Tags: aches, arthritis, depression, doctor, fatigue, flare, flare-up, GP, hospital, hypothyroidism, joint pain, methotrexate, MTX, pain, R.A., RA, rhematoid arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), sleep, stress, T3, T4, thyroid, thyroxine, tiredness, TSH
I went for monthly MTX blood tests today and remembered to ask if the thyroid results were normal – I’d assumed they were, since no one at the surgery had bothered to contact me. They weren’t.
Having said that, they weren’t all that abnormal either, so what are we doing about it? In their case nothing as yet, in my case getting rather confused …and cold …and tired … and achy … but mostly just confused. Until I went in and asked for the results I thought a thyroid test was just that, one test, one answer – OK, not OK, whatever. But no … it turns out there’s a test for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which is produced by the pituitary gland and stimulates thyroxine production from the thyroid gland. Then there’s tests for the two types of hormone the thyroid gland itself produces, thyroxine (T4) and the other one whose name I can’t remember (T3). Counter-intuitively, if you have lots of TSH sloshing about it means your thyroid might be UNDER-active, because you have to produce a lot of TSH to get the thyroid to do anything at all. If you have loads of T3 and/or T4 (produced by the thyroid gland itself) then you obviously have an overactive thyroid as the thyroid is producing loads of the stuff. If you have very little then clearly you have an under-active thyroid.
Symptoms of the latter include feeling cold when it isn’t (box ticked), weight gain or difficulty in losing weight (box ticked), muscle aches (box ticked), abnormal menstrual cycles (oh yeaaaah!), decreased libido (what’s libido again, somebody?), irritability (well … erm … guilty) and memory loss (not sure, can’t remember). However, my levels of T-whatever – not sure if they tested for T3, T4 or both, are in the normal range. My level of TSH though is just outside the normal range – just a smidge too high. As a consequence the docs have decided to wait and see. I can totally understand the logic of this – apparently it does fluctuate and it’s not as if it’s wildly off the scale, so try again in another month and see if it’s still high, and if the levels of T-whatsit have decreased or not.
Really – I can totally understand that – but it’s just sooooo frustrating, as I sit here grumpily shivering, with period pains! (Oh yeah, and a flare just to increase the fun.)
One interesting thing – apparently the most common cause of hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) is an autoimmune problem. Surprise, surprise!
As to the confusion – I’ve just about got it straight in my head that there are all these tests and roughly what they’re for, but nowhere can I find clear guidance as to what is and isn’t normal range for any of these tests – it seems that for TSH it used to be considered that up to 5.5 was OK, now they reckon about 4.5, or maybe 3.5, or sometimes 2 depending on who you ask, and apparently some authorities in the UK reckon up to 10 is fine! I’m just going to go off and find a nice sandpit to bury my head in for the next month.
Tags: appetite change, appetite gain, fatigue, GP, hormones, hunger, insanity, medicine, menses, menstruation, monthlies, neck pain, norethisterone, periods, R.A., RA, rheumatoid, Rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), tiredness, weight gain
No I’m not actually sick, I’m just sick to death of the way hormones seem to rule my life. Until Wednesday I’d been menstruating pretty much constantly since before Christmas. By Sunday last I looked and felt like death warmed up, was bursting in to tears at the slightest provocation (or no provocation) and figured it was time I saw the doc. I knew I’d have trouble when she recommended a tablet that messes with the hormones, but heck, what else are you supposed to do stop a continuous period? So I bit the bullet and went on to Norethisterone (synthetic progesterone). I was a good girl – I didn’t even look at the side effects when I started it on Tuesday. I didn’t even look to see it was synthetic progesterone at the time.
Well the good news is it worked like magic – by Wednesday my seemingly never-ending period had stopped, the hot flushes hadn’t come back and I had very few RA symptoms. By yesterday I felt tired but so much better than I had been feeling. Then last night I woke up at two in the morning with a gnawing hunger pang in my belly – I lay in bed fantasising about porridge with tons of Golden Syrup on it! Fortunately Middle-size Cat and Enormous Cat were both firmly on top of me, purring and being cute, so I resisted the temptation as I didn’t want to disturb them. (Note, disturbing hubby didn’t even enter into the equation – awful, aren’t I? Then again, not much does disturb hubby once he’s asleep!) It’ll pass, I thought.
