HOW I FOUND OUT THAT I HAVE HASHIMOTO’S.
Below is the long version of my journey explaining my learning process of Hashimoto’s & experimenting with different drug options. Everyone is different & different drugs effect people differently. This process is what I put myself through in order to find the right solution. MY MAIN PURPOSE is to find a temporary hormone replacement therapy that my body will respond well too. Once found, I plan to figure out the ROOT CAUSE of Hashimoto’s so that I can recover completely from this disease. I don’t accept the conventional diagnosis of “it is what it is & I have to learn to deal with it & live with it for the remainder of my life.” There is a reason why this is happening. There is a solution to resolve it so that I may prevent further health issues that are related to Hashimoto’s in the future.
My Hashimoto’s timeline…
July 2012: Randomly had my blood tested at a LabCorp. I had just made a dramatic shift in my lifestyle & became curious about my health. The test cost roughly $130 & I waited two weeks for the results. Everything was within normal range with the exception of my TSH levels. I had absolutely no idea what this really meant.
August 2012: I buried myself in all the information I could get my hands on about hypothyroidism. I realized there was more to it than just an under active thyroid. I was interested in learning why it was this way. The very first thing I learned was what these acronyms stood for, TSH, T3, T4, Free & TPO. My labs showed that I was out of range in all of these areas.
What do they mean?
- TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is a pituitary hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroxine, and then triiodothyronine which stimulates the metabolism of almost every tissue in the body. (wiki)
- T3 (Triiodothyronine) Triiodothyronine, is a thyroid hormone. It affects almost every physiological process in the body, including growth and development, metabolism, body temperature, and heart rate. (wiki)
- T4, Free (Direct) Thyroxine this converts into T3. Both of which are produced by the thyroid, the test measures the amount of T4 moving freely within the bloodstream. Some T4 binds to proteins in the body as some circulates freely. Testing for unbound T4 is more accurate than testing for bound T4. (wiki)
- TPO (Thyroid Peroxidase) is a frequent epitope of autoantibodies in autoimmune thyroid disease, with such antibodies being called anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies (anti-TPO antibodies). This is most commonly associated with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Thus, an antibody titer can be used to assess disease activity in patients that have developed such antibodies. (wiki)
I can across this bio identical hormone therapy seminar given by Dr. Jennifer Landa. I was intrigued about the breakdown of synthetic & natural hormone replacement therapy in our bodies & what it does to us in the long term. Knowing that I will most likely have to take hormone replacement therapy for the remainder of my life, I studied the drug choices I had so I would be sure that I felt good about it.
My number one question at this time was, if I were to take hormone replacement therapy, that’s sending a message to my thyroid gland that it doesn’t have to operate any longer, as I’m doing the job while taking these drugs. This left me thinking, don’t I want my thyroid to recover & operate functionally in my body? Taking this medication is alleviating the symptoms while whatever caused it to get this way is still happening inside of my body. I really became focused on how to find out what that was.
I thought it would be best to see a functional doctor instead of a conventional doctor as conventional doctors aren’t aware of the cause or prevention of hypothyroidism. They will test my blood, see my levels & prescribe me drugs to “band-aid” my thyroid & send me on my merry way. I was interested in seeing someone who would be interested in helping me find the cause & prevention. I made my first appointment with Dr. Karen Bullington. She specializes in Fatigue & Fibromyalgia but also practices the use of bio-identical hormone therapy. (Hormone replacement therapy derived from plants instead of synthetic chemicals or pig thyroid). She suggested we start with Armour (pig thyroid) to help with my symptoms while looking further into it. Dr. Bullington suggested I work with someone who specializes in hypothyroidism. I’d like to point out here that going to a functional doctor is out of network for most insurance plans. Most of us hold a high deductible for out of network practices. I paid close to $300 for this visit.
I started feeling so much better after taking Armour. I realized what normal felt like. I took a break from all the research I had done just so I could get it off my mind for a while & enjoy the “break” I was feeling from taking the drugs. Then I started feeling ill again, really ill & I made an appointment with an endocrinologist to have my blood tested. I requested a copy of my labs & I went from extremely high levels to incredibly low over a 7 month period. Dr. Klindikova was my doctor at North Georgia Diabetes & Endocrinology. She suggested I try a different approach with synthetic drugs in hopes my hormones would level out. I expressed my concern on my follow up & she suggested I try a new drug on the market. Tirosint. This drug sent me into Hashimoto’s range & I was at my wit’s end. My symptoms were at my worst & I realized I needed to get back into more research & figure out how to take control over my health. I felt it was best that I get back on Armour as it initially helped. I had to watch my dosage closely to titrate into the correct dose. This process went on over a 20 month period.
