Living with Undiagnosed Hypothyroidism
This is my Hypothyroidism Success Story to help inspire others to reclaim their health. 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 energy to do basic everyday tasks 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.
Shanae' D. Scott - July 8, 2014
Great story or encouragement!!
What was the path that you followed after seeing the Dr?
Like what was the treatment plan for your situation? How did you get back to “normal”???
Bernadette Andrada - July 20, 2014
Hello Lizzy. Thank you for sharing your story. Did you start with HC? If you did, how long? After HC, were you then introduced to the thyroid meds (t3, t4)?? How soon did you feel the diffrence?? I started on HC but had to discontinue so I now use progesterone cream for my body to convert it to cortisol. After a month of using this, he started me on bioidentical t3 and t4 but it made me feel tired, depressed and achy. He told me to stop it for a week and continue taking it again every other day. Im afraid to try it again …
Sigrid Tanner Sailers - October 31, 2014
Reading your “before” story, could be my story!…being completely tired, energy-less, not being able to lose weight, or exercise like normal people, etc. I’m teary eyed because for the last 3 years, I’ve been tested for everything, was told I’m “normal” and yet, I KNEW something wasn’t right. Recently, I went to a nutritionist who ran a different panel of blood work and said my thyroid and adrenals are out of wack. YAY!!! Someone with an answer! I got the supplements yesterday and am excited to get back to a healthy way of life. My husband will be so happy that I can cook dinner AND do the dishes. 🙂 Oh, and fit back into my skinny jeans.
Thank you for your story!!! You understand the way I feel and you’ve given me hope!
Kate Weaver - December 16, 2014
am wondering if you can help.. my aunt just emailed me saying she has myxedema.. her TSH level is 135 and according to the doctors, a woman of her age level should be 0.4.. they say she should actually be dead.. do you know how I can help her????l.. she has been misdiagnosed 5 years beforehand and they just thought she was depressed… sigh..please help..she is 60 ad has gaied much much weight, and a host of other conditions too..
Darlena Dee Inlavongsa - January 4, 2015
HI! i’m glad you’ve found a way to shed those pounds and feel more energized. about a year ago i’ve gained weight since having a total thyroidectomy. with exercise, what is your diet? do you avoid certain foods?
Ramj Raju - March 11, 2015
im frm india i wan to buy lugol 5%soln hw much for shipping cost(i think amazon.com shippin cost is high) n delivery time? nd pls tell abt DIRECTION TO USE(internally n externally),tanq
Michelle Lovisa Hopkins - April 23, 2015
Hi miss Lizzy, your story sounds exactly like me, thankyou for sharing. I haven’t been so lucky to find a dr that takes notice or even comprehends what I am saying, they all just treat the symptoms and not the cause but I’m not giving up there must be a dr out there for me.
Thanks again you have given me more hope.
Kind regards Michelle
Brook Jones - May 23, 2015
Hi, this was a great read! I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism about 5 months ago. Since then I’m on Levothyroxine, which has I suppose “leveled out my thyroid” I’m not really sure all of the ins and outs of the disease as in what my medication has “leveled out.” With that being said, I went from 160lbs – 220lbs in 1.5 yrs, I’m 21 yrs old. When I was diagnosed I was 195lbs and everyone told me that being on the meds would help me lose weight, seeing as it’s always been SOOOOO hard for me to lose weight, but Ive gained 25 lbs. I still have VERY bad anxiety and mild depression, so the doc put me on a different prescription for that. Just don’t know if I should still feel like this and not be able to lose weight very well. I’ve started kicking butt in the gym and have lost 7 lbs so far, but I still feel like it should come easier. My doctor just tells me that maybe I’m not working out as hard as I think I am or my diet isn’t as clean as I think, or my favorite “maybe this is just your normal.” So I guess what I’m getting at is, do you think this is my “normal”, what should I do. Just accept it and be on depression/anxiety pills for the rest of my life? What would you do?? Please help! Thanks!
