Thursday, September 6, 2012

6 weeks post Thyroidectomy

I feel horrible.  

When I initially came home after my surgery, I was in pain but I was full of hope.  I had this feeling of being extremely tired, but as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.  That feeling is gone. My old friend has returned...that weight, that feeling of walking through deep sand with a huge weight on my back has returned.  I'm hurt, but I am no longer upset about it.  I was mad when I noticed "the weight" returned.  I had this feeling of betrayal and being overwhelmed.  I have never gone into detail about exactly how I feel, but I'm compelled to do so this evening.  I don't know why I haven't done this before.  So here it goes....

I can't sleep most of the time and if I do it's not restful sleep, so I am Mommy, wife, and student in a zombie like state. I wake up in the morning, my heart pounds like its about to come out of my chest.  I don't get up quickly because I know from experience that I will faint, so I just wait.  My children come in and I slowly get up and I will myself to ignore the pounding.  By the time, I make it to the top of my stairs the pounding stops, but by the time I get to the bottom of the stairs, I feel thirsty, dizzy, and weak. Over time, the thirst and dizziness goes away, but there are so many other things that hurt that I don't know for sure if it does go away. I get cross eyed while picking up my children's vitamins and find myself steadying myself most mornings to get it all together. I forget things often, even eating. I have to write down what I am going to make for my children for breakfast, lunch and dinner because mid-way into cooking, I forget what I was doing.  When I drive my daughter to school, I talk on the phone to keep myself centered.  My eyes don't drift and I feel secure that if something does happen, someone will know. I can't concentrate, so I spend hours doing homework.  My body aches to the point that I have to call my husband home somedays because my hips lock up and I can't walk. I fine myself sometimes talking to people and can't remember what they have said even though I am looking directly at them. I have somehow developed this Costochondritis (look it up), which hurts like you have no idea. I have also developed an extreme sensitivity to gluten or maybe even soy.  If I eat out, I break out in hives, no matter what. Today, was my first day without a hive break out.  I went for 4 days with hives on my face. There are other things too, like the weight, which I can only attribute to depression.  I use to be so active. I use to be so full of life and now I feel as if I'm mourning the old me at times.

I went to see my regular doctor (Endo doesn't want to see me until the 13th) and she told me that I needed to find a way to accept that this is my life now.  I wanted to slap her, but after thinking about it for a little while, I think she is right. I have to learn to accept it because being sad and angry will not do anything for me.  My daughter helped me to learn that in an innocent conversation a while back.  I, in my motherly wisdom told her that sadness and anger can kill a person and then I thought about myself. I have to let it go.  

In all honesty, most people would be tired in my shoes.  I am a stay at-home mother with 2 very active children.  I have a husband that I like very much ;) and I take 4 classes at the local community college.  Most people in my shoes would be tired, so I have come to realize that a lot of my fatigue is relative to my lifestyle; however, the other symptoms don't fall in the tired mom category.  If you read this, would anyone be so kind as to suggest what I should say to the Endo.  I'm at a loss.  I know it takes time to get medication right after surgery, but I can't go on like this much longer.  I'm barely holding on.  The bright side is that I got a neck lift out of all this.  I'm posting pictures, so they should be below. 





One more thing, I find it ironic that my appointment with the Veteran's Affairs Endocrinologist is at the end of the month.  This appointment was made back in April I believe.  I have no thyroid.  I am happy to cancel my appointment for someone else, but I still think its a damn shame what they are doing to veterans.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Week 1 & 2 - Recovery

I'm going to see the surgeon tomorrow.  I am hoping he will take this bandage off of my neck.  I am getting tired of people staring at it.  I told a lady at the library the other day that it was a tattoo.  She gave me a quick uncomfortable smile and ran away. I told another lady that I was covering up a hole where my cigarette goes in.  She too, scurried away.  I can't keep doing that...especially with my children around.  It is amusing.  My daughter just looks at me with a knowing smirk and I know I'm creating a child with a very dark sense of humor. I simply can't help myself sometimes.

It will be a full 2 weeks since I have had my surgery and I think I have had an epiphany.  I realize, since surgery, that exhaustion does not include the feeling of being weighed down.  I think the feeling of being weighed down is...depression. Along with this new information, I have come to accept that I have more than likely been depressed for a very long time. I come from a long line of women that laugh at the word "depressed".  I am or was one of those type of people.  How on Earth could I be depressed if I laugh, find joy, or even look forward to making other people happy?  I simply don't know the answer to that, but I do know that although I am exhausted most of the time now, I don't feel weighed down anymore.  I want to run again and go places and dance in the kitchen with my kids.  I don't think I was an Eeyore before surgery, probably more like Pooh Bear, but now I want to be Tigger.  If only I had a thyroid to help out with energy part and of course better hips to aid me with dancing and running, life would be perfect.

Along with the grey clouds being lifted, I have been given back my memory.  I don't remember much and that is something that I have been dealing with for years.  I have important memories that I hold dear, but the majority of my childhood is essentially gone. I am starting to remember things that have seemed fuzzy for years and most of those memories are not good.  It has unnerved me and I have begun to think that maybe on some crazy level my thyroid was protecting me or  it could be that stressed out little girls grow up to have stressed adrenals and everything else begins to breakdown.  I'm only speaking for myself, but I remember seeing a psychologist about 3 years ago.  I was feeling tired.  I was unable to get any restful sleep or any sleep at all.  I felt like I was at the beginning of a breakdown.  My regular doctor wanted to give me an antidepressant and because "I don't get depressed", I refused. He suggested I see a psychologist. I believed I was stressed not depressed for obvious reasons.  My husband had been deployed 3 months after we had our daughter and was basically missing the first year of her life.  We moved from our home in Texas to a much smaller one in NC.  I was in a new place with no friends or family.  It was stressful not depressing, or so I thought.

The psychologist was weird, but now that I think back on her, I should have listened.  After we spoke at length, she told me that she didn't believe that I was stressed because of any of the issues I told her about (I spoke about Iraq and my husband's deployment), she thought I had depleted the cortisol in my body because of the constant stress in my life as a whole.  She believed that I had PTSD, but didn't think it had anything to do with Iraq.  She, from one question, in which I was blindly honest, figured that I had PTSD from my childhood and my cortisol levels had been slowly depleting since a very early age.  I thought the lady was full of crap, but now that I have educated myself, I realize what she was describing was Adrenal Fatigue.  If only she would have said the name! I never went back to her after that first meeting and now (since surgery) I think of her often.  She read me correctly and that scared me.  I have always been able to hide the pain of my childhood quite well, but she saw it and I felt like I couldn't breathe after leaving her.  I had been found out. She could see that I was damaged and I didn't like that.  The question that gave me away was: What do you want in your life? My answer: A home without chaos. I am with a bandage around my neck thinking, and thinking.  The fog in my brain has lifted and because of that...I think way too much.  2 weeks after surgery and I have no new "thyroid" stuff going on.  My journey is taking me back to reflect on fixing the inner me.  I will say that even though I think or self reflect more often, there is no emotion attached, which is weird to me.  There is a dullness and I can't put my finger on what that is.

