Hashimoto’s and Stress: The Kryptonite To My Thyroid

Sometimes it seems like no matter what you do or how well you take care of yourself, stress can undo all of the good, healthy things you’ve done. Hashimoto’s and stress do not play well together.

I was doing well last year. I started taking Selenium, which brought my antibodies down from over 1300 to just over 400. I was no longer in constant, daily pain. I could walk for miles and workout without fearing I’d be unable to get out of bed the next day. I lost 38 pounds. I felt like I could do anything. And then came November…

Work was super stressful. I was on tight deadlines with too much to do and so little time to do it. I put in a lot of overtime in November and December. And all the stress made me sick and threw me into Hashi’s hell. It’s May and I still haven’t recovered. Even with an increase in my thyroid medication, my TSH went from 4.7 to 9.7 in the last two months. The stress has only gotten worse and, despite all the meditating and attempts at stress reduction, I’m more sick than ever. As I write this, I’m just getting over my umpteenth cold of the year, I’ve gained about 10 pounds because my metabolism has slowed down so much, and I’m freezing my patootie off under a heavy blanket because I’m full-blown hypothyroid. In addition, I hurt… a LOT, back spasms and costochondritis. Fun. In short, I’m a mess.

I asked my doctor to not only test my TSH, but Free T3, Free T4, and Reverse T3. TSH was high, of course, but Free T3 and Free T4 were normal. It was the Reverse T3 that showed the real story. My Reverse T3 was elevated. It was 31 when high end of the normal range is 24. There are many reasons Reverse T3 can be elevated and stress is one of them. I’m pretty sure that’s the case here!

Normally, when my Hashimoto’s is well treated and under control, I’m smart, fairly confident, strong, and as some folks have said, “very zen”. When I’m in Hashi’s hell, I feel the opposite: stupid, insecure, anxiety-ridden, weak, and not in control of my emotions at all. Returning to good health is my number one priority right now. It’s a struggle. How do you get better when the trigger, stress, that contributed to your illness hasn’t been removed or is hard to remove? I’m battling with that right now. I don’t want to take medical leave, but I may have to if I don’t get better.

One goal I have, which seems so remote right now because I’m so ill, is to be able to run my own business from home. That would be an ideal situation. But right now, it’s all I can do to just take care of myself and stay barely functional…

No Excuses – My Hashimoto’s Diary

No Excuses - My Hashimoto's DiaryI know last night that I said I have limitations. I have since given myself an attitude adjustment. I don’t have limitations. I have temporary setbacks. If I don’t strive to get better, Hashimoto’s is an “excuse” and I can and will use it to convince myself that there’s nothing I can do. I will end up giving myself limitations that I truly don’t have. I would rather think of it as a “reason” why I’m experiencing this temporary setback and use that as motivation to prove I don’t have limitations and that I can overcome anything I set my mind to.

I used to be an athlete. I used to be in great shape and work out 1-3 hours a day. Those days are long gone. I will likely never have that level of energy or fitness again… but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. That doesn’t mean that I can’t reach a level of energy or fitness that is satisfying to me.

There are answers for each and every one of you dealing with the ravages of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. The key is to never give up looking for them. If I had, I would have never discovered Dr. Izabella Wentz’s book “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause”. I immediately asked my doctor if it was ok if I started taking selenium after reading about it in that book and it has changed my life. Selenium has also helped my mother and sisters, who also suffer from Hashimoto’s. But selenium hasn’t solved everything, so I need to keep looking for the next answer and the next to unlock this mystery of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis that so few doctors seem to know about.

So, from now on, no excuses. Hashimoto’s takes its toll physically, mentally, and emotionally. When I get knocked down, I can’t promise I won’t get depressed or be a little self-pitying, after all, mental and emotional symptoms go hand in hand with Hashimoto’s. But, I’m going to promise myself I won’t stay down for long. I will get right back up and re-focus myself on unraveling the mysteries of Hashimoto’s and finding the answers that work for me. I hope you will do the same.

