Report From The Midst

When last we left the riveting story of my ongoing adventures in functional medicine, it was August, and I’d just been to my first appointment with Dr. Amy Myers and Brianne Williams. To recap, in case you don’t want to revisit the whole post, I’d had blood, urine, and stool samples submitted to have just about every test imaginable done. Science!

I decided to see Dr. Myers because of my ongoing inability to lose weight – despite eating a clean paleo diet, lifting weights, meditating, walking, doing yoga, and sleeping in a pitch black room for 8-9 hours every night. In addition, my blood pressure was very high, and my energy was tanking. I felt my hypothyroid symptoms rearing up all over again. Basically, I needed a major look-see and tune up.

I’ve gotten some questions from kind-hearted folks about how I’ve been doing since then, and the answer is “only OK” and “I’m not really sure yet.” Because this is the part of the movie of my life that’s the montage.

You know that part in the movie where we see the hero working really hard to reach his goal. He’s sweating and striving and digging deep, and we all just know it’s not a question of if but when he’ll succeed? That’s where I am. Sweating, striving, and digging deep — as gently as possible.

In the movie, the hero’s transformation takes somewhere between two and four minutes and is set against an awesome soundtrack. At the end of his travails, he’s completely badass. Like this:

In reality, my transformation is taking longer, is far less sexy, and soundtrack is likely to include both Jane Eyre musical numbers, kundalini chants, and awesome ’80s tunes. But since so many of you have asked, I thought I’d give you an update on where I am, here in the midst.

NOTE: It’s also worth mentioning, I guess, that today is my Thyroidiversary, the 5-year anniversary of my thyroidectomy. On the upside, the thyroid nodules weren’t cancerous. YAY! On the downside, I’ve been on a rollicking medical adventure since then. If you want to read the whole story, you can start at this link. The posts appear in reverse chronological order, so if you read from the bottom and move forward in time, you’ll get the whole story as it unfolded over the last 5 years. I really want to give past-me a hug; that thyroid surgery was scary, man.

Elimination Diet & Food Sensitivities

Dr. Myers and Brianne put Dave and I on their standard elimination diet to we could get to a “baseline” while we waited for our food sensitivity blood test results. We were already avoiding most of the foods on the list, but just to recap, here’s what we were not eating: grains, soy, potatoes, sugar, eggs, nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, hot peppers, paprika, chili powder), vinegar (except cider vinegar, which is OK), peanuts, and dairy. After three weeks super strict, we began reintroduction of foods one at a time, and then a few weeks after that, we got our food sensitivity test results.

The good news is that we’re cleared to eat all nightshades (Hello, again,  Rogan Josh and Chocolate Chili!), but Dave might have an issue with eggs, so I’m avoiding them, too, in solidarity with him. With peppers and tomatoes back on the menu, eating at home feels like it’s pretty much back to normal for me. Eating out is, as always, a challenge and because we’re still in “figure it out” and “treatment” phase, we have to be especially careful about not accidentally eating gluten, soy, and dairy.

The results of the food sensitivity test were eye opening. First, it’s important to remember that you have to have been eating the food for it to show up on the test. My test didn’t indicate a gluten sensitivity, but that could be because I wasn’t eating any gluten leading up to the blood test. Second, because Dave and I both have leaky gut right now (ew!), the test could also indicate a sensitivity that’s the result of leaky gut, not an actual problem with the food. (We’re hoping that’s the case with Dave and eggs.)

If you’re curious about what my results were, you can read this PDF for all the details. (Get to know me better!) My big headline take-aways were that I have a very strong reaction to artichokes (who knew? who cares?!) and a mild sensitivity to corn (which makes me want to cry because popcorn is my favorite fun food).

We are on Day 82 of our elimination diet and this commitment to what’s basically a Whole30, minus eggs and all vinegars except cider vinegar, will continue until at least the end of December. I’ve never been super strict through the holidays before, so I have many cooking adventures ahead of me. Grain-free, dairy-free lasagna and grain-free Russian teacakes will be my big Christmas experiments!

Thyroid Meds

Over the summer, I was beginning to feel that special kind of crazy that only hypothyroid patients really understand, and my suspicions were right. My T3 and Reverse T3 were wonky again. I’d already been taking 90mg of Armour Thyroid in the morning. Now I also take another 15mg in the afternoon. We can’t re-test my thyroid numbers again until early December, so for now, I’m just waiting to feel better.

High Blood Pressure

My blood pressure has been an ongoing issue most of my adult life, but it was higher in the last few months than it’s ever been, and it freaked me out. When they checked my vitals at the doc, it was 160-something over 90+. I’ve made a deliberate commitment to work on reducing my stress so I can bring my blood pressure down. In the last three weeks, I’ve been doing a special meditation suggested by my kundalini instructor Robin, and I’ve been drinking beet juice powder (mixed into rooibos iced tea) twice a day. My blood pressure has dropped 20 points! It’s still flirting with pre-hypertension, but I feel optimistic that it will continue to decrease if I stick with my good habits and lose more weight.

This is the sacred vessel I use to drink my beet juice cocktail:

beetjuiceskull

Weight Loss

Since I had my thyroid removed in November 2008, I’ve gained about 25 pounds. That is totally disappointing and discouraging, but I read something recently that really helped me with my perspective. We don’t get healthier by losing weight. We reach our optimal weight when we get healthy.

