Sunday, October 1, 2017

What is Hashimoto's?

When I first heard my diagnosis of Hashimoto's thyroiditis my reaction was, "Huh?"  I had never heard of it and had no clue what it meant. Most of my family still don't fully understand what it means, so I hope to give you a brief rundown of this disease so that you can better understand it.

What is Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?

Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disease that attacks the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck called the thyroid. The thyroid is part of your endocrine system, which is the system that regulates hormones for growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, reproduction, sleep, and mood, among other things. As the thyroid gets attacked by the immune system, the body is put into a state of chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis which is a fancy term for hypothyroid. That means the body is not releasing enough of the thyroid hormone. There is no cure for an autoimmune disorder, but you can minimize the flare-ups and control the symptoms with medication.

How does it feel to have Hashimoto's?

Everyone's symptoms may be different, but I can tell you what my experience with Hashimoto's has been. It started off with severe fatigue. When I say severe, I mean I could not get out of bed, and when I did I only barely managed to get to the couch and stay there for the remainder of the day. Unfortunately, no matter how much sleep I got, I couldn't feel rested. I was depressed, anxious, and irritable. I was not a good mother or wife before my diagnosis. I kept gaining weight, no matter what I did, which only increased my depression. I lost SO MUCH hair. I ended up cutting it off because it was a mess. I couldn't eat because most foods bothered me in one way or another and I felt like I had lost who I was. I didn't feel like Elyse anymore. Unfortunately, I even suffered a miscarriage because of it.

When was I diagnosed?

In the summer of 2013 I learned of my third pregnancy. It was at that time I couldn't get out of bed and found myself a depressed heap of a person on the couch. When I told my first ob/gyn they blew me off. They told me I was tired because I had two other children and that I needed to make myself exercise and it would fix itself. Anyone with Hashis knows how ridiculous this sounds. I could not just make myself get off the couch. It was literally impossible to drag myself to do anything. I ended up switching ob/gyns because I felt ridiculed and judged. When I went to my new practice they immediately knew there was something wrong with my thyroid and had tests done. Honestly, Miles is a miracle. I should have miscarried him. During the entire pregnancy we were fighting battles with hypothyroid numbers and I never got them corrected during the pregnancy. At this point they had only diagnosed me with clinical hypothyroidism, but it was a step in the right direction. I lost much of my hair during the pregnancy and afterwards. (To be honest, it has only started to grow back this year)  He was born in February 2014 and by September I had gained even more weight. I decided diet and exercise would fix the problem. I worked extremely hard and didn't cheat once for an entire month. Instead of losing weight, I gained more. I was so upset! It wasn't until the following summer that I had the diagnosis of Hashimoto's while going through a miscarriage.  My cholesterol was rising and I felt miserable, but at least I had a diagnosis. Unfortunately, I ignored that diagnosis until this past spring when I decided I really need to figure out what this means and how I can support my body properly.
How it feels.

What is the treatment of Hashimoto's?

The standard treatment of Hashimoto's is to take a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement medication while getting your blood checked often. The blood checks to make sure the levels are in the correct brackets and to monitor antibody levels. Supplements are also suggested as well as diet changes to reduce the toxic load in your body. I will get more into the supplements and diet later this month.

Why did I get Hashimoto's?

There are multiple factors that can lead to Hashimoto's, but there isn't a lot known about why autoimmune disorders happen. I may have been genetically predisposed to develop Hashimoto's. Having long and non-ending stress causes adrenal fatigue that can also be a factor. Having mononucleosis as a teen and multiple pregnancies could be a factor. Poor diet and exercise habits could be a factor. We don't know why exactly, but it happened and now all I can do is move forward. 

What now?

I hope to rekindle my joy in life by taking my health into my own hands. Along with supplements, diet, and exercise, I need to reduce the stress in my life. That is the hardest part, but if I can make time for myself to craft and be Elyse, that will aid in my stress reduction. I can't change the fact i have four children, but I can change how I react to their antics and that will reduce my stress.

So that is Hashimoto's in a nutshell and a little bit of how I have felt while dealing with this disease. I don't know exactly what "normal" feels like, but I do know what my normal should feel like and that is what I strive for every day. I hope you join me this month as I walk you through my world as a Hashimoto's patient.

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