The Hashimoto’s Rollercoaster

Hashimoto's RollercoasterIt’s been a while since I last posted. That’s mostly because I’ve been on the Hashimoto’s rollercoaster. I went from doing awesome health-wise, losing weight, and making steady progress toward my health goals, to getting knocked on my ass and steadily losing ground. It happened around November of last year. Stress from work got to be too much and it started affecting my thyroid. I got sick. My TSH levels rose. The fatigue and brain fog rolled in. I had my doc adjust my meds, but almost two and a half months later, I’m still struggling to get my TSH back into the “sweet spot”, which for me tends to be between 1 and 2. My TSH is still above 4.

When you get knocked down by Hashimoto’s, it’s hard to get back up. It’s even harder if you can’t take time off from work or remove the stressors that caused your Hashimoto’s rollercoaster in the first place. The only thing you want to do is sleep. Having to go to work every day can feel like torture. That is when you have to work harder than ever before. You have to work on recovering your health. I want to feel better and I want to get back to the good health I enjoyed last year. I want to lose the 5 pounds I’ve gained since my TSH went higher than normal.

It’s tough to be reminded that I have an illness which causes me to have limitations and I don’t like it one bit. Hashimoto’s is not only physically exhausting, but emotionally exhausting as well. It causes me to worry, occasionally have panic attacks, and prevents me from thinking clearly and logically. I don’t ever want to end up here again. That’s why I’ve been reading more about Hashimoto’s, doing my own research, and watching Dr. Izabella Wentz’s new video series “The Thyroid Secret”. I want to get off the Hashimoto’s Rollercoaster and smooth out my path to healthy living.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging about “The Thyroid Secret”. I’ll also be renewing my commitment to take charge of my health and get my Hashimoto’s back under control. As part of this process, I am adding content to this website, including forums. In the forums, you can discuss your struggles, share your stories, and get advice from others going through the same things as you are.


Losing Weight With Hashimoto’s

scaleFor many Hashimoto’s sufferers, weight gain is a major problem. Hashimoto’s causes hypothyroidism, which slows down the metabolism, leading to weight gain. As if losing weight wasn’t hard enough, losing weight with Hashimoto’s seems next to impossible. Believe me, I know.

The last thing you want to do after a long day at work is exercise. After all, you spent most, if not all, of your daily allotment of spoons there. What do you have left for exercise? Plus, you hurt. So many muscles of your body hurt due to inflammation that you just want to plop down on the couch and not move. And once there, you realize you’re craving carbs, so you get a snack, and maybe another. And you do this every day. Sound familiar? It does to me.

I have successfully lost weight with Hashimoto’s, but that was when I was younger. As I’ve gotten older and the disease has progressed, it feels next to impossible. My blood glucose is slowing creeping up and I’m headed towards diabetes. My cholesterol is a little too high. My blood pressure is a little too high. I don’t want to have to deal with heart disease. So, I need to do SOMETHING.

My first step in losing weight with Hashimoto’s, as you might have read in my blog post about selenium, was to start taking the supplement consistently every day. It has helped me feel so much better. I’ve been able to do physical activities that months ago I would have passed up. I was able to travel and walk around all day sightseeing on a recent trip while barely “paying for it” the next day with soreness. It has really helped. In addition, I’ve been talking Vitamin B-12, Vitamin C, and a daily multi-vitamin, since Hashimoto’s patients are prone to vitamin deficiency. Problems like leaky gut make it difficult for us to absorb vitamins and nutrients efficiently. I’ve been forcing myself to stay hydrated, which is a constant battle for me since I rarely feel thirsty.

My second step was to start wearing my FitBit every day. With the FitBit.com dashboard and iPhone app, I’m able to set a daily step goal and track it. It keeps me motivated to get up and move and burn off calories. It also allows me to link up with friends and challenge them to a little friendly competition to see who can get the most steps. I used to be an athlete, so I love a little competition. 🙂

If you have an Apple Watch or other fitness wearable, that works fine too, but I would recommend getting one that plays nice with the MyFitnessPal app. (Update: I actually switched to an Apple Watch after my Fitbit died and love it.)

