Archive for the ‘Autoimmune Thyroiditis’ Category

When a Little of This Leads to More of That

In researching last week’s blog on progesterone I happened across a headline that read something like “Estrogen Dominance Leads to Increase of Gallstone Formation”. It would normally go totally unnoticed if not for the fact that for several years now I have experienced a feeling of fullness in my upper right quadrant at times and occasionally a sharp pain under my right shoulder blade in my back.

The aforementioned symptoms are all signs of gall bladder issues and I am always looking for a non-surgical solution to the problem. Personally I have no desire to lose another organ after losing my appendix in 1987. But what amazed me the most was the fact that this pain associated with what ostensibly has to be gall bladder attacks has increased in the last few years since I started using bio-identical hormones, specifically E1 and E2 and it was only with reading the headline that it dawned on me that my increased levels of estrogen may be part and parcel of the problem.

After digesting that particular bit of news, I started to aggregate more information from various sites to see if, in fact, with higher estrogen levels your chances of gall bladder attack increased. There may very well have been a “Duh” moment when, after hours of research, I remembered what our esteemed medical professionals always sited as the the 3F’s of gall bladder disease, fat, fertile and forty all things that also occur at a time of your life when your estrogen levels are what? At their highest.

I am not going to report all the facts and figures of every study I found nor can I verify the facts and figures of the studies I read. I also have drawn no conclusions, so this is a work in progress. I can report that whether you look at holistic sites or conventional medical sites like The Mayo Clinic estrogen dominance is always mentioned as a possible exacerbating factor in what amounts to decreased function of the gall bladder and liver.

The why of this is simple, increased estrogen can increase cholesterol in the bile and lessen gallbladder movement, increasing the risk of gallstones. If you, like me, already have a low functioning gall bladder due to hypothyroidism even a slight increase in estrogen may increase your chances of gallstones and gall bladder attack.

Okay I said I hadn’t gone in any one direction but perhaps I have come to one minor fork in the road. I am seriously considering the cessation of my bio-identical hormones. This is not an easy decision and it is not a decision that is in concrete. I firmly believe that women’s bodies are healthier with hormones than without (after reading countless books on the subject). That said, if you are a woman with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, you need to know that increasing your estrogen levels may also increase your chances of developing gallstones? Especially if you can answer nearly all the questions on this  Do you have gall bladder dysfunction? questionnaire with a “yes” or “maybe”.

The good news is some symptoms can be controlled with diet and exercise and following many of the suggestions on Deb Graefer’s site  has made a difference for this perplexed menopausal woman. I decided, if I do nothing else, to make an appointment with a homeopath/MD and my appointment is at the end of August. She feels she can balance my hormones with homeopathy and I hope she can assist me in what, at the moment,  seems like somewhat vain efforts to save my gall bladder.

If you have any wisdom or a personal experience to share on this subject, please feel free to comment. I know, and you know, if I reach any conclusion on this little matter of cholesterol/bilirubin stones congregating where they don’t belong, I will let you know, as they say, yesterday.

Until next week,


Almost Nirvana and Other Madness

This week’s blog is for my fellow thyroid sufferers and other “spoonies”. A thyroid friend contacted me the other day and asked how I was doing (Hi Olivia) that got me to thinking that I hadn’t reported recently on the status of my health. There isn’t really anything earth shattering to report, nothing fabulous or horrific but I feel after a year on T3 only, and hitting more than a few bumps in the road, things are nearly there, almost nirvana (but superstition keeps me from saying anything more).

I will do a quick rundown of the past year for those who might be unfamiliar. I have had hypothyroidism for 15 years give or take a year. In those years my dose of Syn-crap was constantly inadequate and being increased every time I had my blood drawn. I found a good doctor who would let me try Armour in 2010 but after about a year on Armour I was still having problems with an irregular heartbeat that began three years prior to trying Armour (things started out quite well on Armour but then Forest Pharmaceuticals changed the formulation and the irregularity came back with a vengeance).

