I'm chatting with Rebekah Rhodes discussing all things health. We both share our thyroid health journeys as well as some of the things we've done to help heal, as well as what we're currently doing to stay in the best health possible.
Rebekah Rhodes is a mom of five children living in North Carolina with her husband Justin. They have a vlog called The Justin Rhodes Show on YouTube as well as a website called Abundant Permaculture. They also created Abundance Plus, a homesteaders streaming app where you can watch family-friendly homesteading shows in the comfort of your own home (use code “MKNFREEMONTH” for one free month of Abundance Plus!).
In this episode of the Pioneering Today Podcast (episode #342), we're discussing auto-immune issues, specifically that deal with your thyroid. I'm sharing my thyroid experience and Rebekah is sharing hers.
We're also discussing the role that healthy healing foods play in your healing journey and, if you have to take prescription medication, how that affects the journey and the mindset.
*Note: You may hear the term “EMDR Therapy” in today's episode. It stands for Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing and is a form of therapy where someone recalls a stressful or traumatic experience in their past to find healing.
Remember, Rebekah and I are not medical professionals, we're simply sharing our journey and some of the things that have helped us along the way.
In This Episode
Rebekah's Thyroid Journey
- Her attempts to get off thyroid medication.
- Quitting gluten partially and fully.
- Drinking raw milk.
- Getting diagnosed with SIBO.
- Doing the GAPS diet.
- Dealing with feelings about taking pharmaceuticals.
- How she's hoping EMDR might help heal her thyroid.
- Her encouragement in continuing to learn, read, and find a good doctor to work with.
Melissa's Thyroid Journey
- Her experience in getting diagnosed.
- Hair loss and low energy.
- Going gluten-free and low carb.
- Daily emotional and cortisol spikes due to past events in her life.
- Read more about Melissa's thyroid healing journey here.
- Read more about the seven signs you might suffer from thyroid disease here.
- Listen to my other podcast interview with Rebekah on homesteading with children here.
- Find Rebekah and her husband Justin on their YouTube channel, The Justin Rhodes Show.
- Follow Rebekah on Instagram.
- Watch their show “Rooted” on Abundance Plus.
More Posts You May Enjoy
- 7 Signs You Suffer From Thyroid Disease
- Thyroid, Adrenal Glands & Hormone Health
- My Health Journey & Tips for Fitness
- How to Heal Stomach Acid Naturally
- How to Find Your Trigger Foods
Melissa: Hey Pioneers. Welcome to episode number 342. On today's episode, we are going to be talking about dealing with autoimmune issues and diseases, specifically talking about your thyroid. We're going to be sharing my thyroid journey, and Rebekah Rhodes is coming back on to share her thyroid journey and how those have had two very different endings, at least to this moment in time, and also how to deal with when your body, what you feel fails you, or is not functioning as you want it to.
We're going to be talking about the role that real, healthy, wholesome foods and living has. How much of an impact does it have, and also how to deal with if you do have to take prescription medications, and how as a homesteader or a whole wellness living, I guess advocate, how that affects, and the mindset. So, we talk about a lot of things today, but they're very much focused on our health journeys and what those have looked like and how we are dealing with that at this moment in time. I think you will find today's episode inspirational, and if you have ever dealt with health problems, you are going to know that you are not alone, and some of the things that you struggled with, even if you didn't share them out loud, you are going to find similarities, and I hope that overall you will be very encouraged.
You'll hear Rebekah and I say, throughout this episode, that we are not trained medical professionals, that we are definitely sharing our journey, as well as some of the mistakes that we've made and things that you definitely do not want to do, and then some of the things that have worked well with and/or for us. You can find the show notes, the blog post that accompanies this episode, that will have links to different things that we're talking about at melissaknorris.com/342, melissaknorris.com/342. That's just the number 342, because this is episode number 342.
One of the things that Rebekah mentions, more towards the end of the episode, is EMDR therapy. If you're not familiar with that, it's called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It can be, I guess, somewhat a controversial form of therapy that someone deals with when they are recalling a stressful or sometimes traumatic thing that has happened in their life. So, if you hear that term used and you've never heard of it before, are not familiar with it, that is what it is. You are more than welcome to look up further information on that of course, if it's something that you are curious about, but I hope that you are very much encouraged by today's episode, and with that, we're going to drive ... dive, not drive, but dive straight into today's episode. I have been really looking forward to this episode, as I know many of you guys who were listening in, because we teased it when we were together last time, but Rebekah, welcome back to the Pioneering Today Podcast.
Rebekah: Thank you, Melissa.
Melissa: Yeah, so we both have dealt with thyroid issues and what I was really excited for us to share is because I have a story at this moment in time that I am no longer on any of my thyroid medication. I've been able to recover to a point where I am not having to take any supplements, but I actually really wanted you to come on and share your story because oftentimes people hear that and then they feel defeated if they have not been able to heal to a point where they don't have to use any extra supplementation.
So, I think it's really important that they hear two different journeys and two different things. At this moment we have two different outcomes. Just to know that's normal and that's okay, and it doesn't mean that you've done anything wrong or you're lacking in something. It's just everybody's body and journey is different and sometimes people are able to heal, and sometimes they're not. At least not to a point where they don't have to have any outside supplementation. So, I would love it if you would kind of share and dive into your diagnosis or how you found out that you were low with thyroid and kind of what steps and your journey with it thus far.
