Hot Flashes vs. Hell Flashes


Here’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Really I am.

Once upon a time I had hot flashes intermittently throughout my late 30s to late 40s.  It took THREE attempts to get off the combination hormone Estrogen/Progesterone, but I did!  After the third and final attempt, I was hot flash free after just over six weeks.  This final time I stopped hormones my mindset was different.  I embraced the burning ember feeling in my face, the formation of beads of sweat with the burning up sensation at night with cold shivers to follow.  I felt the heat rise and fall, reassuring myself this was a normal process when adjusting to being not so hormone-augmented any longer, hoping this feeling was transient.  The bothersome perimenopausal symptoms slowly faded, with the hot flashes and facial flushing being the last to go.

After this reprieve I decided to have my thyroid tested.  My TSH level (thyroid stimulating hormone) was barely elevated above the normal range of high — I was (still am?) sub-clinically hypothyroid.  I had some hypothyroid symptoms so my general partitioner put me on a low dose of Levothyroxine — 25 mcG to be exact.

For better or for worse, hypothyroidism is largely not under our control, [my emphasis] says Dr. Daniel Einhorn, M.D., an endocrinologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla., who notes the disease is primarily genetic. Family history may be the greatest indicator of troubles ahead, but since so many people are undiagnosed, you could have a family history of thyroid disease and have no clue about it.

Full article

After four weeks of Levothyroxine I felt like I had more energy.  Then just about six weeks into this medication regime I started to have WEIRD hot flashes — more like HELL flashes — periods where it felt like ice was dripping down my neck covering my back and upper arms while simultaneously feeling an inner burn. Nighttime became its own hell.  I couldn’t sleep through the night because I was sweated profusely. I was hot and freezing at the same time.  How was this possible?  I thought maybe these symptoms were from drinking coffee in the daytime and wine at night.  Ha ha ha!  Cute  me and my hypotheses!  These symptoms were different than those related to coming off the hormones.

I thought these problems instead could be from the Levothyroxine. 

If your thyroid is out of control, all of your efforts to curb perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain, hair loss, and achieve hormone happiness will be for naught [my emphasis]. What’s more, your symptoms might not be perimenopausal or menopausal at all. So talk to your perimenopause and menopause specialist about your symptoms and when you’re experiencing them. It’s a great first step in determining if your so-called menopausal symptoms are really symptoms of an underactive thyroid.

Ellen Dolgen


From The Awkward Yeti comic — Check it out!

I broke the scored thyroid tablet in half and tried taking a lower dose daily for four weeks … the chest pain and palpitations stopped with this decreased dose.  Oh, did I forget to mention I was having those too — the chest symptoms?  Oh, and the hyperacusis  … read below:

Individuals with hyperacusis have difficulty tolerating sounds which do not seem loud to others, such as the noise from running faucet water, riding in a car, walking on leaves, dishwasher, fan on the refrigerator, shuffling papers [husband’s voice, his breathing or even his heart beating … possibly the sound of any new hair growth on his beard as well]. Although all sounds may be perceived as too loud, high frequency sounds may be particularly troublesome [good thing I am not married to a canary!].

By this time I’d had enough experimenting on my body and said “F-you Levothyroxine!” and stopped it.

I am sub-clinically hypothyroid and many people aren’t even medicated at the TSH level I had!  (I don’t recommend anyone stop their medication without consulting a real life professional … just so you know!)

Subclinical hypothyroidism, also referred to as mild thyroid failure, is diagnosed when peripheral thyroid hormone levels are within the normal range, but thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is mildly elevated. It is common, occurring in 3-8% of the population, and carries a risk of progression to overt hypothyroidism of 2-5% per year. There is no absolute consensus on which patients to treat, although there are some clear recommendations.

It took another four weeks until the weird hellish symptoms went away. In the meantime I kept drinking coffee in the daytime and wine at night — you know, a healthy balance!  I’m no longer having hot flashes or night sweats.  Hallelujah!  I feel fine and am off any routine medication.  So happy.  Hormones are just plain weird and their effects REALLY linger.

I have concluded that hot flashes from Levothyroxine’s thyroid-hormone effects are much, much, much worse than any hormonal perimenopausal symptoms — a very interesting comparison and an experience I don’t wish to re-experience.  On an interesting note, the Levothyroxine lowered my cholesterol though!

How Does the Thyroid Cause Cholesterol Problems?

