A POPULAR YOUTUBE VIDEO BLOGGER ADVOCATES FOR HASHIMOTO’S THYROIDITIS AWARENESS

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By Mary Green

View an assortment of Marnie Goldberg’s straighttalk YouTube beauty, fashion and lifestyle video blogs, and it’s likely you’ll come away with the impression that this former elementary school teacher and reading specialist is living the dream.

The naturally telegenic stay-at-home mom has wholesome good looks, a loving, supportive husband of 20+ years, two thriving teenage sons, three canine companions, an online following of more than 76,000 YouTube channel subscribers and millions of views of her videos covering topics as varied as cosmetics product reviews, puppy training and dealing with moody teenagers.

Recently – and more solemnly – Marnie added a new topic of discussion to her video collection: her experiences as a Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patient.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (theye-royd-EYET-uhss) is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland as if it were foreign tissue. Over time, this can impair the gland’s ability to produce the thyroid hormones necessary for many vital body functions and eventually can lead to an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), which can pose a series of more troublesome health problems if left untreated. The underlying cause of the autoimmune process is unknown.

Hypothyroidism isn’t the only complication associated with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In some cases, the condition can also cause a painless enlargement of the thyroid, commonly known as goiter. A goiter, particularly a large one, may cause symptoms such as difficulty swallowing.

Although an estimated 14 million Americans are affected by the disease, hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s often goes underdiagnosed for years as it progresses very slowly and its symptoms can be easy to disregard or attribute to other conditions, causing people to suffer unnecessarily.

Risks factors for developing the disorder include gender – Hashimoto’s is much more common in women; age, as it is more prevalent in middle age, although it can occur at any stage in life; a family history of thyroid problems; or a familial history of other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, or lupus. Because these other autoimmune conditions can have very serious consequences and mimic having too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism) thyroid hormone, it is important to learn about them.

Marnie’s journey as a Hashimoto’s patient began in her early 30s.

”The first thing I noticed is that I was tired all the time,” she recalls. “I would wake up tired, by midday I was ready for a nap, and by 4 or 5 o’clock, I was done for the day.” She also began experiencing constant headaches, irritability and moodiness, dry eyes and skin, forgetfulness, hair loss and what should have been a telltale sign something was awry.

“I had always been the same weight, barring two pregnancies, and snapped back to my pre-pregnancy weight without dieting,” she says. “I was fortunate that I had a slim figure without dieting or exercise and I took it for granted, but I had gained about 10 or 15 pounds, which was a lot for my frame. I just took it as a sign that this is life, I’ve got kids, I’m getting older, I’m going to be tired and my body is slowing down.”

I just took it as a sign that this is life, I’ve got kids, I’m getting older, I’m going to be tired and my body is slowing down.

It was only after her husband expressed his concern that Marnie sought a doctor’s opinion. “I wasn’t thinking that any of these things were connected and thought perhaps I just needed vitamins,” she says. After listing her symptoms with her general practitioner’s physician’s assistant, the P.A. noted Marnie was listing every classic symptom of an underactive thyroid. Marnie’s reply: “I have no idea what you’re talking about. What’s a thyroid?”

“I’m an educated woman, but I’d never heard of Hashimoto’s before it was detected by my doctor,” she says. “It had never been brought up in conversations with doctors regarding all the different kinds of personal care you’re supposed to look out for as you age.”

Once a diagnosis of hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s disease was confirmed with a simple blood test, Marnie was prescribed thyroid hormone replacement medication, which typically needs to be taken for life because of the generally permanent and often progressive nature of the disease. Improvements can be seen in patients quickly following introduction of the medication, but determining the correct dosage for the patient and realizing the full impact of the thyroid medicine may take some time, which was the case with Marnie. “There is no one protocol that works ideally for everyone,” she notes. “Different types and dosages work differently, some people’s symptoms clear up quickly, while for others it’s a constant battle. Everyone’s body chemistry is different.”

Following her diagnosis, she started researching hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s, the types of questions she needed to ask her endocrinologist and how to manage the effects of the disease, and consequently made a number of lifestyle adjustments, including cutting down on sugar and unhealthy carbohydrates, adding more protein into her diet and exercising regularly.

It’s been astonishing how supportive the response has been, how many people have said they are experiencing the same symptoms and have been struggling in silence, so they’re going to talk to their doctor.

“It’s one of those things where, just looking at a person, you wouldn’t know it was going on, but even though it’s not something that might kill me or put me in the hospital if I take care of myself, it can be a frustrating thing to live with,” Marnie says, “so it’s been an ongoing journey that ultimately led me to a specialist, an endocrinologist, because this is a particular body part that needs the attention of a specialist.”

“And I began to realize that if I could spend six or seven hours researching the formula for a lipstick for my video blog viewers, I needed to be putting that kind of energy into researching my own illness,” she adds. “Here I am talking to housands of women online about how to be their own best advocate, and I’m not doing the same for myself.”

Armed to the hilt with knowledge and personal experience, and realizing she had an ideal platform for sharing her experiences with others, Marnie took to her YouTube channel in April 2013 with the first of three videos talking about living with an “invisible” illness. That video has since become one of her most-watched, with almost 300,000 views.

“It’s been astonishing how supportive the response has been, how many people have said they are experiencing the same symptoms and have been struggling in silence, so they’re going to talk to their doctor,” Marnie says. “If I’ve helped even one person feel better, make a doctor’s appointment, get healthier, then it’s worth the effort, but there are only so many people I can reach on my own.”

It’s one of those things where, just looking at a person, you wouldn’t know it was going on, but even though it’s not something that might kill me or put me in the hospital if I take care of myself, it can be a frustrating thing to live with.

To that end, Marnie is partnering with the American College of Endocrinology (ACE) in 2017 to support Hashimoto’s thyroiditis awareness, sharing her perspective in a recent satellite media tour with 24 television and radio outlets, with plans to produce quarterly online videos that highlight the effects of the autoimmune disease and offer tips on how to best manage the condition.

Also, a dedicated Facebook page and Twitter account (#MyHashimotosStory, @MyHashimotosStory) have been created by ACE to connect those who have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease.

“Although it’s not the end of the world to get a diagnosis like this, it’s a ‘new normal’ that takes some adjustment,” Marnie says, “so it’s important to pay attention to changes in your health that are red flags, to become knowledgeable about your disease, to seek out a specialist and to be an active participant in figuring out which options work best for you.”

For more information about hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, as well as other thyroid conditions, visit www. thyroidawareness.com. To follow Marnie on social media, visit https://www.youtube.com/user/MsGoldgirl, @msgoldgirl on Instagram, or on Twitter @GoldGirl330.