Nine months ago I had my 3rd baby. It was my 3rd c-section and when I found myself still in pain months after having her, I chalked it up to little sleep, less exercise than usual and carrying around extra weight due to pregnancy.
I was active my entire pregnancy and despite some heartburn, felt pretty good, so it was frustrating that I felt worse after having her than I did while pregnant.
As the months began to pass, my pain progressively got worse. Also, my thyroid wasn’t regulating and every 6-8 weeks my Synthroid dosage was changing due to my thyroid levels.
I could feel water in my legs.
I was exhausted.
I was overwhelmed.
When showering, I was losing hair by the handful.
My nails were splitting.
My entire body ached, especially my back, legs and feet.
I was gaining weight.
I wondered if I had postpartum depression or was I just not handling life with 3 kids well.
In October I asked my husband if he felt like his bones were breaking when he laid in bed at night, he looked at me and said, “Um, No.”
It was a realization that I needed to figure out what was going on, even if I was afraid of what I may find.
I had been following Lindsay O’Reilly on Instagram, she is a registered dietitian in Kansas City who specializes in thyroid health. I have had hypothyroidism for 10 years so I was interested in learning what she was sharing about taking care of your thyroid.
She shared a few things regarding Hashimoto’s and I could relate to the symptoms she was talking about.
In November of 2019 I scheduled a consultation. She spoke with me about the symptoms I was experiencing and ordered bloodwork and told me more about Hashimoto’s and how many who have it are undiagnosed.
On November 18, 2019 I received my bloodwork and I learned that my thyroid antibodies were raised, and as a result, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.
What does Hashimoto’s disease do to your body?
According to the Mayo Clinic, Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam’s apple.
The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s functions.
What are the signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease?
Hashimoto’s usually develops slowly and the symptoms are those of hypothyroidism and it causes chronic thyroid damage.
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Pale, dry skin
- A puffy face
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Enlargement of the tongue
- Unexplained weight gain
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Memory lapses
Information provided by Mayo Clinic
I was experiencing many of these symptoms and unable to find any relief. I was taking Advil nightly just to get to sleep and many times I was waking in the night (in the small windows where I wasn’t up feeding Kate already) because my joints and my back were so achy.
Nights were my worst.
After laying down and getting up just to walk down the hall to my daughters room, I felt like my feet could break and I couldn’t stand up straight because my back was aching so badly.
I had to become an advocate for my own health.
The pain I was experiencing was greater than the fear of finding out what was going on.
My life has been impacted significantly since learning about my diagnosis and I’ve taken some time to adjust and honestly, grieve a little.
Finding out that I have an autoimmune disease isn’t something I thought I’d ever have to face, but I am, and I have made peace with my diagnosis and what my life will look like moving forward in order to feel my best.
What is an autoimmune disease?
An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body.
According to bloodwork, I’ve had this disease for at least 10 years, unbeknownst to me.
The fact that no one told me about this, nor did they ever test me for it when I already had hypothyroidism, is something I’m pretty frustrated about to be honest.
Most doctors don’t test thyroid antibodies, they usually test your TSH and your T4, neither of which will tell you if you have increased thyroid antibodies indicating an autoimmune disease. I am thankful I’ve spent the last few years listening to my body and it’s needs, I think it helped me realize that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal and needed to be addressed.
Now, more than ever, I am so thankful for my journey. My journey led me here and I’m finally healing.
I have made some dietary changes based on the recommendations from my R.D. and my Chiropractic Internist.
Upon diagnosis, I was encouraged to remove gluten from my diet from my doctors. Years ago this would have crushed me, I would have been so bitter and angry… I’m not saying I haven’t had moments of sadness, but I am willing to do what it takes for my body to feel better.
After 5 weeks of gluten free I wasn’t seeing a signifiant decrease in pain yet so they suggested I eliminate dairy and see if I found relief.
That was almost 2 weeks ago and I am beginning to feel less pain. Hallelujah.
I am not making these dietary changes for weight loss… I am making these changes because of health reasons. While weight loss could be a result of these changes, it is not my primary focus.
When you have chronic pain, it steals joy from your life, and I had had enough.
I am eating wholesome food that doesn’t contain gluten or dairy because my body could potentially function better and decrease my pain. I’m so thankful to be working with practitioners who respect my disordered eating history and are keeping a close eye on me in this process. I told them from the get go that I will not diet, because it’s never served me well in the past. Thankfully, neither of them encourage dieting so I felt like God placed the right people in my life during a vulnerable season.
I do not feel triggered right now, I feel empowered.
My doctors shared with me that when you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease you are 3 times as likely to develop another one.
That was enough for me.
That scared me.
I have 3 children who are 8, 4 and 9 months… I have a lot of years left to be the active Mom I want to be. I don’t want to miss out on their childhood because I can’t move without wincing in pain or taking Advil everyday just to get through my day.
I want to live a full life. I can and I will.
There are worse things I could be facing.
I can manage this.
It’s changed my life and my outlook, but I am leaning into this and will continue to take steps towards healing from the inside out.