Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year 2012!

It's been too long since I've updated this blog of mine. Starting this year off right, I will be working on a post that will include several lab results. Some good, some not-so-much. It's been a year of experimenting while simply just living my life. It feels as though I've been "There and Back Again" -sometimes frustrated beyond measure. Other times I just rest easy knowing that no matter what happens, I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and dog-gone-it...people like me. (In genuine Stuart Smalley speak.)

Here's what's new since my last post:

My Primary MD and I fired each other. He thought I was closed minded (AYKM?!), and I was dismayed he wouldn't even look into a gluten-free diet as being helpful for autoimmunity. See ya later, sucka.

I found a new doctor- A DO (Doctor of Osteopathic) who is willing to be open to all sorts of new things for me. He is looking into the Paleo diet, Low Dose Naltrexone, glutathione...and ran a fractionated cholesterol panel instead of the basic old way of checking it. (I think he may have simply been curious about how the paleo diet affects the particle sizes.) In short- I think I found a doctor that accepts insurance, doesn't think I'm crazy (I shouldn't assume this), and is willing to work with me (at least so far).

My dose of Levothyroxine has changed a couple of times. Last you knew, I was on 100 mcg that I started to cut in half (50 mcg) because my antibodies were nice and low and my TSH was low. This didn't work out as planned, so I went back on my 100 mcg. Future labs showed my TSH went lower than ever, so I requested it be lowered just to 88 mcg about 8 weeks ago. This was my dose even today.
However, I will be picking up a new script in 2 days for West-Throid (Nature-throid). I don't know my dose yet. I was switched to this because my T3 was low this most recent go-round with my new DO. I don't recall ever having low T3 in the past.

I am now (as of January 2012) on a more normal shift at the hospital of 11A-11P (I was 3P-3A), so hopefully my adrenals will be thankful, and I will feel much more...well...normal. I just started it, so I have nothing to report as of yet.

I have still been 100% gluten-free (that I know of). I still continued to eat dairy in very rare, small amounts. My coffee intake skyrocketed when my partner in crime, Anthony, made my morning coffee with a coconut milk frothy whip... topped with pumpkin pie spice, just in time for fall. The recipe was from Jen's Gone Paleo. I was FINE drinking it once or twice a week, black with coconut oil... until this. Up to Jan 1st 2012, I was drinking it with the froth...um...everyday. Whoops. Talk about backsliding.

I haven't been able to get in a good workout since what feels like forever. It was August when I backed off and only worked out 3 times in the entire month. I did something to my right hip/butt back in the May timeframe. It got worse and worse, and in August it hit a threshold high enough for me to make many appointments with some doctors. It would hurt incredibly bad after being in the sitting position for a sustained 15-20 minutes. Driving was the absolute pits. It was so bad I'd have to get out of the car to stand up. I'd forgo the chair at the doctor's office and stand while waiting. I tried Active Release Technique (ART) that helped to a point, but plateued. MRI of my back looks just fine. I've been going to Physical therapy 2-3x/week since October. Ultrasound seemed to help a great deal. I improved so much that it didn't hurt to sit anymore, only to bend forward, knees bent, then straighten my knees while standing (like a deadlift). However, we (PT and I) changed treatments thinking we fixed one problem- and something flared up again. So, now I still have some pain to sit and/or cross my legs- but it's in a little bit of a different spot. The therapist was perplexed, thinking it was my piriformis, a ligament, or possibly a labrum tear. My last and final therapy treatment was on December 30th (thanks to insurance). I'll be slowly going back to some basic movements with little to no weight here in January. I'm going to have to overcome the mental hurdle that's there now, too. You know, the same one that told me a couple years ago that I wasn't overweight, so why should I worry about pushing myself? Yeah- it returned. I know how much better I feel inside when strength training and conditioning, so it's just up to me to make my start date and follow through on a basic plan. The good news is, I can still do some dead hang pull-ups, thanks to the doorway pull-up bar in my closet. :)

Diane from Balanced Bites started a 21 Day Sugar Detox group (#21DSD is the hashtag to follow if you are on Twitter) on Jan 2nd that I'm a part of. My plan is to further this to 8 weeks or more, but after 21 days, I may allow a small amount of fruit again. My plan will then be much like the Whole 30.
I've also decided to cut back on the coffee again. No more than 2-3 times a week. These next few weeks should be a blast, right?! No sugar, no coffee... Hey, at least I'll have a better schedule!

