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

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

Prednisone and the Thyroid

There is a good chance that at some point you may be put on Prednisone for something. If you also have asthma or lung issues the chance goes up even further. Drugs.com defines Prednisone as ” a corticosteroid. It prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation. It also suppresses the immune system. Prednisone is used as an anti-inflammatory or an immunosuppressant medication. Prednisone treats many different conditions such as allergic disorders, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or breathing disorders.”

A lot of people who have thyroid conditions also have autoimmune issues that go along with the thyroid such as Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease. As a lot of you know, once you get one autoimmune disease, it’s easier to acquire other autoimmune diseases, like asthma, arthritis, etc. and a key ingredient in a lot of autoimmune diseases is inflammation. Prednisone is a great drug for helping with the inflammatory conditions, for someone with asthma especially, it can be a life saver,  in helping restore clear breathing back to the lungs, or reducing inflammation. It can also help heal inflammation which can help many injuries heal faster.  Since it does suppresses your immune system to some degree, you need to keep  that also in mind while on the medication. You will need to avoid people with contagious diseases even more than normal to avoid becoming ill.  This is usually mentioned by most doctors when they prescribe prednisone. What they do not always mention, or even know to mention is how it will affect your thyroid levels and other health.

First you have the problem of the prednisone itself. The side effects of prednisone are long and lengthy. A lot of the side effects mimic hyperthyroidism, such as  increased appetite, sleep issues, irritability, anxiety, blood pressure rising and more. This can make you feel like all the sudden your body is going into over drive. The worst part is that sometimes these side effects can last days or even weeks in your system after you stop taking prednisone. Along with the side effects, prednisone being a corticosteroid can make conversion of T4 to T3 (the form of thyroid hormone that your body more readily can use) much more difficult and even suppress it when you are on high enough amounts. This will actually send your thyroid levels DOWN towards more hypo. A good endocrinologist will know that testing your thyroid levels too soon after or during a round of prednisone will drastically affect your numbers. This will ALSO make you feel off. What you can end up with, is the prednisone making you feel like your system is in over drive, but actually driving down your available thyroid hormone that your body can use. My own endocrinologist will generally test me about 4 weeks after I finish a round of prednisone to see where my lab tests actually end up, as they tend to bounce back after I’ve been off the medicine for a few weeks.

Besides the thyroid levels, prednisone can also change your adrenal tests as one of the main components of your adrenals is cortisol, related to prednisone. So if you have labs to test adrenals, you may also want to wait a few weeks after you finish prednisone to get a more accurate result and separate out what your body is doing versus what the prednisone has affected. The Mayo Clinic talks about how prednisone works with your adrenals as well. One of the things prednisone is also used to treat is Addison’s disease, which happens when your adrenal glands do not produce enough steroids on their own. The body is a wonderful thing and has such a delicate balancing act to keep itself running well. Yes, there are definite risks and disadvantages of taking prednisone when you have thyroid disease, but you should also weigh the benefits of this therapy if your doctor has prescribed it. Myself, I have asthma as well as thyroid disease, and there have been many times that this has been the only thing that has gotten me back to breathing easier again. Each time my doctor suggestions prednisone in my life, I have to see if anything else will help, if not, it is a wonderful thing, even with the side effects to be able to breathe and to have less inflammation.

Obviously this is just a general overview and in no way everything you need to know about taking prednisone while having thyroid disease, but hopefully this will give you a good start on what to ask your doctor and what to keep in mind as you are on this therapy. I wish you the best of health!

 

Addition: October 2015

Another thing to keep in mind on prednisone, is that if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, it can cause your blood sugars to rise while on steroids of any kind. So if you go to your doctor and your blood sugars have rising and nothing has changed but prednisone being added, that is most likely your answer.

 

Follow Britney on twitter @BttrflyBritney, or check her out on her pages on http://www.WarriorButterflies.com or as main blogger on http://www.butterflynationproject.org

Sources:
http://www.drugs.com http://www.drugs.com/sfx/prednisone-side-effects.html and http://www.drugs.com/prednisone.html

Mayo Clinic website http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/addisons-disease/basics/definition/con-20021340

Salt: Part 2, Iodized Salt & Iodine Affect on Thyroid Health

Back to Salt Part 1

When you have thyroid issues of any kind, it’s important to know some of the facts out there about iodized salt, or salt with added iodine in it. There is a lot of information out there about iodized salt and iodine specifically and the thyroid, hopefully this will help sort some of it out for you.

