3/30/2016

WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON WITH MY HEALTH: PART II



continued from Monday's post...

So at this point, I've been to four different doctors and I still feel horrible. But I was determined to find an answer. I did more research, I prayed a LOT, educated myself on my symptoms via podcasts, and I asked more questions of more people. Then one day, I was talking to my Pilates instructor about my issues and she recommended I see her naturopathic doctor. I had heard of naturopathic (i.e. holistic) doctors before (especially from listening to this Podcast), but had never been to one. So as soon as I get home from my session, I research the doctor and by the end of the following week - I made an appointment. He didn't take health insurance (big negative), but he seemed well versed in my issues and it was extremely comforting to think of the possibility that whatever was wrong could be healed in a natural way. Plus, at this point I was desperate and didn't feel like I had much to lose by exploring something new.

My first appointment with this doctor was a DREAM in comparison to all of the other appointments I had in 2015. He literally sat across from me at a table and listened to me explain my issues for one whole hour. There were no computers or phone in sight. He made notes on a sheet of paper as I was talking. If he wasn't writing, he was looking me straight in my face as I talked. Our conversation made me feel like he was genuinely interested in helping me. At the end of the appointment, he drew up a plan. The plan included a food sensitivity test, an adrenal stress test, and a blood test that would test my hormone levels, my immune system, certain vitamin levels and ALL of the functions of my thyroid - not just the two that had already been tested. In the meantime, he suggested I start meditating once a day and start taking a certain type of magnesium for my heart palpitations and insomnia. I left that appointment more hopeful than I had felt in quite some time...

Once the tests came back, I went back to my naturopath to get the results - face-to-face. The results weren't given to me over the phone or over some portal on the internet. I got them face-to-face. Loved that. The tests revealed my diagnosis along with a few other alarming things... All of my blood work came back fine with the exception of the adrenal stress test, the immunity test, and my one of my THYROID tests. My adrenal stress test revealed that my hormone levels in the morning were all over the place, which made sense because that is when I felt the most anxious. The test for my immunity was positive, meaning that my immune system was compromised. The main functions of my thyroid were fine (as the prior test revealed), but my thyroid antibody levels were really high, meaning that the antibodies surrounding my thyroid were working overtime to keep the thyroid functioning properly. The compromised immune system and high thyroid antibody levels revealed my diagnosis: I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid. The invasion increases the thyroid antibody levels, which causes all of those symptoms I was experiencing, including my raging hormone levels in the morning. Why the immune system does that is somewhat of a mystery. Genetics, sex, age, toxins (environmental and food), and stress levels are just a few factors, but the exact cause is unknown. And there is no cure. My doctor tells me all of those things, things I had never heard of before, and I'm both happy and scared out of my mind at the same time. I'm happy because I FINALLY have an answer. I'm scared because now that I know I have a incurable disease. His recommendation for dealing with it makes me even more scared...

A good naturopath is interested in getting to the root cause of an issue. They don't give you a diagnosis then send you straight to the pharmacy to pick up a medication that might quickly fix the issue, but not eliminate the cause of the issue. So my naturopath reveals to me that the best way to manage this disease is through meditation, stress management, supplements, and most importantly diet - a Paleo diet to be exact. He also suggested that I eliminate my personal food sensitivities for a while. Per the food sensitivity test he ran, I am sensitive to gluten, wheat, grains, eggs, bananas, spinach, tomatoes, chia seeds, and a few other things - all things that I was pretty much eating on a daily basis. So basically I have to be gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, cheese-free, egg-free, and free of a bunch of other TASTY stuff. "What the HELL else is there to eat???," I thought. He tells me I have a disease and now he's telling me I have to eliminate pretty much every food that I love - healthy and unhealthy. And you know how I feel about FOOD!! It's everything to me! I just want to die at this point...  So he sends me home with a list of supplements to order, and an order to up my meditation practice to twice a day, get enough sleep (which I was starting to get thanks to the magnesium), eliminate my personal food sensitivities, and start the Paleo diet ASAP. I just wanted to die... Did I mention that??

Well, that appointment was three weeks ago. I have done exactly what the naturopath suggested - EXACTLY I say.  I'm certainly not 100% yet, but I can honestly say that I am feeling better in just this short period of time. Switching from a diet dependent on some carbs for energy to a diet solely dependent on vegetables, quality proteins, and good fats for energy made me extremely tired in the beginning, but that has gotten better with time. I'm no longer super anxious in the mornings. Last year, I even stopped watching the morning national news (something I'd watched every morning since college) because it made me feel even crazier. Now I can watch the morning news without getting anxious, which is huge considering how incredibly crazy this world has become just over the past year. My heart palpitations have almost ceased, my digestion is much better, and my thinking is much more clear. Meditating has been a HUGE help (more on that soon), and making rest and sleep even more of a priority has helped, too. I'm still bald in that one spot on the back of my head, but I'm hopeful that it will grow back with time.

