Re: Help! Hypochondriac Hypothyroid
Welcome, Berry. A long message deserves a long answer. Fortunately, I have a personal inability to be succinct. <IMG SRC="http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/gabby.gif">
First, let me tell you that you are NOT a hypochondriac, nor are you alone in thinking that you are. Unfortunately, the symptoms of thyroid disease are things that are not often considered "serious enough" to discuss with a doctor. And, when the symptoms are considered individually, many of us (and our doctors) have a tendency to downplay them as "typical female issues" that come and go intermittently. Kudos to you for listening to your body and being persistent in finding the care you deserve!
Mary Shomon has an excellent article about why we shouldn't minimize our symptoms on About.com: <A HREF="http://thyroid.about.com/library/weekly/aa090500a.htm" TARGET=_blank>http://thyroid.about.com/library/weekly/aa090500a.htm</A>
We also have some excellent resources in our Information Archive thread, including symptoms lists, supplements, weight loss ideas, what to eat, etc.:
<A HREF="http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/Forum118/HTML/000005.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/Forum118/HTML/000005.html</A>
Other excellent resources include About.com and EndocrineWeb:
<A HREF="http://thyroid.about.com/mbody.htm" TARGET=_blank>http://thyroid.about.com/mbody.htm</A> <A HREF="http://www.endocrineweb.com" TARGET=_blank>http://www.endocrineweb.com</A>
When you get a chance, select the text of your first message, copy it (EDIT-COPY from the menus), and then paste it as an addition to our Stories thread. I'm sure it would be useful to others, as it is a very familiar scenario:
<A HREF="http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/Forum118/HTML/000045.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/Forum118/HTML/000045.html</A>
Now, on to your questions:
Sounds like you've already recognized some of your symptoms as potential thyroid disease (heat/cold tolerance, inability to lose weight, dry skin, hair loss, menstrual changes, bloating, water retention, depression, fatigue).
1) Localized pain (muscle and joint pain) is also a symptom, as is neck tenderness/swelling/difficulty swallowing.
2) Tonsils and lymph nodes sometimes swell as if fighting an infection, particularly if you have thyroid antibodies.
3) Many people have reported that, once their thyroid levels were balanced, they were able to lose the extra weight. A variety of diets have been discussed on this Board, and About.com has a section about weight loss. I don't know how long it takes for this to occur, as I've not tried any of the diets: <A HREF="http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/Forum118/HTML/000982.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/Forum118/HTML/000982.html</A> <A HREF="http://thyroid.about.com/library/weightloss/blmain.htm?PM=ss13_thyroid" TARGET=_blank>http://thyroid.about.com/library/weightloss/blmain.htm?PM=ss13_thyroid</A>
I've not personally read Living Well With Hypothyroidism, but that book along with Dr. Rita Arem's "The Thyroid Solution" are quite popular on this Board. About.com has a list of Top Ten Books on thyroid disease: <A HREF="http://thyroid.about.com/library/books/aatp102201.htm" TARGET=_blank>http://thyroid.about.com/library/books/aatp102201.htm</A>
It sounds like it's time for you to see a caring Endocrinologist who treats symptoms, not blood levels. Our Info Archive has some posts about interviewing new docs and a link to a Top Docs thread recommended by patients. At a minimum, your blood tests should include Free T3, Free T4, TSH and Thyroid Antibodies.
Since you've been diagnosed as hypothyroid, you will probably be put on medication soon (if not already). It takes about 4-6 weeks for a new or changed dosage to assimilate in your body, and your symptoms will probably fluctuate a bit during this time. Your doctor should re-test your bloods every 2-3 months and alter your medication until your symptoms are relieved.
It's a long process, but worth it. Hang in there, and let us know what happens.