Health Update: My Thyroid and Autoimmune Disease Diagnosis

Hi friends and happy Monday! Let me start off by saying that it’s been awhile since I’ve done a deeper post and I wanted you to know that we do intend to bring them back some in this space. When I think about how social media has evolved and how Instagram stories have become so big, I realize I have let this space go in the sense of sharing more raw, deep and personal topics. Today, I’m telling you that I am back in that sense and want to share more about life ups and downs, like I used to. Today, I wanted to give you a little health update on my thyroid and autoimmune disease diagnosis. This post will be a long one because there is a lot to cover, but my hope in sharing this is that it may help at least one of you. So, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of chardy and let’s get this healthy party started!

Autoimmune Disease Diagnosis by popular Houston lifestyle blog, Fancy Ashley: image of a woman sitting on the grown and wearing a tan mock neck maxi dress with a white duster cardigan, leopard print baseball cap, and leopard print sneakers.

HAT // SWEATER // DRESS // SNEAKERS

My Thyroid and Autoimmune Disease Diagnosis

 

To give you a little background, I’m going to go back to my childhood and high school days, a little college and then present. I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I used to look at my peers and wonder why I couldn’t be thin like they were. Looking back on this, I hate how early I felt this way. I started developing boobs in 3rd grade and by 6th grade, I had a full fledge TERRIBLE monthly period. My bleeding was aggressive and they finally started me on birth control at a young age to control it. Knowing what I know now, I would’ve requested blood work to look at thyroid and hormones, but no one even thought of that back then. When I was 18, I had a breast reduction that I begged my mom for. My DD boobs were awful on my barely 5’2 frame and my back and neck were in terrible pain daily. The plastic surgeon even noted that the size was most likely caused from hormones because they were not full of fat, which again, now makes sense. So, when I was in college, I had more days thatn not where I felt like I was walking around with a weighted blanket on me. I was so tired and finally one day, I could hardly walk up the stairs to my apartment and then later that day, my heart was racing so badly that I went to the ER because I assumed I was having a heart attack. Turns out, it was my thyroid and most likely, all those years, it had been my thyroid. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and took medicine for years and was able to maintain my levels, lose weight, have energy and just be all around happier because my thyroid had the help it needed to function properly.

Bear with me because there’s a lot of backstory to cover to get to where I am today. So, about 5 years ago, I was going through a really anxious time and after a panic attack that mirrored a heart attack (it’s annoying that they do that) I was sent to a cardio doctor. The cardiologist that I saw, took me off the thyroid medication because they thought it was contributing to the anxiety, when in reality, my levels were likely off. This turned out to be a huge mistake. I also quit eating gluten around the same time (and didn’t eat it at all for 3 years) because my body would ache so badly and it was the only other thing I could think of to reduce inflammation, besides acupuncture, which I did regularly, too. They tested me for autoimmune diseases and lots of other stuff and most of my symptoms couldn’t be explained. So, they took me off the meds and I spent the next 5 years losing weight then gaining weight, walking around in an exhausted fog, feeling like I was wearing my weighted blanket through my daily life. It’s the only way I can explain how tired and heavy my body felt. I was really down about how I felt because I’m young and it was really hindering my life. The aching body is really a struggle day in and day out! My biggest mistake was listening to this doctor and not getting a second opinion, so if you take anything from today, its that YOU are your own advocate and it might take a few doctors to get the correct (if any) diagnosis. Fight for yourself!

Fast forward to last spring, Covid was running rampant, we were stuck in our houses, attempting to homeschool kids, run businesses, work from home, etc. The anxiety that so many us felt was pretty apparent. Even with riding my Peloton daily, by May, I was the heaviest I had been since being pregnant. I felt terrible and it was similar to the weighted blanket feeling. I went to my OBGYN thinking maybe my hormones were off or maybe that I was even pregnant, which technically I can’t be, but stranger things have happened, so I wanted to get it checked out. I don’t have a period anymore and haven’t for 9 years, so I never know when I am ovulating, etc and It can be tough to track my hormones, etc. They came back and said all numbers were within normal range and that “I was eating too much and that I was probably depressed.” So, again, I was defeated with no answers and I listened to them and tried to figure it out myself. I’m not really a snacker and always eat like a bird, Mr. Fancy says, so I never really knew what I was doing wrong. I did let my eating go a bit while being stuck at home, but not enough to gain 20+ pounds. It was an aggressive amount and I weighed less both days I gave birth to my kids! I kind of went through the summer and tried to just live life and not worry about the weight or my exhaustion. But during swimsuit season, it was always at the forefront of my mind. Finally in August, I got to a breaking point with feeling bad and finally called numerous endocrinologists, all of whom weren’t seeing new patients until 2021! After sobbing on the phone to the final office, the receptionist got me in for September and I will forever be grateful to her taking pity on my situation. I will not share the office because I don’t want to give false hope about getting in! But, I will say, just be persistent. I called 4 offices before I found one to take me.

