Symptom Management: Weight

Introduction

Hey, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. You’ve heard it. A million times. “Diet and exercise would help you lose weight.” But what if there’s more? Holding to this advice alone can leave you frustrated and dejected. But know for thyroid warriors, weight issues is more dynamic than that. We are not crazy or lazy. We are working double time towards a healthier body. Fortunately, weight can be regulated, even with our disease, but it’s a fight. 

Round One: Meds

You’re cruising the highway. The wind blows and the scenery flies by you. But you slow. You push the pedal down, but sputter to a stop. A little orange light glares and you know, you’re going nowhere without gas. Expecting weight loss without getting your thyroid hormones optimal, is as effective as running a car without gas. Because thyroid hormone regulates weight, no amount of diet and exercise can compensate for uncontrolled hormone levels. So medication optimization is first on my list for a reason; it’s the cornerstone to weight loss. 

Round Two: Listening 

A yawn is not a silent scream for coffee, as much as I hate to admit it. It’s your body asking for a need, sleep. Listening to your body isn’t some mystical concept. It’s giving weight (pun intended) to your body’s basic needs. Tracking my diet is one way I learned to listed to my body’s needs. (See “Round Three” below for common problem foods.)  Second, and to my great pleasure, listen to stress levels. When we’re stressed, our bodies increase cortisol levels, which lowers thyroid levels, causing us to gain weight. This is part of the reason extreme calorie restrictions don’t work for thyroid patients. Our bodies are already taxed, adding the stress of excessive calorie restrictions doesn’t help. And if you’re like me, stress leads to gobbling cookies like Shaggy and Scooby. So soak in that bath. See that old friend. Walk in that park. There are many needs we can be attentive to, such as thirst, indigestion, sensitivity to cold, etc. study your body, to understand its needs.

Round Three: Food and water

While “don’t eat fast food or binge drink soda” remains universally good advice, there’s more to diet for thyroid warriors. For us, food can cause weight gain through inflammation. After having kids, I was puffy Marshmallow Meghan. Pictures made me shutter until I read about inflammation. The table below outlines some foods that commonly cause inflammation. I would recommend removing as many as reasonable from your diet, then adding them back in, one at a time. I allowed a few weeks between introductions, to mark how they affected me.  I post a lot of my meals on our Instagram account. They are all easy, family meals.

Foods that cause me inflammationFoods I eat like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka
Refined carbs, ie: “white” bread, rice etc  Sugar, Has many listed names, Trans fats, Gluten, dairy, Processed meats oils, alcoholWhole, high healthy fat, plant based proteins, fish, gluten-free food,  fruit and veggies

Another helpful tip for weight loss is to drink plenty of water. No only does this keep the body happily hydrated, it fills the stomach. Diet is a broad topic, which I hope to chat about again at the Thyroidcafe. 

Round Four: Exercise 

I subconsciously took a deep breath before writing this. If you struggle with weight caused by thyroid disease, it is likely your thyroid hormone is on the lower side. If so, you may feel exhausted by the normal events of life. I don’t want to apply undue pressure to people already suffering. Regarding exercise, do what you can, when you can. Gentle exercise, such as walking, swimming and biking are a place to start, once you feel healthy enough to do so. 

Conclusion 

I desperately want to take the burden of this disease from my fellow sufferers. The exhaustion, depression, sensitivity to cold – all of it. But the worst for me was the preconceived notions of others. Maybe it was my age, but I spent years crushed by worry that others would think I was “just lazy and fat.” But ten years on, this previously “lazy, fat” woman just wants to be healthy. I wish we could change the narrative from weight loss, to healthy weight. Because excess weight is a symptom of a larger medical issue. Prescription optimization, diet, and exercise will help you lose weight. But the bigger reward is gaining back our health. 