Thinking of food in a new way has obviously been the hardest part for me. There are so many foods that I loved that I will no longer be able to eat without the risk of feeling horrible or causing damage to my thyroid. I was so frustrated in the beginning that I hired a nutritionist to help me out. She also has an autoimmune disease, so she really understood my issues and was really helpful. I'm currently making all of my meals entirely from scratch while trying to learn new ways of cooking things, which is necessary, yet completely exhausting. I've been to Whole Foods more in the last few weeks than in my entire life. I've cooked more in the last few weeks than I have in my entire life. Lots of fresh organic vegetables, lots of fish, lots of grass fed meats, and lots of smoothies and juices have been happening in my kitchen. But things are getting easier by the week as I learn new and quicker ways of doing things. Over time I'll be able to add back in the Paleo items that I am personally sensitive to, which should make things even easier. However, gluten, wheat, soy, and eggs are pretty much out for life. Ugh... But I'm willing to do whatever it takes to feel better, so I have to do what I have to do...


So why have I told you all of this?? I felt these posts were necessary for a few reasons. Most importantly, I wanted to drive home the point of owning your health. If you aren't feeling well or have that slightest inkling that something isn't right, please get checked out! If your doctor isn't listening to you, moving you around from doctor to doctor to doctor, and/or you aren't getting the attention or answers that make you feel at peace with what is going on, then keep it moving until you find someone who will listen and provide answers- may it be a regular doctor or a naturopath. Never give up!!! Do your research before ALL of your appointments so that you go into them armed with questions and a heightened sense of awareness about what might be going on. Also, be sure to ask about how your current diet and lifestyle might be affecting how you feel and how changing them might make you feel better. Diet and lifestyle are two things alone that can heal so many things, so please ask! Doing so could save you time, money, and ultimately your health.

The other reason I'm telling you all this is because this whole process has made me question the direction of this blog and how often I'll blog. Obviously things like cakes and cookies will not be featured here very often anymore. Even though this is going to be a big part of my life, as of right now I'm not planning on turning this into a blog all about health, Paleo, and gluten-free foods. There are enough of them out there - as I have seen from my many hours of research. But maybe from time to time I will feature recipes that I think would be tasty to anyone irrespective of a certain diet. In terms of how often I'll blog - well that's still up in the air. Right now, my health and maintaining my energy levels are most important to me. My energy levels lately aren't very high after work most days, and much of my weekends are spent cooking, running errands, exercising, and resting. But I promise you I will do what I can when I can.

Lastly, thanks so much to all of you who have sent your thoughts and prayers my way! I'm so completely appreciative and grateful. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me via e-mail or via any of the social media pages. For more info on Hashimoto's, this infographic pretty much sums it up...

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose any medical issues.

Image by Dana Eason
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17 comments:

  1. Tiffany dear praise praise praise that you found the RIGHT Dr. and diagnosis. I so happy you know now. I've got tears in my eyes reading this. There's oodles of information and discussion out here today about autoimmune disease. A wonderful community that you can become apart of if you wantπŸ˜‰ Knowledge is power. You've armed yourself with power. I'm so happy you know what your body has been going through. Self care is so important. Dietary changes are massive. I don't have a digonisis myself yet. I did do the autoimmune elimination protocol (AIP diet) I dropped 50 lbs in less than 4 months and felt better than ever so I know something is going on inside. My body responded very well to that shift in diet. Many blessings to you health, wellness and healing. Thank you for your courage to share. Blog when you can we'll be here friend.πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜™πŸ™

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    1. Thanks Tracey! I always enjoy your comments and encouragement! So glad you are feeling better as well!:)

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  2. Thanks for sharing your story. I really enjoy reading your posts but for heaven's sake do what is best for you. When you post I will read. Take care of yourself.

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  3. I have always looked forward to reading your blog. So sorry about your health problems over the last year. More and more I feel Dr's computer is more important than the patient. I too suffer from sleep issues but for different reasons. Interested in what magnesium you are taking. Thank you for taking time to let us know your diagnosis and best of luck.

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    1. I am taking Magnesium Taurate. It is specifically formulated for cardiovascular issues + it does all of the other things the regular magnesium does. Be sure to check with your doctor to see if that is the best type of magnesium for you!