I'll get Anthony to help me make a chart of my labs to share with you all in the next day or two.

Maybe I'll even think of a little workout to do tomorrow.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My End Is Just a New Beginning

My name is Wendy, and this has been my blog during a 6 month voyage into uncharted waters. See, through a series of events, I embarked on a quest for health. I have Hashimoto's Hypothyroid and something pretty cool to share. I hope to inspire you with my little experiment of the unknown.

I started my holistic journey in late October 2010. If you've been reading since the start, you may remember the condition I was in. If you are new to this blog, you will probably want to go back and read my 1st blog post titled In The Beginning. It will give you insight to where I started, and what my history had been up to that point. In short, I was a mess.

What I Ate

During my 6 months, I ate a Paleo Diet. I actually began eating paleo in August 2010, so I had a few months head start on that. Dr. Matthews, the chiropractor who was in charge of my thyroid treatment, did not enforce this diet, but didn't discount it either. Some of the recipes he gave me included legumes and rice. Essentially he just wanted me to be 100% gluten-free with very limited dairy. I decided to stick with what I learned from my husband Anthony, Robb Wolf, and Chris Kresser. Diane Sanfilippo's website is in my "favorites" list. She posts some awesome recipes the whole house loves...and it was from her site I got my way-cool "Bacon is rad, gluten is bad" t-shirt.
To clarify my eating choices, I had rare (once every month or 2) "no rules" meals. During them I might consume something with dairy, beans, or rice- like a Naked Burrito Bowl at Chipotle, some ice cream made from milk, or even something very processed like Snap Pea Crisps from TJ's.
Sidebar- Butter from grass-fed cows is still included pretty much in my everyday life, even though it's "dairy." The Butter Manifesto from the Whole 9 explains this well. However, I still have yet to clarify my Kerrygold butter. Maybe this summer. -End sidebar.
Unfortunately, on a more frequent occasion (every couple or few weeks), I would succumb to the calling of the blasted sugar in Hershey Kisses, M&Ms, or the like. I know, I know...that's dairy too. *sigh* My binges would last a few days- and it consisted of me grabbing a sweet treat I may have hid in the pantry when no children (or husbands) were looking. But, because I can never do anything in secret, the chocolate left over in the corner of my mouth or on my cheek would cause my husband to laugh, point, and say "busted!!" *double sigh* We'd get a good laugh because he knows I'm human. And he knows how yummy delicious milk chocolate is. We DO have dark chocolate in the house many days (72% or greater) but sometimes it just didn't meet my craving- and my craving won out over the willpower.
Note to self- If it wasn't IN my pantry in the 1st place, my willpower would've won.

We bought most of our meat from a fantastic local farm called T & D Farms in China Grove, NC. In fact, we just bought our first 100% grass fed 1/4 cow from them a few weeks ago. Most of our veggies and fruit have come from the produce section in the grocery store, but this spring we've joined a local organic CSA- I'm excited to see how that goes. It started yesterday!

I NEVER knowingly ate gluten. I may have consumed it unknowingly in very small amounts- like when I was eating the Rotisserie Chicken from Harris Teeter (they use modified food starch in their recipe). Whoops.
I thought going essentially grain-free would be tough. "I want buttered bread with my bean-free chili!! Waaa!" - But, what I learned was that what I truly wanted was the butter. Really, it was just a learning curve. I don't recall ever craving a bowl of PLAIN pasta with zero toppings...I wanted the butter or the sauce! Now- it's hard to look at cereal grains as consumable...unless I'm under some wacky tempting spell -which does happen. I mean, I used to have 14 boxes of cereal in my pantry...all for me. Now, I haven't even had gluten-free cereal since my "Come to Jesus" moment with a skyrocketed (for me) blood sugar level after binging on a bowl of gluten-free sugar-enhanced corn balls back in February. I wrote about that dive-bomb in a post called Old Favorites Die Hard. Yeah. That was a fun lesson. Good times.