Sources

Symptom Management: Pain

Introduction

Hey, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. It’s 2012. 9:00 pm and I’m in bed. Twisting and rubbing my neck, and shoulders. Attempting to silence snarling muscles. My elbows and knees soon join the cacophony, so I give up and hobble to the kitchen for pain meds. My grandmother and I walk the same way, I’m sixty years her junior. What was I to do? In those days, I popped Tylenol like a desperate starving animal. I had to find a better treatment option. 

The cause of thyroid pain

Thyroiditis could be the cause of your pain. If the front of your neck, jaw or face hurt, a doctor should be seen. Other auto-immune diseases may also be a cause of your pain. For example, arthritis is more likely in thyroid patience than the general population. Thirdly, under treated hypothyroidism is a common cause of joint and muscle pain. But what about this sporadic, systemic dull ache? Diet is the cause I have found through support groups, and personal experience. Dairy was the cause of my pain, but each person must do her own detective work. 

How to treat it 

The simple answer: you can take Neo’s red pill (Tylenol) and go down the rabbit hole of masking your soreness and avoiding the problem. But my pain persisted and I needed an explanation. Around that time, I read about the AIP diet. As I was stumbling and slurping through the diet, I noticed my body pain left. After reintroducing dairy, my pain returned. I am not recommending we put cows permanently out to pasture, but rather that each of us tries an elimination diet, to see what helps.

If you’re having other low thyroid symptoms or your pain is accompanied by swelling of your joints, it’s best to consult a physician and rule out other causes. Keep in mind, even if your blood test comes back in the normal range, it may not be optimal. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor and work towards optimization. As always, I recommend being your own Thyroid advocate.

Conclusion

Because thyroid disease has multiple manifestations, I am doing a series on Symptom Management.  Joint and muscle pain can have many causes and it may take time and detective work to find the root cause of your pain, but there are solutions. So now, after dietary changes, I can sit in bed at 9:00 pm and binge watch Netflix like a normal semi-adult. No Tylenol needed. 

“Womans world” and Thyroid Rescue

Introduction

Hi, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. I wanted to review a  “Woman’s world” article today.  Many in the thyroid community find these articles frustrating. I have read they are misleading and harmful to those who have thyroid disease, so I thought I would look for myself. Amist recipes of bright berry cobbler and Meringue cake, is a two page spread, declaring “Thyroid rescue!” It promises to “reactivate your thyroid to melt thirty pounds in thirty days.” I was cautiously curious.

The Good 

A bold red banner declares “Thyroid Rescue” on July’s front cover, putting our disease literally front and center. At 600,000 copies sold a month, I’m thankful to raise awareness about thyroid disease. Inside the article, it “encourages everyone” to try eliminating sugar and gluten from their diet. It’s great to make the dangers of processed foods known. Giving further hope, the author highlights the importance of diet for thyroid patients by giving the testimony of thyroid warrior who gained health and lost weight on her diet. Excellent! To the right of her picture is a small paragraph. It is the only place in which they outline actual thyroid symptoms and advice. 

The Bad 

While the dietary advice is sound, the article isn’t about thyroid disease. It misleads people into thinking diet either causes or cures thyroid disease. The reader may think those who gain weight because of their thyroid disease can loose weight by changing their diet alone. This is not entirely true. For more information, click here. While diet plays a role in thyroid disease; I hate to think of people judging others based on this articles misinformation. 

The Ugly

What was great about this article, is crammed into the bottom corner. Symptoms are a one sentence synopsis, and medical treatments are an afterthought. If the article is about “Thyroid Rescue,” it’s pertinent to explain the disease and other treatments available. This would be of use to us fighting the disease and to promote understanding and sympathy.  The article places too much focus on one symptom, weight gain. Simplifying symptoms to a weight issue, misleads the reader to play on common insecurities of women. This disease has a dynamic and fundamental effect on its sufferers and the article misses that point.

