Archive for the ‘Autoimmune Thyroiditis’ Category

ALCAT and All That

???????????????????????????????The dog days of August are upon us in Minnesota. Define “dog days” you say? To me they are days of heat and humidity when all you want to do is lay around panting like a dog. Dictionary.com defines it as “the sultry part of summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the dog star, rises at the same time as the sun; now often reckoned to be July 3-August 11. Also they say it is “a period marked by lethargy, inactivity or indolence”.

Food sensitivity?

As with many of us who have autoimmune issues I have looked at the possibility that I have food allergies or food sensitivities but I was never interested enough to try an elimination diet nor to spend the big bucks and have a blood test done. I did eliminate gluten entirely about three years ago and other than the accidental bits of gliadin protein that have managed to sneak in to my daily diet I have remained gluten free.

Sadly, as my SU is quick to point out, removing gluten from my diet has not been the magic bullet I was hoping it would be. I still have bloating. I still have bouts of diarrhea. I had a bout with eczema and I still have the occasional migraine headache. I have not “gotten over” my autoimmune issues and I still need thyroid medication (now taking 75 mcg of T3).

Causation?

I have never been able to put my finger on the cause of my issues. I can tell you that I have, at one time or another, blamed almost everything that goes in my mouth.

I did give up gluten because I realized that every time we went on holiday, where I ate with abandon, every gluten containing item I was offered, I came home and got sick. Twice I developed a nasty rash on my lower right back that at first burned then oozed and itched, then scabbed over and looked distinctly like dermatitis herpetiformis. Once I got shingles within a month of our holiday. That was the year I had a light bulb moment. Gluten and getting sick were related and I eliminated gluten and anything that might contain the gliadin protein. I can report I have never again had that rash on my back nor shingles, so if nothing else that is an improvement.

Okay, so gluten was eliminated but problems still existed and as I said I blamed many things. I, at one time or another, thought coffee was the culprit, then tea, then dairy. I did realize, correctly as it turns out, turmeric was an issue but I also blamed coconut, citric acid and other herbs. With all these suspicions, and really no proof, I did consider a food allergy test.

Along came ALCAT

My doctor, Kim Lane, had been telling me about a food sensitivity test (IgA not IgE testing) she had done and what a difference it made for her. It came with a hefty price tag (almost $1200) that made my jaw drop but then again can we put a price tag on our health? Not really, and $1200 wouldn’t even pay for one hour much less one day spent in a hospital because you are now in dire need of medical intervention. I mulled it over for months. I talked to my spouse about it and my friends. I still didn’t do it.

A year later the defining moment arrived. I got my 23andMe results back and with my 17 mutations out of 58 polymorphisms I decided that I really needed to know if there were foods, herbs, drugs that were negatively impacting my health. Unlike many people I do not believe that we have to settle for whatever our genes have elected for us, we can take control of our health (quoting Dr. Mercola). The ALCAT that Dr. Lane was recommending seemed like the best thing I could pursue.

What does ALCAT stand for?

ALCAT (antigen leukocyte cellular antibody test) does not test IgE immune responses to food and chemicals but according to their literature it is “a highly sensitive, objective test of assessing which foods, chemicals and herbs you may be intolerant or sensitive to.  Food sensitivity/intolerances affect over 80% of the population while less than 5% of us actually have an IgE or ‘true’ food allergy.

I will not go into every detail regarding the test as anyone can “Google” that and find out. I will explain the details I find interesting. They take 5-6 vials of blood and test a lengthy list of items including 200 foods, 50 functional foods and medicinal herbs, 20 food additives and colorings, and 10 molds and antibotics and medications. A phlebotomist is sent to your home to make the blood draw and that is included in your test price. My phlebotomist was a retired nurse and while she seemed a bit confused about what was expected of her she was very proficient at drawing what seemed like endless vials of blood and sending them off.

When your results are back you have a consultation with your provider, in my case, Dr. Kim Lane. She went over the results and discussed the best way to go about working with my new found knowledge. A really interesting comment she made was the nutritionist was amazed at my test results and generally speaking they discussed how clean my diet must be to have very little that I am sensitive to. Huh?

I had no severe reactions to anything in the food and herb category, nothing. I had a moderate reaction to three things, strawberries, rhubarb and tilapia. My list of mild intolerance was longer and included two things I was having every day, turmeric and apples. Other things were not daily items but I did use them frequently, cumin, pork, beef, asparagus and red/green lettuce (grew that this year in my garden).

I did have a severe reaction  in the “chemicals and molds category” to one drug, Ibuprofen. And there was a severe reaction to a mold, trichoderma. I am not sure of the implication of the severe reaction to trichoderma but I avoid ibuprofen like the plague. I recently took one because I had a terrible case of conjunctivitis but that was the first one I had taken in a year or more. Now I had proof that it was not good for me and I was correct to avoid it.

What is prescribed?

According to an ALCAT site everything falls in to various categories. There is a red column. Those items falling in to the red category are avoided altogether for 6 months and then possibly can be added back on a rotation basis. The orange column items are not eaten for 3-6 months and then rotated back into your diet. The yellow column contains things that should be avoided for 3 months but might be okay to eat once a week. Green means you can eat and enjoy but they firmly believe everything should be rotated even if in the green category.

Since I had no severe reactions (no food items in the red column) my prescription is to remove the items that I am moderately intolerant to for six months, so no rhubarb, no strawberries and no tilapia. (At first, I exclaimed “Who even eats tilapia anymore?” One should never get too smug. Dr. Mercola’s supplement of krill is in a fish gelatin casing. What is that fish gelatin made of? Tilapia. Why is that important to me? I needed to replace my fish oil because it is in a beef gelatin capsule. I went to Mercola.com ready to order the krill until I saw the label. TILAPIA!)

