Healing Graves’ Disease
This is going to be a long read, so make sure your ass is comfortable. I’m going to list this blog in 3 sections:
A. My health history, B. leading up to my current situation, and C. present situation. If you don’t have time to read the whole blog (totally understandable, I can’t stand reading lol), skip to the last section to get the wrap-up on how to heal yo’ shit!
If you’re like me, you’re probably frustrated AF over not finding solutions to dealing with your autoimmune dis-ease (I spell disease this way because it reminds me that the word just means dis: opposite of + ease: how I want to feel… as opposed to sounding like I have crusty, pussy nipples that are about to fall off my body. The word disease can conjure up all sorts of images in our head! Or at least mine 🙂
My health history:
I grew up with an alcoholic mother (which by the way, if you’re new to my blog/world, I recently released my addiction/body image memoir called Crushing It- it’s fu*king fantastic. You can read about fun stories there- and if you’re like me and hate to read, sign up on the email bullshit list to get the announcement when I drop the audio version).
Kidding- but yes we all know that growing up with a parent caught in addiction of some sort is often detrimental to our health. (I might add we’re bff’s today, but the road to getting there was paved in hot ash.) So long story short, I grew up and walked straight into my mom’s shoes and became an alcoholic and drug addict myself. After 10 years of meth, alcohol, and narcotics, I finally got clean and sober and started living a grown up life. I bring this up because it’s said that drug addiction can play into Graves’ disease. But knowing what I know now, I’m pretty sure drug addiction can play into any autoimmune disorder!
In 2011 I met my soul mate and my clean and sober life began. No real health issues, despite being a black out drinker and falling down flights of stairs and crashing 5 Honda’s, I never really had anything drastic happen with my health. But in 2013, I had my first episode of Reynauds disease, a shitty autoimmune disorder. Diagnosed by the fine doctors off Instagram stories, I didn’t think much of the fact that my toes turning white and losing circulation (plus the pain as if someone cut the tips with a razor blade and dumped salt inside) was a big deal, or related to a bigger problem. So I ignored it.
In late 2014 I got silicon (gummy bear) breast implants, which immediately started presenting problems with the left breast (not to mention the surgeon who put them in, Dr “Ces” on the Gold Coast, was later done for sexual assault plus falsifying his credentials). The left breast would fill up with fluid every 6 months or so. And by the end of 2015, I launched my clothing line called GRRRL Clothing, and thus started the next saga of my life that would be
r i d d l e d with stress bissssssssssch! (which yes, stress is absolutely a contributing factor to earning yourself a fancy autoimmune disorder)
Then in April 2017, I started showing signs of a thyroid issue. I thought that maybe I had hit the cusp of taking too many stimulants in my lifetime, and that I better start a movement called #nostimsapril to see if I could hack a month of no pre-workout, caffeine or moda. I even tried doing the Master Cleanse for a day to see if that would help my shaking subside. I was getting winded walking up a flight of stairs, lost a bunch of weight (15 pounds) and could hardly mess with 5lb dumbbells. Right before leaving for Las Vegas for 3 months, my Singaporean doctor gave me a huge prescription for Thyrozol, which is an anti thyroid medication.
Convinced that my breast implants caused my Graves’, (come to find out it’s all a part of a bigger picture), I made the decision to get them taken out as soon as I could afford it (because when you’re running a start up in the fashion industry, you usually are stuck deciding whether or not you’ll be feeding yourself or your dogs every night!).
In May 2018 I randomly started getting super severe cramping before my period. I don’t recall events vividly (smoke meth for 9 years, and you’ll know what I’m talking about), but this day I’d never forget. I was in the gym while traveling, and literally had to hunker down on the ground and press on my ovaries. From afar, it totally looked like I was rubbing one out. This would then start becoming more severe as time went on. Being that I had never had prior issues with PMS, I just thought this was something that happened as you aged.
So from May 2017 through till the end of 2019, I was weening down in dosage off of anti-thyroid medication. I spent most of that time sick from a chest cold every 6 weeks because the medication evidently lowers your immune system. (what a fu*king win/lose situation we have here!) It’d seemed like ever since the first time I got sick post getting diagnosed with Graves, I wasn’t able to get rid of my incessant stream of snot that would fall from my nose. Even to this day, you won’t catch me leaving the house without a kleenex. There have been several times I’ve been on IG Live and blew a snot bubble or snot just fell out my nose.
At the start of 2019, I had my breast implants taken out, and continued to monitor my health by keeping a journal (half-assed). There was a period where I didn’t sleep for like 3 weeks in May 2019 (stress of launching our third global live event was not helping), on top of random periods where I would wake up at 2-3am for days on end. I’d get my thyroid checked, and it all came back within normal range, so wasn’t really sure what the hell was going on.
I started back to training (I’ve been strength training either with body building or crossfit for decades now), and felt semi ok, despite the bouts of randomly not sleeping past 2 or 3am. Once 2020 kicked off, I didn’t really get a lot of training in because, like the rest of us, covid kicked off. But after getting back from Australia to America in early July 2020, I went through another period where I didn’t sleep for 3 weeks. Like I totally lost my shit.
