When I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto Thyroid Disease I went to my endocrinologist, like anyone else would, and was prescribed Synthroid. After a few weeks I started feeling a little better, but I still had chronic pain and some degree of fatigue. After months and months of complaining to my Dr. and him saying that my thyroid levels were within the normal rage and that this was all in my head, it dawned on me that as much as I appreciate modern medicine and doctors, I needed to be a full participant in my health and wellness. This meant RESEARCH. In my experience, doctors seem to treat you like one size fits all – and that just wasn’t working for me. I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life feeling the way I did! I was only 30 years old and I felt like I was a senior citizen. Awful. And no thank you.
I feel like it took me longer than it should have to figure out that my doctor wasn’t necessary doing me any good, which I kick myself for because I spent a good amount of time feeling like crap, crying, wondering if I was going to have to live that way for the rest of my life. But I think that when you’re in that state and you’re not well, it’s probably not abnormal to believe what your doctor says.
So began the research…
Eventually I stumbled upon this website: Stop the Thyroid Madness. This website was a huge help in pointing me in the right direction as to what kind of doctor I needed to seek out, the different types of thyroid medications, the many other symptoms or autoimmunity’s associated with thyroid disorders, etc.
First of all I found that taking Synthroid was NOT in my best interest. As stated on the Stop the Thyroid Madness website:
“Technically, it’s a synthetic crystalline L-3,3′,5,5′-tetraiodothyronine sodium salt. Doctors have been prescribing Synthroid for over 50 years to treat hypothyroidism. Before that time, the only treatment for hypothyroidism was natural desiccated thyroid, which appeared to work well for a good seven decades before Synthroid entered the arena.”
Synthroid is a T4 only medication but T4 is only one of the five hormones that are made by the thyroid – the others being T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin. I personally never felt “normal” on Synthroid. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. At one point I had WORSE pain and fatigue than I did BEFORE I started on the Synthroid. Let me back up for a minute, the symptoms I get when my thyroid isn’t being treated properly or is “off, are very similar to fibromyalgia (joint pain, fatigue, brain fog, etc.). I think the reason for the way my body responded to Synthroid is because a healthy thyroid doesn’t make you totally depend on a conversion alone. T4 is simply a storage hormone meant to convert to T3, the active hormone. A healthy thyroid give, along with converting your storage hormone (T4) to T3, gives you DIRECT T3 plus T2, TI and calcitonin.
They thyroid and the different disorders and/ or diseases associated with it can be very complicated to treat. The thyroid is a complicated little gland!! But it’s in charge of so much for your body!
During my research I started bouncing around from doctor to doctor. I refused to go to a doctor who didn’t treat thyroid disorders with natural desiccated thyroid (desiccated thyroid is natural and gives you exactly what your own thyroid would be giving you: T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin). But even still, all doctors treat the thyroid differently. It’s crazy. Slowly but surely I started feeling better on the natural medications, but not 100%. Eventually I ended up working with an integrative medicine doctor and that just changed my life. I was FINALLY on the right path for the medication part of my disease. I STILL work with my doctor, who is in California (I’m in Austin now), over the phone. I have my medication compounded at a compound pharmacy and I’ve been doing this for years now.
I wish the story ended here, but it doesn’t…
I still have an autoimmune problem – three of them to be exact (Hashimoto, Endometriosis, Fibromyalgia). So, although I’m medicated properly, I still run in to the same issues.. fatigue, joint pain, etc. The fibromyalgia still affects me even though I keep a good diet and workout regimen. But there are very definite triggers that will make it flair up such as high stress, lack of sleep, etc. I’m still very much affected by my autoimmune problems but I feel that now it’s much more managed and less extreme.
So, I’m definitely a work in progress. I am doing GREAT. I have found that along with the proper medication, maintaining consistency with working out and DIET that I feel so much better most of the time.
I’m still learning. I started his blog because I wanted a place to document and tell my story and maybe that might help someone else. Because the truth is, there is no ONE fix for any of this. It takes effort, research, time, energy, commitment, consistency, finding a good doctor, etc.
Really quickly… Some info I’ve learned on autoimmunity…
My doctor explained to me that autoimmunity’s, although to some degree can be treated medically, also rely on diet, exercise, lifestyle, stress levels… etc.
In autoimmune diseases the body attacks itself. It does this the same way it attacks foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses: with T-cells, B-cells, natural killer cells, and cytotoxic T cells. The immune response also involves proteins called cytokines, chemical messengers that pass messages between cells. This self-attack by the immune system increases inflammation.
That is the short explanation of what an autoimmune disease is.
I’m learning that diet is a HUGE part of battling autoimmune disease. A bad diet can cause inflammation in your system alone – so imagine that along with the inflammation happening from the autoimmune disease. For example, with thyroid disease, First, inflammation suppresses the hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis. Inflammation disrupts the production and regulatory mechanisms of thyroid hormones.
Second, inflammation decreases both the number and sensitivity of thyroid hormone receptors. If there aren’t enough receptors, or they aren’t sensitive enough, it doesn’t matter how much thyroid medication we take. The cells won’t be able to use it.
Third, inflammation decreases the conversion of T4 to T3. T4 is the inactive form of thyroid hormone. The body has to convert it to the active T3 form before it can be used. Most synthetic hormone medications on the market are T4. If you give a T4 medication (like Synthroid, Levoxyl, Unithroid, etc.) to someone with inflammation, it’s not going to work because they can’t convert the T4 to T3.
That is just one small example of how inflammation can wreak havoc on your body.
That said, I’m working on my diet. I’m starting with a strict Paleo diet, eliminating a bunch of food such as dairy, grains, sugar, etc. Eventually I will reintroduce some food back into my diet and see how my body tolerates it. Right now, my antibodies are very high – which means they are attacking my thyroid gland (Hashimoto) – this is why my doctor has suggested getting very strict with my diet and see if there are any changes.
I will keep posting as I continue on my journey with autoimmunity, diet, exercise – really converting my lifestyle to one that works well with my body. I’m learning how to cook great food and yes, some days are more challenging that others, but that’s okay. The long term benefits are going to be better for me than if I just sit on my butt and do nothing to heal my body.
Thanks for reading!