Hormone Imbalance, Thyroid

I’m Cracking Up

female hormone imbalance solutionsYes, it’s true – I’m cracking up!  But truth be told I’ve been cracking up for years – my entire adult life actually.  Well minus a recent few healthy years.

I’m talking about my skin – the skin on my heels and the skin on my hands specifically have been cracking again.   Long long ago, when I was in my twenties my heels would crack so bad they would bleed. Sometimes it would hurt just to walk.  My fingers would crack open as well and bleed.  I hated putting them into water – it would sting so badly.

Over the years I was told various things by various people.  Dry skin apparently was my problem so I would spend money on special creams for cracked heels. Or I’d be told my skin was simply dehydrated and I needed to drink more water. Once, years ago, I finally mentioned it to a doctor and she told me to slather cream on my tootsies and then cover them with vaseline (endocrine disruptor alert!) and wrap my feet all up in saran wrap.  I never considered pedicures a luxury – they were a necessity!  I mean, I grew up in the Canadian prairies & eventually lived North of 65º.  The Arctic is considered a desert – it gets mighty cold and extremely dry.  So with all of this great advice I chalked my problem up to good old-fashioned dry skin.

A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism but the word hypothyroidism wasn’t even used and it didn’t really feel like a “diagnosis”.  My doctor mentioned that my thyroid hormone levels were a bit off and based on my symptom checklist he was prescribing desiccated thyroid hormone for me.  Ok I figured, no big deal.  I didn’t think I had any severe symptoms of someone with low thyroid.  I knew that there was a connection to estrogen so I didn’t really think too much of it.  In fact, thinking back I probably didn’t take it seriously enough –  like not paying attention to whether I’d waited the allotted hour before eating after taking my meds & washing my morning pill down with my first cup of morning coffee!  At one point I even decided that since I had my estrogen dominance all under control that I  probably didn’t need to worry about this silly thyroid medication.

So for these past couple of years I have been on dessicated thyroid hormone but it’s only been recently that I’ve really paid attention to the link between my thyroid function and the symptoms I’ve had – most of them for my entire life.  Some are so obscure that I didn’t even know they were related.  Like when I had sudden muscle weakness in my arms for a minute or less after my baby was born.  I wouldn’t even have been able to grip a pencil when it occurred and it was likely Postpartum Thyroiditis.  Thyroid problems are often exacerbated with pregnancy and in the postpartum (more on that later).

Here’s the interesting part about my thyroid symptoms – I never stopped taking my thyroid hormone when I stopped the progesterone.  But many of my thyroid symptoms got worse or re-appeared after I quit taking the progesterone.  And even though I am back on my progesterone, the thyroid symptoms linger.  Here’s a few of the symptoms that I’ve noticed that have definitely and dramatically changed for me:

  • itching – oh my gosh the itching!!!  My scalp itches and my shins itch so bad I  finally use my cracked heels to scratch my shins but then my shins bleed!  But especially the internal itching of ears!  This is a little known symptom of hypothyroidism even among doctors. OMG….it has been driving me crazy.
  • sugar cravings!  I can say I have never had cravings for sugar like this in my life.  I have been scrounging around the house looking for any sign of chocolate.  I’ve even seriously considering getting out of my pj’s late at night and running to the store for Chocolate!
  • weight gain – certainly not the most annoying but perhaps the saddest symptom of all, I’ve gained about 6 lbs in this short time! Ugh….
  • varicose veins have suddenly gone crazy again.  I’ve treated them for years but suddenly they are popping up in droves!
  • swelling & puffiness in face, feet & hands (myxedema) – I have been waking up some mornings and my poor fingers are like little sausages and I can actually feel my face is swollen.
  • vertigo! This was super unnerving and worrisome before I realized it was my thyroid.  Once I was with my daughter and got so dizzy – I had to go sit down and wait for it to pass.
  • aching bones & muscles & joints – it’s easy to attribute this to so many other things but when I added it to the list it becomes clear that it’s part of the thyroid problem.
  • fogginess & forgetfulness – ok ok, my friends and family would be quick to point out that this is just part of my charm (or not!), but lately it has gotten much worse.   It’s also a symptom of peri-menopause/hormone imbalance.
  • eye twitching & sore eyes – my eye muscles have been doing that irritating muscle twitching quite a bit.  They also sometimes just feel sore which feels like it could be the fluid retention.  I thought this was more likely to be associated with hyperthyroidism or Graves disease but will be discussing it with my doctor next week.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts:

Self Diagnosis vs Advocacy – I’m not into self-diagnosis even though it might appear like that.  I’m into advocating and educating.  I am getting an eye check up this week and will be discussing these symptoms and more with my doc next week.

Stop the Thyroid Madness – Just like the sex hormones, there are tons of symptoms related to thyroid health, I’ve listed only a few but StopTheThyroidMadness.com  has what they call a “long and pathetic list” of symptoms.

Thyroid Women & Patient Advocates I HIGHLY Recommend:

Another great resource is Mary Sholom, a patient advocate who has written several books, has a website and facebook page devoted to helping people with their thyroid problems.

A fantastic blog I found and encourage you to check out is HypoThyroidMom.com written by another amazing patient advocate.

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