As I predicted, last week would give me a lot of information on the health issues I’ve been facing. While I shared them with some people, I really wanted to settle in and write about it, because blogging 1) helps me collect my thoughts, 2) is a great way to put things in perspective, and 3) is definitely a peaceful and relaxing activity. I always feel better after writing!
Then the power went out. We had a crazy October Nor’easter, right on my sister’s birthday. Her power went out before mine, so with the snapping of tree limbs all around my house, we had a birthday dinner for her. We made it through dinner, dessert, and clean-up with power. As I was commenting on Facebook that we seemed to be the only neighborhood in town with power, the lights went out, at 8pm. And so did the heat. Five days later, and we’re still without power. I have lived in this house, with the exception of college and an additional year, for 23 years. We have only lost power once, for about 24 hours. I’ve never seen anything like this. My house got down to a very chilly 51 degrees. I wore a heavy winter coat while hand-washing the dishes, and my dogs shivered as they curled up in little balls on the couch. This is no way to live! I’m all about living simply, but that was pushing it just as bit. Luckily, we were able to borrow someone’s generator who does have power, and we finally hooked it up last night. It’s ridiculously loud, and there are a million cords all around the house, but we have been given heat, two lamps, the tv/internet/phone, and my one surviving fish now has a heated tank once again. Now my house is a roasty 63 degrees, and slowly rising. I’ve decided to take out the computer and waste the batteries for a little while to compose my thoughts.
Let’s back up. At the beginning of last week, with still no AF (Aunt Flo…I didn’t make it up.) in sight, I called my gyno, as she had told me to do the week before. She faxed over a pregnancy blood test to my now-so-familiar blood testing lab, told me to get the blood test done in the next few days, and if the results came back negative, they would start me on Provera. It has a more complicated name, but I know it as Provera. It jump-starts your period.
So I went on Tuesday afternoon and got the blood test. It was extra painful, for some reason. Between all the blood tests I have been getting lately, I don’t know what it was but it hurt. Anyway, the woman said she’d process it in the morning. I got pretty anxious and excited. I have no idea why.
So I waited, and checked my phone throughout the entire day Wednesday. No luck, but then again my gyno said I should know on Thursday in the first place. Thursday came and went too, again with my phone by my side. I was praying to the pregnancy gods, honestly, that a miracle would occur. I told myself there was a 99% chance I couldn’t be pregnant. I had low temps, two negative OPK’s, but I did have CF two days in a row, unmistakeable. And we tried, even though at that point we didn’t know how low my TSH was. Oh well, it was low enough, but it didn’t matter anyway. Friday at lunch, I had a voicemail. Of course, they won’t leave anything over the phone so I had to call the office. The receptionist said in a cheery voice that the results came back negative (duh) and she had already phoned in my prescription for Provera. I could pick it up after work. She also told me that there were 10 pills, I needed to take them once a day, and by the end of the 10 days, within two more weeks I should have my period. Oh, and they sometimes make people very sleepy so take it at night. If I don’t have my period two weeks after the 10th pill, she said, call back. I told her I have an appointment with the gyno in about a week and a half, so could I just tell her then? She said sure. Would they still want to see me for a physical if I do have AF then? Yes, she said, they would. Good, because I have lots of questions.
So, I’ve been taking Provera every night since Friday. I have four more pills to go. Then another two weeks to wait. By the way, today is CD 77. Good times. The last time I got AF, it was August 19th. This is insane! And it sucks not knowing when it’s coming. I’ve always had some notice, and been able to prepare. Now I have no clue. And what if – is it possible that the pain and cramping I could experience with this would be a million times worse than normal, given it’s been a build-up for months? I seriously hope not.
That’s where I stand on that issue. I just want AF to come, honestly, because I want to start over. Let’s pretend this multi-month anovulatory crap cycle never happened, and go back to those precious 41-day cycles. I had three of those in a row, then this. By the way, I went off BC in April. I’ve only had AF three times since then, and waiting on the fourth.
Then there was more news. I went to my new endocrinologist on Thursday afternoon, for the first time. As you may recall, my old endo was great in the beginning. She put me on Synthroid, monitored it decently, and seemed pretty knowledgeable. But over the summer, when my TSH came back at 8, and I mentioned TTC, she told me I was not allowed to try. I don’t blame her for that one, that did seem like a good move. But then, even after it came down to a 2 a month later, she was unwilling to discuss the risks of TTC and the growing list of questions I had. My biggest question was if I could get my TSH tested more often, just so I knew what it was (so I could TTC without her knowing….). She said no. My next appointment with her was in January, and that’s when she wanted to test it again. I begged for one additional TSH test, and she finally gave me a slip for the end of November. That’s it. And that’s when I decided I have to do enough waiting as it is with these health issues. I’m not doing it for one more thing. So I did a google search, found an endo in my town with good reviews, and it turns out she works in conjunction with my gyno down the street. Perfect.
Upon meeting her on Thursday, I was thrilled. Her demeanor was friendly, caring, and almost motherly. The receptionist let on once that she has school-age children, and that was even better. She would definitely understand my desire to TTC when she has children of her own, right? I put on my polite, professional, gracious voice to show my appreciation for her help, and as a way to say, “Forgive me, but I’ve brought with me 5,000 questions”. In fact, I did bring a doubled-sided piece of paper filled with research and questions I’ve accumulated from Mary Shomon’s books and the internet. I did actually say to her, just to butter her up, “You’re going to think I’m crazy, especially as a new patient, but I’ve brought a lot of questions….” Then I sat, calmly and patiently, and we reviewed my history and old labs. Finally, she said, “Okay, you’ve got questions. Shoot.” Really? I can actually ask you questions??
