A Long Journey, Part One

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I’m blessed that I’ve been relatively healthy my entire life. I had typical 1970’s childhood illnesses like strep throat and chicken pox, and was only in the hospital at age thirty when my daughter was born. I’ve always eaten healthy and exercised. Five years ago, inspired by MaryJanesFarm, I went completely organic. I avoid processed foods and alcohol, don’t smoke, and come from “good stock”. During my twenties and thirties I remained healthy, aside from nagging respiratory illnesses that stopped after going organic. I’m hardly sick, bouncing back quickly without antibiotics. I’m active, a “busy bee”. That’s how I realized something wasn’t right. Gradually, I started feeling unable to do everything I wanted to. More and more, I’d fall short  finishing chores, frequently feeling fatigued. Often it felt like I was “coming down with something”, but never would. I was tired all the time, knowing something was wrong.

I can’t pinpoint the start of feeling so poorly, but it was early 2013. Symptoms were sneaky. A headache one day. The next, my joints would hurt, but never in the same place. One day, it’d be my ankle. The next, my wrist. My neck hurt, shoulders ached. I felt fatigued.

I went from feeling like this...

I went from feeling like this…

...to feeling more like this.

…to feeling more like this.

I wondered if I had Lyme disease. I live surrounded by woods in Connecticut, the “birthplace” of Lyme. I’m outside daily, and each summer pick more than a few ticks off myself and my dogs. The summer before, my dog started showing symptoms typical of Lyme, so my vet treated her with a round of antibiotics. She bounced back just fine. I’m always clearing brush, picking berries or walking dogs, so if anyone has a chance for Lyme, it’s me.

In May 2013, I was due for yearly check ups, and mentioned how I was feeling. The doctor said she’d do blood work, but wasn’t that concerned. A few evenings later, I got a phone call. My doctor sounded funny, and said she had bad news. The Lyme test was negative. I had “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis” –  thyroid disease. There’s no cure. I would have to be on medication the rest of my life to manage it. I asked, “Is it life-threatening?” Her answer was yes, if left untreated. The room was spinning. She told me since it wasn’t her specialty, she couldn’t write the prescription for the medication. I  needed to make an emergency appointment with my “regular” doctor, and find an endocrinologist.

I didn’t relish the thought that I’d have to rely on a medication the rest of my life to stay alive. The. Rest. Of. My. Life. What if something happened and that medication became scarce? I disliked that I’d be taking a synthetic substance, to boot. I eat clean foods, use all-natural health and body products, even make homemade non-toxic cleaners for my house. Now I’d be swallowing something chemical…forever? To me, it was like opening Pandora’s box. I’ve watched others in the cyclone of taking one medication, only to have symptoms resulting in needing another drug to counteract side effects, then another drug to treat other side effects, until they’re on a virtual mixed cocktail of prescription drugs. Yet, it was a relief to know what I was up against (or so I thought). There could’ve been a worse diagnosis. I’d just take my daily pill and get on about my life.

Please don’t take me wrong…I‘m not against modern medicine. I would’ve died a thousand deaths without it, and wouldn’t have my husband or my daughter if it weren’t for modern medicine. Though today’s conventional medicine has issues, there are important medications that many people must take to stay healthy. I just want to live as natural a life for as long as I can.

I know others with thyroid disease, who were shocked at how well I’d been functioning with such high thyroid numbers on my bloodwork (T3’s and T4’s, and thyroid antibodies. Your body attacks your thyroid as if it were an invader). Several friends battled thyroid cancer. Neither thyroid disease nor cancer runs on either side of my family, yet it’s often hereditary. I come from ancestors who usually live long lives with hearts that finally give out. Why was I the one with this? What lay ahead?

I remember that first dose, taken an hour before anything else on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. Our daily ritual of snuggling with the dogs and catching up over coffee would have to go by the wayside. After taking it the very first time, I thought I was having an allergic reaction, feeling funny immediately.

Every morning, I woke up an hour earlier to take the medication. I’d feel a burning sensation down my throat no matter how big a glass of water I drank. Stomach issues followed.

