Ow! Ways to Help Muscle pain and Fatigue

    Thyroid disease comes with many issues attached to it. Since the thyroid is responsible for a good majority of processes in the body, a lot of things are affected when it isn’t functioning correctly. One of the most painful is the muscle pain and fatigue. If you are hyperthyroid, then you get muscle pain and fatigue because your body is running through energy so fast, it’s like having you run a marathon every few minutes. Your muscles feel sore, and achy and sometimes weak. Too much thyroid hormone can also start to break down muscle tissue as well. Then when you go hypothyroid,  your muscles are tired again,  and you are fatigued, due to not enough thyroid hormone giving you the energy you need to move. Either way, it prevents you from moving like you would like to be able,  and sometimes results in a lot of pain. Pain that prevents people from being able to work or function fully not infrequently.

First step if you are having a lot of muscle pain, is to work with your doctor to get your thyroid levels to optimal levels. Keeping a journal and noting what your last labs were, plus medicines you are on and how you feel at the time of blood draw can help you pinpoint where you feel better and where you feel worse. If you have a good doctor who will work with you, you can work to tweak your dose to where you are feeling better.

If your muscle aches and pains are not caused by injury, but by thyroid levels, there are some things you can do to help yourself feel better. The first one is moving more. (talk to your doctor and find out what is safe for  YOU to do first) Exercise is a good thing, but you have to be careful and find exercises that will strengthen you and not harm you.
When I was having really bad fatigue and muscle aches, I started out with low impact aerobics, only 4-5 minutes a day. After a week, I went up to 7 minutes, and paid attention to how I felt. If I felt worse after this, I would drop back down to previous level. Each week if I was able to handle it, I would go up a couple of minutes. It’s slow and feels pointless, but I made it up to 30 minutes 5 times a week eventually, and my muscles started to feel better and less fatigued.
Then I added in some basic yoga twice a week to the routine, maybe 5 minutes at a time of stretches. Basic stretches where I once again started off with slowest and easiest moves and slowly worked my way up to more difficult ones. Once I got up to being able to handle that, then I added in some light basic weights and exercises that strengthened my legs and lower back. They key is to find an exercise you like, that’s not high impact, and be able to ease into it, listening to your body the entire time. If your body is hurting, STOP. A small amount of aching in the muscles is ok, sharp pains or something that does not go away after a few hours or a day is not. Take a break and do less the next day or the day after. It’s not a race. Just moving sometimes will help me ease some of the aches and stiffness in my muscles and joints. On a really bad day, I will just do some basic stretches and basic yoga poses to help ease the kinks out of my muscles.

Next thing that will help ease some of the pain is getting proper rest. Do you have sleep issues? Do you snore, or have daytime tiredness that could signal sleep apnea on top of thyroid issues? It is quite common to develop sleep apnea along with thyroid issues. Get a sleep study done if you suspect that might be the cause. Otherwise make sure you are following good sleep hygiene rules:

  1. Avoid caffeine and stimulants past 2pm at least and altogether if you can. Caffeine and other stimulants can last in  your body for hours after and upset your ability to sleep. Also avoid alcohol, it may seem to make you sleepy, but you will be wide awake not long after you fall asleep with it.
  2. Turn your bedroom into a sleep haven. Dark curtains blocking out light. No electronic devices in your bedroom near you. Slightly cool environment temperature. Comfortable mattress and pillows. Try to keep all distractions outside of your bedroom when you are sleeping, pets outside of the room, as their movements can interrupt your sleep even when you don’t realize it.
  3. Have a soothing bed time routine. Take a bath every night, or read a calming book, meditate on the day, write out a list of things to be done the next day and then let those thoughts go.
  4. Go to sleep when you are really tired. If you are laying in bed still awake after 20 minutes, get out of bed. Go sit in a quiet room and do something quiet such as reading or listening to soft music until you are sleepy again.
  5. Watch your lights. The light from the television actually signals your brain to wake up, so do not watch television when you are trying to go to sleep. Also, when you get up in the morning, make sure you let in some sunlight if available that day to wake yourself up.
  6. Do not eat or drink within 2 hours of going to bed, and make sure you eat lighter at dinner if you can than at lunch time. This will ensure you are not still digesting when your body is needing to rest and relax.
  7. Establish a routine. Get up the same time every day, including weekends. Try not to nap unless you absolutely have to.

Next get your vitamins and minerals checked. Make sure your magnesium, calcium, vitamin D and potassium levels are adequate. Deficiencies in any of these can make muscle pain and fatigue much worse. When your thyroid levels are too low or too high, your body might also be using much more of these as well. If lab tests come back deficient, a simple supplement might be all it takes to ease your muscle pain and help with your fatigue. There are many supplements out there that can help also. Many people are able to take turmeric as a supplement also for joint and muscle pain. After checking with doctor and pharmacist to make sure it’s okay to take, some have found this eases inflammation in the joints and muscles and thus eases the fatigue.

So, get your thyroid levels to optimal levels. Then start an exercise program taking into account what is safe for you, easing into it for safety. Get your sleep hygiene straight, and then have your vitamins and minerals checked. Hopefully one or all of these will help you find some relief from your thyroid related muscle pain and fatigue.


Keep Searching and Keep Pushing On

I’ve been diagnosed with Graves’ disease since 2000. I was told when I was diagnosed that the anti-thyroid drugs would take care of things. They didn’t. Then I was told that I would do the RAI (radioactive iodine) to kill off my thyroid, then I would take one pill and everything would be fine. For me, it also wasn’t that simple. I have had many times over the last decade plus where I felt like there was no hope and things would never get better. I was wrong, there is hope and there is always a chance for things to improve.

