Living with Undiagnosed Hypothyroidism
Much of my life I lived with hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue. Like many people with untreated hypothyroidism, my symptoms included weight gain, high cholesterol, mild depression, blood pressure issues, feeling tired, cold hands and feet, brain fog, hair loss, dry skin, low energy, and so much more. This is my hypothyroidism success story.
Having the basic energy to do everyday tasks like other people seemed impossible. As a result I had resigned myself to being fat and lazy. If you or someone you know is experiencing these kinds of hypothyroid symptoms, have hope and know there can be solutions.
Weight Loss and Hypothyroidism
From early childhood through much of my adult life I had been overweight and simply could not lose weight no matter what I did. Weight Watchers did not work, eating 1000-1500 calories day did not work, exercise definitely didn’t work. I tried every diet with no success. At age 11, the doctor put me on a diet program counting every calorie. Even though I followed perfectly I did not lose weight. People thought I was sneaking food and lying. But I wasnt.
My metabolism was incredibly slow. Imagine how discouraging it is to see other children eat all kinds of junk food and stay slim. While I ate tiny servings of cottage cheese and pineapple and gained weight. It was terribly discouraging. There are so many of us who experience this issue with weight loss and hypothyroidism. It’s important to know there could be an underlying health issue preventing us from losing weight.
40% of all Americans suffer from hypothyroidism yet only about 10% of the patients tested will be diagnosed.
– Dr. Broda O. Barnes M.D., Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness
Exercise and Hypothyroidism
Rather than diagnose the underlying thyroid condition doctors told me to “just exercise more”. Due to untreated hypothyroidism, exercise had the opposite effect resulting in weight gain rather than weight loss. In addition, because my adrenals were weak, the stress of exercise would exhaust me for days and often made me sick.
People thought I was a hypochondriac because I was sick so often. I thought I was a hypochondriac too. After treatment for adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism, I learned exercise could cause adrenal crashes due to cortisol issues. Once I was on good treatment, my body was healed and finally I was able to exercise. Most of all I was able to actually enjoy exercise because I finally had endurance and muscle strength.
Tired All the Time, Insomnia, and Brain Fog
Sleep was another huge issue with hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue. Due to low cortisol, and irregular cortisol, my body clock was not working in the normal pattern. With health cortisol production, cortisol rises high in the early morning to wake us up, then tapers slowly through the day. By night time, cortisol should be at its lowest level which allows us to fall asleep easily.
Unlike normal people whose cortisol rises in the morning, my cortisol did not rise until the evening. Consequently it was extremely hard to wake up in the morning. At night my cortisol was finally starting to rise which then meant I had difficulty going to sleep. As a result I could only fall asleep with sleeping pills. Most importantly, even with 8 to 10 hours of sleep I would be tired the next day. This is not normal.
Basic tasks like cooking dinner, shopping, doing laundry, or washing the dishes took all my energy.
Low Body Temperature and Hypothyroidism
Due to hypothyroidism, even in summer, my hands, feet and body were always. My face and neck were puffy. I had allergies, asthma, low blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic sinus infections, severe PMS and many other seemingly unrelated symptoms. I was sick with sinus infections so often (6-7 times a year) that I often missed work.
Much as living this way had become normal to me, it was not normal. Once I was treated, finally I was able to experience a normal life. How much fun it was to exercise, feel warm, have energy all day, and sleep well at night.
Trusting Your Inner Self
Through all those years, I always felt like something was wrong inside my body. Doctors always said my lab results were normal, that there was nothing wrong with me. People thought I was just overweight and perhaps lazy, but in my heart I knew there was more to it.
People would politely make excuses like “you’re tired because you’re in high school… college… working a full time job… a new mom.” People said it was normal to be tired. But the truth is, it is not normal. They didn’t understand this was a different kind of tired. A bone-deep, can’t-get-off-the-couch-even-though-I’ve-done-nothing-all-day kind of tired. Until you know what good feels like, its hard to know what is normal.
