I have been planning to write about this for quite some time, but somehow I haven’t been able to pick the right moment or feel the time was right. This year has seen big changes for me and I have consciously been trying to rebalance my life. The last few weeks has really pushed me into feeling the time is right to write.
In my youth, I thought I was invincible, I tried to be everything to everyone, I empathised and sympathized with others on their poor health or misfortunes and tried to rebuild or improve them, but never in a million years thought that ill health could happen to me. My lack of truly listening to my body over many years caught me out, and with a family history of auto-immune disorders I regret now this stubborn inner me. However, as I live with a chronic auto-immune condition I feel that if anything positive has come out of it, is that it has really allowed me to understand my patients at a level deeper than ever imaginable before.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, for those unfamiliar with this condition, is in which the body’s own immune cells attack and destroy the thyroid gland. There can be up to 300 different symptoms and so there can be many of these symptoms that cross over into other illnesses. It can be slow progressing for some and so blood test may not detect it in the early stages making lives unpleasant with symptoms and no answers.
Hypothyroidism is the most common outcome for a Hashimoto’s sufferer and medication is used to help treat this condition end of story. That is what I was taught when learning about the Thyroid at Uni and during my hospital career. Take a tablet and all will be fine, next….
NOW I KNOW THAT SADLY THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE….
My Story is a common classic: I had not been to the GP in years, I had no time and no reason to see him, I had strangely and uncharacteristically booked to get my Vitamin D checked mainly due my Dietetic curiosity with the media hype. Don’t get me wrong I had felt rubbish for years but put that down to long hours running my business, caring for 3 small kids, getting older and was involved weekly in caring for my disabled mother. My husband, a fabulous man, was hardly around with his job. I was a “no time for me person” to whom I used to say if I met someone like this: If you don’t look after your health you will have “plenty of time in the future”, as you won’t be able to work! A total Hypocrite I know. I just did not see it for myself or maybe I chose to ignore it.
I remember when my blood panel came back I was shocked and if honest relieved. I was not surprised that something showed up and that all my symptoms that I tried to ignore or had secretly stressed about were valid. In addition to a Hashimoto’s diagnosis I had a very low Vitamin D level and suboptimal levels of B12. My diagnosis was in Dec 2012 and I thought that was it, all fixed. I was commenced on Levothyroxine and I slowly built up the dose as guided by my GP and I sat back and waited to get better.
Did I feel better? Psychologically maybe a little as I started to take more interest in myself and others around me had to also consider my health. However this feeling did not last long; 4 weeks later and I was worse and so the GP increased the tablets and so the story went on until my bloods were in NORMAL range but I was feeling worse than ever.
My GP made an urgent appointment for me with an Endocrinologist who assessed me and said “go take a holiday”. OMG I didn’t see that coming. I was hoping to be taken seriously but clearly I was not ill on the small panel of thyroid blood tests taken and so it had to be in my head….any of you who have been there will know the score.
From that moment onwards, as best I could, I did my research. I was so unwell I did not see how I could make it to my next birthday: I was 1 month away.
Some major symptoms: severe headache like a vice, walking in concrete, mixing up words, brain fog, exhaustion not able to get out of the car to lift my kids or shop, back pain, chest pain, lots of sighing, brittle nails and hair, skin on chin irritated, sensitive teeth and gums, low moods, insomnia, tearful, constipation, freezing cold, heart palpitations….my adrenal glands were struggling too.
I bought a medical thyroid book book which was a great starting point and I commenced the recommendations. I know you would think that as a Dietitian I would be an expert in nutrition, which I am! but the subject of auto-immune and supplements was lacking in my knowledge and so all news was new and I ate it all up. (With these new skills I now successfully treat patients today)
Anyway; I took a summer holiday with my family but sadly as a shadow of my former self in vitality, stamina and energy. Sitting at 40c I was cold and wrapped up, but the headaches were gone and that was one step in the right direction.
I came home from my holiday and began to fix myself further. I joined the Health Unlocked forum which again has been instrumental in my recovery. I requested further blood tests and from this I commenced a medication which had a combination of T4 and active T3. This along with the daily regimen of supplements made a noticeable difference and some of the significant symptoms began to settle.
At the same time I made a difficult but important decision that I will tell you more about in the next blog : part 2.
Information checked & correct on 16th May 2018.