We love hearing real-life stories of how people use holistic, traditional methods to bring themselves back from the depths of a health crisis. We’re sharing one from Palm Springs lifestyle blogger Kelly Lee of Kelly Golightly — a fun fashion and design blogger with a serious wellness story to tell. We hope others with the condition will find some comfort in another person’s story and – most of all – solutions she’s used in dealing with Hashimoto’s…
Recently on Instagram Stories, someone asked: How long did it take you to heal from Hashimoto’s? I didn’t answer right away because it’s not so black and white, and it’s a long response. I know many of you are struggling with Hashimoto’s, or similar health issues, so thought I’d answer in full today. Let’s start with when I hit rock bottom and what I told the doctor my five major health concerns were, plus the podcast that saved my life.
First, A Brief Timeline…Diagnosed with hypothyroidism: 15 years old
Diagnosed with Hashimoto’s: 27 years old
About three years ago, my health completely fell apart. While I had terrible stomach problems daily for 15+ years, I also started having vertigo, extreme mood shifts and couldn’t eat anything without feeling like I’d gotten hit by a truck (the exhaustion/fatigue would have me in bed for days). In addition, my knees and hips felt inflamed and brittle. I felt like an 80-year-old with a frail body and an even frailer mind. It was scary. I was able to fake my way through feeling okay for a few hours here and there, but when I was out in public I had no energy left to fake it. I was below empty. My body was rebelling and I was at a loss.
My AHA moment came when Fred Baby (my husband!) stumbled across the podcast Gluten Thyroid Issues podcast with Datis Kharrazian. Dr. Kharrazian mentioned that you can’t eat gluten if you have Hashimoto’s. It was a huge light bulb moment and something I had never heard before. It lead us down a path to finding a functional medicine doctor and turning my health around. I feel like this podcast ultimately saved my life.
Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend just how much has changed, and how far I’ve come on this health journey. So, I looked back at the paperwork I submitted to my doctor back in May 2015 at our first appointment. Let’s review exactly what I explained to my doctor back then:
My Five Major Health Concerns, In Order Of Importance…Digestive Issues | Stomach pressure, frequent bowel movements, trouble retaining nutrients. I am becoming more sensitive to other foods that never bothered me before like avocados and mangos (after consuming, I get flu-type symptoms like extreme fatigue and low-grade fevers that knock me out for several days, where I am unable to care for myself). I also now only weigh 95 pounds, even though it seems like I eat all day long and the weight loss worries me.
Brain fog, confusion, memory loss, hormonal + emotional strain | I would be wrapping a gift and be fine, only to move on to wrap the next gift and get totally confused about how to do it, which led to frustration and crying (like an Alzheimer’s patient or being pregnant). My personality is typically sunny, optimistic and cheerful so randomly crying is not the norm for me. Or, crying when dropping off a FedEx package if I was told I couldn’t do something. Overall it feels like I am dying and losing my mind.
Fatigue + Weakness | I will feel completely fine one day, and then the next not be able to get out of bed. I am walking hunched over like an 80-year-old because I don’t have the strength to stand up straight. Along with that, I have muscle and joint pain. It often feels like my bones are breaking (when I carry one grocery bag, my wrists feels like it will snap). I’m starting to have pain throughout my hips now too (for the last few months). Often have neck pain, particularly on the right side. I have a hard time washing my hair or brushing it because raising my hands above my head is exhausting. I get random pains all the time, from my shoulder blades to my side. I also get random roving pains and tingling and numbness in my face.
Anxiety | Not feeling well and not knowing how a food will impact me is leading to anxiety about eating and traveling because I don’t know if it will make me sick.
Vertigo + Dizziness | This past year I started having vertigo, which also occurred a few times while driving which was super scary. That lead to me not driving. Now I have anxiety around driving. I also often feel like things are moving too fast for my brain to keep up with, which leads to feeling carsick and me being a jumpy, nervous passenger. But I also feel this way walking into a store, like I need to stand still to get my bearings and take it all in. It’s like it’s too much stimuli for my brain. I’m sensitive to flashing lights and flickering candles — both make me feel panicky. Even scrolling through my iPhone at night often makes me feel nauseated.
