I’ve said it before, but our own intuition really is our greatest guide and it continues to amaze me.
Normally I try to post Fridays, but I needed to take the past few days to process the news. I was emotional, relieved, angry and also overwhelmed at what this meant going forward. It’s been a humbling experience.
Requesting Blood Work
Last week I mentioned I was going to have my hormones and blood checked since I suspected I still have adrenal fatigue after years of burn out and trauma. It’s very unusual for me to have this much trouble losing weight, I haven’t had enough energy to do a good workout without feeling exhausted and my irritability was really intense at times.
After getting a blood requisition from my family Dr, I met with a new Naturopath who wanted to check my antibodies and vitamin D in addition to the cortisol I requested. He mentioned how TSH is regularly checked under our health plan, however the TSH can still be in the normal range while the antibodies are not. (Apparently VERY common leaving millions of people undiagnosed each year! Dr. Izabella Wentz explains more and outlines the 5 stages of Hashimotos here)
On my way to get the blood work done, I stopped by my Mom’s house and mentioned how he wanted to check if I have Hashimoto’s – an autoimmune disorder when triggered attacks the thyroid. My mom then said that’s exactly what her mom had… which I did not know! Also learned my mom is on thyroid medication likely for the same as well.
Since my blood work was automatically uploaded to a website, I could see the results late Monday night but couldn’t see the Naturopath’s request.
On Tuesday, I received a phone call from my Dr’s office and it was the nurse speaking on behalf of the Dr. The results showed my white blood count was low and my iron was 5 where the range is 5-272. She said she didn’t have any concerns about either being low, and said if I had concerns that I could request a prescription for iron supplements but they had been known to cause constipation. She did mention it would be better for the iron to be up in the teens at least but again, didn’t have any major concerns.
Later in the day I heard from the Naturopath and he scheduled an appointment for the next day to go over the results. His were posted on a private platform so I needed to wait.
Difference Between Conventional and Holistic Care
My call with the ND was a full hour and after he emailed his results we went over both results in detail. While my Dr said they were not concerned about my iron being a 5, the Naturopath said my iron was so low, if I donated blood it would go into my bone marrow.
He then shared over 20 symptoms for low iron alone (many of which I have) and in order to FEEL better it’d be best to get my iron above 80. He also shared if I continue to live with iron at a 5 it’s basically running on fumes and would lead to further burnout.
My vitamin D also came back low and he was able to provide a list of symptoms for that as well.
Lastly, the antibodies did come back high which supported his suspicion that I have Hashimoto’s.
Since it’s genetic and appears I’ve had it for a long time, it was suggested I get a thyroid ultrasound to check if the thyroid is swollen and if there are nodules and/or cysts present. This part, was the most humbling. I’ve learned that people with Hashimotos are three times more likely to get thyroid cancer if the root causes aren’t addressed which honestly scared me. I’m not even 40 yet and have so many things I’d like to do.
When the Light Bulbs Go On
After that phone call ended, I had about 50 light bulbs go on in my head. SO many things clicked into place from the past 20 years and it felt like a big puzzle finally got put together.
My ND had mentioned the Epstein Barr Virus (EPV) or Mono is proven to be a trigger for Hashimoto’s and I had it 21 years ago. When I look back to all of the symptoms I’ve had since then, it all makes sense. For example, just over 6 years ago I experienced incredibly painful inflammation after eating peppers. The emergency room gave me morphine to help subdue the pain but after it didn’t work and they reviewed the X-ray, they determined my bowels were simply very inflamed. When I asked what I could do, they said to just wait it out and avoid any the foods that caused it. That’s when I started to learn about leaky gut on my own and cut out dairy, reduced prepackaged foods etc.
Last week I learned that peppers are considered a ‘nightshade’ food which can trigger Hashimotos. I’d never heard this term before so that was just one of the many pieces of the puzzle!
I felt incredibly relieved, and also very angry.
How do so many red flags get missed? While going to appointments and dealing with my Dad in his final year, it became very apparant just how divided our health care system is and nobody looks at everything all together. Because of this, my father’s cancer went undiagnosed until it was 3 or 4 years too late. Also, a Dr at the hospital just two weeks before he passed, found lung cancer in a scan that was taken a full year before, but wasn’t caught. I have many experiences like this where the system has failed me and my family so I could go on and on. But I won’t.
I will share that after I shared my results with my Mother, she said my Grandmother didn’t find out she had Hashimotos until she admitted herself to the hospital for not feeling well and they discovered her thyroid was GONE. I can’t imagine how awful she felt for such a long time before it got to that point!
I’ve heard of so many people speak of thyroid or hormonal issues, but for some reason it never clicked to what that really meant and how it affects overall health on a cellular level.
Food is Medicine
While I’ve made many modifications over the years to my diet, and learned a lot about leaky gut, adrenal fatigue trauma and mental health, I had never looked at the thyroid closely until now. I also knew gluten wasn’t great for many people, but didn’t know how badly it was impacting me personally since I didn’t eat a significant amount. After reading many articles by Doctors, gluten has been proven to be the biggest culprit for Hashimotos! I knew dairy, soy and some other foods didn’t sit well with me, but thought I could tolerate gluten in smaller doses which appears not to be the case.
In fact for many people, focusing on eliminating gluten has helped put Hashimotos into remission for years!
I’m finding it fascinating from a scientific perspective how the different nutrients significantly impact how our body functions. It’s equally fascinating how just one small imbalance can throw off everything. It’s been proven and obvious that eating well helps function and feel our best, but hadn’t looked at it broken down into the specific vitamins and minerals. Mostly because I found it intimidating, hence why I’m taking a nutrition course.
I find it challenging to make sure I’m getting enough macros, particularly protein so learning about micronutrients is probably going to hurt my brain. Yes it’ll be worth it, no doubt.
I used to think taking vitamins was a marketing gimmick and became overly cautious of taking them, making sure if I did that they didn’t have fillers and toxic ingredients. Something I just knew in my gut to look for.
My perspective is now changing about how important they are though. With my iron and vitamin D being low, I’m now taking iron and D supplements to get those two up, and will then focus on the adrenals. I’ve learned through my Naturopath we absorb only 2-18% of iron from plant sources, but 50-80% from animal sources and that’s if our gut is healthy and stomach acid is adequate. Otherwise it’s less.
While I’ve known for years depression and anxiety are SYMPTOMS and flags telling us something is unbalanced, I did not know low iron on it’s own can cause depression. Knew about Vitamin D, but not iron. So simple yet widely overlooked!
Thankfully I’ve become aware over the years which foods cause me to feel brain fog, irritable and fatigued so I can remove or minimize those right away and going forward. Even with these changes, I feel overwhelmed though. I’m not a fan of cooking and would much prefer to pick up a pre-roasted chicken and then make a salad with it, or grab a ready-made snack because I get hyper focused on other projects. This change in eating is going to change how much time I spend planning and being in the kitchen which is a hurdle – but I want to feel alive again.
The biggest challenge is making foods I need while satisfying both kids, especially with one kid being picky! Thank goodness for all the AIP and Paleo Drs and bloggers sharing a plethora of recipes online. Pinterest in particular has already been so helpful.
While I’m writing this, I haven’t had gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and minimal sugar in a few days and can already feel less inflammation. Overall I’m less puffy. I’m also waiting for an ultrasound appointment so am doing my best to remain mindful and focus on the moment and current day, and continue to take my supplements.
My weight loss journey is turning out to be different than I had originally anticipated but my goal to be in the healthy BMI is now even more important. Something tells me if I continue to eliminate gluten, the weight is going to start coming off as it should each week, but we shall see.