Conclusion

Sadly, the “Woman’s World” article reflects a common ignorance towards our disease. The simplified suggestions of dietary changes and “sleep 7 hours” belittle the disease and treatments thyroid sufferers face. While I recognize this is no medical journal, it is one way the public sees our disease. I wish the author was more diligent in her studies. Despite this, it puts thyroid illness on display; it promotes a healthy diet and it motivates me to keep telling the truth about our disease. 

Medical Marijuana

Introduction 

Welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. You may remember the marijuana of the psychedelic sixties, part of the counterculture movement. Or maybe you’re like me and the “War on Drugs” in the 80’s villainized marijuana as a gateway drug. Now in 2019, we are seeing the marijuana plant in a more dynamic way. No longer demonized, but studied. Through this we have learned about the properties of marijuana and its medical uses. But before we move Thyroidcafe to Amsterdam, let’s examine the medical benefits and risks of this controversial plant. 

Plant Parts: Chemicals in Marijauna and What They Do

There are two well understood chemicals in cannabis, THC and CBC, though there are more. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the chemical in marijuana that gives you the “high.” THC benefits are anti-inflammatory properties, has dopamine (pain killer), can ease your mind, and increases appetite. Now I don’t need any help finding the chips and I need my mind firmly inside my body, so the following is my preferred option. CBD (cannabidiol) is the no-high alternative to THC. It is also anti-inflammatory, has dopamine (pain killer) and can ease your mind. I will discuss THC and CBC more blow. Because of the restriction on marijuana, the other chemicals found in marijuana are less studied.  

A Plant by Any Other Name

You go to the store and there’s all the tomatoes. Some are for hamburgers, others for salad and there’s always those Roma’s nobody knows what to do with. Pizza? Fancy pizza?

 

Anyways, like tomatoes, marijuana has many varieties. But I will explore the three most notable . Cannabis Indica is known for its relaxation qualities, both mental and physical. It also decreases nausea, pain, and increases appetite. Another variety is Cannabis Sativa. I use this variety during the day as it is not a sedative. It dulls my pain, increases creativity, focuses me and even gives me energy. This is a picture of the product I use, it’s sold in most health food stores.


 Lastly, Cannabis Ruderalis is naturally high in CBD and low in THC, giving it no “high.” It does a great job treating depression. Each species of cannabis can be made to have more or less CBD and THC. Keeping the species in mind enables you to treat your symptoms specifically. 

What does Medical Marijuana treat? 

With the Opioid Crisis rearing its ugly head, pain management is one of the most sought after characteristics of marijuana. Many people with thyroid problems suffer from anxiety and depression. Personally, I have found relief from both using Cannabis Sativa. Medical marijuana also helps with insomnia. On the other hand, some strains of cannabis can give you more energy and clarity of thought. This is why it’s important to know the variety. Lastly, all varieties helps with inflammation. While this isn’t a miracle drug, there are obvious benefits to be explored. For a list of other diseases cannabis is thought to help, see below the conclusion. 

More than Puff, Puff, Pass: Types of Marijauna products

Before you bless the neighbours with a skunk-like smell, let’s discuss your options for taking medical marijuana. Availability depends on where you are, so please explore. Both CBD and THC oils can be bought online. Oils have a high concentration, so a little drop ‘ill do ya. See below for how much I take (140 lbs)

Half a dropper full is enough for me.

 I use the CBD oil to relieve my pain, anxiety and ease my depression. Next are waxes, or butane hash oil, they can be vaporized. It is potent and is popular for those treating chronic pain. Tinctures sound more exciting than they are. To make tinctures, alcohol is infused with cannabis and take a few drops under the tongue. Taking it this way allows it to take effect faster and last longer (45 mins-ish). Balms take the high out of cannabis. Lotions, sprays and topical oils are rubbed into the skin for pain relief. There are also suppositories and lets just say, I will not be going there. 

Risks of Marijuana

There are some risks to using medical marijuana. Firstly, if you choose to smoke it, there are the respiratory risks inherent to smoking anything. Secondly, short term memory loss is marked in some users. Lastly, prejudice from your employer or school. Even CBD shows up on a drug test, so know the policies in place that may limit your use.

