After my diagnosis I went through all the levels of grief. Denial, depression, hating life (isn’t that one of them?). When I finished feeling sorry for myself, I got pissed. WHY did this happen to me? WHY? WHY? Of course, much, much worse things happen to many people all the time. This condition isn’t deadly and it is manageable, for which I am grateful. But still, it’s a total PITA.
I turned my anger into action and started researching the bejezus out of all things Hashimoto’s. There’s a LOT to wade through. Tons of Eastern and Western “cures” and diets and suggestions. Being the overachiever I am, I decided to try them all. Here’s what I did:
- I started seeing a naturopath doctor who put me on a few supplements. I’m a crunchy girl. I was born in Boulder to hippy parents. So the thought of medication freaks me out. I avoided levothyroxine like the plague for the first month of my diagnosis. I decided to go the natural route. My naturopath put me on selenium (to decrease thyroid antibody levels), vitamin D (vit D deficiency has been linked to ai disorders), fish oil (to decrease inflammation) and magnesium (to chill out my neurotic, stress-case self). I felt a little better, but it soon became clear supplements alone weren’t going to fix this.
- I took leave from my job and tried to lower the stress in my life. From what I gathered, stress can be a driver of auto immune disorders. Mine came on after an extremely stressful year. Leaving work was a huge, really hard decision for me as I loved my job. I was fortunate enough to have the support of my husband to be able to take some time off. So I guess I should remember that the next time he annoys me.
- I started acupuncture. Apparently acupuncture can improve thyroid function. Once I got over the fact that I was lying on a table in the dark with needles all over my body, I loved it. It made me feel divine. My health insurance wouldn’t cover it and it’s pretty pricey, so I had to stop. But I looooved it.
- I started exercising for the first time in my life. I did it to relieve stress and for general health. I’ve always been skinny fat, I look OK from a distance, but I’m really all out of shape and jiggly if you get too close. I freakin’ hated exercising at first, but now I just dislike it immensely. Progress!
- I started napping when I could get away with it instead of pushing through the exhaustion. If my husband was home or I had a sitter, I would sneak away and rest. In my former life I never would have slowed down like this. I’m a go, go, go kinda girl and a total martyr mom and I think I viewed resting as a form of weakness.
- I cut out gluten. This is a MUST in my opinion if you have Hashimoto’s. Some huge number of people who have Hashi’s are also either gluten intolerant or have Celiac, another lovely autoimmune disorder. My big-shot endocrinologist did some study 20 years ago and found the only thing to get rid of thyroid antibodies (besides removing the thyroid) is to eliminate gluten. Crazy, huh? And miraculously, when I did cut out gluten, I stopped farting so much. I didn’t have to RUN to the bathroom to do a #2 minutes after eating. My stomach no longer looked like I was 5-months pregnant. This rash that had been on my leg for 4 years disappeared. It was AHHH-MAAZZZ-ING!
- Then I took the diet stuff to the extreme and went paleo, super paleo. I went on a diet called the Auto Immune Paleo diet (AIP). Apparently there is a strong connection between the gut and autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s. So by healing the gut, you can help your disorder. I tried the AIP for a while and it SUCKED! Basically all I could eat was meat and some vegetables. I was starving. Mama needs her carbs! I got grossly, skeletally skinny. As a busy mom I just didn’t have the time to do this diet right. I need easy food I can slap in my mouth. I don’t have 5 hours a day to make my own paleo butternut squash soup from scratch. I will say that while I was on the AIP, my thyroid antibodies plummeted. Total miracle. If you can sustain this diet, I think it can really help. It was just too hard for me.
- I got tested for food sensitivities. This helped my doctor create a diet specifically for me since we both felt the AIP was a bit too extreme. I started drinking my bone broth regularly. Click here for the recipe.
- I tested my adrenals. Surprise, surprise—they were shot too. So she put me on a special tincture (I have no idea what’s in it, she could be slowly poisoning me for all I know) that I take once a day.
- I started meditating. I’m not very good at it and fall asleep every time, but I do feel refreshed after one of my “meditation” breaks. I would probably feel refreshed if I went up to my room and bench pressed 100 pounds while on a conference call—just the break from the kids does wonders. But for the first time in my martyr mommy life, I do take a moment for myself most days.
- I finally relented and went on levothyroxine. I tried a generic version, but it gave me hives. So I moved to synthroid, more hives. So I changed to a pill with a more natural, gel cap coating called Tirosint. All of my doctors—natural and Western—agreed that it was important I be on the thyroid replacement. So I relented. It has actually made a big difference. It took 6 months and 5 different doses to get me on the right track, but I’m finally there.
It took an autoimmune disorder to get me to start taking care of myself, but I’m (kind of) doing it! And all moms know how flippin’ hard it is to put yourself first. Or second. Or third. So I’m gonna give myself a big pat on the back for at least trying.
After a year of doing all this, I started feeling better. My hair doesn’t fall out as much. My strange rashes are gone. My muscles don’t twitch. And best of all, I have energy for my kids. If I push myself too hard, I can feel myself sliding back down the Hashi hole. I’ve learned to set some boundaries; to say, “No” to things. I’ve learned to be patient with myself and ask others to be as well.
I’ve come to a place of acceptance with my Hashimoto’s. It is what it is, and I’m not going to let it hold me back in life. My diagnosis gave me a glimpse of my mortality, and for that I will be forever grateful. It got me to realize life is short, and I better squeeze every last amazing moment out of it!