Thursday, September 30, 2010
A Hard Pill to Swallow Three: Butterflies Gone Wild
I was driving in morning traffic down I-95.
My eyes hurt. What few sunbeams were out there poked at them like heated needles. It was painful to be outside, something I was fully aware of lately.
It truth my eyes hurt all the time now. It wasn't continuous hot pointed objects pricking them since that only happened when I ventured outside into sunlight. The rest of the time, in the artificial light of my living room or the dark of my bed, it felt as if my lids were at the beach; they felt full of sand.
Have you ever gotten sand in your eyes? It is not pleasant, it burns and scratches every time you blink.
Not only was there pain, there was double vision. I would watch TV and two screens would float below and above each other. That girl in the bikini doesn't really have four...well, of course not, it is my burning eyes.
I went to my optometrist and he found no problem with my eyes. "Double vision can be caused by other things," he said, "you should see your doctor."
To cut to the chase, I ended up back with my endocrinologist, the man who was writing my prescriptions for the Thyroid hormone to boost my hypothyroidism to proper levels. He examined me and was going "hmmm".
Have you grasped the pattern yet that when anyone in any profession goes "hmmm" it is going to mean something bad for you?
"You have hyperthyroidism", he declared. "This is very unusual to go from hypo to hyper. I only see one case a year of this."
Well, hoo-rah, I am this year's winner.
Now my lazy butterfly gland, hiding in its cocoon so many months, has spread its wings and become a moth gone wild. It flaps its wings against a switch and every extreme becomes the opposite extreme. Where hypo hated heat, hyper hates cold. Where hypo wanted me laid back, hyper wants me to burn up the road. Where hypo wants me to put on weight and be fat, hyper wants me to be trim and thin. Wait, that last one isn't a bad thing, is it?
But what has this thing in my throat got to do with sand in my eyes?
The over zealous organ has pumped out hormonic messages to my eye muscles saying pump it up, baby. I have Graves Disease (which is a terrible name when you think about it). My eyes are scratching all the time because the muscles are forcing my eyeballs out of my head and it has reached the point where my lids won't close completely, even when I am asleep. When eyelids won't close down shop, your eyes dry out.
There is to be a long and arduous road ahead, but that will be a story for some other time. The point here is eventually they killed my thyroid and left me thyroid-less and forever in the grip of the doctors.
Which brings us back to this year and the doctor trying to prescribe cholesterol medication.
You see, I must forever take that little pill now (well, the forever of my lifetime) and doctors will only prescribe it in short bursts, which in my case is usually one year. Annually I must trot back to beg for my prescription renewal and under go the indignities of an exam and the ever popular blood tests.
To tell the truth, most years I have gone for the exam, gotten my prescription and skipped the blood tests. But this year I played the good patient and went for the blood tests in advance of my scheduled visit to the doc. When I heard from her (my doctor now being a her) as follow up to my exam she said she had consulted on my blood tests with an endocrinologist and it appeared my medication wasn't working. This probably explained some problems I had been having lately, like kind of near collapsing at work (another story for another time). They didn't think my stomach was absorbing the medicine and she was going to prescribe a new one to see if that worked.
"What if it doesn't?" I asked.
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," she replied.
I'm hoping we never come to that bridge. I have a bed feeling about what might happen if I can't get any thyroid hormone flowing out of my digestive system into my life support systems.
Then she hits me with the high cholesterol level and wanting to put me on even more medication.
What's the hurry here? I don't want additional meds. The thyroid and the high blood pressure pills are enough, thank you. There is no reason to rush to judgment here. She has just told me my T levels were off, that my Levothroid isn't working, that I am back to suffering hypothyroidism. Malfunctioning thyroids distort everything and they can cause elevated cholesterol counts, this may be a false alarm.
"Wouldn't it be better to wait and see if the new medicine works before prescribing anything for cholesterol?" I suggest.
So we do. So I get the new stuff called Levoxyl and after eight weeks (she only gave me two refills) I have more blood tests.
The Levoxyl is working. My T's are in the proper ranges. And guess what? So is my cholesterol.
See, that cholesterol diagnosis was a hard pill to swallow and I rightly spit it out.