Autoimmune Issues? All Connected And Make Sense Now!

I am a 38 year old female, athletic, work in a physical job and just "worked through" the tougher periods in the last 10 or so years. About 7 years ago, I developed Raynaud's phenomenon/syndrome. That is when the body decides it is too cold and pulls the blood from the capillaries and smaller vascular regions, i.e. finger, toes, hands, feet, nose, ears and pulls it to the core to keep your major organs warm. While that is great if I am climbing Everest and am stuck and might have my hands and feet succumb to frost bite, I would live. Autoimmune isn't always a bad thing, I guess. I often had to take a shower 2-3 times a day to warm up in the winter and plan not to go out on very cold days or spend time skiing with friends. Raynaud's is often a secondary issue, my aunt suffered from it after developing Parkinson's disease. It can sometimes appear as a primary disorder, though. It can be very painful getting the blood flow back into the extremeties, but it isn't life altering.

Due to my job, there were many stressors on me and over the years I would fluctuate with weight from 5-15 lbs, up or down. If I got in to a low phase mentally, I would often lose 10-25 lbs, not good, but always balanced back out. I got married in 2010 and pregnant in 2011. During my pregnancy, I was still getting cold spells with the Raynaud's, until the very hot summer we had, but extreme air conditioning would make me cold as well. I was very sick during the first 6 months, often after that I would still have bouts of nausea. Since my thyroid tests were "normal" during pregnancy, it was not an issue. The last month I developed awful carpal tunnel syndrome, even braces at night did not help the symptoms. The wrists only felt better after being in the pool or taking a shower to relieve the pressure. I thought all these things just came along with the pregnancy.  My mother was trying to be helpful but she did not experience any issues during three pregnancies. 

My son was born in August 2011, it was a very difficult birth, I only gained about 28lbs (which I was happy with) and he was in an odd position, but the OB thought he was about 6-6.5lbs. As most know, they are usually wrong! I was doing very well and then he became stuck, after an hour and half of pushing, the OB using a vacuum, it was determined we needed to have a C-section, as the baby's heart rate had issues but was recovering, the Dr's set a hospital record of a 7 minute C-section from start to finish. I was not on medication for the first cut, the anesthesiologist was able to get me injected with ketamine before cutting to the baby. He was perfect, pink and 8lbs. The OB looked at me, as they didn't have time to put up the drape and said she was sorry, there was no way he was coming out the other way. My pelvis did not have room for him and his shoulders were stuck. That night was great. The next day, my son had trouble breathing, he was admitted to the NICU after a chest X-ray determined he had aspirated muconium. He was in the NICU for 7 days.

I only tell that story because of the 5 things that can bring on an autoimmune issue with Thyroid, I had 3 in about 48 hours, I had surgery, emotional trauma and a previous autoimmune issue. And they say you only need one to prompt another.

For the first 2 months after my son was born, most of the fallout from being pregnant I knew and understood would be side effects of the life/body changing event that took place. But while the swelling subsided and the carpal tunnel went away what took it's place was severe joint pain in both wrists that begun to spread to the ankles and hips and finally knees. I would fall when getting out of bed in the morning until I could work the ankles back to feeling ok to function. I almost dropped my son a couple of times back into his bed trying to lift him. I just learned to adjust and compensate. I had some gastrointestinal issues I never experienced before and extreme fatigue. I also had terrible depression, only thoughts of harming myself and not going on, never of harming my son. In addition, I had extreme difficulty breast-feeding, and that just added to the stress/sadness, I couldn't provide for my child.  My skin was dry, I had trouble breathing like I was still pregnant, I would get blurred vision (I had LASIK, that shouldn't happen), strange inner ear disorientation, random headaches, and did I mention the fatigue?  I explained it all away to being post partum. I mentioned the pains to my OB, four months after my son was born, who said it would just go away on it's own and just deal with it. All the symptoms got gradually worse. After the new year, I did what I always did and assessed my overall health, I was determined to lose the last 15 lbs of baby weight, I worked out constantly, ate a significantly reduced, but ridiculously healthy diet and didn't budge a pound. I was getting more depressed. The only light was my son and my very understanding husband.

