Saturday, May 25, 2013

The State of Health

I was posting, this morning, to one of the 6 health lists I'm on, about how I was left in the lurch by the medical establishment (both alopathic and naturopathic), and that, only through listening and learning from others, who are in similar thyroid and adrenal dysregulated boats, am I finally getting better.

But the anger remains. It quickly bubbles up, when I talk about where I was, where I am, and where I still need to be and the Major Trial it all has been.

One surefire sign of hypothyroidism is low basal temps.

I think the lowest basal I have recorded since I began recording them, last October, was 96.2.

Normal (not hypothyroid) basal temp range is 97.8-98.2 degrees.

At 1 grain circadian (CM) dose of NDT (natural dessicated thyroid), I was at 97.7, and couldn't get it higher than that. 1.5 grains CM got me to 97.9 on the first day and 98.1 after that.

I take thyroid in the wee hours, to help the adrenals, and these puppies need help. I take other things to help the adrenals as well. Just as I take other things to help my thyroid and overall health and functioning. It's a concert.

This bod has been through the wringer, since peri-menopause 14 yrs ago, which was rougher than it should have been, then cancer, chemo, radiation.

If I knew then, what I know now, I would have self-tested my thyroid functioning long ago (because docs don't usually order all the right tests, even if they see a reason to, nor understand what they mean, based on patient experience, which varies from their lab ranges). My endocrine system was going out of balance and struggled even harder after I stopped BC pills.

Maybe then I could have nipped all this demise in the bud, averting cancer, then the HPA dysfunction. Maybe not, but I would have had a fighting chance. Bodies do not get diseases when they are healthy. Being healthy, today, though, takes Effort. It doesn't just happen.

So, back to present day.

The 98.1 temp is a good sign that all the supplements I'm taking is helping with thyroid utilization, tho not healed yet (as last independent saliva and blood spot labs corroborate how I feel).

But, these temps are exogenous thyroid-produced, which to me, doesn't *really* count. It'll count more, when I can get my body to produce enough thyroid and cortisol on its own, but, it's a start, anyway, and even the worst scenario of continuing to need to take NDT is far better than not having it and being where I was.

I also would not be surprised if basal temps were worse than 96.2 before October 2012, as I've only recently been on real thyroid support, especially after I recently dug up a lab the NP I saw then ran in March 2011, showing below the bottom of the chart free T4.

For the thyroid uninitiated!, T4 is a thyroid hormone, comprised of 4 atoms iodine attached to tyrosine (an amino acid). T4 is storage thyroid. It *needs to* convert to T3, the active hormone, in order that the body can utilize it.

There are several things that help conversion – the right form of selenium, optimal levels of D3 and iron, as well as properly functioning (or at least exogenously well supported) adrenals, as cortisol is also necessary for thyroid to be used. Not having enough free T4 means I certainly didn't have enough free T3. Bod was only going to get sicker.

NOT that anyone thought maybe I needed help. Noooo, all the NP and the ID (idiot doctor) were concerned about were my high triglycerides.

Not even normal, but sub-*optimal* thyroid production, but downright underproducing, not even within their wide range of *normal*, which, along with most other labs' ranges of so-called normal, says little about actually feeling good, never mind feeling optimal.

But, it's been a long time since medicine took the time to be personal – to not just look at us as if we were nothing more than numbers on a lab report, whose ranges are questionable.

NP and I did talk about diet for those triglycerides, but she would have been more than happy to put me on meds for it, just as her idea of sleep help was to prescribe Neurontin, which I didn't take as I don't trust drugs, but which my SIL did take and it made her temporarily blind in one eye. Eh, I only have 1 half-way good eye as it is, as the other had retina detachment surgery and tho sight was saved, it ain't much sight!

This is the same ID the NP works for, who said something flippant about how endocrinology may have been fun in college, but he wasn't about to go down that road and said all I needed was a couple hours alone every day. That's when he earned the ID title.

This, to a woman with trashed adrenals and nearly non-existent thyroid functioning (who hadn't slept more than a couple-3 hrs/night for over a year at that point), who had been through chemo and radiation, then several major life stresses, and clearly needed *intelligent* help.

NO, don't look at the root of the issue, look at the symptoms.

What it has come to is that medicine isn't really interested in helping people heal and become healthy, they're just drug middlemen. And if the drugs don't work, they'll be happy to start chopping bits out of and off of ya. Helping us all become healthy would put the industry out of work.

This is not what medicine is supposed to be, and we don't have to lie down for it.

It seems if we want intelligent help, we better look to ourselves.

Even the Naturopath I then went to, wasn't helpful, giving me 100 mg oral progesterone, which tho I may have needed, it *ensured* I wasn't going to sleep (and just .05 mg E2, which depleted all my energy).

