Brain fog. Fatigue. Hormonal mood swings like a mofo. Digestive…disruption, we’ll call it. Poor memory. None of it overwhelming or to the point that I felt it was adversely affecting my life. But add the fact that I’ve been taking a multivitamin PLUS additional magnesium, b12, and D-vitamin supplements for a few years and it might sound obvious if you know what to look for: a thyroid problem.
But, I didn’t really know what to look for.
I’m an intelligent person. An unwavering, non-negotiable, primary focus on health and wellness is how I live my life. Yet none of my symptoms were quite enough to tell me “hey, ya know… something might be off here.”
Over the past four years, I’ve lost 20 pounds, quit drinking alcohol, adopted a 95% plant-based diet and limited dairy to only the rare occasional indulgence (I love Big Spoon). I’ve built muscle where I never had any, transitioned all bath, beauty and body products to those with natural formulas and never skip a workout. How long was it going to take someone like me to notice that my body was sending me a message? And the message was: S.O.S.
In my defense, these symptoms didn’t just appear overnight. They manifested gradually – a slow, steady creep so subtle that you almost wouldn’t notice how the dots appeared, just begging to be connected.
As an intuitive person, I knew something was wrong before I knew something was wrong. A few other factors at play: my sister was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s right around my age. Hashimoto’s, reduced down to its simplest terms, is an autoimmune disease that acts as a precursor to hypothyroidism. It’s often described as the body attacking itself.
My mother had a thyroid tumor removed several years back. Most of my female relatives on my mother’s side take some sort of medication to support their under-active thyroid function. So, with those kinds of genetic indicators flying around, there’d be a greater likelihood for me to develop an issue with my thyroid at some point in my life.
I just didn’t quite expect it to be now.
Maybe you’re in a similar position and you recognize similar symptoms in yourself. You might be thinking, “oh $#!^, she just described me. What the %^*& do I do now?” In no way am I a medical professional, so please consult one if you truly feel like you have a diagnosable condition. I have no intention of replacing a physician’s care, but what I can do is tell you:
how I found out about my Hashimoto’s
steps I’m taking to treat it, and
results I’ve had so far.
Lab results and next steps Once my symptoms + intuition = let’s investigate, my sister pointed me to an independent lab she used in the past. Independent labs let you self-order a full thyroid panel (and LOTS of other tests, its very cool), so that’s what I did. In about two hours, the lab emailed me the orders I’d need to take to my local LabCorp. On May 20th, LabCorp drew two vials of blood and sent it off for processing, so all I had to do was wait for the results to be emailed to me from the ordering lab. Easy peasy!
Well, damn. By May 23rd, the results were in, and two thyroid function markers were flagged as ‘Above Normal High’:
- Reverse T3
- TG antibodies
I won’t bore you with the Fancy Medical Science Details, but the presence of elevated TG antibodies indicate Hashimoto’s disease. The lab’s scale of reference for normal TG antibodies was a range between 0.0-0.9. Mine were 4.4. Boooo. But it made so much sense! Symptoms of Hashimoto’s include poor nutrient absorption (hi, 5 different supplements every morning), poor memory, brain fog, and fatigue. Literally everything I’d already been feeling.
FORTUNATELY, Hashimoto’s doesn’t automatically indicate a thyroid problem exists YET. My TSH (actual thyroid hormone) is perfectly normal, which indicates no damage to my thyroid. Since people can live with Hashimoto’s for 10, 15 or even 20 years before it damages the thyroid beyond repair (yikes), normal TSH likely means I’m in the early stages of Hashimoto’s, which also means I have the time and the power to make the appropriate diet and lifestyle changes that will support my body and health during this new phase.
And that means no gluten or dairy. Womp wooomp.
I’ve had a couple of weeks now to adjust to a no gluten, no dairy life and in all honesty, it’s not THAT different from how I was eating before. Dairy has always given my body weird reactions, and now I know that gluten proteins often mimic the thyroid gland, confusing the body into attacking it, so I have no qualms with eliminating it.
The most major change has been all the meat I’ve incorporated into my diet. Turns out that a vegan or largely plant based diet is not ideal for healing the damage done by Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease. To heal an autoimmune disease, you have to start where your immune system lives – your gut! No autoimmune disease exists, in fact, where there is a healthy, balanced gut. Collagen and animal proteins are critical for repairing your intestinal lining and digestive tract, so I’ve had to mentally adjust to that, as well as get used to handling raw meat again – not my fave, but if my health is at stake I will do it!
Since reincorporating healthy meats into my cooking, I also get to play with new kitchen appliances like the air fryer and Instant Pot. A few other changes I’ve made include:
- getting on a waiting list for a functional medicine doctor – it’s important to me to find a provider that will look at my entire body function as a whole the way a functional medicine doctor does
reading Hashimoto’s Protocol by Dr. Izabella Wentz, who was also diagnosed with Hashimoto’s before becoming a subject matter expert extraordinaire
- reducing caffeinated coffee to support adrenal function
- discontinuing spironolactone (testosterone suppressor) for my acne
- switching my magnesium supplements from tablets to a liquid – that was terrible, so then I switched to a magnesium spray that absorbs through the skin, which I love
- taking digestive enzymes to help my body digest meat
- hour-long walks as many days a week as I can
- playing with GF flours and dessert recipes because I have to have SOME fun with it
And that’s where I’ve landed with things. It’s weird, at first, to realize you were doing everything you could to live a healthy life and still have health issues. It’s been a big mental adjustment for me to come to terms with it, start learning more about it, and begin the work of managing it (ya know, for the rest of my life…). But it’s always better to know as soon as there’s a problem, so you can go ahead and start the work to heal yourself and get the ball rolling down the right road. When it comes to feeling that something just isn’t quite right, listen to your body whisper before it has to scream. I’m glad I did.