I woke up again at about six-thirty with a really awful gnawing hunger pang in my belly again! Hmm, I thought, this isn’t good. Heck, it’s Friday. Let’s go wild and have some porridge (instead of the usual and rather better for me Bran Flakes). I had some porridge. The hunger pangs didn’t go away. I made my lunch – beef salad. Normally when I’m making my lunch the absolute last thing I want to do there and then, straight after breakfast, is eat it. Today I could have eaten the whole damn lot. (I didn’t, but I could have done.) Tiny and Middle-sized cats were lucky to get their usual rations of my lunch today!
The gnawing hunger pang in my belly has NOT gone away. I ate a mid-morning snack of soya nuts, I had another slightly later morning snack of a few grapes and some dates. I had an apple. (All this before lunch!) Still gnawing hunger pang in my belly.
I had my lunch. Gnawing hunger pang in my belly. I hate to admit this but I then went to the local bakery. I’m not going to admit to what I bought (and ate) but suffice it to say that Mrs Baker would have been quite shocked if she’d known I was off back to the office to eat it all there and then, but that’s what happened. So would hubby, for that matter. He would have rather hoped I might have brought a bun home for him. (Sorry darling!)
Guess what? Gnawing hunger pang in my belly – still. My helpful friend Weeny’s response was, ‘You’re hungry? So what’s new?’ (She’s renowned for her sympathy skills – her hubby and I tease her regularly about their lack!) The thing is this isn’t just hungry – it’s like a pain, it has to be pandered to; it’s constantly demanding. I can think of nothing but food. I just want to eat everything in sight. I look at my half-cup of cold coffee and picture a big hot chocolate swirling with cream and marshmallows; I look at the snow swirling around outside and think of ice cream; I don’t quite look at ‘the boss’ and think ‘roast beef’ but believe me I’m not that far from it. And to add insult to injury I’m doing a transcription all about chocolate!! (I kid you not.)
You know what? I don’t think I’ll be taking any more Norethisterone! I looked at the side effects this morning and sure enough weight gain and appetite change were nestled amongst them. I’ll put up with a constant period, I’ll live with anaemia and fatigue if I have to, but I really can’t cope with any more of this!
Tags: arthritis, broke, cats, fatigue, joint pain, methotrexate, Middle-sized cat, money, MTX, NASTY, National Institute for Clinical Excellence, NHS, NICE, occupational therapist, OT, R.A., RA, rhematoid arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), rheumatology, sleep, stress
Firstly a ‘big shout out’ to Warm Socks for reading comment replies. Well done to you, m’dear! I also read them when I remember to tick the little box, but I usually don’t remember.
Secondly, for them as don’t keep up with comment replies, like me, tinglywinglypingly is a thing of the past – hurrah.
Thirdly, I had my methotrexate last night and, unlike last week, not only kept it down but slept like a log afterwards and feel great today. Middle-sized cat is also delighted, as he tends to sleep next to/on top of me, so he also got a good night. After a trip to the V-E-T yesterday he’s now costing me about SIXTY POUNDS A MONTH in medication … but of course he’s worth every penny, and more.
Hey ho – it’s only money … not as important as health.
I obviously value him more than NICE values me, or rather values other R.A. patients who are not so lucky as I am currently! This article in The Guardian tells an all too familiar story.
Tocilizumab (another biologic), which costs £9,000 per patient per year (so about the same per month as middle-sized cat costs me per year … but then consider the difference in resources between lil’ ol’ me and the British government … on second thoughts, maybe not; I’m not quite broke yet), is being given to patients in Scotland (and indeed most of the rest of Europe), but NASTY has decided once again that it’s too expensive for patients in England. And once again the fact that it could keep people in work and reduce the costs of unemployment benefit, keep them walking and reduce the cost of wheelchairs, keep them out of hospital and reduce the costs of round-the-clock healthcare … etc. etc. etc. has escaped them. It’s an argument I’ve had with them a few times before on this blog, here and here and
Tags: aches, arthritis, fatigue, flare, joint pain, pain, R.A., RA, rhematoid arthritis, rheumatoid, Rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), sleep, tiredness
I was getting to the point yesterday afternoon where I was fairly convinced I was having at least a fizzle … some reasonably significant pain in the afternoon, tiredness too, and by the time I went to bed I couldn’t find a comfortable position because however I lay something hurt.
