Adventures In Autoimmuning
For anyone who doesn’t know me, I'm Amanda! I’m a wife and mom, pet enthusiast, recipe developer in the making, and all-around nutrition nerd. I hale from the great state of Texas, but my heart is in NYC… and when it’s not there, it’s vacationing on the beach somewhere!
And probably like many of you here, I’ve been on a healing journey that has spanned some time.
And probably ALSO like many of you, I started to figure out something was amiss when I had more moments like “why the heck did I walk in this room and why are you talking to me” than I did moments like “I am totally lucid and understand everything you’re saying!”
Ahhhh, brain fog. It’s hard to get mad at the hubs for not listening when in fact, I’m the one not listening, right?? But this actually all started long before I was accidentally tuning-out my husband.
When my son was a ripe 3 weeks old, I felt like I had postpartum depression. I also had inflammation (which I equated to “swelling”), bouts of IBS, constant fatigue, pain…. all of which were pretty new to me.
So naturally I paid a visit to my doc, who at least agreed I had IBS but gave me no way to manage it. He also promptly ordered blood work and within 48 hours was handing me a prescription for Synthroid, along with a cavalier “just take it once a day”. Because you know, my “thyroid isn’t working”. And that was that…I embarked on an uneducated journey that would last more than a decade, with several mile markers along the way.
I had gotten on the weight gain and loss roller coaster; inflammation was so bad my face and hands would swell like an Oompa Loompa; my IBS had nearly become uncontrollable, and the pain was debilitating– it even cost me a high-level corporate position because my employer just couldn’t believe I was sick that often.
About 2 years after the thyroid diagnosis, the brain fog and hit full force. And, the horrible periods started—so heavy and so painful that at times I couldn’t leave my bathroom. I could only sit in the shower, cramping and sobbing. I also experienced multiple miscarriages, which should have alerted my doc that something was off... instead, I was told “80% of pregnancies end in miscarriage”. REALLY??
Fast forward to late 2013— my son and I were at the grocery store and I felt my hand begin to go numb. He said, “mom your hand is so white!”. And sure enough, my fingers had lost all blood flow and looked like something out of The Walking Dead. Now that was a surprise!
But it was a surprise I needed. It caused me to remember something… my dad had the same thing happen to him from time to time, and I remembered he’d called it “Raynaud’s Syndrome”. Could this be the same thing?
After experience the zombie-finger thing off and on for a few months and determining it wasn’t a “fluke”, I brought it to my doctors attention! Not the same doc as before, mind you. He determined that it indeed was Raynaud’s Syndrome, an autoimmune condition affecting the circulatory response of certain areas of the body, namely fingers and toes (with me, it also affects my ears, nose, and breasts). He also had the wisdom to order more blood work, which brings me to 2014…
Oh, this was a fun year!! I’ll never forget it. I received a phone call at the office in early spring. It was the results of that blood work. All I heard her say was “platelets are elevated” and “referring you to a hematologist at ABC Oncology”.
WHAT. THE. JUST. HAPPENED.
I hung up the phone and literally passed out in about 2.6 seconds (something else that happened frequently, actually!).
So there I was, sitting in an oncology office, fearing the worst but praying for the best.
As it turns out, meeting that hematologist was one of the best things that’s happened to me.
He was who FINALLY diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis…a far cry from “just take this once a day” with no explanation. He also diagnosed me with a type of anemia that is autoimmune induced and found that my bloodwork showed signs of either Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus. He and a Rheumatologist discovered signs of inflammatory arthritis in my hips, knees and hands…and somewhere in all of this I was diagnosed with PCOS.
And here came the prescriptions…prednisone and high doses of NSAID’s, with a suggestion of oblation to my uterus… all of which I politely said no to 😊.
You see, I had heard a little bit about this thing called the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol from a friend and was more keen on trying that than I was adding meds with crazy side effects to my life.
And I’m SO GLAD I DID. After 6 weeks of being on AIP all of my numbers improved. Those RA and Lupus markers had come down, my platelets were back within a normal range, and my thyroid prescription was able to be reduced to a lower dosage. My IBS symptoms had all but disappeared, and my inflammation had reduced significantly.
Needless to say, no new prescriptions were written!
I continued with AIP, learning how to "do" this new life I'd been handed. Through trial and error, I made great strides, but also had a ton of questions and needed guidance.
I finally found some answers in an amazing group of women: I will forever be grateful to Mickey Trescott, whose Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook changed my life. I suddenly had a resource for cooking AMAZING food that was AIP compliant! Through her, I discovered Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, Angie Alt, and other voices in the autoimmune community who were blazing a trail for us all. They were “mentors from afar” for me in this new part of my healing journey.
I was so inspired by them and had such success through changing my own diet and lifestyle, that I discovered a passion to help others on similar journeys.
It was then that I pursued my own education in nutrition, and became a Certified Nutritional Therapy Consultant through NTA. I then became part of the inaugural class of Autoimmune Paleo Certified Coaches, taught by the amazing trio themselves…Mickey, Angie and Dr. Ballantyne!
Alllllll this to say…it’s been a crazy, wild ride. And the ride isn’t over; I have bad days and I have great days. But I wouldn’t change one lick of it. If you struggle with a chronic illness, I want you to know that hope is out there. There are ways to not just survive, but to thrive!! Never underestimate the power of small changes…who knows what a simple tweak to your diet and lifestyle may change?
Thriving with you,