I decided to go the “T3 only” route in April 2010 after reading Stop the Thyroid Madness by Janie Bowthorpe and investigating various health forums that she introduced to my world. I had been battling this irregularity for more than three years now and despite what my doctor was telling me (you need to see a cardiologist) I knew  my heart was reacting to something akin to an improper release of adrenaline and that had to be caused by one thing, my improperly treated thyroid. I fit the description of a person with a Reverse T3 issue, basically an inability to get enough T3 to the thyroid receptors because they are blocked by T4. If the receptors are blocked by T4 the T4 is not converted to T3 as it needs to be for the thyroid to use it, so you are always under treated and have a resistance to any thyroid medication that has T4 in it.

Around this time last year, that is July Fourth and approximately 3 months on T3 only, I suddenly started having panic attacks, inability to sleep through the night, a feeling of not being able to swallow, diarrhea and a basal temperature of 98.2 -98.4. My daytime average wasn’t that high and other factors led many with whom I consulted to feel I was suffering intolerance. Adrenal fatigue can lead to intolerance issues, so I tested my adrenal health. The tests showed challenged adrenals, not full blown adrenal fatigue but low normal results especially midday, so I did try Isocort and then hydrocortisone but by and large those made me feel worse. [In retrospect, thanks to many talks with Nanci, I have concluded that my adrenals were weak but should never have been treated with anything containing hydrocortisone but hindsight is 20/20 as they say].

I “cleared” in July and had to drop my dose from 125 mcg to 68.75 mcg. I stayed on the Isocort (taking it like this 3-3-2-1) and gradually increased my dose of Cynomel according to my temperatures. Increasing according to my temperatures meant that I actually increased too much and too fast and eventually developed a bothersome tremor in my hands. It was so pronounced that it made my job (dental hygienist) difficult but the good news is I never had to quit working despite what I would call the rigors of clearing T4 from my receptors.

Last autumn was actually pretty miserable as I diligently climbed my way back to taking  125 mcg of T3. I was constantly taking my temperature three times a day and finding it sub normal over all, sometimes even my basal temperature was below 97.6, so I would up the dose despite the tremor and sleepless nights. Things weren’t great, I didn’t feel “normal”, my temperatures weren’t “normal” and I was getting discouraged.

Christmas was the nadir of my T3 only treatment. I had increased and decreased and now I was taking 118.75 mcg. It was Christmas Day and we were in Bayfield, Wisconsin with family an activity that usually brings me joy. That weekend I hardly slept, my heart was racing constantly. Basically, I was miserable, so I decreased again despite my temperatures  (which still weren’t normal) to 112.50 mcg. Nothing improved, nothing.

To make this now long introduction a little  shorter, after talking online for months with several helpful “thyroid friends” (to whom I am most grateful) this last winter, in February, I decreased dramatically to 50 mcg of T3. Miracles of miracles, almost overnight all of my objectionable symptoms disappeared, my temps didn’t come up but I finally felt human again after months of, gosh I hate to be dramatic, torture. I honestly couldn’t believe what a difference it made. I could go upstairs without feeling breathless, I was sleeping the sleep of normal people, my thinking was clear, my tremor completely disappeared and miracle of miracles my irregular heartbeat was better than it had been in years.

Enter Kris today. I am enjoying summer in Minnesota (yes, it finally has arrived), my new grandson and relatives visiting for the Fourth of July. I am still taking 50 mcg of T3 spread out in four equal doses the last one being as I turn the light out at bedtime. My daily average temperature is sub-par but my basal is within normal limits (97.8) and as long as I feel “human” I am sticking to 50 mcg of T3.

I know my current regimen flies in the face of everything my gurus on the RT3 site recommend but my heart is as regular as it has been in years and the other night I actually found myself sleeping on my left side. That is a significant event only for those of us who have experienced the sound of a pounding irregular heartbeat. When you lay on your left side the sounds of your heartbeat are magnified and, needless to say, unbearable when those beats are irregular. When I awoke sleeping on my left side I knew I had passed a milestone in my treatment.

I have my daily supportive routines like taking at least 1/2 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt every day, twice a day. I take one Thorne B #12, Thorne folocal if I take additional B12, Krill oil, antioxidants with 2000 mg of Vitamin C, and Bio-Astaxanthin every day. Other days I might add Vitamin D3, Vitamin A, Zinc Picolinate Plus, Super K, Chlorella and Spirulina.