Under the “mild intolerance” the list is longer and included beef and pork (thus the bovine gelatin was out and so was my idea of returning to natural dessicated thyroid medication as it is porcine). Just to bore you with more detail than you want I will list all the items in the this category: apple (even apple cider vinegar included), asparagus, bay leaf, beef, brazil nut, canola oil, cayenne pepper, celery, cherry, chicken liver, cumin, fava bean, guava, mung bean, nutmeg, paprika, pork, red/green lettuce, sesame and turmeric. Those items can be consumed once a week but if I consume them I should note how they make me feel.

There are three blue boxes included in the test results. These list your blood’s reaction to candida, gluten/gliadin and casein/whey. Of those three I had a mild reaction to candida albicans, so no honey, cane sugar, fructose or maple sugar for three months. I had no response to casein or whey. I had no response to gluten/gliadin and I really don’t know what to make of that but I am going to assume that is because I haven’t had it in any quantity in a long time. I admit to being perplexed regarding my non-reacton to gluten/gliadin, so stay tuned for more information after I talk to the nutritionist.

That is the last, but not least, recommended thing I will do, talk to their nutritionist. Included in the price of the test is that 30 minutes with Dr. Lane and 30 minutes with one of their nutritionists. I am hopeful that the nutritionist can fill in some of the blanks especially why I had no adverse reaction to gluten/gliadin.

Krisinsight

I am still digesting all of the information I now have in my hands. I look over my results every day and learn something new (for instance just now I learned what trichoderma was). I was relieved that tea and coffee were not to be eliminated but still their nutritional recommendation is no food or herb or drink is ever repeated more than once every fourth day. I have tea every day, more than once, and coffee is one of those social things that I am not very willing to give up even though I do not drink it every day (normally). I can give up the offending items for the required amount of time and I can even rotate them back in to my diet but a rotation diet of all the other foods may be really painful, too painful. Time will tell and so will my gut.

Santé,

Kris

Advertisements

Reading for Thyroid Health

???????????????????????????????It is officially autumn everywhere in the northern hemisphere. In south central Minnesota this morning, the long grass has a heavy coat of rime and mittens warmed my hands on the morning dog walk.

This, my friends, is the time of year when I break out Rosamunde Pilcher’s last book, Winter Solstice. Somehow her words help me adjust from the outdoor life of summer to the cozy, indoor life of winter with nary a whimper.

Suddenly a warming cup of tea seems so much more appealing or a morning coffee inside a cozy coffee shop in nearby Stillwater, Minnesota sounds heavenly. Cloudy, gray days become days of reading by the fire. Rainy days can even seem appealing when you read. This power of words on a page is remarkable and it reminded me that there is healing power in books as well. With the influence of words on my mind I thought I would share some thyroid resources with my readers.

Isabella Wenz

I actually have not read Isabella Wenz’ book but from reading the reviews I can tell that she has helped people immeasurably with her self-published book, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause.

She is a pharmacist with Hashimoto’s Disease. When she was diagnosed she made it her mission to find all the root causes of the disease and her research is invaluable to those of us with thyroid dis-ease.

I signed up for her newsletter and received her free first chapter and nutrient dense gluten-free recipes. In reading for exactly 5 minutes I have already learned something that is worthwhile. I eat out very seldom but when I do there is a good chance of cross contamination because I know very few restaurant kitchens have dedicated areas for preparing gluten-free foods.

There is a supplement that I am going to order that can help if I am exposed to gluten. Pure Encapsulations has a product called Gluten/Dairy Digest. As she says it doesn’t mean you can eat gluten again; it simply helps with cross contamination issues and I need that help if I want to enjoy an occasional meal out with friends.

Janie Bowthorpe

My favorite thyroid book and one I always recommend is Stop the Thyroid Madness. If you suspect you have thyroid issues or have been recently diagnosed with thyroid issues buy this book. It is also the best book to purchase if you have been on T4-only drugs (Synthroid, Levothyroxine) for years and really haven’t improved. This book has now been revised and in the second edition she has added information from patient experience and all the latest research.

In her book, Janie has compiled a list of “good docs” because honestly there are so many ill-informed doctors that one needs to know where to start. Every state should have at least one good doctor to help you finally get better. Unfortunately, Minnesota is rather lacking and I do not understand why.

Another issue that Janie’s book helps with are the questions that you as a patient need to ask your doctor. If you take your questions to your doctor and they laugh or are rude about their superior position and these silly questions, as she says, “fire” your doctor and find someone who doesn’t laugh at you or find your questions objectionable.

Thanks to books like STTM, doctors are no longer considered gods, they have been exposed for what they are. They are humans, just like you and me, with a certain set of skills (some with very little skill when it comes to healing a thyroid issue).

Finding a good doctor could be likened to finding good friends, some are more compatible than others and if you have thyroid problems you need a “good doc” to assist you on your path to wellness.

Paul Robinson

Paul’s book Recovering With T3 is the book to turn to if your adrenals become a hindrance to your healing journey. He also has a new book published The CT3M Handbook that goes into more detail on how to treat fatigued and worn out adrenals by dosing your T3 in a circadian rhythm.

His method has helped me a great deal. After being on T3 for two years I was still having issues taking enough T3 to eliminate symptoms. After I read Paul’s first book I started taking a dose of T3 at a time between 1-3 in the morning. After doing this for a while I was able to increase my dose to 50 mcg and with slight seasonal adjustments that dose has kept me pretty healthy for two years now.

