Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism

After Peanut was born I went through a period of insomnia that was so horrible I’ve practically blocked it from my mind.  And I was having other symptoms too.  I had body aches and pains.  I had an irregular cycle.  I would fall asleep each night exhausted, only to toss and turn all night long, never really falling alseep.  These frequent night wakings left me so very fatigued.  I had paralysing headaches.  My hair was falling out–by the handfuls.  Not joking.  I had a reoccuring sore throat–somewhat of a raspy voice.  And persistent thirst.  Every morning I felt as though I had run a marathon the night before–my muscles were sore and my joints hurt. I was also majorly discouraged.  Lack of sleep does that to you. And so does physical pain.  And so does feeding an adorable 6 month old multiple times a night. 

For a time I dismissed all my symptoms.  I explained my fatigue as middle-of-the-night wakings and hormones.  I told myself to chin-up.  I justified my sore muscles as being out-of-shape post baby. My sore throat was a common cold.  I guilted myself for having a bad attitude.  And my depression related to a new baby and lack of sleep and hormones. 

Finally, after sustaining 2-4 hours of sleep a night for months on end, I made an appointment with my primary physician.  He did a routine blood test.  He gave me 10 minutes of his time.  He handed me a prescription for Prosac and said I had post-pardom depression. 

I left his office, numb, thinking, “Really?  I’m depressed.  Huh.  This is what depression feels like?” Something inside me just didn’t believe the diagnosis.  And so I sought a second opinion. 

Those first blood results came back in the “low-normal” thyroid range.  I came to find out later he only tested my TSH and T4.  He did not test my T3 or my antibodies.   

A month or two later I saw a doctor, whom some would call ‘suspicious’ (AKA he was sorta a quack), who did a more extensive blood panel and told me I had Hashimoto’s Disease.  Thank God for him.  He gave me my unilab blood results and talked it through with me.  He encouraged me to research on my own.  He told me there was a reason I was feeling poopy.  And it was all the ammunition I needed, lab results in hand, to tell me I wasn’t going crazy.  I had legitimate symptoms that now had a legitimate diagnosis. 

(I’m with a new Dr. now.  This switch was made after I walked into said Dr’s waiting room and witnessed a standing-room-only of patients hooked to IV fluids.  He believed each of his patients needed a saline flush to rid their bodies of whatever sickness was ailing them, and to hydrate their bodies faster and better than water ever could.  After he told me I needed this same treatment, a nurse walked in the waiting room to hook up my IV and I fainted so severely they seemed happy for me to flee, as happy as I was!)

The short description is this: everyone, (you, me, and your Aunt Sally), have antibodies in your body.  These antibodies are intended to fight infection, whether its the flu, common cold, or some other illness.  When you have Hashimoto’s disease, your antibodies fight your thyroid, a normal, God-given adrenal gland in your neck that helps regulate how you use energy.

Hashimoto’s Disease is an auto-immune disorder that many people have. It is linked to several other auto-immune disorders, such as Grave’s Disease, Diabetes, Lupus, and Rhumatord Arthritis.   If you examine my family history, I have a strong line of auto-immune disorders, although I didn’t know the connection until after diagnosis. 

By all accounts my TSH and T4 were ‘low-normal’ and my T3 was even low(er) normal.  But my antibody count was raging high.  When a hormone panel was done I was told I had hardly any hormones in my body whatsoever.

So I started a treatment of Armor Thyroid that I take every day, every morning for the rest of my life.  I also take DHEA, a mother hormone, to help my pituitary gland, which doesn’t seem to be releasing enough hormones to make me a normal woman. 

The good news is, I finally sleep (at least better than I once did).  And I don’t ache. In all honesty, within 4 weeks of taking my medication I was a new woman.  I thought, why did I not investigate this sooner?  I didn’t realize, and it never dawned on me, that there might be a tangible solution to what I was experiencing.  To sleep, after months of not, is the most amazing euphoria. 

The troubling news is: anytime I am slightly under the weather, congested, or feeling icky, instead of my antibodies attacking the illness deserving annihilation, they attack my thyroid.  Any common cold means more antibodies, which means more thyroid assault, which makes me feel (not) great.

A few weeks ago my prescription ran out.  I forgot to stay on top of it, and the doctor would not refill until I saw him.  So I’ve gone without meds for two weeks.  Today I had my appointment (finally) and received my refill.  It amazes me how two weeks without a tiny little pill can make the difference between sleep, discouragement, appetite, hair loss, and abdomenal pain.

As I considered this blog post I remembered the countless hours I spent googling “Hashimoto’s Disease” and “Hypothyroidism.”  I sought answers.  Somewhere, someone, is googling.  So here is my story. 

    6 COMMENTS

  • AllyZabba January 14, 2012 Reply

    very well written. while my initial symptoms were not as severe as yours, it did take 5 years to get a hashimoto’s diagnosis. every doctor told me that it was normal to be tired when you have a newborn, a toddler, a pre-schooler and a newborn…etc. i felt like they didn’t want to help me. i agree that it is truly amazing what a little pill will do. the exhaustion is overwhelming. i now take meds for lupus too. that has been an interesting ride. thanks for sharing your story. stay healthy!

  • mabbs January 14, 2012 Reply

    K. So glad you are feeling better.

  • Kelly January 14, 2012 Reply

    I can relate to the insomnia, as you know, but not to the other horrible things you experienced. I never knew it was that bad. I’m so thankful you were persistant and found a doctor who really took the time to diagnose you correctly!!!

  • Banana333 January 14, 2012 Reply

    I am 19 years old & Hashimoto’s runs in my family. Apparently I have had it for 4 years, but just found out I had it in December 2011. I have gained 50 pounds…& its making it even harder to get out of bed every morning. I am on Levothyroxine. Is there a different medicine I should take? Did you gain any weight?

  • Karen January 14, 2012 Reply

    Hi Banana333, I did gain weight, yes. But I also wasn’t sleeping much (or moving much) because my body felt so sore and achy. I don’t know what kind of medicine you should take, but I am taking Armor Thyroid which is mixed at a compound pharmacy exactly for me (with the right amount of T3 and T4 in it). I’m so sorry you are going through what you are going through. My advice would be, be persistant. This is YOUR body. Keep fighting to find out answers because you are SO young–you are 19 and you have your whole life ahead of you. Demand more tests. Ask for a second opinion. Don’t be too nice or compliant–as your doctor, you need them to not just get you in the “range” of normal but also feeling back to your normal self! Get online and google to find a doctor near you that specializes in thyroid, adrenal, and pituitary. IMO, it is WORTH it to pay extra in order to finally get answers. Feel better!

  • Landi January 14, 2012 Reply

    I was googling Hashimotos and your blog came up. Thank you for writing it. I had never heard of it until a foot dr said he thinks it is the culprit of my foot and ankle pain. When I read the symptoms it was like a feeling of validation. I have been thrown antidepressants and sleeping pills for years. Now I just have to find a good doc, which seems to be the hard part. Please post more about your journey, it is helpful to others.

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