Posts Tagged ‘Hypothyroidism’

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

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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.

Magnesium Stearate, Maltodextrin and More

IMG_1917 (2)What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday, my writing day, was as beautiful a day as one could special order if that were possible. Today it is pouring rain and if you look closely, distressing as that is to do, you can see some white crystalline objects mixed in. Urgh! Oh well, I shall not complain. I have a new kitchen faucet being installed and the workman (aka Spousal Unit) does not need to be tempted out-of-doors by an Indian Summer day.

I can report that THE project has only just begun and already he feels like he is in the midst of a “reality show where you are working against a time clock” because some thingamajig is leaking constantly and he needs to be done asap. The sighs are audible and frequent and I predict a slight meltdown at some point.

Yup, I think this weather is just the ticket and by the end of the day I will have a new faucet installed that hopefully will work.

This week on Facebook

As you undoubtedly know by now I have a Facebook page called, what else, Krisinsight. This week a friend of mine asked me about supplements I take and had I ever thought about the supplements working against each other? Another member of Krisinsight had the correct answer “Yes, of course.” I have tried many supplements over the years and I worry or wonder about each and every one. I was comforted long ago by my then functional medicine doctor, Robert Bruley. I told him I had a pantry full of supplements and he confided that he and his wife did too.

While that seems like a lot what also made me feel better was he and his wife had their blood tested all the time to check the effects of these supplements and they basically saw good results or they quit taking them. Some lowered homocysteine levels or CRP levels and others showed positive results in lowering liver enzymes. All in all, the supplements they took showed positive results and, to me, that was comforting and reassuring.

Spectracell results

Dr. Bruley was a big proponent of Life Extension formulas and I started taking several of their supplements at that time (2007 or thereabouts). I also took some others like Dibencozide and methylcobalamin all of which had fillers and additives but were recommended by my thyroid group.

Around this same time I heard a discussion between Dr. Mercola and a Dr. Klinghardt regarding a micro-film that might form from using supplements with stearates. Also Russell Blaylock wrote a book called “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills” and I read it around the same time. One common filler is maltodextrin, an excitotoxin due to the way it is manufactured. Then going gluten-free  added new challenges to anything with additives and fillers. Even additives listed as “natural flavors” could contain gluten. Crikey! It was all becoming too, too difficult.

Then the coup d’grâce for the use of additives and fillers was my Spectracell test I had done in late 2011. Until this time I had taken the above listed supplements and one called “Anti-Alcohol Antioxidants” in addition to others that contained a full spectrum of antioxidants, CoQ10, selenium and zinc, not to mention up to 10,000 mcg of B12 sublingually every day.

In my blog from that time I wrote the following:

Vitamin B12, Selenium, Inositol, Zinc,  CoQ10 and my Spectrox (comprehensive antioxidants) were all listed as deficient. Why is this troublesome? B12 is often noted to be low in people who have dementia and a B12 deficiency actually mimics Alzheimer’s Disease.Selenium deficiencies are rare (the SU says he already knew I was weird) but can contribute to hypothyroidism. Inositol levels must be optimum to assure healthy brain function and even healthy hair growth. Zinc is a common deficiency and most often noted by white spots appearing in the nail bed but it also can lead to excess hair loss. CoQ10 is essential for healthy breasts and heart. As for antioxidants they are our life blood as necessary as the air we breathe.

What would you conclude?

Knowing you were taking all the nutrients that you have just tested low in what would you do? Also knowing that you, or, in this case, I, have a history of dementia in the family as well as heart disease, what would you surmise from these results? The facts were I was already taking more antioxidants and vitamins than the lab recommended in their prescription to improve my levels that were below acceptable levels. My overall low antioxidant level was really distressing to me given the supplements I was taking. Even though Dr. Bruley told me he was quite impressed with how many nutrients (like Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, etc.)  were at or above average levels the things that were below average bothered me considerably.

With some enlightenment thanks to my Spectracell test,  I started looking very carefully at supplements that have fillers and additives as the words of Dr. Mercola and Dr. Klinghardt (Klinghardt as been somewhat discredited at the time this is posted in his Lyme Disease work and Chris Kresser just posted this article) rang in my head.