I have never followed his method to the letter but my altered method has worked for me. For one, I couldn’t set an alarm clock to wake me up at an exact time every morning. If I did that I would just be up for the rest of the night. I am a restless sleeper at the best of times, so I awake many times to turn over or adjust my covers.

Since I am awake to turn over or adjust my body on the bed at 1, or 2, or 3 (not necessarily at all three times but at least at one time or the other) I just take my 25 mcg of T3 whenever I wake up to turn. That does mean that some days there are barely 4 hours between taking my dose and being up for the day but it hasn’t affected me negatively and I have only seen improvements. I advise anyone who asks what they should do about their adrenals to try Paul Robinson’s method as it is so much better than taking yet another drug.

Krisinsight

Those are only three books on the subject of treating thyroid disease but they are three of the most useful in my opinion. If you seek other voices on the subject there are many and they are all qualified in their own way. Researchers, doctors, and other people with thyroid issues like Mary Shomon, Broda Barnes, Mark Starr and  Datis Kharrazian. Any of their books will enrich your life and improve your health.

I love to read and I read daily, several different times of day no matter the season. Often books on health be it thyroid, diet, exercise, Reiki, chakras, and even meditation are my books to read when I want a break from housework. My Kindle is loaded with all of them. I get a task done and turn on my Kindle or my Kindle app on my iPad. I am presented with a plethora of books from which to learn something, anything.

That getting a task done to be able to read was a great idea I got from my sister-in-law, Jody. She gave me that very sage advice and I follow it to this day. She is an avid reader and in order to read as much as she wants she makes sure she accomplishes a work task like cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming the house, completing loads of laundry. When the task has been accomplished she makes a cup of tea and sits down to read.

Another bit of reader’s advice from a person who doesn’t sleep terribly well (me). I think t is important to read appropriately. I find feel good books (like Winter Solstice) are my bedtime books and mysteries (any book by Deborah Crombie for instance) are my get-me-out-of-bed books in the morning.

If you aren’t sleeping well and you love tension filled television shows before you go to bed or you must watch the horrible television news before you nod off, take a break, read one of the three books on healing your thyroid. You may just sleep a little bit better and, at the very least, if you don’t sleep well you can spend the night ruminating over the facts you have just discovered and put them to work for you the next day.

Santé,

Kris

Back On The Tundra

IMG_1663Phew! At last I am back on target for my June post. I am overjoyed that June has arrived and with it warmer weather and the ability to be outside.

I am sorry for the delay in posting (you may or may not have noticed I didn’t post anything last month). Sometimes life just gets in the way but let’s get right to what’s been happening to fill my days.

Winter Blues take their toll

Life getting in the way, started as I shared with you last time, sometime late winter when we decided we were tired of Minnesota. Tired of Minnesota winter. Tired of the traffic in the Twin Cities. Tired of the big city, period.

When we left Idaho 8 and a half years ago we left more than a little bit of our hearts there, so we decided to check out Boise, Idaho as a possible place to live. Our hope was that Boise, being smaller might provide us with the big city advantages without the BIG city challenges.

Here are a few reasons for considering Boise, Idaho:

  • The climate. I actually like winter but not for 6 months. Winters exist in Boise but they are much shorter. Winters are cold but not as cold as Minnesota. Summers are hotter in Boise but it is a dry arid heat and is fairly short-lived. Spring, ah blessed spring, it is much longer in Boise as winter is mostly over by the end of February.
  • Proximity to our land and cabin. Boise is an easy two-hour drive from Fairfield, Idaho. Our isolated cabin is approximately 10 miles out of Fairfield, so we would have better access to our cabin without living in the mountains.
  • The people. The people in Boise seem really happy to be there. They are friendly and welcoming with the laid back attitude that is much more prevalent in the western United States.
  • Access to easy air travel. Boise airport is small and easy to use. There is a direct flight to Minneapolis at least twice a day.
  • Access to all of the western United States. There are a multitude of National parks within hours of Boise. The ocean is only 8-9 hours away and the ability to stay active and fit is amazing.

To be honest, we loved Boise. We were shown the town by a really nice realtor, Eric DeBord. Between Eric and a friend and co-worker of my husband’s we were introduced to every corner of the area and we fell in love with it all. We came within seconds of making an offer on a really nice house near Boise in a town called Emmett and then…….

What is really important in your life?

Suddenly yours truly had to evaluate what she really valued in her life. I think the SU already knew that winter was not the evil thing I had conjured up during one of the worst winters I have encountered in my 60 years. Family, friends and even where we live near Stillwater, Minnesota were all things we love. They were all things we valued, so at the last-minute, (and thanks to Eric being rather busy and not getting right on it) we did not make an offer on the house we liked.

I have to admit that the biggest reason I could not leave Minnesota was my bond with my grandsons. We had a two-week trip to Scotland in the midst of all this decision-making. Two weeks of thinking, considering and contemplating our lives.

When we got home, the first thing we did was see our boys and I have never, ever experienced the heart wrenching feeling of holding them in my arms after two weeks of thinking I was going to move away from them. My oldest grandson, who is now 3, had a meltdown when his mommy had to get home after being with us most of the day. That caused this Nonna to meltdown and in a flood of tears my decision was made.

So now what?

We could not tear up our roots in Minnesota and replant them in Boise no matter how much we loved the city and surrounds, not now anyway. I knew my friends would visit and I knew from asking them that we would stay in touch no matter where I lived. I knew leaving my house was not an issue. A house is just that, a box that houses a family.

