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Snack interlude.

  1. Toasted piece of whole grain bread (preferably not a national supermarket brand where they add sugar, extra gluten, modified this and that…)
  2. Herbed goat cheese (chevre) spread on toast.
  3. Fresh basil leaves laid over the goat cheese.
  4. Sliced cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives (if you like them)
  5. optional grind or two of fresh black pepper.

Enjoy your simple and delicious snack.

(as you can see, I couldn’t wait to enjoy mine before snapping a pic)

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Food, Lifestyle

 

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Proper Progress Report: First official labs since surgery

I finally had my first significant labs done.  My endocrinologist had me wait until the end of June to get my labs so that she would be back in the office to take a look at them.  Considering the last time she was out of the country and the medication mishap that occurred, I didn’t mind waiting an extra couple of weeks.

To my surprise, my labs came back as follows:

T4 (Thyroxine Free) 1.1 ng/dL  (Ref Range 0.7 – 1.8)

TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) 9.63 mcIU/mL (Ref Range 0.55 – 4.78)

So obviously, my TSH is about twice what is considered the upper end of normal.  What surprises me is that my T4 is pretty much right in the middle.  I was feeling pretty fine, sure, a little bloated more often than not, but a small price to pay considering all the things I was fretting about pre-surgery.

What I’m confuses me is that it’s not as though my thyroid is not producing enough and therefore my pituitary gland says “make more TSH”…  I don’t have a thyroid, I take a consistent dose of T4 that goes into my body every day.  I wonder if it’s just the shock of the gland disappearing or lifestyle functions that interfere with absorption…  In any event, they raised my dose from 112mg to 137mg, which I began on June 30th.  I’m curious to see how this will affect me.

Here are the lifestyle modifications I’ve made thus far:

  • Wake every day at 6:30 a.m. to take Synthroid pill, go back to sleep for 2-3 hours, wake up and have lemon-water (try to do this daily before breakfast or coffee) then coffee.  I’ve been drinking coffee every day and many times feel as though I need it, and that bothers me.  It’s all borrowed energy and the adrenals are what pay the debt in the long run, so maybe it’s good that I’m getting a higher dose.  The reason I get up to take it is that I feel better than if I take upon waking and watch the clock while my stomach growls, or worse yet, have to run off somewhere without being able to get a healthy breakfast.  I don’t know if it’s in my head, but I feel better if I go 2-3 hours between pill and anything other than water rather than the suggested one hour.  Yes it’s a pain in the arse, but you can be sure I think it’s worth it to take such measures.  A person can get used to pretty much anything.  Ever watch Hoarders where one spouse is a hoarder and the other lives with it for a decade or two?  It could be worse….
  • Avoid Soy.  Okay, this is something I was already doing for the most part before the surgery for non-thyroid related reasons, but I’m continuing to do so.  Previously, I’d eat fermented soy which limited me mostly to tempeh, but now I avoid that as well.  Sure, on the rare occasion I’ll eat a square or two of junk tofu ( Asian style from the farmer’s market cafeteria line), but it’s really only three squares every few months.  Avoiding soy means more than just avoiding tofu and edamame.  It means avoiding most salad dressings (I like to avoid Canola as well for the Omega 6 overload) and packaged food.  If it is in a box, it’s more than likely got soy in it.  Again, I was already doing my best to avoid processed food, but now I have even more incentive.  Making your own salad dressing is super easy and you have greater control of what you consume.  Something I’m in favor of already.
  • Not avoiding a high fiber diet.  This is something I refuse to modify, not that it was suggested by the doctor, but two of the things I eat a lot of are listed as interfering with the absorption of Synthroid on the brand’s website.  One is walnuts and the other is high fiber foods.  Now there is no f-ing way I’m avoiding those!  That would mean reducing the amount of fruits and vegetables I consume and that is the most ridiculous notion.  They’ll just have to increase the dose.  Oh wait, they did.
  • Keep my Synthroid in the refrigerator.  It is HOT y’allz!  I don’t care where you are in the country (except the pacific NW), it is balls-frying-on-the-pavement hot!  My old apartment and my new digs are similar in that the air conditioning does not really cool the joint down when it’s 106 degrees outside… and inside.  According to my research, Synthroid readily degrades when exposed to heat, so I keeps it in the fridge, yo!  That is, until the night before I take it, then I place it in a little shot glass next to the bed so I can wake up, take it (with a full glass of water), and lie back down and (sometimes) fall back asleep.
  • That’s it!

