Hypothyroidism Can Kill And Cause ComplicationsI never thought I'd write those words in the title when I was first diagnosed in 2003 by a nurse practitioner (NP). I believed HypoT, as I'll refer to it from here on, was a mild disease and that my NP was treating me correctly. Boy was I in for a surprise! Through her under treatment of my thyroid disease, which the NP believed was mild, two years later I started to have symptoms of another disease which can kill you.
As my HypoT progressed and worsened I became sicker and sicker. This would not have occurred had the first doctor treated me right. By 2007, I was almost debilitated by profuse sweating, hard shaking chills where I couldn't get warm, exhaustion on every level - spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental, severe edema all over my body, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, no appetite, sleeping long hours, napping when I wanted to be awake, high blood pressure, chest pain, exercise intolerance, couldn't lift my hand to pet my cat, dry skin, snake skin, slightly enlarged heart, and many more symptoms.
I saw a new doctor in June of 2007. Finally, someone believed how ill I was, yet she still didn't understand just how bad off I was. She missed the bigger picture. She did send me to a specialist, an endocrinologist, thank goodness. The new doctor did tell me that if my T4 medication hadn't been changed when it was, I would've been dead in less than three weeks. Little did she know how right she was. She diagnosed me with severe under treated HypoT. There was something more sinister than HypoT lurking within my body.
A friend I met on the internet helped me get the missing diagnosis which nearly killed me. She had the same disease strike her years ago in a milder form. Although, it took three and half months before I would get that diagnosis. Because of several conditions which I occurred at once, the doctor placed me on low dose aspirin. The low dose aspirin kept the mystery illness at bay and disguised the symptoms yet the disease worsened.
In September 2007, the mystery illness brought my life to a stand still. I awakened one morning with excruciating chest pain. I couldn't breathe. My first thought was a heart attack. My husband grabbed some aspirin and gave it to me. Next he called 911. Paramedics transported me to the hospital. They thought I was having a heart attack too, but soon discovered it wasn't the problem. Erroneously, they thought it was a pulmonary embolism based on a medication I was taking for another condition. A multitude of tests were performed on my heart and x-rays were taken ruling out any heart or lung problems. I was sent home without pain medication, was told to take Motrin or Advil, and diagnosed with Atypical Chest Pain. That was two "atypical" diagnoses in two years time. On that day, I decided to write a novel about "atypical" diagnoses.
The chest pain was far from atypical. It was excruciating and debilitating. I'd double over in pain which decreased the horrible chest pain. Advil didn't even touch the pain. I had some leftover Percocet, 5mg, from over a year before and had to take two in order to sleep. And lying on my back was out of the question. I couldn't even lay down on my back and turn to my side. I couldn't sleep on my left side. I later learned this presses the heart against the chest wall.
When I awakened the next morning my pain seemed to be better and it didn't wake me up like the morning before. I had an appointment with my endocrinologist that day. I remember the day as if it happened yesterday. I got to the sprawling office building where I had to trek a distance to get to his office. By the time I reached the hallway outside his office, I could barely breathe. Every breath brought severe chest pain. I couldn't breathe deep without the pain shooting through to my collar bone and left shoulder blade. When I bent over, the pain lessened and I could breathe. I stopped and took one Percocet. I don't like taking pain killers and have a high pain threshold. The endo's assistant took my vital signs and found my blood pressure was higher than normal and my heart rate was faster than normal. My normal resting heart rate was 52 and she told me it was 70.
After the appointment, I couldn't wait to get into my car and get home. Luckily my husband drove because very soon after I got into the car I began to have more problems. I took some more Percocet about thirty minutes later. However, this time there was no relief. The pain worsened and I had to keep leaning forward to even breathe. I took my seatbelt off. I didn't care if we got pulled over for a ticket. My husband started speeding down the freeway when he saw the color of my skin - white. I was close to passing out. Even leaning forward didn't relieve the pain. He took me to the ED, same place again. I prayed that the doctor who had seen me the day before wasn't there this afternoon.
I got admitted to the hospital with atrial fibrillation caused by pericarditis. Under treated HypoT can cause pericarditis. My admitting heart rate? Fluctuated between 120 and 140 beats a minute! There was an out-of-control, speeding train in my chest. I remember the ED doctor asking me if I could feel my heart rate going so fast. I told him the pain was so bad I couldn't feel anything else. I didn't find out until later that I was in their special room for monitoring heart attacks. I was so out of it because of the pain I just didn't notice. Neither did I notice that I had been admitted to the CCU until the next day. I used to be an RN.
The ED doctor who treated me was shocked that the first ED doctor had sent me home without any medication and told me to take Advil or Motrin.
I had two more complications from the long-standing pericarditis which I knew began in late 2005. Pericardial effusion and mild myocarditis.
My husband thought for sure that I was going to die several times that year. I had two more close calls with the perimyocarditis before October 2007 was over.
Now almost three years later in June 2010, I am still not stabilized on thyroid medication. UGH! I still see the same endocrinologist and think he's great. I guess my thyroid is failing further because I battled thyroiditis this last winter. (eyes rolling) My TSH is up again. Yikes! My T3 is in the dumps and has been since 2007. After having perimyocarditis heal, my endo is trying the T3 medication again. I really need it. Without it, my get up and go has got up and gone.