“To be yourself in a world that is trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
What is the function of the thyroid gland?
Our thyroid gland plays such an important role in our lives. Its purpose is to make, store, and release thyroid hormones into your blood. These hormones, which are also referred to as T3 (liothyronine) and T4 (levothyroxine), affect almost every cell in your body, and help control your body’s functions. If you have too little thyroid hormone in your blood, your body slows down. This condition is called hypothyroidism. If you have too much thyroid hormone in your blood, your body speeds up. This condition is called hyperthyroidism.
What controls the amount of thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland?
The amount of thyroid hormone made by your thyroid gland is adjusted by a gland in the brain called the pituitary. Another part of your brain, the hypothalamus, helps the pituitary. The hypothalamus sends information to the pituitary gland, the pituitary in turn controls the thyroid gland.
The thyroid gland, pituitary gland, and hypothalamus all work together to control the amount of thyroid hormone in your body. With the pituitary controlling most of the action, these organs work similarly to the way a thermostat controls temperature in a room.
For example, just as the thermometer in a thermostat senses the temperature of a room, your pituitary gland constantly senses the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood. If there is not enough thyroid hormone, your pituitary senses the need to “turn on the heat”. It does this by releasing more thyroid-stimulating hormone (or TSH), which signals your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone. Your thyroid gland then makes and releases the hormone directly into your bloodstream.
Your pituitary gland then senses that there is just the right amount of thyroid hormone in your body. With your thyroid hormone levels now restored to a normal level, your pituitary slows its production of TSH back down to normal.
How my thyroid affected my life
In the end of 2010 I realized “I wasn’t myself”. Actually, I thought I was going crazy. I knew there was something wrong with me but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. It was so bizarre… Have you ever felt like you were living in someone else’s body; living someone else’s life? Well… that’s kind of how we feel when we have thyroid problems without being diagnosed.
My symptoms were:
– EXTREME lethargy (the type that you don’t want to get out of bed),
– Hair loss (the type that makes you feel like you are going bald),
– Weight gain (and you can basically do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING without losing a single pound),
– Feeling cold (more than usual),
– Feeling “out of control”,
– Being an emotional wreck: EXTREME anger, EXTREME sadness, EXTREME happiness, etc,
– EXTREME irritability,
– Skin dryness.
You can only imagine what these symptoms can do to your self-esteem. Just the weight gain alone is already a big factor, especially since there’s NOTHING you can do to make it drop. For a whole week I ate only 500 cal/day and STILL didn’t lose weight, only gained — I don’t recommend this to anyone, but just want to prove to you that what I’m saying here is real; I’m not exaggerating.
When you have an undiagnosed thyroid problem you may think you have many different diseases: from depression to bipolar disorder, to even baldness! And the people around you will tell you that you are in a bad mood often (because you WILL be – this will only make matters worse).
But because I have family history in hypothyroidism (basically all women in my family have it) and also some medical background, I was able to put all the symptoms together and bring up this possibility to my doctor. To tell you the truth I was really hoping that that’s what it was because then it would explain the reason for my “craziness”!! She checked my thyroid levels and boom! Yes, “thank goodness” I was diagnosed hypothyroid.
This was back in 2010. At first this one doctor put me on 100 mcg of Levothyroxine (generic for Synthroid). After 3 months of feeling exactly the same, if not worse, I went back to see her. She ordered more blood work and we were able to see only very little change. So she told me to wait another 3 months because sometimes it takes us a little while to get used to the meds. I did, and oh my… my boyfriend can tell you better than me how crazy I was!! I remember yelling from the top of my lungs when I was unhappy about the tiniest thing and then crying – a lot – for having yelled out. This happened so many times!… Also, my weight was only going up, my hair was only getting thinner, and I was more and more upset about this whole situation – even though I had hopes that the medication would eventually start working and all my symptoms would go away, like it happens to so many people. But my turn never came!
