Billy Mays and Peter Steele, I do not want to follow in your footsteps.

Written by The Thyroid Chronicles on April 21, 2010 – 11:14 am -

About a month ago, I paid three hundy to roll out to Covina to see a doc and get me some Armour. As with every other step in this hellacious process, I thought this was the one that was going to make me look good again. When doc handed me the meds, he said to change my dosage according to my symptoms because it’s natural and can’t hurt.

Fast forward a couple of weeks: I’m still fat, tired, plagued by allergies, and generally miserable. Thus, I increased my medication. No change. So I increased more. Still no change. So I increased again; over two times my regular dosage, to be exact. After a couple of weeks of this, finally, a change: racing heartbeat, fever, nausea, soul-crushing headaches, and body aches, YET STILL FAT. Not really the kind of changes I was looking for.

I laid off the Armour entirely for four days until my heartbeat slowed down to something approaching normal, because I clearly had too much medication built up in my body. If I exercised during that time, my heart coulda blown and I would’ve died of heart failure like Billy Mays and Peter Steele and everyone would’ve thought I was a chronic cokewhore, and I would’ve been too dead to refute it.

Before the internet, peeps such as myself would’ve been left to wonder what the heck was wrong with them, but thankfully, through groups such as the Coalition for Natural Desiccated Thyroid, I know that other peeps have been having similar problems as well. A likely culprit is that the cellulose filler is blocking absorption of the medication.

Coincidentally, the day after I got the medication from the doc in Covina, I got an unexpected delivery from Advanced Compounding Pharmacy. Two months ago, I’d asked for natural desiccated thyroid compounded with acidophilos instead of crappy cellulose, but ACP said they needed the old hag from the clinic I’d been seeing to sign off on it. Since I had more chance of regrowing my dang thyroid then getting that old bat to agree, I found the Covina doc. Then, the morning after the Covina appt, it showed up at my door unannounced, along with a receipt stating they charged $40 to my credit card on file. ANNOYING. Though I could return it, I came to see this new arrival as fortuitous. Thus, a new cycle of experimentation has begun. Will this new compounded be better than the new Armour? Will I ever fit into my size 2 jeans again? Please, Baby Jesus, please make it so!

Baby Jesus, bestower of thinocity?

Will Baby Jesus make me hawt again?


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“Maybe tomorrow will be the first day of the rest of my life.”

Written by The Thyroid Chronicles on March 16, 2010 – 9:37 pm -

I always think this same phrase the day before I change doctors and/or change medications.  As a habit, I keep this thought to myself because I’m almost always let down. The way I came into knowing about my newest doc was a bit out of the ordinary; before the Scientologist closed the book on me (literally), she mentioned that she also had a thyroid problem and her doctor was a fantastic MD/naturopath and she’d been seeing him for 20 years.

As I was taking my baby gurl for her final walkiez last night, the eve of my appointment, it occurred to me that I’d not yet thought to check him out online. This, from a woman whose top three phrases includes “Google that shit”. As soon as I returned, I found his website: http://www.privitera.com/, which was not nearly as interesting as his Wikipedia site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Privitera.  It seems it takes a renegade to have common sense these days, so I was still game.

So I got up less than three hours after our 4am earthquake, which is an unheard of time for me, and pulled on the same outfit I’ve been wearing for three days (because it is one of only two outfits that still fits me) and made the trek out to Covina. As soon as I rolled into the office, I heard the receptionist telling a patient over the phone that they only had Nature-throid in stock. I squawked, “WHAT, YOU HAVE NATURE-THROID IN STOCK???” You see, I have been calling around since last fall for Nature-throid, and it was backordered everywhere (at least at the places that had even heard of it). Now I knew this was gonna be good day, and I wouldn’t even have to use my AK!

The nurse had me step on the scale: 136. Oh goodie, I’d gained 10 lbs in two weeks. Some people may think not being able to feel my left arm and leg for that same period of time would be more annoying, but those people would be wrong. I decided not to niggle about this though, because this was the first day of the rest of my life.

First, they did a live blood scan.

Perfect red and white blood cells, as well as platelets and plasma

Nuva ringz and evil thingz

The Nuva-ring lookin dealies are my red blood cells, and they’re perfect, thank you very much.  Some of the other quasar lookin things are the white blood cells and platelets, which are also perf.  The evil smiley in the lower left is is my folic acid, which was not lookin so good.  There are supposed to be a maximum of two holes, which would account for the eyes, but the four-ish holes comprising the mouth signifies a deficiency.  The gal doing the test said I could remedy this by increasing my intake of leafy greens; problem is, I eat so many greens I have them coming out of my ears – I have a handful of spinach in my daily breakfast shake, then perhaps another pound of greens throughout the day.  She said perhaps I was deficient in hydrochloric acid, which means I am not absorbing my nutrients.  Funny, that – a couple of months back, I posted to my thyroid support group that I felt I was not absorbing my medication, despite an increase in dose, and one of my fellow peeps suggested low HCl may be a problem.  Corroboration, complete!  The great thing is that HCl is cheap and readily obtainable.