In my 6 month program, I took some supplements as recommended to me by Dr. Matthews, who studied under Dr. Kharrazian. If you remember, my supplements varied a little at different times. I occasionally struggled mentally through taking all of them, and blogged about that too, in a post called Sugar Struggles and the Supplement Saga. But, to save time, here's the view when it was at it's peak, minus the Levothyroxine:

So... March 3rd was about 6 weeks from the end of my treatment plan, and I had a set of labs drawn. I didn't know it then, but they would be my last. I thought I may get one more set, but turns out the costs of my supplements, lab tests, office visits and such had way surpassed my original payment by "thousands." Seems as though the spending on my account wasn't watched closely enough. I didn't need to pay extra, but he just wasn't going to run anything else for me. That makes me even more thankful for my results.

Ready for my Labs?

The 1st column is when I found out I was hypothyroid. I've had yearly labs since then, but chose to add the 2nd column because it is 3 months pre-paleo. The 3rd column marks my 1st set of labs in my program. 5th- my last. This is not all encompassing of all the labs I have obtained, just what I have considered pertinent for this blog post.

Labs in red are too high, labs in blue are too low.

Looks like all those sugar binges have caught up to me with my Hgb A1c now minorly elevated at 5.8. Some people find it assuring that my fasting glucoses are normal. But fasting glucoses don't show you what a roller coaster ride your levels go through all throughout the day. Since Hashi's patients are warned about the potential development of diabetes, this concerns me. I am now attempting to add a bit more control to my cravings. A short-term goal is to decrease those sugar craving episodes to a more healthy scenario, like once every couple months or so. (You know though, since it's like crack to me, I'm unsure if this is even an option. Once I taste it, I need more and more- and then I'm completely off the wagon.) Nonetheless, right now I am careful to eat meat with my chocolate. Sounds AWESOME, right? Seriously, though. If I must have some sweet treat, it would have to be right after a meal full of protein and fat. I will continue to be a work in progress, for sure. But I am working! I'd like to see the day when I can say I've been "clean" for months. I wonder how much better I would feel?

Total Cholesterol is still low. I just ordered more Omega-3 Fish Oil from Stronger, Faster, Healthier. Someone told me it may help raise my total number. Funny, though. I eat essentially NO "Heart Healthy grains," I eat butter by the bite, pork chops, bacon, whole eggs, coconut oil, beef, etc... All the things they tell you not to eat if you don't want to be put on some statin drug or die of heart disease. As Whole 9 Life says, "Question Authority."

LDL, VLDL, HDL and Triglycerides are just wonderful- except I don't believe this old method of determining heart health is accurate anyways. Here's a clip from the documentary FatHead that sums it up nicely.
NOW... back to the lab chart. That special green number made me fall to my knees in the office! My Thyroglobulin Antibody level is NORMAL! And my TPO Ab isn't far behind- I'd say 9 points away from normal is amazing when it was 5048 points away in the beginning. I walked into the office hoping and praying that it would've dropped to the 200s, so when I saw this I was overcome with joy.

Autoimmune hypothyroid is essentially dormant in my body

Yes! Thank you Lord! All the hours spent cooking (and watching my husband cook), the strength to not eat foods I sometimes craved, and even the short-falls got me to this point. What's next? Well, I'm left with a thyroid that has been under attack for a prolonged time. We shall see if this wonderful gland that God gave me will gather it's strength for me and start to perform it's duties again. According to my TSH level now, I've been giving my body a bit too much thyroid supplement lately. That's a good sign. So, as instructed by Dr. Matthews, I tried to cut back on my natural thyroid supplement, GTA, to once per day. This lasted about a week or two. I felt so tired and foggy, I had to change something. So, I did what any typical hard-headed nurse would do that was trying to rid herself of synthetic medicine: I self-experimented. I cut my Levothyroxine dose in half to 50 mcg and went back to my 3 times/day GTA. Boom. I felt much better. And as I write this, my nails are stronger and not peeling anymore. Apparently, you can have brittle nails when your TSH is too low too. At least that's what Dr. Matthews said. He also said that since Levo is synthetic, the body may essentially come to become immune to it, but since GTA is natural, the body can utilize it better. Who knew?