That doesn’t mean I never take a supplement that has stearates or rice powder but it does mean I don’t like them and would prefer no additives or fillers. I don’t see the reason for them and I have contacted a number of companies about adding them unnecessarily only to be rebuffed.

Ignore me and thousands of others if you want but the fact remains additives  and fillers are really not necessary they aid in the manufacturing process and they make supplements unnecessarily large (only a problem if you have a dry mouth as so many thyroid patients do).

Krisinsight

In answer to my friend’s question, I think about the supplements I take and when they don’t work I quit taking them. I have been particularly fond of the formulas that Life Extension puts together but I don’t like their use of rice powder, maltodextrin and stearates. Also if you take a formula of assorted nutrients how do you know what is working and what isn’t? What if one thing actually would make you feel better but mixing it with other things is making you sick? Thus, I try to take single ingredient supplements until I know the effect each ingredient will have but again don’t hold me to these words as I can think of several formulations I take right now.

I, as you know, use very few scientific studies to prove my unique observations. My personal experience is what Krisinsight is all about. You can take it for what it is, one person’s experience with her health and use it accordingly. My experience has taught me that taking supplements with additives and fillers apparently did disrupt the absorption of these nutrients.

This poor absorption issue may have something to do with my hypothyroidism as a person afflicted with hypothyroidism may tend to have absorption issues, aka leaky gut. Especially for others, like me, who might have absorption issues avoiding fillers and additives may be something to consider. For instance, if you are low in B12, it might be a good idea to talk to your physician about methylcobalamin injections as even sublingual B12 may not be helping you increase your levels.

As for the aforementioned faucet project. I can happily report that my faucet has been installed and long before I have finished writing. Yea! I guess the profane words stayed firmly stuck inside the installer’s brain because I heard nothing other than the original “reality show” comment and several sighs. I asked him about this and he told me sometimes thinking them makes you feel just as good as voicing them. I am married to a truly gentle man and I am grateful. The new faucet is lovely and nary a drip falls after two years of a faucet that was “fixed” but dripped profusely. Now if the weather would quit dripping all would be well.

Santé,

Kris

Awesome Autumn

IMG_1917 (2)Happy first full day of autumn. It is feeling very fall-like in Minnesota and thanks to a second half of summer drought our leaves are already turning. They change color not because of autumn but because they are struggling to survive. We started out the summer wet and cool but the second half left our landscape parched and thirsty. It is so sad to see about 20 trees dead or dying around our rural acreage but Mother Nature can be a bitch sometimes.

Vacations and your health

I have just returned from two weeks abroad and while I am feeling good and not too tired, I have some acrimonious aches and pains that are immobilizing me at the moment. While hiking in the Borders of Scotland I tripped on a gnarly tree root that was slippery from morning rain and went right down on my chest as my hands were elsewhere, I guess. That fall knocked the wind right out of me and jarred an old injury to my ribs (caused by two poodles who whisked me off a porch in pursuit of a squirrel).

My right side is so sore sleep is, at best, restless and broken. Once home I spent as much time as possible with my fabulous grandsons and having picked up and cuddled two boys for two days I know that is “verboten” as well. I am unbelievably sad about not being able to pick up those boys and cuddle them but I can’t aggravate this injury anymore.

Barefoot running and Morton’s neuroma

Before my holiday, I was running barefoot on my paved driveway and had gotten up to a mile of barefoot running. Around the time we left my right foot was hurting and now I know I have a Morton’s neuroma that is alive and well. I have had a neuroma in my left foot for ages that came on after walking barefoot  or with my Vibram- 5- Fingers on the beach in Florida for a few days. That neuroma seems to have faded away with time but now has been replaced by this one which is causing me considerable pain and discomfort. I guess barefoot running is also a forbidden sport, at least for now.

Aches and pains be damned

So, aches and pains aside my holiday was lovely. The weather was very summer-like and the cottage we rented for the second year in a row was perfect for us again this year. This wee croft cottage is extremely private (if you don’t count the sheep, deer, otter, dolphins and passing boats as a crowd) and we can walk unimpeded by other humans for hours.

