I’ll try to keep this as short as possible – but it wont be easy!
All my life (since being diagnosed with “walking” pneumonia at age 6), I struggled with asthma. These were serious attacks that brought me to the hospital, sometimes 2-3 times per week during a bad attack. I would end up with adrenaline shots every time as well as x-rays to check my lungs for fluid. This began the long, hard road of disease. For years I struggled this way until leaving my parent’s home and departing from the allergic influence of a Siamese cat, which we had all through my growing up years. I now realize all the suffering could have been minimized by getting rid of the cat, but I was too attached to him and my parents thought the emotional stress alone could make my condition worse.
After I was out of the home and married (18), I noticed that I was getting a fast heartbeat from eating certain foods. I asked others if it was normal for them also. They replied that it wasn’t, but that it may be normal for me. (Boy!, was I naïve) Anyway, because no one seemed concerned, I ignored the reaction thinking it was normal. I began noticing a weight gain shortly before my first pregnancy. Then due to two pregnancies within 3 ½ years, I thought the weight was also a “normal” struggle and ignored it thinking I would have to work on getting the pounds off after each pregnancy. I decided to “deal” with it later. While I put off dealing with my weight loss, I began to feel tired all the time. Then entered the “maybe it’s Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatique Syndrome” stage. Even if it were, no one knew how to treat it… so I did my best to ignore it again. Shortly after my second child was born, I used Richard Simmon’s Deal-A-Meal to loose all my weight (probably 60 pounds) and used the system to keep it off for several years.
It was after that in which my doctor, during routine blood tests, called me one day to tell me I had Hashimoto’s Disease. Since I had no idea what that was, it scared me to hear the word “disease”, so I sat down to hear the details. He said matter of factly, “Your thyroid is being attacked by your own body and you will have to take medication for the rest of your life. But, don’t worry, the medication will take care of your symptoms and eventually your thyroid will die.” Okay, my doctor doesn’t think it’s a big deal, so I’ll trust him. I believed that the thyroid pill (Synthroid .1 mg) would take care of any symptoms (which he failed to explain what they might be) and I went on like I was before. Except, now I began having irregular and skipped heart beats. This really scared me and I began thinking that I was headed for heart trouble.
GERD (or acid reflux) became a serious issue. I would have to stay up at night as the pain and discomfort at night became unbearable. At this point, my stomach pained so bad I could barely wear my clothing. This brought me to the doctor for all kinds of tests – including those for an ulcer and gallbladder problems. I was so shocked they didn’t find anything. After the tests were done, I was told that I had GERD and would possibly have to take antacids for the rest of my life! So, I was put on a strong dose of Zantac and then switched to Tagament. Taking medication like this for the “rest of my life” did not seem right so I began to research the causes and cures for acid reflux. I decided to ditch the medication and begin a journey towards balancing my system since I knew I was highly acidic. I ate food that fell in the “alkaline” category and stopped all consumption of acidic drinks and foods. A lot of water with a little bit of lemon in it served as a purifier as I changed my diet. Although the food I was eating was quite boring, I was feeling success in the nighttime symptoms. I took pineapple extract and acidophilus in small doses daily and cut out sugar and wheat as much as possible. The pain in my stomach lingered for months but was growing less severe. Within about 6 months, I had no further symptoms and haven’t for at least 5 years! Again, I was reminded that sometimes natural remedies are overall better than traditional medication with side effects.
During this time I also saw my immune system get worse and every year I was getting bronchitis and/or pneumonia, sometimes 3-4 times per winter. One winter I had it 6 times and stayed on antibiotics throughout the whole season! Because my immune system was so weakened, I was also very susceptible to asthma attacks and although I started my research on the internet about then, which alerted me to the fact that Steroids can severely compromise the hypothyroid’s bodily function, my allergy doctor insisted on putting me on Prednisone and inhaled steroids. I got so sick that I really thought I was dying. My pulse was so low and weak that I could barely feel it. I was having the feeling of almost blacking out, and my temperature went down into the 95 degree range. I was also getting very irregular heartbeat to which the doctors ALWAYS said, “this is a normal side effect of the asthma meds you are on” and sent me packing.
It was then that I knew I had to take my health into my own hands…after all, how much worse could it get? (I can’t believe it took me this long to come to this conclusion!) I am skipping, for the sake of time, some significant emergency room trips, probably 20 at least in a couple years – all ending in the diagnoses of either dehydration or “panic attacks”. That is the most upsetting of all my complaints with the traditional medical doctors – when they can’t figure out what’s wrong, they blame it on the patient. My file was marked “panic” in the file history, so I was pegged from then on!
