Almost yesterday, I woke up feeling tired. But it was the kind of tired that seeps into your very being. Like that feeling just won’t give up. You wake up and you’d give everything and anything to go back to sleep. If you could just get that extra hour, extra half hour, or extra few minutes. But sadly, you have responsibilities that need tending to. Like going to work and feeding your child. Oh, and feeding yourself. Some days, when you’re home with that child, you make it to nap time and you feel triumphant. You MADE it. Now you can crash yourself and get recharged.
But the problem is… it becomes a pattern. Every day begins to mesh together because every day you feel like you’re just “living” for nap time. I know many of you probably know the crushing fatigue, especially if you’re a mother. But have you ever imagined having that feeling of complete wipe out daily?
I am here to tell you it’s not fun. It wrecks your emotional stability, your overall drive, your attitude, and your ability to offer and give anything worthwhile to others, much less yourself. Instead of reading, I’d nap. Instead of organizing things to make my less chaotic, I’d nap. Instead of reaching out to dear friends, I’d nap. After I made it past nap time and would wake up at 4 pm to finish the day, I’d literally count the minutes until my husband was home from work, so I could be relieved of my responsibilities and get back into bed. Sometimes at 8 pm! And almost always by 8:30 pm.
I always used the excuse: “I have a baby, this is my ‘new’ normal,” or “He keeps me so busy so I need all the rest I can get.” Until one day it dawned on me. Maybe other people don’t really live like this. After 3 full years of this, I began wondering. Is there another way to live?
If you read my beginning story, you’ll know I struggle with infertility, and you’ll also know I worked and am currently working with a functional medicine doctor. But one thing I didn’t share with you in my beginning story, is that my crushing fatigue had a cause. A cause I wasn’t expecting.
What many people may not know about hypothyroidism is after you give birth to a child, you are increasingly more likely to develop this condition, since pregnancy and childbirth wreak havoc on your hormones. But can I tell you the ironic part? It took me getting diagnosed with a life altering condition, Celiac disease, before I finally got the diagnosis of hypothyroidism. And then it took several more months, before my thyroid was properly managed. And the thyroid directly impacts your ability to get pregnant. If your thyroid isn’t working properly, then neither is most of the rest of your body. It was like I was slowly peeling back the layers to this ongoing mystery and frustrating problem of infertility.
You see another fun tidbit about hypothyroidism is traditional, western doctors use one, sometimes two numbers to diagnose you with a thyroid issue. Your TSH level and your T4 level. A value which actually measures the function of your pituitary gland, NOT the thyroid gland. Technically, your TSH level is a measure of how much T4 your pituitary gland is asking your thyroid to make. But it is indirect. And if your TSH level is in normal range, well then yippy skippy, YOU’RE NORMAL. No need to worry about your fatigue that makes it hard to get through any day. According to the numbers, your lab test says you’re all good.
But what drives your system? Your body’s ability to take that Free T4, a storage hormone, and convert it into life giving power and energy of T3. And most importantly, the FREE T3, because that’s the amount of active hormone that you’ll have readily available for your body to use. Like energy for your metabolism. Your ovaries. Your brain. Your free T3 level is a life giving number but somehow along the way, physicians have determined it’s not the important number. Learn more about the basics here.
Wouldn’t it make sense then, that we’d want to look at a number that tells us the amount of “juice” (if you will) to keep the thyroid gland going? And not some pituitary messenger value?
There are also other values that show interesting things about your thyroid that are of equal importance, such as your Reverse T3. What if your body just can’t convert T4 to the active hormone T3? Insert elevated Reverse T3. If Reverse T3 is high, it shows your body may be having trouble converting T4 to the necessary hormone T3, and instead, it’s going to an inactive form.
My take away message to you: Don’t accept normal TSH levels as the end all be all. There’s more to the story.
So long story short…. My problem was having a completely normal TSH level. So I was written off as normal. And I felt miserable for a very long time. But 3 years later, I found out my Free T3 and T4 were in the bottom to low range. And to top it all off, I had an elevated Reverse T3. These values help explain why I was hypothyroid without the classic elevated TSH level. My body wasn’t providing me with adequate thyroid hormones to keep me running well.
And guess what?!?! After I worked with a functional medicine specialist and we tried natural means to increase my thyroid function to no avail, we finally turned to natural dessicated thyroid hormone that provides both T4 and T3 hormones, as well as a time release T3 hormone. (Side note, the majority of people go and see an endocrinologist for thyroid management only to be given a T4 only containing prescription, like Synthroid. And some people do feel better. But a lot of people don’t. Or they only feel partly better. Because just like me, they may have difficulty converting that T4 into the active hormone T3.)
But let me tell you, with the natural dessicated hormone with T3 and T4, I was a new woman. One day in…. and I almost lost my freaking mind. I WAS AWAKE. I WAS ALIVE. I couldn’t believe people actually lived this way!
Now, don’t get me wrong. There is definitely an adjustment period, and I didn’t go straight up to a full dose. Each week I slowly increased my dosage and I’d have 1-2 days of fatigue each week after increasing, until I perked back up. But I can honestly say that today, I’ve NEVER felt better. I want to shout it to the rooftops! If you’re in the dark, tired abyss, there’s hope! There is a ray of light in the form of proper thyroid management.
Obviously, I’m not the most scientific person out there. But I’ve learned from some of the best. And I want to share as many of these resources as I can. If you’re wondering if you could be suffering from a similar issue, please research this and reach out to a doctor or functional medicine specialist as soon as you can. You may just find a ray of light in a den of darkness and fatigue.
My personal favorite that gives practical advice from REAL people and tells you anything and everything you’ll ever want to know about the thyroid…. Jane Bowthorpe STTM
And if you want step by step instructions buy her book!
(I only read Stop the Thyroid Madness II because I had already looked through her website for patient testimonials. I wanted more of the “scientific stuff” that I could go back to and reference. It’s up to you, but both books are good!)
Wishing you the best in health and wellness.