Cindy Chan - June 2, 2015
thanks for being upfront to share your story. im currently diagnosed with subclinical hypothyroidism with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as the “added” bonus. finally my GP decided to start me on levothyroxine but there are times im very tired and my skin becomes dry and all. hopefully the next follow up and adjustment of the pills will make me feel better!
Mary Klemenok - June 17, 2015
Hi Lizzy… I have hit my lowest point and am extremely frustrated, discouraged, and now becoming extremely unmotivated because I am getting nowhere. I run marathons and the past year, my health has declined little by little and I have yet (after MANY doctors and tests) been able to have a clear diagnosis, but am always just treated for my symptoms. I am now at my last straw trying to goto a naturopathic doctor to hopefully put an end to all of this that is draining me more and more every day. However, your story is much like mine and not many people are out there that I could ask questions or just talk to about this all. Is there anyway you could message me on Facebook or email me so I could possibly call you? I can’t keep going like this. Email is email@example.com and # is 254-230-2017
Hope to hear from you soon.
Kadambari Venkatraman - June 19, 2015
Hi miss Lizzy,
I got my 24 hour salivary cortisol and tested very low on 5th June this year. I am on around 27.5 mg HC per day. I felt better immediately. But when I raised my NDT from 2 grains to 2.5 a week later, I experienced palpitations. I’m also going through a bad phase – divorce, that is. What do I do?
I think the HC is increasing my appetite. Do you think it will cause heavy weight gain?
Catherine Perry - July 15, 2015
I was directed here from another website and reading this is like reading about me now. I don’t recognise the person that I am now. My major symptom is fatigue, which I first noticed had got bad around summer 2013 after a period of extremely high stress, although I have others that are just as detrimental, e.g. total loss of libido. Two years later and the fatigue has gone beyond being debilitating. My issue is complicated by being unable to find a doctor in my area for the last 5 years!!! Having read your post, I think I’m going to go down a similar route and see a naturopath or a functional medicine doctor if there is one. I don’t know if my thyroid is the issue but there are so many symptoms that fit that it’s a good enough starting point.
Stephanie Pedro Yinger - July 28, 2015
Please please help me. I am desperate. I have your same story. I have been dealing with this for 20 years. My symptoms got worse after each child that I had. My labs are always normal. I have 250 of 300 hypothyroid symptoms along with adrenal symptoms such as a Dowagers hump (buffalo hump). I have lost 1/3 of the hair on my head etc. I could go on and on. I have spent a fortune over the years going to different doctors and trying everything. I can no longer justify spending the money out of pocket when I pay so much for insurance. I am currently going to Duke Integrative Medicine and I just don’t feel like I am getting anywhere. I have to tell my doctor which labs to order. He doesn’t even know what to do with me but at least it is covered by insurance. In the meantime I am ruining my family’s life too. Please someone help. I keep hearing everyone telling me to not give up. I am a registered nurse. My brain fog is so terrible that I am almost to the point that I should not be doing my job. I cannot focus or remember anything.
Becky Burton - October 17, 2015
I like the last poster, feel desperate. Been dealing with these symptoms way too long, 20 years. I’ve tried doctors, so called functional doctors that want 3,000 to even begin.
I have most symptoms on the list. I am wondering if you treated the Candida symptoms or did they just resolve? Seems like grains, dairy and sugar all effect my symptoms levels.
I tried Armor before but experienced tightening in my heart.Just started an Adrenal supplement.
20 years Anemia, now getting iron infusion every three month really sucks. Always told Thyroid is normal….
