Charlotte - US: Hashimoto's Thyroiditis 03 July 2019 (LDN, low dose naltrexone) from LDN Research Trust on Vimeo.
Linda Elsegood: Today, my guest is Charlotte from the United States, who takes LDN for Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Thank you for joining us today, Charlotte. Could you tell us how old you were when you noticed there was something wrong with you?
Charlotte: So I noticed something was going on with me around the age of 30. After I had my daughter, I started to have some symptoms of rashes and extreme fatigue, and then I just thought it was just age. I really didn't know what was wrong.
Linda Elsegood: So what did you do? Did you tell your doctor at that time or did you just grin and bear it?
Charlotte: At that time I talked to my doctor and of course I got the typical treatment. “We'll put you on some allergy medicine for the rash. You're a young mom with two children. You're tired for that reason.” I lived with the symptoms, and it wasn't actually until about a year ago that I started to really consult with my doctor to dig deeper and find out what was wrong with me. So I actually got diagnosed with Hashimoto's in the fall of 2017, so fairly recently.
Linda Elsegood: So when you were diagnosed at that point, what would you say a normal day for you was like?
Charlotte: Oh, it was completely awful. A normal day would be sleeping for 10 hours through the night, but waking up around 3:00 AM, feeling completely exhausted after sleeping 10 hours. I remember almost falling asleep on the way to work. So even after sleeping all that time, I can only really describe that as debilitating fatigue. By the end of the day, I just wanted to go to bed. I became kind of antisocial. I didn't really want to do much. Everything felt very overwhelming. So even small tasks were very overwhelming.
I was always cold. So at this point in my journey with the disease, I was freezing all the time. I didn't sweat when I worked out, which I thought was kind of interesting and I didn't realize later that was part of Hashimoto's. So I was pretty much at a point where I was not feeling human. But my thyroid levels were coming back normal. So my regular primary care doctor said, “There's nothing wrong with you. Your levels are great.” But I sought out a different doctor who was willing to explore other options.
Linda Elsegood: How long ago were you diagnosed, you said 2017, is that right?
Charlotte: Yes, that's correct.
Linda Elsegood: At that point, when you were diagnosed, what medication were you given?
Charlotte: I was given a natural desiccated thyroid hormone. So I started at a very low dose and I eventually went up to 4.5mg, but switched to another and that's what I still take to this day. But at that point, other than the vitamin D prescription I had, those were the only two medications I took.
Linda Elsegood: And did you adjust your diet at all?
Charlotte: Yeah. So I'm actually a corporate wellness strategist, so wellness has been my whole life for the last decade. So I was already doing a lot of lifestyle factors, like working out, avoiding gluten and dairy. I had done that for years already. At the time of diagnosis, I found another Hashimoto's Facebook page that talked about autoimmune illnesses. I did try that diet. That diet proved to be a little bit interesting for me. When I reintroduced nightshades, in particular, I started to get a new symptom of extreme joint pain. Also on that diet, I gained weight. I gained seven pounds. Most people lose weight. It is actually after that diet that I went back to my doctor and talked about LDN.
Linda Elsegood: How open was your doctor to prescribing LDN?
Charlotte: Actually this doctor, in particular, mentioned it to me first. At that point, I didn’t know very much about it. So upon my diagnosis, he talked about it a little bit, and I said I don't want another medication. So when he talked to me about it, that's when the diet wasn't working for me, that's when I went back and did some research on LDN and actually found the LDN Research Trust Facebook page and really dug deep. When I realized the benefits and the stories behind it, that's when I went back to him and said, “Okay, I want to try it.” So he was more than happy to prescribe it to me. He actually told me one of two things will happen according to what he'd seen in his practice. Either nothing will happen at all, or you'll feel better. So he started me off at 1.5mg. I started right there, and I took it for about two or three weeks. Then I started to feel kind of bad again. I felt really great in the first two weeks. I felt like I never felt before: energy. I was sleeping really well through the night. I wasn't cold anymore. I started to sweat during my workouts. And then I started to feel kind of blue and tired again. I had actually reached out to the Facebook page, which is a huge lifesaver. I wrote what I was, my symptoms, and how I felt. Someone said to skip the night and if you feel better the next day, you just needed to skip a night and clear your receptors. I did just that. I felt a hundred per cent better the next day, probably better than I felt ever since I can remember. So that's kind of the approach I took from then on out.