Oh wait, I'm lying...I did get blood work back and the Endo doesn't want to do anything to my medication just yet.  Speaking with some people on the Hashimoto's support page on FB, I have been reminded that I need to take it slow in regards to getting the optimal level of medication.  Here are my labs: TSH 0.762 (0.450-4.500), T4 1.68 (0.82-1.77), T3 2.6 (2.0-4.4), TPO 507 (0-34).  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Step 3: Surgery

The thyroid cloud has rolled in and has settled on my brain.  It feels like I'm swimming in cloudy, gray water desperately trying to find my way to the top to get some fresh air and escape.  I find it amusing...right now.  I guess this is what happens after having ones thyroid removed less than a week ago.

The surgery was a success.  I no longer have a thyroid, but thankfully, I still feel like me.

We (my husband and I) arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m.  I was in surgery by 7 a.m. and out by 10:30 a.m. The drugs they gave me before taking me up to the operating room were AWESOME!  I don't remember much from the time the lady put them in, though I know I was conscious during that time.  Heaven only knows what I said.  My last memory was of my husband walking away from me and telling the nurse that he didn't like to say goodbye because it seemed like we weren't going to see each other again.  I remembered thinking that he should have told me that because I thought he was just being an insensitive ass. A few seconds later, he returned and kissed me on the forehead and said he loved me and again walked away.  That's all I remember.  The next conscious thought I have is of waking up in recovery.

Recovery, to me, was a glimpse into hell.  There are people moaning and you can't see them, but you can hear them.  You really don't know what's going on because you're high, so it's kind of real but not. The lady next to me kept screaming, "it's burning, make it stop, MAKE IT STOP".  I was beginning to think I had really messed up, but then I fell back asleep and awoke more aware of my surroundings.  The lady was still screaming, but I was fully aware of where I was and what was going on. The doctor came and told me that they took the thyroid out and pathology should come back in 5 days.  I gave him a high five.  Yes, I gave him a high five.  I was high, what do you expect?

They took me to my room and that's when the pain and my bladder hit me. I was very, very sore and I had to pee like my life depended on it.  The soreness is intensified because it's in such an awkward place.  I tried to lift my head and boy, did it hurt.  The nurse told me to relax, but all I could think of was making it to the toilet. She (the nurse) reminded me of my grandmother, which alarmed me. I told her I need to go and it took about 2 minutes to unhook all of the devices so I could actually make it.  Thankfully, I made it, but my whole body wasn't in compliance to being upright and I barfed.  It hurt so bad and it continued to happen on and off for the rest of the day.

The rest of my stay in the hospital was uneventful.  The nurse, like my grandmother, just didn't seem comfortable leaving me alone to just sleep.  She would come in and remind me to get up and walk, use the breathing machine, and not get depressed.  Who does that? My calcium dipped to a very low level and almost delayed my release, but it came back up and it was expected considering the surgery happened so close to the parathyroid gland.  I came home the day after surgery and felt fine.  I had no brain fog.  I was just sore.  Today, is day 4 post surgery and I definitely feel like those early thyroid days.

We got the pathology report back and it's not Cancer.  The funny thing is that when I heard the doctor say it, I was angry.  I know it's stupid, but I never wanted to have this surgery. I felt like I had taken my thyroid out for no reason.  I felt stupid. I had a pity party for all of 20 minutes. My husband had to remind me that most people don't cry when they hear they don't have cancer.  That put things into perspective.

I went to the Endo yesterday after hearing the results and got my levels checked and he upped my dosage to 75 mcg of Synthroid.  I'm no longer on Levothyroxine.  He told me that it (Levothyroxine) was not good for me after a thyroidectomy and from this point on I should be on Synthroid.  That made me feel good because a friend told me that earlier. He also said that my dosage would slowly be increased because it was dangerous to shoot me up without monitoring my blood.  Funny thing is that my insurance won't pay for Synthroid, so we have to pay $30 a month for me to be sane.  I'm not complaining because I know others pay more for things they need, but I think it's completely nonsense.

That's it.  Now the journey to wellness continues.  Also, if any of you have seen my appetite, please tell it to come back.  I'm withering away over here and I hate forcing myself to eat.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Night before surgery

I don't want to do this surgery.

I keep repeating that statement to family and friends.  I simply am in no mood to do this surgery.

I think about other people's journey's and I feel like I'm being ungrateful.  There are people suffering who would gladly take my place, but all I can think of is just sleeping in and saying, "the hell with it!", but I can't and I know this is supposed to be the best decision in this process.

I can't stop thinking about my mother.  My mother has Graves Disease. She has had a thyroid issue forever.  I vaguely remember her not being ill, but all I know of her is sickness. I don't want to be like her.

I guess that's my biggest fear.  I am afraid of waking up and being my mother.  I model myself, as a mother, after my own mother.  She was always kind and soft spoken, but when she meant business, her voice would raise and you knew it was time to get in line.  She always made me and still does make me feel like I was a gift from God.  She calls me her miracle baby.  She has always looked at me with love.  Because of my mother, I knew, even before having my own children that a mother's love is never ending, indescribable, and magical. One might ask, why, if she was and is all of those things, then why don't I want to be like her.  The answer is quite simple, she is alive but rarely here with us.  I lost my mother years ago.

My mother cannot follow a conversation.  There are times that she gets so muffled in the cloud of thyroid disease that she is disoriented almost like dementia.  I resented her for a very long time for not being "normal".  It was all so gradual.  First, she just seemed off.  Little things, like a blank stare or continuously asking you to repeat something.  It was like she was in slow motion. Then it sped up and she wouldn't sleep for days. She was always going.  It was like she couldn't control it. There was always something that needed to be done. During her hyper swings, she would develop heart palpitations, but the doctors never found anything wrong, so we all thought she was making it up. When I was about 11 or 12 years old, she put me behind the wheel of her car on a rainy day because they had gotten so bad.  There was no point in her going to the doctor because the test said there was nothing wrong. A few years after that rainy day, I went to visit my mother in the hospital after they put in a pace maker.  She has had a mini stroke.  Her teeth are falling out.  Her hair will not grow. Her bones are brittle and she has a terrible case of OCD.

She does have moments of clarity and I cherish those.  In those moments, I try to tell her to see a different doctor.  I try to tell her all that I have learned, but she just smiles and nods.  She isn't concerned anymore.  She once told me that she knows she's different, but she is okay with that.

So...this is why I am frightened.  They killed her thyroid many years ago and from that point on, I have only gotten snippets of my mother.  Granted, we are like night and day and I don't have the husband she had (my father was a very mean man), so my stress is nothing like hers, but I am still her child and this thyroid disease still came to get me even though I thought I was living a life that wouldn't allow it in.  It still came to get me and now I worry if I will wake up from surgery and be the mother to my children that I was today.

I prayed for my children.  They are like my air.  I want to be engaged in their lives.  I don't want to be a ghost, simply around in the shadows.  I want to be their mommy. I want this shit to be done.  I want to live life, laugh, and be free of this illness.