Conclusion 

So let’s let the reputation of marijuana in the sixties pass, most people don’t remember the sixties anyways! And let’s set aside the War on Drugs to look reasonably at a product that could help us. Like opioids, marijuana needs to regulation to prevent misuse. But, that does not negate valid medical characteristics. If you are uneasy about hallucinogenic properties, try CBD. If you prefer not to smoke, try balms or oils. While I won’t be watching reruns of Harold & Kumar and chowing on Cheezies anytime soon, I will use marijuana to manage my symptoms. So what do other thyroid patience think about this taboo subject? Do you use medical marijuana? See our Facebook and Instagram or comment here. 

Other diseases cannabis can help: Glaucoma, arthritis, cancer, migraines, anorexia, depression, anxiety, stress, nausea , PTSD, Insomnia, Crohn’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, ADHD, Epilepsy, PMS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease 

Medication Basics

Introduction

Hey, and welcome to the Thyroidcafe. Grab a seat and join me as we discuss the basics of medication. I’m thankful my local pharmacist let me interview her for this blog. She rattled off medication names long enough to dominate a Scrabble board and I grew in my knowledge. She explained each medication, who takes them and the best way to do so. Her information corroborated with the online studies I read. So I combined the information for you; I hope you like it. 

Hormone Basics

As I wrote previously (https://thyroidcafe.com/2019/07/09/diagnosis-story-part-3-getting-the-diagnosis/ ), knowing about your disease empowers you to make better choices for your health. Here is information to help:

  1.  Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) prompts your body to make T4, which in turn produces T3. The prevailing theory on thyroid treatment is that by adding T4, the body will produce T3.  
  1. When doctors take our “Thyroid Levels,” they usually measure Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH). Here is a table to keep in mind when reading your TSH panel. 
TSH Normal Thyroid Range: 0.4 – 4.0 mU/L TSH At Risk: 2.5 m U/L – 4 mU/L
TSH Ideal Range: 2.5 mU/L 

Who can take thyroid medication 

The medication we are discussing is for people with Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism. Restrictions on who can take it depends on allergies. (For example, food colouring.) Also, morality as there are animal products in some pills. 

Medications available

There are two broad categories of thyroid medication, synthetic and desiccated. Synthetic medication has many brands (Lavothyroxine, Levoxyl, Synthroid, Tirosint and Unithroid.) All synthetic brands contain solely T4. Desiccated pills are derived from either bovine or swine. Some common brands are Armour Thyroid, Nature-Thyroid, WP Thyroid, NP Thyroid. Because of their source, they contain both T4 and T3. (See below for more information) My pharmacist noted, desiccated pills are almost always on backorder. So talk to your local pharmacist about supply. 

Which medication do I choose?

Most people start with synthetic pills. They are more reliable as T4 levels are lab tested. The pharmacist recommends Synthroid as it comes in small doses increments, giving more accuracy. Desiccated pills, or animal derived pills, contain both T4 and T3. They are controversial because their hormone levels are tested less frequently. However, some studies show that a subgroup of patients improvement in mood and cognitive function on Desiccate pills. Most online articles advocate for Desiccate pills and  I hope to try them. I will report back. To read more studies, click here https://academic.oup.com/labmed/article/41/6/338/2657554. Most studies conclude that if symptoms continue, it is good to try desiccated pills.  

How do I take  medication and missed doses?

Both types of thyroid medication are best taken first thing in the morning; as they must be taken on an empty stomach. Take your medication and then wait a half hour to eat or take other medicine. It is also important to take your pills at a consistent time each day. Missed pill should be taken as soon as possible.  My pharmacist suggested that if over a few hours late, skip that day and resume a normal schedule the next day. Do not double up your pills. 

