Marching On

☆ March 31, 2015

March was tough. I cannot lie, working my way through the aftermath of a thyroidectomy has been hard. Yet I would not trade everything I’ve gone through, and what I still have ahead, if it meant going back to being the person I was January 1. The growth and shifts this has inspired and required have made it worthwhile… I’ve said similar before: about being stalked; about living through my oldest, greatest fear of having my home burn down; about the terrifying downward spiral of my health due to undiagnosed celiac disease nearly fifteen years ago.

So much of this traverse reminds me of that time – celiac and gluten intolerance were virtually unheard of back then, and I dove into researching, recovering, getting healthier than I’d ever been before, and writing my first book. That foundation, that history is serving me now. Back then, pre-packaged gluten-free food did not exist. If I told someone I was gluten intolerant, I’d get the response, ‘You’re allergic to sugar?’ Glucose was a more familiar term. So I’d say, ‘I’m allergic to wheat,’ and the reply to that was always, ‘Don’t worry, this is made with white flour!’  Such exchanges are hilarious now, and it’s thrilling how far things have come. I can go out for gluten-free pizza in the miniscule towns of Wyoming, “gluten-free” is an ubiquitous marketing catch-phrase, and while people may still roll their eyes or think it trendy nonsense, it is so freaking easy for people to make the transition now, and to get healthy without feeling like their entire life is being dismantled while they are floating in a sea of question marks.

Ten years ago, when Eating Gluten Free was published, I dreamed of things looking like this – of such awareness, understanding, and convenience for those dealing with gluten intolerance and those suffering undiagnosed (when I went to a gastroenterologist at UCSF and told him my symptoms, he offered me Xanax, and when I declined it, the door). And it’s here! It’s reality! And it happened so much faster than I expected back then. Ten years is a long time, but not when you consider the transformation that has occurred in the lexicon, in marketing, and in medical care. It is so awesome. And this probably seems like one very large tangent – I started this post on the topic of thyroids – but I needed to write this all down for me because once again, I have dove into research, and the state of affairs regarding thyroid issues and the number of people suffering and the dated (dare I say dangerous) “conventional wisdom” is very reminiscent of how it once went with gluten. What I have read and what I have been told makes my blood boil, but the shifts I have seen (and been privileged to be part of) with celiac and gluten intolerance give me hope.

All this to say, despite a bumpy month, I cannot call this a Bad Thing, even though I haven’t yet found the sweet spot with my meds and it’s been scary and expensive and there have been a few days where I just plain haven’t gotten out of bed. I had an epiphany in the shower a couple weeks after surgery; I was sobbing – like hysterically crying – about all the things I wasn’t getting done and POOF!  Epiphany. I suddenly realized just how much of my self worth was wrapped up in what I accomplished (and, of course, the inverse – how much self loathing appeared when I wasn’t accomplishing All The Things). And I have spent much of this month letting that go. Practicing patience and practicing grace – two traits that do not come naturally to me – with myself and with others. Patience is another form of will. And grace is a gift.

One of the big themes of this year has been cooperation, and, for a loner like me, it has been new and scary and enlightening and uplifting. Surgery itself was cooperation, and a massive trust exercise. As was posting the donate button here – that was so difficult for me to do, not because I felt it was wrong but because it was new. And vulnerable. And the first day it was up, I felt very uncomfortable. Remember growing pains, in your ankles and knees? It was like that, in my psyche. When leaving a donation, there is a place to leave a message, but I didn’t see these notes until the next day (I saw the donations, but not the messages), and the blog post itself received very few comments that first day. So I had to spend that day determining my feelings about what I’d done and what I was being given, in a vacuum, without being comforted or influenced by the opinions of others. This was such a blessing. I had to reconcile it within myself, and after the period of uncomfortable newness, my overwhelming sense was of holding hands. The connection of holding hands with people out there, of holding hands with you. And then when I finally discovered and read the notes, that feeling intensified exponentially.

It was so intimate. Regardless of dollar amount, with each donation I saw this: ‘Here is a part of me that I am giving to you because I can and because I want to. You don’t have to do anything to deserve it; by being, you deserve it.’ I think getting that message from outside, from you, opened me enough to be able to get the message from within, from the shower epiphany. I don’t think too many of us are where we want to be – by which I mean, we have goals. But to have that kind of acceptance – of ourselves and of those around us – before we reach our goals, is profound. It takes patience and grace. And we all deserve it.

