Sunday, March 20, 2016

A salute to the spectators at long distance running events.

If you are a long distance runner - anything over a local 10 K - and someone volunteers to come "watch you run" - please understand that that is true love!

I am not trying to take away from the AMAZING/super human feat that choosing to run anything more than 3 miles is. I think it's absolutely AMAZING and I envy your ability for sure. I am one proud runners wife - which is why I keep going to watch - even though, every time, I tell myself that next time he's on his own - I can't stop - I love seeing him - I'm proud of him and in that moment if/when you ACTUALLY get to see the person you have come to see - all the stress and frustration of getting up to that point melts away - at least for a moment.

Let me explain - if you are a runner - you follow the crowd, get checked in - run when they say and follow (hopefully) a clearly marked path. You probably listen to your favorite music and if you've picked a cool course - then you have some amazing scenery and strangers are cheering for you pretty much the whole way through. If you're social - you might even chat it up with some of the other runners before during and after.

If your are a spectator - your experience is bit different. If you have been to one long distance race as a spectator before - it was probably miserable because you were totally un prepared. You probably never saw your runner and you probably swore you would never do it again.(perhaps I'll write up my epic failure watching a first long distance run next)
But then your spouse tells you they have signed up to do it again - and as the day gets closer - no matter how much you want to skip it - you end up plotting and planning and going. If you're smart - you print out and study the race map - find a spot where you will meet your runner. (Picking a SIDE OF THE ROAD TO BE ON) which doesn't sound like a big deal - but it's kind of a deal breaker if you aren't in sync. If you are stupid enough to bring your kids with you - because of course you want them to see your spouse and vice versa and it seemed like a good idea at the time - that sweet - moment of recognition and the smiles and high gives and all that.

So - you prepare your meeting location - you pack a ridiculous amount of snacks, drinks (but hopefully not enough that they will have to pee), you wrap them up in layers if it's cold, you weight the pros and cons of a stroller for the little ones. You make cute signs to hold up, (which are impossible to transport - so end up all squished which causes tears and frustration from the little ones) You run around like a crazy person through massive crowds of people trying to keep it cool - but knowing that no matter what - there is a chance that you missed your person and this is all for naught. So you obsessively check your tracker to see where your runner is. (if there isn't a tracker - you're screwed and you guess and it's even more stressful cause you are convinced the entire time - even if you have watched from the first runner on, that you somehow missed your person)

You get to your spot - check your tracker - make sure your kids don't get lost, taken, run over by the crowds. Hand out snacks, water, hold toys. (all of which makes you take your eyes off the road - which could result in you missing your person) You answer a million questions. (one poor dad today had 3 boys attached to him and they clearly got stuck in the same crazy out of the way walking fest to find their runner - so he was stressed out and I heard him say to one of them as fake calmly as possible, that "yes, This is STILL New York city")

You stare obsessively at the road and wonder why there isn't some sort of rule that says you can't ALL WEAR BLACK on race day. You try to make sure you remember for SURE what they were wearing because you are now staring at crowds of people running about 20 - 30 people deep and it get dizzying. You tell your kids - just a few more minutes - they start asking if you missed your person and if you can leave now. You tell them you can't leave because you haven't seen them yet.

If it's a good day - you finally look up and find your person and they ACTUALLY see you too. You immediately want to punch them because they look super calm, cool, and collected despite having just run 7, 8, or 9 miles - meanwhile you look like a zombie - and have not had your coffee yet because you DO NOT want to try to have to find somewhere to PEE with kids in tow in the middle of this craziness. But then they smile, and your kids smile and it's all worth it for about 5 minutes - until you realize you either have to
A) do it all over again to try to make it to meeting point 2 or
B) realize the hours it took to get to this point have come and gone for one brief moment of smiles and that now you have to wait for your sweaty, smelly runner at the end and figure out how to go home.

So - I salute you - parents toting kids all over Manhattan today for the United Airlines Half Marathon. I felt your pain, I felt your happiness and pride and I totally don't judge you for the triple shot macchiato you got when your job was finally done and you were reunited with your runner at the finish line. I hope you got your pictures. (I'm becoming a pro- so I was READY and successful in that arena) I hope your kids didn't torture you too much. I hope your spouses realize how much you love them for doing this over and over or, even one time.

As I was standing in Times Square today with my 7 year old (who was a TOTAL ROCK STAR) - thinking about how stressed I was that I had missed my person - I started talking to the lady next to me about how stressful the whole thing was. She looked at me and said - "try doing it at age 82 - I've been looking for pink this whole time and I just found out she's wearing Black"
I feel you grandma lady - I do. To the dad in times square who almost left his sign behind while he was watching 4 little kids in the craziness waiting for mommy - Good job! I hope your wife realizes you are a rock star. To the dad I saw at the last half marathon Dave ran - who pushed his kids on the swings while he waited for his wife and then almost pushed his kid off when he realized she was coming and had to run to see her - I feel ya.

