Monday, November 23, 2009

Raving Thyroid

In the last two months, I've gained twenty pounds and started to have an eerie resemblance to the Michelin Man. This is not because I'm eating Snickers bars for every meal or because I've stopped working out. It's because my thyroid levels are severely imbalanced. It began because my body was healing rapidly, which meant I was on far too high a dosage of thyroid medication.

What happens when one hyperthyroidic, even due to over-medication? I'll spare you a long list of physical symptoms and will simply say that absolutely everything is affected. Mood, weight, energy level, sex drive, ability to deal with stress, hunger level, irritability, etc., etc., etc. In a word, hyperthyroidism is HELL on earth. (And I don't use that term lightly. I promise.) For six weeks I was trapped with a personality I didn't recognize. I was, to be quite honest, really mean and extremely irritable. Other people noticed. Those who love me were willing to forgive me; those who didn't took offense and became as much a stranger to me as I was to myself. Some of those relationships have been healed. Others could not be.

Once we realized my medication levels were far too high, my doctor and I worked together to find a lower dose that worked. It took a while, but I eventually enjoyed one beautiful week where I was myself again. No nasty temper, no irritability, same sense of humor, same loving outlook, and same joy I'd always known. This was short-lived, because the medication I was on was under attack by the FDA and was no longer available. I was able to find a replacement, but the formula is not the same. This resulted in having far too little medication. I therefore went from being severely hyperthyroidic to being severely hypothyroidic within the span of a few short weeks.

What I'm experiencing now can't even be described with the word "exhaustion," because it includes an energy void physically, mentally and emotionally. The one good thing that resulted from this is that my patience in traffic is greatly improved because I even drive slower than normal. In addition to that, my heart beat has dropped more than 30 beats per minute, I could sleep 24 hours a day and still be tired, I have overwhelming brain fog, and my body is not digesting the food I eat. This is because hypothyroidism has substantially slowed everything in my body, including circulation, digestion, nerve conductivity, metabolism, etc. I should add that the one thing that has not slowed down is weight gain, resulting in my current resemblance to the Michelin Man. I'm currently waiting on test results to find out how we can adjust my meds to get things back in balance. Unfortunately, in spite of using many natural remedies to help my thyroid gland continue healing itself, this is one case where a prescription med is required. Having to wait for my MD to make that decision is tough, but necessary.

I share this partially so that you'll understand why I've been out of sight lately and so that those who see me will understand why I'm so huge. I also share this as an encouragement to others. Thyroid issues affect every aspect of your life. If you suspect your thyroid levels are imbalanced, please get your blood levels of TSH, T3 and T4 checked immediately. You'll be amazed at the changes you'll feel once you get things back in balance. If you'd like help and advice on balancing your thyroid levels naturally, please feel free to contact me.

Until then, I'm off to try on more tents. Have a blessed night!

Why Bigger Isn't Better

I confess that I’ve now started this Thanksgiving blog post five or six times and then deleted what I'd written. I had lofty goals of writing a beautiful tribute to everything for which I'm thankful. (And let me say that I am not thankful for that silly rule about never ending a sentence with a preposition.) What I wound up with sounded either insipid and saccharine-y (and we all know my position on artificial sweeteners), or came across sounding oddly ungrateful. So, instead of being “normal” and writing a glowing homage to the many blessings that overflow in my life, I thought I’d write instead about why we should be thankful for the tiny things we often overlook. The end result is a list of questions related to situations I often hear people complain about. I'm sure none of you can relate to any of those situations (because you're far too  noble), so feel free to share this post with someone who can.

Do you find it difficult to be thankful and give thanks for your daily to do list? Stop for a moment and give thanks that you even have a to do list. Many in this country no longer have a to do list because they were laid off or their company went under. Give thanks that you're overly busy, even if you hate your job. At least you have one.

Are you frustrated by your domestic duties and that no one else in the house helps? (Every mom knows what I'm talking about.) Be thankful you have a roof overhead requiring such chores. Then take a drive downtown and pay careful attention to the expressions on the faces of those standing outside missions waiting to get a bed. There are many who would love to have a place to call their own and to know where they’re going to sleep every night. Cleaning their own toilet would be a blessing to them.

Are you tired of the old tile and wallpaper in your bathroom? Give thanks that you have indoor plumbing. I’m serious about this one. When we lived in Mexico, we didn’t have indoor plumbing for a while. Every flush is a blessing to me now. If you're fed up because your kids used all the hot water, stop and be sincerely thankful that you have hot water. Again, I speak from personal experience. I’ve lived in two different countries where we didn’t have hot water. Cold showers suck in any language.

Are you feeling frustrated because a clerk or server or teacher isn’t being nice or treating you with respect? Give thanks that you’re not dealing with the pain that person is. There’s a reason they are so nasty. Be thankful you’re not carrying their burdens, then go out of your way to be nice to them. Big tips make a huge difference. Some day they'll appreciate your kindness.

Frustrated because your job or relationship is too confining? Be thankful you’re not in prison.

Frustrated by traffic and people who drive 10 miles under the speed limit? Me too. Get over it.

In all seriousness, stop taking the easy way out and giving thanks for the "big" blessings in your life. Start making an effort to notice and be sincerely grateful for the little blessings that abound in your life. Then make a conscious choice to be aware of them on a continual basis. You’ll soon find more blessings in your life than you thought possible. I dare you. Try it.

This post was written in support of the Epic Change organization. Please click here: