How I Went from Thyroid Advocate to Activist

PIPJFK

Warning a bit of a rant ahead!

Sorry I haven’t been on here much. I’ve got this new hobby. I’ve become a political activist. Some of you know that I have always been very active in advocating for better care for the thyroid community. Getting information out there to the wider community about what we go through is one of the reasons I started this blog as a matter of fact. Secondary was to educate those of us WITHIN the community who do not seem to have the information due to our doctors being sadly out of date, or just not caring enough to do their jobs of keeping us informed. The last year I’ve been doing more and more research into our health system in the US and finding out exactly how screwed up it is compared to a lot of other countries.

You all have no idea how messed up ours is compared to half of the civilized world until you start talking to people outside of the world. Just no idea. We’ve been lied to. They tell us that other countries have it worse, but really it’s the other way around. We have all this wealth and a really crap health system. We pay the most of any country for our health and get the least in return. The more I researched the more angry I became.

Then I started doing research into other areas that affect our health, like our air and water quality. That just made me even more angry. I think my blood pressure medicine has had to be doubled in the last few months! I wish I could unlearn the things I’ve learned. I really was hoping the things I learned weren’t true, so I went to multiple sources, to make sure I could get as wide a picture as possible. No, from as near as I can tell, most of the places I’ve lived in my life there has been a decrease in the safety of my air and water sources and an increase in thyroid disease and cancers in the communities that I’ve lived in. Approximately a third of the people I went to high school with right now have thyroid disease and another quarter have dealt with some form of cancer either with the thyroid disease or alone. What the heck is going on here!

So, that’s kinda how I became a political activist. I’m tired of being sick, and I’m tired of our health system being broken. I’m tired of our air and water being poisoned. Flint, MI is still dealing with poisoned water months after the story broke! While the people who did this to them have not been punished.

Our health care system is anything but , some of my friends make just enough they don’t qualify for help with insurance, and can’t afford to get insurance, so they haven’t been checked with their thyroid disease for over a year. One of my friends finally got her thyroid checked after she had a seizure, passed out and had to be taken to the ER a few months ago! We lost another thyroid person because she couldn’t afford to get her thyroid checked because her insurance didn’t kick in until she met $5000 out of pocket, so her Graves’ disease wasn’t kept in check, she had a heart attack and died. I keep hearing stories of people sick and dying from the thyroid community because they can’t get regular care. It breaks my heart and makes me more determined that we need to band together and do something!

A couple of months ago I came across this petition: Petition to Unite Progressive Parties

I loved what it said. I tracked down the person who wrote the petition and I joined her Facebook group. The Progressive Independent Party, this was about a week after she launched the petition, the page had about 1000 people at that time (today it’s about 2 months in and about 8000). I spoke with her. This lady is a single Mom, who has Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, who has survived brain cancer. She is also from one of those areas that I grew up in that is prone to cancer and thyroid disease. She has decided that it’s time for everyone who is sick of the Establishment taking advantage of us to band together and raise our voice to stand up together and unite. So for the last 6 weeks, that has pretty much been what I have been doing. My thyroid advocacy, has translated to advocacy on a much larger scale. Now I am trying to advocate for healthcare that works for all, getting measures pushed through to clean up the air and water, and much more, using the power of social media and people power behind it.

You may call us dreamers, but I for one am sick and tired of not doing anything except getting more sick and more tired! If you would like to join us please check out our website with all the information on what we are trying to accomplish over the next several years www.ProgressiveIndependentParty.org 

The Connection Between Thyroid Disease and Childhood Trauma-Guest post!!

life_beyond_chronic_pain_front_cover_jaime_a_heidel_500_x_800-1100x0

 

Thank you so much to Jaime this week for her wonderful blog post! -Britney Check out her book  Life Beyond Chronic Pain

 

by Jaime Heidel   TRIGGER WARNING-CHILD ABUSE DISCUSSION

Living with thyroid disease is so frustrating. Your tests say your thyroid is functioning “normally”, but the sweats, shaking hands, and weight issues clearly tell a different story (not to mention the other 40+ symptoms).

