It still seems odd to write personal details for an online forum. As a sincere blogger, I trust that the details will be read with a respect for the vulnerability and the transparency that is behind the print. I have been so excited to share this post with you, dear reader! But… it is with much sensitivity to this topic that I write. My experience is… well… my experience. My hope is that you will be encouraged. My struggle isn’t like yours in many ways, but the foundation of health struggles seems to form bonds between each of us as we share a sense of longing. Finding another who pines for physical freedom and a sincere shoulder to lean on, surely breathes new hope for the tough days. I am not alone! You are not alone! With these thoughts in mind, I want to share news with you of a remarkable change in my health and in my life!
Seventeen years is a really long time. In 1997 as I was having my entire colon surgically removed, the surgeon was also doing biopsies on my thyroid. No cancer was found, but my endocrinologist was concerned about “too many nodules to count” and wanted some answers regarding radically skewed blood levels of thyroid hormones. I was the mother of a 37 month old, a 16 month old, and a 1 month old! Major surgery was the supposed answer to remove all misery of 9 years of ulcerative colitis. The experts had offered me all the Prednisone a body could endure, and the decision was made to avoid fatal cancer by radical removal of the entire colon. I was 29 years old. Scared, but well aware that without surgery my chances for seeing 35 were bleak, so the two radical surgeries were scheduled. KEFIR and CULTURED FOODS, BONE BROTHS, etc. would have restored my health, but I didn’t learn about these heavenly healing foods until many years later. I was slurping at processed food troughs without a clue! So although the chapter of diseased colon was closed, the thyroid became the antagonist as the drama of wellness worry dragged on. You know… “good news. bad news.”
The specialists gave a name to my troubles… my SECOND AUTO-IMMUNE DISEASE. Hashimotos Thyroiditis.
Let’s just fast forward 17 years…
Can I tell you one of the most beautiful things about rethinking wellness? It’s the most surprising, the most fantastic outcome! HEALING! The profound exhilaration of witnessing health return to a body that bore a burden of illness and immune dysfunction for YEARS! Carrying around crutches in little orange pill bottles with a specialist telling me, and I quote, “Deana, you will NEVER be able to go off your thyroid meds! You cannot live without them. Don’t try to go off of these hormones ever!” And I “yes-sirred” him. That was 2 years ago. I had been covered in agonizing hives for 9 months and was having a benign growth removed from the parathyroid gland. (AUTO-IMMUNE DIAGNOSIS NUMBER 3!)
You see the pattern, right? Once susceptible to auto-immune diseases, always susceptible. That was the message from every conventional doctor I saw over a span of 25 years! Apparently, auto-immune conditions can’t be explained by those dispensing pharmaceuticals. Awww. But over other fences, explanations do exist! We all need a visit with Dr. Natasha Campbell- McBride in London! (Just one of hundreds of researchers with the same healing conclusions!) Or, check out her amazing books, like I did. Much cheaper than airfare! Leaky gut. Leaky gut. LEAKY GUT!
I have NOT taken thyroid meds since Dec. 23rd, 2013!
Once before, many months back, I had tried to stop taking these little dessicated pig-thyroid pills with no success. A sense of heaviness and lethargy and depression blanketed my life, and I immediately resumed the full-dosed regimen after a 3 week attempt at reduction. (That attempt to fly solo was BEFORE a few strategic shifts were made in my diet, etc.) But my experience now of being med free shares no commonalities with my former sprint to reduce the dependence upon the hormones.
What changed? Well. I truly spent some sweet moments with Jesus, and asked Him to lead me out of the meds. Step-by-step, He did! (I just love Him so.)
Without a doubt, going gluten-free was the first KEY! Boy, did I dread that shift in my diet. Just so dog-gone inconvenient! Yet, the choice to get gluten out of my body actually proved to be not so crazy difficult, as I had imagined. Sure. An adjustment phase is a struggle, but after a month, I hit a stride. Recipes from great blogs, for example, really helped me through this stage of acceptance. My husband joined me in the effort to become gluten free. And as we all know, having someone commit to the journey with you is nourishment for the feeble days!
