I haven’t shared too much of my health journey yet. Simply because I’ve been at a standstill and waiting to see my new doctor who works in functional medicine. Since that date is getting closer, I thought I’d share my story and the glimmer of hope that happened yesterday.
My health has never been what most would consider “bad”. I’ve never battled any serious illness that has taken me down for long periods of time or caused need for intense medical intervention.
What I have dealt with is migraines and headaches for most of my life, starting at age 12. I also have had endometriosis for the last 15 years. I wasn’t diagnosed until 5 years ago. For those who don’t know that is considered an autoimmune disease (AI). I was shocked to hear that and disappointed that I wasn’t told it’s an AI disease. Statistics show having one autoimmune disease puts you at a 3 times higher risk for getting another autoimmune disease at some point in your life. Lucky me, I was just diagnosed with a thyroid autoimmune disease.
Over 14 years ago my mother had some health problems and her doctor found she had MTHFR (among other things). They told her to have her children tested too because it’s genetic. I went and had some bloodwork done and found I have it too. For those of you that don’t know what MTHFR is, it’s a genetic methylation disorder that can affect every aspect of your health. I try to encourage those around me to be tested for it. Empower yourself, do the research and follow through on what is required for your health. Dr.Ben Lynch the leading researcher has a great site http://www.mthfr.net that I frequent often to get my info on this matter.
Bringing me up to the last few years I’ve slowly noticed a few problems here and there. Three years ago I started getting severe joint pain and loss of strength in my wrists, forearms and legs. My family doctor put me through a battery of tests to check for MS, lupus, RA, brain cancer, the list goes on. Then by chance he tested my vitamin levels and found I was deficient in vitamin D and B. He put me on a high dose, 50,000 iu once a week, of Vit D and weekly shots of B12. I asked him why I was deficient and his response was “your skin isn’t dark enough to absorb it from the sun”. Huh?!?! (Totally false!!) I should’ve ran out of his office but I trusted him. Like most people trust their doctors. We are taught to have faith in our doctors but what I’m learning is they can only do so much. We have to be our biggest advocate and read, read, read!!!! Educate yourself! Don’t take blind faith in one persons word. They are not God and do not know your body the way you do.
I kept seeing this doctor until recently when I started getting other symptoms that lead me to believe I had a thyroid problem. That was October 2013. When I asked him to test me, he refused and said I am perfectly healthy (even though my D levels were once again low and needed another high dose scrip).
Frustrated but at a loss I went about life and kept having a nagging feeling there was more to the story. I started to do a little research. Then life got kind of crazy at home and I didn’t have time to “deal” with my issues so I put it on the back burner. I was extremely blessed that my health didn’t rapidly decline from my stupidity of not listening to my body telling me something was wrong.
Fast forward to September of 2014, just 6 months ago, I went into my “lady” doctor. Hoping she would help me. She tends to err on the side of caution and runs more tests than most doctors I’ve been to. I discussed all my symptoms with her. One problem I deal with is forgetfulness and brain fog so I brought in a notebook with all of the symptoms listed. She said she doesn’t think they would find anything but to ease my mind she would do the bloodwork. She ran my TSH, free T4, free T3, and my antibody levels. When the results came back and my antibody levels were slightly elevated she sent me in for a thyroid ultrasound.
I had myself convinced that it would come back normal so when I sat in the chair in the room and was told they found nodules on my thyroid I was in shock and scared.
She wrote me a referral to go see an endocrinologist and gave me two names of endo’s near me. I made an appointment and waited a grueling 2 months to get in. Luckily the wait was during the holidays and I was kept so busy that I wasn’t able to dwell on the not knowing. I feared the unknown and the possibility of it being cancer. I wasn’t planning on telling many people about what was going on. Then at a family party I decided to mention my results. Just had this feeling I should. My brother-in-law said, so matter of fact to me, “you probably have Hashimotos” I said “what??” He explained to me how he has it and his ultrasound showed multiple nodules and not to worry it’s probably just that and not cancer.
I was given a ray of hope by hearing that. Coincidence? I think not. I’d like to think the big Man upstairs nudges us in the right direction if we truly listen.
