#8 Hashi & Me: meet Jeni Wilkes

Hashi & Me is a series of stories for people with Hashimoto’s told by people with Hashimoto’s or other thyroid issues. In each piece, one of us will share our experiences, our personal findings and tips. We believe one person’s experience can be useful for others, especially to newly diagnosed people.

Today we meet Jeni Wilkes of Hashimoto’s Chapter and Verse.

How and when did you discover you had Hashimoto’s?

It wasn’t until two years ago at 50 that I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. I was seeing a new doctor because we had just moved to a new town. For my initial visit as routine I was given an in-depth blood test and I felt lucky to get the diagnosis.

At the time I had a huge list of symptoms: fatigue, horrible gut issues that prevented me from leaving the house some days, ear pressure, tingling in my hands and arms, brain fog that prevented me from driving for a while, hair loss to the point a hairdresser asked if I had recently had chemotherapy, muscle and joint pain, a hard time with coordination, crying jags, depression, anxiety and the list goes on.

There are 300 symptoms associated with Hashimoto’s (Hypothyroid Mom) and I seemed to have at least half of them. So many times I was told I was a hypochondriac and that’s probably what my delayed diagnosis. For years I didn’t go to the doctor because no one took me seriously. It wasn’t until my symptoms became unbearable that I sought help again. Looking back at school yearbooks I now see a Hashimoto’s face in pictures from when I was about twelve or thirteen. I had debilitating migraine headaches every day for about a year and a half in high school. The doctors couldn’t figure it out.

So I think I’ve had Hashimoto’s or at the least had hypothyroidism for a very long time.

What did you learn since? Do you have some tips or findings to share with other Hashimoto’s people?

My learning curve has been huge in the last year. I’ve gotten my healing in full swing with sleep, relaxation techniques, diet and supplements through online research and support. Traditional medicine has not caught up yet with treatment that puts Hashimoto’s into remission. That was a huge revelation for me. There just comes a time when you have to move on even if initially it’s out of your comfort zone.

Some people that are great resources for Hashimoto’s : Hypothyroid Mom; The Paleo Mom; Phoenix Helix; Marc Ryan L.Ac; Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt; Autoimmune Paleo; Sophie Van Tiggelsen and Izabella Wentz

These are just a few and if you get on Instagram you’ll find a huge amount of support from all over the world.

What were the biggest struggle and the biggest victory your experienced?

Finding a doctor that is knowledgeable in Hashimoto’s as well as willing to listen and work with me has been my biggest hurdle. I am now reading Hashimoto’s Protocol by Izabella Wentz and am implementing her strategies into my daily life. I feel in an ideal world you have a great doctor to work with but I am mystified as to how to find that doctor. I do a lot of research for my blog and have found Izabella Wentz’ advice to be spot on.

Another hurdle has been to get past the stigma of being called a hypochondriac. That’s why I started a blog so that people with Hashimoto’s can find information when they feel they aren’t being heard. I wish I could broadcast “you can get your life back, really! “ to those people that have no idea why they feel so bad because their doctor has told them everything is fine. “Normal” tests = you should be feeling fine = not being heard.

Watching Izabella Wentz’ documentary “The Thyroid Secret” made me realize there are so many things you can do to heal and everyone is different. That’s what makes Hashimoto’s such a puzzle. The documentary was empowering and that’s when I started to do some heavy research myself. Changing my diet was a huge leap forward for me and that happened years before I knew I had Hashimoto’s. I was able to reduce my stomach issues to almost zero. They did start to come back though by the time I saw the doctor that diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s. Taking 200mg selenium + E was another huge game changer. My achy muscles, hot flashes, fatigue, insomnia and brain fog disappeared. I also lost significant weight with both of these. Acupuncture and Rolfing also helped immensely.

How does your day with Hashimoto’s look like?

I try to get a full eight to nine hours sleepI meditate before bed using an app called “Insight Timer”. I have also found an app (“Sleep Cycle”) that has an alarm that wakes me up slowly which has helped with morning anxiety. Taking an hour to get ready and eat a good breakfast has also helped with anxiety. Pre-Hashimoto’s I would get ready in twenty minutes.

My meals always include a small amount of animal protein and vegetables and I try to stay away from fruit first thing in the morning. This helps with adrenal fatigue. My lunch and water bottle I prepare the night before so all I have to do is grab and go in the morning. I nanny and this I love. We chase around, laugh and discover all day. It was a job I took initially out of necessity but stayed with. Previously I was a librarian which is a wonderful job as well! Most days nannying are just so much fun and I have the freedom to make different choices if things aren’t working out. It helps with being mindful and embracing the moment. My current charge is one year old. I also try to work on my blog a little each day.

When I get home it seems the work begins making dinner and preparing for the next day. I try to not look at any technology two hours before bed. Our two year old grandson is living with us at the moment and there is always time to play and grab a few belly laughs before the day ends.

What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed to ease their first steps with Hashimoto’s?

1. Get out there, get informed and find the support you need! There is so much help out there. Instagram and Facebook have great communities of people with Hashimoto’s. There are fantastic apps, podcasts and websites as well.

2. Find a functional medicine doctor that you can work with. I say this even though this has been my biggest challenge.

3. Get rid of gluten, dairy, soy and sugar from your diet. It doesn’t hurt to try a new diet for at least thirty days to see if it helps. Diet change helps most people.

4. Get a full eight hours of sleep each night, eat a good breakfast with protein and do something truly relaxing each weekend away from technology so you can reset yourself.

5. Finally work on finding your root cause. There may be more than one. Put your Hashimoto’s into remission by working to get rid of it. Again Izabella Wentz is a great resource for finding your root cause. She has done so much research that she makes it easy.

Putting our Hashimoto’s into remission is a realistic goal we can reach with the right support. It’s hard and sometimes confusing but if you tackle one thing at a time, self advocate and find people who really understand, your journey will become a lot easier.

Stay informed and take care!