Three times a week I put a scoop of  Boku Superfood in my morning smoothie which consists of some form of protein powder (SunWarrior or Mercola’s Whey). I am currently not following a gluten free diet but my carb intake is very low during the week and only on the weekend do I eat more carbs. I guess you could call it carb loading for a day or two which is sometimes recommended by exercise coaches.

All in all, I feel my health this summer is far better than last summer. My blood test panel showed improvements but certainly not perfection. My hormones are all low but my SHBG was very high, so that is the explanation for the low levels of my sex hormones. I know I need to compensate with higher doses of Estradiol and Progesterone but have yet to find a doctor who is knowledgeable in treating with the Wiley Protocol. My gall bladder still troubles me but that has been ongoing for years and I now understand that a sluggish thyroid lends itself to a sluggish gall bladder, so I take the necessary steps to keep it as healthy as I can. I have a very dry burning mouth at times and my eyes feel dry, so I suspect Sjogren’s but there is no diagnosis of such a thing and with a diagnosis I am not sure anything would change. I use natural lubricant for my eyes and I have very good oral hygiene.

Does my heartbeat still trouble me? Sometimes I can feel it “skip a beat” but instead of panicking I take it in stride and soon things are normal again. It is never precipitated by exercise, so I am not fearful. My blood pressure is nearly perfect if on the low side. My energy is good but I am careful not to overdo as I feel my adrenal health is still compromised (indicated by my low temperatures of 98 degrees most afternoons that I check). My sleep is the best it has been in years and I often don’t wake at all or if I do it is only once and I go right back to sleep.

My wish for all the “thyroid friends” and “Spoonies” who read this is that you, too, can find your peace. Just know that some day you will turn the corner and find your self again. Even if it is fleeting, for that singular moment just enjoy the experience of  being you again.

Happy Fourth of July,


What Flute Are You Following?

You know the story of the Pied Piper, right? It struck me in talking to my friend this week that many of us follow our doctor’s advice like they are Pied Pipers. They say something, we follow it like some magical flute leading us along a wrong way path, often because we are given no choice in the matter.

I have talked to far too many people who, when they question a doctor’s diagnosis or ask about something their doctor said (or didn’t say), are put on the spot with some inane question like “I suppose you read that online” accompanied by a look that puts you in your place. For those folks, I thought I would share my friend’s recent experience. As usual I will most likely make a short story long but bear with me.

My friend, who shall remain nameless for privacy sake, receives medical care from, in my words, a functional medicine physician (or integrative is another term for the same type of medical practice) for Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. Functional medicine physicians as defined by me are MDs who ask more questions, incorporate all walks of medicine in their practice and generally think outside the box. I think they are far superior to the poor overworked GP who has been told by their practice managers that they have no more than 15 minutes per patient and sometimes, it has been noted, never take their hand off the doorknob. This is an important detail because she is being treated, let’s just say for the ease of it, in a rather elite fashion.

My friend and I have weekly discussions about health because we are both avid researchers and honestly, we are willing to experiment with alternative medical treatments. For example, I met my friend when I owned a FIR sauna business. She came in for FIR sauna treatments to help diminish her fibromyalgia pain. She was experimenting to see if the sauna would really help (To her doctor’s credit she had suggested the FIR sauna).

To exemplify my willingness to try alternative medical care, two years ago I bought a Mercola Sunsplash Renew because Joe Mercola claimed it could maintain healthy D levels with no supplementation. I felt having good D levels was of primary importance to the healthy functioning of a human body. I think this is another important detail because both my friend and I try to think outside the proverbial “box”.

We also try various treatment plans our doctors suggest and we try out things we have researched and then we spend time testing these things and discussing them. We have often discussed thyroid disease as that is my primary interest and my friend would tell me about symptoms she thought were typical of hypothyroidism. Practitioners like Dr. John Lowe feel that there is a connection between Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism, so I asked her long ago in one discussion if she had ever had a complete thyroid panel. In my opinion, everyone who has some symptoms should have a complete thyroid panel and if your doctor won’t test it then do it yourself.

At the time she told me “No, my doctor has only run a TSH. She always says I am fine.” Really? REALLY? My friend is cold all the time, she suffers from constipation, she can’t sleep, she has unremitting pain and rather more subjectively she feels her hair is falling out. What more do you need before you as a doctor run a complete thyroid panel?