Being chubbier than I’d like right now is not a condemnation of my character or a sign that I’m lazy or an indication that I’m doing something wrong. It’s a symptom of my body not being as healthy as it could be — and I’m showing my body that I love it by treating it as tenderly as I can.

In the win column: Since I’ve been seeing Dr. Myers and taking a shit-ton of supplements and eating super clean and zapping the Candida (see below), I’ve lost about 8 pounds. Jeans that didn’t zip now fit on my body. Jeans that were tight now fit the way they should. The progress is slow — much slower than I’d like — but that little bit of success is making me feel optimistic that I will lose the excess weight as I continue to heal my insides.

Cortisol & Adrenals

My previous doctor had me taking hydrocortisone to help with my adrenal issues, but Dr. Myers wants to get to the root of the problem, so she’s weaned me off the hydrocortisone. In January, I’ll do a cortisol saliva test so we can see what my real cortisol patterns are. For now, I’m sticking with walking, strength training, and yoga — but I’m hoping to get back to running a bit when we know more about what my adrenals are doing.

Candida Overgrowth

So, gross. Dave and I both have Candida overgrowth. It’s nearly impossible to trace the path of exactly how we got it – previous antibiotic treatments? too much stress? cake and beer in Europe? — so I’m trying not to dwell on it too much. We’re on the path to correcting the problem.

Before I dig into what our treatment entails, I have to share this. If you were around in the ’70s, you might remember the singing group Tony Orlando and Dawn. They recorded a song called “Candida.” For real.

Anyway, Candida treatment. Our marching orders to kill off the excess Candida are a combination of diet (cider vinegar, no added sugar, a maximum of 1 cup of fruit and 1 cup of sweet potatoes per cay) and a 1-month run of a prescription called Diflucan. The doc warned us that taking the Diflucan might be rough because the detox process of killing off the Candida feels like the flu.

They were not kidding.

For the last three weeks, I’ve felt varying degrees of fatigue, moodiness, joint aches, and muscle soreness. Random crying and rapid-onset napping have also been common. It all culminated in an injured right knee two weeks ago that required icing and limping and wearing a brace and all manner of feeling vulnerable and crappy.

But the end is in sight: I have only three days of Diflucan left, and I’m hoping my outlook and physical being is going to turn around right quick.

NOTE: If you find yourself on the receiving end of a Diflucan prescription, you might want to ask your doctor to also recommend supplements for liver support, because Diflucan is hard on the liver  — and no alcohol at all during Diflucan treatment! (The universe owes me a glass of sparkling, bubbly champagne to celebrate the publication of Well Fed 2 when all of this medical nonsense is over.) Also, taking activated charcoal, available at most pharmacies, can help ease the Candida die-off symptoms.

Various Other Imbalances and Annoyances

I’m not going to get into too much detail here because my particular imbalances are specific to me — BECAUSE I AM A SPECIAL, SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE. Because of the leaky gut, stress, etc., etc., I’m not breaking down and absorbing my food as well as I could be, so I’m low on iron, some amino acids, and Omega-3 absorption. I’m currently taking 16 different supplements at various times throughout the day. Dave’s calling it “Home Hospital” because we’re both on a schedule of sleep-eat-supplement-prescriptions that requires notes and alarms and timers and reminders and THERE ARE NO SEXY NURSES HERE TO HELP US.

The good news is that the majority of the supplementation has an end date. This is not forever. It’s just for now, to get us closer to the optimal health we’ve been pursuing with our paleo diet and other good habits.

A Happy Ending

From the midst of the montage, there are some bright spots: We have no autoimmune issues. The bloating I used to have at the end of the day is gone. My clothes are fitting better. My eyes are less puffy in the morning. We’ve learned we have a mold allergy – Austin has scary-high mold counts most days of the year – and our move to a new city later this year should help with that quite a bit. We’ve found a doctor that can help us get to the root of our issues. Nothing we learned is life-threatening, it’s all quality-of-life-threatening, which means, except for my thyroid hormones, it can all be treated with diet, supplements, and healthy habits.

This is all good news — and a definite work in progress.

I really like movies with a happy ending. I’m sure the cathartic tears and rueful laughter of this functional medicine adventure will end with real smiles all around. But we’re deep in Act II here; no happy endings yet, just optimistic foreshadowing.

For now, the happy ending to this post will have to be this photo:

kangaroo&wombat

The end middle.

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Comments

  • Carolyn says:

    Reading this feels so familiar. I had a fine needle aspiration of both thyroid lobes in 2001; nodules were checked on a microscope in front of me (scary) and determined non-cancerous, but they said I had had a thyroid storm (went severely hyperthyroid briefly) then hypo and my thyroid is essentially dead. I can’t find a prescriber willing to try Armour so I take 200mcg of Levoxyl a day. I run and work out and am still 35 lbs heavier. I eat clean and just went to dairy free; still a chubby marathoner. My heart rate and BP are typical runner/hypo-t though; resting HR 55ish and BP usually 106/60. But I’m always sooooo tired! Thank you for sharing your story; knowing that I’m not alone really helps.

    • Mel says:

      We’re all in this together! Glad my tales of woe are helpful — will keep y’all posted as I learn more that might be helpful to you, too.

  • Kathleen says:

    I’m so proud of you two. You are an inspiration to anyone needing to take advocacy of their own health. From taking baby steps to stop eating awful things to more nuanced or drastic approaches to get to the root of bigger debilitating issues. XOXO

    • Mel says:

      I’m not sure how proud of me you would be if you could hear me complaining and whining 😉

      But thank you!