One day we lunched on the shoreline of a nearby private cove looking out to sea. As we watched shipping traffic in the faraway sea channel we saw a few black “things” jump from the water. Then we saw a few more and in the end probably 2 dozen dolphins in a pod. They were obviously following a school of fish but they entertained us for nearly an hour eventually coming up our inlet (Loch Feochan) and frolicking right in front of us.

I love our weeks in Great Britain. After living there in the 80’s we fully intended to live there again one day but Osama’s grand plan (otherwise known as 9/11) got in the way, so instead we rent a cottage here and there and live the good life for a week on our own. Our second week is very dear to both of us as we spend it visiting our long time friends (former neighbors and lifetime friends) who just plain make my heart happy.

On being gluten-free and on holiday

This year staying with friends was more difficult since I have gone gluten-free. I knew the one friend would be fine with it as she has a sister who is gluten-free. She kindly dedicated a corner counter to me in the kitchen. She scrubbed her toaster and made some gluten-free treats basically having us all eat gluten-free as much as possible. I didn’t ask her to do that but she did and I enjoyed and appreciated her efforts. Probably more than anything she didn’t make me feel bad about it; she just accepted it and made me feel okay about my change of diet.

My other friend really didn’t understand being gluten-free, so she struggled a bit.  At one point she even said to me, in a very gentle voice, “A little gluten won’t hurt you!”. The odd thing is this friend is a pescatarian (they say vegetarian but they do eat fish) and if meat even touches their food they won’t eat it, so I thought she might be more understanding but alas I don’t blame her for being irritated. Being gluten-free is not an easy thing for me either.

Some helpful gluten-free travel tips

Before we left I carefully updated my profile on Delta to say I needed gluten-free food. This, it turns out, was a useless endeavor. It simply was never recorded I guess, so I had to pick food that seemed the least touched by flours and grains. Meanwhile, because there was someone on both flights that had nut allergies the entire plane was warned and nuts were not available (but pretzels were). I don’t blame the people with nut allergies but I wish Delta Airlines would take gluten intolerance as seriously.

On the way home, by now somewhat chagrined by my experience with Delta, I asked the flight attendant why they didn’t know I needed gluten-free food and drink.  To her credit she relayed my question to someone who could answer it. What I was told was I needed to request gluten-free food for every flight I take. Apparently updating my profile did absolutely no good which is, needless to say, disappointing. My advice: Make sure to inform the airline on every flight you take where food is served, that you need gluten-free food.

Delta Airlines aside, I was amazed at all the gluten-free items available in England and Scotland, especially Tesco, Booth’s and Sainsbury’s. Restaurants are very careful to keep you safe if you tell them you are gluten-free. Also, if you are travelling in Britain, if it doesn’t say “Gluten Free” it probably isn’t. Sometimes even if it does say “Gluten Free” you might check the ingredients carefully. One bottle of Worcester Sauce (a gluten-free Worcestershire sauce) said it was gluten-free but in looking at the ingredients (I started having some heart irregularity) it contained malt vinegar which is not technically gluten-free. I know, picky, picky but this trip was so much better than any I have had in years I am convinced being gluten-free is right for me and sometimes you have to be “picky”.

One treat that perhaps I shouldn’t have indulged in, but did, is bread. If you like toast or sandwiches while on vacation in Britain most grocery stores sell the best gluten-free bread. It is the Genius brand. It is the same size as normal bread and has the same texture as other bagged breads. I came home thinking surely I could find a similar bread here, which I did. At least it was called Genius but it isn’t the same and I can tell you not to bother buying it. The Genius bread here isn’t even as good as Udi’s Gluten free bread and it is more expensive.

The proof is in the pudding, gluten free  pudding that is

In past years, I have “treated” myself to one or two weeks of gluten while on holiday. In fact, whenever I have gone on vacation I was eating gluten be it abroad or here in the States. At home I was gluten-free but I would throw caution to the wind when away from home thinking this was mentally good for me, basically a total break from the norm.