My third step was to start using the MyFitnessPal app and website to track the calories, vitamins, and nutrients in the food I eat. I also track my exercise activities there. I’ve synced my FitBit to MyFitnessPal so it adjusts the amount of calories I’m allowed daily according to my activity level. This has made me more aware of the nutrition in the food I eat and my activity levels. If I want to have a special snack or treat, I’ve gotta get my butt moving to earn some extra calories for the day! It also helps that all my siblings use MyFitnessPal too, so we can all help keep each other accountable for our goals.

This is not easy. In fact, losing weight with Hashimoto’s is hard. It takes constant diligence and awareness, something I’m not really used to. But I’m motivated by several factors. First, I want to avoid Diabetes as long as possible. My dad has Type 1.5 Diabetes, my paternal grandfather had Diabetes, and my niece has Type 1 Diabetes. I see the struggle they go through. Due to genetics, I will probably eventually have to deal with it too, but there are things I can do right now to push back that possibility. Second, since I started taking selenium, I’ve seen that there are easy things I can do reduce the impact of Hashimoto’s. I have had days where I’ve felt almost normal, where I feel like I’m in remission. I want MORE of that! Third, there are so many things I’ve missed out on because of Hashimoto’s. So many times I scrapped plans to go out or travel or join friends because I wasn’t feeling well. I want to get out and see and experience the world again. This motivates me to take care of my health and get in shape.

I hope that there’s something in this blog post for you that makes losing weight with Hashimoto’s a little more manageable for you.


The Occasional “Good” Day

painRecently, I had some “good” days. Good is always relative when you’re talking about Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. By “good”, I mean a lot less pain that usual and a bit more energy. There was still pain, of course, and my energy was still a lot less than what a normal person has, but it was good to be reminded I CAN feel good. I think I hit the “sweet spot” in my medication levels.

Of course, that did not last long. I picked up a virus from work and it’s been two weeks of feeling horrible. The virus is long gone, but I’m sure it triggered my Hashimoto’s to flare and I am in so much pain I don’t want to move, especially my right wrist, as I type this.

So… what can I do? There’s always pain medication, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc. But also, there’s the choice of what I put in my body as food and drink. I have been taking coconut oil lately, and boy did it help with my sore throat when I had that virus! Also, I’m drinking green tea, gotta fight that inflammation and those free radicals. I hate green tea, but at work they have a variety of teas available for us to try and I found a green tea I actually like. It’s Bigelow’s green tea with pomegranate. So, today, I’m curled up on the couch, sipping green tea, with the pup cuddled up next to me. I don’t plan to move much today, but it’s Saturday, so I have that luxury.

I’m hoping that I will find the culprits that contribute to my Hashi’s pain and the foods that help heal it. I don’t imagine it will be easy, as I suspect gluten and dairy, which I absolutely love. But, I think I hate being in pain more than I love cheese. I want to get back to having that occasional good day, the days when I feel strong, like I could actually run, the days I used to have before this disease really had an impact on me.

Dinner Out

dinnerOUTSo, for the first time in quite a while, the hubby and I went out to dinner. We split some potato chip nachos for an appetizer and then I had a very yummy sandwich, full of turkey, pickles, and cheese. I paid for it. I had acid reflux for most of the weekend. Blaugh.

And today, I’m feeling pretty horrible. Allergies. Or a cold. I’m not sure which. Since I wasn’t able to take a zyrtec in the morning, as usual, I suspect allergies. And I have more acid reflux. It occurred to me that maybe some of my acid reflux is caused, or at least exacerbated, by allergies. A quick search online and I find that others are complaining about some sort of perceived link between allergies and acid reflux. So, I will definitely be researching that.

For now, I’m going to go deal with my headache. I’m pretty sure that’s tied to my allergies too. UGH!

Healing Myself: Day 11

diaryIt’s been a busy week, but the good news is that I’m slowly getting to the point where I have more energy. I’ve been having my anti-oxidant smoothie every morning. I’ve been trying to be more careful about what I eat, so I’ve cut down on dairy and gluten, though I haven’t cut them completely out. I’ve also cut down on the caffeine… boooooo! But it seems to be making some difference. I’m learning what, in addition to the food I already know about, triggers my acid reflux and heartburn. Dairy definitely seems to be in that group, unfortunately. I love cheese, so I’m researching what cheeses are worst and best for lactose sensitivities. It might not be as bad as I think, so that’s a plus.

