Beating Hypothyroidism

Archive for the tag “thyroid”

It’s Hard To Be The Odd ‘Man’ Out…

While I’ll admit that hypothyroidism isn’t super affected by food choices, it is to some degree. But because of the constant battle against fatigue, which is mostly caused by a thyroid that doesn’t function correctly, I do have to be careful about some things…like all carbs. Except it’s mostly grain based carbs that cause the worst fatigue. I could have half a dozen Hershey Kisses and feel fine. But give me biscuit, or some pasta…doesn’t matter if they’re gluten-free or not…if I go over 40 grams, I feel like I need a nap within an hour.

And that sucks over the holidays given that the majority of  goodies available wherever you go are grain based (cookies, cakes, pies).

Gluten-free makes it even worse. There are great substitutes now. There really are. But I screwed up again at a couple of my aunts houses this week. Yup, I fell off the wagon again.

It gets really old having to take my own foods to family functions, which is why I’ve decided that since I can have gluten a few times a month without a problem, I was just going to say the heck with it over the holidays.

I just didn’t count on everyone having foods…foods that smell wonderful…every-freaking-where I go.

Clearly I like (or even love) many foods that contain gluten. Were that not so, I wouldn’t have a problem sticking with the program. But it’s not usually this bad. It’s easier to control at home, even though it’s a pain that I have to dirty extra pans and dishes to make my stuff ‘safe.’ I have to constantly nag my kids…’when you’re getting gravy, DON’T touch the spoon to your biscuit or pasta, because then it contaminates what’s left, and I can’t have anymore.’

Some people get annoyed. They’re like, have some of ‘this,’ and I try to just say no thanks, but they keep pushing…and I have to tell them I can’t, that whatever it is has gluten…which then sets them off about me being such an expert about everything, or I’m paranoid.

No, I’m not an expert, but I do know quite a bit about both hypothyroidism and gluten allergies. Jeez, I just cleaned one of the bathrooms, and my lungs were burning…all because I’ve had gluten for four of the last six days. That’s one of my symptoms, and it’s not a pleasant one.

I’ll be good after Saturday, which is the big family Christmas party. And I’ll be gluten-free until Christmas Eve/Day. And then I’m going to try to go for the entire month of January without cheating even once. I want to try to do enough experimenting where I can just never have gluten again. Ever.

But that’s going to mean having to tote special foods for me to every family function I go to for the rest of my life. And that means annoying some people forever, listening to snide comments, and just being generally inconvenienced for decades to come. It’s going to mean arguing with waitresses. “Yes someone did put croutons on my salad, and then pick them off.  See these crumbs here? Those are from croutons.”

But my health is worth it. Worth the inconvenience, worth all the experimenting so I can find acceptable substitutes so I stop acting like a spoiled brat and caving over a jelly donut or a real slice of bread.

Does anyone else run into these problems. Family and friends who think you’re paranoid? Problems in restaurants? Or just resenting that your holidays are more stressful because you have to experience side effects if you give in, or just feeling deprived if you don’t?

Yes, I’m Posting More Than Usual

But part of the reason I’m doing this blog is to have an easily accessible record of what I’m doing, what is working, and what is not.

Carb cycling is hard. Not because I have trouble on the low carb days, but for two important reasons. First, there’s no way in the world I can eat 400 carbs a day on the high carb days, much less 600. And second, on the low carb days, I’m just not hungry.

An example low carb day for me is 5 oz chicken breast, 1/2 cup of cauliflower with cheddar and a little cream cheese,  2 scrambled eggs with a slice of American cheese, and a few bottles of water.

That results in far too few calories, which exacerbates the problem of not taking in enough calories when I’m eating a normal diet.

And this is what I find most frustrating about this whole hypothyroidism thing. I think it’s something that bugs most women with under-active thyroid issues. We tend to eat much less than most people, but we’re still stuck with extra weight.

So, as big a pain as it is, I am going to have to hit the treadmill more, and work up the enthusiasm to get back to the pool a few days a week. The only thing that’s kept me out of it is all the stuff I read about chlorine and bromine (I think that’s what’s in the exercise pool). There are no dry heat saunas nearby so I can detox those chemicals from my body but…what else am I going to do?

I feel like I’ve hit a wall here. The coconut oil and supplements are so amazing in the changes they’ve made in me. I’m 99% sure that the 12 pounds (and no, I haven’t budged at all from there in a few days) is due to the addition of the adrenal support supplements.

(I’m reasoning things out with myself here, if you’re thinking I’m nuts)

Oh… I’m back to ingesting swamp sludge once a day again. I decided the heck with the fact that it has goitrogens. I have to believe the nutrition is well worth the trade off.