      It’s challenging to not feel old and defeated by all of this, but I can’t help myself: I continue to keep hoping and trying to make it better.

  • Dinis Correia says:

    I know you’re being followed by a doctor, so I don’t want to sound like a total smart-ass here, but! Have you experienced with a higher carb intake? Maybe white potatoes (since nightshades are a-ok) or even whit rice, “à la” Perfect Health Diet?

    I know you have a very specific condition, but I remember the high cortisol levels – and other issues – when I was on the lower carb side of the spectrum.

    Also, Paul Jaminet from Perfect Health Diet mentions that usually fungal infections, like candida, may actually be worse on a very low carb diet – apparently they like those tasty ketones, too 🙂

    All the best!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for chiming in! You’re absolutely right: going too low-carb isn’t a good idea for people with thyroid and adrenal challenges. For the last two years, I’ve been keeping an eye on my carb levels, and I don’t eat a very low-carb diet. I eat plenty of sweet potatoes (every day!) and plantains, and the occasional white rice (maybe 1-3 times per month).

      But thanks for reminding everyone that super low-carb paleo isn’t the right choice for every body.

  • Michele West says:

    I will have an aspiration done on Thursday. This will determine course of action…..RAI or thyroidectomy! I was diagnosed with Graves Disease in 2010 and it’s been a roller coaster since. Looking forward to feeling my definition of “normal”.

  • Alisha says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey! I’m fighting a very similar battle. I have been Paleo about 2 years and gained 10 pounds this year, even running a half-marathon and doing CrossFit! I just found out I have hypothyroidism and high cholesterol, so lots of supplements for me as well. My practitioner also thinks candida may be the cause of some food intolerances too, but even after doing the AIP, I didn’t see an improvement. What food allergy test did you take? I’m trying to find one that isn’t $1K like the ALCAT.

  • Lydia says:

    Isn’t it all just SO MUCH FUN? Blargh.

    Hey, so have I mentioned duck eggs to you? The protein in them is different and although I’m allergic to chicken eggs, duck eggs are okay. Worth asking if you (and Dave) might be able to give them a try. Since I don’t want to push things, I don’t really eat them–I only use them when I make mayo. But as you know, being able to use eggs for mayo is HUGE.

    • Mel says:

      That’s a great recommendation! Dave tested sensitive to turkey, but duck got a green light. I bet duck egg yolk would be good for mayo.

      He’s been given the greenlight to add eggs a few times a week in December, then they’ll re-do the blood test, so eggs will be back on the menu (at least for a little while) soon.

  • Melissa,

    Its like reading my life story. I too have been battling hormone, thyroid, and candida for years. My Dr took a slightly different approach to Candida and did Diflucan the first week of every month, and had me take Nystatin daily for 6 months. It two two cycles of that to completely clear me (over a year of treatment).

    Also, have you looked into supplementing iodine? Specifically “Iodoral”? Some lite Googling reveals the amazing benefits of iodine, especially in those with thyroid issues. I purchased Iodoral off Amazon and, in my opinion, its like greasing the gears. Most people these days are deficient in iodine, and supplementing it really compliments thyroid medications.

    -Jim

  • Sending you big hugs. <3

  • Tasha says:

    I’ve struggled with candida overgrowth for a long time, which I believe is closely linked to leaky gut. Healing that will probably resolve the candida issues. I was just on flagyl for a week and got all those awful die-off symptoms, not realizing what it was. Wish I’d thought to take that liver support stuff! If a long course of something like Diflucan would resolve the immediate candida symptoms, I would gladly (plan for) suffer through the die-off.

  • Mary says:

    I was just curious what type of beet root juice powder do you use? And, are you only taking it for your blood pressure or do you see other benefits?

  • Kelly says:

    Sigh, I’m very recently diagnosed hypothyroid, so I’m figuring things out. We don’t know what has caused it. Doc has told me not to be trying to exercise other than yoga and walking, but I would like to lift weights – what kind of weight lifting do you do (for example, how heavy)? Just wondering if I can find a way to follow your example and find an even keel between lifting and “not exercising”. Sitting around and stressing about it isn’t healthy for me either!
    Good luck on your health journey!

    • Mel says:

      When I was first diagnosed with adrenal issues related to my thyroid, I did NO EXERCISE for about 6 months, so I feel you.

      I lift fairly heavy, but I’ve been working up to it for 18 months. If you want to start incorporating weights, definitely think of it as “movement” not “working out” if that makes sense. Aim for a weight you can lift comfortably for 10 reps, but do only 5-7 reps so you don’t knock yourself out. DURING a workout, it can feel awesome, but the aftermath is the issue. I always felt like superwoman during my workouts, then I’d come home and sleep like the dead for 3 hours. Hypothyroid bodies need lots of TLC.

  • Liz says:

    Oh, Mel, doesn’t this suck? I’m rowing the same boat, right behind you! Trying hard to clean up the remaining junk in my diet (alcohol, sugar). My new (and now likely old) endocrinologist told me “some people never feel ‘normal’ again after a thyroidectomy” like it was no big whoop as long as my TSH was normal. Far cry from what they told me before I had it out. Anyhow, You are an inspiration! Keep on keeping on, sister!

    • Mel says:

      “Far cry from what they told me before I had it out.” RIGHT?!

      I didn’t see an endo when I had my thyroid removed — just my GP and the surgeon, so it was more than a year before I got my butt to an endo and started thyroid hormones. Dark days, man.