Because Hashimoto’s is a slow thyroid, most people lose weight when treated; not me, while on the medication, I packed on pounds.

This photo makes me sad. I was puffy, achy, and gaining weight.

This photo makes me sad. I was puffy, achy, and gaining weight.

At first I did feel some improvement. But by fall, my joints ached worse. I had more headaches. Menstruation stopped. My stomach hurt. I was sluggish. My hair thinned. And that was just the beginning.

If I was on the right medication why was I getting worse? Was there something else wrong with me?

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

 

 

Leave a comment 41 Comments

  1. Dori Troutman says:

    Dear Nicole,

    My heart was racing through this whole post. Now we have to wait TWO WEEKS for the rest of the story? :-(

    Seriously, I’m so sad for you and what you’ve been through. Health issues are so scary. The fear of the unknown is the worst.

    I hope you’re doing much better and I cannot wait to read the next part.

    Big hugs and love,

    Dori

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Dori, Awww… thanks sweetie. I am doing MUCH better. Don’t worry. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Cindy says:

    Seriously? Are you sure you arnt pregnant?i have hypo thyroid too! I have to take synth rood every morning! I don’t like it either but it is a nessessary evil! You should NOT! Be putting on weight like that! Have your doctor adjust your medication or go to an intern specialist! Let us know how your doing! Best wishes! Cindy

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Cindy, LOL…I wish! But no, that ship has sailed. 😉 I am not pregnant, and I think that was one theory from one of the doctors at some point. Check back next time to see how my story ends. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Cindy says:

    There is also a pig hormone that you can take to regulate your thyroid ! It is supposedly natural? I don’t know for sure! Are you on brand name synthroid or are you on generic? I am very sensitive to ALL medications and I don’t have any problem with taking the brand name synthroid! Not the generic! Maybe try it but obviously the dose has to be incorrect! Have your blood tested often! Good luck,Cindy

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Cindy, I do know about that…but you’ll have to wait until next time. 😉 Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Deb Bosworth says:

    Hi Nicole,
    I have taken medication for low thyroid ever since our son was six months old. My thyroid went wacky right after he was born, 19 years ago. I’m grateful for the medicine because it really does regulate the thyroid and helps to keep your adrenal glands and organs healthy. That being said, when I started going through menopause I had many of the same symptoms, ( add hot flashes and anxiety attacks). Not fun! I’m so sorry to hear you aren’t feeling well and I hope you get to the bottom of it and find some relief soon… Now you have me worried and guessing…Shame on you!!!
    xoxo
    Hugs,
    Deb

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Deb, Well…as a “Mother Hen”, I find it hard to stop and tend to myself, (as many farmgirls and moms do), and I always know there is someone else out there struggling with worse issues than me. I also did not know what I was up against. Don’t worry, I am okay, and I’ll explain the rest in Part Two. Thank you, Deb, and Big Farmgirl Hugs to my “blogging sis”, Nicole

  5. Joyce Mullikin says:

    Oh, I feel so badly for you. Please give us part 2 soon.
    Could you also have fibromyalgia?

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joyce, Oh, thank you. There are soooo many illnesses that have similar symptoms, fibromyalgia included. I applaud doctors for being able to diagnose and treat the many things we humans can have that ail us. Part two will go live two weeks from today. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Diana Henretty says:

    My Dear Farmgirl Friend,
    I loved your post this morning, not that you are feeling low and not well, but your honesty. I know just how you feel, it is just like someone knocked you over and then over and over again. I’ve had two r.a. flare ups since 2013, had to use a walker to walk
    but I slowly started my own physical therapy starting with 10 steps on my own and now I can walk 3 miles on my own.
    Keep your chin up, life will get better and better. Spoil yourself, surround yourself with everything that you love, and pray. You are in my prayers from the Ozarks…hugs to you this morning, Diana, Noel, Mo.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Diana,You go girl! You are another reader who inspires me. I have to say, my farmgirl sisters are the best (it was farmgirls who first figured out I wasn’t “myself”, too). Prayers and hugs right back to you, Nicole

