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New--have thyroid, anemia and digestive issues--anything welcomed!

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Old 12-09-2008, 10:04 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Hickory Hills, IL
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TedsWife HB User
New--have thyroid, anemia and digestive issues--anything welcomed!

WOW!! So glad I found you all !!!!
I am not computer savvy, so finding this site is like gold to me.
The health issues I am facing are with my husband, and being that I am his caregiver--I am the proactive half of our marriage. Reading the many different posts has enlightened me sooo much. The only thing is that it seems like mostly women are affected with thyroid issues. However, I am hopeful that I can still get advice and insight to help my husband get better.

Some History: In 2004 my husband was diagnosed with Non-hodgkins lymphoma of the stomach caused by H-pylori bacteria. He had chemo only and a stomach resection due to a blockage. Recovered OK--gained alot of weight in a short period of time--thinking that his body was in a rebound since he lost a total of about 60 pounds in 3 months during cancer treatment. Looking back I think his thyroid could have been also part of the scenario because he vividly complained that his joints hurt and felt tingling sensations in fingers and toes. Onco/Hema said tingling was related to chemo drug and pain in joints were due to getting older (hes 56 now) possibly arthritis.

In summer of 2007, I noticed that my husband was sweating excessively--losing more weight than should have been (he was on a diet at that time--since the weight gain was becoming excessive) and also was very short-tempered. Mentioned this to Onco/Hema, she wasnt really concerned, only asked if sweating was during sleep--which wasnt the case. Ordered him to get his yearly PET scan and CT scan and go from there. Turned out that the thyroid was showing somekind of activity and he also had an enlarged thymus. Bloodwork at this time showed his MCV to be 77.4 (80-100) and MCH to be 25.9 (27-33) with a follow-up ferritin test to show a reading of 14. Hemoglobin was 13.7(not anemic). No blood was found in his stool and was then instructed to have endoscopy and colonoscopy. We chose to concentrate on his thyroid. Found an endo who put my husband on Tapazole since he was then diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism. Within 2 months his bloodwork showed his Hemoglobin to go down to 12.4. Endo showed no concern and we continued to see him every month to monitor his hyperthyroid with hemoglobin always being in the 12-13 range. After 6 months of these visits, I felt uncomfortable and decided to seek another opinion. New endo was alarmed with what he saw--did an ultrasound in the office--said his thyroid was huge. He ordered new bloodwork, endo and colono. Finally got them done. Gastro found a nodule at the bottom of his esophagus (from serious acid reflux) prescribed Carafate and said to come back in 3 years. Although the Tapazole was keeping his levels within range, new Endo decided that my husband needs to have his thyroid removed because it was too big.

Removed thyroid completely on Nov 6th--weighed 36 grams--pathology found 5mm papillary cancer cluster. No treatment necessary--Endo says hes cured of the cancer because it was very minimal in size and removal of entire thyroid prevented it from spreading. However, immediately afterward my husband had panic attacks, serious anxiety and insomnia. The news of cancer in my husbands body again--got him very upset and I was convinced that these symptoms were related to that. Throughout I kept asking the new Endo if my husband possibly has thyroid cancer, even on the day of the operation he said no. He said usually hypo patients have cancer concerns not hyper.

We now pressured the Endo to focus on his bloodwork and updated the Onco/Hema dr. Measured his levels again. Hemoglobin now drops to 11.4 and ferritin shows a level of 6!!!! I googled low ferritin levels and the symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia were listed vividly!!!
Endo wants to repeat Endoscopy and Colonoscopy. We're scheduled to see Onco/Hema next week.