I learned a lot today and was WAY better prepared than the last race and I will be way better prepared for the next one. I know my 5 year old would have been a total disaster and ruined the whole day for us because it was a lot of running around/walking, crowds and craziness. I realized my daughter can adapt to changing situations very well without needing much encouragement and almost no complaining besides being cold. I spoke to some very nice people throughout the day and I successfully saw Dave in Times Square in one of the biggest/coolest races in the city despite the crowds, weather or craziness of unexpected obstacles.

Dave, please only sign up for races with trackers in the future - it helped with the stress at least a little bit and probably was the only thing that saved my sanity!

Happy Running/Watching people.

Friday, February 20, 2015

My endless search for doctors

When I got my original hypothyroid diagnosis - I lucked out and found an endocrinologist that was decent.

Granted, he was literally like, 90 years old and he was super cocky and claimed to be the ultimate thyroid expert every chance he could - but he seemed nice and knowledgeable and after starting on the meds he suggested I started to feel better.

I had always joked with my husband that I was going to be screwed cause this guy was so old, he was going to die and I'd have to start all over. (I know, I know - super terrible of me to say - but seriously - this guy was ancient)

I'm happy to report that he didn't die - but he did retire. In the most asshole way possible if you ask me.

See - when I started seeing him it was a private practice and everything worked and then he merged with some huge endocrinologist group or something and it all went to hell from there. I would show up for appointments that they confirmed the day before and they would have no record of my appointment in the system. Then they lost my files - then I had to wait one time for an hour and a half for them to take my blood.

It sucked - but I was feeling better and my appointments were spread out and I knew they were having growing pains so I let it go.

Then I noticed I was running out of meds and there were no refills left - so I called to get an extension and make an appointment. After they finally found my records in their system they informed me that they couldn't extend my prescription without seeing me first. I explained I had an appointment scheduled for the following week which they had confirmed recently and they informed me that my doctor had retired. No notice, no plans to call me and reschedule that appointment - no nothing. So I explained that I needed my medication and hadn't felt well lately and after talking to 3 different people they said they were sorry but I had to come in. I said - fine - when can I come in - they said - we don't have an appointment available until next month. (even though I had an appt. scheduled for the following week - I'm guessing I would have shown up and they would have said - OOPS sorry he no longer works here but we'd be happy to reschedule)

I hung up the phone and started to cry. I did call that practice back and leave a  few messages and they never called me back. (I still have to call them to get my records actually... add it to my list of things to do that I will forget about in 5 minutes)

 Now I was in a jam. I had almost no meds left and no doctor to see and my symptoms were acting up. So I started the miserable task of searching through my network to find an endocrinologist that might know something about thyroid disease that would see me immediately. I couldn't just go to any doctor because if they didn't know about thyroid disease they couldn't help me.

I asked around and got 2 suggested doctors. I made an appointment at one for a week later and had high hopes that soon I'd feel ok again. Off I went to this new - and highly recommended doctor.

Long story short (sorry I talk a lot) I ended up sitting in my car, crying like a high school girl whose boyfriend just broke up with her before the prom. I had forgotten my Medical ID card(thank you thyroid brain fog) and when I explained that to the receptionist she told me they wouldn't see me unless I had my insurance card. I offered to call them and have them fax something and she said they weren't allowed to do that. The doctor then came out and very rudely told me that she had never had a patient ask her to call the insurance company before(her exact words were something to the effect of, "that's ridiculous")  and that she would not see me because doctors offices don't do that.

I walked out and sat in my car and cried hysterically for 5 minutes.(boogers, tears, no tissues - it was not pretty)

I had 2 pills left - no doctor - and my symptoms were in overdrive because of all the stress.

Doctor number 3 might be the one that takes the cake for me. Also recommended. I knew from the moment I walked into the office and waited an hour after my scheduled appointment to be seen that this wasn't going to work out - but at that point -I needed them to take my blood so they could extend my prescription. Let's go bullet points with this one. Everyone loves bullet points right?
  • She jacked up my arm when she took my blood and then said something to the effect of my veins were problematic (my veins are huge - she was clearly an idiot who loves to torture people with needles as you could land a plane on mine)
  • She asked me about my symptoms and then clearly stared off into space totally ignoring everything I was saying and she kept asking the same basic questions all over again almost like talking to someone with alzheimers
  • She consulted my latest thyroid ultrasound and asked me if I had had a biopsy - I told her I had not because my last doctor said it was normal 
  • she then told me I should have a biopsy because my nodule was probably cancer
  • she then said, "but it's no big deal because people don't normally die from thyroid cancer"
  • we continued talking about the nodule and then she flipped the page in her records and said - nevermind the nodule is too small, you're fine
  • then she told me I should take half my prescribed dosage of medicine
  • on the way out - I tried to confirm that I should take half of a pill every day and she said, "no, you  take a half a pill every few days and the rest of the days you take the full one" (clearly I am an idiot for not being able to follow her directions)
I left that office knowing I would never be back and praying that the damn prescription would just go through  so that I could find a new doctor.

The prescription didn't go through. I had to call back 3 times until some nurse finally called it in the right way. And my arm was all bruised. I hate that doctor.