      Sending you all good vibes. Hang in there!

  • Linda G says:

    I’ve been in the middle of my own, different autoimmune journey, but I can relate to the emotional aspect of your situation. It’s the “you don’t look sick” comments and snarky looks that are the hardest to deal with when I ask for a little help during a particularly stressful day. In my case, I will always struggle to stay ahead of the monster, so there won’t be a definitive badass ending to my ordeal. But I have today, I’m feeling pretty good, and baking that apple cake of yours looks like a great, satisfying short-term goal. Finding Paleo, and great blogs like yours and Michelle Tam’s, has made a world of difference.

    Rock on, Melissa. You’ll slay the dragon, for sure. At the very least, you’ll learn to get him to sit and stay quiet for long periods of time. LOL Hugs to you.

    • Mel says:

      The emotional part is really tricky business. And you’re right, it’s difficult because people outside can’t see what’s happening in our insides. But you know, so be kind to yourself. Glad to know my site helps a little. Hugs right back to you!

  • Tina G says:

    You are absolutely the coolest chick! To find a YouTube video of Tony Orlando and Dawn’s song “Candida” – how awesome is that? Thanks for sharing your story, I needed to hear it. Even more importantly, thanks for making me laugh.

    • Mel says:

      HA! Glad you like that blast from the past. I can remember singing it when I was a kid — had no idea Candida would become part of my life as an adult 😉

  • JulieB says:

    “Being chubbier than I’d like right now is not a condemnation of my character or a sign that I’m lazy or an indication that I’m doing something wrong. It’s a symptom of my body not being as healthy as it could be — and I’m showing my body that I love it by treating it as tenderly as I can.”

    YES YES YES – treating your body with tenderness, wow – what a concept and such a hard thing to do!!

    I’m a year out from my thyroidectomy and radiation (it was cancer and had spread to nodes)and haven’t stepped on a scale since (prob gained about 15-20 pd and definitely lost all my hard earned muscle). I just switched to Naturethroid, diet is as tight as it can get (while still being kind!) but I can’t train myself at all (and had to quit my career as a trainer) because I now leak spinal fluid when I exert myself due to a (supposedly) separate issue – Spontaneous Intracranial Hypotension. Talk about tenderness tough love! I could resist, be really angry and feel like doo or step back, give myself a hug and slowly walk the road to health (on my terms) while trying to remain in the moment as much as possible.

    Best to you – and keep cranking out the food genius. I hold you responsible for keeping me going on the Paleo!

    • Mel says:

      Thank you for sharing your story with us — it helps to know we’re all kind of in this together, right?

      Sending you all good vibes as you manage your health and emotions. Sounds like you’re doing a great job of taking care of yourself.

      XO

  • Brie Shea says:

    Hi! Thank you for sharing your story. I have the same issues as well, and then some. I’m living in Portland right now and have had several doctors tell me a change would do me good. I was wondering where you were considering moving to?

    • Mel says:

      We’re moving for a separate reason — so my husband can go to grad school. It will be Vermont for two years, then Prague after that. Places that have a good freeze in the winter have more manageable mold than places like Austin, which is humid all the time.

      • Linda G says:

        Vermont? Yeah! You’re coming East. I live in Connecticut. Maybe I’ll now have the chance to meet you if you do a New England event. You’re in for an adventure. Different climate, different culture… Call if you need help. LOL.

  • Kay says:

    I too have been flirting with High Blood Pressure for about 10 years. Have been on meds, but my body does not like them after about 4-5 years and I have an allergic reaction that takes quite a while to fully recover from. I am giving Hibiscus tea a try. It is suppose to help with the pressure and tastes great. You might want to try that instead of the Rooibos. Just a thought. Good Luck!

  • Britt says:

    Have you ever heard of taking iodine to help your body with the thyroid absorption? You might want to add it to your “hospital pharmacy” you already have going. 😉

  • I’m not going through thyroid issues like you but I’m going through something similar with my breathing right now. I was born with one working lung and have asthma and ever since I got sick in August with a severe fever cold, I haven’t been able to shed a phlemgy cough (gross I know). I’m going through the nines on testing too right now with my pulmonologist and I even surprised the allergist with my results to the scratch test… pretty much every seasonal allergen I am VERY allergic too, including cats :(. Like you, I suffer from a mold allergy which is why I probably need to move to a drier climate eventually.

    But like you say with the montage bit, we’ll eventually get to the bottom of our health issues! 🙂

  • Marianne P. says:

    Have you read “The Functional Approach to Hypothyroidism” by Dr. Kenneth R. Blanchard?

    According to this doctor the ideal ratio of T4:T3 for the majority of people is 98.5:1.5

    His book is 100 pages and can be read in an afternoon. The ration of T4:T3 in natural dessicated thyroid is approx. 80:20.

    As per Dr. Blanchard a tiny minority does well on that ratio.

    Give his book a shot – just some more information for your arsenal. I’m about to try out his suggestions (hopefully my endo will let me!).

    Good luck!

    Good luck.

  • Mel says:

    Thank you for posting this!

    Despite Olympic-lifting and some HIIT workouts, I am fatter than ever…

    I discovered the birth control pill I’ve been taking for the last 7+ years(generic Yasmin) promotes potassium retention in women (via Paleo magazine, of all places!). My homeopath has been trying to treat that for a while now, but recently the levels spiked & he got worried.

