Constant vigilance and my hyperactive adrenals (finally)

Welcome to another super simplified biology lesson, brought to you by the letter A and your adrenal glands.

(Hey, it should go without saying, but I am not a doctor, and none of my blatherings here have been evaluated by the FDA or any reputable medical establishment. This stuff is cobbled together from my long-ago and rusty background as a nurse, and various tubes on the internet. Please join me in the frustrating journey of finding medical help, and don’t take my word for… well, basically anything, ever.)

hey-adrenal-glands

I got a little happy with the type-tool in Photoshop. Ahem.

adrenal-function

Your adrenal glands actually have different parts that do different things. The adrenal cortex makes hormones that are vital to life: cortisol and aldosterone; your body won’t be able to function without them. The adrenal medulla produces nonessential hormones like adrenaline (epinephrine & norepinephrine). These aren’t considered necessary for life, though they do important things and you are very lucky to have them.

mainstream-adrenal-disease

When your adrenal glands get sick and diseased, it wreaks havoc in your body. That list isn’t comprehensive, by the way.

affect-correct

During a period of extreme stress, your adrenal glands will over-compensate for the extra demand placed on your body. Illness, late nights, a high-stress job, a death in the family, major relationship problems, etc. can wear you out. Your little Dorito-shaped soldiers (or party animals), the adrenals, will rise to the occasion, producing extra cortisol and adrenaline to keep you going.

cortisol-too-high

(Symptom list not comprehensive, yo.)

While they do a good job of keeping us together during periods of duress, over-working your adrenal glands definitely isn’t meant to be a long term solution. After so long (and the exact time frame will vary from person to person) they too will run out of steam; they can’t sustain those high levels of production forever, and as a result your cortisol levels dip.

low-cortisol

Okay so that brings us back to this comic:

Feel like crap? Well I have great news, your labs are 100% normal. You are the picture of health!

You present with a host of troubling symptoms, the doctor runs a blood test — maybe even checking your blood cortisol levels — and blamo, your results come back within the normal range. Sorry you feel like the bottom of a garbage can! Here’s my office bill, have a nice day.

As I’ve come to understand it, the only effective way to test for high or low levels of cortisol is with a 24-hour saliva test. Depending on the test provider, you collect saliva samples either with swabs or by spitting copious amounts of saliva into test tubes *gag*. You then mail the samples to the lab and they get back to you with the results. Then you get to fight with your doctor and make him take into account the results.

barf

Last time I went through this I ordered this saliva test through the Optimal Health Network. I had a good experience with them. For a reasonable fee, they’ll go over your test results with you and work out a treatment plan. I responded very well to the host of (expensive) Standard Process supplements designed for adrenal support. That test will also look at your DHEA (another adrenal hormone), Secretory IGAs, Insulin levels, and Gluten antibodies. This time I used the saliva test recommended by Stop the Thyroid Madness which is good, but not quite as robust.

Mid-novel check-in

Okay, are you with me? Does that make sense? Your adrenals are little machines that take the wheel when life gets NUTS, but they can get tired and crash.

Give that wheel to Jesus, adrenals.

Last time I went through this I had broken my arm, suffered through my fourth hyper-emetic pregnancy, lost a twin baby, went through a brutal D&C for the twin’s retained placenta, hemorrhaged horribly during said D&C, and (not to sound too dramatic) nearly died.

If that isn’t stress in a pressurized can about to be punctured, I don’t know what is. After a year of breastfeeding and increasing difficulty with my weight and health, my skin exploded in a 10 month bout with giant urticara and angioedema. Basically, my body was waving a white flag: WE SURRENDER. HALP. After doing the (frustrating and dead-end) rounds with countless medical professionals, I finally got a tip from blog reader, Liz A. (Holla, Liz.) At her urging, I started researching all this adrenal fatigue stuff. Working with an MD who only sometimes raised her eyebrows so high they fell off her face, a nutty chiropractor, and a very understanding, crunchy DO doctor, I finally took the aforelinked saliva test from the Optimal Health Network, got my insane results, and started healing.

