My Story:

Hi Friends!

I wanted to take this time to talk a little about why I am starting this blog and my Nutritional Therapy Practice, Align Nutritional Therapy.  My story is what drives my passion to help others with chronic illness.  I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in my early 20s thanks to my mother and her advocating for me.  She has Grave’s and wanted to make sure they checked my thyroid each year so I might catch my thyroid issues early if I developed it.  Well, while at college, I got the call.  My doctor’s office called with the news after reviewing my labs.  I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune thyroid condition.  There is a poem about life with Autoimmune Thyroid disorders and it rings so true…the aches, the fatigue, the weight struggles, the dry brittle hair and weak and brittle nails to name a few.  While I didn’t have all of these symptoms right off the bat, they did rear their ugly heads in time.

My first symptom was fatigue, even though I wasn’t needing medication yet according to my doctors.  My labs were “fine”.  It was about 13 years later, after moving out of the Midwest to Utah, when the symptoms really started to show.  Now, my husband will attest to this…the fatigue was so bad, I would sleep through my alarm clock…for 45 minutes!  Living in an apartment, the walls aren’t soundproof.  I had several neighbors, but thankfully I had a neighbor that was so gracious and patient.  I really tried to work on the alarm situation as a courtesy to that neighbor as well as my other neighbors, but it was much easier said than done.  I finally went on medication…Levothyroxine.  My symptoms were all better, right??  Nope!  Within a year of being on medication, I was having panic attacks and severe anxiety.  More meds?  Yep.  That helped a little, but my thyroid was going all over the place.  I also developed stomach cramping and was diagnosed with duodenitis, inflammation of the first part of my small intestine.  I did a two-month regimen of a PPI (Omeprazole) and that helped, for a while anyway. 

A year later, I moved to Washington State and then my husband and I got married the year after that.  During this time, I battled fatigue, needing lots and lots of coffee, weight struggles along with the weak/brittle hair and nails.  I was worried I wouldn’t fit into my wedding dress and worked my butt off to lose the weight before our wedding day.  Crisis averted; the dress fit!  But it was short lived as the weight came back on so quick after getting married.  Of course, the worst of my symptoms was yet to come.

Two years after getting married, I started seeing significant hair loss.  We ladies pride ourselves on our hair as part of what makes us feel beautiful so that this was devastating to me.  At first I was hopeful it would come back, but no such luck.  I saw a dermatologist and received a steroid injection into my scalp once a month for 6 months and it was only getting worse.  My dermatologist had me see their office’s hair loss specialist I was diagnosed with another autoimmune disorder, Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (FFA).  This is a scarring form of alopecia so the hair cannot grow back.  My old digestive symptoms were returning too.  This time, I thought I should seek a more holistic approach to my health and sought care from a naturopathic doctor.  She convinced me to try gluten and diary free, which amazingly put my alopecia into remission before I lost too much more hair, and eventually convinced me to try Low Dose Naltrexone (an immune modulator).  Most people with FFA end up needing wigs or toppers, but thankfully I’ve been successful at keeping it in remission.  My digestive symptoms subsided too…for a short while.

Over the next few years, I tried elimination diets and several supplements to try and help my digestive issues and thyroid autoimmunity.  I did improve my digestive issue somewhat (less bloating and gas), but I just felt like my thyroid was all over the place.  I did discover some foods that didn’t serve my body well so that was a positive, a small success.  However, I developed my worst symptoms ever after trying to incorporate more of a mediterranean diet and replacing some of my meat consumption with more plant-based proteins.  My naturopathic doctor got into and accident and had to temporarily shut down her practice so, not knowing how long she would be out of commission, I reached out to a new naturopathic doctor in the meantime as I needed medication.  He also took me off of Low Dose Naltrexone and wow was that a mistake!  See…we didn’t think it was helping me, but, clearly, we were wrong.  I ended up the sickest I’ve ever been and was so scared.  I suddenly became deficient in protein and iron, I could hardly eat as it would just come right backup up and send me to the bathroom.  If I managed to keep it down, it just went right through me.  I became dangerously anemic with nausea, diarrhea, severe edema in my lower legs, ankles and feet, and tachycardia.  They wanted to test me for celiac, but I’ve been gluten free to too long.  They did test my genetics for celiac too and sure enough…two of the three markers were positive.  I also had an endoscopy and colonoscopy which showed gastritis, villi damage and Microscopic Collagenous Colitis.  No wonder I was so sick!  My naturopathic doctor put me back on LDN, I changed my diet to be more Autoimmune Paleo, or AIP, compliant (more on AIP in another blog post), and I slowly put myself into remission from the colitis.  I know now what I can and cannot eat in order to keep myself in remission.  I’m not always perfect, but I know what I need to do when I stray too far.

I’ve been gluten free, mostly dairy free, and I limit nightshades and grains…it’s what works for me.  My journey is why I’m passionate about helping others with similar symptoms.  I want to give hope to those with various autoimmune struggles and IBS too.  Everyone’s journey is different and what works for me might not work for someone else, but my desire is to help my clients through a bio-individual approach find their path towards their best and most vibrant lives!