Next, she had to collect hair samples to screen for heavy metal toxicity.  She snipped off a wee lock and save only the two inches closest to the root, then repeat til the total saved weighed 1 gram.  Due to my fine, thyroidal hair, this took 13 snips, the most she said she’d ever had to clip by at least double.

It took 13 snips of hair to make a gram

Sad little seedlings

Then I met the big man, Dr. P.  He looked at my tests and said, “They’re practically perfect – so what are you here for?”  I said I have Hashimoto’s.  He replied, “Well, that’s easy, just take natural thyroid for the rest of your life!”  “That’s not so easy with the jokers we’ve got in the medical establishment right now”, I said.  From there, we preached to each others’ choirs.  We talked nutrition.  How to relieve allergies by supporting our immune systems with vitamin C, rather than squash our immune response with whatever pill happens to be promoted on the drug-pushers post-its that month.  How to reduce stomach acids and increase digestion by increasing consumption of acids, rather than the common folly of taking antacids to destroy what precious little we have.  We sang kumbaya.

I walked out of there a few minutes later with a couple of months’ worth of the medicine I’d been seeking for months, another appointment in three weeks to go over my hair snippet toxicity tests, and last but not least, a new ally in my quest to be normal again.

Today may finally have been the first day of the rest of my life.

Posted in Armour, food, health, Thyroid | No Comments »

The medical establishment sux

Written by The Thyroid Chronicles on February 10, 2010 – 11:56 am -

I’ve just had the most disturbing phone call – a cliche, really.  The epitome of the life with someone with Hashimoto’s.

After my beloved Armour was reformulated, then backordered, myself and thousands of other patients were left scrambling.  I tried to go raw and take various tinctures to get well, which was a dismal, and nearly mortal, failure.

I waddled into the Westside Family Health Center in Santa Monica and got a renewed prescription for Armour that I was able to have compounded at Advanced Compounding Pharmacy in North Hollywood.  I was certain I would finally come out of the tunnel, but after a month, I still felt and looked awful.  I had to fight the Clinic to get the proper blood tests, and, of course, the bloodwork proved me right and my dosage was increased.

Still, I felt awful.

I contacted my pharmacy to see if I could get the medicine in a different medium; it is possible that the gelatin capsule was hindering my absorption, but the same medication in liquid or lozenge form may do the trick.

It’s the same medication in the same dosage, so that shouldn’t be a problem, right? But nothing in this saga can ever be easy.  TJ, the pharmacist, told me that any change has to be approved by the doctor, even one as innocuous as simply changing the vehicle to get the prescribed medicine into my body.  TJ said he would call my doctor.  It seemed to me like a simple request and I hoped for the best, but I’ve learned not to expect anything good from WFHC – the aforementioned acquiring of prescription and drug tests took three visits and at least twenty phone calls over the course of three to four months. Not surprisingly, I heard nothing after several days.  I followed up with TJ, who said he’d left two messages already and was soon to leave another.  In addition, I had left two messages myself.

Still, silence. I called again and left a message for the doctor, stating that I was out of medication and needed a simple change that would not effect the dosage or type of medicine, just the method of absorption, and it would only take a minute. I finally got a phone call in return, and it was exactly what I expected from this draconian institution. Dr. Archana Kulkarni, who would do well with a second career in voiceovers as a shriveled black widow spider queen,

evil doctor's real form

Dr. Archana Kulkarni

said I could not just call every few days for a prescription change.  I said she didn’t return any of my or my pharmacist’s calls, so really, it was just one call gone unreturned, repeatedly.  She said I needed to come in and have more blood tests, after which time she’d increase the medication, if need be, but would not change the vehicle of absorption.  I told her I needed a benchmark for the tests and wondered if they were just trying to suck more money out of me by having me repeat tests that would still show I was low – after $200 in useless tests, I was not in a hurry to repeat them and get the same result.  She said the cost was my fault, with the ordering of the newfangled T3 and T4 tests I demanded, rather than just TSH.  I said TSH is a pituitary hormone and only tangentally related to thyroid, while T3 and T4 are the very least that need to be done.  Anyway, the whole point was moot if they would not change the vehicle of absorption.  Then she espoused the typical uneducated line: that Armour is an “old” drug, not standardized in dosage, and they only prescribe synthetics, because they are “more reliable”.  My explanation that this is a common misperception  and she only believes that because the synthetics have better lobbyists fell on deaf ears.

money=medical expert?

