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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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

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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

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

Tales from the Graves’ book:Thyroid patient stories

“I felt so alone and uninformed when I was diagnosed…I don’t want other people to feel that way.” – Ashli S., Graves’ sufferer

If there is any statement that sums up the purpose of “Tales from the Graves’”, this is it. So little is known publicly about this autoimmune disorder, and the disruption it can cause on the lives of everyday people. When it’s diagnosed, it’s a scary, amorphous unknown specter with an ominous name that implies going to the grave. There are made-for-TV movies for cancer and AIDS, and telethons for muscular dystrophy, so the public is well-aware of these inflictions – not so for autoimmune disorders.

According to Medscape in December 2013–a web resource for physicians and other health professionals–Graves’ Disease affects up to two percent of the female population, sometimes appears after childbirth, and has a female:male incidence of 7:1 to 8:1. It occurs most often in middle age (most commonly in the third to fifth decades of life), but is not uncommon in adolescents, during pregnancy, during menopause, or in people over age fifty. There is a marked family preponderance, which has led to speculation that there may be a genetic component. Graves’ currently affects approximately two hundred million people worldwide, three million in the United States alone. In other words, it’s very likely that a great number of people are impacted directly by this disorder (or related disorders, such as Hashimoto’s Disease, Thyroid Storm or the Thyroid Eye Disease), or through friends and family, that would be interested in this material.

Britney Robinson—co-author of this work, through suffering from Graves’ Disease for over 13 years now, has taken great pains to learn everything about this disorder in an effort to minimize its impact on her life and general well-being. In doing so, she joined a support group on Facebook for others to share their experiences–when she joined there were about fifty members. Within a year, that number has blossomed to over a thousand with more people asking to join daily. When she proposed compiling anecdotes into a book, over one hundred and twenty of these members jumped at the chance to share their stories in the hopes of telling others that they are not alone. Realizing the potential of this book to blossom into a huge project, Britney enlisted the aid of her husband, Ray Robinson. Ray is an experienced writer, having put together stories for multiple newspapers and blogs over his career.

This guide will begin with a basic description of Graves’ Disease itself–its origins, signs and symptoms, and diagnosis. Many of the contributors will give their own experiences in what first clued them or their doctors in. You will hear, straight from their own words, their advice on pursuing a diagnosis, finding a doctor that actually knows what Graves’ is (it’s more difficult than you would think!), and the tests they experienced to achieve the correct diagnosis. Special attention will be paid to treatment methods people have attempted (with varying degrees of success), how to stay positive in the midst of a complete life upheaval, and dealing with some of the more noticeable traits–such Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) that can occur in those suffering.

The truly moving draw of this material comes from reading the stories directly from people dealing with, suffering through, and overcoming this disorder. Many don’t mince words–since this is a harsh disease, you will get a real feel for the emotions they pour out. And never the same story twice! You will read REAL tales of lives turned upside down, friends lost and gained, frustration and elation, despair, fear, anxiety and jubilation.

“Tales from the Graves'” is an excellent guide for not only those suffering from thyroid diseases, but for their friends and family to gain understanding, and learn what they can do or say to help.

I am truly proud to have been privileged to hear so many stories from other thyroid patients, I hope I have done justice to their trust, and can help many others see a glimpse into our lives. Thank you to all of them and to my husband Ray Robinson for his help in compiling and writing this book.

Available for Pre-order from now until March 30, 2015, then available for purchase on Kindle platform. Get your copy here!

Thyroid Related Projects You Can Help Support

There are a number of projects out there that are focused on either thyroid advocacy, patient financial help, information to help a thyroid patient, and even support groups. I wanted to share some I think should be spotlighted if you want to learn, and/or help these causes out.

First one is a lady with Graves’ disease who is doing a documentary about her struggle with thyroid disease, chronic illness and the often corrupt medical establishment that has prevented her from getting the care she has needed at times. Maggie Hadleigh-West from her website “has been internationally recognized as an activist, independent filmmaker, public speaker and the founder of the corporation, Film Fatale. She has been writing, directing and producing in film and television since 1991.”

Check out her kickstarter campaign to find out their goals and how you can help get this film off the ground.  Also here is a short video of the trailer for “Sick To Death”
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/827276483/sick-to-death/widget/video.html

Another cause is a new project called Butterfly Nation Project. “Butterfly Nation Project is a patient helping patient group, bringing awareness, advocacy and support.” They are excited to have received their 501 (3) c status and are about to launch their website. This is a brand new thyroid advocacy and financial help group that is working to help raise funds to alleviate financial problems of thyroid sufferers, as thyroid disease is usually a chronic, lifelong condition for most people. I first started working with the founder Gina Lopes several years ago in her Facebook support group for Graves’ disease. Over several years she grew the group to over 3,000 members and it is now one of the most well known Graves’ disease support groups. She and several others with Graves disease have seen the need for help with medication, thyroid procedures, doctor visits that people with thyroid disease struggle with and is now trying to make a difference. I was just asked to be a board member so I could help share the group’s mission and bring awareness of this good cause.
You can find out more about Butterfly Nation Project at their open Facebook group Butterfly Nation Project or on Twitter at @ButtrflyNatProj to keep updated on their progress. If you would like to make a donation, even a dollar would help them to help other thyroid patients.  If you would like to send a donation you can either mail it to Butterflly Nation Project P.O. Box 667 Fountain, CO 80817 or via pay pal ButterflyNationProject@yahoo.com. They also have a CafePress online store, in case you would like to help support them while obtaining thyroid related merchandise for yourself at http://www.cafepress.com/butterflynationproject.
There is another group that is near and dear to my heart. Warrior Butterflies. After spending time listening and helping people online in Facebook support groups, and talking to people from all over the world who have been dealing with thyroid disease, I decided to join forces with a wonderful group of women and try to build a website where a person with thyroid disease could go and get diverse information to help them deal with their condition. Since thyroid disease is not a one size fits all issue, many different approaches can help people. Our group’s goal is to seek out reputable information in diet, therapy, scientific information and general support to help people find what works for themselves. To further this we have created the website http://www.WarriorButterflies.com. We have created a place for people to recommend good thyroid health care resources, a place for healthy recipes for different dietary needs, a place to list and read about local thyroid related events, local thyroid support groups and many other resources that may help someone deal with their thyroid disease.