God, I am begging you to please let me be me when this is all said and done.

If you are reading this, sign this petition for ThyroidChange.  Too many generations have suffered with thyroid disease.  A change needs to happen and we need your help, please.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Step 2: Go to the Pre-Op Interview

I woke up this morning with nothing on my mind, but breakfast.  I wanted to try out this new recipe and not think about my 11:15 appointment at the hospital.  The breakfast was terrible.

As we drove to the hospital, I began to cry.  My husband grabbed my hand and asked me what was wrong. I told him I really didn't want to do any of it.  I composed myself and started discussing our plans for vacation.  We plan to go away on holiday in December.  It is something I long for.  I cannot wait to be away.

We checked in at the desk.  I was given a form to fill out about previous surgeries, illnesses, and current medications.  On paper, I'm pretty healthy except the thyroid box and the previous surgeries box.  I have had a lumpectomy, appendectomy, 2 C-sections and a DNC.  I guess that's good for a 33 year old. 40 minutes later I was called into a room with a very nice lady.  She went over my form and said, "you're very healthy, you should be fine with surgery".  I understand that she must see the worse of the worse, but it is an insult to be told that you are healthy when you have thyroid disease.  I wanted to tell her that she was wrong.  I wanted to tell her that I was ill.  I wanted to tell her that healthy didn't involve having a surgeon cutting your throat to get out something that was causing you so many problems.  Instead of verbally assaulting this woman, I decided to smile.  She took my vitals and gave me a blue bottle. She instructed me to shower with its contents the night before surgery and the morning of.  I was then told that I needed to be at the hospital at 5 a.m. and my surgery would begin at 7:30 in the morning.  She then told me that the anesthesiologist would come in next and after he spoke with me, I was free to leave.

The anesthesiologist seemed pretty indifferent.  He, like the lady, informed me that I was healthy and I should do fine in surgery.  We went over my previous surgeries, my medication, and then he asked me to open my mouth wide.  A little known fact about me is that I have TMJ.  My jaw locks when I open it too wide and he made a note to be gentle when putting the tube down my throat.  He informed me that they will give me a solution to relax when I arrive and then another when we get in the operating room to put me to sleep.  That was it from him and I was free to enjoy the rest of my day.

The surgery should last a total of 1 to 2 hours if everything goes according to plan.  I should be in recovery for the same amount of time.  However, I believe the recovery will be much longer.  I think it is going to take some time for me to figure out how to get back to me after having my thyroid removed. I'm not looking forward to it either.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I'm feeling better!

Now that I have emerged from my Thyroid cloud, I feel pretty good again.  After the discussion with the surgeon, I got very ill.  That very day I felt extremely fatigued.  I didn't want to admit to myself that it had to do with my thyroid.  I thought it had to do with me getting off a plane the previous day from California, which was an ordeal, but the fatigue you feel from your thyroid is quite different than just being tired.  I described it to a doctor once as a feeling of a weight coming from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.  It physically feels as if someone is pushing me down and I can't do anything to get them from on top of me.  So...I decided that it would be best if I used last weekend as a recuperating weekend and then my stomach went to hell.  My husband was also in the field at the time, so I was a extremely tired, bubble gut mess with 2 very active children.  I was horrible and thankfully my husband took leave to be by my side.  I don't think I would have made it.

I have had the honor to be a part of some pretty awesome online thyroid communities and the support I have gotten has warmed my heart.  One person in particular (one of the founder's of ThyroidChange) suggested that I may be having some adrenal issues because of stress.  I think she is right and I started to think back on moments in my life when this has happened to me and it always followed a stressful event.  Before, I didn't have children, so it was nothing to me to get in the bed and rest for a weekend.  Now, I realize when I'm down and exhausted because I have 2 little people who still need me to be a Mom.  I use to think I was just having a bit of depression and now I'm sure that I've been having this Hashimoto's/Adrenal issue for a very long time now.  Anywho, please check out the ThyroidChange website and please sign the petition.  Our voices need to be heard and although I appreciate the support, I shouldn't have eureka moments from other thyroid patients when I have medical insurance.  I went to the doctor and the only thing she could give me was some nausea medication (that basically put me in a coma) and Gatorade.

Speaking of Gatorade...when I told my doctor that I no longer drank Gatorade, she looked at me like I was an alien.  I don't think I've mentioned it lately, but I have gone completely Paleo.  Most of my friends know this about me and I am pretty sure it annoys them.  It is a huge sacrifice. I love the way I feel, but I do miss going out with friends for a bite to eat.  I guess I shouldn't say I'm Paleo.  I'm more Primal because I do have the occasional slice of cheese.  I have cut out soy, rice, sugars (except honey and maple syrup), most dairy, legumes, and most importantly grains.  When I did it half way, I saw a somewhat improvement, but when I went to the extreme, I've seen a huge change all around especially with me finally getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight (my baby is going on 2 years old).  After being diagnosed with Hashimoto's, I had gotten up to about 150 lbs. and now I'm 134 lbs.  I don't work out because of a hip injury, so that weight loss is all diet.  It took about 3 months to see a difference, but it happened.  If you're thinking about doing it, I would suggest giving it a shot and giving yourself some time to see results.  I will admit though that it isn't fun not being able to just eat whenever you want or simply go out to a restaurant and have Paleo "safe" foods.  I don't eat out because most restaurants use "vegetable oil" and that is basically soybean oil and soy and the thyroid simply don't mix.  I'll end this post with this, go into your kitchen one day and turn all of your boxes, jars and cartons to the side and count how many DON'T include soy.  You will be surprised.  Then, think about me and what I eat.  It's a commitment, but it's been worth it. If Paleo/Primal isn't for you, then I suggest anyone who has a thyroid condition get off of the processed food and when all else fails JERF (Just Eat Real Food).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My husband...

Disclaimer:  If you know me and my family, then you know that my husband is quite private.  Please do not tell him about this post.  He claims to read my blog (I know he's lying), but this post is about him and we had an agreement I wouldn't post anything about him, so...I haven't included his name.

I met my husband in Iraq.  I was broken.  I doubt people could see it from the outside, but I was heartbroken, sad, and confused.  I was with this one guy before I left to go to Iraq that I loved, it didn't last. I reconnected with another guy while I was in Iraq and it seemed promising, but I was so drawn to this man that I married, that all sense of logic just flew out of the window.  He could see right through me.  When he walked in the room my heart smiled.  I knew he was my husband.  I knew he was the father of my children and I couldn't understand a damn thing he was saying (he's from Jamaica originally).

A week after I got home from Iraq, he asked for my hand in marriage.  Two weeks after I was home, I moved from California to Florida to be with him.  A year later we were married. My husband was just a reservist when we met.  He had no plans of going Active Duty in the Army, but I was always sick (undiagnosed Hashimoto's).  His job paid quite well, but he had no medical benefits and my job, at the time, had the worse medical plan known to man, so he did what some men do, he changed his life around in order for me to be healthy and joined the military full-time so I could have medical care.  Not many people know that and he would never admit it either.