First thing I’d tell anyone newly diagnosed with any thyroid disease including thyroid cancer, is you are no longer going to be the same. You need to give yourself time to mourn your old life and your old you. No one ever tells you this, but I will. You will go thru the stages of grief just like you lost a loved one, denial will figure very strongly for awhile, and you will think you can get back to where you used to be. You will NEVER be like you used to be. Don’t despair though, because you can get to a new you that will have you be just as happy if you keep searching for answers and keep pushing on.

Getting answers that will help you live a better and healthier life takes time and patience. Everyone is just a little different, so you will need to research what has helped other people get better and then find out if it’s something that is a possibility of helping you. Don’t be misled by too good to be true claims of curing your thyroid disease, since a lot of them are scams at best and harmful to your health at worst. If there is a group of people insisting that eating this or not eating that is the ONLY way to go, steer clear of those people. Thyroid disease is absolutely not a one size fits all disease. You will have to find out for  yourself what works for you and if something does not work for you, don’t feel like you’ve failed. Finding out what doesn’t work is also valuable information.

Some of the things I’ve done in my search for answers to my health include trying different diets or eliminating different foods. I’ve been keeping a food diary for the last several years. In it, I write down what I eat each day, any weird or unusual symptoms I have and what time they happen at and then each week I go back and see if I can detect any patterns. That has helped me find some new food sensitivities and allergies that I did not have before.

I’ve also tried various diets. Gluten free is one that is very popular right now. Some people who have thyroid and autoimmune disease develop celiac’s disease, and for them, avoiding gluten helps within a few days for them to feel better. Keeping a food diary can help you figure out if that piece of bread you ate is tied to the stomach issues, or extra fatigue. For me gluten free made me feel worse, not better, that plus a biopsy and blood test for celiac’s confirmed that is not my issue personally. (I know there is a small group of people who feel that gluten is the evil of the world and everyone should avoid it, but I am not one of those people- to each their own). I also tried avoiding dairy in my diet. I did find that having smaller amounts of dairy, and staying to things that are low in lactose seem to help my digestive system, so that was a plus for me. I also went on a low glycemic index diet (see chart for examples below) at the advice of my doctor, which basically means eating like a diabetic. This one also helped me personally gain energy and avoid mid day slumps, so another victory. Some people find they are sensitive to additives in food and cannot eat much processed, this is another thing to try to see if it will help you feel better. Still others find they are allergic to things in red meat or seafood. Keep a food diary, eliminate one food group at a time for a week each and see where your personal triggers are. This is one good way to start on the road to feeling better.

Another thing is to keep on top of your lab work. Make sure your thyroid levels are within optimal levels. Just because your thyroid levels are within the broad definition of normal, doesn’t mean that they are at their optimal. I suggest keeping a lab journal as well, get copies of all your labs, write down any medicine you are on with dose at the time and any symptoms you are having. Over time you will come to figure out where your new “normal” is, where your optimal is.

Next make sure your various hormones and vitamins are where they are supposed to be. Get a full panel done to check your male or female hormones to make sure they are where they need to be. Women can have their female hormones pushed out of normal by their thyroid and men can have their testosterone levels fall when their thyroid levels go off optimal. Also get your basic vitamins and nutrients checked. Vitamin D, magnesium, calcium. potassium and iodine levels are important to also be optimal. If any of these are too low or too high it can throw things off even further. A lot of times getting them checked can give you and your doctor a good idea if they need to be supplements to help you feel better.

Sleep is another very important thing that can be disrupted when you have thyroid issues. The tiredness, fatigue and brain fog that comes along with thyroid being off, can overshadow sleep issues, to the point you do not know if you’ve developed any sleep issues. If you are constantly tired and your thyroid levels, diet and other things are ok, get a sleep study done. I resisted this one for years. I don’t snore according to my husband, so I can’t have sleep apnea. It took me fainting one day, plus several month of tremors, brain fog and vertigo where I could not walk a straight line to finally get me to get my sleep study done. When they found the sleep apnea I wasn’t happy. I was happy with the HUGE amount I felt better using the CPAP. That has given me one of the biggest boosts in energy and ability to feel better.

My point is, that getting back to a new healthier you won’t be instant for most people. You will have to put on  your detective hat and start eliminating things and trying others to find out what your body personally needs. I am so much better now than I was last year and better last year than the year before. I keep searching for answers and keep pushing to get good care and it’s helping to keep me going more than I ever though. Don’t give up!

You’re Grounded!

When life is overwhelming, and anxiety is taking hold, how to you reclaim yourself again? How do you find that calm center so you can feel in control again? One of the ways that have been used by thousands of people around the world is called grounding exercises. These are visualization and meditation exercises that help you move the stress and confusion out of your body and mind and clear it so you feel more grounded. Grounded means that you don’t have your energies scattered everywhere, that you are back in control of yourself, like grounding electricity to the earth, so it’s safer.

