Right after getting my Hashimoto’s diagnosis from my naturopath, he advised me to go on this expensive smoothie cleanse/elimination diet. It consisted of a meal replacement powder that you ramp up for 3 weeks, eventually replacing all of your meals with it and then weaning off of it. In conjunction, there was a strict diet for the meals that were not replaced with the smoothie, and when the plan was over I was to re-introduce commonly allergenic foods. I felt great while doing and just after the cleanse. I asked one of my friends, who practices Traditional Chinese Medicine, to look over the ingredients and tell me why he thought it was working so well for me. He told me that I should be very careful because it contained a lot of harsh liver detox agents, and although I was feeling great it could set me up for a bigger imbalance or problem in the future. His opinion on the stuff worried me a little bit, but I shrugged it off and moved on to the elimination phase of the diet.
Unfortunately, I did not know what I know now about elimination diets and I went about the re-introduction all wrong. I completely missed a huge allergen, gluten, by introducing so many things at once. I was completely overwhelmed by my reaction to almost any food on the list that I tried. Soy gave me rashes, oats made my throat swell up and eggs gave me an upset stomach. At this point I was afraid to eat anything but the few foods I had been eating on the cleanse for fear of having an allergic reaction. Eating became a very anxiety-riddled time for me.
A couple of weeks after completing the cleanse was “the crash”. I started having chest pains over a few days, and ended up in the hospital having a panic attack and hypokalemia (low potassium). The hypokalemia was causing me to have muscle spasms in my chest area which were freaking me out and making me think that I was having heart problems. The week I was recovering from that I got a horrible lung infection and had to go back to the hospital one night because I couldn’t breathe. After I thought I had recovered enough from that infection, I went back to work, but I had to keep going home because I was not well enough. This went on for a couple of weeks before I lost my job. At this point I had been suffering from the chest pain for about a month, and although the infection had come and gone, my body still felt sick and completely out of whack. I lost my appetite and lost 20 lbs off of my already small frame. My blood pressure was very low and I would need help getting up and to the bathroom. I would lay on the couch all day convinced that I was dying. I lost feeling in my hands, feet, and on parts of my face and had horrible dizziness and brain fog. I went from doctor to doctor and was tested for EBV, Lyme, Lupus, RA, and MS, and nobody could come up with a diagnosis except “pleurisy”, which my rheumatologist grandfather and orthopedic surgeon uncle both called BS because it did not show up on an x-ray. I was anemic, and also had very low vitamin D and B12 although I had been generously supplementing all 3. My grandfather was speculating that I had some disease of malabsorption or that my vegan diet was making me unable to recover. I was unwilling to hear his argument, thinking that it was impossible that my diet could be contributing to my illness.
By this time, I was scouring the internet for answers since I was getting no help from the medical profession. I kept coming across celiac disease and adrenal fatigue as possible culprits. In an act of desperation, I went back to the doctor begging them to test me for Celiac disease. They didn’t want to, but of course I was right–the test came back with antibodies off the chart. Finally I had a diagnosis, and I could get started on the road back to health.
Although I was incredibly relieved and believed that I had found the source of my problem, eliminating gluten from my diet did nothing for my symptoms, besides the neuropathy. At this point I had been suffering from this for months on end with no relief and under great financial pressure since my husband was the only one working in our household and we had lots of hospital bills to pay off. I was extremely depressed and was trying to accept the fact that I could be like this for the rest of my life. My doctors had nothing for me, saying that I was not being careful enough about cross contamination within the home. They also told me that my symptoms could not be from my Hashimoto’s, since my lab tests were “normal”. I felt completely defeated.
From there, I decided that I had nothing to loose and that I would try one more thing, and that was the alternative route. I found a practitioner that was knowledgable on adrenal fatigue and trained by Dr. Kharrazian on Hashimoto’s disease. It was through this practitioner that I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and began my epic uphill battle back to good health.