I woke up yesterday morning happy. “Was it a dream?” I wondered to myself, still in the deep fog of sleep. No, it wasn’t. Smiling, I recalled the events of the prior evening.
“WOOOHOOOOOO!” I replied to my functional medicine doctor. The lab results didn’t feel real to me. My TSH was 2.3. Optimal ranges for the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone are between 1 and 3, although symptoms with each person can vary widely. I feel amazing at a 1, but I was only ever able to keep that number for a few months.
It’s been two years since my TSH was between a 1 and 3, and now here I am again. Finally. As such, I find myself noting these last several weeks methodically, wanting to bottle this magic life recipe so that my numbers don’t skyrocket again.
Three months ago, my TSH was a 21–the highest it’s ever been. I met with two functional medicine doctors, both covered by insurance (Can I get an Amen?)! One doc is working on my thyroid lab work and medicine, while the other is working on my gut health and a year-long lead detoxification protocol.
Correction: we are all working on this. I go to hot yoga. I get extra sleep and sacrifice social time. I no longer “burn the midnight oil” to get a project done or grading for work. My life has clear fence posts that mark the boundaries of maintaining wellness. I’m also taking (and paying out of pocket for) L-Glutamine, pre-biotics, probiotics, Thyrotain, Zinc, Vitamin D and a few other supplements daily in an effort to heal my leaky gut.
Most Americans are walking around with leaky gut due to the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.). But nearly all of us with autoimmune diseases have leaky guts by default. These protocols, my lifestyle of no gluten and minimal grains and dairy, along with a chelation via DMSA pills to detox high levels of lead out of my system, are likely all the reasons I’m beginning to see the light.
Oh, and there’s one more thing. I pray. Call it energy, positive thoughts, or meditation if you’d like. For me, it’s prayer. Actor Rainn Wilson, noted for his quirky role on The Office as Dwight Schrute, is a follower of the Baha’i faith. Rainn, also an artist, said in an interview with Oprah, “The making of art is no different than prayer.” I write this not to defend prayer, nor to diverge onto another topic entirely. Rather, I write this to explain that prayer is part of my mind-body connection. It’s my medicine.
I and my family attend a United Methodist church–an inclusive and liberal-leaning place of compassion with a mission of fighting social injustice. I am proud to know the people and to practice my faith in this place.
Last Christmas, we were invited to write a prayer–a hope–a wish–on a star and place it on the Christmas tree (earth religion symbol, yes, yes, I know it and love it). I tearly wrote down, “health,” walked up to the front of the church and hung it on that tree; the candles flickered and my soul spoke. The sacredness of that moment is forever lodged in my heart. I believed we could all pray for our stars, and I’m grateful to the Pastors who guided us in this holy act.
Faith in my doctors, in my medicine, in myself, and in the divine creator have gotten me to this point. Without deep trust in this synergy (cue Jem and the Holograms), I don’t think I could have gotten well. As science, spirit, and energy are being studied as a whole, many are learning that our health is determined as much by our diet and genetics as by our mental and emotional states. In “The Science of Healing Thoughts,” Gareth Cook of Scientific American interviews Science Journalist Jo Marchant who investigated and travelled the world seeking a deeper and robust explanation for the mind body connection. This stuff is real.
Four years ago when I was first diagnosed with Hashimotos and felt I was perhaps overreacting to symptoms I had, I read Stacey Robbin’s book You’re Not Crazy and You’re Not Alone: Losing the Victim, Finding Your Sense of Humor and Learning to Love Yourself Through Hashimotos. I was one of the fortunate ones. I was diagnosed fairly early after noticeable symptoms because I advocated for myself, I had a good doctor who listened, and I have a member of the family with Hashimotos who immediately purchased and mailed me two books. Robbins’ book was one of those.
As I turned the pages, I cried, and felt relieved and victorious all at once, grateful for someone to relate to. Yes, there are forums on Facebook and various blogs and websites, and yes this is a common disease, but it can take some sleuthing to wade through and find the empathetic and empowering voices. I’ve learned to avoid those who want to complain but aren’t willing to take action. This disease is for life. And there’s no getting better without serious effort and lifestyle change. How bad do you want it?
I wanted it. And I continue to be inspired for wellness because of my seven-year-old daughter. She is my light and life. She knows mommy has an illness, and God bless her, she’s been to more than a few blood draws with me, to which she sighs, rolls her eyes, and says, “Again?!” She’s seen mommy go to bed at 6pm. She’s caught mommy crying more than once, fighting depression, slipping into a hot bath to soak sore muscles, asking tedious questions a the restaurant about the food, voraciously reading medical books, hugging her daddy for support. And she’s seen me be Wonder Woman.
She knows what I have. What she doesn’t know is that she has a 50% chance of having it too. But she believes in me and I believe in her. We’ve got this, together. And I’ll do whatever I can to show up to life for her because mommy doesn’t want to miss a single thing.
This week, before I found out my results, my daughter and I saw a stunning, full, double rainbow from our backyard. On that crisp, dewy morning, we stood outside and soaked it in. It was as if we could hop the fence and find the pot o’ gold. As a person of faith, I see rainbows in two ways: the refraction and dispersion of light by water and the sign of a promise. That day, God gave us both a promise.
To read more information on the leaky gut/autoimmune connection, visit these websites:
Dr. K News: https://drknews.com/autoimmune-gut-repair-diet/