Then I started doing MORE research and found a doctor sort of close by that is known to treat symptoms and NOT lab results which is important for my particular situation. After getting an appointment  -  I sat there feeling hopeful and waited, and waited and waited. Once I saw the doctor he was great. Super attentive, listened to me and seemed super helpful. But I'm finding there's always a catch in these situations.

Doctor number 4 is great - except he's impossible to get a hold of. His office staff is rude, condescending and non-responsive. (there are countless reviews online that specifically reference how horrific his office staff is)

I mean - I have literally left messages for 2 weeks now that my symptoms are back and that I need to maybe switch meds and FINALLY got a nurse on the phone - talked to her and she was going to call me right back and it's been 5 days. AND I left another VM since that conversation.

Insert sad, dejected grumpy face.

Why is it so damn hard to find a doctor that
A) REALLY specializes in thyroid disease (not just what lab numbers point to what diseases but all the associated symptoms and best ways to treat them)
B)  Is easily accesible
C)  Is in my network
D) if they don't specialize - who will care enough to sit and talk to you and not be clearly hoping you will stop talking because he has 5 more patients waiting to see him and he has no time for you

I have had doctors tell me the symptoms are in my head. I had hives for 3 weeks straight and went to 2 doctors during that time and neither of them connected them to my thyroid/autoimmune system but they were happy to put me on Benadryl AND Prednisone and tell me they'd go away at some point.

So my search continues. I will continue to be poked and prodded and have my blood taken and analyzed all while taking this medicine that is supposed to be fixing me and crossing my fingers that my symptoms kind of go away on their own.

I am stuck in a vicious cycle at the moment which is that I know eating Gluten is making me feel worse - but I think I have to have gluten in my system when my blood work is taken so that we can see what it's really doing to me- so I'm scared to stop eating gluten again because then we can't do the blood work but I also want to stop eating gluten so I can stop being so damn tired all the time.  My understanding on Gluten is that it really needs to be in your system in order to test it with blood work - so it's not like I can eat gluten free until I see a doctor and then eat a slice of pizza on the way into my next appointment. So - I'm trying to make sure I enjoy this experiment as best I can = by eating as much of the glutenny goodness/ carby favorites as I can before I possibly get the notification that in fact, I need to give it up for the rest of my life - because with thyroid and gluten you have to give it up 100% - you can't cheat - ever or it can set you back weeks/months.

At least that's what the research says - because so far I haven't found a doctor who can tell me too much about it - so maybe I'll find a doctor who will say - it's not Gluten - the problem is you need to eat a cheeseburger every single day and get massages and pedicures weekly and you should NEVER NEVER NEVER do laundry again that will fix you right up.

(one can dream right?)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I am sick all the time

I have decided to write it all down because recently I have found comfort in reading stories of others like me. There is something extremely comforting in hearing others describe what they are going through and I thought maybe my story could do that for someone else. My husband is the only person who really understands just how extreme this illness is and I am lucky to have someone so supportive and understanding standing beside me along the way.

I was not always sick. In fact, I feel like I was barely sick at all and can remember at my prenatal appointments, talking about how besides the occasional cold, I had a clean bill of health. My first pregnancy was bliss. I seriously thought I could be pregnant forever. My recovery didn't take long and I was rocking staying at home with my daughter. I was a bit stressed and kinda cranky a lot (seriously, my husband is a SAINT) - but I attributed that to living in a new place and knowing no one and not really having a strong local support system.

My second pregnancy was harder on me but still, nothing extreme. The recovery is where I noticed a change. It took forever. I was more exhausted than I had ever been in my life. I was confused and got migraines all the time - there is no level of bitchiness that could accurately describe my moods - I was kind of like the Hulk - very extreme and very quick changes - all day long. I would go to bed at 9 and wake up and still be exhausted. I had to start calling my husband home from work during the day because I couldn't function with 2 kids at home.

I thought it was because I was breast feeding and getting very broken sleep. I thought it was because I had 2 kids instead of one.

Finally, a friend said - Get your blood work done. Now - I had hardly ever had my blood work taken other than during my prenatal appointments. I was desperate - I needed to find out what was wrong with me - so I went to the doctor and asked for help.

Here is how that went and here is where I think other people like me are going to start to say - "Holy crap - that's how my story started"...

Me: I'm extremely tired, very moody, am getting debilitating migraines and just don't feel like myself.
Doctor: Well, you have 2 kids now and you're tired and stressed
Me: This isn't just the kids - my kids are easy and well behaved - I really think there is something wrong - can you run some blood tests?
Doctor: I don't think a blood test is going to tell us anything - you just need to get more rest. You have 2 kids now and that's different and your body needs to adjust
Me: Can you please take some blood - I have always been stressed and this is different. I really think there is something wrong
Doctor: Fine, I'll take your blood but it's not going to show us anything.

I left that appointment, depressed, dejected, anxious and angry.

2 days later - I got a phone call from the nurse with my results that would start the whole spiral of craziness that is Hashimotos Disease and Hypothyroidism.