.  .  .

PS: I finally joined instagram. I take so many photos that never end up here, on the blog and now, they will have a home. If you don’t have instagram and don’t want to join, you can still see all the photos by clicking HERE and bookmarking the page.


39 Responses to “Marching On”

  1. Marlene
    March 31st, 2015 @ 9:58 am

    I have had hiashimoto thyroid disease since daughter has it, and in uterine when I was pregnant..I’m 57
    Having auto immune issue with thyroid opens up many other isses later on in life..I understand..the delicate balance you have to walk in..the adjustment of meds is difficult…I’m glad they found out your issue and was diagnosed..many women go thru years of not knowing..and it create chaos in your body….you will feel so much better once your meds adjust you will see!

  2. mlis
    March 31st, 2015 @ 10:06 am

    As always, thanks for sharing. In writing and posting you remind people who are on similar journeys that they’re not alone, and I am glad to see that you have been similarly reminded. Making a big and intimidating world slightly smaller and more comforting is a great gift.

  3. Charley
    March 31st, 2015 @ 12:03 pm

    I’m so glad you are getting better and back on line.
    Thank you for the rave review of my cowboy poetry book.
    I am writing this to confirm your comments about gluten intolerance. As you know, I am GF intolerant too. Our history with it has a lot of parallels. I wasn’t aware of my problem until 1994 when I was 64 years old. The umpteenth doctor I saw and who said I had “irritable bowel syndrome “(cop out diagnosis) finally suggested that I go off wheat. I did and you know the “rest of the story,
    I hope that this new fadism about GF foods results in the lowering of the price. Eating GF is expensive!
    My best to you and the farmily.

  4. Linda Kalend
    March 31st, 2015 @ 12:16 pm

    As always, I treasure your ability – and willingness – to share the deepest parts of your life and thoughts with the rest of us. it is why I follow you now, even though I began for other reasons. It is so hard for anyone, but more so I think for those of us who consider ourselves strong and independent, to open up to those who would support us when we need support…and then accept gracefully their help.

  5. Karen
    March 31st, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

    Oh gosh! How I love this post. Thank you for writing it and reminding us how it is to be a human ‘bean’. It’s hard… and wonderful… and accepting grace/learning patience is a HUGE gift that anyone would be thrilled to receive. I so appreciate you explaining your version.
    Holding Hands is one of the most intimate and calming feelings I know. I’m so glad that you felt that way as we -clicked- the Donate widget… let us all hold hands across the world!

  6. bonnie
    March 31st, 2015 @ 12:55 pm

    thanks. thanks for letting us know how you are, and for (once again) your clarity and insight. we can all hold hands when we let ourselves reach out. when i opened your post, i picked up the lovely rose quartz crystal circle that i got from your store, and held it as i read — kind of felt like holding hands. and the circle is the best reminder that there is no beginning and there is no end…

  7. Amy in AMA
    March 31st, 2015 @ 1:04 pm

    Peace, poise, patience ~ the gifts of age.

  8. Karyn
    March 31st, 2015 @ 1:48 pm

    I will simply send a hug and a smile. You are finding your way as we all are.

  9. Renee
    March 31st, 2015 @ 2:22 pm

    Shreve, what will the sweet spot be like when your meds are adjusted correctly? Is it the energy you’ll have? It was so touching to hear what you were feeling when you allowed us to donate. And I say allowed, because for me, it was a way of saying thank you for everything you’ve given US!

  10. Rose Marie B
    March 31st, 2015 @ 2:41 pm

    Today I read your familiar voice, I can hear your grin in the words and I’m so happy for you. Kicking this journey’s ass…your strength is inspiring to me. I received my rose quartz and butterfly necklace yesterday and love it! It arrived on the same day as the milkweed seeds that I ordered and it felt like perfect synchronicity. I’m feeling sort of shaky lately so I’ll just concentrate on the butterflies. Happy Springtime Shreve and love from Oklahoma.

  11. Sherri
    March 31st, 2015 @ 3:25 pm

    Love shows no boundries, not one of physical, race or distance… heal on! The farmily misses you I bet! <3

  12. Cordelia
    March 31st, 2015 @ 3:38 pm

    I’m going through something like this too. I came across this and it helped:

  13. Marva
    March 31st, 2015 @ 4:48 pm

    My gosh. Thank you for sharing your struggles and your moments of clarity. Grace or being gracious is one of my mantras discovered and understood only about 10 years ago. But patience…a challenging reminder, Shreve. Add love and you have a life well lived.