The family is the soul that gives a house life and as long as I had my family with me I could live anywhere. My daughter and her family have no interest in leaving Minnesota, so I knew I needed my soul much more than a box.

It wasn’t as easy as it sounds but for the sake of keeping this post somewhat succinct let’s just say that over the course of two months other decisions were made that have now been undone. We are busily making our house more comfortable for us. I am getting my long-awaited spa (I will report on this later) which I am hopeful will allow more outdoor time during the long, cold winter months. We are going to make life here in Minnesota comfortable but whilst we are doing that we will enjoy the closeness of our family and friends.

Other news

As I also mentioned in my last post, in the midst of all this palaver of moving away I took my first level of Reiki healing. Now that I understand Reiki and its healing abilities it has changed things for me. My Reiki training was the best thing I could have done during this time of upheaval.

I find Reiki has helped me deal with life and its ups and downs. My sleep has improved more than I can tell you and one reason is if I wake early in the morning I say my Reiki mantra and perform Reiki on all my chakras. Before I know it I am back to sleep, and it is a deep restorative sleep.

I am also more meditative either through meditation or just Reiki self-treatment. I have found an inner calm that I have never possessed before. I am even doing yoga and signed up for Yoga classes at the nearby Pure Yoga studio.

I feel like a new person and I believe I owe much of this inner peace to the calm that Reiki instills. I look forward to my second level of Reiki training this summer. It seems that the more I know about Reiki, the more I want to know, so now I am even considering becoming a Reiki Master. Aside from an increased knowledge of Reiki, and its history, the master level would allow me to teach others this fabulous healing modality.

Krisinsight

I have already shared much of my insight with you in the words above. I mentioned last time that I am much healthier than I was which is still true. I think just as a reminder that I still have things to share there have been some ups and downs with my thyroid in the last month. I will be brief but hopefully enlighten those who share my dis-ease.

Since my last post I have increased my dose of T3 from 50 mcg. to 62.5 mcg. Now I cannot seem to stabilize my temperatures. One day they are close to 99, the  next day at the same time they are 97.8 (as they are right now at 2:30 in the afternoon and I just took a 12.5 dose of T3). I am concluding that it is possible that my dose of T3 is actually too high and my adrenals cannot support it but there are many things to be considered.

My reasons for increasing my T3 a few weeks ago were my basal temperatures were incredibly low (one morning my basal was 97.3). I increased by 6.25 mcg but my basals did not come up to a normal range of 97.8-98, so after a few weeks I increased my dose to 62.5 mcg. After about 10 days my basal temperatures are now closer to normal but my daytime temperatures are much too varied and, to me, that is indicative of too much stress on my adrenals.

For those of us who ride this roller coaster we know the ins and outs and ups and downs of thyroid dis-ease. There are many reasons that things can suddenly change, adrenal fatigue is only one possible cause, so I have to consider all things.

For instance, I know that it takes 6 weeks after making an overseas trip (one in which you cross several time zones) to get some semblance of normalcy. I have not been home from Scotland for 6 weeks yet, so perhaps that is causing some of my issues.

Another reason for possible variation is that the Cynomel could be from a bad batch or a new formulation. I did inquire about this possibility and was told the pharmacy was unaware that there were any other complaints and/or changes. By the way, for those on ERFA NDT, I did recently read that people are having hypo symptoms and the thought is the maker changed the formulation. Knowing that this happens all the time and no one is informed of the change, it is possible that something changed with Cynomel.

I also know that for me, and for many others, if we take too much T3 it can lower our temperatures, so the one way that most people can tell if they need more thyroid medication, our body temperature, becomes invalid. Paul Robinson’s book on Recovering With T3 deals with this subject very well and I know what I need to do is some testing and then consultation with Paul or the RT3 group to rule out any of those reasons.

First, with a blood test, I need to see where my FT3 is and if it is not in the upper range I know I actually do need more T3. If it is in the upper range and my temperatures continue to vacillate then I need to test my adrenal health with a diurnal cortisol test through Canary Club.

To this end, I recently took advantage of Life Extension’s blood panel sale getting a very complete blood panel including all my sex hormones, CMP, CBC, cortisol, insulin, A1C, FT3 and TSH for $97.50. Now I need to get to Labcorp in Edina, MN for my blood draw and I will have more information at my fingertips to help me and/or the group figure out what is happening on this exciting ride.

The good news, because there is always good news, is my energy is good. My sleep is great. My mood is happy and upbeat. Overall, most people with hypothyroidism would be happy to be where  I am at the moment but I know this body temperature issue is not right. I can tell when my temps are falling, as they are right now, because my toes and fingers start feeling very cold, so as always the quest continues. Where it takes me only next month will tell.

As for next month, I think I will stay on track for what Krisinsight currently entails, a pursuit of optimum health. I feel I have survived a crisis of small proportion. Perhaps turning 60 was more upsetting than I understood and having dealt with all the possibilities for change I learned that life as it is, is really quite good. So thank-you for bearing with me and I look forward to sharing more insight in the coming months.

SANTÉ,

Kris

 

Wind in My Sails

IMG_1917 (2)I have just arrived home after a whirlwind trip to northern Minnesota. It was one of those last-minute decisions that worked out perfectly, something that often doesn’t happen with those bees up-the-rear-end- type of events.

It was not a happy occasion but a necessary one. Our aunt died in October and left no children just nephews and nieces (by marriage) who loved her and cared what happened to her. My SU was ultimately responsible for her estate, so he and I spent all day Saturday emptying a house of Janet. We had moments when we laughed and moments when we cried. We had some difficult moments when something precious just had to go in the dumpster but others when we could think of a place for something else that will always remind us of her life.

