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I love finding new worlds through writing and reading. I am excited by creating new flavours and tastes in the kitchen. I am fascinated by nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. I adore my my dog, family and friends.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Glimpse into Hashimoto's disease

I have Hashimoto's disease. This is an autoimmune disease, which means that my body is attacking itself.
For an unknown reason, I have a high level of antibodies in my blood. This could be because I have had many viruses and illnesses in the past, but even with modern science, it will probably always be a mystery to me. Many things can trigger Hashimoto's disease, and one thing is said to be food intolerances. I have struggled with increasingly worsening undiagnosed food intolerances for at least ten years. My gut was badly damaged and my adrenal gland's ability to produce the correct cortisol levels was effected before I discovered my severe gastro symptoms were caused by a wide range of food intolerances. So in my case, food intolerances could well be the reason for the development of Hashimoto's.
When I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto's two months ago, my level of antibodies was 2000. It is meant to be less than 60. Four days ago, it was 2700 (Needless to say, I am currently not feeling well!).
When I am having a Hashimoto's attack, and my antibodies increase, my body becomes confused and in trying to protect me from an outside intruder, thinks the cells that make up my thyroid are what it needs to attack. Subsequently, my thyroid tissue is slowly killed off, and my thyroid overproduces thyroid hormone in its distress. This causes me to be in a state of hyperthyroidism, causing symptoms such as nausea, muscles aches and pains, dizziness, light headedness, a vertigo like sensation, anxiety, foggy brain, memory loss and confusion, shakiness, blurry vision, a fast heart rate, extreme fatigue, an upset stomach, loss of appetite, severe insomnia, weight loss; generally feeling horrible and miserable!
Eventually, someone with Hashimoto's can get to a stage where the thyroid can not produce any more hormone, so then you sit in a state of hypothyroidism. Due to past symptoms, I can probably say I have been in this state, but as yet blood tests have not caught this stage since my diagnosis. I am currently on Carbimazole, a medication which stops my thyroid producing its own hormone so as it bring me down from hyperthyroidism (for the second time in two months!), it is possible to go hypo and I have to monitor for this. Symptoms can be severe fatigue, depression, weight gain, swelling, muscle aches etc.
Hashimoto's disease differs from other thyroid conditions. Ultimately it is an autoimmune disease which by chance chooses the thyroid to attack (Grave's disease is another autoimmune disease which happens to attack the thyroid). Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can be caused due to faults and damage to the thyroid. These can be treated by medication and apparently have a good success rate. (Some conditions result in the need for surgery though so they are by no means a walk in the park!). I wish I had been warned that treating Hashimoto's is different and can be difficult. My family and I heard "thyroid" and thought, based on experiences of several friends, it would be easily fixed. My doctor did mention, almost in passing, that the rule of thirds was relevant; one third of people treated feel a lot better, a third feel a bit better and a third don't feel better. However I wish he had given me more of a black and white warning. After years of doctor's shrugging their shoulders at you, you hear a diagnosis and think, this is it, I can be fixed.
The reason Hashimoto's can be difficult to treat is because of the fluctuating levels of hormones due to the attacks on the thyroid. It is therefore tricky to time commencement of thyroid hormone replacement without creating a state of hyperthyroidism. Hormone replacement is done with the intention of stopping your own production of thyroid hormone so that when the thyroid is under attack, there is not the overproduction of hormone and subsequent hyperthyroidism.
I have a long road ahead of me still. However, it feels like I have travelled miles and miles of mountainous terrain thus far in the lead up to diagnosis, so I feel I have no option but to be optimistic. It is possible that I may not tolerate the hormone replacement. I have to wait til my levels get lower again before I try again to commence it (I was commenced on it for the first time at diagnosis, and promptly went into hyperthyroidism, had lower levels then had an attack and went hyper again.) I feel apprehensive that when I commence therapy again, I will again go into hyperthyroidism. Not only does this mean that I might never successfully be able to undertake the treatment, it also means more time feeling horrible. Without therapy, I may have to put up with the symptoms I always get as my body fluctuates between low, normal and high levels of thyroid hormone. This is a bleak prospect as even at my best, I only get a few days a week of feeling good. I also feel apprehensive because if I feel worse again with the medication, or have to deal with symptoms without medication, I have difficultly maintaining a normal life; i.e my work attendance takes a beating, my social life is not existent; everything is affected.
I plan to blog my experiences and things I learn along my road since diagnosis. I have found it so helpful reading other people's experiences over the years, so I hope to give some help to others. I will also blog about food intolerances and the recipes I learn.


  1. Sounds like a great idea to blog about and very inspirational for others like myself, who would have no idea about such a disease. Best wishes for good health, a great blog and for the treatment to work!

  2. well I don't have too much time now , however have you heard about The Zenni Method used to treat people with thyroid's diseases? I deal with it in Poland where its more and more common.People from different parts of world come and learn it.IT is A PHYSICAL MEDICINE. I think in your country there are also therapists trained in this. Maybe you should check this website www.zennimethod.com or www.zenni.pl , don't worry it's in English too. It's just my suggestion:). Best regard !!!!

  3. Wow first I just have to say everything you described about hashimotos is how I feel every single day! Miserable, horrible fatigue, depression, anxiety, weight loss, loss of appetite, my hair falls out soo much I mean the list goes on and on and the non existent social life. Every part of your life is affected when you have this disease and other people just don't understand it and think your just exaggerating or making it up. But reading your story really helps comfort me to know I'm not crazy, this is a real disease and I'm not the only girl that deals with this horrible disease. I've only 21 years old and have only been diagnosed with it for about 1 year now and everything has changed for the worse ever since, but I keep my faith strong that my new naturopathic doctors treatment helps clear up my symptoms. Thank you again for this informative blog and know that it's really inspirational and helpful <3

    1. Hi Giselle. I am so sorry for my delayed response; I am really not sure how that happened!
      Thank you so much for your kind comment. I feel for you that you are going through such a hard time. It really can be a kick in the guts. It can be a major struggle. It is definitely difficult because every aspect of your life is affected as you say, and this is by no means helped by the ignorance that is often pointed our way. I really hope that things pick up for you soon. Keep strong, keep smiling. I know I was slow to respond, but please keep in touch, I'd love to know how you get on, and I am always here to chat.