  14. LJ
    March 31st, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

    I too have a seriously hard time letting others help or contribute when I need it most. I have yet to have my epiphany – but I sure am glad you had yours. And yes, you are right, we all do deserve it and I am so very happy you have allowed us to share in your journey, as you have shared so much of yourself with us through your blog and books.
    March = In like a Lion, Out like a lamb, maybe there’s something more to that after-all?
    Major hugs.

  15. shreve
    March 31st, 2015 @ 7:23 pm

    LJ ~ OH! I forgot about that saying… here’s hoping!! :)

  16. mlaiuppa
    March 31st, 2015 @ 9:51 pm

    I don’t do Instagram. This is the part that troubles me:

    “Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, subject to the Service’s Privacy Policy, available here, including but not limited to sections 3 (“Sharing of Your Information”), 4 (“How We Store Your Information”), and 5 (“Your Choices About Your Information”). You can choose who can view your Content and activities, including your photos, as described in the Privacy Policy.”

    They don’t claim ownership but they can “sell” your content without paying you.

    Please be careful what you upload to Instagram because while you still own it, they can take anything you have and sell it to a newspaper or magazine and you get no royalties from it. At least that’s how I read their legalese.

  17. shreve
    April 1st, 2015 @ 5:56 am

    M ~ yes, that’s all true, but I’m not too worried about it with cellphone pics.

  18. dogheart
    April 1st, 2015 @ 6:00 am

    If I believe anything for certain, it is that life always gives me exactly what I need for the growth of my soul. Happy growing pains Shreve!

  19. Liza
    April 1st, 2015 @ 8:36 am

    I’m glad you’re getting back to yourself. Hope the meds get adjusted soon and all this becomes just a memory.

  20. Deborah
    April 1st, 2015 @ 9:15 am

    I’m glad you’re finding health and personal growth along the way. Thanks for sharing your journey; some of us can walk the path with you for a ways before we head in a different direction. My daily mantra is “Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better and better.” It sounds as though you’re living my mantra. Carry on.

  21. Marg
    April 1st, 2015 @ 9:18 am

    We learn from our failures and it’s not just the mistakes we make but those that our bodies make for whatever reason. I had a high thyroid reading last check-up and did not want to take synthetic hormone to balance it. I get so angry when doctors instantly prescribe instead of treat so I asked for three months to try a more natural route. Iodine is really lacking in our food and it is essential for the thyroid to do it’s job so I bought some from my health food store as well as a thyroid support formula. While I’m not recommending this for anyone it worked for me and my levels are normal and I no longer have the feeling like I’ve something in my throat chocking me. People on medication like yourself however can not take any of this because it will interfere with the meds. Good luck and I hope you get it straightened out soon. Hugs.

  22. Jo Davis
    April 1st, 2015 @ 10:48 am

    What a wonderful post of a 1000 words….I could read a 1000 more :) Heading out to the post office so the maple syrup will be on it’s way, oh and a few really cool things to brighten your days!!! continue to be well and heal :)

  23. mj
    April 1st, 2015 @ 11:05 am

    So glad for your epiphany and all the progress you’ve made. Some of us go a lifetime without gaining the insight you have achieved and continue to achieve. Again, many of us think, once we’ve assessed ourselves we’re done. It’s a continuing process as we continue to grow and develop over a course of a lifetime. Bless you and I hope your recovery continues on an upward swing and that you get your meds adjusted satisfactorily! Happy Rebirth season!

  24. Bev
    April 1st, 2015 @ 1:35 pm

    I just joined Instagram and am happy to hear I will be able to follow your photos there. I joined this week after receiving an e-mail with photos of theo and beau, a toddler and puppy napping together. Check out #theoandbeau or “mommasgonecity”. I think you would love these photos.

  25. Patricia Long
    April 1st, 2015 @ 4:37 pm

    Shreve, I am glad things are looking up for you and pray your medication will be adjusted very soon. things really are looking up for people with certain medical problems. I just watched a documentary on cancer and discovered that through research a certain type of leukemia can now be 100 per cent cured and that due to a certain oncogene found in some women with terminal breast cancer there is now found through research a medication that can eradicate the cancer in some women. Also there is now a medication that can cure Hep C though at this time the cost of the medication is so high that few can take advantage of it! Progress is being made but regretfully not soon enough for some. However, things are so much better than they have been in the past and I think that for you perhaps the worst is over. I certainly will continue to pray that this is so!
    Love you, Patricia

  26. TT
    April 1st, 2015 @ 5:55 pm

    What a sweet post – I hope you find that sweet spot soon! And I am glad you are learning to let go – it is hard and there is so much to cause pressures….patience no grace is a good thing – I need to work on that – I’ve been overwhelmed with housing issues and sensitivities to chemicals making it harder….

