Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you are experiencing something similar, please reach out to a doctor. This is just me sharing my story with others.
In December of 2017, I contracted E. Coli from romaine lettuce.
Now, I NEVER eat this stuff, but my sister was in town and she is a romaine fanatic. So when we ate dinner one of the nights she was here, she made a salad and in the name of “being healthy” I had some.
Worst mistake ever, I won’t get into it entirely, but just know I was deathly sick for almost a month. At first, they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. It was just the WORST. I was so sick that as I waited for test results, I thought “I have to be dying”. Like I had to have cancer or some other serious life threatening illness. I started worrying about how my son was going to grow up without me, planning on how I would try to get my little family set up. It was so rough. (Side note: I have not had cancer and do not know what it’s like to have it. Please don’t read this as me diminishing the awful things anyone with cancer goes through, I am not intending that at all! For me, I had just never felt anything like this. I was really scared and could only think something was seriously wrong). Then, after 4 or 5 days of repeated ER visits, they finally found I had colitis caused by this illness.
As I was heading into the third week of this awful sickness, I got my period (great timing, I know). And while thinking there was no way this could get any worse, it did.
I started to have these really strange episodes.
The first night one of these episodes happened, I laid down on the floor, started praying and told my husband he should maybe bring me to the hospital or call 911. I thought I was having a heart attack and dying.
I had been standing at the sink when all of a sudden, I got incredibly hot – like so hot I thought I was going to throw up, pass out and die. I became extremely dizzy and my heart starting palpitating. I couldn’t breathe. I tried to drink water, but it did nothing to regulate my temperature. I laid down and figured… Wow, I’m young, but I think this is it.
My husband got me a cold cloth for my head and my temperature actually started to drop, but then it dropped like WHOA. I was suddenly freezing. My heart was still going 100 miles a minute and I started to have involuntary tremors. We took my temperature and it was 95.9. We headed to the ER and the tremors didn’t subside for over 4 hours.
They told me it was anxiety.
I’ve had anxiety almost my whole life; since I was 14. I never had an experience like that before. There was no way that was from anxiety. I made a plan to follow up with my doctor on Monday. All weekend my temperature remained low and I had two more of these episodes bringing me right back to the hospital.
I could barely eat because I was so sick, so I was just eating crackers and plain bread here and there.
Anyway, to spare you all the details, this went on for 11 months. I was in and out of the doctors. I had these episodes almost every other day. I went to my primary doctor and got tons of lab work. I saw gastroenterologist, gynecologists, psychiatrists, rheumatologists, and neurologists. No one could figure it out. Everyone said “anxiety” except for the psychiatrist who just didn’t have an answer.
Then, I went in for a routine (at this point) follow up with my GP and she had me take an in the moment TSH test. She had me take thyroid testing before, but always on an empty stomach. Finally, something showed up that gave us a lead. I had a spike in my TSH. She told me she believed I had the onset of Hashimoto’s disease, which can sometimes be coupled with Celiac. Before putting me on thyroid medication, she wanted to test it again in one month.
At first, I was super bummed because I had already gone through 11 months of health nightmares and now she was making me wait, but I’m SO glad she did. After talking with my Dad, I came to the realization that I should do some further research before just allowing my doctor to prescribe me something I’d most likely have to take for the rest of my life. I was only 34.
So, like the self-proclaimed researcher I am , I got to work digging for information. I spoke with several other people I knew who were dealing with autoimmune issues and asked them for their advice, thoughts, and experiences. Every single one told me to speak with a naturopathic doctor, so I asked them for referrals and I began to look into what could be done for thyroid issues from a more natural perspective.
I found lots of information about different vitamins and minerals I should take and started a daily regimen. More importantly though, I discovered that gluten has a molecular structure that resembles thyroid tissue. If you’re dealing with a thyroid autoimmune disease, your body is naturally misreading your thyroid as an intruder and destroying it. If gliadin (the protein found in gluten) breaches the gut’s protective barrier, and enters your bloodstream, your immune system marks it for destruction (thinking it’s thyroid) and causes the body to react in negative ways.
Now, before I say – so I just gave up gluten… I want you to understand something about me. I am Italian. I ate extravagant meals including pasta for dinner almost every night as a kid (My dad is a fantastic cook). I literally love a good Italian Star bread. Literally, thinking about it right now makes me sad.
However, in the name of better health and because I had dealt with such horrifying health problems for almost a year, I said goodbye to my days of Italian feasting and hello to a 100% gluten-free lifestyle.
You guys, since eliminating gluten from my diet, I haven’t had an episode in about 2 years. Plus, as an added bonus, I lost 40 lbs in 4 months.
As much as we might not believe it, what we put into our bodies REALLY makes a difference in our health. Again, I’m not saying this will be everyone’s experience or denying the fact that some people really need to take a more medicinal route, but I do believe food holds more power than we give it credit for.
I’m so thankful my Dad encouraged me to look into things a bit more before making a life altering decision. I’ve never felt better. My skin has never looked better. I have been on a road to healthy living ever since and, honestly, I will never look back.