|3 Years Before Being Diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Eating SAD (Standard American Diet of “healthy”
low-fat whole-grain bagels, cereals, and cheese).
|After Treatment with Nature-Throid and AIP Diet (8 Years Later)
Recently, I have been looking through my pictures and, by accident, saw a picture of myself in 2011. In 2011, we just moved to Arizona and I felt “healthy” and “energetic” if I slept 10 hours a day, had at least 2 cups of coffee, and 1 mini-can of soda (100 calories, after all, ‘not bad?’, and I really needed an afternoon pick-me-up to continue studying).
I remember joint pain encompassing my whole body in the mornings and no desire to wake up, even though I had already slept for 10-11 hours. I thought it was just my new normal. I woke up thinking that I need to get through the day somehow, and if I accomplished one thing per day, I felt like a super-achiever! I could barely function and it was such an accomplishment to get out of bed.
That was 2011, 3 years before I finally decided to ask my doctor to check my thyroid function and before I was officially given a diagnosis of Autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s). Of course, my doctor checked TSH, Free T3, Free T4, but I had to ask him to check the antibodies to my thyroid gland too. He did not see why antibodies would matter, but he did check – my TPO (Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies) were at 2,184! TG antibodies (Antithyroglobulin Antibodies) were 84! My reverse T3 21.2! My doctor did not know why it would matter as the treatment is the same anyway – here is your levothyroxine (Synthroid) and let’s recheck in 6 weeks. He also told me that maybe I do not need levothyroxine, as my TSH is just 4.47 – mild hypothyroidism. As there were no overt symptoms, I did not really need to be treated until my TSH gets higher than 10.0. After all, my hair was not falling out, my BMI was 24, I did not have cold intolerance, I was not gaining weight, and there were no specific symptoms of overt hypothyroidism. All my symptoms were very non-specific.
- If I pushed myself physically and mentally one day, the next day I was plastered on the couch not able to figure out what to do with myself.
- Joint pain? Who knows what was causing it? As well as a number of different symptoms that made no rhyme or reason to my doctor!
You see, in these pictures from 2011, my weight was 130 pounds. I considered myself eating healthy, a high whole-grain diet: oatmeal for breakfast with a mashed banana as a routine staple – I aimed to meet the Plate-Pyramid Government guidelines, after all, that is what I studied during my nutrition class in the Nursing school in Michigan. Diet low in fat, high in Oatmeal as it would reduce my cholesterol, a little bit of red meat and mostly white chicken meat, whole wheat toast with a tiny sliver of butter. Did I look healthy though? What I see right now (of my 2011 self) is a ‘moon-face’, typical to myxedema (facial bloating and inflammation) of low thyroid hormone, thinning eyebrows, bloating all over, and puffy eyes, 10 pounds overweight. I do not see a healthy person in these pictures, yet, back then I thought I was super-healthy. I also lost most of my ambitions back then. I just wanted to go to bed by 9 pm and wake up at mid-day.
Here is a very interesting description of myxedema (puffy face) and hypothyroidism from Gull’s paper:
“Her face altering from oval to round … the tongue broad and thick, voice guttural, and the pronunciation as if the tongue were too large for the mouth (cretinoid) … In the cretinoid condition in adults which I have seen, the thyroid was not enlarged … There had been a distinct change in the mental state. The mind, which had previously been active and inquisitive, assumed a gentle, placid indifference, corresponding to the muscular languor, but the intellect was unimpaired … The change in the skin is remarkable. The texture being peculiarly smooth and fine, and the complexion fair, at a first hasty glance there might be supposed to be general slight oedema of it … The beautiful delicate rose-purple tint on the cheek is entirely different from what one sees in the bloated face of renal anasarca.”
So, I got my diagnosis, as well as levothyroxine prescription, and before starting it, I tried numerous thyroid supplements (selenium, iodine – which made my antibodies skyrocket to 3,000+, zinc, etc.), read a ton of books on the subject, went to see a naturopath and got more supplement suggestions and some functional testing that did not explain anything new, except for decreased diversity of my microbiome. What you need to know is the interpretation of functional tests is not just a skill, it is an art. Not everyone has the time or desire to put in hours in learning how to interpret the countless testing options that exist in medicine. The bottom line: Nobody ever could give me answers as to why my own body is attacking my own thyroid and mounting the immune response to it. My high reverse T3 was not addressed either.
Eventually, I had to start levothyroxine as I got pregnant – I asked my midwife to check thyroid function and my TSH was 4.5. I received a very alarming phone call on this discovery from my diligent midwife to start levothyroxine NOW and to recheck labs in 6 weeks. Had I not asked my midwife to check my thyroid function, had I not known that I have slow thyroid function and high autoimmunity, it would never have been checked and, most likely, my wanted pregnancy would end as an early miscarriage for ‘unknown reasons’. High levels of antibodies is another reason for early miscarriages. Luckily, my TPO antibodies dropped from 1,367 to 184!
After hours and hours of research, changing my diet, going gluten-free, dairy-free, and eventually getting on the AIP (Autoimmune Paleo Diet), as well as ordering my own functional tests and learning how to interpret them PROPERLY, helped me to identify the areas of weakness in my body that needed to be addressed and healed. I am healing every day with foods. Healing autoimmune disease does not take 1-2 visits to a functional healthcare provider, naturopath, or healer. It is a process, and the success of this process also depends on the compliance of the patient. Ninety percent depends on the patient and just ten percent on the guidance of a knowledgeable healthcare provider.
Now, I have the energy to chase my 2-year-old, I have the energy to set goals and achieve them, I have energy just to live. Can you relate?
If you are interested in a different approach to the autoimmune disease, check out the books by Dr. Izabella Wentz. They are a great start to getting to the root cause of YOUR thyroid problems.
Should you need more help with getting to the underlying cause of your fatigue, insomnia, thyroid and hormonal problems, schedule a consultation with Zhanna Tarjeft, FNP Here.
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1. Pearce, J.M.S. Wir William Witten Gull (1816-1890). Eur Neurol. 2006;55:53-56.