Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Health follow up

Last week I went back to my new Doctor after having extensive blood work done, to get my results. I was definitely expecting some interesting results, but I was NOT expecting such extensive results. My Doctor is awesome and really interesting. Her philosophy is to integrate normal Western medicine with naturopathy, nutrition, functional medicine (looking at things from a systemic point of view) and anti-aging therapies. She had  my blood tested for many things, several of which I had never heard of, and had no idea what they meant. After flipping through my results she told me that I had so much wrong that we wouldn't even be able to cover it in one setting. Keep in mind I feel totally fine. I had some symptoms that were troubling-the infertility, irregular periods, hair loss, and eczema-but honestly I felt ok. I have my results sitting here next to me and I thought I'd go through them on here. I am hoping that maybe this can help someone else too. The best way that my Doctor explained it to me is that if you have a leaky faucet, you typically ignore it until it starts leaking heavily, or the pipes explode. She said my faucet is leaking pretty good and we need to stop this before my pipes explode.
I think the most troubling is my thyroid levels. Normal thyroid function (thyroid perioxidase auto antibody) should be between 0-60. Mine is 101. This means my thyroid is underfunctioning and creating too little thyroid hormone. Vitamin D levels should be between 30-150. Mine is 27 (and I take vitamin D as a supplement!). I tested positive for an autoimmune disease. These things together mean I have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Essentially my body attacks my own thyroid, causing it to be inflamed and irritated and to produce less hormone over time. Thyroid issues cause infertility, hair loss, the inability to lose weight, and can cause lethargy, depression etc. Thankfully I don't have those last two. I've done a lot of research in the last week and have found that many people that have Hashimoto's also have Celiac Disease and vice versa. Celiac is an intolerance to wheat if you didn't know. I was not tested for Celiac but my Doctor put me on a gluten free diet anyway, because the gluten acts as an irritant to my thyroid. The low vitamin D is because with Hashimoto your body doesn't absorb nutrients the way they should, especially with vitamin D.
The rest of the testing focused on my hormone levels. It turns out normal levels of progesterone in a woman are 0-25 and mine are .4! Follicle stimulating hormone (what makes the follicle let the egg go) should be between 1-96 and mine is 6. Its still within the range, but obviously really low. Testosterone for women should be between 9-49 and mine is 60. Low progesterone causes infertility and low libido among other things. I don't have enough progesterone to even become pregnant, let alone carry a baby. Too high testosterone cause weird hair growth on your body, and hair loss on your head. All of this hormone craziness is called Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which is the leading cause of infertility in women. Most women get cysts on their ovaries when they have it, but luckily I don't.
I guess the thing that baffles me the most is how on earth my OB/GYN and/or my fertility doctor never bothered to do blood testing on me ever. I went through nearly a year of fertility treatments, thousands of dollars, a whole lot of heartache, that all never would have occurred if one person had thought to take my blood and look at those levels. I have lost probably 3/4 of my thick hair over the last several years, and I have nearly none left.
I am VERY grateful that one of my friends recommended my new Doctor to me, and that she thought to have all this checked. I am grateful for a diagnosis, but all of this was really surprising to me. I was quite overwhelmed after my doctor appointment, but a week later, after doing some research, I am feeling much better about it and I'm glad to have some answers.
So here is my treatment plan...completely gluten free diet. No pork. No fried foods. No sugar substitutes (they mess with your hormones). Only hormone free meat and dairy. And these medications and supplements: a whole lotta Vitamin D, pro-omega (fish oils basically), L-tyrocine, chromium piconalate, NAC (apparently gets a lot of harmful metals out of your body), estro-opt (to get the good estrogen back up to normal), hormone balancing formula, saw palmetto (lowers testosterone), levoxyl & nature throid for my thyroid. Yikes! I am taking around 20 pills a day. The diet is hard to adjust to, definitely, but I am coping. The one amazing thing I've noticed is that I'm not as hungry as I used to be. I'm guessing I'm absorbing my nutrients much better now and not needing as much food. All this time I thought I had a dairy allergy, but turns out I don't! So I'm enjoying eating a lot of dairy, but not enjoying the price tag to this new lifestyle. My Doctor said it should only take around 6 weeks to start to regulate my hormones, but the thyroid will take longer, around 6 months, and since its an auto-immune disease, my guess is I will have to take the medications and have this diet for the rest of my life. Hashimoto is heriditary and I am fairly certain that my Mom has either Celiac or Hashimoto after reading more of the symptoms.
The good news is that I am hopeful that after fixing some of these things that I might be able to fix my infertility issues and that some day I might actually get to have a baby. I will keep you all posted as I learn more and things progress. I just want to say, if you have an inkling that something isn't right, and a Doctor is prescribing treatments or medication for you to fix the problem, without ever finding out what is CAUSING the problem, maybe you should get a second opinion. I wish I had.
Thanks for all your support and kind words about the fertility issues that we've had. I know that I can only be healthier and better off by fixing these health issues, and that I can't worry about having a baby until I am healthy, so I'm glad to be armed with this knowledge!