What To Do When You Receive A Thyroid Diagnosis
Would you know if a chronic illness was staring you right in the face?
On Easter Day 2016, I decided to go gluten free. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis January 2016 and was told to begin taking medication — levothyroxine — and to go on my merry way. My TSH was 5.9, my Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPO) were >900, and I felt terrible. This did not sit well with me. Those with thyroid disorders may not be surprised that theirs represents a condition of the throat with many unanswered questions. Did I speak up? Did I ask enough questions? Did I ask the right questions? Why do I feel like I was treated like a number? Doesn’t my thyroid mean anything to an expert? How, at age 33, do I have a condition that will follow me the rest of my life and I didn’t even see it coming?! I did not see this chronic illness creep into my life and almost consume me as a person.
As with any condition, you need to be your own advocate. You need to assess the symptoms you‘re having; are they cyclical? When do they present themselves? Did they come on suddenly after a significant event? Consider the relief/side effects that medication(s) may bring: what you are willing to sacrifice in order to feel better, take care of yourself, and feel like you’re living again? You may need to seek answers to your questions, decide if you will settle or keep pushing.
Online communities can be a wealth of knowledge. Of course, you have to weed through and find the common threads. You cannot believe everything you read and you cannot expect strangers to diagnose you. What works for one person may not work for another. The key is learning to know yourself, your body, and make adjustments accordingly.
If you are seeing a conventional physician or endocrinologist, ask for all the thyroid tests, not just the TSH. Your TSH is optimal between 1-2. If it’s not and you feel unwell, push for more testing.
Consider functional medicine or a naturopath, a holistic doctor. If lack of funds makes that not an option, Google what you can and keep track of common information. Diet changes are the quickest way to bring inflammation down. It’s not forever, but you may actually like it! Gluten free, dairy free, soy, corn, sugar, grain, nut, processed, almost everything free. This will calm your system and you will see results after three weeks if you stick to it. You may begin to feel different, possibly better from that change alone; less bloating, less fogginess, less irritability, all of the above. I did what I call “as close to paleo as possible” for about a year and a half, and I felt amazing!
Be Your Own Best Health Advocate
Beyond eating clean, consider getting clean. This means fragrance and chemical free in as many areas as possible. Cleaning supplies, shampoo, deodorant, makeup, etc. Things you may not even think about, check what is in all the ingredients you consume or come in frequent contact with. Try not to become obsessive, just do your best. If you make adjustments, take note if there is an improvement, no difference, or if it made things worse. Only continue what feels better.
It depends how deep you wish to go into your healing journey. In my experience, I was told more than once by several unaffiliated alternative specialists that I may have suppressed emotions or past trauma and that it may help to deal with it now. This is what catapulted my basic yoga practice into something more meaningful. I began doing yoga at home once I learned of my thyroid diagnosis. I had read an article about the benefits of inversions, so I started playing around on the floor with a bunch of pillows. It was a fun way to keep my focus on something other than the diagnosis.
This also began my relationship with a “workout,” which I had resisted much of my life. Without realizing it at the time, it also was the creation of a new relationship with my mind and body, which was sorely neglected. What I slowly learned is that all of this came down to me trying not to be too obsessed, consumed, controlled, defined, or defeated by this or any diagnosis. Having a strong, clear mind about the action you take proves to be more healing than any medication or treatment in my experience. Be gentle with yourself and try not to “should” yourself into exhaustion. Do and say what feels right. Yoga and healing brought me into the world of mindfulness and meditation, and more importantly, the urge to live consciously. This has brought significant improvements into my life and my perspective of life and health.
Doing all of this may seem like a lot of work, and it is, but aren’t you worth it? It’s worth evaluating and optimizing your health instead of feeling mediocre or living with a belief of “this is just how it is.” Because it doesn’t have to be. It’s what you choose to make of it.
It’s Your Life
Please remember that this is your individual health experience. I was feeling horrible, but I didn’t even know it. I was lashing out at my family, feeling sluggish, fatigue, brain fog, eating everything in sight, felt no purpose at work, couldn’t hack the motherhood thing, dealing with infertility, and chronic low back/pelvic pain. It was a dark time, and I’m just barely coming out of it two years later. In retrospect, an unmanaged thyroid can wreak havoc on your life and the ones you love. A diagnosis may cause you to evaluate your life and to confront things you’ve suppressed or put off until later. I can see with clarity now how it happened to me. The perfect, hormonal postpartum overwhelming storm caused mine to present itself. If you are under a lot of stress and pressure and do not feel like yourself, do not ignore the signs from your body trying to show you that something is off and needs your attention.
Everyone has a health story or knows a loved one with a health story that you may be impacted by. Each person’s experience is individual, however I believe that we need to support and empower one another in the process.
Much love to you on your own health journey ♥️
Thyroid Pharmacist, Dr. Izabella Wentz
Hashimoto’s Healing, Marc Ryan, L.Ac.
Stop the Thyroid Madness
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Support Group
Mary Shomon: Thyroid Patient Advocate, Author
The following list is what had a direct impact on my personal healing not only related to a thyroid condition, but played a significant part in the improvement of my overall health.
Functional Medicine provider
Medical Intuitive (Reiki)
Pelvic Physical Therapy/Maya Abdominal Massage/Womb care
Gentle Reprocessing Therapy (likened to EMDR therapy)
Wild Feminine Finding Power, Spirit & Joy in the Female Body by Tami Lynn Kent
Energy Medicine for Women: Aligning Your Body’s Energies to Boost Your Health and Vitality
Somatics: Reawakening The Mind’s Control Of Movement, Flexibility, And Health
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Medical Medium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal
How to Heal Yourself When No One Else Can: A Total Self-Healing Approach for Mind, Body, and Spirit
Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel the Way You Feel
Hashimoto’s Protocol: A 90-Day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting Your Life Back
When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection
Dr. Howard Schubiner Mind Body