I'm gonna live!

Posted on Saturday, July 04, 2009 by Melanie

Well, until Patrick and Taffy kill me for not telling them about this in Orlando, but whatever.

For most of this year I've been experiencing an increasingly unpleasant array of medical problems. There was the edema in my legs -- I've always retained water like a sponge, and indeed have looked 9 months' pregnant upon occasion due to the tummy bloat, but my feet and ankles were also starting to swell up horribly, which just wasn't good.

And then there were the heart hiccups, as I like to call them, or premature ventricular contractions as the medical profession prefers to call them. I've been having those since 2005 -- had them checked out by the doc at that point, he put me on beta blockers, and they did absolutely nothing. They seem to come more frequently in the time between my fertile period and my period period, but could pop up at any time.

And then there was the fatigue that would crash over me like a tidal wave, leaving my ass bone tired and unable to muster the energy to do even the simplest things like do laundry or write, for God's sake. I would literally stagger home from work, crash on the couch, get up reluctantly to go to sleep, then drag myself out of bed and head back to work. Weekends -- what weekends? I slept through them.

And then there was the lightheadedness, which was the final straw when it happened all during Gay Days and left me wondering if I was going to pass out a couple of times. It's also been kind of hard at times to think straight, which is just not good in my line of work.

Usually, these symptoms taken as a whole indicate some degree of heart failure, which would suck, but if that's what I had I needed to get it treated toot sweet. So I went into the doctor on June 22 and had a general physical and an EKG. On the plus side, my blood pressure was 120 over 80 -- it just doesn't get better than that. And my EKG showed normal sinus rhythm, so everything looked good from a cardiac point of view. My lungs sounded clear, and he didn't find anything wrong with my skin, joints or tummy -- all very good as well.

He was concerned about the edema, fatigue, dizziness and recurring heart hiccups, however, and sent me off to have some bloodwork done (CBC, sed rate, cholesterol, thyroid, and glucose), which required three test tubes of blood and three failed attempts at a venous puncture (and this is after I chugged a bottle of water) before the Pro from Dover was called in and nailed a vein in the back of my hand. Damn my tiny and painfully shy veins.

He also renewed my scrip for Synthroid. This is important, because while I waited for my current scrip to run out, I did some research on my symptoms. It turns out that a large number of people have experienced, well, pretty much everything I'd experienced this year while taking levothyroxine, the generic version of Synthroid. Apparently there are issues as to how levothyroxine is taken up and distributed by the body, plus different generics are not always bioequivalent and since your pharmacy could give you pretty much anything as long as it was generic, you could run into problems with how much hormone you were actually getting. And since Synthroid is a narrow-index drug (meaning small changes in the dosage could have major effects), receiving a varying amount of hormone based on what your pharmacy decided to dispense that month was Not a Good Thing At All.

So, my angels, three guesses what I've been taking since 2005 or so?

Yeah. So I refilled the scrip and told the pharmacist that I wanted the name brand of Synthroid, not the generic. Started taking that on June 25 -- within three days, almost 90% of the symptoms had disappeared (I still had the occasional PVC, but that may have been due to the Crimson Tide, which is when they tended to happen) and I started swimming every night. By July 1 I was getting housework done, swimming every night, writing every day, gardening out back (which included cutting the Triffid that hides the pump equipment back down to size), cleaning the patio area so that we could barbeque over the weekend, plus I planned on spending the three-day weekend getting the bedroom and master bath whipped into shape. Two weeks ago I was lucky if I could haul my ass upstairs to record a podcast. You can't tell me that generic Synthroid and the name brand stuff are bioequivalent.

But still no blood test results, which bothered me some. And then yesterday the doorbell rang -- it was my neighbor from down the street, who had received the blood test results from my doc (this is normal for my neighborhood -- we routinely get other people's mail, and I just redeliver it). Slightly nervous, I opened the envelope and read the results.

Ta da! No diabetes, no cancer, no infections or any kind, no liver or kidney problems, heart's in good shape, and I just need to work on my bad cholesterol which is slightly elevated (watching fats and weightlifting will fix that, and my good cholesterol is at a nice level). Dr. Allen added a note saying that the labs were all good, asking how I was feeling, and offering to prescribe a diuretic if I felt I needed it (we have a very good working relationship, and he knows I won't ask for something unless I feel it's necessary).

I need to let him know what happened now that I'm on the name brand Synthroid. Who knew that something as simple as dumping a generic would have such a massive effect? Phoo.

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  1. Stacy |

    I'm gettin mine transferred over to synthroid pdq. Thanks for letting me know!!


  2. Stacy |

    And besides, wouldnt you need a heart to have a heart attack?

    Just sayin....

  3. Stacy |

    Did they give you any anti-psychotics?

    or prozac?

  4. Melanie |

    Yeah, I need to talk to Michael and see what type of Synthroid he's taking. And I have a perfectly good heart -- it's SUPPOSED to be black and shriveled.

  5. Taffy |

    I love you...You're going to be spanked of course!...but I love you and I want you to feel better!!!

  6. Melanie |

    If things really went wahoonie-shaped, Taff, I would have gotten myself to an ER, truly.


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