Hypothyroidism


I've been on and off about writing this post... it feels like I'm broken. It feels like a disability. It feels discouraging. Embarrassing. It's exhausting. But mostly, it feels like an excuse.

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I have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. There. I said it. There it is.
But wait, what the heck is that!?

In short, it's this booger of a condition that causes a laundry list of horrible symptoms (weight gain, major fatigue, brain fog, dry skin and hair, insomnia, on and on...I'll discuss my symptoms later).

In more depth, it is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones to meet the needs of the body. Your thyroid is a gland in your throat that has one purpose: to secrete thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones (the main ones being T3 and T4) control your basal metabolic rate, bone growth (in children), protein synthesis, metabolism of fat, carbohydrates, and protein, and how your body uses and reacts to other hormones. Basically, it does a lot of important shit - mostly surrounding metabolism. Mine, however, has fallen asleep on the job. Permanently. We're not sure how long it's been out of order but according to docs, mine is a useless organ taking up space in my neck. YOU ONLY HAD ONE JOB THYROID!

I had started to gain weight since moving to Italy. I mean, of course I started to gain weight moving to Italy! Home of wine, pizza, pasta, bread, and cheese! It was to be expected! But what was previously fairly easy for me to work off as a triathlete started to get heavier - literally!
I started to sort of yo-yo diet, trying different fads, eliminating, adding, minding calories, hitting the gym harder, adding extra workouts, really focusing in on my body and health but it wasn't working.
I even quit drinking for 30 days to see if I could make a shift. Nothing! In fact, the weight was multiplying but primarily in my belly. Coupled with this stress I started to notice some other symptoms and I just felt really strongly,  something isn't right

I called upon my internal Google doctor and started researching. I wondered if it was hormonal. I am 38 now, I know it gets tougher with age. I actually found plenty of information surrounding thyroid issues. I could check the box on nearly every symptom so I insisted for a few weeks before convincing Luca to find me a specialist - an endocrinologist.

During my first visit with the doc, he did an ultrasound on my thyroid and ordered all the appropriate blood tests. It took about a week for the results to come back and we confirmed my TSH levels were out of range diagnosing me with hypothyroidism. He started me on Tirosint and over the last few months with monthly bloodwork, we've increased the dose from 25mcg to 100mcg.

My last bloodwork results show that I might be leveling out. It will take another couple of months to really know - bloodwork is tricky like that, so many factors. The whole process is basically trial and error until I get the right dosage. It takes a long time because I can only change doses every 4 weeks (that’s the shortest it generally takes to see consistent change) and I've been waiting about 6 weeks - since I'm an athlete, my levels are even more pretentious. In reality, most of the time people are checked every 2-3 months. It’s a long tedious process - ugh. Also, once we find the right dosage, that doesn’t mean it’s the right dosage for the long term. Instead, I have to have a blood test every 3-6 months to make sure nothing has changed. Exhausting, right!?

But fingers crossed! Because, if I'm leveling out now, it means I can start to take back some control of these symptoms. My primary battle, the weight gain - you can imagine how CRAZY it's making me.

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Not to mention, as a triathlete, hypothyroidism has made training extra difficult. One day I'm up, the next I'm down. It's really hard to stay consistent. There are some days that I barely have enough energy to get up and work, let alone, go run 10 miles. I always have to be so flexible which is difficult for me! I need structure! I'm also finding it takes a little longer to recover from hard workouts. I wonder though, if that's partially the extra weight on me too. In any regard, it's been really hard to accept that this is life now and I have to rely on meds.

So I promised you my symptoms and I hope that if you're facing any of the same, maybe this can help lead you in the right direction for answers too! In no particular order:
1 - Fatigue and muscle soreness/stiffness and I noticed it was taking longer to recover from workouts
2 - So tired but can't sleep; waking up all through the night
3 - Depression and mood swings. Super depressed, like a dark hole that I just could not get out of
4 - Dry skin, brittle hair - thinning hair!! My hair was falling out like crazy!
5 - Nails. Not only were they brittle, but I have deep ridges and lines through them - weird!
6 - Weight gain and puffy face
7 - Foggy brain - like I couldn't remember what I was just thinking about or what I needed to be thinking about. And/or often, I just sit and stare, like IDEK what to do next. Bizarre!
8 - Cold. Always cold. Cold hands and feet. Cold like, to the bones cold
9 - Potentially infertility...

Now, some of that was nothing new (like, depression and sleeplessness) but it seemed to be worse. And it didn't feel like my normal depression - hard to understand or make sense, but I think you'll get it if you're experiencing it. You can also experience constipation, muscle weakness, hoarseness, menstrual changes, stiffness or swelling in joints, and poor memory (like the brain fog). Just a MESS of peculiar symptoms. And kind of all unrelated...

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Let's add some more drama - if you take TOO much medication, which you don't really know until you're weeks in... You actually take your body from a normal state, to a hyperthyroid state. This means, symptoms return, perhaps change, add anxiety, restlessness, racing heart, and shaky hands. I'm actually currently wondering if I'm headed in that direction. I need a more involved endo doc!
I'll have bloodwork this week and see what my levels look like.

What else? After tons of research, I've decided I'm going to try a gluten free diet. Because the fact is, my thyroid doesn't function like it's supposed to and I will have to take the meds always. Sigh...
Science talk: The protein portion of gluten, known as gliadin, enters the bloodstream through the gut in those with sensitivities or intestinal permeability (leaky gut) - common w/hypo. 
Your immune system recognizes this protein as non-self and creates antibodies against gliadin. In a process known as molecular mimicry, gliadin closely resembles the thyroid gland, leading the gliadin antibodies to mistakenly attack the thyroid. So, your body’s response every time you eat gluten is to make antibodies to the gliadin molecule - antibodies that then attack your thyroid.

Gluten free feels so scary still. But it's worth a try to manage this stuff, right!
I was waiting until post 70.3 so my body didn't freak out so I've started as of Monday. I don't feel any different, FYI. Yet ;)

If you are experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism, you should have comprehensive blood testing done to determine the health of your thyroid - or at least schedule a visit with an endocrinologist! And if you have any suggestions or advice for me from a hypo perspective OR gluten free... I'm open to hear you!!