  7. Adrienne says:

    Oh dear. I felt the same way when I starting having seizures at 30 and need to take medication every day for the rest of my life. I’m sorry this happened to you and I know you’re dealing with a “new normal” as those of us who have cancer refer to it. When you’re feeling down with your diagnosis and future, know that those of us, your readers, have faith and confidence in your ability to handle this invasive challenge in your healthy lifestyle. I believe in you.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Adrienne, Have I ever told you how much your wonderful comments mean to me? I am so blessed to “meet” wonderful people like you here. Adrienne, YOU inspire ME. I hope this finds you feeling fabulous! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Joan says:

    So sorry to hear of your ills – not sorry you shared about it though because there is always a ‘person beware’ factor to everyone’s story. Am hoping all is well now and will look forward to hearing from you. God bless.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joan, Thank you, sweet friend. I am not trying to scare anyone, but hope that I can inspire someone who reads it and may be feeling the way I was. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Jan Sturgill says:

    This is such a complicated issue! I did go to an endocrinologist when I decided to take a step in another direction after the usual ‘normal’ thyroid reading from my regular internist. Actually, my pharmacist (also does bio-identical hormones for me) suggested it..Otherwise I would still be plodding along with nothing…. The endo. found nodules on my thyroid and ordered an ultrasound, so that we would have a marker for the future. I have had one ultrasound since then, and the readings show that the nodules are not growing. My endo. said that it points to Hashimoto’s Throiditis. Supposedly there is a blood test ( I was not told about this at the time and did not have it) that can help diagnose. The diagnosis is in my file..
    This has been over 6 years ago, and I do take Levoxyl (T4) every day. I do not take the generic. I know that there are more natural alternatives, but this seems to be the most easy for me. Like you, I prefer a natural treatment options!
    My advice to you is to find a GREAT endocrinologist and research…research…research… It seems that the anxieties that I felt during menopause almost TOTALLY WENT AWAY when I started my thyroid medications. Does this mean that the thyroid was the deep problem all the time and the other changes going along with menopause were not? Complicated, my friend! Hang in there!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jan, I am glad to hear you are feeling better, and you are so right: research, research, research…
      Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Cathy says:

    So sorry to hear this. Our bodies do strange things even when we try to do everything right. My sister has this same condition. I’m anxious to get part 2 and I hope it works out for the best. Take care.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thank you, Cathy. Part two will be out in two weeks. My best to your sister. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Judith Goodell says:

    I hope your condition has improved and you are back to your normal healthy habits and routines. I’m eager to hear the rest of your story as my energy level has dropped significantly, projects are unfinished, I’m over whelmed by garden tasks yet to be completed and the worst is I have days when I can do nothing. I have accepted my current condition as ‘just getting old’. But I have not seen a doctor; partly because I do not have much faith in modern medicine and partly because I’m afraid they will find something that I must face alone. My comments won’t interest anyone but I wanted to let you know I care.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Judith, Oh sweetie, thank you for sharing. I wanted to write this because I often felt “off”, but as we age it is sometimes hard to distinguish if it is stress, if what we feel is age… I also wondered that if that is how I felt at this age, how would I be twenty years from now? Part two will be out in two weeks, but please, do take care of yourself. If there is something that needs attention, waiting can make things worse. You didn’t mention where you are, but we farmgirls stick together, and you are not alone. Being part of MaryJane’s farmgirl sisterhood makes the world so much cozier. Big farmgirl hugs to you, Nicole

  12. Sheila says:

    My very good friend’s daughter is going through something similar and has had many, many tests and has been put on a variety of antibiotics for Lyme disease. There is definitely something else wrong, but so far no one has been able to pinpoint the problem. She is also from Connecticut and is in her 30’s. She has had a fever that won’t go away and suffers from extreme fatigue. I will be passing your information on to her; perhaps she will use this as an avenue to pinpoint what else may be happening to her. Thanks for writing this. I felt quite similar when I had a bout of Epstein-Barr in my late 30’s and early 40’s. Meditation, yoga and changing my eating habits (along with wonderful and supportive friends) helped me get through it. Hope things will turn around soon for you. Stay strong and stay positive!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sheila, Thank you for reading and commenting. I am doing well, but it was a very long journey. I hope your friend’s daughter finds relief soon. My heart goes out to her. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  13. Beverly Battaglia says:

