It is Shanghai, October 2008 and the doctor says “there is nothing we can do for your underactive thyroid problems.”
“Is there a thyroid diet I can follow?” I ask based on my previous experience of acne and migraines disappearing after dropping gluten and eggs.
“No, diet has nothing to do with Hashimoto’s”, she says.
My TPO antibodies are through-the-roof, I’m severely fatigued, I’m forgetting things that happened the day before, and I’m faced with recurring anxiety attacks. But, my TSH and T4 are “normal,” so she’s got nothing for me. Not even meds, no hope.
“What about Traditional Chinese Medicine?” (After all, I’m living in China.), I ask.
“They don’t treat Hashimoto’s,” she says dismissively, as if I was asking about a voodoo treatment.
I reach out to Maria, who is the only friend I know with thyroid problems; she lost the gland to cancer. Her doctor is in Caracas, Venezuela. He seems to “really get it” and offers a treatment plan but is about to retire from his practice.
So here I am: living in the polluted and stressful Shanghai seriously contemplating a 32-hour and $6,000 flight to crime-ridden Caracas just because there is someone out there who could possibly help me.
In the meantime, I hit the internet and order the only book I find on thyroid problems. I get it express-shipped and devour it in one night only to be told to remove soy and bak choy from my diet…
I mean, seriously?
I will openly admit that I have little patience today when I receive venting emails that go on and on about how nobody knows anything about the thyroid, about how doctors are useless, and about how getting off gluten is so tough.
Really? What about the abundance of well-curated thyroid resources (like summits and books) and all the countless gluten free options we have today?
What would I have done to have them back then!
With the current breadth of free and not-so-expensive resources today, most people with thyroid problems can help themselves like never before.
OK, there are some of us with more complicated cases, but for most it doesn’t take that much to start feeling good again.
:: 11 Things I Wish I Knew Back Then About My Thyroid Problems::
I looked back today at the things I wish I knew back then, and I wanted to share them so they get you thinking as well.
1). I wish I knew what to test for.
Just because I got educated very quickly on the topic, I insisted on getting the TPO antibodies done. They confirmed Hashi’s and it was a good thing as my TSH and Free T4 and T3 were within range – so they nearly missed the diagnosis. Many people suffer from undetected thyroid problems because their doctors do not carry out a full range of thyroid blood tests.
I wish I also knew back then to also check my vitamin D, B12, ferritin levels (all were super low). I wish somebody asked me about my gut health. I wish I was tested for candida.
2). I wish I knew I had more than just one hormonal problem.
I was wired and tired at night, exhausted during the day, lightheaded when getting up, jumpy and moody – all probably due to adrenal fatigue. Nobody told me that.
Breast lumps, painful PMS, and bloating – estrogen dominance. Didn’t know that either. Thought it was “normal.”
Nobody told me that being overly estrogenic can lead to breast cancer (I have a family history on my mother’s side), thyroid nodules (had three), and thyroid cancer. I wrote about it here.
3). I wish I knew what the root causes of developing Hashimoto’s thyroid problems were.
I wish there was somebody to explain that being a formula baby; eating food that was not good for me; having unaddressed heavy metal toxicity, sluggish liver, chronic candida, stressful job, relentless drive and no sleep were the perfect triggers to develop an autoimmune disease. I honestly had no idea that it was mostly things well within my control that were causing my thyroid problems and poor health more generally.
4). I wish I knew that getting off gluten was not enough to solve my thyroid problems.
I had digestive issues for as long as I remember – constipation, acid reflux, bloating and gas. I already knew that gluten was causing the cystic acne, but I still ate dairy, eggs and soy. Didn’t know.
5). I wish I knew that my job was killing me and I was doing it for the wrong reasons.
Self-validation (to confirm how great I was) was my driver. I did it to a point of running myself to the ground. I was on international flights once a week, pitching new accounts (I worked as an advertising strategic planner on world leading brands.) and winning them. It felt good that every office wanted me. But at what price?
6). I wish I knew that intense athleticism would only worsen my adrenal fatigue.
