The Tsunami of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
I spent my entire life living as a rock star. That would be figuratively, not literally. I flew through most of my adult life as an Alaskan wilderness adventurer, global traveler, health care provider, backcountry hiker, commercial fisherman, endurance horse racer, power yoga practitioner and Latin dancer. All these fun-filled activities ran neck and neck along side an action-packed career in integrative health care and traditional Chinese medicine. Needless to say, I was happy, healthy and whole and was living life as large as I could possibly manifest.
Then came 2010-11. That was the year of my tsunami. I was 52 years old and had been living overseas for 10 years. It was a year of cascading personal stressors in my life and the rheostat of my energy slowly dialed down. So slowly, that I didn’t even perceive it was happening as I was so strong and so passionate about my life. And then one day I found myself struggling to avoid being a half-bubble above bed-ridden.
Net, net, net… The light went off and there were things wrong, notably wrong. Extreme fatigue, rampant insomnia, weight gain, constipation, hair falling out, anxiety and depression, bleeding gums, skin issues, brain fog, cognitive impairment, and lack of interest in doing the things I loved. I had exercise intolerance and was freezing-cold all the time. I had joint and spine pain, a pale and puffy face, blurry vision, shortness of breath and an insatiable appetite.
My standard mantra was either “I’ve got to sit down or better yet, I’ve got to lay down.” Walking up two flights of steps was a chore. Cognitive activities such as reading, typing or even problem solving were difficult due to my brain-based fatigue. I cut my workload in half and I never went outside because I was either too cold or too tired or both. I hardly slept. Need I say more? Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Being the science-geek and investigator that I am, I marched forward through the storm. Books, podcasts, blog posts, webinars and everything that I could find to educate myself. I did a national search for a functional medicine provider and on that trail, I found Dr. Flannery’s webinars and lectures. I listened to all of them and I was very impressed. He was a truly dynamic and enthusiastic speaker and above all, his deductive mind really knew the hard science behind true wellness. I knew that he would be a key part of helping me to regain my health.
I contacted his office, filled out the detailed health history forms and we worked together long-distance via Skype for many, many months. We covered all aspects of the diagnostic protocol from blood, urine and stool testing, identified food allergies and cross-reactivity’s, chemical sensitivities, viral loads, inflammatory marker’s, intestinal permeability disruption and autoimmune reactivity. I literally felt like I received a “PhD” in health and wellness after working together with Dr. Flannery as I learned so much about the body’s innate mechanisms.
After a thorough review, Dr. Flannery put me on targeted diet and supplement protocol that was based upon my unique biochemistry. We met every 3 months and adjusted my program based upon further testing. We wound down systemic inflammation, sealed the gut & the brain barriers, populated the micro-biome, dealt with viral loads and detoxified the liver. It was truly a collaborative systems approach and once I began my health journey with Dr. Flannery, I started feeling better week by week. It was very notable and very exciting, as I was regaining my life that I had lost…or at least had misplaced.
Dr. Flannery was extremely thorough and precise with his mapping and staging of my treatment plan to correct the numerous imbalances that had led to my autoimmune storm. Best of all, he is a true educator and compassionate wellness coach that saw the bigger picture of my path towards optimal health.
And so, here I am 8 years later doing absolutely everything that I love to do, the symptom list is gone, my blood work is the best it has ever been, and I have more energy and vibrant life force than ever. I continually recommend Dr. Flannery to all my friends and patients who are struggling with their unresolved health challenges.
Thank you Dr. Flannery for all your pearls of wisdom, your innate intellect and intuition and best of all your compassion and humor! You are the BEST!
Susan S., Anchorage, AK
Post-natal hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, rashes, brain fog, low energy.
When my husband and I married in December of 2006, I was a healthy, slim 26 year old. During our first pregnancy, I gained an unexpected 55 lbs. even though I ate healthy, balanced meals and exercised regularly. A few days after our daughter was born, I had a very irritating rash that moved around my body. After many months, many doctors, and many heavy medications, I was diagnosed with post-natal hypothyroidism, then hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. I began taking some medication that seemed to be working because my rashes finally went away. The rashes lasted about 6 months after giving birth! However, about a year and half later, while pregnant with our second child, the rashes came back. I was really discouraged, because we thought the medication was the solution, and now we were realizing that maybe it wasn’t. My husband encouraged me to try acupuncture, and we were amazed to find out that adding Vitamin B and Omega supplements took away the rash within a week! To make a long story short, we became very interested in seeking new solutions for my problem.
