Michelle Bickford, Thyroid Thrivers
36 years old
New Jersey, USA
Diagnosed in 1987
Help spread the message that thyroid treatment and healthcare changes are needed, on May 25th, 2014, World Thyroid Day!
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is part of who I am. Diagnosed at the age of 11, my personal story is intricately intertwined with my disease. Taking a daily pill, and ensuring a “good” TSH with testing every 6 months, my Hashimoto’s was insignificant or so my doctor claimed. Until it wasn’t. Then, my journey began and will never end, since autoimmune disease is part of my genetic legacy.
My diagnosis was just a fact. I simply had one extra doctor visit a year and it usually went like this:
“How are you feeling?” Like me, ‘Fine’. “Still taking your anti-depressant?” ‘Yes’. “Your cholesterol is too high! That’s not right for a woman your age.” Also, your eye doctor said you had pre-glaucoma.”
In hindsight, these answers were red flags for the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Opportunities for further testing or other treatments were unfortunately squandered.
After the birth of my third daughter, I remember feeling amazing for the first few weeks. Then terrible mood swings set in and things rapidly changed for the worse. Each birth brought greater emotional struggle. Things of little importance became as overwhelming as major, life-changing events. With little control over my emotions, I felt completely removed from them. Imagine deep despair, while giving yourself a much-needed pep talk to get out of bed and to be a mommy. Every symptom sounded like PPD, but I wasn’t depressed rather, I was disassociated from my emotions. A terrible and helpless feeling indeed.
I began taking antidepressants and my mind calmed and had some motivation. My body, on the other hand, was the complete opposite: no motivation, and very little strength or momentum (or much of anything) For hours, I sat at a computer, hoping to be productive, just to feel my self-value. I became desperate to fix myself. I wanted to find out “What was wrong with me?” I couldn’t keep going like this, I had to know.
But, what do I know? I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. What is that? An autoimmune disease that attacks your thyroid Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ. “Good” TSH and a pill every day made it all seem casual and irrelevant. *head smack* After 24 years, I am questioning my Thyroiditis, for the first time ever, in my life!?
My continued research of Hashimoto’s Thyroid disease, led me to hundreds of stories of suffering from the symptoms of hypothyroidism and I finally realized … I am one of them.
Research demonstrated a close link between depression and thyroid hormones, the significance of T3 and the brain’s need for it. I eventually realized that my daily pill had no T3 in it. Yet, no one, no doctor had ever even mentioned this fact to me. It was curious, to say the least. My continued research of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, led me to hundreds of stories of suffering from the symptoms of hypothyroidism and I realized … I am one of them. The list of Hashi symptoms read like an invading and personalized profile which pervaded every facet of my life, and whose source was profoundly clear, I was extremely T3 deficient.
My new-found understanding of the thyroid, gives the gland ultimate significance, similar to that of the heart or brain, since every single cell needs thyroid hormone. The most often of those hormones being discussed were, T3 and T4. Every cell in the body has T3 receptors, and the T4 hormone needs to be converted to T3 for cellular use. Therefore, T3 is regarded as an active hormone and T4 as a storage hormone.
The little, daily pill that most thyroid patients take, is a T4 only prescription. The assumption is that the body must just convert it — end of story. There is more to it than that, however. For some, it isn’t that simple. Stress, vitamin and nutrient deficiencies and a whole slew of other things, affect conversion. T3 containing therapies are available as are tests to evaluate the Free T3 in your bloodstream, but T3 deficiencies are not routinely tested for or treated worldwide! This truth is and was unbelievable to me. It must be changed.
Patients, who continue to have symptoms on T4-only therapy or are denied therapy for their hypothyroid symptoms generally hear that their TSH is fine. It is ‘normal’. One flawed test, is the gatekeeper to the restored health of millions?! After exploring the importance of T3 and without even going into physiology and defining TSH, it begs the question: if a Free T3 test is available and significant, why is it not being drawn? WHY?
In addition to the over-reliance on one hormone replacement and one lab test, there is a lack of research into autoimmune diseases and why the immune system dysfunctions. The impact of hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone) and autoimmune disease is systemic and affects every cell in the body. Every single one. Moreover, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or hypothyroidism symptoms are countless and greatly diminish a patient’s quality of life. Just like me. It is unforgivable and something must be done. You only get 1 life.
Treatment guidelines for thyroid disease worldwide, reinforce the golden rule of “normal” TSH levels and T4 therapy only, cures all. This is simply not true. Even if most patients do well, we need major protocols for those who suffer. ALL patients cannot do well with only one treatment plan. Am I the only one who thinks about this? Surely not! I just knew that I had to do something.
ThyroidChange, a nonprofit organization, 501(c)3 applied, began as a team of two patients who failed to understand why something so obvious and so logical, is denied to patients globally. Globally. (I know, I keep repeating myself, but it is truly an overwhelming fact) We are now a worldwide team. Comprised solely of thyroid patient-volunteers, we work to create a platform for collaboration, with our physicians, to achieve individualized treatment options. A whole body, functional approach must be the future of caring for our health.
We need to work together to end thyroid patient suffering in this generation, so our future can thrive.
Future children will be passed this life-changing, genetic predisposition –the number of patients who are resistant to current treatment will continue to grow exponentially, as we reproduce. My father created two Hashimoto’s girls. I created three. We need to work together to end thyroid patient suffering in this generation, so our future can thrive. Cheers to all the thyroid warriors and Thrivers worldwide. Together, we can make a change! Stop by and join our group on Facebook. The united voice of thyroid patients worldwide, ThyroidChange.
PLEASE JOIN US BY SIGNING OUR PETITION AND VISITING ThyroidChange.org
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