What’s Up, Doc?

Before my Africa trip, I needed to see a doctor to arrange for my anti-malarial drugs.  Plus, even though I’ve been really vigilant about my OB/GYN-related health my whole adult life, I hadn’t been to a family doctor for a good old-fashioned physical since…well, probably since my last well-child check-up. 

I know.  That’s bad.  Momma gets so busy managing everyone else’s health that she kind of neglects her own. 

Melanie loves her family doctor, so she recommended I visit him.  She promised me he was a straight-shooter, a trait I value in a doctor.  And she praised his sense of humor.  Bonus points!

I should’ve known what I was in for when one of his first sentences to me was, "So, how long has your neck been big?"

Excuse me, what?

Forget that straight shooter business.  I didn’t mean that straight.

It turns out that Doc thought my neck looked swollen.  The more we talked, the more he began to wonder if my thyroid is out of whack.  He scheduled a bunch of blood tests upon my return from Africa, and he told me we’d talk again when I got back. 

So we did, last week, and it turns out my thyroid is out of whackReally out of whack.  He told me this is not uncommon in women mid-thirties and later, because pregnancies can be hard on a thyroid.  I reminded Doc that, including miscarriages, I had six pregnancies in eight years. 

"Oh, girl," he said.  "Your poor thyroid is up there wearing sunglasses and popping a cold one." 

I like this guy.

Several of the symptoms of hypothyroidism I’ve actually had for some time.  I just thought I was getting old.  And I am getting old, but a gunky thyroid hasn’t been making it any easier.

Thankfully, the solution is a fairly easy one.  I’ll probably have to take synthetic thryoid hormone the rest of my life, but that’s no biggie.  I actually am quite hopeful (and not at all unrealistic) that I will take my Magic Pill daily and never again be tired or irritable, and The Extra Thirty Pounds, lo, they will leap off me with great haste.  But before I start the meds, Doc wanted to get a good look at the "before" picture, so today I’m going in for some more tests.  So today (Monday), I’ll have a thyroid ultrasound, and I’ll also have an uptake scan, where they’ll inject radioactive iodine into my veins and take a scan.

Radioactive iodine!  Injected into my veins!  I wonder if I’ll be glowing the rest of the day?

Anyway, I’m telling you all this in case any of the rest of you are having symptoms like these, especially if you’re in you mid-thirties or older.  Get thee to a doctor, and talk to him about your thyroid.  We mommas need to take care of ourselves too.

By the way, all my other various blood levels were fine and dandy, except my dang triglycerides.  "It’s from too much sugar and carbs," Doc explained. 

"Yes," I offered, "but you mentioned my thyroid can cause me to metabolize improperly, so maybe it’s that?"   

He peered at me over his glasses.  "Or maybe you’re eating too much sugar and carbs."

Oh, I definitely like this guy.

79 thoughts on “What’s Up, Doc?

  1. Heather @ Loving Our Homeschool says:

    Oh my goodness, it is too, too strange that you blogged about this right now! I was reading a magazine article about hypothyroidism last week and thought “Hmmmm…..I wonder.” I have several of the symptoms and will be calling my dr. to check this out! I hope your Magic Pill works wonders! :o)

  2. jodi jean says:

    hehe … i think if you must go to the dr at least it should be a good experience. i haven’t found a good general but i LOVE LOVE LOVE my obgyn (which is all i need since im preggo). but boy he sounds GREAT!!

  3. Darcie says:

    Yep, been there, done that. I felt terrible for months and kept blaming it on work, stress, quitting smoking etc. Finally went to the doctor and found out I wasn’t just fat and lazy. It was actually a relief and now I feel much better and have even lost a few pounds. You don’t even realize you feel as bad as you do, until you feel better.

  4. kelli says:

    Welcome to the club sister. Synthroid is a wonderful thing … I went through the whole ultrasound thing as well, and have a blah blah blah adenoma and several 1-2 mm cysts on both thyroids (who knew there was a left and a right one). It’s really a piece of cake procedure. Much less exciting than the side effects of the anti-malaria drugs 🙂
    Let us know how it turns out!