After lots more blood work, it was determined, I still have hypothyroidism and should’ve never been take off the medicine in the first place. They also diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s Disease, which for years, I was convinced I had because I would have days where I had all the symptoms of an attack. Looking back, this is most likely why I bled so badly with my periods, etc. I also have Insulin Resistance, which means I am better eating small meals throughout the day and most likely why intermittent fasting didn’t work for me. Plus, my vitamin D levels were extremely low. I’ll be honest, hearing these diagnosis’, while a bummer, it was also a relief because it explained WHY I have felt so bad off and on for all of these years. I could never figure it out and always felt like no one understood it. Which in turn was actually super depressing at times. It was nice to know that this was not in my head and that it was an actual thing in my body causing this!

Almost immediately after starting the medicine for my thyroid, I felt better. I started to have more good days than bad and my bad are few and far between. I do still have the random Hashimoto attacks and for me, they are aching body, like everything hurts, but I’m not sick. It’s really bizarre. I also am cold a lot and it’s a struggle to get warm and it explains why I have always sleepy under so many covers all these years and been fine with it and some nights, still COLD! When I go through the list, I have had so many of the symptoms over the years…

 

Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue and sluggishness (yep)
  • Increased sensitivity to cold (yep)
  • Constipation
  • Pale, dry skin
  • A puffy face (yep)
  • Brittle nails (yep)
  • Hair loss
  • Enlargement of the tongue
  • Unexplained weight gain (yep! 20+ pounds)
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness (yep)
  • Joint pain and stiffness (yep)
  • Muscle weakness (yep)
  • Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (yep)
  • Depression (at times)
  • Memory lapses (yep)

Medical explanation of Hashimoto’s disease: It is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s functions.

Inflammation from Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, often leads to an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. It primarily affects middle-aged women but can also occur in men and women of any age and in children.

 

So, I tell you this story today to hopefully help one of you. If you are struggling with any of these symptoms and feel something might be off, get it checked out! If your first opinion says you’re fine and you still feel off, I always recommend getting a second opinion. I am grateful to be on the upswing and if I could do anything over, it would be never letting the doctor take me off the thyroid meds a few yeas ago, without consulting an endocrinologist. Ultimately, I have that they are the most knowledgable when it comes to the endocrine system and the thyroid, while tiny, is a pretty might force within your body. If it’s off, it can mess with a bunch of things. Keep it mind, this is an issue that has spanned for a lot of years of my life and I am most likely leaving out more details, but this post also gives you lots of details as well. I will also tell you, as a mom, if I ever see either of my children exhibit any of these symptoms, I will be requesting these panels immediately. These are an easy way to check to be sure all is within the correct range. But in the same breath, I’ll be the first to tell you that even within normal range may not be normal range for your body. Be your own advocate and if you feel off, definitely try to find someone to help you get to the bottom of it.

 

Update on me now: I have been taking my meds since September and they are toying with upping my dose. I have lost weight, but I credit that to my diet and my walk/running of 3 miles a day. I have been working really hard to try and get these pounds off. I plan to share more on what I’m doing later this month or in April. In my opinion, my medicine has not helped with that recently and being insulin resistant also makes it harder to lose weight, especially in the belly area. I just want to share this so you know the medicine is not just a miracle worker. I mean, I wish, but it never has been for me! Again, I am glad to have answers and know that I am doing all I can to get my body back on track. I want to reiterate that I am not a doctor and I am not giving medical advice. I am simply sharing my experience and giving you an update only personal health. The main thing to understand about the thyroid or any endocrine disorder, is the fixes are not a one size fits all and what works for me, may not work for you and visa versa. So, while I share this info, I urge you to find a doctor to help you get the correct course of treatment for you, if you feel similar to how I felt.

 

I hope you found this post helpful and relatable. A lot of these things are tough to share, but I also want you to know that I know what it feels like to struggle with something like this.

Have a wonderful Monday! XOXO

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House of Fancy is the lifestyle brand created by wife, mom, blogger, fashionista, foodie, home project addict, wine enthusiast, entertainer and sometimes DIY Queen, Ashley Lastovica. We believe in bringing a little Fancy to your everyday!

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29 Comments

  1. maria wrote:

    Ashley,

    Glad to hear you were able to figure things out finally. It’s so important to share, even though, I’m sure it was very difficult. You will certainly help others, suffering too.
    I too believe the biggest thing you mention is to get a second and third opinion. One must be their own advocate.