It seems like no matter where you turn, you end up with more questions than answers. For example, how did this happen to you in the first place?

It may surprise you to know that there is a strong link between childhood trauma and thyroid disease. The reason you haven’t heard about this from your doctor is because she likely doesn’t know about it yet.

But that’s no reason to keep you in the dark. There is a good amount of scientific evidence linking childhood trauma and thyroid disease, and the more you know about your condition, including its possible origins, the closer you’ll be to finally stabilizing it.

Women With PTSD-CSA at Increased Risk for Thyroid Disease

According to a study published in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry, women with post-traumatic stress disorder associated with childhood sexual abuse showed “significant elevations in Total T3 and the TT3/free thyroxine (TT3/FT4) ratio, the FT3/TT3 ratio.”

There were also “modest reductions in thyroid stimulating hormone” among PTSD-CSA women as compared with women who were not diagnosed with PTSD-CSA.

Higher levels of T3 are most commonly associated with Grave’s disease, toxic nodular goiter, and liver disease.

The ACE Study Confirms Link Between Childhood Trauma and Disease

The ACE Study is a collaborative effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego. It is one of the largest assessments ever done on the correlation between childhood mistreatment and chronic health problems in adulthood.

The questionnaire has only 10 questions, and the higher you fall on the scale, the higher your risk of developing a chronic disease.

Those with a high ACE score may have more than one chronic condition. For example, you may be living with Grave’s disease, celiac disease, and PTSD. Or, perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with depression, chronic fatigue, and hypothyroidism.
Virtually any combination is possible as excessive and prolonged stress interferes with healthy immune, metabolic, and neurological function.

Disease Development Could Be Survival Instinct Gone Haywire

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, exposure to trauma has the potential to reshape the biology of a young child during critical developmental years.

Since nature causes us to automatically adapt to whatever type of environment we are living in, adverse experiences can cause the developing child’s system to wire itself for a dangerous and unpredictable world. This means your body may be programmed to overreact, leading to immune system, endocrine, and neurological dysfunction.

Unfortunately, it is often difficult for medical professionals to make this connection because it can take years (if not decades) for early traumatic experiences to manifest into physical or mental disease.

40 Percent of Women Physically Abused in Childhood Have Higher Odds

According to a study published in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, “[E]ven after adjusting for 14 potential explanatory factors, women who had been physically abused in childhood had 40 percent higher odds of thyroid disorders than their non-abused peers.”

Over six decades of research has shown a strong correlation between stress and thyroid dysfunction. It has only been in the past 10 years or so that we’ve finally been able to narrow it down further and truly get to the root cause of many chronic illnesses.

Although there’s no way to turn back time, these findings will be of great benefit for generations to come. This means our children, their children, and so on, can lead better lives through early intervention and a more holistic approach to development.

If you have ever felt that your chronic illness is somehow your fault, now is the time to let that go. Learning that childhood trauma could have played a role in your thyroid disease can empower you by giving you a root cause and a place to begin your healing journey.

In my book Life Beyond Chronic Pain: The Step-By-Step Guide to Healing Chronic Illness Naturally, I delve a bit deeper into the connection between chronic disease and trauma. I also give you the tools you need to put your autoimmune disease into remission.

Even if natural treatments have not worked for you in the past, this guide can be your key to finally healing your body, mind, and spirit.

life_beyond_chronic_pain_front_cover_jaime_a_heidel_500_x_800-1100x0This guide leaves no stone unturned, and puts you, the individual, where you’ve always belonged—in the center of it all.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15866559

http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(09)00506-6/abstract

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/03/02/377569413/can-family-secrets-make-you-sick

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19491187

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10926771.2013.803508

About the Author

Jaime A. Heidel is a professional freelance writer with a passion for natural health and wellness. After being sick from birth to age 22, a naturopathic physician finally gave her a reason for her lifelong mystery symptoms: Gluten intolerance.

