So Apparently I have some issues…

Have you ever struggled with something for a really long time? Something that you deal with on a daily basis but never really talk about to others outside of your innermost circle of confidantes?  Today I want to discuss my hypothyroid symptoms and my new found health issues.

Since giving birth to my 5th child just over 5 years ago, I have been struggling with feeling like something was “just not right”.  After the births of my other children, I remember feeling like I got “my body back”.  Do you guys know what I am talking about?  It took longer after each pregnancy, but I always felt “back to normal” again.

Pregnancy can cause a lot of unpleasant changes in your body and for the most part I would get back to my normal “pre-pregnancy” state (well…other than wider hips and saggy belly skin, mommy brain, wider feet, stretch marks, etc…).  haha

For some reason I NEVER felt like I got my mojo back after my last baby.  I still felt pregnant even though I clearly was not.  I was tired all the time, I had no energy, and suffered from constipation.

But…I was a mom to 5 busy kids, age 9 to newborn.  My husband had a busy job that took him out of town for up to 3 weeks at a time.  And I liked to keep myself busy with my projects.  So, I just assumed I felt this way because I had a lot going on.

(March 2010—Puffy face)

I thought that when my kids got older things would get better…but it was slowly getting worse.  Then 2.5 years ago my hair started falling out in clumps. I was developing some pretty serious carpal tunnel in my wrists and elbows, which I attributed to typing on the computer and my home projects (remember my painting addiction?).

I also developed arthritis in my left pointer finger joints.  On top of that, I was freezing…all of the time, like so cold that I would get grumpy if I had to go outside in the cold.  Ha!  I even slept with a heating pad in the summer.  But I had been running at night, so I assumed it was because my body was cold because of the sweating.

I also began to develop some serious anxiety.  I couldn’t ride in the car with someone else driving because I was seriously anxious about their driving skills.  I mean, I was fine on the outside…but on the inside I was a tangled wreck of nerves.  I was also getting pretty irritable.  I also suffered from muscle aches and pains.  My immune system was terrible.  I never used to be sick.  And suddenly I was catching every little cold out there.   My memory was horrible and I was beginning to forget all sorts of things like picking up my children, appointments and deadlines.  Something needed to change and my life and kids were suffering.

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(August 2012—Non puffy face)

I was pretty good at looking like everything was okay on the outside.  Because really…who wants to hear about how lousy you feel…all the time? I didn’t want to be “that” person.  But in the back of my mind I knew I was not “normal”.  Or at least I was not “my normal” self.  I felt crazy!  But every symptom could practically be assigned to being a busy wife, a mother and a wanna-be runner.

So 2.5 years ago I went to see a couple of different doctors.  I got the “your getting older and need to eat right and exercise” dismissal talk.  One doctor even told me my thyroid was abnormally enlarged but then dismissed all my symptoms (which were classic hypothyroid symptoms).  What??  He then and sent me on my way telling me I was just a normal middle-age woman who needed to get some exercise and eat right.

Gah!!! I was so frustrated!  Maybe I was just getting older.

By this point, I was waking up tired and was not be able to get through my day without needing to take a nap.  I have NEVER been a nap person.  I usually lay there thinking of everything I should be doing.  On Sundays, I began taking a 3 hour nap and and still be able to fall asleep for the night at 11 pm. I was ALWAYS tired!

After giving birth to my 5th I was able to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight.    But I was slowly gaining weight and gained back 25 pounds.  In spite of all my running and efforts to eat right, I couldn’t stop gaining weight.

thyroid gland image source

amy thyroid 2

So we prayed and my husband and I searched the internet looking at reviews trying to find a great doctor that would LISTEN to me.  Someone who could help me figure out what was wrong with me.  I found an amazing doctor, who I believe I was meant to have.  He is not a thyroid specialist but is actually an allergist (which ended up being a huge blessing in disguise).  I decided to meet with him since he had some great reviews online from patients who had trouble getting diagnosed with hypothyroidism who claimed to be having great success with his treatment.  So in December of last year I finally was able to meet with him.

He listened to everything I had to say and spent a lot of time talking with me and asking me more questions.  He ordered all sorts of tests instead of the normal thyroid tests and actually tested my thyroid hormones instead of just my TSH levels, which is all my other doctors had ever done. He wanted to see what was actually going on with my thyroid because of all the symptoms I did have.

Well, it turns out that I was on the high end of “normal” and that…yes indeed my thyroid was not functioning properly.  He immediately diagnosed me with hypothyroidism and told me I also was suffering from a severe vitamin D deficiency.  He immediately started me on Armor Thyroid.  I shared more about that initial diagnosis with you in an earlier post about my hypothroidism here.

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(before Thyroid medication)

Well, my diagnosis and taking the Armour Thyroid, of my hypothyroid symptoms have gotten so much better.  I haven’t taken a nap since last January! My hair stopped falling out and I felt like I was getting back to normal…Finally!  We have made several adjustments got me on a dosage that seemed to be the right amount.  It took about 6 months.