  5. Jodi says:

    I’m hypothyroid as well…been on Synthroid since I was fourteen. My understanding is that synthetic thyroid meds can decrease bone density…might be something to research. At least be sure to take your calcium!
    I’m not sure if I’ve commented here before, I think maybe after a particularly whacked out episode of Lost, but I sure enjoy reading your blog. 🙂

  6. Amanda says:

    Also just started the (generic) synthroid a couple of weeks ago, and am now beginning to see a few of the spare 30 start to come off. I’m not sure if it’s just the synthroid, or my reducing sugar and carbs, but either way, I’m pleased. I think the synthroid is influencing a more rapid loss, because now that I’m applying myself, it’s coming off quicker than it usually would.
    Glad you found a straight-shooting doctor that you like, and glad you’re getting yourself all straightened out. Keep us updated!

  7. Stretch Mark Mama says:

    Oh, those pregnancies. What I wouldn’t give for my 17-year-old body with my 30-something mind. No, that isn’t right. I’m still a little too snarky. 87-year-old mind. By then I’ll be so laid back and forgetful that I can just live my life in perpetual bliss.
    Magic pill, for sure.

  8. Barbara H. says:

    He sounds like a great doctor in many ways!
    I had to have half my thyroid removed about 18 years ago due to a dime-sized nodule, which thankfully turned out to be benign, and have been on Synthroid ever since. It’s amazing such a little pill makes up for it, but, sadly, no, the excess weight didn’t melt off as I had hoped (I have that excess sugar and carb thing going on, too).
    The iodine uptake was weird, but cool. I saw my thyroid on the screen looking like a neon bow tie.
    If I can offer just one tip: many people do wonderfully on the generic form of Synthroid, but some have problems with it. I was having some severe digestive issues and in the process of being tested when the gastroenterologist asked if I had had any changes in medicine, and it hit me I had switched to a new generic around the same time this started happening. He switched me back to the name brand, and everything went back to normal almost immediately. He said many medicines can be switched back and forth between name brand and generic with no problem, but this isn’t one of them, and whatever brand you start with you should stay with unless it is giving you problems. I’m hesitant to mention that at this point — don’t want to scare you!! And as I said, many do fine on it. But if things aren’t working right when you are on it for a while, be sure and mention it to your dr. right away. I wasted several weeks of misery thinking it was something else — if that one dr. hadn’t mentioned it I would never have made the connection.
    Other than that, I’ve had no problems in the 18 years I have been on it.

  9. HeresTheDiehl says:

    Barbara is right…take the non-generic!
    I’ve been on Synthroid for 6 years now, and though it hasn’t been a magic pill, it has helped. Just know that it takes a good 6 weeks for the meds to build up in your system and even start making a difference, which is frustrating!

  10. Jennifer says:

    I am pretty certain that the iodine thing is the same stuff they gave me (more than once) to check on my kidney stone. That being the case I thought I would forewarn you if you haven’t had it before. It makes you feel really warm all of a sudden especially “down there”. It will make you get a little concerned that you might have wet your pants. You might think I am losing it about now but others that I have talked to that have had it thought the same thing. So there, consider yourself warned.
    I feel as thought I have done my good deed for the day.
    Smiles!

  11. Tammy says:

    Not to make be jealous about your thyroid problem,I wish now at 48 that my thyroid was a problem.I could blame the weight I gained after 40 on that and the extra tiredness I experience on that also.It really is just nothing according to the doctors!!
    Now I do beleive that people should get their thyroid tested at 25 and use that as a base for future testings.Not every body is the same and what may be slow for some is not the same for me is slower then at 25!!

  12. Lorraine says:

    I had Wilson’s Thyroid Syndrome after the birth of my second. I just got tested for it again, and since my current PCM can’t see any problem with my levels, but my symptoms all line up with a thyroid problem she’s sending my to an endocrinologist for better testing and what not. So I get to wait until at least the end of April to see if I can get the magic pills this time.

  13. mary says:

    another member of the thyroid club here. i have 6 cysts, have had them biopsied. my blood work was also normal although i had symptoms. i went no sugar/flour for 3 months and all of my symptoms disappeared, my cysts shrunk in size. glad to see that you are taking care of you.

