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How do I heal an auto-immune disease?

Part II

Check out Part I here:

Luckily, I was able to get in quickly with the ND for a second opinion. I was expecting him to say, “You’re healthy as a horse, it’s obvious your body has cleared the infection. There is no need for antibiotics.” INSTEAD, he informed me that if my body is having trouble clearing one infection, it may have trouble clearing other infections too. He ordered 17 new blood tests.

I waited one week for the results and went back in for a follow up. I was half expecting him to hand over my labs with the “all clear” and send me on my way without the hour-long appointment we had scheduled.

That’s not how it went!

Turns out I tested positive for 5 other bacteria and viruses, including Epstein Bar, which is the virus that causes mono. We tested IgG and IgM antibiodies. IgM show current/recent infection. IgG show long term infection. All my IgM were negative. The doctor said it was like “smoldering little infections” and the body is having trouble completely putting the fire out.

None of these are contagious, but it is setting the stage for Chronic Fatigue.

Then, he tells me the real concern is my thyroid. I have very high amounts of thyroid antibodies, despite my TSH being within normal range. I start on bovine thyroid supplements and very high dose Vitamin A, D, and K. He outlines the following treatment: hyperbaric oxygen chamber 90 minutes twice a week and twice a week IV treatment. The IV’s are filled with nutrients to support my immune system and very high dose – 50 grams – Vitamin C to help kill bacteria and viruses. It’s essentially a 5-hour appointment twice a week for the first month. Then we move down to once a week for the second month.

I’ve barely heard of IV treatments and never heard of hyperbaric oxygen – unless you are SCUBA diving and get the bends. This clinic is one of the most respected Bastyr alumni clinics in Seattle, doing cutting edge treatment mainly for cancer and chronic disease. I am not an impulsive person, and I especially give great consideration to big financial decisions, but I said yes to the treatment plan. The doctor feels I am at a big advantage to be catching all this before the fatigue becomes more severe.

It’s taken some time for these diagnoses to sink in. I’ve always identified as a very healthy person. Low stress, good relationships, eating organic for 20 years, a regular meditator and lots of exercise.

I’ve learned that 60-80% of people with autoimmune thyroid diseases also test positive for Epstein Barr. Turns out Epstein Barr virus can hide in the thyroid. In the body’s attempt to kill the virus, it also damages the healthy cells. It’s like the immune system “doesn’t have its glasses on.”

It’s been 6 weeks since my first appointment with Kaiser. I’ve had 5 doctor's appointments, 3 lab appointments, 4 IV treatments followed by the hyper baric oxygen chamber. 12 appointments in 6 weeks!

Of course, it’s not easy to find the time or the money – but I'm able to make it possible. I’m focusing on how grateful I am to be ahead of it all and to have access to such cutting-edge treatment.

The Vitamin C IVs are tiring, as a result of my immune system firing up and getting to work. I was anxious and claustrophobic about the oxygen chamber the first two times, but I got used to it by the third session. The pressure of the chamber forces oxygen and nutrients deeper into the cells.

I’m also following Autoimmune Paleo Diet. Which is pretty restrictive: no sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy, eggs, beans, soy, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers. It’s a lot to adjust to, but it won’t be forever. I was already eating 80% paleo, but not Autoimmune Paleo! Many people with Hashimotos are also gluten intolerant – so avoiding gluten will probably be long term. Half of my career is counseling people through making food changes. I'm a professional at this and yet its still annoying and frustrating. Its so much harder for a person who follows the standard American diet!

I still have lots of questions, I’m learning along the way. Comment here if you’ve been through something similar!

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Katie, this must have been such a shock for you! Kudos to you for taking charge! Can you email me the name of the ND you saw? Thanks!

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