The dictators of medical policy

She said my needs go beyond what the clinic provides and she would have to refer me to UCLA Harbor.  I said fine, who do I talk to, I’ve got the pen ready.  She said it wasn’t that easy, that she’d request the change but they might not contact me for months  Then she changed her tune and said she wouldn’t put in for a transfer for me unless I made an appointment, came in, waited three hours, paid the fee to see her and asked her nicely then.

You can imagine that the conversation devolved quickly from there.

So here I am again, chubby, tired, and dejected.  I reflected upon the good old days – those two years when I was able to get Armour and it worked and I was in love with life.  How could I get back to that place?  I’d never been able to get through before, but I decided to give Forest Laboratories, the makers of Armour, another call.  At long last, I spoke with a human in customer service, who transferred me to another human in quality control, who took all my information and my comments on the reduced efficacy of the Armour reformulation.

Anywho, why don’t you guys in the same boat give Forest Labs a call?  The number is 866-927-3260.  I spoke with Alisha.  She was quite pleasant.  I told her I knew of many patients for whom the reformulation was not working as well and she said to give them the number and have them call.  So there you have it.  Tell them. Until then, I don’t see much reason to pay $40 for compounded medicine that’s not working, so I’m gonna try this:

Wish me luck!

Posted in Armour, health, Thyroid | 1 Comment »

I spoke too soon.

Written by The Thyroid Chronicles on November 3, 2009 – 2:37 pm -

Since my body completely shut down while I was camping, I have been choking on my thyroid. It feels rather like when you eat too many crackers and can’t swallow, or when something gets stuck in your throat. I thought it would go away after the Armour started to do its work, but the persistent lump in my throat has not dissipated one bit. I move my neck this way and that, yawn really largely, try to puff it out like a bullfrog. Drink water, drink juice, drink food, as if I can rinse or push it away. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because the lump feels so large and uncomfortable that I cannot stop compulsively doing neck exercises, to put some space between my thyroid and whatever is touching it.

My throat is full of thyroid

My throat's not fat, it's just pregnant

Yesterday, I realized that it had been at least two days since I felt the omnipresent golf ball and brazenly announced this fact on Facebook.

Perhaps such brazenity was my folly, as today I am choking again. I did a little research and words like goiter, nodules, and cancer appeared, bringing along with them, TERROR. I am loading up on fresh fruit and veg, hoping to assuage whatever horrors lie in my lower neckal regions.

Three weeks until my blood tests. My fingers are crossed.

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Houston, we have circulation! (most of the time)

Written by The Thyroid Chronicles on October 21, 2009 – 9:42 pm -

I waddled into the clinic in a tracksuit, looking like a bag of ass and feeling even worse.  The inefficiency at the clinic causes a two-hour wait for most appointments and the parking is only on the street, so I had to keep shuffling out to my car to move it.  I discovered that one needs to be able to walk properly in order to jaywalk successfully.  In spite of said mental note, I jaywalked three separate times, slightly terrified with Frogger graphics playing in my mind as I once again forgot I was incapable of jogging and hurriedly dragged my left leg along behind me while trying to stumble across the street.

My fave moment was when I stepped on the scale and the nurse said “128″.  I said wistfully, “I weighed 117.5 last week.”  She glanced around and said, “Maybe we can find you another scale…” “Nope, that won’t be necessary, that one was accurate, I’m just having a bit of a situation at the moment.”  I could hear the frowns in my own voice.  I felt like I was cropdusting the clinic with those sad little Zoloft faces (which are ridiculously cute, aren’t they?).


The med student was very sweet and did not let her jaw drop like most peeps do when I discussed how I’d fOked with the thyroid.  I asked why peeps can cure themselves of cancer but I can’t stop making antibodies against my own thyroid.  She told me the usual thing, that once you have thyroid disease you have to be medicated for the rest of your life and we are lucky now to have the medicine, because people used to die from hypothyroidism.  I nodded sagely, a little scurred since I thought I was perhaps going to expire just the day before.  Regardless of the outcome of my experiment, the underlying problem still remained: I needed medicine, but could not get it anywhere.  I actually managed to get a bottle a few weeks ago (no, I won’t share) but wasn’t taking it because I wanted to do my experiment.  Here’s my rationale: if I took the full bottle, then ran out, then could not refill it, then I would be SOL on my deathbed.  If I saved the bottle In Case Of Emergency, however, I could do the experiment and start taking the pizzizzles again if my body completely broke down, as it did, which would buy me some time to figure out next steps.  Anywho, I showed the student my bottle and she said, incredulously, “But you have refills left.”  I was having trouble getting through here.  I tried to explain again that the sky could be raining Armour prescriptions but there are no PILLZ to fill them.  I tried to describe to her how it was backordered, like the Hermes Birkin bag was back in the day.