After 2 more years of being on medication for Hashimoto’s, I continued to have most of the symptoms pre-medication. Why wasn’t the medication relieving my symptoms? We found Dr. Datis Kharrazian’s book through a Google search to find another solution to my symptoms. My husband wanted me to try Dr. Mark Flannery after reading Dr. Kharrazian’s book. I was skeptical and hesitant for quite some time. Finally, after much more discouragement with the symptoms of Hashimoto’s not going away (while on increasing medication doses), I was convinced I needed to try something else. I was tired of having excessive fatigue, great difficulty losing weight, brain fog, hair loss, occasional rash, and multiple miscarriages.
After seeing Dr. Mark, and going thru some testing, he put me on a personalized program that really made a huge difference. I have a totally different diet, and I went through a phase of supplements. I have been energetic through the day. My brain fog is gone. Within months I have lost some of the weight I just couldn’t get off in years (even though I exercised daily and had a mostly vegetarian diet). I still struggle a little bit with hair loss, and I still take medications, but we are hopeful after another test, that we can reduce or eliminate the need for those too.
The process has not been easy, but it has been VERY rewarding. We are grateful to Dr. Mark and his guidance. He has helped me feel like my old self again.
Eva C., Ventura, CA
Hashimoto’s, Fatigue, Dizziness, Blurred Vision, Brain Fog
I truly believe that God directs our path to certain people and I am so glad that he directed me to Dr. Mark Flannery!
Dr. Flannery has helped me so much, but let me start from the beginning. I am a mother of two boys and one of my boys has a muscle disease. Since he has been born there has been extra stress on me to make sure his health needs are taken care of all the time. I also work long hours, which complicates things. I wouldn’t eat for half the day and I drank two pots of coffee a day to keep me going. Despite all that coffee I was still tired all of the time.
I knew that something was going on with me when I literally could not get off the couch to make my children dinner one night. I was sick all the time. I also started to have night sweats and I would feel dizzy on and off. I look back now and wish I treated my body better, but I just didn’t have the knowledge that I do now. I can now see that chronic stress plus treating my body bad for so long manifested as sickness.
It just hit me one night. I had not eaten since breakfast and I was making dinner. All of a sudden I felt faint and I fell to the floor. I was so lucky I had a friend over to help me that night. He administered several spoonfuls of sugar into my mouth and I ate a little dinner to bring my blood sugar up, but I felt bad! I had tremors, terrible anxiety, and I was still feeling faint. I asked him to take me to ER. The doctors there told me my blood sugar was low, but that is all they could find wrong with me and sent me home.
I got worse: I couldn’t work, I couldn’t sleep, I had tremors, I felt like I could feel my thyroid in my throat. I started having increased hot flashes and I lost tons of weight. I went to my primary doctor and told her that something was wrong with me. She told me that it was stress and prescribed me antidepressants, sleeping pills, and did more tests that came up negative.
I went to multiple doctors and they all told me that there was nothing wrong with me. In the meantime I was getting worse. I started having blurred vision, dizzy spells, brain fog, and I couldn’t think right. I was still so tired, and jittery. I had these spells where I could feel the blood rushing to my head and now I was gaining weight.
I took my health issues into my own hands and started looking for answers. I thought it was perimenopause or thyroid issues even though the other doctors tested me and said that it wasn’t my thyroid. I finally found a doctor that would listen to me. She did some tests and diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s disease. She prescribed Synthroid, a thyroid medication, but it didn’t help. I still felt bad so I kept pursuing information on the web about thyroid issues.
I found Dr. Kharrazian’s book “Why Do I still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal”. Through that book I found Dr. Flannery’s information and I called to make an appointment. I was skeptical at first, having a doctor that was in California while I was in Michigan, but I needed the help. Dr. Flannery listened to me, was very understanding, and assured me that I wasn‘t “loosing my mind”, even though I felt like I was. He wanted a thorough health history from me, which no other doctor had asked for up to this point. After we went through my health history he ordered some tests to help figure out what was really going on with me.
The test results were devastating to me. I found out that my body was attacking itself, and at least twenty-one tissues in my body were being attacked by my immune system. I learned that I was dealing with some intestinal parasites, low blood sugar, low vitamin D. and many other abnormal lab markers. I also found out that I was never going to be able to eat certain foods again because they caused my immune system to react leading to further tissue damage. Dairy, coffee, grains, corn, egg, and rice were among the foods I could never eat again. I cried for several days. I realized that what I was dealing with was much more than just Hashimoto’s. Dr. Flannery told me that it was good that we have that information because now I could start working towards healing myself, and that’s just what I did. I had to look at all the positives about this new life style change.