So, my lifestyle hasn’t changed that much.  I still have weird sensations at the incision site.  It feels itchy at times, like it’s being stretched at others, and then there’s that weird pinchy, burny feeling that I believe is my nerves growing back together.  All in all, it’s not too uncomfortable.  I forget it’s there most of the time, which is a vast difference from being hyper-conscious of my enlarged thyroid 100% of the time.  It’s been just three months and the ‘surgical ridge line’ has completely flattened out, though it’s still quite red.  I find I don’t wear necklaces these days because I feel like the scar competes with the necklace and it just looks cluttered, like I’m wearing two necklaces.  Hmph.

I haven’t really been putting anything on it other than sunscreen, which I’ve been lax about, but it’s not like I’ve stepped outside other than to walk to my car or work.  It is HOT y’allz!  When it feels itchy, I’ll rub some of my shea/coconut concoction that I sell in the winter time on it because it’s too rich for any other part of my body in the summer.  I did buy Mederma, but I’ve only used it about 4 times.  I guess I just don’t really care enough to make it a priority.  I figure I can get around to it when I get tired of looking at it.  Really though, putting an acid-peel type substance on a fresh surgical scar just feels counter-intuitive.

I think my least favorite thing is the strange sensation when I yawn.  Since there’s no thyroid there to separate my trachea from my neck flesh/skin, when I yawn, it feels scratchy and weird when my neck skin rubs on my trachea.  I bet you’re working up an appetite, huh?

On a related topic, I was listening to an episode of The Moth podcast whilst making a batch of soap this evening and there was a story told by Jennifer Fitzgerald in which she does her best to “slut it up” in an effort to get a boyfriend to prove her parents wrong (funny story, that’s why you should listen) and the captain of the wrestling team ***SPOILER/VULGARITY ALERT*** shoves her hand down his pants and she exclaims “Jesus Christ!  It feels like chicken parts!”  Tantalizing, no?  I had a good laugh at that one…

Progress report so far:

  • zero pounds gained (aside from normal fluctuations)
  • zero pounds lost
  • mild occasional bloating – not the worst case scenerio
  • frequent stomach aches – not inclined to think this is thyroid related, but thought I’d mention it
  • plenty of energy to do the things I need to do and the body tells me when it’s time to rest
  • some annoying short term memory malfunction – again, not the worst case scenerio
  • fairly stable mood – no pronounced depression or anxiety
  • dosage increase 6.30.12 – will update accordingly

Most days are good, others, I feel like I’m just hanging on, trying not to fall over the edge, but mostly, they’re good.  I think that’s the best that anyone could ask for Total Thyroidectomy or not.  So, I guess I’m doing fine.Image

“A little perspective, like a little humor, goes a long way.”
Allen Klein

 

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Accidental Dessert For Breakfast

Quick post before my full fledged 5 week update.

As you may or may not know, I make my green smoothies with frozen bananas.  One of my many endearing idiosyncrasies consists of only eating fresh bananas within a two to three day window of proper ripeness before they gross me out and I will not eat them.  At this point, they are best suited for baking or smoothies, so I freeze them since I don’t bake.  Although I have recently been browsing online info about vegan baking, for the record.  That aside, I used all my kale and collards for my salad greens, so I was looking around for a suitable breakfast in my relatively bare cupboards and came up with the most awesome accidental dessert for breakfast!  I suppose some might call it a smoothie, but I put it in a bowl and ate it with a spoon, so I suppose it’s sorbet.  I realize I did not invent this, but I am still impressed with myself.

I put the following in a blender:
1.5 frozen bananas
1-2 c. of frozen raspberries (any mixture of berries would be great)
1/2 c. of water - enough to allow it to blend but not get too liquidy
optional - 1 Tb. of that heavily processed So Delicious brand french vanilla coconut milk creamer that I reserve for special occasions 
optional - vanilla extract ( do not use too much or it's gross)
optional - 1 tsp chia seeds

 

Top with a few raw almonds or fresh berries, yum!

 

blend and WHAAA???  The most amazing, thick, vegan ice “cream” ever!

Along with that I had a small Ezekiel sprouted tortilla (I know it has soy in it, but I realized this after I bought it and my fridge is pretty bare right now, and I was hungry) with some ground peanuts and honey from the farmer’s market (I don’t call it peanut butter because it is not pre-made; does not have added oils, salt, or sugar and is ground to order into the container from straight peanuts – wish they had raw!)

What a heavenly dessert.

I am going to post about salads as well.  Mine have been intensely flavorful lately without drenching them in dressings.  But for now, I have to get ready for work.

Vegan Ice “Cream”

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2012 in Food, Lifestyle

 

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Do Over.

