Hi Friends! As my regulars know, I have been a bit absent lately. I appreciate the kind readers that have reached out to make sure I was okay. It was several of you that encouraged me to get back into writing, which is something that I am so passionate about. Sadly, I have not been doing well. Recently, I received a new health diagnosis that I am still trying to understand.
I am warning you ahead of time that this is going to be a long and emotional post. I am not sharing because I want anyone’s sympathy, but I am asking for your support. I also want to build awareness around the condition that I have and help others down the road. Unfortunately, it is likely that I have lived with this condition for quite some time.
I have gone back and forth so many times as to whether I wanted to share this news in this way. I reflected back on my focus word for the year, which is INSPIRE. I know in my heart that I need to share my journey, in hopes that I can inspire others to fight their own fight. I am also grateful that I have a life worth fighting for and so many people who I do not want to let down, including all of you.
Am I just getting old?
For the last ten years or so, I have really made a conscious effort to live a healthy lifestyle. I eat well (most of the time) and do my best to incorporate some form of exercise into every day. However, I have been experiencing some odd symptoms over the last year or two. Since I am getting closer to 40 every day, I chalked these “issues” up to getting older. I assumed it was just hormones or even perimenopause. It was hormones alright, just not the ones I was originally thinking!
I had always been a good sleeper, but I was constantly waking up at 2-4 in the morning. Again, I kept making excuses. I am always on the go and the same holds true for my mind. I just figured I had too much going on in my head, which was one of the reasons I started a morning routine and attempted to get into meditation. That is still a work in progress, so I am open to any tips and tricks!
I also started to notice that my hair was coming out in clumps in the shower. I already have fine, thin hair, so I do not have a lot to spare. My grandmother had very thin hair, so I just figured it was hereditary and did not think too much about it. I was also getting many more wrinkles on my face, especially my forehead. I have always looked younger than my age and it was depressing to see new wrinkles in the mirror.
A Storm is Brewing
If I am being honest, I am not very good about taking care of myself all the time. However, I do make sure I go in for my annual wellness screen and my women’s physical. I have shared various symptoms that I have had in the past with my doctors, but I was always told what I was experiencing was no big deal. For instance, after my daughter was born, I had an episode of higher than average blood pressure and digestive issues. After my son was born, I really struggled with losing the baby weight. I was told that I was likely depressed or had anxiety and was prescribed medication that I never got filled. It was not depression and since the doctors were not concerned, I just went about my life.
What the heck is wrong with me?
About the same time I transitioned into my new career, I started feeling like absolute crap. No matter how much I slept, I was constantly tired. Although, most nights I was up at 3 in the morning staring at the ceiling. I was no longer able to run without pain. I was getting skin rashes all over my body and my digestive system was out of control. On top of that, I had a nasty case of dandruff and developed open sores on my scalp. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew that something was not right.
Since I have had so many women’s health issues in the past, I started with my OBGYN. As I stated before, I really thought my issues were hormonal related. I even considered that my symptoms might be the start of perimenopause. I shared my symptoms with my doctor and she told me that there was no way that it was my hormones. I was way too young for that. Thank goodness!!! Since my rashes on my arms were pretty bad, she suspected that it might be celiac disease. I was refered me to a Gastroenterologist. I had always suspected that I might have issues to gluten, so I was not surprised by this news.
My World Comes Crashing In
Fast forward a few weeks later and my Gastroenterologist feels that my symptoms point to an autoimmune disease of some sort and schedules a bunch of tests. It is later confirmed that I have two different autoimmune diseases, Lupus and Crohn’s, and he wants to put me on medication immediately. This doctor spent less than 15 minutes with me during each appointment and did not take the time to learn about my health history. When I asked him about lifestyle and diet changes, he told me that none of that really makes that big of a difference. I knew right then and there that I was not with the right doctor. I did not feel comfortable moving forward with treatment and knew that I needed to do my own research and find a doctor that had the same beliefs that I do.
A while back, I was regularly seeing an amazing chiropractor that I recalled specialized in functional medicine. I had read about the benefits of functional medicine and knew that before I made any rash decisions regarding treatment, I needed to speak with this doctor. During my first appointment, he spent over an hour with me. I also had to fill out a very extensive questionnaire prior to my appointment and it was very evident that he had reviewed, which was unexpected. The crazy thing was that he looked at my scalp, tongue and nails and knew right away that I had an autoimmune condition. I had all my labs with me, but they were still in my purse!
I plan to write more about this form of medicine in future posts, for now I want to cut to the chase. This doctor’s focus was to determine the root cause of my issues. Through additional testing, it was confirmed that I have Hashimoto Thyroiditis , my body is not absorbing nutrients and my cortisol level is extremely low. Basically, I am a hot mess!
I am very grateful for my diagnosis and that I now have answers to what has been going on with my body over the last year or so. While I suspect that I have been living with Hashimoto’s for several years, the symptoms have really only become unbearable in the last couple of months. There are many that go years without being properly diagnosed. For that, I am grateful.
I am also grateful that I was able to find a doctor that is confident that he can help me get into remission without taking medication. I learned a number of years ago that you have to be your own advocate when it comes to healthcare. Sadly, most conventional doctors do not agree with this approach.
I absolutely refuse to let this diagnosis define who I am. I do not need pity or anyone feeling sorry for me. I know there are people out there that are fighting a bigger battle than I am. I will get through this.
I am adjusting to my new life, but there will be some bumps along the way. I have a lot to learn. A few weeks ago, I cut my hair short since it is likely I will continue to lose hair until my body stops attacking my scalp. I am now keeping a paper planner to help with memory. I am going to try out some yoga and barre classes in a few weeks to find an activity to replace running. I will continue to work and my manager is supporting me through this transition in my life. If I throw in the towel, autoimmune disease wins. That is not going to happen!
We All Need a Village
I do plan on incorporating this recent development into my blogging, but I still have a lot to learn. My hope is that I can inspire others to embrace their struggles, much like I plan on doing. While I still am trying to figure out what my new normal will look like, I have started to make some pretty drastic changes in my life to assist with the healing process.
Here are a few of the changes I have made over the last month or so:
- Completed a detox in which I consumed only fruits and vegetables – I am really not sure if this was beneficial because I was so weak much of the time. Many of my skin issues got better and I was less bloated, so it must have done something.
- Following the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol – I was going back and forth between Paleo and Vegan. My functional doctor is vegan, so of course that is his preference. To me, the Paleo lifestyle is going to be much easier to maintain for the rest of my life. Let’s face it, I love my bacon!!!
- Dry Brushing – I read several articles on the benefits, but I had never tried it myself. I love the practice and plan to incorporate into my morning routine.
- Oil Pulling – Just like dry brushing, this was on the long list of things I said I was going to try “one of these days”. As you probably guessed, I never got around to it.
- No more running, coffee, wine and chocolate!!! This change was by far the most difficult and I am sure you can understand why!
Join Me On My Journey
I plan on sharing more about these changes in upcoming blog posts. I am defiantly not an expert on dealing with autoimmune diseases, but I am candid and honest. I know this journey is not going to be easy, but I am confident that I will get my body into remission and hopefully stay there.
If you have an autoimmune disease, I would love to hear from you. Also, please spread the word to anyone that you feel could benefit from joining me on my journey to wellness.
I have missed all of my readers and I am glad to be back!