I had to look at what I could eat and started making healthy and tasty meals. Dr. Vera Flannery made a twenty-eight day meal plan that has fantastic recipes. I began following Dr. Flannery’s advise and I began eating every two hours and started taking the supplements that he recommended. It wasn’t long before the symptoms started going away. I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out. The brain fog, blurred vision, and tremors went away. I now have energy and I am not abnormally tired. I lost a lot of weight and have kept it there. No more yo-yo weight gain and loss. This is the first summer in a long time that I have been able to do yard projects. I am not sick all the time anymore. I feel like I have a life again.
I am not going to tell you that it hasn’t been tough making this diet change and I am going to have to be on supplements for a while because I have been so sick for so long, but I feel great! I want to thank you Dr. Mark and Dr. Vera Flannery for dedicating your life to helping people, because you have changed my life and I am so grateful!
Terri H., Kalamazoo, MI
Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, type 1 diabetes, vitiligo
While I was in college, I was diagnosed with diabetes and put on medications. I was then later diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Not only had I been diagnosed with two serious conditions, I had been losing pigmentation of my skin over a number of years, a condition known as vitiligo. The medication I was prescribed was not correcting my conditions, only managing my symptoms. I grew increasingly more frustrated with my medical treatment.
I had been to a number of medical doctors through this process, but I felt like they could never pin point the problem. It wasn’t until I started seeing Dr. Mark that things started to turn around for me. Dr. Mark was the only doctor who was able to help me with my condition. After filling out a simple questionnaire and analyzing my blood, he found I had an autoimmune disorder that was the underlying cause of all my problems. No one had ever caught the underlying immune system imbalance. I was surprised but it all made sense once he explained it to me.
Once we started to treat the problem, instead of covering up the symptoms, I started to see results within a few months. More impressive than feeling better than I had felt in a long time, I noticed the pigment in my skin returning! I never have seen a doctor who is as thorough and complete as Dr. Mark. He took the time needed to explain what was going on with me and also was very direct and confident with his recommendations and expectations. I felt from the beginning I was at the right place and couldn’t be in better hands. Dr. Mark is simply the best!
Phil R., Burbank, CA
Hypothyroidism, Weight gain, Low energy, Ovarian cysts, Alopecia
For over eight years I dealt with several irritating symptoms, including weight gain, hypothyroidism, very low energy, ovarian cysts, and elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. I never felt like I could gain control of one issue absolutely, so I found myself circling around with my general practitioner as we tried to alleviate only the most problematic of the symptoms as we went. We were not able to accomplish much more than frustration and a sense of defeat. My general practitioner finally shook his head and said I would just have to get used to being heavy for the rest of my life and to do my best to stay as healthy and fit as possible.
Feeling like a lost cause, I began to discuss my health concerns with a close friend. This led to an initial consultation with another friend who was very interested in my health history and suspected the cause, but did not have enough resources or knowledge to take on as extensive a case as mine. He did know who would be able to provide all the care I needed and he gave me Dr. Mark Flannery’s number, reassuring me that Dr. Mark is the best in his field.
Hopeful, I worked diligently to complete my questionnaire and collect my medical records. I was able to go into more detail about my other auto-immune conditions as well. I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata when I was 2 years old, and my condition continued to progress towards Alopecia Universalis, until I lost most of my eyebrows and about half of my eyelashes about 5 years ago. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism when I was 24 and was able to provide Dr. Mark with several test results for that condition. No doctor had asked me such thorough questions so I knew immediately this journey would be different. Meeting Dr. Mark was such a pleasant experience. His professionalism mixed with his intense interest in my own personal story was refreshing and reassuring. I gladly completed the necessary tests and eagerly awaited my follow up appointment. Even just allowing myself to be hopeful again and to realize Dr. Mark would be as committed as I was to finding answers made all the difference.
Some people may have been overwhelmed by the issues that were revealed when the test results came in. I, on the other hand, was completely relieved. Having answers and being able to set out a course of action were such blessings. I knew that with Dr. Mark’s help, we would be able to address the issues, and over time slowly unwind them. I felt justified that I wasn’t a hopeless case. On the contrary, each issue had a solution and Dr. Mark and I were ready to tackle them. My results showed that my body was in complete metabolic syndrome, including issues with diabetes, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides. Results also showed severe malabsorption of key nutrients, a prevalent bacterial infection and inflammatory overload due to autoimmunity and an immune response to gluten and casein. This inflammatory response was also irritating the other auto-immune conditions I already knew about, again my Alopecia and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. We knew we had a long road ahead, but having answers after so long made me almost giddy. Dr. Mark was optimistic and inspiring. I knew I was right where I was meant to be. Dr. Mark outlined a course of treatment customized for me, and the healing began.
