Its been a LONG Journey. almost 3 solid years of chronic pain. Today, I am living virtually pain free. I decided to share my story to give you hope- because you CAN get better too.. I don't care what your health circumstances.
In the winter of 2009 at the age of 25 I became pregnant. It was a surprise, but we were overjoyed. With that pregnancy came HORRIBLE morning sickness. Or so that's what I thought. In reality I was having severe sinus issues and my digestion became a complete mess. Headaches, nausea from post nasal drip, headaches. Each day was a struggle. Then, just as I entered the second trimester I miscarried. My health from that point on was never the same.
Months after the pregnancy my digestion continued to be off balance. One morning 6 months after the miscarriage I woke up with a stabbing pain in my right side.. as if someone was jabbing a pencil into me, over and over. That began the serious quest to get better.
Doctor after doctor after doctor. No one knew what was wrong. I tested negative for celiac and my health looked perfect on every other front according to bloodtests. . I suspected hypothyroidism as it runs in my family. But my doctors refused to treat me for that. Finally after seeing my 2nd gastroenterologist I was told my gallbladder was acting up. I did not have gallstones, but yet it was over- working and causing me the cramping and stabbing sensation. It took 7 months to get that diagnosis. During that time frame my digestion literally came to a hault. I became dependent on laxatives and fiber, which barely worked.
My gallbladder was removed, with the promise that my health would return to a perfect state thereafter. What they found during surgery.. was an extremely inflamed organ. I thought my struggles were over.. little did I know they had just began!
The stabbing pain went away, but my digestion worsened. Again I went on the circuit to find a doctor to figure me out. During this time I was in and out of the emergency room with heartburn so severe I was afraid to eat. I was exhausted, cold, my hair was falling out, my face and eyelids always puffy, I had muscle and joint pain so severe it was impossible to get out of bed some days. I was falling apart and no one could tell me why.
Finally, I struck gold. Doctor number 13 had my answer. Hypothyroidism- coupled with Hashimoto's disease. I sobbed tears of joy in the doctors office that day. She could have given me any diagnosis and I would have rejoiced. I had an answer! With that answer I knew that if I worked hard enough I would get better. And that is just what I did.
Due to the fact that I went undiagnosed for so long, my health issues had grown and spiraled into a much more complicated place that I had ever imagined. And I must note that after doctor #13.. I have since seen 3 more to really dig through all of the elements of my health crisis.
In additional to Hashimoto's I had:
- Severe Adrenal Fatigue
- A severe Candida Infection that had become systemic
- A leaky gut
- Metabolic Syndrome (I was borderline diabetic).
I began my healing journey. Its been a process! I wanted to share the many things that really made a difference for me:
- Going gluten and dairy free was my starting point. Eventually I moved to a grain free, low carb, sugar free diet.. that was the icing on the cake that really got me moving in the right direction. After about a year on this diet, I started feeling like a new person!
- In conjunction with the last tip- An elimination diet is essential. Its extremely extremely important to learn what foods cause problems for you, and which one are non-problematic. This will make or break your recovery. Many ask me what the perfect healing diet it. This diet will differ person to person. Only you will be able to figure out what your perfect eating plan is through trial and error.
- Making sure ALL of my vitamin needs are always met. With Hashimotos disease Iodine can be problematic- I took this multivitamin from Thorne.
- When receiving my diagnosis I was low in Vitamin D. This is common.. make sure to get your D up to perfect level.
- Taking fish oil! Balancing your omega 3's and 6's can make or break you when you are in a fragile inflammitory state.
- Taking HIGH levels of probiotics. I'm talking 100's of millions of thousands. I don't play around with this. With candida, and gut issues which are all too common with various autoimmune diseases probiotics are one of the MOST important things to incorporate. It is important to take probiotics seperate from your other supplements so that they are most effective. I start each morning with a hefty dose of probiotics with a tall glass of water and wait 30 minutes- 1 hour before I eat or take anything else.
- Drinking TONS of freshly made green vegetable juice. It will help you detox and reduce inflammation. You can get my recipe here.
- Minimizing my stress levels and meditating when I feel overwhelmed.
- Sleeping! I always, always get a solid 8 hours of sleep a night. Without this I start feeling crummy.
- In my case a dosage of armour thyroid was needed- I will probably remain on this medication forever, and I have no problem with that. Some people are able to wean off of thyroid medication if their thyroid has not become too damaged- I most likely will not be on of those individuals. Thyroid medication is harmless- there are no longterm health risks. Popping a pill every morning is something I am more than happy to do!
- I took L-Glutamine to assist in healing my leaky gut.
- I took a product called Glutithione Recycler . It supports the immune system and for many people acts almost like a bullet proof vest helping to decrease autoimmune attacks. I no longer seem to need this product- but it helped during my sickest period!
- For about 6 months on a weekly basis I went in for accupuncture. This helped balance my adrenals which made a huge different in my energy levels day to day. Money was tight, so I found a community acupuncture. This concept is growing- and you might be able to find one in your area. I paid only $15 per visit.