The nurse - called and said something to the effect of - We got your results and honestly, I don't know how you're waking up in the mornings because your thyroid levels are so low you shouldn't be functioning.
Me - OK what does that mean?
Nurse - You  are Hypothyroid
Me  - so now what?
Nurse - oh, nothing you'll be fine - you just have to take a pill every day for the rest of your life and you'll feel better in no time.

Which if you have hypothyroid you know, is bullshit. But, at the time - it gave me hope and I thought I was going to be all better.

She suggested I go see an endocrinologist but said it was "no big deal"

I started taking Levothyroxine every morning - as soon as I woke up. Here's the fun thing about that medication. You have to take it a full hour before you eat or drink anything and can't take any other medications during that first hour either. (when you frequently wake up with headaches a lot  that can be super fun) This was easy when my youngest was still little because he woke up for feedings, etc - so I would take it and then go back to bed. Once he started sleeping well and we all woke up together - this became more difficult and annoying because I have to take it as soon as I wake up and then I can't eat or drink anything but water until after the kids are out at school.

I made an appointment to see an endocrinologist that a friend suggested and really lucked out. He was a nice - but cocky old man who really took pride in his focus on thyroid disease. (Most Endocrinologists seem so focus on diabetes - so someone who fully understands thyroid disease is hard to come by) He actually told me that he was impressed with how low my numbers were on the scale and that he had never seen numbers that low before.

That doctor further dignosed me with Hashimotos Thyroiditis - which is an autoimmune disease. Here's the kicker - that doctor didn't go into too much detail on the whole autoimmune thing - just that it was a particular type of thyroid disease that would mean that I could bounce between hypo and hyper and would need to be monitored. What he didn't tell me is that Hashimotos is an autoimmune disease which means my own cells are attacking my healthy cells making me sick all the time. My immune system is in overdrive all the time trying to kill itself... yeah - sounds fun right?

Great I thought. I have a diagnosis and a medication and I am on my way to getting fixed.

I was so so so so so wrong and I had no idea. Looking back I'm kind of glad I didn't know that it was going to be a long road ahead because at the time I don't know if I could have taken that news well. I was too depressed and needed to think that everything was going to be ok.

I took the levothyroxine every day - as stated. I noticed my headaches started to go away and I wasn't as tired. I went to the old doctor and had my blood drawn (which I'm still not used to) and we adjusted my medication amount just a little. I was slowly starting to feel better.

Then about a year after I started taking the medication - I lost 10-12 pounds. Pretty much out of nowhere with no effort or planning on my part. It just happened. My energy levels were normal again which for someone who had been so exhausted for so long - made me feel like a super hero! But, I was nervous about the random weight loss because I had always been the type of person who no matter how much I did or didn't work out or no matter what I did or didn't eat- pretty much stayed at the same weight/shape - so I was concerned.

I went to a GP and a Gyn and had them both take blood work to see if something was wrong with me and they both said all my hormones and blood work were fine. After doing research online, I realized that sudden weight loss was just my body "normalizing" on the thyroid medicine. I lost the puffiness in my face which I never really noticed until it was gone and I was feeling ok for the most part. I had great days and ok days and some days where I just needed a nap or had to lay down while my family was eating dinner because a headache knocked me out for a night here and there.I had a good 6-10 months or so as my body adjusted to being on the thyroid medicine and I was happy and relieved.

Then - the migraines came back, my skin got so dry that applying lotion even multiple times an hour wasn't enough. My scalp was so dry that it was flaking and itchy and painful (not dandruff - it's super dry skin and it' awful) I was bruising all over all the time again, My fingers sometimes felt swollen and then the worst part - the sleep issues. I was exhausted ALL THE TIME. But had bad insomnia where I couldn't sleep. Just the little light that showed the baby monitor was on was enough to wake me up out of what I thought was a deep sleep. I would shoot awake at the sound of a kid rolling over through the monitor and then not be able to go to sleep for over an hour. And I was a bitch - cause it sucked and was frustrating and there was nothing I could do to make it stop. Going to bed earlier didn't do anything - waiting until later didn't do anything and my kids almost always made noises in their sleep right as I was getting to the point where I could fall asleep again. (here again, is where my husband is a saint - because I'm a raging bitch at night when I'm having these issues and lucky for me he doesn't take it to heart or let it bother him)

It got so bad at points, that my husband would take the monitor with him and sleep somewhere else to try to make the room totally silent/dark for me and most nights that worked - and some times it still didn't work and then I was angry and depressed cause we were sleeping separately for nothing and I felt like an annoyance.