    When you were a baby, you hardly took naps; as a toddler you were always a “busy little bee”. Your energy last July when I visited you, wore me out and I went home thinner from the activity and eating such good organic vegetables, etc. that you cooked for us. I think I know “the rest of the story”, but anxious to read Part 2. I love you, always, my active, interesting and full of life daughter! Mother

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mom! I am giggling at this sweet comment. Thank you. Thank you for always worrying over me. I love you, Nicole

  14. Diane Van Horn says:

    Dearest Nicole,
    I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis over 13 years ago and have done pretty well other than a few flare ups a year. Last year I started feeling just like you. I wasn’t myself, no energy and not sleeping well plus I gained 30 pounds in just three months. Went to Doctor and had the normal TSH test for thryroid. I was low so he prescribed Synthroid and I started to feel a little better but still not right. So I started doing my own research and have been treating with Natural Desiccated Thyroid from pigs. I am dosing myself in accordance with my symptoms. I will tell you more after I hear your part 2. It is great of you to share your story and look forward to hearing more.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Diane, Thank you for sharing in the comments. I look forward to hearing more from you, too. Big Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  15. Robin in New Jersey says:

    My 17 year old daughter was diagnosed with Hoshimotos disease a month ago. We are going to an endo dr. next week. I had nodules on my thyroid 12 years ago and had to have radioactive iodine treatment. I have been taking Synthroid for 10 years. I am still tired all the time. Sometimes I drag myself through the day. I hope part 2 of your story will have some additional info that will help and encourage. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Teri Schneider says:

    I don’t think I saw anyone mention this, but there is a wonderful site called Hypothyroid Mom on Facebook that is loaded with information and encouragement for all types of thyroid diseases. I have hypothyroidism and it has been VERY helpful. Best wishes for you!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Teri, Yes, I have seen her post on Facebook before, too. Thanks for sharing! She does have a lot of info. But please tune in in two weeks for my conclusion…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  17. Cheryl says:

    Please research celiac disease, which is what I have. Good luck

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Cheryl, Yes, on my journey, I learned all about Celiac disease as well. There are so many things like this with similar symptoms. Hope you are doing well. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  18. Alice - Farmgirl #12 says:

    Have been thinking about you like crazy and hoping that all is well. I’m sorry to hear about this bump in the road and looking forward to Part 2. Love you.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Ali! I have been thinking about you, too. Miss you, and all the ‘girls’, too. Now that school is almost out, we will have to all get together. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  19. Vivian Monroe says:

    Nicole, glad to hear you are finding out more and you are ok. I pray the Lord Jesus keep you in excellent health, and remember 1John 4v17….as He is, so are we in this world…
    Whatever it is, He has got you covered. AMEN! Be Blessed in your health. Neta

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thank you Vivian! Great verse to remember. Blessings right back at you! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  20. Denise Ross says:

    Hi Nicole,
    I flying through reading your post. You had me on the edge of my seat wondering what what was coming next.
    I just wanted to say, that my daughter has Hasimotos thyroid it’s too. She was diagnosed at age 11, with it. Thyroid issues run in my husbands mothers side, both my husband and his mother are on the thyroxine. If she doesn’t take her meds she goes down hill very quickly with her energy. With my daughter too, Shias all her growing and me trial hormones to deal with too on top of it all as well as iron deficiency issues, she gets that one from me, isn’t she so lucky x:)?. But I think there is a natural way of dealing with it that some patients of mine have told me about, but it can’t recall what it is.
    I wish you all the very best in your health life story and pray for good health for you and patience along the way,
    Hugs
    Denise

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise, Thank you for sharing, and for your support! Love my farmgirl Sisters! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  21. Lori Schulte says:

    Denise, blanketing you with not only my prayers and love, but envisioning the healing, rejuvenating beautiful white light of love surrounding you and encompassing you with its positive energies. Be at peace and be well as you live in the light of His Love.

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