“The doctors I was seeing were saying the same thing: ‘sorry you’re normal; there’s nothing we can do. [I knew] there had to be something. I just needed someone who could help me find a different normal; a better way.”
At 30 years old, Brittany was a newlywed and hairstylist working with clients she loved, settling into a new town where she enjoyed being active, eating well and taking in good music with her husband. She was living the life she imagined: until her health started to decline, falling asleep on the couch after a long day at the salon, sometimes from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 a.m. the next morning.
Her husband raised concerns but Brittany ignored him. She thought, “This is just what happens when you turn 30, and I’m working a lot,”
But after several exhausted sleeps, an inability to think clearly from brain fog and an overall feeling of “puffiness”, or inflammation, she knew something had to change.
SEEKING HELP, AND THE MOST COMMON CAUSE OF THYROID ISSUES
Talking with a trainer at her CrossFit gym sympathetic and clued in to what she was going through, Brittany began to suspect thyroid issues — which run in her family.
“I heard the women in my family [blaming their thyroid] and thought, ‘that’s never gonna happen to me. I’m active. I’m young. I know how to take care of myself.’”
And yet, no matter how diligently Brittany tended to eating healthily and working out, the extreme exhaustion, brain fog, and inflammation throughout her body refused to subside.
Visits to different doctors confirmed Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: an autoimmune disease. Her doctor prescribed medication, but after months with no real improvement, Brittany went back to her doctor.
“Your labs have come back; everything looks ‘normal’ since we put you on medication,” her doctor explained. “Really? I still [don’t feel better]; I [haven’t noticed any improvements],” Brittany replied.
Desperate for answers, Brittany tried to share research she found online to see if dietary changes — specifically, going gluten-free — would alleviate her symptoms. Instead of listening and considering this input, the doctor pointed her back to the only supposed option: medication.
“I got in my car and started bawling. I was so frustrated.”
Thankfully, the same trainer at her gym who first empathized about her thyroid issues also knew of a Functional Nurse Practitioner who would listen and help Brittany get to the bottom of this diagnosis: Lauren Colletti, FNP.
“I went to Lauren, told her my issues; she gave me so much hope because she was so much more willing to not only listen to me but run so many more tests. My doctor focused [only on my] thyroid.”
Rather than focus on getting Brittany to a “normal” TSH range, Lauren honed in on her “optimal” range.
“As Lauren explained to me, ‘you may feel great at a 2.4 [TSH level] whereas someone else might feel better at a 0.8. Both are considered normal. We’re going to focus on you; getting you to feel optimal.’
A SIGH OF RELIEF
So Brittany and Lauren got to work testing her complete thyroid panel — not just her TSH and T4 — but also looking at hormones, gut health, along with her vitamin and mineral levels as well. For the next 7 years, Brittany and Lauren worked to tweak her care plan with every visit.
“I love Lauren’s ability to be fluid; to tweak things. It’s not a hard and fast rule about living your life; what worked for you a year ago might not work for you this year,” Brittany said.
She especially enjoyed how Lauren listened, remembered details, and implemented changes with each visit. Brittany especially appreciated how Lauren always made concessions for life occasions, taking into consideration those events where eating completely clean or not drinking, at all, were unavoidable.
“I like her adaptiveness and how she is constantly checking in on the same thing. As a woman, our hormones change from day to day so of course they’re going to change from visit to visit. I appreciate that.”
A BETTER WAY TO ‘NORMAL’
Seven years after beginning her work with Lauren Colletti, FNP, Brittany is feeling more energetic than ever.
“It’s so crazy; after turning 37 so many of my clients are [shocked, saying] ‘You look amazing!’ That’s really nice. I feel normal and good.”
Three years ago, Brittany opened up her own hair salon with a business partner — a move she credits to taking an active role in her health.
“I’m not sure I would be able to be a successful hairdresser [if I didn’t work with Lauren]. I worked in the corporate world and hated it. I’m sure I would’ve gone back to a desk job, something more sedentary, not great for me.”
“As a hairdresser you’re on your feet all day. You have to be pretty agile; move quickly; think on your feet; be present mentally to connect with clients; build relationships with them,” Brittany explained.
“I would not own my salon, would not be able to move to this cool small town and buy this cool house, have the life I have now [had I not taken an active role in my health with Lauren].”
And though Brittany is now living her most energetic, optimal life she’s quick to share the solution is not an overnight transformation.
“I tell people this: it’s not a magic pill. I also have to give myself a ton of credit (and my husband too). With the autoimmune/paleo diet [I’m on], you cannot eat out [as you] cannot trust what the restaurant is feeding you,” she says.
“Lauren walked me through [this diet] and explained this would fast forward me feeling better, but I had to make sure I was prepared to do the work. Lauren is amazing and she can put you on this path but you still have to walk down it.”
DREAMING OF THE FUTURE
So what’s next for Brittany now that her life, and health, are optimal?
“We want to have a baby 5-10 years from now,” she dreams aloud. “As an ‘older mom’ I would hope that I’d be able to run my business and be present for my husband and my child and be able to still do things I want to do for myself, like weightlifting.”
Brittany is a prime example of how the stories you’ve heard about your health — even through your family tree — do not have to define what’s available for you, your future, and your loved ones.
Brittany, we are so proud of you for taking your health back in your hands; for knowing you deserved to feel better and live well, and adhering to the steps to do it. We are so honored to partner with you toward your happiest, healthiest life — impacting you, your clients, and your family.