Thyroid Update

Back in April, I shared with you that I had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and gave an overview of what that has meant to me. You can read that confession here. Two months later and I am sick of thinking about it but understand that an update could help someone else.

I made this picture on a hike in the Hocking Hills last year. This picture of emerging from the darkness and climbing worn, uneven stairs toward the light is the perfect imagery to illustrate where I am right now.

It is notoriously difficult to adjust thyroid medicine. My circumstances are improving but it has been a slow climb. My energy is improving but I can still sleep ten hours and wake up feeling like I didn’t sleep at all.

Hair loss, joint pain, and sudden raspiness of voice persist. Fatigue in the afternoon is a pain and brain fog is still sometimes an issue. Finding the rights words is hard work some days. I had been combatting this with a bit of Diet Coke in the afternoon but have discovered that pop and sugar make things worse.

Reducing gluten has been a game changer and eating a banana most days has helped too. My medical provider advised me to listen to my body but to push myself to do more. So I’m trying to get back into hiking or at least walking the local bike path as much as possible. I have been trying to get to sleep early in hopes that someday I will awake rested.

Thankfully, many of my symptoms like weight gain and occasional dizziness seem to have leveled off and that is encouraging.

So I take my medicine religiously and try to walk that tight rope between rest and pushing.

I’m far behind in chores and work around the house because all my energy seems to be used up by my job and by trying to have some quality of life through an occasional adventure day.

I have a big trip on the books later this summer so I’m trying to do some training on the hiking trails. I will need more energy and more muscle power if I intend to enjoy that trip.

So things are improving even if it does feel like a slow climb out of the dark. If you have a thyroid problem, give yourself some grace. Personally, it feels like my body hates me and I hate my body. It’s a toxic relationship but I still choose to believe there is hope.

A New Day

The last few months have been challenging for me personally. The first quarter is always my hardest because of a project at work but this quarter has been marked by a number of other difficulties.

In my personal life, I have been battling a issue with my health. The symptoms didn’t just start this year but it was only recently diagnosed as hypothyroidism. This isn’t life threatening but is life altering and it explains a lot of seemingly isolated problems that have been going on for a long time.

Everyone complains about weight gain and exhaustion. These are certainly the headlines when it comes to my complaints but there’s a lot more to it. My muscles and joints hurt, my voice gets raspy and my skin itches for no reason at all. Nighttime is often defined by violent cold chills while morning is defined by grogginess and the sensation I spent my night running a marathon.

I tell you all this, not for your sympathy, but because I wish more people would talk about this stuff. Had I known more about the symptoms I might have been a better advocate for myself. Maybe you or someone you know is struggling and you don’t know why. This problem often comes with a litany of other things I haven’t mentioned here. Sometimes my hands and arms go numb for no reason. It’s ridiculous, the weird stuff that has been going on.

The cause can be genetic but it can also involve nutritional deficiencies like Vitamin D, Iron and Magnesium. We caught mine because my cholesterol was creeping up there and your thyroid controls cholesterol. Who knew?

I’m now on the path to finding the right dosage of a little white pill I take every day. This can be a real chore and it can be ever changing.

The more meaningful journey for me is using food as medicine. In the interest of boosting my magnesium, I now eat banana a day whether I want it or not. I never want the banana but see value in it as those bad muscle aches and pains are starting to subside. I’m reducing gluten at home. While this isn’t a fix for everyone, it does seem to be helping with my brain fog.

I have a list of things to try adding or removing from my diet. As I feel better, I can be more active. It would be nice to take off the extra pounds and to feel healthy and strong again but I have read and heard horror stories about the thyroid and why it’s often a lifelong battle.

I put that big work project to bed yesterday. It’s in the hands of my printer now and some other things at work should improve soon as well. I am hopeful that life will get easier. You can have stress at home or stress at work but it’s crippling to experience stress everywhere you go.

I celebrated in my own way yesterday. At lunch, I treated myself to some really nice books at an Ollie’s. This included one about the artist Monet and will help me prepare for an upcoming adventure. Near the cash register, a display of bare root roses presented one called “New Day.” It is yellow and happy and you can bet it will soon grace the flower bed outside my home office window.

It is a new day.

After work, I strolled the bike path, logging two miles and stopping once to admire a nice patch of wildflowers. There’s one area where you’ll find several varieties. While there are a couple that are large and obvious, they’re mostly small and delicate. You have to look for them, and the more you see, the more you see. It’s a quiet reminder that great gifts often come in small packages and that you sometimes have to slow down and go looking to find the beauty.

