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Adventures with Hashimoto (part 1)

Going into the second lockdown at the end of 2020 I started feeling stressed and anxious. There was not much to do outside of home and work started to pile up. At the same time, I was doing more for my well-being than ever before: walking and working out regularly, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, having a smoothie per day and journaling. With all these good habits in place, I did not take the stress and anxiety seriously. I saw it as something temporary. Until, at the end of January 2021, a routine blood test indicated that I have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto.

Hashimoto?! It means that my body is attacking my own thyroid gland (=autoimmune disease) and because of that my thyroid cannot function properly (=hypothyroidism). Hypothyroidism is treated with medication. There is no treatment for the autoimmune aspect. This means that while the medication keeps the hormones and your well-being in check, the attack on the thyroid continues and it gradually stops functioning. Thus, once you start taking the medication, you take it for the rest of your life.

With my limited knowledge at that moment, I was reluctant to start taking the medication. I agreed with my doctor that I can first try something else and if that did not help, I would start taking the medication. I had 6-8 weeks to get my blood results to improve. As there is no ‘something else’ in conventional medicine, I started reading books and listening to experts in the functional medicine field.

I found a protocol to follow. To not lose any time, I wanted to start taking action as soon as possible. Three days after my diagnosis, I had my last glass of wine and said goodbye to many of my favourite foods. The day after I started following a new food plan (no gluten, no dairy, (almost) no sugar, no alcohol, no legumes) and introduced a few supplements to my diet. For the rest, I just continued doing my good habits and made some minor tweaks here and there.

Celebrating my birthday with gluten and dairy free brunch. Smiling on the outside, broken on the inside.

I did not leave myself too much room to digest what was happening. I was very focused on ‘beating’ this disease. I was convinced that I will be better in no time. In my mind, it was just about getting rid of some stress and getting the blood test results better. How hard can it be?

Well, harder than I anticipated. What followed was a tough (mainly mental) battle with many setbacks on the way. The diagnosis itself caused me additional stress. Getting stressed would make me even more stressed, leading to anxiety attacks. I felt like I was not doing enough because progress was slow. By paying more attention to how I was feeling, I realised that my stomach was hurting often and that I rarely had energy. I was tempted to keep researching and implementing additional things to my daily routine to speed up the process. That made me feel even more overwhelmed. I was impatient and afraid that the next blood test would not show any improvement.

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