And she knew about my adrenal status – we had run cortisol saliva labs then, so she should have known better. You *don't* give someone with adrenal dysregulation progesterone, eh, esp. right before bed, as it just gets diverted into making cortisol, when I already had high nighttime cortisol keeping me from sleeping.

The low progesterone could and should have been dealt with later and differently – the adrenals and thyroid should have been dealt with first.

This is when I really gave up on doctors. *They* get advanced educations, *they* tout themselves as being our medical authorities, *they* take our money, and worse, our faith in them, then help us to rot. First, do no harm, my ass!

As I think about this, though, knowing that we draw events to us for a reason, in one way I should be grateful to all the medical people who mal-treated me.

I'm an independent fire person. I've only ever been able to trust my own judgement. When I follow anyone else's advice without it *feeling* right to me, I get into trouble with myself. My conscience has a big mouth! I can't help but be an honest, if complicated person.

In everything, however, there is choice.

I can choose to look at this whole experience as a needing to be reminded (yet again) to rely on myself and my judgement, and not look to *authorities* for help – whether alopathic or naturopathic, it seems.

Yes, it is very sad that most of us with thyroid and adrenal malfunctions can't find a physician worthy of our trust and faith.

We *should* be able to rely on others for help, especially when at our weakest, hardly able to put together coherent sentences any longer, because our systems are failing.

But no, we're left to climb up out of the hole by ourselves, trying to digest info about our state of unwellness, which goes into the head one second and out the next.

As it turns out, however, those we expect to be able to help us, can't, and, in fact, we can be much better helped by each other, fellow HPA dysregulators!

And, in the process, become our *own* best physicians.

But, in the back of my head, I have this feeling that this is the just the beginning of a movement. Part of a movement away from seeing and doing things the way they have been done, as it just doesn't work any more, for far too many of us.

Generations since my grandparents day, have been, slowly, at first, but now, much more rapidly, seeing their lives and health turned upside down, because of decisions made, initially, by our forebears, but that we also bought into. No-one knew better. And the collective state of our health is the price of that ignorance.

Ignorance is not bliss. It leads to death.

This journey to health I'm on is both circuitous and meandering at the same time. It's like holding up a table with 16 legs and you only have 2 hands. One falls, they all fall. That's our endocrine system, and it's no wonder there are few doctors really adept at understanding it - it's not easy.

Eh, but it's not impossible, especially for all those *bright* minds that endured about a dozen years advanced education. But they seem to shirk way from it. And I don't know why, because we are, no ARE our hormones. You can't really ignore them, as if they are a minor player in our well-being.

And not just sex hormones. Thyroid, adrenal, pituitary, hypothalamus, pineal, thymus, parathyroid, and pancreas all make hormones. And all these glands are connected via axes, ultimately all connected to each other.
It takes patience, it takes time, it takes researching and far more time connecting dots and being aware, than we are used to doing.

We just want to get on with our lives, and so, we expect our bodies to do what they're supposed to, all the time, effortlessly.

And they do. For awhile. We're never ready for them to fall down on the job. But they will. And good luck to you, if you look to your typical GP or NP (or even ND) for help, eh, or worse yet, an endocrinologist, according to the litany of experiences with this particular genre of The Medically Dismissive.

I will, most likely, chronicle this journey in a book, so to help others find their way to wellness.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spinning for Chores!

It's Spring.

So, what do we do with the BEST season in the year?

Add more chores to our already-full schedules, leaving little time to enjoy Spring!

And I am no exception. On the fridge is a long list of spring-cleaning chores, written in black marker, lest I overlook them, if written in thin, little inked words.

Actually, one page isn't enough, as I forgot to add wash all windows, inside and out, to the list - ugh.

Also NOT on this list is digging up and sawing down all the plants, bushes and trees I DO NOT want in the garden, so that I can plant what I DO want – heirloom roses and honeysuckle, and eventually, more lilacs and azaleas. This will be our 2nd summer here, and I don't like the garden. It's depressing.

There's a long, but narrow patch of sand (I don't dare call this stuff dirt) along the side of the driveway to the kitchen door, which needs a new support system, soil amelioration, and as it gets enough sun, I may put tomatoes there.

Bricks, wood, bamboo, faux rock, cut stone, interlocking blocks? Whatever we use, it will need to coordinate with future paving/edging choices.

I've already hacked at the wild roses along this fence, though digging up the roots was proving to take more energy than my body can put out, so hubby tackled them with a long spade.

The fence is in desperate need of a bath and repainting, and how much more beautiful will some Louise Odiers, Madame Pierre Ogers and Felicite Parmentiers be (If I could FIND FPs. Either out of stock or backordered.)

I also hacked up and pulled up a large Scotch Broom abutting the fence, and easily pulled up a dead rhododendron by the house, thanks to the soil, I mean, sand, that we live on.