I still can't sleep in a room with my kids. I hear every breath, sheet moving, roll over and snore and it leaves me wide awake and helpless. I know it sounds overly dramatic and I think that's the worst part for me - because I am not exaggerating. I am not being a spoiled little princess who needs to suck it up or toughen up. It's serious for me - not sleeping at night can ruin the entire next day for me. I will get a headache, I will hurt more, I will be crankier and I might get brain fog (where I can't remember anything I'm doing all day long)

Having a chronic illness is a pain in the ass. I never feel normal. I have lost interest in doing lots of things because I simply don't have the desire anymore. It's frustrating when you go to bed every night and hope that tomorrow is going to be better. It's kind of a joke between my husband and I that "tomorrow I'm going to wake up just fine" I sound whiney - I come across as annoying so I don't talk about it too much because I think people think I'm making excuses and that I'm being a drama queen. People say - but you don't look sick or you take medication. Yes - I do take medication - sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't. Even my "specialist" doctors can't explain all of my symptoms or give me help in how to make them go away. They basically say that this is my bodies normal and there will be good days and bad. How is that for hope?

I could go on and on for days. I'll try to spread it out. But here is where I'm at right now.

  • I have a chronic illness
  • My doctors don't fully understand and don't offer much help outside the standard thyroid disease - take this pill and you'll be fine answer - I have even had one tell me the rest of my symptoms were all in my head and have to be "something else"
  • I have to research a lot and try things on my own and hope they will help
  • Every day there is a chance I will wake up not feeling well and any one or a combination of the following can be my issue that day
    • A lingering headache
    • dry, painful skin
    • brain fog
    • exhaustion
    • moodiness that makes pregnancy/menopause look like a cakewalk
    • extreme migraines
    • being cold no matter how many layers I'm wearing (no, I'm not making this up - it's legit - laugh at me and my sweaters and scarves and hats but I seriously am ALWAYS cold I would LOVE to wear regular clothes and not have to dress for the damn arctic all the time)

    • confusion
    • depression
    • anger
    • nausea
    • dizziness
    • swollen joints
    • insomnia
    • TMJ 
    • ringing in the ears
    • sensitivity to noise
    • sensitivity to light
    • feeling like I have a fever 
    • extreme itchiness on my legs
    • Hives
I feel like an annoyance and burden.
I get depressed because it's seemingly never ending.

I can't predict when any of these things will happen - and there is no real rhyme or reason as far as I can tell. They just come and go - sometimes more severe than others.It's hard because all of these things are invisble to other people - and I'm sure people think I'm making some of it up and I'm sure people are sick of "hearing about it" The fact is, I actually don't talk about it all that much considering I feel these things almost every day. I try not to talk about it because I don't want to be "that girl" At the same time, I am that girl and I am sick and I am upset and it is hard and slowly, I am finding answers and for every successful day - I have a bad day and vice versa.

 I had tried going Gluten Free because other people with Hashimotos reported it helped. And it did. But here's why I'm pissed - my doctor couldn't really talk much about whether being GF is good or not AND being Gluten free is hard - my life right now is hard enough I don't need to add a strict diet to it too if there are other alternatives out there for me and damnit - I like Pizza!

 If there is another way for me to not have to suffer these symptoms all the time (another medication, other supplements, etc....) Then I'd like to try that because I personally find being Gluten Free to be a challenge and stressful. I just want to be able to find a doctor who can talk about other alternatives instead of me researching and trying things on my own.  For all I know - I could also be taking some sort of vitamin supplement and it will help my symptoms, but the lack of access to people with real knowledge is frustrating.

So, that's where I'll leave this post. I have a chronic illness, that even the experts can't explain too well and even the experts can't offer suggestions on how to make it better. I have to rely on OTHER people, websites, etc to get ideas on ways to manage my symptoms and it's frustrating.I am going to keep writing about it in hopes that other people find it and maybe we can help each other. I am going to keep writing about it because I like writing and I want people to know what's really going on with me.

The good thing is that not everyone with thyroid disease suffers like me. Some people can take their pill every day and they are fine and that's great - unfortunately - that's not the type of thyroid disease I got.
I will write more and break it down into different themes. My next post will be about the marathon that is finding a decent doctor who understands Thyroid disease and will help you treat it based on your symptoms and not your lab tests. If you have been there - you understand that it is frustrating and almost impossible. I will try to find some humor in it because if nothing else, laughing always helps.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lessons Learned about Gluten Free Products

You can pretty much find almost anything you eat in a GLUTEN FREE version.

Let me caution you - Not all Gluten Free products are made the same and NOT EVERYTHING can be made successfully to be gluten free.

Here is what I learned.

  • Tate's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip cookies = good
  • Refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough I bought on day 1 = good
  • Schar's GF Ciabatta rolls - surprisingly good
  • Udi's GF White bread - perfect for PB and J and Grilled Cheese
  • Barilla Gluten Free pasta - surprisingly good in a soup - although they disintegrated which I should have anticipated - but they made my pasta fagioli very satisfying nonetheless.
  • Schar's Regular rolls = DISGUSTING - this is what I thought Gluten free products would taste like and luckily for me, I had experienced the good tasting stuff first, cause if I had to base my gluten free opinion on these rolls, I would never have made it as far as I have so easily!
  • Kind GF bars - are growing on me. I was never really a "bar" person but given my limited options it's almost become like a treat to me.
  • Amaranth - although it looks like bird food - it's very dense in the good stuff so I figured I'd try it. I have only mixed it with my GF oatmeal and quinoa breakfast bowls so far but I will say it's not awful. It's a bit crunch (I wonder if I cooked it entirely right) but it adds a bit of texture and I didn't want to spit it out when I tried it, so I'll call it a win.