Conclusion

These are the fundamentals of thyroid medication. It is a broad and deep subject. As we grow in the knowledge of our disease, we empower ourselves to take our health into our own hands. Knowing the medications, opens our options if symptoms reappear. Once we decide, taking our pills as prescribed enables us to benefit fully from them. Now. Can someone please tell me how to wait a half hour for my coffee?

Gluten and the Thyroid Warrior

Introduction

Hey, I’m glad to see you at the Thyroidcafe. I’ve been looking forward to this topic for weeks. I know many thyroid patients suffer from the tummy troubles, as I have. So coming across this study fascinated me. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2111403/#!po=9.25926 In it, the correlation between thyroid illnesses and celiac disease is explained, as well as the symptoms of celiac disease, and testing options. But mostly, I was excited to see who was statistically most at risk of developing celiac disease, silencing critics with science. The study is thorough, but long winded, so I will summarize it here. 

Symptoms of celiac disease

I know you could just Wiki this, but here are a few:

Okay, plot twist! There aren’t necessarily any symptoms.

Seriously?!

This table outlines other symptoms that are often associated with silent celiac disease.

Thyroid Disorders and celiac disease

Yeah… so even though celiac disease was first described in the 19th century, it is underdiagnosed because some people with celiac disease show few symptoms.

Celiac disease isn’t common in the general population; only about 1% have it. However, there is a fivefold increase amongst Hashimoto’s sufferers. Those with hypothyroidism also have a slightly higher chance of having celiac disease, and those with Graves’ disease have a normal chance. The interesting thing is, both celiac disease and Hashimoto’s share the same genetic markers. It’s no wonder so many thyroid warriors suffer from sensitive tummies!

The Table below shows the prevalence of celiac disease in autoimmune thyroid disorders as shown in multiple different studies.

Author (year of publication)Population screenedPrevalence of CD
Collin et al (1994)4183 autoimmune thyroid disease4.8%
Sategna-Guidetti et al (1998)76152 autoimmune thyroid disease3.3%
Cuoco et al (1999)7822 Hashimoto’s disease
23 Graves’ disease
4.3%
Valentino et al (1999)77150 autoimmune thyroid disease3.3%
Berti et al (2000)79172 autoimmune thyroid disease3.5%
Volta et al (2001)80220 autoimmune thyroid disease3.2%
Larizza et al (2001)8190 Pediatric autoimmune thyroid disease7.8%
Meloni et al (2001)82297 autoimmune thyroid disease4.4%
Mainardi et al (2002)83100 autoimmune thyroid disease2%
Ch’ng et al (2005)42115 Graves’ disease4.5%

How to test for celiac disease

A simple blood test can determine if you have celiac disease. This test is both inexpensive and relatively painless. Eating gluten for a few weeks is the only preparation needed. The other testing option is surgical, in which a sample of the small intestine is taken and tested.

Who should test for celiac disease?

Given the increased prevalence and genetic links, testing is reasonable for those with Hashimoto’s disease, hypothyroidism, and any autoimmune disease. If you are experiencing any symptoms or have a family history of celiac disease, it’s reasonable to be tested as well. 

Why Bother?

I was diagnosed with celiac disease years before reading this study… but also there’s cookies. Before reading this study, I didn’t know that keeping a gluten-free diet can reduce the complications of thyroid disease. Some symptoms which are minimized when celiac’s keep a gluten-free diet are, malabsorption of vitamins, osteoporosis, lymphoma and aiding in absorption of thyroid medication. (See study linked above for details) While I knew anecdotally that I felt better gluten-free, I didn’t understand the depth of damage done.  

Conclusion 

It’s important to note that a gluten-free diet doesn’t prevent autoimmune or thyroid diseases, but it can help improve them. If you are a thyroid patient, and especially one with Hashimoto’s disease, testing for celiac disease is the obvious choice. A simple blood test and change in diet can be an easy step towards a healthier you. I will be posting some gluten-free food choices on Instagram if you are interested. Now off to brush up on my baking as it looks like we will be serving gluten-free goodies at the Thyroidcafe.