  1. The “Tree Exercise”. Sit in a chair with your feet on the ground, or you can even sit on the ground, as long as you are comfortable and your feet are touching the floor. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, in for 7 count, out for 7 count, until your breathing is slower and more relaxed. Then visualize and imagine that your feet are putting out roots towards the earth, and connecting you physically to the ground. The middle part of your body visualize as the trunk of a mighty tree and the top half, visualize as branches reaching towards the sky. Once you have this visualization firmly in mind, “see” in your minds eye all the stress, negative thoughts and emotions and bad energy leaving your body flowing upward and out of your branches above to leave you. Also visualize at the same time or near same time that your “roots” in the ground are pulling up pure energy, untainted by stress or anything negative. This is rejuvenating you by flowing up from your “roots” and then flowing throughout your body. Keep this exercise up as long as you need to, until you start to feel more calm and less stressed. When you are done, allow the rest of the negative energy to float out the top, and then release your roots and return to your every day world.
  2. Be mindful of your surroundings technique. This is where you stop and concentrate on the world around you. Go outside if possible and look into the distance, concentrate on seeing and naming at least three things that are in the distance from you. Once you name things in the distance, stop and look close by, try to name three things that are near you, and if they are small details, even better. This will take your concentration off what is stressing you and onto something neutral.
  3. Shielding. When the world seems scary, and out of control. You can visualize a shield protecting you. Sit down and be comfortable. Take several deep breaths in and out until you have calmed some. Next pick a color that feels strong to you, for me I choose red, but you can choose any color you feel an affinity to. With your eyes closed, start visualizing your entire body. Be aware of everything from the top of your head to your arms, to your feet. Then visualize having a large bubble that is fitting over your body (or a bodysuit works also for this). See it covering every part of your body. “Tell” it in your mind that this will stay around you, protecting you from harm, and will only allow positive energy and healing to penetrate you. The mind is a powerful thing, if you put this shield over you, your mind will help you gain control over your anxiety and stress so you can function better.
  4. Centering. Centering is simply returning all of your energy that is scattered back to you. Most people have their energies divided. You may be typing up something, and watching the clock and waiting for lunch all at the same time. Centering will help bring all of your energy back to you, so you feel more calm. Again, sit comfortably and breathe deep until you are calmer. Visualize all the little bits and pieces of your energy that is all over the place as a golden color. See the tendrils going out from yourself in your mind. Mentally start gently pulling on all those tendrils and bring them back to you. It may take a few attempts to get the hang of this, but once you do, you will be able to eventually do this exercise anywhere and anytime you need to calm yourself.

Creative visualization and meditation exercises are great ways to regain control of your mental state. Those of us with chronic illness and thyroid disease often feel like our bodies are pulling us every which way and make it hard to keep oneself in check mentally. Try one or more of these exercises when you start feeling anxious or out of control and see if they can help you regain a bit of yourself again.

See Britney on twitter @BttrflyBritney

Visit the Warrior Butterflies Website and find other great articles, doctor recommendations and recipes at http://www.WarriorButterflies.com

SLEEP! Does a body good!

Sleeping Selena the cat, with her night time buddy.

Sleep! It’s such an important thing. As Americans a lot of us are inclined to shrug it off, act like we are heroes for not getting enough. The I didn’t sleep for two days and look at what I got done Syndrome! For trying to plow through our days with not enough rest. Sleep deprivation will catch up to you eventually. For those of us with thyroid disease, getting proper rest is even more crucial. Lack of sleep will tax the bodies resources, and can drain all our reserves even faster than a healthy person. Some of the signs of chronic sleep deprivation according to Webmd are: Decreased performance and alertness, memory and cognitive impairment, poor quality of life, stress on a relationship,automobile injury or occupational injury. People who are sleep deprived are more likely to hurt themselves or others driving cars or operating machinery. Don’t be that person!

With a thyroid disorder, sleep becomes a major part of your life. When you are hyperthyroid, odds are good you are having insomnia and when you do sleep it’s not restful. When you are hypothyroid, then odds are good you are sleeping constantly, but again, it’s not restful. Either way if you do sleep, it’s not enough to counter the siege your body is under dealing with not enough or too much thyroid hormones running through your body. Disruptions in sleep is often one of the first signs a person has that their thyroid is not working properly.

I have several experiences with sleep issues. When I was first diagnosed with Graves’ disease, I was already very hyperthyroid. Within a month of diagnosis I went from sleeping fitfully maybe 4-5 hours a night, to maybe getting 1-2 hours a night. My partner at the time reported that even when I slept I twitched and moved around the entire time. My entire system was so revved up. I was exhausted, I got to the point I voluntarily gave up my car keys as I knew I was dangerous on the road. One of the worst things for me about being hyper was the “wired and tired” that I existed in.

Then I had RAI, and the dose was high enough that it flipped me into hypo within just a couple of weeks. Basically it’s like going 100mph and then hitting a brick wall. Your body goes from revved up and burning through energy, to barely having the energy to move. I went from 1-2 hours of sleeping to 10 to 15 hours of sleeping within a month, and STILL feeling exhausted. I was never so happy to have my thyroid levels finally get to mid range normal. To this day I know to get my thyroid levels checked if either of those two scenarios start happening again.

My sleep issues weren’t over though. In 2013, I started having problems with balance. It felt like I was drunk, like some sort of super vertigo. I started to walk with a cane. Then while driving my car all the sudden I couldn’t  judge distances, and hit a wall on an underpass and broke my side view mirror, that crashed into my side window, shattering it. That was my wake up call. Something was really wrong. I also noticed that when trying to write with a pen my hand would shake uncontrollably at times. I started noticing when I typed I would use the wrong word, and not even notice it, even when going back. I quit my part time job and started seeing various doctors. No one seemed to know what was going on, CT scans came back fine for my brain, blood tests showed nothing. One day I was out walking and I fainted and fell into a ditch, bloodying my knees and twisting my ankle. My husband took me to the ER to get checked out, and they admitted me. Over the two day stay, I saw several doctors. It was a cardiologist who finally had an idea. They had me fitted with an oxygen meter overnight and found out my breathing was going down to 20% several times an hour. When I got out of the hospital I was sent to a sleep specialist who sent me for a sleep study. Now my husband has sleep apnea and he was saying no way I had sleep apnea as I never snore, he knows what sleep apnea sounds like!

