So — it has been over two months since I eliminated wheat from my diet. In these last two months I have felt better than I’ve felt in a long time. It could be partly due to my thyroid medication being tripled since May, but it also could be in part due to eliminating food that most likely was triggering an autoimmune response in my body to attack my thyroid.
That’s the whole reason I decided to try the gluten-free way of life — not because I wanted to jump on a “diet” bandwagon that seems to be a fad right now. I did this because I suspected a serious health issue going on and wanted to feel better and prevent or at least delay the entire destruction of a small gland that produces hormones to regulate almost every bodily function you can imagine.
The link between autoimmune thyroid issues and gluten is strong. When gluten enters the system of a person with an autoimmune disease, the body sees it as an invader and attacks, which also triggers the body to attack healthy tissues, like my thyroid gland. Eliminating gluten from your body can take years, and consumption of gluten can take months to be cleaned out.
Since going gluten-free, I have only had one episode of a migraine headache (this occured when I think I unintentionally consumed gluten on vacation, even while eating off a gluten-free menu). Um…I was getting migraines almost twice a month, sometimes headaches that lasted three days. Since going gluten-free, I have had less joint pain, my hands and feet don’t fall asleep during the night, I’m sleeping a bit better, my digestion has done a 180. I used to be in serious pain if I consumed anything with a lot of onions (cooked or raw), garlic or cooked spinach. Guess what? I can now eat all of those things with NO digestive issues. If I ate a hotdog or a hamburger, I was sick fairly quickly afterward. Now, I have NO issues with these things. I’m thinking it wasn’t the ingredients listed above that were giving me trouble — instead, what was paired with those ingredients got my digestive system into a tizzy. Probably white bread, white pasta, etc. There are a lot of other things that have changed since going gluten-free — too many to list here, but suffice to say the change has been positive and while I miss warm French bread with butter occasionally, I’m not overly distraught.
So, after two months since my last lab work, I trudged into the hospital early on Saturday for a blood draw. I specifically requested my doctor to test for anti-thyroid antibodies, and he reluctantly complied. His assistant let me know that he didn’t see a reason for the test because they most likely would come back positive due to my extreme hypothyroidism issues. Huh? Why was this never brought up or discussed with me before? I was left scratching my head — my doctor assumes I have antibodies that attack my thyroid — it isn’t just regular old hypothyroidism going on?
I got the call on Monday with my results — and guess what? My anti-thyroid antibodies were off the chart — literally — as in they couldn’t measure how high they were. Of course, my doctor’s assistant didn’t give me the actual numbers until I requested them. She just said everything was normal and I tested positive. Can you hear the record scratch? Give me the numbers, will ya?
Here is what she said:
TSH was at 5.8 (I had to inform her that my TSH is still high since normal range is .5-4.0, sometimes 5.0 if you are old school)
and the antibodies test….well, it was >1000 (which she read first as greater than 100,000 — oops, her bad! What??? Further proof she has no clue.)
When I expressed my shock at the numbers and the fact that my TSH is still high *ahem* she dismissed me because all the other numbers are in “normal range”. Then when I asked if I had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis because these antibodies were so high, I was told, “No, not necessarily. It just means you have a thyroid problem.”
Time to find a new doctor.
Positives of my current GP — he was willing to prescribe me thyroid replacement that most doctors may not prescribe. He was also willing to test me for the things I wanted to be tested for.
Negatives — I don’t think he really understands the thyroid or Hashimoto’s as much as I need him to. He has never brought up anything concerning nutrition or dietary changes to help prevent further damage to my thyroid, nor has he even mentioned Hashimoto’s, even though I have explained that my entire family (father, brother, and four sisters) have hypothyroidism and one sister has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.
In my research and from contacting the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science’s Consumer Info Website to help me interpret the numbers, it appears that high levels of antibodies is confirmation that I have Hashimoto’s. The ASCLS got back to me immediately and said my high antibody level is “a definitive marker for thyroiditis (chronic thyroid inflammation). The most common is Hashimoto’s. [and I]
You may wish to consult a specialist to determine the cause of [my] your high antibody levels.” I am taking this advice and working on finding an endocrinologist or a holistic healthcare doctor who is knowledgable about autoimmune thyroid issues and nutrition.
It appears my journey with gluten-free living and cooking is just at the beginning. I plan to continue eating gluten-free, but have decided to lessen restricting my family to it. I haven’t been super strict with them, but we haven’t purchased a loaf of bread in two months and my middle child has been begging for bagels. She just may get her wish for a bagel soon, but I’ll be watching her enjoy it instead of eating one myself.
Until next time!