Diagnosis Story: Part 3 Getting the Diagnosis

Introduction

Hi, Welcome to the Thyroidcafe, I’m glad you could come. If you’re new, welcome, I hope you find a home here. I’m looking forward to the final installment of the Diagnosis Story. In part two, I introduced my husband. You may remember us as the fools who rushed in? Well, this fool had a little diamond on her left hand before long. In the other hand though, was the responsibility of caring for my terminally ill dad. The difficulty of this time were seen as the cause of my symptoms, until one day I took my health into my hands. A short and deceptive conversation later, I had a diagnosis and prescription in hand. 

The Wedding 

We decided to marry in haste. Being that my dad only had a matter of months, we arranged the wedding in just three months. One thing I wanted to get right was the dress. Despite this, the prospect of trying on dresses seemed like swimming through a pool of melted marshmallows. Exhaustion and brain fog detached me from this happy time. I tried to smile at the appropriate moments, tried to enjoy, but I was too tired. I did, in fact, sleep through many of the major choices made in wedding preparation. My husband stepped in, picking food, setting up decor, and organizing our family. With the kind help of my mom and future mother-in-law, I did get a dress. I hope they understand my gratitude. 

The Funeral 

One thing my family couldn’t help me with was my father’s illness. On our wedding day, he was too sick to attend. Because of the sensitive nature of this time, even I excused my symptoms of depression and exhaustion. My dad died December 12, 2008. Funeral arrangements and other end-of-life affairs are all a blur to me. The depth of my grief fueled an angry, determined fire in me; I needed to get healthy. 

The Hope

Anger is not something women generally speak about. One regret I have is not being open to my doctor about my mental health. I did open up to Google though. After entering my symptoms online, I scrolled through.  I came across a video. A man described symptoms. I found myself in each one. I fought back tears. Hashimoto’s disease. The prospect of a name for my struggle was such a relief. He ended the video saying “there is hope” and there is. 

The Deceptive Diagnosis

Having frequent visits to my doctor during this period, she was clearly annoyed to see me again. In my ignorance, I thought she would be happy that I figured out what was wrong. I was mistaken. She brushed me aside, rejecting my idea. On those sidelines, I made a plan. After she came back from a vacation, I vaguely referenced our thyroid conversation, inferring that she concluded I had Hashimoto’s disease. Then I politely asked for a prescription. I don’t remember if she took blood test or not. But after a lifetime, she gave me my diagnosis.  

Conclusion

Thyroid warriors fight twice. We fight life’s normal battles, and then we take up arms against chronic illness. After repeatedly being overlooked by the medical system, I took a risk and got my diagnosis. While this wasn’t the wisest choice, (I did find a new doctor, and was properly diagnosed) I learned a valuable lesson, my health is my responsibility. That is why Thyroidcafe, and places like it, are so important. So that all thyroid patients can know, there is hope. So thanks, for reading this and joining me in spreading awareness of thyroid diseases.

Diagnosis Story: Part 2 Dreams and Doctors


Introduction

Thanks for coming for part two of my diagnosis journey. Read part one in the post entitled “Early Symptoms.” Though writing my story has been difficult, it has been enlightening to reflect on the events leading up to my diagnosis. As I share, I hope to inspire others to tell their thyroid story as well. This helps to create community and awareness about our disease. Thank-you to those who have already shared on our Facebook group. 

A Dream and a Nightmare

After breaking up with my boyfriend, (see previous post) my ambition of doing humanitarian aid was coming true. Arriving in Mexico City, I took a taxi, a four-hour bus ride, and then another taxi to Morelia; a picturesque city in central Mexico. Immediately greeted by the hospitality of the Mexican people, I felt this my destiny. Warm days turned into the rainy season, and my symptoms attacked again. At about one hundred pounds, my almost six-foot frame was skeletal. Exhaustion degraded me from barely walking, to bed bound, so I was taken to hospital. There I got no real answers. Dejected, I return to my bed, hoping my illness would pass. It was a humbling process to have the people I came to serve, help me.

