Medical Catch 22

Aging is a process not for the faint of heart. 

In our teens and twenties we seem invincible. 

During our thirties we might start to see some grays and faint wrinkles, but overall we generally feel pretty good. 

Even our forties aren’t that bad. Might start to feel the start of some achy arthritic joints, and see more grays and wrinkles, but overall we’re still feeling pretty peppy.

Then the fifties hit and things really start to change, at least for me they did. Maybe not right away, but by my mid-fifties I could feel myself slowing down.

Part of the slowing down process is certainly tied to Hashimotos, an autoimmune disorder involving chronic inflammation of the thyroid. Over time, the ability of the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones often becomes impaired and leads to a gradual decline in function and eventually an underactive thyroid (Hypothyroidism).

I was diagnosed with Hashimotos in 2010 at the age of 49 after a bout with pneumonia that went sepsis and wrecked havoc with my entire body.

Medication was not and still is not an option because my thyroid levels remain within normal range. Even after having half my thyroid removed last fall because of a suspicious nodule.

The nodule was benign Thank God, so the threat of cancer was removed from the equation. Amen to that!

With meds out of the question, I knew I had to find other methods to combat the symptoms of hypothyroidism. The key symptoms being fatigue, weight gain and brain fog.

I discovered doctors were not very helpful when it came to advice in this area and found out quickly I was on my own.

Coincidently around the same time, I caught an interview with Gina Lee Nolin, of Baywatch fame, where she discussed her personal health struggles that went undiagnosed until she found Dr. Alan Christianson, a naturopathic medical doctor for Integrative Health in Scottsdale. His book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease” became my saving grace. 

https://www.facebook.com/thyroidsexy/

After reading Dr. Christianson’s book, I started to play with diet changes and adding supplements. In doing so, I was able to thwart off some of the fatigue, weight gain and some brain fog.

The key thing was going gluten and dairy free. Plus avoiding soy and fluoride, which can interfere with the function of the thyroid. I also added ginkgo biloba and ashwaghanda, but my endocrinologist recommended I stop the ashwaghanda because it can skew thyroid function blood tests.

Over the years I have faired pretty well with this issue, but honestly I think I was too busy raising my Son and helping to care for my aging Mom to completely feel the impact. Or, should I say take the time to notice. 

It’s only the past year or two, as I hit my late fifties and my Son is off at college that I’ve truly noticed how much I’m slowing down. My energy levels just aren’t what they used to be. Some of it’s age, but I know part of it is my thyroid. 

This however is the least of my concerns. 

Continue reading “Medical Catch 22”

Finding Peace in Every Day

With my annual exodus to the beach to recharge my soul now behind me, I’m working hard at carrying the calm that comes from the sea air and surf with me as I face each day in the real world.

As I told a co-worker “I’m trying hard to hang onto my vacation shine.”

This is something I tell myself I’m going to do every year, but a month or two into the real world post vacation I’m working my way back into the “when is my next day off mind-set.”

I don’t mean the weekend; I mean an actual vacation day, a day with no real schedule, a day to play.

Like a day off is the cure all for the every day stresses we all endure. Granted it helps, but there has to be a way to find peace throughout every day, not just on a vacation day. Especially when they’re so few and far between.

Rumor has it, the key to finding this peace is to pause, breath deep and center your thoughts on something tranquil. This may be true, but the real trick is to prevent getting to this point

As I drove to work one morning since my beach trip, at a point in my travels where I crest a hill and the morning sun shines across the hills of the valley, my thoughts meandered to the calm I felt as I took in the beauty of nature. It was the same calm that happens when I’m free from schedules, deadlines and to do lists.

I may have been driving to work, but my mind and body were calm and free from the typical morning watch the clock en route to work mode.

It was at this point that I realized the key to carrying the calm the beach gives me is to find that calm from nature throughout every day, not just when I’m intentionally taking a break to do so, like a week at the beach or a walk or bike ride on the trail near my house.

I need to consciously pause daily to observe this beauty and soak in the calm.

Observing nature around me when I’m driving is the norm for me, but while in the office it’s a different story. Like most, my office is in a suburban area and I’m stuck in a cubicle. So observing nature takes more of an effort. Not that there aren’t windows in the building, but I have to leave my cubicle to access them which is certainly doable, but standing at the front door staring out may concern my Boss.

It’s a matter of being attentive to the smallest thing, even if just in passing.

A small bird building a nest above the front door, the wind lightly rustling the leaves on the branches of the tree in front of the building or the shadows the sun casts on the sidewalk as it dances through the leaves of the tree.

Allowing my attention to drift from my work to the beauty outside the window is essential to me fulfilling my desire to “hang onto my vacation shine.”

This might seem a bit spacey, but taking just 30 seconds to pause and focus on something other than the task at hand will allow me to clear the clutter of the day from my brain and allow my mind and body to calm itself.

At home I sometimes do this randomly, especially at sunrise and sunset. I’m a real sky watcher and the drama and colors that can explode at those times can stop me in my tracks, and often do.

SO, I do have this built into my make-up, it’s just a matter of consciously taking a moment during the busy work day to look out the window, soak up natures beauty and recharge, even if I’m not feeling stressed.

The idea of being pro-active when it comes to nipping stress in the bud before it strikes is nothing new. There are plenty of books, magazines and blogs with “how to” info, BUT, what works for one, may not work for another, so the trick is finding what calms you, and then figuring out a way to seek this during the flurry of every day.

For me that thing is obviously nature. It has a soothing effect on me. Using it as “therapy” during the workday is something I never thought of before, at least consciously.

Beyond the anti-stress benefits, I also find being in-tune with nature to be very beneficial to my spiritual growth which just so happens to also tie directly into my road of self-rediscovery.

Whether we want to admit it or not, all journeys of self-discovery or rediscovery involve some level of spiritual awakening or reawakening. After all, we are all spiritual beings having a human experience and our spirit is here to experience all the lessons this life has to offer.

So I see this “30 seconds of nature to stay calm epiphany” as a stepping-stone in my sojourn to rediscover myself. A stepping stone that can turn into a leap if I can truly live by my words.

The pressures of every day will be the real barometer of my success. I’ll keep you posted.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Photos from my personal collection