This time isn’t as bad as last time. It’s miserable, but it’s better. Part of that is because I’d already done all the frustrating run around five years ago, and knew what tests I needed straight off the bat. I was able to more quickly get to the point with my family doctor up here and line up the various assortment of medical help I knew I needed. Plus, the stress leading up to this time wasn’t nearly as catastrophic. I didn’t nearly die or anything Lifetime movie-esque. I just pushed myself too hard, so here we are.

My cortisol levels

So my problem (then and now) is too much cortisol. Last time my cortisol levels were OFF THE CHARTS morning, noon, and night. They are screwy this time: low normal in the morning (when they should be higher and ready to give me energy for a new day) and too high at night (when they should be calming the crap down so I can sleep… I currently can’t sleep.)

cortisol-sleep-energy

Cortisol levels can mess up your circadian rhythm. That super magical thing that happens in your body to regulate your energy throughout the day. It helps you wind down at night, gives you the ability to fall asleep, and affects how rested and ready you feel for a new day of work and life in the morning.

spastic-adrenals

Here’s what’s helping

The first thing on this list is a great team of medical people:

I have two family doctors (MDs) who are relatively willing to listen to my own non-medical-doctor research. If one won’t listen to me, the other one will (not that I’m always right, but you know, it’s nice to be heard). The same DO medical doctor who is much more willing to take me seriously. I like her a lot. An energy worker who, I often feel like is doing crazy voodoo, but seems to hit the nail on the head when I’m confused about tweaking a supplement or why I’m having a problem in a certain area. If nothing else he helps me meditate and focus and take RESTING seriously. An ND (natropath physician) with expertise in thyroid / adrenal function which I have so far only corresponded with on the phone, but who I may be visiting soon (he’s in another state). It’s kind of depressing that you can’t just walk into a family practice and get all the help you need, but with sort of weird problems like this, you have to do a lot of your own research and be willing to fight for the right kind of help.

These supplements and medications:

  • Dessicated thyroid. My dose / type is currently getting tweaked. Read more here.
  • Floradix (the gluten free variety) liquid iron supplement. 20ml per day.
  • Dessicated adrenal. By Standard Process. It’s expensive, but very effective. I take 7 per day for 6 weeks (I have 2 more weeks left — you don’t want to be on it longer than that, your adrenal glands will get lazy)
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons of Real Salt in water daily
  • 3 Dermatrophin PMG (this also stops after 6 weeks, more on that below)
  • 8 Standard Process Calcium Lactate tablets
  • 2 Potassium tablets
  • 3 Nature’s Way B-100 complex capsules
  • 1 Jarrow Formulas Milk Thistle capsules
  • 6 Twinlab C-Plus Citrus Bioflavonoid capsules
  • 3 Standard Process Zymex
  • 1 Standard Process Prolamine Iodine
  • 14 Standard Process Cataplex B
  • 5 Standard Process Cataplex D
  • 6 (3 in am, 3 at night) Standard Process Congaplex
  • Trace Mineral drops
  • 6 (3 in am, 3 at night) Standard Process Chlorophyll Complex
  • 2 Himalaya brand Holy Basil
  • I took one bottle of Medi-Herb Nevaton
  • 1 teaspoon in water of Medi-Herb Ashwaganda
  • 1 teaspoon in water of Medi-Herb Rehmannia
  • 2 teaspoons in water of powdered Turmeric (natural antihistamine)

At the 6 week mark, I stop the dessicated adrenal and Dermatrophin PMG and switch to Drenatrophin PMG for 6 weeks (also by Standard Process). After that I take Drenamin for a year and then retest everything and re-evaluate (lots of those supplements will get tweaked / eliminated as we go).

It’s a lot, but it’s helping and so that’s motivating. For me, the monster rash seems to have a direct correlation to my cortisol spaz attack. With adrenal support, I’m down to just 3 Benadryl every 8 – 12 hours. This is AWESOME. I have various degrees of welts and facial swelling most mornings, but after taking my bowlful of supplements I’m usually fairly comfortable by the afternoon (comfortable for me is not, probably, going to be comfortable for you — you get sort of used to a certain level of misery).

I am perfectly capable of having / running our homeschool from the sofa or bed, but we are still very cautious (due to the POTs symptoms though those are improved) of me doing much more. I do not have any church or community responsibilities, and friends are still helping with grocery shopping and errands. I am able to run the kids to dance classes, but they are very nearby.