I knew it wasn’t jet lag either, because it was a weird rush of adrenaline that would wash over me and I couldn’t shut the voice off in my head. I started taking ambien, and even that wasn’t working really well. So on and off, I spent the next 6 months battling with not sleeping. I did make it back to regular crossfit training sessions, but I could never seem to recover now. Every single workout felt like it was the first time I’d bloody worked out! Which is also unlike me. I thought maybe I potentially had covid and didn’t know it.
Then, Dec 22nd we departed the US and headed back to Australia (had to move our distribution center…. again- plus my kids live out here- Benny and Jet. 2 rat bag terriers). Dec 26th, after being in hotel quarantine for 2 days, my resting heart rate is suddenly doing 170 bpm while sitting down. Sure as shit, the hotel sent me to the hospital in the back of an ambo to get treated (Australia doesn’t fuck around with covid). My TSH was so high they couldn’t even get a reading. The hospital put me on a beta blocker, and a high dose of carbimazole and sent me back to the hotel for the rest of quarro.
Leading Up To My Current Situation
So I now am back seeing the endocrinologist who I made contact with a year prior, who basically told me back in April 2020 that I had a 50/50 chance of my thyroid shitting the bed again. After telling the doctor I hadn’t slept for like 2 months, she put me on birth control to see if that would help the symptoms because by this point I’d worked out that maybeeeeeeeee my not sleeping had to do with my cycle. It seemed that I always had trouble sleeping on the second half of my cycle (leading up to my period).
Sleep is one of those non-negotiables for me. When I don’t sleep at least 7 hours, my world tends to fall apart. So after taking Ambien (stillnox in Australia) XR, plus every antihistamine you can think of, and combination of OTC sleeping stuff, I was starting to lose my mind. Not to mention I didn’t realise that one antihistamine in particular made me feel suicidal the next day (doxycycline). Nothing was shifting, although my T4 and T3 were starting to come down slowly but surely.
In the middle of February I got desperate and reached out to an Eastern Medicine doctor for a 2.5 hour telehealth appointment. She suggested I do an elimination diet, and start taking DIM, Magnesium and B-vitamins. None of which improved my sleep lol. Beginning of March I asked to be referred to another Endocrinologist closer to where I’d just moved to, in hopes that she might be able to tell me I was peri-menopause (since my mom had her last period at 42, seemed logical to me)
All this new endo could tell me was that getting 4 hours of sleep can be a god-send sometimes, and that I should highly consider getting my thyroid taken out (despite the fact I’d literally just had coffee with a lady the day before who vehemently pleaded not to- she had and believes it ruined her life). Not feeling super confident that taking my thyroid out was the best idea, I made ANOTHER FU*KING appointment with another autoimmune specialist who I’d sat in on some of his webinars back in the USA, plus hosted on a community zoom call of my own for our #grrrlarmy members (look up the hashtag on social media- you’ll get what it means)
My current situation:
After getting on the books for Dr David Bilstrom, I was sent like a THIRTY PAGE questionnaire. “Seriously?????”, I thought. On top of the health history questionnaire, I had to compete a 3 day meal log as well. A few weeks went by, and our call commenced. Feeling slightly relieved just by his tone, Dr Bilstrom asks me what’s going on. And of course I proceeded to tell my life story over the next 30 minutes. Then the miracle happens:
Dr B explains that he believes my issues started at birth. Since I developed jaundice (somewhere in the first few months), which then lead to severe childhood allergies (I mean severe- you’d hardly ever find me without kleenex shoved up my nose- I was the type of kid who had a permanent line across my nose from blowing it all the time). Then factor in starting my period between ages 11 and 12, I’ve been estrogen dominant for a long time. Add in a few rounds of strep throat, and potentially having mold poisoning (I did drink from a moldy water bottle for 2 weeks in 2015 and thought it was my friends girlfriend’s meal prep company haha!), there could be a host of things that kicked this off.
Dr B. explained that the immune system gets butchered over time, but the fact that I’ve worked out so heavily my entire life, I’ve managed to keep the symptoms of p-cos of endometriosis away. But now that my immune system is so compromised, the body started attacking itself with Reynauds and now the Graves’ disease. So until I fix the root of the problem, it’s highly likely that I’m going to just develop something else. Taking my thyroid out won’t necessarily fix the problem.
So what Dr. B has outlined I do, is taking a low dose of naltrexone. Naltrexone is a drug primarily used for addicts and alcoholics to kick cravings, and used somewhere between 40-50mg. But for autoimmune issues, 1.5-4mg of naltrexone can sufficiently bring the immune system back into a place of homeostasis. I of course need to poop in a cup to see if I’m dealing with any gut bacteria (if you didn’t know that your gut is your second brain, defo look into that), do another saliva test to see where my cortisol levels are, plus get a proper allergy blood test done to see what 80 major foods I could be reacting to.
The great thing about the consult that I just had, is that it gives me absolute hope that I am going to fix the actual problem, and not just keep putting a bandaid on it. So if you’re in the boat of battling an autoimmune disorder, I highly recommend finding a naturopath who can get down like Dr. Bilstrom, or get a telehealth appointment with him by contacting his office. https://drdavidbilstrom.com/