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Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: Be Your Own Best Advocate

 I want to take a little detour from beauty talk (but we will have that, too). We're friends here. Many of you have been reading Chic & Green since the beginning, back when my boys were just babies. Speaking of those boys -- Nick will be graduating from high school in June and Ben will be turning 16. How on earth did I go from blogging while they napped to this point? As I type this, Nick is taking his AP Government & Politics exam at school. Time: just hold on to it.

Over the years, I have had many ups and downs with my health, from an eating disorder to cervical cancer which required surgery when I was 22, from migraines and anxiety to high blood pressure, carpal tunnel, and other issues that developed with my heart 2 years ago.

Things had been going quite smoothly. I had a checkup with the cardiologist two days after my birthday last summer and was doing so well that I was able to reduce the dosage of one of my medications.

Then, once fall arrived, I began to feel like a stranger in my own body. 

I became constantly exhausted—not the tired mom feeling I used to have, but pure and total exhaustion. I once again started having many of my cardiovascular symptoms, especially an erratic heartbeat. Walking up the stairs made my heart pound and I sometimes would get winded. Then the pain I once was told was carpal tunnel moved from my wrist to every single joint. My hipbones hurt. My ankles and knees and shoulders and elbows hurt. It hurt to get up off of my yoga mat. Then the weight gain crept up. And the toughest part, I think, has been this brain fog, inability to focus, and confused feeling. I have had a hard time remembering things. I have had a hard time regulating my internal thermostat, alternating between hot flashes and chills. I thought that I was starting menopause. My throat has been scratchy on and off and from time to time, my face will get puffy.

I started getting a sensitivity to so many foods, particularly gluten. In January, the skin symptoms began. I have had eczema on my eyelids and neck, hives, and weak & breaking fingernails.

My migraines returned after being gone for a long time and I started to get acid reflux.

I am normally a glass half full type of girl. I tend to roll with the punches and always try to see the bright side of each situation. It has been hard to keep that glass half full attitude.

I started reading and researching more about the thyroid and its impact on the whole body. I have three friends who have Hashimoto's and my symptoms were shooting off alarm bells.

At my most recent trip to my primary care doctor, I asked her to PLEASE run a full thyroid panel and test my thyroid antibodies. She said there was no need. She did an EKG as part of my physical, and there have been changes since the one I had in August. She said that perhaps I felt this way because I need "to lose a few pounds." Nevermind the notes in my chart about my past history with an eating disorder, but then she suggested that Noom might solve my problems. Besides, she said, I am in my mid 40s. Much of this stuff just "happens."

She also suggested that if I had a church I attended regularly and felt closer to God that I would not have anxiety. That, my friends, may be a story for another day.

Anyway, I finally convinced her to check my thyroid antibodies. She also ran other tests. My anti-TPO antibodies came back over 1300 when normal is under 60. Other bloodwork revealed inflammation. 

All of my issues have been connected. It is amazing how so much of your body is affected by one little butterfly shaped gland. Your bloodwork can be seemingly normal while autoimmune conditions brew in your body. That has been what has been going on with my Hashimoto's. I have since learned that the carpal tunnel and aches and pains are actually from my Hashimoto's, as have the fatigue, the skin woes, headaches, racing heart, etc. In fact, those of us with high thyroid antibodies are more likely to have hypertension, heart disease, and heart attacks. I did not realize just how many systems are affected by the thyroid. 

I will be sharing more about my journey here on the blog. I have been following many of the recipes in Michael Symon's Fix It With Food. I have read so much on this subject in order to try to help improve my symptoms the best I can until I see the next doctor. By the way, I fired my primary care doctor who dismissed my symptoms. I will be seeing an endocrinologist in just a few weeks. My message here is to always, always advocate for yourself. Your body is speaking to you if you listen to it. If your doctor is dismissive and treats you like you do not know your own body well enough, run and find yourself a new doctor. Don’t just accept that you have to feel crappy. I did that in the past and will not do it again. Ask questions. Be informed. There is just one you. Here is to many better days ahead.