    Posted 3.8.21
  2. I am so thankful that you have the courage to share your story and even more thankful that you got some clear answers. I hope each day you feel better and have renewed energy and hope. You bring so much positivity and light each day – I hope everyone gives that same positivity and light back to you.

    Posted 3.8.21
    • Ashley wrote:

      Thank you so much! This means a lot! XOXO

      Posted 3.8.21
  3. Mr Fancy wrote:

    I know what a struggle this has been for you as long as I have known you. So proud of your persistence in searching for the answer and for sharing! 👊 😘 Someone will be blessed by this today! 🙏

    Posted 3.8.21
    • Ashley wrote:

      Thank you for your support through all of it! XOXO

      Posted 3.8.21
  4. andie wrote:

    I never would have known you were going through all of this. You are always so upbeat and positive on here. I give you so much credit for raising and beautiful family AND running a business while struggling with these health issues. Thank you for being so real with us. God bless you!!

    Posted 3.8.21
    • Ashley wrote:

      Thank you!! For years, I tried to just move through life with it!! Glad to have answers now! XOXO

      Posted 3.8.21
    • Carol wrote:

      I started following you sometime during COVID. I had no idea you had such a backstory. To put yourself out there is such a brave thing. I have liked following you because you have such a positivity that you share with others to make us all have a good day. You have one of the happiest smiles I have ever seen. I’m sorry you’ve had so many struggles but helping others seems to be a main focus in your life. You are truly a blessing to so many of us. XOXO

      Posted 3.8.21
  5. Kelly wrote:

    Hi,
    I’ve been a faithful reader for YEARS. I’m so sorry about your health issues. I too suffer from the same thyroid condition. It started after I gave birth to twins. I have always been a very very energetic person. And I could barely get off the couch. I seriously thought I had cancer and was dying- I was so tired and fatigued. I went to the Dr. and they diagnosed me with depression. Which was an INSULT- because I’d never been depressed in my life. They thought having twins was making me depressed. I suffered another year- and then went to another Dr. and they did labs. FINALLY a diagnosis- actually I had a goiter by that point, so it was obvious. I’m on Armor thyroid, which I suggest, because it’s more natural. I had horrible side effects with Synthroid.

    Hand in there. It takes a minute to find each persons’ correct dose. I’m so sorry. Like you said, you have to advocate for yourself.

    Posted 3.8.21
    • Ashley wrote:

      I always find it interesting how checking the thyroid is not a more common test! SO many issues can stem from it! I’m so glad you finally got answers! Over the years, it’s always baffled me how the doctors would say “it’s nothing.” “you’re depressed.” etc. So glad you have an answers and are on the correct dose, etc! Thank you for sharing your story here!! XOXO

      Posted 3.8.21
  6. Brenda wrote:

    Thank you for sharing. I know it could not have been easy. I am sure it will reach somebody that needs to hear this today

    Posted 3.8.21
    • Ashley wrote:

      I sure hope if anything, it gives people the courage to keep searching for answers if something feels off! XOXO

      Posted 3.8.21
  7. Emily wrote:

    So glad to hear you are on the mind, especially with being so young. I too am on thyroid medication but had to finally add hormones to feel even better. Remember just because your levels are “normal” doesn’t always mean normal is normal for you. I had to see an anti aging doctor who treats based on symptoms not levels to feel my best!

    Posted 3.8.21
  8. Colbey wrote:

    I have thyroid problems as well. I have gained weight as well. My endocrinologist recently took me off of Synthroid that I had been on for 13 years. We are trying Armore instead. Hopefully that’ll help me. I try to stay gluten free as well.

    Posted 3.8.21
  9. Juli McGuire wrote:

    Ashley…
    Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story. You have an amazing platform to use for good. You are an inspiration to us all.
    ❤️❤️

    Posted 3.8.21
  10. Meridith Roseborough wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your story and I’m sure you are helping any people. As I type this, I am waiting for my 18-year old daughter who is having surgery to remove part of her thyroid due to cancer. I’ve learned so much through her experience. I’m so glad to hear you are doing better and thanks again for this informative post!!

    Posted 3.8.21
  11. Sarah wrote:

    Thank you for sharing something so personal. I’m glad you have a good plan. As someone who had a hard time getting a autoimmune/allergy diagnosis, it’s so hard to get one but after a bit you’re like “yep, let’s go treat it.” Best of luck to you!

    Posted 3.8.21
  12. Karen wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your journey today! I am so glad that you are starting to feel like yourself again ! Your inner tuition and persistence sure paid off. Wishing you continued better days ahead 💕

    Posted 3.8.21
  13. Libby wrote:

    Thank you for sharing! A lot of these symptoms are symptoms of other issues. My issue was low VitD. So much to weed through. So glad you are finding what is working for you.