On and on these discussions went and this year when she saw her integrative medical doctor for her yearly appointment my friend requested a complete thyroid panel be done. I will list below the thyroid tests plus the other tests that Janie Bowthorpe recommends to diagnose hypothyroidism properly:

      1-TSH – this lab is only for diagnosis of hypopituitary NOT to diagnose or dose your hypothyroidism
      2-Free T4 and Free T3 (note the word “free”–important since it measures what is unbound and available.)
      3-Reverse T3–to be done at the same time you do the Free T3. Then calculate your ratio with the results.
      4-Thyroid Antibodies (anti-TPO and TgAb. YOU NEED BOTH.)
      5-Ferritin and % Saturation, TIBC and serum iron (all iron related labs)
      6-Adrenal- Cortisol levels (make sure it is done with saliva tests, not the one time blood test your doctor will do.)
      7-B-12 and Folate
      8-RBC Magnesium and Potassium (rather than serum), plus Calcium, Sodium, Glucose (part of Metabolic panel, though you’ll need RBC for above)
      9-Vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D lab test)

My friend had tested many of these things prior to this year’s appointment, so she only requested the thyroid tests and guess what, just guess? She has Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, her FT3 was a little low and her FT4 was a little high and she had a RT3 ratio of 12 and it should be at least 20. She has hypothyroidism and a RT3 issue and no one, not even the best doctor in our area, had ever checked this out and it would have been so simple. If she hadn’t been diligent, irritatingly persistent and had a doctor willing to indulge her requests she would never have known that her thyroid needs attention.

Of course, now the question is where does she go with her new found knowledge. It is a serous question to ponder. She does not want to self treat, so she is researching the “good thyroid” docs in our area and finding there aren’t very many, sadly she isn’t sure there are any, and this is the “progressive” state of Minnesota. She could go to her integrative medicine doctor but she was already told by that doctor that she knew nothing of reading a thyroid panel like the one my friend requested. I would suggest my functional medicine guy but he totally overlooked my RT3 ratio and when my TSH was suppressed by Armour he immediately lowered my dose which was unnecessary (when on NDT your TSH should be suppressed) , so I hardly want to refer someone to him.

It is a conundrum we all will face eventually. The best thing for all of us would be a revamping of our medical education and elimination of insurance driven medical practices but neither of those will ever happen (I feel government control is no better than insurance companies). We can take things in to our own hands as much as possible as Joe Mercola advocates with his “take control of your health”. Dr. Teitelbaum at End Fatigue had an interesting article on what to do if given a “serious diagnosis” but knowing the right thing for you when things go wrong is difficult at best.

There are many things that can go wrong with the human body. In this case, I think it comes down to the “thyroid madness” that Janie Bowthorpe refers to on her site and in her book “Stop the Thyroid Madness”. No one, not even elite doctors take the issue seriously and we patients have to stop following like lemmings and think for ourselves, do our research and be our own best advocate. If my friend weren’t her own best advocate she would still be in the dark about a treatable condition. I see this as a serious dereliction of duty on the part of medical doctors who have promised to “do no harm”. It is happening too often to too many people out there with hypothyroid symptoms. They are quite literally being led astray by a magical flute played by a medical school graduate referred to respectfully as Doctor. Never mind the last name is Pied Piper.

Heading Up the Thyroid Highway

Over the last two weeks I have learned things are never as they seem. There is no mold we all fit in, no normal, no one size fits all. I will be the first to admit my journey along Thyroid Highway has been bumpy this last 9 months. I have tried to fit in to a normal classification and met with more than a little resistance. My valuable lesson this week is with the T3 only protocol there is no normal there are just possibilities.

While on vacation in February I had many sleepless nights. Those nights were not all bad as I was staying on the ocean and could hear the almost hypnotizing drum of the water on rock outside my window. However, sitting inside in the middle of the night with a racing pulse and a heavy heartbeat is not comforting or restoring and doesn’t even qualify as “biphasic sleep“. After more than one night of sleeplessness I knew I needed to lower my dose of T3. It went against everything I understood to be true of taking Cynomel (T3) but I finally, painfully lowered my already low dose of T3 and to my amazement I slept, my temperatures went up and my energy seemed normal. My daily dose was now 62.50 mcg of T3 and “most” people do better on 75-125 mcg of T3 or so they say.

