Recovery is possible, if you seek the treatment and docs that are right for your disease. This was the tricky part for me.
I had thyroid disease in 1996-1997. It's been in remission since late 1997. I've never really told my story, but I should, so you can be aware for yourself or friends and family who may have or develop thyroid disease.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
1. How did you know you had thyroid disease?
I had symptoms like a really puffy face, couldn't lose weight, brittle hair, slept all the time and never felt rested, a goiter, foggy brain, joint pain. My cheeks felt like stiff, waxy, plastic implants had been inserted.
I was age 31 at the time and I felt like I was about 81. I stumbled when I walked. I fell down often. I stopped practicing my hobby, photography. To say the least, I was not myself.
2. Did you have a goiter?
Yes, I did have a goiter for about 6 months. I was getting my hair cut and the stylist wrapped a towel around my neck. I could feel a butterfly shaped swelling. I'm a Laboratory Technologist (CLS, MT (ASCP). I know what that means. I've studied this stuff and done all kinds of thyroid related lab testing in the lab as my career. Thyroid disease! I was in shock. But at least it explained why I was not feeling well.
3. Did you get treated right away?
NO! Sadly, for 6 months or so, I went undiagnosed. Even with a big goiter, my doctor told me it was transient and would "go away on it's own". Good news: I fired that doctor. Holy Heck. I was having nightmares because I felt like I was being strangled by my thyroid gland. I got lost in Costco, couldn't remember where I parked my car and I fell down 2 times by tripping. I told my husband at the time "good night" it was early morning. I fell asleep at the end of dinner at 7am most nights. I woke up thinking it was still right before bed on the night before. There was no end. I never could sleep and rest. It was like living a nightmare.
A doctor that I worked for in the lab
5. Did you get treated, finally?
NO, not right away. My regular doctor,
I called my one of my best friends, an immunology PhD. She told me she would go with me to my next doctor's appointment and would advocate on my behalf
It took a full year for me to finally feel better again. A full year to be 100%. I felt somewhat better after 3-6 moths of meds.
6. What were your lab results?: My TSH went from 4.2, to 6.3, to 9.62. Dr. BAD Bedside manner called me and said "I've got bad news, you've got thyroid disease and you'll need to take replacement meds for the rest of my life. I thanked him and asked him what took him so long to treat me? And, that I would switch my care over to my new internist who was a whiz at balancing thyroid disease
7. What meds do you take?
I've always been on the same dose: 0.1 mg (100 micrograms) of Levothyroxin . I did change manufacturers without any ill effects. It's hard for me to believe that I've yo-yo dieted, lost 60 pounds, gotten pregnant, had a c-section, gained 30 pounds, lost 30 pounds, ate the SAD diet and lots of processed foods, gained 70 pounds, lost 70 pounds, switched to a Paleo-ish template, gotten control over emotional/binge eating, maintained my weight loss for over 2 years, and went through menopause on the same dose of thyroid meds. Amazing! Perhaps I have some thyroid function/tissue left? Who knows?
8. How do you take your meds?
|Pill reminder & Keurig|
I take my meds first thing in the morning. I use a pill reminder. If I somehow forget to take my meds in the morning, I'll take them at night. I wait at least a half an hour before I eat, sometimes longer. I only take vitamins, calcium, magnesium at lunch or after so I can get a consistent absorption of thyroid meds first. The good doc cleared me to take my thyroid meds at night instead on an empty stomach, but I tend to fall asleep before taking them, so morning works better.
9. How often do you get your blood drawn and what's your TSH/Free T4?
I get drawn, minimum 1 time per year. Sometimes 2 times. My TSH ranges from 0.8-2.2. If I'm over 3.0, I feel pretty bad. My free T4 has been normal, yay!
10. What foods can't you eat/drink post thyroid disease? Off limits: Alcohol- I cannot process any alcohol what so ever. Also way off limits: Wheat, Dairy, and nuts. Wheat causes severe belly pain and emotional eating tendencies. All grains do. Grain = pain. Dairy causes a lot of sinus swelling and mucus production. I'm even ghee sensitive. (sigh!) Mucus like a waterfall and painful, cystic acne. (Moooo,- no dairy for me) Nuts contribute to migraines and emotional eating.
Nobody told me this post diagnosis. Now, I think the link between auto-immune thyroid disease and grains/dairy/nuts is more established. I hope so. I did not have to do a full auto-immune protocol elimination diet, but I will if I feel that things are getting worse for any reason.
Please, share my story with friends and family who may be getting diagnosed (or feel like they are misdiagnosed). I'd go to a functional medicine doc in a heart beat if my good doc cannot or will not help me with my meds. I would have been much better off had I gone this route. Recovery is possible!
1. Getting the right medical advocates (hint it may not be your family!)
2. Getting the right doctor.
3. Getting the right meds
4. Getting the right diet
What didn't work:
1. Relying on only myself to see the doc when I was so sick.
2. Going back to the doctors who refused to treat me and refused to be respectful when I was obese.
3. Not getting on meds (I sure did try!)
4. Continuing to eat Grains- especially Wheat, dairy, and nuts. Thinking I HAD to live with major gas, bloating, sinus problems, cystic acne, and migraines. Not so for me.
Anybody else have a hard time getting diagnosed with an auto-immune disease? Tricky stuff. Hang in there!