Around four years ago, Hannah Corbin, a renowned Peloton instructor, observed a significant and unexpected change in her overall well-being. With a background in dance and a dedicated fitness following, Corbin began to notice a constant state of fatigue that affected her daily life.
Attempting to articulate her exhaustion, Corbin found it challenging to convey the depth of her tiredness to others. Some people attributed it to her career choice, assuming that working out for a living naturally resulted in fatigue. However, she believed there was more to it—a weariness that penetrated her core, often making it difficult to even open her eyes in the morning. Sleep provided little relief, as it failed to alleviate the deep-seated exhaustion. Corbin described this feeling as though her energy reserves were never replenished.
Living in New York City, where everyone seemed to be in constant motion, Corbin found it hard to gauge her level of fatigue compared to her friends who were also immersed in the fast-paced lifestyle. Consequently, she downplayed her symptoms, considering them an inevitable part of city living.
Despite her expertise in nutrition and fitness, Corbin also noticed unusual fluctuations in her weight that did not align with her usual approach to a healthy lifestyle.
Hannah Corbin found herself unexpectedly gaining 15 pounds and experiencing a pervasive sensation of being “swollen” all over her body. Initially, she contemplated modifying her exercise routine, thinking that increasing her training might help. However, she quickly realized that she lacked the energy for more intense physical activity.
Concerned about these changes, Corbin sought help from various doctors and medical professionals. Unfortunately, many of them dismissed her worries, attributing her condition to normal aging processes and hormonal fluctuations. She was even told that her symptoms were merely a result of fatigue and that nothing unusual was occurring with her health.
Determined to find answers, Corbin persisted and consulted with a dietician who conducted a comprehensive series of blood tests. Astonishingly, the dietician admitted to never having encountered bloodwork like Corbin’s throughout her entire career. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the dietician advised Corbin to seek out a specialist immediately, emphasizing the need for prompt action.
Corbin followed the advice and underwent further blood testing under the supervision of an endocrinologist. Eventually, she received a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease, also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This discovery shed light on the underlying cause of her symptoms and provided a starting point for her journey towards managing the condition.
What is Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s disease, also referred to as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid gland, located below the Adam’s apple in the neck. The thyroid gland plays a vital role in producing hormones that regulate essential functions within the body, including metabolism and body temperature.
The chronic inflammation caused by Hashimoto’s disease obstructs the thyroid’s ability to produce an adequate amount of thyroid hormones, leading to a decline in its functionality and resulting in an underactive thyroid, medically known as hypothyroidism. The American Thyroid Association confirms this correlation, highlighting that the condition is most commonly observed in middle-aged women but can manifest at any age, including in men and children.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Hashimoto’s disease affects approximately five out of every 100 individuals in the United States. Given that the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease overlap with those of other illnesses, it is natural to wonder how frequently it may be initially misdiagnosed. Dr. Marius Stan, an endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, explains that when symptoms indicative of hypothyroidism are present, thyroid testing is typically conducted, making it uncommon for Hashimoto’s-related hypothyroidism to remain undiagnosed for an extended period of time.
In summary, Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the thyroid gland, leading to an underactive thyroid. While it is most prevalent in middle-aged women, it can affect individuals of all ages and genders. Proper diagnostic measures, including thyroid testing, are typically employed to identify and address the condition.
Learning to focus on an ‘auto-amazing’ mindset
When asked about her reaction upon receiving an official diagnosis, Corbin expressed a mixture of emotions. She described the confirmation of her condition as “justifying” yet acknowledged that it also came with a “double-edged sword” effect.
Knowing that her exhaustion had a tangible cause eliminated the blissful ignorance that previously allowed her to push through the fatigue. However, as time passed without finding any relief, the experience became mentally draining. Nevertheless, the relief she felt upon realizing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, that she wouldn’t have to live in that state forever, was undeniably wonderful.
Corbin emphasized the importance of recognizing that her body—and most importantly, herself—was more than just the limitations imposed by her condition. During a challenging period, her husband played a crucial role in helping her navigate the concept of an “autoimmune” condition. Initially struggling to come to terms with the idea of her body attacking itself, she underwent a mental transition, reframing it as “auto-amazing.” This shift in perspective allowed her to see possibilities and opportunities ahead of her once again.
Living with Hashimoto’s disease
Once diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, managing the condition primarily involves normalizing thyroid levels, according to Dr. Stan. Additionally, it is crucial to explore the possibility of any associated conditions that could contribute to the symptoms experienced. Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes mindful food choices and regular physical activity is beneficial for overall well-being, especially when dealing with chronic conditions.
While Hashimoto’s disease increases the risk of developing hypothyroidism, not everyone with the condition experiences it. Medical professionals may monitor individuals over time to evaluate the potential development of hypothyroidism in the future.
For those diagnosed with hypothyroidism, doctors may prescribe a synthetic form of thyroid hormone to address the hormonal imbalance, as stated by the Cleveland Clinic. Some individuals may opt for a holistic approach to managing the condition, taking into account various factors beyond medication.
Although there is no specific diet for Hashimoto’s disease, certain foods might affect the absorption of thyroid medication, as reported by the Cleveland Clinic. It is always advisable to consult with a healthcare provider regarding personal dietary requirements and any concerns related to medication.
Remember, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals is essential in addressing individual needs and optimizing the management of Hashimoto’s disease.
Treating your body like it ‘belongs to somebody you love’
If anyone finds similarities between Corbin’s journey and their own experience, Dr. Stan emphasizes the importance of discussing concerns with a primary care provider and undergoing thyroid testing to obtain a conclusive diagnosis. Recognizing the significance of her own experience, Corbin has been inspired to utilize her platform to raise awareness and shed light on Hashimoto’s disease as a specific autoimmune condition.
Hannah Corbin Autoimmune acknowledges that behind the scenes, everyone faces their own struggles, even if they may not occur simultaneously. She emphasizes the importance of demonstrating that despite having an autoimmune disease where her body attacks itself, she can still achieve success, lead a joyful life, and maintain a positive outlook.
For individuals in a similar situation, Corbin highlights that finding the right medical team is half the battle. While it is valuable to lean on friends and colleagues for support during health changes, it is crucial to find the appropriate medical specialist who can provide an accurate diagnosis and the necessary care.
Reflecting on her own experience and the roller coaster of doubt and confusion surrounding her fatigue and physical changes, Corbin had to reframe her perception of her situation. She describes a process of mourning the narrative she had constructed about her life’s trajectory. Redefining what “healthy” meant for her became essential, understanding that everyone encounters unique bumps along their personal journey.
Corbin explains that when everything seems to go wrong after doing everything “right” in life, it can be disheartening. However, she emphasizes the significance of moving through the initial phase of sadness and frustration, allowing those emotions to be expressed. By doing so, one can avoid clinging to them indefinitely. Instead, Corbin adopted a mindset of not dwelling in a place of negativity. She focused on taking small steps forward, treating her body with the same care and love she would offer to someone dear to her.