#6 Hashi & Me: meet Lori
Hashi & Me is a series of stories for people with Hashimoto’s told by people with Hashimoto’s and other thyroid problems. In each piece, one of us will share our experience with Hashimoto’s, our personal findings and tips. We believe one person’s experience can be useful for others, especially to newly diagnosed people.
This week meet Lori a registered nurse and an international board-certified lactation consultant, from Orlando, Florida.
I have been battling with Hashimoto’s well over ten years. I work in one of the largest neonatal intensive care units caring for infants and teaching their parents to care for their child as well as assist with breastfeeding. Currently, I am in college earning my master’s degree, and upon graduating this December, I will be a family practice nurse practitioner. My passions are infants, thyroid, and autoimmune conditions. I would love to own a medical practice caring for patients in a holistic, alternative, and medication free environment. Although, I would be happy working for someone who will allow me to practice how I like without all the headaches of a privately-owned office. Upon graduation and taking my examination board test, I have plans to educate myself with essential oils, homeopathy, and herbal supplementation.
How and when did you discover you had thyroid issues? Tell us your story.
My personal journey to Hashimoto’s probably began in my late 20s although my diagnosis came about 10 years later. In 1989, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I endured chemotherapy for almost three years total with a break of less than a year only to be told that I had relapsed and needed a bone marrow transplant. Deferring the transplant, I continued with chemo due to the possibility of never having children and finished the treatments in 1992. I am happy to report I have been cancer free since that time.
It was towards end of my second round of treatments is when I decided to go back to school to become a registered nurse. I graduated in 1998 and married my husband that same year.
After having to go through chemotherapy and all the needed testing, I began to notice changes in my body. I was unable to lose weight, if I did, it was very challenging to lose even a small amount. I was always fatigued in addition to being cold all the time when others were comfortable. I knew I had a thyroid problem but the conventional wisdom of all my doctors was my thyroid was fine.
I was seeing a chiropractor who provided me glandular support which helped for some time. I had all the amalgams removed from my teeth and had composites put in place. Fast forward some years later; my chiropractor recommended a physician who treated thyroid issues.
My first encounter was very overwhelming. He sent me home with a battery lab work. He ordered numerous tests for nutritional and hormonal deficiencies. I was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. That day I cried, probably because in my heart I knew I had a thyroid issue all along and now on medications for the rest of my life. I did not being told I had a chronic illness. My thyroid tests were still in the “normal” range but my thyroid antibodies were extremely elevated. He started me on Armour thyroid, Vitamin D3, as well as other nutritional support supplements. Vitamin D3 was still a new subject in the allopathic medical world. I have been on vitamin D3 before it was so fashionable to conventional doctors. I eventually changed to doctor closer to my home. My newer physician changed me from Armour thyroid to Nature-throid since there are no gluten fillers. She also placed me on low dose naltrexone. She had me try a gluten-free diet. I do not have the gastrointestinal issues, and I do not notice many symptoms when I choose to eat items containing gluten. I did see an increase in my thyroid antibodies after eating a meal or two with gluten by accident. Since seeing my antibodies rise from eating glutted, I have tried very hard to avoid gluten. I would love to avoid soy as well as dairy. Unfortunately, soy is in many of the foods we purchase in the United States.
Dairy is a weakness of mine, I love cheese, so it is very hard for me to avoid.
What did you learn since? Do you have some tips or findings to share with other Hashimoto’s people?
Since my diagnosis, I have been on a quest to heal my thyroid. I want to know how my thyroid failed me. I have changed my beliefs in the traditional medicine views and have learned about other options for drugs and healing. Most recently, I have been learning about the nutritional benefits of bone broth and make homemade bone broth.
I try to avoid chemicals and make cleaning supplies, including laundry detergent, fabric softener, as well as shower, counter, and window cleaners by using vinegar, essential oils, and other natural substances. I plan to make dishwashing cleaner once all my current cleaner is finished since chemicals can affect the endocrine system. I used fluoride and gluten-free toothpaste. I eat healthier than most people and take my food with me to work.
My advice is to educate yourself and learn about your disease. Eat healthily and avoid gluten, soy, and dairy. If you can find a provider who will perform allergy testing, that may help you to find more your triggers for your thyroid. Avoid chemicals at all costs and make your cleaners, you will save money and your health.
How does your day with Hashimoto’s look like?
My days are very crazy due to school with all the clinical hours needed to see patients. When I go to work, I work a 12-hour shift, I am up at 0500 and take my thyroid medication upon waking. I get ready for my day along with my food for breakfast and lunch. I care for sick babies during my shift as well as teach parents about their child’s development, caring for their child, and teach how to breastfeed. Some days are just very exhausting physically and emotionally. Let’s face it some parents are just not very kind to hospital staff. There are many days where my job is stressful.
Every morning I take numerous supplements to help my thyroid. They include: B12 (methylcobalamin) 5,000 mcg, Folate (methyl-folate) 1,000 mcg, Selenium 400 mg, Vitamin D3 10,000 IU, Krill oil 300 mg, CLA 750 mg, Tumeric 500 mg, Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 100 mg, no flush niacin (B-3) 500 mg, ALA 600 mg, DHEA 25 mg, Adren-all with adaptogens for stress reduction, and I recently just added L-Tyrosine 500 mg.
I go to work tired and come home drained. Some of my issues may be school related with additional stress and hours with my full-time work schedule. Around 3 pm daily, I usually feel tired. Some days I need to take a nap when I am off from work or not going to a clinical site. Otherwise, I just must fight through my fatigue. I am exhausted all the time despite having a good sleep.
In the evening, I eat dinner with my husband. I usually cook but on days that I work, he cooks the meals, and I have to make them very easy for him, either leftovers from another night or a frozen meal. I am usually in bed by 10 pm every night. In the evening my supplements consist of Magnesium 1,000 mg, 5-HTP 200 mg, Melatonin 10 mg, Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) 4.5 mg, Progesterone 200 mg, and a Baby aspirin 81 mg. On my days off, I usually sleep in until my husband’s alarm clock rings at 6 am unless I have to go to a clinical site to see patients. Overall, my thyroid levels are good, and my antibodies are low. My doctor tells me, I have the lowest antibodies compared to many of her patients, so I must be doing something right.
What were the biggest struggle and biggest victory your experienced?
A huge struggle for me was never to have children. My doctors all said I was in premature ovarian failure. However, that is fine. I have a great job with caring for sick babies, so I get my fill of babies and go home and sleep well. I have to remember there is a higher power who has a plan for me. I may not understand it now, but in time it will be known.
I still have two major issues which are weight loss and fatigue. I have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue along with the Hashimoto’s. I have been finding research lately by some well-known functional medicine doctors regarding NAC and L-tyrosine and mitochondrial dysfunction. So not too long ago I purchased L-tyrosine. I have seen a noticeable difference since adding it to my routine. My biggest victory is finally being diagnosed and being placed on NDT, LDN, and controlling my diet to keep my antibodies at bay.
What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed to ease their first steps with Hashimoto’s?
Avoid gluten, avoid soy, avoid dairy, avoid chemicals! Get in the sun for some natural vitamin D, rest, relax, and play! Take care of yourself. Learn as much as you can by reading! My first book I learned from was Thyroid Healthy by Suzy Cohen, PharmD. After I graduate and pass boards, the next book I plan on reading is Hashimoto’s Protocol by Isabella Wentz, PharmD. Learn what you can, find your triggers for Hashimoto’s. Learn from others but remember what works for them may not work for you. Do what you love! And the most important thing is to love yourself!