Our group consists of myself (Graves’ disease, leader of Thyroid Tribe Support Group), Audra Stevenson (thyroid cancer survivor and very knowledgeable of vitamins and supplements), Jackie Bacom Stone (Graves’ and Hashimoto’s disease with Celiacs), and Penny Jenson (Hashimoto’s disease and leader of Hashimoto’s Social Butterflies support group). Together our diverse situations and backgrounds have allowed us to create a gradually evolving website with many different thyroid related resources. We are currently looking for people’s recommendations on any health care provider who has helped them in their thyroid journey including mental health counselors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, endocrinologists etc. within the US, Canada or Australia. We also welcome submissions of local thyroid related events, or webinars for people to learn more. Local thyroid support groups are also welcome to submit their information for others to see, and finally any healthy recipes they have tested are welcome for submission as well. A fee is never charged to add an event, recipe, doctor, etc to the website. You can send submissions to Info@WarriorButterflies.com and you can check out our website http://www.WarriorButterflies.com or follow us on Twitter @WarriorBtrflies.

Several really good Facebook Support groups are also out there if you need to talk to others in your situation:
Thyroid Tribe (Closed General Thyroid support group-small and informal)
Hashimoto’s Social Butterflies (Closed Thyroid support group)
Graves’ Disease, what everyone should know(Closed Graves’ disease only support group, 3k members)

If you know of any thyroid related projects going on that need recognition, please comment or send to me, and I’ll see about getting the word out.

Tips for dealing with Brain Fog Days


A lot of us with thyroid disease and chronic illness get the dreaded Brain Fog days. Where you can’t think as well as you know you should, and you have problems remembering things. Dealing with this mental fog and trying to make sure things that are important are not forgotten, is a constant battle for some of us. If you are one of those people like me who have this hit suddenly and without warning and live in fear of forgetting important things, you are welcome to borrow some of the things I do to combat this.

  1. Sticky Notes. I have sticky notes everywhere. In my purse, in my car, on my desk at home. When someone gives me information I need to remember, I first write it on a sticky note. Writing things down sometimes gives me an edge in remembering. If it’s something I need to remember for a few minutes, then that is sufficient usually to help keep it in my brain long enough to act on it. If not, I go to the next step.
  2. Transcribe what’s on my sticky note onto my notes folder on my computer. I keep a notes file open on my computer that I can add to. Things I need to remember. Schedules of medications if I have new ones temporarily added to the mix, or remembering what I have planned for meals on a certain night, that sort of thing. When I’m done with that info, I go and erase it.
  3. I also keep a file with a copy of all recent labs I’ve had done, my medications and dosages at the time and any new symptoms and when they have started. This helps me keep track of how I am doing physically and mentally and track whether my thyroid levels or other things are going off kilter for me. Sometimes without this I can’t tell that I’m doing worse or a lot better if I don’t keep track of things.
  4. Along with this, I keep a food diary.When I’m having allergic issues, digestive issues, headaches, and the like, I keep track of what I eat and drink, plus notes each day with times when I can of  any problems I have. This helps me keep track of whether or not foods are affecting my health in a negative or positive way. When I have a lot of brain fog days, if I doctor would ask me about this, I am glad to have it documented so I don’t have to try to remember complex things.
  5. My smart phone. I have like most people a Calendar app on my smart phone. All appointments go into that phone. Addresses of people I am meeting, contact information, dates, times, and anything to help me up to and including what a person looks like. This is for days my brain fog is really bad. I recommend downloading or backing up this at least once a week or every other week in case something happens to your phone, so you can keep on track.
  6. Check boxes. Keep a list with check boxes next to all  your medications or routines that you  need to do. Check each task off after they are done so you do not forget important tasks each day.
  7. Extra rest. Give yourself extra times to rest, or take breaks during the day. Your brain is not working as well and is going to tire you out more, making mistakes even easier to do. Give yourself time for a nap, a few minutes doing something restful to give your brain a break.
  8. Forgiveness. When you are having a bad memory day, when things are in a fog, try to forgive yourself if you forget something. You are struggling against something real and even all of your preventative measures to combat it can fall short, so forgive yourself if you can’t do everything on those days and miss things.

Try to keep yourself positive during these times of less than perfect thinking because they will pass. Put in the comments ideas that you use to combat brain fog days.

Follow Britney on twitter @BttrflyBritney or see her on http://www.WarriorButterflies.com