Red Walls and Medication

There was an English speaking caregiver who often visited the orphanage. On one such visit, she suggested I see her doctor.  Driving through a residential area, we arrived at an apartment building. Greeted at the door, we were taken to a small home office. Red walls were covered in a near comical amount of Catholic shrines. A dark wood desk took up most of the room with an exam table pushed into the corner.  After a short exchange, the doctor asked me to lie on the table; I didn’t realize what was coming. A sharp needle in my bottom delivered an anonymous medication. I was sent back to the orphanage with half a dozen prescriptions and the little round doctors’ best intentions. After a week I could walk and eat, so I decided to go back to Canada.

Making it Home

I have no memories of the taxi rides, bus trip or flight home. Except for a brigade of soldiers coming to inspect the bus. They forced me out and I remember thinking I should be scared, but was unable to feel any emotion. Men in uniform asked to open my luggage. Finding the medication, they hotly debated what to do with me. I did somehow end up back on the bus, but how that situation was resolved, I still don’t know. I took great comfort arriving back in Canada. My family doctor ended up diagnosing me with an infection in my stomach lining, Mono and a few other infections. Relieved to have a diagnosis, I assumed all would get better.

It’s Not Your Thyroid

In time, I was well enough to work. Even so, I had memory loss and muscle weakness, so I returned to the doctor. She sent me to an endocrinologist, suspecting a thyroid problem. After blood work, the endocrinologist said my thyroid antibodies were in the two thousands. But continued to say that this in no way indicated a thyroid problem. As I left her office, something felt wrong, but I pushed it aside. Years later, a new family doctor would tell me that the endocrinologist in question was “a quack.” At the time though, I trusted her completely. Months later, I noticed a man at church. He had a loud laugh and a passion for God. My future husband and I started dating and, like happy fools, we rushed in. Our joy was soon halted however, when I had to sit him down and tell him, my dad had terminal cancer. 

Conclusion

Traveling to Mexico, I had chased a dream. Even though it didn’t work out as planned, the people will always have a place in my heart. Through the fog of my medicated mind, I made it back to Canada and even to an endocrinologist. The sadness of my missed diagnosis was butted up against meeting one of the most important people in my life, my husband. By the next flare up, my body had a recognizable pattern of symptoms, but one thing had changed. I had grown to become fiercely determined to find out, for myself, what was going on. (To be told in part three) So, how did you get your diagnosis? Did you fall through the cracks of the medical system? Tell me your story on our social media or comment below. Thank-you for taking the time to join me at the Thyroidcafe. 

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Diagnosis Story: Part 1 Early Symptoms

Welcome

Hey, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. I see some new people, pull up a seat. At the Thyroidcafe, we build thyroid awareness, knowledge and community. So I will start by sharing my story. I will post my diagnosis story over the next two blogs and would love to hear yours. You can do so by commenting below or search “Thyroidcafe” on most social media platforms. Let’s share our stories to build community at the Thyroidcafe.

A baby without a backstory

My story starts without one. Adopted in 1987, my medical history was for government eyes only. Without a family history, my early symptoms seemed unlinked. My family traveled a lot and one summer we went to California. As I sat in my aunts’ 90s minivan, I read the outside temperature, 100 degrees. I asked for a sweater. Because of my defunct temperature guage, my family affectionately called me “the hothouse plant.” At one point, there was an unusual bump on the front of my neck. But generally, I was a happy, healthy child.