Since discovering the profound connection between food intolerance, nutrition, and health, Jaime has made it her mission in life to help others struggling with chronic pain and autoimmune disease. She understands what it’s like to have an invisible condition that others don’t take seriously, and the emotional and psychological toll it can take on a person already suffering.

Jaime is a Connecticut native who has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen. When not glued to her laptop, Jaime can be found hiking in the woods, haunting thrift stores, having tea or lunch with a good friend, getting down on the dance floor, or buried in a good book.

It’s OK To Give It A Rest

Sometimes life throws a curve ball at you. Things go out of control. With me it was my health. Other than thyroid related issues, I also have asthma. Let me tell you about the last few months in my life. Over the winter my asthma decided it was ignored long enough. First it made itself known by showing up with a bad upper respiratory infection around November. I got that taken care of and was still not feeling well. Work started getting busier as well. I work part time in retail and as most of you know the holidays are Retails’ most busy time of year, which did not allow me much time to take care of myself.

When you combine not being able to take optimum care of yourself, plus lungs not being at their best, plus a lot of people indoors all sharing their germs together in the holiday spirit things go from bad to worse. Along about December my lungs decided it was still not happy and decided that upper respiratory wasn’t enough so Bronchitis here I came. That netted me a few days off work, which was literally all I could spare. We were able to get one person to cover my schedule so I could get at least that much off work and take some of the time I need to just stay in bed, take my medicines, supplements and lots and lots of water and healing broth and juices. I limped back to work, but this time with a cough that never quite went away.

Coughing on through the New Year, and still winding down Retail’s needs, I was unfortunately still unable to keep up with blogging or any of the other things that I love to do, so this little project was still put by the wayside as well for a little bit longer. One day middle of January, as things were finally slowing down back to my regular part time work status that I’m used to doing, I sat down glad that I caught up enough to finally have a lovely 3 day weekend I could get caught up with trying to get over this nagging cough. What is this? All the sudden I cannot get warm. I am shivering terribly, and my face feels like it is on fire. I go and grab the thermometer. 101.5 F. (definitely fever) Ummmm, that isn’t good. Go grab some water, some Tylenol and go get into pajamas and put myself into bed. In the morning I’m worse, and I have this horrible deep booming cough that feels like someone small has crawled in there with little knives and is working away every time I cough. As the day goes on I keep checking my temperature and it stays around the 101.5 degree Fahrenheit mark. I feel pretty much like death, but I am convinced I have the flu that is going around, so I stay in bed, drink lots of liquids and take vitamin C.

Next day is Saturday. I stay in bed all day. That afternoon, I start coughing up pinkish stuff. That rather alarmed me, so we went to the emergency room since it was past doctor office hours to get it checked out. After several tests including a chest x-ray found out I had pneumonia. Apparently all those lung issues I had had over the last few months had been building to this. They sent me home with instruction to take the medicine they were giving me, and to stay in bed, rest as much as possible and again stay in bed, drink as much as possible and then again stay in bed. I did not emerge from my bed except to visit my own doctor for a checkup for 10 straight days. I will tell you, do not get pneumonia, it sucks. I’ve  had bronchitis several times and I thought pneumonia was just a little worse version of it. No, Bronchitis is like a slightly awful, congested feeling in your chest. Pneumonia is fire breathing, knife wielding demons living in your chest, who are constantly sticking their little on fire knives into your lungs every time you move, breathing or cough, or even think of doing any of the three.

Now after I got done with the worst of all this, then the guilt set in. I hadn’t done this blog. I hadn’t worked on my website much, or twitter, or any of the other projects that I love to work on. I neglected my friends, I hadn’t talked to family much. I felt so horribly guilty. I’m telling you Fellow Thyroid Warriors, this is normal, this is going to happen to you also. You are going to get knocked down and like me, you are going to need a pep talk after. I have to tell myself this every time. It’s ok to give yourself time to rest. It’s ok to take a break from things. It is ok to take time to recover from trauma, from illness, from heartbreak, from whatever it is that messed up your routine. However long it takes.