Your body needs thyroid hormones to make cholesterol and to get rid of the cholesterol it doesn’t need. When thyroid hormone levels are low (hypothyroidism), your body doesn’t break down and remove LDL cholesterol as efficiently as usual. LDL cholesterol can then build up in your blood.

Thyroid hormone levels don’t have to be very high to increase cholesterol. Even people with mildly low thyroid levels, called subclinical hypothyroidism, [that’s me!] can have higher than normal LDL cholesterol. A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM) found that high TSH levels alone can directly raise cholesterol levels, even if thyroid hormone levels aren’t high.

Full article

Why The Connection?

When thyroid hormone levels drop, the liver no longer functions properly and produces excess cholesterol, fatty acids and triglycerides. The liver, which metabolizes cholesterol, also has a key role in thyroid hormone metabolism. In addition, thyroid hormone serum level is very important for normal liver function. The liver in turn metabolizes the thyroid hormones and regulates their effects in the body. What’s more, thyroid dysfunctions are frequently associated with abnormal liver tests.

Another explanation for the thyroid-cholesterol connection is that hypothyroidism slows the body’s ability to process cholesterol. This processing lag occurs thanks to reduction in the number and activity of receptors for the bad LDL cholesterol. These receptors normally help metabolize LDL cholesterol. When the number of receptors decreases, LDL builds up in the bloodstream, increasing both LDL and total cholesterol levels.

Hypothyroidism also significantly changes the metabolism of steroids and other hormones that are made from cholesterol. For example, the hormone progesterone is made from pregnenolone, which in turn is derived from cholesterol. Likewise, vitamin D is produced through the action of ultraviolet irradiation on cholesterol in the skin. Hypothyroidism reduces the conversion of cholesterol into progesterone and vitamin D, contributing to total cholesterol load.

Full article

Let’s just say that stuff quoted above EXPLAINS A LOT!

had vitamin D deficiency.  I am now in the normal range (at least my Vitamin D is) after taking 10,000 units of vitamin D3 daily for three months.  I am eating oatmeal intermittently to help improve my cholesterol.  I simply can’t tolerate the thyroid medication.  I feel OK … but my ankles still have a slightly swollen butterfly appearance on the outer aspects.

Hormones are simply weird and mysterious.  Cats are also mysterious and often weird as well.


Getting fatty-mac-fat-fat after a hysterectomy?

There is a rumor out there in the universe that women will gain weight after a hysterectomy.  I have heard it.  I am living that rumor … or truth.

Words of wisdom from the Dr. Dr. (yes, you read that correctly), Wulf H. Utian, MD, PhD:

There is some evidence showing that women tend to gain more weight after hysterectomy than after natural menopause. Why that is, especially since these women still have their ovaries, just isn’t clear.

… And it is clear that women often gain weight after menopause.

This weight gain doesn’t appear to be due to any effects from low estrogen/progesterone levels, but, rather, from changes in lifestyle (primarily becoming more sedentary) and because postmenopausal women tend to lose muscle and gain fat. That, in turn, leads to a slowing of your metabolism. Put more simply: Your calorie-burning furnace is operating on medium instead of high. That means that even if you’re eating and exercising the same as … years ago, you either have to eat less or exercise more to maintain your weight.

I would like to blame my weight gain on the removal of one organ.  In truth, I can’t.  I know  I haven’t been doing anything physical other than typing speedily, sprinting to the bathroom when the need arises, running my mouth and leaping into bed at night.  C’mon, who thinks this is real exercise?  I hate, loathe, detest exercise.  I used to do yoga but since my hysterectomy and the facet syndrome of my neck (fancy words for old-lady-neck osteoarthritis PAIN — emphasis on pain), I don’t want to do anything physical.  OK, maybe that one special thing that will remain unnamed that takes two people.  You know. (I’m keeping this paragraph G-rated).

On the up side, I have had thoughts of doing yoga. yoga om procrastinate  Do thoughts count?

I have also thought about swimming too, but then I’d have to join a health club paying the fee and never end up going like usual. It’s happened before.  I like to think that I’m donating to health clubs (and yes, past yoga memberships) by helping them stay in business for all those people who overuse their services.  Kind of generous huh?  (or really stupid with money).

What you would like to read about now?  More hysterectomy stuff, weight gain or my neck?  Readers choice!  Oh, wait, it’s my blog so we’ll talk about my neck because it has nothing to do with the title of the post.  You never know what you’re in for when you come here!

