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.
Only in hindsight is Kerry able to see the slow progression of her Hashimoto’s. When her health crisis hit three years ago, she assumed it was just a bad case of the flu. Although she received a diagnosis relatively quickly, conventional treatments did nothing for her symptoms. It was Kerry’s own resourcefulness and determination that got her back to a place of health. Regardless of your diagnosis, the steps Kerry took to find her way back to health will be a great inspiration and template for your own recovery.
What health issues are you dealing with, when did they begin, and how long did it take to get a diagnosis?
Over three years ago, I developed what I thought was a severe flu, which I didn’t seem to be recovering from. I became progressively worse and was in severe pain all over my body, especially in my lower back, legs and feet. My hair was falling out, my face and feet were swollen, I could barely think, speak or brush my teeth and was sleeping all the time. I felt like I was dying. After seeing my then doctor, blood tests showed my TSH was 164 and my thyroid antibodies were off the charts. The doctor told me that my thyroid was “past its shelf life”, that I would need to take Eutroxsig (thyroxine) for life and that I would have to learn to “adapt to my new normal”. My diagnosis then was Hashimoto’s but I had been diagnosed 12 years earlier with antiphospholipid syndrome but never told that it was an autoimmune condition. I was later diagnosed with celiac disease as well.
Describe what the lowest point on your health journey was like.
I was physically and cognitively disabled and barely able to function, let alone continue to work and support myself and my son. I had no idea if I was going to live or what the future would hold for me. I was aware of the energy it took to think and digest. I had to often resort to pointing to things I wanted because I could not remember what it was called. I had to apply for government assistance and get help from my family to pay the rent and bills. My “worst case scenario” plan was that my eldest son would move out, my youngest son would have to move in with his father and that I would put my things in storage and move in with my elderly Dad. It felt like my life was over. My greatest fear was that I would die during the night and my sons would find me dead.
What challenges influenced you to look for a solution? Basically, what was the tipping point?
The tipping point came when I realized that if I was going to get my life back, it was up to me to do it because the doctor had nothing to offer but Eutroxsig which was not working. I was fighting for my life and prepared to do whatever it took to get my health back. I had to find a new doctor who would be wiling to work with me and support what I wanted to do.
When you found a protocol to help you heal, what was it and what was your first indication that it was working?
I began AIP before anything else. In the beginning, I needed my sons to cook very simple meals for me. I had luckily written all of my symptoms down before starting so that on the days when I felt like it wasn’t working, I could read my list and see that a few more symptoms had gone. I had also researched about NDT (natural desiccated thyroid) and found a doctor to prescribe it and a compounding pharmacy to source it. The one thing I could do was research and I was very determined to focus on positive healing stories that gave me hope. I started having my first good days. It was slow progress but over time, I could see that progress had been made and that I was able to do more and even start working with a few clients again.
What resources have you used on your healing journey so far and how did you find them?
I found AIP first. It was the one common thread that seemed to tie all the stories of recovery and remission together. Finding NDT and a support group who knew how to dose it, understand my lab results and test properly was a huge help. It was a massive re-education into a new way of life with chronic illness. I was very blessed that the right information, online summits and articles came along when I needed them. Finding my current doctor who was willing to work with me and a naturopath to help with my vitamin and mineral deficiencies and start healing my gut was a great help. They formed the core of my medical support team.
Did your doctors suggest any treatments that you rejected and if so, why did you choose to try other methods?
The only thing my original doctor suggested was Eutroxsig which is standard T4 thyroid hormone replacement. I was unable to convert it to T3 and ended up in emergency on a heart monitor with suspected heart failure. I knew I needed to find something else and when I saw AIP and NDT, I was determined to try them because I was becoming so disabled, physically and cognitively.
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 life is much better now in so many ways. It is only in hindsight that I can see that Hashimoto’s has probably been with me for decades, slowly growing and taking over. I have met some amazing people in the autoimmune community and have been able to learn so much from them and gain from their experiences and wisdom. I have so much gratitude for the little things in life now and as a direct result of chronic illness, my relationships have become stronger and more authentic. Being able to help others to deal with the emotional challenges of chronic illness gives me so much joy and satisfaction. I do feel very blessed to be alive and to have regained so much that I feared was lost.
Read more about Kerry’s journey on her blog, Emotional Autoimmunity, or keep up with her on Facebook and Instagram.
Would you like to share your Story of Recovery? Let us know by filling out our interest form.
Fighting for your life is not that easy. Congratulations to Kerry’s recovery! You are such a brave woman.
Kerry I so appreciate how you have taken your illness (the lemons) and turned it into a way to help others (the lemonade.) The mark of a true healer! Congratulations on healing yourself and helping other to heal emotionally as well.