  14. Lisa C. says:

    Just another comment from the “been there, done that” club. Absolutely do NOT switch brands of thyroid meds, whether from one brand name to another or from a brand name to a generic. They all can be metabolized differently. If you have to switch for some reason you have to go in and repeat your bloodwork. I had to chew out a well-meaning ditz at the pharmacy one time, who “helpfully” filled my Rx with the generic.
    Also, if after a while your doctor says your levels are fine but you are still having symptoms, you might want to get a referral to an endocrinologist. General practicioners often just go by the lab standards for deciding when your TSH levels are okay, but more and more specialists have realized that for some people, TSH levels need to be lower than “normal” for the person to feel good.
    Oh, and be patient. It sometimes takes a while to figure out what the best dosage is. Here’s hoping the pills do you some good!

  15. chris says:

    I have been on synthroid for five years now. I had a nodule that was diagnosed the same way… the dr saying, “Wow your neck is swollen.” I had it biopsied and it was benign. I have Hashimotos, the auto-immune thyroid disorder.
    I noticed that my energy level was better once I was taking the synthroid for awhile.

  16. Staci at Writing and Living says:

    I have some of the symptoms (especially weight gain), but my levels are perfectly normal, so no, no magic pill for me. *sigh* I guess that’s actually a good thing, though.
    Glad you’re getting it taken care of! Good luck today.

  17. Randall says:

    My mom has the exact same thing (since she was in her early 40s) and takes synthroid. Good for you for following through and being proactive on getting this under control.

  18. Sheila ~ To Love, Honor and Vacuum says:

    That’s too bad, Shannon! Hopefully now that you are diagnosed, though, you’ll feel better.
    I avoid doctors, too. I just can’t stand those PAP smears. We women have to go through enough when we’re pregnant, and then they insist on doing that to us regularly.
    The OB/Gyn association now has guidelines that say that if you were a virgin upon marriage and have only ever had one sexual partner you really only need a PAP every three years. My doctor won’t believe it, but I take the article in anyway to say “you’re not touching me now. It’s not time yet”.
    Hope this guy didn’t have to perform that indignity on you, too!
    Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

  19. Marian says:

    Or those very same symptoms, I’ve found, can be the result of adrenal exhaustion, in which case, you’re onyour own for treatment. Hope everything goes smoothly today.

  20. Lydia says:

    I am also a member of the Synthroid club. Unfortunately I’ve been on it since I was 25 before I ever had any kids. My doctor also said my neck looked swollen and we went from there. Sadly, not a pound has been lost thanks to Synthroid, of course I’m also not working at it either, so that may have something to do with it.

  21. Jenni says:

    Haha! Sounds like a great doc! I love a straight shooter. I hope you feel much better soon on the meds.
    Ask me to tell you about my thyroid surgery sometime. I had a goiter the likes of which is not usually seen in N. America.
    Really! Ask me! You know you want to!
    ;o)

  22. aubrey says:

    I’m so glad you found a family doctor you like. I’m a big fan of family doctors which is good seeing as I am in residency becoming one. 🙂 It does always help to find someone who is honest, but still nice and even funny. I hope the scan goes well.

  23. Cristy says:

    Twelve years ago I was diagnosed with Graves Disease – HYPERthyroidism. I had lost 50lbs in about 4-5 months without doing anything differently. One of the residents at the hospital where I worked noticed my weight loss and started examining me and noted small goiter, called the endocrinologist, drew some blood and I was diagnosed on the spot. Now, I suppose I would have been fine with the weight loss, I mean I needed to lose that weight, however my resting heart rate was 140/min. No WONDER I was exhausted all the time, my body was jogging, even in my sleep!
    A few weeks later, they gave me a drink of radioactive iodine (through a straw that I couldn’t touch – SCARY!) and killed my thryoid. Otherwise they said I could have a heart attack! I’ve been on generic Synthroid (Levothyroxine) ever since, no side effects from the generic. (They draw my blood every six months and my dose has increased from 50mcg to 175mcg over the last 12 years. I’m actually scheduled for a blood draw this afternoon.)
    I’ve heard that thyroid disease is one of the most commonly missed diagnoses in women. Ladies, have your doctor check your thyroid!!