To be fair, I also started taking my Ferrous Fumerate again around this same time, give or take a few days. I saw my iron had dropped again, this time to 47. I got real winded in my workouts for what seems like a long time- probably a few months. I was dragging somewhat even though an Iron level of 47 is "within normal limits." I figured it wouldn't hurt to start taking an iron supplement to see if maybe my body likes it's iron level closer to the 90s. I take it now about once every 3-4 days, as I think taking it daily was constipating me.

Feeling an improvement so far. Whether it's from the added iron, less levothyroxine, or the continued maintenance on the GTA will remain to be seen.

Current Regimen

Now that my 6 months is complete, here's what I'm prescribed:
4 pills: 1) GTA 3x/day 2) Glutathione Recycler 3x/day 3) Levothyroxine 50 mcg daily 4) Ferrous Fumerate 1 tab 2x/week
2 creams: 1) Oxicell 3x/day 2) AdrenaCalm 1x/day
2 liquids: 1) Vitamin D 4000 IU/day 2) Vitamin B-12 5 drops 2x/day 3) Nitric Balance 1 tsp 1-3 x/day
I still sometimes miss the middle of the day stuff. Morning/night stuff is a cake walk.

The things I will remain on long term are the Vitamins D and B12, Oxicell and Glutathione Recycler, and the Nitric Balance. Lord knows I'd like to only be on the GTA for my thyroid supplementation- and no mo Levo. Hopefully, if I can get some more dayshift hours and reduce some stress, I will be able to say see-ya to the AdrenaCalm too.

Future lab testing on May 26th 2011 with my PMD will show if my self-adjusting technique of my thyroid meds was a smart bet. Never know till you try! I can always go back on it. I really don't know what my PMD is gonna say after I tell him about this program. He may or may not have supported my desire to attempt to decrease my dose to test the waters. Now is my chance. Dr. Matthews says he has several patients that only take 1 or 2 GTA capsules a day. How nice would that be?!
Since I didn't get the last set of labs I thought I was going to get as a grand finale to the 6 month program, I will ask my PMD to run a similar panel and post those to this blog.

The Greatest Reward

Back in March I told you all of a success I had, but it was quite unexpected. I had some doubt that it would last, so I kept it to myself, and didn't go into detail. Well, I'm about to spill.

Something I have struggled with for as long as I can remember is dysmenorrhea, or painful periods. I know many of us chickas have a miserable time with the dreaded cycle, and I don't personally know anyone who enjoys the month in and month out experience. It just took so much out of me, my OB/GYN prescribed me a few different medications. They didn't work. Well, that is, until he tried Tramadol in June of 2003. Back then, looking into this new med, I learned it's quite like a narcotic, but not one. It messes with your brain. It helps the pain by helping you to "not care" that you're hurting- for the most part. I remember taking it the 1st few times. Weird, man. I felt weird. For a long time, I didn't like the brain excitement it gave me- almost a hyperactive state, but I kept taking it during my periods trying to get some relief, which I did get. After what was probably less than a year, at the end of a cycle, I couldn't stop taking it. I tried, and I had awful withdrawal symptoms like nervousness and anxiety. So, I just took another. Everyday. Period or not. Time went on, and I was continuing to take 1 or 2 a day. At one point I enlisted the help of a doctor who prescribed me Clonidine, a blood pressure medicine, to reduce or eliminate the withdrawal symptoms as I took myself off the medicine. It worked! No nervousness, anxiety, or insomnia. But, after what feels like a month or two...maybe three, I started to ache and hurt, and not want to get out of bed. More days than not. Periods were unbearable, even mentally, again. I felt depressed alot. So, I did what most people in my shoes would've done. I asked my OB/GYN for a refill of the Tramadol. He obliged. I mean, it DID help, and I was thankful to be able to get up and move around again- to feel like I had some sort of energy along with less pain. It was prescribed as always: 50 mg tabs, 1-2 tabs every 4-6 hours as needed. I wasted no time getting back on track with my 1 or 2 a day schedule. It was much less than I was allowed... so no harm no foul? I would be laying on the couch, so tired, blah, and worn down, pop one of those babies and I'd be zipping around cleaning or running errands in no time. It was HELPING me. Right?