Armour backordered like the Birkin of yoreArmour backordered like the Birkin of yore

Unfort, going to the clinic at that particular stage in my illness was not very helpful.  One needs to be on consistent medication for six weeks before blood tests are done in order to know if one needs their levels adjusted, so I will be having the blood work when the time is nigh.  If I were to have taken blood tests that day, all they would’ve proven was I definitely needed medication, stat.  The clinic will give me a prescription, just as soon as I find a pharmacy that carries Armour.  If I wouldn’t have gone in, however, I reckon someone would have dragged me there anyway, so it was just best to go with the flow and get some professional corroboration, if not a little sympathy.

I have a bottle of 60mg pills but I take 75mg/day, so I am supposed to take 1 1/4 of them each day.  Armour changed the formulation of the binding, which I’ve heard is part of the supply problem, so even with a pill cutter, the pills spray apart like I hit them with a hammer.  Thus, I take 1 1/2 pills one day, 1 1/2 the next, 1 the next, which is not really accurate.  I’m almost a little too pOmped, so I think I’m going to start taking only 1 pill, 60mgs/day, just to string them along.  After they run out, I will likely have to find a compounding pharmacy and pay $60/month to have my prescription formulated.  I’ve heard of a medication called Nature-throid but I haven’t found any pharmacy that carries it.  I shall not be taking the hideous Synthroid, as I looked and felt only slightly better while taking that than I did last week on nothing at all.  Perhaps I can contract with a local meat packer to get their unused raw thyoid glands.  fOk!

I do not want to have to eat these raw out of cows
I do not want to have to eat these raw out of cows

Incidentally, I went back to the clinic today and weighed myself on that same scale: 120.  Within one week, I went from 117.5 to 128 and nine days after that I weighed 120.  My left side has circulation most of the time though I still can’t sleep on it.  I am walking normally and only occasionally feel the need to shake my left arm and leg like Rain Man.  Sometimes everything looks like it’s made out of satin or candy and I have to take a seat rather quickly, which makes me wonder if I had some sort of stroke along the way.  My throat has been closing up a lot so I make a lot of faces, which is really no different from any other time.  I do a lot of sleeping, so much so that it is more accurately termed “nightly hibernation” – up to 12 hours/day.  I feel bad for my body and am trying to be really nice to it.  I think the Vidacell stuff I’m taking has actually been quite helpful, as I have bounced back rather quickly.  I am also relieved to look cherubic as opposed to balloon-like.  Thankfully, no one had to see 128, since I was sequestered in my apartment wearing the same tracksuit like the visage of death for those few days.

Thyroid, how you vex me.  But I will still experiment, because that is what I do.

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Lesson learned: do not fOk with the thyroid

Written by The Thyroid Chronicles on October 11, 2009 – 9:04 pm -

The downfall of my overseas trip turned out to be for the best, cuz if this had happened to me while I was in the Caucasus, I’d be SOL fo sho.

I have been having trouble getting my prescription filled for Armour thyroid medicine in the correct dosage.  Armour only comes in a few different dosages, which need to be cut up to make the correct combination.  As my usual combination was unavailable, I called my endocrinologist to ask for a different combination, but her nurse said that she would not write me another prescription until I came in for an appointment.  This is fair, as I haven’t been to see her in two years and haven’t had my levels checked in that time.  As you may surmise, two years is how long it’s been since I’ve had decent health insurance.  Since I left CBS, I’ve had a Blue Cross plan that should be considered criminal – I pay $91/month for what I am told now told is called “catastrophic” insurance, because coverage does not kick in until I’ve paid $3500 out of pocket in a year.    What’s catastrophic is that I am not eligible to be seen at a free clinic, because I am technically “insured”.  To see my endocrinologist and have the requisite blood tests would be, at minimum, $1000, which is just a little out of my price range at the mo.  I was in a lather about the injustice of the health care system in this country, until I saw this article from Natural News and got a whole different issue to get worked up about: http://www.naturalnews.com/027073_thyroid_the_FDA_health.html.  Armour’s website says there is a problem with obtaining source material: http://www.armourthyroid.com/.  I believed this, but am a conspiracy theorist at heart, so after I read the NN article, the light went on.  OF COURSE the FDA would try to shut down production on the natural medication, as they are in the pocket of the makers of a drug that was grandfathered in as “safe” without long-term testing.  So instead of being outraged that I was being denied the medication I needed because I couldn’t afford the health care, I turned to being outraged that my truly effective natural medicine was being blacklisted to make way for a chemical mess.

