Hormone Imbalance Made Me Feel Hopeless
It's been nearly one year and three months since the day I found out I was pregnant... so why don't I feel any better?
I don't exactly have the typical pregnancy story. My husband and I wanted kids, but finding the "right time" was next to impossible. I was on the pill. I was living in Los Angeles and my husband was living in Nashville. You see, we are both in the entertainment industry, so touring and being all over the map was nothing new and something we both enjoyed very much. With that being said, it wasn't often that we had sex, we saw each other maybe once a month. So sure, I admit, there were days when I missed a pill and I would just take it the following morning when I remembered. It never really seemed like an issue. Well, it turns out, that whole thing they warn you about "missing a day" is true! Skip a pill and you can have a baby.
The way we found out though, was out of the ordinary. I began having crazy symptoms, but not "pregnancy symptoms." The one that sticks out the most is the feeling of "not being here." I know it sounds crazy and every doctor I have talked to said the same thing. "Well, that's really vague, nearly impossible to diagnose." It's almost like a brain fog, like the feeling of delirium but 24/7. That began and then the panic attacks set in. Being an entertainer, I'm used to being around a lot of people or in front of large crowds, no problem. I remember walking into Starbucks around that time and having to walk out because of a severe panic attack. I couldn't breathe. Insane. The symptoms got worse. I would nearly black out while driving, I had to pull over many times. Sometimes staying awake while driving was the hardest thing I would have to do all day. It got to the point that the only relief I would get would be while I was sleeping. Every moment I was awake was just awful. I am in great health, I eat healthy and I'm very active so it was really frustrating to feel like this out of the blue.
I saw 2 general practitioners. The first one told me I was depressed and he would start me on medication immediately. the second told me I was over tired and to try to get more sleep. WHATTTTT?! I paid all of this money to be told to sleep or take the easy way out... "Start these self numbing medications." No Thank You.
I ended up WEB MDing my symptoms, which I already knew was a bad idea, because when you do this, you pretty much come to the conclusion that you're dying. However, I was so desperate. I didn't know what else to do. My husband and I came to the "WEB MD realization that I may have a brain tumor, so we rushed to the hospital. Before doing any sort of MRI or Cat Scan they needed to make sure I wasn't pregnant. Pshhh me? No way... WRONG! This is how we found out that our family would soon be three!
So great, I'm pregnant, this is what pregnancy must feel like. I chalked the crazy symptoms up to being pregnant and I just held on for the ride. After giving birth and recovering physically, I was excited to start feeling like myself again.
But, that didn't happen.
The symptoms even started to get worst. The "Being Not Here" brain fog feeling was so intense, sometimes I had to ask my husband if what I was doing was real. I'm literally not lying, I would have moments of not really knowing if I was in my own skin. Then one morning after eating McDonalds breakfast... (yup, I said it, I enjoyed every preservative filled bite of my Bacon, egg and cheese biscuit.) ... my face went numb. Both cheeks for about 60 seconds. This is when I started to panic. I can't live like this anymore. Has anyone else EVER felt like this? My GOD why can't I get any answers.
I took the initiative to seek out any help I could get. I was getting advice from anyone and everyone who would listen. "It's Postpartum depression" "Im sure it's your thyroid" At this point I didn't care what it was, I just wanted to know how to fix it.
I made an appointment with an endocrinologist. $$$$ I told him to check EVERYTHING... like even check that I wasn't pregnant again. After receiving my "perfect" blood test back, he came to the conclusion that it's sleep apnea. I'm not a middle aged, or over weight male... but hey if that's what it is let's fix it. He ordered a sleep test $$$$$ - Results: Negative
I made an appointment with a Neurologist. He ordered an MRI/MRA and a balance test. $$$$ I decided to go with it, I wanted to rule out any sort of serious brain thing. (tumor, aneurism) Results: Negative
I was rejoicing that nothing was "Wrong" but why do I still feel so incredibly horrible everyday. So my Neurologist decided that I should go on Prozac. WHATTTTTT!?! For no real reason, he just said, "Your symptoms are vague, let's just try Prozac for 3 months." UNBELIEVABLE No Thank You.