The main thing is once you have taken however long you need, then you need to ease yourself back into things. I started off by getting back into my thyroid group first. Calling some friends and doing a small get-together. Emailing some people I hadn’t talked to in awhile.  Then working on the http://www.WarriorButterflies.com website. Now I’m trying to work again on this blog today.

Do not despair, whatever you are going through, you will get through it, and at some point down the road, you will find that you will again be going on up the road making progress towards some other goal again. Keep on fighting fellow Warriors!

 

Catch Britney on Twitter @warriorbtrflies
http://www.WarriorButterflies.com

“What did you say?” CAPD and the Thyroid

Getting a proper diagnosis is key, finding an Audiologist who deals with this specifically is the only way to find out if this is an issue for you.

Warrior Butterfly Britney

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…

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Coloring for Stress Relief-Thyroid Ppl edition

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I have discovered something that I’m sure some of you already know about. Coloring for adults is here! Coloring was something a lot of us did as children, when we were learning fine motor skills and being creative. It was fun, relaxing and was a great way to pass the time, but it used to be for children only.

Good news, now as adults we can do our own coloring. Not the blocky childish pictures to color in that children have, but a wide variety of different types of things to color in. From the easy to the fine detailed and difficult. These can help you refocus your mind to take it off of a stressful situation, leaving you calmer and better able to think when you are done. They help you exercise your fine motor skills. It also helps train your brain to focus better as well.

Coloring helps your brain. A great benefit is that coloring has been shown to relax the amygdala, which controls your flight or fight response in your brain. This ultimately relaxes you,and reduces your anxiety levels. It also helps your brain because coloring requires both the left and right side of your brain to work together. You have to focus to stay in the lines, match colors together, and combine that with your creative side of your brain.

Coloring can give you free decorations for your house if you like. If  you do enough that you love what your results are, frame it, put it up on your refrigerator, put one on your mirror daily to give you something beautiful to look at.

Coloring can be both a solo activity or a social one. Coloring groups are popping up all over the country for adults to get together, do some coloring and sometimes even have a glass of wine. You can head over to Meetup.com and find one near you! http://coloring.meetup.com/

Best of all coloring is an expression of you. It is your coloring book,  you can color things exactly how you want, regardless of reality. Want a purple cow, or a striped tree? Go for it, it’s all about what speaks to you.

I’ve been doing this myself for just a few weeks now. I have to say it’s become extremely addictive. I bring my book and colored pencils to the doctors office to do while waiting, I work on it when I have a free moment in the evening. I color when I can’t sleep and it helps relax me. One day I was having major anxiety and a half hour of coloring took away the majority of the anxiety for me, without having to resort to any medication. It was also relatively inexpensive. I purchased 2 different packages of colored pencils to get a variety, plus a 72 page coloring book from the bookstore. Total price spent was around $14.

Here are some of my attempts at coloring. They are all butterflies since the butterfly is the Thyroid symbol!

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Coloring from book Vive Le Color! Butterflies published by Abrams, coloring color by Britney!

follow Britney on Twitter at @BttrflyBritney or @Warriorbtrflies or online at http://www.WarriorButterflies.com

How Can Thyroid Disease Disguise Itself?


Thyroid disease affects literally every cell and process in your body. Because of this, there are many different symptoms it can manifest. So many things it can cause that can be misleading your doctor into diagnosing something else, missing the root cause of the thyroid itself being the problem.  Let’s look at some of the common things people are diagnosed with before the doctor thinks to check the thyroid.

