Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Health Update

It's time for an update on what's going on with my health!  The doctors determined from my previous blood tests that my levels are always on the lower side.  They thought it was safe for me to start on the anti-thyroid medication.  Over the weekend, I began taking a beta blocker and anti-thyroid drugs.

We thought long and hard about this. We realize that medication does not solve this problem.  It just treats the effects of what's going on.  But I need that right now. I was un-functional. I could not move around the house last week without feeling close to passing out.  We are traveling to Thailand this weekend to renew our visa and have a little family vacation.  I physically could not make the trip if I was in the same condition as last week.  And I have to make the trip.  This was the main factor in deciding to take the medication.

However, we are still continuing to explore what might be causing the underlying problem of the potential Grave's disease.  There is one blood test that will show if there are markers for Grave's disease in your blood or not.  It seems that test is only performed in the US.  There is a lab here, and one in Bangkok, that will take the sample and send it to the US.  And both places cost about the same amount. I went ahead and had my blood drawn here and ordered those tests, based on the advice of both the endocrinologist here, and a naturopathic doctor in the US.

On Friday last week, I spoke with the naturopathic doctor who is a Functional Medicine practitioner.  She graciously gave me 20 minutes through Skype to talk about what is going on, and give me her opinion. I emailed her all my blood tests as well.  She said that based on my blood work, there are a few things that are off, and seems like a lot more is going on than just my thyroid. This gives some doubt to the idea of Grave's disease.  She said that she doesn't think that all the things  showing up in my blood are a result of the thyroid problem, but other things happening at the same time. It looks like there is a lot of inflammation happening right now.  She suggested some different natural options like vitamins and probiotics to start taming down the inflammation while we do some more investigations.  Those investigations are happening right now, and I should get the reports on the tests on Monday.

From what I have understood from the doctor in the US and from reading, thyroid problems are caused by toxins building up in our bodies.  These toxins do not only or always come from food, they can come from chemicals in the air, in furniture polish, carpet sealant, shampoos and other things we put on our skin, cleaning supplies, and the list goes on.  I'm trying not to let this make me paranoid. : )  We can't really do anything to change some of these things.  But the household cleaners, body products, and eating, I can change.  It will take some time, and I may do sensitivity tests and try adding things back in, especially things I rely on and are convenient.  One thing at a time....

So we're treating the symptom while trying to figure out the bigger problem.  If indeed it turns out to be inflammation in my body, and not Grave's disease, then it means that my body is attacking itself.  It also means it could continue to do that until we get the inflammation under control and gone.  I am taking steps now to stop eating things that could be causing this.  I've quit eating wheat, and am working on cutting out all sugar.  I'm also making bone broth and having 1-2 cups everyday.  Believe me, this is not easy.  Changing my diet is the last thing I want to do, and I've always felt so sorry for people who have to do that. I love food.  Most people do! :)  I just feel like I need to do this and not rely solely on the medicine.  When we get back from Thailand, I plan to make a plan with the doctor to implement a proper and logical diet to get to the bottom of all this.  My hope is that my body will respond and I can get my system cleaned out of toxins, and get back to my regular eating. : )  I'm hoping through this I will start to feel better than I have in years!

I'm so thankful to a loving Father who walks with us through difficult times.  I'm thankful that we are in a place where I can quickly, easily, and inexpensively have all this diagnosed and treated.  I'm thankful for a wonderful husband who has stepped in and filled my shoes and his for the past two weeks while I figure this out and recover.  I'm thankful for friends and family, literally, all around the world, who are lifting us up and asking for quick healing.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Walking in faith...

Over the last few weeks, I've been feeling a bit run down.  Getting tired really easily, and having some joint and muscle pain in my arms, elbows and wrists.  I've also been really hot.  These things seemed easily explained by the fact that I have four kids, and it's hot season in India.

But the last few days, I've noticed my heart pounding after just walking around the house, getting extremely winded just walking up stairs.  My hands don't cooperate with me like they normally do. I've had more frequent headaches, and my hair has been falling out.  I've also lost over ten pounds in two weeks.