But I have this amazing sister who has tons of energy, could eat twice as much as me, easily run three miles every day, and stay slim without almost no effort. My girlfriends could do the same. Physiologically, I knew there was something going on with my body. I just didn’t know what!?!
Doctors Who Didn’t Help Me
After pregnancy I was diagnosed with a lump (goiter) on my thyroid which is considered by many doctors as a sign of Hypothyroidism. But the doctors insisted I wasn’t hypothyroid. Surgery to remove my thyroid was recommended but it just didn’t make sense!
Very little information was available at that time (2006) so I began a research journey to find answers. Eventually, I found Stop the Thyroid Madness for which I am forever grateful. Finally, there were people with similar stories to mine! People with the same symptoms of Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue but with normal lab results like me. People who found good treatment and were able to get healthy. It was the biggest ray of hope!
Feeling sure I had undiagnosed Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue, along with the information & symptoms to support my theory, I went to see an Endocrinologist. In the consultation she said: “According to your lab results, you are fine. If you want medicine as a quick fix for loosing weight, it won’t work. You are not Hypothyroid and I won’t give you medicine.” I was devastated. She didn’t listen to any of my research and looked only at my labwork. On the drive home from her office I cried in despair that she was right and I was wrong.
Finding a Good Doctor!
Nearly giving up, my sister coaxed me to try one more doctor in hopes that he could help. He is an Integrative Medicine doctor, Dr. Charles Brummer, who had a great reputation. Later I realized, a good doctor is vital for getting the right treatment.
As I sat in Dr. Brummer’s office explaining my lifetime of symptoms (and a little wary that he wouldn’t believe me), he said something which changed my life. Dr. Brummer said: “If your sense of well-being tells you something is wrong, we need to listen. Trust your sense of self.” Never before had I heard these words from a doctor. My sense of well-being mattered??? Finally someone who understood!!
Then Dr. Brummer took my body temperature. He paused, checked again three times, then said “Amazing, I thought my thermometer was broken! I checked three times and your body temperature is 95.5 in July. 95.5 is not normal! Your body temperature should be 98.6.” Then he asked “Doctors never noticed your low body temperature?”
No. During all those years not one doctor had ever cared about low body temperature!! Even though low body temperature is one of the most significant symptoms of hypothyroidism, previous doctors had dismissed it.
Can you imagine my relief? Dr. Brummer listened to my symptoms. He ordered thorough lab tests including Free T3, Free T4, vitamin panels, hormone panels, candida test, lyme tests, and adrenal tests. Not just the TSH test which can be unreliable. Most importantly, as a good doctor he listened to me. The journey to recovery from hypothyroidism began.
Hypothyroidism Success Story
After being treated for hypothyroidism, my life and body work the way I always wanted. Like normal people, I can exercise five or six days a week and recover just fine. When I eat healthy I lose weight and can easily maintain my weight as size 4 or 6. With good energy levels, I can work all day while still having energy to cook dinner, do the dishes, read to my son, do laundry, and more.
With treatment for low cortisol, when I lay down to sleep at night I fall right asleep after five minutes without sleeping pills. The quality of my sleep is good and I can wake up at 8 AM feeling refreshed, with energy.
My body temperature is in the normal range which means my hands, feet and overall body are warm. No more sweaters in summer. In addition, all the other Hypothyroid and Adrenal symptoms including asthma, sinus infections, candida, headaches, dry skin, depression, brain fog, high cholesterol, low blood pressure are miraculously cured.
The best part is that feeling healthy means I have energy to care about girly things like doing my hair and makeup, wearing high heels and doing my nails. It’s so important to feel feminine and have energy to care for ourselves.
Living with Properly Treated Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue
Through this journey, I learned many amazing lessons.
- Be kind to ourselves, especially when other people don’t know what we are going through
- Be patient and loving with ourselves
- Persevere without judgement
- Reach for the happiest thought in every moment
- Trust your inner being
- On the days I am tired, rest
- On the days I have energy, take on a little more
- Ask a friend or buddy to help in the early stages
This is where your hypothyroidism success story begins.