All the Effort has been Worth it!

At the end of 2014, my health started to collapse. I experienced a range of symptoms that I finally labelled as burnout. It took some time to get the right medical diagnosis and medical care but I was treated eventually for two things. Firstly, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland causing fatigue, weight gain and a range of unpleasant symptoms. This illness is for life and requires monitoring by an endocrinologist. I am also more likely to develop other autoimmune conditions.

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Secondly, my adrenal glands malfunctioned and were not releasing enough of a hormone known as DHEA which is responsible for energy and is used in generating a number of other hormones. This imbalance was not originally picked up by the doctors I approached and was only treated a year into my illness after finding the right practitioner. After spending a full year at home, not working, my blood tests revealed the lowest possible score in the range, indicating the chronic fatigue I was experiencing.

My thyroid function was chaotic at first. At the end of 2014, my thyroid became overactive, causing troubling symptoms such as tremors, heart palpitations, sweating, overheating, fatigue, weight gain and many more. It is hard to describe how terrible I felt but I thought I was dying. During 2015 my doctor slowed down my thyroid with medication. Since then, it is working and all my efforts have been on making sure it doesn’t collapse.

With my immune system attacking my thyroid gland, tissue is destroyed and I am at very high risk of becoming hypothyroid. For this reason, I have been working very hard in the past few years to calm down the attack. This is done by managing stress which is  not so easy, as well as cutting gluten out of my diet.

I sought a lot of medical care from a range of practitioners. The most valuable ones were my endocrinologist, homeopath and integrative (or functional) practitioner. The costs have been enormous, including consultations, medication, blood tests and supplements. I healed many aspects of my health that were contributing to fatigue. This includes eliminating viruses, improving the function of  lymphatic and digestive systems as well as reducing inflammation.

I have made many difficult life changes. I changed the work I do, relationships and many aspects of my lifestyle including sleep patterns, diet and exercise. It was a struggle to make these alterations and I kept wondering if it was worth it. I also spent a lot of time and money on alternative healing, addressing emotional and spiritual aspects of recovery. I sought the help of a psychologist for a few years to help me in unpacking how I got sick and to build my resilience.

I did my best to alter my life and direct it towards a happier existence but it is impossible to avoid stress completely. In times of high stress, for example at the end of last year when we had to change schools for our girls, my health deteriorated. I felt demoralized at times like this when I went to the endocrinologist and he increased my medication. I felt like I was on a downward spiral, despite all the hard work I put into healing and recovery.

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This week I had blood tests and my DHEA levels are as high as someone in their twenties. Of course, this is not ideal for a 43 year old but what it means is that my body is making enough such that I don’t need as much supplementation any longer. For the first time in four years, I can reduce my medication for the adrenal glands. My endocrinologist said that the adrenals are the key to thyroid recovery so this bodes well.

I finally feel that all of my efforts in the past four years are worth it. All the struggles to eat well, to get enough sleep, to make myself meditate. It’s worth it and it actually works. I felt like a failure after burning out and on top of that I just couldn’t seem to make headway with my health. This week’s news has given me such a boost in knowing that I have been doing the right things and all that effort was indeed worth it.

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Kathy
I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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