Thyroid Awareness Month

This topic doesn't necessarily fit within my design blog but since it hit's home I thought I would open up on what I struggle with every day in hopes that maybe it can help someone else. This is my story about living with Hashimotos Thyroiditis. 

Watercolor butterfly thyroid awareness month

In 2012 I was plagued with horrible fatigue, puffy face, dark circles under eyes, weight gain, stomach bloating, throat tightness, anxiety, depression, hives, allergies, psoriasis and more. I would go to the doctor and it was always the same, "oh you're fine, you're young." At one point I had a horrible cough that would not go away. It was so bad that I couldn't even lay down to sleep, I had to attempt to sleep sitting upright. The doctor kept prescribing antibiotic after antibiotic, even when I requested blood work. I had no idea what thyroid disease was at this time, but I knew that something was terribly wrong within my body. The cough eventually went away when I started taking allergy medicine, but then the hives started. I remember changing for bed and it looked like my whole back was sunburned. The dermatologist brushed it off as a food allergy or a new product that I must be allergic to and prescribed me steroids for my scalp psoriasis.

For years my symptoms grew worse. I could not get rid of my scalp psoriasis, my stomach was constantly bloated, leaving me in excruciating pain. Eating out was a nightmare. I always ended up sick to the point where I could barely walk because the pain was so unbearable. The pain I felt often lead to mood swings. I would be so cranky because I literally wanted to jump out of my body. As the disease got worse, so did the brain fog. I had a hard time remembering things and had a hard time speaking. I couldn't form sentences, I just felt like everyone around me was moving so fast and I was just there - barely existing. 

The first picture was in 2012, when I first started developing symptoms and the picture on the right was this past summer in 2016 after following the Autoimmune Paleo diet. 

The first picture was in 2012, when I first started developing symptoms and the picture on the right was this past summer in 2016 after following the Autoimmune Paleo diet. 

There would be days at work that my coworkers and I would go for short walks. I would be walking and totally lose my balance. Not to the point of falling but not being able to walk in a straight line. Moving one foot in front of another was such a chore and I didn't understand why. Every day at work, by late afternoon, I was making more coffee because I could not stay awake.

After our wedding my body crashed hard. I was losing hair and my eyebrows & eyelashes were falling out. I was even more tired than usual, sleeping more than 8 hours a night, and still feeling exhausted. I had dark circles under my eyes, my anxiety was horrible, even over small little things. I couldn't handle stress at all. Every night I would wake up around 2am drenched in sweat. My periods were painful and hung around for 2 weeks, I was at my breaking point. Something was terribly wrong. Luckily I was due for a visit at my OB/GYN and that's when years of suffering were finally explained.

My OB/GYN had suspected thyroid disease, so she ordered up all the tests, starting with a sonogram, thyroid ultra sound, blood work and even a MRI. The MRI showed that I had a pituitary tumor, which was producing too much prolactin and the blood work and ultrasound showed that I had Hashimotos Thyroiditis. This moment in time was probably the happiest and saddest days of my life. Finally happy to have a diagnosis but absolutely heart breaking knowing that my life was never going to be the same again. When everyone is getting married and pregnant, I was being poked and probed with needles and being told to put off starting a family for awhile. Evan and I weren't planning on starting a family right away, but still, the thought of someday having a hard time getting pregnant or staying pregnant terrified me.

Hashimoto's isn't a thyroid problem, it's an immune system problem. The thyroid wants to work correctly but the body is attacking it. Unfortunately doctors don't really get down to the root cause of your disease, so eventually your thyroid will burn out and you will become hypothyroid. Since being diagnosed, I've gone to the doctors, I've taken the levothryoxine, but I've also taken initiative to educate myself on this disease and how to put it into remission by eliminating toxins, chemicals and certain foods. Most people think all of that is crazy, but when you're suffering you have nothing to lose, only to gain. You're also more at risk for developing cancer when you have an autoimmune disease so that's another reason to cut out all the bad junk! 

When Evan was away for training this past spring & summer, I did my best to stick to the Autoimmune Paleo diet, eating all organic produce & meat, and eliminating common foods that trigger immune responses such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, etc. My symptoms started to go away. I lost weight (a little bit too much, but that's also a problem with Hashimotos), my stomach bloat went away, my psoriasis was clearing up and for once I could actually have a conversation without horrible brain fog. 

The whole point of this post isn't to be negative or to be a debbie downer, but to hopefully help someone else out there who struggles with health issues without answers. Sometimes it's in your best interest to get a second opinion if your doctor isn't helping you. Or look into other types of doctors like a Naturopathic who knows medicine but also knows holistic ways to heal. I wish I would have kept searching for another doctor years back instead of letting myself believe that my symptoms were normal. 

If anyone out there feels like something is off with your body, or if you suffer from infertility or anxiety, I would suggest asking your doctor to run a full thyroid panel (not just TSH) to see if anything is going on. Your thyroid controls every aspect of your body and if it's under attack, things just don't work right. There is hope though, things can get better! With proper diet and eliminating chemicals & toxins from your life, your body can heal. It's also so important to have a strong support system in which people around you know and understand the disease. It's those little things that truly help. 

If you're interested in learning more, check out the links below. 

Thyroid Symptoms
Thyroid Testing
Autoimmune Paleo
Documentary on Hashimoto's and Thyroid Disease