I feel like I just did the 30 Day Shred, twice... all the time.

Clearly, something is not right.

On Tuesday I went to a couple of different doctors. I started with our pediatrician, because he's the only doctor I knew in our city. I have never been sick and needed one before.  He referred me to a general practitioner.  He listened to my symptoms and rightly ordered blood tests.  The blood tests came back Wednesday night.  They revealed signs of a viral infection, as well as elevated thyroid levels.  The GP wanted me to have a thyroid scan.  I called a private hospital in town to speak to an endocrinologist.  He asked me to come see him before I went for the thyroid scan.

I saw the endocrinologist, Dr. Gahlot, yesterday.  He agreed the scan was necessary after hearing me and seeing my blood results.  I went straight from his office to the lab for the scan.

They injected a radioactive chemical into my hand, and waited to see how much of it would absorb into my thyroid.  They needed this to determine why my thyroid is overactive.

When a thyroid is overactive, it produces too much hormone which causes all of the problems I was having, by increasing your metabolism a lot.  It was all starting to make sense!

There are basically two potential reasons this could be happening.  It could be stemming from the viral infection, if the infection had attacked my thyroid.  That could have been making the thyroid hyperactive.  If that is the case it's called thyroiditis, and the thyroid scan will reveal very little absorption of the chemical.

The other reason is Grave's disease.  Grave's disease is an auto-immune disease, and there is no clear reason why people have it or develop it.  It is a lifelong thing, and causes the thyroid to be hyperactive.  Typically it is treated with anti-thyroid medication for a long period of time... at least a year to 18 months.  Sometimes people go into remission after this treatment.  Sometimes they develop side effects.  Sometimes it doesn't help.  Sometimes, when they stop the medication, the symptoms return.  Normally, it all works properly, and if the dose is kept to a reasonably low but effective level, it has the best chance of working.

The thyroid scan leans toward my problem being caused by Grave's disease.  But my blood reports are still showing signs of a viral infection that is affecting my liver.  Some of the potential side effects of the anti-thyroid medication can cause the same things I am already having.. which means if I take them now, those blood results could get worse and cause a bigger problem.

So, we are sending previous blood reports from a year ago when I was totally normal to the doctor.  He will determine from this if these levels are just my normal, or if they are elevated for me.  If they are normal, we'll start the medication. If they're not normal and there really is a viral infection, then I will start on beta blockers to help with my fatigue and racing heart and excessive sweating.  Then in 3-4 weeks, we'll repeat the blood test to see if the infection has cleared up, and then begin the anti-thyroid medication.

For the past week, I've been so exhausted that I don't want to do anything but lay in bed... I haven't been able to even think about cooking or meal planning. I've been at the doctors every day this week and had multiple tests run.

There seems to still be a very very slim change that this could clear up on its own once the infection goes away.  It's our prayer that this can still just all go away and we can go about our life...

But, if it doesn't, and I need treatment, we've thought through the options.  A lot of people have advocated a diet change, specifically the GAPS diet.  I have a few friends on this diet that have experienced miraculous healings through this diet. I've looked at it, and it does seem ideal for a lot of health problems.  But, all of the doctors I've talked to say that hyperthyroidism can be serious and life threatening if not treated and controlled... the rapid heart rate I'm experiencing, if allowed to continue, can lead to serious heart problems.  And since it's a hormonal problem, it is not necessarily going to clear up by a diet change, or gut cleansing.  It can't hurt the problem, but it is not likely to help it.  In addition to that, I am usually overwhelmed already with  my life! I don't think I have room to begin an entirely new way of cooking and eating, whether just for me or for the whole family.  Paul and I have decided the best thing for us to do is to begin the meds as soon as I can if that is what all our doctors say...

I can't tell you how blessed I've been by all the friends and loved ones writing with their thoughts, advice and prayers.  It's amazing to realize how many people really love you! : )  Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers!  We're trusting God to reveal his plan for us.