Prescott AZ Photographer Rich Charpentier Hashimotos Thyroiditis Story

Guys can get Hashimotos too…. Who knew?

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich 2 Comments

As regular readers know, it’s been terribly quiet here at The Airstream Chronicles.  And I’ve got the standard excuses all lined up.  Working on client projects, working on ongoing maintenance for customers, and busy with things other than blogging about the Airstream and adventures.  But this summer has actually been eaten up by one thing.  An off the wall diagnosis after an ER visit in April.  Apparently I have Hashimotos Thyroditis, and it explains a lot!  I haven’t said much about it here, but I’m going to give you the full run down today.

Who hit me with a golf club?

April 29th of 2017 I was sitting in the Airstream reading something online while eating lunch.  Rice macaroni and fake cheese (as I’m allergic to dairy).  I had a minor neck cramp for 2 days, and thought very little of it.  But it became something to pay attention to as I was having lunch.  While dining I noticed that my jaw was becoming extremely painful, and chewing wasn’t going so well.  The side of my face felt “weird.”  Finally it got to the point where I could no longer chew on the right side of my mouth as it locked up.


So I stopped lunch, and went to look in the mirror real quick.  On the back left side of my jaw I was swelling.  Golf ball sized, and increasing.  Yes, a freaky moment.  I was alone in the Airstream, and made the decision that I would need to get to the ER.  My jaw was locking up.  Eeeeeeek!

Time in the ER

The EMTs asked repeatedly if I was having an allergic reaction to anything.  As I’ve had several in my life I knew that wasn’t the issue.  Still we ended up getting an IV with Benadryl, and then an anti-inflammatory at the hospital.  Also some kind of crazy pain killer that left me pretty dumb for the remainder of the day.  They ran some tests, scanned me in a tube, got the inflammation down, and then sent me home.  They also hit me with an anti-biotic I’m allergic to, which led to a second ER visit that wasn’t much fun at all.

I didn’t learn much from the ER visits.  The only thing that was noted was that my Thyroid was inflamed according to the scan they did.

Oral Surgeons, General Practitioners, and an ENT

After the weird ER visit I took a ride down to Scottsdale to see an oral surgeon.  Since it seemed that my jaw blew up, dental popped to mind.  I was referred to the oral surgeon by my dentist, and was told he was the best.  I’ll say this.  Some of the most awesome imaging equipment I’ve ever seen!  A full scan of my jaw showed nothing, so the inflamation wasn’t anything to do with my teeth.  Awesome, brushing twice a day pays off.

With dental ruled out I visited my GP.  He’s a great guy, Dr. Aranda.  And I’ve been seeing him for a decade now.  I’ve had autoimmune issues since 2005, and he’s helped me manage the issues to the best of his abilities.  After the ER visit he suggested an ENT next to see if we could determine what happened exactly.

Sadly, the ENT didn’t have much to offer.  Everything looked okay in his opinion.  The only thing he noted was from the ER report.  My Thyroid was inflamed, and my white count was 22,000 that day (scary).  So, another trip back to the GP with the suggestion that maybe we look into the Thyroid.

Hashimotos confirmed

Dr. Aranda ordered some labs for me after my visit to the ENT.  We’d never done the thyroid tests before.  We had both gone with my diagnosis from back in New England.  A week later the results were in, but I was up in Springerville working with a client.  We couldn’t discuss this one over the phone apparently, so I had to wait another week.

Once back in Prescott Dr. Aranda gave me the news.  Hashimotos.  I’d heard the name, but had no idea what it was (I’m still a little lost on that one).  For some reason the name makes me envision a Godzilla movie.  Just saying.

Apparently, men do not get diagnosed with Hashimotos as often as women.  So it’s common practice to not test men’s thyroid when they’re having issues.  As I’ve learned over the past few months, the symptoms I’ve had since 2005 are all consistent with Hashimotos.  Sadly, nobody went down the testing path with me a decade ago.  All that wasted time……

The enemy has been identified, and steps are being taken

In all honesty, learning about what’s been going on with me since 2005 has made me feel a little better.  I now have an endochronologist in Phoenix, and we’ve started on the path (slowly) to working on the problem.  We’re not moving at the pace I’d like, but I have to be patient a little longer.

A friend of mine suggested reading “Hashimotos Protocol,” written by Elizabeth Wentz, PharmD.  She too has Hashimotos, and she’s helping people learn to live with it and work with it every day.  In chapter 4 of her book she talked about what she went through when seeking help.  Her story sounded exactly like mine in 2005 & 2006.  The common symptoms and issues were spot on.  The main difference?  She got help a lot sooner.  I have to say, learning her story brought some tears to my eyes, so much of it was a mirror of what I went through.  Listening to that one chapter left me a little angry that I’d been ignored for so long.  But it also left me with a very new feeling regarding the issues.

I’m finally not alone. 

Coping with this on my own for 12 years was frustrating.  Not understanding all of the new allergies, not understanding the random pain issues, and forcing myself to put a smile on every day even when I felt at my worst……  Knowing now what’s going on has eased a burden on my mind in a way you can’t imagine.  I now know exactly what’s happening, and fortunately there are things I can do while waiting for the next medical appointment.

Where do I go from here?

Well, that’s simple.  Forward.  Just like I’ve done for a decade.  But now there’s actually a light at the end of this tunnel.  And the whole time I’ve been fighting this I’ve never curled up in a ball and given in.  I’ve been continuing to build my business over the years, learned new recipes to work around some severe allergies (I will never stop missing pizza and beer but oh well), and continued getting out there!  I’ll keep moving forward (I just hear Meet the Robinsons with that phrase), and I’m looking forward to the solutions we develop for my Hashimotos.

With that out there now……one less excuse for not blogging.  🙂



Comments 2

  1. Oh, Rich. I hope that you get the help you need sooner than later. I’m still struggling and feeling like giving up with my issues. But I’m 69 years old – not a young man like you. You are an inspiration to me, though. However, I DO curl up in a ball and cry sometimes, but maybe that’s just the old lady in me. Thinking of you often as I deal with my medical issues – hoping yours can be relieved.

  2. Rich, two of my daughters and myself have Hashimotos. For years, we also floundered with wrong medical mishaps, never getting better. But we are all better. I feel great ( after a decade of not being diagnosed properly by regular M.D.’s. What helps is a good Functional Medicine Doctor, as they know not only to check the thyroid, but what to do about it. Isabella Wentz’s book is a very good place to start. ( yes, that is her first name ), but she also has a nine part documentary about thyroid problems that you will find not only chock full of information, but inspiring. I hope you get a chance to see it-take notes, there is so much valuable info. She interviews the doctors in the country on the cutting edge of thyroid issue solutions. Also, check out books by: Dr. Amy Myers, M.D., Dr. Davis Kharrazian, and Tom O’Bryan ( who wrote the Autoimmune Fix). Good luck and best wishes for a healthy outcome! Life is worth it’s! Carole

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