I went for the sleep study. Waited a week or two for the results, no one called me. So went in for the follow up appointment and got the surprise of my life!  My results had come in, I had experienced 20 apneas an hour and another 10 hypopneas (shallow breathing) in that same hour. I has sleep apnea! They think I have mostly central sleep apnea, because I have no evidence of anything blocking my airwaves when I sleep. In fact I had just lost 30 pounds before I started to have issues. So grudgingly I got the CPAP and started using it. One week later my vertigo was almost gone. Two weeks later the tremors in my hand stopped and by a month I was back to where I used to be. My energy was up and I was thinking properly again. My sleep doctor told me that I was an unusual case as I didn’t show any of the typical signs of sleep apnea. The fact that I have Graves’ disease probably didn’t help the matter. Being sleepy all the time, well,  that could be explained by thyroid levels. Headaches could have been caused by my allergies, and so on.

So I am a believer. Sleep is much more important that people realize and if you don’t sleep well, it can affect you. It may take it’s toll over months or years, but eventually it WILL catch you up.

Besides the CPAP I use, I also practice good sleep hygiene. Click the link for some good tips on how to get a better nights sleep yourself.
Pleasant dreams!

Check out Warriorbutterflies.com for more thyroid related content, or see Britney on twitter at @BttrflyBritney

Be Your Own Advocate

I talk to a lot of people in my own thyroid support group and in several others where I am a member or Admin. We get several people in there a week in a panic because their doctor gave them incomplete information, or worse, told them something that scared them to death without taking the time to point them in the direction of information that would help them.

For instance, we had someone join the group recently. They were just told that they had thyroid disease. That was all their doctor had told them. They came to the group scared that they was going to die. “Am I going to die?” was literally the first question asked when joined. So we talked to them, found out where their thyroid levels were (slightly hypothyroid) and what treatment the doctor had prescribed for them (thyroid replacement medicine) and were able to give them more detailed information than what they were given. I asked if the doctor had taken the time to explain anything about the diagnosis, and was told they had not just the diagnosis and pretty much that was it, no questions answered, no further information. It took several of us a couple of hours to get this person calmed down. No one should have to leave their doctors office feeling that way.  I’ve seen this scenario happen all too often.

The second most common thing I see,  is a person will find out that that they have something wrong with them that their doctor never told them. Such as the person who went to a specialist who asked them, “So what is your regular doctor doing about your extremely low calcium levels?” While the person is sitting there in shock because their doctor never mentioned this to them. This leaves a person wondering why their doctor isn’t giving them the full information on their health? Shouldn’t a person have a right to know if something is affecting their health? What else isn’t the doctor revealing and why?

In this era of ten minute visits with doctors and specialists being overbooked, this sort of thing happens all too often. People come in seeking a doctor’s help to feel better, and they are given little information on what is wrong. Then if they even get a diagnosis, they have no idea how they are supposed to handle this limited information about their health. Without information, a person cannot make good decisions about their health. Without information, a person can, and will jump to the worst case scenarios. It would have taken the doctor maybe 5 extra minutes to sit down and give a basic tutorial of what a diagnosis means to a person which could make all the difference in how a person handles things. Thank goodness there are still doctors and other health care providers out there who will take the time to try to educate and comfort their patients while they are in the office,  and make sure their mental well being is taken care of, as well as their physical well being before BEFORE they walk out the door.

So what can a person do to avoid this scenario of not getting nearly enough information about their health to make any sort of rational judgement? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when next you go to your doctor, remember the doctor works for YOU, you do not work for them:

  1. What tests do we need to run to confirm a diagnosis? What are the risks of these tests?
  2. What is my diagnosis if you have one for me? Can you give me a definition of what that diagnosis means so that I can understand it?
  3. What are the options available to me to treat this condition?
  4. What is the medicine you are prescribing and what is it for? Are there any side effects?
  5. Ask for a copy of any test results or labs to take with you. Explain this is a way for you to follow up  and keep up with your own health.
  6. What if anything, do I need to do at home to take care of this? Are there any dietary changes that need to be made for instance?
  7. How soon do we need to start treatment, or can I take some time to think about my options (for major treatment issues like surgery, RAI, etc.)
  8. Do you have any literature you can give me about my condition, or do you have any books or websites that you recommend to help me understand?
  9. What signs or symptoms should I watch out for that would signal my condition getting worse?

There is no need to be aggressive when dealing with your doctor. Let the doctor know you want to be a partner with them in your healthcare. For instance if you would like them to run more tests that they normally would not, ask them if they could please run them this time for your peace of mind and to rule things out. If you have a doctor that no matters what will not run the tests or give you the treatment you feel you need to be healthy, it’s perfectly ok to look around for another doctor who will work with you.

If you need a new doctor, feel free to check out this list at warriorbutterflies.com all health care providers on the list have been recommended by a thyroid patient who has been helped by that person. If you have a fantastic doctor that works well with you, please let us know at Warrior Butterflies so we can add them to the list of doctors.

You can see Britney on twitter @BttrflyBritney also

“What did you say?” CAPD and the Thyroid

For most of my life I’ve had some issues with understanding the spoken word. I always made sure to sit in front of the class in school, and I got pretty good at lip reading. I had my hearing tested at school several times and it always came back that I had perfect hearing. You sit me in a sound proof box and send tones to me, I can hear them all day without a problem. However, you put me in a crowded or noisy environment and I may not recognize my name being spoken. I knew something was wrong, and finally a few years ago I found out what it was.

I have something called Central Auditory Processing Disorder or CAPD. In my case Adult CAPD. CAPD is basically an umbrella term for a variety of disorders that affect the way the brain processes auditory information. Put in simpler terms, my ears themselves work fine, they bring sound to my brain just like they are supposed to. Once they reach the brain, my brain doesn’t always interpret the sounds they hear very well.

I will give you an example of how my world works. Say you are in a room and several people are having a conversation around you. Someone is trying to speak to you. They say something and you know that they are speaking clearly to you, but for some reason your brain refuses to make sense out of what they are saying. A funny example was this past Christmas. I was at my mother’s house, and I heard my sister come in. What my brain thought she said (she was out of my eye sight) was “Hey, I’m a naked chick”. What she actually said (to my relief) was “Hey I’m making chicken tomorrow”. This is the world in which I live and this sort of thing happens to me quite frequently.

