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Jenny F’s Story

Thyroid Treatment:

Some Thyroid Patients Need T4 in Combination with T3 in Order to Get Well

I was born hypothyroid, the condition having been confirmed around the age of 18 months (in 1952). From that time until I was in my late 20’s or 30’s I was treated with natural desiccated thyroid extract, and up to age 12 I was a patient of Great Ormond Street.

I’ve done a lot of moving and been through many different doctors. One of them, when I was about 30, offered me the chance to switch from my successful medication onto levothyroxine. He did not explain the thyroid function to me, and never did any tests to ensure my body was making the other elements of the hormone. I put on weight which I found very hard to get off. I recall that my dosage of T4 gradually increased over time.

In the late 1990’s I was living in South London. When I transferred to the local health centre from my previous doctor in Portsmouth, the doctor I saw there was very rude about my previous GP and said that I couldn’t possibly be on such a high dose (200mcg). She cut it to 100mcg/daily, but did no follow up blood tests. It was a disaster.

Over the next few years, I put back on all the weight I had lost and began to feel extremely tired and eventually severely depressed. I also had other symptoms, poor immune function, swollen feet and legs, painful joints, the list goes on.

When my marriage eventually broke up, because my husband decided he didn’t want to be nurse to an invalid, my mental state deteriorated to suicidal.

When another doctor (we had moved back to Portsmouth) did the full spectrum of thyroid tests, he immediately doubled my dose, then after a month put it up again to 250mcg. It helped but did not cure. Another change of GP was necessary due to retirement.

Then I found the TPA forum in the UK, and as a result, I insisted on seeing an endocrinologist. I wanted to go back onto natural desiccated thyroid, but was told I couldn’t. After putting pressure on the endocrinologist, she agreed that she would recommend trying T3, but my T4 should be cut. To my anger and disgust, my new GP said he would not prescribe T3. I changed GP yet again, and wrote to the local health authority to complain. I should say that I also had to complain about his refusal to refer me to local Adult Mental Health Services who are still looking after me.

I have put my T4 back up to 200mcg, and reluctantly my GP is now co-operating and is doing all the proper tests.

Only when I restored the dose of T4 in addition to the T3 did I really begin to see and feel real results.  I am now taking 200mcg T4 AND 20mcg pure T3 per day.

I am by no means completely well, and reckon that the mistreatment has advanced the problems of age by at least 10 years. I am still very tired and find it hard to do exercise because of joint pain. I am however much better than I was on T4 alone.  The depression has taken 5 years to beat.