  24. Bizzymom says:

    My endocrinologist also insists on Synthroid by name (not a generic). I agree with Lisa C. it is best to go to an endocrinologist as GP’s tend to take a “one size fits all” treatment approach to hypothyroidism and it is something that requires tweaking per individual.
    Your doctor will probably instruct you to take Synthroid on an empty stomach 30 minutes before eating but often fail to mention you should not take calcium supplement at the same time. So I take my calcium at bedtime.
    As for weight gain, it happens even more so in your 40’s so you are wise to attack it now. The thyroid supplement won’t be the magic pill but will help if you are working at shedding the lbs. Weight Watchers is the way to go and it works!
    When I had the thyroid uptake test in 2000 my thyroid didn’t “take up” any of the iodine because I had thyroiditis (viral infection). They had me swallow the radioactive pills which the technician didn’t even touch, wearing heavy long gloves while removing the pills from a hermetically sealed container. I couldn’t help but think, “and you want me to swallow this when you won’t even touch it?”
    A great reference book is “The Thyroid Solution” by Dr. Ridha Arem as this is something you’ll live with the rest of your life. But it is totally manageable.
    Good Luck from an Okie living in TX!

  25. zoom says:

    The words, “Wearing sunglasses and popping a cold one” made me laugh really, really hard.
    Of course I am reading this while eating left over pound cake from yesterday. Talk about your carbs, sugar and fat. This is a Paula Deen recipe… 3 sticks of butter and 3 cups of sugar.

  26. Amanda says:

    I went through all of this when I was 21 yrs old. I cannot tell you how much better you will feel when you get it all worked out. Oh, the energy you will find. It may take a litle while so be patient. Good Luck.
    Amanda

  27. Antique Mommy says:

    Been there and done all that. I’m evidence that they can take your thyroid completely out and still be a normal person. Oh wait. That probably didn’t make you feel better. 🙂

  28. Natalie Witcher says:

    I have it too, but my deal is that my T3 transfer to T4 (???) isn’t working. SOOOOO, I take molecular Iodine, becuase iodine is what makes the transfer. All that to say, my levels were fine, it’s just that exchange wasn’t working. So, no synthetics for me, just a teaspoon of iodine, molecular iodine, not the stuff that’ll kill ya

  29. I Should Be Folding Laundry says:

    I was diagnosed with Hashimotos (hypothyroid) at the age of 27, four years ago. My biggest piece of advice to you is to make sure you continue to get your thyroid checked either once a year or twice a year, or even more often. The thyroid changes and changes often. Be sure to stay on top of it. Best of luck.

  30. TopazTook says:

    Hey, at least you’re not drinking the radioactive iodine. (Tastes like pool water) — although I think I preferred that to getting it injected. I’m beginning to think that every single woman I know even peripherally has thyroid issues, and that it should be a standard test every time a woman goes to the doc. The medicine works well to level things out — but be aware that it could take a while before you find the right level for you.

  31. KELLY S says:

    Hey maybe your “thick neck” weighs 30 pounds, and once you get on Synthroid, you will lose it 🙂
    I’m also in the “Been there done that” club.
    I bet you will be surprised at how GREAT you will feel, sleep, no more dry skin, and so much more.
    I too have Hashimotos (auto-immune hypo-thyroid- immune system attacks your thyroid). And I’ve been on Armor Thryoid for 7 years. Synthroid gave me heart palpitations.
    Don’t be frustrated if you have to play around with doses until you get it just right. It took about 6 months for me to get it just right, and now I’ve been on the same dose for 6 years.
    Thanks for sharing. You aren’t alone sista!
    Kelly S.

  32. Jennifer (Et Tu?) says:

    Delurking for a moment to say THANK YOU for this post! I clicked through to read the symptoms you linked to and I have almost every single one — I was wondering what was wrong with me! 🙂 Thank you so much for posting about this. I’m going to get this checked out ASAP, and might be joining you in the hypothyroidism club.