What was happening though was not good for me. Almost every night I was away from home I would wake up about an hour or two after going to bed with a pounding head and heart. My heart beat would be in excess of 100 bpm and the only thing that calmed it was “tincture of time” and a big glass of salt water. I would read for a couple of hours and then crawl back in bed and sleep until morning. Inevitably, I would lower my dose of T3 which did help but did not eliminate the problem. For some reason, it never occurred to me that gluten might be implicated until last winter.

Light bulb moments

It wasn’t a momentous occasion but I did have a regular wheat crust on a pizza right after Christmas 2012 and immediately had issues with the racing heart and a sleepless night. I hadn’t had any gluten at that time since September’s vacation, so the light suddenly and finally went on. I had a gluten problem. It wasn’t just that I shouldn’t eat gluten because Dr. Mercola condemns wheat and grains I actually have gluten intolerance and possibly Celiac’s Disease. Now even coffee seems to be off the “treat” list as my joints scream at me “No more coffee!” as soon as I indulge. Just so you know, if you have trouble with gluten you may have trouble with coffee.

Another light bulb moment for me was last autumn when I got shingles shortly after my autumn indulgence, aka vacation. What I finally remembered was that almost every autumn within weeks of returning from my gluten filled weeks I would get, not necessarily shingles, but a rash on my lower back that, according to my doctor, was most likely Dermatitis Herpetiformis. It was initially a burning pain on my back and within a day or two would break out in this ugly dark blistered rash. When I got shingles I assumed that rash had been shingles but in talking to Dr. Lane she said it was most likely Dermatitis Herpetiformis because of its location and the fact that it did cross a center-line of my body.

Krisinsight

I really didn’t intend this to be all about my gluten-free lifestyle but every thing seems important to mention just in case you have suffered similar effects after eating gluten or if you happen to have a holiday to Britain in the works and you are gluten-free. I hope you found the gluten-free information helpful but I really wanted to talk about my latest Vitamin D test.

This was my fourth year of testing because I started in August 2009 as part of a test group for the Vitamin D Council. At that time my D level was 64 ng/ml. That winter (March 2010) my D levels were 92 ng/ml. The next August they were 58 ng/ml. The following March they were 70 ng/ml. August 2011-56 ng/ml. February 2012-70 ng/ml. August 2012-91 ng/ml. March 2013-84 ng/ml.

This August my levels were 64 ng/ml. That is down from February’s 84 ng/ml but mostly typical of what my summertime results have been with the exception of August 2012. I really can’t say why my winter results are almost consistently higher than my summer results. I use my Sunsplash Renew more in the winter than the summer but I am outside in the summer and I do expose my body to sunlight at midday at least three times a week in the summer. I seldom take D supplementation relying solely on my Sunsplash Renew and the summer sun. I never wash after sunbathing (or using my D lights) always letting 24 hours pass before a shower and even then I only soap vitals areas (as per Dr. Mercola).

Suffice it to say, my levels are always within normal limits but I would prefer they stay closer to 90 ng/ml, so long as my sole source of Vitamin D is natural and not supplementation. I have one more year to be part of the study, so come February I will test my levels again. I am trying to spend 20 minutes three times a week in front of my Sunsplash Renew to see if that brings my levels up in February but now I wonder if what I need to do in the summer is take Vitamin D supplements to maintain a level that helps my compromised immune system since I do have Hashimoto’s.

Ah, in the end life it just one big experiment isn’t it?

Santé,

Kris

Summer and Other Things

IMG_1917 (2)Last week I was sitting on my canopied deck sipping my milky Keemun Congou tea when my ears were suddenly assailed with the chattering of birds. Not just any birds, no, not these birds, these are MY orioles, the Eastern and Orchard orioles. When they arrive in April and May they tell me their winter stories of joy and sorrow. Stories about their long flight north and who made it and who didn’t. They tell stories of their hunger and show their appreciation by gobbling bowl upon bowl of the purple goo that I lovingly put on my deck railing. After all they need the energy to start their nests and raise their broods and their time with me is brief. Within weeks of first hearing their songs they will nest and their visits will wane.

