Ben Fury, Contributor
The Year of Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease
“Are you sitting down sir?” the voice on the phone said. My heart sank. I hoped against hope the next words would not be,”I’m sorry to tell you that your wife killed herself.” “Oh NOOOOO!” My wife Jeannie’s decades-long battle with severe depression was finally over. And my hell had just begun. I was all alone in the world. I was devastated. My plans for helping people out of chronic pain with PainBUSTERS was totally forgotten. I caved in on myself and just sat around stunned. All thoughts of continuing my life were forgotten. My best friend for 34 years was gone, and with her went all my desire to live. I sat around watching TV, movies, doing random Web surfing, and eating, and drinking, and eating, and drinking, AND EATING AND DRINKING MORE AND MORE AND MORE!!! Trying to make reality go away. Eating myself sick. Drinking myself sick. Until finally after a year, something broke inside, and I was done. The crying ran out. The tears dried up. I decided to start over. I began eating better, working out, making plans for the future. Then disaster struck again. In the middle of a pool workout, something gave in the back of my left shoulder. Pain shot down my left arm into my hand. I stopped working out and got into the dry sauna to get it warm and let the strained muscle relax… but it didn’t. In the middle of the night I awoke to excruciating pain, then pins and needles numbness, then more pain all up and down my arm. The next months were an endless round of pain pills and doctor’s visits trying to find a cause. Trying to find a solution. But nothing worked.
I did the AIS (Active Isolated Stretching) work on myself that had worked so well for my chronic pain PainBUSTERS clients over the years. Nothing. It got worse. I couldn’t ride my bike. I couldn’t do housework for more than fifteen or twenty minutes without retreating to bed. My pain scores were terrible all day every day. I got sent for a neck MRI and while lying on the MRI table my pain suddenly went up to an 11. Sweat broke out on my brow as I struggled to stay still and not ruin the procedure and have to repeat it. I tried to do pranayama yogic breathing to bring the pain under control. Nothing. I tried to self-hypnotize myself to alleviate the pain but it hurt too bad to concentrate on anything but the agony. I was unsurprised when the orthopedic surgeon suggested I have C5-C6 and C6-C7 fused with plates after looking at my MRIs. But I knew that wasn’t the answer. He’d had to go check the name on the MRIs to make sure they were actually mine. He’d never seen anyone with a neck as bad as mine with such excellent neck flexibility. The AIS was working. But I wasn’t. Finally, after months and months of this, my doctor thought to run blood tests. My TSH and thyroid antibodies came back sky high. I had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I was hypothyroid. She prescribed Synthroid. Nothing. No change. I researched my condition and found that it ran in families. Of course, I remembered, my Mom had Graves’ Disease and my Grandma had hypothyroid in her later years. Both were depressed and listless on Synthroid, artificial T4. My Mom had also taken Cytomel, artificial T3, with little apparent benefit. I asked my doctor to prescribe natural T3/T4 and she refused. “I don’t do that.” she said, “I prescribe Synthroid.” She agreed that if I could find an endocrinologist who would prescribe natural T3/T4, she would monitor my blood. But that was all. I searched and searched, but the only local endo who prescribed natural thyroid replacement wouldn’t accept my insurance. My search went on in desperation. Stumbling to the computer for short snatches of research before falling back into bed in pain. Finally, I found a naturopath who agreed to help me. She was unsure if my insurance would pay for her services. I saw that her Web page was in disarray. I offered my services as a Webhead to help get her into a 21st century Web presence. She accepted. She prescribed WP Thyroid (desiccated porcine thyroid). Five hours after I took the first pill I woke up and felt like myself again.
Over the next few weeks, my pain scores fell off. But still, something wasn’t right. I was sluggish and sullen. My naturopath had warned me I needed to get on an autoimmune protocol low-carb paleo diet to maximize what the WP Thyroid was doing for me and give my thyroid a chance to heal. I grudgingly complied… some of the time. But I was still giving in to eating desserts and drinking wine. I could always feel it the next day. I knew I couldn’t keep this up. I would drink wine and force myself to work out through the pain. It was madness, but I’d been in so much psychic pain since my Jeannie died, I still wanted to blot myself out and not exist… and I almost did. I woke up in bed in horrible pain. My face was swollen and I could feel multiple bruises all over. I’d been mugged while drunk. My friend took my hand and shook her head. “I’m not going through this ever again. Either you sober up or I want you out of my life. I lost a husband to cancer. I won’t sit here and watch you die too.” I lay back in total physical and psychic agony. Here it was. Make or break time.
I stopped drinking. I ate the autoimmune protocol low-carb paleo diet my naturopath had prescribed. I lost the 30 pounds that had come on quickly with the hypothyroid. My blood pressure normalized and I was able to get off three blood pressure medications. My pain scores went way down and stayed there. My energy started coming back and I was able to enjoy my pool workouts, biking, hiking, and lifting weights again. I started the SUGARbriety Facebook group and started spreading the word about living a whole foods sugar-free lifestyle. And I decided to share what I’ve learned in a book. And you’re reading the start of it now.