  33. Angi says:

    Yeah, my kids did that to me too! Oh, and sucked a large chuck of my brain out to claim as their own! I have Grave’s Disease – in remission now – good luck on the meds – wish I had a doctor like yours!

  34. Linda Sue says:

    Big necked huh? Better than red necked or stiff necked – or buck nekkid but I digress.
    I take a generic Synthyroid – $4/30 days worth at your local Wally World. I was also hoping that my 30 (OK I’m trying to be honest here – 50 is more real) pounds of unwanted excess ME would melt away and run down a drain somewhere. BUT – the issue about your triglycerides (mine are fine thank you for asking) is my issue- too much food not enough aerobic exercise. CRUD! BUT so happy you are going to be treated – my MD said it was a total system problem to be low in thyroid – not just a fat neck thang. Bless you girl!

  35. motomom says:

    It is way too easy for us moms to take such good card of the family that we never find the time to take care of ourselves.
    I recently went to a new doc (love her!) and she told me to schedule a follow up to do a physical, which I did. The bloodwork showed that I had severe anemia which explains why I have been feeling the way I have been feeling. Once we get to the cause of the anemia I hope to be better than this “normal” I have settled for.

  36. Faith says:

    You will not glow from the dye…I have had it done a couple of times in the past few years and am just fine. (Twitch twitch.) I don’t have a thyroid problem…although I have all the symptoms…maybe I am just one of those “crazy old ladies”!!
    Good luck with the magic meds. I know they have helped out a LOT of people, just be patient – ha, ha – and you will be feeling “skinny” necked in no time!!

  37. Lyds says:

    Every single time I go to a doctor (since I was 10)I’ve been asked about my thyroid. Apparently, I have a big neck. My husband thinks this is funny. All my tests have come back normal and in fact, it’s my sister who has hypothyroidism. Her neck is skinny- go figure!

  38. Fran says:

    I was really ticked though when my thyroid came back fine. I think I’ll have it tested again… 🙂
    Glad you got a straight shooter….big neck and all!
    Take care of your sweet self….
    Fran

  39. Amy says:

    Hey Shannon, I know very little about thyroid issues, but I do know that eating kiwi fruit can bring down those triglycerides! Do you like kiwi?

  40. Jen says:

    I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism during my last pregnancy. It took a while to get it under control.
    I actually switched from Synthroid to the generic because it is only $1.40 (Wal-mart) a month compared to Synthroid. It has been a year and it has worked great! I know it doesn’t for some people, but I’m all about saving money if possible.
    You will feel better within a couple of weeks:)

  41. Daiquiri says:

    Oh Boy…I’m gonna go get tested! Thanks for the info.
    BTW – the radioactive stuff was no sweat for me. I had to have it for some heart scans about a year ago.
    Best of luck! Sounds like you have a great doc…that always helps 🙂
    -Daiquiri

  42. jen says:

    It is very common, I’ve been on Synthroid for almost a year now. I can’t believe how much better I feel. You’re not going to believe the difference, girl! You’re gonna feel like Superwoman with a side of kick-ass. Just sayin’…LOL!

  43. Christine says:

    I was just diagnosed with this a couple of weeks ago! I had NONE of the symptoms, though (I can explain every extra pound on this body of mine).

  44. Beth says:

    I have hypothyroidism, and take a “magic pill.” They’re cheap, but they work. And yes, I did drop a few pounds when I started taking them. I just wish they’d adjust my dose (not that I need it: but my waistline does!)
    It’s actually pretty good as far as a medical condition goes 🙂

  45. Melinda says:

    Just make sure you stay on top of it. It’s amazing how many aspects of your health that funny little gland affects. I am beginning to believe that some women who are diagnosed with post partum depression are actually having thyroid problems. Thyroid should be checked more often than it is.
    Hugs,
    Melinda
    P.S. I have a whole bunch of links if you want to read them.

  46. Tammy says:

    Yep, I’m afflicted too. The ol’ thyroid died around my 30th birthday. Just imagine my level of excitement over turning 40 next month…..ohhh boy (said with my best Eeyore impersonation).

