Friday, October 18, 2013

Ok so last time I promised to tell you about how I got cured, but first let me tell you about the affliction.

In December of 2007 I was diagnosed with thyroidism, low thyroid to be specific.  The common way to screen for this is to look for elevated levels of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone - produced by the pituitary gland)  read all about it at Web MD

So I had apparently had a mildly elevated TSH for a number of years but in December 2007 my Endocrinologist decided it was elevated enough that we needed to do something about it.  Turns out I was symptomatic for low thyroid as well.  Cold all the time (just like my mother - I thought it was hereditary) exercising while consuming a minimum amount of calories, but seemed like I had to be very careful in order to not gain weight, tired all the time, etc....

I began taking Levothyroxin (generic for Synthroid) things were going fine with the meds, but I started with a relatively small dose 75microgram but in the course of a few years increased to double that. Like anything else people react differently and apparently I am in the minority that does not tolerate this drug very well.

The first thing that I noticed happened in 2009, I started getting a lot of episodes of leg cramps.  It started as night time calf cramps and back of the leg cramps after sessions of hard riding on my bike and by the time I did the Death Valley ride that year progressed into serious whole leg cramping while I was climbing Jubilee pass near the top.

I mistakenly thought that this problem would go away when I finished the climb, but it turns out that I had horrible cramping in the largest muscles in my legs all the way back to Furnace Creek ranch (about 52 miles)  When I finished the ride, I thought that this would be the end of it, however 4 hours later, I was in my room laying down for bed when they came back much worse than before.  I was screaming bloody murder they were so severe.  I thought my legs were going to break and I went into mild shock.  (this was when I found out that you could kill someone at the Furnace Creek ranch, make a lot of noise doing it and no one would realize or hear - I screamed very loud for what seemed like a long time)

General consensus from most of the people that I rode with was that I rode to hard, hadn't trained enough, didn't hydrate well enough... nothing that really fit into my reality, but I had nothing else to go on.

These awful cramps became a normal part of any endurance ride that I did from that point forward and I tried everything short of quiting to make this stop.  The most popular theory was that I didn't hydrate enough.  In this time, I switched from Gatorade to various no carb electrolyte solutions and instead of one water and one sports drink, went to both bottles with sports drink and doubled the normal dose in each and still the cramps came after any 100 mile ride no matter how hard I rode.

Then in May of 2012 I was walking down the hall at work and broke my leg.  Really???? I may be old but not old enough for that.  Turns out that I have osteopedia and tests revealed that I have bone loss.  Immediately my doctor ordered tests for a bunch of maladies that I had no other symptom for other than bone loss.

Everything was coming up negative of course.  So, I'm at this JDRF ride and BBQ in Kentucky, the Kentucky Trifecta, and talking to this lady after the ride at the BBQ talking about my broken leg and how I had just got out of my boot, come to find out she has had the same issue I had with bone loss and it is a result of the meds she was taking which happened to be the same as mine.

Problem solved, it should be an easy matter to get my Dr this information and get this situation resolved, right? Well it turns out it was not quite as easy as that, but eventually a year later after doing covert experimentation on my own, I discovered that stopping the levothyroxine, also stopped the cramping.  I didn't need any more convincing and with my last visit to my Dr convinced him that I was not going to take the levothyroxine any longer and so he prescribed Armour (good quality porcine desiccated thyroid from pigs not porcupines :) )

Ok, so talking about my cure!  I saw the doctor and started my new meds about a week before the JDRF Nashville TN Ride. 100 very hilly miles.  Fact is that I ended up with 109 miles and 7500 feet of climbing.  But I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

I started the new med immediately after leaving my Doctors office and the next day was low all day and couldn't seem to get my BG to stay up.  I've since noticed that the day after a hard ride, I am having to make new adjustments in how I manage my BG.  This is something that I have heard from a number of other T1D that do endurance sports and a frequent subject of the riding with T1D meetings at the JDRF rides.

So I get to Nashville and do this epic ride and guess what?  NO CRAMPS!! PERIOD!!  I rode as hard as I wanted to all day and went out walking around that night, not a single threat of a cramp while riding or latent cramps 4-6 hours later!!  Cured of cramps and very happy about it.  I even had another coach who overheard me talking about being able to turn on the power when I came to every hill who said that he could feel his hair being blown back whenever I did that! ..... he was kidding..... right?

I just visited my Doctor again last week and as you can imagine, he is thrilled that I am doing so well!  In fact I haven't felt this good in a very long time and I've been able to start loosing a few more pounds in pursuit of reaching that perfect weight for hill climbing!

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