Yet to try but in my house are Schar's Vanilla AND lemon wafers.

I have been very careful to not have any gluten and I have to say I feel good. I think I am sleeping better. I wake up more energized - my energy stays more consistent throughout the day and alot of my thyroid freak out symptoms are going away.

Best of all - I have WAY more patience for the kids - which was my number 1 for attempting this crazy thing anyway. Way less anxiety - no more ringing ears and my brain seems less cloudy - so as of right now I'm calling this a win.

Even though I had to pass on amazing Empanadas and Oreo cookie ice cream cake AND tea from the kids lemonade stand because it had caramel color in it. It's worth it - cause it's working.  :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gluten Detox

Day 6. I'm alive! 

Giving up gluten hasn't been as hard for me as I was anticipating. Granted this morning, I was super stressed out and I really wanted was an Everything Bagel with butter on it - but that craving passed quickly and it wasn't earth shattering.

I have eaten plenty of good foods the past 5 days and do not feel hungry or like I'm "missing out". I figured I would have caved because I was going to be so miserable, blah blah blah but to be honest - the thought hasn't crossed my mind at all.

So here is what I can still have that makes me HAPPY! 

COFFEE!!!!!!!!!! OK - it's a weird thing, I don't think I am actually addicted to caffeine anymore because I'm lucky if I actually finish a full cup a day - however, the ritual of having a cup of coffee in the morning is soothing to me - so I am happy that that can continue. 

I only use half an half - if you use flavored creamers - get out your phone and google it because the flavorings might have gluten in them and you might have to switch to a different creamer - luck for me - that was not a problem. 

I also get to have oatmeal. (Certified gluten free oatmeal that is) This morning it has Craisins, walnuts and maple syrup with a little bit of milk and it's REALLY good! I make a batch at the beginning of the week and store it in the fridge and have oatmeal ready to be heated for a few days.

Steak Kebobs and Zucchini - totally satisfying dinner last night and totally gluten free without having to make any swaps. I used salt, pepper and garlic - which are all gluten free - if you use pre made spice mixes, you might have swap it for a home made version without the gluten.

We always have chocolate in the house, and luckily, plain chocolate is almost always gluten free. I can't have any of the fun cones or sprinkles or lots of toppings, but I still call this a win!

BAKED GOODS - AS long as they are home made with gluten free flours and substitutes OR made from bakeries that specialize in Gluten Free - but still -  A TOTAL WIN! This will force me to control what is in our baked goods and will also mean we will eat A LOT LESS of them;)

We already tried pre-packaged Gluten free break and bake cookies and I'm going to be honest - you wouldn't have known they were "different"  (except for the price tag of course)

PIZZA - I already bought a GF crust mix. Yes, I will have to mix it and let it rise and it will be "hard" compared to the pre-made ready to go chemical filled stuff that you just take out of the fridge but it will be pizza and it will be in my belly and that makes me happy. Some places offer GF pizza too so you do have the option to eat out as well:)

Ciabatta Bread!!!!  OK- I found this at my grocery store - but I was kind of freaked out by the fact that it has a shelf life of MONTHS in it's current form. (not frozen)
But - it's freaking ciabatta and although it probably won't be AS good as what I normally eat with olive oil, tomatoes and mozarella I will TAKE IT HAPPILY once I have that first craving.

SO - in a nutshell - Gluten free really is not that bad as long as you make sure you are eating REAL FOOD and not just the pre-packaged GF stuff. Although, rest assured, I bought about 4 different kinds of cookies and crackers to try so that if I felt like I wanted something sweet or whatever - I'd have the options there that were safe for this detox.

Now - here's the bad part - pimples. Apparently my body is detoxing in the form of huge, adolescent pimples - you know, the ones that freaking HURT! Yeah - so there's that. But other than that, that is the ONLY negative to this whole detox thing. 

I don't know if it's a mental thing or what - but I will say that I am not as tired in the afternoons and I do feel like I have way more patience with my littles than I did before. (which was one of my HUGE motivating factors for this whole thing) I am not as overwhelmed, and my ears haven't rung for days. 

I'm going to keep tracking this to see if it continues and to see if any other positive things come from it. 

My skin is still REALLY dry as is my hair. But it's only been a few days so I'm eager to see what I feel like in another week! 

It feels kind of like a huge success just to know that I have been able to stay on top of this already for 6 days. Lame I know, but I'm telling you, I have no willpower - I have been known to switch the team I'm rooting for in the middle of the game because I just have no ability to commit. So for me - 6 days of having to do this alone all while keeping my family happy with their regular diet - is an accomplishment. So yay me:)

Monday, July 21, 2014

How to Start Gluten Free

So - here it is - My first 4 days of trial and error and trying to figure out how to be "Gluten Free".