Looking back, I had no idea what was wrong in my body in the 1st place. Why was I hurting? Why couldn't I cope with life? Why was I miserable? I suppose I didn't have time for that. I just wanted relief. Just give me my pill. I remember asking Anthony to bring me one to work because I left the bottle at home. He understood how I would feel without it, so he'd pack up the kids, drive to my job, and help me out.

I would tell the tramadol saga to my PMD at my annual physicals, and last year he said, "Why don't you let me prescribe you your medicine?" (Instead of my OB/GYN since it wasn't just a GYN issue anymore) "How do you know you don't have Depression or Fibromyalgia?" He said. I believe I looked at him and scoffed, "Fibromyalgia is for drug seekers, the overweight, and the old. I am none of the above. I am invincible, and I will be fine. I don't have depression, I just am going through some stuff." I don't even think I believed in the diagnosis of Fibro itself. He however, was probably putting 2 and 2 together, since he had been planning my demise ever since he diagnosed me with Hashi's. He has been preparing himself for my potential diagnoses of depression, fibro, diabetes and the like. They all seem to run in the same circles, after all.

Let's fast forward to the beginning of this year, 2011. I have been on Tramadol for over 7 years. Daily. One or 2 a day average- up to the maximum of 5 in one day (That would've been a bad, bad day). In January, I started to think about this drug and how it didn't fit in with my current outlook on health, nutrition, and fitness. But at the same time, I never thought it would be possible to stop it without going back to a painful, miserable life, as well as an exhausting mental challenge because of the dependency on it. I hadn't once tried to go without it during my paleo eating/crossfitting lifestyle change, but in December/January, I decided to give it a go. I weaned myself from 2, to 1, to 1/2, to 1/4, to none over about 4-6 weeks. The larger doses were weaned slowly, then the smaller doses were weaned quite quickly. At the end, I just forgot to take the 1/4 tab one day. And since I went one day, I decided to forget again on the second day, and the third and so on.
The last week of January is the LAST time I have taken Tramadol after 7 years of daily requirement. I DON'T HURT ANYMORE. I am not depressed. I feel like I have my life back. I'm not in some variable hyper state like I used to be. Yes, my periods are still a bit on the miserable side (I've had 4 so far). But really, I can deal with that. It pales in comparison to the achiness I felt all over. Only once did my menstrual pain level get to a point that I wanted some tylenol. I am hoping that by tweaking my diet and nutrition a bit, I will find that my cycle will improve over time. In April, I cut off my pot a day coffee habit for a full 21 days cold-turkey. I now only plan on drinking a high octane cup on Mondays and maybe decaf on some Thursdays. I've recently read that eliminating it could help a woman's cycle a great deal. I shall see.

Be a Healthy Christian

I have encountered some Christians who have had a hard time "buying into" a Paleo nutrition plan. I can't say I understand the logic behind that as many of those same people choose to eat a box of something over a piece of meat or a vegetable. *scratches head*  If God wanted me to eat Lucky Charms, He would've made a tree that grew marshmallow purple horseshoes. Maybe their hesitation is because many of it's promoters are evolutionists, or because Jesus ate bread. Maybe it's because change is hard. I dunno. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a perfect paleo eater either (darn chocolate!!). But what I do know, is that it works. I was being looked out for by my Heavenly Father, and whether paleo promoters believe it or not, they were a part His plan to introduce me to a life free from disease symptoms. I am so very thankful to Him for keeping me in His complete care, and I'm so very thankful to them for being such excellent resources, willing to help the masses, "6 listeners" at a time.