In summary, I was a hot mess. When I think back to this appointment, I remember looking at least 10 years older than I am. My skin was super pale and crepe-looking, dry and lifeless. The light coming in from the windows bothered me and it was hard to process stimuli.
The doctor did a few eye movement and balance tests, where you close your eyes and stand in one spot. I was swerving all over the place without even realizing it. On the eye test, where I just followed the doctor’s finger with my eyes, my eyes would jerk back and forth. Fred Baby has video somewhere. (Maybe I’ll track it down and be brave enough to show it one day.) Essentially, my body was attacking my brain. That was scary to learn and a huge wake-up call!
My number one most pressing issue was my stomach and its inability to retain any nutrients. Sorry for the TMI, but I was going to the bathroom like five times a day, which is super inconvenient and, frankly, embarrassing (pardon the pun). More importantly, it’s exhausting, as I wasn’t retaining any nutrients. I derived no energy from anything I ate.
To solve these problems, I needed to heal my gut. Your gut and brain are so connected (something like eighty percent of serotonin resides in your gut!). If you have leaky gut, you probably have leaky brain too, meaning depression and anxiety are likely joining the party.
I’d read and heard that it could take anywhere from a few months to a few years to heal leaky gut. Always the turtle in life, I was in the few years camp — but not for lack of trying. I’d simply done so much damage since this went on for so long that it was going to take awhile to heal.
So, how long did it take to heal Hashimoto’s?
A Timeline Of Feeling Better…
In three months my stomach problems went away and the constant colds stopped after being on the AIP Diet and cutting out gluten and inflammatory foods (corn and dairy, among others).
From three months to three years and even up until now it was a major roller coaster of learning which foods I could reintroduce and which ones I couldn’t. Some medicines I was taking were literally poisoning me. Some foods, medicines and lifestyle choices resulted in a major breakdown.
But Today I am happy to report that I am finally feeling normal and great again. Vibrant, even. I hate to put that in writing because I’ve done so in the past and felt like I’ve jinxed myself. But I’ve now been at this long enough to know that certain things might make me feel bad again and can make that choice accordingly if I think it’s worth it (spoiler alert: It’s never worth it).
It took this long to heal my gut fully. I finally have desire and clarity back — a desire to be out in the world, traveling, exploring and having fun. And I have a clarity of mind I haven’t had in a long time, too. It feels good and has me excited for the holidays!
As you can see, this is why it’s a hard question to answer. But it’s amazing to look back and see that all five symptoms are gone. Sure, things pop up here and there, but I can always point to a reason why. It’s no longer a mystery. While I will always have Hashimoto’s, I’ve learned how to live with it and not let it ruin my life.
It’s an ongoing learning process, but these ten things are vital to feeling better:
+ Going gluten-free, dairy-free and grain-free.
+ Eating an anti-inflammatory diet and eliminating any food triggers — I did AIP for a long time.
+ Taking a turmeric supplement (Turmero by Apex Energetics).
+ Taking B-12 and vitamin D.
+ Having access to anti-anxiety drugs (compounded Valium).
+ Taking my thyroid meds (Tirosint T4 + compounded T3).
+ Taking a bath with epsom salts (for magnesium) every day.
+ Getting our puppy, Odee — for mental health and even physical health.
+ Taking progesterone.
+ I’m also on Lexapro, an antidepressant. It’s hard to tell if that works or not — but since I’m feeling well, I’m sticking with it for now.
The Big Takeaway…
I want you to know that you can turn your health around. For me, it took a complete diet and lifestyle overhaul, but it was worth it to feel healthy again. How empowering is it to know you can turn it all around? I know it’s not black and white — there will be hiccups along the way and things aren’t perfect (hormones are still trying to ruin my life and my skin), but I feel in control, whereas before Hashimoto’s controlled me. If you’ve dealt with Hashimoto’s and had success with healing, please share in the comments!
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.