I’d had a busy, fun evening and a very unhealthy dinner! Yesterday was the night of our local sewing/quilting/crafting/whatever group and as a friend of mine who works locally but lives some way away also goes along, I asked if she wanted to come back to ours for a quick bite to eat before we went. I warned her it would only be pizza because we were in a hurry … so not a healthy start there … and she kindly contributed a chocolate putting with chocolate sauce AND cream for afters! Oh dear … but yum.
Anyway, here’s the thing … I feel much better today! So perhaps pizza and chocolate pudding is my ideal RA diet?
Erm no … before i got lots of angry comments, I’m not entirely serious! But it does show how careful you have to be not to attribute RA (or lack of it) to things without doing some serious research and testing!
Tags: aches, cats, enormous cat, fatigue, RA, rhematoid arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), sleep, tiredness
Picture the scene: it’s three in the morning and I’m in pain and wide awake. Tim Piggot-Smith has failed me – for once even his dulcet tones reading David Starkey’s Monarchy: The Beginnings haven’t lulled me to sleep. Neither has a podcast of a lecture from the wonderful Dr. Stuart Lee on Anglo-Saxon History – my other failsafe. I’m at my wit’s end.
Suddenly there’s a crash, a bound, and a superhero comes flying through the bedroom window and lands on the bed with an enormous thump. Yes, it’s The Grey Shadow, feline super-hero extraordinaire, to the rescue. A lick, a purr and I’m already feeling better.
Soon the gentle sound of purring has done the trick and I’m fast asleep.
I wake up at around 5:30 and The Grey Shadow has mysteriously disappeared. My ankle’s in agony. Why? Ah yes – Enormous Cat is fast asleep on top of it. I wonder where The Grey Shadow went? He would have been far too considerate to sleep on my ankle.
Thanks to Wren at The Rheuma Blog for reminding me about this incident with her post on wee beasties! What would we do without them? I’d far rather put up with the discomfort of the occasional sore ankle than not have these nocturnal visits from my superhero at all!This is enormous cat. You can tell it’s not The Grey Shadow, in spite of the general similarity in colour and size. The Grey Shadow wouldn’t be seen dead on a pile of washing!
Tags: 5 HTP, fatigue, fibromyalgia, hot flashes, hot flushes, R.A., Rheumatoid arthritis, sleep, tiredness
I don’t know if the 5-HTP (which I’ve been taking for a while to help me sleep, as sleep (or lack of it) seems to be a probable cause for fibromyalgia) becomes less effective after a certain amount of time, but I’ve just recently stopped finding it very effective. My bro takes it sometimes too and he reckons that if he takes it for a while he becomes kind of desensitized to it, so perhaps it’s that.
It was fantastically helpful for a couple of months, but then I started to find that if I woke up, even if it was only an hour or two after falling asleep on taking the tablet, I couldn’t get back to sleep again.
Now the flipping hot flushes have started again, I’m waking up about once an hour and hot flushing BIG TIME. Of course that makes me feel utterly disgusting and I usually have to get up for a bit, after which I’m wide awake for a few minutes. Only a few minutes doesn’t sound so bad, does it … until you realise that this is happening six times a night or so.
Surprise, surprise – the fibro is coming back. Off to see my lovely cake-recommending physio this afternoon so that will help, but I fear I’m going to have to try the meds that the consultant recommended months ago but that I’ve been avoiding as the side effects include weight gain. (I know, I know, my favourite lecture is about how you mustn’t assume you’ll get all the side effects going, but I know when it comes to me and weight gain I’m doooooomed!)
Any advice on getting rid of the flushes (or packets of roasted soya beans in the post, and instructions on the uses thereof, Maggie, if you’re reading this) would be much appreciated!!
Tags: fatigue, hot flushes, methotrexate, MTX, pain, RA, Rheumatoid arthritis, stiffness, tiredness
The hot flushes are back with a vengeance! As anyone who’s ever had them, or has a partner who’s ever had them, will know,that is NOT the good news.
The good news is that although I’m quite convinced from previous fluctuations between hot flushes and no hot flushes, RA pain and no RA pain, that the two are correlated – for me, hot flushes usually means more RA pain and stiffness – this time the RA symptoms remain mild to non-existent. Further indication that the MTX is doing what it’s supposed to be doing.
