So this is one of those topics that I've shied away from sharing, at least here on the blog, in large detail. However, over the last few months, I've felt like I've needed to share my story. Not because I want sympathy. Not because I want pity. If anything, because I'd like to share how God is working in my life and in our lives as a couple and as a family.
In case you're new to this blog, here is the quick backstory.
After our first year of trying to expand our family, getting pregnant, our loss, and eight tumors later, we had to wait about five months after the second surgery before we could start trying again. After another year of negative pregnancy tests, in January of 2016, we decided to go in for infertility testing. Here we are a year and a half later (almost five years since we first started trying) and our journey continues.
Before I share what's going on currently, let's go back to January of 2016 when the infertility testing began.
During Jesse's first doctor visit, it was determined that since we had already gotten pregnant once, a semen analysis was not necessary, much to my surprise. He did have some blood work completed and the CBC results looked excellent. Since JP has worked with aluminum for twelve plus years, the doctor scheduled a heavy metals test in case there was build up in his system. Thankfully, he didn't have any build up and was given a clean bill of health. I was up next and let me tell you, to say that I was nervous was an understatement.
At my first visit, we discussed medical history and lifestyle, food allergies (which are plentiful), pregnancy history, menstrual history, surgical history, health issues, and work and home environments. Over the course of a few months and regular blood draws during various times in my menstrual cycle, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease: Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (a.k.a. Hashimoto's Disease). During this time, I learned that for me personally, Hashimoto's has caused other sub-conditions including hypothyroidism, estrogen dominance, hormone imbalance, leaky gut syndrome, chronic fatigue, chronic inflammation, osteoarthritis in my right ankle, and tachycardia. We scheduled an ultrasound and much to my chagrin, we learned the uterine tumors (fibroids) had grown back and an ovarian cyst had also come back.
Due to my numerous symptoms, which you'll read about more down below, it has taken some time to slowly address the many ailments. Thankfully though, things are now looking up and I'm beginning to feel some major improvements. I'd say on my best day I'm feeling about 85%. Since I have been tracking my menstrual cycle daily for years, using the fertility awareness method, and have been proactive with my health, my doctor and I have been able to really attack my symptoms and get to some of the root problems.
Some people have asked me whether I've seen an endocrinologist and I have strictly seen my naturopathic physician. After having poor experiences with multiple western medicine physicians, I felt like I needed to make a change. Now I'm not saying the western medicine physicians are awful human beings. In fact, I think many of them are amazing! But what I've learned is that they are overworked and undersupported. They have limitations with how they treat their patients due to insurance regulations and they have time constraints for the office visits. At one point, while sharing that I didn't feel comfortable taking a number of medications with awful side effects, I was told by a P.A.-C that quote "you are like a drunk going to a bar and you need more education." Over the last few years, I have felt nothing but confident in my decision to go the natural route. At this point, I truly feel like God has used my doctor to help put me back together piece by piece and really build up and support my system. My doctor has been kind, positive and encouraging, and patient with me as I've transitioned to an entirely new way of living. One of the aspects of naturopathic medicine I've valued is the willingness of doctors to listen (I get sixty minutes with my physician every visit!) and the willingness to look at the person as a whole being. I'm not just getting band-aid treatment, I'm getting rebuilt and restored from the inside out.
To give you an idea of what I had been dealing with for many years, I thought I'd share some of my symptoms. As I type these out, I feel strange to be sharing them with the public, but in doing so, I hope I can shed some more light on Hashimoto's Disease and the struggle I've gone through. Again, I'm not asking for pity and by no means am I authorized to give any medical advice. If you have some of these symptoms, I highly encourage you to get connected with your general practitioner and discuss your concerns.
Since I didn't document the treatment process this entire time, I won't write timeframes or dosages (because I don't remember them all). This is just everything we've tried thus far. Again, if you have Hashimoto's Disease, I do NOT condone or recommend you follow my treatment program. This is what we've tried for me, but that does not mean it will work for you. You need to consult your physician for your unique treatment program. Please note, this list is what I've taken throughout the journey, not necessarily all at once. The highest number of pills taken has been 22 pills a day. We are now decreasing some of these pills and I am thrilled!
Unda Numbered Compounds
#9, #30, #76
#10, #48, #245
Raw ground up flax seed/pumpkin seed
Raw ground up sunflower/sesame seed
Evening Primrose Oil
HLC High Potency Probiotic
Vitamin D-3, 10,000IU
Thyroid Support Complex
Progesterone Troche Compound
T3/T4 Slow Release Compound
Nutrient IV Therapy
Weekly IV treatments with a Glutathione push
UPDATE: Also taking Methyl-Guard Plus Supplement (just one bottle) and an Avena/Eleuthero/Withania tonic for twice daily use
Presently, I just received the results from the stool sample I took some weeks back, as well as another food intolerance test. In about two weeks I'll get the results of the latest hormone and thyroid panels from September and in November, I have another ultrasound scheduled. Once we get the results from the ultrasound, we'll be able to make some decisions about the next step in this journey towards being able to expand our family.
We are believing and claiming that we will be able to conceive again and deliver a healthy baby. This journey has been a rollercoaster ride of emotion for almost five years, but God has continued to show His faithfulness throughout every adversity we've encountered. We're so grateful for the love and support of our family and friends and our readers! Our goal has always been to glorify God through our marriage. My goodness, we are not perfect! We fail constantly, but we want to glorify God through our story.
While I was finishing up this post, a song came on the radio and I thought it fit perfectly with the thoughts and feelings. The song is called Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells. Here is the radio version and here is the acoustic version of the song. The lyrics really are my story. We've watched our dreams get broken but in Him, our hope is found. I love the chorus:
"On the mountains, I will bow my life to the One who set me there. In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the One who sees me there. When I'm standing on the mountain I didn't get there on my own. When I'm walking through the valley I know I am not alone. You're God of the hills and valleys. Hills and valleys. God of the hills and valleys. And I am not alone!"
Thanks so much for following along on this journey of ours. Our story is unique but not unrelatable. So many of you have commented and sent private messages to us sharing your story of miscarriage and infertility. Even though I am a super private person, I've felt more connected to you all during these struggles we've faced. It has made us feel like we're not alone and isolated, and that others have gone through similar experiences. So, thank you for that. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for the calls and the text messages. Thank you for the emails. We appreciate you all so much.