"Thyroid - look at the symptoms, not the blood results"

About: Sheffield PCT

(as the patient),

Like many hypothyroid patients, I was fobbed off for over a year before my symptoms were taken seriously. This wasn't a callous move on the part of my GP but a standard response to blood results. The labs give their ranges, the GP's follow the rules. But literally thousands of patients have all the classic symptoms of the disease. Before the evolution of lab results, we would be treated early and many of the more severe symptoms could be avoided. I was a successful university lecturer who used to run a private consultancy, I was studying for a PhD too. None of this was a strain. I enjoyed my life immensely. Then I started to feel tired all the time, loose my hair, put on masses of weight, developed rough skin on my upper arm and generally looked awful. It was not until my tongue was so swollen in my mouth that I could hardly talk and my blood pressure very high that my blood results matched the magical 4.7 on the labs' TSH scale and I could begin treatment. Apart from the skin becoming a little softer there was no real response and eventually I found a private GP, Dr Martin Hayes-Allen, in Broomhill who suggested a further blood result showing I had mild Hashimoto's disease with the difficulty of converting T4 (found in the usual thyroid medication) to T3. The T3 (Liothyronine, sold under the brand name of Tetroxine) was an excellent answer and for a short period of time I was quite well. Then there was a national shortage of T3 and I found the only substitute was natural Armour Thyroid made from pigs thyroid and available from America. I can pay for this (it is expensive to get shipped over here) and one of my friends does this. This means we are completely unmonitored by any medical service. I didn't want this and asked my GP to support me in getting the treatment. He is a lovely man, Dr Richard Benn of Greystones Medical Centre. He was scared of going against the protocols but lovely Martin Hayes-Allen writes to advise him about my treatment. I am disgraced that the NHS does not support straight NHS doctors in their bids to treat with the natural product and to examine the patient and their symptoms and not the blood results. I gave my doctor the Anthony Toft book for GP's on the subject as the latest research says to treat when the THS is only 2. It can do no harm to take a trial but many people have conversion problems so this needs to include both T4 and T3. I know there are many sad stories of patients out there who cannot access Armour on the NHS and to me this is pure discrimination. The Thyroid Patient Advocacy group is very helpful and has been campaigning for our rights for some time now with some success. My thyroid care is expensive. I have lots of extras to pay for. I have heard that disabled people earn the least have have the highest cost of living and I can easily see why that is. Today, I still have many symptoms though my weight is down and I can work part time. My university have tried to understand but this sort of career is not for the part timers - I was doing 70 odd hours per week when I was full time. Some of the managers have been less understanding and I lost my contract in 2007 and am currently on the redeployment register so my career has taken a serious nose dive. My private practice and my PhD have been destroyed by this disease. I am very grateful to Dr Benn for going against his natural inclination to be cautious and to listen to Dr Hayes-Allen's advice. Without the two of them I have no idea where I would be today. Thanks guys.
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