Rebekah: Okay, so I actually was 18. My mom was looking at my neck and we were just talking and she's like, "Your neck..." My mom has hypothyroidism, and she was diagnosed at 36, so she would've been on medication for 12-ish years at that point. She was just looking at my neck and she's like, "Your neck looks a little swollen. Let's just take you to the doctor and get it tested and just make sure that everything's okay."
So, we went through that process and it was actually really scary as an 18 year old, because they were like, "You have an autoimmune disease. We just don't know which one." And I was like, "Oh." They're like, "You could have diabetes." And I was like, "Oh, I'm going to have to give myself shots?" And they're like, "That's what happens. When we do the testing, we don't want to scare you, but this could be your reality." And I was kind of like, ah, that's kind of nerve-wracking to be told that at 18.
So, turns out it was just thyroid. They wrote me a prescription and said, "We'll see you back in three months." It's so funny because I remember the first time I took my thyroid medicine, I took it at night. I didn't know anything. I didn't know anything. I took it at night the first time, right before I went to bed. I just didn't even know, and then I was not committed. I was an 18 year old. I was starting college and I was not serious about it at all, so I didn't take it daily, I took it occasionally. I don't even know if I took it on an empty stomach. You know what I mean?
So I went back in three months and they're like, "Are you taking your medicine?" And I was like, "Well ...
Melissa: Kind of.
Rebekah: "Yeah, kind of," and they're like, "Okay, you need some education on this," and I was like, "Wish you would've told me that before." So they're like, "Take it in the morning right when you wake up. Don't eat for an hour," all the things. So I was like, okay. I was a college student. I don't even know if I ate breakfast. I just felt like it's so cringe, you know.
Rebekah: My health status was not very good at that time. We ate out a lot. We ate fast food. We just ate junk, even at home, super processed. Again, I was a college student. I can't say that. It's so bad. When I was like, my third year, I think I missed a cycle and I was like, "Why, what happened? What's wrong with me?" I went to the clinic at our college and the they did a blood test and they were like, "Oh, this is kind of like, we don't know what we're doing here. So I'm going to refer you to an endocrinologist," a local endocrinologist. So they've referred me, and that was the first time the doctor said to me, you probably have Hashimoto's.
Rebekah: I was like, "Okay, I have no idea what this is," you know? I remember leaving that appointment because Justin had driven me to that appointment. It was like after school or whatever, and so we were together, and he just dropped me off and then sat in the car and I guess studied. I don't know. We didn't have cell phones like we do now. He had his phone. But like, you know, I don't know what he did. I remember getting in the car and I was like, "The doctor said this thing called Hashimoto's," and it has to do with the thyroid, but I don't know what that is. We were just kind of like, "Okay." And he was like, on my medicine and I'm going to see him in three months, you know, kind of thing. Like literally, and that was the first time I'd ever heard of Hashimoto's, but I like fast forward 12 years later until I had like heard about it where it was like, you could do something, you know what I mean?
Where it wasn't like, "Oh you have this, this is just your life." It was like, you can change your future if you have this. If you're diagnosed with this, you can take these steps to change your lifestyle, your diet, and then you can maybe heal yourself of that. That's when I was like, "Oh, I can get off medicine." I actually had tried to get off medicine, probably Justin and I were already married, so it was after college. One day I just was like, "I'm not going to take it anymore." I have no-
Melissa: Oh wow. Oh wow. By the way, like if anybody's listening, do not do that.
Rebekah: No, please don't.
Rebekah: I will tell you what happened. Then it turns out, like two months later, I was sick as a dog. Shocker.
Rebekah: Actually it's interesting, I ended up having H. pylori.
Rebekah: That's what made me super sick. What happened was, I thought that I might have been pregnant, and so I took a pregnancy test, obviously it was negative, but it scared me, because I was like, "Oh no, I can't not be on my thyroid medicine and have a baby." That could be detrimental to my pregnancy, so that's when I was like, "Okay, I'm going back to the endocrinologist." I sheepishly went in and I was like, "Yeah, I just stopped taking the medicine a couple months ago, but I realized the error of my way."
And they were like, "Yeah, that was bad. But let's get you back on a dose and get you back functioning." I have no idea. I had no thought process of not taking medicine. Do you know what I mean? So, then fast forward to when I learned about Hashimoto's and there's something that you can do to change it. Justin and I had already been on that journey of healing, of health, and eating real food, and you know, all of that. I actually was formally diagnosed with it. They actually did an antibodies test and I did have Hashimoto's officially. I had told that doctor, I was like, "Well, this one doctor, a really long time ago, told me I have Hashimoto's." He's like, "Yeah, we're not going on that."
He's like, "Did he even do a blood test?" I was like, "No, it was in the office," and he just looked at me and said, "You probably have this," and I was like, "Okay." I was bound and determined, at that point, I was like, "Okay, I'm going to get off medicine," and so I did go off and I found a natural doctor locally and he helped me with what he thought would help me, which was iodine, and ... this is not medical advice. I do not recommend doing any of this that I'm saying, this is just what happened. It was herbs, iodine, and I think minerals, trace minerals, and this was going to heal my thyroid. I'm not kidding, and so he ended up testing my TSH and it was over a hundred. His test didn't even go over a hundred. He was like, "Do you even have a thyroid?"
Melissa: Oh Gosh.