The years after were good and bad, but the worse came after we lost our first child.  I didn't think I could have children.  I was told when I was 18 years old that my chances of having children were very small because I only ovulated twice or three times a year (Hashimoto's).  We got pregnant on the first try of fertility drugs and lost her at 14 weeks.  I remember how he looked at me when we couldn't find the heartbeat. It was like he wanted to protect me and couldn't and then the anger set in for both of us.  Miscarriage is hard on a marriage. It took a year for us to get back on track and then we found out that we were pregnant again (without fertility drugs) and we fought like hell. I think we would fight because we both couldn't take another loss.  I know it's crazy, but after we had Ms. O, we felt complete. My husband would sing to himself for days and the smile on his face when he looked at her would melt my heart. Our son, Mr. D., almost 3 years later, was just icing on the cake.

Is it a love story?  Probably not in the sense that most people see it, but I started to think about us after I saw something on Facebook.  It was a status about what type of wife are you and how after 18 years of marriage a woman still dresses up and goes on dates with her husband, which I think is awesome, but the comments underneath the status are what got me to thinking about my marriage and one in particular was to the effect of, 'what you won't do, another woman will, so keep yourself looking good and keep the marriage together'.  If my marriage would have been built on this, then he would have left me a long time ago.  It got me to thinking about a conversation I had with one of my girlfriends and her telling a friend to choose her husband by picking the one who loves her enough to give her an enema.  I laughed until I almost choked, but she's right.

I didn't find love in the perfect setting.  I have never been well in our marriage.  I have had bouts of great health, but since my husband has known me, I have always had some type of medical issue.  Last year, there were days that I had to wait until he got home to take a shower and no I did not comb my hair. He has seen me at my worse and the love in his eyes has never changed.  He has held my hand through procedures. He has listened to my fears.  When I picked him up a few days ago from the airport with 4 braids in my hair, a sweatshirt, slippers and sweat pants, he simply took my hand and helped me to the other side of the car with the same love in his eyes.  He had just took emergency leave to be by my side.  He had just been in the field.  I knew he was tired, but the first thing out of his mouth was, "how do you feel" and "have you had anything to eat".

I haven't had the pleasure (especially recently) of living a fairytale.  My journey hasn't allowed it, but I am thankful that I found someone who loves my soul.  Through sickness and in health - the vows mean something to people still.  I am so very thankful to my husband for being by my side.  He is my soul mate.  He is the love of my life. I never thought I would be so lucky to have someone to see me through the good and the bad.  We aren't perfect.  We still get on each other's nerves, but when it counts, we are each other's rock.  I couldn't do it without him.  I really couldn't because he pays the bills.

Love in my opinion cannot be defined.  It is so many different things to many different people.  I had a hope when I got married and it was to have what my grandparents had.  I firmly believed that my parents "loved" each other (they are now divorced), but I had the feeling that my grandparents were committed and bonded to one another.  They were married until my grandfather passed away and my grandmother has never remarried. They didn't seem like strangers that met once.  They seemed like family.  I told the marriage counselor  (yes, we've been to counseling) that my husband was like family, like a piece of me.  It's true, he is my other half.  I don't want this disease to take me from him any more than it already has.  I am hopeful my coming surgery will give us some normalcy, but for now I am appreciative and in love, fully committed.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Step 1: Speaking to the Surgeon

I went to the surgeon yesterday.  I woke emotional that morning.  It was my first official day of being home from my trip to California. Things didn't seem to be falling in place.  My kids didn't seem to want to wake up.  My husband was in the field. How could I remove them from their beds after such a long trip. I wanted to cancel the appointment.  I wanted this situation to just stop.

I finally made it to my appointment.  I was nervous.  I don't get nervous, but I was shaken up. I still don't get where all these emotions are coming from.  Anyway, I notice that I am the only one in the office alone.  I hate the Army sometimes.  The Army always seems to get in the way of the most important moments when I absolutely need my husband by my side.

Dr. S (the surgeon) is his name.  He has kind eyes and soft hands.  He is freakishly tall and completely bald.  He doesn't smile as he holds my gaze. I instantly want to cry.  I get in my head and tell myself to hold it together.  How dare I pick this time to start feeling sorry for myself.

Dr. S begins to explain the surgery.  He makes a comment about it being a good thing I was thin because he will be able to get to my thyroid and see what he's working with.  He explains that my thyroid is close to my parathyroid, which helps with calcium and that sometimes it is inside of the thyroid, so we have to be careful. He then tells me the nerves for my voice box are also in the area and I begin to cry.  He and his kind eyes look at me. He touches my shoulder, goes out of the room and comes back with a box of tissues.  He looks as if he is going to cry and then I feel bad because he is one of those men who can't stand to see a woman cry.  He suggest that he just draw a diagram of the whole thing, but I stop him and tell him that I want him to go into detail. I want him to tell me everything.

He places my thick folder behind him on the counter and says to me, "Do you know why you're here".  I want to start crying again, but this time I hold it together. He goes on to say, "You've got this nodule on the right side of your thyroid.  The pathologist cannot say for sure if it's benign because he needs more tissue. You need this surgery to rule out cancer.  It is scary. You have a right to be upset.  We are worried (me and your Endocrinologist) about follicular cancer.  The pathologist will be in the room and test the nodule because it takes 3-5 days to get a report on the part of the thyroid we will be removing and if cancer is present we will have to remove the whole thyroid"

Me:  Why don't we just remove the whole thyroid anyway.

Dr. S:  Well, I'm pretty sure that this issue is what has been making you sick.  If we take out the whole thing then you may have to go on a pill for the rest of your life.

Me:  I'm already on that pill for the rest of my life.

Dr. S:  Why? (looking in my folder again)

Me:  I have Hashimoto's.  Is it an insurance issue as to why you can't remove the whole thing?  I would like to break up with my thyroid please.  Can you make that happen?

Dr. S: (laughs) Were you in the Military?

Me:  Yes, how can you tell?

Dr. S:  I can tell and it's a good thing.  (He sighs) We can't remove the whole thyroid because of Hashimoto's, but your doctor and I will discuss it.  Do you work?

Me:  No, I'm a stay at-home mom.  I have two small children and my husband is in the field.

Dr. S:  When can you do the surgery?

Me:  ASAP.

The surgery is scheduled for the 27th of July.  I'm scared out of my mind.  I've had a few surgeries in my life and this one has me shaken to my core.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The beginning of a break-up

I woke up yesterday morning with fear.  I took my children to our neighborhood pool to distract myself from the fear.  I wanted to enjoy them and them to enjoy me before what I knew was coming later in the afternoon.  I came back home to get ready for my 1:30 p.m. appointment and fear set in while I showered.  My husband came in the bathroom and looked me in the eye as if willing me to keep going and be strong.

I got in the car and drove the 30 minutes to the best Endocrinologist I have met to date.  Dr. O. is a life saver, but his staff sucks.  I told him his staff sucked on my last visit and he told me he would fix the problem, but I knew the problem still existed.