  • Depression. Low thyroid levels can cause your body to become fatigued, fuzzy brained and lethargic. Also can make you gain weight, and lose your energy and focus and feel sad all the time. It can also cause your body to slow down so much depression is inevitable. So a doctor sees things like fatigue, excessive crying or sadness, fuzzy thinking (brain fog), weight gain, they first think depression. Put  you on anti-depressants and they think you are done. For a lot of people they are depressed with those symptoms, but they also can have an underactive thyroid, and that should always be checked when signs of depression hit.
  • Anxiety. Higher thyroid levels can elevate anxiety. It can speed up the heart rate, make you prone to panic attacks and other symptoms that look like anxiety. As with depression, if these are all the symptoms you present with, a doctor may look no further and send you on your way with anti-anxiety meds. Again thyroid should always be checked to make sure the underlying cause isn’t thyroid levels.
  • Insomnia. Both higher thyroid levels and low thyroid levels can cause sleep cycles to be off. If this is occurring for longer than a couple of weeks, and there seems to be no real explanation,  get your thyroid checked.
  • Muscle and joint pain. If your thyroid levels are off, they throw off everything else. So the vitamins and nutrients your muscles need to function may be low because it’s compensating for your thyroid being off as well. If your muscle and joint pain is ongoing and doesn’t seem to be the result of an injury or excessive exercise, it could be your thyroid levels.
  • Changes in hair and skin. Sometimes people find they have major hair loss, or skin is flaking and drying out. These can be stress, but it’s also a big sign that your thyroid levels could be causing problems.

These are only a few of the more common things that doctors misdiagnose that is really thyroid disease. If you have any of the above, or other issues, that don’t seem to be responding to treatment, get your doctor to run a full thyroid panel to make sure it is not an underlying cause and trying to disguise itself as something else. TSH, free T3 and Free T4 as a minimum!

Comment below what else you have been diagnosed with before they found out about your thyroid issues.

You can follow Britney on twitter @BttrflyBritney or @warriorbtrflies, or on the Warrior Butterflies website http://www.WarriorButterflies.com

Can you cure Graves? -The Rush for Permanent Solutions


This is a question I hear a lot online,from all over the world. People get their thyroid killed off with RAI (radioactive iodine) or thyroidectomy to remove the thyroid and their doctors tell them they are ‘cured’.

Beware any doctor that tells you that removal of your thyroid is going to ‘cure’ you of your autoimmune disease. All it does it remove the main target of the messed up immune system. You can still bear the brunt of the immune system being out of whack for the rest of your life. If you have a doctor that tells you as soon as the thyroid is removed or killed off that you are cured, run to get a new doctor.

For instance, one of the common things that happens is that the immune system also attacks the eyes (this sometimes happens in Hashimoto’s in rare cases as well). Graves’ eye disease or Thyroid Eye Disease (TED)as it’s also known,  can happen with or without your thyroid being intact. It is known to be made worse in many instances when someone chooses RAI to kill off their thyroid. The RAI can actually exacerbate the eyes and make TED flare up, or get worse.

Even surgery does not always eliminate the risk for TED. There is currently no way to make sure every single thyroid cell is removed during surgery. There is some chance that some of the tissue can grow back. I am one that had RAI back in 2001, when they did the ultrasound a year later, all of the thyroid tissue was dead, no thyroid tissue living. I had another ultrasound two years ago and they detected that 1% of my thyroid had grown back. I’ve talked with several people over the years who had total thyroidectomy or partial thyroidectomy and a few years later some of it has grown back.

Now days most doctors will want you to try anti-thyroid medication first to see if they can control the thyroid levels that way. They may also advise you to change your diet to help control inflammation and antibodies. There is a small number of people who have gone that route, who have also achieved remission for months or years. Remission is  where their Graves’ antibodies have all but disappeared. Other people haven’t achieved remission, but have been able to keep their disease safely under control for quite a long time, in some cases years. Most people, if they are able, will want to see if they can go this route instead of jumping right to a permanent solution of RAI or thyroidectomy.