Rebekah: I was like, "Yes, nobody's ever taken out my thyroid. Like it's there." And he's just like, "I've never seen anyone respond to this, this way," and I was kind of like, "Oh, I'm broken." That was kind of how I felt, like I am abnormal. I'm not responding how I should, and so it was really disheartening. He's like, "You need to go to a doctor and get a prescription. You need to do that." I made a phone call and I got in with a local ... I didn't want to go back to the endocrinologist, because it just felt too medical to me, and I was like, I'm really not like sick like that. You know? Then I ended up going to this physician and they were like, "Please go on thyroid medicine, please. You're going to have a stroke."
And I was like, "That's why I'm here. Give it to me. I'm here for the prescription." We tried a bunch of different more natural pharmaceuticals like a compounded, T3, T4. I did not respond at all, and I can't remember what else we tried, I felt like it was like a year basically of medicine me coming in every four weeks, or six weeks, and trying to figure it out. Finally, I was like, "Look, I'm done with the sea salt, just put me on Synthroid because I know I respond to it."
Melissa: Yeah. That makes sense. For those of you who are listening, like Rebekah and I said, we're not giving medical advice, we're sharing our stories, and having worked in pharmacy for 18 years, I'm not surprised that you had ... When we're talking about thyroid prescription medications, it is done by your lab levels, which is when she was saying she was a hundred over, I'm like my jaw dropped. I'm like "Oh my gosh."
Rebekah: It's bad.
Melissa: Yeah. That's really bad, but in order to be on thyroid medication you have to have labs done because you need to see where your numbers are. That's how they figure out your doses. And when you're going to the doctor to get the labs, not only do you want to know what your T3 levels are, you also want to know T4. You want to know reverse order. You need to know if your body is able to take the T4 and convert it to T3.
If your thyroid is functioning enough that it can make that conversion, then you can take the natural prescription thyroid, which is called Armor Thyroid. Armor Thyroid is made from, now this is totally up to you, but it's made from desiccated animal thyroid. Okay?
Melissa: It is natural thyroid hormone.
Melissa: However, if your body is at a place where it cannot convert those over, then you aren't going to have success with it, and that's why like, for you, you're having to take Synthroid, which is synthetic, and it's the straight T3. I believe I have that right.
Rebekah: No. It's T4.
Melissa: T4. Excuse me. I always get that backwards. Yeah. It's a T4.
Rebekah: I responded immediately. This is six weeks?
Rebekah: My labs were completely normal. It is so interesting to me because I was very much functioning. I had three or four kids. I can't remember. At that time, I had three or four kids at that time, and I was not laying in bed constantly. The doctor was shocked. They were shocked that I had my eyebrows.
Melissa: I see, did you still have hair at that point? You did?
Rebekah: I know, that's what I'm saying. I have a full head hair. I'm functioning. I'm getting out of bed. I'm taking care of my children. We were farming.
Melissa: That's amazing.
Rebekah: I know. I'm like such a functioning hypothyroid compared to a lot of people. I got back on the Synthroid and then we ended up having Gideon. We couldn't get pregnant, you know, obviously we're not advised to have a baby with your TSH out of control. Obviously, you need to have your levels to a certain degree to get pregnant, so I knew that, and that's why I was like, "We want to have another baby and we need to ..." That's why I was like, "Just put me on Synthroid," because I wanted to have another baby.
Rebekah: Actually, it was very interesting. During this time, I had attended a seminar about ... It was an herbal seminar, but they had a thyroid class, and of course I went to it, and the lady was like, "You have to stop eating gluten. You have to."
At that time, I had stopped eating it mostly, but I wasn't a hundred percent gluten free. This was 2013, so probably early 2013, I would make a cake for birthdays and I would eat it then, or I would maybe have it like once or twice a month. I wasn't eating it a lot, but I was definitely not consuming it like I had been. Actually, it was really interesting. I had started this higher medication and we went on this vacation and I ate a ton of wheat. I'm talking all day, like gluten consumption. It was out of control because we were on vacation, and it was like, let's have fun, and let's relax, and we're not on a diet. We're just doing what we want, and I got so sick.
Rebekah: I don't have digestive issues. I was so sick. I couldn't get out of bed. I have energy issues when I eat gluten.
Melissa: I see.
Rebekah: Then it was like two days later I had my labs drawn and my numbers had gone up despite the fact ... When I say up, because you know how it is, thyroid is ...
Rebekah: If your hyperthyroid, your thyroid's producing too much, it's actually low TSH, and if your thyroid is not producing enough, then it's higher so it's kind of strange. It's backwards.
Melissa: From what you think. Yeah.
Rebekah: Right, from what you think. My medication had increased, but my TSH had increased like 16 points which was shocking.
Rebekah: I said to the doctor, I was like, "Look, I just went on this vacation. I just went hog wild with gluten. Do you think this has anything to do with it?" He's like, "We can't say for sure, but it seems like that would be an indication in your labs that the gluten definitely did not help your thyroid at all." So that was it. I was like, "I'm done with gluten. I'm never eating it again. I don't care. I don't care. I don't care." I really grieved it because I love me some bread.
Rebekah: It's so good, and I just remember laying on the couch crying one day and I was just like, "I'm never going to eat another piece of sourdough bread," and Justin looked at me and he goes, "Rebekah, surely they have gluten free sourdough bread. Get on the internet and find you some. Have it ordered. Order it and ship it to the house." And I did.