January 2014: I found Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause this book had all the answers I was looking for. I’m so grateful for finding Dr. Izabella Wentz. My copy is dog-eared, highlighted & falling apart at this point. During this time I was taking Armour, I noticed my TPO’s were on the rise & read that this happens to those who take desiccated pig thyroid due to the added T1 & T2 hormones.
*** This is very important for people who take Natural / Desiccated Thyroid such as Naturethroid, Armour or Westhroid. If you start taking this hormone replacement & feel really good in the beginning – then start feeling worse than you did before starting this regimen. I suggest you look into this:
Some proponents of natural thyroid medications claim that the desiccated glands of animals may be the best option as they also have trace amounts of T1 and T2, which may have undiscovered biological functions.
In contrast, Dr. Alexander Haskell (author of “Hope for Hashimoto’s”) and Dr. Mark Starr (author of “Hypothyroidism Type II”), report that for some patients, natural thyroid formulations from animal thyroids, such as Armour, may be Overcoming Thyroid Fatigue 15 perpetuating the autoimmune attack due to containing thyroglobulin and TPO, and they only recommend compounded and synthetic thyroid medications for people with Hashimoto’s (6,7).
**** This is from her book, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause which explained a lot for me as I was experiencing this myself…
August 2014: I became pregnant. I had to put myself on hold due to my growing baby. I needed to start taking Synthroid so that my TSH were stored enough to support my pregnancy.
May 2015: I gave birth to my son & was ready to start getting healthier. I had to wait 6 weeks to get the go-ahead from my Ob-Gyn which I did & dove right into my fitness & nutrition. I went right back to the same dosage of Synthroid that I was on pre-pregnancy. I went every three months to check my labs & I was slowly reducing the dose. When I went from 100mg to 88mg things went bonkers again & my TPO’s were slowly rising. Then I found out about LDN.
Low Dose Naltrexone. Otherwise known as LDN. I contacted The Atlanta Compounding Pharmacy. I explained my story & the lead pharmacist suggested the use of LDN. This was the very first time hearing about it. I googled it & found that this could be my answer. This is an absolute wonder drug discovered by Bernard Bihari, MD. Read more about Low Dose Naltrexone. So after researching LDN, I found that I have the option to try it in hopes for reversal/remission. The only down fall is that I need to be on a desiccated thyroid due to the immediate dosage change while trying to titrate the proper dose of LDN.
March 2016: A good friend of mine suggested I read a post made my Dr. Josh Axe about the connection between autoimmune & leaky gut. The post led to a webinar. His website has many references of how you can be tested for leaky gut. I started the autoimmune diet right away. I tested positive to Candida with an online test as well as the saliva test. I visited my second functional doctor & had a full panel drawn as well as submitted a stool test. I found out many things but most importantly I was positive for candida. I started a 4-week treatment right away. This included the most strict diet I had ever experienced. The Candida Diet. I lost 8 lbs. just on this diet alone.
July 2016: My next appointment is within the month & my plan is to finally convert to a compounded plant form of hormone replacement therapy.
2012: Diagnosis – started Armour.
2013: An elevated rise in TSH, switched to Synthroid then Tirosint. Horrible reaction to Tirosint, back to Armour.
2014: Armour not helping with levels, back to Synthroid. Became pregnant in August.
2015: TPO’s dropped 3 months after giving birth. Started reducing my dosage on Synthroid. I learned that my body was still adjusting post part um.
2016: Learned about LDN. Started looking into Leaky Gut & found that I have the potential for Candida Overgrowth. Recovered from Candida. Changed my diet significantly. I found the direct cause of my Hashimoto’s. Diet being op top of the list followed by stress. Both have which changed considerably & will plan to switch to compound therapy.
Today: My plan now is to switch to compounded hormone replacement. Continue on the auto immune diet. After 3 months of compounded therapy, I will test again. If my TPO’s are still on the rise, I’ll introduce LDN. If not, then I’ll be very excited to see that I finally see the light at the end of this long journey I’ve been on.
I’m not only focused on my diet but know that exercise has so much to do with my symptoms. If I go two days without some form of a 30-minute workout, I begin to feel it everywhere, body, mind & spirit. All of which I’ve learned so much about within myself through this whole process. It’s been a life changing experience & I hope to help many women who are diagnosed with hypothyroidism find their way towards remission/reversal much quicker than it took me.