The Middle Years

In my teenage years, my symptoms became more obvious, but remained undiagnosed. Dry skin formed on my face and I struggled with my mental health, but many teenagers have these problems. One distinct symptom was the pain in my knees. I would rub them and take pain relievers to cope. Eventually I saw a physiotherapist. When she initially bandaged my knees, they felt better. With the promise of braces, I thought the problem was solved. However, when taking the bandages off, I was left with red welts and swelling from the adhesive. I decided not to go back. Eventually, my pain subsided, so I no longer pursued the matter.  Later I found out she had a reputation for her malpractice and they offered compensation. Music also marked my middle years, with joy. Choir was a bi-weekly event. Because of this, I noticed a change in my voice. I moved from soprano (high pitched) to alto, (low pitched). These changes were seen as normal or part of my quirky personality. I knew I was different; I just didn’t know I was sick.

As a Young Adult

After graduating high-school, things settled down for a time. I traveled, hiked and made a fated plan, move to Mexico. Then a boy interrupted, as they do. He and I moved to a new town. Upon pursuing a job, I couldn’t even muster the energy to write a resume. Fatigue crippled me into unemployment. When I got a job, I could not keep it because of my impaired short-term memory. I would stand, adding up change at the till. Losing track, I would start over, repeatedly. My short term memory was fading.  When I would come home to our apartment, the brown couch was my comfort and cage. My stomach ached due to constipation. So much so, I pulled my body to Emergency one morning. There the doctor X-rayed me and asked to follow up. Upon doing so, she questioned my digestion but investigated no further. This was the second of many times I fell through the healthcare cracks. In fairness, depression and social conditioning crippled my ability to accurately describe my symptoms. (See this link about being your own healthcare advocate https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/hypothyroidism/talk-to-doctor-about-medication/) Months passed, and as my plans to move to Mexico came closer, my health improved. Moving back to my dad’s house, I broke up with the boy and looked forward to Mexico. My ambitions were taking shape, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.

Conclusion

While the symptoms of my youth seemed random, I now see them as building. Like a ramp, they grew as I did. Soon, the zeal of my youth would disappear; no, rather changed into a fight for my health and my safety.  In the next blog I will share how “it”, the climax of my symptoms, happened, the dangerous journey home, and a deceptive diagnosis.

Your Guide to the Thyroidcafe

Welcome

Hi, and welcome to the Thyroidcafe. I saved you a seat by the fire. I’m Meghan, I have been fighting Hashimoto’s disease for over a decade. In that time, I have learned a lot about fighting the thyroid battle. Yet, I know enough to know there is more to learn.  So I am excited to create this blog. This is where I can pass along my experience; we can create community and reach together towards a cure.

Who I am

I am Meghan. I fight every day to be the best thyroid warrior I can. My husband and I have four kids, three boys and a girl, however the king of our home is Cat, our aptly named cat. Our family lives in the Great White North, Canada. Where the maple syrup runs wild and so does the CBD oil! I became a Christian years ago and hold a most precious faith. But before that, I was diagnosed with a thyroid disease called Hashimoto’s disease. (a story for an upcoming post) and though I am far from perfect, I push on towards growing in my knowledge of this disease.

Why am I doing this?

Because I am passionate. About fighting thyroid problems, about learning more and about creating community. I do this because God has given me the gift of writing so I can help embolden and comfort those who are going through what I have. I am also excited to get to know more fellow warriors. One place where I have already found community is this Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/161220551400130/?ref=bookmarks.  As we share knowledge and raise awareness of this disease, we can reach towards a cure.

So, what’s this blog about?

Firstly, Thyroidcafe is a warm space for us to be together. Because of that, I created various social media spaces, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Thyroidcafe-2312996449018883/, Instagram https://www.instagram.com/thethyroidcafe/?hl=en and Twitter https://twitter.com/thyroidcafe . Here I will offer more detailed information about each blog post and (duh!) pics of food. While solidarity is important, we also need more knowledge. So on this blog I will share some solutions I have found, websites, products and the advice of medical experts.

Conclusion

I am a fellow thyroid fighter.  A passionate woman hoping to help grow community, knowledge, and ideally a cure for thyroid diseases. So grab a coffee and join me at the Thyroidcafe.