I found some and it was so expensive and we had like no money and I did. I bought 12 rolls and it was like $30. I would wait until my craving was outrageous and where I was like, I'd been craving it for three days and then I would eat the roll, because it was like $3.00 a roll or something. It was like ridiculous, and I just remember being like, "We can't afford me to eat gluten free sour dough whenever I want to." It was kind of funny like that was it. I've had gluten I think like two or three times on accident since 2013, so we're going on 10 years of being done with it, and I have to say, I feel amazing.
I stopped eating gluten and I started drinking raw milk. Like literally at the same time, and after eight weeks I remember being like, "I feel amazing. I am never going back. I'm never going back to pasteurized milk and I'm never going back to gluten and I don't care how much I miss bread, or pizza, or a donut, or whatever it is, I'm not going to do it." I'm really disciplined in that and tortillas. I miss it, I miss it all. It's really hard, but it's worth it. It's worth it to feel better. I stopped eating that, and we got my levels fine, and we ended up having Gideon, and really fast forward to just last year. Well, so we did the GAPS diet. In 2019 is when we did the GAPS diet. Actually, in 2017, my health deteriorated, but it had nothing to do with my thyroid.
Rebekah: It had everything to do with my digestion and I ended up being diagnosed with SIBO, and so I had to deal with that. I ended up doing an antibiotic for the SIBO and then I went on GAPS diet. So, literally, I did the 10 days of antibiotic and then I went straight into GAPS and I healed my gut, basically, from doing that, and then right before I got pregnant with Henry, our fifth, so that was the summer of 2020, I was on a thyroid combo that was half Synthroid ... Well, it's actually half Levothyroxine, so that's the generic, and then I was taking a half a grain of Nature Throid, and it was just in doing great. It was doing great for me. I started that actually in 2019, around the same time I did GAPs diet, and my levels were perfect.
I've never had anything so amazing. Then right before I got pregnant with Henry, they recalled the Nature Throid ...
Rebekah: And it wasn't controlling my thyroid anymore, but of course I was already pregnant by the time I discovered that.
Melissa: No way.
Rebekah: I know. My TSH was just a wreck basically all pregnancy, and it's harder in pregnancy to control it, because you're gaining weight, your hormones are fluctuating. There's just so much flex in there, and I was getting literally my labs drawn every four weeks just to make sure that we were doing what we could and that we had the best information that we had at the moment. It was the day before I gave birth to Henry, my doctor called and she said, "I'm really nervous because your TSH is not, you know, your levels aren't where they need to be, but I know you're going to be delivering soon, so it's kind of a catch 22 at this point. What do you want to do?"
I love my doctor because she always gives me the options of what I want to do. I actually tried to go on Nature Throid completely and I couldn't.
Melissa: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rebekah: It caused me so much anxiety. It just makes my chest flutter. I can't even explain, it's the weirdest thing, so if I do half and half, I'm doing really good. We ended up just doing Synthroid when I was pregnant because we just had to get my levels to a good point, you know?
Rebekah: I ended up upping my dose and I had Henry the next day. I was taking that and she had said, "If you feel like it's too much, back down to the dose that you were on right before we upped it," so I did that about 10 days after he was born, and then I had my labs drawn when he was almost four weeks old, and then I ended up having like ... It wasn't a thyroid storm, but it was pretty close.
Melissa: Oh wow.
Rebekah: It was pretty intense. My heart rate went over 150 beats per minute just laying in bed. I started vomiting.
Rebekah: I was such a mess. We actually were talking to my midwife because I was also having mastitis issues at the time, and we were like, "Is this related?" And she's like, "I'm afraid it's related to your thyroid," and so she had me, again, this is not medical advice, but she had me take some herbs and do some things, and my heart rate came down, and we averted any crisis. Well, of course I called my doctor the next day and I was monitoring my vital signs, and I just didn't feel like I needed to go to the hospital.
I didn't feel like it was like an emergency like that, but I talked to my doctor and she's like, "You have to go to the ER, like right now. You're going to the ER, because if this was a thyroid storm or if you're going to get one ...," because my levels were super hyper at that point.
Rebekah: She was just like, "You have to go to the ER right now, I want you have an EKG, we needed to have all these labs done on you." I had my labs drawn on that Friday and it was like 0.07 was my TSH, which is super low.
Rebekah: And when I went to the hospital on Monday, it was 0.05 and I had not taken my pill that morning.
Rebekah: So, who knows what it was the day before when I had that episode. But of course, I went to the hospital and everything turned out fine. I had no damage. I just took a break from my medicine and then we started at a much lower dosage and then went on. It was really scary, actually, and it's given me some hesitancy when we change the medicine. I kind of get a little bit anxious, like, "Oh my gosh, this is going to push me into that?" I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that a lot of it had to do with postpartum. I'd just given birth. I've just lost like 20 pounds. You know what I mean?
Rebekah: My medicine was way high. I'm only on that dose when I'm pregnant and my doctor was in that, like "I'm nervous to raise it, but at the same time, what happens if you don't give birth for two or three more weeks?"
Rebekah: Your TSH is way off for delivery, which can cause complications. She was like, "Let's err, on this side." Actually, what I meant to do was not take my medicine after I had my labs drawn and give it a couple of days break, because I was starting to feel that like that-
Melissa: Yeah. It's a weird heart pounding, like anxious. It's kind of hard to describe. It does feel a bit like anxiety and those are signs that your levels ... It's too high.