A week ago we flew home from Oregon and the next day I returned to the shaky, hyper person I am at home and I was dismayed but plowed along. Monday night was not a good one, Tuesday night I slept. Wednesday night found me wide awake from 12:30 to 3:30 with a racing pulse. Thursday night I slept, so along comes Friday.

Friday I went to sleep right away but after several little electrically charged wake up calls from my heart I got up an hour later. I took my pulse and found  it was beating 103 times a minute and seemed weak, so I drank two glasses of water each with 1/2 teaspoons of Celtic Grey Salt mixed in. Halfway through the second glass of water I was freezing. I had been sitting in a t-shirt in our Arctic cool livingroom (well that was how if felt an hour later, it is generally 59 degrees on a winter night) and I determined if I did nothing else I was going back to my warm bed and lay next to a warm body. Never mind that as soon as I got back to bed the warm body next to me got up as now he couldn’t sleep. It bothered me not, I now slept with a calm heart.

Saturday I felt my disrupted night’s sleep like I had been up for hour upon hour not just a mere hour. I felt jittery tired, God I hate jittery tired. My pulse was still racing at times and my temps had not been good all week. One day that week my average was 97.8. My basal temperature one morning was 97.3. Late on Saturday afternoon I took all this in to account and knew the T3 was still stressing my adrenals so I decided to lower my dose of T3 yet again and lower the Isocort I was taking from 5 to 3 to see how my body reacted. That night I bravely took my bedtime dose of T3 (something I haven’t been able to do for weeks) and laid down and slept. It was the kind of  sleep that is often elusive for me, that blessed, all night kind of sleep. My dose was now 56.25 mcg of T3.

If you are not familiar with the RT3 and T3-Only Protocol this all means nothing to you and you think I am rambling and a bit flaky. I know the look on your face because I see it often when I try to talk to the SU about thyroid disease, so stop now and spare yourself total boredom. However, if you are familiar with T3-only you will be interested to know that despite the “normals” people talk about there appear to be those of us who need less, or better said, can tolerate much less and we don’t die, in fact we feel better for the low dose.

When I talk about reducing my dose, the reader needs to keep in mind that each grain of Armour Natural Dessicated Thyroid has about 9 mcg of T3 in it, so I am still taking the equivalent of 6 grains of Armour Thyroid. If you have to lower your dosage try to keep in mind just how much T3 you are still taking. I am reminded suddenly of the advice I give my dental patients when they hate flossing. If they only floss once every week it is still 52 times a year, double that and you have whopping 104 times, so every little bit helps. Perspective is really important when dealing with your very human body.

I have now been in touch with two thyroid friends ( You ask what is a thyroid friend? A friendship or kinship that occurs when people share similar health problems.) who are taking low doses of T3. One person is on 30 mcg, another friend is at 37.50 mcg and all three of us feel good at these “low” doses. We all have taken more T3 in the past to clear the T4 out but after trial and error our doses have been lowered to a level our bodies can tolerate. The person on 30 mcg had a thyroid panel run recently and her TSH is a bit high at 2.3 and her FT3 was around 3, so she may look hypo on paper but she feels great, has energy that she hasn’t had in years. The person on 37.50 mcg lowered on the same day I did to the 37.50 mcg and her fibro pain was improved the next morning  and she slept peacefully that night for the first time in some while.

I have no doubt that I will once again raise my dose of T3 but my message for those who are treating with T3-only is don’t be afraid to lower your dose to a level that is “sub-optimal” if things are not going well. If your temperatures suddenly show signs of stress, as mine did when they plummeted, try reducing your dose and see if they come up again. If they don’t, obviously the problem wasn’t adrenal stress and you can try raising the dose after 5 days or so and then look for other causes of your intolerance. It is misleading if you are of the mindset that says everyone is from the same cookie cutter. The way you react to your environment, to things you ingest and to life makes you unique. With time and experience you might be able to treat thyroid disease by how you feel because what is most important is having good energy, healthy hair and skin, ideal weight, and if you go by my experience a really good night’s sleep.