In the end, I have to question the acquisition of things.  I keep thinking if someone came to my house today to empty it of “me” where would all of “me” go? Unfortunately, I know all too well after this weekend. I am trying to find solace in knowing that our life’s accumulation might help someone, somewhere, furnish a home. I know Janet would, but still, I think I will be more careful about adding things to my life in the future.

Updates galore

Or perhaps just, updates, would be more accurate. I have had a rough month now. It started as a rough week when Janet died, and then other things fell apart but it just keeps coming at me, so now I will call it a rough month. This on top of a trip abroad in September, which I love, but it always takes its toll. Have you noticed that you don’t recover as well from time change holidays? I sure do. First it takes me a week to get back on my time. Secondly, my adrenals get shaky and that’s not a good thing for someone whose endocrine system is already challenged.

By the end of October, I was feeling pretty good but there were blips. One blip was my irregular heartbeat. Everything was pretty stable in the morning but by afternoon and my second dose of T3 at noon my heart races at the slightest provocation and then it blips every so often. I hate that, I really do and it was happening frequently by the third week of October. My sleep was pretty good but the daylight hours from 1-3 p.m. were often marred by an occasional bur-blip, bur-blip and a cough. It varies by the day and by the stress in my day.

Here is what I noticed, warm hands and feet, something that is abnormal for me, so I randomly checked my temperatures. They were running really normal and slightly above. Hurrah! Perhaps I was slightly hyper but in any case things were better than average. My sleep was fair to good, also a good measure of thyroid output. My aches and pains were lessening.

What to do when it seems your world is falling apart

In general, I think things were/are pretty good despite the heart blips (sometimes called arrhythmia). Then just when you think things are going right with your world again something comes along to shake your foundation. Within the last week a family member informed me that I was difficult to be around and we needed a “break”. This is beyond upsetting to me and I wouldn’t normally share such goings on with the world but I think it is important for thyroid folks to know that family arguments, like deaths of loved ones, are very destructive and you need time to recover. The recovery will not happen overnight.

For two days my limbs visibly shook if I faced any tense moments (getting behind schedule at work for instance). I heard from this person via email and just reading the email caused me to shake and feel weak all over. As I read through the email I found that some of what was said was very true (I do comment on thyroid health a lot. I do try to be sympathetic to this person’s family situation.) Some statements were patently untrue and the untruths undid me even more. By the time the day ended I had that “wired but tired” feeling that I had when I had taken myself off all my thyroid medication (By the way, not something I ever recommend. I have been recovering for about 8 years now).

My nights were and are restless. I am waking early in the morning (around 3:30). As soon as my brain is awake it is recalling all the things I might have said and/or done and I get up and start my day. There is always a positive side to our ups and downs and my early morning schedule worked really well this weekend as we started both Saturday and Sunday around 4 a.m. We accomplished in one and a half days what would have taken much longer had things been normal.

What the……..?

So I would say my world kind of went topsy-turvy, wouldn’t you? You want to know something interesting? My heart has quit acting up, The breathless feeling I was getting walking upstairs or chasing dogs has gone. The heartbeat that wanted to race at the least amount of exertion has all but gone.

Krisinsight

In summary, it is obvious my adrenal health is not perfect. I think my adrenals are still a problem and that causes this roller coaster when presented with day-to-day stresses or worse, family issues. I know I need a cortisol test so that I can adjust my CT3M dose of T3 and heal them completely but I am still trying to catch up from my September holiday and subsequent unexpected days off due to the death in our family. In other words, it will be awhile.

I have not scheduled any other blood tests but I did schedule an appointment with my Homeopath/MD. My energy feels more positive after a few days of mulling over my course of action and getting back in charge of my emotions but I feel Dr. Lane will help me right now more than a blood test. She can help me work through my emotions and connect with the deeply buried hurt that now exists and is draining my endocrine system.

I also have not been taking my slow release potassium regularly. I forgot to take it at all last week. I was feeling an acute need this weekend, so I did eat bananas (something I normally don’t do) because I had forgotten to bring my potassium tabs along for the trip. In addition to my adrenal short comings I am sure my electrolytes are off and that always affects my heartbeat

Over the course of the past month my aches and pains have decreased.  I rode all morning today in a Ford F-250 and when I got out of the vehicle for a rest stop I could walk without stalling while my joints got in gear. Up until now I have had to stand for a few minutes to get my body to work properly and propel myself forward. This would also point to a more optimally treated thyroid. If you are hypothyroid everything gets stiff with inflammation and aches. That is one reason there is a general feeling that many fibromyalgia cases have their roots in under-treated thyroid disease.

The facts stated, now comes my latest experiment and my insight. The decrease in pain and the feeling of being optimal started when I started taking two capsules of Vital Choice Curcumin every day approximately two weeks ago. It is known that curcumin reduces inflammation but finding the right formula to optimize the effects of the turmeric is difficult. I looked at various formulas and decided this one was right for me as it’s base is Alaskan salmon oil. In subsequent blog entries I will try to update you on how the old aches and pains are doing.

The current turbulence in my life continues.  Just when I think I am in calm winds a gust of wind speeds me along my way and then the wind changes  and knocks the wind out of my sails. Believe me the wind will fill my sails again and things will be on an even keel again very soon but this only happens when you take charge of your life.  One thing this disease has proven to me is I am the captain of my ship and what happens is ultimately up to me.

See you the first Monday of December.

