For the first time in my life, I have optimal thyroid readings.

Ten years ago, I could barely function. Now I feel almost completely normal. Still some little issues, not in the kind of physical condition I should be, but today I’m over 25 lbs lighter and have had no issues with work in about two months. I have not been able to say that since 2006.

I now know I’ve been dealing with Hashimoto’s disease, a genetic condition, since I was a kid. One of our boys has it. It’s rare in children, especially male children.

Lifelong issues for me include: extreme sensitivity to cold, very low blood pressure and pulse, dizziness, occasional extreme fatigue, cystic acne, severe brain fog, hair loss, joint pain, and debilitating chronic migraines that completely disabled me for some years. I was so cold all the time that I would sleep under blankets and comforters in summer heat.

Doctors simply never looked for this disease in children when I was growing up.

I still have issues with dizziness, but the cystic acne has disappeared. Boy, do I wish that had been cleared up decades ago! I get migraines but they are no longer ruining my life. I am on medication for them, but I have only had three severe migraines this year. I used to get three a week. They manifest differently now and I get maybe three a month.

Having thyroid tests in the “normal” range meant that my doctors missed this serious issue. My thyroid reading was often around 4.95. The top end of normal is 5.

This is not good. Here’s why.

…when scientists first set the “normal” ranges of TSH for healthy individuals, they inadvertently included elderly patients and others with compromised thyroid function in the calculations, leading to an overly lax reference range. Thus people with underactive thyroid hormones were often told their thyroid tests were “normal” based on this skewed reference range!

In recent years, the National Academy of Clinical Biochemists indicated 95 percent of individuals without thyroid disease have TSH concentrations below 2.5 mIU/mL, and a new normal reference range was defined by the American College of Clinical Endocrinologists to be between 0.3 and 3.0 mIU/mL.

Unfortunately, most labs have not yet adjusted that range in the reports they provide to physicians, listing ranges as lax as 0.2–8.0 mIU/mL. Most physicians only look for values outside the “normal” reference range provided by the labs and may be unfamiliar with the new guidelines. Subsequently, many physicians miss identifying patients with an elevated TSH. This is one reason why patients should always ask their physicians for a copy of any lab results.

Functional medicine practitioners have further defined normal reference ranges as being between 1 and 2 mIU/mL for a healthy person not taking thyroid medications.

As someone who used to swing from listless woman (sleeping 14 hours a day,) to superwoman (working 14 hours a day and exercising two hours a day,) I now understand why I had so much energy at times and absolutely none at others. If you have Hashimoto’s Disease, you will swing between hypo and hyper without warning. And your readings will change during the day. If you have the symptoms I listed and your doctor did not look for Hashimoto’s antibodies, they will tell you you are normal when you are sick. They will try to pathologize it and treat you for depression. You will feel depressed because you are physically ill, and the depression will not get better with Xanax. You need to be treated for your thyroid illness.

I only got treatment when I went into the doctor with such severe symptoms last December that I thought I was going to bed and not getting up the next morning. Ever. I read about Hashimoto’s online and asked my doctor to look for it while she was looking for something else. When we got my stratospherically high antibody readings back (and by then my thyroid readings were so bad the issue could not be missed,) everything fell into place.

After 11 months of treatment, I now have optimal thyroid readings.

I am very grateful for the improvement in my health, and while I wish my doctor had found it sooner, it’s not so common doctors expect to find it in relatively young women. I might be one of only a couple of patients in her entire practice with it.

You have to be your own advocate. If I hadn’t asked for the Hashimoto’s Disease test last year, I’d be done right now.

I wish you good health. I wish you the strength to keep going when people are perhaps not so sympathetic to your issues. I wish you the strength to keep looking for the cure for what ails you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Colleen Doran 2017 photo by Link Herman