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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thyroid Wackiness

My DiveCon course requires me to get a physical. There was a medical questionnaire for my regular Open Water, but you didn't have to get it verified by a doctor (hence, the fact that I checked "no" for "do you have migraines?"). With DiveCon, the doctor has to sign off on the questionnaire.

So, I went and got a physical. It was uneventful. I got an EKG, I went the next morning to get blood work done, and my doc generally felt I was pretty healthy. I did get a prescription for Imitrex (for the migraines), and she said migraines weren't going to keep me from diving. She wouldn't sign off until my test results came back, though.

The doctor called yesterday with the test results. I expected nothing, but she had a couple of issues. First of all, I'm vitamin D deficient. This was especially odd because over the weekend I spotted a bottle of Vitamin D supplements that I'd purchased about 6 months ago after I'd seen some show or read some book about needing Vitamin D. I had taken one and never taken another. Then, Monday night, I read an article from active.com about how most Americans are Vitamin D deficient, so I took a supplement Monday night. For the doctor to call me Tuesday and tell me to start taking Vitamin D supplements of the exact same dosage I was taking was weird. It's like I have ESP.

Anyway, if you don't take Vitamin D supplements, you might consider it. I am taking 1000 IU. The doc was looking for me to be at 20 units for my vitamin D levels, and I was at something really low. 9, I think.

So then, the doctor moved on to the other issue: my thyroid. I have hypothyroidism. The test is for TSH, which is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. A normal level is .5 to 4.5 units of TSH. My level was 8.3. What that means is that my pituitary gland is producing TSH, practically screaming at my thyroid to do something and make some thyroxine, and my thyroid isn't following through or getting the message. So, it just keeps making more TSH. As a result, I have to take synthetic thyroxine. I started taking it this morning, and I likely have to take it everyday for the rest of my life.

Some of this makes total sense. You may have read before that I have started to consider myself a "slow loser" and that I've been having trouble losing weight. I didn't have trouble in early 2008, when I lost 15-20 pounds easily and right off the bat, but then after that I started just failing at it. I assumed that I needed to suck it up and realize that this is a consequence of getting older, but maybe not... I actually have a medical condition that is causing me to have difficulty losing weight! Who'd have thought.

I'm also supposed to be feeling tired. My doctor asked me if I was feeling tired a lot. I said that people tend to feel tired when they run a lot, so I just figured it was that. For the record though, I have excellent sleep patterns (definitely compared to when I was married the first time). My doctor responded that athletes tend to not notice the thyroid issues until they "crash." Yikes!

I didn't really get into why I have this condition. Some people have it because they just do, the thyroid stops working. Some people have it because the body produces antibodies that attack the thyroid. I read an article today that suggests that running is actually what's causing it. Here it is: Studies may link athletes and hypothyroidism. It's pretty interesting.

So, I get to go back and get more blood drawn after 6 weeks on the medicine. If my TSH levels are normal, the doctor will sign my scuba release. In the meantime, no diving. (well, no divecon certification... I have longer than 6 weeks left in the training and I can do the training dives).

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