Wellness

My Autoimmune Story

In late 2009, while on a hunt to explain my infertility, I received a shocking double diagnosis. I learned that I had 2 auto-immune disorders that were uncontrolled and essentially precluding me from achieving pregnancy: Graves Hyperthyroidism and Type 1.5 Diabetes (LADA – Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adulthood or Slow Onset Type 1). My body had literally been cannibalizing itself; I had lost 15 pounds and my blood sugar was close to 600. There is no way that I could get pregnant in that state! Worse, was the news of the treatment; not only was I immediately on 5 insulin injections per day, but I was given grim options for the thyroid which also essentially translated to an even greater delay in being able to conceive. My greatest fears of ever needing medical intervention in my life were being realized. After consulting with colleagues in my field and other health fields, as well as my endocrinologist and gynecologist and a lot of prayer, I finally accepted to undergo radioactive treatment of my thyroid gland, RAI – 131. Yet, I reminded myself often that a crisis is where medicine excels and that somehow, unbeknownst to me, I had gotten into a crisis. I also reminded myself of the adage I had often heard in chiropractic school: Chiropractic first, drugs next, surgery last. I was still, though drastically, only at the “drug” stage. Prior to the thyroid treatment and throughout the course of my diabetes management, my doctors warned me of the worst case scenario, especially because of the severity of my particular case. It was insinuated that I would have to potentially expect a second radioactive treatment if the first wasn’t effective and so on; very scary stuff when a 40 year veteran of the profession, who had also treated the Bush family for hyperthyroidism, is telling you this. But, through my thorough commitment to returning to health, as well as hoping to eventually be free of medicines/drugs in my body, I strictly adhered to my various doctors’ orders, disagreeing when applicable (no, I wouldn’t take the swine or regular flu shot, on top of the rest of the drug cocktail I was taking, despite the risks.) in addition to continuing to heal my body naturally with chiropractic, acupuncture, nutrition, and prayer. Within 6 months of the treatment, my labs were essentially normal and I felt better than I had in years. My very particular and very “by the book” endocrinologist complimented me on my commitment and of course, has been eternally surprised by the rapidity of my improvements.

By April of 2010, a full 6 months after the RAI-131, and 9 months after my diagnosis, I was off all of my meds with a small necessary exception, which I think has impressed my endocrinologist. Clearly, I give credit to the pursuit of a wellness lifestyle, but she won’t acknowledge its impact. It was that visit when I felt brave enough to discuss a previously “forbidden” topic with her: When could my husband and I start trying again for a family? Considering carefully my labs, and overall health status, she confidently said we could go ahead and try, but to not get too frustrated, as I was over 35, and it could take some time.

At a follow-up visit 6 weeks later, she changed my treatment plan to once every 3 months; unless I found out I was pregnant sooner. In that case, my care would be more frequent. Ten days later, the day before racing a triathlon, to my incredible surprise, I had a positive pregnancy test!! Needless to say, my endocrinologist was surprised to see me the very next week with this news. While my doctor was surprised, I had a core belief that as long as my body was healing, and I was pursuing a wellness lifestyle, that I would be able to get pregnant.

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