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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.
Kim thought the fatigue and strange symptoms she had been feeling for years were just signs of aging or the stress of her high-pressure job. It took a severe health scare and hospitalization to uncover her diagnoses of Graves’, Hashimoto’s and celiac disease. In the years since, it’s been her strong conviction in her body’s ability to heal that has gotten her into remission.
What health issues are you dealing with, when did they begin, and how long did it take to get a diagnosis?
I have Graves’ disease, celiac disease, and Hashimoto’s. My issues began quite a while before I was diagnosed. I ignored all of the symptoms just thinking that this is what it meant to get older, and I worked a high-stress job that didn’t allow me the time to pay any attention to myself. Until… I was on a conference call and realized that I couldn’t breathe. It scared the you-know-what out of me, and I immediately got off the call and got myself to a doctor within hours. This was a Friday. That Monday I received a call from the doctor telling me that I had to get into see an endocrinologist with 24 hours, that my thyroid levels were in the dangerous zone. The next week was full of scans, tests, ultrasounds, etc. I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease early April 2018. I began taking the medication for Graves’ disease mid-April 2018, and a month later was in the ICU being told that I may never leave the ICU because I might die.
Describe what the lowest point on your health journey was like.
The lowest point of my health journey was absolute hell. There’s really no other way to describe it. It was like I was living my own horror movie. Being driven to the ER by my sons that were 18 and 15 at the time, collapsing as we walked into the ER, and being admitted into the ICU within an hour of arriving to the hospital wasn’t the lowest point. The next 13 days spent in the ICU, being told that I might die, and the torture that one endures in the ICU was the lowest point of my journey. It turns out, I was having a horrific reaction to my medication that I was taking for Graves’ Disease. It was killing me, literally. My reaction to the medication was one of the worst reactions in the history of the 60+ year medication. By a miracle I made it out of the ICU and was told by my endocrinologist that “I WILL DIE” if I don’t have my thyroid removed. I can never take medication for the Graves’ disease again. I chose NOT to listen to him, and to follow my gut instincts and keep my thyroid.
What challenges influenced you to look for a solution? Basically, what was the tipping point?
My tipping point was the fact that conventional medicine, medication, etc. had failed me. I left the hospital 40 lbs less than I went in, I was a skeleton with skin, and now my doctor wanted to remove an organ while I was in the most depleted state of my life. He was crazy!!! I left the hospital a shell of myself, with severe PTSD, but a determination like I had never felt before. I fired all of my doctors and went it alone. I knew that I wasn’t going to die if I took matters into my own hands, but wasn’t so sure that I wouldn’t die if I left it up to the doctors. I started googling how to cure autoimmunity, how to heal autoimmunity, how to cure chronic illness, how to heal chronic illness, and I ordered every book that I could get my hands on. I read, and read, and read, and read…
When you found a protocol to help you heal, what was it and what was your first indication that it was working?
All my reading kept taking me to AIP! It resonated with me, so I leaped in full force. Time was not on my side, as my thyroid levels were skyrocketing after I left the hospital. Honestly, I had no idea if what I was going to attempt was going to work, but my gut told me to try it, so I did! Luckily, I had my parents come live with me the entire summer until I was capable of handling things on my own. My mom was immediately thrown into cooking AIP, and she did it with gusto, as she knew my situation was dire. My doctors were furious with me when I told them that I was going to heal myself naturally. I didn’t care what they thought! It was my life at stake, not theirs. When I left the hospital, I had to have my blood drawn weekly for several months (it was a nightmare, as blood draw was my main source for the PTSD), but that is where I discovered that what I was doing WAS WORKING! And when I say I jumped in full force to AIP, I meant STRICT food, STRICT lifestyle, STRICT everything! I didn’t have a choice. Every week that I went in for my blood draw, my thyroid levels were decreasing each week, and every week it gave me more and more validation that AIP was not only working, but helping to save my life. One year later, July 11, 2019, I was in remission from Graves’ disease!
What resources have you used on your healing journey so far and how did you find them?
Books, books, books! I’ve read so many about autoimmunity, some resonated with me, and others not so much. I took all the things that made sense to me, and ran with it. The ones that resonated with me the most and were my favorites were by Sarah Ballentine, Mikey & Angie, and Dr. Amy Myers (she had Graves’), but I read sooooo many. I really didn’t utilize any social media at the time, and still don’t. I know it’s an ends to a means in today’s world, but I preferred books.
Did your doctors suggest any treatments that you rejected and if so, why did you choose to try other methods?
Yes, they wanted me to have my thyroid removed, or die. I knew that was not the only option for me. My gut was soooo strong on this, and I had to follow my gut instincts. I knew that my doctor was wrong, and I wasn’t going to allow anyone else other than myself to be in charge of my health going forward. It was basically me just taking charge of the situation, and not listening to anyone else other than myself. And it worked! I was right! AIP changed my life! I am thriving now!
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?
2018 changed my life, being in the ICU changed my life, AIP changed my life, and everything that I went through helped me to discover an immense passion for health and healing. Sometimes the worst thing that happens to you turns out to be the best thing that can happen to you. That horrific event in my life set me on the path that I was meant to be on. It opened up my true passion in life…to help others. My goal in life every single day is to help others not have to experience what I did, so every day that’s exactly what I do. So, I became a Holistic Health Practitioner, a Holistic Nutritionist, a Holistic Health Coach, I opened a wellness studio that helps so many people every single day with their health issues and that I will be expanding in 2023, and started an organic Himalayan salt scrub line to help with skin issues. Aside from helping as many people as I can, I find immense joy in my kids, friends, family, and my dog…most specifically snow skiing, hiking, being outdoors, and running face forward into as many adventures as I possibly can! You only live one, so you better live it!
Would you like to share your Story of Recovery? Let us know by filling out our interest form.