“Well, I wish there was something I could tell you, other than to get lots of sleep and laugh more,” my doctor said light heartedly. I’ve felt sick since age 13, been to doctor after doctor, and dared to hope that this endocrinologist I waited all summer to get in to might tell me a different story.
I was wrong.
My thyroid problems started, as I mentioned, around age 13. I started passing out ALL THE TIME, for a season I remember hardly being able to get up from the couch and make it to the bathroom without passing out. I saw a doctor for it, and he said I was probably low on electrolytes, so, upon his recommendation, drinking bottles and bottles of gatorade for weeks on end became my new religion. Unshockingly, my problems didn’t improve, but got worse. Upon a second visit, my doctor discovered I had hypoglycemia. Obviously, filling my body with all that sugar only had worsened my condition.
From that point on, I followed a strict hypoglycemia diet, eating protein every two hours to keep my blood sugar up. My passing out did begin to improve somewhat, but nothing else felt right. Though I was an athlete, (basketball has my heart), my weight continued to increase every year, and I couldn’t drop it no matter how many calories I restricted, or movies I spent watching while incline-walking the treadmill. It was incredibly frustrating! My parents, God bless them, persisted in taking me to the doctor to try and find answers for the way my body was reacting. The next doctor tested me for thyroid problems, and found out that I had somewhat low T3 levels. I was diagnosed with low-functioning thyroid, and began taking the smallest dose of Levothyroxin, but noticed no changes, other than my fluctuating moods my parents, (again, God bless them,) had to deal with.
To be honest, my other memories of doctor visits blur together a bit. To summarize the rest of high school, it was visiting different doctors searching for answers, the doctor’s either giving me different doses of levothyroxine, telling me I shouldn’t be on levothyroxine at all, one doctor telling me I did indeed have hashimotos, (and after that clinic was shut down,) visiting a different doctor who told me I didn’t, and even some who told me it was all in my head. Yes, I had two doctors that actually said this to me. I knew otherwise, however, as my weight had consistently increased despite me consistently putting myself on insane diets, (an entirely different story, but I’ve done Atkins, Susan Sommers, 1,000 cal a day, 500 cal a day, celery soup diet, you get the picture.) Not only this, but I would wake up in the morning feeling like I got hit by a bus. My body was fatigued, I could barely stay awake regardless of how much sleep I got, my brain fog was insane, and made school, needless to say, DIFFICULT. It also began affecting my digestion, and I started getting insanely bloated and constipated.
Did it get better?
In short, no. after graduating high school, I took a few years off, started college, and just adapted to feeling sick. Life must go on, right? And it did. I got used to the extra hours it takes to study and write papers, (writing papers, and homework in general, sometimes feels like one of those dreams where you’re trying to run but are stuck in slow motion.) I fell in love with bodybuilding, and began following a rigorous training program, despite my constant muscle fatigue and joint pain. I began eating extremely clean, and figured if I keep treating my body right, eventually it has to start treating me right. Right? Well, this unfortunately hasn’t been the case. Despite years of living this way, my body continued to cry out for help. At the beginning of this year things got pretty bad. I was having two periods a month, getting sick after everything I ate, losing insane amounts of hair, unable to remember or memorize much of anything, fighting off sleep all day despite making sure to get my eight hours, (an arduous task in college, I might add!) So, my mom got me into her trusted OBGYN, oddly enough, and he tested not just my usual T3 and T4 levels, but my TPO levels as well. (TPO is the amount of antibodies you have in your thyroid. If you have a lot, that means you have a lot of angry cells in there fighting your thyroid, a symptom of an autoimmune disease.) A normal TPO range is .3 – 9, while mine sat at a 97. I was diagnosed, once again, with hashimotos disease.
I was referred on to my latest doctor, the endocrinologist mentioned above, which, as I mentioned reaped disappointing results. He essentially said, until science advances further, nothing can be done. I asked him about different medicines I had researched, he said he didn’t think any of those would actually help. I asked him about different diets I had looked into, and he told me those wouldn’t do me much good either. So I left, once again, disheartened and discouraged. I had a really great pity party for the rest of the day, and then reflected on my health journey later that night. Was I really going to let these doctors tell me that feeling healthy would never be an option for me? Was I really going to surrender my body to this disease and let it take over my life? Was I really going to give up without a fight? Well, as you can guess, the answer was no. If there’s anything I know how to do, its persevere. I’ve seen people who have learned how to get their hashimotos under control, and I’ve decided I will be no exception. I’m stepping out and taking my health into my own hands, and embarking on a journey to wellness! Life is meant to be lived, not endured. So welcome to my journey, I invite you all to join me. I know I can’t be the only one out there who struggles with Hashimotos, has searched for answers, only to be met with disappointment. So let’s search for the answer together! Welcome to my life, and thanks for sharing a bit of yours.