There is a link between adrenal function & thyroid and low iron & thyroid. We’re hoping that as I continue to get my iron & adrenal glands in line, some of my thyroid problems will resolve, or at least be easier to treat.

Oh my gosh, just one more thing and then you are FREEEEEEEE

I made a mistake last time this happened: I abandoned everything (supplements, testing, doctor visits) once I felt better. I am realizing more and more that my body is a delicate flower. What I need to do is remain vigilant even when I start feeling like a human.

Mad Eye says don't stop taking care of yourself

I’m going to need to stay on top of having regular blood work and the gross saliva tests. I need to remember that I probably can’t just dance off into the sunset and abandon my resolve to maintain my iron levels just because I can go to the grocery store without help. This is going to be an ongoing regular-checkup sort of thing. Some of you are probably like, “Uh, no duh?” But really, once I feel semi-normal it’s super easy for me to forget all about everything until I wake up with a Bratwurst sized lip.

Okay then. I think that’s all. Can you guys appreciate why these posts take longer for me to put together than I think they will? I mean the obvious need for an editor aside, it’s kind of a lot to figure out how to present in a semi-digestible fashion. I hope I did okay. Holler if any of it is confusing.

xox-forever

p.s. GAH! I left out a couple of illustrations & took the time to edit for clarity (and sanity) in a couple areas. Friends don’t let friends hit ‘publish’ after they’ve taken their melatonin for the night.

Writerly

corrections2

When we last left our long-winded heroine she was apologizing for her utter lack of reliability in regular posting, and sort of promised another update sometimey soonish. Well. Almost two weeks later, here we are. I should be downright sheepish, but you guys, I fell down an educational rabbit hole this time. Well, sort of.

Reasoning with Vampires can be nitpicky and harsh, but I also found it very, very amusing and could not stop reading. The blog writer takes a critical look at the grammar and syntax of the Twilight series, and posts corrections and improvements using scanned pages from the books. I read and even (gasp) enjoyed the Twilight series and managed to read this tumblr-blog without getting my panties in a wad (the indignant and defensive protests from Twihards are especially entertaining). Seriously, what a fun way to explore some of the finer and often abused points of grammar — I’d happily read a similar blog on any number of other popular books. Take out some of the innuendos and language and this sort of thing could be a great way to teach grammar to teens, don’t you think?

Reading the ENTIRE archive of Reasoning with Vampires led to one of those weeks wherein I accomplish absolutely nothing but feel rather as though I am doing quite a lot. I call it the Plight of Pointless Research. Awakened to my own writing flaws I found myself searching the internet for ways to improve one’s grammar when you are an adult and rather set in your ways. I also looked into a wide variety of writing workshops that I’ll never muster the gumption to actually sign up for, and poked around the “for writers” sections of my favorite authors’ websites, making a list of their recommended “How to get that novel out of your head” type how-to books. I then ordered three more “How to Write” books even though I already own an unwieldy collection of said books; many of which I haven’t finished yet. (Did I use that semi-colon appropriately?)

It’s all just a lot of silly dithering and time-wasting leading up to National Novel Writing Month in November. This will be my 3rd year participating. I don’t find it difficult at all to spew out 50,000 words (obviously), but I don’t think it has resulted in anything remotely worthwhile, though I do enjoy the process.

I, like a frillion other people, feel that I have several stories rattling around in my brain, whether they are good stories or not, I couldn’t tell you. They’re simply there, and are very noisy from time to time. I write character profiles, draw their portraits, dream up their backstories, and even take a stab at archetyping and story arcing. I have dozens of languishing half starts and a handful of “complete” (<-- those are airquotes) stories in need of approximately eighteen million more re-writes (if not bonfires). Books I've airquote "finished" are spectacularly bad and not even my mother has seen them.

I can’t not write (and thus, my complicated relationship with writing online). I’ve been writing since I could handle a crayon. I don’t think it matters (to me) if any of that writing is ever mass produced or read by more than a dozen people, I’ll still write. It’s just impossible not to.

