I was 14 years old when my doctor first noticed my enlarged thyroid. At that time, I was told it was nothing to worry about, and probably just a result of my fluctuating teenage hormones. When I was 20, I went back to the doctor who did a routine blood test and found out that I had hypothyroidism. Without much in the way of explanation, she simply handed me a pill.
Not a terrible surprise.
But, my yogic and holistic sensibilities got the better of me and I started researching the causes of hypothyroidism. There was a lot of conflicting information, but one term kept popping up over and over: Hashimoto’s disease
I begged my doctor to do the necessary tests to see if this was the cause of my under active thyroid. She scoffed and said that I was far too young to have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and anyway, it was extremely rare.
Apparently, she was wrong.
After a lot of begging and a little crying, she finally relented and took the tests. Results came back and I got a phone call.
“Congratulations, you’re fine. No Hashimoto’s,” the doctor said.
Well, I sure didn’t feel fine. Being resigned to simply taking a pill every day for the rest of my life with no explanation as to why my thyroid was wonky just didn’t settle with me. I asked the doctor to fax over my blood test results, because I was going to run out and get a second, a third, or a fourth opinion… whatever it took in order to find a cure
I was shocked at what I saw. The doctor had completely missed the big, bold, all caps WARNING on the second page that reflected the enormous amount of thyroid antibodies I had in my system, indicating a positive result for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
I was furious. I called the doctor right back to point out the mistake. She was dumbfounded, and I never went to see her again. But, then the reality of my condition set in. Which was that I didn’t just have hypothyroidism; I had an autoimmune disorder. It was incurable.
Or so they say.
Who are they, anyway? Well, in my case, it was doctor after doctor. Endocrinologists, osteopaths, general practitioners, ENTs, alternative care practitioners including naturopaths, nutritionists, acupuncturists, reiki givers and healers of all kinds. I said “autoimmune” and they said “forget it.” But, I pressed on.
For eleven years, I’ve pressed on. I finally found a short list of allopathic and alternative doctors who gave me hope and options, and then, finally, I found a chiropractor who looked at me and said:
“Oh, Hashimoto’s Disease? Yeah, I had that. I cured it.”
Finally! Someone who had walked the path I’d been searching for over a decade. After that, it became like a perfect storm, and a few other people stepped into my life to say that my supposedly incurable disease could in fact be cured and managed
in a way that would allow me to thrive and succeed with a healthy, functioning thyroid.
The cure included dedicated dietary changes and nourishing supplementation to alleviate the symptomology of the autoimmune disorder. The biggest factor in this step? Going gluten free
. It made me want to buck like a bronco when my chiropractor initially suggested this, but it worked for him, and I decided that it was worth it.
Big change takes time, though. And, it wasn’t until more than six months later that I finally got the blood results I was looking for: zero detection of any antibodies in my system. The autoimmune response had stopped. I gave myself another six months to prepare for what was next: getting off my medication.
I’d been on this synthroid stuff for 10 years! Everyone said it would be a lifelong habit. But, one of my first yoga instructors
told me that I would only be a great healer when I learned first to heal myself. I decided that I owed it to myself and my community to give it a shot. Honestly, I had very little to lose.
So, after a few months of being very careful with my gluten free diet, and adding in important supplements like Iodine, Selenium and dessicated porcine thyroid, I was ready. I spent nearly two months weaning myself off of synthroid, and then waited to see how I felt.
Because that was most important. All this time, I’d always felt like something was off. Doctors literally told me it was all in my head. That I slept so much because I was just lazy. That I kept gaining weight because I probably just ate too much. But, deep down, I knew, that there was a level of health that was possible, and I hadn’t reached it yet.
But now? I have.
I have successfully weaned myself off my medication and live a happy, healthy life with a fully functional thyroid that is no longer enlarged. For the first time that I can remember I can actually see the musculature in my neck. I feel brighter every day. I feel more confident with every gluten-free meal. And, I’ve got the energy to go to the gym and wake up to do my yoga practice without enormous struggle. For the first time in my life, I feel like me.
For those of you who suffer from thyroid disease and have been told you can’t be cured, I hope this story is an inspiration. I pressed on, and I knew that health and healing was possible. And, I did it. I sincerely wish the same for you.
Published November 20, 2012 at 3:00 PM
About Alanna Kaivalya
Alanna Kaivalya, the founder of The Kaivalya Yoga Method, is an artistic, and inspiring teacher of yoga. Listed as Yoga Journals top 21 Yoga Teachers Under 40 (March, 2008), Alanna teaches all over the globe and is known for her spot on adjustments, live music and accessible philosophical teachings. In addition to making her classes available through live podcasts and videos, she has produced her own album (Shine), writes regularly for the Huffington Post, and wrote the book Myths of the Asanas (Mandala Press) which is becoming a go to for yoga teachers and students alike. If you enjoy the deep practice of yoga and direct experience with the heart, Alanna’s teachings will uplift your spirit. For more information about Alanna, visit her site, alannak.com, fan her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and YouTube.