Lynda Bateman, Thyroid Thrivers
49 years young
Diagnosed Hypothyroid 2004, Hashis 2011
I owned a shop. It was a lovely shop and I loved my work, I loved my customers and the community supported me, so it became a success. Last year I sold my shop. Oh, did I mention it almost killed me?
Born with a compromised immune system it was never revealed to me I could have health problems as an adult but in my thirties a pregnancy pushed my body into a hypothyroid state.
That’s the funny thing about autoimmunity; any amount of stress on the body can reignite your antibodies’ desire to destroy you.
A Sneaky Disease
Anyone suffering from an autoimmune condition –Hashimotos, Grave’s Disease, MS, Lupus, Arthritis, Diabetes, Cronh’s Disease -has my sympathy. It is an underhanded disease and an ugly damning lonely place to be in. Whether you’ve struggled over years or been diagnosed a month ago, there is a universal truth we all come to share. Medically speaking, you’re on your own baby.
According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), in America alone an astounding 50 million people have a compromised immune system and suffer one of the above systemic illnesses. Referred to as the Mystery Disease, we are either born with compromised antibodies (the little helpers that are specifically designed to protect us) or we come to autoimmunity through poor diet and lifestyle. No matter how you wind up here, finding a way out of the maze of symptoms, illness and piecemeal diagnosis is at best frustrating and at worst deadly.
My Own Fault
Looking back, in the midst of all the hard work, I didn’t realize what I was doing to my body. I worked hard and that’s not a moan, as I grew up surrounded by hard work. I like it. I believe in it and I know in my heart it’s the only way to be satisfied in your life. But still, the everyday battering of early mornings, weekends and late nights began to take their toll.
Fast-forward ten years and it is Christmas in a busy shop. I hadn’t had a day off in well over a month and on New Year’s Eve, I closed the shop door, went home and despite every cell in my body needing rest I couldn’t sleep. I felt cold despite an overheated house, I felt dizzy despite lying still and I felt sick despite looking well. I was experiencing an autoimmune ‘firestorm’; my body was saying enough was enough.
It Gets Worse
On top of my unattended thyroid disease I exhausted myself and was suffering extreme adrenal fatigue. I couldn’t lift my head off the bed. Truth be told, my body begged me to slow down for almost ten years. I suffered a constant and unrelenting rotation of symptoms with varying degrees of alarm–Miscarriages, panic attacks, sleep deprivation, headaches, brain fog, chills, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, heart palpitations, muscle cramps, dry skin –to name a few. All of which I disregarded and most were dismissed by my doctors as anxiety (which requires an entire article of its own).
I discovered this is an illness you cannot take a backseat to, you are forced, whether you like it or not, to be an active participant. GP’s and endocrine specialists become very little use when you experience symptoms and sufferers agree that educating yourself, supplementing and a wholefoods grassroots approach at finding the root cause to your autoimmunity is the only way you will ever feel better. Now, almost one year later, I am a believer.
Autoimmune disorders are not treatable illnesses. Strangely, understanding this terrifying fact might save your life so, let me repeat that for the cheap seats, autoimmune disorders are not treatable illnesses; none of them. This is why conventional doctors are almost useless to us. Sure, you can take hormone replacements, steroids, statins and a million other drugs designed to ‘slow’ the diseases or ease their progress but if you want to feel better the answer is in the question. What caused my autoimmunity in the first place?
Did you know 70% of our immune system is born in the gut? I didn’t either but when I read that startling statistic almost one year ago, I changed what I ate. It was my Aha moment.
It began with an elimination protocol my doctor (see below) recommended, okay demanded and I uncovered food sensitivities I’ve had my whole life. Food sensitivities interrupt digestion which can create a leaky gut. A leaky gut is when the linings of the intestines become abused from poor diet. The lining mesh relaxes and allows food particles to pass through. Sounds gross and it is. This, in-turn, causes the inflammation in the body responsible for imbalances in our immune systems and is compounded with the processed foods we eat every single day. Can you see the cycle here?
Wheat, sugar, dairy are all Inflammatory foods and the biggest cause of symptom ‘flare ups’. They are also the biggest part of all of our diets. Bingo! So what we learn is digestive health and the foods we eat directly results in wellness.
I was on medication for almost 10 years. Nine months ago (Nov, 2013) I was taken off my medication. Two years prior a GP told me I couldn’t influence my immune system through diet. I was happy to be prove her wrong.
November 2013, I started the Thyroid Support Group on Facebook and Thyroid Support Group.com to connect people suffering autoimmune conditions. Visit the page. I’m linked up with a lot of smart people who care about feeling better.
Update May 2015
Fast-forward a year since I wrote this article and I have been back on eltroxin reluctantly since January 15.
In the end, I was off medication for just over a year and my autoimmunity was held at bay by a clean diet, supplementation and elimination of toxins from my life. I took every adrenal, parasite and blood test inside the year to maximize the distance between me and eltroxin but my TSH began creeping up and by the end of 2014 I was up to 19.0 TSH.
I will not lie, I loathed the thought of taking this drug again. I hated the idea of going back to looking into the blank face of the Endo and GP’s who did so little for me. I loved the year I had without any drugs in my system and there were some days in the middle of 2014 that I felt really felt myself again. So going back felt like a failure. But now I see this disease as fluid as life, changing everyday. Some days good, some bad. I’m better than I was, and hopefully my best days are ahead.
The next chapter in my thyroid story is Armour thyroid. I was hoping to start Armour as an alternative to Eltroxin in January but soon found out NDT is not a licensed drug in the UK and Ireland. That, I discovered, does not mean it cannot be prescribed. One just has to navigate to the correct doctor …and so here I am, about to see the Endo who can prescribe me Armour on May 8th. Stupid really, the hoops we travel in the name of health but this is one of our frustration as thyroid sufferers-for the moment anyway.
But I feel a change is coming, just on the horizon. As an advocate, I read a lot and the pressure is really on traditional, standard medicine. There are too many of us now and we are growing smarter and more connected everyday. I say all the time ‘We are smarter together’ and there is a growing allegiance in our Autoimmunity Community and with people within the medical community like Terry Walhs, Izabella Wentz, David Perlmutter, Chris Kesser and Mark Hyman and so many others who have either first handed over-come their own autoimmunity through diet and lifestyle or doctors who believe their is a much better way to treat sufferers, change is no longer a hope, we are engaged in it.
In the meantime, Eltroxin has brought my TSH down to 3.4 and I am feeling better than I was.
My journey, like all thyroid sufferers, is long but I have learned so much and have come to a place where I feel lucky to be able to help people who are on that journey with me.
My Facebook page, Thyroid Support Group, is filled with lovely, warm and clever people who want help each other. If you save one person you save the world entire. I believe that and I believe in myself.
Good luck on your journey, Thyroid Thrivers…
From An Eliminated Life (2013)
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