I was diagnosed with Graves Disease at 21. My endocrinologist said that it was likely that my "flare up" was caused by heavy stress. I had experienced sweating, palpitations, breathlessness, and uh... flatulence/diarrhea. Yeah. (Sorry.) This went on for a few months and culminated in me vomiting every day, feeling so fatigued that I was only making it to work about half the time, experiencing tremors and hot flashes, vision problems, and depression. I was an interior design student, and my hands would shake so bad that I couldn't even hold my drafting instruments steady, and my head always felt weighted and foggy. My doctor was seriously amazing, though. After less than a year on methimazole, my levels were normal and I was a happy camper (apart from the 15 lbs that I'd gained on the medication, but it was a healthy level... And I felt great!)
I had my first child a few years later, and my thyroid levels remained healthy and stable throughout the entire pregnancy. I lost weight fairly quickly (thanks to nursing), exercised 4-6 days a week (not intensively, but I was fit and feeling great), and didn't face any sort of depression or intensive stress. Thyroid concerns were very far from my mind, plus, I was eating a very healthy diet virtually free of processed foods. Illness seemed like a distant memory.
When my child was 2 1/2, I once again found myself pregnant. We were so thrilled because we'd just had a very shocking death in the (extended) family, losing someone very young to a freak accident. I had spent much of the summer with the family, helping out around 5 days a week. I was no longer exercising, I was eating with them every day (utter garbage, everything came out of boxes or cans), and literally spent three months crying continuously while sleeping between 3-4 hours a night. Plus, we were selling our first home, and moving into an older, bigger home that needed work. I was grieving, stressed out, worried about how I was going to get this huge project done while pregnant, and then also feeling extremely happy that we would be having a new baby to hopefully distract us all from the grief.
My thyroid levels were checked at 8 weeks of pregnancy, and I was told that they were "within normal ranges". I had access to my medical files online, but I never bothered looking because I was feeling so good. Virtually no illness whatsoever, apart from a little anxiety (which I never have, outside of pregnancy.) A few weeks later, I started spotting and went in for an ultrasound. The baby had stopped growing. It was completely surrounded in blood and I just had to wait for my body to "abort" it. I was devastated. I spent weeks lying around staring blankly at screens, just barely able to take care of my child. I couldn't really talk to anyone because "miscarriage is normal" and "most women go through it" so I wasn't "special", plus, the death that we'd had in the family was so much more traumatic for everyone, that I was made to feel guilty for grieving at all.
Within a few weeks, my grief had turned into full blown depression. I hadn't really been going anywhere, so sweatpants it was. One day, I decided that it was time to make an effort. I tried to get into my "fat jeans" (worn during pregnancy and right after delivery), and I could only pull them up to my thighs. I hadn't really been looking in the mirror, but that day, I did. I was mortified. I was in my mid-twenties, but my body looked more matronly than my mother's! And she'd had 5 children! I reluctantly rummaged around in all of our moving boxes (yep, still plenty unpacked... Depression is crippling) and dug out my scale. I almost screamed when I stepped on it. In 6 weeks, I had gained 18 lbs. By doing nothing. I didn't even have an appetite! I started exercising (which helped me feel better), but believe it or not, that just made me gain even more. All in all, I've gained 30 lbs, and the number keeps rising. I kept trying to find a bright side after my miscarriage, and the only one I could come up with (albeit weak as it was) was being able to fit into my favorite clothes again. That ship has long sailed. I've been a small/medium my whole life, and now I'm wearing large/extra large. I can't bring myself to go anywhere because I can't stand the way that my friends and family look at me now. They're trying to be nice, but they keep saying patronizing stuff like, "Well... Have you tried exercising?"
It's been five years since I've seen my endo, so I had to get lab work done by my primary care physician, along with a referral if necessary. Like I said, my endocrinologist is seriously amazing, so he's in high demand. I may have to wait a few weeks yet to see him. I thought it might help me to reach out and talk to other people who've experienced similar problems. I checked my medical chart online, and it says "Still abnormal thyroid tests". I scanned through the rest of my records and discovered that my levels are the same as they were, when I was pregnant! Except that I was told that they were "within normal ranges". Can someone please explain the following to me?
THYROID CASCADE (THYROID TEST): TSH <0.005 mIU/L
CASCADE TSH LOW REFLEX: Free T4 1.18 ng/dL
There was no T3 test.
I'm just curious. I would like to understand the numbers better, so I would really appreciate any input I can get from anyone else who has experienced either dramatic weight gain with a hyperthyroid or Graves Disease, or anyone who has experience dramatic weight gain after miscarriage.
My current symptoms are weight gain and depression (duh), hair loss (including thinning eyebrows and body hair. Gross, I know, but who shaves over the winter?!) joint pain, "foggy head", rapid tooth decay (I am slowly working through some dental repairs because it's too expensive to fix everything at once. I was told on my last visit that all of the decay in my mouth has progressed unusually fast.) blotchy, anemic looking skin, fatigue, breathlessness, lightheaded after exercise, chest pains with exercise, random shivering and heat flashes, tunnel vision, gritty eyes, poor concentration and memory, headaches, lighter periods (don't even need a tampon now) with intermittent spotting between. (I used to be 28 days, like clockwork. Now it fluctuates between 2-5 weeks, with random heavy spotting in between that will sometimes last for more than a day.)
I guess I'm just so freaked out because I've always been so in tune to my body and to how it works. I feel completely in over my head right now because nothing is working like it should, and I don't know what to do about any of it! Also, I'm absolutely terrified of trying for another baby even though I'm in the "safe zone" now, even though I would desperately like to have at least one more child. Somebody told me (jokingly, because some people are jerks) that it sounded like I was going through menopause. Ha, ha, bloody HA. I mean, I just turned 27. I have a round, chubby, babyish face and often get mistaken for being closer to 19... I mean, menopause? MENOPAUSE?!
Any input would be so appreciated. I can't discuss this with ANYONE because every single person that I know gets so uncomfortable discussing miscarriages and anything to do with weight. I just need to talk to someone, ANYONE, at this point because I don't think I can cry anymore.