Thyroxine

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August 10, 2012 by dontbringlulubook

Thyroxine is the main hormone secreted into the bloodstream by the thyroid gland.  It is produced by follicular cells of the thyroid gland and plays a vital role when it comes to digestion, heart and muscle function, brain development and maintenance of the bones.  It is inactive and most of it is converted to an active form called triiodothyonine by organs such as the liver and the kidneys.  The thyroid gland itself is the body’s temperature gauge and if the levels of thyroxine in the blood are either too much or too little then problems ranging from mild to severe can arise and can require urgent and often on-going medical treatment to try to regulate the physical and mental health problems that occur.

With thyroxine, if too much is released into the bloodstream it is known as thyrotoxicosis – recognised by a swelling in the neck, known as a goitre, and due to an enlargement of the thyroid gland itself.  Overactivity of the thyroid gland is known as hyperthyroidism and can result in Graves Disease – as my partner himself was diagnosed with -, inflammation of the thyroid or a benign tumour.

As Ron and Doris Onions talk about in their book “Don’t Bring Lulu”, it was at four months that Lulu’s slow rate of development since birth and a lack of increase in weight alerted the medical profession and Lulu’s thyroid levels tested to determine the cause.

Too little thyroxine is when there is too little production of thyroxine by the thyroid gland and is known as hypothyroidism and it was this that Lulu was diagnosed with at such a young age. The cause can be unknown but it can also be caused by an autoimmune disease, poor iodine intake, or brought on by the use of certain drugs.  Doris Onions was concerned that the tablets she took during her pregnancy with Lulu for insomnia and depression could have been the cause but her Doctor was unable to tell her the name of the tablets he had prescribed.

Thyroid hormones are essential for mental and physical development, so hypothyroidism during development or before birth and during childhood is known to cause reduced physical growth and mental impairment – both of which Lulu herself suffered from. For Lulu, from four months onwards the solution was to be prescribed thyroxine tablets, – the dosage was to be taken daily and how much or how little would depend on how the thyroid gland was functioning. For Lulu, no thyroid gland was present and therefore she would need to take thyroxine tablets for the rest of her life.  Once, as Lulu entered her teenage years, Ron and Doris made the decision to stop the daily intake of the thyroxine tablets in the belief it would calm her down – within days they knew from Lulu’s withdrawn behaviour that it was the wrong decision.

As Doris thought to herself on first holding Lulu in her arms, “This one’s going to need a lot of looking after”.

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