First let me summarize my most recent problems again: Fall of last year (2012)I started seeing problems.
Even then, I usually had to lay down and sleep it off. I also had bad period cramps, and the blood was almost black and very dry and thick...my period lasted for up to ten days, in which I would not really bleed. Just had that weird black spotting that faded to brown.
Aside from that, my skin was one of the first things to go bad. Just before the return of my period I started breaking out a bit more, but nothing crazy. It then got worse every month too, peaking in December/ January. My skin did not look as good in general. I looked a little like someone had let the air out and I often had dark circles under my eyes. My acne really turned into something I had never experienced. Big pimples on the side of my cheeks. That used to be the clearest part of my face! I also had some near my mouth. Since most of my acne was concentrated to the same areas, I concluded it was hormonal acne. But would it settle?
In October I also first noticed hair loss. At first it was only a few hairs more than normal, and I was unsure if it was really hair loss, or if it was a coincidence. I started taking prenatal vitamins again and it was not noticeable anymore. But the days where I would suddenly lose a bigger amount of hair (I roll my shed hair into little balls to compare) became more frequent. In November I lost a slightly increased amount on most days. I was not too worried then and suspected that my diet was lacking something. So I made sure to eat a variety of different things. But the amount of hair I lost continued to increase. When I lost hair in 2009, it started the same way. In Summer of 2009 I had dealt with on and off small sheds, and by October I was actively shedding hamsters. Back then my problem was mostly caused by my pituitary gland and a pituitary tumor was found at the brain. However, that tumor shrank and my Prolactin levels normalized...but,could it be back?
Other problems I had: Fatigue, weight loss, dark under eye circles, carpal tunnel and joint pains, feeling cold, dry skin, low breastmilk supply, sluggish, brain fog, heart palpitations and chest pain, low libido. I made an appointment with my doctor to get my thyroid and prolactin levels tested, since all my symptoms are typical for thyroid and/or hormone related problems. I also started looking into my diet. Like I mentioned before, a Paleo Diet has helped me feel better than ever, but I am not usually the diet type, so I was worried I might have made some mistakes.
Luckily I had taken notes occasionally using the iPhone app MyFitnessPal to track calories (because I was wanting to gain weight). I was so focused on calories though, that I just piled up on foods, that I thought would make me fatter faster. I did not gain any weight, despite of eating up to 3700 cals a day, so I stopped worrying about it and tried not to force weight gain. I looked at the app entries and a really cool feature that the app has is that it breaks down the nutrients and tells you how much % of fat, carbs and protein you eat. My breakdown looked like this:
Now, I don't want to say low carb is the devil! Some people benefit from a low carb diet. But it hugely depends on your body and what diseases you have or are likely to develop genetically. My "Achilles heel" would be hormone related issues -> thyroid -> antibodies. One reason I got on a Paleo diet is to reduce the antibodies that grains can cause. But, low carb diets can aggravate another problem, -the thyroid and hormones.
Under 70g of carbs, you are in a state called "Ketosis", which is similar to what bears do when they hibernate through the winter. But I wasn't planning to hibernate all of a sudden! From what I have collected, low carb can affect the thyroid, the function of the liver, and in turn your hormones go out of whack. I will summarize this with more detailed info to explain what actually happens scientifically, but it is a lot, so bear with me and let me just keep explaining what even happened ;).
Well, my thyroid came back problematic, my TSH was raised. Also my liver enzymes were very elevated. My former GP wanted to put me on 25 mcg of levothyroxine, thyroid medication. I did not take the medication, and it is not because I am suicidal. Let me explain,...the meds she wants to give me likely won't solve my problem. Just suppress the TSH and my anti bodies a bit. I have been on synthetic thyroid before, and it was so wrong for me that it actually caused me more symptoms, and very weird frizzy hair growth (some may remember the old posts). That is a sure sign something was wrong. It also never lowered my antibodies much.
My TSH would get way too low before the anti bodies were down all the way.
Through www.stopthethyroidmadness.com, I learned some important facts about thyroid medication. Synthetic thyroid medication does not work because it is T4 only medication, but it does not do a good job at regulating all levels. Before synthetic hormones, thyroid disorders were treated with natural thyroid, which is basically just animal thyroid made into a supplement. Because it is natural to the body, it works far better than the synthetic brands. The philosophy behind natural thyroid is "like cures like"...and although that may sound like witchcraft, there is actually truth to it. Same goes for liver...liver eaten benefits the liver and heart is good for the heart. Natural medicine is far more powerful than drug companies like to acknowledge.
