I have mentioned my Hashimoto’s in posts, but I have yet to discuss it. According to WebMD, Hashimoto’s disease aka Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease-“a disorder in which the immune system turns against the body’s own tissues. In people with Hashimoto’s, the immune system attacks the thyroid.” Symptoms include the following-
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Pale, dry skin
- A puffy face
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Enlargement of the tongue
- Unexplained weight gain
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
- Debilitating menstrual cramps
- Memory lapses
- Brain fog
- Low or Nonexistent sex drive
- Nerve pain
- Heart palpitations
- prone to vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- VertigoMe with a very puffy face Normal face
The list above is really just a few of the symptoms associated with Hashimoto’s. Conventional medicine says that Hashimoto’s is a cause of hypothryoidism. I don’t think this is 100% accurate, as I actually flop back and forth between hypo and hyper. There are different causes of Hashimoto’s. Mine is first and foremost hereditary. I have it, my mother has it, her cousin has it, my cousin has it, my two older kids are hypo and if left untreated for decades as mine was they will eventually get full blown Hashimoto’s. I think it’s best I take you back to the beginning of my story.
My whole life I knew something was off. I didn’t feel quite right, and as a child I experienced weird health issues that no medical doctor could decisively diagnose. For instance, frequently my little body would be covered in hives. I noticed that I would experience an outbreak in extreme heat, and extremely emotional situations. As a product of divorce with my parents battling in court often (and me feeling pulled in between), this was a very common trigger. The doctors were convinced it was from a red dye allergy, but I didn’t have red dye every single time these hives would show up. As a teenager, the hives were still present in certain situations but my lips would swell up. A trigger here was often tests at school or the typical high school bullshit politics (both emotional triggers). I legit looked like I had some bad lip injections administered by a ”doctor” in some dirty back alley in Guadalajara. If I didn’t have access to an antihistamine or an EPI pen, I could potentially go into anaphylactic shock (throat close up, blocked airway). I actually received an honorable discharge from the United States Navy for this exact reason because they could not guarantee access to the medicine I would need on a ship. I wasn’t planning to BE on a ship, since I was supposed to be a Journalist for the Navy but that’s neither here nor there at this point.
I often wondered why my friends could eat basically whatever they wanted and never work out but still look amazing, yet there I was eating clean AF and hitting the gym 6x a week to just maintain my heavier body. It’s always been a constant battle with my weight. I have a shit load of clothes, with varying sizes from a 6 to a 16. The 16’s are reserved mostly for post pregnancy, which regardless of what I do during that time period I will inevitably gain 100 pounds. Even with the 1 miscarriage I had before I got pregnant with Ruby, in that short 3 months I gained 45 pounds but didn’t change any of my eating habits and continued to be active. I was able to get back into my size 10’s right before I got pregnant with Ruby, and now I am back to working my way down to a size 10/12 (and hopefully lower) again. I would always push myself physically at the gym. Trainers scream at you, “If you want that summer body, you have to push! Move your ASS!” I assumed I was just so out of shape and that was the reason I would require about 2 or 3 days to recover from extreme workouts. Come to find out, that’s also another symptom of Hashimoto’s. Recovery from any kind of stress is daunting and lengthy, whether it’s physical or emotional, and can take days.
I still try to work out often. These days it is limited to weight lifting, yoga, and short walks. My goal is to incorporate HIIT sprints by summer time this year.
There is also the extreme fatigue. There are some days that I literally can not open my eyes. I will stay in bed sleeping until 3pm, and wake up not feeling refreshed at all. Luckily my husband is understanding (and self employed), so when this happens he is usually able to take the reins for the day. There are other days that I am able to wake up, but can never feel fully awake. I wake up ready for bed, if that makes any sense.
