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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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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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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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The Day After Christmas

Christmas Love

My bed was warm and cozy this morning. I managed to sleep until almost 8 a.m. I have made an executive decision that most of the day will be spent in my flannel pajamas and thick fluffy robe, tube socks, and slippers that are faux fleece lined. They look ridiculous because several years ago I covered them with green felt when I went to a Red Hat sleep over. I wore a huge sleep shirt with a picture of a gigantic frog perched on a lily pad. The slippers were converted to frog feet. There were toes at one time but I had made them too long. I kept stepping on them and almost falling so they now have a toe-ectomy. Since no one will see them, I continue to wear them because they are the most comfortable and warmest in my closet.

I’m staying in this attire because it is the warmest and coziest outfit I can think of. I have given up trying to stay warm in my house when the thermostat is set on 68. As the years go by, I have made staying warm more of a priority. It is now set on 70 and the furnace is running almost constantly since it is in single digits outside. My home is as insulated as I can make it, but there is still a slight chill. I give thanks for warmth on cold winter days.

Every once in a while I am given the gift of realizing that I feel really well…not just physically but also spiritually. Today is one of those days. Even though Christmases are a little hard for me, I found comfort in this one.

A birthday buddy I found about seven years ago has included me as part of her family. She has reunited with her estranged father and so she hosts a dinner for him and his wife. After so many years there seems to be a bond forming between them again. I kind of envy that since there was never enough time for me to experience that with my own father.

After the dinner the two of us went to the candlelight service at church. It is the same every year, but this year I felt a solace that I don’t usually sense. Ill feelings about Christmas go all the way back to childhood. It was a little sad when she confided to me on the way home that she is thinking of changing churches. There has been much conflict the last couple of years in our congregation and we split almost in half. She stayed as I did but she is thinking of moving on.

Yesterday I was invited to the gathering at another friend’s home across the street. She cooks a huge pot of tortilla soup, tamales, beans, and makes wonderful chip dip. They buy a honey baked ham which gives me my pork fix for the year. Her family and friends arrive whenever. I walked across the street around one and had a nice visit while all was calm. It was very nice visiting with her and watching huge snow flakes fall outside. As the day went on, her two daughters and their families appeared, and a short while later two more relatives and their families arrived. The house was getting crowded so I decided to come home, full of her delicious food.

Her home is a little more drafty than mine so I had wisely chosen to put on another layer of underwear. By the time all those people had gathered, I was getting a little toasty. My introversion kicked in and I realized it was time to move on. I weary after four hours with any group.

Before I went to bed, another friend called to share her success about hosting her family for Christmas. She has so many best friends I can’t count them all, but she has chosen to add me to her “club”. It is one of those rare honors one is given in life to find a friend like her.

Back in 1968 I was dating a young Marine. He surprised me at Christmas and came home on leave. It was during that time we got engaged. Since he was in officer’s school and knew he would be heading to Viet Nam, I had no idea what to give him as a present. I decided to borrow a negligee gown and wrap from my aunt, (which had remained unworn in her drawer for several years), wrap a ribbon sash around me and sit under the tree with a gift of a big smile. It was a wonderful Christmas. I believed I had been given the gift of love. Things didn’t work out with him, but if I concentrate, I can connect with the good feelings of those few days.

I woke up this morning realizing I had been dreaming about him. I realized that the dream was probably because of “King of the Hill”. John reminds me very much of Hank Hill.  If I wake during the early morning around 4, that show is usually on. I guess I was hearing it in my sleep and started thinking of my love. After all these years I accepted the fact after fighting it for almost fifty years that for a number of reasons there will always be a part of me that loves him, but I realized today that I am setting myself free. Maybe the memories will now fade and I will recognize that that relationship also had its toxic moments that I have too long suppressed and all worked out for the greater good.

