Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I can’t believe how long it has been since I have touched this blog. Well, one of my goals for the new year is to write on a more consistent basis, with a blog entry at least once a week. So, hold me to it!
So much has happened since I last signed off. I’ll share a little about the “madness” I endured in the past year. I am borrowing the term “madness” from a website I stumbled across called Stop the Thyroid Madness http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/ "Madness" is definitely an accurate way to explain my experience.
To put it simply - my body was falling apart. I noticed that I was all of a sudden putting on weight. I've struggled with my weight all my life, and since I was 35 at the time, I just figured that my body was experiencing slowing metabolism that comes with age. Still, it was quite a rapid weight gain - 40 pounds in a few months. I could not believe I was topping the scale at over 300 pounds!
But that wasn't the only problem - my beautician mentioned on several occasions that my hair seemed to be thinning. My fingernails had become brittle and broke easily. Then even more weird things began. My period stopped. I was diagnosed with PCOS in my early 20s and had been on birth control since then, which of course made my periods regular. I was still taking the pills, but no monthly cycle. I also began to experience random pains in my hands, legs and feet. Then my hands would cramp up to the point that I couldn't use them. Those episodes only lasted about 2 minutes at a time, but it was still odd and uncomfortable.
The final straw that sent me scrambling for answers was when I noticed my mood and mental capacity make a drastic change for the worst. During the winter months, I am generally less energetic than usual. But this was far different from the dips in energy levels I had experienced during previous winters. I was apathetic towards everything. I felt down for no reason. At work, I could not concentrate on my tasks. It was hard for me to figure out how to do things. Then, I started waking up, not wanting to go to work. I was taking more and more time off from my job.
During this time I had listened to a podcast of someone describing the symptoms of hypothyroidism, and I definitely had some. I went to see my primary care physician, and of course the first thing she wanted to do was prescribe an antidepressant. I told her that I wanted my thyroid tested since I had learned that symptoms of depression can be a result of thyroid problems. I refused the antidepressants, but did see a counselor for a few appointments.
While waiting on the results of the blood work, I took to the internet, reading as much as I could on the Stop the Thyroid Madness website and any other resource I could find. I read books on the topic. As many of my readings suggested, my TSH levels were in the normal range, and therefore the doctor did not see the need to do any of the additional thyroid testing. The same was true when I went to see an endocrinologist. So, I decided to pay out of pocket to have the additional testing done.
Armed with my new test results, I stumbled across one person’s online review of a doctor in my area who was willing to prescribe natural desiccated thyroid. I promptly made an appointment with him. He looked at my full thyroid panel and saw abnormalities. He started me on a low dose of Armour thyroid. He also took time to talk to me about nutrition and my other health issues (PCOS, diabetes). My blood work showed high C-Reactive Protein, and he suggested that dietary changes could calm the inflammation. He was the first doctor that ever suggested that my diseases could be reversed and that I could be off of medication. He told me to read Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis and that I need to eat whole, natural foods and eliminate gluten. He also suggested that I only eat gluten free processed foods sparingly. When I told him that I really didn't like being on medication, and wanted to stop my birth control pills (since they weren't helping my period anyway) he supported that choice. I was worried about the return of my acne when stopping the pill, but he assured me that with time, the dietary changes would address the acne too - and he was right.
Well, very shortly after that I got the opportunity of a lifetime, which required me to move across the country - more about that in another post. It was definitely hard to leave a doctor that finally seemed to understand me. I still haven’t found a doctor in my new city that believes in a holistic approach to wellness. At least my new doctor here did (reluctantly) renew my Armour thyroid prescription (“I don’t know why your doctor would start you out with this as your first medication. Most doctors start with Synthroid.”)
Here I am, in my new city - 40 pounds down from my nightmare weight, and totally motivated to continue the weight loss journey. I have mental clarity and the ability to focus again, which is imperative for my new stage in life. Oh yeah - my periods are coming like clockwork without birth control pills. The mysterious pains have vanished.
I have to admit that I am not 100% gluten free, but that is my goal. If I can see this much improvement with just a reduced amount of gluten, I can’t wait to see what happens when I eliminate it for good.