I found a really good Audiologist about three years ago. A friend suggested that after I passed yet another standard hearing test with flying colors that maybe it’s not my ears that were the problem but my brain. They had been diagnosed with CAPD as a child and had outgrown it, so they were familiar with the issues I had been having. I had to look far and wide to find an Audiologist who even knew about this disorder and could test for it. I found this Audiologist who had been trained and was a specialists in CAPD and not only that was able to test me as an adult. I went in for a series of tests to find out if this was indeed the cause of mis-hearing every other word.

The testing for CAPD is different from standard hearing tests. They start out with that to find out if you also have hearing loss, I apparently do not. Then they move on with you in the that same soundproof room with a set of headphones on. One ear will get no sound, and the other will get an increasingly complex serious of sentences that you will have to identify. This helps them determine which side is having the problems and to what degree. From the way it was explained to me, your ears take in sound from the left and right side, and then your brain is the referee who figures out meaning based on what both sides heard. Then it processes the sound and gives you the meaning. If both sides give you accurate information, most normal people get the information they hear correct about 90% of the time, so even normal people occasionally mis-hear something occasionally. What is a problem is when your hearing comprehension drops to lower than this. After running the tests we found that my left side processes information accurately about 50% of the time and my right side about 70%. Both of these are well below normal. When you have one side getting it wrong half the time and the other side getting it wrong  roughly 1/4 of the time, it makes it hard for your brain to reconcile the discrepancies. Thus you get the “I’m a naked chick” scenarios going through your brain.

As I said before I found a really good Audiologist. He put me into a test group where they did several brain training sessions with me. I had exercises to strengthen each sides brain comprehension, I had sessions in the sound proof box where they had me go over various verbal sentences to try to increase my comprehension. At the end of six weeks they tested me again. My left side went up to 70% and my right side to 80%. Still not normal levels, but so much better than they ever were. The Audiologist had told me that some people who have gone thru the test group actually regained almost all normal hearing comprehension, but for me, gaining like that helped so much. What also helped was being aware of my issue, and starting to tell people around me about the problem I dealt with.

Here we get to the thyroid connection. Since I have Graves’ disease, he had this theory that possibly my thyroid hormones could be playing a role in my hearing comprehension. So every time I went in for a thyroid blood test, he would also test my CAPD that same week. Then I would give him my levels to correlate if at all to my hearing comprehension. During a two year period, my thyroid levels went from hypothyroid to euthyroid (normal levels) over to hyperthyroid. What we found was really interesting. When my thyroid levels were in the hyperthyroid ranges, my hearing comprehension was almost 90% on each side. When the levels dropped to normal. I went back down to what I had gained from the test group. When I was hypothyroid, my levels dropped almost to where I was before the gain I received from the test group. There was a definitely correlation at least for me! He’s still looking for people in our area last I heard to try to find out if others have this same issue. The theory he has is that since the thyroid also controls some brain functions, when it is hyper and floods the body and brain it is also speeding up the area that processes information, which is why my hearing comprehension is better.

These days, I now have another symptoms to watch for to see if my thyroid levels have changed. Am I hearing about the same or a lot better, then maybe I’m heading towards hyper, if it’s getting worse, maybe my levels are going down. So far keeping track myself, I still am showing the same issues as his tests showed. Hypo and normal, not so great comprehension. The year I went borderline hyperthyroid, I didn’t have any issues understanding people.

If you want to understand more about CAPD, I highly recommend this article by Judith Paton “Living and Working with a Central Auditory Processing Disorder”, it was one of the first things I read when I was trying to figure out why I couldn’t understand people and kept hearing the most ridiculous things that I knew couldn’t be what people said.

Check out Britney over at http://www.WarriorButterflies.com

Stronger together

One really positive thing about being on the internet and having thyroid disease is being able to compare and contrast your experience with other people. There are so many support groups out there with literally thousands of people sharing their experiences. There is also blogs, articles and information all over the place. While some of this information doesn’t apply to everyone, what it does do, is allow a person to start to see patterns.

When you start talking to other people from other places, you can see whether or not a particular issue that you are dealing with is common with other people. You can help yourself figure out if that crazy thought you are having is something you alone are thinking or if fifty others are also having crazy thoughts. You can find out options that other people have tried. You can find out the good, the bad and the ugly of treatment options out there.

You still have to put on  your critical thinking hats to deal with the information, like you do with anything on the internet. Don’t let yourself fall for lose weight quick, or those “heal your thyroid” miracle sounding cures on the internet. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A little skepticism is a good thing. Mind you, do not close your mind off to everything, but make sure anything you hear you confirm with multiple reputable sources before you try anything you have read about. While there is a lot of good information out there, there is also people waiting to prey on those of us with chronic illness, and we can find things that will actively hurt us in the guise of helping.

If you are open to it, start doing your own research on your thyroid condition. Talk to people online. Join a thyroid support group and start reading what other people are experiencing. This is something that has helped me immensely over the last few years. I have been in several thyroid support groups over the years, and I started seeing recurring topics show up. Topics that you never see in articles online or hear about from your doctor. This enabled me to do some more research and find things that doctors do not seem to be aware of. The reason, for this I feel, is that  doctors know about what they have learned in medical school, they may see a dozen or so thyroid patients in their lifetime or a few more, so patterns of other things do not show up in those situations. If you are online with a thyroid support group, depending on the size you get a much larger sample of people coming together. People will also talk about their entire lives on support groups, not just things they think of as thyroid related issues. When you hear about people talking about obsessive thoughts for instance, or problems with their menstrual cycles and those people number in the hundreds, you start to think just maybe there is a connection. Maybe people with thyroid issues deal with much more than the medical profession knows about, and maybe the thyroid causes much more than just the issues that are mentioned commonly.