Whatever the cause of my feelings of joy today, I am grateful and will relish every minute. It is a new feeling to associate with Christmas and I will hold onto it as long as possible. I hope your days were as blessed as mine. Namaste. Attic Annie

holly

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What to Wear on Christmas Eve

sue's sweater

…and there it was, hanging right in front of me.

Once again it is Christmas Eve. I have been invited this evening to a friend’s home for tamales before going to the Candlelight Service. I have known this friend for about six years. I think this is the fourth year of invitations. I have been trying all day to figure out what I want to wear. It makes little difference at our church. There will be many in jeans and several in new outfits with every style in between. I guess that’s one of the reasons I like going to this place. I have never felt any sense of pretension. It really isn’t a matter of what one wears.

I have not bought any new clothes for Christmas in more years than I can count. Actually after twenty years of being unchurched, it has only been eight years that I have attempted to attend. My memory of Christmas Eves does not extend much beyond that.

I have a black long sleeve tee that is decorated with an embroidered cardinal and sequined white poinsettia  flowers. The cardinal is the state bird of Illinois, my home state, so it is a little connection with home, even though I haven’t lived there in thirty five years. The cardinal is a beautiful symbol for Christmas and winter I think.

“The cardinal makes a fantastic animal totem. It reminds us to hold ourselves with pride – not ego pride. Rather, the cardinal asks us to stand a little taller, be a bit more regal, step into our natural confidence as if we were born to lead with grace and nobility”. I tend to hold back in crowds. I thought perhaps if I wear the cardinal I can be a little more joyous.

“As we observe the cardinal – particularly against the backdrop of the stark winter months, we are reminded that even when things appear bleak or isolated, there is always the presence of beauty, hope, and love”. The tee was a gift from my cousin’s family. She transitioned two years ago. The top still had its tags on. I had been with her when she bought it. The cardinal was her favorite totem. I wanted to feel close to her tonight.

I mentally went through other things in my closet. It’s not supposed to get really colder until tomorrow when it might snow. I don’t think it will, however. I think any snow will stop about forty five miles north of us around Denton.

I washed a couple of loads of clothes and hung them on my rack in the laundry room. And there was my answer hanging right in front of me. The very last time I saw my cousin she was wearing a new sweater. When we hugged, I was amazed by the softness of the weave. It felt so like her. Her husband asked me to take whatever I wanted when I left because by that time it was a matter of weeks. I couldn’t get myself to take anything without feeling very uncomfortable. I kind of felt I would be in the deathbed scene of Scrooge when the chambermaids were stealing the curtains before he was even dead.  I did ask him to mail me a couple of things when he was able to get around to it. That sweater was one of the few things I felt I truly wanted.

So tonight I am wearing that sweater. It will be warm enough to wear without a coat as opposed to the thinner tee. It will be soft and cuddly and I will be sharing  the service with Sue once again feeling her loving arms wrapped around me. The number of people I share this holiday with has almost entirely dwindled away but the spirit of my gentle, talented cousin will be with me to the end…at least until the sweater and the tee become too tattered to wear. Merry Christmas, y’all. Namaste. Attic Annie

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When will it make a difference?

pistol

I have refrained from talking about Newtown, CT because the world wide coverage has been nonending and overwhelming. I didn’t think my little blog would make a difference.

I guess it’s because I’ve lived through so many assassinations, attempted assassinations, and massacres since my senior year in high school that I really am ashamed to admit that I don’t react as emotionally as I once did. I guess you could call me jaded at this point. I shed a few tears when I first saw the pictures of the children. It’s hard to stay totally emotional when one reads about their young lives.

I used to be quite an advocate of gun control. When I first heard of the shootings this time, I was wondering how long it would take for those in favor of control to  start shouting about tighter control. I knew we would see all the statistics about the US being number one in homicides with guns. We’d see we are number one in gun ownership. We’d see all the facts and it would not begin to phase those who are against any kind of control.

I soon heard the worn out comments about taking guns away from law abiding citizens. Control will make it that much easier for criminals to commit crimes. Every US citizen has a right to own as many and as powerful a gun or a multitude of guns because it says so in the Constitution. Background gun checks are a joke. Gun shows are rampant.