I had a biopsy done in April and here it was June and I had never heard from his office.  I knew I should have called, but I was feeling so much better and I didn't want to hear any bad news, so I let the incompetence of his staff prolong my blissful ignorance.  No news is good news, right?  WRONG!

I heard the doctor in the hall asking to speak to his head nurse.  The walls are thin, so I heard everything he said to her.  He told her that it was unacceptable, that not only had I not been given my results, but that the results were not even in the office.  They (his staff) didn't even have the pathology report for the doctor to review.  In their defense, Dr. O. is not apart of the network here, so his computer system does not communicate with the hospitals that do the testing.  All of the labs and paper work must be sent to him in a hard copy and the hospitals neglect to do that sometimes, but according to Dr. O., that is not an excuse for not even having the results in the office on the day of my appointment.  He's right and after reprimanding his staff, he came in to greet me and apologized for the situation.

While we were discussing "normal" thyroid business, the nurse came in with the pathology report and the doctor, even more visibly upset, looks at me in my eyes and says, "your pathology report has not changed Mrs. H.  It (the nodule on my thyroid) is not benign. There is a presence of follicular carcinoma.  My advice is still the same as when you came to me for your second opinion from the other doctor.  We should remove part of the thyroid that contains the nodule and if we find cancer, a total thyroidectomy will be done".  I interrupt him at this point because I wasn't sure if he just told me that I had thyroid cancer.  Our dialogue was as follows:

Me:  Are you telling me I have thyroid cancer?

Dr. O:  The pathologist cannot rule out malignancy, but the cells within the nodule are not benign.

Me:  Wait, so what does that mean exactly, because my first endocrinologist said to me that the report basically meant that I didn't have cancer.

Dr. O: (with a grimace) Mrs. H., if you were my wife, I would tell you to remove this nodule immediately.  Your previous doctor wanted to monitor it and take the chance that it was not cancerous. You are young, you have very young children, and I don't want to risk this being something serious.  It has not shrunk nor will it ever shrink because it is not a goiter (my first doctor told me thyroid medication would make it shrink).  The only way to rule out thyroid cancer is to remove the part of your thyroid that has the nodule and dissect it to see if it is in fact cancer.  Carcinoma is cancer. Please remember, Mrs. H. that there are other nodules in your thyroid that are too small to test. You need to consider surgery.

Me:  Okay, let's take it out.

I must express that I am not easily moved with emotion.  After this appointment, I went to see a friend in the park very close to the endocrinologist' office.  I was a ball of emotion, but I know she was not able to tell.  When I got home, my husband knew something was wrong because I was silent.  I don't like breaking down and any talking was liable to make the waterworks happen.  Of course, him knowing me,found a project for us to do.  I had mentioned to him the previous day that the vibe in my daughter's room was off and we needed to rearrange her furniture (why, yes, I am one of THOSE people), so that's what we did while I explained my doctor's appointment to him.  I must say, it is awesome to share your life with someone who knows you and doesn't press you to be something you are not.  Anyway, he's not a talker either, but later on in the night he got quite angry.  He wanted to make a complaint about the delay in receiving my results and said that with the economy being as bad as it is, "you would think people would do their damn job". Poor thing, he has no one to blame for this, but the nurses and although he has a point, I believe things happen as they are meant to happen.

I am truly scared. I need a moment to process a few things. The biggest issue is that I have to wait for my insurance to approve that I actually need surgery and that upsets me a bit.  I can't process feeling like everyone else does and it takes me a few days.  I guess I feel betrayed by my body. I was under the impression that I was rounding the corner on this journey and could visibly see the finish line, but now I have to buy some new shoes and keep going...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Have I become a stalker?

I spent most of my day today reading a blog.  I can't even imagine myself sitting still to read a very long book about someones life, let alone a blog, but I have spent the majority of my day reading and I feel better for it.

I came across this wonderful man's story because he was kind enough to follow my blog.  I was excited to see a 3rd follower and his name Hypo Man, let me know that he wasn't on my blog for the food tips, but was a fellow sufferer. I was expecting a blog of medical jargon, symptoms, and post of self-acceptance.  What I actually found was humor, honesty, and enlightenment.

His honesty touched me in ways that I can't express and I am forever thankful because I am not very honest most times about how I feel.  I don't often think that others care. I feel like they get tired of hearing me complain about how bad I feel.  When I am sick, I crawl into my cave (my home) and shut everyone out.  But, why?  Why am I unable to share my feelings?  Why do I sometimes resent those who have read my blog.  I started this blog to share and hopefully help someone who is suffering like me, but instead I have sugar-coated things and edited myself because I don't want to be seen as weak.

Maybe it's the Soldier in me that doesn't want to show weakness.  Maybe it's the hurt little girl inside of me that I am protecting.  Maybe fully accepting that this part of my life sucks is too hard to handle.  Whatever it is, I'm stopping it right now.  I will no longer hide how I feel and I will write for myself and others like me.

I am a married women, but I am in love with Hypo Man.  I am officially his number one fan.  I sincerely hope he gets the help he needs. No, I sincerely hope that he is listened to one of these days he goes in to see his doctors. He's suffered too long.  Does it make me a stalker if I care so much about him and I've never met him and have only seen him through one video?  I tell all of my friends that not many stars make my scream list.  (The scream list is for people I would actually scream for if I ever met them) My list consists of Beyonce(don't ask), Oprah, Nelson Mandela, and now Hypo Man.

My sincerest thanks to this man.

Also, why do any of us have to suffer.  Why is that so many of us have received inferior care? I firmly believe I have had thyroid issues since I was 9 years old.  The signs were there, but no one bother to do the testing and I just learned to live with symptoms until I got this lump on my thyroid.  When lumps/nodules start to pop up, that usually a sign that your body has been fighting for a while.  Why, if I am the 5th generation in my family to have a thyroid disease, didn't any doctor test my thyroid levels? Shouldn't that be standard procedure if I tell the doctor that my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great grandmother (I just found this out) have had either Graves or Hypothyroid disease.  It's ridiculous!  If it sounds like crap to you too, then please visit the Patients with Thyroid Dysfunction Demand Better Care facebook page and sign  the petition, PLEASE!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Walks with my daughter

Hashimoto's has forced me to slow down and observe my life from a different standpoint than I use to before.  When I get sick, I am forced to become acquainted with my bed (I hate the word bedridden).  I don't let most people know that because I despise looks of sorrow or sympathy.  I hold that information to myself.  Recently, I've been having fainting spells.  I remember when they first started happening (another reason why I started to get serious about my health), it was on a Saturday and I had just walked up my stairs to pick out some clothes and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground staring at my husband's feet rushing towards me.  I wasn't scared, but when I looked at my husband's face I became terrified.  I could see fright in his eyes. When I push too hard when I feel ill, I find myself down on the ground, so to prevent that from happening I climb in the bed with my children. I let them watch movies on my laptop (we only have one television in our home by choice), and I am forced to lie there.  I can't play with them.  I am not the same mother I use to be before I got sick and there are times when it makes me very sad.