The End of the Line?        ...Not so much.

As you probably have guessed, I am going to continue to be my own experiment. God brought me far, and I enjoy walking this out with Him. We are wonderfully made beings. I feel that it is important to sift through the junk out there in the mainstream media and mainstream medicine to determine how we should treat these temples of ours. My end of these 6 months, is really the beginning of another new life in nourishing health. I chose the road less traveled, as they say. I hope you do too.

Now, go be your own experiment, overcome the diagnosis of disease, and then spread the word about health and good nutrition. Make those pharmaceutical commercials irrelevant. And remember, no matter how much we search, scour, and dig through the info on the web, there is no perfect health apart from God. We are His childen and he wants the best health for us. It is possible.

Many Cheers!

Monday, April 25, 2011


I'm still here, and my 6 month program is now complete.
I would like to post my apologies since I haven't written my experiences over the past 6 or 7 weeks. I do have alot to share, and my plan is to complete a post including my final labwork this week. When I saw my results, I couldn't believe my eyes!


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rant on Big Pharma

Big Pharma To Try Their Hand at the Table

I knew it would happen. The whole world...or "one in five Americans" will probably start running to a new drug for autoimmunity now being researched by Big Pharma. A quick fix seems so much easier than some good, old fashioned, food discipline. So many peeps can change their diet and would essentially have little or no need for a drug that is sure to carry a hefty pricetag. (See the link? That's alot of research dollars...) People seem to be worried about the cost of being/eating healthy. They ask me how much my grocery bill is now that we don't eat grains (and I can say with certainty that it's not as costly as continuing to eat the foods that irritated my system)- but I wonder how many of those same people will pay whatever it costs for a manufactured drug to reduce or remove their symptoms. I really wonder. I heard long ago that you will pay a price your your health... now or later, but you will pay a price. I chose to pay for health now, as opposed to disease later. You?

I also heard Chris Kresser from The Healthy Skeptic speak on a podcast with Robb Wolf. He speaks of another drug coming up- and how it will work. You can listen to that podcast here. It's toward the end of the hour- but there's good stuff up until that point too.

Why did Big Pharma come to the table? Because so many people have been suffering for so long with autoimmunity? Sort-of. "So many people" is pharm-speak for "lots of money."  From the article- "There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune disorders1, and approximately 50 million Americans, or one in five people, suffer from autoimmune diseases."

Lets multiply "50 million" peeps by the average cost of a highly sought after, new, non-generic drug. Hmmm. The potenial for income is staggering. -So is the strain on our health insurance premium- but that's another rant.
It would be cheaper for our health care system to educate people on grain, dairy, and legume-free eating. But alas, that doesn't make those drug companies money. And if people steered clear of grains, the US would lose money too. So, they try to solve a problem by adding a step, instead of removing one. That way, the money still abounds- for them.

The drug they come up with may help people, granted...this remains to be seen. But I just can't help but think about true health- where your body uses it's God-given ability to heal itself by eating the foods necessary for it's optimal function. Where there is no need for a prescription drug. Wouldn't that be a better option?  If one could be used in place of the other, I'm pretty sure God would rather me simply eat meat and veggies than pop a pill everyday.

Think about a diabetic that eats foods he knows he shouldn't and uses insulin as a crutch. Insulin brings down the high glucose, sure. But meanwhile, behind the scenes, that havoc is still unleashed. The high and low blood glucoses continue to cause problems on his extremities, eyeballs, weight, triglyceriges, you-name-it, etc. The insulin is necessary, but it does not HEAL.
A Paleo-type diet helps HEAL- and without side-effects, too boot.

Parents with autoimmunity- I implore you. Your children unfortunately can follow in your autoimmune footsteps. If at all possible in your particular health issue, don't teach them to rely on Big Pharma. Give them the knowledge and power to choose to eat foods that will help them stay healthy, as well as correct unhealthiness. Show them how important it is for their lives- even when you are not around. They pay attention and (mostly) believe what we say. :-)

Something to think about.

Do You Have Hypothyroidism?