After those 6 months I went back to see my doctor and after looking at my blood work my doctor decided to put me on Synthroid — she said some times the generics don’t work as well as the real medication (and my question was: “Why wasn’t I on this in the first place?”… but I didn’t say anything). I stayed on 100 mcg of Synthroid for another 6 months and after anxiously waiting and researching (because that’s what we do when we are desperate), I found out great things about Armour thyroid, which is basically a natural form of thyroid and contains the hormone T3 in it… Armour is pig thyroid. I thought this would be awesome to try since so many people I read about on the internet had had great success after taking it.
So I went back to the doctor for more blood work. The first thing my doctor asked me was how I was feeling. My answer to her was: “Terrible! I’m an emotional wreck besides losing hair and gaining weight every day even after going to the gym 5x/week and controlling my calorie intake and only eating healthy foods.” So she ordered me more labs and also, for my surprise… diet pills!! Really??! I wasn’t looking for a quick-fix… I wanted my thyroid back to normal! So I didn’t even get my blood work done that day. I got done with that one doctor and decided to look for a specialist, and endocrinologist. I was over it.
So I found this other doctor who seemed very competent and had great reviews. He looked at my labs and couldn’t believe one thing: for 1 full year the last doctor was only measuring my TSH and T4 levels; not my T3 levels! He said that for a good understanding of what is going on, especially if the meds aren’t working, all of the hormones related to the thyroid need to be checked. So he ordered me a LOT of blood work to get done and I felt actually relieved because now I was going to be taken care of at last!
I mentioned to him that I wanted to start taking the Armour thyroid medication because it is natural and he said it would be good because of the T3 fact. So he ordered me Armour 50 mg (equivalent to Synthroid 100 mcg) and asked me to see him again in a month for more labs. This back-and-forth happened for another 6 months… My mood did change a little bit for the better but my weight didn’t move but up… besides that, the skin in my hands and feet got extremely tough! So much that I found myself filing my hands before going to work! (I am also a massage therapist and my clients started noticing my hands were a different “consistency”)…
So I said “enough” and looked for a specialist — something I should have done a long time before all that. Besides more blood work to get done he also ordered me a thyroid ultrasound that he himself performed which I was very surprisingly happy about. He realized my thyroid is 4x smaller than the regular size and told me that’s why the meds probably weren’t taking effect. So he put me on Tirosint (not natural) once/day and Citomel (natural T3 med) twice/day. So now I had to also worry about taking the pills at the right times every day, but you know, when we think something will work we are up to doing what it takes!
I took those pills exactly as I was supposed to for another 6 months and only had very little change in my blood work. My symptoms were extremely bad and I barely had eyebrows! That was my rock bottom. I had had enough!! So I decided to take my health into my own hands. I thought to myself: “Nothing is working anyway, so I might as well try something different: this time, my way.”
This happened in the very beginning of this year (2013). My doctor – even though is Indian and is more open to natural healing methods – didn’t think this was a good idea, but he said if that’s what I wanted to do, so for me to go on and do it. He also told me to pay close attention to my symptoms and that if I felt like I needed to see him again, to please not hesitate. (He even gave me the direct phone number to his office). I took that to heart and left his office feeling powerful.
That was the day I decided to take care of myself and accept who I am. Nobody is the same as I am and I’m not the same as anyone else. I started looking at my hypothyroidism as a part of me, not something I needed to get rid of… This realization gave me the opportunity to find out who I am from within, in a much deeper level. I am a person with hypothyroidism who has a tiny thyroid gland besides many other things not directly related to my thyroid. Hey, this is who I am, so I have to treat myself accordingly. This means I shouldn’t be treating myself as if I had a normal thyroid gland… and that is OK!!
Why do we all think there’s a way we should ALL be living by, like if there are rules that shouldn’t be broken? Why not just accept who we are for what we are? Why are we supposed to be able to eat EVERYTHING, for example? Like all other animals on this planet, we are unique, and our uniqueness require different things from one another. Heck, my dog is allergic to chicken and duck and I don’t give him a pill to lessen his allergy symptoms so that I can feed him chicken and duck. I simply don’t feed him chicken and duck!!
And that’s what diseases are: INFLAMMATIONS… just like allergies! So I decided to eat for my thyroid instead of letting my thyroid eat me! This is what I did: CLICK HERE.
(November 3rd, 2013)