There is a benefit to having moments of being that ill.  It allows you to appreciate the moments when you are healthy. It allows you to be silly and let shit go.  It allows you to play dress-up instead of obsess over how clean your house is.  It allows you to pretend to be dinosaurs with your children instead of worrying if dinner will be on the table before your imaginary set time.  It allows me to take walks with my daughter.

My daughter has had to deal with so much change recently.  She got a new brother, a new school, and has had to learn to adjust to me being different.  She has done quite well, but has become more cautious and less talkative. I have been in her shoes.  I was much older, but it is terrifying to see a parent become so sick that they pass out right in front of you. My husband and I agreed that taking walks with her may allow her to open up and talk about things that bother her.  On those days, he cooks and watches our son while Olivia and I take a walk around the neighborhood.  She comes alive on those walks.  She runs ahead of me and is less cautious.  She tells me all about her day.  I ask her questions about her favorite things and things that make her scared or angry and she opens up.  I can talk to her about certain things that I would never think about with all the hustle and bustle of my house.  Recently, I told her how her father would never let me walk close to the street when we first met and how you can tell if a young man is a gentleman by the way he treats you.  It was very lighthearted, but these are the things I think she will keep with her forever. Good luck to the guy who dates her.

I have Hashimoto's to thank for slowing me down and getting to know my daughter.  I can't wait to start taking walks with my son.  I also can't wait until I get this thing all figured out and I don't have bad days anymore, but for now I'll cherish every good day that I have.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This one time in Iraq...

For a long time after I was deployed to Iraq, I felt like I started off conversations or my thinking pattern included the statement, "this one time in Iraq..." I worked hard to stop doing that. Sooooo, why am I writing about it in my blog about Hashimoto's?  I don't know.  It may have something to do with Memorial Day coming or the fact that I got a visit today from my old platoon Sergeant and a fellow Soldier, or it may even have to do with my recent visit to the VA.  No matter how much I want to negate my feelings about that deployment, the truth is that there is life before Iraq and then there is life after Iraq.  I spent a year of my life in a foreign country and although I never saw combat (well besides those mortar rounds, but that doesn't really count), the experience forever changed my life. I am different.  I see life differently. I view the people that I deployed with as my family.  Frankly, some of them rate a little higher than family. There are no words to express the love I have for not only the Soldiers that made it to Iraq with me, but also for those that simply experienced being taken from all that he or she knew and placed at funky ass Fort McCoy or strange land Kuwait. No matter how much time passes the love never diminishes.
Me on our convoy into Iraq

Okay, so this does have to with Hashimoto's in a way.  I got a call on Thursday from the VA to go see a Rheumatologist the very next day.  I had no idea what was going on, but I do know that I had labs done and I assumed the appointment had something to do with that.  First of all, I get there and the triage nurse is speaking to her friend about the tongue ring she wanted to get last summer (this chick had to be in her 60's) and after watching me stand at her desk waiting to be called, she glanced at me and said, "here is your pager, I'll call you when I'm ready".  I swear to you, 30 seconds later she buzzes the damn thing and calls me over.  It took her about 60 seconds to get my vitals and then I saw the doctor for all of 10 minutes.  I sat down in his office, he tells me that they think I have Lupus or some other Autoimmune disease and they are going to do a full blood panel.  He then asked me about 5 questions and sent me on my way.  How the hell does he know anything about my case in 10 minutes? The only answer he can get about my health is from blood and frankly, that's all he is allotted by our government to care about because he is part-time for all of North Carolina with high number of patients.   I waited for 45 minutes to get my blood work done.  They guy in front of me, a man who clearly had Parkinson's disease had been waiting for over an hour.  There was only one phlebotomist and she was responsible for all the blood work for all of the speciality clinics, which include oncology, rheumatology, sleep disorder, mental health, endocrinology, and neurology.  By the time I got to the front of the line, the lady informed me she was diabetic and needed to take a break because she was getting the shakes.  I couldn't even be mad at her.  I kind of felt like the whole visit was a waste of time.

My bed for a year
I don't have to go to the VA medical center.  I have medical insurance.  I go because I can and because I now know that the more doctors you get to look at your case, the better.  However, the man who was waiting in front of me, proudly wearing his Vietnam Veteran hat does have to go to the VA.  It is unacceptable that he receives the care that is given to him.  How is it even considered care?  Appointments are scheduled 6 months out.  The doctors are overworked.  The phlebotomist are understaffed.  The whole place is run with a skeleton crew.  I was a new patient and my discussion about my health lasted all of 10 minutes. Do our veterans deserve this type of care?

There was a time I didn't get why people put so much emphasis on veterans, until I became one.  A veteran is someone who signs up to put there life on the line, as well as take lives for his or her country.  Forget the politics and the rhetoric spewed by elected officials and think about being taken from your family to a hostile foreign land with the idea and in some cases, fact, that you will never come back home alive.  These proud men and women who walk the halls of the VA medical center have all made that sacrifice, so why is it that in their time of need, our government has given them inferior care.  I don't get it.  I simply don't get it.

Burning feces...
What I do get it is that I am forever bonded to the men and women who have served this country, especially the ones I deployed with.  When I look at the American Flag, I don't see war.  I don't see Republican or Democrat.  When I look at the American flag, I see those who have passed on. I see those who have made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.  I see blood, tears, sweat, and camaraderie.  I see Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Sailors, and Guardians (Coast Guard). I get emotional when I hear the Stars Spangled Banner because it means something to me.  It should mean something to everyone in this country! So, when you're enjoying your Memorial Day, take a minute to remember all those that have sacrificed and those who are still sacrificing (with their health) for this country.  Never forget!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oh Blog, how I have neglected you...

I haven't been writing lately.  My blog has been in the back of my mind and I know I have a million and one things I want to put on screen, but the truth is...I'm a sad writer.  Not sad in the sense that I'm horrible, but sad in the sense that I feel more creative and want to be expressive when I'm sad.  I don't know why, but I'm a writer, poet, and activist when I'm down in the dumps.  I guess it's my therapy, but I've decided to push through it and type even though I'm feeling quite good.

I don't know when it happened.  I woke up one day and said to myself...SELF, we haven't felt this good since last summer.  I feel like my old self again and I hate to admit it, but it's because of the pills and my diet of course.  When I started out on this journey, I figured I would find the magic potion to get to feeling like me without taking medication.  I hate taking medication everyday, but it's helped me tremendously.  When I take my medication the right way, I feel okay.  When I eat the right way (for me) and take my medication, I feel normal. I feel happy and ultimately I get writer's block.  HA!

So, what happened? I went to see a VA doctor and after a long battle with her, which ended with me in tears, she agreed to do some blood work on me and a MONTH later (your tax dollars at work), we found out that I had or rather have a severe Vitamin D deficiency that requires yet another pill. Oh, JOY! I also need to take iron and I was made privy to a little secret in thyroid world.  The secret is that Hashimoto's interferes with receptors (I'm assuming cell receptors, but I'll find out later), so one may always be deficient in one thing or another.  The guy in the video on the right explains it so much better than me.