Santé,

Kris

P.S. I have edited this because I felt it was necessary. This gives me the opportunity to tell my readers that I had a really good night’s sleep last night. I went to bed at 8:30 and basically slept until 5:30, my normal time to get up. My mind did not race nor did it seem troubled BUT I did have an Epsom salts (3 pounds because we have a big Jacuzzi style tub) soak last night with 2 cups of baking soda and I wore some detox foot pads to bed. Did that make the difference? I don’t know but it sure felt great.

Glucometers and Other Fun Gadgets

It is hard to believe I am in the same state this afternoon as I was yesterday afternoon. Just last night it was hot and sticky with the usual summer bugs lighting on you and interrupting our outdoor meal with our grandson. Today, the only thing that is outside is my spousal unit and that is only because he is willing to face the wind and rain that is making it suddenly feel like March again. I guarantee there will be no dining al fresco unless we pack up the poodles and make our way to another state. My guess is we shall stay put as the weather would just follow us anyway.

I have hemmed and hawed over this week’s blog and finally after reading a post by the Weston Price Foundation on glucometers and checking insulin levels I hit upon this week’s subject, the letting of blood. I am not fond of pricking my finger for any reason but this subject has been on my mind for sometime. I would really like to know which foods keep my blood sugar within an acceptable range and which foods don’t achieve that particularly desirable effect.

What type of glucometer should I buy?

If you are on Facebook you know that there are a number of health related pages you can “like” or “follow”. Most of my health “gurus” are on Facebook, so I read their latest news and glean what I can. One such health page is authored by Taylor Clouse. His company, Isagenix, makes products that support health aging and telomere support system. Honestly, I know little of his company and have never tried their products but he often has some good health advice and tips, so I read what he has to say and use whatever might apply to my situation.

One day he was talking about fasting glucose levels and that they should be around 80. The last time I had mine checked they were around 90 and I know it has been creeping up and I don’t want that to happen. So I posed the question, which glucometer do you think is best to use?

He quite happily told me the glucometer he likes and feels is the cheapest to buy and to maintain is the Bayer Contour Blood Glucose Monitoring System by Ascencia. He said it was quite reliable and the strips were not too expensive to buy (which is how they usually make their money). As it happened I had some points to use at Amazon.com, so I ordered the unit and the strips.

Why do I care what my my glucose levels are?

Diabetes is a huge issue in the USA and my father developed Type 2 Diabetes in his elder years. I have one brother on insulin and another brother who controls his Type 2 Diabetes with his diet and exercise. My mother never had a problem and one brother seems to stave it off with a manic obsession with his weight and a bit of hyperactivity. These are not good odds and coupled with the fact that I have an autoimmune disease being prudent seems warranted.

After all Type 2 Diabetes is harmful to your entire organism and is often brought on by the development of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is insidious, it happens without symptoms until it is too late. To put it in dental terms it is like an aching tooth. Teeth don’t hurt until the tooth is in real trouble and needs a root canal or to be extracted.

Type 2 Diabetes is the same. Usually you start with insulin resistance (typified by belly fat accumulation) and before you know it you have diabetes. Insulin resistance causes any number of maladies but the one that bothers me is that it can cause inflammation and we all know, or should know, that inflammation is deadly. Inflammation seems to be at the root of many cancers, heart attacks, stroke, and even pain and stiffness of joints.

A glucometer will help me and can help you determine if you have a problem with insulin resistance. Are you eating foods that cause a sharp rise in your insulin levels? Or an hour after you have eaten are your insulin levels close to 80 where they should be (they say between 80-100 but I think 100 is way too high).

Information and articles of the subject of Diabetes

I found a great foundational article at Life Extension Foundation’s site if you have little to no knowledge of Type 1 vs. Type 2 diabetes, so I will let you read that on your own. Suffice it to say, in my opinion Type 2 is preventable. Diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle will help you stave off the undesirable side effects of over stressing your pancreas with too many refined carbohydrates and sugars.

Chris Kresser had a great series of online articles titled “Diabesity” where he has about 14 articles dealing with the fact that Type 2 Diabetes is closely associated with so many unhealthy condition that are rife in our population today and how you can treat and/or prevent diabesity (a term he says was coined by Dr. Francine Kaufman). If that isn’t enough to convince you that knowing how your food intake is affecting your body is important to your longevity and health perhaps Joe Mercola’s take on the subject will.

Kris Insight

I have had my Bayer Glucometer for several weeks and I hadn’t really had the nerve to prick my finger yet, so in the name of research and being able to enlighten my readers I finally did it this afternoon. It was easier than I thought it would be, so easy, in fact, I did it wrong the first two times. The third try was the charm and only two lancets were wasted and two test strips (Argh! Those are the expensive items).

The instructions were clear and the preparation was easy. You do need to be sure to buy the test strips because the glucometer most likely doesn’t come with any. Mine did come with about 10 lancets which may be enough for me to figure out which foods might cause an issue for me. I set the enclosed lancet on the middle setting, for depth of puncture, and that worked perfectly. While I was braced for some big puncture wound the prick did not hurt at all yet was effective enough that my finger bled slightly for a few minutes which allowed me to finally do the test correctly.

The mistake I made was to try to drop the blood drop on the test strip. No, no, no, do not do as I did, do as I say. When you see the drop of blood on your fingertip just gently put the drop up to the end of the strip and it will soak it up, you can watch it happen. Perhaps first of all you should carefully read the directions because I confess I skimmed over it and probably did it before I had read everything carefully. Blood and the letting of blood is not a favorite of mine and just the prep was making me a bit light headed (never fear all is well now).