So, I’ll keep plugging away. In the mean time, not being able to eat enough calories DOES allow for the occasional bit of ice cream. Not everything is frustrating.  🙂

**Note to self…making use of the Kindle on the treadmill makes the time pass MUCH faster.

***Another note to self…hoofing it on the treadmill when it’s 62 degrees, with the humidity at 95%, sucks.

Normally I Wouldn’t Do This…

…meaning two extra posts in the same week.  I guess we can consider them replacements for the two Saturday’s I forgot about during the blog tour.  Or maybe one of the days was when I was so pumped about seeing The Avengers..first or third time.  🙂

Anyway…

I want to get this down and out there because I’ve been dragging my feet about doing it.  I figure if I make it public, I’m more likely to follow through.

As of this minute, 3:46 a.m., I have everything ready for a trip to the pool tomorrow.  I haven’t been there in months, and I can tell the difference.  Just a two block walk this afternoon left me in so much pain I wasn’t sure I’d make it back to my van.

I think I’m between what some would call a rock and a hard place.  My injuries from the accident require that I do things like work out in the pool, and other exercises that I’ll list here in a minute.  The hypothyroidism, however, makes me so tired that it’s a chore to make myself do any of it.

To elaborate just a little, three years ago last month I was told by a pain management specialist that I just needed to accept the fact that wheelchairs, walkers and electric grocery carts should be a part of my daily life.

My blunt (and crude response to that)?  Screw you!  No, I didn’t actually say it out loud, but if she could have read my mind, I was shouting it.  That was my one and only visit.  Even my doctor was offended by her suggestion.

You know what?  I was diligent about going to physical therapy three days a week for nine months and, when I’m being good, no one can tell that there’s anything wrong with me.  Because the pool and other exercises control the pain to such a huge degree that my life is pretty much normal…if you don’t factor in the fatigue from my thyroid issues.

And that’s where my current problems stem from.  So I’m just going to suck it up and do what I need to do.  The pain has gotten to the point where it’s seriously affecting my sleep…and quality of sleep.  I’ve gotten about nine hours in the past 84.

So here is what I’m adding to my current plan…

* Work out for 45 minutes, three afternoons a week…working back up to six days weekly.

* Start using my treadmill for something other than a napping place for the cats.  Since walking is so painful right now, I’m going to start off with 5 minutes, three times a day, most days a week, increasing it to 15 minutes, three times a day, most days as I’m able.

* Do my physical therapy exercises EVERY DAY.

* In a couple of weeks, start doing gentle strength training with 2 pound weights, working up as I’m able.

All it will take is a couple of weeks doing these things consistently before I’m almost back to normal again.

Why now?  Because my daughter and I were talking about going to Michigan Adventure in August or September.  It’s a pretty large amusement park, requiring lots of walking.  Or riding in a wheelchair.

Guess what?  If I didn’t give in to that option three years ago, I’m not going to start now.  I’ll spend the day at Michigan Adventure…and I’ll spend it there getting around very nicely on my own two feet.

I intend to be getting around very nicely on my own two feet when I’m eighty, too.  Which means that exercise and stretches are going to become a daily habit.  Every single day of my life.

Okay, so I’m just going to think about going to the pool today.  One day at a time.  I can do anything for one day.  And then I can do it for one day tomorrow, too.

Scared Out of it Again

I’ll start off by saying that I really like my doctor.  But I finally realized that she’s very much pro-Synthroid.  She was perfectly willing to write me a prescription for Armour Thyroid yesterday, and I was relieved that I didn’t have to argue my case.  But then, after we’d discussed my anxiety attack in early March, she started telling me some things to watch for…including anxiety attacks.

She also scared the heck out of me when she said if my throat started feeling sore-at all-I needed to contact her immediately.  Why?  Because Armour Thyroid can cause something called Thyroiditis.

Long story short, I said forget it and she increased my Synthroid to 100 mcg.

After I got home, disgusted that I was still on a medication that hadn’t done a darned bit of good for a year, I realized that while she was very quick to rattle off a list of side effects for the Armour, not once had she mentioned even one for the Synthroid.  So I did a little Googling.

Know what I found out?

The side effects for Synthroid are half again as long as the list for Armour.  Most are exactly the same…and some are worse.

I don’t know why so many doctors are against Armour, but it seems to be a sort of epidemic.  I’m going to educate myself a little more before I see her again in six weeks, and actually take in a list comparing the two.    Unless I experience a major turn around between now and then, I’ll be trying the Armour…and I will NOT be talked out of it again.

To change the subject abruptly, I have definitely been feeling better since starting back on the coconut oil.  No, I don’t feel particularly energetic, but I haven’t been quite so tired the past few days.  I’ve only been doing a tablespoon twice a day, figuring I’ll work up to the four over a week or so.

Now for another question.  Has anyone ever had a doctor tell them that treating women for hypothyroidism after they turn forty is hard to do because of fluctuating hormone levels?   That this is why TSH levels can bounce all over the chart?

Forgot An Important Key To Feeling Better

Over the course of about three years I bought two jars of coconut oil.  Each time I let them sit on my counter until I figured they must have spoiled, and then I threw them away.  But I kept reading that coconut oil helped increase energy levels and so, I bought a third jar…and actually used it.