There comes a time in many people’s treatment where anti-thyroid drugs are either not working or are causing problems with a person. When someone is unable to control their Graves’ disease with anti-thyroid drugs, it is time then to consider a permanent solution. Especially with Graves’ disease, if it becomes uncontrolled, it can cause heart problems, stroke or even thyroid storm (a deadly situation that can and has killed people). Then you need to carefully consider which option you want to take to take care of your thyroid so it can no longer overproduce thyroid hormones. This is an individual choice, as RAI is something that works better for some and surgery is a better option for others. Research both if you are at this point and weigh the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

Once your thyroid is gone, then the work will really begin. You will have to monitor your thyroid levels for the rest of your life. Even without a thyroid your levels can be still affected by medication, stress and other lifestyle choices. You will have to really start watching your body to find out what your “new normal” is going to be. New Normal being where you feel at your best post thyroid.

There is a lot of information out there for us thyroid people, even if our doctors don’t always seem to know it. Do your homework and don’t be afraid to talk to people online who have been where you are. Others can share their experiences and give you an idea of what your best options may be. Just remember the cardinal rule, if they say they can cure you, keep on going. Good luck in your thyroid journey!

Adventures in Acupuncture Part 3


I’ve had several treatments of acupuncture now, and wanted to do an update blog on how that has been going. Last week we tried something called press tacks that are little intradermal needles that go into specific points on the body to help with areas and stay for up to 4 days. I had two put into my back/upper shoulder area. I kept them in over the weekend about 4 days. I have to say that my back and neck muscles were a lot looser at the end of the weekend. The picture above is what they look like, with their little bandage to hold them in place. I didn’t notice them at all and had to keep asking my husband to tell me if they were still there.

In general though I’ve already seen some improvements. My chronic headaches aren’t gone yet, but each time they diminish in level of pain, and this lasts longer each time. I’m now up to benefits lasting a good 4 days after a treatment. I have a LOT more energy than I have in a long time. Thyroid disease tends to really fatigue a person, and I’ve left each session feeling like I was buzzing with new found energy. My husband has even noticed the change in my attitude. I’ve been more positive lately, and felt like a weight has been lifted. I still have discomfort and pain going on, but it is not feeling like it’s dominating my entire life right now. I feel like I got some of myself back and that right there is worth it for me to continue.

My asthmatic bronchitis has almost completely cleared up, and I’ve been having problems with it for months. Antibiotics and prednisone have not helped for the last two months, but two weeks of acupuncture and my breathing is 80% better, my coughing is down to once a day at most, and my sinuses are even clearing up. I’ve had some people tell me acupuncture is only a placebo affect, if that’s the case it’s the best placebo I’ve ever tried. I’m seeing physical and mental/emotional changes in myself on a weekly basis. I know as much as my body and system has been out of whack it may take awhile to get me back to something resembling “normal”, but it’s already done so much in just a few short sessions.

My advice is to find someone in your area who comes highly recommended and is certified by your state board if you would like to see if this would work for you. If you and that person don’t click, you don’t feel comfortable, and they don’t take time to really try to look for what’s going on with you, find another. I’m really glad I went and tried a second person, it’s made all the difference.

Back to Part 2

Adventures in Acupuncture Part 2

To see first part of article go here:

After my first visit with acupuncture, I decided to go try a different acupuncturist. The first visit wasn’t bad at all, but it wasn’t quite as comfortable as people who get this done regularly told me it should be. So I went for session with this new person. Mateo at Community Supported Acupuncture in Louisville was a whole different ballgame from my first experience.

First he had me fill out about an 8 page questionaire. Not only medical history and current symptoms, but diet, allergies and more. The first appointment lasted about 90 minutes, with 45 of it us talking. We talked about my lifestyle, things that stressed me, and went over every ache and pain and weird symptom I’d been having, not just the headaches. He told me that more information is better and knowing all the symptoms, not just the main one would help him to help me.

Again I took off my socks and shoes and my watch and glasses. This time I sat on a comfy table with a soft blanket under me and a pillow under my knees. As he did each acupuncture needle, he would check back with me. “How are you feeling now?, Any change here, or here?” He said he adjusts what he’s doing by how my body reacts to each acupuncture point. The experience was very comfortable and very interactive, with him adjusting things as needed, for about 20 minutes. This time I felt almost nothing, maybe a split second occasionally, but rarely even that. I was left in a room with the needles to relax, given a small bell to ring if I needed anything and got to listen to soothing bell tones playing. I almost fell asleep.

