Thursday, December 09, 2010

The T4 wars - Part 4 - Standard (and cruel) therapy

After the Endocrinologist C Kurt Alexander told me I would die (and he would presumably let me) before he prescribed another thyroid therapy, I went home to suffer -- but also search for answers.

In desperation, I searched the Internet for information on thyroid treatment, for any glimmer of hope that I would ever feel better. I learned that there are two main thyroid hormones T4, the hormone that stays in the body for a long time, and T3, a short-lasting hormone that is actually created by the T4 hormone. It is the T3 hormone that has much to do with metabolism and energy.

Patients suffer, that's the way it works

Like all patients, I was being give synthetic T4, in low doses that the doctor would raise ever-so-slowly, until finally I would fit inside a 'normal range' on a test called TSH. Patient suffering is understood to be a part of this treatment, a medically approved cruelty probably unequalled among modern medical practices. While doctors raise the dosages (and some docs take years to raise the dosage), patients suffer a plethora of profoundly disturbing symptoms: agonizing muscle pain, extreme fatigue and disinterest, cognitive changes, loss of hair and skin tone that makes their appearance age rapidly, breathing difficulties, digestive disruption, and more.

The idea is that, since synthetic T4 can be administered in very low increments, doctors can get the patient to test in the center of the TSH test range. Thus, a patient in the middle of the 'normal' TSH range is assumed to feel well. If the patient claims otherwise, they are lying or something unrelated to thyroid is wrong with them.

An implicit assumption of this treatment is that each patient's body takes the T4 and converts the appropriate amounts into T3, the active hormone. Another assumption: That the T4 dose is always sufficient if in range. Since 'symptoms' can't be taken into consideration, doctors rarely have these assumptions challenged.

Despite his protestation that 'everyone feels great' on thyroid therapy, Alexander's hostile response made me suspect everyone did not feel great on T4 therapy. I suspected that he, along with most Endocrinologists, were being inundated with unhappy thyroid patients, who were difficult to manage and who insisted they felt badly when his test, the TSH test, suggested otherwise.

Medicine's dirty little secret

Indeed, thanks to the Internet, the agony of thyroid patients is no longer medicine's dirty little secret. There are hundreds of Internet groups all dedicated to finding a solution to their very bad outcomes from thyroid removal. One quickly suspects that millions of patients, if not all of them, do not feel well on T4 therapy, suffering sometimes for decades at the hands of doctors who have one pill (synthetic T4) and one test (TSH) and contempt for the words of their patients.

It was easy for C Kurt Alexander of Muncie IN to be a petty bully to a hypothyroid patient. Not all docs have that particular bedside manner, but then not all of them are quite so honest as Alexander, either. You see a lot of patients online saying their doctor listens so well, but still the patients are so very ill. My theory is that all mainstream Endos do the exact same thing whether they 'listen' or not: They prescribe one pill and test it with the TSH test. They listen but they do nothing as their patients slowly die. At least C Kurt Alexander stated for the record that he was going to let me die. You have to give him that.

I went in search of a new doctor and my theory was quickly proved.


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