Monthly Archives: March 2015

So Long, Maxine

Maxine1                                     Saying good bye to Maxine is one of the hardest things I am having to do. For those of you who followed me in the beginning, Maxine lived across the street from me. Of course that is not her real name, but she acts so much and looks so much like the Maxine cartoon that I started calling her that.

She and her husband moved to a retirement community in early January. It is only about eleven miles down the road, but it may as well have been 100. I was feeling my worst and not doing much other than keeping doctors’ appointments and shopping for groceries. Driving that far if not medically necessary was too much of an effort.

Maxine is in her early 80s. Her husband is 93. He has been having health difficulties with his blood for many years. It affects his energy and his cognitive abilities. For a while he was doing quite well, but for the past couple of months he is once again going down hill. Maxine dotes on him like a mother hen. Such dedication among married couples is not exactly common.

They invited me to lunch about a week ago. It will probably be the last time I see them. They are now living in a lovely retirement community. Their’s is a two bedroom apartment on the first floor. I’m not sure what the age range is, but the diners all looked approximately the same age. I had looked into such communities within the last year, but I think I’ll wait about at least ten more years before I make that move.

Alice has intentionally lost about twenty pounds and is looking quite healthy. She seems more filled with energy now that she is not taking care of her big house. Of course with the energy she has, she has met and knows the name of almost everyone in the building. She introduced me to about twenty diners as her neighbor while I was there.

After lunch we went back to their apartment. Her husband was very tired so he excused himself to take a nap. She and I talked about ten minutes more before I headed down the road again. I never have felt at ease to talk in person. It is much easier for me to write.

I love Maxine and will miss her greatly. I never learned that to tell Maxine was to tell the entire neighborhood. She would just mention my affairs to a couple of her friends but she just knew they wouldn’t tell a soul!

I don’t remember being especially that much taller than she, but when I hugged her good bye, her head came to my breast. I have no idea when she started shrinking. She certainly hasn’t stopped talking.

I will always think God put me in this neighborhood for a reason. My son was six when my ex left. Next door we had Grandma Annie and Grandpa John. John died when my son was in the first grade. Grandma Annie passed away when he was in middle school. The couple across the street from them and their daughter all died in the following years. Maxine was always there whenever I needed some help. She’d cook too much and bring over supper pretty frequently. Now Maxine and her husband have moved. I once stayed in this house because I didn’t want to leave the village that was helping to raise my son. Now my son has no desire to return and the village people who meant everything to me has gone.

I wish a Maxine on everyone at some point in their lives. She says she wants to get an IPad but that hasn’t happened yet. She refuses to touch her husband’s computer. I will probably not handwrite letters and she will probably not handwrite answers even if I do. I’m hoping the IPad, if she gets it, will keep us in contact. She always asked me questions that were very personal, she gave me advice I didn’t want, she was able to get more information out of my son than I ever was. She was special. She is the sister I wish I had rather than the one I got. She gave me a gift that few have given to me. She cared. Namaste. Attic Annie

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Filed under Casual conversation, family, friendship, general topics

The Battle Continues…

Thyroid 2

Two days ago I started to write about my experience with being treated, or not, for hypothyroidism. For some reason it didn’t publish.  Yesterday my blog was almost finished and in switching from one site to another, most of it disappeared. I’m definitely rusty at blogging the correct way.

Whether the fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome were separate issues in themselves or were a manifestation of problems with my thyroid, I’ll never know. I only know doctors were throwing anti-depressants at me, giving me shots of testosterone, and cringing when I even mentioned what I thought was happening (this was the mid 1980s) was fibro and CFS. Those topics seemed taboo. Could it have been my thyroid? Nobody paid enough attention to even try to find out.

That has been my story for almost twenty five years  with fibromyalgia and CFS. It’s been almost sixty years with questionable thyroid treatment. I have had periods of being just “ok” to having major flare-ups.

Since the title of this blog is “The Battle of the Thyroid Docs” I’ll get back to the topic. A big brouhaha has been happening between the “synthetics” and the “naturals” ever since the middle 1950s when Synthroid was developed.Those of the synthetics think that T4 of such drugs as Synthroid  are the only way to treat hypothyroidism. That was the drug I was placed on in the mid ’60s and stayed on for so many years. There was never any attention paid to what I said about how I felt as long as the TSH level tests were “normal”.

With the advent of the internet, I started doing my own investigating. You know, I was the kind of patient who started asking questions based on my research. It was through that research that I found an alternative in “dessicated  thyroid” which comes from the thyroids of pigs. Those doctors I call the “naturals”. The “synthetics” call them “quacks“.

