How It All Started….
My journey with Hashimoto’s started sometime back in 2007 when I started noticing that I always seem to be colder than everyone else. I used to love to surf, but noticed that getting into the water was sometimes painful and my toes would cramp and seize up because the water was a little cold. It didn’t matter that I had a wet suit on or that everyone else seem to be enjoying the mild water temps. I started working in an office in 2007 and over the next year and a half noticed that I would be so cold that I brought slippers and even a small throw to help keep me warm at my desk. Fast forward to when I became a personal trainer…. now I would be training clients in the gym and I would get so cold my fingers were turning white. I started wearing a small scarf and even knitted gloves to keep warm and this was on top of a long sleeve shirt, jacket and long pants!
What the heck was wrong with me??
Let me first start off by saying that up until this time I rarely went to the doctor except for routine physicals and annual checkups and had no reason to question their capabilities. What I have learned since has taught me to do my own research and that only I can be my best advocate.
People usually tell me that I just need to gain some weight or but some more fat on my body. I know they mean well, but this is NOT normal! You’re fingers don’t go numb down to the second joint or lips turn purple just because you have lean body mass. I don’t care what your weight or body fat is, people aren’t this cold standing around in 68-70 degree temps. I finally ventured to the doctor at the pleading of a few clients since my husband and I had decided to move to Colorado. They all thought I was going to turn into a popsicle…..literally.
So off I went to my primary, they ran some blood tests and guess what? Everything came back normal, I was a young, fit and healthy 26 year old. The best answer they could give me (as I sat on the doctors table freezing with purple toes) you may have Renouds (a circulation issue that there’s no answer for, except to wear layers). Seriously?? I was thinking, I’m a healthy young adult and that’s the best answer you have for me? That’s the best you’ve got?
Frustrating, but nonetheless, I was still moving to Colorado and needed to get more winter gear to keep warm. Again I’m thinking, what the heck is wrong with me?
In Colorado I worked at a gym that provided an HSA account and before I left there I spoke with our on staff Registered Dietician and she recommended getting the functional blood panel done. The results came back and when she looked at them the first thing she said was, “Everything looks good, except your TPO thyroid antibodies are sky high.” Once she explained to me that most doctors don’t test your TPO and that this was the first sign that my body was attacking itself, specifically my thyroid. “I think you may have Hashimoto’s”, she said. Then recommended to try going gluten free to see if it helped and see an Endocronologist. “I have what?!”, was my first thought. Then I went gluten free for 30 days just to test out her theory and surprisingly I felt better. My coldness seemed to lessen a bit and then I started researching and reading whenever I could to learn more. For the next year I was mostly gluten free and felt better because of it, but never went to see an Endocronologist.
In 2013 we moved back to California and I finally decided that I’d had done enough guessing and I should probably go see an Endocronologist to confirm my findings in Colorado and get some advice on how to fix myself. I found a local Endocronologist with good reviews in my network, saw her for a consultation and she ordered blood work. With a glimpse of hope on the horizon I was excited to get my blood work back and meet with her to see what her professional opinion was and how I could help fix myself.
Well…… let’s just say it wasn’t quite what I expected. I went in for my results and she confirmed that I have Hashimoto’s, however, she said, “there’s nothing you can do about it. We should check you blood work every 6 months and eventually have to put you on thyroid medicine once your thryroid starts to slow down.” I’ll be honest, I think my jaw was on the floor and I was thinking “are you freaking kidding me”. I just wasted my time to come in here twice and get blood drawn so you could confirm what I already knew and then proceed to tell me there’s nothing to do to help correct it. I was LIVID! In her words there are no current medical studies in medical journals that show the correlation between gluten and the thyroid so therefore she didn’t recommend making any dietary changes. So after I lectured her assistant on my own personal study with gluten and actually feeling better and recommending that he go do his own research, I left and refused to go back to another doctor for 1.5 years. Honestly, I felt that with my own research and experience over the last few years I knew more about my condition than a doctor did.
Doctor #3……Yes I finally gave in!
In late 2014 I finally decided to give it another go and went to see a Integrative and Functional Medicine doctor at the urging and referral of a client. A sense of relief and excitement came over me when I got the new patient packet and it was 15 pages long (no joke). My husband though I was so weird as I sat there filling it out and getting excited because the questions were so comprehensive and asked questions no doctor had ever bothered to ask. It asked about my mothers history, fathers history and my entire medical history, I mean entire history! I did have to pay some out of pocket even though I had good insurance, however after my first visit with her I knew she was on the same page as me and truly wanted to help. I went to get more blood work, a thyroid ultrasound, and a saliva test for my adrenal glands. Finally I felt like I was getting somewhere, there was hope!
My hope, as you read this, is that you may learn something from my experiences. Maybe it makes you more aware of something that you have going on or maybe it just brings more awareness to an autoimmune condition that, over and over, I have read affects 95% of people that have some form of thyroid condition. Are you on a thyroid medication? Do you know someone who is? Are you constantly tired, irritable, have food sensitivities, have acid reflux, losing hair, sensitive to the cold, anxious, or feel depressed? These are just a few of the many, many symptoms that people with Hashimoto’s experience. I refuse to accept the idea that as we age we are just supposed to accept these things as common place. I just want to share and maybe help someone else that’s struggling. The more we share and talk about it the more awareness we create and help others. Keep reading to see how the next few years has drastically changed my views and knowledge about Hashimoto’s and our societies approach to our physical health.