My test was about an hour post meal and the result was 75 which is a great result considering the meal was a slice of watermelon. A snack may not really constitute a meal and may not accurately reflect my true reaction to food, so there will now be future tests, one of which will be a fasting test to see how I am doing in the morning before I eat and then one hour later to see how my breakfast went down. I think another test will be a high carb meal and test an hour later to see my result and then a high protein meal and its effect.

Now that I have finally taken the step to start testing there will be no holding me back, so stay tuned for more escapades and Kris’ insight.

Santé,

Kris

December Thyroid News:The Hypothyroid Heartbeat

It is trite I know but I will say it anyway, I simply cannot believe how time passes us by. One day you are 10 without a care in the world and the next you are 57 with all the cares of the world on your shoulders. Being  a person with autoimmune dis-ease does not make it simpler but there are few if any dull moments and you constantly learn something new and unusual. With that in mind I thought an update on my thyroid health would be timely.

On Sleeping on Your Left Side

Many of my readers and fellow hypo’s will know that my hallmark of thyroid health is being able to lie on my left side and without further ado let me say, I am sleeping on my left side. Not all the time but when my right side is sore from use I can turn to my left side and even if I hear my heart beat it is not irregular and it is not pounding. Just for the sake of feeding my thyroid health superstitions I will add that it is not consistent, there are times when my heartbeat blips or pounds (read below for other reasons) but for the most part I can turn to my left side and fall back in to a relaxing, rejuvenating sleep without any particular upset.

A Brief on the Hypo’s Heartbeat

The above statement may be hard to comprehend if you have never experienced the hypothyroid heartbeat, so let me briefly tell you. When your thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone to adequately feed the needs of your body your body produces unnatural amounts of adrenaline to compensate. This over compensation by your adrenal glands, in my opinion, not only causes adrenal fatigue it affects your heartbeat causing palpitations. This often ends with  you sitting in a cardiologist’s office, then being put through a myriad of tests only to be prescribed this and that medication and still suffering the palpitations.

Bear in mind, we “hypos” aren’t used to a normal heartbeat because our hearts often beat too slowly and too softly to be heard, so as we start medicating our thyroids adequately, either with a doctor’s assistance or on our own,  we suddenly hear a pounding heartbeat if we lay on our left side in particular. Add to this “pounding” (but probably normal) heartbeat any kind of irregularity and you have a person who never sleeps on their left side. Never, that is, when they are under-treated or incorrectly treated for thyroid resistance.

Life Changes

I hate to go so far as to say I live in fear of the irregular heartbeat but I have blogged on this subject ad nauseum, so I must dread it. A few weeks ago I found myself at my computer at midnight with a heartbeat in excess of 100 bpm. This always leads to researching online, first to my groups and then to other online comments or studies. This particular knowledge gleaning moment led me to a conclusion that was the end of my world as I knew it, after reading  a hundred entries or so on many different forums I realized what the problem was. I needed to cease my evening tipple.

Yes, you read that right and it pains me to say because I love my traditions (not addictions because I can give them up without bad side effects) many of which I learned while living in Europe, a time that is full of pleasant memories and custom. I love my English “tea ceremony” every morning and I thoroughly enjoyed two glasses of wine in the evening. What I didn’t realize is that my adrenal fatigue had reared its ugly head and adrenal fatigue and alcohol do not mix.

If you have adrenal fatigue alcohol acts as a stimulant akin to having caffeinated coffee or perhaps even Ephedra or other like stimulants (I have never taken Ephedra but I have read about its effects). I knew those were stimulants to avoid just like the nerve racking television which I avoid after 8 p.m. because the lights and noise stimulate me like a cup of coffee or worse.

What I didn’t seem to associate with my sleeplessness and racing heartbeat was the wine before supper that “relaxed” me. Seriously, how could it be a stimulant? It is specifically supposed to help me relax. I felt betrayed (not really) but clearly I needed to stop that long standing custom, so I did. If someone would have told me that putting that particularly bad nightmare scenario to bed was this simple I would have been all over it ages ago.

I know, I know, I can hear all the health conscious folks reading my soliloquy asking with wonder “Doesn’t she know alcohol is bad for her?” Mercola and many others preach and preach on the evils of alcohol but honestly I still don’t think a glass of wine is going to kill you but there is a time and place and I am not in either at the moment.

In Conclusion

With that admission behind me I feel like my shoulders are less rounded as if a weight has been lifted from them. I have to say that other than a few niggling issues I have been exceptionally well. I am still taking 50 mcg of T3 which results in normal energy and slightly below normal basal temperatures. I have recently started taking Ashwaghanda again and I added 5-HTP to my repertoire of supplements to elevate my moods slightly and help me sleep even better.

There are things that still need attention and the one that plagues me at the moment is my dry eyes and mouth. It could be Sjogren’s as that often accompanies Hashimoto’s Disease but I have never had that diagnosis, so my quest for an answer to that problem continues. If you have successfully treated this issue please share your experience by leaving a comment.

I conclude that with almost everything in my life I have come to expect the unexpected and I glean from all I experience what I can. I am fascinated by the stories of the world and the challenges we all face. If you come across this blog while on your own midnight quest for knowledge I hope you find it comforting that you are not alone. We are truly in this together and we share the weight of the world’s health issues on collective shoulders.

To your good health,

Kris

Paradoxical Progesterone

Human as defined in one paragraph by Dictionary.com is “of, pertaining to, or having the nature of people: human frailty”. I can relate to that definition especially “human frailty” more days than I care to even acknowledge but when you take on “Heal Thyself” as your badge of identity you face those days with a sense of purpose.

