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An Autoimmune Mystery

The power of the thyroid

Hashimoto's didn't stop me from walking to France from Switzerland so it shouldn't stop you either

15 years old. Fatigued, emotional, losing hair, gaining weight, passing out, suffering from upset stomach and nausea. I was poked and prodded, rushed to the emergency room, and told there was nothing wrong with me.

16 years old. Fatigued, emotional, losing hair, gaining weight, passing out, suffering from upset stomach and nausea. I was tested for mononucleosis (“mono”), which came up negative. I was tested for Thyroid’s disease, which came up positive. I was given medicine and told there was nothing else was wrong with me. 

Thyroid disease is genetic in my family. My mom has had it for years, which was the only reason I finally ended up getting tested for it.  I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which means that my thyroid gland does not release the necessary amount of hormones, causing the depression, hair loss, and weight gain. I am not a  scientist or doctor, but I personally like to think of our thyroids as a sub-control center to our brains. The thyroid gland is so small, but extremely important in the way our bodies work. When your thyroid is under-active (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism), it can really take a toll on how you live your life. The important thing to note about thyroid disease is that it can show itself at any age, I was naive in thinking that I wouldn’t have to worry about it until I was older.

21 years old. I was taking medicine that kept my thyroid levels “normal.” I did not experience any fatigue or hair loss, my weight gain stopped and I was definitely less emotional. The upset stomach, nausea and pain was extreme. I missed school and work, and spent my nights crying on the bathroom floor, hoping I would get sick soon so I could go back to bed. Everywhere I went I needed to find the closest bathroom and I was constantly taking medicine to prevent the onset of any stomach pains while I was in public. I was catching viruses and infections from anything that touched me. I became extremely high maintenance and was told so by everyone that crossed my path, but there was really nothing I could do about it. I went to a doctor that specializes in gastroenterology and was tested for Celiac’s Disease and Crohn’s Disease, which entailed getting a colonoscopy,  a biopsy of my intestines, and yet another blood test. All of them came back negative. I went to my gynecologist where I received an ultrasound and that also came up completely blank.  I had lost all hope in feeling better until my mom learned about the T3 hormone and told me to go get my blood taken one last time. 

If you get tested for thyroid disease, I strongly recommend asking them to also test your T3 levels. T3 is  one of the hormones released regularly by your thyroid and if your results come back low, you could have Hasimoto’s Thyroiditis, commonly shortened to Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that *in simple terms* tricks your immune system into thinking that your thyroid is an enemy to your body and starts to attack it. I found out I had Hashimoto’s just before my 22nd birthday, seven years after all of this madness started. Since then I have learned that gluten does not agree with me, which is a small stepping stone in what I know is going to be a long journey. I have experimented with a variety of diets, writing down my triggers and avoiding them next time. I am still high maintenance, but hopefully with my new-found knowledge on the topic, I will be able to control my symptoms and continue feeling better every day.

 Hashimoto’s is unique in everyone and just because mine resided in my gut, does not mean that it will for you. If you are stuck in a rut and have questions about the functionality of your thyroid, speak to your physician. Communication is always key, but especially when it comes to your health. A blood test is simple and can change your life, as it did mine. I genuinely hope my story finds and helps someone out there who is lost about what is happening to their body. As I said before, I am not a scientist or doctor, but I am a young woman who likes to go on hikes, spend time with her friends, and travel the world. I don’t have any room in my life for Hashimoto’s and neither should you. 

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