In less than 7 months I have seen a complete reversal of several symptoms and easier management of others. Almost immediately I saw improvements in my energy levels, which continued to increase steadily over time. I no longer have any evidence of ovarian cysts. I have experienced some re-growth of both my eyebrows and eyelashes. I am no longer diabetic or severely anemic. My triglycerides and cholesterol are under control. My thyroid numbers have improved and stabilized. My stomach no longer feels bloated, inflamed, and cramped. The improvements to my quality of life have been significant as well. I no longer require caffeine to get through the day, I am able to exercise regularly and my eating habits have been completely altered. To date I have lost 40 pounds as well.
Dr. Mark unlocked the underlying issues that ultimately restored my quality of life and saved me from extremely damaging and potentially life threatening issues down the road. His patience, personal care, and his willingness to celebrate the small victories and re-examine the cause of plateaus has made this journey well worth the wait. Dr. Mark has always been encouraging and honest in his expectations. Following his plan has been both simple enough and absolutely worth it. I feel better now than I have in the last 10 years. I now feel like goals I have set, such as completing a triathlon, are truly possible. My friends and family have noticed not just the outward physical changes but the improvements to my energy and mood.
I now recognize similar complaints of symptoms from others as I go about my usual day. I often recommend Dr. Mark Flannery and hope that people take the opportunity to start their own healing process. I am so grateful to Dr. Mark for everything I have restored and gained with his guidance and support.
Patricia M., Apple Valley, CA
Weight gain, Fatigue, Memory loss
For many years I knew something was wrong with my body. My fatigue was so unbearable it took everything I had to get out of bed. I had to take naps daily and still couldn’t function! I was gaining a steady 3 pounds a month regardless of my diet and exercise. I had pretty much NO memory and could not retain anything I heard or read. I had many more symptoms, to many to list. I was a mess!!
I began what would end up being several years of research, going to doctor after doctor, reading everything I could find and many Google searches plugging in my symptoms in hopes a miracle website would pop up telling me what was wrong with me. In all my research, I came across Dr. Mark Flannery. My first visit was in his office. He was very personable and already had a good idea of what my issues were. He ordered a complete set of thorough lab work to see what exactly was going on.
Dr. Flannery reviewed my lab tests and recommended a comprehensive plan to improve my health. Within 2 weeks I went from gaining 3 pounds per month to loosing 1 pound per day. Within a month my energy had improved dramatically, I slept better, and I began to have a clearer head.
I have been under Dr. Flannery’s care for 6 months now and I feel FANTASTIC! I never thought I would feel this good in such a short time. I still have some healing to do but as least I can function and have no limitations in my daily life. Thanks Dr. Flannery!
Cheryl C., Beavercreek, OH
Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, pre-diabetes, weight gain
As a health care professional, I tried effortlessly to find someone that would address my health concerns. Nothing that Western medicine offered was effective. I knew that a pill was not the answer. After many years and thousands of dollars not covered by my insurance I stumbled upon a book “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal” in 2010 by Dr. Datis Kharrazian. My passion is wellness research and I thought I could figure out my body and what it needed, evidenced by multiple supplements, multiple consults, and countless hours spent researching remedies, modalities, which might offer an answer to my health issues. I felt like I was loosing my mind and becoming a hypochondriac. I had reached the end of my rope with my weight at an all-time high of 185lbs on my 4’10 frame along with the list of symptoms that accompany adrenal exhaustion, pre-diabetes, hypertension, high blood lipids, shortness of breath, and too tired to exercise. I felt like a balloon ready to pop.
After reading The Thyroid Book, I asked my family doctor about the possibility of autoimmune problems but she did not know how to address the issue. She recommended I see a dietician to learn how to eat properly. I became enraged and never went back to her.
I had to find someone that understood my dilemma so I emailed Dr. Datis Kharrazian asking for someone in my area that was knowledgeable with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease. He sent me a list of possible practitioners. Dr. Mark Flannery agreed to manage my care by phone consult and email from California. (I live in Ohio) How do you thank someone who literally saved my life? His knowledge of intricate physiology is outstanding along with how to bring the body back into balance. At first, I was very skeptical and had to research every aspect. I just did not trust anyone given my extensive history of failed attempts to feel better along with the expense. He was absolutely correct with every aspect of my case and knew how to get to the root of the problem.
