Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It's All Happening! (Including Elk Goulash)

Hooray!  I'm 30!!  My birthday was wonderful this year.  I was able to spend it surrounded by friends, family and Aerosmith.  What more could a girl ask for?

I've been off of my thyroid medication (Synthroid) for 29 days now.  The descent into hypo hell has been an interesting one.  I felt almost normal until about day 12 when the chills and fatigue started creeping in very slowly.  On day 14 I felt like I got hit by a truck that was conveniently filled with mattresses.  Most likely discounted mattresses because, when are they not?  All I wanted that day, and all I have wanted since then is to sleep.  I need to nap in the afternoon every day.  If I don't listen to my body, my sleep at night is fitful at best.  I've been sleeping 12-18 hours per day for approximately 2 weeks.

I'll list the rest of my symptoms, in order of appearance, just for fun.  Remember, if you're going to be off of your meds at some point, don't freak out about this list.  This process is highly variable and everyone reacts differently to being without thyroid hormone.  Here we go! :)

Feeling cold when I shouldn't, fatigue, muscle cramps (legs at night), headaches (most likely due to water retention/edema), heartburn, nausea, super itchy eyes, worsening of seasonal allergies, puffy face (due to edema), slow pulse, extremely vivid dreams (especially during my naps), clumsiness, hormonal irregularities (at this rate it will be my time of the month 3 times this month...), and brain fog.

Luckily, the brain fog held off until very recently.  Those of you who have seen me recently can tell me if you agree with that assessment or not, lol.  I can say that I got several very complicated experiments done at work last week without messing them up :)  I can also say that I have no idea if I washed my hair twice with shampoo, twice with conditioner, or once with each this morning.

Many people who are off meds for this long (or longer) also report weight gain as a side effect.  We're talking 15 pounds or more in a month.  I'm happy to report that I have not gained any weight since stopping my meds.  In fact, I may have lost some.  I don't use a scale, so I'm only gauging this by the fact that my clothes fit just fine, and I'm wearing a pair of jeans that I haven't fit into in awhile.  I can only attribute this to eating primally before I started my low-iodine diet, and continuing that during the LID, even though it is a pain in my butt.

The LID is a 2 week (or longer) diet leading up to the treatment dose of I-131 that is meant to deplete your body of any extra iodine so that it is really craving the radioactive iodine when the ablative dose is finally administered.  The largest sources of iodine in our diets are iodized salt, sea salt, seaweed (and all of its derivatives such as carageenan and agar agar) and fish.  The ocean is a rich source of iodine.  Other things to avoid include egg yolks, dairy (including chocolate), rhubarb, strawberries, potatoes, breads, rice, red dye #3, soy products and molasses.  If you remember back to other posts, I already avoid most of those things anyway.  However, cutting out eggs, dairy and all sea-based products doesn't leave much for consumption.  There is more info here on the ThyCa website.

I was left with fresh meats, veggies and fruits.  I purchased all of my meats from the butcher and as many veggies and fruits as I could organically.  I did not shop in any meat sections because almost everything there has some sort of sodium solution injected into it for "tenderness" or some other B.S.  Guess what sodium solutions contain?  Probably iodized salt or sea salt.  I did not eat at any restaurants during this time and I prepared all of my own meals using Kosher non-iodized salt.  The food was delicious every single day!  And there is no way I could have done any of this without the help of my amazing sous chef/sister.  Or was I her sous chef?

For example, tonight I made Elk Goulash.  I chopped one onion, two carrots and a head of cauliflower and put them in the bottom of my crock pot.  I seasoned them very liberally with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, onion powder and dried minced garlic.  I topped that with one pound of frozen ground elk and a 28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes with basil (salt free!).  I turned my crock pot on high and relaxed.  After about 2 hours I started breaking up the meat and stirring everything together.  I added 1 cup of water at this point because it looked a little dry to me.  Then I took a nap.  A few hours later I continued breaking up the meat and stirring.  Everything looked and smelled awesome.  I tasted the broth at this point and added more onion powder and salt, then cooked it about an hour longer.  Voila!  Dinner.  It was fantastic!

I'll be continuing my LID just through Thursday.  After that eggs, seafood, sushi, bacon!, dairy and other things will be re-introduced slowly.  Still no grains, red dye #3, soy or sodium solutions in meats, of course.  If any of you have any easy recipes to share, I would love to have them!  Leave links in the comments section if possible, or email them to me:

I went in last Wednesday to have blood drawn to see if my TSH was high enough to commence treatment.  We were looking for a number above 30.  Mine was above 130.  Thundercats are go!  I received my tracer dose of radioactive iodine (2mCi) on Monday and I will have my pre-treatment scan Wednesday at 9am.  Then I get to wait around at the hospital for awhile so the doctors can talk to each other, decide on my treatment/ablative dose of I-131 (between 100-150mCi) and get that ordered from the pharmacy.  Once it arrives at the hospital, I can take it (it's a pill) and then head off to seclusion at my parents' house for a week.  Next Wednesday I will have another scan to see if we can find any other micro-metastases in my body.  The high dose of radioactive iodine will allow us to see smaller mets than the small doses do.  Hopefully we don't find any, but if they are there, this treatment should wipe them out.

So, as I said in the title, it's all happening (can you name the movie?)!  I'll be starting my meds again on Sunday, 1/2 pill per day for 10 days, then back up to the full dose.  I'm hoping to be back to my old self energy-wise about 6 weeks after that :)  Enjoy your summer, people.  And send me recipes!

Until next time,
Check Your Neck!

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