Hmmm, why didn't someone tell me that in the first place. Well, that's the problem with the thyroid world.  There so much to learn and so much information that I believe I have surrendered into a place of acceptance.  You know that serenity prayer, it's pretty good for people like me.

I'm better now, but the journey still continues...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dead Ends?

This is truly a journey of long roads with hills, quick turns and apparently dead ends.

I went to Dr. S (my regular doctor) to go over blood work she ordered a while back because of my low platelet count.  We went over my results, which all came back normal except that I still have a low blood platelet count.  We were both surprised.  Dr. S was leaning towards the belief that I had Lupus because of how I felt and the low platelet count. While I am happy she was wrong, I still secretly wished something would have shown up because I would have an answer to how I feel. No answer = Dead end.

We spoke about Dr. O (new endocrinologist) and my results with him.  My initial labs showed that I was low in cortisol and ACTH, but after the 2nd set of lab work, both results came out normal.  My antibodies for my thyroid are still high, but there appears to be no issue with my adrenal glands.  The numbers suggest that my body stopped producing cortisol and ACTH because of a cortisol shot I received in my hip a few days prior to the initial blood work. So, here is another dead end.

After a lengthy conversation with Dr. S, I asked her if the low platelet count was related to my Hashimoto's and she said no.  According to Dr. S, a low platelet count has nothing to do with thyroid disease and she suspects that something else is wrong, but she doesn't exactly know what it is.  She suspects that I may have another autoimmune disease related to my blood.  Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura or ITP happens when your immune system destroys platelets.  Did you even know there were autoimmune diseases that affected your blood? I actually started laughing in the doctor's office because this is all starting to become like a bad soap opera where I play the character who has every weird named disease known to man.  I felt like all we needed to do was insert the sad music and friends with too much make-up on, who somehow relate my situation to themselves and start a fight with another cast mate for being insensitive.  I mean, at this point my health has become something to blog about. It's ridiculous.

Dr. S wants me to see a Hematologist and at this point I just don't want to.  I've got so much going on that I need a break right now.  I need to have surgery on my hip, which I've never even mentioned in this blog because I simply don't want to think about it.  I have this thyroid crap going on and now I have to see another specialist because my immune system is attacking my blood.  I'm 33 years old for goodness sake and I'm breaking down on the side of the road with a low dose of Levothyroxine as my only aid. Dr. S said she was fine with waiting, but she needed to monitor the numbers, so that means I will be seeing more of her and more of her crazy phlebotomist. So, this is a dead end right now and I am going to take some other routes on this journey for a second.  I got some really good information about some supplements and I'm going to start taking Selenium and modify my diet even more.  I am more than likely going to go all Paleo, which Dr. S. suggested was a really good idea.

And so, the journey has been put in maintenance mode...

Saturday, March 31, 2012


This post is so personal to me that I've been having trouble figuring out how to write it. I'm just going to take a deep breath and type, so here it goes...

There is something that is absolutely freeing about validation. This condition (Hashimoto's) has the ability to make you question if you are in fact sick.  You sometimes wonder if you're making it all up in your head.  Hashimoto's has you going in many different directions emotionally, physically, and even mentally that you often feel like a hypochondriac or a whiner who simply can't get it together. I have struggled with friends, doctors, and even myself on this journey because people don't react when they hear a disease with a funny name and it isn't high up on the autoimmune chain. I mean, I take an Anatomy and Physiology class and it isn't even mentioned in Endocrine or the Lymphatic chapters. Thankfully, I have been validated and I have found out that it is not all in my head.

I went and got a second opinion, which was a struggle within itself.  My first Endocrinologist (let's call him Dr. H.) was a jerk.  He used terms on our visit that he knew I wouldn't understand and when pressed for information, he visibly became irritated.  He blatantly told me to stay off the internet and that my continued symptoms were either from being a mother with 2 kids (because mom's are naturally exhausted to the point that they can't lift their heads) or I had another autoimmune disease.  I actually heard him sigh when leaving the office at our last meeting.  He made me feel like it was all in my head and that the fatigue I had along with hives, joint pain, and weight gain was simply a fluke. I really wish I could punch him in the jaw because he never took the time to really look at my case.  He just looked at my blood work and the numbers were within normal range and that was the end of it.

Shortly after my visit with Dr. H., an Army buddy of mine came to visit and I discussed my case with him and he told me a story about his sister (who has passed) that broke my heart. He impressed upon me that I needed a second opinion and if it didn't feel right, then to trust my instincts. I had heard other people say this to me, but sometimes it just feels different coming from someone you've been to war with. I mean, over a year in Iraq with a person who's seen you at your worse, who knows you've burned poop, and who has slept through mortar round attacks with you is pretty high on my list, so I listened.

I went to my family doctor (Dr. S.) and she listened to my case and tested me for everything under the sun.  At that point, she thought I possibly had Lupus. She sent off a request to my insurance company to approve me for a second opinion and they approved it, but sent me to a doctor within the same practice as my first Endocrinologist.  Frustrated, I called my insurance company and explained to them that that wasn't going to work and the customer service rep told me to go online and find another doctor and call them back. Here is where I go thyroid on her. I repeated her request to me to impress upon her that surely she didn't want me to hang up the phone, get on the internet, find another doctor, call back and get another customer service rep whom I would have to explain the whole situation to over again and wouldn't you know it she actually had a computer there and could do that herself.  I had the approval within 3 minutes. I'm so tired of people not caring anymore. Dr. H. and the customer service rep simply don't care that I'm sick and that I need their help. It just takes too much effort for them to do their jobs.

Here comes the validation and I'm actually crying as I type this out. I go see Dr. O (the second opinion) and he asks me why I am there. Huh? I tell him that I keep telling my first endocrinologist that I still have symptoms and he thinks its environmental or another autoimmune disease and then I go a step forward with my explanation because I can sense I'm going to get the same crap I've been getting and tell him that I am young, I have two children, and all I want is to be able to play with them. I ask him to help me. What has happened to the healthcare system that I have to ask a doctor for help? He looks at me and wouldn't you know it, he actually takes a second look (second opinion, duh) at my file and finds something. He got excited and I was a bit taken aback I must say. He says to me, "your cortisol levels have never been checked according to your file, we have to check them because the Levothyroxine (my medication) may be making you feel worse if you have adrenal fatigue or failure".  He goes on to say, "your initial labs would appear to be normal because adrenal failure sometimes masks itself as hypothyroidism". Wow, really!?! He warns me that adrenal failure is rare, but it's worth checking.  I must point out that Dr. O is the first doctor to really listen to me and I think he is an awesome doctor, but his staff sucks. They called me about 4 days later with results, but when I called back to the office, they informed that they were unable to locate my file and simply never called me back.  I continued to call almost everyday and sometimes they picked up the phone and sometimes they didn't. The day before I was going to go up to the office and go thyroid on those chicks, I called and they told me that the doctor wanted to see me and if I could come into the office at 10 a.m.  By this time, it had been almost 2 weeks of waiting.  They really suck.