I’m currently re-reading The Forest for the Trees and I enjoy her different profiles on the different types of authors. I am a combination of the both the ambivalent and neurotic writer, but seem to be missing the gene that either desires fame (shudder) or fortune (at least when it comes with fame). In other words, I’m missing that special something that pushes a writer towards publication. If I ever do manage to write something readable I will probably quietly self-publish under a pseudonym and never tell anyone I’ve done it. I realize most authors can visit the grocery store without being accosted by fans, but I have this innate fear of publishing an actual book with my actual name. I can’t explain it. I’ll probably write my whole life, but never feel that push to ‘come out’ of my writerly closet.

I find both the ideas of a packed book signing and a ghost-town book signing EQUALLY horrifying. At least recluse authors are not unheard of, though I laugh (rather manically) at the thought of being included (guffaw) as one of their peers. Still, I identify with their public-shy ways.

Anyway, my meandering point is that this past week has at least been more literary minded, which feels like a better thing to be than mired in the very questionable swamps of celebrity gossip. I think that’s an improvement even if my inbox is ready to burst and my blog has been moldering over here in a dusty state of neglect.

I’m certain no one is dying for my next health update, but I’m doing the artwork for it TONIGHT (like seriously, right now) since I’m currently plagued with ridiculous insomnia. Why not draw angsty adrenal glands while listening to Mark reads Twilight? (Because, obviously, that’s what you do when you run out of Reasoning with Vampires posts to read.)

Sanctuary! Sanctuary!

Okay before I dive into the rest of the fascinating mystery of my health I want to back up a little with a mini human biology lesson.

This is your thyroid gland.

thyroid

Pretty cute little guy, right? This is where he lives:

thyroid-location

Your thyroid gland needs nutrients to do its job. Its primary nutrient is iodide which it converts to iodine. Selenium, zinc, and iron are really important too.

thyroid-cells

Your pituitary gland (located at the base of your brain) senses when your body needs more thyroid hormones and releases TSH (short for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). TSH knocks on the thyroid gland’s door to, you guessed it, stimulate the production of more thyroid hormones. Traps for iodide are increased to ‘catch’ the nutrients the gland needs, and the thyroid cells then gets busy converting iodide to iodine and producing H202 (Hydrogen Peroxide). To super, super simplify things, this results in the production of those needed thyroid hormones, commonly referred to as T1, T2, T3, T4 and Free T3.

These are all super important, and when all is well, you feel really great with all those thyroid hormones zooming about doing their job (regulating your metabolism, helping you feel happy, and aiding in proper sexual function.)

Psst: You can make too much of these hormones, and that’s called Hyperthyroidism, but we’re talking about Hypothyroidism today, where your thyroid gland is not making enough (and you therefore feel like crap cake garbage in a poo can).

crap-cakes-garbage-poo-can

(You also feel like crap cake garbage in a poo can when you’re “hyper” but that’s another story for another day.)

Okay, there’s a lot more going on in those cells, but that is the basic picture. So when your thyroid is feeling under the weather (or rather, is nutrient deprived) and isn’t producing enough thyroid hormones, the pituitary gland increases the amount of TSH in your system – it’s basically screaming at your thyroid gland to produce MORE STUFF.

po-ed-pituitary

Therefore, a high TSH blood test is supposed to alert your doctors to the problem, and they are then supposed to give your pooped thyroid (and pituitary) a break by giving you some kind of thyroid medication to replace those hormones your body isn’t producing. Thyroid medication, in theory, should alert your pituitary gland that all is well, and it should then shut the crap up.

The problem is (and this is what my previous cartoon was poking fun of), that you can present with all the classic hypothyroid symptoms, yet still have a “normal” TSH blood test. If a physician is only going by TSH (and not symptoms or other more revealing blood tests), you can find yourself in a really frustrating position.

Feel like crap? Well I have great news, your labs are 100% normal. You are the picture of health!

Further complicating the matter, the readily available thyroid medications (Synthroid, Levothyroxine) ONLY give your body a synthetic form of T4, which isn’t all that your body needs. Some doctors are willing (or can be coerced) to run the right blood tests (Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3) and will (with arm twisting) prescribe dessicated thyroid, made from porcine thyroid glands. Dessicated thyroid includes the entire range of hormones your body would normally produce: T1, T2, T3, and T4. Many people do a lot better on dessicated thyroid for this reason. It mimics what your body should be making, and therefore does a much better job of calming your pituitary gland and that TSH production down.