    I’m going to stop the hormones and get a diaphragm (sorry if this is TMI). Luckily, my boyfriend is on board with this! My mom says she thinks my hormones are so screwed up I couldn’t get pregnant even if I wanted to (which I don’t).

    I’m hoping that letting my hormones go back to a baseline, even if it’s not balanced, will help with weight loss; then I can work to get them normalized. I’m 32 and have put up with this long enough, & enough experimentation has led me to believe that it’s most likely something systemic.

    It is hard, though – you do everything right and still something is wrong!

    Thanks for your story and encouragement of everyone. 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    are you happy with Dr. Meyers for the most part? I’ve read some really awful things about her and i’ve been scared to even think about seeing her

    • Mel says:

      So far, I have no complaints. She seems to be very experienced, has been upfront about costs, listens when we talk, and has been clear about treatment and what to expect.

      The ultimate proof will be if we feel better when we’re finished with treatment, so it will be a few months before I give a definitive thumbs up/thumbs down.

      I went to her based on a personal recommendation.

  • Carolyn says:

    Hi Mel! I have a question for you about Candida. I’ve come across it quite a lot over the past several years of reading health-oriented food blogs, but I’ve yet to find some solid, science-y information about it. What method did your doctor use to diagnose it?

    Thank you for posting your update. It’s hard to share one’s health challenges before they’ve been resolved. When asked about my gluten-free diet, I always wanted to be able to tell people that yes, it made me feel better and now everything is awesome! Same for when I started following a paleo-based diet. But the real story is much more complicated and only recently came to a tentative happy ending – and it’s tentative because I still wonder if I have some underlying issues, such as Candida overgrowth. Life is super-messy and complicated, huh? I’ve been following you on your journey and I’m rooting for you!

    • Mel says:

      The test for Candida overgrowth was part of our stool test. Ew!

      It’s called the Genova/Metametrix Clinical Labs GI Effects Stool Profile, and it cost $500.

  • Natalie says:

    I had recurrent candida in my 20s and went on some drug that I can’t remember the name of but assume was, or was similar to, your Difflucan. It was only for 10 days though, the doctor said it was so nasty for the liver that she wouldn’t prescribe it for any longer. A whole month sounds scary. I don’t think it helped me, finding the right contraceptive pill eventually did.

    It’s interesting you’ve stuck with Paleo even though you seem to be going through a lot of ill-health on it. Have you thought about trying a completely different kind of diet and see if that helps instead of just cutting out more and more things?

    • Mel says:

      Actually, I’m more convinced than ever that eating quality protein, vegetables, fruits, and fats is the best way to feed my body. Some of my issues are the result of inflammation, so avoiding inflammatory foods like dairy and grains continues to be a good idea — and quality carbs like sweet potatoes are essential for helping with adrenal and thyroid issues. I can’t think of any good reason to put inflammatory foods like dairy and grains back in my diet.

  • mlou says:

    Ok, I rarely post but OH MY GOD. Not only do we live scarily similar health-lives (absorbtion issues, auto-immune-is-it-nightshades-or-eggs, similar diets, cortisol and difficulty losing weight despite rigorous (if dull) diet and exercise – but not too much exercise!), the fact that you posted that Tony Orlando gem is beyond anything (I’m just sad not to see Danny Bonaduce!).
    PLEASE, go to sleep happy knowing you made someone else happy. In this sometimes seeminly endless quest for health (thank you for the quote, btw), which is sometimes so SO lonely, it is lovely to know there is empathy out there.
    Epic.

    • Mel says:

      Thank you so much for this sweet and supportive comment. I’m really glad you can relate to my post, and it helps a lot to know that there are people like you out there who know we’re all in this together… to figure it out and be kind to each other.

  • Christie says:

    Never apologise! Your updates are so inspirational, especially for those of us going through a similar thing. It’s been 18 months since my thyroidectomy, and I’m still struggling to get used to my limitations. I have had a miserable winter (I live in Australia) because I keep over-doing things (I love to Crossfit) and then I immdeiately get sick with whatever bug my son brings home from pre-school. I’ve also just been diagnosed with a yeast overgrowth, so I’m on a similar diet regimen to you (thankfully with naturopathic support, rather than Diflucan). I totally feel you with the juggling medications/supplements/eating!
    On the positive side, cutting out sugar has resulted in a few pounds of weight loss – unintended, but welcome! Anyway, good luck with everything. Do keep us updated!

    • Mel says:

      It’s really hard to not over-do it when you’re used to being a go-getter! Sending you all good vibes. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story — really appreciate the support!

  • nora says:

    My commiserations to you and all those commenters with very complex health issues, I admire that you are not sitting around feeling sorry for yourself, I know I would. Posts like these make it clear that I am comparatively lucky. I was coincidentally just measuring my blood pressure when I got to your section on your BP. I went off my baby dose BP meds in August b/c I didn’t think the difference they made was sufficient to warrant messing with my natural BP regulation systems. I was hoping to lower my borderline issues with exercise, yoga and weightloss (ugh, difficult if you’ve been paleo for years), but it’s been ineffective. I knew beets were good but I’d never heard of beet juice powder. I have already ordered it! So THANK YOU, your health posts help with information as well as inspiration. Good thoughts to you and all health impaired commenters.

    • Mel says:

      Secret: I do sometimes sit around feeling sorry for myself. I allow a tiny pity party once in a while, and it is not pretty. But it usually doesn’t last too long because whining gets really boring.

      I’m glad you’re going to try the beet juice powder. Let me know how it works for you!

