Before I started lithium I had a blood test and ECG. Blood test was fine and ECG came back saying I had a short PR interval. I had another ECG after I started lithium and my PR interval had lengthened and I was told the lithium could do that. I had another ECG but the results got lost and then another one and I heard nothing about it until I get a letter saying that I needed to wait for a letter for a 24 hour ECG. Why??? Is what I wondered. My dad spoke to my psychiatrist and she said that the cardiologist had recommended it. When I had an appointment over a week ago I asked her what the problem actually is and do you know what she said to me? “Unspecific heart issue” WHAT?? So that’s a thing I have to wait for. She also later changed the opinion of the lithium causing this issue saying that it didn’t cause it but I don’t understand how my heart was okay off the lithium but now I have an issue…
This is kind of up in the air as I’ve been told that this 24 hour ECG is mainly so they get a clear picture of my heart in a day to see if these “hiccups” are normal. I don’t know.
In England, we have this thing called the lithium registry and what I was told was supposed to happen is they are supposed to send you a letter and a bag (to put your bloods in to get sent to the lithium registry lab) usually every 3 months but if your dose is upped you have it 5 days afterwards. So I had a blood test for 600mg and I got my labs sent to me. My level was 0.65 which isn’t high enough actually for ‘acute’ treatment but is in a range a psychiatrist wants it to be. Now my thyroid levels to explain in case you don’t know.
You have a pitutary gland in your brain which sends TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) to your thyroid to make your thyroid produce T3 and T4 hormones and T4 is the one that was measured in my blood test now TSH is usually higher when your T4 level is lower because your thyroid isn’t working well so the hormone is sent to try and get it working more and that is hypothyroidism. The opposite is true of hyperthyroidism – T4 high and TSH low.
So getting these results back in paper form with very little explanation. So I looked it up and I find out about hypothyroidism so I go to symptoms and the symptoms I had brushed off as being part of winter or a lithium side effect are actually hypothyroidism. For example, one of the first symptoms I got was sensitivity to cold. I was freezing all the time. Joint pain which also worsened my hand pain I’d gotten from other things but it worsened it. I’m pretty sure it’s also slowed my healing down. I hurt my toe a month ago by dropping a stool on it. I bruised the bone and cut the skin. It has been a literal month and the cut on my toe hasn’t even healed yet.
Now if you go on ANY website and look at the causes of hypothyroidism lithium is one of them. Lithium actually the number one example of a medication that causes hypothyroidism. So I asked my psychiatrist what we are going to do and she said basically that it happened too fast to be caused by the lithium but we’ll see what the level is next time.
Now here’s where I’m fucked around:
Heart: The psychiatrist sent my dad a letter saying that if we took this letter down the ECG department at the hospital they would fit the 24 hr ECG there and then. We went today and you can’t do that for 24 hr ECG so that was a waste of time and really frustrating because we could have booked the appointment over the phone last week. Now I have to wait until April.
Thyroid: The psychiatrist told us 5 days after a dose is upped we will get a letter from the lithium registry asking for another blood test. We didn’t get one so when we saw the psychiatric nurse she called the lithium registry who told us we weren’t going to have one until May (3 months) and so now I have to wait even longer for the psychiatrist to write a letter asking for a thyroid test which shouldn’t take long but she for some reason is taking very long with it.
If that test comes back with saying my hypothyroidism is the same or worse then I have to go to my GP and ask them what they think I should do.
So at the moment, my mental health is still kinda depressed with swings into irritability now and again but otherwise I just am really tired with no energy. Thanks lithium.