  47. Jill says:

    Wow, I read those symptoms and they pretty much described every mid 30 year olds I know. Irritability, weight gain, fatigue. Good Lord, I have toddlers!! What do you expect?

  48. KLO1468 says:

    I was on the Synthroid for over a year and it took care of some of the symptoms but not all (the extra weight being one of them.) In January, I went to see Dr. Hotze, and was switched to Armor Thryoid, Cortisol and Progestrone. I lost 18 pounds in the first two months and feel like a brand new woman!
    There’s lots of useful information on this site. http://www.hotzehwc.com/ If you don’t have time to read it all, go to the E-Books link and download the one on Thyroid. It will be good to arm yourself with as much information as possible so you can make the decision that’s right for you.

  49. Terry says:

    I can relate. The symptoms you are experiencing don’t seem to connect to one another until you see them listed and it’s like oh yeah, that’s me and that’s me and that’s me. I am probably at least 15 years older than you and am facing menopause as well…ahh the joys of getting old! For my two cents worth, my insurance company insisted I switch to the generic for Synthroid and I had a bad reaction to it as well. Unfortunately my weight has not budged a bit–the doc told me it would start to drop easily, but no such luck. Glad you found out what the deal is, you should start to feel better in ways you didn’t even realize you felt bad soon.

  50. Ewokgirl says:

    I was diagnosed 9 years ago. Thankfully, it’s easily treatable, and you’ll never really notice you have anything wrong, unless they fail to get your thyroid levels right.
    However, while the pounds should stop coming ON, don’t expect them to come falling OFF unless you OD on your thyroid meds and put yourself into HYPERthyroidism, which naturally, I do not recommend. THAT disease has some truly nasty symptoms! (And no, I never intentionally ODed on my meds; I just forgot a time or two that I’d already taken my daily dose…)

  51. Jessica says:

    I actually have thyroid cancer which has been in remission for 3 years now (yeah!). I was 27 when I was diagnosed. I have been on Levothyroxine (generic of Synthroid) for all three years. It has worked wonderfully for me.

  52. maudie-mae says:

    The radioactive iodine will stay in your body for about three weeks. I’ve had this done before for other reasons. You really won’t feel any ill effects from it.

  53. Pink Enabler says:

    My neighbor gets the RI on a quasi regular basis (for her cancer that just wont go away)…we tease her that she glows but she really doesn’t.
    SO glad Melanie sent you to her doctor, God is so great with providing what we need when we need it!

  54. Veggiemomof2 says:

    Take a picture of yourself now, then stash it in a calendar for 6 months from now & see how things have changed after taking your “magic pills” 😉

  55. Melinda says:

    No, I don’t recommend hyperthyroid either. I was feeling vibrations in my teeth, and was dizzy EVERY day. In my case though, it was pure stupidity and stubborness. Then I went majorly hypothyroid. That was not fun either.

  56. Meredith says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments on this post yet, but I plan to.
    I was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism about a year ago (one yr after DD was born).
    I didn’t go the radioactive iodine route per my OB…she wanted me to try to control it with drugs until I am done having kids.
    After an INSANE year of blood draws, weight gain & lots of medication adjustments, I got news this week that I can stop taking my drugs…which means that I might be in remission! I am beyond excited!
    For something that is supposed to be so “rare”, I am hearing about thyroid disease more and more.
    I hope that all goes well for you and that you are back to your normal self soon! It is amazing what all your thyroid controls, and how much better you feel when it is working properly (or are on the right meds).

  57. Jackie says:

    I too am on synthroid. My thyroid was diagnosed in 2003. It seems to be a pretty common condition. It can take a while to get the medication adjusted, but once it is optimal you should begin to feel better. As to weight loss, well that still takes a lot of hard work..and I’m still trying to succeed at that one!

  58. Delyn says:

    I was just diagnosed with Hypothyriod last week too! Mid thirties as well and with the sypmtoms that I was having thought I was just getting old. Now here’s to hoping that the extra pounds will disappear!

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