There have been many of those frail human moments in the past few years since I took on my foe, Hashimoto’s Dis-ease. Why? You ask. Because to “heal thyself” is often a daunting task and you need lots of support from the medical community, friends and even strangers who become friends through one commonality: human frailty. Mine just happens to be a thyroid that resists normal treatment and time and again I find myself faced with something new and unusual to find an answer to.

If your thyroid doesn’t run on all pistons at all times it seems like one hormone or another is always in need of tweaking. This past weekend it seemed to be my sex hormones that were slightly wacky but that was not clear from the onset. It was only after some introspective time that the light finally dawned that what I have and did experience might be what Uzzi Reiss describes as a “paradoxical” response to taking bio-identical Progesterone.

The paradox, you see, is that Progesterone is supposed to be a calming hormone, one I often rightly or wrongly liken to Melatonin, but in some human females it can react in quite the opposite way leaving you feeling quite stimulated. If Uzzi Reiss is correct, and I have no reason to doubt him, in some women who take Progesterone with bio-identical Estrogens the Progesterone actually affects the way your body absorbs and utilizes the Estrogen.

Youthful Aging Center has this to say about progesterone it “is the balancing act for all of the estrogens within the body. It is also very important for normal reproduction and for menstrual function. Bioequivalent progesterone influences the health of your bones, blood vessels, heart, brain, skin, and many other tissues and organs.

As a precursor, progesterone is used by the body to make all of the other steroid hormones, including DHEA, cortisol, estrogen, and testosterone. In addition, progesterone plays an important role in mood, blood sugar balance, libido and thyroid function, as well as in the health of your adrenal glands.”

Yes, progesterone is vital to the female body and our bodies need it to run efficiently and to avoid the pitfalls of the aging process BUT if you experience the paradoxically stimulating effects of progesterone it is most disturbing and perplexing. It is possible, no it is probable that balancing all your hormones may be necessary before you can successfully add progesterone, yet progesterone is often the first thing doctors prescribe even before testing your progesterone levels.

I think, based on personal experience and clinical studies, there truly are three paradoxical reactions to progesterone and three different reasons. Paradox #1 may be due to progesterone’s affect on your cortisol levels. Apparently the progesterone can convert to cortisol and if you already have high cortisol it is going to make things worse. Or you might  experience hot flashes and some depression, we will call this Paradox #2. It is due to the down regulation or overloading of estrogen receptor sites. Another negative reaction to progesterone when you aren’t used to it might be an increase in your appetite and subsequent weight gain, there you have it, Paradox #3.

If you suffer from the second paradoxical response this could be due to low estrogen levels. If you are menopausal and your doctor has foolishly put you on a low dose of  BHRT (aka E1 and E2) taking progesterone will clog the estrogen receptor sites and now with your low dose of estrogen you will have hot flashes like you haven’t had in years.

Take it from me it has happened. If your levels of E1(Estrone), E2 (Estradiol), and E3 (Estrone) are not correct optimizing your estrogen levels especially E1 and E2  may take care of the paradox and allow your body to react correctly to Progesterone.

I also believe I have experienced Paradox #1. I have challenged adrenals according to my ZRT saliva cortisol tests I have taken twice in the past year. I am not in full blown adrenal fatigue (not yet anyway) but I can see that my cortisol levels are affected negatively by any progesterone intake. So dramatic is this effect that I see a rise in my temperatures, both basal and daytime, within a day of progesterone intake or using it on my skin.

The temperatures are a remarkable indication of its power but the paradoxical effect is worse. I will awaken around midnight (but sometimes 3 or 4) with a racing heart. This is usually precipitated by a vivid and disturbing dream and when I awaken I am hot and sweaty and have a distinct need to get up.

At that point I have no choice but to lumber out to my cold (we turn the heat down to 55 at night) and dark kitchen and prepare my special elixir, filtered water and a full teaspoon of sea salt. It is the only thing that will calm my racing heart and thankfully it works every time. (I have this love/hate relationship with salted water. I need it but I hate it and I am tired of my unquenchable need for it but  that is off the topic.) The elixir cures what ails me but, more to the point, the entire episode is likely caused by an adrenaline surge because the progesterone is converting to cortisol and my nighttime cortisol is already high.

Dr. Reiss suggests a way to possibly cope with the paradox until you get everything in equilibrium. Apparently we absorb far less progesterone through the skin, so he suggests applying progesterone to the breasts, so that they get the benefit of progesterone. His dosing schedule is a bit difficult to decipher, so it might be better if you either worked with a knowledgeable physician (good luck with that one) or experimented on your own.

The answer to all three reactions is to either reduce or discontinue your intake of progesterone until things are in balance. If you need to lower your progesterone dosage trying an over the counter (OTC) cream might be just the trick.I have tried the Emerita brand because it has no parabens and other ingredients that I abhor. Also NOW brand has a fairly natural list of ingredients and they are both USP progesterone creams which are the only effective progesterone creams sold over the counter.

There are interesting discussions about the paradoxical effects of progesterone on several websites and I find the sharing of knowledge encouraging. You see it is only with the discussion that we learn, if we close ourselves off to the experiences of others we lose a very important resource. Some find the sharing of knowledge threatening, I find it invigorating and edifying.

I cannot tell you many times something has happened to me that seems totally out of the parameters of the “norm”. My reaction is to start researching and with that I find there are many souls like me out there. I hope if you glean nothing else from your time on KrisInsight you will find one morsel of tantalizing information that you never considered before. You don’t have to agree but if it sparks a thought that will make my day.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and see you next Monday,

Kris