Less than 3 months after my wedding, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant. After the initial shock wore off, I settled into the discomforts of pregnancy. But soon it became apparent that something beyond pregnancy was going on in my body. For starters, I stopped sleeping. Like, completely. My new average became 1-2 hours a night.
"Well, you know, pregnancy’s rough” my doctor unhelpfully stated.
My symptoms persisted and continued to worsen. When nothing had changed by the time my baby was born, I knew I had to do something. Thus began my quest for answers. I started with the unhelpful doctor. She offered me an antidepressant over the phone, without examining me or running a single test. I declined and moved on. Over the next several months, I saw several allopathic specialists. No one had answers for me. They didn’t listen, either. One doctor alluded to thinking it was all in my head. Most of them seemed to think I was just overreacting to pregnancy hormones. I was exhausted, frustrated, and at the end of my rope. I had a beautiful new baby to care for, and could barely function.
I felt like I was 29 going on 100.
My victory was short lived. Turns out, autoimmune disease is tricky. I LOVED my new doctor, but she didn’t take insurance and just getting diagnosed had cost a small fortune (well worth every penny though). Now that I had my diagnosis, it was back to the insurance-covered doctors. They had little to offer me beyond a tiny pill that would supply the thyroid hormones my body was struggling to make. I dutifully took the pills. My labs improved.
But I felt no different. The pills helped my hormone levels get to where they should be, but they did nothing to address the fact that my body was actively attacking my thyroid as if it didn’t belong there (which, in case you didn’t know, is what happens when you have Hashimoto’s disease). This was a big problem.
So, you ask, what did I do? Did I accept my plight with dignity and grace, determined to be a ray of light in spite of my suffering? No. I cried. I screamed a time or two. I complained, bitterly, at the injustice of it. I begged God for relief. And then I pulled up my bootstraps and got to work.
Those who know me well can vouch for this: I am nothing if not determined. Feeling this way for the rest of my life was completely unacceptable, I decided. I started researching. I learned everything I could about Hashimoto’s disease, and the thyroid. That is one mighty little organ, let me tell you. I read everything I could about healing and reversing disease. I became obsessed with figuring out how to heal my body.
It didn’t happen overnight.
I started by eliminating gluten from my diet. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. This was before the days of Danielle Walker and Against All Grain. I had never even heard the word ‘gluten’ before my diagnosis. But the more I researched, the clearer it became that this should be my starting point. So I embarked on a gluten elimination by myself--with no guidance, no clue, and no support whatsoever. I don’t recommend this.
Then someone recommended a Naturopathic doctor who specialized in women’s hormones. I made an appointment. The first thing that struck me about her was that she actually listened. With rapt attention. I wasn’t rushed or dismissed- in fact, my appointment lasted well over an hour as she asked questions and intently took notes. She ordered labs and tests-lots of them. “We’ll get to the bottom of this” she assured me before I left. I believed her.
At my follow up appointment, I finally had my answer. Just as I’d suspected, pregnancy had been a trigger-in my case, of an autoimmune disease.
My diagnosis: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
I was elated! I felt so vindicated. I finally had a name for the invisible war raging inside me. My new favorite doctor looked at me intently. “With scores like these, you shouldn’t be functioning well enough to sit in that chair and have a conversation.” My Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) score, for example, was 915 (normal is 0-34). “SEE?!” I wanted to shout to no one in particular. "I knew something was wrong!"
If you are feeling lost or alone on your health journey, I have good news for you! You are not alone. I’ve been there, and I know how you feel. Healing is possible. There is hope. In case you were wondering... the Hashimoto’s is in remission. The old lady in her 20’s is a thing of the past. Now I’m a vibrant, energetic woman who lives with intention. I participate in activities that bring me joy. If you are seeking support, it would be my honor to help you do the same.
Embarking on a healing journey by myself was one of the loneliest experiences of my life.
Gluten was just the beginning. And somewhere along the line, I realized my journey wasn’t meant for me alone. I went back to school and got certified as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Now I offer to others that support I wish I’d had all along.