15th December 2015. That’s going to be a date that sticks in my mind forever.
On this date, I began my journey with natural desiccated thyroid.
Unimpressed with standard T4-only medication Levothyroxine, after gaining more and more symptoms and just feeling worse as time went on, I decided to self-source NDT, a medication that has been used for over a hundred years and which sounded so much better than Levo. I’d been researching about it and learning as much as I could for almost six months, before taking the dive. I’d asked a few different doctors at my practice to prescribe it for me but all of them point-blank refused. I didn’t want to self-source, it was scary and filled me with anxiety. It was never really my intention to do so.
But in late November, I left another doctors appointment in tears; disheartened, fed up and angry. I was heavily depressed, to the point of being suicidal. I couldn’t see past this horrible situation I was in – the no quality of life, the pain and torment, the sheer deep, dark hole I was never going to climb out of. My life had unfairly been ripped away from me at 21 years old, yet every doctor told me I was ‘normal’, ‘fine’ and ‘optimally medicated’ as they dished out more and more medications to mask increasing symptoms. Everything I thought I was going to have in life and everything I knew was no longer in my grasp.
So after leaving one more pointless, waste-of-time doctors appointment, my other half took the reigns and ordered Thyroid S, a brand of NDT. He’d painstakingly taken hours looking at reputable sites, gathering sources of information and comparing. After many evenings of spending them entirely looking through the websites, he ordered the NDT and turned to me, saying – “There. It’s done.”
I filled with anxiety. But I also filled up with hope.
It sounds cliche I know, but it’s as if this darkness looming over me was starting to disintegrate ever so slightly even at that moment. I wasn’t brave enough to make the leap to another, self-sourced thyroid medication myself, even though I really wanted to try it, but I’ll forever be thankful that my other half was. He knew what we needed to do to get me back.
Just three weeks later, it arrived. I hurriedly opened the parcel and once again, anxiety filled my stomach as I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to do it. I was holding the bottle in my left hand when I caught myself in the mirror in my bedroom. Looking in the mirror, I hardly recognised myself.
Not just in appearance – sure, I had huge, deep, dark, bags under my eyes, dull, dry skin and a puffy face with thinned eyebrows – but I also looked incredibly vacant, sad and dead in the eyes. I had no life in me anymore. That’s when I decided I would start the NDT the following morning. I was going to do this.
What did I have to lose?
My first day was.. interesting. I actually thought I was dying! I mistakenly took the whole dose in one go, so the direct T3 in it was not spread throughout the day like it’s supposed to be. I slept an awful lot that day. Day two, when I split the dose, I did better. And as time went on, I only improved. It’s taken a while to tweak the dose so I feel good, mind.
Now, one year in to self medicating on NDT (with a little guidance and help from my GP, he fully supports me and runs the tests I need, to monitor it closely), I’m a completely different person. I live a life largely unaffected by my thyroid and I feel great. I still have slight fatigue here and there, usually when I overexert myself or have a late night, but on the whole I’m doing very, very well indeed. I don’t live with any other symptoms.
I do still have adrenal fatigue in the form of high cortisol, and am planning on retesting this in the new year, as well as my sex hormone imbalance (oestrogen dominance/low progesterone) but the only ongoing symptom I have is the fatigue occasionally, but even then, it’s nothing like it used to be. Mornings can still be difficult with the adrenal fatigue, but I’m much better at managing my health these days, being my own advocate and forever learning.
I wrote my first blog one year ago today, but my website itself went live at the end of March 2016. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to make it live, as I manically typed out blog after blog of my thoughts and feelings on NDT and as a thyroid patient. In just nine months, I’ve written almost two-hundred blog posts, had visitors from one-hundred and eleven different countries and passed thirty-five thousand website views.
I am just an ordinary twenty something who bought their first home this year, works a nine-to-five job and enjoys being silly with their friends. I’m also a thyroid patient, battling multiple endocrine issues and maintaining a blog about it, a Facebook support group aimed at supporting others going through the same condition/s and writing for The Mighty. Among all the other aspects of me and my life! I’m incredibly busy but I like it that way.
In the one year since I became my own advocate, I’ve come a long, long way and thanks to resources such as Mary Shomon, Stop The Thyroid Madness and Hypothyroid Mom to name just a few, I managed to start on the road to recovery, on the 15th December 2015. Thanks to my amazingly supportive other half and my forever understanding friends and work colleagues, I’m back to the old me. In fact, the improved me.
I’m determined and driven to make a change to the word, not just my own body.
What could you achieve in just a year?
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.
Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism
Rachel is a Thyroid Patient Advocate and Expert with Six WEGO Award Nominations, a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018. Currently studying to become a Life Coach, she has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Dr. Hedberg, Thyroid UK and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well recognised as a trusted and useful contributor to the thyroid community and has relevant qualifications and certificates in Diet and Nutrition, Reflexology, Motivational Speaking and Positive Thinking.