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OK, so this is longggg overdue!
I know I last wrote a personal update back in March and a lot has happened since then, so this may be a bit longer than usual, but I want to make sure I fill you in on everything!
I know reading my personal journey of piecing the thyroid jigsaw back together helps many of you also on your own journey back to good health, so here goes.
The last six and a half months have been filled with both ups and downs in my health, though mostly ups, which is good.
Following on from my last update back in March, I continued on the programme my functional medicine practitioner had me on, reaching the maximum dose of Citricidal (an anti-fungal to help combat my overgrowth of yeast), maintaining a lot of various supplements and vitamins, Kefir, bone broth and even had a full thyroid panel tested to see where I was with those too.
I was ecstatic to discover that my levels were still all optimal and my thyroid antibodies had even come down from >1300 to 200! That’s a really good sign because it means that my autoimmune condition (Hashimoto’s) and hypothyroidism as a result, will progress at a much slower rate, and this is evident with my thyroid medication and results remaining stable now for over a year. The main thing to help lower those antibodies was going gluten-free, but I also supplement selenium and Vitamin D which can also help.
I also had a whole host of things checked through Medichecks, including red and white blood cells, iron panel, Vitamin D and B12, and all came back good with my B12 being right at the top of the range.
Around April time, everything was going really well – my acne was clearing up, I had more energy than I could remember in recent memory and I was excited about my upcoming wedding and honeymoon. The problem is, when we went abroad for both our wedding day and then honeymoon, we were out of the country (and so out of the routine of everything) for a good month and a miscarriage also coincided with it, which lead to my body having a flare up in heavy fatigue, irregular periods, acne, sex hormone imbalances and all sorts. It was a big step backwards in my health if I’m honest as well as being upsetting as obviously a miscarriage is never a pleasant experience.
However, following a wonderful honeymoon in Asia where we ate lots of fresh, healthy and inspiring food, we came home ready to tackle my health as a priority. I cleaned up my diet and also signed up for and completed a Level 3 qualification in diet and nutrition, so that I could educate myself more on how diet plays a role in my health. I started to slowly reintroduce and increase exercise to gain back some fitness and put more routine back in to my everyday life.
However, a month in to these lifestyle changes and I was experiencing signs of leaky gut and Candida (yeast overgrowth) all over again. I was painfully bloated, gassy, with acne flaring back up and fatigue always hovering. Initially thinking it was dairy causing it, I eliminated all dairy but then realised that because I’d never properly finished the programme I was on to overcome my gut issues and instead it had actually been abandoned amongst many other things going on, that this was the likely culprit.
Booking another appointment in with my functional medicine practitioner for two months time, I resumed the programme she had me on up until May before I abandoned it, although I started the anti-fungal from scratch and increased up to the full dose gradually, as she had taught me before. I also took my diet more seriously, eliminating all dairy and alcohol, refined and processed foods and ate as cleanly as possible. I became better at taking my supplements, digestive enzymes, apple cider vinegar, bone broth etc. much more religiously and even took up yoga to help my stress levels and mindfulness.
I was determined to make a good head start on my health so that when it came to seeing my FMP in October, I had already made some progress for us to work forwards from.
And today was the day I finally got to catch up with her. She was nothing short of impressed and in awe at everything I had picked back up and implemented myself to already make a lot of progress in the two months I had waited to see her, although she has still recommended some further food for thought.
With oestrogen dominance still being an issue following the miscarriage, she wants me to eat more leafy greens to help balance hormones as well as consider DIM or a similar alternative to give this more of a push.
She also wants me to look at going back on to Kefir for my probiotic and ditch the tablet one I started taking for ease when travelling (as kefir isn’t easy to travel with) and then never dropped.
The only consideration she says we have to give here is that due to an intense itching problem I have developed all over my body in the last few weeks, she thinks it could be due to histamine and kefir can contribute to that. So we need to do some trials to test the histamine theory first.
Although she’s not going to test me for the MTHFR gene as she feels it’s actually better to just assume I have it anyway and treat me in that mindset, she wants to switch me to another anti-fungal that she finds works better with those who have the gene, when Citricidal causes them itching issues.
She has said that although cutting out dairy and alcohol when trying to eliminate candida can be a helpful move, she doesn’t usually enforce complete abstinence from either, so if I want to drink then to stick to ‘clean’ alcohol such as gin and vodka and have it very rarely and at only a few drinks (but that if I can avoid it then please do), and eat a low dairy diet.
She has asked me to reintroduce dairy slowly and watch for signs or symptoms that I am sensitive to it, but she doubts that I am. I am actually surprised that being dairy-free hasn’t helped my skin as so many people told me it would. But she agrees with my thoughts that the cystic acne is more of a candida and oestrogen dominance thing, rather than a food sensitivity sign.
So going forward, it looks like we have some positive implementations to look forward to testing and I’m feeling very thankful for her guidance and am happy with my progress in the last two months alone.
I am walking a lot more often, doing a dance workout twice a week and have taken up yoga too. I am eating better and feeling better for it and I feel hopeful about the future.
In terms of my mental health and wellbeing, I am still going through the system for further support. I had the second stage assessment for Autism/Asperges and it was determined that I wasn’t on the spectrum, but instead may well have a personality disorder caused by certain traumatic events and themes in my childhood. I was also told I have obvious history with eating disorders which I hadn’t considered before and am going through receiving possible support for this at some point.
I had an initial assessment for Step 4 NHS therapy with a psychologist back in August, and was deemed suitable for help from the service, so now I’m on a nine month long waiting list until the next stage! I just hope we can determine what it is that’s going on inside my head at some point. I know I have anxiety disorder and have gone through bouts of depression before, but I also know there’s a reason why I don’t think the same way as everyone else, don’t handle stress the same way and have always struggled with change and other aspects of adult life. I need to get to the bottom of this.
Some other updates that I have talked about on my Instagram page but you might have missed:
- I’m currently trying to grow out my eyebrows! Yep, did you know that a common symptom of thyroid disease is thinned brows?! Putting down the tweezers and letting my eyebrows do their own thing, I’m amazed to see how much they’ve thickened out. I have optimal thyroid levels and all good vitamin levels which are crucial, but I’m glad to see they were only so thin because I tampered with them too much!
- I’m taking part in Thyroid30, a thyroid health wellness adventure and game, so I’ll let you know how I get on.
- The Invisible Hypothyroidism sponsored a mental health event and I even made a video that was played to raise awareness on the link between hypothyroidism and mental health conditions.
- I’ve already started my Level 4 qualification in diet and nutrition!
- I opened up a section for those who are supporting a thyroid patient, showcasing blogs and articles to help your friend or family member understand.
Do remember that you can keep up to date with my personal health journey via Instagram. My Instagram is updated with realtime updates and you’ll be able to follow along as and when everything happens over there!
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.
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Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a founding board member for the American College of Thyroidology. She is well-recognised as a crucial and influential contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her books include “Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate” and “You, Me and Hypothyroidism”.