Melissa: Yeah. It's hard to describe if you've never experienced it and I never have experienced it to the level that you did, but what's interesting is my mom also has low thyroid, as well as my aunt, and so you were saying your mom does, so it makes me wonder, is there something there that might be somewhat hereditary?
Rebekah: Oh, there is. There is. My aunt has hyperthyroid. She actually had her thyroid removed because she was having thyroid storm issues.
Melissa: Oh. Okay.
Rebekah: And then my cousins, her daughters are both hypothyroid. My sister's hypo. It's just very interesting. Now I will say this, I had a toxin test done in 2018, I think, and I had a lot of perchlorate in my urine, which binds to your thyroid receptors and then your stuff. I grew up drinking fluorinated chlorinated water. I live in pools.
Rebekah: I lived in South Florida, which was downstream of Cape Canaveral. I just had a lot of factors going against me. I did not eat good food. I did not eat real food. I ate a lot of sugar. I always laugh, because I'm like, "It's no wonder I had thyroid disease by the time I was 18." I wasn't going outside, you know what I mean? Like I just had, I don't want to say risk factors, but in some ways I did. I had teeth issues when I was a kid and the doctor said that my mom had gotten too much fluoride when she was pregnant with me.
Melissa: Oh, interesting.
Rebekah: Yeah. I don't know if she had a fluoride treatment on her teeth. Obviously, they don't know, but was it fluoride or was it fluoride in the water system that she was drinking, but whatever they said, when my teeth were forming, my mom had gotten too much fluoride, and so that is why I had the teeth issues that I was having. I feel like I had a lot of those risk factors, but then, okay, so then here's this. My best friend from elementary school grew up same way I did eating processed foods, living in pools, drinking tap water. She still drinks, tap water. Maybe she doesn't. She'll drink filtered tap water, but it's not super filtered.
Rebekah: She has no thyroid issue. You know what I mean?
Rebekah: It's kind of like the genetic predisposition and then the environment.
Melissa: And the environmental. Yeah. A hundred percent. What was interesting is you had super high labs, but you felt pretty functional. I'm almost the opposite. My labs showed within the acceptable normal range and this was actually going back gosh, now probably about 10 years ago, and they have since changed what they consider the normal range. They've kind of narrowed that down within the past 10 years, but I had exhaustion like I can't even explain it. I was getting adequate sleep at night and I would get up and I was so tired. I remember hanging clothes out on the line before I had to leave to go to work to the pharmacy, and I remember I was so tired that I looked at our cement patio because that's where my clothesline was, and looked at the cement patio and I thought I would give anything to just lay down on the cement right now and go to sleep. It wasn't just tired. It was this exhaustion that I've never experienced since that time, and my hair was falling out.
Melissa: I mean literally, by the handfuls, was falling out, and I would go to see my regular doctor, just general practitioner, and they did labs and they're like, "Oh no, your labs are fine," and I'm like, but-
Rebekah: There's something wrong.
Melissa: There's something wrong. This is not normal and so you kind of will go through like when a medical professional, like back then, I don't now, I've learned a lot. But back then, I'm like, "Well my labs say, I'm fine. The doctor says, I'm fine. Like I must be fine." Maybe this is just part of aging, and at that time I was like barely 30. I'm like, maybe this is just part of aging and this is normal. And so for months I went on like that, just being so tired and I had coworkers that are like, "Are you okay?" Not being mean, they were close friends.
Melissa: And I'm like, "I'm just really tired." And then, I had not seen my best friend from high school in like six months, and we were going to a barbecue and she was there and she walked up to me and she said, "What has happened to your hair? What is going on?" I knew then, it's not in my head. I don't care what this doctor says, and this lab report says something is wrong. It was that click I needed so I started searching for a [inaudible 00:31:11] and really diving in like what lab reports should I be getting? Like using the internet as my friend, and I finally found a naturopath. We went in, she did my levels. She actually ran the reverse, like all the panels, not just the normals.
Melissa: And I came back in and she's like, look, she said, "Your numbers actually are fairly normal. They're a little on the low end." She said, "If an endocrinologist looks at your labs, they would never put you on thyroid medicine." She said, "But I have to go by your symptoms. Like your hair, literally falling out by the handfuls, your not hardly functional, and so we're going to start you on thyroid medication." I remember I was able to take the Armor Thyroid and I'm not kidding you the first week I was on that. I'm like, "I am superwoman. I'm like, whoa.
It was amazing.
Melissa: I was like night and day and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, this is so nice to just feel normal again."
Melissa: It was wonderful, but it was kind of the same thing. She was like, "Okay, it's too high. Here's what you need to watch for and having labs done." I was on that and pretty much the same dose for a couple of years and feeling really good and stuff, and then I ended up quitting my day job and coming home and doing the podcast and all the things that I do now. I was doing both of them for a number of years. I was working, homesteading, and then working as a pharmacy tech, and I really think a lot of mine was brought on by stress that I didn't realize.
Literally I was burning my thyroid out and my system out. After I'd been home for about almost two years and just doing homestead and working a job from home, instead of doing all three, I thought, "I want to taper off and just see what happens, and so we went in and we had labs drawn and she's like, "Okay, I'm going to have you start ... First she said, "We're just going to have you half your dose, and then I want you to come back for labs and we're going to see what things look like." We definitely did a taper program.
Melissa: And let the body adjust.
Rebekah: Much healthier.
