Adrienne of Australia dutifully popped her Oroxine, and gained weight, eyebrows thinned, dry skin, felt cold, depression. Here’s her remarkable story about finding desiccated thyroid and doing much better!

I’ve had a non-functioning thyroid since 1985 (when I was 18).  Since then I’ve been treated with Oroxine, which is the thyroxine brand here in Australia.  I never questioned my endo’s wisdom, and dutifully popped my tablets every day assuming that the dry skin, thin hair, lack of eyebrows and always feeling cold was the price to pay for my treatment of the thyroid condition.  I never once wondered if there was alternative treatments, never asked about it, never
searched on the internet.

UNTIL……

A few years ago I went through a very very stressful time (divorce) and dropped a lot of weight.  At first it didn’t concern me.  I liked my new thin look, but the more I lost, the more I wanted to lose.  So despite being both hypothyroid and a type 1 diabetic (since 1982), I went down to less than an Australian size 6 (American size 0).  The size 6’s hung on me – and I still thought I looked overweight.  When I look back now at photos of myself at my thinnest I am horrified – I looked gaunt and skeletal, not attractive at all.  Yet the power of the anorexic mind is such that I deceived myself into strict diet restrictions, and ended up doing a whole lot of damage to myself.

I took a holiday with my children, relaxed whilst away, and began piling on a few kilos.  I wasn’t fussed – I was away and eating well, particularly enjoying food for the first time in years.  When I came home I was about 3 kilos heavier, which I thought I could easily lose again.  But the weight wouldn’t come off.  I tried and I tried and instead I kept gaining.  Even after I passed my ideal weight and seriously began to diet again I could not budge the extra kilos. Within a year I had stacked on 18 kilos (what’s that in pounds?  About 40 pounds??)  I was officially overweight, according to my doctor, and had high cholesterol.

I was also incredibly drained and tired all the time, even getting up out of my chair and getting a meal together every night was difficult.  I spent my spare time lying on my bed feeling fat and tired.  I had frequent afternoon naps (that went for three hours) and I had absolutely no motivation to spend time with friends or my children.  Even playing in the park with them was tiring – I used to dread going out, even the effort of getting ready was too much.  My eyebrows went from thin to non-existent and I was colder than ever.

I was put on anti-depressants by my GP, who told me that the tiredness and weight gain were all due to depression.  I didn’t feel much better on the anti-depressants, but I took them for a year before eventually stopping them (I was fed up with still feeling awful all the time, and I’d read the anti-depressants can cause weight gain and at this point I was bigger than ever!).  My GP was upset that I stopped the medication as according to her I was still “depressed”, as after two years of being fat, tired and unhappy she did not consider me cured.  But I felt no different off the anti-depressants than I did on them.  It didn’t make any sense to me, and my cholesterol levels were higher than ever.

I even tried increasing my dose of Oroxine for a month to see if it made any difference – I know, stupid thing to do, but I was desperate.  I went from 200mcg a day to 300 mcg a day and I felt NO DIFFERENCE.  Eventually fear of reading dire stories on the internet about too much thyroxine stopped me taking the extra each day.

It wasn’t until I had my normal annual thyroid function tests a few months ago that I realized there may be more to the problem than just depression.  Although my TSH was 0.29 (too low! my doctor told me, you’re taking too much oroxine) my FT3 was 2.5.  Further internet research brought me to the STTM webpage….and my life could begin again.

I started by keeping a temperature chart, which was always under 36 degrees C (96.8F).  No wonder I always felt cold!

When I first realized I needed something containing T3, I went back to my GP armed with a pile of paper proving my theory, along with my temperature chart.  She laughed at me, and told me that my symptoms were all due to depression and probably my age (41), as I must be approaching menopause.  She wrote out a pathology request for hormone testing, as she was now convinced that I was peri-menopausal and ALSO depressed.  She told me that if I got out for a half hour walk every day I would feel much better.  She was very patronizing, saying she’d never heard of anyone prescribing T3, that natural thyroid products were dangerous, and that if anything I needed to reduce my Oroxine dose as my TSH level was too low.  When I persisted, even asking for an adrenal function test, she said “I’m sick of people who spend a few hours on the web and say, congratulation!  I’ve got a medical degree!” I walked out – I didn’t even pay.  I thought that even if a doctor disagreed with a patient’s opinion, there should still be a level of respect.  She wrote me a letter a few days later with her pathology request form, for all the test to prove I was menopausal…. so I tore it up and threw it away and went to see another doctor….

Three GP’s later I finally found one who was young and actually eager to help.  She freely admitted she knew nothing about natural thyroid products or treatment with T3, but she did agree that my large weight gain probably wasn’t due to my age and overeating.  She gave me the number of a compound chemist who is nearby, and I phoned him and was given the name of a doctor who actually believes in Armour (aka compounded desiccated thyroid in Australia)!

Two months later and his diagnosis of Wilsons Reverse T3 Syndrome have been confirmed by blood tests (Reverse T3 level of 504), and I am happily on both adrenal treatment and Armour thyroid.  My FT3 has come up to 7.5 (!) and my TSH is down to 0.008.  I feel so different now – my eyebrows are growing back, I’m not exhausted 24/7, and I’m actually “regular” for the first time in 24 years.  I feel a warm glow, my temperature is normal, although bounces around a bit.  This amazing doctor told me that my period of anorexia caused the Wilsons Reverse T3 Syndrome, as I put my liver under too much stress for that period of time.

My DHEAS is 3.2 umol/L, which I understand is at the low end of the range.  He has put me on a herbal supplement for adrenal glands – called Adreno Tone.

My endocrinologist, who I see for diabetes, is horrified that I am taking a natural thyroid product.  She told me, looking very grumpy and stern, that it would give me  a heart attack and osteoporosis.  I said I wasn’t stopping it (this was after about three weeks on desiccated thyroid like Armour and I was feeling great), so she said that it was my decision and she wasn’t responsible for what it would do to me.

The doctor who prescribed the Armour told me that he doesn’t know of one endo in Australia who is open minded about natural thyroid products. I find that a shame – even finding this wonderful doctor was hard work.  If I hadn’t been actively looking, I would still be fat and unhappy on Oroxine.

Thank you for the STTM website!!  Finding Armour has changed my life.  Literally changed my life!!

Adrienne (2009)