Hosai Yonoszai - October 24, 2015
Please share your story of how you solved your hypothyroid. I have searched your site high and low and can’t find your actually story of what you did to cure or “fix” your hypothyroid symptoms. I have done and read all the same research that you have posted links to here regarding symptoms, iodine, bromine, fluoride, diet, and so on. What I would like to know is what combination of these things started you down the right path? I have Lugol’s iodine and have used it but maybe I wasn’t using the right amount or maybe my diet was off while using lugol’s. I don’t know what it is, but it would help all of us if you could share you entire story not just what was initially wrong as we already know how it feels. And if you already have shared your full story please forgive my crazy mind and if you can just post the link for me. Maybe I totally missed it.
Corrin Perry - March 3, 2016
Lizzy, you shared your story with us, however you’re neglecting to share your treatments with us. We are all obviously having much difficulty with our hypothyroidism. Can you be kind enough to share your how your doctor treated you and got you better??
Arlise Fletcher - April 18, 2016
Thank you so much for sharing your success story. I’d also like to congratulate you on your success!
However, can you share how you were able to reach your wellness goals? More specifically, what does your treatment plan consist of? Many of us are experiencing the same issues and would love some advice and guidance. I look forward to your response.
Amber Jordan - July 23, 2016
I cried reading your story. Not out of sadness, but out of joy. I finally got a doctor to take my family history and symptoms seriously yesterday. We started blood testing this morning and I will have my thyroid ultrasound on Monday. I can’t believe the amount of doctors who dismissed every thing i said as me being a hypochondriac or just fat/lazy. My doctor now is amazing and had actually listened to me (i totally cried in her office out of relief… i cry a lot apparently) she even felt my neck (no one else even checked before) and the first words out of her mouth were, “Wow! Your thyroid is huge!”. She believes I have Hashi’s and just wants blood work to follow up. Thank you for sharing your story. Seriously, you have given me so much hope for the future and not feeling trapped in my own body. Just.. thank you.
Janice Shirley - August 27, 2016
And finding a doctor that listens instead of blocking out a patient’s knowledge is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I have gotten shut down and shut out by 6 doctors in the attempt to find one that knew what they are doing.
Karla Valadez - September 22, 2016
It is amazing to see your story. I currently am struggling to get all of my symptoms and side effects under control! Since I was diagnosed I gained 30 pounds and I have not been able to loose any weight in the last 7 years. How did you get your exercise routine going? I struggle to get out of bed and go to class???
Milk Ti - October 6, 2016
Hi Ms Lizzy,
Your personal experiences and frustration of hypothyroidism are what I have been going through for last 12 years.
Lately as I turn 50 years old my weight gain 15kg and having depression with fatigue “crashing” all the time that deteriorating my health
Nothing seems to help with doctor’s prescriptions.
Kindly share your cure helping others suffers
Thank you in advance
Michele Clowe - October 6, 2016
I’m in tears as I read your story because I feel as though it’s my story! I’m 29 currently (30 years old in just over a week) and I’m currently battling all those symptoms. I just recently saw a new OBGYN and she is finally listening to me, my struggles, my worries and it feels awesome! I can only hope that she will finally be the Dr who is willing to help me like the one you found! I can’t wait to read more here on your blog and get all the answers I’ve been longing for!
Thanks for sharing your story!
Cailyn Sonderup - November 21, 2016
Hello -thank you so much for sharing your story. It so encouraging. I have struggled with this ‘invisible illness’ for so long- four years almost, suffering all the aforementioned symptoms along with health care costs and invalidating responses from doctors. Luckily I fell into the hands of a good (empathic) endocrinologist who explained and tested for adrenal fatigue. A long journey lies ahead but after readings this, a hopeful one!
Becky Fox - December 29, 2016
Thanks Lizzy, I loved this bit the best “Finally, I have energy to care about girly things like doing my hair and makeup, wearing high heels and doing my nails (and oh how I love being girly!!)”
I think its having the energy to enjoy those simple pleasures in life that are the biggest turn around for me, I didnt even realise I stopped doing them 🙂
Im in the middle of getting the right dosage and all the blood work back but slowly getting there with a good doctor 🙂 Thanks for sharing it means alot!!