By this point I had decided I was no longer taking blind faith in any doctor without doing research and feeling good about what they were telling me. Listen to your gut instinct, it’s rarely wrong! Since then I’ve been doing nonstop reading of books, blogs, and listening to podcasts from the leading functional medicine experts. Educating myself on all things related to paleo, thyroid health, gut health and autoimmune disease. It’s safe to say I’ve been driving my husband crazy with my fact dropping on this subject. He isn’t interested in food and the human body. He just eats what I put in front of him and takes whatever suppements, essential oils, teas, etc I give him. Needless to say it bores him to death when I want to talk about any of this. He “listens” but definitely zones out. Can’t say I blame him, I do the same thing with finances.
The time passed till my much anticipated appointment with the endocrinologist. My husband came with me and my poor girls were forced to have to come too since we didn’t have a sitter. We were there for almost 3 hours. He sat down and went over my old labs from September and my ultrasound. Took my vitals and felt my thyroid saying it was “big and bulky”. He then lead me across the hall to do his own ultrasound and ended up doing an ultrasound guided needle biopsy. I’m fairly certain my entire family was scarred for life after watching a giant needle get jabbed repeatedly into my throat. Ok it wasn’t that violent but the way my husband squeezed the life out of my leg made it seem that way. He hates needles. They don’t bother me much so I laid there like a good patient, perfectly still. Even with a death grip on my leg.
Side note humor-going back to my hubby not being interested in health matters. He asked if I needed the door shut for this. When I said no he looked shocked. He told me later he was stunned to see my thyroid is in my throat and not in my stomach like he thought. He does try to pay attention a little more after that.
I scheduled my next time for a month later and had to wait three weeks to get my bloodwork done because my levels would be skewed from the needle biopsy if I went sooner. They told me to call in a week for the biopsy results.
In the meantime I took charge of my health. I now had some sort of direction with what I was dealing with. He had confirmed that day I did indeed have a thyroid autoimmune disease based on the elevated antibodies from my last blood test, and the big bulky thyroid from the ultrasound. I just had to get the biopsy results and the blood work to see if I needed to be put on thyroid meds.
I called a week later and was overjoyed to the point of tears when they said it was negative for cancer. Went in three weeks later for my follow up and left frustrated beyond belief. He told us my thyroid is still working so there’s no point in giving me meds till my thyroid dies and then they’ll just give me replacement hormones. When my husband said but if it’s working now there has to be something we can do to keep it working?? Should she eat a certain diet or do some sort of lifestyle change?
His response was “food has no impact on your health.”
We said thank you for your time and left.
On the long drive back home, we discussed where to go from here and the natural solution seemed to be going to the functional medicine doctor I had been looking into. It just felt right in my soul. So as soon as I got home I called and made the appointment.
That week I cleaned out our pantry and fridge and ditched all gluten and have been 100% gluten free since the beginning of January. I eat about 80% Paleo. The other 20% being when we eat out from the gross oils they use in restaurants, and occasionally raw, grassfed dairy at home.
Within the first month I dropped the ten pounds I couldn’t shake since October 2013. I was hooked on Paleo.
The first month was great for weight loss and how I looked physically but how I felt was something else altogether. It was brutal. My energy crashed big time and I was experiencing debilitating migraines at least three days a week or more. Then something clicked after a month and I started to feel better. My energy came back a little at a time and the headaches improved.
I had been detoxing.
Now two months into Paleo I have more energy than I’ve had in at least 6 months and get far less headaches than I’ve had in a very long time. I’m still dealing with other symptoms but at least I can live my life a little easier now.
Last week I submitted a ten page health history online to the new doctors office. It took me 75 minutes to complete. Talk about thorough!! I was elated to see how in depth they got. Yesterday I had my first appointment. It was a 30 minute phone call with his associate to go over my health history and discuss labs they want to run. Labs from places like 23&me, Genova diagnostics, and more. To say I felt releif is an understatement.
I was given hope!
Hope that they are going to get to the root cause of my health issues and I will get better. Not just mask the symptoms like my old doctor or let my thyroid die like the endocrinologist. I have a family to be here for. I want and need to live a long healthy life for them and for me. Life isn’t just about the number of years we live but the quality of the years we are given.