31 December 2012 ~ 2 Comments

10 Worthwhile Thyroid Resolutions

  1. Don’t be afraid to tactfully speak out if you feel that someone you know is exhibiting signs of thyroid disease and would benefit from testing and treatment. Sometimes this can be hard as your words may fall on deaf ears because for many people the unpleasant topic of illness is taboo and they certainly don’t want to consider that it might actually be something to befall them. However, think back to when you were first diagnosed and whether you might have preferred to know sooner rather than later to prevent a delay in treatment and potential improvement of symptoms. There are gentle ways to bring this up without shocking the person you’re addressing.
  2. I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: Don’t be afraid to ditch your doctor if they’re not doing it for you. If they’re disrespectful, unknowledgeable, rude or uncooperative and you can find a better option, go for it. Switching doctors can be a daunting prospect, but if you feel you’re not getting anywhere, you need to put your health first so that you can fast-forward your healing instead of feeling like you are barely progressing in slow mo.
  3. If you feel like you are not as knowledgeable as you would like about your condition, try to do more research. If reading and research seem overwhelming and exhausting (which can definitely be the case when you are dealing with fatigue and brain fog), try gradually consuming bite-sized chunks of knowledge each day and focus on sites that explain things more in laymen’s terms. I attempt to do this on this blog and I know there are many other blogs out there that do the same. Knowledge is power and sometimes you may find something that your healing practitioner has not picked up on that is worth pursuing. Sometimes this may lead to progress in your healing too and taking a part in your own healing rather than relinquishing all power to your doctor can be so very empowering!
  4. Consider getting together with other thyroid patients you have become friends with on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. This might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but my experience has been that it is often very rewarding for thyroid patients to get together. In the past, I organized a meet-up in NYC and I have made some thyroid friends with whom I get together regularly. Sharing that common bond is a valuable thing and has also strengthened our friendship in other ways. It goes without saying that it’s comforting to know you’re not alone.
  5. Make sure you spend enough time outside in the fresh air. Whilst this might not apply to everyone, this has been something that my fatigue has prevented me from doing as much as I would like this year and I can imagine that others (many of whom are bedridden) are also in my situation. My husband remarked that when I do get out and get fresh air it seems to energize me and this makes sense as it gives you an oxygen boost and oxygen is something we thyroid patients are often lacking. Fresh air also helps to combat adrenal fatigue and the change of scenery can be mentally stimulating.
  6. (If you haven’t already done so), kick-start your diet. Time and again, we read about thyroid patients whose condition has improved once they went gluten-free or cut out other allergens. I am anything but a food Nazi, but based on my own experience I definitely do believe in the power of food and here in the US, in particular, you have to be particularly mindful about what you put in your mouth as so many things are sprayed with pesticides, injected with antibiotics or hormones and overloaded with poor quality additives, flavorings such as MSG and sugars such as high fructose corn syrup. Whilst I know only too well as a frequent traveler that it’s not always possible to eat everything at home, it is often possible to make healthy choices that are right for your body. After all, everybody is an individual and what works for one might not work for another. Figuring out that puzzle may give you a head start for your healing progress. That said many thyroid sufferers do seem to do best on low-carb diets with a focus on protein. Some swear by paleo and others prefer not to cut out grains completely, but ban the gluten-containing ones. I’m sure you’ve already read a ton of articles about how the structure of the gluten molecule, closely resembles that of the thyroid gland, so I’m not going to bore you with the details here. Another handy hint is to pre-prepare your food if you are able. This makes cooking at home easier and faster.
  7. Don’t be afraid to say “No”. I’ve mentioned this before, but sometimes it is the sheer fact that some of us are so giving of our energy and time that has landed us “in this fine mess”, as Oliver Hardy from the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy would put it. I’m certainly not saying that it’s bad to help others, but sometimes you have to help yourself first before you can find the energy to dole out to them. I have always been very sensitive to other people’s emotions and so ever since I can remember people have been naturally drawn to me and would confide their problems in me. Being empathic in this way gives me the instinctive tools to comfort those in need, but at times it also sucks me dry. My husband is sensitive to others’ energy and tries to give me energy of his own. I grew up with a dad who was forever challenging me to memorize poems and literary quotes. One of his favorites was from Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield: “My other piece of advice, Copperfield, said Mr. Micawber, you know. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery”. If you think about it, you can also apply this analogy to energy. I think many of us, sometimes without realizing it, sometimes because we overstretch our boundaries and sometimes out of sheer stubbornness and frustration, tend to overspend our energy pensum so that we end up skint (broke) and exhausted. My husband’s always telling me I need to be more mindful of this and I’m probably not the only one.