Melissa: It was much healthier, and the labs fluctuate a little bit, but would be in that healthy range, and so it was about six months before I came all the way off because then we would quarter the dose. We'd just definitely take it down.
Melissa: I haven't been on thyroid medicine now for almost three years and I still feel pretty good energy level wise, but it's interesting, like you were talking, I really tend to notice fatigue when I do eat gluten, but also if I'm more heavy on the carbs, and so I don't do keto where I'm doing zero carbs, because then after about three weeks then I crash. But I found that I have to keep fairly low carb, not no carb, but low carb, and then if I do that, everything seems to function really well for a long period of time. I did go gluten free two months ago, and it's very interesting because I ate gluten on Easter.
Melissa: Yeah. And I'm like, "Oh my gosh," the inflammation, I'm not kidding you, it was four pounds overnight.
Melissa: I could feel it in my stomach. Not like digestive, not like diarrhea or vomiting, but I could feel it.
Rebekah: Like inflammation.
Melissa: I'm like, okay, so I'm back to it now. I'm getting myself right back into it.
Rebekah: I was bad over the weekend too and I ate popcorn two days in a row, which I can have popcorn occasionally, I cannot eat it two days in a row, and Sunday afternoon I stood up and I was like, "Whoa, I do not feel good and I think it's the popcorn that I ate an hour ago is making me feel this way." It's so sad when you can't eat. Because you know, corn is a cross reactive with gluten, you know, like coffee, corn. There's a whole list of things that if you are sensitive to gluten, you could also be sensitive to these other things. So with popcorn, it's like one of those things that I'm not going to give up, because I love it, and like I said, if I don't overindulge, I'm fine.
Rebekah: When I overindulge I know it and I feel it. I felt also the heaviness, the inflammation. I was like four pounds heavier too, and I was like, "What? Why? Ugh."
Rebekah: I worked so hard to lose weight, and now it's like, I ate popcorn and I gained it all back from one sitting of just enjoying myself. I will say this, I have felt really good. We've been playing around with my dosing and we ended up trying again the half and half and I have to actually take Synthroid Synthroid. I can't take the generic Synthroid at all. I don't know what it is about it, but the Synthroid I respond much better to it, and so we're doing half Synthroid half Armour and I was having a little bit of the jitters so she brought me down and we just did labs again, and I was like, "I'm going to be shocked if this dosage is what I need to be at." And of course it wasn't.
My TSH was not where it needed to be, and I was like, "Why? Because I feel so good." That's what's so crazy to me. My TSH was 18 and I feel so good. I feel good. I have energy. Literally, I have been going all day today, cooking in the kitchen, organizing and got my [inaudible 00:37:02] standard order this morning. So, you know, you have to put it all away, and you put it in the jars and the making, you know, I started and supper already, and I made beef broth, and I froze it in little squares, and so I had to like take them out so I could freeze chili in there.
Justin is like, I cannot believe your TSH is so off when you feel so good and you have so much energy, I'm not losing my hair. My doctor's shocked sometimes. She's like, "You don't have the classic symptoms." I'm like, "No, I don't." It's hard because she's like, "Is your hair falling out?" And I'm like, "No," she's like, "Can you get off the couch?" I'm like, "I don't sit on the couch." And she was like, "What?" Because then she gets my labs done and she's just like, "How is this possible that you are not?" So I upped my Armour today and I'm seeing her this week, so we're going to go over and kind of talk about whether we're going to keep the Armor low and just up the Synthroid or what feels right for me because I do have a hard time with the T3's. I do. And I have to say, I feel like I'm still dealing with a lot of the shame that comes with having to take pharmaceuticals and being a healthy person or trying to be a healthy person, like growing your own food and we don't really participate in allopathic medicine. I mean, sure we do when we have to, but that's not my first go-to.
If we have something wrong, my first go-to is a natural approach, you know, all these things, and I actually had a friend say to me, she goes, "I'm so curious because you're one of the most health conscious people I know yet you take a pharmaceutical for your thyroid and I hear about all these people on the Internet saying that they don't. They have had Hashimoto's and they no longer use medicine, but yet you still take medicine." And she's like, "Are those people lying or what's the deal? She's like, "Because I know you would not take a pharmaceutical if you did not have to." And I was like, well, those people aren't lying and that's their journey. But for me, I haven't been able to get off medicine. I've tried. I've done all the things. I've read all the books. I've tried all the supplements. I've tried all the regimens and I just can't and I'm at a point right now where literally every time I take my medicine, I say to myself, "I love and accept myself," because I have to take my medicine. Like I can't not."
Melissa: Yeah. I'm so glad that you brought that up because we do, especially you and I, we are homesteaders and we live in that homestead sphere, both physically, but also online. And yes, I'm a huge advocate of natural being a pharmacy technician for over 18 years that pushed me even more to holistic lifestyle and trying to get to the root problem and fix that with food because I did take pharmaceuticals. I had stomach ulcers really bad and had my esophagus and upper stomach biopsied for cancer and those pharmaceuticals were not helping and I was on a very downward trajectory path.
Melissa: Turning to whole foods. That was my turning to whole foods, like my line in the sand, and I was able to heal off of those medications in six months of eating real food. It was amazing.
Rebekah: Wow. Wow.
Melissa: But, that being said, then later I had to take thyroid.
Melissa: I believe that eating holistically and whole foods as much as possible is going to help you no matter what.
Melissa: But it is not a cure all.
