This is for all of you dear relatives, friends and supporters that witnessed our family’s healthy living transformation and got inspired to read and watch controversial documentaries in order to educate yourselves, to look deeper and question the obvious and to make a turn for a better health for you and your loved ones.
In January 2005 I was diagnosed with Hypothyroid. While initially it felt great getting a diagnosis and knowing what was wrong with me, that wonderful feeling started to fade away once I started to look closely into what it meant to me and how it stated to change my life. My endocrine specialist said that there is no cure for it, most likely I would need to have surgery to remove my eventually failing thyroid gland and that I will need medication for the rest of my life. Trusting that I was well taken care I went along… Blood tests every couple of months, doctor appointments to adjust the medication dose and started to feel better. Meanwhile, my husband and I embarked on a life-style change to healthy living and gradually switched to organic foods and started to exercise daily. However, after couple of months all my symptoms were back: more weight gain despite adhering to a low-calorie diet, fatigue, constipation, hypersensitivity to cold weather, muscle cramps while at rest, hair lose, dry itchy skin, eczema, forgetfulness, heart palpitations, insomnia, increased blood pressure and pulse rate, feelings of nervousness and emotional distress and so on. Soon I didn’t have energy and strength to keep up with my daily exercise regimen but continued my organic healthy eating habits.
At the end of 2006 I got pregnant with Gavin and continued the standard medication protocol however at almost each doctor’s visit my dose was being increased. I didn’t make much of it since I trusted my endocrine specialist and was lead to believe it was due to the extra pregnancy weight. My focus shifted into having a healthy growing baby while having Hypothyroid. My OBGYN ordered pregnancy ultrasounds every month to make sure the baby is growing normally. After Gavin was born I decided that I will breastfeed him for the next two years. During the first six months of nursing I lost all the pregnancy weight and 15 lbs more and I was determined to keep it up however, my endocrine specialist said that my medication dose needs to increase again and it is because of nursing; I wasn’t ready to give it up just on my account alone as I was very aware of the benefits of nursing. Also, with childhood diseases like obesity, allergies, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and cancer were higher than ever, I was determined to give my baby the healthiest head start I possibly could. Over time, my weight crippled up again so after Gavin turned two and was ready to let go of nursing I decided to have a serious new attempt to reclaim my wellness and weight by returning to a six days a week workout regimen that alternated upper body, cardio and lower body exercises while eating an all organic balanced diet of animal protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits with a small balanced snack in between the main meals and controlling my portion sizes. I was ready to get in shape and super healthy in preparation for getting pregnant again!
In July 2010, after nine months of religiously following my workout and diet regimen I was happy to gain extra muscle and strength however my weight never really dropped, it actually increased due to the new muscle weight and I was more tired than ever. Not only that, but my periods became irregular and in the end at two months intervals. My OB/GYN recommended birth control pills. Since I was very aware of birth control pills side effects and in fact I was looking to get pregnant rather than prevent it, I decided to skip the birth control recommendation. My instincts told me that this is not going to be my path to pregnancy and I need to look even closer into my overall health.
The reason why
After reaching out to my endocrine specialist for possible connections between thyroid, diet, intense exercise, irregular periods and infertility I came home empty handed but with a thyroid dose increase. Enough was enough, so I decided to “fire” her and take matters into my own hands for good. I decided to become my own medical investigator and focus on the thyroid health first since this organ is a key element into almost every function of the body. I started to read articles and books about hypothyroid and alternative treatments. I was so surprised to find out that actually other people were able to restore wellness and reverse their Hypothyroid condition with the help of alternative medicine and using a thyroid-friendly diet and supplements.
How come my endocrine specialist wasn’t aware or ignored all this information for the five years I’ve been her patient? Needless to wonder, I had to move on and find a doctor that cared and really understood the body functions as a whole and not just sections. Also, it was my turn to truly deliver and follow the new direction as well as continue to educate myself by watching wellness and healthy living documentaries, read even more books and articles in order to restore my own health, my husband’s health and prevent all this from ever happening to our kids.
Finally, answers to all my questions
While I knew that the conventional western medicine was great at the one magic pill solution that seems convenient to most people, I decided to guide my family on a different journey that would restore us back to real health while creating life long healthy habits.
A month and a half later I found what I was desperately looking for: a conductor to orchestrate my way back to wellness and beyond, a detective that won’t stop investigating until all the questions have been answered, a naturopathic doctor that would listen, understand my spirit and guide it back into a healthy, well working body. I’ve went for my first appointment armed with a list of questions and concerns as well as my research so far. I was surprised to see that all her recommendations were actually matching my research and more. Someone was finally on the same page with me!