Without gluten, my digestive tract was relieved of much stress. It began to heal in ways I didn’t even understand! Now, mind you, I had no digestive upset. No cramping. (Without a colon, things are a bit different anyway.) No reason to believe that removing gluten was going to help my thyroid, but a trusted natural doctor highly recommended this change. (For more on gluten free living, click here.)
When I was led to the addition of cultured milk (KEFIR!) AND the reduction of sugars, then further healing was happening in my gut. These changes happened over several months. I was actually gluten free for about 6 months before I tried cultured foods. And as you know if you have read some of my posts, cultured foods are WELLNESS-RESURRECTING! Sugar reduction was more difficult for me than removing gluten was (and the battle there isn’t over!), but adding another healthful food in the place of many sugars has really helped me heal.
Good and delicious fats rushed in and added amazing flavors to my world. I certainly followed the low-fat propaganda for YEARS, only to have been walked to a very dead end. Have you also adopted this perspective on fats? For several years, I had this very weird craving, and I do mean serious craving for birthday cake with lots of icing. I would have eaten this instead of supper any day. I could eat it everyday. No doubt, my body was really signaling me about my profound need for fat, but my warped interpretation was “birthday cake.” At that time, butter and coconut oil were NEVER consumed, but somehow I would allow the birthday cake madness to steer me by ole WallyWorld for one of those prepackaged individual portions in the deli (which was actually a portion big enough for 4 and laden with trans-fats). Hiding from my family, I would devour it before I got home with all the other processed groceries I had bought for the week’s worth of nutrition. Oh. Very heavy sigh. Let’s end this thought with happy truth… Coconut Oil is Golden! Butter is Golden! Raw Whole Milk is Golden!
Changes in my diet were like the priming the engine. Don’t drive a car with the parking brake on, right? Just a silly little metaphor, and I don’t feel obliged to mention why that one just popped in my head. (Uh. Don’t tell my teenage drivers.) But the body is designed to go, go, go, if we don’t send it nutritional confusion.
So how did I go off the thyroid hormones, (and off the female hormone supplements that I had also been taking for 16 years)?
After several important dietary changes and a few other fascinating and simple shifts, I tried skipping a thyroid pill once a week. Did that for a few weeks. Then, once every 6 days. Then, once every 5 days. I don’t know if this was accomplishing anything other than giving me courage and hope that my body could function without the crutches. I wanted to gently announce to the brilliant systems within that no artificial support was going to be continued. WAKE UP!
My aunt, who has struggled with under-functioning thyroid for years, told me that her endocrinologist explained, “Without your pills, you will just go to sleep one day and not wake up!” Hypothyroidism is nothing to scoff at. The symptoms of absolute exhaustion, weight gain, mental blues, thinning hair, dry dry skin, etc. feel like you are dragging a heavy anchor around your ankles. Been there! If you have a sluggish thyroid gland, you know! My approach was to let my body dictate what I really needed. I expected a bit of a bumpy ride, sort of like watching a hang-glider take off from a cliff. There will be that initial descent once off the ledge, but then the lift comes, and all is well. Personally and truthfully, I experienced nothing out of the ordinary!
I asked my husband to keep observing me for mood swings, because of course, he is the mood-swinging expert! (Like I had to ask him anyway, ahem.) He said, “Deana… you have more energy than ever. You seem to be sleeping well… no need for afternoon power naps or anything. No shifting moody blues.” Now that was coming from the guy who, lovingly over the course of 17 years of thyroid-roller-coasting would say at the occasional season of paranormal-wife-activity, “Honey, when was the last time you had your thyroid levels checked?” Oh, I cringed with those little jabs, especially because the blood levels would always validate his hypothesis. snap! So believe me when I say that my husband was perhaps the most concerned about my desire to knock away the crutches. AND, might I add, he has been the most amazed by the grand success (besides me)!
I have been without a thyroid prescription for many months now! I have passed DAY 50, DAY 100, DAY 225… DAY 400! I plan to be without a thyroid prescription for the rest of my life!