  27. Patr
    April 2nd, 2015 @ 7:09 am

    Your words made me cry…. they are always so beautiful. I’m so happy you feel our love and support.

    Patience and Grace….. are two gifts that we under utilize as a whole. Hugs to you and the farmily.

    Okay – are you ready to see spring? It is here with a vengeance…. stroll over to this link to see some pretty tulips & cherry blossoms:

  28. Carrie
    April 2nd, 2015 @ 11:37 am

    I would like to know more information on the thyroid. I have an enlarged thyroid but my bloodwork comes back fine. The ultrasound just shoes a hard mass and no doctor is concerned with it. I really do not know if I should be concerned. Also, Thanks for the inspiration. Some days I am too exhausted to deal with any of it.

  29. Suzy Soro (@HotComesToDie)
    April 2nd, 2015 @ 3:37 pm

    I’ve been in Paris, France for 4 months taking care of my ailing mother and writing a book about it called Mommy Tried to Kill Me. I’ve been coming to France since I was 5 and In the land of the Best Food in The World (beef are ALL grass fed) I find packaging of foods that say they’re “sans gluten” which makes me laugh. They’re no dummies, these French.

    I need a 12 step program to get off Creme Brulee.

  30. Patr
    April 3rd, 2015 @ 7:30 am

    Shreve – – – have you read this blog?

    Her most recent post echo’s so much of what you have felt here… Our blog communities make differences in peoples lives… It may seem odd, but we are all reaching out to each other and the miles fade away when the internet came to be. I think blog communities can be as uplifting as neighborhoods were in the 50’s.

  31. shreve
    April 3rd, 2015 @ 12:03 pm

    C ~ Your comment, to me, has two distinct parts to it:

    1) If Dr’s don’t seem to mind the physical condition of your thyroid, I’d ignore it (vs surgery – I really wouldn’t recommend surgery unless one’s thyroid was cancerous or trying to choke you out).

    2) You mention exhaustion… even if your bloodwork is normal, you could still be hypothyroid. The more I read about TSH, the more boggling it is to me that it’s considered the standard of diagnosis over patient presentation and symptoms. If you are actually hypo, you would just need a little bump (of thyroid meds) every day.

    Definitely do some research so YOU can determine what is right for you!

  32. Maggie
    April 3rd, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

    I only just saw this now. I TOTALLY relate to self-worth being wrapped up in accomplishments. In my own recovery over the last 7 years, I have sobbed and wailed and felt worthless because I wasn’t better yet and I wasn’t doing enough and I wasn’t contributing financially in my marriage and I felt that I somehow HAD to make a miraculous recovery or else I would be a disappointment, looked upon with pity. AWFUL feelings that still rear their head in lesser ways but I am more at peace with what I’m doing, or not doing, now. That high achiever is still alive and well though.
    I feel for you, Shreve. What helped me is reminding myself that the enormous healing process itself IS an accomplishment! And all the research you’re doing! Huge. Rest and do whatever feels right. You are doing plenty and all that matters (to me, and probably all/most of us) is your wellness.

  33. BB/VA
    April 4th, 2015 @ 11:08 am

    My daughter did not show any physical symptoms when her thyroid disease developed. She was diagnosed with diabetes at 22 months and her thyroid became enlarged when she was about 4. We had been watching her for symptoms for 15 years but saw nothing until she was 19. That was when her behavior made a 180-degree change. Before, she was an honor student, awarded a scholarship that paid part of her fees, was on the dean’s list at her college, and then bam! She re-met someone she had had a casual acquaintanceship with in high school whom we had never heard of before, and moved in with him the next day, without telling us where she was going. We had paid her partial tuition for the next semester and she told the college she was dropping out, please send her the check. She stopped doing her diabetes care properly (which she had done since the age of 9) and lost the vision in one eye. Without the help of a friend of a co-worker who was a mail carrier in the neighborhood she had moved to, we would have had a hard time finding her. She ended up marrying the oaf and both of them moved in with us. THEN she started showing the physical symptoms. She was fortunate in that it didn’t take too long to find a medication that worked, but it took some time to get her stable mentally and physically. Once she did, she kicked the oaf out (BIG sigh of relief from Mom and Dad!). She found a good endocrinologist who has really helped her with her issues. She took a bit more time to totally become herself again, but now, some years later, she admits that she was “crazy” in her early 20’s.

