Sunday, November 15, 2009

Of Scans and Psychosis

When I was 10 years old – 32 years ago, for those of you keeping track – I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, aka chronic thyroiditis.  At that time I was started on desiccated thyroid tablets (aka pork or cow thyroid gland ground up and dried – yeah, it’s gross, but I didn’t find this out till much later).  This was in the days before Synthroid (aka levothyroxine – stuff made in a lab – I don’t know if that’s better or worse than the ground up thyroid glands of other mammals).


So, before it became trendy to have thyroid trouble, I had thyroid trouble.  Of course, I can’t really blame much on my thyroid because my thyroid levels have been in good shape since I started medication.  Well, except for one month.  You see, when I was ten, the doctors took blood and felt my thyroid gland and made the diagnosis and gave me medicine and I was good with all this.  When I was 14, though, they decided they wanted to do a nuclear medicine scan of my thyroid gland.  The only reason I can think that they decided to do this at that time in my life was that the scanner was new and exciting.  I mean, what could have changed in 4 years.  We already knew that my thyroid gland was the size of, well, something larger than it should be. 

So, the doctors in their great wisdom (I didn’t know then that I would join their ranks 20-odd years later) had me go off my thyroid medicine for a month so they could do the scan.  I don’t remember much about this time in my life.  I was 14 and the major decisions in my world generally involved clothing choices and who to sit with at lunch.  But, as my mother tells it, the month was not pretty.  By the time we got to the scan, she told the technicians to get the scan over with so I could have my medication back because I was crying at the drop of a hat.  Apparently, I was a little more moody than usual.  Although, I remember 14 being a pretty moody time of life, so I’m not sure how she could be sure.  But, she was. 


I remember getting to see the scan itself, which was cool.  The thyroid gland looks like a butterfly.  Mine looked like a really big butterfly.  According to the technicians, at least.  I’m not sure it was good for a teen girl’s psyche to hear the techs marvel about “the size of that thing”!  But, there it was, in all it’s glory – my 5x normal size thyroid gland.  (When I got a lovely string of pearls after graduating med school, I had to get an extender because they didn’t fit around my neck because of my enlarged thyroid gland.  True story.)

Well, I went back on medication and had no further incidents until I was 17 when I was switched over to Synthroid which made me happy because the crushed-up cow or pork thyroid gland kind of grossed me out a bit.  Then my endocrinologist also decided that he wanted to do a fine needle aspiration, yet another new technology.  I was starting to feel like a thyroid guinea pig.  I politely declined.  My mother accepted.  I declined.  My mother accepted and told me that if I wanted to eat at her table again, I would have the procedure done.  She won.  I’m not proud.  Food is my downfall.  And I was a minor – what were my options?  I almost fainted during the procedure, but it only took 10 minutes and did not require giving up my thyroid medication.  And the samples were completely normal.  Yippee.

So, for the next 28 years, I’ve been faithfully taking my levothyroxine (various brand names based on what was cheapest), having my levels checked, and having different doctors feel my thyroid gland (wow, that’s a big gland!).  No big deal.  I know I have a couple of nodules and nothing has changed.

But . . . and that’s where things get dicey.  Chronic thyroiditis is associated with an increased chance of thyroid cancer as well as lymphoma.  (It’s also associated with diabetes, Addison’s disease, and other autoimmune diseases which my doctor and I keep in the backs of our minds.)  So, since it’s been 28 years since my thyroid gland has been imaged, I’m having another nuclear med scan done the first week of December.  This time they wanted me off my meds for 6 weeks.  It’s been almost 4 weeks now.

And this is where we get to the psychosis part of the title!!  OK, that may be a little hyperbole.  Or not.  But, let me tell you, I am seriously missing my thyroid replacement.  My headaches are worse.  I’m exhausted, but have trouble sleeping.  My skin is more dry.  My moods are all over the place – and I don’t realize that I’m being moody until I’ve already gone and said or done something I regret.  And I’m freezing cold!!!  I feel like my entire body has gone on full-scale rebellion! 

Two and a half more weeks till I can have my meds back!!  And, I’m probably going back to desiccated thyroid to see if that might help the headaches a bit.  I figure that, at 42, I should be able to get over the source of the tablet.  Right?  Right.  But,the main thing is that I get my meds back as of December 3!!!!!!!!!!!  I will be a truly happy girl again!  Well, after about a week or so when the levels come back up.  In the meantime, I’m hanging on by my fingernails and praying for my poor family!



The Mother said...

My MIL is on synthroid, and has had to go off her meds on occasion for testing.

Gotta tell ya, with that woman, it is occasionally hard to tell when she's psychotic and when she's not.

But I know I cut her more slack during those times.

lisbeth in wi said...

Hey there, I enjoy reading your blog but every other first line of a paragraph is all scrunchy, any idea why? I can almost make out the words but it is frustrating. Anyway, hang in there with the synthroidless life. You can do it!!