I touched upon basically all aspects of thyroid and reproductive health. I asked about diet, food allergies, exercise, vitamin deficiencies, the fertility issues I’m having, difficulties in losing weight, ideal TSH levels, etc. I asked about it all. And she answered it all. Here are some of the most valuable answers she gave me:
-After mentioning that my current TSH is a 1.39, which is definitely in the normal range, I asked what she thought the ideal TSH should be when TTC. (I knew that all doctors have a different number. The lower, the better.) She said between 0.5 and 1. Wow!! So, I asked, should we up my Synthroid dosage? She decided that instead of upping it to 100mcg, which might be too much, twice a week I am to take an additional half a pill along with my regular pill. After 6 weeks, she’d like to check it again. But together as patient and doctor (aww) we’re aiming for my TSH to be between 0.5 and 1. That, in itself, is the most wonderful news. My TSH is low now but she’s going to let me go lower. Awesome.
-I mentioned the research I’ve done on antithyroid antibodies. They are a sign that you have an autoimmune thyroid problem. Obviously, I do. My numbers are “off the charts” as my allergist put it, at 900. Normal is 9 or less. I’ve read that high antibody numbers doubles the risk of miscarriage. True? And what can I do about them? The doctor said yes, it is true. It does up the risk of miscarriage. (Yikes..it’s high enough already). However, if a miscarriage were to occur from the antibodies, it would more than likely occur in the first few weeks of pregnancy, when many women don’t even yet know they are pregnant. I probably would, because I’m charting, but 3 weeks in isn’t nearly as upsetting as 3 months. Phew. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about that number. The number isn’t the problem. It’s just the signal that I have another problem. As long as I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (um, forever), that number will remain high. She said she won’t even bother to check it in the future, because we already know what it is. It will drop a little, maybe, but not much. So that’s that. Pray for no miscarriages when that day comes.
-Celiac’s Disease – what’s with that? She said in patients that already have Celiac’s Disease (allergy to gluten), she finds many of them also have an autoimmune thyroid problem (either Hashimoto’s or Grave’s Disease). However, that is not necessarily the case the other way around. She noticed that my food blood tests came back negative. I don’t have flat-out Celiac’s Disease. But I still do think I have a gluten, or at least wheat, intolerance.
-Here was a big one: If my TSH is doing so well, what is up with this long, messed up, anovulatory cycle? Well, she said, since your thyroid is doing so well – it’s probably not your thyroid. Seriously? So even though people with hypothyroidism tend to have long, anovulatory cycles and messed up fertility, that’s probably NOT what this is? Maybe not, she said. Then, and this made my day, she filled out a lab slip for me to get done immediately, testing all my hormones! I got it done Saturday morning (another 7 vials of blood). It might take up to 2 weeks to come in, but when it does, it may help answer my fertility question. What is going on in my body? She explained what the tests were, but I can’t remember them except for testing my estrogen and testosterone levels. She did for me what I was hoping my gyno may have done when I see her in the next week. Only my thyroid doctor, but testing my gyno-related stuff. She rocks.
-Then, just for my piece of mind, she gave me an additional 4 or 5 lab slips for my TSH. She even said, “I gave you a few extra just in case you’re feeling worried about it and just want to see what it is.” Oh my goodness. Seriously, she must be the best doctor I’ve ever had.
I would recommend this doctor to anyone who thinks they might have a thyroid problem. She is wonderful. I stayed in there for almost an hour, asking all of my questions. She patiently listened, answered, and I felt like I was the only patient she has ever had. It was the best thing. And it helped, thinking back to that appointment when I got my negative pregnancy test the next day. It’s still helping now, as I’ve been in a little bit of a funk the past few days, waiting for AF to come, feeling like a real chance to conceive is so far away. At least I have a caring doctor.
In my final thoughts on all this, it’s pretty hard to eat healthy when the power goes out and the contents of your fridge and freezer are sitting in the snow on the front lawn. A hot meal goes a long way. So when my friends got a hot pizza the other day for lunch, I decided, here’s the test. I ate two big pieces. Then, that night with the hot dinner my husband’s cousin cooked at his house, I ate a wheat roll. Let’s see what happens, I thought. Well, since those two meals that day I have had stomach pains and digestive issues (let’s leave it at that) a couple times a day, especially the first two days afterwards. I haven’t felt that kind of stomach pain in a while. Do I think it’s the wheat? Yes, I do. That said, this is an intolerance, not Celiac’s Disease. Thanksgiving is on its way and I will be damned if I’m not going to eat pies made in wheat crusts. I may have some pains the next day or two, but it’s worth it. Until then, though, it’s back to wheat-free cereal, pasta, bread, etc. I don’t think my body likes it, and that’s just the way it is. As for sugar – I’ve been eating a lot of that again too (hey, I bought Halloween candy for the kids…and then Halloween never happened! Returning the candy never crossed my mind…)So that could be a part of the pain too. Once the power is back on, and the gym reopens, and I go back to work (school was cancelled for the week!), I hope to refocus on my food health, without obsession. Weight should be saved for the creation of another blog, maybe, but I’m at the cusp of putting my BMI into the “overweight” category. I don’t like that, and I don’t like how I feel. Right now I feel fat (I know I’m not “fat” by some definition but I feel that way), out of control with my eating, and infertile. Not a good combination. It leads to the funk I’ve been feeling! So, looking forward to getting on with my good health and dropping a few pounds with some healthy eating and small portions.
Hey, that was a lot of information! And just as I thought, I feel better. I always do. So, thanks for reading these long, huge blog posts. I do appreciate it. Someday when I’m feeling adventurous, I’d like to make them more readable, perhaps with pictures, more links, etc. For now, it’s my primary venting mechanism.