When I had to find another  yet another doctor due to constant insurance changes, I found one who finally was willing to prescribe the “natural” thyroid. I felt better but year by year I started slipping. When that doctor died I found an endocrinologist who reluctantly allowed me to stay on the Armour. He kept telling me I was “normal” because my TSH level was 4. It was ten years ago that the thyroid physicians decided the range of normal should be .3 to 3. He’s using an antiquated scale! I have just discovered all of this since my last visit. My alternative doctor talked to me about all the symptoms I have been having and told me my thyroid medicine was too low. He recommended increasing my dosage. My feelings of well-being over the past month have been a complete change but that is another day’s blog.

In researching this topic I have discovered there are hundreds of articles about thyroid on the internet. There are pages of comments from patients who fought to gain the freedom to use desiccated thyroid over synthetics. It’s a very interesting search. There are major controversies on both sides.

As for me, yes, I am feeling much better but there are still road blocks. Medicare will no longer pay for desiccated thyroid. On top of that, newer recommendations are saying that thyroid medications should not be prescribed for those over 65. I can’t now find that web site to reference but I will continue to look.

I have already researched doctors in my new place of residence and found one who uses Armour in his practice. I know nothing about him but plan to make him a top priority in finding new docs.

There are millions of women out there who have been along the same path I have had to follow. Out of every ten thyroid patients seven to eight are female. Approximately one in thirteen people in the US have diagnosed or undiagnosed thyroid problems. Synthroid is the third best selling prescription.  The company heavily funds endocrinologists. The makers of the synthetics are banking on women to blindly follow the instructions of these doctors. I can only say to other women, be true to yourselves. How do you actually feel? Are you ready to question? Namaste Attic Annie

 

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Filed under Casual conversation, general topics, health, health thyroid TSH levels, senior citizens, Thyroid, Uncategorized

The Battle of the Thyroid Docs

Statistics

According to studies, which present varying statistics, out of every 10 thyroid sufferers, approximately 7 to 8 are female. It appears that this difference is related to the fact that thyroid conditions are autoimmune in nature for the most part, and that women tend to have more autoimmune illness. (August, 2002)

Prevalence and incidence statistics for Thyroid disorders:

Prevalence of Thyroid disorders: 20 million Americans (NWHIC)

Prevalance Rate: approx 1 in 13 or 7.35% or 20 million people in USA [about data]

Undiagnosed prevalence of Thyroid disorders: about 13 million (based on estimates from the AACE, as reported by Reader’s Digest1; estimated 8 million people (American Medical Women’s Association)

Lifetime risk for Thyroid disorders: 1 in 8 women during their lifetime in the US (American Medical Women’s Association); 1 in 8 for women (NWHIC)

I won’t list all the thyroid symptoms for hypothyroidism but click the link. You will see a biography of my life. After years with our home town GP, I was advised to see a new doctor in high school who finally tested me when I was seventeen. He diagnosed me as being hypothyroid. He made the comment that I had probably had that problem for a number of years. I totally agree.

In third grade I was normal weight. During the next five years I had gained 111 pounds. You can imagine the social problems that caused. My height finally  caught up with my weight in eighth grade and I was able to wear a size 15. Still large but somewhat more proportional.

In high school I gained another twenty five pounds between freshman and senior year.  I lost those twenty five pounds over the summer thanks to Metrecal. That’s basicially a liquid starvation diet. I actually had new friends at college tell me I looked great when I mentioned my weight. They couldn’t believe I was so overweight just three months previously.

My weight yo-yoed for years during college. It once again went down after a tonsillectomy my junior year and once again I was looking fine enough to wear a two piece swim suit.

During that time I never seemed to have much energy, but that was pretty much my life. At times, I was hypersensitive to cold. My face, hands, and feet were often puffy. My hair, which has always been fine, kept getting finer. My brush was filled with hair every day as was the floor of the shower. My nails were brittle, my skin, dry. I lived in a brain fog. My muscles were weak. I was, for so many years, a train wreck. And through all of this I was “normal” on the TSH scale. Of course at that time I wasn’t regularly going to a doctor or having thyroid tests very often. The doctors never discussed the tests with me or told me what the actual results were.  Too often I just heard “You’re normal.”

Then in 1987 my health status really hit the fan. I became extremely tired and my muscles ached and cramped more than I could hardly stand. Those were the early days of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. None of the series of doctors I was seeing (thanks to frequent changes of insurance providers) even recognized either of those problems. I was “depressed” or I “needed to lose weight”. That was in the time of “Yuppie Flu” for those of you who were similarly affected. I don’t remember any of the doctors tracking my thyroid levels. I’ll continue the battle tomorrow. Namaste Attic Annie

 

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Learning All Over Again HELP!

I was halfway through writing yesterday when I had to stop. I saved the draft to finish when I could. Well, now I have the time again but I can’t find the draft to work on it.