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  4. Hey girl! You are not alone. My oldest is actually seeing an endocrinologist after a very scary few weeks and a trip to the ER...her gyn and hematologist's thoughts...THYROID, and possibly Hashimotos!! Since talking about it openly with several in my Bible study group, I have learned that one of my little's moms has it, and two have dear friends with it. And yes, one said DIET was everything for her!! As you said, some things can be added back in over time. It was the same for Katie and I. There is a wonderful egg replacement for cooking and other alternatives. I will look for the list as Katie had a sensitivity to egg whites. While I have a love hate relationship with Pinterest it will become your best friend. So many wonderful recipes. Also, Carmel of My Fifth House eats strictly Paleo and has many recipes on her blog and is a great source of info. I know if you reach out to her she would willingly help!!! I have several wonderful Paleo cookbooks too. I will email you a list along with the egg replacement when I find it.
    I am glad you finally found a good compassionate doc willing to listen. I swore you were talking about mine...he is the same way!!

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    1. I am rereading this post and saw the note about the egg replacement. I would be interested in hearing about this too.

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  5. Thank you Tiffany for sharing this!!! My mom is Lauren (SimplyLKJ) who commented above. The last not only several weeks but months have been tough as I literally felt like I had MONO all over again as I was exhausted, even if I slept well, and every day I just felt like crap. I felt like I was going to go through the same thing I did about 3-4 years ago, where doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong, I saw my ob/gyn, a gastro, neurologist, psychiatrist the list goes on. I at 21 years old had to have a colonoscopy so you are not alone! And in the end no confirmed diagnosis was reached and they chalked it up to my anxiety and stress. Last year, I decided to come off ALL prescription medication, and to my surprise I did really well, until the beginning of this year. Fast forward to the last 3 weeks have been the worst as other WAAAYYY abnormal symptoms arose. I immediately reached out to my ob/gyn as I was scared. He came up with a plan, but really had no answers, the night of the morning I saw him I ended up in the ER, literally scared for my life. The ER doctor finally (minutes before possibly being admitted to the OR), got things under control and we came up with a new plan and that plan included seeing a hematologist. I saw the hematologist and had 21, YES 21 vials of blood drawn... for tests that he planned to run, what tests, I had no idea, except for a few. I waited all last week. Results came back this Monday and one of the key indicators was my Thyroid level on my TSH test. Along with my B-12 and Iron being dangerously low, but that was expected from the previous weeks events. He recommended me to an Endocronologist and we will see where it goes from there. Like you, if my diet has anything to do with it I will cry. I've been eating way better in the last few months, but while my mom and sister both eat Gluten free, I've SWORN that I would never do that, as I think my mind and attitude would be horrible if I'm not able to eat what I want. I will definitely keep you updated and thank you thank you sooo much for sharing your story. I know what it's like to be bounced from DR to DR because they don't have an answer or the time. Praying things look up!! XOXO ELIE

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing this post! I, too, started seeing a holistic doctor a couple of years ago in tandem with my regular doctor. It is certainly a more personal experience and have learned things about myself and the way my body works that my regular doctor never would have told me about (not because there aren't a million tests they could run to determine these things, but because they wouldn't bother).

    I ditto epiccioneb's comment and wish you the best!

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  7. Tiffany, I'm so sorry you've been through all this. I'm glad you are feeling a little better and I wish you continued recovery. I love your blog and photos, and will continue to read whenever you post, but do it only when you can. I wish you the best, Maria N.

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  8. Tiffany..I am happy to hear you have found some answers and a receptive doctor. Your story hit home with me since I went through a similar experience a couple of years ago. It took me almost 3 years to find a doctor that listened and acknowledged my health issues. The list of doctors that I saw included gastronologist, 2 gynocologist, naturopath, allergist and immunolgy, 2 endocronologist, and primary care. I ended up having severe wheat, dairy, and yeast sensitivities, hashimoto's, smal I testinal bacterial. Over growth, and severe hormonal imbalance. Finally my prayers were answered and there was endocronolgist who actually listened and thought outside of the box and treated me for hormonal imbalance. She saved my life! So for I have been on hrt and a gluten, dairy, and yeast free diet and I have never felt better. It took awhile but I have finally gotten there. Listen to your body! I would love to share more if you have any questions. Wishing y ou all.the best.

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    1. Aww!! I hate you had to go through that, but I am glad to hear that you are doing better. That is encouraging to me! I will let you know if I have any questions!

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  9. I have hashimotos disease also and take medicine daily. Thank you for your post. It is definitely food for thought.

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  10. Please consider Lyme disease as the root cause of your Hashimotos and digestion issues. Doctors are not looking for this. Watch the documentary Under Our Skin to understand why doctors don't understand Lyme disease. Contact Lymediseaseassociation.org for doctor recommendations.

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  11. So sorry to hear this but so happy you finally got some answers. I've been following your blog for years and you are a true inspiration. I'm praying for your continued progress, health, and wellness.

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