Sunday, October 30, 2011

Graves, Gluten Intolerance, and Living with it

Hi all,

I know I haven’t been posting my Monday Ministry post liked promised. It has been really tough to have writing time since I have been traveling. I have been in TN for work the last couple of weeks, so it has been difficult. I also have been trying to get some ideas for topics. I put a poll on facebook, so head on over there to vote! I know I also have promised some new design changes. Trust me, these are coming. I just have to learn how to use photoshop first!! Haha!

This entry is going to be an update on some recent developments in my health. I have been dealing with some stresses that I have never had to deal with in my life. It has definitely been an adventure which I am hoping will end soon.

When I returned from China in July, I decided to go to the doctor. The reason I wanted to go was because for the past few years I have had small dizzy spells maybe once a month or so. Anyway, they probably weren’t a big deal, but I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t a heart issue. The doctor decided to run a blood test. My TSH levels were almost non-existent. This was very surprising to me because it was indicative of hyperthyroid. Let me give you some background information as to why this was so surprising to me. People with hyperthyroid typically exhibit symptoms such as drastic weight loss, and loose bowels. In 2009, I was in the ER for a short amount of time because my stomach hurt so badly. It happened to be constipation ( I know I know.. TMI). I had a blood test done then because everyone thought that I had hypothyroidism. My blood results came back clean… perfectly healthy thyroid. This was surprising to me because I have so much trouble losing weight and I never have loose bowels. This time around in 2011, my blood results were opposite of what I would expect. The doctor recommended that I see and endocrinologist.

When I went to see the endocrinologist, I had two different tests done. First, I had another blood test to test the thyroid panel. I also had an iodine uptake test. All the tests came back indicative of Graves disease. Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder where your antibodies attack your thyroid making it hyperthyroid. This specific endocrinologist only gave me two options: 1) radioactive iodine, and 2) remove the thyroid. Radioactive iodine basically kills parts of your thyroid. The majority of people who have the treatment end up completely killing the thyroid. With either method, I would have to be on thyroid medication for the rest of my life to supplement my thyroid hormone (since after killing my thyroid I would be hypothyroid). Additionally, the radioactive iodine treatment would prevent me from being around pets and pregnant women for a few weeks… it just didn’t sound healthy to me.

Anyway, I am not one to just take the opinion of one doctor. I went in search for a natural solution. To me, it just didn’t make sense that I had no symptoms, and was perfectly healthy in 2009. My first step was to get off all my medications. I got off my birth control and my advair (for asthma). After getting off the meds, I went to another doctor 2 months later. This doctor I really liked. He listened to me. I told him I didn’t have any symptoms and he listened. He ran another blood test. The blood test again showed I had Graves disease. He gave me another option though. He said he could put me on anti-thyroid medications for awhile and see if it takes care of the issue. I thanked him for the opinion, but I still was not fully satisfied.

I spoke with a natural doctor and he suggested that I go vegan. This day made me depressed. I started looking at vegan recipes after work one day and realized I would be missing out on every food that I loved. After a few hours of searching… I started to break down and cry. I just couldn’t do it… I would rather go on the thyroid medication, then go on a vegan diet. At this point, I called my parents in tears, feeling like there was no hope remaining. My mom suggested that I pay to have gluten intolerance test performed. The comprehensive allergen test (including milk, eggs, soy, etc) was around $500! I was extremely thankful to my wonderful parents that paid for more than half of it for me, and my sister and her husband who chipped in their tithe money to help me. The test itself wasn’t complicated but it definitely wasn’t pleasant. All I will say is that it was a fecal exam… so you can just assume the rest.

Let me take a step back and explain the reason for this test. There is a strong link between autoimmune disorders and gluten intolerance. Many doctors don’t test for allergens, therefore, the symptoms are treated without treating the cause: the allergy. Additionally, doctors can test for celiac disease (severe gluten intolerance) through a blood test. However, if you are gluten intolerance (not celiac) you can still have many problems . This is why it was important for me to get this test. Gluten intolerance can also be more present as you get older. This may be why I have been perfectly healthy until now.

Anyway, a few days ago I got my test results back. Sure enough… I am gluten intolerant. Although it sounds weird that I would be “glad” I am gluten intolerant, it is better than possibly having Graves disease. Since I have been traveling in TN, I have had to find gluten free meals at restaurants. Thankfully, many restaurants now have a gluten free menu (you just have to ask). I have also found so many helpful websites and recipes. I am praying that keeping a gluten free diet will help me with both of my autoimmune disorders-my Graves disease and asthma. In a few months, I plan to go retest for hyperthyroid. I hope that this new discovery will help my situation. I think it will! I also am hoping that it will help me with my asthma (which I have had all my life). Although many people would look on this discovery as limiting, I see it as liberating. I can’t even imagine life without asthma and I will be glad to get rid of this thyroid issue! I have already done some shopping and although it is difficult it is doable. I am going to get a thryoid test done again in about 3 months and see if anything has improved. (I am excited about possibly losing some weight finally!!!). Thanks to all those who had been praying for me. Please continue to pray for me as I wait to get my thyroid re-test in the next few months.

Btw, the food blog will probably be slightly changing. Although I would love to eat out once a week, it may not be doable with the condition. Every time I go out to eat, I am risking cross-contamination.


  1. Glad that you finally have some answers!

  2. I hope that it works for you Lindsey. I had a partial thyroid removal when I was 13 (not on meds) and Jennifer went from hyper to hypo. Jennifer had her whole thyroid removed in 2009. Jennifer is doing very well much better since the surgery.

    I took Jennifer to Stanford for everything and they do not do partial removal my parents got real lucky with me. I can tell you though they left about 2 grams on each side. I still have to get tests done yearly and I have been lucky that I remain within the limits of not needing medication.

    My prayers are with you and again I hope gluten free diet works.


  3. Lindsey we are with you all the way, we will have a gluten free Christmas with you and Ivan.