I have had three sessions now. I can report that they seem to be working. After each session is done, I feel energized, like my body is buzzing with newfound energy. For once it feels like a healthy boost of energy, not the nervous kind I’m used to having. I usually have a reduction in pain and tension, so far each session has seen the reduction lasting a little longer each time. First session I felt better for 24 hours, after third session it was up to 3 or 4 days of feeling a lot better. The best part is I feel each time like a weight has been lifted from me. I’ve been having this headache for almost 6 months straight now, and never realized how much it was weighing me down. To have relief from that for a day or days, is amazing.

I’m told by people who have been having acupuncture for years that if I have the right person doing the treatments and I am someone who responds well, I will eventually get to the point where I only have to go in occasionally. The less issues you have healthwise and the less time you have been having them, the more quickly you heal and recover with acupuncture. I’ve been dealing with autoimmune, thyroid and asthma, as well as headaches on and off for years, so it may take me a bit longer to get truly better. For now, having temporary relief without drugs, and the boost of energy is a wonderful boon to my week. I’ve not only had relief from my headaches each session, but we’ve also been able to work on general fatigue levels. I also broke my finger and he’s helping with pain management with that as well as speeding up healing for me.

Mateo runs the Community Supported Acupuncture in Louisville, KY. He is running a wonderful program there. He has a sliding scale so that people can pay what they can afford for treatment, making it affordable for most everyone. He also has a community acupuncture day on Fridays, supported by donations where people who normally can’t afford it at all can come in once a week and get acupuncture in a group setting. What you pay doesn’t affect your treatment level  either. So far he’s been a wonderful caring person who genuinely listens and does his best for his patients. If you would like to help support this cause or are in the Louisville, KY area and would like to check his services out, go to http://www.csacu.com for more information.

Update: Had a new thing tried today. He used these little teeny needles called press tacks after my session was done. Basically put one in each shoulder blade on my back with a little flesh covered bandage over it to keep it in place. He said he wants to see if this will help reduce the tension in my shoulders by keeping it in until it either falls off on it’s own or when I see him beginning of next week. Here is a picture of one of them. I couldn’t feel it go in and I still can’t feel it. I will try to do an update later to see how it worked.

You can check out Britney on Twitter @BttrflyBritney, on the websites http://www.WarriorButterflies.com or her blog at http://www.ButterflyNationProject.org

Adventures in Acupuncture

Acupuncture. It’s one of those alternative treatments I hadn’t tried before. I’ve tried chiropractic, natural herbs and several other therapies with various degrees of success, but the thought of needles scared me enough I had not tried acupuncture, until today.

I’ve been having a headache since January of this year, five plus months as of now. My doctors had done tons of tests, I had done some changes that normal would help, but no luck. First we thought it was caused by my sinuses, which was a good thought since I’ve had three sinus surgeries and numerous issues with them over the years, including chronic sinus headaches. After CT scans, MRI’s, a heavy duty round of antibiotics and prednisone, they declared my sinuses were free of inflammation and infection. Headache didn’t get the memo and was still here.

Back to my regular doctor to figure out what to do next. After looking at my latest labs she recommended I see a neurologist, but warned it can take months to get into one. She recommended a local acupuncture doctor, someone she said that several of her patients had used with success to treat headaches where they couldn’t find an obvious cause. She asked me to think about trying that while I waited to see a neurologist, maybe it would help.

I went over to the acupuncturists office, a Dr. H. Wu, met her and decided to give it a try earlier in the week. Today was my appointment. So for all of you who haven’t tried it and are curious, I thought I’d describe my first appointment. Now when I made the appointment, she gave me this multiple page questionnaire to fill out about my health history and current treatments I’ve tried. I had to add a few pages of my own as I have too many health issues now and in my past to list on the form she gave me. Such is my life.

