The Relief of a Diagnosis


Heather's Story

Pulaski, VA

Age: 25-36

A little bit about my journey:

My Diagnosis

Hashimoto's Disease

Time to Get Diagnosed

3-5 years

Year I was Diagnosed


Sending Love to

My Functional Medicine Doctor, Dr. Arthur

Hospital I'd Recommend

This is my story:

Hi! I’m Heather and I live in southwestern Virginia. I am a financial planner by trade, but all of my free time goes to my dogs and competing in dog sports, photography, and hiking when I’m able.

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism around age 22 during some routine lab work. I remember struggling with a lack of energy, consistent weight gain no matter what I did, and trouble focusing being the most recognizable. Looking back, I also struggled with headaches, being either too hot or too cold, some muscle and joint pain, and some generalized digestive issues. Almost everything could have come from any number of diagnosis. At 22, I was told that all I needed was to replace my thyroid hormone, and I’d feel better, start losing weight, and see positive changes.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I continued to struggle. I also started having some side effects of the synthetic hormone treatment, the worst being depression. Around age 24, my nurse practitioner at the time switched me to a natural hormone replacement, again claiming that it should do the trick and I should start feeling “normal” soon. Again, I didn’t, although somehow between 2012 and 2014, I did manage to obtain my MBA. In late 2014, at age 26, I went part-time at work. My fatigue was incredibly bad to the point there were some days I couldn’t get out of bed. My pain was the worst it had been. And I had no desire to do my hobbies.

In early 2015, I started really researching thyroid issues because my healthcare provider wasn’t proving to be much help. During that time, I came across the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. The more I read, the more I got the feeling that it fit my situation. Hashimoto’s is actually the leading cause of hypothyroidism. At this point, I was still seeing the same nurse practitioner, but she didn’t seem interested in completing a full thyroid lab panel, because essentially, treatment is the same – replacing thyroid hormones. I was able to find a lab where I could order my own labs, and have a consult with an MD when the results were back. Those results showed that I indeed had TPO (thyroid peroxidase) Antibodies at a fairly high level.

Once I had that result, and based on my experience with my healthcare provider at the time, I started researching functional medicine and found a doctor about an hour away from me and set up a consultation. I have been seeing this doctor for five years now. I routinely have full thyroid lab panels completed to check everything. I still struggle, and I have flare ups, but I am in a place of maintaining and feeling pretty good a lot more than before. Being un (or under) diagnosed is hard. I remember the relief I felt when I had an answer. It didn’t magically make me better, but it did help me see some amount of improvement by focusing on a lifestyle more.

To anyone struggling for answers, keep fighting. It is hard, I know, but there is a sense of relief when it happens!

Let’s play 20 questions:

The song that keeps me going is:
Don't Stop Believin'
I never leave home without my:
cell phone and water bottle
My go-to feel better movie is: 
Pitch Perfect
If I was in the hospital, the celebrity I would most love to visit me would be:
Barack Obama
When I need to relax, I:
hang out with my dogs
My favorite food is:
The quote that keeps me going is:
The best view comes after the hardest climb
When I need a laugh, I:
hang with my dogs - they are comforting and entertaining
Meet my pets (or favorite stuffed animal):
5 dogs, 3 cats, and 2 birds
My hero is:
my fellow chronic warriors
When I’m having a down day I binge watch:
Gilmore Girls or The Office
My favorite book to get lost in is:
Hiking my Feelings or Wild (or other adventure books)
I want to be best friends with:
Taylor Swift
The thing I’m most proud of:
my optomisim
The most wonderfully unexpected thing that has happened to me as a result of this journey is:
learning to love myself, even in the deepest of flares
The most hilarious thing that has happened to me is:
I'm just clumsy and trip a lot
It really means a lot when someone does this:
asks questions and tries to understand what others are going through
My favorite social media account to follow is:
I don't know that I have a single favorite, but I follow a lot of fellow warriors, and accounts around hiking and adventure
The advice I would give to myself back at the beginning of this journey would be:
Always be your own advocate
Words of encouragement that I’d give to my fellow warriors are
Be your own advocate. If something doesn't feel right with a provider, fire them and find someone who listens and wants to help you achieve the goal of having the best health you can have given your circumstances
Follow my journey: Instagram: Heather_Nicole2010;

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