I am back blogging again after taking some time off. I wish I could say that I was on a magical vacation that brought me joy, fun and sun, but in reality I was home struggling through my days trying to figure out why I was still feeling so bad after COVID. I didn’t want to get up because I was so tired. My daily tasks were a chore and I couldn’t quite feel recharged enough to enjoy being with my family. Depression set in and I needed answers.
On March 3, 2021 I made an appointment to visit a doctor that specialized in gut health and acute pain, which I had issues with both.  That day I sat in her office sharing my long list of symptoms, I will list them here in case you may be experiencing something similar.
Achy joints in hands, wrists and ankles.
Warm hands like I need to cool them down.
Swollen hands and fingers.
Light longitudinal lines in fingernails and horizontal lines in nails.
Fatigue not relieved by sleeping.
Achy body in the morning, like a bus hit me.
Dry eyes and mouth (some mornings).
Gut bloating.
Hair loss, like 50 plus stands of hair each time I ran my fingers through it.
Right eye goes red under stress.
Acute throbbing pain when traveling long distances.
Some mornings my feet feel like I am walking on pins.
Numbness in some fingers and tingling in arms when hands are swollen.
Occasional low grade fever.
After sitting in the doctors office for 2 hours answering questions about my health history and such, my doctor ordered 20 tests to finally get some answers, so I hoped. I wouldn’t get the results back until March 26. That day I arrived at my doctor’s early hoping to get in there as soon as I could. Fortunately for me they took me right back to an exam room and there I waited. I felt the anxiety surface but I had a sense of relief that I was going to get some answers. The doctor came in, sat at her computer and pulled up my results. Most of them came up negative or normal except two tests. My ANA and my TPO were high. I asked the doctor what this particular test meant, and she said, Hoshimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid. And there is was.
After quite a bit of questions, she expressed to me that I most likely had it hibernating and developing through the years. With my mother having an autoimmune disease, Type 1 Diabetes, I was more prone to having one. She was also still concerned about the issues I was having in my gut, but she wanted to address this first. What woke the Hoshimoto’s from it’s hibernation, was COVID and the loss of my dad in the same week (Story here). The severe stress I was under caused my body to release the autoimmune disease to the surface.
After my diagnosis, I thought that my stomach would reduce in bloating and pain, but nothing was helping. I called the doctor back, but it took her 3 weeks to return my call. I was disappointed in the response time, so I chose to find another doctor that knew more about holistic approaches along with western medicine. We call these people Functional Medicine Doctors. To my benefit, there was one down the street from me that had a whole team, massage therapist, dietitian, nurse, health coach, and so many more, that could help restore me back to health.
I was super excited for my first appointment with Dr. Herbes. She spent about 1.5 with me, reviewed all my results, confirmed my Hosimoto’s and shared with me what could be the cause of my stomach issues. By the look of my test results I had a overgrowth of Candida and possible SIBO. It had gone too long without being treated so supplements weren’t going to touch quick enough. From her projection, the supplements would take 2 years to clear the candida. I needed relief, so we went with another action plan to take antifungals for 8 weeks.
While taking this medication, she shared with me that I would experience a Herx Reaction. This is when the candida dies off and releases an endotoxin in the body. The body filters this toxin through the kidneys and liver, so half way through I will have to have a blood draw to make sure my liver is handling the reaction fine.
I am currently finishing the first week of 8. So far, all I have experienced is headache, abdominal pain, mood change on top of trying to manage my Hoshimoto’s.
In the short duration of having all of this I have learned some things:
This is a silent illness. You can look healthy and feel really bad.
Anything can cause a flare: disagreement, stress, sickness, anger, food.
There is no cheat meals or cheat days with the AIP diet. Eating a cheat food, can cause serious flares that can last for days or even a week.
Naps and walks outside are absolutely important for quality of life.
Supplements are my friend. Missing some can cause discomfort and slow the progress of feeling better.
I felt alone in this and at times still do, but I know there are so many people dealing with autoimmune diseases. But you know what? “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Here is how I have made my first glass of lemonade:
I joined a Hoshimoto’s support group on FB.
I read Hoshimoto’s Protocol by Izabella Wentz to educate myself, and continue to educate myself with this.
Working with a dietitian to help me get through my gut issues and start working on putting my Hoshimoto’s in remission.
I daily take naps and walks to help me to feel better.
I enlisted the support of my closest friends and family to keep me positive and offer help when I have flares.
I won’t become a victim of this and will eventually lead others who struggle with Hoshimoto’s.
I have committed myself to the protocol my functional medicine doctor has given me.
I put my health first above others. Taking care of me allows me to have the energy, time and health to care for others.
So there you have it. My plan moving forward is to continue to share my experiences with Hoshimoto’s and living the country life here in Arkansas. I thank each and every one of you that take the time to read my blog, cook my recipes, and share your stories with me.
From my table to yours-
Jennifer Colburn