The alarm rings, it’s 6.30, I throw back the covers and go to wake the children before going down to cook breakfast and make packed lunches.
I smile as my head races, full of excitement as ideas jostle to the fore demanding to be put down on paper and I sigh with relief as I have been granted another day with my head in full working order.
Some days I ponder the loss of the last 20 years with sadness at the unnecessary waste and wonder what might have happened had I been properly diagnosed and treated.
As a child, and on into my 20’s I was a dynamo, always busy, creative and driven. The only fly in the ointment had been regular bouts of tonsillitis but with their removal there was nothing to hold me back. I had a great job and social life with everything to look forward to, but following a car crash in 1989 everything began to unravel unceremoniously. Excruciating pains in my back and legs prevented me from sitting for any length of time and severely restricted my mobility forcing me to relinquish my job and cease participation in many of my social activities.
By 2000 I was a shadow of my former self. My relationship with my husband was teetering on the brink of no return, my children were suffering and my health was appalling. I could not think straight, struggled with even the most simple of daily chores was permanently close to tears, still had pains in my back and legs which limited my mobility, found it difficult to hold conversations so avoided all social situations, was crushingly tired all the time, had put on a great deal of weight, had a puffy moon face, horrendous acne, developed a hoarse voice and persistent cough and was taking antidepressants.
I was a shadow of my former self.
In total exasperation at my GP’s refusal to do a full thyroid test which included measuring my FT3 and my holistic practitioners insistence that I had an “obvious thyroid problem” I had a private blood test done. This revealed that my TSH and FT4 were as ever “within the normal range” but interestingly that my FT3 was off the bottom of the range. I was diagnosed with myxoedema and started on T4 instantly.
2001 I assumed would be the year I got my life back. I read as much as I could in order to do the right things to aid recovery, gradually increasing the dose of T4 to 250mcg and coming off the antidepressants (which was a monumental struggle). Recovery was poor and already wary of NHS treatment I saw a brilliant endocrinologist privately. Over the following months he prescribed firstly T4 with T3 and when that only partially resolved things, T3 with Armour.
The Armour/T3 was like a breath of fresh air, the brain fog that had plagued me for years vanished. My weight decreased with no effort and the acne which I had developed also went. My back and leg pains also finally disappeared enabling me to walk longer distances with my dog.
Finally, things were looking up. My physical symptoms were diminishing at a rate of knots and my relationship with my husband began to improve. Gradually as my brain function improved I began to resume my artistic activities. I was no longer merely existing, I was fully engaged in life and it was worth living once more.
In 2005 we moved and shockingly the whole nightmare began all over again. With one stroke of his pen my recovery was halted in its tracks and put into full reverse as the new Dr refused to prescribe T3 and Armour insisting that T4 was the only medication necessary for the treatment of hypothyroidism. There followed 5 dreadful years of hell where I was totally dependent upon the NHS as I was no longer able to afford to see the private endocrinologist. My health rapidly declined, all the old symptoms came back and relationship problems loomed large once again.
Finally in 2010 the local endocrinologist relented and advised my GP to prescribe T4 with T3. Joyfully I clutched the script for T3 not quite believing my luck. As previously, the T4/T3 combination only worked up to a point. I complied for 6 months and then in February 2011 stopped taking T4 and slowly increased the T3. This time monitoring all dose changes, signs, and symptoms.
My recovery as before has been incredible. It is as though someone has switched a light on in my brain. The most significant thing is that the depression (which for years I attempted to describe as “not that sort of depression” to my Gp each time I was offered antidepressants) and brain fog simply evaporate like fog on a sunny morning. My mood is significantly lighter and my brain and thought processes far more rapid, spontaneous, dynamic and logical. In April I was sufficiently recovered to resume painting seriously, being able to think things through once again and to concentrate for sustained periods. I have joined a life drawing group which is a real mental challenge and begun exhibiting paintings once more.
It is as though someone has switched a light on in my brain.
Physically the acne has cleared again leaving me with soft blemish free cheeks that I can once more apply make up to (something I had not able to do due to the pain of the acne).
I have more energy and attempt some sort of exercise, a walk or bike ride, each day. I am no longer crushingly tired. Falling asleep at every opportunity is a thing of the past. I socialise and converse quite happily where once it was a real chore to process the incoming information and then respond appropriately.
There is not a single area of my life which has not benefited by the reintroduction of the T3. I just wish that I had not had it taken off me once it had been proven to suit me all those years ago.
Yes, dosing is a bit technical but I would rather take several doses through the day and be on top of and part of things than take one dose of T4 and feel as though I were merely existing in a parallel universe.
Each month I go to request a new prescription of T3 and hold my breath for the 48 hours it takes for authorisation, half expecting to have it refused , forcing me back onto T4. I don’t ever believe it is real until I have the tablets in my hand and shake the bottle reassuringly.
I flick the switch on the kettle, get a mug from the cupboard and smile as my eyes fall on the pot of T3 tablets. Then I call the girls again and look forward to another busy day in my studio.