- Be cautious when trying new supplements. Try only one a a time per day as you never know if one may throw you off. For example: when you have an autoimmune disease its possible that the herbal supplements for adrenal fatigue could make you feel 100 times worse.
To deal specifically with the candida I have followed a careful protocol. I believe the years of slow digestion is what caused the candida to take over my digestive tract in turn causing the leaky gut- and then my food intolerances. This portion of the process has taken the longest to heal. I probably have at least another year of following this regimen.
- First its important to know that "die off" is a very real thing. You may get much worse before you start to feel better. This period of detoxing can be difficult. During my first heavy die of period I become very depressed, emotional, and felt like I had the flu every day for almost 2 months straight. It was difficult- but also the most important thing I pushed myself through. I'm still dealing with low level die off symptoms. Sometimes you have to be patient and be willing to deal with a little discomfort for your long term health.
- I learned that my adrenal fatigue, and blood sugar issues were directly related to the candida. As my candida started to get better under control those two issues began to dissipate.
- Following a low carb, sugar free diet has been essential for this department. I still adhere to this diet.
- I take a series of herbal antifungals. The best product I have tried (and I tried many) is GI Synergy . It does a remarkable job of cleaning out the candida from the digestive tract.
- Again, the probiotics.
- I discovered a product called Biofilm Defense and it made a HUGE difference in my treatment. Yeast has the ability to build up walls that prevent antifungals from getting in. The biofilm sweeps in and digests those walls which will make your other antifungals far more effective! Without this product I would not have made any progress.
- I take prescription antifungals. I go back and fourth between Nystatin and Diflucan. Whenever I take Nystatin I have it made by a compounding pharmacy as otherwise it contains sugar (seriously!!). If you have to go this route, call around to get quotes from various compounding pharmacies around the country as some will fill this script much cheaper than others.
- The latest treatment I started is through a doctor in NYC. Its called sublingual immunotherapy and it is used to build up the immune system. My doctor explained to me that in my case, the antifungals are only acting as a band-aid. That my immune system is functioning at a very low level. The sublingual immunotherapy treatment little by little is rebuilding my immune system so that it eventually will be strong enough to keep the candida in check all on its own without the help of antifungals. We all have candida- the difference is that those with a healthy immune system do not experience overgrowth in extreme ways as I have.
- I recently learned that if your thyroid hormone balance is off, specifically your T3 then its possible for your immune system to become sluggish which will allow for Candida and other infections to get out of control.
The bulk of our immune systems are in our guts! If there's a problem in the gut- your autoimmune disease can become crippling. My story is one of Hashimoto's- but these same results can be achieved with all of the autoimmune diseases. I have had friends reverse their MS and begin walking again. Friends that have put their lupus into remission.. I could go on.
During this process I have:
- Almost fully healed my leaky gut. I can tell this has happened as I continue to gain foods back that once made me sick. In the past few months I have been able to eat Goat and Sheep Dairy and all of the various nuts and seeds. Both of those food groups were problematic for a long time! I'm also able now to eat out safely without worrying I will react to every little thing that I order.
- I am free of chronic autoimmune attacks! I no longer suffer from daily joint pain. exhaustion and fatigue.
- My digestion is perfect! No more heartburn or constipation.
- My energy levels are great- and I no longer suffer from brain fog.
- My weight is perfect! I no longer have to worry about gaining weight easily.
- My adrenals are 90% healed. Unless I binge on a bunch of coffee and chocolate- I have a great steady supply of energy all day and sleep like a baby at night.
- No more blood sugar surges and drops. (These surges were once making my autoimmune attacks much worse!)
- I will FOREVER remain gluten free and avoid foods that my body isn't fond of. I am in this state of remission only due to my dedication to a careful diet. If I started eating gluten all of my health issues would return.
I need you to understand that you will get better, if you do one thing:
If your doctor doesn't seem to be helping you- find a new one. You must always be open to trial and error. You must be willing to give up favorite foods for a period of time to allow your body to heal. You'll probably have to make financial sacrifices, you'll have to buy quality food and learn to cook for yourself. On days when you feel terribly sick you might have to drag yourself out of bed to prepare HEALTHY food rather than ordering takeout. You must be willing to do whatever it takes to get better. If you take on that attitude YOU WILL GET BETTER. I am living proof. And in the end when you get through this you will be a stronger, happier more beautiful person than you ever thought possible.
Ps. A few resources for you:
- I have HUNDREDS of recipes that are free of common allergens. Use them and enjoy while you work your way through this healing process.
- I put together a list of recommended doctors. Some I have worked with-others came from reader recommendation. Take a peak at the list- and please leave a comment on that page if you have a physician that has helped you in a big way!
- If you want to learn more about the Ins and outs of Hashimoto's disease listen to this podcast.
- Have leaky gut? Here's the diet I used to get started in my healing.
- Here are my tips for overcoming candida
- Be cautious in listening to everyone else tell you how to heal- listen to your own gut. I talk more about this in my post titled "Don't be fooled by Diet Dogma".