Mike Harper, Thyroid Thrivers
57 years young
Diagnosed in 2011
Hot flashes, fatigue, and hypothyroidism
This is a strange place I find myself in. No one in my family has hypothyroidism. I am a man with hypo which, as I have read and researched, is uncommon. A lot more women have this than men, so every article is about women. I think in the last 3 years I have read just one article about men and hypo. I have no one but women to relate to, which is not a bad thing, but I would like to read more about men with this issue.
It all started in 2011 and was very noticeable when I worked out at the gym.
I would have lightheaded moments and hot flashes. I would take a break and then get moving again; I thought it was part of getting older. The hot flashes bugged me but the doctor did not seem alarmed when I told him about them. Then, I started taking naps all the time. Many of these naps were between events. For example, I would drive to the gym from work and sleep in my car for 20 minutes and then go into the gym. Or, I’d come home from work and sleep for 40 minutes. I would even find myself napping in the car when I parked it in the garage after work. The vehicle was comfortable; who needs to walk into the house? My wife was concerned about these impromptu naps, hot flashes and lightheadedness and told me to go see our General Practitioner (GP). I told her it was just part of getting old.
The diagnosis and Synthroid
However, I did listen to my wife and went to the GP. He did blood tests and declared that I had hypo and prescribed Synthroid (T4). I found out later that the dose was very low. But at least the naps and lightheadedness stopped. A year went by and I still didn’t feel right. I was better, but not right. The GP took more blood and increased the dose of Synthroid but there was no change.
Over the period of 4 years, my time in the gym and running, which I love, began to decrease and finally stopped altogether. I just didn’t feel like moving anymore. If you don’t feel good and you stop working out, guess what happens? I started gaining weight. I was up over an additional 50 pounds! I realized I needed to do something.
I went back to the GP and told him that I was still hot flashing, still gaining weight, and not feeling very well. He took more blood and told me I was in the normal range, and that I should feel great. Well, I didn’t and he seemed irritated by this.
He prescribed Cytomel (T3) at my request to see if this would help me feel better. Within 4 days I was jittery and anxious, and I still didn’t feel very good. I stopped taking it after 5 days.
So here is where I went off the reservation: don’t try this at home. I decided to experiment to see if I could make myself feel better. I got my hands (legally) on a large (2 year supply) bottle of Synthroid. I am currently prescribed to take 100mcg, but I changed my dose to 150mcg. The difference is amazing. I am alert, back at the gym, not tired every day, and losing weight (10 lbs. so far). Just an overall happy camper! I still have hot flashes but they are days apart, not 3 times a day. I’ve been doing this for about two months now and plan to continue.
My next step is to go see an endocrinologist to tell my story to and make sure I stay on the 150mcg. I plan to interview several for the job. I’m aware of the placebo effect of self-medication. I use the hot flashes as my measure for this. Even though they are not happening every day, I would like them to disappear completely. The hot flashes are my sign that things are still not right.
To end this story, I would like to hear from more men about their thyroid stories. What are they experiencing? Is my story part of their story? This is the first time I have written about this issue and it feels good just getting it out.