"My hypothyroidsm should have been detected sooner"

About: Somerset PCT

(as the patient),

I am 61 years of age. At 35, following 7 years of undiagnosed and untreated post-natal depression, I began a course of treatment for premenstrual syndrome using Natural Progesterone. All symptoms of both conditions completely disappeared.

Over the next 7 years I lost the weight I had gained in that time and became extremely fit and active. I swam weekly, played badminton twice a week, cycled a tandem weekly (along with side-car and children & toys!) fully maintained a four bedroom house and garden, as well as caring for the needs of my husband and two children.

At 42, (and a very fit 9st 4lbs) the treatment appeared to stop working, and a consultant told me that I was probably beginning the peri-menopausal stage, and so gave me a course of HRT. I found this very unpleasant and so stopped taking it, replacing it with Evening Primrose Oil, which I have taken ever since and found very helpful right through the menopause.

At that time my husband, who is a veterinary surgeon, and obviously trained to notice symptoms, commented that he thought there may be a problem with my thyroid. This was duly tested, but was considered to be in the 'normal' range. So for the next ten years my weight crept slowly up, despite all my activity and normal eating, until at the age of 52 I reached 11st. Around this time I began to feel even more unwell, physically and mentally. My parents had recently passed away, but the symptoms of bereavement can be very similar to those of the menopause so I asked my GP for a hormone test.

I was not entirely surprised to find that I was in the menopausal stage, and my periods did finish about 6 months later. However, imagine my feelings when he also told me that my thyroxine levels were 'slightly low', but it was still almost another 2 years before I was allowed thyroxine, by which time I had gained yet another 4 lbs! I started out on 75mgs, and now have 125mgs which I have taken for the past 7 years, with no further increase, due to being in what is considered the 'normal' range of a test! Normal for whom though? No-one has a thyroid function test on a regular basis thoughout their lives, so how does anyone know what is 'normal' for that person! Supposing they were born with slightly 'higher than normal', which if it then drops to 'normal' in later years produces symptoms of an underactive thyroid?

I am particularly annoyed that no GP or consultant, between my being 42 and 52 took the slightest account of my weight gain during that time, or indeed of any of my other symptoms, for the following reason. Having gained that weight, it is impossible for me to lose it now since I don't have the necessary energy required, not only because of my age, but due to the weight itself! On top of that I now have a very small appetite anyway, so dieting has no effect either.

Having been very fit, active and of a good weight for most of my adult life, I find it very galling that as I now enter the third stage of my life I am probably not as fit as I might otherwise have been. This may have its repercussions on the NHS system too, costing them more in money and appointment lists in the future.

Meanwhile I still have many unexplained symptoms which affect my day to day life.

Interestingly I have had medication for my epilepsy since I was 15, and I have never had any complaints about my treatment there, and interestingly I would say my epilepsy has interfered with my daily life far less than my underactive thyroid!

Lastly I have never been offered an appointment with an endocrinologist, which given my other hormone related problems, and my other long-term medication, would have seemed a good idea to my husband and I.

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