Here is where I am...
My doctor decided to have my thyroid tested ten months ago after I complained of constant fatigue that wasn't helped by getting sleep. I had been feeling poorly for quite some time (years?) but it crept up on me so steadily that it almost became a regular part of my life.
When we tested 10 months ago we found that I had high TSH and low free T3. I started out on a low dosage of Naturethroid and I have gradually worked up from there. I went through a few months of a "crisis" where I decided to quit the medication to see if it was really helping (I was in a bit of denial, I think). That was a mistake, and I began the medication again.
Last month I did a salivary 24 hour cortisol test and also tested for thyroid antibodies. I had low cortisol results and tested positive for antibodies. Hello, Hashimoto's! Now I am trying to figure out how to heal my adrenal glands and get my thyroid levels balanced. Meanwhile I am still having daily symptoms: fatigue and thick "brain fog" starting around 3pm daily, stubborn weight gain, exhaustion but unable to sleep well, lack of physical stamina, low body temp, high cholesterol...
It is really hard to be patient. I know it can take time, years often, to find the right combination of medication, figuring out autoimmune triggers and eliminating them, and bringing all the body symptoms back into balance. I am so tired of feeling so tired, though, and it is hard to be patient!
I feel fortunate to have such a proactive and open minded doctor. I've talked to several people who went undiagnosed for years or decades because their doctors did not consider low thyroid as a possibility. My doctor has been amazing about ordering the correct lambs and interpreting them, as well as treating the symptoms AND looking for and treating underlying causes. Several of my family members have had the opposite experience: "Take your T4. Your labs now say your TSH level is good. Feeling crappy? Too bad, deal with it. We don't want to over-medicate you."
I am currently trying to fix B12, zinc, and selenium deficiencies. I am temporarily taking cortisol throughout the mornings and in the afternoon to give the adrenal glands a break, and in the meantime am taking adrenal supporting herbs and DHEA. I am on a T3/T4 thyroid medication. Soon I will need to try to figure out what is triggering the autoimmune response (I have had odd autoimmune responses in the past, as well as Hashi's), and if it is diet related will need to make some significant changes.
It feels really overwhelming to consider the path ahead, and I keep telling myself that a lot of that is due to my lack of energy now. But I am afraid that I will wind up like several of my family members: having had Hashimotos for 20 years and are still feeling bad.
I would welcome hearing about any experiences that others have had.
I was diagnosed with Hashi's about three years ago. All the usual thyroid labs were "normal" but I had a lot of low thyroid symptoms, so found a doctor who would do additional testing. (This doctor had thyroid issues herself.) My thyroid antibodies were positive and I had symptoms, so even though my labs were in the normal range I was started on 30 mg. of Armour once per day. About a year ago I tried to switch to NP Thyroid because it has less fillers than Armour, but for some reason, even though it's also desiccated thyroid, it seemed much stronger at the same dose and I went hyper on it. I ended up switching back to Armour just to stabilize but I stayed hyper, and had to eventually cut my Armour to just 7.5 mg. (and skip taking the Armour altogether at times). I eventually went back to being hypo (which felt great after being hyper for months!), and am now back on 15 mg. of Armour - and seem great now. So, it's been a little bit of a roller coaster trying to regulate the medication and figure out what was going on. For example, it took me a really long time to figure out I was hyper because for me it manifested as anxiety and poor sleep, but I had low energy at the same time. Well, I tend to be anxious when there are life stressors, and I had many during this time period, so I was attributing my symptoms to the stressors and not the Hashi's. It wasn't until I began to get palpitations and more rapid metabolism that I figured it out. Not fun!
The first thing the doctor told me when diagnosed 3 years ago was to cut out all gluten. Apparently gluten is similar to thyroid and it triggers a response any time it is ingested (molecular mimicry). After reading (much) more about Hashi's, there are some common triggers that should be investigated: other food intolerances in addition to gluten, gut dysbiosis/candida/bacterial gut infections/overgrowths, heavy metal or other toxicity, other autoimmune disease processes going on simultaneously. The two best books on the subject are: Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests are Normal by Datis Kharrazian, and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis - Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause by Izabella Wentz. Another great book, not specific to Hashi's but applies to all autoimmune diseases, is The Immune System Recovery Plan by Susan Blum.
After having all my amalgams removed (two years ago), tweaking my already limited diet, working on my gut health, and supplementing with some nutrients that I was deficient in, I feel better now than I have since college (20 plus years). I still have thyroid antibodies as well as one other autoimmune disease, but I feel like since I just keep improving how I'm feeling (and it is hugely noticeable, life changing in magnitude how much better I feel) that I'm on the right track. It has been a part time job in figuring it all out. I have been lucky to find some good doctors (a range of MDs, DOs, naturopaths and acupuncturists) who have helped me, and who have facilitated the ordering of non-mainstream lab tests to figure out my gut issues and my nutrient status issues. I'm still a work in progress, and I'll always have to really watch my diet and gut health, but if I felt as well as I do now for the rest of my life I'd be thrilled.
One other resource is a group on facebook called 411 Hashimoto's (or something like that). Actually there are two groups, one general Hashi's group and one for Hashi's folks on the autoimmune diet protocol (which is paleo with some added restrictions). If you find the 411 group you'll be able to find the AIP group.