Then around this time of the summer (August) they return in profusion. Only this time they are accompanied by their young, their very demanding, very hungry offspring who have gone from infants to teenagers in a matter of weeks. They yell at their parents and flap their wings demanding more and more jelly be put in their mouths. At times I will look out at the crab tree they sit in and it will be aflutter with a dozen or more orioles and I just smile. These orange and black lovelies make my summer days complete (so I guess you could say they complete me).

Sometimes I am left heartbroken by their stories and it seems every year there is one heartbreaking tale to be told. One year it was a female oriole with a tumor on her beak. Every day she returned for more jelly and would often sit right by me and eat what she could get in her mouth and stare me in the eye. She struggled and I cried but every day she returned and every day we “talked”. One day she came and I could tell she was suffering; really just asking me for relief but coward that I am I knew Mother Nature would offer her solace soon enough and let her be but kept her fed as best I could. Then one day she didn’t come anymore and I knew her suffering was over. I still cry over her (I cry now telling her story).

My orioles will soon be migrating south to escape our brutal winter winds. They will bulk up for the next month on cheap, Target grape jelly because that is the jelly they have requested (believe me I have tried organic this and that and the bowls sit there and are emptied in to the trash) and as soon as Mother Nature alerts them they will leave for Florida and Mexico. I will miss their discussions and their bossy attitude about my deck but I know, as sure as I know winter will come in Minnesota, they will return and I will joyously welcome them home.

Little things can be important

For some my orioles are little unimportant things but to me they are a huge part of my summer joy, so it is with other things in life. Take a night of sleep for instance. For some people sleep is never a problem. For others, like my daughter, sleep is a precious commodity as her nights are still interrupted by the demands of a hungry, growing baby boy. For me, sleep continues to be one of those perplexing issues. I have nights when I sleep the sleep of kittens and then other nights I am fitful and restless all night long and morning simply cannot come soon enough.

This past week I finally took the bull by the horns because I had regularly been waking up all night long with horrible dreams and aches and pains. I decided I had to experiment a bit and suffer the consequences if need be. I have been doing the CT3M dosing for T3 for about two months I think (time does fly so it may be longer than that).

My normal dosing for some weeks has been to take 25 mcg of T3 sometime between 1 and 2 in the morning. My next dose of 12.5 mcg would be between 8-10 a.m. and my final dose around 5-6 in the evening. Almost every night I was waking at midnight in a real huff as the result of some horrible dreams (nightmares). I would settle back down but my sleep wouldn’t be good until I took that 1-2 a.m. dose of T3. After that dose I would sleep like a kitten again.

Think Kristin, think

This got me to thinking, if I am waking at midnight and only sleeping well after I take 25 mcg of T3 at 1 or 2 in the morning, I am not providing enough T3 at the midnight dump. When my demand for T3 is at its greatest (typically midnight) my T3 was mostly used up having not taken any since 5 p.m. Perhaps if I went back to taking T3 at bedtime, lights out, my sleep would improve and there wouldn’t be the shocking nightmares.

In the past week I started dosing my T3 more like this:

  • Bedtime (8:30-9:00 p.m.)- 12.5 mcg
  • 3 a.m. -25 mcg
  • 12 noon-12.5 mcg

Krisinsight

Here is what I think was happening. I am not saying I am right but it is what I think. At midnight I was running low on T3 after not taking any for 7 hours. If you don’t take enough T3 to feed your thyroid your adrenals will kick in some adrenaline to compensate. That mass-produced adrenaline startles you awake and even can produce nightmares. You heart will beat rapidly, your breathing will be elevated and you are  in a sweat, like a hot flash.

By taking a bedtime dose of T3 when my demands are their greatest I have T3 to offer my body and it uses every bit but I don’t wake up with a jolt, nor in a sweat. I have pleasant dreams as I did last night that I can’t quite remember. I was recalling with vividity my disturbing dreams during those weeks of taking my last dose at 5 p.m..

I knew my body was getting enough total T3 because of my recent blood test and that was really perplexing for me. I would go over and over all the possibilities and sometimes even feel somewhat hopeless. I mean, would I ever sleep normally again? Was it time to do a diurnal cortisol test (well, yes it is but money, money, money) and see how the old adrenals were faring?