  • Lesson number 1- I still don't know what gluten really is, I mean I kinda get it- but I do know this - that bastard is in EVERYTHING.
    •  I'm not exaggerating people - it's not just flour in your bread. It comes in all shapes and sizes and hidden forms and hidden places .
  • My first 2 days I went to all the grocery stores around me and checked out their specialty sections to see what was available - talk about overwhelming - but I think it was a good exercise to prepare me for food prep moving on.
  • I bought a few staples to get me started
    • New Cutting boards
    • New cooking utensils 
    • I threw out my wooden cooking spoons to avoid contamination just in case
    • Udi's Gluten Free White Bread (surprisingly I found this to be delicious) and had both a  PB & J sandwich (made with my personal peanut butter jar - it has MOMMY written all over it) AND a grilled cheese the next day
    • Tate's Glute Free Chocolate Chip cookies (note, not all Tates cookies are GF. I grabbed the double chocolate ones assuming they were GF and had to take them back for the Chocolate chip ones) These were also very good albeit - EXPENSIVE
    • Fruits and Vegetables - if you can grow it, it's gluten free so I even broke down and got celery to have with peanut butter as snacks
    • Gluten free crackers (and cheddar cheese for protein-ish) snacks
    • Pamela's GF Flour (thank you dear Anastasia for the reccomendation)
    • Kind Bars - The Dark Chocolate Chunk with Quinoa are my current go to
    • Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, raising and Ghirardlli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate to make my own trail mix (it took about 5 minutes this morning to confirm that this chocolate was in fact, Gluten Free)
    • Gluten Free Pancake Mix
    • Various types of gluten free rice (quinoa, rice based)

I survived a day at the beach with my nut/raisin mix, apples, and PB&J on gluten free bread. On the way home, my family had McDonalds and I just drank my water.(grumble) For dinner that night, we had tacos made with Gluten Free Seasoning mix and corn tortillas that were deemed Gluten Free after looking it up during my trip to the grocery store. All in all, it was a fine day.

Day 2 was a little harder because I was unusually hungry - so I went to the store and did more research and stocked up on MORE fruits and veggies.
  • Here are things I found Gluten in over the weekend that surprised me
    • Gatorade
    • Oatmeal (unless it's certified Gluten Free)
    • Oikos cucumber and dill dip
    • Onion dip
    • Some corn chips
    • Flavorings - like all flavorings (more on that later)
    • Anything that has Caramel coloring (adios Starbucks)
    • Spice mixes
    • Drink mixes (goodbye NesQuik)
    • Medicines & vitamins
    • Some flavored Ice Creams
    • Some flavored rice cakes
    • Some Microwave Popcorn
    • Things that say "What Free"
All in all, it hasn't been that bad to be honest. Yes, I have to cook more and prep more but I should be doing that anyway. My life for the next few weeks will be label reading and internet research and I will probably avoid eating out as there is no way to guarantee I won't get cross contamination (and during the first 2 months I want to make sure I can really test the Gluten Free/Thyroid connection completely so don't want to risk it) The bummer is that seriously, before I put anything in my mouth - I have to stop and google to see if it's gluten free (regular M&M's are) 

I now have to think about every single thing I eat. I was most surprised when I wanted to grab some pre-made Guacamole and pre-made veggie dips and realized I had to research some of the hard to pronounce ingredients. Boo to the fact that Gluten finds it's way into everything. I mean, Gatorade and Nesquik? REALLY?? Veggie dips made with yogurt? Sigh - it'll be plain carrots for me until I can find a way to make safe onion dip.

It's ok - it's forcing me to be in control and I am kind of excited at the prospect of eliminating all this crap from my body. I mean, the fact that there is potentially some sort of wheat in drinks and dips makes it hit home for me how UN-foody the food we eat really is.

I wish you luck is you are starting this adventure too and hope that some of my lessons will help you get started as I find it incredibly overwhelming at first. Lucky for me I have a FB family that's helping me along! Anyone have favorite snacks they'd like to add to my list - comment below of FB me:)

Also - I highly suggest you DON'T take your kids with you to the grocery store when you are trying to figure this all out at first. Although adorable - it was tough to read labels with them asking me every 5 seconds if everything they could see had gluten in it.  It was funny however to see how when things they love to eat came up in conversation - they clarified that they still can, in fact, eat gluten - therefore Oreo's and goldfish are not off limits for them. It's sweet! And so far they are pretty supportive because I'm not forcing them into it too.


Friday, July 18, 2014

I'm going Gluten Free

UGH! Those are words I thought would NEVER come out of my mouth. I have been "trying" to give up meat for years - and all it takes is someone mentioning a cheeseburger and I forget all about how much the thought of eating animals disgust me and I chow down happily. #willpowerfail

But, the last year has been hard on me. I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis almost 3 years ago and after a year of feeling like absolute crap all the time- I felt great for about 6 months once my medicine started to "kick in". Most doctors will tell you that if you have a thyroid problem - it's no big deal and all you have to do is take a pill for the rest of your life and you will be fine. Yay for those people. That is not the case for me. I have a full blown, miserable, multiple side effects autoimmune reaction to my Hashimotos and my body is basically attacking itself all the time. It's not pleasant and it's invisible - which makes it tricky.

