The past year or so (and off and on in spurts before that) I've felt like crap. Like my brain was in a complete fog all the time and even if I got 16 hours of sleep every night, I wouldn't feel rested. My mood has been all over the place (hello crazy random panic attacks earlier this year). My hair has been falling out and my psoriasis and acne is worse than usual. I noticed in some of my photos, my face looks swollen (which is different from looking fat). I just figured I was stressed, or perhaps since I've felt this way for so long, it's just how I'm supposed to feel.
I mentioned in my Authentically Me post that I was having some more labs run, but didn't say what it was for. I was certain they wouldn't find anything wrong with me, as has usually been the case. I'd be declared “normal” and sent on my way.
I learned right before FitBloggin' that the tests actually did reveal things wrong with me. These were tests much more exhaustive than I've ever had run, and were ordered by Dr. Brooke Kalanick, a naturopath who has experience in thyroid disfunction and in particular, Hashimoto's thyroiditis. She works with my trainer Molly, who suggested I get tested for Hashimoto's in the first place.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an auto-immune condition where the immune system thinks the thyroid gland is a foreign object in your body, attacking it so it doesn't function properly. After it's been beaten up, the thyroid doesn't work how it's supposed to, and after enough bullying can crap out. As Dr. Brooke explains:
The thyroid is the gas pedal of your metabolism, if it’s not being stepped on and not pumping out fuel and that fuel is not getting to the engine, you’re going to be stalled in your weight loss and feeling tired, cloudy headed and depressed. All the while your periods can be painful and abnormal, your hair is falling out and you just don’t feel like yourself. (source)
My standard thyroid tests have always been declared “normal,” and within acceptable range (which is flawed in itself, see the bottom of this post). Since everything appeared normal, there was no indication that there might be something going on with my autoimmune system. This latest battery of tests included everything I'd had before, plus an important indicator for Hashimoto's, Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) antibodies. The normal range is 0-34, and I tested at 400. Additionally, my TSH of 6.510 indicates I'm currently hypothyroid, as the reference range for this is 0.450-4.500. So how I understand it: the elevated TSH indicates the hypothyroid, and the TPO Ab indicates the cause – autoimmune. 90% of hypothyroidism is autoimmune, but it's not often treated as such as doctors work to just restore the proper level of T3 and T4 in the body. (Dr. Brooke has a good blog post about what tests to run for your thyroid.)
Additionally, my Vitamin D and B12 levels are low, and need to be worked on as well. I've got a lot of inflammation in my body, especially in my gut.
So what does all this mean? It means lots of work ahead, but I'm SO READY!
Treating the hypothyroid is the first order, so I'm taking Armour thyroid (it's a natural thyroid desiccated from pigs vs. synthetic T4 thyroid like Synthorid) to try to restore my thyroid levels in the interim. I'm also making major changes to my diet, eliminating gluten and dairy. Gluten has a strong link to inflammation in patients with autoimmune conditions. I always functioned better on low carb diets, but never really understood why. It takes more effort to eat that way, but if it's going to make me feel better, I'm doing it. My hormones are all whack-a-doo, so tomorrow I'm getting my Mirena IUD taken out to try to normalize a little bit. I'm also supplementing with Vitamin D, B12, probiotics, and some stuff for inflammation under Dr. Brooke. My local GP is the prescribing physician for my thyroid medication and I'll be following up with him as well.
I'm a little conflicted. I'm extremely relieved that something is wrong (as bad as that sounds) because it helps explain so many things. The thought of not walking through my days in a fog is extremely exciting. The other part of me is afraid of the adjustment in my way of eating. It's one thing to go low carb, or 90% gluten-free with the occasional slip up. I'm attempting 100% gluten free and saying goodbye to my lovely Greek yogurt and (gasp) cheese! The goal is to clam everything down in my body and then I might be able to re-introduce things like dairy and see how my body reacts.
I'm going to follow the Whole30 to clean up my eating, and I'll chronicle it here.
To throw a little wrench into things, it looks like my ankle surgery is July 30, so I'll have to be extra diligent to make lots of detailed shopping lists and food prep instructions for my husband who is going to help me out the first few days after surgery while I'm down for the count.
Phew. I'm ready. Bring it.
Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post in any way (seriously, that would be whacked out), I just put a lot of Dr. Brooke's links in there as they offer good information. As always with this blog, all the information presented on this blog is for entertainment purposes only. This blog is NOT a substitute for any advice given to you by your physician. Always consult your physician or health care provider before beginning any weight loss, nutrition or exercise program. Use of the programs, advice, and information contained in this website is at the sole choice and risk of the reader.