Iodine is one of those important nutrients that the body needs. The primary use is to help the thyroid produce thyroid hormones. If you still have a working thyroid, then chances are you need to have some iodine in your body to make these important hormones. There is a lot of confusion out there about whether you need to add iodine, if it’s safe for you to take iodized salt or eat foods with high amounts of iodine in them. Let’s take a look at the different sides of this question.

Iodine deficiency. One side of the issue is iodine deficiency. This is a serious problem that was the reason iodine was added to table salt in the first place. Now people are watching their sodium intake and aren’t eating as much iodized salt, so some people aren’t getting enough iodine in their diet. Plus recent studies have shown that when iodized salt was analyzed it didn’t have enough iodine added to help someone keep up healthy levels of iodine. Iodine deficiency is rising in developed countries now. Iodine is a rare element found in nature, it’s almost never found in the soil, but it is however abundant in the ocean. This is why you will find most seafood and shellfish high in iodine, but other foods people eat low or no iodine content. This is one of the reasons that iodine was added to salt in the beginning. Iodine deficiency can lead to many problems. One of the most common is developing a goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland.
According to Life Extension Magazine article The Silent Epidemic of Iodine Deficiency, ” …  iodine deficiency’s profound impact on overall health. … discover iodine’s vital role in thyroid function and its link to obesity, cognitive impairment, heart disease, psychiatric disorders, and various forms of cancer. “ Link

Iodine Excess. On the other side of the issue is people who are getting too MUCH iodine in their bodies.  Studies are recognizing that an excess of iodine can trigger autoimmune thyroid disease, such as Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s, worsening their attack on the body.
Dr. Teng in a New England Journal study,  found that giving iodine supplements to people with enough iodine in their system could lead to hypothyroid autoimmune disease. Also, since iodine helps the thyroid produce thyroid hormones, too much iodine, especially in the circumstances of Graves disease and hyperthyroidism, can add fuel to the fire, helping the body produce too much thyroid hormone and leading to iodine-induced hyperthyroidism. There is also some evidence that iodine can help autoimmune thyroid disease produce more antibodies with which to attack the body.

There is also a set of people who have found that iodine supplementation is helpful for their thyroid condition. If you are going to add iodine supplementation, please make sure you do so under a qualified medical professional who will be monitoring your iodine levels. Watch yourself for signs that your thyroid levels are spiking up too high or falling too low as well. Use common sense if following this path.

Basically, everyone needs some iodine, but not too much. If you are eating adequate levels of iodized salt, seafood or other iodine rich foods, the odds are good that you should NOT supplement iodine. If you have autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease, use caution in eating foods with added iodine. If your antibodies are high or you are severely hyperthyroid, you may want to cut back on the amount of iodine containing foods you are eating to prevent matters from becoming worse. Your doctor can test the amount of iodine in your system if you suspect you need to consume less or add more to your diet. This is one of the best ways to find out if you should be consuming more iodine foods such as iodized salt.

Confused by all the information that’s out there on iodine, especially in salt form? That is understandable. There are still many tests being run on iodine and the body and it seems that there is definitely not a one sized fits all recommendation on this rather controversial element. The consensus in the middle is that everyone needs some to prevent iodine deficiency, but you have to be careful not to have too much. If you have autoimmune disease of the thyroid, then you have to be even more careful. Ask your doctor or other health professional for their opinion, and research, research, research to help you figure out what may be right for you. Good luck in your journey to better thyroid health!