  • Jennifer says:

    Have you read the book, ” BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE” by Elaine Gottschall. It is a fairly straightforward read, and what intrigues me is that the author has degrees in biology, nutritional biochemistry, and cellular biology. I bought it over a year ago and shelved it, while I made many dietary adjustments following paleo/primal and Wheat Belly recommendations. Right now, I am mapping out plans using your books and hers, along with a few other (autoimmune) tweaks. Crossing my fingers and hoping it works!

  • HUGS! I’m sorry you are not yet at peak health. That sucks. Keep up the hard work and hopefully soon, you’ll not only have more rock star recipes from improvising but you’ll be 100%. Sending you good energy!

  • Keri says:

    Hi Mel,

    Thank you for sharing your journey. I’ve been on one very similar with thyroid and food intolerances. Just curious if you’ve tried Thyro-Gold. I’m considering going rogue with my thyroid meds and self-medicating since I don’t have (and can’t afford) a functional medical doctor. Thyro-Gold is considered a supplement, so no prescription needed. Do you know anything about it?

    • Mel says:

      I don’t know anything about it — this is the first I’ve heard of it. I’m going to ask Mary Shomon on Twitter about it and see what she says.

  • Candi says:

    You know what sucks? I’m named after that song. Queue a horrific high school experience….

    • Mel says:

      Did you parents love Tony Orlando & Dawn?! I think my mom was really a fan.

      At least you have an awesome nickname. Candi is great!

      • Candi says:

        Haha thanks. Yeah my Dad just really loved that song for some reason, so decided he’d name his first daughter Candida. Sadly there was no Google at the time…

  • Sonya says:

    Can I just say how much I love and admire you??

    I’ve been following you and eating Paleo 80/20, done a few Whole30’s but love my cheese! I’ve just been diagnosed “pre-hashimotos” thanks to learning about the blood tests to asks my doc to run. I’m hoping to get things under control and fixed quickly so that I don’t have to struggle as much as you have. 🙁

    BUT, that being said, the way you take control of your own health, fight for it and the steps you follow to do what’s needed to be your best are super inspirational and educational! I have learned so much from you! You are a ROCK STAR in my book!! Thank you for sharing with us and thank you for your awesome recipes, books and blog posts!

    • Mel says:

      You’re so nice! Thank you for the sweet words. Sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but it sounds like you caught it early enough to make it manageable. Hang in there!

      Thanks for commenting! I’m hanging in and will keep you all posted on how things turn out.

  • Susan says:

    Mel, thank you for writing this awesome blog. Your determination to be healthier and your talent for sharing stories in such a beautiful way is inspirational! Best wishes to you in your journey.

    • Mel says:

      Thank YOU for reading and making me feel like I’m not a big whiner.

      Had a meeting with the nutritionist at Dr. Myer’s office yesterday and she wants me to try eating a little more fat. That sounds FUN! Finally, something I’m excited to do 😉

  • Becki says:

    Thank you for keeping us posted and I must must must read your blog more often because it stops me feeling so bleurgh about everything! I finally got an appointment with a “recommended” thyroid specialist endo, so fingers crossed in a couple of weeks I should know something more. I’ve been hypo for almost 10 years, I’m only 33 (if I type “only” it doesn’t sound as old as I feel!)) and all my Drs to date have poo-pooed that maybe I’m not being treated effectively, “you’re just depressed” or words to that effect, there’s nothing more wrong with me, just get on. I’ve been trying to stick Paleo for about 6 months and I know I feel much better when I am strict, but when the black clouds hit from left field for no reason, I turn to food – it’s ridiculous, I know it’ll make me feel worse! But reading how many strict rules you guys have to stick to, it reminds me I could be in a much worse place so suck it up! I guess it helps that you have a buddy to keep each other on track, doing it solo (I live alone and work from home) is pretty tough. Ive been on the fatfast for about 2 and a half days and i feel quite a bit better, hoping that a sugar detox even for a few days will kick some cravings and help. Fingers and toes crossed this endo finds something so I can get a bit of a kick start!
    Good luck with the rest of your investigations, here’s to everyone here finding answers and solutions! Xx

    • Mel says:

      Bleurgh! That’s the perfect description of all of this, isn’t it?!

      BLEURGH!!!

      It can be really hard to deal with anything when the thyroid blues hit. Continue to be kind to yourself.

      My kundalini instructor Robin gave me a really good mental trick for thinking about eating healthy food and supplements. She suggested that instead of feeling resentful when I “have to” eat paleo food or swallow a handful of capsules, I should try to think of it as receiving something good. Now when I take my supplements, I smile and imagine swallowing sunshine and laughter and happy things.

      It doesn’t ALWAYS work — sometimes I still pout — but sometimes it really does help. Maybe that would help with you when you feel tempted to eat something non-paleo… think of the paleo food as happiness and care and love and healing.

      Hugs to you!

  • Becki says:

    I shall indeed – and continue to keep my cupboards free from the bad things! Hugs to you too and everyone on the thyroid rollercoaster! X

  • Grace says:

    Hi Melissa,

    I LOVE – LOVE both Well – Feds. Great food combos and so easy to read. I really like that you chose paper that I can add my notes/ tweaks to.

    When I bought them I had no idea that you had thyroid “issues”. I came a across your “story” on a podcast ( Fat Burning Man, I think). That podcast led me here.