  8. Do something you have always wanted to do, but have never dared or had the opportunity to. At times, I think chronic illness holds us back by decreasing our confidence or making us feel less motivated, but there are times when it’s worth giving yourself that little extra push. Ever since I can remember, I have always been fascinated with the idea of past life regression. Whilst some of you might scoff at this (everyone here is entitled to their own personal beliefs), it may interest you to know that in certain circles it’s regarded as a respected medical therapy. Well, I didn’t do it for therapy, but because I was curious and felt that there might be lessons to learn from this. As it happens, there were, because the lessons I learned from my two sessions with the very kind and gentle Michelle Brock and the two subsequent sessions I had with two highly recommended shamans have reaffirmed my idea of a path I had hoped to follow one day, bringing me to my next point.
  9. Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. Ever since I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, I have felt a natural affinity to medicine. In a few sessions with some renowned psychic practitioners (yes, there are those who are reputable, talented and amazingly accurate), the penny dropped that I should be following a healing profession, although the impetus here actually came from them and not from me (making the affirmation all the more convincing although it really tied in with what I felt I had always known). As a result, I have decided to take a degree in naturopathy. Ultimately, I don’t know what this will bring, but my translation business has been making me feel increasingly unappreciated and unfulfilled and somehow the thought of going into the healing arts has seemed such a natural and obvious choice.  There are those in my own family who have been rather disparaging about my ambition, claiming that naturopathy has no future and making me feel like they did not believe in me, but there have also been friends who know me well and have not been the least bit surprised. Even on completion of my degree, I can expect to come up against the obstacles, disrespect and doubt that alternative practitioners face and always have faced – in the olden days as witches and old women of the woods; these days as quacks and charlatans. But ultimately I know that natural and alternative medicine has played a great role in my healing and that I have a natural aptitude for it, so I plan to make use of this to help people and in the hopes of carving out a more satisfying career. As my dear friend Aggie recently expressed: “As long as there are mainstream conventional doctors who see patients with autoimmune disease and treat them like their symptoms are ‘all in their head’ or dismiss them, then naturopathic medicine stands a VERY good chance to become mainstream. Like most of American society, change is slow, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen”.
  10. Smile, cherish the good things in your life and don’t abandon hope. I like coining quotes. One of my most recent was: “A spark of hope can light a whole fire and fire has a tendency to spread”. It’s true because once you become hopeful about one thing in your life or life gives you a reason to become hopeful, it almost become infectious. Ever since we moved here, my back and neck have been stiff and in pain because we were unable to find a good chiropractor. We recently found one who is able to help us and who has a second office near our new home in New Hope, PA. I had given up hope I’d ever feel pain-free (it almost becomes the norm), but this wake-up call that there are those out there who can help me made me realize that my health may continue to improve in other ways too, even if it’s never as fast as I’d like! Sometimes life seems bloody awful, you feel cursed and unlucky and wonder “why me?” There are times when I wonder this myself and I ask myself if and when my pursuit to get well will end. But there are also times when I count my blessings for my wonderful friends, my caring husband and all the opportunities I have had in life to experience fascinating places and interesting people. I get exhausted at times, but I am still reasonably fit and I look around and see those who are so much sicker than I . Some of them, including the children with chronic illnesses I interviewed in my recent series of articles, amaze me with their resolution and it makes me realize that if they can do it, so can I! A tip I just read on Facebook seems very appropriate here:
    “This January, why not start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen. Then, on New Year’s Eve, empty it and see what awesome stuff happened that year. Good way to keep things in perspective!”

2 Responses to “10 Worthwhile Thyroid Resolutions”

  1. Pam 1 January 2013 at 6:54 pm Permalink

    Re: #4, I actually tried this but no one was interested. You’d think in the Bay Area, there would be plenty of people to choose from. Sadly, my “friends” in real life with thyroid conditions also seemed to be the least supportive. I guess theirs was not as bad as mine so they just couldn’t relate.

    • Sarah Downing 1 January 2013 at 11:12 pm Permalink

      Hi Pam,

      I’m sorry to hear it. As you know, my experience has been very different, but we have also been lucky to have not only met thyroid friends locally, but also friends on our travels. It’s been a blast! For those who do have the opportunity, I am making this suggestion because in some cases you may find someone you click with. Sorry this wasn’t the case for you:-(.

      Love,

      Sarah


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