Except for a couple of times early on when my thyroid levels actually indicated hypERthyroidism, I was on Synthroid, then Levothyroxine, then Armour (dessicated pig glandular). The first two drugs were completely synthetic. Lab created. As I have been researching, the indication from natural healing voices around the globe hold to the very firm belief that pharmaceuticals are completely toxic to the body. The body doesn’t recognize them as food and will work diligently to remove their chemicals from the body, but not before damage is done to the under-appreciated liver– the great filtration organ for our blood. Certainly, we experience the effects of drugs circulating in our bodies. I realized that these effects were not healing; rather, these effects were brilliant masking agents so the pains or anticipated pains and associated symptoms would be silenced. Slowly the truth of this approach to caring for the body fell off the pedestal. I kept picking it up and putting it back on the pedestal. It would topple over again and again as I attempted to solve systemic troubles through the “accepted protocols” over the last several years. Positive results were waning at best, but mainly non-existent regarding my serious concern for becoming well.
Being the professional educator that I am (on most school days. “Pajama day” is really a challenge), we have always begun the school year with drills on procedures for safety. All are familiar with the Fire Drill. Right in the middle of the exam or just when you get to the bathroom stall, that shrill warning jolts every breathing soul to military-like formation. All activity halts as the primary mandate funnels masses of snickering students and annoyed teachers out of the building. This is the one time in social situations where plugging your ears is acceptable. That temporary auditory pain is designed to save lives! What if there was really a fire on the chemistry hall? Before the explosion, pray that all are indeed OUT OF THAT BUILDING! Analogy aside, our bodies whisper, speak, sometimes YELL at us the same way. When the body needs assistance in the management department, alarms are sounded. Symptoms are felt. Clues are given!
I don’t know if you are like me in this, but symptoms freaked me out! I rushed for quick solutions to quiet the rising storm. Orange bottles with child-proof lids helped hide the truth. But I now firmly believe that when we are dependent on crutches, the body will not find the healing it desires.
And you know what? The changes I made to finally begin to listen to my body and to experience HEALING are all so simple! Really SIMPLE!
For several months I have been wrestling with the idea of writing the details of my walk to healing in a book. Some days I thought it was a grand idea. Other days I questioned my sanity. (Again.) Afterall, who would want to read this anecdotal story from a lady with no medical degrees? And then I finally reached this place of utter excitement because my heart shifted to YOU. What if my healing could give insight for YOUR HEALING? Wow. To think that my suffering could be, in a way, redeemed… well, joy rushed into this gal’s heart! The typing began!
Without a doubt, my story is just that. My story. And yet, we do all share the same basic biological systems, right? (Nod, please.) What if the practices that led to my returned health could help inform your insights towards your goal of wellness? I am giddy with the thought!
Auto-immune diseases are everywhere… millions are plagued. Let me say, there’s so much hope to heal! Your body was made to heal! Your body is desiring healing, but we have to retrain ourselves to listen.
So guess what? My detailed story of overcoming Hashimotos Thyroiditis after 17 years of prescription dependence is almost complete! With great excitement I am polishing up the last chapters now and look so forward to sharing soon. Your prayers are so appreciated as I honestly and sincerely record the amazing journey to health! When I began to rethink wellness, everything changed! Everything on my plate! Everything in my pantry! Everything in my vanity too! I’m so happy to share all the specifics!
If you are low on hope and lingering long on the sofa, dear one, I would like to invite you in a bit closer. I hope you won’t mind me leaving you one final comment to this very lengthy post. Actually, my last note here is just a sneak peek at the opening details of my personal story. The first step I took when I needed radical intervention wasn’t really a forward motion. It was a downward motion, a kneeling in the posture of prayer. The BEST place to begin to find the answers to all of our questions, pains, problems. Our Maker carried me, taught me in the most precious and tender way when I was totally spent. I am confident that He hears every sincere prayer! If you haven’t already, I would like to encourage you to put all your wilting weight on your knees and see what He graciously offers you.
I will keep you posted on the book. When it is polished, I will happily post here on RethinkWellnessHub.com! Until then, may you find new blessings in your personal journey today!
Because of Christ,