    Posted 3.8.21
  14. Amanda Jennings wrote:

    I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s a few years ago and I feel like it has been a long time coming with that diagnosis. I, like you, have struggled with weight all my life and started my period at a very early age. We can even look back at pictures and see my enlarged thyroid in them long before my diagnosis. The medicine is definitely not a miracle drug. I have noticed very little difference, but my numbers come back in normal range. Sending up prayers for you as you navigate this crazy autoimmune disease.

    Posted 3.8.21
  15. Kerri wrote:

    I have been a loyal blog follower for years and have always enjoyed reading your blog. Even shopping from your blog! But I want to say thank you for letting us in to your life. It’s so good you were persistent and advocated for yourself. You have to do that! I was diagnosed at 14 with Graves Disease. By the time the doctors figured it out I was so sick, migraines daily, huge weight loss, I have struggled with my Thyroid for years and will always be on medication. It’s amazing how much the Thyroid controls!

    Now in my mid-40’s I was just diagnosed with celiac and it had gone undetected. I am glad your feeling better!

    Posted 3.8.21
  16. Lynn wrote:

    I’m so glad you are back on meds. I have Hashimotos too. I’ve been on meds for 16 years and the only reason my doctor finally put me on meds was due to my pregnancy. By 42, I could hardly move due to my inflammation, which causes muscle and joint pain. I went down another path and found a really good nutritionist who helped me with my diet. I’m grain and dairy free. (I occasionally can eat cheese and white rice). I’m 85% pain free which is a major relief. I encourage you to continue to peruse how to treat Hashimotos through diet. The insulin resistant part will be an added layer of complexity but you can totally do it. I’m so happy you are feeling better!! We must always be the boss of our health. Cheers! ❤️

    Posted 3.8.21
  17. Janet wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Posted 3.8.21
  18. Alanea wrote:

    Thank you for sharing, I was diagnosed with RA when I was 23, 14 years ago, and no one could relate. Currently, in remission but there’s still days of stiffness and discomfort. Thank you for reminding us that we have to advocate for ourselves. Granted this past year has been crazy, an increase in anxiety, to include a volunteer furlough, moving to a new state, (TX to CO) right at the start of a pandemic. I’ve felt extremely unmotivated, loss of identity in a new place and just stuck in a rut, not like me. I will for sure ask my doctor to check my thyroid, could be a mix of that and missing TX!!! Thank you again!!!

    Posted 3.8.21
  19. Kenna wrote:

    Thank you for sharing!! My daughter has hashimoto’s and it is so often overlooked or misdiagnosed. We ended up having to see a gynecologist for her at the age of 15 and this doctor was the one who said something didn’t seem right. Fast forward 5 months and she was finally diagnosed and medicated correctly for hashimoto’s. So happy you are starting to feel better!!!

    Posted 3.9.21
  20. Jen wrote:

    Thank you for sharing and I am so sorry you had to go through this. Your post is so well written. I had thyroid surgery between my pregnancies. Part of my thyroid was able to be left. My blood work was always “normal”. But for years I struggled. I even had one physician tell me to not drink beer or eat bread and I would be better. This was after telling him I was gluten free. I have so many stories. I finally found an MD who is a functional medicine physician. It has been life changing. He was the first person to have me fill out a survey before each appointment of symptoms throughout my body. He put me on thyroid meds and it was like night and day for me. Everyone else wanted to put me on so many different drugs but those would have been band aids.

    I hope you continue to feel better!!

    Posted 3.10.21
  21. Zundria wrote:

    Wow! I am so glad you were persistent! You know they saying about that…
    But, I’m really glad you’re at least on track to getting back to the you that you want to be. And, woah—5’2. I’ve always thought you were at least 5’9 or taller. You LOOK tall on Instagram. I’m your height!

    Posted 3.10.21
  22. Andie wrote:

    Thank you for sharing and I’m so glad you finally got help.
    I’m so happy to see a deeper post. I don’t follow you on IG and I feel like for a while, all your blog posts have just been selling cheap amazon or target crap. Lol.
    Take care and wishing you continued health. 🙂

    Posted 3.13.21
  23. Catie wrote:

    Hi! I am not as faithful reading blogs as I used to be. But I am so glad that you shared your story!

    I had a similar situation, where I believe a doctor but knew it wasn’t right. But when I finally went to see my endocrinologist, it was like a light went off. It did take a year or so to finally get all the meds and levels worked out. I am 5 or so years out and I am the best I felt in years ( even with COVID craziness). You are usually so postive but just wanted to let you know it gets better!

    Posted 3.16.21

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