OK, so that's 2 separate sets of chores. Add to that the usual housework and laundry. Add to that baking hubby's bread and cakes, and cooking his, mine, and our meals.

So, now we're up to 4 major piles of chores.

Add to that designing, working on the other 2 patterns sitting here since last August, when my iMac died, knitting more things for Etsy and my site (which STILL has no handknits listed yet - my apologies!), as well as adding more designs to Etsy, CraftHub and the other new venues on which I need to get them listed – yet more ha!

So, 5-6 major piles of work, as my design work and business is a full-time job.

Nope, not done yet. Then there's the sewing projects I need to get done asap, before the sun gets any higher in the sky – namely finishing the Swedish blinds, designing and sewing something for the 2, large, south-facing skylights, before we get baked (have you seen the prices for those simple, skylight blinds? – ha!), and lining these vinyl shades with fabric, as they are ugh-ly.

And me, with half the energy I used to have, until this body heals.

So, most days I am SO confused about what to do, as there's just TOO much that needs doing.

I can tend not to feel well half the time, so when I do feel well enough, I tackle too much, as too many days are lost to non-productivity, backlogging necessary chores.

What I need is a large spin dial, as in board games. I'd stand in the middle and spin the dial. Wherever the thing stops, that's the chore I'll tackle that day, as if one chore is enough for a day! I'd have to spin that dial 10x/day, every day.

So, when yesterday's dial spun, it landed on Tackle the Skylight Coverage Issue and then on Figure Out the Swedish Blinds.

Now, I have several resources explaining how to make Swedish blinds, with slight variations.

All variations though involve a wood batten, either wrapped or not, a dowel, cording, glass, wood, metal or plastic rings, and screws, as the entire contraption is screwed into a window's header trim, through the fabric, wood and knotted cording.

Aack. This did not appeal to me, and I let the project gel in my mind for months. Holes in the face of the wood trim, that, eventually will need to be filled, sanded and painted by someone (hint: not me.)

I wanted it easier to make, involving less parts (and therefore less cost and time) and be more easily removed for cleaning.

So, tension rods.

I have been hanging curtains, for decades, on tension rods. They were inexpensive, especially important, considering *how* many windows in our NY house which needed covering, and because the woodwork in our old house was SO beautiful, you'd be crazy to hide it behind elaborate window treatments.

So, I thought, why not? Why can't I sew on the fabric loops holding the rings, with the cords sewn to the WS. Would it work? I wouldn't know until I made one, and hung it,


Yes!, it works!

And, of course, using what I had on hand, not the expensive glass rings, or the fixed eye pulleys, which were another option.

I used white carbone rings, natural cotton twine for the cord, a disused flannel sheet and disused throw slipcover for the front and back coordinating fabrics, and only needed a $1.80 dowel for each window, which easily slides out of the slim bottom pocket, when it's time to clean the curtain.

The only adjustment to the tension rod was to make it one notch tighter, not that I'd be yanking on the curtain, but just less-likely-to-startle-me-when-it-crashes-to-the floor! And so far, no crashing. We do need to pick up window cleats. at the hardware store, on which to wrap the cord.

Now, as for the skylights. Been cogitating upon them for as many months, as the Swedish blinds.

I was thinking of a fabric blind – much like the Swedish blind – but without all the cording and loops, but *with* carbone rings sewn into the side seams at the middle, lower 3/4 and bottom, so 3 sets of rings on each side.

On each side of the wood trim surrounding each skylight, I'd put 3 small cup hooks, to correspond with the carbone ring placement, so that I could (tautly) hook the fabric blind up 1/4 or 1/2, depending on how much sun I want to let in, or hook it completely down.

It would take more accurate measuring (to ensure a taught blind), than I think I am prepared to deal with now, but, may well do this at some point.

In the meantime, I've hung curtains on each skylight, using cup hooks to hold the tiebacks.

The curtains do drape some, over the skylight openings, but I don't totally dislike the look. At least it softens those huge skylight windows, and blocks some of the light, yet still allows access to the control handle – until I come up with something else.

Some other bits of sewing had me adding ties to 2 older white matelasse slipcovers and making the lower curtain to match the topper, for this bathroom window.


On our first (well, *only*) real vacation, in '94, we came here to the Cape and browsed some yard sales.

At one such sale, we bought a chair, and an odd bag of curtains, including 3 of these toppers, and a large square, which must have been used as a table topper. So, I just turned the table topper into a curtain, matching the rod pocket and hem of the topper.

I do need to make a small adjustment, however, and turn the lower curtain into 2.

So, 19 years later, this fabric are still in use, and actually, as I was sewing it, I noticed the design and copyright date in the selvedge – 1983!

Tomorrow's spinning of the Daily Chore Dial will surely land on sewing the other 3 Swedish blinds, as the feet are going up soon, and knitting pulled out!