Some of the common topics I hear about on thyroid support boards including the following:

  1. Obsessive thoughts. A lot of people are finding they are struggling with obsessive thoughts, either dark and negative or just ultra focused on some strange thing in their lives. OCD behaviors also start hitting people, especially people who are hypothyroid.
  2. Anxiety in general. Having a chronic health issues like thyroid disease makes people feel more vulnerable and worry more about how to deal with things in their lives.
  3. For women, menstrual cycle issues. So many woman have reported extra long and heavy periods, or no periods at all, or spotty periods. More PMS symptoms and more issues with fatigue than normal around their menstrual cycle.
  4. For men, loss of sex drive and fatigue and stamina issues. Many men on the thyroid boards report they feel like they are much older  than they actually area. Some of them are finding they are having low T issues as well.
  5. Sudden sensitivities to foods. A lot of people seem to be finding that since their thyroid diagnosis they cannot tolerate certain foods. They have new food allergies, or foods they ate for years suddenly give them gastric distress or make them feel ill when they eat them.
  6.  General lack of energy. Even when thyroid levels are more normalized with medications, people report that they just don’t have the same energy they did before thyroid disorder. Doctors will tell them that their thyroid levels are normal so deal with it. When they get further testing on vitamins and minerals they find that they are…
  7. Low on necessary vitamins and minerals.I blogged about low Vitamin D recently, and that’s one of the big ones that people become deficient after developing thyroid disorder. People who get their vitamins and minerals tested also have reported low calcium, magnesium and other issues. Being low in nutrients can make a person not feel at their best. If you look at all the stories from people online there seems to be a connection between thyroid issues and other deficiencies in the body.
  8. Catching every virus that comes around. A lot of people report more illness in general since their thyroid diagnosis. People who never or rarely got sick will catch every cold and bug that goes around. When they do get ill, they can’t seem to get over it as fast. Something that they might have gotten over in a few days will drag on to a week or two sometimes. I frequently see this topic going around, especially in the fall and winter months.
  9. Feelings of isolation. Having thyroid disease can be very isolating for people. A lot of people can mentally deal with the idea of an illness you have and then get over. Thyroid disease does not go away. It stays with you forever, and can affect you at any time. Sometimes people with thyroid disease will lose friends and family who just cannot deal with their constant health issues. So a person is abandoned at a time they need support the most.
  10. Finding a thyroid support group online can help. Finding the right support group online is generally reported as a positive thing by most thyroid patients. There are many out there with different objectives and personalities, so just about anyone can find one that is helpful. People report when they can share their experiences online with others, they don’t feel so alone. They can talk about feelings that have bothered them and have them validated by others who have been there. They don’t have to feel like that are a freak or a crazy person, and they can find more possible solutions than any one doctor will ever be able to tell them about. The more people who band together, the more information and support will be available for all.

What I have found is that people working together can produce remarkable results. Share your thyroid experiences with others, so they also feel empowered. Share your information you learn so people can go to their doctors more educated and confident. The more of us who work together, the better things will be for all thyroid patients. Together we are stronger!

See Britney at http://www.warriorbutterflies.com or come join her at her Thyroid Tribe closed FaceBook group.

Baby It’s Cold Outside!

One of the joys that can happen when you have thyroid issues is intolerance to various temperatures. This summer and fall I was hyperthyroid (too much thyroid hormone) and I was intolerant to heat, so every time it went above 75 degrees F I was sweating like it was 120 degrees outside. I cut my hair short a few years ago because I go into hyperthyroidism often enough that the sweating hits me a lot. So much so, that  my hair is soaked and dripping, and it just wasn’t a good look for me, so short hair has become cooler and easier to deal with. My heat intolerance got so bad one winter I thought for sure I was entering early menopause. My gynecologist did some tests and said, nope, it’s just my thyroid. Two winters ago I was hyper in the winter though and did the horrible sweating. Has anyone ever sweated in the middle of a freezer, sweat dripping down your face to freeze in  your hair? That’s a fun time, let me tell you.

Right now though, my body decided to go the other way the last month or so, just in time for winter here. Now I’m borderline hypothyroid (too little) and my body is COLD intolerant. C’mon body, get it together! Can’t we just agree to go hyper in the winter and hypo in the summer? My body never listens to me on this though. *sigh* Now I’m turning blue indoors with cold, wearing fifteen layers of clothing on my body, and huddling up to blowing heat in the stores I work in.

So, here it is January, it’s about 12 degrees F (please don’t ask me to convert to Centigrade as I’m an idiot on conversions) here and I’m bloody cold. I know that other people are cold, but most of them are not having the hands that turn into blocks of ice within seconds of going outside. This is when I’m bundled up with multiple layers and gloves and scarves. At least it’s better than where I grew up. I moved to Louisville, KY, about a decade or so ago, and at least we have slightly less winter weather than where I grew up in Northern Indiana, not far from Lake Michigan with lake effect snow and temperatures. I know it’s even worse elsewhere. To those of you in colder climates, my hat is tipped to you, I could not deal with it being worse.

Tips for being cold intolerant in the winter time I have discovered.

