The year was 2013 and I was tired. Like really tired. And kind of smelly. Oh and I had an acne beard. So let’s just all agree 2013 was hard.
I was stressed, but worse than that, I constantly felt like I wasn’t doing enough… to be good enough. It was as if I was running along the hamster wheel, but my shoelace kept getting stuck and the wheel would just whip me around, by my shoelace- literally a disaster.
So, my mom had to step in because I wasn’t well versed in “self care” (which is a huge topic for another time). I am so thankful for her intervention. We found doctors who ran a thyroid ultrasound, CCK gallbladder scan (which was terrible, by the way) and so many blood draws. The thyroid scan showed a nodule on my right lobe. The gallbladder scan showed by gallbladder was functioning at 53%, which according to the doctor “wasn’t great… I could remove it, if you want, but I don’t have to”. Wow, after that sentence I lost all confidence in him.
So, then it was up to my primary care doctor. She told me things I already knew, like “you must be stressed, your cortisol is elevated”. UM. My stress is literally seeping out of my pores. Gross, YES I am stressed. But then she told me things I didn’t know. And here is how that conversation went…
1. You are prediabetic. Do you exercise? How much sugar do you consume a day? Do you drink soda? I was silent.
2. Well, we already mentioned your cortisol is elevated, but you can see here (points to sex hormone panel) how it has impacted your hormones. Yepp…yepp, that’s PCOS. See how high your testosterone is. Yepp, PCOS.
I interject: PCOS?! Like cysts on my ovaries?
Well, you don’t need to have cysts on your ovaries to receive this diagnosis. Cysts just can happen, in addition to other symptoms like irregular menstrual cycles, severe acne, excessive facial hair, weight gain, fatigue, mood changes, sleep problems, and there are more . It’s really driven by hormone dysfunction and sugar imbalances.
3. Your thyroid is ok. I mean there is a nodule. But it appears benign. We don’t need to worry about it now… we will just table that conversation once we work through everything else.
4. Your gallbladder is fine, inflammation is just running wild in your body and it is confused
5. And you have a genetic mutation, that may or may not be feeding this entire cycle, in some way. This mutation increases risk of cardiovascular disease, blood clots, and pregnancy complications, if you can become pregnant.
OK. So, I’m a mutant who may or may not be infertile, I have a “confused organ”, prediabetes, an acne beard which is from PCOS but no cysts on my ovaries, and I’m stressed.
Hmmm I wonder why I’m stressed.
To be honest, all of this information was scary and intimidating, but I just didn’t care so much about what the test results were, I just wanted to know how to fix it.
We started with MTHFR, my genetic mutation. I have one abnormal MTHFR C677T gene plus one abnormal MTHFR A1298C gene, which is termed double heterozygous. As a result, my MTHFR enzyme may have decreased function. The concern about cardiovascular issues and pregnancy complications is the result of elevated homocysteine, not a direct result of the mutation itself. This was about the time I learned how to support my inflammation levels, which drive homocysteine even higher. If I can improve my enzyme function and decrease systemic inflammation, I may have a chance of improving my symptoms.
I started with my diet. I eliminated gluten and dairy completely for 4 months. I introduced a medical protein powder with glutamine powder. I supplemented with 5’methyltetrahydrofolate, high doses of vitamin D, and a probiotic. I drank a lot of water. My acne began to clear up. I was still tired.
By month 2, I started feeling more comfortable with these strange new eating habits. So I started to address my stress levels. I started taking Epsom salt baths with lavender oil. This is when I fell in love with essential oils. I felt my neck tension and constipation (did I mention I literally couldn’t poop— ugh so painful) improving. I would do castor oil wraps on my belly with peppermint and things began feeling better.
I didn’t think about my sugar intake. Cutting the gluten and dairy was enough to handle at the time. But, after 4 months, my fasting blood glucose went from 112 to 92.
So here I was, after 4 months still a little tired but my skin was clearing up, I was no longer in the “prediabetic” state, my testosterone was dropping into normal range, I still had a thyroid nodule, but I didn’t feel like death. And I wasn’t as smelly!
I share this story with you to show you that a diagnosis does not have to be a death sentence. It is not a time to give up and accept your fate of the acne beard or the exhaustion that takes over your life. I know, I was there. It’s a time to assess your lifestyle and support your body with self care and love. It may be changing your food or maybe just taking a bath. You may just need a doctor to tell you what nutrients you need.
If you’re a mutant like me, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Just take one thing at a time and be patient with your body. Our bodies are designed to heal themselves; we just need to support them.
In Extraordinary Health,
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