I don’t know everything and every day I learn something new or I consider it a wasted day. That said, I know one thing for sure, there will be further tweaking. I know, as almost all thyroid resistance folks know, this thyroid stuff is a continual journey and I will not be put off by the need to make a change to improve my quality of life. That is my solemn promise to self.

Like my orioles come back every spring I will return next week. Until then have a great week and if you need help please feel free to ask. Ask me, ask your friends, ask your medical provider because by dealing with the crisis you will find an answer.

Santé,

Kris

How Time Flies

I don’t know about my readers but I can hardly believe an entire month has passed since I last shared some of my hard-earned insight. Summer has been hot and humid but fun and filled with laughter. My daughter, grandson and I just returned from what will be a much treasured weekend on Lake Superior and I am full up to my eyebrows with lovely memories of my time with both of them.

I have also found writing once a month to be just the ticket for me right now, so I will be posting a new blog article on the first Monday of every month (except this month when it is slightly early). In the meantime I am going to put my writing energy toward something I have wanted to do forever, write a book. I will self publish said book and I have no idea as of 30 July 2012 what it will be about but the time I have spent sharing health information on Facebook and KrisInsight will be used to create my “masterpiece”.

Now for my topic for August, blood tests, blood test results and what you can do with them.

On getting a blood test

When Life Extension Foundation offers their once a year blood test sale I cannot resist the urge to ante up the $224.25 and get a rather complete blood test called “Female Weight Loss Panel Blood Test”. I am always interested in losing weight but that is not my reason for this particular panel. I purchase this one because it offers a complete thyroid panel (minus the antibody test), female sex hormone panel plus important information like CRP, Uric Acid, etc.

I receive my requisition form online, print it off and take it to the nearest LabCorp office. Once there you sign in and sooner rather than later someone will call your name and back you go into a very clean professional room where a very talented and experienced phlebotomist takes your blood. I happen to think the techs at the Edina LabCorp are some of the best phlebotomists around and after several blood tests purchased online and trips to Edina, MN for my blood draw I ought to know. I have never been hurt, have not, for that matter, even come away with a bruise or sore spot.

If you can’t take the heat; don’t get the blood test

Yup, you read that right. If you like the ostrich approach to life. If you would rather not know what might be going wrong. If, in fact, you can’t afford or don’t want to afford the treatment, DO NOT GET A BLOOD TEST! I really can’t afford any extras on my one and a half day dental hygiene salary but I like to know what is happening in my body. I don’t always like the results (and I will tell you about that) but I feel better knowing how my body is doing that is more scientific than subjective.

Within a week after my blood draw my results popped up in my “inbox”. I think even that is rather spectacular after talking to folks who have their blood draws at their doctor’s office and wait weeks to hear about the results. I opened the attachment with alacrity and read down the results basically saying things like “good”, “better”, “Ooh, that’s great”.

My total cholesterol was the lowest it has been in decades at 190. My Triglycerides were great, uric acid was low, CRP was low and VLDL was low. I basically had no signs of inflammation or precursors for heart disease. My TSH was suppressed (it should be on T3 only). My FT3 and FT4 were out of range (again should be on T3-only). My sodium levels were good (although again I didn’t fast salt the day before).

My glucose was high (insulin was normal, so I am not insulin resistant) and that needs some investigation and, of course, stricter carb control. My potassium was a little low and may require some slow release potassium supplementation. My sex hormones were still low (except for Testosterone which was okay) and that despite taking 200 mg. of bio-identical progesterone every day for a month prior to the test and taking 4 mg of Estradiol 25 days a month. I take no testosterone and yet my levels are mid-range. So far, not perfect but I am okay.

Then I got a slap to the face, my iron was high, out of range high and my happy, effervescent inner voice suddenly changed to something more like a deep grumbling “WTF” (sorry but honesty prevails)! If I have no signs of inflammation how could I be rusting from the inside out? I quickly got on my discussion group, posted my blood test results for their perusal and asked for advice.

In the end, the best advice was a combination of answers and I had to deduce the best answer from accumulated knowledge. There were a few other things that bothered one of the experienced moderators that I am still mulling over.

