The following is a guest post by Liz Schau
A lot of people remember how they felt and who they were before they got sick. Sickness, for them, is a line in the sand, a demarcation, a definitive “there” and “here” signifying what life was pre- illness and what life has become since. I never had that clear distinction, only because I never had a “before”. I had always felt sick, my whole little life, and even as a child. Although I had never known what healthy and good were like, I knew I had never experienced them; there always seemed to be something that felt wrong with my body. And maybe in a way, that’s good because I had nothing to mourn or say how beautiful something once was; wrongness was simply all I knew.
I was the kid who missed every field trip — every single one — because I had another ear infection, or because I was on my second bout of Strep throat for the school year. I was the child who went home from school the most, either because I was dizzy or because I had a fever or because my stomach hurt again. Which, of course, all warranted antibiotics; over and over again, so many I could never keep track. In high school, I adopted a low-fat diet, for which I was praised and honored for my diligence and “healthiness”. I stopped eating protein because it no longer tasted good to me, and ate all the foods that called to me: pasta, bread, grains, dairy, sweet tea, and diet coke. Eventually I got “smart” and moved away from all that sugar (syrupy sweet iced tea was my favorite) and started using artificial sweeteners instead. The closest I got to buying organic was organic macaroni and cheese box mixes from the specialty goods store, not because they were healthy but because they were trendy and made a statement.
It wasn’t until my last month of university right before graduation — between the 60-pound weight gain, heart palpitations, depression, joint and muscle pain/cramps, frequent thirst and urination, daily sore throats, intolerance to heat, hives, racing pulse, fatigue so bad that my afternoon nap began right after breakfast and practically ended before dinner — that I was awarded an official diagnosis, a recognition that someone else (a campus doctor) thought there was something wrong with me too: Hypothyroidism. “Take the medication I’m giving you and in two months, you’ll be back to normal” he said. Two months later, a change of scenery — a move from Orlando to Brooklyn — and a world full of opportunity later, a walk-in clinic nurse informed me I actually had something called Hashimoto’s; “Did [I] know that?” she said. In short, hell no. But the metaphor — my body attacking my body — was just too spot-on poignant.
Fast forward eight months and I hadn’t gotten any better, even on the medication my doctor had given me and with many adjustments in dosage and many adjustments in practitioners. I was living on coffee and diet coke just to stay awake (it helped to stave off the “I just had a lobotomy” sensation) and OTC sleeping pills to actually fall asleep. I craved sugar and carbs like there was no tomorrow, and ice cream comas were becoming a regular occurrence. It was January in New York at the time, and I sat slumped over on my couch, the falling snow a reminder of winter just beyond the window. I was deep in the throes of depression, my cell phone in hand, utterly hopeless, knowing there was a way to get better, yet no doctor could give me any direction. I used my cellphone to Google a few of my symptoms that were troubling me the most and landed on something called Candida — a funny word which meant my entire system had been hijacked by a fungus. Not pleasant, but it certainly made sense: my immune system was reacting to the pathogen and pulling down my thyroid along with it. I ran to a bookstore and picked up The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health, a bible of sorts, and read the entire book in a matter of hours. I knew this is what was wrong with me. It’s not pretty but I had one big, fat (systemic) yeast infection.
To be continued in part two here: Healing Hashimoto’s, part two
Liz Schau is a Holistic Health Counselor and Health Writer who helps those with thyroid disease, autoimmunity, Candida, and food allergies overcome their health problems and embrace radical wellness. She’s always looking for motivated and intelligent clients. You can find her at lizschau.com.
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