June 24, 2012

My answer to "How did you do it?"

I've been asked, "How did you do it?" a lot lately, mostly by other thyroid patients on the Stop the Thyroid Madness Facebook support groups. 

While I wish I could give an individualized answer to each person, it's a long answer!  So I'm writing it here.

First, let me say that at the time I am writing this blog post, I feel one hundred million times better than I did five months ago.  Still, I am no where near being optimally treated.  It's a process. 

But I am well on my way with a good plan of action, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I'm sure life will throw some curve balls at me along this journey, but the difference is that I know why I was so sick and how to get better.  

Health Changes

 Practically speaking, I took the following steps to get to the place where I am now:

  1. I switched from Levothyroxine (a synthetic, T4-only medication) to Natural Dessicated Thyroid.
  2. I started using the Circadian T3 Method to heal my adrenals.  Read HERE how it's changed my life.
  3. I started taking specific vitamins and supplements for my needs. 
  4. I stopped eating gluten.
  5. I got my iron labs checked (specifically, serum iron, ferritin, TIBC and saturation) and started supplementing according to my needs (i.e. a LOT).
  6. I started T3-only medication for my Circadian Method dose.  
The number one biggest thing I did was to start supporting my thyroid with the natural dessicated thyroid medication.  I had been on Levothyroxine for 12 years.  While my TSH was perfect, it slowly made my symptoms worse and worse.  I had gained over 100 pounds.  I had chronic depression and anxiety with suicidal ideation.

Since I started on NDT, I have cataloged my symptoms systematically.  Every single one of those symptoms has improved dramatically, and many of them are gone.  And I'm not even optimally dosed yet!  Amazing.

Post-partum Depression & Bio-identical Progesterone

I first started taking progesterone when I had Post-Partum Depression (PPD) after the birth of my second child.  That was a dark, dark time in my life.  I am very thankful to the people who helped me realize that the root of PPD is nearly always due to low progesterone. 

PPD is very different from typical depression.  If you struggle with PPD or even "the baby blues," please read more on www.naprotechnology.com about the connection between PPD and low progesterone. 

Once I was through PPD, I continued taking progesterone cyclically to help maintain regular cycles.  Otherwise, I had 190-day anovulatory cycles!  Progesterone in this instance is crucial for many women to maintain healthy, regular menstruation that could otherwise cause cancer.   


After my miscarriage last September, I knew that there was deeper going on than low progesteroneWhy is my progesterone low? I kept asking. 

I had been on progesterone before and during my pregnancy.  My gut told me that there was something deeper causing my infertility issues. 
But the real break through came when I switched from synthetic T4-only medication to natural dessicated thyroid.  I'll admit that I'm holding my breath a bit, but with continued progesterone support:
  • my cycles are a normal length (even with the use of progesterone, my cycles would "stretch out" previously),
  • my periods are no longer heavy, 
  • my periods are no longer 10-14 days long, but rather 7 or less
  • I have a lot less tail-end brown bleeding, versus the days of it I used to have,
  • the quality and quantity of peak (fertile) -type cervical fluid as improved,
  • I no longer have PMDD or PMS before ovulation and menstruation,
  • and (drum roll, please) my last period was very nearly pain-free, compared with previous periods where I was taking prescription pain medication!  
I'm convinced that eliminating gluten from my diet has played a huge role in the reversal of my endometriosis pain.  Now, if I eat any of it, I have abdominal pain again. 


About two months after I started NDT, I started using the Circadian T3 Method with my NDT.  But I found that I couldn't multi-dose anymore or my heart rate would spike, and I couldn't raise my dose above about 2 grains.  When I got to 2 3/4 grains, I started getting hypo symptoms along with high hear rate.   

At this point, I did two things:
  1. I got some straight-T3 (Cynomel).
  2. I had my iron checked. (Results here.)
Ferritin is loooow.  This explains why I couldn't raise my dose! (Low cortisol can prevent a person from raising, too, and my cortisol is low, too.) 

Of course, I should have known from Stop the Thyroid Madness to have had my iron checked much earlier in the game.  Janie Bowthorpe knows from her own experience as well as patient experience to check the right labs from the get-go.

I'm now supplementing with good, strong doses of essential iron in Hema-Plex.  While I'm waiting for my iron to come up, I'm using T3 for my CM dose.  It will be more effective this way.  The drawback is that my thyroid labs are all low, so I need to stay on NDT to keep them from dropping lower, but since I can't tolerate the right dose, I'm still feeling hypo.  

I may not be being treated optimally right now, but I feel light years away from where I was five months ago! I am definitely on my way.


I mentioned realizing that there was something deeper wrong with me - deeper than low progesterone.  In January of this year, I decided to go on natural dessicated thyroid.  I had seen an alternative MD a couple of years before who I knew prescribed NDT.  I made an appointment and started NDT the following day. 

I knew that I needed to be educated about the use of NDT.  I was fed up with being sick.

I knew that if I was going to get well, 
I had to assume control of my own education 
about my health issues.

I borrowed my mom's copy of Stop the Thyroid Madness and I read it again and again.  I scoured the STTM site and scoured it again.  I read, read, read, read, read. 

When you have brain fog, confusion and fatigue, you have to read and re-read, again and again

Intelligent, education individuals find themselves struggling to follow basic, rational thought.  It takes repetition. 

I also bought Paul Robinson's book Recovering with T3 and read his website and blog

A Support Network

One of the very, very most important things that have gotten me to this point is having a support network. 

My husband is extremely supportive in my endeavors to get well.  A natural information gatherer, he reads and scours the internet about things like nutrition.  He listens to me vent my frustrations, and he is very good at helping me work through information in a rational manner and problem-solve my issues.

My parents, especially my mom, have been incredibly supportive through this process, as well.  Just their support alone has such a bolstering effect on me.  My mom is one of the best listeners I know.  And she helps with our daughters while I go to appointments.  I'm so thankful we live near them.   

The beauty of God's loving Providence is that my mom has hypothyroidism and high cortisol.  Now that I'm working through all of this, I am helping her, too.  I can't tell you how much it means to me to be able to do something for the person, with my dad, who has done more for me than I will ever know.

Scheduling fun: Being able to get out more, relax and have fun with my family, especially our two little girls, has been one of the most enjoyable parts of getting better.  But there is a tendency to become obsessive about getting well (learning and applying it to myself and even helping others).  Scheduling fun and allowing for spontaneous play time is important - no VITAL to getting well.

I also joined the SSTM Facebook Discussion Groups.  I don't even really know the people on these groups, but they have become as dear friends to me as any in "real" life.  We share a unique bond in our health issues that none of my current friends do.  That alone has been, well, huge. 

These thyroid patients have also supported me by sharing their experiences and allowing me to share mine. 

Patient Experience

If you're not familiar with Janie Bowthorpe's Stop the Thyroid Madness website, blog and books, I will enlighten you to the fact that this is the precise reason why she has had such huge, rapid success: patient-based experience and patient-based information sharing is brilliant. 

Can you imagine how modern medicine would take off if patients and health care providers shared information about all medical conditions and diseases in the same way that STTM does? 

Passing it on

It gives me great joy and pleasure to pass along my experiences and knowledge about thyroid treatment and related information.  I feel very strongly about "community service" and despite the fact that this particular community of individuals is all over the world makes it no less important to me.