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!