My Thyroid Adventure

Plot twist, healthy people get sick. 

I got diagnosed with hashimoto's disease (who?) after I had Covid. This is a long story that I feel obliged to share with you, because (a) I am an over-sharer and (b) this is a wellness community for women - hopefully someone gets something out of this. 

This diagnosis was the cherry-on-top after a ‘you’ve-got-to-be-fucking-kidding-me’ year. 

I'm 31. I sleep really well. I teach yoga, I eat well, I hate sugar (but give me all the crisps), I have a happy disposition and manage stress well. I like wine and coffee - but those are my only non-herb/funghi recreationals. So I was floored when a blood test showed extremely high levels of thyroid stimulating hormone, indicating low thyroid function.

At first, I was so desperate to have a doctor believe me (several told me I was experiencing seasonal depression and ‘hey, it’s a pandemic of course you feel like shit’).  When I finally got a diagnosis I was relieved - but then I was filled with fear and panic. Feeling totally out of control and angry. Anxiety was high. I could literally feel panic in my throat, vibrating with fear as though I had swallowed a butterfly and it was trying to get out. 

I joined facebook groups and emailed everyone I ever knew who had thyroid condition, I went knee-deep in reddit forums - I needed to know everything. I just couldn’t imagine feeling this way forever. 

What I learned 

Your thyroid is this tiny but mighty butterfly shaped gland that is located in your neck - underneath your Adam's apple. This little beast is responsible for producing critical hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Every single one of your cells in your body needs these hormones to function.  When this gland is out of whack - your body and mind start to fail. It is nothing short of horrible, especially when you don’t know what's going on with your body. It creeps up on you and many don’t find out until the damage is significant - depression, weight gain/loss, insomnia, memory loss, loss of cognitive function, hair loss, lethargy, muscle cramps, heart palpitations, anxiety, and eventually a coma. It’s hard to get your doctor to listen to you when you ‘just feel off’ but seemingly look fine. 

Imagine your thyroid is an accelerator in a car (jeep, motorbike, jetski, vespa - you do you) if you push down super hard on the accelerator you create too much T4, sending you into overdrive like a roadrunner on crack (hyperthyroid). Or the opposite, you barely touch the accelerator causing you to slow down until you literally can’t do anything anymore, and grind to a halt (hypothyroid, the most common). 

But why...

Why does this happen you ask? WHY? We don’t really know. The biggest culprit is Hashimoto’s disease - an autoimmune condition, where your immune system gets all confused (hopefully it’s not doing it on purpose, but who knows) and starts to attack the thyroid, leaving the little butterfly gland wingless and broken. 

The curious thing about auto-immune diseases is we do not understand them. We understand that it is happening. We understand the symptoms. We know how to identify an autoimmune disease. But we don’t know why the immune system starts to attack its host. They believe there may be triggering events, toxins or genetic factors that make it more likely to happen. Some even say that autoimmune diseases are an expression of repressed trauma or destructive thought patterns. Who the hell knows. In my case, they think that Covid-19 either triggered it or accelerated it. What I do know is that just 12 months prior I had a perfectly functioning thyroid. 

Thyroid disease is very common; more and more young and seemingly healthy people are diagnosed all the time. It's one of the big causes of unexplained infertility in women. Sadly, because the symptoms are seemingly frivolous to many doctors, it often takes years to diagnose. 

Surprisingly an empowering experience

This whole palaver reinforced why we created lady-high. Traditional healthcare protocols help us address the symptoms (and thank god for that) but not the root cause. We get put on replacement hormones and gradually things get better (blood tests improve but symptoms often don't). 

To fully heal, we need to look at our wellbeing in its entirety. And that's what lady-high's mission is, to empower our community to heal themselves - and tap into our bodies inherent intelligence. This does not mean ignoring your doctor and not taking life-saving meds, it means addressing all of the factors in our life that impact our body and mind. 

I was fortunate to be working with functional medicine practitioner, Amal Ismail (a lady-high hero). Once I was put on thyroxine (the treatment for hypothyroidism), she put me on a strict diet, supplement schedule, and meditation practice. I slowed down and stopped working (my brain was porridge at this point anyway); I spent all my time in nature and in the sun, doing yoga. 

I stopped eating gluten (devastating), no soy (I’m half-asian so pretty grim for me), no coffee (now I’m a matcha lady), no dairy, no sugar, no cruciferous vegetables, no pork, no corn, no eggs, no alcohol but alas, I had red wine (just call me Gollum with that glass of red). 

I became one of those people ‘ is there gluten in that…?’ ‘oooo is that cheese?’ My husband looks at me in utter disbelief that his once foodie-wife is now that girl. I’m kidding he has been very supportive and support is essential in this healing journey. If you don’t have support, get in touch with us and we will point you in the right direction. 

What now....

My levels went back to normal within three weeks (which really surprised the doctors, they thought it would be 3-6 months at least). I am still medicated but now I feel amazing. I can mitigate my symptoms through all of the above. Better yet, I am breaking some behaviour patterns I thought were totally healthy (I’m talking to you, a-type personalities).  

I’m not so pious with my diet anymore (just no gluten) and I try to be more forgiving/less controlling of myself. 

All the work, the uncomfortable, honest and gritty work needs to happen: diet, lifestyle, the people, negative thought patterns, past traumas, deep unsolved insecurities, and everything in between.

It is what it is.

“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.” Ram Dass

Image @vsco