Jamie H. (51)
I want to share my success story here, so other people can benefit from it. Even though it’s called a “success story”, for the most part it covers a pretty terrible time of my life. It took more than 3 years before it finally took a turn for the better. And that is exactly why I want to share my experiences here, because I want to prevent others from living with constant complaints without knowing what’s wrong with them. In my case, what is/was wrong with me is my thyroid.
How it all started
Around 3 years ago, I started feeling tired and exhausted. Not the type of exhaustion you feel after a stressful day or the tiredness after a long night. I slept pretty normal, had a healthy lifestyle and usually got enough rest. Still I felt more and more exhausted, not only in my body, but in my mind as well. It was like my thoughts were somehow slower and it was hard for me to concentrate. My low energy level made me quit my fitness studio membership. Instead, when I came home from work I either went to bed or lay on the couch for the rest of the day. After a couple of weeks, any hope that is was just a temporary virus or something, vanished and I decided to go see my doctor. Since I also felt constantly cold, a thyroid dysfunction came to my mind and I wanted to get that checked. My doctor agreed to do a blood test, but it came out alright and he couldn’t find anything that was wrong with me. According to him, I was a healthy 50-year-old man. His advice was to cut down on work and to sleep more. But since I didn’t have stress at work and already slept more than enough, I knew that wasn’t going to cure anything.
So, I knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what. I went to other doctors as well, getting my heart checked and even went to a neurologist, because sometimes my fingers were trembling, and I wanted to rule out any kind of neurological disease. Everything was fine, which didn’t help me at all. This whole odyssey lasted more than 2 years. I searched the whole internet for something fitting my symptoms and I kept coming back to hormonal disorders, or more exactly a thyroid dysfunction, even though my first doctor ruled that out. I decided to dig into that topic a little more and discovered that there are several important thyroid markers – and read that most doctors only test one of them, which often leads to false diagnosis. I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know which markers my doctor tested with his blood test, because I just assumed that he would test the right thing. I mean who asks his doctor for the specific markers he analyzes? Turns out, he only did the TSH value. Which is one important marker, but not the only one.
fT3 and fT4
The end products, or the actual thyroid hormones, are T3 and T4. TSH is the “messenger” hormone which tells the thyroid gland to increase the production of thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland then produces T3 and T4. For a detailed picture of your thyroid’s health, it is therefore important to test these two hormones as well. Or more precisely, to test fT3 and fT4, which are the free hormones actually available for your body. A bigger part of the produced hormones is bound to proteins and therefore unusable. So, make sure that the free T3 and free T4 values are tested. I searched for a lab offering this kind of test and found Verisana. Ordered the kit and collected the sample at home, which was pretty easy, even though it was a blood test. You only need a couple of blood spots though, which is doable. I sent in my samples and waited anxiously for my results.
Results and therapy
Results arrived after maybe 2 weeks and confirmed what I expected: My TSH value was normal, but my fT3 and fT4 results were off. It’s hard to describe what I felt when I read this. Relieved, of course, because I finally knew what was wrong with me. Angry, because it was exactly what I had assumed all the time, so I could have gotten this diagnosis 2 years earlier. And a little scared and hopeful about the therapy that was to come now. I found a naturopath specialized in thyroid disorders and we went over my results, my diet, daily life and anything that could influence my hormone levels. I started a hormone replacement therapy to improve my hormone levels. It only took a couple of days and I felt so much better! The constant exhaustion was gone (I was even able to go to the gym again) and my mind didn’t feel foggy anymore. Also work wasn’t a hassle anymore, since I was able to concentrate better. Right now, I am happy with the results and the hormone replacement therapy. In the long run, I want to see whether I can support my thyroid gland naturally. There are several things which can influence the thyroid hormone production (like a iodine deficiency). Together with my naturopath, I am looking into that step by step and maybe we will find a root cause behind the thyroid insufficiency. I am really glad I took that test. The thanks for that!