Friday, April 29, 2016

Test Results Are In

This week I got back the results of my blood work from the appointment with my endocrinologist. The tests were for two purposes: 1) to determine whether my lifestyle changes alone are enough to keep my blood sugar in normal range. I'd been taking Victoza injections to help stabilize my blood sugar but had to stop using it when my new insurance declined to cover it. 2) to check my thyroid levels since I stopped taking Synthroid a couple months ago and switched to a selenium supplement to try and manage my levels. I have Hashimoto's thyroid disease so it is important to keep an eye on thyroid function and go back on Synthroid if needed.


A1C measures average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months.
below 5.7 = normal
5.7 or above = "pre-diabetes"
6.5 or above = diabetic

In 2012, it was 5.3
Last fall, it was 5.4
In early February after several months on Victoza, it was 5.1
Now, with no medication, it's 4.9.

So apparently my new way of eating plus my walking and biking routine are doing a great job of stabilizing my blood sugar! This makes me happy. I'd rather manage things through lifestyle than with drugs whenever possible.

TSH measures thyroid hormone levels. Although 0.45 to 5.10 is considered "standard", Many people have hypothyroid symptoms within the standard range (I did). That's what led to further testing that diagnosed my autoimmune thyroid disease.

In 2014 my TSH was 2.12 and I was put on Synthroid. It did relieve symptoms at first.
July 2015 it was 1.94 and I was still on Synthroid but symptoms had started to return.
This February it was 1.36. ... the choice given now was to raise the Synthroid dose or go off it and try a natural route (selenium).
Now, it is 2.52.  I still have elevated antibodies indicative of Hashimoto's disease (which will never go away).

Feeling great and still enjoying my walks, biking, strength training and eating things I enjoy. We had a potluck this week where pizza was served; I had a slice with a lot of salad and a chocolate chip cookie. In general (at home and when eating at restaurants) I choose low carb foods, but I like having the flexibility to enjoy whatever is being served when choices are more limited. Tonight I am going to make some wild salmon and vegetables, and a fresh fruit salad of cantaloupe and watermelon. It's been a great month! Here's to another in May.


Janet said...

I think you have misunderstood how to interpret the TSH levels. If you are hypothyroid (underactive) you have a high TSH. Synthroid helps lower your TSH levels, not increase it. Most people feel better the lower the TSH, and the higher the dose of thyroid meds the lower the TSH.

Surprising that your endo suggested increasing your dose when your TSH levels were dropping.

Glad that the new diet is helping with the A1C and blood sugar issues though!

Lyn said...


I don't know... the whole thing has been confusing to me which is why I switched doctors. The first endocrinologist gave me Synthroid because of symptoms (feeling cold all the time, thinning hair, dry skin, fatigue...) and as he said to "support the thyroid" since I have Hashimoto's. When a year later my levels were down he said "we can increase the dose but then your thyroid will just make less and less hormone and ultimately fail. But it will fail anyway because of the Hashimoto's. It's just a matter of time." Maybe he was wrong, I don't know. The new endocrinologist took me off the Synthroid and said to try selenium and watch the numbers. I just assumed, based on what Dr #1 said, that the TSH going up this time was a good thing. I haven't talked to the Dr about these results yet... just got them from the lab. Guess I will wait and see what she says and ask some questions, too. Thanks for the insight!

Janet said...

Hashimotos and thyroid issues can be very confusing! I spent years educating myself on it because I wasn't getting the help I needed from my primary care doctor. I've since found a great functional medicine doc who focuses on thyroid, but until I found her, it was a struggle.

All the symptoms you described (cold, fatigue, etc.) are from underactive thyroid and correspond to high TSH levels. TSH is actually a hormone produced by your pituitary gland, not your thyroid. The more thyroid hormone (T4 / T3) your body produces, the less TSH your pituitary gland produces. It is an inverse relationship, but TSH is not always a good indicator of thyroid functionality.

See what your new doc says. Typically, a TSH of less than 4 is not considered significant by doctors, even though many people feel optimal when their TSH is less than 1. At my worst, my TSH was 32!

Good luck!

Cheering for You said...

I had a similar experience back in 2013; fatigue, weight gain, heavy menustration. My TSH was 4.7; after taking Synthroid for a few months, my TSH level came down and I felt better. With a TSH of 1.8, my symptoms are gone. An elevated TSH is a sign the thyroid is underactive.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I love that you're taking charge of your health.

Gloria Johnson said...

As an RN and a person with hypothyroidism, I can tell you that Janet is correct. The lower your TSH number is, the more active your thyroid is. So when your TSH number is going up, that is not good, however you are still within range. I would definitely recommend that you talk to your doctor. Blessings to you!

Lyn said...

Thanks for the clarification. Why the heck didn't the first endocrinologist tell me this?? Ugh. He did seem like he didn't want to bother explaining anything... which is part of why I switched doctors. I'm definitely going to ask more questions at my next appointment. I don't know, now, if the higher number means the selenium isn't helping after all. I don't have hypothyroid symptoms anymore, but I definitely need a better understanding of what's going on and what to expect with the Hashimoto's.

JDET said...

Lyn, I don't know squat about TSH, but I do know I'd make the doc explain it -- that's part of the job! I do know a lot about A1c and diet/diabetes. When I got my husband to go on Atkins, his doc was stunned when his A1c suddenly was normal. Your lower carb eating, coupled with exercise, is clearly "fixing" the problem, and you should be VERY proud of yourself! You're getting healthier without chemistry! I just had a massive number of blood and urine tests done. I was disappointed in my cholesterol levels, although they are normal, because low carb eating had really produced phenomenal results before so I expected better. At least my triglycerides were 46, but I've seen even better. Oh well...keep up the good work!

Maria said...

Lyn, Congrats on the healthy choices and. life style changes. I took selenium for about a year for hashimotos. Just be careful with it, because you can get too much of it. I ended up with a racing heart, anxiety, and restlessness when I tried to sleep. I stopped the selenium, and these all ended. Just wanted to share my experience, as it took me a while to make the connection. God bless!

David Dane said...

That's good.... I have some posts on my wall about insulin resistance. If you want go see them. I have trimmed three inches off my waist in just two weeks.

Kristen said...

This is how I explain it to my patients (I'm a family practice PA). TSH stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. Thyroid hormone is called T3/T4. Your pituitary gland produces TSH when it senses there is too little thyroid hormone in your body. SO, if TSH is high, that means the pituitary is telling the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormone due to low levels of circulating thyroid hormone. And vice versa.

In Hashimotos, the thyroid is unable to respond to the pituitary's request to make more thyroid hormone, so usually you find a high TSH and a low T4. All your numbers are extremely normal.

A lot of times I actually draw a picture with arrows and stuff unless the patient really doesn't care, in which case I drop it haha. I do agree with what was said above - it is a healthcare provider's job to explain to their patients what is going on!

Lyn said...

Thank you Kristen, that is very clear!