As the physical pain continued, I was recommeded by a friend to see a chiropractor who also had a natual medicine practice. The first time I met her, she sat with me for 2 hours discussing my various aches/pains and asked me questions I had never been asked before by any medical doctor. She immediately ordered a few tests, TSH, T-free, T3 and T4, rheumatoid arthritis and Lyme's disease. My next visit, the first thing she said to me was, you need to see an endochronologist immediately. My TSH level was 21.24, as anyone with any Thyroid level knowledge now knows, "normal" is between 1.0-3.0, needless to say, I was spiking on the hypothryoid end.

I found a natural medical practice with all women doctors, they do not take insurance, per se, but they were specialists in the area I needed and I scheduled an appointment. The first appointment, I was there 2 hours talking about any and all symptoms, discussing all supplements and vitamins, down to dosages. She ordered a few more tests, to include antibody tests for thyroid and asked that I get an ultrasound. I scheduled the ultrasound for the next day. They found several nodules and indicated to me that it could be cancer, that was a Friday, I had to wait until Monday for the Dr to say they shouldn't have said that. The antibody test came back with the levels over 1000/unit. So, that was that, Hashimoto's. I had NEVER heard of it so I began my research.

It has only been 3 months since the diagnosis and the medication attempts. My first blood test after medicating at 112mg indicated I was slightly hyperthyroid, so I was moved down to 100mg, but I don't seem to be feeling as well. I know there is a pendulum swing to Hashimoto's but I need somewhere to start, right?  My joint pain is still ever present, some days it is worse, some days it is better, but still there.  I was able to lose the 15lbs, but still on a very strick diet and have gone gluten free, awaiting the results of tests for allergies/intolerances and Celiac's disease(which is also autoimmune).   I still have trouble with the depression, but I know there is a reason for it, which helps me pull out of the mood a bit easier than I did when I didn't have a reason for it and when I was told I would "get over it."  I also take selenium and fish oil regularly. 

I am hopeful because I have an answer, I also have a wonderful, supportive husband who understands that while he can't see my problems on the inside, he knows I fight every day to stay happy and healthy for him and my beautiful son.  Even if you told me before I had him that I would develop all these issues because of him, I would still go through it.  He is worth every ache and pain.  Do I wish I was just normal, sure.  Do I resent that I am suffering sometimes and others are just fine and living as though they did before the baby, sometimes, but then I realize we are all individuals and we need to take what we are given and make the best of it.   Hence my screen name, my husband will check on me occasionally when I am having a down day and say, "How is my little Hashimoto today?" I can't help but laugh and be grateful for a wonderful support system I have and will have going forward on this journey. 
MyLittleHashimoto MyLittleHashimoto
36-40, F
4 Responses May 21, 2012

Jrivera0203, Thank you for your kind words, most days I feel like I am letting everyone down. Just remember to lean on the people in your life. Read books, I got several off Amazon and they have helped change my perspective a lot. I talked to my Dr and she said I probably know more than she does now, that wasn't reassuring, but I feel like I have a handle on some of the issues now. I think there will be lingering long term things to deal with that aren't what they used to be, but aging can do that too, so try to keep positive (even on the days you just want to yell at everyone or crawl in a hole). Find something that makes you happy and include your husband. I am so glad you have a good support. It's ok to be scared, embrace it and own it and you will get some of the control back you thought you lost! Good luck and take care of you.

Wow your story is amazing!! Truly an inspiration to me!! I also have hashis I was diagnosed a year ago. Thank you for sharing such a personal story with us!! Next time I am having a bad day I will think of you and your struggles. Im not gonna lie I am scared for what the future holds in store for me and with this disease. I dont know if you feel the same way but I am definitely scared. My husband is an amazing man and he helps me a lot but I can see it in his face that hes scared as well. Its the fear of the unknown. Whats gonna happen next what other doctor am I going to have to go see? Sometimes it gets overwhelming!! I wish you the best of luck on your journey and hope you get better soon!!!