Catch Britney on twitter @BttrflyBritney, or online at http://www.WarriorButterflies.com or at ButterflyNationProject.org, two great thyroid resource pages

Sources:

Teng, Weiping M.D., et. al. “Effect of Iodine Intake on Thyroid Diseases in China” New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 354:2783-2793, June 29, 2006, Number 26Abstract

Utiger, Robert D. M.D. “Iodine Nutrition – More Is Better,” New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 354:2819-2821, June 29, 2006, Number 26o

Piccone, Nancy. “The Silent Epidemic of Iodine Deficiency” Life Extension Magazine, October 2011 http://www.lef.org/Magazine/2011/10/The-Silent-Epidemic-of-Iodine-Deficiency

, “Iodine and Hyperthyroidism”, Global Healing Center website:  http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/iodine-and-hyperthyroidism/, February 25,2015

Salt: Part 1, I am Craving Salt, Why?

Everyone knows that too much sodium can affect the body in a negative way. High blood pressure, heart issues, water retention, none of which are good for the body. So when you start craving salt, should you always assume it’s just an “addiction” to salty foods?

Turns out, there are multiple reasons other than just loving salty foods that could be causing your craving, and it probably won’t hurt to get them checked out if the salt cravings go on more than a day or two. If you’ve been working out a lot, sweating much it can cause your body to lose electrolytes and other things the body needs,  including sodium and that can be one cause of craving salt, especially if it’s just after a workout, you may just need a little boost. If the salt cravings go on constantly and after your workouts are over, then it’s time to look at other possible reasons.

  • Your body needs other minerals that are in with more natural forms of salt, such as sea salt. In sea salt for instance, since it’s not heavily processed like table salt, it contains trace amounts of sodium, chloride, calcium,potassium,  sulfur and magnesium. It’s possible that your body wants salt to replenish one or more of these trace minerals, disguised as a craving for salt. Calcium and magnesium play essential roles in  your body, helping with heart and muscle function for instance. Chloride helps with muscle and nerve function and sodium helps with blood volume among other things. Potassium works with chloride to provide the right level of acidity in  your body, in it’s list of duties. Sulfur helps with detoxification and boosts your immune function. So if you are craving salt, it might be time to get your mineral levels tested as it might be your body’s way of telling you about a deficiency.
  • Next thing is it might be your body’s way of dealing with hypothyroidism. When you are hypothyroid, the body is unable to absorb both sodium and magnesium as well as when your thyroid levels are normal. Craving salt is the body’s way of telling you that your thyroid levels may be too low. So your body is saying it needs more of those minerals. When you comply by eating more salty foods, consuming more sodium increases the production of a hormone called Aldosterone. Aldosterone helps stem the loss of magnesium in the body, and helps to regulate your sodium levels in the body. When you have low levels of Aldosterone, it sends a signal to the kidneys to release more salt, causing an increase in urination and increase in thirst. This can also cause a person to have their blood pressure lowered to the point of dizziness or even fainting.
  •  A third major reason you are craving salt is diminished adrenal production. Salt and sugar cravings are one of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue/exhaustion. Many people with thyroid issues also will show signs of adrenal problems. When the adrenals start increasing hormonal secretion, thyroid hormones are then limited. Too much adrenaline is thought to feature in the production of reverse T3, which is the body’s way of stopping the body from making and using T3 thyroid hormones. If you have these other symptoms, get yourself checked out for adrenal fatigue, the best tests are the salivary tests, not the blood tests available. Symptoms to watch out for include: anxiety, energy crashes at different points during the day, poor appetite in the morning, sugar and salt cravings, trembling, waking up in the middle of the night frequently, unable to tolerate loud noises, frequent infections like colds and more. Check out here for more information!

Part 2, will be about how iodine in salt and other foods is thought to affect people with thyroid disease.

 

Go to Salt: Part 2, Iodized Salt and Iodine Affect on Thyroid Health

Check out Britney on twitter @BttrflyBritney. Also check out these resources.

www.WarriorButterflies.com and www.butterflynationproject.org

Stand Up


I was reminded of something today, that taking care of yourself with a chronic illness means reducing your stress, and sometimes you have to temporarily elevate your stress now in order to reduce it in the future. The last few years I’ve been trying to get rid of or reduce contact with toxic people in my personal life. I’ve reduced contact or eliminated contact with people who made my stress levels rise and were helping to knock down my sense of self-worth and ultimately helping to keep me feeling at my worst. What I forgot was that I need to do this periodically at my work as well.