Even the fatigue has reduced – I’ve had a really busy week – busy at work, making some bits and bobs for a charity stall run by our local sewing group, preparing for my mum’s 70th birthday (the house is full of cake, icing stuff, presents, wrapping etc.) – I had a ‘ladies who lunch’ and shopping trip on Saturday involving 50 minute drive each way to Bury St. Edmunds, and I managed the WHOLE weekend without a day-time nap.
I very nearly succumbed, but just managed not too. I hoped that would guarantee a good night’s sleep last night, but thanks to the hot flushes/night sweats, it didn’t. Oh well … can’t have everything. At least the RA is behaving itself!
Tags: arthritis, fatigue, methotrexate, MTX, RA, rhematoid arthritis, rheumatoid, Rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), sleep, tiredness
I was given temporary hope on this post from Warm Socks at Infinity-itis (Sorry, I can’t find the infinity symbol anywhere) on methotrexate side effects. Remicade Dream commented that she always had a mental fog on MTX day. Ahah, I thought, my problems of extreme dippyness (and fatigue) this week must have been caused by my increase in methotrexate.
I felt better for a minute – hurrah, all I have to do is blame the meds.
Then I realised the horrible truth – I take my m-m-m-m-methotrexate on a M-M-M-M-Monday and I was still being just as dippy yesterday … I actually forgot to go to a client meeting! (Thankfully she’s a nice person and happens to work in the next-door office, so a quick phonecall from here and I was there in a flash.)
Hubby has now identified the true root of the matter – I’m suffering from Dippy Penguin Syndrome. Unfortunately it is, as yet, incurable.
Tags: arthritis, fatigue, medication, pill tray, pills, R.A., RA, rhematoid arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), sleep, stress, tablets, tiredness
I wondered why I was feeling so peculiar this morning … put it down to the fact that hubby and I both slept terribly last night, as did half of Norfolk if hubby’s patients’ comments are anything to go by. Now I wonder if it was more than that.
When I got home this evening I went to take my evening pills (augmented at the moment with antibiotics for the lump doing Vesuvius impressions on my arm) and found it empty.
I then had a vague memory of taking my pills after breakfast this morning and thinking, ‘Odd that I forgot to take them before breakfast as I usually do!’
You guessed it – I didn’t forget to take them before breakfast. I had my evening pills about twenty minutes after my morning pills.
I think I should probably be panicking and phoning NHS Direct and stuff, but given that that was now nearly 12 hours ago and I’m still sitting here writing this, I figure there’s probably no need. Luckily the only apparent ‘side effects’ were the desire to eat a horse (not literally of course, although who knows what went into the pasty I ended up having, most unhealthily, for lunch) and a feeling of general wooziness which may have had nothing to do with it given that a) I did have a lousy night and b) I’ve been feeling dopey all week!
Tags: 5HTP, dreams, fatigue, fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid arthritis, seratonin, sleep
I have been taking 5HTP for my fibromyalgia now for several weeks, and my overall verdict is that IT WORKS! My sleep pattern has improved enormously … although Spain did cause a temporary blip! I now get to sleep far more quickly and easily than ever before, and generally if (when) I wake up in the night, I find it easier to get back to sleep than I used to.
I must also be getting better quality sleep because my dreams are SO much less interesting on the whole! I think this is because I’m having less dreams and more deep sleep.
Just to give you an idea of the difference in dreams, here’s a pre-5HTP typical dream:
Pollyanna Penguin is driving along a 5-lane motorway and suddenly realises she’s lost. Cars are whizzing past on both sides. PP panics, starts to swerve … but it’s OK, suddenly the car is flying. Weee … PP still doesn’t know where she’s going but sails happily over the rest of the cars to a beautiful tropical island. Suddenly hubby is in the car too. They land and … do what penguins and their hubbies like best for a while, before realising the cats are missing. Then a huge panicked chase and attempt at cat herding ensues with much yelling and running around. (At this point … if not before, I’m usually tossing and turning in the bed, throwing the covers around and shouting my head off.)
Post 5HTP dream:
Pollyanna Penguin is driving along a 5-lane motorway and suddenly realises she’s lost. Cars are whizzing past on both sides. PP pulls over and wakes hubby up and gets him to look at a map. They work out where they’re going, hubby takes over the driving and PP admires the view. The end.
It’s a bit boring but so much more restful – my fatigue problems are definitely reduced these days. I can cope with a few boring dreams if I feel this much better for it!