    Not telling this story for sympathy, but to point out that the thyroid can cause problems for your entire body, physically and mentally. It also has a strong hereditary component, and I started insisting on blood tests, and was fortunate my own underactive thyroid was diagnosed before I had symptoms. We seriously never thought that it would have that kind of effect on one’s personality.

    Shreve, it is going to be harder for you, but you are very strong and you will keep fighting till you reach that “sweet spot” soon! Keep after your doctors until they get it right!!

  34. AnotherTwoLegger
    April 4th, 2015 @ 9:25 pm

    Dear Shreve, it’s been a long time since I last read any of your blogs. I started 5 years ago, but stopped about 2 years ago when my beloved horse fell seriously ill. It was hard reading about the same sort of connection to animals I had with my own, especially when my own was fighting so hard–we were both fighting so hard–and failing. I watched him deteriorate and give up, and it broke me. I thought about emailing you. I guess I had this fantasy that I could run away for a few weeks and everything would just stop. Like my life would make sense again. That I would feel worthy of anything again, especially of myself. I never did. But a dog did save me; a puppy, and I thought of you and Charlie. I came back only to discover about Frisco (months after) and couldn’t. Anyway. I’m sorry to hear about your recent health struggles. And I’m sorry I wasn’t a reader when you needed help. I’d like to say that I resemble anything of my former self, but it would be lie. I am stronger for it, though. And now I have one of the coolest jobs I could ever have asked for–it just fell into my lap two months ago when I was finally moving forward with my life. I make swords for a living. (Well, I’m learning.) It wasn’t my goal years ago, or even a single year ago. But I have found myself again, finally. And I have found a purpose again, and I can finally smile at the thought of tomorrow rather than rise and shake off dread like a dog shakes rain. I’m finally on the road getting to where I want to be. I think maybe I’ll even recognize it when I get there. You are right, we all deserve it. I hope wellness finds you. I send you my love and support, such as it is. And I will once again be reading.

  35. BB/VA
    April 6th, 2015 @ 7:06 pm

    Something I remembered today – in the third book of the “My Friend Flicka” series, “Green Grass of Wyoming”, Nell McLaughlin (Ken’s mom)experiences thyroid failure. I haven’t read the book in years, so I don’t remember exactly why the failure happened, but she had some rough times. Yes, I know Nell is a fictional characther, but I have to wonder – could there be a connection? Maybe something in the diet?

  36. AussieAndrea
    April 7th, 2015 @ 6:33 am

    I’d be curious to hear more about your research into the ‘conventional wisdom’ around thyroid treatment. I just took the radioactive iodine, partly because there was years and years of doing it that way conventionally… now I wonder!

  37. Diane
    April 7th, 2015 @ 10:03 pm

    Dear Shreve,
    I hope you are doing well. I too have had a history of celiac disease and thyroid (low thyroid in my case). When I was younger my health was poor for many years but I never imagined it could be celiac (I had never even heard of it). Of course, the untreated celiac led to the thyroid problem. Now, 10 years on the gluten-free diet and my health is fairly good. You are young and your body will recover. Thanks for sharing with all of us.


  38. Scargosun
    April 17th, 2015 @ 11:42 am

    I’ve not visited in so long but popped in today to see what was up. I too have had a very difficult beginning to the year. Your writing let me know that the frustration with being injured/sick is not just something I experience. More importantly, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for the inspiration!

  39. Self-worth, self-loathing, patience, and grace | Kristan Hoffman
    May 20th, 2015 @ 12:18 pm

    […] From “Marching On” by Shreve Stockton: I had an epiphany in the shower a couple weeks after surgery; I was sobbing – like hysterically crying – about all the things I wasn’t getting done and POOF! Epiphany. I suddenly realized just how much of my self worth was wrapped up in what I accomplished (and, of course, the inverse – how much self loathing appeared when I wasn’t accomplishing All The Things). And I have spent much of this month letting that go. Practicing patience and practicing grace – two traits that do not come naturally to me – with myself and with others. Patience is another form of will. And grace is a gift. […]

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