I’ve lost about 3-4 pounds. I’ve only needed to take my Prilosec twice in the past week. Things are definitely looking up. I still need to go shopping for that exercise bike. I’m just too tired on the weekends to do anything but veg out and work on some personal projects around the house. Maybe this week after work…

Oh, The Pain, The Pain…

When you have Hashimoto’s, sometimes you just wake up in pain. Everything hurts. It’s a soreness that sometimes feels like you overdid it working out, but you didn’t work out because you’re too tired, hurting, etc to do so. Sometimes, it’s more than just soreness, it’s a burning pain… inflammation. Today, it’s a bit of both. I woke up several times during the night with pain in my back, pain in my arm, pain in my wrist. Sadly, I am used to this. I want to get to a point where my Hashimoto’s takes a backseat and I’m NOT used to being in pain all the time. Ibuprofen manufacturers will mourn that day. Wouldn’t that be nice? 🙂

I’m on my third day without Prilosec and I’ve had no major heartburn or acid reflux episodes. I did have a few “uh oh” moments that I thought would turn into major pain, but they didn’t. I’m pretty sure now that chocolate is a trigger. *sigh* Dairy might be too, but I still need to experiment a little with that to see.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause

In other news, look what came today! I love Amazon. I ordered this Friday night and it arrived today… Yes, on Sunday! 🙂 I hope this book holds some answers for me. I’m hoping I can make some changes in my life that will minimize Hashimoto’s impact and allow me to do more and enjoy more. If you would like to order your own copy, click here. (Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates program and get a small commission if you purchase through my link.)

I am going to spend the day reading this book and coming up with a game plan for my own “lifestyle intervention” for my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Healing Myself: Day 3

smoothieWell, yesterday went fairly well. I started the day off with an anti-inflammatory smoothie. It consisted of banana, strawberries, blueberries, mango, acai juice, and a little bit of milk (though I might switch to almond milk in the future). It was delicious and I felt fantastic yesterday morning. I also skipped my Prilosec. I didn’t have any heartburn or reflux, even though my husband and I had burgers and fries for dinner. (Yeah, I’m still working on cutting food like that out for a while.)

I didn’t take any Prilosec today either and I had another delicious smoothie this morning. If I feel up to it today, we’re going to go shopping for an exercise bike. If I don’t feel up to it, I think I’ll just sit outside for a while in the gorgeous sunshine with the pup. I don’t get nearly enough of that in Seattle, which is one of the reasons my doctor also has me on vitamin D supplements.

On the way home from work yesterday, a shuttle I was taking to the transit tunnel went past the Polyclinic on Madison. I got excited because I was trying to figure out on a map where it was and now I know exactly where it is in relation to work. It’s only a few blocks away, in fact! It’s a short walk, but it’s all uphill. Ugh. Anyway, there’s an endocrinologist specializing in thyroids there that I’m going to try to get in to see. He’s not taking any new patients unless they have a referral, so I’m hoping he’ll accept me. I’m really hoping he can help me get my TSH stable and my Hashimoto’s in remission.

Healing Myself: Day 1

blueberriesAfter the misery of yesterday, I know I need to seriously adjust my diet. I didn’t eat particularly bad yesterday, but I think it was a few squares of dark chocolate that did me in. So, today, I skipped the Prilosec and although I’m still recovering from the horrific heartburn of yesterday, I’m doing better.

Last night, I sat down and made a list of anti-inflammatory foods and a list of acid reflux/heartburn trigger foods. I went shopping with my husband today to stock up on anti-inflammatory foods (well, I helped a tiny bit and sat the rest of the time because I’m so weak and fatigued right now). He’s an excellent cook, so he’s really going to be my biggest help in trying to eat better. With the list of the acid reflux triggers, I am keeping them in a handy spot to refer to so I can avoid them. It won’t be easy because I love my coffee and chocolate! I will include the lists in a later post. Tonight, I’m too tired and brain dead to focus on writing for any length of time.

Wish me luck!