Have you ever been diagnosed with a low-functioning thyroid? If so, you are not alone. Hypothyroidism is an incredibly common condition. You might want to go grab a nice cup of tea because what I have to share with you in this post will most likely shock and/or surprise you.
My name is Lori Doerneman. I live in the center of the U.S. in a little town in Kansas. I am a mom of 8 and I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism almost 20 years ago. At the time, I was a hot.mess. My cycles were all over the place, I had become puffy with an almost water-like weight gain and I was tired. Bone-dead tired.
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I could barely get out of bed. My zest for living had greatly diminished. I took care of my kids and I slept as much as I could.
Interestingly, my eye doctor was the one that told me I had thyroid issues when he gave me an eye exam. I went to my medical doctor and he confirmed that I had hypothyroidism. My thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) was 198.
The solution? Thyroid meds. Over the course of months, my doctor helped me get to the correct dosage, which meant that my TSH finally landed in the normal range of 0.5-4.0.
My medical doctor was satisfied. I was satisfied because as my TSH came back to normal, I slowly got Lori back. YEAH! I peed for days, losing ten pounds of water weight. Another Yeah! I got my energy back (slowly but surely). It felt unreal. It was as if I was born again.
I was told that I "simply" had low thyroid and if I just took that little magic pill every morning, all would be well for the rest of my days. (If I only knew then what I know now!)
Fast forward twenty years. last fall I had been feeling the effects of (what I thought was) being 52: low libido, low blood pressure, low tolerance for cold and odd digestive issues. Not pretty. Oh, and my hair was falling out. Really not pretty.
The symptoms had been part of my life for so long that I had learned to live with them. For instance, I knew that I was going to be cold no matter where we went, so I dressed for it; I always had a sweater or a jacket.
My blood pressure was low, as in 80/43 low. I thought it was normal to have a little “whoa!” sway whenever I stood up. So I stood up slowly.
My major project of the summer was to finish my course on identity and food addiction, “Inside Out.” My zeal to create had greatly diminished, which was odd. But I figured it was just part of getting older. So instead of trying to keep up with weekly blog posts, I allowed myself to let that slide and simply focus on my One Big Project.
In the 10th Lesson of that course, I encouraged women to develop a working relationship with their body and really look at the physical symptoms they experienced on a daily basis versus thinking their health challenges were normal.
I am not sure why we do this as females, but our issues sort of become part of us. Our aches and pains, constipation, depression, headaches are simply part of the symphony of our lives.
As I wrote that lesson, something jiggled within me. I guess you could say I had a massive AHA moment. I realized that MY body had been speaking to me for a long time.
So I made an appointment with a kinesiologist and shared my symptoms. I knew he would tell me that I was in the middle of a pre-menopausal tsunami.
Now, I don’t know if you have ever been to a kinesiologist, but the good ones are GIFTED. They can read the body in a way that blows the mind.
The kinesiologist I used is gifted.
My hips were out of alignment, causing odd little issues with my legs and back and shoulders. He fixed that.
Then he did this thing.
He casually told me that I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
I smiled and said to the good doctor, “No, I have hypothyroidism,” to which he replied, “Yes, but it’s actually an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.”
He also told me that most people with Hasimoto’s develop more autoimmune conditions because once you get one, more will usually follow.
I left his office in a daze. And I started researching Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I found Dr. Izabella Wentz, a pharmacist, that dealt with Hashimoto’s. I went to the library and checked out one of her books, “The 90-Day Protocol.” She taught me a ton.
Turns out that “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis” is a fancy name for low thyroid.
According to Dr. Wentz, most people (90-95%) who develop hypothyroidism actually have this progressive autoimmune disorder, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Since this was all new information to me, I wanted to check definitively for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I knew my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was in the normal range so I made an appointment with my medical doctor and asked to have my thyroid antibodies checked.
The test came back. I had elevated thyroid antibodies, indicating Hashimoto’s. (This test is not definitive. You can also have Hashi's without elevated antibodies, more about that in a second.)
No wonder I was experiencing so many symptoms. I didn’t "just" have low thyroid. My body was in attack mode against my thyroid. I read how and why autoimmune conditions progress as well as multiply.
I also read that miscarriages and infertility are a result of Hashimoto’s.
Oh my stars, that made my heart hurt. I have had six miscarriages. SIX. I never knew the correlation.
How did I deal with all of this new information? Well, I cried a little. I prayed. I talked with my support people in my inner circle. Then I reached out to my siblings.
This condition runs in families. My dad has low thyroid. He has all sorts of autoimmune conditions. SIX of my seven sisters have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
It was incredibly helpful for me to talk with them about their hypothyroidism and how it has shown up in their lives. Most have developed a secondary autoimmune condition, mostly GI tract related. Chrone’s, ulcerative colitis, etc.
