard-earned insight. Summer has been hot and humid but fun and filled with laughter. My daughter, grandson and I just returned from what will be a much treasured weekend on Lake Superior and I am full up to my eyebrows with lovely memories of my time with both of them.

I have also found writing once a month to be just the ticket for me right now, so I will be posting a new blog article on the first Monday of every month (except this month when it is slightly early). In the meantime I am going to put my writing energy toward something I have wanted to do forever, write a book. I will self publish said book and I have no idea as of 30 July 2012 what it will be about but the time I have spent sharing health information on Facebook and KrisInsight will be used to create my “masterpiece”.

Now for my topic for August, blood tests, blood test results and what you can do with them.

On getting a blood test

When Life Extension Foundation offers their once a year blood test sale I cannot resist the urge to ante up the $224.25 and get a rather complete blood test called “Female Weight Loss Panel Blood Test”. I am always interested in losing weight but that is not my reason for this particular panel. I purchase this one because it offers a complete thyroid panel (minus the antibody test), female sex hormone panel plus important information like CRP, Uric Acid, etc.

I receive my requisition form online, print it off and take it to the nearest LabCorp office. Once there you sign in and sooner rather than later someone will call your name and back you go into a very clean professional room where a very talented and experienced phlebotomist takes your blood. I happen to think the techs at the Edina LabCorp are some of the best phlebotomists around and after several blood tests purchased online and trips to Edina, MN for my blood draw I ought to know. I have never been hurt, have not, for that matter, even come away with a bruise or sore spot.

If you can’t take the heat; don’t get the blood test

Yup, you read that right. If you like the ostrich approach to life. If you would rather not know what might be going wrong. If, in fact, you can’t afford or don’t want to afford the treatment, DO NOT GET A BLOOD TEST! I really can’t afford any extras on my one and a half day dental hygiene salary but I like to know what is happening in my body. I don’t always like the results (and I will tell you about that) but I feel better knowing how my body is doing that is more scientific than subjective.

Within a week after my blood draw my results popped up in my “inbox”. I think even that is rather spectacular after talking to folks who have their blood draws at their doctor’s office and wait weeks to hear about the results. I opened the attachment with alacrity and read down the results basically saying things like “good”, “better”, “Ooh, that’s great”.

My total cholesterol was the lowest it has been in decades at 190. My Triglycerides were great, uric acid was low, CRP was low and VLDL was low. I basically had no signs of inflammation or precursors for heart disease. My TSH was suppressed (it should be on T3 only). My FT3 and FT4 were out of range (again should be on T3-only). My sodium levels were good (although again I didn’t fast salt the day before).

My glucose was high (insulin was normal, so I am not insulin resistant) and that needs some investigation and, of course, stricter carb control. My potassium was a little low and may require some slow release potassium supplementation. My sex hormones were still low (except for Testosterone which was okay) and that despite taking 200 mg. of bio-identical progesterone every day for a month prior to the test and taking 4 mg of Estradiol 25 days a month. I take no testosterone and yet my levels are mid-range. So far, not perfect but I am okay.

Then I got a slap to the face, my iron was high, out of range high and my happy, effervescent inner voice suddenly changed to something more like a deep grumbling “WTF” (sorry but honesty prevails)! If I have no signs of inflammation how could I be rusting from the inside out? I quickly got on my discussion group, posted my blood test results for their perusal and asked for advice.

In the end, the best advice was a combination of answers and I had to deduce the best answer from accumulated knowledge. There were a few other things that bothered one of the experienced moderators that I am still mulling over.

What to do, when you did it wrong.

I was at once relieved and then embarrassed by the answers I got from the group. First of all I screwed up when I had the blood test primarily because I wasn’t concerned about my iron levels. This is important information for anyone considering getting a blood test, so listen up. If you are testing iron levels you need to fast iron and Vitamin C for 5 days. If you don’t your results will be skewed.

I would also recommend no B12 injections in that five day period even though no one seems to know how B12 injections will affect your iron results (I asked many people and no one seemed to know). It makes sense to me that B12 would alter your results because it is used to treat pernicious anemia. I foolishly had an injection the day before my blood draw. I also had Liposomal Vitamin C and I had red meat. In other words, my high iron result doesn’t mean a thing, my iron levels may be high but they may just be inaccurate. I couldn’t possibly have done anymore to negate the results than I did. My “WTF?” turned in to “What was I thinking?”