Melissa: I wish it was. I sincerely do. It's not a cure all. And I think that we really need to look at this moment in time that we are so blessed to live in a time where we do have access to the whole foods and the traditional lifestyle that both you and I, and probably almost everybody listening to this podcast want to embrace, and it does have health benefits, but we also have modern medicine where it's at now.
Melissa: And we are able to take advantage of both of those whereas you look back in history, very little people have had the advantages that we do living in this moment of time.
Melissa: I don't think there's anything wrong with using modern medicine when we need to, it's actually a blessing, but there is in this sphere, it's always black and white.
Rebekah: Right. There's no gray.
Melissa: They try to make it black and white. Yeah. There is some gray. There really is.
Rebekah: There is.
Rebekah: Even this morning, Justin and I were eating with our family yesterday and Justin could tell something was bothering me and I had gotten my blood results when I was checking my email earlier. It's so funny because I've gotten test results before, and it had been really negative, and I was alone, and it was really hard for me and so I always try not to read my test results when I'm alone, but I couldn't wait because I wanted to see if my TSH, like I wanted to see, and I was just like waiting, waiting and so I opened up the email, and I looked at it and then I was disappointed. Justin was like, "Why are you kind of sad?" And I was like, "Well, I got my blood results back and my thyroid was off," and he's like, "Oh," like thinking it was like off in a good way.
Rebekah: And I was like, "No, it's in a bad way." It's in the way that I wasn't expecting it where I was going to have to up my medicine. He's like, "It's just information." He's like, "Nothing has changed. You still feel good. Just because we have that information doesn't mean that you're unhealthy." You know what I mean?
Rebekah: I was just like, I know it's just hard. Because I feel like I have worked really hard to be healthy and I just can't get over that hump of whatever it is. It's a hard pill to swallow sometimes. I think I'm just going to take a step back and I'm working with an acupuncturist and she was the one who had the idea of like, okay, when you take your pill, like just say that to yourself. That's your little mantra of like, I'm doing this. I'm to a point where I have to take the medicine so I can function for my family so that I can be healthy for my children, healthy and get outside and be a part of our farm and all these things, and she's like, "Just accept yourself. Just accept that this is where you're at and it's okay."
I was like, "Oh, that's not a bad idea," and so I've been working with her and I haven't worked with her for long, so I'm hoping that working with the acupuncturist and just continuing to eat healthy and be active, get outside more. I'm trying to be outside as much as possible now that the weather is nice. It's not miserable to be outside. I'm like, "Okay, it's still okay." You know what I mean? But there is, there is a lot of feelings surrounding this, and I also was diagnosed in 1997 where like the internet was literally just starting.
Rebekah: There was no information. I think back to my 18 year old self, like could I have gone to the library? Would there even have been a book that would've had this information even then? Do you know what I mean? \.
Rebekah: I wasn't destined to get off thyroid medicine. That wasn't my plot in life. This is it too, when you were talking and I kind of didn't complete that sentence. But when you were talking about how real food really does change things, I wonder though, if I didn't eat real food, how much sicker I would be?
Rebekah: Would I have gotten another autoimmune disease? Because you know, once you have one, it's easier to get more.
Rebekah: Like all of that stuff. I have to say that my lifestyle is helping, because I know a lot of times people also look at me and there's like, you live so healthy yet you have this chronic illness and I'm like, yes, but how much worse would I be off if I didn't try? And I'm not saying that people who live a healthy lifestyle are never going to get an illness. They're never going to get an acute illness. They're never going to get a chronic illness. I mean, honestly, so many people in the homesteading world have been driven here because of chronic illness.
Melissa: Yes. Yeah. This is so fascinating. And I'm so glad you brought that up because I did, which I may be doing a podcast on actually with my practitioner, but I did some intensive testing because I could tell something was off and, but I couldn't put my finger on it. And I'm like, I don't want to do an elimination diet and do item by item, and so I had some different lab tests done, a whole different panel of things, but when I got my results back, you were talking about your email. I got my results back and I have 34 items that I am triggered by right now in my system for inflammation, and I went through like a three day period, I didn't tell anybody. I was in, I don't want to say a full on depression, but I was like really ...
Rebekah: In a funk.
Melissa: I was, I was in a funk for like three days. I felt betrayed by my body.
Rebekah: I know.
Melissa: I have worked so hard. I have not eaten things that I like to eat for so many years.
Melissa: Like you said, I'm like, how can I still be this broken? How can my body still be this broken? I was really upset and I went for a walk with a friend and I was just like, spilling it out as we were outside and letting everything out and she goes, "But imagine if you hadn't had done those things where you would be." Just like you said, and I'm like, "Oh, yeah, you're right." I think that flip in perspective is really important.
Melissa: And also to know, you may get healed in one area, like I did have my thyroid basically healed, yet I'm dealing with a lot of other issues. Not that it wasn't worth it to be healed from that, but we are in broken bodies. Like if you're a Christian, like we live in a broken world by sin and it's never going to be perfect.
Rebekah: I also want to say this too. So one thing that I have been working on is my trauma that I've been through. I hate the word trauma so much sometimes because people perceive that as I was abused or whatever. I wasn't, like I had a great childhood, but no one is perfect. You know what I mean? No one's parents are perfect and there're things that I'm working through, and so I just started EMDR with my therapist actually, which I'm really excited about, and I think that it's going to be really helpful. I do know that there's a wellness blogger, a well known one who ended up losing like 60 pounds after she dealt with her trauma. I know that trauma can cause issues in your body, like physical health issues. I'm not saying that this is going to be the piece that gets me off of thyroid medicine, but I do know that there is emotional connection as well to the thyroid.