Hugs to you on this journey. I had a similar experience. My diagnosis of Grave's disease (which is now Hashimoto's disease) four months post partum from an emergency c-section because Doc didn't know she was 11.4 pounds! Then, we caught horrible colds at our first pediatrician visit. Looking back though, over many years, I am able to put together pieces of the puzzle that show I have had this undiagnosed for a long time. Early gray hair..doc says that happens. Cold hands and feet...doc says more exercise. Hair falling out...doc says women go through shedding phases. Headaches...just part of me. Trouble getting pregnant- relax it'll happen. Miscarriage- it happens. Weight gain and fatigue...depression- get exercise and diet. Nose bleeds and dry skin...drink more water. Seriously! Anyway, after our beautiful baby girl was born, i wasnt feeling well at all. So, around three and a half months post , I went in to see my doc because something was not right-- I didn't need sleep, my heart was racing, hot flashes, hair loss, anxiety, shaking hands, felt like passing out and 20 lb weight loss in a month! He does labs and the nurse calls to say my thyroid is a little off, but don't worry and come back to retest in a month. I immediately go and pick up my lab papers and google the out of range numbers- all pointing to thyroiditis. I made my own appointment for an endo who diagnosed Graves and put me on immediate meds(had to stop nursing). I was sooo depressed! After all I had been through, now thyroid disease. Ugh. Then remission followed by pregnancy, another miscarriage, and a new friend called Hashimoto's. Finally got in range and granted our miracle baby boy two years ago. And, here I am trying to figure it out...what is the cause? I'm seeing a lot of info on diet helping alleviate and even get rid of autoimmune diseases. Which is funny, because when my son was born( another c-section) I went into the thyroiditis again and he had severe allergies to my milk. I took all allergens out of my diet to be able to continue nursing (ididn't want thyroid disease to rob me of this again so I begged no meds) and we both got better...all of his allergies cleared and my levels normalized quickly. Of course, once I went back to normal eating, I'm right back to the same miserable Hashi symptoms. So, now, I am trying a new diet until my body is healed. Because it makes no sense to just replace the thyroid hormone and do nothing about the body attacking itself. Right? Sorry for the long post! First time I've written this down. Good luck to you! <br />
Kerry

Your story sounds so familiar to me. Although it is interesting, because noone can tell me why I have the hashimoto's. But you mentioned that you had three<br />
of the 5 things that can cause hasimotos. I have always wondered if the stress in my life isn't what has caused mine. From having over 60 hours of labor pain contractions before I delievered my first baby, to walking with my mother with cancer for a full year and she died exactly 2 months before I had my baby. Two and a half years later, I had my second baby. Although a long labor of 24 hours, it went well. But I started becoming really tired and gaining weight. I thought it had to do with having a new born. People began to tell me I looked really tired. Tried to loose weight and was watching what I ate and extensive exercise, still couldn't loose it. Went to the Dr. and found out I had thyroid problems. Went on medication. When my son was 2 I had an emergency apendectamy. After that, my stomake would hurt every morning. Then I became pregnant with my 3rd child. I didn't gain a lot of weight, but I was walking 3 miles a day, up until the time she was born and trying my darnest to eat right. But I still got gestational diabetic with her and was on insulan. She was turned backwards and I had to have a scheduled c-section. They also tried to turn her, two weeks before I had her, but she wouldn't turn. I nursed her for about 18 months and I lost so much weight. Then I went on the RING for birth control for about 6 months. Weight Gain came FAST! I finally went off of it, and for 3 years I kept gaining and gaining.

Got interupted. Anyway; I kept trying to loose weight and the Dr. Kept telling me my thyroid was in normal range, it was because I was eating to much and not exercising. Well, I decided not to go back to her, and was loosing hope in the Drs. Because they kept telling me everything was ok with me, I just needed to try harder. Bad on my part, I let my perscribtion run out for a couple of months and then I finally went to a accupturest who prescribed really good vitimins and diagnosed me with hasimotos. I too, am still having trouble with my inner ears. Pretty crazy. Now I am on medication and vitimans and trying to stay off gluten. Somedays I feel better then others.