Instead, I trained for the Great Wall of China marathon. To train for it, I would be up at 5am to hit the gym and work till 9pm to fulfill the demands of some unreasonable client.
7). I wish I knew what the toxic skincare brands were doing to my body.
See, I worked for the largest skincare brands, so I never bought anything. Neither did I make the effort to understand the contents. Little did I know about the amount of endocrine disruptors they contained.
8). I wish I knew how important sleep really was.
I used to say “I will sleep when I die.” When I gave up my job and left China, I slept 12 to 14 hours a day for a month. By then, I intuitively knew that I needed it, so I surrendered to it. I think it’s called “coming to your senses.”
9). I wish I knew that slowing down my life would accelerate my recovery.
What else can I say here? Maybe that I’m living it now and moved from New York to a town in California, population 238 residents?
10). I wish I knew where to go for credible information about thyroid problems.
Instead of getting overwhelmed and confused by unsubstantiated, copy-and-paste, over simplistic pseudo advice on blogs that kale and almonds will kill my thyroid (I actually stopped eating them for a while until I knew better.), I wish I knew what were the credible go-to resources for addressing thyroid problems. Read more on that below.
11). I wish that back then there was someone like Jen Wittman, Izabella Wentz or… me.
I wish someone had told me all that earlier.
And this brings me to the free but credible thyroid-related resources I will be sharing with you over the coming weeks.
Consume them. Apply them.
They will help you get a good grip on why you have thyroid problems and what to do about it.
:: Curated and Credible Thyroid Resources ::
OK, here is the first one I want to share with you: Your Best Thyroid Life Video Series.
Well curated by Jen Wittman who’s had her own Hashimoto’s struggles. Top-notch speakers, rich content, free gifts and good presentation.
And, it’s free.
Some of the things you will learn from the video series:
- Budget-friendly shopping tips – these could save you hundreds of dollars
- How to stop sugar/food cravings — no willpower required once you know why you crave them
- The important tests your doctor (probably) isn’t ordering
- How to get your family on board with your healing diet
- How to say “NO” without feeling guilty
- Staying motivated when you really don’t feel like exercising
- How your thoughts affect your metabolism
- Rewiring your brain to reduce stress and speed up healing
- How to cook and eat for your hormones
- Cutting edge tips for healing and reversing Hypo-, Hyper- & Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- And much more.
You will get video interviews with people like:
Katie, the Wellness Mama, a fab resource for the mamas
Dr. Sarah Ballantine, the Paleo Mom, a fantastic resource if you want to try the paleo route
Dr. Izabella Wentz, the Thyroid Pharmacist, who is as beautiful in every way in real life as in her community
Dana Trentini, Hypothyroid Mom who’s helped so many of my readers to experience a healthy pregnancy and prevent miscarriages
Donna Gates of Body Ecology, the woman who brought ferments and probiotics to America, on gut and thyroid connection
Dr. Alan Christiansen, on adrenal and thyroid connection, author and NYT best seller
Dr. Nalini Chilkov, the integrative cancer doctor, on thyroid cancer
Dr. Kaayla Daniel aka the Naughty Nutritionist (who is hilarious in real life, too) on soy and thyroid.
This is for starters.
I hope this gets you excited.
I’m grateful all these resources are available today to help those with thyroid problems better help themselves. It was a different story just 7 years ago.
Get informed, slow down, and take action.
2 Responses to 11 Things I Wish I Knew About My Underactive Thyroid Back Then
Your sharing of what you have learned is changing my life! I have been searching for a doctor for YEARS who will look at the whole picture and help me figure things out and have gotten nowhere! You give me a place to jump out and off with. You have my sincere gratitude for sharing all you’ve been through and learned.
I am about to start a natural thyroid hormone replacement. I have been battling autoimmune for over two years. Like you, I was told by doctors everything was fine. I was diagnosed a year ago with Scleroderma Crest, Adrenal Fatigue, Sjogrens, and a few other autoimmune related issues. I research and read everything I can. Essential oils, the correct suplements(which took awhile o figure out) and the Paleo diet have helped me so much. Thank you for sharing your story and putting help out there!