    I have been treated for hypothyroid for several years. I started CF and Paleo about 2 yrs ago with great success. As a 43 yr old mother of twin toddlers I felt awesome. Unfortunately a few months ago I noticed my energy levels decreasing while my waistline was increasing. I did a Sugar Detox and a Whole Life Challenge since then with limited results.

    I just started “seeing” a nutrition specialist and I hope that gets me in the right direction. It has only been a week – more sleep, yoga, walks, more protein and starchy carbs… no WODs for 30 days .. just feels wrong 🙁 but I understand the premise so i will lift BIG!!!!! I am feeling so full and FAT but I am trying to get perspective – since my moods are stabilizing.

    Thank you ! Thank you! for not only being you but sharing.

    • Mel says:

      Man! Your story sounds just like mine. I felt AWESOME when I was 40 — doing CF, eating super clean… and since then, such a struggle.

      It sounds like you’ve gotten great advice for turning your condition around. Hang in there! I can relate to “feeling so full and FAT.” Be kind to yourself! You are beautiful and awesome — and it’s important to love you just as you are while you work on getting to where you want to be.

      Happy holidays to you! Keep me posted on how you’re doing.

  • Nahir says:

    Hi Mel,

    So good to read about your journey again. Do you remember me? The one inspired by you and Sofia Vergara. Well, I had my Total Thyroidectomy in Dec 20/13 and I am now in 150 mg of Synthroid, and feeling so so at the beginning with a few episodes of low calcium, and it feels aweful. I even ran/walk the Houston Half Marathon in Jan 19, more than anything as a personal comeback and proof that I am alive and I could do it, but it cost me some days of drained energy. Now, I am feeling good one day, if I go out a night, the next one I am exhausted, and so on and off. I am eating a lot cleaner than I did before, and I had always thought I ate healthy but a lot of room for improvement. I cut out gluten, soy, and working on sweets (not processed but coconut sugar on my coffee and a date here and there) and the freaking cheeses, OMG those are a hard one, now I just have havarti, goat cheese, and some cream cheese, but would love to stop it all together.
    When my pathology after surgery came out, it showed some extra cancer cells alive, so I am getting ready eating low iodine diet to get RAI taking a radiation pill to kill those cells. Not fun but necessary. I am not in love with my endo but will stick with her through this process until the RAI is done.
    I am visiting next month a Functional Doctor here in Hou, because I want to improve beyond of taking thyroid hormone, and feel again as normal as possible, and loose this 30 extra lbs and be able to run and feel energized again.
    Lastly, finally my husband is giving a try to your 2 books, yayyy!!! He loves them, we are having so much fun with that. Need to do again the Whole 30 but cutting the dairy, upppss little slip, but with so much to deal with, I am not perfect, I just want to be alive and feel good.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, the books, and all the support. You Rock! I hope I can meet you some day in person.

    Best wishes on the outcome of your treatment.

    Nahir

  • Mel says:

    Hi, Nahir! Thanks for giving us an update on how you’re doing. Sounds like a bit of a mixed bag, but that’s to be expected as your body adapts and you find your perfect doses of hormones and supplements. It seems like you have a really excellent attitude and that’s definitely at least half the battle. Be gentle with yourself. I know patience is hard — especially when we just want to feel like “our old energetic selves,” but your body is learning how to function without an organ, so try to give it time and love.

    SO exciting that your husband is open to the cookbooks… YAY! And you don’t need to be perfect to be healthy. Truly.

    Please keep me posted on how you’re doing. Another update after your radiation?

    Sending all good vibes to you.

  • Karen says:

    Hey Mel,

    I was really excited to find someone on the net who had gone to see Dr. Myers–as I’m filling out my paperwork, hoping to get in to see her in the next month or so.

    Can you update again–you started this process last fall, are you where you want to be?

    I’m not trying to sound shallow and focus on weight, and of course I know every body is different, but have you met your goal weight yet? I am hoping to lose weight to avoid having to get breast reduction –as increased breast size from stupid hormone replacement has caused a long term neck injury to become constant pain and ocular migraine type headaches–so just wondering how long it takes to get hormones/gut/adrenals etc in line.

    I have not been able to lose any weight since I was stupid enough to let doctors talk me into a hysterectomy.

    Did she give you a time frame? Does she expect it to take months and months, or years? On her website she sort of implies that she usually gets people where they want to be in three or four visits.

    Thanks in advance for any updates, and I hope you continue to improve

    best,
    Karen

    • Mel says:

      Hi, Karen.

      I’m still working with Dr. Myers, but I feel like I’ve enjoyed enough success with her that I can give her my full endorsement. She’s been a tremendous help in getting at the root of my issues and treating them. My situation was pretty complicated, so there’s still a bit more to be done, but I’m really happy with the results so far.

      I’ve weaned myself off of hydrocortisone, melatonin, and my allergy medicine (except for days when the mold count is very high).

      We’re pretty sure we killed off the candida overgrowth, although we’re still waiting on the final test results to confirm.

      I have no bloating any more and I have a much better grasp on how different foods affect me so I know what’s really a “treat” and what I need to avoid.

      I can tell you from past experience with Dr. Myers and another functional medicine doctor that this path is not a quick fix. I’ve been working with Dr. Myers for 7 months and I suspect it will be a few more until everything is sorted, but I feel TREMENDOUSLY healthier, more energetic, and light-hearted than I did when I started with her. Now we’re just continuing to tweak everything.

      I’ve started to lose a little weight, which is a combination of sorting out my health issues, correcting my thyroid prescription, changing my diet a little bit, and working smart at the gym. Just supplements and thyroid medication isn’t enough — it takes all the pieces for weight loss.