Other symptoms that I experience are hair loss, joint pain, body aches, sadness, brain fog, super low sex drive, irritability, insomnia, chills, and the list goes on. Shortly after Ruby was born, my midwife directed me to a pediatrician for Ruby that preferred a more holistic approach to health care. Our pediatrician that we had seen for years reacted very poorly to me having a home birth, so we switched. The new provider actually treats myself and all of the kids now. I am so thankful for her because she is the one that finally ran the proper series of blood tests to diagnose my Hashimoto’s. I asked multiple doctor’s for years to test my thyroid, and no one would. Finally my old GP gave in and ordered the blood test, but he only ran ONE when in fact for a thorough blood test there is something like 6 things to look for. The thyroid is very complex with multiple hormones associated with it, so by just looking for one he wasn’t doing anyone any favors and was basically costing me money and wasting my time all at once. After I was diagnosed, we found out that my mother and cousin also have it (she was misdiagnosed with Lupus, another autoimmune disorder). My Dr has told me that we should do a case study on me, because mine is so wild and severe. I decided to have the kids tested (not Ruby yet). Carmen is hypo but we are controlling hers with vitamins, minerals, and dietary changes. Gabriel’s is a bit worse than Carmen’s, so he takes Synthroid as well as vitamins, minerals, and the same dietary changes we all follow. I am positive Ruby will test for it as well.
I never even heard of Hashimoto’s before I was diagnosed. I have done a lot of research in the past year about it, and still feel like I have hardly scratched the surface. Not one Hashi patient has the same experience. There are some people who are worse off than me, and some who are better of than me. My own mother was able to take thryoid medicine for a few months and now she is medicine free. While I am happy for her, it actually makes me mad because she still smokes and eats crap food. She has never had a weight issue, EVER. She has been smaller than me since I was 12. I can’t get mired down thinking about other people though. I have to continue to do what’s best for me and the kids. I definitely don’t want their hypothyroidism to get so out of hand that it turns into full blown Hashimoto’s when they are adults.
Mom and me circa 1980 vs Mom and Ruby circa 2017
Here are the things that I have implemented thus far for my health and trying to heal my Hashimoto’s. I take brand name Synthroid once daily (in the morning). I actually prefer to take Natur throid but it’s ALWAYS on back order which is annoying as hell. I feel like my body needs consistency with the drugs I take, so I just go with the Synthroid because it’s always available at the pharmacy. The brand name Synthroid has a different chemical makeup (something about isomers according to my pharmacist) than the generic. If you aren’t having much luck with levothyroxine, consider switching to brand name. I feel better after making that change. My body does not convert T4 into T3 as it is supposed to, so I supplement with Cytomel (or the generic liothyronine) in the morning and at night. I also take Selenium and a multi vitamin. I take a salt sole daily to help with my Vertigo/POTS. My doctor recently had me tested for EBV (Epstein Barr Virus) which some health care providers say is the root cause of a lot of autoimmune issues such as Hashimoto’s. I went for the blood test so she could check to see about the EBV, and to my shock my shit was off the charts high. I am still learning about that since this is a fairly new discovery for me, but I have added NAC and Lysine to my daily regimen as well to try to heal the EBV. For more info on that, you can get the book by the Medical Medium about Thyroid Healing (I’ll drop a link below). The fact alone that my blood tests for EBV came back as showing an active infection really surprised me. As anyone battling a chronic illness knows, isolating the root cause is where you will find a cure. I am willing to do anything to heal myself.
I yearn to look like this again, I am about 50 pounds heavier than this currently…#goals
The last thing I want to discuss for now is the dietary changes. I have eliminated gluten, soy, and most grains. I do have a love affair with gluten free corn bread though that I just can’t shake. Last summer my doctor urged me to eliminate gluten, so I did. I steered clear for about 6 weeks, and then one day accidentally ingested some gluten (it’s f*cking everywhere and hidden in EVERYTHING). My arm alternated between tingling and straight up numbness for days. Clearly gluten affects me negatively, so I do my best to stay away from it. The kids also follow the same diet as I do. It seems so depressing at first, but once you realize you can make anything gluten free that subsides. Cooking for yourself is key. Also, high intake of healthy fats is superior for people with thyroid issues. You can scroll through my blog and see some different gluten free recipes I have posted.
An example of a gluten free, soy free meal. I was not motivated this day but pulled this super simple meal together for us last week. Grilled chicken, roasted brussel sprouts, and GF corn bread.
This turned into a very long post, and I didn’t mean for it to read like a novel. When it comes to your thyroid, all of the information can be extremely overwhelming. Just take it day by day. If you are newly diagnosed, remember that you are not alone. I would advise you to find some Hashimoto’s support groups on Facebook. I will do my best to keep writing about it as I learn new things so we can all learn from each other. If you are a parent struggling with Hashimoto’s, remember that self care is so important. You really can not take care of everyone else if you are not feeling well. If you are a parent seeking advise for your child, this post should help but stay tuned for another post about healing children’s thyroid soon.