When one thing may mean something else

At that point in my search for what my blood test results meant I got involved in a discussion about high SHBG. I knew that T3-only could raise your SHBG, so last time when my result was out of range high I paid no heed and neither did my medical doctor. This time some new information came to light thanks to Valerie Taylor a researcher and very knowledgeable woman who moderates the Adrenal discussion group and the RT3 group not to mention several other sites. She was having a discussion with a male member of the group about T3 and SHBG.

She was saying that SHBG can be higher (in range) if a person is on T3 only. As your FT3 goes up so does your SHBG and she further added that T3 is bound by SHBG. As SHBG goes up FT3 goes down but Total T3 remains stable. Therefore she concluded that SHBG may actually bind T3. This discussion really caught my attention but by participating I found out something no one had suggested before.

Val suggested that I test my IGF-1. This is a test that would show a possible need for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) or a precursor that would raise my levels of IGF-1 and thus my HGH. Val suspects my levels of IGF-1 might be low due to the high SHBG. HGH affects how we age and if mine is low I want to get right on that and see if I can correct the trend.

Kris Insight

My insight this month is “do as I say not as I did” (only kidding). Before you do any blood testing make sure you know how to do it properly.  For accurate results you must fast red meat, iron supplements, B12 and Vitamin C for 5 days. The day prior to your blood draw fast sodium as well. The morning of your blood draw don’t take your thyroid meds (the only thing I did correctly) until after the blood draw and of course, 12 hour fasting  is necessary if the test calls for it.

As my iron is always and has always been in the upper range (this time it is out of a normal range) I am trying a supplement called IP-6 available at iHerb.com. I am only going to take it for one month as it can affect your liver enzymes. I am taking one capsule once a day even though the suggested amount is two capsules. IP-6 is said to bind the excess iron in the blood and many use it after a cancer diagnosis but also for high hemoglobin results. I hope to retest my iron in a month (following all the correct guidelines) and see how my levels look at that time.

There are several other ways to lower high iron levels, donate blood (they won’t take my blood because I lived in Great Britain in the 1980’s) or get your doctor to prescribe phlebotomy, 8 ounces at a time works better than a pint in one sitting according to Dr. Joe Mercola. Drinking something tannic like tea or wine with your meals will help bind any iron in your meal. Lactoferrin supplements bind to free circulating iron. Even calcium supplements can lower your iron levels if taken with your meal. I have never worried about my iron as the only time I have ever been anemic was when I was donating blood too often, so being concerned about fasting iron has never crossed my mind but it will next time believe me. One scare is enough for me.

As for my high SHBG I have the IGF-1 test in my shopping basket at LEF.org. In the next month or two I am going to test it and see what it has to say about my HGH levels. If my levels are low I am going to try a supplement called IGF Premium as it is sold by LEF.org and I don’t need a prescription. It is pricey at almost $60 but then aging properly really is priceless.

I hope I have helped anybody planning to have a blood test in the near future. I guess if someone learns from my mistakes it takes away the sting of being so wrong especially when I do know better (just put “blood testing” in my search box). I hope all my readers have a great month. Remember I do post my “tweets” on my blog, so check in now and then and see what’s new in health and choosing a healthy lifestyle. Otherwise see you on September 3rd!

Santé,

Kris

Using Up Spoons

I am sitting at my ‘puter this morning looking, when I am not looking at my screen, at a very cloudy morning. Last night was a very entertaining night if you like summer storms and sirens at 3:45. Personally I could do without either when I am trying to sleep and especially when I am sleep deprived and quickly using up my daily spoons.

Have you ever heard of the “Spoon Theory”? It is a term coined by Christine Miserandino on her site called But You Don’t Look Sick. I think it applies to lots of folks who have chronic illness and autoimmune disorders. Hashimoto’s falls under that category in my opinion.

What is the Spoon Theory?

To explain it very simply, and I repeat the word simply, it says for people like us (apparently sick people need only apply the “spoon theory”) there are only so many “spoons” that we can use up in a 24 hour period. Normal healthy folks have unlimited spoons and can handle whatever challenges they face. For “sick” people once you have used up all your spoons you will suddenly find yourself totally spent and on the couch or in bed for days.

So take a handful of spoons and call that your day. For each activity or stressful situation take away a spoon. Once your hand is devoid of spoons you have spent your days worth of spoons and you will either go to bed or find a place to collapse because it is inevitable. I feel like my hands are empty and I can’t even find a spare spoon in the house, anywhere.

