Katie, Austin, TX

Diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

katie-portrait

After a horrific pregnancy with my second child, and in the post-six weeks period afterward, I realized I wasn’t bouncing back the way I did the first time. I was mystified by how anyone had two kids AND got anything else done. I was just so incredibly tired. All the time. But I chalked it up to “I must not be as good as other people at handling all the things a mom with two kids does” and carried on.

After my baby was around 3 months old, these weird little pink dots that I had on my legs during pregnancy started spreading all over the front and back of my legs. I went to the dermatologist and was diagnosed with “pleva”, a somewhat rare autoimmune skin disease that she said wasn’t a big deal, we’d just treat it with steroids and sunlight and it would go away.

On a hunch, I asked her to include my thyroid levels, wondering if that was contributing to my fatigue and remembering that my mom, aunt and grandmother all had thyroid issues.

About a month later and after talking to some friends, I decided to get a second opinion from another dermatologist. This doctor dug deeper and wanted to do blood work to make sure nothing else was going on with my immune system. On a hunch, I asked her to include my thyroid levels, wondering if that was contributing to my fatigue and remembering that my mom, aunt and grandmother all had thyroid issues. Everything on the blood work came back normal except the thyroid – that was off the charts haywire. I was then referred to an endocrinologist, who diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s. Ah. We are getting somewhere now. It wasn’t just being mom to two kids. It was autoimmune thyroid disease.

Relief at getting a diagnosis wasn’t as great as it sounds, because this endocrinologist treated to my blood work and not to my symptoms, so I spent the next four years staying tired with a whole host of other symptoms/issues, such as stomach problems, dry mouth, dry eyes, brain fog and hypoglycemia. And not really getting that three autoimmune conditions including the hypoglycemia meant that since my body was attacking itself, I had to change my whole way of living and not just treat the conditions like it was a cold, taking a medicine and waiting to feel better.

The silver lining is there, but it took a while to get shiny and bright.

The silver lining is there, but it took a while to get shiny and bright. Somehow we made it through three and a half years of me really not able to function at full force – I couldn’t work many hours, and I needed a daily nap or two even with the kids in full-time day care/after-school care.

But I finally found the right health team (using integrative and alternative medicine) and I am now living a happy new normal with different thyroid medication and a gluten/dairy free diet. There are still times where I flare and I’m not at the level I was, but I never will be. I’ve accepted that.

And I’ve found my community – both supporters who are healthy and don’t have the first clue what it’s like to live with autoimmune, which is OK because many times you don’t want to dwell on it or talk about it – and new autoimmune mom friends, who are mostly virtual through the website I started after needing and wanting an autoimmune community: AutoimmuneMom.com.

Autoimmune disease helps you find your community, because when allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for help, you become closer to your support system — your partner, family or friends, and most importantly, to yourself.

Though life as a mom didn’t go the way I hoped and planned, it still be just as good, even better in its own way. Life works itself out somehow, sometimes painfully slowly, but it does. Autoimmune disease helps you find your community, because when allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for help, you become closer to your support system — your partner, family or friends, and most importantly, to yourself. Letting go of the expectations is a freeing way to live, and I can finally say that I am grateful for all that happened.