Updated: Oct 13, 2021
2013, my health was good. I enjoyed daily smoothies, yoga, weight lifting and sleeping well at night. And then came the day I ate something (pretty sure it was the sprouts), that set my digestion for a whirlwind.
The abdominal cramping started the following day. Stabbing pain, coming in waves. My gut health was compromised, and therefore my overall health was compromised.
Night sweats and hormonal irregularities followed. Constipation, extreme bloating, heart palpitations, troubles sleeping, weight gain, hair loss in handfuls and extremely dry skin. My brain fog and stuttering were the most challenging for me because I was in my Master's program and felt inadequate.
I found Functional Medicine while researching what type of practice I wanted to have after graduating as a Nurse Practitioner. This is where my healing journey began.
I began training to be a Functional Medicine practitioner and learned about doing in-depth blood testing. I completed a thorough lab panel and found out I had an autoimmune condition called Hashimotos Thyroiditis. My thyroid antibodies were elevated and my TSH was a 7. I had a low functioning thyroid and I felt it!
In Functional Medicine it is understood that when an autoimmune condition is present, there is a level of inflammation and gut dysfunction present. I completed a comprehensive functional stool test that helped identify where my gut health was out of balance. I got to work on addressing each of the issues found in the test results. For me this meant short term dietary changes, using a few supplements and herbal antibiotics.
Identifying the inflammatory trigger for autoimmunity is usually pretty challenging. Sometimes, whatever is going on in the gut, is the inflammatory trigger. While this was a component for me, the stress in my life was definitely adding to the inflammation. I had to find a way to reduce my stress, or at least be able to cope with it better. I was in an intensive Master's program, working part-time and trying to do my best at being a mom to my 3 children. The biggest progress in stress reduction came when I graduated my program. To help with stress coping, I made time for getting out into nature and getting back into a consistent exercise routine.
The work in regaining my health was not easy. Many symptoms improved quickly - some within a few weeks, and others took several months. Within a few years I was able to get my thyroid antibodies into normal range and regain thyroid function to the point my TSH remains in normal range, no longer needing thyroid medication. (Many people with thyroid disease will need thyroid medication long term, that is okay! But many people taking thyroid medication are not aware they may not need it forever if they can correct the underlying issues contributing to thyroid dysfunction.)
My mission is to help others navigate their health journey, identify root causes to the symptoms they are experiencing, and restore function and balance to their physical, mental and emotional being.
Alyssa Vest, Family Nurse Practitioner