Which is when I decided to fOk the man and go rogue.

People cure themselves of cancer with vegetables, for chrissakes, why can’t I cure myself of a little thyroid condition?  When I ran out of pizzizzles, I didn’t sweat it.  I said, “That’s cool, I’m gonna beat this thing – I’m a freaking survivor.”  I envisioned myself like Jenny McCarthy when she told the world she cured her son of Autism with proper diet.  I was gonna cure my thyroid disease.  I read up on a nutritional supplement called Vidacell, which has pages of testimonials written by people cured of various ailments: http://www.thehealthiestpeople.com/.  I started taking it twice a day.  I’ve been religiously drinking a shake loaded with healthful components each day, including iodine, cinnamon, cayenne, spinach, Greek yogurt, nutritional yeast, and maca root, just to name some of the ingredients.  I lessened my drinking considerably.  I STOPPED VISITING THE BURRITO WAGON.

I really thought it was going to work.  I spoke brusquely of unmedicated Hashimoto’s sufferers falling into comas, but how this was not going to happen to me.  I was going to become a Super-Powered Human Being.  My moods were getting a little wonky, but surely that would even out when the Vidacell had time to work its magic.  And my hair, falling out and landing on the plates of my dinner companions?  Sure to pass.  My eyes, dry and scratchy as when I went without sunglasses in the Middle East?  My skin, once so soft but now almost unbearably dry to the touch?  The complete and utter exhaustion, which kept me in bed for up to twelve hours per day and made me feel as if I was taking each step with Hulk Hogan on piggyback?  Of niggling consequence.  What greater body to experiment with than one’s own?

That is, until the unthinkable happened.  Out of all the symptoms I’d had, only one was insurmountable.  Only one had provided the impetus several years ago to fire three doctors in an effort to find one who would finally switch me from Synthroid to Armour.

Getting fat.

Being chubbed out through no fault of my own gave me the outrage and self-pity to get on Armour in the first place.  After all, if you’re bald and look like a cancer patient, everyone pities you; if you’re fat, surely it’s your own fat fault, right?  But it’s been so long since I’d been fat that I thought I could never be fat again.

Tuesday morning, I noticed I was waddling.  I finally got on the scale Thursday.  I’d gained 5 pounds, practically overnight.  I hadn’t even seen it coming.  I went camping this weekend.  Friday night, sleeping was impossible; if I laid on my shoulder for a minute, my whole arm would go Novocaine numb because my circulation had become so poor.  Saturday morning I was shuffling and slurring my speech – the coma cometh.  When I bend my arm, the skin twists and looks like it will crack like a natural casing hotdog.  I have literally become a sausage bursting its casing, like so much “dead meat”.  I am not digesting or eliminating anything, I am just stagnant – I guess I had that in common with the campsite toilet.    My eyes are bulging and hurt to turn.  My face is puffy and blends directly into my shoulders.  I have no neck to speak of and no mobility in it.  I envy owls.  Typing is hard, especially since I can’t feel my fingertips.  Making a fist is impossible, so I guess it’s as good a time as any to make me angry.  Everything I consume seems to be sitting in my throat.  I am taking shallow breaths, because there is no room for my lungs to inflate.  I look rather like my friend Ani right before she had her twins, so I got on the scale again this morning – I’ve gained 6 pounds since Thursday, a tidy sum of 11 pounds in just under a week.

Apparently, while I was thinking I was not being terribly affected by not taking the Armour, there was actually still enough  in my system for me to get by, but when it was gone, it was G.O.N.E. gone.  Like fo real gone.  Like “car stopped on the side of the road cuz it’s got no gas” gone.  Thankfully, I still have my mental faculties and will be calling a more helpful clinic when they open tomorrow at 8:30am.  To string out the metaphor further, I will be running waddling to the gas station with my little red gas can.

No gas = no thyroid

Fill 'er up!

If anyone asks if I have a name for my impending bundle of joy, I shall tell them Hashimoto’s Chocolate Starfish, or: How I Learned To Embrace Big Brother and Take My Freaking Medicine.

I am such a tool.

Posted in Armour, Thyroid, Travel | No Comments »

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