TO SUMMARIZE

Okay, are you with me so far? A lack of nutrients (remember? iodide, zinc, selenium, iron) leads to a decrease in thyroid hormone production, which leads to an increase of TSH from the pituitary gland hammering on the thyroid to increase production of hydrogen peroxide. An increase of hydrogen peroxide results in the inflammation of the poor little thyroid cells who don’t have the nutrients they need to finish the job.

(There can be a myriad of reasons you aren’t getting enough of the nutrients your thyroid needs. It might be your diet, or you might be eating great but not absorbing well.)

sad-thyroid

TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

When thyroid cells get inflamed damage can actually occur, the cells can actually burst open and leak their contents into your blood stream in the wrong forms. What happens when you’ve got stuff that belongs INSIDE a cell coursing through your veins? Your white blood cells — the army guys, as my 5 year old likes to call them — start fighting.

I ran out of steam, click picture for drawing credit on this one.

I ran out of steam, click picture for drawing credit on this one, and please add sound effect: “KABLAM, KABLOOEY”.

These warriors, normally responsible for fighting crime like viruses, contaminants, bacteria, and disease, are now forming antibodies against stuff your body not only needs, but needs to be making. This, my friends, is an autoimmune situation. In blunt terms, your body is now incorrectly fighting itself. When you have antibodies in your blood stream called antithyroglobulin antibodies, or thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies, you get a whole new diagnosis: Hashimoto’s. Or “Quasimodo’s Disease” as my father in law likes to call it.

Quasimodo_17

NOW THAT WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE HOPEFULLY

After letting myself get a bit walked over back in June with my family doctor, I ponied up the dough and ordered a big ol’ pile of labs through My Med Lab including the 24 hour saliva cortisol test which I could not arm wrestle any local doctors into ordering for me. Since I left you on a stupid cliffhanger, I’ll wrap this mile-long post up with a quick run down of my blood work and saliva (ew) tests:

DRUMROLL PLEASE

Low iron, anemic. Crazy high B12, “normal” TSH (high if you ask me), super low Free T4 (Thyroxine), high Antithyroglobulin / Thyroglobulin Antibodies, a super low Free T3, and a low reverse T3 / Free T3 ratio (more on that here). The cortisol test results showed a low-normal in the morning, normal during mid-day and too high at night.

In short (ha ha ha ha, never believe me when I say I’m giving you a ‘mini’ biology lesson or a ‘quick’ update. I think I am physically incapable of brevity.) I have Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism with overactive adrenals (little triangular shaped glands that sit on top of your kidneys and secrete the stress hormone cortisol, more on them later this week). Mine are currently a little messed up, not as messed up as they were last time I had this huge rash, but still hyperactive enough to trigger my histamine freak out.

My low iron and hyperactive adrenals are complicating matters quite a bit (stressing out my thyroid gland). There’s a lot that can be fixed by first getting these in line, so that’s what I’m focusing on right now, and I’ll go into that in detail tomorrow. Or the next day. You know the drill, I’m sorry I’m so unreliable. This is why I don’t make the big pennies blogging. Also, lame cartoons and super long explanations of odd ailments. (And market saturation and serial domain hopping, and a serious over-use of parenthetical asides, I’m sure.)

OH MY WORD, THE CLIFFHANGER

Like I said I’m so bad at this blogging thing. I almost forgot. Our bodies are usually quite adept at getting rid of excess B12, and a high result in the bloodstream is pretty rare. To give you an idea of how high mine is, a normal range is 211-946 pg/mL. My result: 2000. TWO THOUSAND, HOLY CROW.

High levels of B12 can indicate cancer! Isn’t that super fantastic? The list includes: chronic myelogeneous leukemia, promyelocytic leukemia, polycythemia vera and hypereosinophilic syndrome. HIGH FIVES ALL AROUND. Or, if that’s not scary enough, it could also indicate several liver diseases like acute hepatitis, cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma and metastatic liver disease (here is the source for all that terror).

I did find a mention online that a build up of B12 can occur if one has been taking too much B-12 supplement. That is a possibility for sure (and probably a very likely explanation), as whenever I was fatigued (all the time!), I’d double up on my B12 supplement. I have stopped supplementing and we’ll have to retest. If levels are still high I will need further screening to rule out any of those more serious issues. My ‘gut’ tells me there isn’t anything to worry about here, though I will absolutely be responsible and follow up, but I don’t have that panic alarm bell going off telling me that I have a terminal disease. So there’s that.

