Health

Hypothyroidism and my road to recovery

In October of 2015 I had almost overnight lost about a third of my hair and started having chronic muscle pain, joint stiffness, extreme irritability, depression, insomnia, mental fog and sensitivity to cold.  Five months earlier, I had completed my second bikini competition, bought a house, struggled with marital issues and dealt with the fear of layoffs at my corporate job.  The preparation for the second competition was much harder than the first despite dieting hard and I was stuck in a cycle of undereating during the week and binging on the weekend.  The hair loss was really embarrassing and I began wearing hair extensions all the time.  I knew something was wrong and the naturopathic doctor I was seeing ordered a blood test, but nothing was abnormal except for low blood sugar.

Thinking the low blood sugar was due to the low carb diet I was still stuck on from competition prep, I sought out the help of a new trainer, Scott Keppel, to help me reverse diet out of the low carb and low calorie eating. While Scott helped me fix my diet, my health issues did not improve.  Suspecting low thyroid although my labs showed the opposite, I started taking a natural thyroid supplement.  However, the symptoms still persisted.  What affected me the most was the constant irritability and muscle/joint pain.  I literally felt so angry all the time and snapped at everyone, especially my husband and kids, which made me feel horrible inside, but I couldn’t seem to control it.  My marriage suffered.  The muscle and joint pain made it very difficult to get through the workouts that used to energize me and be my stress release. However, I grinned and bared them.  The brain fog was so bad I had a hard time concentrating and fulfilling my duties at work. You can see from the picture below that I was not in a good place!

I switched naturopathic doctors in November 2016.  My blood tests still did not reveal hypothyroidism, but did indicate adrenal fatigue.  I started taking adrenal support supplements, but saw little improvement.  An exacerbating factor was my job that caused me endless stress.  I was a Director in Higher Education and our team was in constant fear of layoffs.  I felt like my primary goal was to make sure my team stayed employed and it was a large burden.

In June of 2016 blood tests finally revealed hypothyroidism. While it’s true that a majority of hypothyroidism is in fact an auto-immune condition called Hashimoto’s, I did not have this.  The problem was my T3 thyroid hormone converting to T4. This diagnosis was the beginning of reclaiming my health!  I was put on a low dose of Armour thyroid and noticed positive changes within a week.

However, this was not the end. I was on Armour for about a year and realized my symptoms creeping back up again. I was switched to a synthetic medication called Tirosint.  At first, it was amazing!!!  I had more energy than I had in years.  But about a month in, I started having extreme anxiety, depression and inability to sleep.  I literally felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin, was completely irrational and almost suicidal. My hair, which had been growing back, fell out again even worse than before.  Upon researching my symptoms, I was convinced the medication was too much, creating hyperthyroidism.

At this point, I was at rock bottom and desperate to get my health back. I switched doctors again, this time to a practice I was referred to a year earlier called Integrative Health. They were expensive, I’m not going to lie.  That is why I didn’t go in the first place, but they specialize in thyroid and hormonal issues.  Upon seeing Dr. Linda Khoshaba, I felt hope for the first time in a long while because she was so thorough with my blood work.  She switched my medication back to a natural form called WP Thyroid.  The medication not only supports T3 and T4 thyroid hormones like most medications, it covered the whole spectrum from T1 to T5.  Within a month, my thyroid levels stabilized again.  She did a scope on my hair and shared the positive news that the hair loss was not genetic, but metabolic and would improve. She put me on new adrenal supplement and prescribed B12 shots for severe deficiency.

All of these interventions began to work.  However, perhaps the biggest revelation I had was my stress levels and how they were affecting my conditions. I was very unhappy in my career but had been too scared to leave the security it provided.  I had worked hard to get to where I was and made six figures.  Although I had accomplished a lot, it was nothing when my happiness and health were at stake.  So I hired a career coach and began the process of moving my career to health, nutrition and fitness full time.  I have almost completed my NASM personal training certification and will begin training in person at STS in Chandler, AZ.  I also am pursuing my Integrative Nutrition certification through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.  I also started this blog!

 

It is my passion to help others through my own struggles and experiences!  Please let me know if you have any questions about the interventions I took or are interested in nutrition or personal training.

2 thoughts on “Hypothyroidism and my road to recovery

  1. What an amazing story, Hilary! I too have been losing my hair and I’ve attributed it to stress. It’s a very stressful place to work as we both know. I find that working from home a few days helps but either way it’s not good long term.

    You always appear so in control and organized, and I’ve always looked up to you. This raw honesty only makes me respect you more. And, I’m so happy that you are on a new path! It sounds like you have dialed in your health needs and losing the work stress has to be icing on the cake. I wish you all the best in life and cannot wait to see all the heights you will reach!

    1. Thanks so much Amelia! I did feel that I couldn’t truly be myself at the previous workplace. I’m glad I looked like I had it together when I kind of didn’t! LOL. Thanks so much for your support and I wish you the best too!

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