My thoughts are that my husband originally had undiagnosed hypothyroid (causing low ferritin @ 14, weight gain, joint pain and tingling) which then switched to hyperthyroid. Tapazole caused his other bloodwork to worsen. I believe that his Hemoglobin went down to 11.4 because without his thyroid he now is hypothyroid till the synthroid gets regulated plus he lost blood from the operation and blood being drawn for tests. I really believe that he needs iron supplements--but I really dont know which one and how to take since hes on carafate and synthroid. I cant really rely on Onco/Hema 100% cause she argued with me that the mass in my husbands chest was not his thymus when actually it was. Hopefully, during his visit next week she will seriously evaluate his symptoms.

The panic attacks have subsided enormously--anxiety still surfaces, however, insomnia is untolerable. I forgot to mention that he has not had hair loss, or funky nails and obviously doesn't menstruate. He gets B12 shots every 4 wks since his stomach cannot absorb the B12 because of the resection--his B12 showed to be @ 503 (200-1100).

Any thoughts on whether his low ferritin level and anemia is related to his thyroid history or should we now pursue his digestive system?

I hope that my detailed history didnt annoy anyone. Just want to give good background so that you can help us get better. Unfortunately, this is affecting our whole family. It feels like a roller coaster ride that just wont end!

Thanks so much for your time! I feel so relieved that I found this site. I am so happy that there is a place in this world that us humans can be civilized, supportive, and encouraged. (Looks like we really dont have to wait to go to heaven!) God Bless you all !

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Old 12-11-2008, 04:48 PM   #2
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Re: New--have thyroid, anemia and digestive issues--anything welcomed!

Bumping for TedsWife...

Meanwhile... Welcome to the board. I think the busy season has something to do with your post slipping by unanswered.

I can't help you with your specific concerns for your husband. His case is rather complicated, it seems. And you haven't provided any thyroid test results for us to help interpret. That's what we do best, although some others besides me do dabble in other areas.

I can tell you, though, that he should definitely not be all-accepting of any pronouncement that his thyroid levels are "normal" without getting a copy of all labs to keep for him(or your-)self. Most MDs don't even watch the correct levels; they only watch TSH, and that isn't good enough to judge thyroid health by. If you have any thyroid tests to report - TSH, T4, or T3 - we might be able to comment further.

You're a peach of a wife to go this extra mile for your man. I'm the "health-watcher" in my household, too.

Old 12-14-2008, 04:24 AM   #3
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Re: New--have thyroid, anemia and digestive issues--anything welcomed!


I'm a dabbler. It sounds like you guys have been through hell. I'm sorry it's been so ruff on your family. It's a shame when doctors refuse to look at the whole picture. It seems you have a very good handle on how all this stuff interacts. I bet you've been doing a lot of reading.

It's always a good idea to look at the digestive system first when iron deficient anemia presents in a male or post menopausal female. Once that's been ruled out, you look further.

The low ferritin might be due to his entire history and not just the thyroid issues. What he's been through would slowly be leeching his stores even if he didn't have thyroid issues on top of it. Problem is, once your ferritin stores are depleted, they must be built up again and usually that won't happen without supplements. With the complicated history he has though, that should be done under the guidance of a physician. In no event should he take iron supplements prior to the scopes. Perhaps a general practioner/family physician should be brought into the picture on that. They have a tendency to not focus on just one are of expertise.

It's possible that the insomnia may be from the lingering effects of the anxiety and stress. It's very hard to sleep when you've got a million worries running thru your head. What I'd suggest there might be melatonin or a mild sleep aid to break the cycle but again, that would have to be done under the direction of a physician.

Ok. Now that's a couple times I've mentioned guidance of a physician. Do you have someone orchestrating and overseeing all this? Someone you trust? It often takes one doctor who is involved in the whole process in order to sort out a mess such as this. That would be my next move. Find a good gp or internist to coordinate things and take care of the stuff that the specialists have a tendency to ignore. If you could find someone like that, I think things would go a lot smoother. You seem to have a good handle on things but you don't have the power and sway that an MD or DO has over all these specialists.

It's always good to have a good history. It's never annoying around here. But, like midwest said, thyroid lab results would be very helpful.

I wish you and your husband the best of luck.

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