  1. Layers.  Wear layers outside. Light weight shirts under button down or pull over sweaters is a good start. Then when you go inside and you start to melt, you can take off the top layer (or if you are me LAYERS) to cool off. Putting them all back on before you go back outside.
  2. Hand Warmers. Those little portable hand warmers, either the chemical kind or special gloves to keep the heat in are necessary if you are dealing with the cold for any major period of time. They are usually inexpensive and some of them can be reused. Pop one of those in a microwave and hold in your hands.
  3. Good heavy socks. For some reason my father doesn’t believe in wearing socks and his feet are always cold. I however DO believe in wearing socks. The thicker the better in the winter time. It’s not a fashion show for me, it about making sure my feet aren’t so cold they turn into painful blocks of ice. If you don’t have a thick pair, two pairs of thin socks together are great in a pinch.
  4. Hot Shower or Bath. I will sometimes take multiple hot showers in the day when I’m freezing. If I have time I will soak in a hot bath. If you do the bath option, make sure you add something to the bathwater as muscles get cold and stiff in the winter time. A cup of apple cider vinegar along with something that smells good for the bath will help your cold muscles relax and keep you warm for much longer. Best thing is to take a hot bath before bed, then climb into the covers while you are still warm, best sleep ever!
  5. Hat or scarf. Or both when you go outside. I’ve been known to wear them inside if I was having a really cold day. Keep your head warm, and your face, and it will help keep the rest of you warm also. Plus scarves and hats can be pretty and functional for those of us who want to be stylish, as long as you can deal with hat hair!
  6. Cuddly buddy. For me this is my husband. I call him my portable heater. He is always warm, so when I’m hypothyroid and/or it’s winter time, I curl up on the couch with him to watch television or talk. Warms me right up. I think everyone should have someone to cuddle with. Not only will it help keep you warm, but being close to someone like that helps you feel better all around.
  7. Your favorite furry friend. Pets are great to have around in the winter, especially the warm blooded furry type. I have three cats and they seem to need warmth as much as I do. When it’s really cold, they will all come lay down around me  and on top of my chest, and we will all keep each other warm. Plus the purrs make me happy. Beware though, if your house is like mine, it can be dry, so being around furry creatures can also be a static discharge danger as well. Though that can be a bit funny. I mean have you ever accidentally gone to pet a dog or cat and got a small zap? The look on their faces is a bit comical.
  8. Space heaters. Space heaters have saved me at home the last few winters. I have a small portable one I bring with me from room to room. It keeps you from heating up the entire house when you are by yourself and gives you a little heat you can control right next to you.
  9. Have your thyroid checked. If you seem like you are feeling the cold a lot more than other people, consider having your thyroid checked. As I said above, being hypothyroid can make you cold intolerant. Thyroid levels tend to drop a bit in the winter for a lot of people, so you might need a little extra boost.
  10. Smile. While a smile might not make you feel physically warmer, it will help give others a boost as well as boosting your own mood and might make the cold a little easier to deal with. Stay warm my friends.

Check out Britney’s Thyroid website she runs with other thyroid ladies. http://www.warriorbutterflies.com/

Photo credit from fotolia.com

My Favorite Things

These are a few of my favorite things!

When I have a really stressful time and my health isn’t at it’s best, I try to cheer myself up. I keep a list of favorite things I can look at and/or do to boost my spirits. Keeping yourself in a positive frame of mind can help you manage chronic health issues. Anything I can do to lift my spirits goes on the list. So here are MY favorite things (feel free to comment and add your own at the bottom).

1. Animals! I am a cat person. I love all kinds of cats. From small kittens to big Cats. I have three cats at home. All rescues and all ornery and cute at the same time. My Max is the oldest at 11 1/2  years old. He is a 14 pound orange and white short hair cat with a HUGE attitude. He rules the house, or so he thinks. Then we have Princess who I got a few months after Max, she’s only a month or so younger than he is. She’s my Perma-kitten, permanently 4 1/2 pounds, orange and white long hair and pretty much all hair and attitude as well. Then our relative newcomer Selena. A small dark brown/black furred short haired cat who wandered into my in-laws yard and then into our lives. I am also an August baby and I also love our symbol the Lion. I have tons of lion pictures and stuffed animals around the house. I love to watch nature shows with the lionesses protecting their cubs or hunting down prey.
Cats aren’t my only love even if they are at the top though; pretty puppies, baby hedgehogs, and even domesticated rats are on my cute animal list. I can spend hours watching funny animal videos online to cheer myself up.

2. Music! Another favorite thing that can cheer me up is listening to music. I have fairly eclectic tastes (read:weird!) along with popular music that I like as well. Music can help change my mood in an instant. Feeling angry, pop in some heavy metal or music with a heavy beat and let me holler along with the music, sitting in my car or at home. Instant stress relief! If I’m sad, I can put on something peppy and dance around in a silly way, or I can put on something that fits my mood and cry it out. Music can always help me feel better. It’s good to find those songs that will uplift you, change your mood, or even give you something new to think about.

I first got into my love of music as a young girl. I played the violin from 4th grade in elementary school on through my first year of college. Learning to play an instrument opened up my mind to the beauty that is out there in the realm of music and gave me the discipline that I later used to deal with my chronic illness.

3. Books! I am an avid reader. I devour books when things are busy at about three a week. If I have an entire week to read with no interruptions, I’m usually good for 7 or 8 300 plus paged books. I like to read about information about my thyroid condition, but reading to escape or to make me think is even better. My favorite books to read for fun tend to be fantasy/sci-fi type fiction. Preferably ones with a strong female lead and if they have dynamic involved worlds that draw corollaries to our world, even better. I am still old fashioned enough to love the feel of real paper in my hands while I read. I have some e-books,but I am happiest if I can get a new book from the bookstore and spend a few hours holding the paper in my hands and reading it.

4. Fairies! Or as I like to spell it faeries! I have been obsessed with faerie creatures since I was a young woman. One of my nicknames online is based on my love of faeries, the Red Faery. I am not into the Tinkerbell type, but rather the mischievous, devious, beautiful faeries that are both beautiful and dangerous to mortals in the old stories. I’ve been a big fan of myths and legends of old, the Celtic Faerie tales are some of my  favorites.