After a number of new tests, I discovered that my health problems ran much deeper that just hypothyroid, infertility and obesity. First of all, my hypothyroid was Hashimoto hypothyroid and not functional hypothyroid and for all these years my original endocrine specialist never mentioned or tested to see which one was the case for me and prescribed only half of the treatment combination (T4 only, and no T3). In addition, I was border line diabetic, had insulin resistance, leaky gut, hormonal imbalance, adrenal exhaustion, vitamin, mineral, amino acids and enzyme deficiency, h. pylori gut bacterial infection, heavy metal toxicity (very elevated levels of lead, aluminum and mercury, and elevated levels of antimony, barium, cadmium, nickel, tin and uranium) and to top it off, a 1-inch complex cyst on my left ovary. Later on, I found out the I had low iodine levels and 20 food sensitivities to common foods like avocado, kidney beans, soybeans, blueberries, catfish, coffee, cranberries, dates, chicken eggs, ginger, mushrooms, Brazil nuts, black/white pepper, sesame, thyme, vanilla, wheat, watermelon, baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast. All these consistently kept my immune system on high alert and made my Hashimoto hypothyroid exponentially worst.
When did this all happen and how come none of these came up in any of my previous yearly check ups? Not only that but, despite of the new cascade of issues my thyroid gland function was normal all along. It didn’t take me long to understand that wellness and healthy living were directly and closely linked to hormonal balance which plays a big role in turning on/off autoimmune genes especially when it’s combined with other risk factors like stress, gut infections and permeability, gluten intolerance, insulin surges and environmental toxins. If I was only 33 years old and this was the state of my health, what was going on with my husband? We already knew that he had environmental allergies, but if allergies are reaction of one’s immune system, what was the state of his immune system? How about my son ‘s which was conceived and developed in such a sick toxic body like mine? Too late to change the past, I needed to focus on the future and my actions to take us there, and baby steps wouldn’t do it! Due to the high level of commitment and the complexity of this resolution I decided to lead the way knowing that it will snowball into a family affair and my family would support each other into make these very important choices. I was willing to stay positive and continue to change my belief system by changing my habits of thinking and behavior. I decided that I was in no condition to get pregnant and started to focus on restoring my body to pure health as after all, a healthy body is a fertile body.
What’s next on my quest to healthy living?
Since I needed to keep this under control I had to stop eating out and prepare our meals at home in a controlled allergen free and non-toxic environment. I’ve inspected every single ingredient label in the house from food to cosmetics and from household cleaners to detergents and got rid of everything that was contaminating our life and replaced them with others that contained much safer ingredients. After long hours of research over the course of couple of months I’ve got rid of all the plastic food containers and replaced them with lead-free glass, replaced all the Teflon non-stick cookware with cast iron and stainless steel, replaced the non-stick cooking utensils with bamboo or stainless, the dinnerware with lead-free / cadmium-free dinnerware and the silverware to stainless steel silverware. Soon I came to realize that not only the new alternatives were much safer for my family but they were safer for the planet as well. What an interesting thing… again, it all made sense and creating a safe and Eco-friendly home became a given.
Meanwhile, I gave up all seafood due to the high mercury levels, I’ve eliminated goitrogenic foods from my diet including gluten, eggs, dairy, corn and soy and switched to a low-glycemic diet that included mostly chicken or beef, vegetables and fruits. I’ve dropped 20 lbs in the first 2 months without spending a second at the gym! I knew that I was definitely on the right track, so I kept on reading and watching more documentaries about wellness and healthy living! Gradually, I’ve added superfoods to my diet, eliminated all animal protein and transition to a 80% raw diet. At my naturopathic doctor’s recommendation I’ve carried on with a series of naturopathic liver cleanses. Shortly after, I started the chelation therapy to extract the heavy metals and was exited to notice that my memory and mental ability sharpened up as they once were. I’ve continued with a variety of treatments to eradicate h. pylori instead of the standard antibiotic treatments that would have killed not only h. pylori but all the good intestinal flora from my gut. However after 5 months, I still had h pylori so I decided to bite the bullet and to move on with a very strong antibiotic treatment that was after all successful. The very next day I’ve started probiotics. At the same time when I’ve started the h. pylori treatment I’ve started a gut repair protocols to restore the gut impermeability and improve the state of my immune system which was already on extreme high alert. Almost a year later I was able to start my tincture-based fertility treatment and prepare my body for a new baby. Over the following 8 months I’ve started practicing yoga, meditation, doing fertility charts, reading more books about fertility and stress release.
By February 2012 I’ve lost another 55 lbs and I found out I was finally pregnant.
Here I am today, 39 weeks pregnant and waiting for my little one to come any day now. The last 8 months have been about a new journey: about the best way to birth this new baby in the healthiest way possible for him and I, without unnecessary conventional interventions that would disturb the natural flow. While vividly remembering our previous experience when Gavin was born combined with 3 months of interviewing OB/GYNs and midwifes and long hours of research we decided to go a different route: no surgeons (OB/GYNs) attending our baby’s birth unless there is a consented medical necessity for a surgery, no hospitals that don’t support midwifes and unmedicated, natural child birth, and NO MORE going with the flow while following predetermined standards made for a one approach fits all generic healthcare system. This time, I wanted my birth story to be different, I was looking for memorable and serene experience that I could possibly look forward to.