As a group, my family is intensively creative. Yet several of us have lost that edge. (You might say that our “give a crap” has become broken.)
I found out that “Apathy” is a symptom of Hashimoto’s.
WOW. There was a reason for my lack of zest. Wow. Wow. Wow. As I read, I knew that our bodies, designed by God, are gloriously self-healing. We just have to figure out the WHY and be willing to do the HOW.
I first set out to fully understand the WHY.
Dr. Izabella Wentz became my primary guide. She shared that, at first, she wanted to “fix” herself with a pill. But she discovered that medicine (her first love) didn’t offer her the solutions she needed.
She was willing to keep looking. She became my hero at that point because she didn’t let her medical bias create its own agenda.
She became her own test subject and worked diligently to get to the ROOT CAUSE of the disease. She adopted a holistic mind-set, using supplements and foods as well as relaxation techniques to change her life.
I found that intriguing. And unique. She got her Hashi’s in total remission and she has helped many others get their Hashimoto’s in remission.
At this time, I’ve given myself permission to get well. I’ve pulled way back from writing (I have not posted or podcasted for months!).
I am ⅔ of the way through the 90-Day Protocol; I have done the 2-week liver reset. I have taken a month to get my adrenal glands the chance to start working again. I am now focusing on getting my leaky gut restored. Along the way, I have taken out the foods that destroy health and added the foods that restore health.
How has it been?
Up and down at first.
How do I feel now? In a word: fantastic. I wake up feeling refreshed and restored because I am no longer waking up multiple times in the middle of the night. My blood pressure is now normal. My hair is no longer all over the bathroom counters and in my children's food, a big bonus for them! I also have creative energy, which is absolutely the best gift. My ju-ju is back.
Realizing that my hypothyroidism was actually a progressive autoimmune condition shocked me at first. But then I realized that that knowledge was a pretty cool gift because it explained WHY I HAD my symptoms. It also helped me to get to the ROOT CAUSE of my issues.
And then I could intentionally create a life that nourishes me on all levels. I’m all about that kind of life.
So let’s talk about you.
If you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I urge you to have your thyroid antibodies checked. Under 35 is considered in remission, but Dr. Wentz likes to see the number under 2 IU/mL, which stands for Units Per Milliliter . (This number is different than your TSH. You most likely have a normal TSH. You have to ask for a full thyroid panel, one that includes thyroid antibodies.)
Important note: "Current medical reports state that 80-90% of people with Hashimoto's will have TPO antibodies. That said, researchers at the University of Wisconsin Multidisciplinary Thyroid Clinic found that only half of the patients who came up positive for Hashimoto's....had thyroid antibodies." page 55 "90-Day Protocol" by Dr. Wentz.
So, if you have been diagnosed with low thyroid, get your thyroid antibodies checked, but more than that, focus on your symptoms. If you are experiencing fatigue, hair loss, cold intolerance, inability to lose weight, mental fog, joint pain, stomach pain, night sweats, apathy, trouble sleeping or anxiety, you most likely have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
If so, I highly recommend hanging out on Dr. Izabella Wentz's site, Thyroid Pharmacist.
If you want more, then get her book, "The 90-Day Protocol." It is jam-packed with information and most importantly, a PLAN to get better.
Another great resource is Dr. Amy Myers. Her site is jam-packed with info and she has a great book, "The Autoimmune Solution," which includes a 30-Day Plan. (Note: Dr. Myers was HYPERthyroid, so they have differing opinions on iodine. Other than that, they are quite similar.)
It was a big, major decision to go on this particular road. If you have low thyroid and want to feel better but don’t want to go ALL IN with a 90 or 30 Day Program, start by eliminating two things: gluten and dairy.
I know. I know. Eliminating gluten and dairy might seem sort of like killing off your two best friends. If you are unsure how to do that with grace, then you'll want to check back on this site in a week or two. I created a guide entitled "How to Go Gluten and Dairy Free" and it is available in our free resource library.
If you have low thyroid and feel like crap half of the time, Alleluia. There is much you can do to help yourself. There is a reason your thyroid is no longer producing enough hormones. You most likely have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. The good news is that you can address the immune system imbalance and you CAN stop (and even reverse) the progression of this autoimmune disease.
For me, that possibility was worth it. I have relationships I want to nurture. I have things that I want to accomplish. I have life to live. So this shocking news was actually GREAT NEWS.
And that, my friend, is the Low Down on Low Thyroid!
P.S. I am still incredibly surprised that a course I happened to create helped me get to the root of my own health issues. Who knew? However, the PRIMARY focus of that course is how I used to be consumed with negative food thoughts and how THAT changed when I got to the root of Who I Really Am. If that interests you, check out: INSIDE OUT.