And so I do know, as a child, like I was afraid to say things. I was afraid to speak my mind if you will. And that's the thyroid emotional piece, if you will, and so I do believe that. I'm working with my therapist on how to say what I want to say, but in a loving kind truthful way and not come on too strong. Because I have said things that I've come on way too strong, and I didn't mean it that way. Do you know what I mean?
Rebekah: And she was saying, it's like a pendulum swinging like you were too afraid to say anything, and now you're saying way too much, or in a mean way. You have to kind of come into a balance there. I think that you can't out supplement a bad diet and you can't out trauma, I don't know how to say it, but if you're eating real food, but you have trauma that you haven't dealt with, then the real food isn't ... I mean, yes, it's going to be good for your body, but it's not necessarily going to heal you. Does that make sense?
Rebekah: I feel like there's so many layers to it and I am no expert in any of this. If you want to learn more, there's people out there who are talking about this and I've learned from them and I hope that I said it in a good way and not jumbled it or made people more confused.
Yeah. I just, I just know that, energetically, we are energetic beings and we just need to ... And I don't want it to be too woo woo either. Do you know what I mean? Like my therapist, she's amazing, and she just got trained in EMDR, and we were talking about something and she was like, have you ever heard of it? And I was like, "Actually yes, but I didn't know who to go to because I felt like it's so personal." She's like, "Well, I'm trained in it now." And I was like, "Can we please do it, sign me up now." It's kind of like that, just working through things, working through your issues, like why you are the way you are.
Rebekah: It can help more than just your mind.
Melissa: Yeah. Well, and because human beings are emotional beings as well as physical, and I think a lot of times our emotions like even stress, like I look at when I was working at the pharmacy and the pharmacy was a great place to work. My coworkers were awesome, my employers, et cetera, but it wasn't the place that I wanted to be and it was stressful for me. What's interesting is I have not worked at the pharmacy now for almost four years. This August will be four years. But when I did, my hormone testing, which was part of where I found out the foods, we look at cortisol levels, and at 10:00 a.m., because that is when I would go to work and the pharmacy doors would open, even now four years later, I have this huge cortisol boost at 10:00 AM. And they're like, "What happens at 10:00 a.m.?" And I'm like nothing now. That is left over from working at 18 years somewhere and we opened at 10:00. And so it's fascinating because that cortisol boost is causing issues. I should not be boosting that kind of cortisol at 10:00 a.m. I share that because that was like an emotional thing.
Melissa: From just four years ago and it's still having this huge impact on my cortisol levels and I'm like, "Wow." So our emotions do actually affect us biologically.
Melissa: It isn't just like this woo woo thing, but at the same time, we do have tools that are available to help us through them. Like there's obviously there're therapists and even the act of, which is biblical, a lot of people practice the act of gratitude and thankfulness just because it shifts your focus. If you're thankful for something it's really hard to be mad about something, if you're focusing on that, and so even little things like that, it sounds kind of silly, but it can have really big impacts on our emotional health which does affect us biologically.
Melissa: This has been a really fun conversation. I know have talked about a lot of different things.
Rebekah: I know.
Melissa: Yeah. I hope that for those of you who are listening, that it offered some insight or some things and gave you some food for thought. And hopefully for some of you, if you've been dealing with some of these issues, at least you don't feel alone.
Rebekah: Yes. Yes. I just super recommend like reading, finding a doctor who listens to you. That's huge. There's so many good books out there on thyroid things. I've read all the books and I think it is just don't have any shame in where you're at. I am really trying to just love my body and not feel betrayed because that is a thing. People are like, "I've worked so hard and it still just doesn't seem to be going anywhere."
Rebekah: And so I just, I don't know. I hope people are encouraged with it all today.
Melissa: Yes. Same. Well, Rebekah, thank you so much for coming back on.
Rebekah: Thank you.
Melissa: I had a ton of fun and I know hopefully there'll be sometimes that we got to do some more stuff together in the future.
Melissa: Looking forward to that. So for anybody who hasn't listened to the previous episode, we will link to that in the show notes and the blog post so you can check that out, but for people to follow along on your journey, where is the best place for them to do so with you?
Rebekah: So if you do YouTube, my husband's channel, Justin Rhodes, or on Instagram, on rebekah.rhodes there, and then we also have a streaming platform called abundance+. Actually our story, not necessarily a health ... There is some health stories on abundance+ at Rooted our series. I don't know what you call it.
Melissa: Yeah. Yeah.
Rebekah: So yeah. Get in to abundance+ and check that out or just follow me on Instagram. I sometimes post. I sometimes don't.
Melissa: Yes, definitely. We'll have links to all those for you. I know.
Melissa: Yeah. So, awesome. Thank you so much, Rebekah.
Rebekah: Thank you.
Melissa: I hope that you enjoyed today's episode. It was a little bit of a longer one, but I thought it was important for you to hear this story as well as the different emotions and things that both of us have went through on this journey to wellness. If you missed the earlier episode that I had, when Rebekah first came on the podcast, you can go and catch that. It was episode number 332, and that was on homesteading with children, so you can go back and check out that episode as well. I can't wait to be back with you next week, but for now, blessings and mason jars, my friend.
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