Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Sleep, those little slices of death, how I loathe them."

When last I typed about my health, I had returned from the ENT appointment no closer to an answer for what's going on. He'd said that my thyroid was functioning normally and that what was going on with my exhaustion was due to some other issue and left it at that. In the interim, I decided to get the blood test that measures the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) to be sure that I wasn't borderline hypothyroid (what the doctors call "sub-clinical".)

My doctor's appointment was this past Wednesday. We talked a bit about the thyroid issues and he was surprised the specialist didn't have blood drawn for the TSH as it's necessary so he ordered the test. We also talked a bit about other possibilities, the first one of which is chronic fatigue syndrome, which is being reclassified as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, symptoms of which include sore throats, fevers, sweating, muscle and bone aches and pains, brain fog, swollen lymph nodes, difficulty breathing, etc. All of the symptoms are things that I've had, but would only vaguely grumble about as I pushed forward with my plans or with whatever it is that I had to do, like most people would. The symptoms are vague and could be anything. And, honestly, if it weren't for the fact that my thyroid makes the lower part of my throat look a bit like Mickey Mouse (noticeable when I swallow), I would still simply be working through it instead of working through it with a possible help in the future.

The lab got my results back Wednesday night and my doctor sent me the interpretation the next morning: my TSH levels are normal. So now, it's time to get down to brass tacks. ME is one of those things you can only get to by ruling other things out. My doctor suggested I try 3 mg of melatonin and light therapy and last night was my second night using this stuff. Please note that, in very simple terms, melatonin isn't a sleeping pill, it's a hormone that helps your body relax and realize that it's time for sleep. If you're going take it, talk to your doctor first as taking it without really needing it can really mess with your internal clock and cause you even more problems.

The following are my experiences with it so far so I have a record and maybe it'll help someone else.

About 20 minutes before I plan on going to bed, I take a dose of melatonin and I'll read for a little while. Shortly thereafter, how long after I couldn't tell you, it feels like things are going off in my brain. I'd say that it's probably what synapses firing feels like, even though synapses are constantly firing in one's brain, you just don't feel it. I'll toss and turn for a while and eventually fall asleep. I wake up as I always wake up, it feels a bit sudden. Something, again, tends to "go off" in my brain and says "WAKEYWAKEY!" and I generally can't get back to sleep after that, no matter how tired I am.

Now, light therapy is a new one and seems a bit weird. I have a HappyLight next to my bed that, once I've given up the fight for more sleep, I'll turn on and then curse the world because it's bright as shit, especially with my room being tomblike in its darkness.

Do not taunt HappyLight.

It's also used to battle Seasonal Affective Disorder (the HappyLight fights SAD...Artax needed the HappyLight, Atreyu...). That's something I don't have as I LOVE the fact that it's not constantly sunny here in Portland. It's part of the reason I moved here. My eyes don't hurt when I leave my house...unless the sun is beaming right into my door, which does happen.

My doctor described the effect of a light box as sort of a shot of mild adrenaline. I've had shots of adrenaline before, thanks to my asthma, and that's not the feeling I get from this thing. My eyes feel more open after a ten-ish minute session with it, but I don't know that I feel any more awake. Or happy, for that matter, but who is when they have a bright light within two feet of their face for ten minutes in the morning?

So, now it's the sort of "wait and see" phase, where we do stuff, wait and see what happens, and then either keep it or try something else. As for the thyroid, there's no explanation for why it's enlarged, I just have to go back every year and get a new ultrasound and a new TSH panel to check on it. That said, we're eliminated the thyroid as being the cause for my malaise, which is great, and can move on to other things and help me feel better!

1 comment:

adigunri said...

Surprising sometimes the stuff that life may offer us.