Angela’s Story of Finding Hope with Hashimoto’s and weight loss –
I was recently thrilled when I received a reader story about her triumph over Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. This is not only about how she lost weight but about how she kept hope alive through it all. I got choked up reading all the drama that Angela went through to finally get a diagnosis. I also can relate to her sense of hopelessness and heartbreak. I applaud her will to not just take the doctors’ word for it, but to keep searching for answers and listening to her internal cues. I totally agree when it comes to thyroid health: we have to be our own advocates. I hope this story can help many of you who are suffering with this condition that seems to be misunderstood by conventional doctors.
Angela’s Story of Finding Hope with Hashimoto’s and weight loss
When looking back on my life now with all the things I went through, I can’t quite believe that I wasn’t more proactive. I think instinctively I always knew there was something not quite right. However, I had gone to several doctors, had “all the tests” (or so I thought) and was duly told that I was healthy and ‘normal’. That I should just eat less, and exercise more. And so, I trusted them (they’re the experts, right?), took them at their word…it was the biggest disservice I have ever bestowed myself. Life Lesson learned.
I grew up in Hong Kong, an amazing, unique and vibrant city and still live here because I genuinely love it, despite the overcrowded streets and hefty pollution, it is my home. I consider myself to have had a fairly normal childhood, great parents, great friends, great lifestyle; I loved school and was always active and very sporty. Skinny as a child and skinny as a teen…then, at 16, I had my first unexplained weight gain. Not much, maybe 15lbs, but to me (or any teenage girl for that matter) very noticeable, all coming on quickly over summer vacation. I figured it was caused by too much junk food, not enough running, the discovery of alcohol etc…Only, my friends were all making the same lifestyle choices, and they didn’t gain an ounce. Perhaps that should have been my first “ah ha” moment…but I was too young and carefree, and what the hell did I know anyway? At that time, I had just started the pill, my periods were always irregular till that point and so the doctor suggested this as a means to regulate me, and since one of the side effects was ‘weight gain’, I pretty much thought that was it.
Some experts say Hashimoto’s can be triggered by stress, pregnancy, or the environment as well as the genetic component. No one really knows why any autoimmune gene gets ‘turned’ on, all I can tell you is once it is has arrived, it is there to stay and it sucks.
The next substantial unexplained weight gain was far more noticeable, approximately 50lbs in 8 months. I was 23, and the weight stayed for the good part of 6 years, though it wildly fluctuated over that period. Nothing I did exercise wise seem to make a difference. I was still eating what I call the typical diet at that time: healthy, or so I thought…lots of fruit, whole grains, low fat, and so on.
By the time I turned 36, I was at a real low point. I felt awful. I looked awful, too; I gained about 80lbs out of nowhere in that year and I had not changed any eating habits – I still exercised till my energy levels zapped.
My hair became coarse and started falling out. I had trouble swallowing and would often self choke on thin air. I hurt all over, in my joints and I was incredibly stiff especially upon waking. I was hot, all the time, I mean really, really hot and clammy. My neck had swelled about 4 inches all around – none of my necklaces fit, and I was puffy – all over, not just fat, but puffed out tight skinned fat, like a sausage about to burst its casing! You couldn’t even pinch any skin on me due to all the edema.
Yes, I was constantly depressed, and angry. A bubbling well of ‘WTF?’, ‘it’s not fair’ and ‘why me’ stewing away inside, definitely not the best for ones psyche.
JK Rowling (yes, Harry Potter JK) once said, “Is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be?” – Well YES!!! To a formally slim, fit and sporty girl, YES it was! Not purely because of vanity (though I admit, my appearance was a significant aspect), but because I felt trapped in a body that wasn’t mine, and unable to live my life the way I wanted. I was being swindled out of my 20s and 30s!
But mostly, I felt like a fraud, I felt diseased and largely (no pun intended), I felt robbed of joy, and despite everything I did, I could not attain a healthy weight, I couldn’t achieve the one thing that was so crucial to me…which was fundamentally to be healthy and vital. One doctor told me, “You’re not fat. You have fat. Just get rid of it”. Hmm…
Eventually, you become this other person with all the stigma that fat has attached to it in a skinny-obsessed world. You hide, you stop doing things, and essentially you put everything on hold. I wondered what the ‘thin me’ was doing in an alternate universe; how was her life panning out? Well, this is what I did, for almost 20 years…I had put my life on hold, effectively because I had zero energy and did not feel like myself, in fact, I had no sense of self anymore, I think it was because I felt unworthy. It was THAT bad.
Unbelievable right?! But it happened; they sent me home in that state, completely baffled whilst I was absolutely terrified.
Poked and prodded by doctors and specialists, and not a clue between them.
If they are telling you something’s wrong, the chances are you’re right. Do not always assume the doctors are correct – they are not God. Always, always do your own research! When checking thyroid function it’s imperative to ask for an antibodies test as well. There is not just ‘one’ type of thyroid dysfunction, so how can one test tell you everything? You need to check the autoimmune aspect, the Free T3 and Free T4 levels (this is the unbounded hormone circulating in your body), you need to check the Reverse T3 possibility as well a whole host of other culprits, B12, Ferritin, Selenium, Iodine, Vitamin D, Cortisol levels and the list goes on.
- Are you on desiccated thyroid or a synthetic T4 med only?
Please note: Thyroid meds, especially the T3 component which is vital, will not do its job if you have Adrenal Fatigue. Likewise with a Reverse T3 test…if you have too much build up in your cells, the medication will not do its job. RT3 is made from T4, which means you may have to only take T3 for a while.
- Do you eat gluten?
- Have you checked yourself for adrenal fatigue with a 24 hour saliva test?
- And lastly, if you have done all of this and you still feel bad, you might be on too low/high a dose, or need extra T3 supplementation with your desiccated – I did.