For those of you who may not know my health has steadily been declining over the past two years. I became more and more exhausted to the point where I am sleeping 12 – 16 hours multiple days a week and napping every chance I get. In addition to that I gained 40 pounds over the 2 years and hit my highest weight ever, plus now the weight won’t come off. On top of that I am sick more often (mono, shingles, Noro Virus, sinus infections, etc.) and have begun to get headaches more frequently. Nothing was helping, it was time for a new doctor, a new treatment, a new diagnosis.
Over the two years I had not only seen my primary care doctor multiple times, but I had also been sent to numerous specialists. I felt like I was always playing the waiting game – wait for a new specialist appointment, a new set of lab work, new results – waiting, waiting, waiting, when all I wanted was answers.
I finally met with a Functional Medicine doctor who diagnosed me with severe Adrenal Fatigue, Hypothyroidism due to lack of Free T3, and Leaky Gut. I thought this would be the start of major changes, but in the 7 months since I have really not seem much improvement. The doctor treated me with diet and exercise suggestions and a few supplements, but did not seem to believe in medication. That is fine in some cases, but after two years of feeling horrible I felt it was time for something more.
So, I set off to find another new specialist and see if I needed a new diagnosis. Randomly, in my routine skin cancer check (done yearly with my dermatologist) the doctor asked if I had ever seen a hormone specialist, as my skin has become much worse over the last two years. I figured I had pretty much tried every other sort of specialist and kept hitting dead ends, why not go for it.
The hormone specialist was great. All the other specialists took 3-4 months to get in for an initial appointment, and they were able to see me later that week. Amazing! My first appointment there was incredible. We sat down and talked for over an hour about all my symptoms, how hormone therapy worked, what it would include, what symptoms it would address, any side effects I could expect, the financial aspects of it – everything.
Then I went to their own lab, which was wonderfully located in their office, to have all my blood work done. Also, since I had been diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue 7 months ago by the Functional Medicine doctor they ran some testing for that which involved me standing up, sitting down, and lying flat.
I went back two weeks later to get the results of my tests, and it turns out I have a new diagnosis. First, the test showed that I no longer have adrenal fatigue – something else is causing the exhaustion. This was great news, because with adrenal fatigue you have to really limit workouts. So, I am hoping, if I am not too tired, that I can start working out more. I actually just started back at Orange Theory Fitness this week.
However, I have a new diagnosis – my body is testosterone deficient. Basically a woman my age should have a testosterone level of about 150 and mine was only a 46 – crazy low. The doctor explained that with a number this low I would be experiencing severe fatigue, brain fog, and also some joint/muscle stiffness. Check, check, check!
In addition to that when my testosterone stopped producing correctly my estrogen started over producing so I have two times the amount of estrogen my body needs. The doctor explain that these high estrogen levels lead to weight gain, bloating, headaches, moodiness, and severe sweet/salty cravings. Basically, she said it is like I am in a constant state of PMS. That explains a ton more – like why this weight won’t come off and I am always so puffy, plus my desire to swim in a bathtub of Ben & Jerry’s.
The doctor took tons of time with me, asked me more questions, and explained things really well. My new diagnosis of testosterone deficiency combined with an overproduction of estrogen seems to explain pretty much all my symptoms.
So what next?
Well it is time to start hormone therapy. I am just beginning my journey of bio-identical hormone therapy. Since I am lacking testosterone the doctor’s first goal is to get that up to its normal level in hopes that will not only help with the testosterone issues, but also calm down the estrogen over production.
I go into the doctor once every three months to have my lab work done and reviewed, then I have a consult with the doctor, and after that they implant me with testosterone pellets. (They call numerous times between to check up too.) The doctor numbs my right hip/upper glute area with a shot, makes an itty-bitty incision (so small it doesn’t even need stitches) and then inserts one or two small testosterone pellets. These pellets then absorb subcutaneously over the next three months so that I will always have a constant supply in my body.
I had my first set of pellets insert exactly a week ago and they warned me that it would take about a month to feel a difference. They said that at 2/3 months I should much better and hit my peak. Then, the goal will be to keep my levels up with testing, adjusting, and continued work together. This will be an ongoing process as once your body stops making testosterone it doesn’t start again, so I will probably be doing this for the rest of my life. However, if it makes me feel better it will be worth it. After 2 years of being miserable I am ready for a change!
I am so glad I have a new diagnosis. It is the first time in two years I feel hopeful about my health. I cannot wait for the month to pass so I can start feeling differences. However, I must also admit that I still wonder what role my thyroid plays in all this. Luckily, this doctor seems great and she will run thyroid tests every 3 months. She asked me to try this first to see what affect fixing my testosterone has on my Free T3 production. She then said once we see what happens after three months on the hormone treatment we can look at the thyroid numbers again and see where we should go from there. That is way more than any doctor has given me over the past two years so I am calling it a win.
Let me know –
How you every heard of anyone getting hormone therapy?
How would you feel about having little pellets put under your skin?