      Hope this helps!

      • Mr. X says:

        MJ,

        I stumbled upon one of your blog posts about your working with Dr. Myers and searched through the archives to read all the related posts. Thank you for sharing that experience with the world.

        For the past year, I’ve been struggling with my own health issues, after a couple of years on a Paleo-ish/Low-Carb-ish diet and going overboard with exercise.

        (I’m no longer Low-Carb and not really Paleo. I’m sorta in dietary no-man’s-land, while I try to figure-out what I’M supposed to eat. I believe you can relate.)

        Thus far, after numerous E.R. visits, seeing my “conventional” Doctor, and being referred to a Cardiologist and Rheumatologist, I’m told all my tests are “normal.” (Abby normal?)

        Since then, I’ve also gone out-of-network (and, out-of-pocket several thousand dollars) to work with a Functional Medicine (FM) Doctor in my small, mountain town. Thus far, the major things we’ve uncovered are deficiencies in:

        – all the B-vitamins
        – magnesium
        – manganese
        – zinc
        – several amino acids

        Also, the need for:

        – probiotics
        – pancreatic enzymes

        Finally, some possible toxic exposure to:

        – MTBE
        – styrene

        The above were noted in the 27 pages of results of the NutrEval Plasma test from Genova Diagnostics. There’s a LOT of great information in that test.

        I also did the CDSA 2.0 (poop) test from Genova, too. That showed me being low in some beneficial bacteria, possible Candida, and no parasites detected.

        All of these deficiencies occurred while eating a pretty “clean” diet, doing regular exercise, and taking quality (and expensive) supplements. What a bummer. Now, of course, I’m taking more/different supplements.

        The next thing the FM Doc wants to do is a urine chelation challenge to test for heavy metal toxicity, but I’m hesitant to do so, based on what I’ve read about some oral chelators. But, I guess if I don’t get over the fatigue, muscle weakness, and joint pain, I’ll have to do something.

        Sorry, I didn’t intend for this reply to spiral out-of-control. I was really encouraged by your working with a FM Doc and getting results.

        I do hope that you’re doing well and feeling fine. (I wish the same for myself, too.) I now realize how much I previously took for granted. It’s amazing how much I now enjoy a simple walk in the woods, when I’m able.

        My best to you and yours,

        Mr. X, 46

        • So interesting… I was low on zinc, amino acids, gut bacteria, magesium, and all the B vitamins, too!

          I’m still eating paleo, but I’m not super low carb, and I’m just now re-introducing high-intensity workouts again. We found that we were very allergic to the mold in Austin. Now that we’re out of that environment, I’m feeling SO much better.

          I hope you’re feeling better soon, too! Send you good thoughts and positive energy.

  • Karen says:

    Hey Mel,

    Thanks so much for your response (:
    I’m going to my appointment this Tuesday,so I guess I will also be starting the super strict elimination diet. I’m really most worried about giving up tomatoes and red pepper/chili peppers (tomatoes and tomato sauces) and spices and vinegar for salad dressings! Is there anything starchy you get to eat besides sweet potatoes?

    glad I found your blog,
    best,
    Karen

    • Mel says:

      Good luck, Karen! The elimination diet can be a little rough at first, but you can do it. And when you remember WHY you’re doing it, it’s a little easier. Feel free to email me if you need to vent or have questions. We ate plaintains and jicama, in addition to sweet potatoes.

  • Kerri says:

    Hey, Melissa. I found you when we did the Whole 30 earlier this year, but I didn’t realize until now that you had thyroid issues. I’m reading “The Thyroid Diet Revolution” and saw that you had reviewed it, and then I saw your story. I’m having troubles and I can’t find a doctor that cares about me. I am thinking of finding someone who has a holistic approach. My question for you is this: how did you go about finding Dr. Myers? I see she’s an MD – when I search for Functional Medicine in my area (Orlando, FL), I’m not finding much. There are some docs listed, but they seem to be more on the conventional medicine side. All I know is, I work out hard and eat well, and I continue to gain weight. I’m exhausted constantly. But my thyroid levels are “normal” according to my last several doctors. (Some of them didn’t even test all of the things I asked them to test.)

    I appreciate any input you might have. I’m just not sure where to start, since my last several “regular” doctors won’t listen to me at all. I get a lot of “eat less, move more” comments.
    But I live in this body and I know something is wrong. Thank you so much for your help and your wonderful recipes!

  • Jenn says:

    I had my thyroid removed in 2012 due to thyroid cancer & haven’t felt quite right since. I did lose weight after starting the hormones & got more energy but lately I’ve been worn out…since all my annual scans & bloodwork came back ‘ok’ I figured it’s likely my diet – which in all honesty isn’t very healthy or complete…I am trying pale for 30 days & hoping to truly change my eating habits

  • Teresa says:

    I had my thryoid removed in Fall of 2007 and had some significant complications post surgery; it took about 7 yrs for me to find a doctor who believed me and for my labs to normalize. Eating clean/paleo was one of the biggest life changes that helped me feel better and more “normal” again. Good luck to everyone still struggling, it’s an exhausting fight.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience! I really had no understanding of the seriousness of my situation after my thyroidectomy, and I think it would have helped me a lot — at least emotionally — to know it was going to take a while to sort everything out. Now, it’s been about 6 years since my surgery, and I’m finally feeling healthy and strong again.