We all have a story – something that has led us to where we are today. My health, and that of those around me, has repeatedly shifted the course of my life, changed my perspective and led to some serious personal development.
I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – an autoimmune disease that causes hypothyroidism.
This diagnosis came after I had been gluten-free for about 6 months, having put the family on a gluten-free diet because of symptoms my son had (dry skin patches, distended stomach etc). One day I came across a lonely packet of normal (full of gluten) biscuits. Being human, I couldn’t resist and I tucked into them. The next day my thyroid was the size of a tennis ball (or there abouts!).
Aside from “Gerty the Goiter” I also had or developed these lovely symptoms:
- Brain fog
- Muscle pain
- Joint aches and pains
- Muscle weakness
- Weight loss
- Hair loss
- Carpel tunnel syndrome
A blood test showed that my Thyroid Stimulatory Hormone (TSH) was ridiculously high at 96 (normal levels are approximately 4). My TSH was so wildly out of range because my immune system had been attacking my thyroid gland and preventing it from producing adequate amounts of the hormone Thyroxine (T4). As a result my pituitary gland was churning out TSH to tell my thyroid to produce more T4, but to no avail. I also tested positive for thyroid auto-antibodies.
Hence, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Finally I had a reason for feeling tired and cold my WHOLE life (or at least since I was 15).
So, I was put on Thyroxine (replacement T4 hormone).
It occurred to me prior to taking it that Thyroxine stimulates metabolism. I was already struggling to maintain my body weight and, sure enough, as soon as I took the Thyroxine my body crashed. I became bedridden within 24hours and all my symptoms had worsened – it felt like my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) days.
At the time I was caring for our two kids and my husband who had Cancer (read about our Cancer story here), so I simply couldn’t afford to be ill.
I had to take control of my health immediately. I did so by radically, but safely, adjusting my diet and lifestyle. Within two weeks I had more energy than I had had for years and my thyroid/CFS symptoms disappeared.
Looking back, I now know I was right to go to the doctor as a teenager with fatigue, as a student with exhaustion, anxiety and muscle aches and as a post graduate with persistent colds and lethargy. Each and every time I was dismissed as needing more sleep or for just being “a student”. In reality my body was struggling to deal with an autoimmune disease.
I don’t blame the doctors for this. Yes, it’s frustrating, but really it is a reminder that we need to be proactive and tenacious about our health – reconnect with our body, listen when something is wrong and then take action.
I’m being proactive about my health by concentrating on reducing the effects of this incurable disease so that I stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible!
Do you have thyroid issues? What are your symptoms and how do you keep them under control?