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Once I found the “thyroid book” by Dr. Kharrazian, I knew that there was much more to my Hashimoto’s that I didn’t know and I would hopefully be able to find some help. I stumbled across one of his trained practitioners, and began seeing her as soon as possible. On my first appointment, however, I was extremely surprised to hear her opinion that my current problems were most likely not as a result of my thyroid – her theory was that I was deep in adrenal fatigue. All of the stress and worry about my health, combined with the financial strain of loosing my job and the chronic virus I had been fighting for months were really taking a toll on my body. This would explain all of the bizarre symptoms I was having, and made sense given what I had been through. Our plan of action was to get rid of the virus while working on some lifestyle changes and supplementation to help the adrenals. The best thing that this practitioner gave me in my first visit was HOPE that I would be able to see some positive changes. I had been through so much and was beginning to think I would be sick the rest of my life.
From here it was a long road spanning many months of slow progress. Many supplements were started and stopped when we found that I didn’t tolerate them. One thing that was working was supplementing HCL for low stomach acid. I was still seeing my regular doctor to get blood work done, and much to my dismay, my vitamin and mineral deficiencies were not budging despite aggressive supplementation (Iron, vitamin D, b12). When I told my practitioner about this, she told me that she never had success in bringing clients in situations like mine back to good health when they were vegan. Slowly she broke it to me that she thought the best thing for me would be to start eating animal products. I was extremely offended at first, but when I thought about it I decided to give it a chance. I had tried almost everything to get better except for that, and I wasn’t going to stop my progress now.
I started with fish, and then I ate eggs. In the first two months of eating them I made slow but steady gains. I could now stand long enough to cook for myself and go on short walks. I kept increasing HCL as advised by my practitioner, and was amazed at the amount I could tolerate. I came to the realization that hypochloridia (low stomach acid) was a huge thing for me. I read about how vegans and vegetarians were often low in stomach acid because meat was the best source of the vitamins and minerals needed for HCL production. Even though I was eating fish and eggs, I was still anemic and it wasn’t until I started eating red meat that those numbers began to change. I was extremely reluctant to eat red meat since I had been vegan for 10 years and it was such a huge part of my life. I decided that if this was the ticket, that my life was not worth suffering so that an animal could not suffer. There is suffering everywhere all over the world, humans and animals alike, and all I can do is make the best choice that is available to me. So, that was going to be eating red meat. I was afraid it would rot in my stomach like the rumor that is passed around in vegan circles, and exactly what happens to your protein when you have low stomach acid (like most vegans probably do). What I found was that not only did my body digest it easily, but it made me feel good after eating it. I had this mental clarity and energy that I had not felt in months.
Through working with my practitioner I found out that I was sensitive to most grains and that beans made my stomach ache. Since I already didn’t do dairy and was practically there, I decided to adopt a Paleo diet on the premise of getting only good, nutrient-dense food back into my body. I felt that for the first time, I was giving my body what it needed, and it was actually digesting it! After introducing red meat back into my diet, it was a pretty quick month back to a functioning normal. I was a little upset that I had suffered almost six months of being confined to the house and bed when most of my problems would have been fixed by eating meat! A couple of weeks after eating red meat, I only needed half of the many HCL pills with my meals. After a month I didn’t need any at all. It was very clear to me that my practitioner was right, and that the nutrients in the meat were enabling my body to make the right amount of stomach acid. I was quickly weaning off my supplements and I had my first good blood test since my crash. All of my deficiencies had been fixed in a month of eating red meat and 3 months of eating fish and eggs.
After this long healing journey, I still felt a little sick and tired, but I was so excited and inspired by my progress that I decided to start looking for work. I found a situation that was perfect for me – a family in my area needed a personal chef part-time to help prep and cook healthy food for them. This was the perfect next step for me, and it really boosted my mood knowing that I was capable of working again.
And so I took the job, and my healing journey continued. Stay tuned for part II where I detail the final piece, how I got from there to where I am now!