I haven’t talked a lot about my hyperthyroidism and insomnia on the blog since I received my diagnosis in May, mostly because I was waiting to see how my body responded as my medication level stabilized. I’ve been taking my meds daily for the past 3 months now, and I think it’s safe to say that I’m finally stable and life is good! I thought I’d provide a more in-depth update here in case those going through a similar situation stumble across this blog post.
My doc decided to go the anti-thyroid medication route, since the alternatives (radioactive iodine or thyroid removal) are much more permanent and likely to swing the body too much the other way to hypothyroidism. In May, I started taking 5 mg methimazole, which works by inhibiting a key enzyme in thyroid hormone production. Everything felt great for a few weeks, then my insomnia returned so my doc increased my dosage to 10 mg in early June. As of early July, my test results looked MUCH improved, either normal or nearly normal (except for thyroid stimulating hormone – TSH):
T3: 309 in May down to 186 in July (normal levels between 60-181 ng/dl)
T4: 2.54 in May down to 1.44 in July (normal levels between 0.6-1.7 ng/ml)
TSH still way too low – almost immeasurable
I’ll get tested again later this month and hopefully my T3 and T4 levels will be normal and stable (I’m not too worried about the TSH, since it should slowly increase when the T3/T4 levels go down).
Changes in Symptoms
1. Sleep improvement – This was the biggest deal for me – I had severe insomnia before I was diagnosed (slept about 10 hours total every 3-4 day cycle), and now I’m sleeping 7-8 hours a night like clockwork.
Before: A pretty typical period in February, except there are too many spikes and they should be closer to 8-9 hours (I rarely slept more than 9 in a night). I found my Garmin recorded any time lying in bed with minimal movement as sleeping, and I got tired of fixing its estimates downwards.
After: This is a really accurate period after medication – I’m sleeping 7-8 hours every night and often a little more. The two days that fell below that were when I was on work travel and there were mosquitoes in my room =\
I’ve NEVER slept this consistently and well; I’ve had some degree of insomnia my whole life, and now I fall asleep within 10-15 minutes of getting into bed! I didn’t realize how much anxiety bedtime caused me before because I was never sure if it would take me 30 minutes or 3 hours to fall asleep.
2. Appetite – The constant hunger from earlier this year has definitely gone away; I actually feel full after meals and stay full for at least two hours.
3. Weight – I was worried that I would gain a lot of weight after starting medication, but the only weight gain I’ve experienced has actually been from my untreated hyperthyroidism period, where I ate probably 3000+ calories a day. I’m working on losing that weight now (~10 lbs) and haven’t gained any additional weight.
4. Mood – I definitely feel calmer and less jittery than I did before – again, I don’t think I realized just how much low-level anxiety I felt all the time. I’m also probably happier since I’m sleeping so much better, lol
5. Heart rate – This was an interesting one – I knew that my heart rate seemed a little high at the doc’s office, given the fact I’m in good shape, but I didn’t realize just how much my condition affected it. My resting heart rate has definitely dropped over the last couple of months (down from 78 to about 58) and my heart rate while exercising, while still high, doesn’t go over 200 anymore.
Overall, I have so much more “normal” energy (vs jittery energy) and less anxiety. I get pretty tired at the end of every day, but that’s probably normal since I wake up at 5 or 5:30 to go run ;) I’m so thankful that I was diagnosed so quickly, my doc found my ideal medication level so easily and that I haven’t experienced any extreme fatigue or weight gain so far (which can occur when the initial medication levels are too high).
I guess the lesson I want to pass on here is that if your body suddenly seems out of whack or something feels wrong, please go to the doctor – it took me several months to go and I still wouldn’t have gone unless Mike pushed me because I was so sure it was just anxiety preventing me from sleeping. I think sometimes we get used to symptoms and decide that’s normal or just how the way our body works, when in fact there is something we can do about it. Don’t be that guy that refuses to go to the doctor out of sheer stubbornness ;)