What is Hashimoto’s?
From womenshealth.gov: Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland. Your thyroid is a small gland at the base of your neck. Your thyroid gland makes hormones that control many activities in your body, including how fast your heart beats and how fast you burn calories. In people with Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system makes antibodies that attack the thyroid gland. This damages your thyroid gland, so it does not make enough thyroid hormone. Hashimoto’s disease often leads to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, when severe, can cause your metabolism to slow down, which can lead to weight gain, fatigue, and other symptoms.
What causes Hashimoto’s?
From womenshealth.gov: Researchers aren’t sure exactly what causes Hashimoto’s disease. Studies show that it is more common in women than men.
Awesome. And that’s where my story begins.
I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease at the ripe old age of 29. It was basically a chance diagnosis.
I’m a fairly healthy person, I get sick about once a year, and go to the doctor once a year. In August 2019 I was at my annual exam and the doctor looked at me and said “your thyroid looks enlarged”.
Okayyyy. To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you where my thyroid was. She asked if I had been experiencing any symptoms, like fatigue, hair loss or weight gain. Nope. I had actually lost some weight earlier that year. She said that she’d like for me to get some blood work done and suggested I see an endocrinologist.
Firstly, blood work is not my specialty, not a fan, AND I had to find a specialist. Cool.
So, I went to the lab for blood work. Luckily, the woman was so amazing, I told her she could take my blood any time.
Then I waited.
I received my lab results with a note to see an endocrinologist (the doctor obviously did not trust that I would take her suggestion the first time). Then, naturally, I Googled the life out of the results.
Let me preface by saying that I consider myself a great medical Googler. I am not at all a hypochondriac, so I successfully diagnose myself more often than not. I like to say that I should have went to medical school… if it wasn’t so much school.
Anyway, based on my results, I seemed to have sub-clinical hypothyroidism, not so bad. I would most likely not need to go on any kind of medication, but I would probably need regular follow up blood work to monitor my levels. Great. I got this.
My next step was to find an endocrinologist, which I did. I brought my lab results to the appointment, the doctor looked everything over and proclaimed that I had sub-clinical hypothyroidism and based on my numbers, she would not prescribe me any medication. See? I knew exactly what I was talking about. Then, she mentioned something that I did not come across in my research. Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disease that can only be tested for with another blood test. *Insert eye roll*
I knew that my aunt had a thyroid condition, I didn’t know what it was, but I did tell the doctor. She said that Hashimoto’s can be hereditary.
She also said that my thyroid looked enlarged and suggested that I get an ultrasound to check for any nodules. Oy, but okay. I went to get my blood work the same day. I also made an appointment for my thyroid ultrasound.
Then I waited again.
A few days later, my endocrinologist called me and said, “You have Hashimoto’s, I’m sending the prescription to your pharmacy”. Well, that escalated quickly.
I texted my cousin right away to ask about my aunt’s thyroid condition. No surprise at this point, she also had Hashimoto’s.
My mom was pretty upset, she did feel a little better when she found out that it came from my dad’s side of the family, but just slightly. My dad started Googling diets to manage Hashimoto’s, I told him not to bother. My body is attacking itself, going paleo won’t help me.
I had an autoimmune disease. I HAVE an autoimmune disease.
Luckily, the ultrasound came back clear. No nodules for me, thankfully, because I was not about getting a needle stuck in my neck for a biopsy.
A year later and it’s still weird to think that I have an autoimmune disease. I’ve never had a serious illness besides the flu when I was around 11. I’ve never broken a bone, never been to the hospital, I even have pretty darn healthy teeth! I never thought that I would have a disease. But I did, and I do. And now I live with it.
Have you been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s? Tell me your story!