So here I am now. My son is now 7 months old and I have officially been feeling like shit for 15 months. I can put on a believable mask. But inside, I just feel insane. The sad thing is that it has been so long, that I have almost gotten used to way I feel. Like it's my new normal and Im learning to accept it. But it shouldn't have to be this way.
I decided to reach back out to a close friend of mine who has been dealing with thyroid issues for the past 7 years. She is incredibly knowledgable about this stuff. The craziest thing she told me is that most doctors have no idea how to diagnose this. So I needed to reach out to some sort of functional medicine doctor. Or someone who would go outside of the text book to figure this out.
She recommended Tana Richter PA in West Lake Village, CA. She is a hormone specialist who has a masters in endocrinology and a vast amount of experience in functional medicine. The best thing is that she only uses medication as a last resort. And did I mention she's gorgeous? Hehehe a little off topic, but that kind of took me by surprise #GirlPower Whooo!
I am actually listing her name because I feel like I have finally found someone that is able to help me. Upon walking into my first visit, I went to explain my symptoms and she started shaking her head in agreement at everything I was saying. She started rattling off a list of things we were going to start doing immediately. She talked so fast, my head was spinning, but she had answers. For the first time in 15 months, someone had answers. I brought in all of my past blood work for her to view. The endocrinologist I saw didn't even do all of the tests I asked him to do. So she ordered more blood tests. She started me on seed cycling that day. Seed cycling is an all natural way to balance your hormones WHAT! This stuff is so interesting.
She sent me home after the blood tests to start seed cycling for 30 days and also put me on a supplement called Opti-Ferin. My Ferritin levels were extremely low. Normal is between 40 to 60 and mine were 10. Im amazed that my other doctors said I was completely fine. Tana also ordered a thyroid ultrasound because one side of my neck is larger than the other. Also, another thing that no other doctor had even bothered looking at.
My second visit was to go over results. Good news there was nothing wrong with my thyroid.
So... moving on and ruling things out. The way she works is incredible. I may have to record my visit next time because the amount of information she spills out is overwhelming. She rules things out and has so much knowledge. It's like you can see her wheels spinning a million miles an hour. My results determined that I have a break in my DNA (I hope I'm saying this all in correct terms, probably not) that does not allow me to absorb certain supplements whether it be from food or vitamins. SO, even if I think I'm eating or taking a good amount of certain vitamins, my body does not actually absorb them. So I have to be on methylated supplements, which are supplements that are already broken down for you so your body is able to absorb them. We also found out that my pregnenolone is extremely low as well as a couple of other hormones.
SO... bottom line... pregnancy messes you ALL up. More than you even think. She said my "diagnosis" if you will ... is basically a hormonal imbalance. That will be fixed by supplements and seed cycling. It has been about 2 months since my first visit with her. I have actually had a few days where I genuinely felt happy again and actually wanted to do things. Other days are back to feeling horrible. So some good and some bad. But I see improvement opposed to feeling bad 24/7 and hating life. I could not even enjoy my son.
If anyone else has ever had symptoms like this, please feel free to leave a comment. You are not alone. Don't settle for feeling like this. The more I learn, the more hope I feel. It's been a long time and I can not wait for the day that I feel the way I used to. the day I will actually enjoy every moment of living again.
I am coming back to this blog post almost a year later. All I can say, is that Tana Richter is a genius and all of her advice worked. I was on a total of 9 supplements. After six months of taking them I started weaning off of them. Some I had to go back on and others were out completely. My body was starting to be back to where it was before. A year later, I am completely off of them and feel amazing! There was a month a little while back where my symptoms returned, I got back on the supplements and they diminished within the month.