Here is to traveling the tortuous route with friends,


Damn Palps

I was awake around 1:30 Sunday morning. I know for some of you that is not an unreasonable hour but for me it is an hour that should include deep restorative sleep not time to think or ponder life. I really was sleepy but thirst had the better of me and I finally threw the covers off and lumbered out to the kitchen. We have one of those refrigerators that automatically dispenses ice and water but at 1:30 in the morning in a dark and slumbering household that machine sounds like you have started up your Kitchenaid meat grinder. Instead, I quietly poured a glass of filtered water from a pitcher I had thoughtfully filled before I went to bed, then poured another and stumbled back to bed.

Back in bed, I wanted to sleep, so I did a mantra of I AM drowsy, sleep, sleep, sleep. Nope I can’t sleep. I cannot sleep. I am too awake but soooo drowsy at the same time. Next to my awake self but on the other side of our bed lies the spousal unit who thankfully doesn’t do much sawing of logs but this night he snores. It is gentle snoring but when you can’t sleep any sound of snuffling nostrils is akin to a freight train coming through your king size bed, stopping right when it is over you and blasting its loud and obnoxious warning horn.

I was now so awake. I tried touching his leg, tried turning and groaning, turning and not groaning, turning and turning and now the turning had a certain thrashing quality to it and suddenly in the midst of all this I started to worry and then my worry took a different bent. Was that a missed heartbeat I just felt?

Will my heart now start to beat erratically? If I turn on my left side will I hear the hard beat of my perplexing heartbeat and then soon after that the audible blip of a missed beat, the dreaded palpitation. Now my thrashing has turned to caution. I carefully turned to my right side, whoops was that a missed beat or could it have been a bit of gas? I then propped my ear up off the pillow, so as not to hear the irregularity if it occurs. Unfortunately, I am uncomfortable on my right side, so I turned to my back avoiding my left side altogether even though that is where my body wanted to be.

You see if I lay on my left side I can hear every heartbeat, every single pounding beat (Dr. Lowe explains why this sound is so prominent in a hypothyroid person). Meanwhile the train has stopped on top of me again and I reach out to touch the spousal unit’s leg. I hate saying the SU’s name out loud in the middle of the night as that always causes him to wake with such a start that I fear for his healthy heart. Again there is that fear of a possible malfunctioning heart, not mine but his. I would never feel or hear his heartbeat, irregular or not, in the middle of the night but I  could be left a widow all because I called out his name for being a loud sleeper. Mon Dieu! Anybody else’s heartbeat I can worry about?

Sometimes I wonder if all people listen for their heartbeat or is it only the thyroid people among us who develop this unnatural fear of something so vital to life. Most people will not believe you when you tell them that irregular heartbeats are some how related to a malfunctioning thyroid because most people, including doctors, simply don’t understand the importance of that tiny butterfly shaped organ at the base of your neck. My SU lives 24/7 with an informed and outspoken hypothyroid victim and he still scoffs when I mention the mere idea that my thyroid or his could somehow affect one’s heart.

Thankfully Saturday night I eventually fell in to a deep slumber, so deep that I was told the next morning that unusually I snorted twice so loudly that the SU touched me and I stopped. (Hmmm, I wonder why my touch did so little when his train horn was sounding?). The good news for me was my heartbeat was right as rain that night, not one missed beat, in fact whatever I felt was likely nothing more than a gas bubble most likely thanks to the Parmesan cheese with balsamic vinegar with which we finished our Saturday night’s meal.

The whole scene in the middle of Saturday night did make me start thinking when I awoke on Sunday morning about all the thyroid people who might have been awake with me. Were we all sharing a moment of concern for the organ that moves a certain life giving  rufescent substance throughout our bodies unaware of our sleepless state? Instead of worrying about the possibility of a missed or irregular beat perhaps we should just be in awe and  bow to the powers that be. After all without the beating heart we are naught. With it we  may experience the odd palpitation or irregularity but let’s face if good fortune shines upon us we live to see yet another sunrise.