What to do, when you did it wrong.

I was at once relieved and then embarrassed by the answers I got from the group. First of all I screwed up when I had the blood test primarily because I wasn’t concerned about my iron levels. This is important information for anyone considering getting a blood test, so listen up. If you are testing iron levels you need to fast iron and Vitamin C for 5 days. If you don’t your results will be skewed.

I would also recommend no B12 injections in that five day period even though no one seems to know how B12 injections will affect your iron results (I asked many people and no one seemed to know). It makes sense to me that B12 would alter your results because it is used to treat pernicious anemia. I foolishly had an injection the day before my blood draw. I also had Liposomal Vitamin C and I had red meat. In other words, my high iron result doesn’t mean a thing, my iron levels may be high but they may just be inaccurate. I couldn’t possibly have done anymore to negate the results than I did. My “WTF?” turned in to “What was I thinking?”

When one thing may mean something else

At that point in my search for what my blood test results meant I got involved in a discussion about high SHBG. I knew that T3-only could raise your SHBG, so last time when my result was out of range high I paid no heed and neither did my medical doctor. This time some new information came to light thanks to Valerie Taylor a researcher and very knowledgeable woman who moderates the Adrenal discussion group and the RT3 group not to mention several other sites. She was having a discussion with a male member of the group about T3 and SHBG.

She was saying that SHBG can be higher (in range) if a person is on T3 only. As your FT3 goes up so does your SHBG and she further added that T3 is bound by SHBG. As SHBG goes up FT3 goes down but Total T3 remains stable. Therefore she concluded that SHBG may actually bind T3. This discussion really caught my attention but by participating I found out something no one had suggested before.

Val suggested that I test my IGF-1. This is a test that would show a possible need for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) or a precursor that would raise my levels of IGF-1 and thus my HGH. Val suspects my levels of IGF-1 might be low due to the high SHBG. HGH affects how we age and if mine is low I want to get right on that and see if I can correct the trend.

Kris Insight

My insight this month is “do as I say not as I did” (only kidding). Before you do any blood testing make sure you know how to do it properly.  For accurate results you must fast red meat, iron supplements, B12 and Vitamin C for 5 days. The day prior to your blood draw fast sodium as well. The morning of your blood draw don’t take your thyroid meds (the only thing I did correctly) until after the blood draw and of course, 12 hour fasting  is necessary if the test calls for it.

As my iron is always and has always been in the upper range (this time it is out of a normal range) I am trying a supplement called IP-6 available at iHerb.com. I am only going to take it for one month as it can affect your liver enzymes. I am taking one capsule once a day even though the suggested amount is two capsules. IP-6 is said to bind the excess iron in the blood and many use it after a cancer diagnosis but also for high hemoglobin results. I hope to retest my iron in a month (following all the correct guidelines) and see how my levels look at that time.

There are several other ways to lower high iron levels, donate blood (they won’t take my blood because I lived in Great Britain in the 1980’s) or get your doctor to prescribe phlebotomy, 8 ounces at a time works better than a pint in one sitting according to Dr. Joe Mercola. Drinking something tannic like tea or wine with your meals will help bind any iron in your meal. Lactoferrin supplements bind to free circulating iron. Even calcium supplements can lower your iron levels if taken with your meal. I have never worried about my iron as the only time I have ever been anemic was when I was donating blood too often, so being concerned about fasting iron has never crossed my mind but it will next time believe me. One scare is enough for me.

As for my high SHBG I have the IGF-1 test in my shopping basket at LEF.org. In the next month or two I am going to test it and see what it has to say about my HGH levels. If my levels are low I am going to try a supplement called IGF Premium as it is sold by LEF.org and I don’t need a prescription. It is pricey at almost $60 but then aging properly really is priceless.

I hope I have helped anybody planning to have a blood test in the near future. I guess if someone learns from my mistakes it takes away the sting of being so wrong especially when I do know better (just put “blood testing” in my search box). I hope all my readers have a great month. Remember I do post my “tweets” on my blog, so check in now and then and see what’s new in health and choosing a healthy lifestyle. Otherwise see you on September 3rd!

Santé,

Kris