I think that actually gave my doctor a bit of knowledge in that area because I told him what I learned. I'm so happy for that page because I think if I would've kept feeling that way I would have just stopped the medication completely, not skipping a night. So once a week I would skip a night, and then I would never have that same experience. So I've been taking it then for nine whole months. I'm up to 4.5 milligrams, and I only skip a night once a month now, if that. It's been an amazing life-changing experience.
Linda Elsegood: So what would you say a normal day for you is like now?
Charlotte: A normal day now is seven hours of sleep. I can actually go to bed later and enjoy my free time. After my kids go to bed, I wake up with energy, so I wake up and I’m ready to take on the day. I actually don't even need caffeine anymore to get me through it. Just drink tea, like green tea, in the morning. I can think clearly. I can actually process what people say, which is huge. The brain fog was so bad before, I might not even understand what someone just said. I can find my words. So before I would be conversing with someone and I wouldn't even know the word I wanted to say next. Brain fog has been eliminated. I have energy, I sweat. I'm not cold. The only thing that hasn't changed is the joint pain that I get. So it's getting better. But other than that I have almost complete resolution of my symptoms.
Linda Elsegood: Well, that's amazing. How did you manage with your children when you were having to sleep 10 hours? Did they ever wake up in the night? You know, when you've got a new baby, they tend to do that and need your attention; and when they need it, they need it now. How did you cope?
Charlotte: Well, it was really, it was really rough. I have to say, I leaned on my mother for support a lot. She helps me with my household stuff because I work a lot. I'm also an army reservist, so I spend one weekend a month away from my kids and my house. So she really helped pick up a lot of things; the chores that I just didn't have the energy to do she would do. I have to say I wasn't the best mom. My children had the iPad in front of them or the TV on, so I could lay there. Then my husband, who now joins us, was actually active in the Army, and now he's retired. But he’s got the best of me because when he actually gets to spend time with us now, I'm actually better. I really leaned on other people a lot to cope. But now I feel like a great mom because if they want to play a board game in the evening, I'll do it. If they want to go outside and play, I'll do it. I have the energy to do that. I remember laying in bed after getting home from work at five, and laying in bed and not being able to move. That wasn’t the best feeling. Now it's like, yeah I'll stay up till 10. I'm good with that. I have the energy to do that. It was really hard for me. But you manage, and you just get through, and that's kind of how life is. I guess I didn't realize how bad it was until I got better.
Linda Elsegood: Well, I'm sure your children really appreciate having a mum that can play and join in, and not just lie on the sofa; and feed them real meals, and be attentive.
Charlotte: I noticed that before, I just couldn't do much, so I would just be whatever they needed, I’d make sure they have it, but I wasn't involved.
Linda Elsegood: Of course for your husband, having his wife back is a big thing as well, isn't it? To actually be able to socialize as well.
Charlotte: Yeah. That's another thing, I'm naturally an introverted person. I didn't realize how the Hashimoto's had made it worse. Just the thought of doing something outside of my normal activities of going to work and coming home was completely overwhelming. So I was like, wow, I didn't realize I actually like to do this.
Linda Elsegood: Well, what an inspirational story, and thank you very much for sharing it with us today.
Charlotte: Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity. I know when I was in my journey of trying to figure out solutions, the LDN Research Trust, the page, the interviews that you do, really helped me. I appreciated that so much. So I hope that somebody has the same thing from hopefully, my story.
Linda Elsegood: Thank you very much. Thank you. Have a wonderful day.
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