The Journey –
After a little over two years of bouncing from specialist to specialist, and incurring enough money in medical bills to buy a fancy car, I found myself meeting with a doctor who specialized in hormone therapy. I had tried everything else to discover why I was constantly exhausted, able to sleep all day long, gaining tons of weight, and always sick, but every specialist was the same – they would tell me how miserable my symptoms sounded and that it definitely was not normal, but that they did not know what was wrong, So, when the hormone doctor finally offered to try treatments and could tell me why she thought I was sick, well after 2+ years of feeling horrid with no help, I happily signed up.
The Diagnosis –
I actually had not one, but two major hormone issue. First, my body was producing next to no testosterone so I was diagnosed with a Severe Testosterone Deficiency. Also, my body was producing more that two times the amount of estrogen it needed so I was also diagnosed as having an Estrogen Dependency. As the doctor explained the list of symptoms (see below) it was like she was describing the mess my life had become over the past few years and in the last two it had just gotten horrible. I was hopefully that with a diagnosis there soon would be improvement.
Signs/Symptoms of Estrogen Dependence (levels too high):
– Change in Periods
– Mood Swings
– Weight Gain
– Cold Hands and Feet
– Always Tired
– No Energy
– Memory problems/Brain Fog
– Difficulty Sleeping
– Increased PMS Symptoms
– Decreased Sex Drive
Signs/Symptoms of Testosterone Deficient (levels too low):
– Loss of Sex Drive
– Loss of Muscle Strength/Mass
– Weight Gain (especially around the belly)
– Diminished Motivation
– Decreased Sense of Well Being
– Mood Swings
– Lack of Concentration
The Implants –
My first treatment occurred two months ago. I went in, after we did all my blood work, to receive my first bioidentical hormone replacement therapy dose. Basically, my lab work had been sent to a specialized pharmacy and based on it they had created testosterone pellets just for me and what they thought my body needed. The testosterone pellets (about the size of a small pill) are then inserted into your hip/glute through a small incision. Since they are inserted into your body instead of taken as a pill or cream they release gradually and provide you with a constant level of testosterone.
I will admit that the incision site was sore and bruised for two weeks; however, if this makes me better I will happily take some soreness and bruising. New pellets are then inserted every 3 months (4 times a year) following blood testing and follow ups with the doctor.
2 Months of Treatment –
I was told to expect to see some differences in one month, but to not expect to hit my peak until 2/3 months. However, the honest truth is that I am not sure if at 2 months in I am really feeling any differences. They said it takes some people two or three implants (pellet series) to really feel the change and maybe I am one of those people. Or, my estrogen could still be way too high and messing me up. I have testosterone pellets implanted, but we didn’t do anything about my estrogen yet. The hope was that when my testosterone got to where it should be my estrogen would begin to level out and regulate itself. So who knows if it is a testosterone issue, and estrogen issue, or what.
Right now I am still exhausted and if I crawl into bed and don’t set an alarm it will be anywhere between 12 – 16 hours before I wake up. Crazy right, and the nuts part is that I could do that 4 or 5 days in a row (trust me I have) and still not feel any more well rested. And it isn’t like I am just laying in bed, that is sleeping the whole time. Plus, naps – they are the only thing that makes my world go round. Some weekend I take 2 in one day!
In addition to that I am really working on losing the weight I gained as this happened. I am counting calories and trying to make smart decisions. According to what I am eating I should be losing about a pound a week; however, because of this frustrating condition my weight is still slowly creeping up – about half a pound every week. I am the heaviest I have even been. Currently I am about 45 pounds from where I was before I got sick. I am very, very (like a pound away – too close) to hitting 200 pounds and it is just so frustrating that I am really trying and yet my weight keeps ballooning. More than just the way I look this drives me crazy because: I get asked if I am pregnant all the time, none of my clothes fit, buying new clothes is expensive and not fun right now, my running is really suffering with 45+ pounds added on, and mentally it messes with you a lot.
Oh, and as a side effect of the treatment I have teenage level acne. Pretty much everywhere above my waist is covered in it. I knew this would probably happen and I said I’ll happily take acne if I get my energy back and feel like my old self again. Being covered in acne when you are not seeing any changes yet – stinks.
So, 2 months out I was really hoping to see a more of a change, but her I am still so exhausted and blowing up like a balloon. I am not giving up though. I am forcing myself to get workouts in even when I am tired, but also listening to my body when I need to. And, even though I want to just cry into pints of Ben & Jerry’s (I mean I gain weight no matter what right? So why not live it up?) I am really focused on making smart, healthy food decisions for my body. Which means sorry Ben & Jerry.
The Next Steps –
I went back in to the doctor’s office today for my blood draw. Then I’ll go back in 12 more days to talk to the doctor about the results of my blood work, my concerns, how I am currently feeling, and to get re-dosed with new pellets. I am really hopefully that this is still the right path, but that we just haven’t found the perfect combination yet.
Let me know –
Have you ever worried that your hormones were out of whack?
Would you try replacement therapy if you needed to?