I do work as a retail merchandiser rep. Which means I have a route of retail stores, that I visit every week. I have different projects to do for the store depending on what is going on. Which means I go into a store, take care of that week’s projects and then go on to the next store. Usually I am only there for part of a day, or maybe a full day on a rare occasion. So when someone who works at the store stresses me out, I’ve been ignoring it, finishing up my work and then moving on. Most of the time that serves me fairly well, but one person at one store reminded me that apparently I let people think they could get away with a little too much with me.

Earlier today I go to work in one of my stores.  The majority of people at this store are nice, easy to work with, and know that I’m there to help them get things done they don’t have manpower to get done themselves. There is of course one worker at the store who for some reason has been decidedly nasty to me in her attitude since I took over that store a few months ago. Most of the time I’ve been avoiding her, because her obviously negative and toxic nature is not what I want to be around. I usually deal with the manager or assistant managers to get what I need done. The few times I’ve had to work with her to accomplish a goal, her ultra critical tone, the condescension towards me and her fellow coworkers, her abrasive manner towards me, have gotten on my nerves, but most of the time it’s a few minutes then I can get away from her. Apparently she decided me ignoring her meant that it was ok to be abusive to me. I walked into the store today and got started on the first of my projects for the store.

Within minutes, she comes charging angrily at me up the aisle and starts accusing me of “lying” to her about something the week before. I’m really confused as what she is saying I told her is impossible, the term she’s saying I told her I am not even familiar with it. I’m trying to calm her down, but she just gets louder and louder, and meaner, accusing me of lying, and more. When I try to defend myself calmly she starts yelling that I’m calling her a liar and she won’t have it. She is using body language to try to crowd me, obviously trying to intimidate me as she’s larger than I am. I stay calm while she yells in the middle of the store and then walk away from her. I find her a minute later when she has gone into the back room of the store and is away from customers. I tell her “Listen here. Yelling at me is not professional or acceptable and you are NO LONGER going to speak to me this way. I am not your employee, I am not your whipping boy, I am a retail rep for this store and I do not have to take this sort of verbal abuse from  you any longer. If you try this again, I will report it fully to your boss and your District manager. I’m sure they would love to know how you yelled at a rep in full view of their customers, and that you have been known to belittle, and treat other people poorly when the managers are not able to see you. “She stared at me open mouthed and started to say something, but I held up my hand and pretty much told her I said what I needed to say and was done. I don’t know if anyone has ever stood up to this bully of a person in her entire life, it certainly seemed to catch her off guard that I did.

When I left the store later after finishing my project (she wasn’t going to keep me from getting my part of things done!)I called and spoke to my supervisor. I reported what happened to her. Thank goodness for good bosses! My boss said that I absolutely did not need to be spoken to or yelled at, and that she herself was going to go down to that store in the next day or so to speak directly to that woman’s manager in person and let her know that would not be tolerated. If the manager didn’t act on it, my boss would go to the District manager. It really is gratifying to know that I was able to keep my cool, stand up for myself and my boss backed me up. I hope anyone reading this is lucky enough to work somewhere like that.

I have to say though speaking my piece was very stressful, as I am not normally a confrontational person, when it was over and I’d spoken to my supervisor, I felt better. A huge weight has been lifted from me. I took a chance and stood up for myself and I know that it’s ok for me to stand up for myself. I didn’t need to get mean or yell, just calmly let that person know they no longer had the right to treat me that way. After I was done, I was sitting in my car and at that point I was crying heavily. The stress of the confrontation needed a way to leave me and I allowed it to do so.

After speaking to my supervisor, it looks like she is going to switch that store to another one along my route so I don’t have to deal with that person ever again. I hope that my standing up to her makes her think twice the next time she tries to be verbally abusive to someone else. Just remember, we have to take charge of our health and sometimes we have to remember that it is ok to stand up, even if it’s temporarily very stressful, in order to free ourselves from on going stressful situations.

Follow me on twitter @BttrflyBritney or see our website http://www.warriorbutterflies.com for more good info for the thyroid patient.

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!