However, I hadn’t lost a single pound but I haven’t gained any weight either.  I was waiting for my body to regain it’s balance and expected that I would start being able to drop weight again when my body caught up.

But I started to have people ask me if I had lost weight.  After looking at pictures of myself before and after the medication, I realized that it my face was loosing it puffiness.  My face was most definitely thinner and therefore I looked like I had lost weight.

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(after Thyroid medication and same weight)

There was one symptom that I couldn’t seem to get any relief from.  My constipation actually started to get worse.  Much worse.  And then I started having a little bit of night-time bloating.  It continued to get worse despite my best eating efforts.  I felt swollen everywhere.  Gah!  I kept saying to my mom and husband, that my abdomen felt puffy and swollen.  It was different than weight gain and it was only around my mid-section.  At night I looked like I was 8 months pregnant.  Not. even. kidding.  I was trying to eat so great.  I had cut out most sugar and running a ton and I still could not lose ONE single pound.  Not one!

This was right at the same time that I was training for my 2nd half marathon this past summer.  Was I overdoing it?  Was I stretched too thin?  Was it stress?  I didn’t feel like it was.  Running actually made me feel better and helped relieve some of my symptoms. But I knew something else was wrong this time.  It was different than my thyroid symptoms.  I was so frustrated because I was FINALLY feeling like I was getting back to my normal self.

(August 2012)

So, I shared my new concerns with my awesome doctor (who is a trained allergist) and he decided he wanted to do some food allergy tests.  I went in on December 21, 2012 and was tested for 17 of the most common food allergies.  I was SHOCKED to find out that I had 7 major food allergies/food intolerances.  The normally 3-hour test took over 4 hours because they had to keep neutralizing my reactions.

I had the greatest reaction to corn and tomatoes, and also found allergies to soy, wheat, yeast, peanuts and milk.  Say what???  SHOCKED!!

allergy test 3allergy testallergy test 2

But…at the same time…I felt vindicated.  So many explanations for all my crazy symptoms.  And?  I wasn’t crazy.  Maybe, just maybe there is an answer and a solution now.  So…I am currently embarking on a HUGE elimination diet.

I was really overwhelmed as I began the diet.  How was I going to do this?  Pretty much everything I was eating I was allergic too.  This was going to be an entire lifestyle change.

As the year was ending, I began going through some major food withdrawl, which I had been told to expect. I was so sick and couldn’t sleep. And I was angry. I spent over two hours searching the aisles of the grocery store for something I COULD eat and there wasn’t much.

So I started to think about what I could eat.  I can eat chicken, meat, fish, fruits and veggies (except for tomatoes), rice and oats.  I had several people suggest looking into the Paleo diet since it was pretty similar to what I needed to be eating with a few personal adjustments.  But everything I eat has to be clean.  No sauces, or packaged foods or prepared foods.  It is time to get to the basics.  I can’t eat gluten free items because they are usually filled with corn and soy to replace the wheat.

So we are in a lifestyle change here.  I am currently still making healthy meals for my family like I normally would and then making something for me on the side.  I have been eating about 5-6 small meals during the day instead of eating 3 large meals.  I have found this works best to keep me feeling more full.

I am not going to lie.  At first I was simply overwhelmed and in shock.  I felt really sad, but also felt a bit vindicated.  But as the holidays set in with the food and the parties I was angry.  Haha!  I couldn’t eat my Grandma’s Fudge (which I did sneak a little bit).  Our culture is so tied into food and I was beginning to realize just how difficult this new lifestyle was going to be.  It was going to be a life changing event for me and my family.

But, I feel like I am at the point where I can actually talk about it and be okay with it.  I can see now what a blessing in disquise this is going to be.  I never ate terribly unhealthy and I have always been a runner.  But I can already feel a difference in my body.  My bloating has gone way down.  I actually look like I have a waist again.  And I feel less puffy.  My jeans even feel different on the last three days!  I had a few days last week where I felt so great that I noticed it.  And then it made me realize just how yucky I have been feeling.  It happened so gradually that I didn’t realize just how sick I really was.

So the plan is to go off all the no no foods completely.  Let my intestines heal from a state of chronic inflammation which could take from several months to a year or two.  Then I can start to add foods back into my life one at a time and see how my body reacts.  Right now I am not thinking about the adding them back.  I am trying to embrace my new lifestyle.  I am optimistic and am looking forward to feeling better and maybe finally getting my life back.  I have taken a little break from running which I do each year at this time but am ready to get back into it with some new found energy!

I just felt like I needed to share this with you since I have met so many women who are dealing with similar issues.  Get checked!  And be sure to keep looking for answers.  And I would love some awesome new recipes if any of you have any that fit my needs!  I am dying for some yummy food again! xoxo

p.s.  Let’s not be repinning my puffy face pictures :)…just kidding! haha!!

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