Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis most likely started when I was very young. I’ve always had issues with my weight and struggled with fatigue. But once I got into college, the stress of my undergrad program pulled the trigger and I really started to notice the symptoms. And so began a very long battle with hypothyroidism and ultimately thyroid cancer.
What is Hashimoto’s?
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune condition where your body mistakenly attacks your thyroid gland causing tissue damage and inflammation. This damage causes hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid.
The thyroid is super important! It is in charge or regulating how your body uses energy – your whole body – so that includes your organs, your cells, everything! And if that is not operating correctly, then the whole system begins to slow down, resulting in hypothyroid symptoms.
What were my symptoms:
- Intense fatigue. Felt like I was always walking in sand.
- Cold all the time. My hands and feet never seem to get warm.
- Dry skin – which was great because I never had acne
- Hair loss – I used to have super thick hair and I now have an almost bald spot on my crown
- Weight gain and difficulty losing weight
- Minor joint aches (this is likely also the start of my arthritis)
- Brain fog – this was and continues to be a problem for me. It makes it hard to think clearly and remember things.
Getting a diagnosis
I found an endocrinologist and she was amazing. We did a blood panel and were able to confirm I was pretty far from the normal range. I got suuuper lucky to have her as my first endocrinologist. She had a “how I feel” approach rather than just going by the blood test numbers (like most doctors).We eventually moved away from the town she was located in and I haven’t found anyone like her since.
She started me on Synthroid (levothyroxine) and I tried that for about a year and I had my thyroid levels checked every 6 weeks. Eventually we noticed it was not working as well as it should, even at higher doses. So we reduced the Synthroid and added in Cytomel (Liothyronine) in small amounts. It was a miracle. I got my energy back, started losing the extra 30lbs I had gained and my brain fog almost disappeared. I still had issues with my hair falling out – that never really got any better. Over the years, I’ve had to adjust the dosages up or down based on my lab results and how I was feeling. I definitely went through periods where I knew my thyroid was low again and that it was time to change things.
How is Hashimoto’s / Hypothyroidism diagnosed?
- A simple blood test will be done to look at your TSH levels. TSH is a hormone produced by your pituitary gland in response to thyroid hormone levels. TSH stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone and as the name implies, your body releases more of it to try to make your thyroid work harder and less to tell it to back down.
- If your TSH is high, then your thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone.
- If your TSH is low, then your thyroid may be overproducing thyroid hormone.
- A secondary test can and should be done to look at your T4 levels. The T4 is the thyroid directly produced by your thyroid and low levels can indicate underproduction.
- I also always request a T3 level test. Your body can’t use T4 in its original form. In order for your cells to use the hormone to produce energy, they must convert it to T3. My body struggles with this. If your T3 is low, it can indicate difficulty converting.
What happened next?
Since being diagnosed and getting it under control, I never gave my thyroid much further thought. I took the meds everyday and I was good – right? Well my recent struggles with being tired all the time, hair loss, dry skin and general crappy feeling made me reevaluate everything about my body that I thought was ok. I started researching Hashimoto’s and discovered Dr. Isabella Wentz and her book, The Hashimoto’s Protocol. It was an AHA moment when I started listening to her book ( I prefer audiobooks).
I quickly learned that the thyroid controls SO much, and it being even a bit out of whack can have a cascading impact on the rest of your body. She details the many ways your symptoms and long term health issues can be a result of environmental factors as well as lifestyle ones. Her book prompted me to start spending time in a far infrared sauna,, detoxing, and supplementing my body with nutrients that are difficult for Hashimoto’s patients to regulate.
This led me to add things like:
- Magnesium Supplements
- Selenium Supplement
- Natural Detoxing through green juice, sweating and supporting liver function
And eliminate anything with harmful ingredients or pesticides, such as:
- Switching to clean beauty products and researching the any claims made by the manufacturer
- Eliminating all home or personal care products that have fragrance. Essential oils are safe.
- Using green personal care products, like soaps, contact lens solution, etc.
- Switching to natural cleaning agents for house cleaning and laundry
- We already ate all organic food, but we really became more strict
All these changes helped me feel less crappy and had a huge positive impact on my IBS. We have continued to stick to these positive changes and I see her book as the foundation of my thyroid care and treatment. She offers stories of women who have regained control of their lives, healed their bodies and in some cases, were able to stop taking thyroid medications altogether.
My journey abruptly changed course
My Hashimoto’s journey was cut a bit short though. Not too long after we had put her recommendations into full swing, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. That is a whole post in itself, which you can read HERE. In 2020, I had to have my thyroid removed due to a papillary carcinoma and my surgeon believes I will make a full recovery. More on that to come as I have just started on that journey while writing this!!!