I can say that I feel like my former self as the weight continues to come off almost effortlessly. Now at 120lbs I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. My blood sugar has also normalized, thyroid antibodies are negligible, leaky gut is in repair, all the swelling is gone, brain fog is gone, and I feel good.
I want tell everyone about my success and how Dr. Mark is able to help. People have to want to feel better and know it is possible with the right people. So if you are tired of being tired and taking pills that do not work, I highly recommend Dr. Mark Flannery at HealthWise Chiropractic & Nutrition as he gave me my life back! With the proper guidance, nutrition and life style changes we all can enjoy wellness without the use of pharmaceuticals.
Joanne C. RN, LMT, Columbus, Oh
Autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
At 27 years old, I was training for a marathon and was in the best shape of my life. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and prescribed medication. At 30 years old, I was diagnosed with Gall Bladder disease and referred to a surgeon. At 40 years old, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease and prescribed medication. Physicians blamed genetics. But, I thought there was an underlying issue causing these conditions
I saw many alternative health care professionals and finally came across Dr. Kharrazian’s book and found out about Dr. Mark. Once I saw Dr. Mark’s intake forms, I knew that I was in for a new experience. The thorough health history helped Dr. Mark understand not only my strong desire for becoming healthy and what I had done so far to try to be medication and symptom free. By the time I saw Dr. Mark for the first time, I was miserable with gallbladder pains, constant stomach aches, always tired and cold and needing a nap everyday, just to make it through the day.
After extensive testing and listening, Dr. Mark explained to me that I had many food sensitivities including gluten and dairy. He set forth a plan for me to follow that included a strict diet and supplements. Within a week’s time, I felt amazing. I had energy and did not need a nap to get throughthe day. I began to lose weight and the cravings for food were gone. My stomach aches and gall bladder discomfort were gone. I have continued to follow Dr. Mark’s plan for me and we meet to make revisions as needed. I feel like a new person and believe that I now have the opportunity to live a very healthy life.
Dr. Mark is by far the most thorough and knowledgeable doctor I have worked with. He genuinely cares about the well-being of his patients and is truly committed to helping us live a healthy life. He has shown me that food choices, no matter how healthy they are for others, are not healthy for me. For the first time in about 16 years, I have answers and knowhow to keep myself healthy. I feel empowered.
Christy C., Newbury Park, CA
Initially I was referred to HealthWise because I was so tired. I was on medication for my Thyroid but I wasn’t feeling like myself. I also suffered from severe neck and hip pain for the last 5 years.
I didn’t know how complicated my condition was until I clearly saw my results from my blood tests. Dr. Mark had a detailed approach to how he handled my condition and now I’m not as tired as I used to be. I can tell I’ve improved and that I continue to improve as I follow the treatment course.
The chiropractic care by Dr. Vera has been excellent and I feel like I have received 70% relief so far. My neck does not hurt as often, I have increased energy, and I look forward to continuing my care!
I really appreciate the personal attention I receive and the amount of time for care from this wonderful team at HealthWise. I have already referred many people and love knowing who the best doctors are in town!
Rae T., Simi Valley, CA
I was struggling with fatigue which had been increasing over the last few years and had come to see Dr. Mark as recommended by a friend of mine. I had seen my general physician and ruled out any problems that could be detected by her examination and blood tests. Idid have elevated cholesterol, elevated blood calcium and early stage osteoporosis and was advised to go on prescription medication to treat these symptoms which I did not desire to do.
From the beginning, I was treated with much care and concern. I was educated by Dr. Mark as to what action to take regarding my nutritional health based on the results of the tests he ordered. I felt like a person, not just a patient. I so much appreciate the focus on cause rather than symptoms and the steps taken to address the cause. I also appreciate the accessibility to Dr. Mark by phone and email – something new in my experience with doctors.
A few months after coming to HealthWise, I developed a radiating pain and tingling down my left arm, unrelated to the previous condition. I was tempted to “ride it out” and see what happened, but Dr. Vera suggested addressing it early rather than letting it progress into something more. Again, I was thoroughly educated on my condition and what could be done to help. I am being treated for my arm pain and so much more!
The results have been amazing. The general malaise that characterized my life has resolved and my energy is returning. My neck and shoulders, which had long been tight and sore, are much more relaxed and comfortable. My arm pain is improving and my whole body feels less tense. My zest for life is back and I am looking forward to continued improvement. I am delighted by the results.
Jackie W., Camarillo, CA