About a year or so ago, I wrote my story for Thyroid Thrivers and when I wrote it, I was still in the process of learning about my thyroid journey. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroid within 7 weeks of each other in August of 2012, fast forward to October, 2015 and so much has happened. My name is Raina Kranz- Kaplan and I just got married to my fiancée, boyfriend of 7 ½ years....so much has changed since 2012 ..I feel as if I am re- writing my story all over again. Since the Thrivers story, I have come to learn so much about this disease and myself that looking back over the last twenty- something years of my life – looks so very different than it did before.
Yes, Ignorance was bliss – but now that I have the ability to look back…I can see why so many thyroid survivors are furious with the medical establishment. I also realize that I fell through the cracks too. What has not changed thou – is I am not angry about this – I am more perplexed as to why I was not more diligent about what was going on with me, as that is my nature. I realized recently, that I was a willing participant in the ignorance?
In my late twenties and early thirties, I noticed that I was having issues with certain foods and my weight would increase and eventually decrease with no apparent changes in my lifestyle at all. It was as if I had no control over my metabolism. I am a personal trainer and have been since my early twenties, eating healthy and exercise is an important part of my life. I have been gluten free, processed food free, MSG free, sulfite free and bad fat free longer than I can recall.. making these dietary adjustments were about listening to my body… no disease was guiding me in this direction…just merely my instincts, education and training. Type 2 diabetes and Heart disease runs on my father’s side of the family, so I was constantly aware of the possibility of this disease was part of my family history.… but I thought as long as I lived a healthy life and exercised – I would be exempt from ever acquiring one.
In 2006, I went to an internist who ran my very first full blood work- up. I had recently put on 4lbs, but thought nothing of it. I might add, that I just had found these lab results a few weeks ago and much to my surprise and disappointment – my health focus was in the wrong direction. When the labs came back and I met with the Doctor, her concern was my cholesterol. The total cholesterol was just over 200, but the HDL was very high… the LDL was still in range. Back then DR’s were concerned about total cholesterol – we know better now. The odd thing was she insisted that I get a Berkley Heart Test, which further tests the LDL (Low density lipoproteins) to see if they were laying plague down on my arteries. This was all new and innovative for 2006, so I thought my Doctor was on the ball. I did the test, only to discover I had the highest, lightest, fluffiest LDL’s she has ever seen. This means – I was not laying plague down on my arteries and my total cholesterol did not matter. Her suggestion to me was – soon I would need a Statin. What she neglected to mention is that my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was already at 6.0 and my Ft4 was at the low end of normal. I was sub-clinical hypothyroid. Why is this significant? Fast forward to 2015, since being officially diagnosed in 2012, a pattern has emerged with my labs. Every time my TSH rises above 2.5 and of course my Ft4 and Ft3 levels decrease, my total cholesterol increases – along with my LDL’s and glucose. The constant is my HDL remain high and my Triglycerides remain low. Back in 2006 that pattern was already there. This Doctor neglected to see the correlation nor mention my sub-clinical diagnosis of hypothyroid and most likely Hashimotos, back in 2006.
August 2012, with a gain of 18 lbs practically overnight and blood work confirming a TSH of 10.5 and Ft4 below range – I was finally diagnosed with hypothyroid. By that time, my triglycerides had risen along with total cholesterol and LDL’s and my D3 was very low.
There were other health issues that also occurred after being diagnosed. In January of 2015, I went in for surgery to remove a fibroid tumor from my uterus that had reached 10cm and was causing me issues with urination. Just a bump in the road to recovery from thyroid disease…and honestly, this has been an underlying issue for me so long that I do not wish to put any energy into the what if’s or how comes… once I had the partial hysterectomy, my thyroid healing sped into high speed – I truly never felt better.
The main focus now on my thyroid healing journey is a pattern that was there all along and seems to be emerging as something I should have been paying attention to much sooner “The correlation between Thyroid Stimulating Hormone levels, Cholesterol & Glucose”. Life comes around full circle and my initial goal on preventing type 2 diabetes and heart disease has now become a real factor in my life. Exercising and eating right will be most helpful for me in the years to come – as it has been all my life. Only now there is something that has control of it and it is not me.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease, much like heart disease that can be prevented with eating and lifestyle habits. Eat right and exercise and all will be well, unless you have a genetic component that makes it almost impossible to prevent. In my case, I have an autoimmune disease, called Hashimotos and its goal is to slowly destroy my thyroid. The thyroid is the master gland and it controls metabolism and no matter how well I eat or how much I train to maintain good health, I am fighting an uphill battle. As this disease progresses, there will be times that my TSH will rise and along with it my cholesterol & glucose levels. The challenge is finding a doctor willing to see the correlation and mange my medicine in a way that my TSH remains closer to 1.0 or lower. If this does not happen- I will fall to yet another disease…one that will change me forever. I do not see myself as this person – this has been my nemesis all my life and when I picture myself acquiring type 2 diabetes or heart disease…I have no idea what will become of the Raina I know and love. My heart just sinks into an abyss of sadness.
I am a thyroid advocate. I research, learn, share and try my very best to enlighten others so that their paths are clearer for their own personal healing journey. Many of you may perceive me as being there – knowing my path and having all my answers. That is far from the truth and not my reality at all. I am still traveling, discovering and healing right along the road with all of you. It will never end – and I will not allow this disease hinder me or control me in any way. What I will allow it to do is show me the light – I will allow it to guide me to my next path, so that I may stay whole and true to myself.. so that I do not sink into an abyss of darkness losing my spirit, my light and my mission. From now on – I will remain diligent, honoring and accepting my thyroid disease, but look out I am not going down without a fight.
Raina Kranz Kaplan