I made an appointment with an actual Endocrinologist to have my thyroid looked at. My doctor only looked at my TSH and wanted to put me on meds before further evaluating the situation! What a big mistake that could have been and I am sure many people suffer from doctors making mistakes like this. I decided to see another GP. He tested my thyroid again and a possible lack of vitamins (none found). He also tested my liver because the test done in early January showed my liver enzymes were elevated. The results were not good really. My liver enzymes were very elevated, as well as the antibodies. But when we tested again a week later, they were much lower.
My liver enzymes could be raised for a number of reasons, but one that seems likely is that with all my hormonal problems, thyroid etc., my liver has not been functioning as well. There could have been too many toxins and it could have been working too sluggish. Now that I am detoxing it, the levels seem to be going down again. I have been tested two more times since then, and the levels continue to drop and were almost normal last check up. Interestingly, the function of the liver can also be affected by low carb diets.
My thyroid came back more normal again. My TSH dropped from almost 5 in January, to just over three, and my latest results (you might want to sit down now), were COMPLETELY normal! My TSH was 2.2 in mid February, something I have never seen since I was told I had Hashis (T3 and T4 were normal too, TSH had been my biggest problem).
In 2010 my TSH used to be as high as 8. I am also taking my temperature daily and it is well in the normal range (36.5-36.9 C/ over 98.5 F). When you are Hypothyroid, your body temperature is usually lower than normal...which I used to have. I remember getting around 97F in 2010.
Another ultrasound of my thyroid was also done. It was normal for the first time also. The technician explained I have little scars and holes from a while back, but at this time my thyroid is a normal size (not small like many hashi thyroids) and working normally, producing enough hormones! And if that wasn't enough, my liver and all other organs looked picture perfect! You can imagine I was thrilled receiving good news for once.
Progress with supplements, hair loss, skin problems
I have taken notes these past weeks. I started the herbal supplements(DIM (diindolylmethane) milk thistle, burdock root and vitex), around mid January. Skin changes Only a few days later I already started noticing changes. For a few days my skin felt warm and flushed. It even looked a little flushed. I then began to see my skin clearing up and it started feeling VERY soft. It has not felt like that since I was 14 I think! (although it is not as clear as back then :)....yet? lol) My skin continued to clear up, slowly but steadily. The clusters on my cheeks disappeared and the big, painful pimples healed. I would still break out a little, but really just a little! That is pretty much how my skin is now...better, but not normal yet. I am planning to add calcium D glucarate, which is normally taken with DIM to fix my skin and PMS even more.
I tend to break out more during ovulation, but when I ovulated in January, my PMS was already less bad. A little back pain, but not nearly as bad as in December. Right now I am ovulating again (until the 14th) and I feel no pain! I also noticed cervical mucus, which is a good sign as far as fertility goes. I also had my first normal period since starting the supplements.
I am AMAZED (!!!) at how much better it was. Almost completely normal. I had slight PMS, a back ache only the day before. But I was able to carry on with my day and did not have to be in bed. That was the only pain. I had NO cramps, I did not feel sick in any other way. My period started ON TIME, after only 28 days (short cycle = more fertile). The first day I had spotting, the second day a normal amount of fresh red blood. No black, crusty, weird, thick blood and spotting! I am looking forward to next month.
I can also happily say that my dark circles are gone!
I finally gained weight! I went from 45 to 50kg (99.2- 110.2 lbs). I also don't lose it as easily anymore. Even if I eat a bit less on certain days. Compare the pictures from last year to now. It is weird my face looked so thin, or rather gaunt. Like someone had let out the air. Because my weight was at least for my body type not extremely low and I had been that weight before, like since I started Youtubing and blogging with a rounder face. I will post some pictures of my body in tight clothing and you will see what I mean! I think my thin face was partly related to toxins, hormones and maybe unwanted "fat" loss, rather than "weight" loss. It also did not last very long.
Hair loss changes
Edit: I have been losing a normal amount of hair for over a week. Fingers crossed!
I have continued to trim my hair monthly. Maybe a bit too generous a few times, but I am still at tailbone length and have not lost more than a half inch in length. Lately I have been feeling like I can see the hemline bettering again. But it is hard to say if it is just straighter or really thicker. I will try to post comparison pictures for the past months soon. I also took videos of my hair during the shed phase. I have to say that the thickness I had gained, served as a nice reserve and my hair loss is mostly only noticeable when looking at my braid or buns etc., but I had enough thickness left to not have my hair go very transparent.
I posted this later than intented, but I was waiting on more results and progress. It was well worth the wait. I have most things sorted out. I told you this strategy was better and it really is!
Pictures of my doctors results are to follow in another post. As you can see I have a ton of pics in this one already!