AIP Stories of Recovery is a success story series about regular people from the Autoimmune Protocol community who are changing their lives using the protocol. Each month a new person is featured and readers have the opportunity to discover all the different health challenges that are being overcome by folks just like themselves on the same path. At Autoimmune Paleo we hope you’ll be inspired by, empathize with, and learn from these stories. If you are interested in sharing your story, please let us know by filling out our interest form.
When Jodi’s declining health coincided with the birth of her children, doctors dismissed it as the typical stress and hormonal fluctuation of early motherhood. For almost a year, she attempted to end her rapid weight gain and crushing exhaustion with healthy eating and exercise, but it wasn’t working. Finally, a Hashimoto’s diagnosis gave her answers, but it wasn’t until she discovered the Hashimoto’s 411 Facebook group that her life changed forever. Jodi had one of the quickest and most miraculous recoveries we’ve ever seen!
What health issues are you dealing with, when did they begin, and how long did it take to get a diagnosis?
My health issues really began during my pregnancy and just after the birth of my first child in 2009. Excessive weight gain, crushing exhaustion, depression, brain fog, chronic headaches. But I got a lot of the dismissive treatment about it all being part of being a new mom and “mommy brain.”
Then between 2010 and 2011 I experienced four back-to-back miscarriages and I knew something else was going on. But I was again dismissed. A highly esteemed reproductive endocrinologist ran an incomplete thyroid panel and declared my TSH was fine. (It was close to 4.0.) I even specifically asked to be tested for thyroid antibodies and was told that was pointless because the antibodies don’t mean anything when TSH is normal.
I was thankfully able to go on to have two more successful pregnancies with some minor intervention, but I continued to get sicker and sicker with specifically my headaches becoming more and more frequent.
After the birth of my 3rd son in 2015 I gained 35lbs in the first 6 months of his life. At a time when I was caring for a five year old, a two year old, and a newborn who was breastfed on demand around the clock, I just kept piling on the pounds. I certainly was not consuming more calories than I was burning. It was devastating for my self esteem. My depression was really hard to control (my antidepressant dosage was increased twice). No one really questioned whether or not there was anything underlying my depression and weight gain and headaches.
In 2016 I was so tired and so depressed that I knew I had to take the bull by the horns. I went to see an endocrinologist that was treating my friend for Hashimoto’s. So at the very least I knew I could get that antibody test I had asked for in 2012. Not only did I test positive for Hashimoto’s, but my antibodies were in the 680s. I was so happy! A diagnosis. I wasn’t crazy or lazy or eating too much! But then I quickly learned that the traditional field of endocrinology doesn’t really understand or treat autoimmunity. For example, my first endocrinologist didn’t want to find the underlying cause of my Hashimoto’s and my inflammation, she wanted me to wean my nine month old so she could put me on prescription diet pills. She told me I just needed to eat less and exercise more. She really didn’t seem to care about or correlate my depression and my exhaustion and my headaches with my illness.
So 2016 was a very, very frustrating year. I moved to another endocrinologist and got the same treatment. I was really hitting the exercise hard (despite feeling awful) and still gaining weight. I moved away from endocrinology and towards functional medicine. My first functional medicine doctor was a step in the right direction. She determined that my adrenals were a mess (yes, too much exercise) and got me on some better thyroid medication. But I really wasn’t feeling much better and I had wasted an entire year at this point. By the end of 2016 I was determined not to spend another year suffering. In 2017 I embarked on the Autoimmune Protocol on my own and I switched to a real functional medicine doctor who uncovered both Lyme and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. I say it was the year I got my life back. Real diagnosis. Real treatment. It took eight years.
And now we are here. January 2019 is the two-year anniversary of when I decided to take my life back. 2019 is also the 10 year anniversary of when I really started to get sick. I am symptom free of any illnesses, I am off of anti-depressants, I have energy I never thought I would have again, and I have lost 105lbs.
Describe what the lowest point on your health journey was like.
2016 was for sure my lowest point. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it. Invisible illness is so isolating and so depressing. It makes you feel crazy. I was trying so hard to do all the right things for my health and none of them were working. I didn’t have the energy to really play with my children. I didn’t have the mental capacity to do much other than sleep and then think about when I could sleep again. I just felt like a shell of a person — I really thought that I was lost forever in this inflamed body and cloudy mind.
What challenges influenced you to look for a solution? Basically, what was the tipping point?
My tipping point was in the fall of 2016. I was 100lbs overweight. I had spent all year with doctors who weren’t helping me. I was hitting the exercise hard. I had run 100 miles in 12 weeks and I felt like I did not have an ounce of energy left to give this world. I felt like I was losing my mind. I barely had the energy to get out of bed but I would force myself to go run. I lost 8 pounds in 12 weeks and while that weight loss was something, it was not sustainable. I knew at that point that I was spinning my wheels and what I was doing wasn’t working. I knew that I had to make a big change if I was ever going to get well.
When you found a protocol to help you heal, what was it and what was your first indication that it was working?
I first learned about the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) in July of 2016 just from Google. I vividly recall talking to some friends about it on the way to a wedding. “So there is this thing called AIP. It sounds crazy. I don’t even know what I would eat. I don’t care how sick I get, I could never do AIP.”
Shortly thereafter I joined the Hashimoto’s 411 group on Facebook (having no idea that they were AIP advocates). I joined for the labs/medication advice and quite honestly the AIP stories there were just too compelling to ignore. If other people could get better, maybe I could too.
By the end of 2016 I was prepping for my January 1, 2017 AIP start and in that first month I lost 16.5lbs!!! No exercise. No calorie counting. I ate whenever I was hungry. I truly could not believe it.
What resources have you used on your healing journey so far and how did you find them?
The Hashimoto’s 411 Facebook group — by far the most valuable resource I ever found. I say they saved my life and that’s really true. And then a lot of Google and Pinterest for recipes and research.
Did your doctors suggest any treatments that you rejected and if so, why did you choose to try other methods?
Oh yes. My first endocrinologist wanted me to wean my 9 month old from breastfeeding so she could put me on prescription diet pills. That was a hard no from me and I found a new doctor shortly thereafter.
It can seem like our lives are consumed by a chronic illness, but there is so much beyond those struggles. What brings you true joy right now?
My boys, without question. They were 7, 4, and 1 when I started AIP and they are now 9, 6, and 3. They are the reason I knew I needed to get healthy. They are so full of life and joy. I am so very lucky to have them and I really and truly just try to absorb all of them — their funny word pronunciations, their dirty little boy fingernails, the way their hair smells, their giggles. Every day, even the frustrating ones, they bring me joy.
Second to my boys, sewing and photography are personal hobbies of mine and I do both as often as I can. Having creative outlets has been very therapeutic along this journey.
If you would like to learn more about Jodi”s story, you can follow her on Instagram.
Would you like to share your Story of Recovery? Let us know by filling out our interest form.