I went back to the office with both children in tow.  The doctor comes into the office and of course that's when my most of the time well-behaved children turned into devils.  All of the sudden, my daughter was dying of thirst and my son wanted to do laps around the doctor's office.  Once I got them settled down, Dr. O gave me my results. My cortisol was abnormally low and my ACTH was low as well, which means my adrenal glands are not functioning correctly and that is why I feel bad. I actually began to cry in the office. I was finally validated and I had blood work to prove it. He went on to tell me that my antibodies were high, the normal range for thyroid antibodies is from 0 to 34 and mine was 1636. Dr. O looked me in my eye and told me that my immune system is killing my thyroid and that's why I feel so bad, couple that with the adrenal issue and I'm literally on a roller coaster inside of my body. He also told me that I needed to do another biopsy because he was concerned that there could be a presence of follicular carcinoma (cancer) and to be safe I should be tested once again. I could have hugged him and I can't begin to tell you how many times I said thank you. It felt good and bad at the same time. I finally felt like I wasn't crazy.

Dr. O is very thorough and he is retesting my cortisol and ACTH just to make sure this is what really is going on. He told me that the numbers suggest that something else is wrong and I may have another autoimmune disease where my body is attacking my adrenal glands. The funny thing is, that's exactly what Dr. H said, but never bothered to do the testing even though it's all in the endocrine system and he is an Endocrinologist.

The past few days have been weird for me. I am sad that my body isn't working correctly, but I am happy to have found a doctor that stopped and looked at my situation in its entirety.  I've had blood drawn for everything, but never cortisol or ACTH and it never came up on my own radar. I think about the people who don't have insurance or who have been suffering for 10 and 15 years with this issue and the doctor's simply don't do the testing. I'm incredibly thankful. I now know that it's not all in my head. I'm not depressed as one friend suggested. I'm sick and I'm not ashamed to say it any more. My body is not functioning properly. I'm not a whiner. I guess the moral of this story is to never give up. If it doesn't feel right, then move to the next doctor and the doctor after that, until you feel like you're being heard and help is being offered. And so, the journey continues...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How I do it...

I've heard it a thousand times.  How can you be gluten free or have a whole foods diet on a budget?  Most people think it is too expensive to eat healthy and it is expensive, but not as much as people think. The truth is, our grocery bill has not changed very much.  I'll admit that it has gone up about $30 a month, but that's because I've added a butcher into the mix. So, how do I do it?

Step #1 - I plan my meals out in 2 week increments

It takes a lot of planning, but we spend about $150 to $180 every other week on groceries.  That adds up to about $300 to $360 per month, which is below the amount that a family of four receives on food stamps. Take a minute to let that sink in. The average family of four on food stamps gets a little over $400 for food, so it is quite possible to eat healthy on a tight budget.  Now, why did I mention that? Well, because eating foods that are not whole isn't about expense to me.  It is more about convenience. When you are gluten free, soy free, dairy free, or even sugar free (which I am not all of those things yet) you have to COOK or bake to cut cost. It's just that simple. The days of handing your child an Eggo waffle are GONE. I don't cut coupons. I shop at Earthfare and my grocery bill is not crazy, but I no longer have the convenience of processed food. I will admit there is not a lot of variety when doing this on a budget and it takes me a good amount of time to plan our meals in advance.

Here is an example of my 2-week menu plan (I've added links to some of the recipes too)

Sunday 3/18
Cheese Cubes
Monday 3/19
Eggs w/toast
Left-over Rogan Josh
Chicken w/rice and carrots
Tuesday 3/20
Paleo Chicken Nugget w/Sweet Potato Fries
Wednesday 3/21
Cheese Cubes
Thursday 3/22
Blueberry Muffins (Gluten Free) Yogurt
Quinoa Salad
Chicken w/rice and carrots
Friday 3/23
Fruit Salad
Cheese Cubes
Saturday 3/24
Banana Bread or Pancakes w/paleo sausage
Quinoa Salad
Curry Goat (Paleo)

Sunday 3/25
Pancakes or Scones (Gluten Free)
Quinoa Salad
Left-over Curry Goat
Monday 3/26
Eggs w/paleo sausage
Fruit Salad
Tuesday 3/27
Gluten Free Pasta w/Fruit
Chicken w/rice
Wednesday 3/28
Granola Cereal or Gluten Free Chex
Gluten Free Pasta/ w fruit
Chicken w/rice
Cheese Cubes
Granola Cereal
Quinoa Salad
Curry Chicken
Cheese Cubes
Banana Bread
Quinoa Salad
Banana Bread
Paleo Chicken Nuggets w/Sweet Potato Fries
Not really sure

Step # 2 - I write out my grocery list according to what I am going to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks. 

Most people I know write their lists and then plan their meals, but in my opinion that will lead to more trips to the grocery store and more money.  If you sit down and write a menu plan, then you can look at recipes and actually save yourself from buying multiple ingredients or ingredients you will use for only one item.  For example, in my menu plan there is somewhat of an Indian/Carribean theme. That helps with buying seasoning, veggies, and other things needed to make meals. You aren't going to save money if your meals are all over the place, especially if you're just starting to change your eating style. Also, select days of the week to have certain items.  For example, we eat chicken (poor mans meat) Monday thru Thursday, Friday is vegetarian, and Saturday and Sunday include beef, goat, or something else crazy my husband likes.

Step #3 - Count out the items you will need

The hardest part for me when changing over to gluten free/paleoish was running out of food before the next scheduled trip to the store.  Now, I actually go through my menu/recipes and count out how many eggs, pounds of chicken, granola, or bananas I'm going to need.  It's time consuming, but it saves yourself from going to the store multiple times and you won't deviate from your menu.

Step #4 - Get a Pinterest account

If you're anything like me, then you want to try new things and even get quick go-to recipes.  Before I changed the way I ate it was quite simple to whip up a meal, but now I want to see what other gluten free people are doing and try out those recipes. In order for me to keep them in order and save the ones I like or want to try, I pin them to my pinterest account. It's quite easy and it will help you get organized.

Step #5 - Relax, but get informed!

It's quite easy to get overwhelmed, but the best thing to do is to take it easy.  I eat this way because I feel better when I do.  My health depends on my diet.  That isn't the case for everyone and if you just want to make changes because you're tired of processed food or for any other reason, then go slow and start eliminating things one at a time. My item now is gluten and I seriously need to incorporate more leafy greens and other vegetables to my diet. I'm working on it, but the plan is to go slow and not overwhelm myself to the point that I give up.

If this is about your health, then you need to inform yourself about all of the things food can do to you. For example, I just learned that certain raw veggies can inhibit thyroid function. WOW! I thought eating raw veggies was the best thing you could do, but that isn't true for everyone. 

Step #6 - HELP ME!

I need help.  I'm new at this, so if you have any tips then give them to me.  If you find a book that will be beneficial let me know.  I don't know everything and honestly, I'm doing this for myself, but also for my children.  I'm the 5th generation of women in my family to have a thyroid disorder.  That tells me that my children are predisposed to going through the same things and if changing their diet will help them, then that is my job as their mother.  I'm beginning to ramble, but I think you get what I'm saying. 
Next time I'll break down cost and show receipts.