You see, I don't "look" sick. You can't run tests and see what's wrong. I just feel different things all the time, hives, dry skin (I'm talkin' like Sahara desert skin that no amount of expensive face lotion tames), acne, stomach issues, weight gain and weight loss, random gnarly hives, depression, ridiculous mood swings (my poor husband), inability to think straight, confusion, anxiety, insomnia, night sweats, exhaustion no matter how much you slept. did I mention the mood swings and general just brain fog.

This disease is no joke. I had a good doctor (lucky me) who I always used to joke might die before I saw him next (he was super duper old) - well, thankfully he hasn't died - but he did retire with NO warning to me. The new doctor that took over his patients is a moron. The office he worked at is a disaster - so I thought - that's fine - I'll just find a new doctor.

This is the task of a lifetime. Doctors who know all about thyroids are few and far between. Most of them won't listen to you - or assume you are making up your symptoms - (how do you make up 6 straight weeks of visible hives??? )

To make a long story short - during one of my major thyroid freakouts (these are those fun days that group together where my body just does everything in it's power to defeat me - migraines, confusion, emotions all over the place, irritability, exhaustion, anxiety, insomnia, no appetite) I tried to find a new doctor. I ended up in tears in the office of the first one. (I had forgotten my insurance card because my brain wasn't working and they were very rude to me and refused to see me - I literally sat in my car and cried like I was 16 and my boyfriend has just broken up with me) The next one - the lady clearly had no idea what she was talking about as she asked the same questions 5 times and wasn't listening to me at all. She did take blood though and at my follow up visit she basically told me that I will eventually get thyroid cancer, but it's no big deal, but maybe I won't get it so nevermind and my medicine doesn't need to be adjusted but then again, maybe we should try taking less and that I should go see a therapist because there was nothing wrong with my bloodwork. All in about a minutes time. After that, I tried to get my prescription filled from her and she forgot who I was and how much I should be taking and it took 3 weeks for me to FINALLY get the prescription filled.

This brings me to today. I still don't feel great. I know that this is not how I'm meant to feel. I will not accept that this normal is my new normal. So - after doing initial research and  finding research that backs up the initial research and joining support groups on FB -  I have decided to suck it up and go Gluten Free. Apparently Gluten is very similar to what makes up your thyroid - so when you have the "bad" kind of Hashimotos - Gluten can make your body go insane. At this point, I decided it was at least SOMETHING that could help. Something I could do on my own and something that lots of others said have helped them immensely with all of my other autoimmune symptoms and flare ups.

So - today was day 1. Gluten Free. Here's the kicker - you can't just kind of go Gluten free - the way some "vegetarians still" eat chicken - you have to eliminate it completely so that your system doesn't get contaminated. Because it's not an immediate stomach churning, vomiting reaction - cross contamination for me would be bad. I have to get rid of this shit completely.

That means, new cutting boards, and cooking utensils for me. That means I have to watch my beauty products to see which have Gluten. (isn't it weird that gluten is in beauty products) Thanks to my wonderful FB family - I already have some amazing products in my pantry to help me deal with feeling left out or unable to snack. I have new flour, snacks, bread, about 3 pounds of nuts and 2 pounds of fresh fruit and veggies. So far, so good. It wasn't so bad. I ate all day - and didn't feel like I was really missing out.

The hard part will be contamination. Making sure I don't lick my fingers after putting my kids food on their plates. No more eating out for convenience because I run the risk of getting cross contamination at most restaurants.

Goodbye regular bread, crackers, bagels, salty snack foods, breadcrumbs, cookies, cakes, regular apple pies, oats, cous cous, flour tortillas and just about every other convenience - bad for you food out there.

Hello nuts and veggies and fruits and proteins and KIND bars and Tates gluten free cookies, and Nuthins crackers and gluten free tortilla chips, and new flours and quinoa, and seeds and gluten free pancake mix so we can still have breakfast on Sundays as a family. (good thing I like this stuff anyway and it's REAL food anyway- so super bonus)

This will be a journey. I will blog about it sporadically and let you know how I'm doing. I will be learning a lot and hope to share some of that here because I find it overwhelming just starting from scratch trying to figure out what has gluten - cause the answer is  just about everything.

Goodbye Gluten - I'm not sure if I will miss you. I'll let you know in about 45 days when I've given my body enough time to recover from the damage you might be doing to it - from what I'm reading - once that day comes when I will wake up and just feel RIGHT again - I will never look back and miss the gluten that made me feel so sick. Here's hoping that day comes sooner than later cause seriously - my willpower sucks.

Wish me luck!

P.s. I promise to try hard not to be annoying about it and will supply my own food when we are together - but please understand that this is not a joke to me. I really do need to cut it out completely - so if you get sick of me saying I can't eat that - just think about the fact that I can't eat cheesy bread, apple pie, regular cookies, bread, brownies, McDonalds French Fries, girl scout cookies and more. This is not something I am going into lightly:)