I’M FINALLY DONE, THERE ISN’T ANY MORE

Finally, good grief.

Why so sad? You’re going to live FOREVER with that blood pressure!

Feel like crap?  Well I have great news, your labs are 100% normal.  You are the picture of health!

(I drew this, and the last comic on my new-to-me-ebay-bedrest-lifesaver iPad Mini with the super fun Sketchbook Pro app. My daughter asks “Why did you draw yourself as a little kid in a tiny dress?” and my son asks, “Where is your gray hair?” Another son says, “Well, at least she’s drawing actual arms and legs now… but mom, your hands, and the doctor’s, um, flesh mitt…” He trails off looking worried that he hurt my feelings. So I need some practice is what they are saying.)

Months ago I went to one of our family doctors. I was feeling really run down and requested some lab work. It’s been ages since I read Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness by Dr. Broda Barnes, but I knew the gist: testing the TSH alone wasn’t enough for me. I specifically requested my Free T3 and Free T4 be checked. As an afterthought I asked him to check my cortisol levels too, mentioning that I’d had adrenal issues in the past.

You see, most doctors (even endocrinologists) will just run a TSH test, which tests the thyroid stimulating hormone released by the pituitary gland. And often, your result will fall within the normal range. You’ll be sitting there with dry skin and clumps of hair falling out, describing your ridiculous fatigue, hypersensitivity to light, how you jump out of your skin at the smallest surprise, how you’re always freezing and aching, and your blood pressure reading will come out super low, yet your TSH will look fine. So the doctor will gleefully tell you that absolutely nothing is wrong with you and offer to make you the poster child for people in their prime. MUCH VIGOR. VERY FLOURISH.

The nurse called me up a week or so later and cheerfully informed me that my TSH was “slightly elevated,” but the doctor thought it looked fine and didn’t want to change my dose of dessicated thyroid. When I asked about the Free T4 and Free T3 results, she acted confused and I could hear her shuffling through the paperwork. Great, he didn’t even run them. The blood cortisol levels looked “fine.” I’d forgotten that a blood test for cortisol measures both bound and unbound and doesn’t give accurate results.

I am not a confrontational person. I don’t like making a fuss, plus, having spent plenty of years listening to the gossip and griping at a nurse’s station, I have an innate fear of being a high maintenance patient. So while I’d like to tell you that I marched back into his office and got the tests I originally wanted, I hung up and forgot all about it. I became preoccupied with my weakness / fainting episodes and later, the rash.

Then, around a month ago, I’d had a particularly bad day. My mom had come up to help, and my dad, on his way home from elsewhere in Idaho, was able to stop by as well. After going over my laundry list of symptoms with my parents, my dad asked if I’d been taking my morning temperature. I hadn’t been.

My history with hypothyroidism has always been the type to show up via symptoms, including body temperature. In Dr. Barnes’ book, he recommends taking your basal temperature upon waking, before eating or drinking, or even getting up to go to the bathroom. If you’re running a degree or two lower than normal, and you’re showing symptoms for hypothyroidism, that’s a better indicator than measuring a hormone produced by the pituitary gland in diagnosing and treating the disease.

We couldn’t find my thermometer (it is probably languishing in one of a hundred million boxes in the garage) so mom dashed out to buy a digital one and a mercury-type thermometer. The next morning we took my temperature with both. 94 degrees, y’all. That’s quite a bit below the standard normal of 98.6. As in, I did not know it was possible to run that low and not be in a the morgue.

Stop the Thyroid Madness (an extremely excellent site I highly recommend if you have hypothyroid symptoms but aren’t getting anywhere with your TSH-focused doc or T4-only synthetic thyroid meds) recommends taking your temperature 3 – 4 times throughout the day for a week or so, and then averaging out the results. After a week of temperatures, my average was between 94 and 95 degrees, not just in the mornings, but around the clock. That is crazy low, so crazy low that when I phoned my other family doctor to tell him, he suggested my thermometers were broken. I went in to his office for an ‘official reading’ and came up 95.2 with his thermometer. Frustratingly, he was still pretty focused on my TSH even though the entire medical community can’t agree on what the normal range even is.