My journey towards natural health was initiated then, and I looked everywhere for a natural doctor (but couldn’t afford one). I started researching possible causes for my palpitations (I was ignorant enough not to consider the thyroid meds at the time). I found out that they could be caused from the wrong dose of Synthroid and, perhaps, my diet. I decreased my dose of Synthroid on my own, by ½ a pill, instead of the whole pill. This didn’t seem to make a big difference but weaning myself off of the steroids made a giant difference. I felt human again. Then I attacked my diet and started a food journal of everything I put in my mouth and recorded any symptoms. This was invaluable and promised to be a way to finally control some symptoms. I found out that MSG (also known by many other names) and vinegar caused palpitations for me! I was able to control, what I thought was an uncontrollable heart problem, with diet!
Unfortunately, I began getting serious, seizure-type symptoms, perhaps brought about by Aspartame (which I never touched deliberately but it is in almost all gum, many sodas, some candy, and many other processed foods). So, that symptom was beginning to be controlled. (so I thought) This prompted me to desperately seek answers to my other symptoms. It was then that I stumbled upon The Wilson’s Thyroid Syndrome, and although I have not used the protocol myself, the book gave me great ideas as to why I had soooo many of the thyroid symptoms still. My medication was not helping me! It’s so sad it took me 10 years to figure this out, but at least I finally set out to make a change.
I knew I wanted to try natural thyroid hormone, so I decided to try to get it from my HMO first, since I didn’t have the funds to go through a natural doctor. Big mistake. My levels were “normal” so they saw no need to change my medication even though I had all the symptoms! I went through 4 different doctors trying to find someone who would let me try Armour, but all rejected the idea. The last one finally said, “you better look into something else that could be causing your symptoms because your thyroid is fine”. Then she smiled at me and told me I should consider counseling or if I really thought I could help myself with diet, then I should try that on my own. By now, I was completely pegged “an emotional wreck” and I had NO respect at my HMO since my file continued to show me as “unstable”. At that point I said “goodbye” to traditional doctors and slammed the door behind me. Now I was “alone”.
I found a chiropractor who did the food sensitivity test and I stopped all consumption of the foods proven to effect me. That, in itself, did a world of good. But, this doctor could not prescribe Armour. Diet made a big difference but I knew I needed to get off of Synthroid. My symptoms, although many were helped, others were getting scarier as I would have seizure-type experiences. I wouldn’t be able to talk well and I couldn’t remember what I was doing. I couldn’t even remember which step of washing the dishes I was at… I would think, did I wash this dish or should I put it into the soap? It was terrible. During this time I would not be able to see peripheral vision – everything I could see was straight in front of me! My head felt weird and I would feel these “episodes” coming on following a weird headache. I could sometimes see a connection between food (carbohydrates) and the symptoms but it never really added up completely. See what could be a likely complication to Hashimoto’s – Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy. I was able to control this by eating a strict diet to some degree but it continued to get worse in magnitude when I did get it.
A couple years later I moved to a new location far from my previous address. Since this would be a new doctor in a new place, I figured I’d try my HMO one more time to see if I would get lucky. I asked to switch to a natural thyroid med and the doctor said my tests are normal and there was no reason to change what we were doing. I reminded him that I still had most of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism and since I KNOW I have the disease, doesn’t it make sense to try something different? He left the room for a moment to view my file. When he came back he said, “your symptoms are NOT from you thyroid” and concluded very bluntly that he will not consider changing meds. Wonder if he saw the word “panic” anywhere in my file? Okay, I tried.
I then found a doctor off of the Wilson’s Thyroid Syndrome site and although it seemed the chances were slim, I found a natural doctor within 15 minutes of my new home! She immediately switched me to Naturethroid (which is like Armour) and started me on natural Progesterone. Within one week, many of my symptoms began to disappear. The most dramatic relief were my head problems with seizure-type symptoms connected to them. Then my energy picked up and I started feeling “balanced” for the first time in years. I have no major symptoms left except occasional cyclic symptoms, but normally nothing even remotely like the symptoms I’ve dealt with for years. I have been on Naturethroid since early November, 2002 and I have not looked back! I am so excited to have found a caring doctor as well as someone who saw me as a real person. Someone who did not think I was crazy and was willing to treat me in a way that I felt comfortable. I have no emotional “issues” from the disease anymore now that I am not being ridiculed for my symptoms. All my symptoms have been proven to be linked to my thyroid disease and I am now liberated from the insinuations and downright cruel treatment of my HMO. I have been justified. What an awesome feeling.
Now, I work to maintain symptom reduction by a good diet and continue to seek health through natural means. I am not “healed” completely, nor do I claim to be. In fact, my goal is to get off of medication completely one day. I am just enjoying this feeling of well-being so much, I don’t want to pursue that just yet. I am resting for the first time in years and I am fully enjoying this time! I’m sorry my story was so long, but I hope it encourages others to either work on diet (if they are not on medication) or try natural medications like Armour if their symptoms are not responding to T4 meds alone. Please browse through the members page to hear other stories from the members of our message board as well as favorite links to natural thyroid help. Your journey will be specific to your needs, and like all of us here, it will take some time. But, I hope this site will spur you towards your goal faster and that the information provided will help your confidence in natural health paths. God’s blessings to you all. Thank you for being here. Mo