How do you use spoons?

I don’t know how others do it but I had a most welcome guest for two and a half weeks. I loved every minute of my time with her BUT I could never get my sleep. We went to bed later than normal and I woke up every morning at the same time, somewhere between 5 and 5:30.

Since she has returned home I still can’t seem to get over my deficit. First it was a visit from my daughter and grandson, then it was a bad heart day and then it was the weather. I love, love, love having my daughter and her adorable son stay overnight but the bad heart day and weather I could do without. This morning after a storm that woke me at 3, too early for even the early riser that I am, I sit here feeling very sleep deprived with that all too familiar fog in my brain and flutter in my heart.

Once the spoons are on the floor….

I don’t really have an answer for any of us except to learn how to never exceed your handful of spoons but that means bypassing some really happy moments in life. I am simply not able to give up the smile days just to reserve spoons, so with that in mind I will tell you what I think happens to me when I use up my spoons. As with most things I share on Krisinsight it is just a theory, I have no proof.

I don’t get sick very often, so I never consider myself a “sick” person. What does seem to happen is my adrenals finally spin out of control and that releases unwanted adrenaline. The adrenaline is what keeps me moving and enjoying life but it is artificial energy and I pay a price for that expenditure, heart palps. The culmination of the two and half weeks of entertaining a visitor and then the overnight with the daughter and grandson and an accidental increase of T3 was an afternoon of a rapidly beating heart and general distress.

I actually felt sick and tired for most of the afternoon after my daughter left with her smiling baby but when it came time to go to bed I was electrified. My breathing was shallow. I jumped at the least bit of stimulation like a dog barking or spousal unit sneezing. When I took my pulse it was 98 my blood pressure was 122/83 which is high for me and I was feeling it. I think I had finally dumped all my spoons on the floor with a CRASH and now it was time to pick up the pieces.

How do spoons end up scattered on the floor?

What I almost did yesterday was lower my dose of T3 but yesterday I took my morning temperature and decided I wasn’t hyper when my temperature at 9 a.m. read 97.6. At 5 p.m. it was a perfect 98.6. I was right I wasn’t hyper but I had spent all my spoons. This morning my blood pressure is 97/65 and my pulse is 75 and that is after a cup of tea and my morning dose of T3.

I was thinking of lowering my T3 because why? Because I inadvertently increased it three days ago. I was divvying up my 56.25 mcg and dropped the extra 6.25 mcg chunk in the 10:00 a.m. slot, so the amount was actually 12 mcg. Those 6.25 mcg pieces are so small you can’t see them if the room is dark and you are presbyopic. I thought the other half had disappeared and would find it on the floor when it clinked in the vacuum cleaner.

The next day when I tipped 10 a.m. in to my hand and clumsily dumped the dose in my mouth my eye caught sight of the “missing” piece. I judiciously put it under my tongue anyway and let the gods take it from there. That day was fine, no side effects of the increased dose. The next day was the day from Hell but not until the afternoon and evening (when my cortisol tends to be high when tested) and that set me up for a rough night. Thankfully I experienced only one night of being shocked awake by adrenaline stimulation, last night it was a legitimate thunder and siren awakening.

Kris Insight

My guess is last week when I was hanging on for dear life to my last spoon the last thing I should have done is increase my T3. It quite literally broke the horse’s back and my heart is always the recipient of such stupidity. I know I need to be taking more T3 and I am gradually building my dose in the direction of 75 mcg but increases when you are feeling worn out and tired are not a good idea. It impacts your adrenals significantly and they react by producing more adrenaline and that causes heart palps and irregularity.

My advice to my readers with adrenal fatigue or just weak adrenals and on T3-only is do not increase your dose when you are spoonless. Even if all the signs are pointing at a need for an increase, low temperatures, low blood pressure and pulse DO NOT INCREASE YOUR DOSE. Nothing will happen if you wait a few days or a week or even a month. Increases should only be done when you are feeling well rested and up for the challenge.

I hope you will tune in August. At that time I will have my blood test results back and will share them with you. Life Extension had their yearly sale and I just can’t pass up the opportunity to see how the old bod is running. I really want to see how my FT3 is and find out how I am doing with inflammation and female hormones. Stay tuned and have a great and rejuvenating July.

Happy Fourth of July,

Kris