I showed up for the appointment in t-shirt and shorts,  as I was told to dress comfortably. I brought the questionnaire with me, along with copies of my last two labs for her to look at. Dr. Hu is the lovely little Chinese woman, 5 foot nothing, and very nice. She took me in the exam room, and proceeded to ask me a ton of questions about my headaches, about other health issues, and other things like what type of personality I was. Then she went over where the pain was for my head and what I’d tried that worked, what didn’t work so far. We spent a good 30 to 40 minutes on that part of the visit.

Then she had me take off my socks and shoes. Afterwards, she had me first sit on the table, and she inserted a couple of needles into the back of my head to start. I felt a little sting when they went in, then it faded quickly to just an odd tingly sort of sensation. She then put two needles on the sides of my head, and one in my temples on each side. Then she helped me lay down so I wasn’t driving the needles into my brain I’m guessing. If that job was up to me alone, I’m sure I’d have this tiny little needle the size of a hair stabbing into my brain thru my skull somehow. I’m just that talented. 🙂

After I was comfortably laying down on my back, with a little support under my  knees, she started putting needles elsewhere. One on each hand on the outside edge, one below each wrist. Then one on the top edge of each foot (near the outside) and one near my ankles. When she had them all in, she added one to the very top of my head. She then hooked up a couple of the needles on my head to this little electricity stimulator and turned it on. While the needles were going in elsewhere I felt a little pinch for a second, then again a weird tingly sort of sensation. I also felt when I moved my hand, a sensation from where the needle was to the tips of my fingers, not unpleasant. At this point she said she was leaving me for 30 minutes.

I laid there listening to the tick of the clock (must ask next time if I can bring music with me!), and she checked up on me every ten minutes or so. After twenty minutes she took the electrical stimulator off and let me sit there with the needles the last twenty minutes. So I sat there, earworms running thru my head, and for some reason at random times the Jeopardy theme song. Trying not to move much,  as it was such a weird feeling to do so, plus also being slightly paranoid that somehow I’d move the wrong way and impale myself on hairlike sized needles in my brain. Finally the 30 minutes was up and she removed the needles, I barely felt anything with them coming out.

Now, here’s the really weird part. While I was laying there, my brain decided to imagine the headache as this thick tarry stuff around my head. Why I have no idea. By the end of the treatment, my brain decided that it was thinner oily stuff around my head. What  that means I’m not entirely sure. I told the doctor and she said the pain was concentrated around a small around on both sides of my head and the needles were helping to spread it out and thin the pain, so maybe that is why.

Once the needles were out, she had me sit up. Then asked me where it hurt the worst this time. I pointed to the area, and she stabbed me once on each side of the head with another acupuncture needle, where it hurt the most still. You would think this would be counterproductive, but it actually felt like it was relieving pressure there. She left them in about a minute each side, and then removed them. Then we were done. I got my socks and shoes back on, went and got some water from the water cooler in the office, and talked to her about what she recommended on treatment. She said with all the health issues, including the Graves’ disease, I would need to come a couple of times a week for a couple of weeks and then we could space it out more.

End result, it was an interesting experience. My headache now (an hour after) feels a bit better after the first session, though immediately after it was slightly worse. I’m told with chronic conditions it can feel slightly worse for the first session or two. Considering that chiropractic was the same way, I felt slightly worse immediately after, then an hour or two later felt a LOT better, this doesn’t concern me much. I’m going to go another time or two and see how I feel. If nothing else, this is natural, no drugs and at this point about a dozen people I know swear by this, so I’ll give it a good try and see it if helps me. I’ll keep you all posted after I’ve had a few sessions on how it’s helping, if it helps.

If you look for an acupuncturist, make sure they are licensed by your state board, look for referrals from others who have been to this person. Their exam room should be clean and they should be using disposable, sterile acupuncture needles. If the needles hurt you, they should be willing to adjust them immediately, you should not be in pain. I felt nothing after the first little poke personally, and many don’t even feel that much.

You can follow Britney on Twitter  @BttrflyBritney  or catch her on http://www.WarriorButterflies.com or ButterflyNationproject.org