Thursday, December 06, 2012

Health Update

Around a month ago, my energy level tanked. I'd had periods of sustained fatigue beforehand, but nothing like this. The thyroid gland was swiftly targeted as the culprit. Tests provided contradictory, even inconclusive results, but my symptoms revealed hypothyroidism. Doctors sometimes rely too heavily on lab levels and numerical data. It makes their job easier, but isn't always the best approach.

I've taken Lithium as a mood stabilizer for bipolar disorder for four years. It's the gold standard to treat what was once known as manic depression. When it works, it works well. When it doesn't, it is entirely useless. Lithium can adversely effect the thyroid, especially at high levels. For ten days, I tapered down my daily dosage, trying to determine if it was making me tired. Apparently, Lithium is not the issue.

A week ago, I resumed my normal dosage. I'll have a new Lithium level drawn Friday morning. If Lithium levels are at a therapeutic concentration in the bloodstream, I'll start Synthroid the first of next week. Lithium has a fairly narrow window of efficacy. 0.6 to 1.2 is the sweet spot. Too low, and the effects cannot be felt. Too high, and a person grows toxic, which, for me, usually produces nausea.

I am optimistic that I've finally be able to return to the gym and not have to rest in bed for several hours a day. Exercise increases the concentration of the chemicals my brain doesn't produce enough of by itself. Achieving proper balance is the name of the game. 

I've pushed myself to be productive, but sometimes listening to what my body is telling me is essential. My goal is to be healthy in time for Christmas. I miss my family and haven't seen them in person in over a year. It's been a financial matter. They live 750 miles away, well beyond driving distance. My parents have never been the sort to regularly travel, preferring to stay close to home if possible.

The distance and space has been welcome, most of the time. I get along with my father, for instance, much better now. Spending time at close quarters with my nuclear family is ingratiating for a while, but then begins to wear me down. If I am feeling strong enough, I can take them in stride. If not, my patience and tolerance can only hold up for a little while. I foresee finding a quiet place to decompress and rest a few hours every day.

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