In March, I had my thyroid and iodine levels checked. The blood tests had indicated sub-clinical hypothyroidism. What this means is that I have a TSH level that is slightly out of the normal range, but my T4 and T3 levels remain in the normal range. I also showed a slight deficiency in iodine levels. For whatever reason, I have difficulty tolerating any type of supplement or medication that can potentially be stimulating. I had been on thyroid medication before, but with great difficulty. Not wanting to derail any progress I had made, my nurse decided she would gently treat me for a few months with iodine to see if I could get my TSH levels back into a healthier range. Despite taking the iodine and continuing on my Lyme treatment plan, I have continued to experience some mild symptoms of hypothyroidism (weight gain, muscle pains, dry skin, etc).
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Two days ago, I had my routine, monthly follow up with my Lyme Nurse Practitioner. After some careful discussion, she confirmed that I was still exhibiting symptoms of hypothyroidism and that the iodine had not done enough to restore optimal thyroid function. In the past, I had used Armour, a natural thyroid preparation made from porcine glands (such a lovely thought). My longest stretch of Armour usage was about one year, during which I continually experienced nervousness, jitteriness and a few other strange symptoms for the duration of time I was taking it.
My nurse practitioner felt that since Armour is made with both T4 and T3, perhaps I did not need the extra T3 and had begun to experience symptoms of hyperthyroidism instead. Since no one had ever bothered to re-check my blood levels, we can only guess this is what had happened.
We decided my best course of action this time around would be to try a T4 only preparation in the form of Levothyroxine, beginning at the lowest dose of 25mcg and working up if need be. Excited about this new treatment plan, hubby and I swiftly went to the pharmacy and I gulped down my first pill before I was even out of the store!
One hour went by. I felt nothing. Feeling nothing is usually a good sign with me as it means I am not reacting negatively. I thought, “This is it. This will finally be the right medication.” As the next few hours progressed, I had forgotten I had even taken the pill.
Approximately three hours after I had taken the medication, I began to feel burning pain up my spinal cord and a severe sense of achiness right down to my very bones. I shivered with chills and had to cover up with a blanket. I tried to go to sleep, but despite taking my normal sleep medication, I was unable to catch even a wink of sleep. At 4:00am, I was up dry skin brushing and taking an epsom salts foot bath trying desperately to calm the burning sensation that was occurring throughout my body. I rubbed some calming essential oils on my wrists, took some additional sleep medication and finally fell asleep for a few hours. This was not the intended reaction to the medication.
As is often the case with Lyme Disease, nothing is ever very simple. This can get very confusing and actually quite frustrating.
Yesterday, I opted not to take the medication. I am not sure I feel brave enough to go through that again. It just may end up as yet another addition to the ever-growing dizzying spiral of medications and supplements. It takes a lot out of me when I have to endure those excruciating flare ups of burning in my brain and spinal cord mixed with sleepless nights. I am meeting with my local LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor) next week and will run this scenario past him for a second opinion. I don’t know why I have this sort of reaction to thyroid medication and I am feeling a little bit dismayed at the moment. Since all of my doctors and nurses visits are paid out-of-pocket, I hate having an unproductive visit and that is currently how I am feeling about this last one.
Hopefully, I can get this piece of the puzzle in place soon. Progress has been made but it is very slow going. I will be investigating an interesting new treatment approach during the month of June that may help to direct the next steps of my treatment that I will be writing about. In addition, next month I will also be writing a full 8 month treatment update so I can compare my current progress from that of 4 month ago. Until then, I will be brushing up on the anatomy and physiology of my thyroid gland.
Don’t be jealous.
I would love to hear from you about your experiences taking thyroid medications. Has it been helpful? Did you have trouble tolerating the medications? Please feel free to leave me a comment.
To read the update to this post, please click here.