Feeling fairly certain that underlying thyroid problems could be causing, or at least worsening other issues, it felt important to address this. I was currently taking 2 grains of dessicated thyroid, but knew I needed to raise my dose if my temperatures were that low. Both doctors weren’t listening, so I pushed up my sleeves and prepared for battle.

Okay, I just copied and pasted the rest of this post into a new document because this turned into an epic epistle, and even though I’m mostly writing this all down for me, and probably no one cares (and that is OKAY, I realize my people are all on the geriatric floor or down at the Senior Citizens Community Center), I will break it up into a couple more posts. It’s all written so I’ll schedule them out this week (it’ll look like I’m posting all regular-like).

Tune in next time for the vindicating lab results I ordered myself via My Med Lab. It’s all very exciting; there is even an alarming red flag for a rare type of leukemia! (That is total click bait, I don’t think I have leukemia, but isn’t it sad that if I did it wouldn’t surprise me in the least?)

You can fall down an internet rabbit hole and end up on Wikipedia reading about LITERAL rabbit holes*

living-with-chronic-idiopathic-urticaria

Of course, then I get in the shower and realize that the water pelting down on me is one of the most painful and irritating things on the planet, and dragging the razor — even gently — over my limbs feels like I’m exfoliating with a cheese grater, but still! Shaved legs, people. Because scratchy, stubbly hairs poking up and through your roiling sea of burning welts does not help the already hideously itchy situation. Not one little bit.

As pathetic a picture as that must paint — especially paired with the post-shower exhaustion that leaves me damply wrapped in a towel, wet hair sprawling, and lying on the bathroom floor for twenty minutes to recover from the effort — I am actually seeing some pretty major improvement in the rash department. (Say it quietly so we don’t jinx it all with the universe.) (Obscure health issues has made paranoid and superstitious, excuse me while I toss some salt over my shoulder and spit into the wind.)

You’d think that with all this time lying around trying not to let the sheets touch my skin, that I’d be super productive, perhaps writing a novel or at least catching up on email, but no. There is something about endless hours of restless, itchy resting that invites — not active doing of anything worthwhile — an insatiable desire for easy to digest really pointless fake news. My very weak defense is that “news” of the tabloid nature was about the only thing that would get my mind successfully off the desire to essentially claw my skin off with my fingernails.

I am therefore only somewhat ashamed to admit that I’ve done little more than read all the Celebrity pages of Daily Mail (no politics, because that’s meatier and therefore might require brain cells to process), watch all the video shorts at Buzz Feed, and marvel at the naked handstand man at Mashable.

If anyone would like me to summarize a) the style of eyebrows models were wearing at Fashion Week, b) tell you at exactly what time the news of Royal Baby Numeral Dos hit the press, or c) diagram how many selfies Kim Kardashian is capable of posting in a given hour, I am more than happy to oblige. Other areas of expertise include, but are not limited to, the terrifying world of TMZ, various Wikipedia rabbit holes such as the life and times of various wives of The Beatles’ band members, the sad and sorrowful tale of Judy Garland’s rise to fame, and, inexplicably, Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army.

I’ll tell you one thing. I am really tired of Miley Cyrus, and I only spent like fifteen minutes reading up on her; she accomplished in a quarter of an hour what even Paris Hilton’s Instagram could not, the feeling that I had physically managed to liquify the contents of my skull and would need to repeat school from the 3rd grade forward. I closed all my tabs and bleached my brain by watching Belle. This is the only thing of value I managed to expose myself to, and I highly recommend viewing the movie yourself if you can take a recommendation from someone who now knows the names and ages of Britney Spears’ children.

Belle, I assure you is safe — even enriching, though I can’t promise you won’t end up on Wikipedia reading about Dido Elizabeth Belle afterward, it at least won’t somehow dump you into an internet wormhole about the rise and fall of Lindsay Lohan. (Won’t someone think of the children? How are child actors even ALLOWED at this point?)

* After spending some hours acquainting myself with all of Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands via the notorious internet encyclopedia, this felt like a revelation, and just about blew my mind. I’m pretty sure I need to get outside and breathe actual outdoor air tomorrow. And maybe read something fairly benign, like a dictionary.