Here’s to good fortune,


And to all a Good Night

This week the 25th of December, officially the Christmas holiday, is upon us  along with the extremely auspicious but shortest, darkest day of the year 2010. I fervently anticipate  my days being filled with increasingly long hours of daylight.  Facts are facts, and scientific data is just that but in my rather myopic world the passage of the 22nd of December, the winter solstice, is all that is necessary to already make my days seem longer and brighter.

As with all weeks in my life this one was filled with lessons and the knowledge that there is always something to be to learned. A week ago I wrote of my “feeling well” and I will never learn that this is apparently arrogant and self serving. “Why?” you ask. It seems whenever I let those thoughts escape from my brain in to the printed word I have to make a retraction and I shall but it pains me to admit my foolishness. As always, I am not discouraged, only humbled. Last week I found myself at a nadir but with a bit of outside assistance I endured and conquered and rose again like the Phoenix.

I guess it was fickle of me after writing in Monday’s blog that all was well with me to go ahead and change things but one of my characteristics is I am always willing to try something different. After I published last week’s blog I wrote the moderator of one of the two health forums I participate in and asked for advice regarding my slightly lower than normal daily temperatures. The moderator, named Diane, sagely advised me to “stay the course”. Did I listen? Not exactly. I didn’t increase any dosages or foolishly decrease but I added something back in to my daily regimen that I eliminated some time ago because it was said to have deleterious effects on some people, so I added a nightly dose of 3 mg of  Melatonin. Oh, but not just Melatonin, no I couldn’t just add one thing.  I had to add two, because that is what I do. I added about 750 mg of  GABA to see if my sleep would become a little deeper and more restorative.

The first night I took the 3 mg of Melatonin and sadly the result was not a more restorative night’s sleep. I was restless, constantly hot and generally disturbed. I woke Wednesday morning feeling a little like souffle that has been reheated (does that conjure up any visions?). Convinced that I just needed slightly more of something, anything to improve my sleep, Thursday night I added the GABA to my Melatonin. In hindsight, I conclude from my rather disastrous actions and with Christmas stories in mind, if I were a little boy given an air gun on Christmas morning with the warning that “you are going to shoot your eye out” I would most assuredly “shoot my eye out”.

Thursday night I found myself staring at my uninteresting, slightly boring  ceiling fan for what seemed like hours, slipping uncomfortably between spells of sweat to spells of agitation and cold. My dreams were disturbing  (suffice it to say, I was not dreaming of a White Christmas) and they jolted me awake several times in just the  couple of  hours I laid there. Having had enough of tossing from one side of the bed to another, my legs now tangled in bedding I finally got up. By this time my heart was racing and skipping after every 10 beats or so, which, needless to say, is exhausting. Exhausting, yes, but you can’t sleep because it is also stimulating as only your heart racing and jumping around can be.

When I can’t sleep I find a cup of warmed milk extremely comforting, so I headed for my dark kitchen stumbling and generally creating havoc. Thanks to my clattering around I soon had company in the kitchen and we both gratefully consumed our warmed cow’s milk (from grassfed cows but not raw) and  eventually went back to sleep. Two hours later I was wide awake again. It was now 3 a.m., the middle of a cold night in Minnesota in a house that is kept very cool indeed, and I was not getting up again and eventually I slept. I woke again at 5, my normal time to start the day, so I got up but the feeling that I hadn’t really slept was pervasive and my heartbeat was still irregular.

Knowing I had once again taken the wrong fork in a trail that in truth only led in one direction, I felt deflated and disappointed by my wayward actions. With my head hanging in disgrace, I contacted my forum and sheepishly told my story asking for possible answers. As it often is, the answer was a real head banger. As in “why do I do these things to myself?” head banger. However, banging my head will only end in a headache, so I chose to learn yet another lesson and share my new found knowledge as my gift to you the reader.

Yes, a Christmas gift from me in the form of advice and here it is. If you have adrenal fatigue limit your intake of Melatonin. Melatonin, especially in doses in excess of 1 mg, are known to lower cortisol and low cortisol overnight will cause surges of adrenaline  making you hot and causing your heart to race and possibly beat in an irregular fashion.

