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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Graves concerns..

I had intended for my next post to be all about my trip to New York City, where I met up with old friends and attended a live session for my Integrative Nutrition program.  As life works, I ran into some snafus.  First, I was making less money at the new job that I left my last job for, with the sole purpose of making enough money to pay my bills and to pay off some debt.  Second, I hated that job.  Both of these things contributed to more stress, so I put the word out to the peeps I've known over the years and got me a sparkling new bartending job, again.  Unfortunately I had to burn a bridge to get from the last one to this one, but I had to choose my needs over those of the job that sucked.

So I finally feel like I've got this little corner of my life calmed down so my financial state of affairs can start to improve when all of the sudden, something in the other corner crashes.  As it turns out, one of the side effects of Methimazole, the thyroid suppressing medication I'm on, is that it can be toxic to the liver.  My thyroid levels are starting to come down closer to normal ranges due to the medication, which is good.  The bad news, which I received yesterday, is that my liver enzymes are above normal indicating improper functioning of that other vital organ.  The good news is that this will likely resolve itself if I get off of Methimazole.  The bad news is, I can't go left untreated and the very pill that has previously enabled me to achieve remission rather than kill or remove an organ necessary for survival is poisoning my liver.

There is another medication PTU, but it is more likely to contribute to liver disease than the one I'm on now.  Beyond that, the only other options offered to me are surgical removal or radioactive iodine, both of which will render me unable to ever produce the essential thyroid hormone ever again and I would have to supplement with synthetic hormone, about which I have grave concerns.  Trying to replicate the function of a vital organ has its own set of problems.  A pill is never the quick cure people tend to think it is.  I'd rather work with my body than rely on conventional medicine for the rest of my life.

My mom has consulted with a licensed herbalist and as I type, some liver cleansing teas and tinctures are on their way to my doorstep.  I had planned to consult an acupuncturist as soon as I could afford it, but that's taken longer than I had anticipated and ...   please, please, oh please don't make me kill my thyroid!

This is a scary time for me.  I don't have a large support network, though I have a pretty strong one, but it's not local.  My mom and brother are always there for me and can help me with things I don't have the energy or resources for.  My Irish friend has been a tremendous shoulder to lean on.   He's going to be away for a marathon and then to Dublin for a couple of weeks in July and then I may feel a little stranded, as he's been really supportive and comforting to me since the moment I met him.  My meditation practice adds a bit of peace to this whole mess, but it's been tearful here and there. 

Even with some emotional support, I'm feeling pretty alone and afraid.  This country doesn't practice medication before murder of the thyroid, so I don't feel as though I have an ally in the medical community that I've had to rely on.  The one thing that I've found some resolve in is that now I know why the circles under my eyes are so bad, despite the kind words of my friends to the contrary, I see them.  It's because my liver is being poisoned and it shows.  As my brother said to me yesterday, people face adversity all of the time and come through it with flying colors.  I intend to be one of those people.  Being strong and brave does not mean to live in the absence of fear, but despite it.

I have an appointment with my endocrinologist tomorrow morning, they will test my liver again at that time and I can ask questions.  The liver cleansing tea prepared by a licensed herbalist will arrive on Tuesday.  Books by Andrea Beaman (also an IIN graduate), Joel Fuhrman (who spoke at my weekend of Integrative Nutrition in NYC), and Daniel Amen are on their way.  I know the body has a tremendous ability to heal itself where pills meant to heal do damage elsewhere in the body.  But I know this takes time and I hope it's not too late for me.  I already eat pretty well, but I have a long history of processed foods in my past.  As of yesterday, I'm doing all I can to keep from adding undue stress to my liver by eliminating alcohol, excess sugar and salt, all processed foods, caffeine, excess fat etc. and am eating as clean a diet as possible with simple whole grains, whole fruits and whole vegetables, most of which in the Cruciferae family - Kale being my latest addition.  I'm not sure what a mere two days of this can do for the liver, but you can rest assured that it'll end up on this blog. 

Here are some lovely pictures from my time in NYC.  I'll write about what I learned from Deepak Chopra and Geneen Roth soon.


Jennifer said...

I'm not one to give advice, but I've been eating a "natural" diet and have cleared up many of my own health issues by eliminating processed foods, grain and wheat products and sugars. I'm not saying that it will be a solution for you, however there is evidence showing that consumption of sugars and even grain products place stress on our systems. Check out Nourishing Traditions, Good Calories/Bad Calories, Weston price Foundation and the Primal Blueprint. The last one, his website has a community forum and there are several people in there with various thyroid issues and have had success controlling their disease.

I myself have discovered that I'm intolerant to wheat/grain products, have fixed some digestive issues, have reduced my allergies, have much more energy and just FEEL better.

One thing I've learned, with all my chronic health problems over the last 15 years, that I've been told "its all in my head", is that we have to be an advocate for our OWN health, do our research and make changes.

I think it was aristotle that said "food is medicine"

Anonymous said...

Good to hear you, Kat. Often read your posts but don't comment but tonight I am thinking about you lots and know that you come from "good biology" (I am married to your bother and the doctor at some point after his terrible accident a few years ago said he had "good bology---weird but true!!!)0 and I have a lot of faith that you'll come through this stronger than ever!!!) Anyway, looking forward to talking soon and hoping that you'll move to Boulder so that we can talk in person rather than over the internet. But until then, you are a rock star and an inspiration and we'll talk soon!

Melissa (your sister-in law, or sister-out-law, depending on how you look at it......)

kat said...

I wholly believe that food is medicine, Jennifer and I'm in total agreement with your comment. That's why I refuse to give up. I know I've got it in me to turn the switch off on my disease.

It's difficult to overhaul one's diet completely at once, but my pace has quickened. My diet now is substantially different than just six months ago. "Healthy" always equated with "won't make me fat", but has taken on a deeper meaning over the past few years.

It's so important to be in tune with your body so that you can hear it telling you if certain foods are making it unhappy, like wheat in your case.

I've virtually eliminated processed grains in my diet, but whole grains make me feel great. It's the sugar that makes me feel bad and I have addictive reactions to..

Thank you for your words Jennifer and Melissa. It's good to know that you're out there as sometimes I feel that I'm just sending my thoughts into the void to bounce around among the space garbage.

Melissa, Colorado is quite possibly in my future. I just have to quit falling for boys that make me want to stay put or go elsewhere.

Kim said...

Big hugs to you, my dear.