So. I’m continuing to feel better daily, which is great, but man, this is a long recuperation. I feel about 85% back to normal, but 85% is pretty weak when you’re used to running at 125%. I just do not yet have the stamina I’m used to, and feel permanently behind on all fronts. I’ve had to prune so much from my life, for the time being, just to keep from going crazy because I can’t keep up. Like taking my shop offline for a while. Like neglecting this space.
And so, it may stay quiet here on the blog for a few more weeks. Please come visit me on Instagram – I’m posting pictures there regularly. I’ve also added an email notification option to the sidebar (look up and to the right) – just enter your email address and you’ll automatically be notified when I post again here. Thanks for your patience with me!
So much has changed in just the past two weeks. My energy has popped to a happy level, and my voice came back, enough for my doctors to cancel the appointment they had made for me to get scoped (to see if thyroid surgery had damaged my vocal chords or nerves). My voice isn’t 100% back, but it has improved enough to indicate that it will continue to improve.
I’m thrilled to avoid the scoping appointment and spare my bod from the additional stress – I’ve been far more concerned about the state of my adrenals than the state of my voice. I took a 24-hour saliva cortisol test a few weeks after surgery, and while my cortisol arc is the proper shape, my levels are way too low. I’m sure this issue has been building for years, but I was able to ignore it before my thyroidectomy – honestly, it never dawned on me to check out my adrenals until after surgery, when I was at zero energy and not happy about it.
There’s really only one pharmaceutical treatment for adrenal insufficiency (and to be clear, I’m not at that dire stage) which is hydrocortisone, which I consider a very last resort as it can become a life-long dependency. So, I am working with an incredible herbalist who I met through the Daily Coyote blog and who got me through a severe depression some years ago. She has given me an extensive regimen of plant medicine (herbs, roots, mushroom tinctures, and more) and I have felt such a transformation in mood and energy since working with her.
For a solid two months, it seemed there was a three-legged race going on in my body, with my adrenals on one side and my thryroid replacement on the other, with a lot of stumbling from one side or the other bringing everything tumbling down. And now, finally, thrillingly, they seem to be in sync, zipping around the imaginary meadow of this metaphor with their arms around each other’s waist.
Regarding my thyroidectomy and recovery thereof – in many ways it was more challenging than I expected, and in many ways it was much simpler. Surgery is traumatic, and I think because it’s so common, I was very blase about the event (even though it was a first for me and I was terrified of anaesthesia). I was far more gentle with myself prepping for and decompressing after my big speech! So, my recovery expectations post-surgery were skewed and a little mean. And allowing time for my replacement meds to get regulated and even out was extremely frustrating, in that it required patience, and patience does not come naturally to me. Yet it’s something I’m now grateful for being forced to learn and practice; I actually feel stronger for it. The common thyroid horror stories have not come into play – I’ve not gained weight or entered depression or had my hair fall out. I think having a proper dose based on my symptoms versus TSH range and choosing dessicated thyroid over synthetic have helped me on those fronts.
And tackling my adrenal issues has been (and will continue to be) the keystone in all this. I highly recommend Becki of La Yerberia – she is a biologist-turned-herbalist, and I appreciate the science she shares during consultations (which she does via phone and email – we have never met face to face).
Thanks, again, for all your well-wishes, good vibes, and support!
Hi All ~ As of this past weekend, I am *finally* feeling like myself again and capable of more than just napping…. hallelujah! Blooming with the spring and so glad of it. For those wondering, I’m taking NP Thyroid by Acella. It’s a dessicated thyroid prescription and I’m feeling great with it. I’m on a course of steroids at the moment because my voice is still MIA and I have a speech coming up. My doctor believes the issue is residual inflammation and perfectly natural considering my thyroid was the biggest and funkiest he’s seen in the U.S. over the course of his career. I can talk, just not very loudly. Hopefully, that part of me will be a bit stronger by the end of the week.
Items of note – I’m loving Instagram…. I joined in a fit of frustration at feeling trapped in/by my body and am SO glad I did. I look at the pictures of everyone who’s joined me there and it’s just awesome to get a glimpse into your lives and eyes! You can find my pictures here.
I have a long post half-written and I hope to get back into the blogging groove again soon……
Charlie is eight years old!
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.
So, I had surgery! And it was so much better than I expected. I was terrified of anaesthesia – in the week leading up to surgery, that thought alone put me into tears, to the point where I actually made a will (it needed to be done anyway, so…. now it’s done). Control issues, ya think? But the day of was shockingly great. The hospital was staffed exclusively by angels, saints, and geniuses. My surgeon took a phone pic of my removed thyroid for me. And the right lobe alone was 7 cm square and reached all the way up to my jaw, below my ear. Whut??? That thing was going to take over my body if left to its own devices, and, as challenging as it’s been, I’m so glad this all was set in motion NOW.
I spent the night in the hospital and a few days on a diet of homemade jello (juice + gelatin = the best). My voice is still too weak to really talk on the phone or for any length of time, but it is improving daily. Luckily, I’m not a teacher or an auctioneer, and can work without having to talk too much. And now I’m in the process of sorting out the proper dosage for thyroid replacement. I’ve been feeling mostly good, but with afternoon slumps, and today I am switching, with excitement and high hopes, from levothyroxine to dessicated thyroid. Though, lying in the sun, reading books has been a pretty awesome side effect of not feeling like I’m running at 9000%.
I don’t think I’ve had lazy, bookish afternoons like this since I spent the summer living on the mountain. I have been organizing the offline writing I’ve done over the past year (gasp!) and making necklaces with some stunner stones – they’ll be finding their way to the Shop throughout the week. Farmily stories and more coming soon!