Did it help?

Yup.  Within about thirty minutes of gagging it down, I always felt better.  But it was the ‘gagging it down’ that kept me  at one tablespoon a day.  It did get easier after awhile, and some days I remembered to take it twice.  But I never got up to the recommended three to four a day.

After my hypothyroidism diagnosis, I was especially glad I was taking it because coconut oil has been touted to improve thyroid function…from many sources, Mercola being one of them.  In some ways I think this doctor is a little over the top for me, but he also has some good information.  It’s not practical, or economical, to change ones diet as drastically as he recommends.

So when, and why, did I stop taking it?  I can’t remember.  Probably for a variety of reasons….2011 was just one of those years.

But now the jar is back on my desk.

Why my desk?  Because if that’s where I spend the majority of my time.  If I don’t keep the supplements I want to take right in front of my face, it slips my mind.  And if I want to remember to use the coconut oil, that’s where I have to keep it.

And I will start using it three or four times a day.  It’s also supposed to help with weight loss, and I’d like to lose some extra pounds that won’t budge no matter what I do.  Yes, coconut oil is supposed to help with that, too.

Oil?

Yes.  Somehow the body doesn’t store it as fat, but uses it for immediate energy.  Plus it’s a medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s), which can help with weight loss efforts.

I like how this doctor explains it.

As with anything you can try, there are those who say it will work and those who say it won’t.  I choose to believe the supporters of this particular thing…because I’ve seen the proof that it helps.  At least as far as energy goes.  We’ll see if it helps the weight loss and thyroid numbers.

For the record, I use organic expeller pressed coconut oil because that’s what’s been most available in my small community.   That variety still has the MCT’s and most of the benefits, but extra virgin coconut oil is the better choice.

Okay…

So I’m finally seeing my doctor on Thursday and will be requesting that she change my prescription from Synthroid to Amour Thyroid.  She was perfectly willing to do it last year, but then scared me out of it by saying something about Armour causing heart problems.  Has anyone else been told that?  And if you’ve previously been on Synthroid (or other non-natural thyroid meds), and changed to Armour, have you noticed an improvement?  If so, how long did it take?

Powdered Green Superfood

One of the keys to my plan for feeling better includes at least one serving of powdered green superfood-or as I prefer to call it- ‘swamp sludge.’

Why?

Because it’s supposed to provide highly concentrated nutrition for a reasonable price.  Depending on the brand you choose, each serving is said to provide 4-7 servings of veggies.  Even better, the ingredients used are organic so you don’t have to worry about a concentrated dose of chemicals.

After doing some research, and reading lots of product reviews on Amazon, I decided to give it a try…ignoring the reviews that said these products are delicious.  I know enough about supplementation to know that if something is really good for you, odds are it’s not going to taste good.

And I was right.  It doesn’t.  But it wasn’t until I’d ruined a few perfectly good smoothies that I decided to try it in four ounces of plain water.  Frankly, it didn’t taste nearly as bad that way, so that’s how I was taking it.

Part of a ruined smoothie…and this stuff is a LOT lighter in the photo than it is up close and personal!

After about a month I hadn’t noticed any improvement, but was so sleep deprived at the time that I decided I needed to make a better effort to spend more quality time with my pillow.  Unfortunately a schedule change made that a little tough to accomplish so I stopped ‘wasting’ the greens.

And now it turns out it might be a good thing.

According to Stop the Thyroid Madness (and lots of other websites), it seems that powdered greens are chock-full of goitrogens, something that can inhibit thyroid production.  With an under-active thyroid, this isn’t the best thing we can do for ourselves.

Goitrogens include cruciferous veggies, spinach, peaches, peanuts, radishes, strawberries (oh no!), and the worst offender of all…soy products.  Knowing that broccoli and strawberries are on that list just about breaks my heart.  But some are worse for us than others, while some of them don’t seem to have any affect at all.  I guess it just depends on the person, the condition of the thyroid, and how effective their meds are.

Apparently, though, if you cook these foods (yeah, that will work great for the fruits, won’t it?), it weakens the goitrogens, though anyone with hypothyroidism still needs to consume them in moderation.

So I guess I’ll see how hot the water is in my water cooler, mix the greens up in that and let it cool.  It’s not recommended to use it that way, but the website for one of the products I have says it’s better to have it that way than not at all.  Of course they could just be saying that to get you to keep buying their products, but I also know that you don’t kill all  of the nutrients in ‘real’ veggies by cooking them.

The whole strawberry thing is going to pose a bit of a problem, too, given my two-smoothie-a-day plan.  But I guess I’ll just split one serving between both and hope for the best.

And what else can those of us with hypothyroidism do except hope?  The whole treatment plan feels like a crap-shoot anyway.  Nothing but trial and error, so I’m not really surprised that figuring out which foods are okay for me is going to take a little experimentation, too.

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