These unnatural surges of adrenaline will also contribute to hypoglycemia and if you have ever suffered from hypoglycemia you know how disturbing that is, so heed my warning and learn by my mistakes. If you even suspect you have adrenal fatigue (7 stages) know those things that may potentially put a strain on your challenged and weak adrenals. Testing the health of your adrenal and endocrine system in general may not only ruin your night’s sleep, it will harm your health overall.

I wish I could do more to spread some Christmas cheer to all but in the end advice, or better put, sharing my insight, my experiences is what I do on this blog. Before I sign off, I will share the lines of a great, rotund man who in literature is always dressed in crimson red and speaks with ruby tinted lips lined with fabulously white hair “Merry Christmas to all (December 25th is after all Christmas and nothing else) and to all a good night”. I mean it, have a really good night.

Until next week and another life’s lesson,


Vacation and Your Thyroid

Vacations are necessary to maintain good health and well being, right? I always thought so but now I see a complication, not altogether unexpected but a complication all the same. When you have thyroid disease and compromised adrenal health an overseas vacation sets you back and does not contribute to an overall increase in your health or well being. Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful holiday, great walks in the beautiful Scottish and northern England countryside, imbibed in some tasty food and best of all felt comforted by the company of cherished friends. My thyroid and adrenals are reporting a different story and as always I am fascinated.

Before we went on vacation I was well in to my T3 only regime and things were coming together quite nicely. My daytime temps were close to averaging 98.6 and my basal temperatures were 98.2 consistently. I still had this tremor in my hands (slightly hyperthyroid or not all the T3 was reaching the receptors) but everything else was improving markedly. While on vacation I had my trusty thermometer by my bedside and I duly took my temperature every morning before getting out of bed. My basal temperature maintained a very healthy 98.2, all systems were on full throttle.

Fast forward to our homecoming last Tuesday. We had a late afternoon flight from Heathrow, so our day of departure was a leisurely and comfortable day unlike most of our traveling days in the past. We took off at 14:25 and arrived in Minneapolis at 5:30. The flight was a non-event which is something for me to say as I am not a happy air traveler. We stayed up until 21:00 and I slept until about 2:30 which was about the time we were getting up in England and Scotland as it tended to be 7:30-8:30 in the morning when we would start the day. As it was so early I didn’t take my basal temperatures but I did check my daily temperatures on Wednesday and they were all over the board. I was low 97.6, I was high 99 and then low again. What?

The next day my basal temperature was a healthy 98.2 and as I was working all day temperatures were not possible. I actually felt quite good and we were almost back to our normal 9-5:30 sleeping schedule, although still waking around 2:30-3 but able to return to a deep sleep. My basals maintained 98.2 but during the weekend my daytime temps were too low as I never did get above 98.2 and mostly stayed around 97.8.

It is now Monday morning, almost a week post-holiday. My basal temperatures are 97.6 and so far my temperature is staying around 98 this morning. My daytime temperatures are no longer up and down and all over the place, so I am assuming my adrenal glands have recovered slightly but my poor thyroid is struggling to get out of the dump it is in. My doctor once told me not to have a blood test for several weeks after being overseas as it would not be accurate and now I know exactly what he meant. I have suddenly gone hypo again.

Now the question is, do I increase my T3? Should I have stress dosed some hydrocortisone when we got home? I am really in the dark on this but I am going to experiment as I always do, it is the only way to really learn how things affect your particular body. I am going to maintain my 100 mcg of T3, return to a healthier diet, get my sleep, exercise lightly and generally let everything heal. I would guess it might take 2 weeks to repair the damage done by overseas travel. In any case I will give it two weeks and then if the basal temperatures have not returned to a normal and healthy 98.2 and my daytime temperatures are below the normal average of 98.6 I will increase my T3 slightly (6.25 mcg). If the tremor in my hands resumes I may stress dose Hisone for a couple of weeks to see if that allows the random T3 that is not getting to the cell receptors to settle in and do its job.

Did I have a great vacation? I did. Would I do it again? I will, I love Great Britain, I love my friends and I can think of nowhere I would rather be. I am whole when I am in Great Britain, there is no missing link and I feel great. I am convinced that if one didn’t have to go through the time change and subsequent jet lag even my thyroid and adrenals would have post-holiday euphoria. For now I will have to settle for my happy memories and hope that next year I will be that little bit healthier.

Fabulous Britain 2010