I promise I won’t spend too much time on my neck, but since I no longer have painful periods what else can I complain about?  Back to my neck … hmmm … that sounds funny.  Just say it, “Back to my neck.”  You can’t switch it up and say, “Neck to my back”.

My neck.  What a piece of crap neck did I get.  I can’t even say I’ve had any major  rollover car incidents or attempted self-hangings … no nothing that dramatic.  I used to swing my neck around while dancing in the ’80s especially to … see video:

After watching this video and realizing I was such a fan of such garbage musical inspiration and innovation, I’m quite sure I deserve the neck pain I’m having.  Have you ever thought, “What the f*ck was I thinking in my 20s (50s, 60s, 70s, for some of you who are older)?  clubbing  I remember thinking I would love clubbing (that means going to bars and dancing, most likely getting drunk in case you’re from another country and don’t know what that means) for the rest of my life. Holy criminy was I wrong.  And it wasn’t the last time I was wrong either!  You couldn’t get me to a club to save my life … plus those sexy neck swinging days are over.

Currently I’m undergoing RFA (radiofrequency ablation) on my neck.  Only one side can be done at a time for reasons not fully explained to me.  I had the RIGHT side RFA’d about a month ago and have complete relief on that side.  The LEFT side is an evil beast that awaits RFA in three — yes, only three days from now!

Let’s get back to that weight gain subject after hysterectomy, completely switching gears!


I have no idea why I want to eat and drink almost everything.  Like everything.  What’s with this, “I don’t give a rat’s @ss attitude”?  Like everyone else, I have to ask myself WHERE my limit lies.  A number on a scale isn’t doing it for me, the lack of a 6-pack (as if I ever had one) …  but tight pants, that’s got me rethinking eating that Snickers bar daily.

I refuse to blame the hysterectomy for the weight gain.  I am putting more food into my mouth and gullet than I ever have in my life.  The only theory I can come up with is that weird experience I had with Effexor (venlafaxine).  I lost quite a bit of weight while on that medication and had so many food aversions it would make your head spin (see pic above!).  I’m making up for all that lost time of good eating. I’m weighting … I mean waiting for my weight and appetite to normalize (it’s been 16 months since my hyst).  I’m not sure how long this is going to take … and yes, yes, yes, I’ve had my thyroid checked, and yes THE PANEL of thyroid hormones too blah, blah, blah … can’t blame “the thyroid” either as it all came out normal.

On the subject of the thyroid, recently to my trip to Eatly, I mean Italy, while on the plane a woman sat down next to me.  She squeezed into her seat, attempted to put the food tray down but it collided with her abdomen (truly a panniculus if you want to get technical).  She said, “This is another skinny seat!”  I didn’t know what to say and kind of looked away.  I couldn’t exactly agree with her (or disagree).

Prior to  her sitting down she had been bypassed by three stewardesses when she had obviously needed help putting her case into the overhead storage bin.  The stewardesses were Amazonian women of the oldest airline in the world that will remain nameless here because well, I don’t want them to read this (ha! like they would be reading my blog … I’m not that deluded people) and be upset with me … their bread was so delicious and I may be flying with them in the future.  

bread fat

When that passenger got seated one of the stewardesses practically threw her seatbelt extension at her.  Yikes.  Anyway, she went on and on about her weight saying that over two years ago she had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism indicating this was the cause of her increased junk-in-the-trunk.  This was such an awkward conversation (or monologue).  I remained polite by distracting her with my neck problem explaining that looking left towards her was painful … which was true.  She kept talking anyway.

I want to start to eat healthy ALL THE TIME again and get back to yoga.  My hysterectomy no longer keeps me from doing anything physical and my neck … it’s on the mend!  I have no excuses for my eating behavior … simply life is short and I want to eat so many things!  And try fun cocktails like the Aperol Spritz I had in Italy!


This an inspirational excerpt I found in regard to getting back to yoga (or really any kind of physicalness) after an absence:

Honor where you are today. If you’ve been absent for a while, your body will not be the same as it was. You’ve probably lost some flexibility or strength.  Maybe you have a noticeable loss of range of motion in a joint or two.  Allow yourself to return slowly, and let go of the expectations you may have placed on your “former” body.  Be real about the body you’re bringing to the mat today. Honor the integrity of your body and don’t push or injure it.  Give it time.  Put in the hours on your mat and reclaim your practice.    ~ From BODY POSITIVE YOGA