Actually I never understood the thinking of US citizens. As much as I hate to see it, I know that people still like to hunt but I’ve never understood the assault weapons. Hunt with one of those and the meat won’t be fit to eat.

James Madison proposed the Second Amendment. He never said anybody at any time could own any type of gun. This is the Second Amendment:

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” A militia is regulated by officers. Citizens are called upon in times of emergencies. My solution for the gun crisis in America is to completely get rid of assault rifles. They serve absolutely no purpose other than mass killings.  The second step would require any person who desires to own a gun shall be required to attend militia training. There would be no firing of weapons without consent of the officers. They would be willing to serve every time it is necessary for armed defense. If they no longer desire to serve in a militia, they would no longer own a gun. There is one problem with this concept. There are already militia formed in every state and many of them have been formed under less than altruistic motives. Kind of paramilitary force…not exactly good.

The Constitution was written in the 1700s when the types of guns were limited to flintlock muskets and single shot pistols. The writers could not have envisioned the weapons of mass destruction that are available now. It is time to stop these days of destruction. Namaste  Atticannie

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When Pranks End Badly

I tried to post a picture but my computer won’t let me.

It was just a harmless prank in the minds of the two Australian radio personalities. They probably thought that the Countess was just being pampered because of a little “morning sickness”.

Everyone who heard them would know that she couldn’t possibly be the Queen with the horrible accent, right? The hospital staff would hang up on them anyway. So they call the hospital where the wife of the second in line to the British throne is recuperating from “morning sickness” and pretend to be the Queen. Instead, for some unknown reason the call is put through and they actually talk to the nurse personally in charge of the patient.

The nurse gives out medically private information although nothing that seems too personal (to me). The patient is resting and is being rehydrated. The DJs learn the situation is more serious than the condition millions of women around the world suffer during their pregnancy, as if making fun of any woman with morning sickness is ever funny.

The call ends and the two DJs congratulate each other on the success of their phone call. It was a  harmless prank after all.

Why do people feel it funny to prank?  It is often that they get their thrills out of the public embarrassment or humiliation caused to the victim. They are happy seeing their victims turn red or hearing others around laughing. The problem is the laughter is directed AT the victim and not WITH him. Who was the intended victim of this prank? Was it the hospital, the Countess, or the culpable nurses?

People will not stop playing pranks on others, but they do so with the possibilities of consequences. As was the case with the hospital calls.

The DJs could not have known that the nurse who put the call through to the floor was originally from India. They could not have known that saving the family from disgrace is extremely important. Family honor is first in the lives of thousands of Indian women. She could not forgive herself for her role in this situation. Do I know that for certain? Of course not, although she left suicide notes and I am guessing at the content.

All she did was answer the phone and put the call through. She was not even the one who gave out the information. But that was enough for her. Sadly, she saw no way out of the humiliation, so she hanged herself. The caring and concern of the Prince and Countess was not enough to swage the guilt she felt at her culpability.

The family was deprived of a wife and mother. Knowing this woman died because of a “joke” will haunt them the rest of their lives.

The DJs lost their jobs and probably their entire careers in the radio business. The hospital most likely will review their policies about phone calls making it even harder for caring loved ones to find out about any of the patients, even if it IS the Queen who is doing the calling.

Will pranksters continue to take advantage of others? Probably not. After all, we even have a  day devoted to pranks and practical jokes. April Fool’s Day is the international day celebrated to flush out the April Fools. It’s been around since the 1500s and is not going away any time soon. However, on that day, people at least have a fighting chance of knowing they are being pranked and they live in countries where generally honor is not so deadly serious.

Hopefully, those who prank will think twice about what they do to others in order to get a laugh. Hopefully, the world will learn a lesson, especially if the prank is on a complete stranger. Why “hopefully”? Because you never know the repercussions until it is too late.

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