I haven’t blogged since December of 2012. So much has changed with WordPress I can’t believe I have to start all over again relearning how to publish. I was proud of myself yesterday when I finally figured out how to add a picture and link sites using visual rather than HTML. I was even researching and using information correctly (I think) directly linking the sites in the material so I wouldn’t be caught plagiarizing.

I’m in the process of moving and can only do a little bit of packing and sorting at a time, so sitting down at my computer is my way of relaxing. It keeps my brain more active than just sitting in front of the TV. I do that as well. I remember when an acquaintance showed me how to originally set up my web page in 2009. My brain was much more able to absorb directions back then and, even though it was very frustrating,  by trial and error I learned how to do pretty much all that I wanted to.

Now I visit the WordPress site and find everything has changed. I click on all places I see, but my “saved draft” is playing hide and seek. My current status says “New Draft”. I know I used to be able to save several drafts so I have hopes that I haven’t permanently sent the old one into oblivion.

Maybe in the new town I will be able to find a WordPress guru who can become my advisor. That would be nice. Right now I’m pretty frustrated with all the blank white spaces and pale blue borders. It’s very soothing to look at but not helpful to my needs right now.

In the meantime, I just have to put yesterday’s draft on hold and hope I can find that lost “child”. Does anyone else who is blogging here have similar problems or am I just showing my age and mental status?

By the way, when I first started blogging I would find a picture that went along with my copy and insert it into my blog. I found a photo on IStock just now I was going to use but when I read the licensing information it says 1 credit is $12.00. Please help! I’m not going to be able to afford any pictures if I have to pay for every one. Where can I find complete guidelines as to what to do?

Namaste Attic Annie

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Old Friends, Dessicated Thyroid Meds, and Moving

Thyroid
A week ago I found an old friend on FB. I lost track of her almost 40 years ago. I’ve asked about her occasionally but never got any information. We had no friends in common. A couple of weeks ago I checked FB again as I have done periodically and there she was. We have been exchanging messages ever since discovering how much we were and still are really alike and different.

I have not blogged since Christmas 2012. Slowly before then and since I have felt the life drain out of me. Doctors really could not figure out what was wrong (and probably dismissed me as depressed). Every CBC that I had showed for several years a very slow but consistent decline in every cell count…white, red, platelets, hemoglobin…my GP sent me to the hematologist twice but all they ever said was “That’s just you. Some people have lower counts.” I finally talked to my alternative MD and showed him the results of my lab work over time. He immediately said, “Your thyroid medication needs to be increased.” The thyroid stimulates the bone marrow to produce blood cells.

I have been on thyroid medication since I was 17. At first until about 10 years ago I was on synthroid. I finally changed doctors (insurance changes) who listened to me. He granted me a prescription for Armour thyroid. We experimented with levels until I felt it was right. Most doctors just look at the test levels. He respected my sense of well being.

Due to my GP’s death, I found an endocrinologist a couple of years ago who tested my TSH levels every six months. He always told me they were in the normal range on the dosage that I was on. I always told him how I was feeling. He never listened. Not only that, through research on the net, I have discovered that the thyroid doctors revised “normal range” to be lower than what my doctor was using. The change in normal range happened ten years ago! Now I’ve never asked him if he ever prescribes Armour thyroid to anyone else. I’m just glad he didn’t insist on putting me back on synthroid. He keeps telling me that only one T4 test is necessary (or maybe it’s T3) when there are several other tests available. It’s all about only the TSH test results. You see there is a tremendous battle going on between those who believe in dessicated thyroid and those who believe in the synthetics. Medicare has even stopped paying for anything but the synthetics.

I started taking the recommended increased dosage and it’s almost like waking up. Not every day, but more frequently I FEEL GOOD! SO GOOD! For me feeling how other people feel (normal) is a God send. I don’t know if I could handle ecstatic. This is good because I’m in the process of packing all my earthly belongings and moving in three weeks. I never would have been able to even contemplate such physical exertion a couple of months ago. When I visited my son at Christmas I had to request a wheel chair at the airport because it was too tiring to pull a suitcase and walk to the gate. I will be ready having done all the packing by myself when the packers come to load the pods. That is a success story for me.

What does this have to do with my friend? The last few messages I’ve sent to her have been rather long. It was almost as if I were writing a blog. I realized how I feel has a direct connection with my desire to write. I decided to see if my blogs could still be found. With changes to wordpress I was frustrated about how to even log in and write a new blog. I have to relearn how to post pictures and videos like I once did.

There’s been so much I want to say but didn’t have the energy to say it. I think I’m ready to share my opinions again.To me it is fun. I”ll have so much to say about my new home town. If you were an old follower, thanks for reading. If you are new, I can’t promise a blog every day like I used to do, but I will sincerely try to be more frequent with my posts. Namaste Attic Annie

 

 

 

 

 

 

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