It’s there. You just have to try to find it.

This blog is written as an exercise in daily creativity. That means, instead of keeping a queue of future posts ready to go, I usually have just a list of ideas and start fresh every day. The exception is when I’m planning vacation or know that there will be no time for writing one day.

That has worked great until recently as exhaustion has started to win. That’s why I took a break.

I woke up this morning still tired but not as tired as a week ago and certainly far better than a month ago. I trust that I’m headed in the right direction and that I can get back to storytelling here. This is something that I enjoy immensely. The writing is close to my heart but I also enjoy hearing from all of you virtually and in real life.

If you’re interested in an overview of hypothyroidism, the Mayo Clinic provides a basic overview here. Talk to your doctor if some of the symptoms sound familiar. Advocate for yourself.

Happy Saturday, friends. It’s a new day.

An Orangery Metaphor

The Denver Botanic Garden uses an orangery to weather tender plants through the winter. Here you’ll find small orange trees, succulents and all manner of plants in a type of greenhouse. Some things look strong and healthy while others look half dead.

The common thread is that they will all pull through the winter and be moved back outside to thrive on more friendly days next year.

I have a bad cold that I’m desperately trying to prevent from becoming a sinus infection. It started on Thanksgiving and I just feel cruddy. I also got my Covid booster on Saturday and had some minor side effects from that on Sunday morning. In other words, I’m cruddy and tired and feel half dead like some of those plants.

Luckily, it is just a cold and I’ve been able to rest and drink lots of fluids and eat fresh citrus for the last few days. Things will be better soon if I continue to focus on self care.

This is something we humans aren’t very good at doing sometimes. Yet there’s no replacement for rest and genuine self care when we are under the weather. Society teaches us to buck up, to power through and to fake it till you make it. If you are unwell, that is garbage advice.

Rest. Hydrate. Nourish your body.

This is how you bounce back better than ever. You owe yourself that. Your body and mind deserve that much. Remember that the next time you’re tempted to ignore your body’s pleas for help.

The BIG Water Bottle

Consistently drinking more water is one of my current goals. To be clear, I drink a lot of water compared to most people. However, I’m inconsistent about it.

Sometimes I drink like I’ve been crawling through the desert nourished only by a box of saltines for three days. Sometimes I sit with a glass of water next to my hand and barely remember to take a sip.

There is no middle ground.

I’ve tried logging water with an app and on paper. I’ve tried setting alarms on my phone and have a magnificent water bottle I carry with me everywhere. The new Bluetooth water bottles have been taunting me but I seriously doubt they would make a difference.

And then I found this bottle. It’s enormous- almost too tall to fit in my fridge. It holds 101 ounces, greeting you good morning and offering incremental encouragements to keep drinking throughout the day.

I call her Bertha. Big Bertha.

It’s working so far. I’m a visual person so it helps to see and feel the bottle becoming lighter throughout the day. And no, I don’t drink from this monstrosity. Instead I drink from my favorite Wonder Woman glass just to make it more fun.

Angel In Boxing Gloves

As Covid-19 flares across this country, I have heard experts describe what is to come as a tsunami.

Our health care professionals are exhausted.

They are frustrated.

I imagine they are struggling more than we know in some of our country’s hardest hit areas. Someday, I fear they will have the same kind of PTSD that effects soldiers.

The holidays will likely usher in a new era of horrors that we all should be worried about now.

It’s hard for many of us to stay home all the time as we need to work, to buy Christmas presents or food. The economy needs us to be out there buying and exchanging money for services – a calculated risk here and there may be worth it. But we owe it to ourselves to stay healthy and to not share our germs with others. So please wear your mask, wash those hands, and social distance like your life depends on it.

After all, it may.

The mural is in Denver and is one of many spectacular pieces of art you can view from the car in that city. The image of a healthcare angel in boxing gloves seems more appropriate now than ever.

The Games We Play: Healthy Food Edition

I learned something about myself last week. When there are nicely arranged platters of fruits and veggies in the fridge, I eat about five times more fresh produce in a day than if it were all packaged up in separate containers.

It would be lovely to say that I’m exaggerating but it’s true! I had made fruit and veggie platters for a small retirement get together for my dad. Leftovers came home with me and I nibbled on them till they were completely gone. So I made smaller versions and found myself eating fresh veggies with every single meal!

What can I say? I’m a visual person and I like pretty things! Oh, the games I play to be healthier!