5. White Sandy Beaches! When I was less than a year old my parents moved us to New Orleans, LA. Though we only lived there for a year or so, I think that is when I first got my love of being on a beach. We moved back to northern Indiana and I spent much of my childhood not far from Lake Michigan. Spending summers on the dunes, playing in the sand are some of my happiest memories. These days, we make sure to go down to the Gulf Coast area every couple of years to spend a few days digging our toes into the warm sand and soaking in a little sun (with sunscreen of course).

6.Finding the funny online! I have several websites that I bookmark that make me giggle and some that make me always laugh so hard I have to reach for my asthma inhaler! Some of my favorite websites to cheer myself up are(beware some are not so safe for work at times):
http://www.youtube.com/user/zefrank1 His True Facts about… are guaranteed to make me smile

7. Helping others! It’s really true. I love to help others. My first degree in college was in Financial Counseling and Planning. My thoughts were to help people figure out their finances to reduce their stress levels. Unfortunately it didn’t help my own stress levels to be in this career! I switched to IT, computers and that was closer to what I wanted to do. There is nothing like figuring out a computer issue that is making someone frustrating and wanting to cry and throw things and turn it into a positive learning experience. To see the relief on someone’s face when the problem is fixed and they can go back to using their computer again.  I still enjoy helping people in those ways. These days I spend a lot of time helping other thyroid patients online and sometimes in person. It makes me glad to be able to use my experience and knowledge to comfort someone else, or help someone start on their own path to finding out more ways they can make their lives better. Thank you for coming along on this journey with me! Share your favorite things in the comments please.

Visit one of Britney’s favorite website she helps run at http://www.Warriorbutterflies.com

Photo Credits:


Get your D on!

One of the many things you get to learn about when you have a thyroid disorder is that along with the thyroid being out of whack, is vital nutrients and hormones also are used up more frequently than other people. One of these very important ones, that you have probably heard about by now is Vitamin D. To make matters worse, even though a lot of people with thyroid problems are deficient or low in vitamin D, it is not so simple as just taking a simple supplement.

To start with Wikipedia defines  Vitamin D as such: “refers to a group of fat-soluble secosteroids responsible for enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium,phosphate and zinc. In humans, the most important compounds in this group are vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol) and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol).” What that is telling us, is that Vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin but an important hormone our body can make with sunlight and cholesterol and it is needed to absorb other important nutrients we need to live.

So in an era where Vitamin D is added to our foods and milk and a lot of us get plenty of sun in the summer, why would we be deficient? Here are a few reasons…

  1. Inflammation of any type reduces the ability to absorb Vitamin D
  2. A “leaky gut” can lead to  less absorption
  3. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning it needs fat, if you are on a low fat diet, a non-dairy drinker or a vegan, you may not be getting enough fat in your diet.
  4. Many OTC drugs and some prescription drugs can reduce the amount of D you can absorb
  5. High Cortisol Levels can reduce the amount in  your system of Vitamin D
  6. Obesity can also reduce this as the fat you need to process it is trapped in the cells
  7. Aging can reduce conversion of Vitamin D into a form you can use
  8. Many people with autoimmune disease have an issue with their Vitamin D receptor that helps process Vitamin D, in this case, you could have normal Vitamin D levels in your blood but still not have enough Vitamin D that is usable for  your body

Some of the signs you might be deficient include: aches in  your bones, abnormal issues with your teeth (lots of cavities, breakages), hair and skin issues, sleep issues and even excessive sweating on your head can be symptoms. If you have thyroid disease and/or autoimmune issues, you can be at risk for becoming deficient. To find out if you are, your doctor can tell with a simple blood test where your levels are. Get this done before you start adding Vitamin D to your daily vitamin regime. While it’s not usual to be able to take too much Vitamin D, problems can occur if you go over what your body needs. Frequent urination, feeling excessively tired, feeling confused, diarrhea and some abdominal pain are symptoms that you have gone the other direction and gotten too much.

I found out myself I was vitamin D deficient about 6 years ago. I went from having a small cavity every other year, to all of the sudden most of my teeth were falling apart on me. I had several thousand dollars of damage to my teeth, despite doing everything my dentist told me to do. Multiple root canals, cavities, gum issues and eventually teeth that needed to be pulled over a short period of time. I was also having issues with being really fatigued and my hair and skin was coarser and dryer than it had ever been. I also had pain in my arms and legs which I had not experienced before. I just started to see a new endocrinologist and she right off tested my Vitamin D levels. She said anything under 20 was low and I tested right around 12 I believe. Yikes!

I started off taking 50,000 IUs prescription vitamin once a week for several months. After a few months my levels went up to 15. Better, but not good. Eventually it went up over 20. These days I get my Vitamin D tested yearly and we go from there. In the warmer half of the year I take 50,000 IUs once a month and then I supplement with 1,000 IUs of D over the counter daily. In the colder half of the year I up my OTC supplement to 2,000 IUs of D daily. My dental health has recovered admirably. In the four years since I got my levels into the normal range, I have had two very small cavities, and no issues with my gums or elsewhere. My hair and skin are in much better shape. I have a little more energy.

For those of you with thyroid issues, make sure first and foremost that you are getting your thyroid levels checked regularly, and consider seeing if your doctor will add Vitamin D testing to the list to help keep you healthy! My endocrinologist actually has prescribed me going out for 10 minutes a day without sunscreen in the afternoon to produce more Vitamin D naturally, then to cover up and put on sunscreen for the rest of the time I am outside to protect against skin damage. Yet another thing that a lot of doctors don’t seem to know about in conjunction with thyroid health, so a good thing to put on your list to ask about! Have a Sunny Day!

Visit Britney at http://www.WarriorButterflies.com

Picture from http://www.freepik.com/free-vector/sunshine-vector-background_686202.htm