I had an epiphany yesterday.  As positively as I may seem when writing about this experience so far, ending my posts on the positive note, I hadn’t felt that way offline.  The entire past few weeks, I’ve been emotionally and physically tied up in knots.  My shoulders have been up to my ears and I couldn’t loosen up despite stretching and massage.  I was flailing about desperately.  It put a strain on my emotional well-being, my physical well-being, and the well-being of a most important relationship.  I have to say, I was really surprised when taking the perspective of the outside observer.  I normally lean into the dark, messy, scary parts of life.  I am not afraid of my emotions, I understand that they pass through like a storm or a cold, and know not to identify with them or let them envelope me.  I normally would consider myself pretty strong and feel like I always pull through when things come down to the wire.  I was surprised to see how difficult I was making this on myself, how much resistance I had, and quite frankly, with how little grace I was approaching this ordeal.

My Mom and I did a Native American ceremony, like we’ve done for most of the big events in my life, to help me to say goodbye to my thyroid the night before the surgery.  I did some heavy emotional and spiritual work for over two hours.  I realized that I have so many personal issues tied to this decision.  In many ways, I’d felt like a failure by not being able to heal myself and that cutting it out is equivalent to giving up/quitting/failing.  I questioned whether I’d been on the verge of healing and was I giving up right before some great success, like healing wasn’t possible sans gland.  I’ve chosen to give up the illusion of control and the most fundamental form of self sufficiency.  These are difficult things for me to give up.  Letting go of my thyroid goes against some of my very strong convictions.  Many times it’s the belief systems that are harder to let go of than anything else.  This is the work I did Monday night.

I made some progress, enough that I was able to go through with it all before the surgeon called it off.  I woke the next day feeling pretty depressed.  I wrote about it.  I did indeed go for a walk, which made me feel better, but those feelings crept back in later that evening.  I couldn’t sleep, I was feeling desperate, looking to cling to something, some kind of guarantee.  Looking back, I know that it was all in an effort to avoid, to resist, to shield myself from change, from fear, from the ache of loss.  The irony is that all of these attempts just exacerbate those feelings that I was so desperately trying to avoid.  We can not both fully live and avoid these messy bits.  They are part of life.  I was reminded of this the next morning.

I awoke Thursday knowing that I could not continue to approach the situation the way I had been, and I picked up Comfortable With Uncertainty, 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion, by well known American Buddhist nun and author Pema Chodron.  Among others, I read the following passage, which spoke to me and opened me to epiphany:

The Three Poisons

“In the Buddhist teachings, the messy emotional stuff is called klesha, which means poison.  There are three main poisons:  passion, aggression, and ignorance.  We could talk about these in different ways — for example, we could also call them craving, aversion, and couldn’t care less.  Addictions of all kinds come under the category of craving, which is wanting, wanting, wanting — feeling that we have to have some kind of resolution.  Aversion encompasses violence, rage, hatred, and negativity of all kinds, as well as garden-variety irritation.  And ignorance?  Nowadays, it’s usually called denial.

The three poisons are always trapping you in one way or another, imprisoning you and making your world really small.  When you feel craving, you could be sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, but all you can see is this piece of chocolate cake that you’re craving.  With aversion, you’re sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and all you can hear is the angry words you said to someone ten years ago.  With ignorance, you’re sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon with a paper bag over your head.  Each of the three poisons has the power to capture you so completely that you don’t even perceive what’s in front of you.

The pith instruction is, whatever you do, don’t try to make the poisons go away.  When you’re trying to make them go away, you’re losing your wealth along with your neurosis.  The irony is that what we most want to avoid in our lives is crucial to awakening bodhichitta.  These juicy emotional spots are where a warrior gains wisdom and compassion.  Of course, we’ll want to get out of those spots far more often than we’ll want to stay.  That’s why self-compassion and courage are vital.  Without loving-kindness, staying with pain is just warfare.”

That was the one that blew it wide open for me.  I’ll spare you a line by line analysis as to how this resonated with me, but the short story is; the reason I’ve been having such difficulty is because I’ve been using every trick in my book, every old pattern from childhood to try to avoid these poisons as if they’d kill me.  Hilariously enough, as most of the lessons in my life tend to be, it is all due to a decision I made.  Oh, life, you’re such a prankster!  After reading several more passages on the heels of this one, I realized that I can simply decide to let go, let that stuff in, breathe, and enjoy the life I have rather than be consumed by avoiding.  I did, and instantly my body loosened up, my mind freed up, I felt like I got my life back, like I could be me again.  This surgery being delayed gave me a chance to do it over again with some dignity and grace.  I found something bigger to lean on, something that won’t crumble under the weight of me and something that creates space and light within me.  I just need to remind myself if the vices start to tighten again.

 

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Master Cleanse… ended.

I broke the Master Cleanse on day 3 for a few reasons.  First, I had an undeniable desire to eat actual food.  Second, it felt like SO MUCH sugar!  I know warm lemon water is a great liver tonic, but adding Maple Syrup to the mix was starting to mess with my biology, to say it politely.  I felt like I was on an energy roller coaster.  Just like if you eat refined foods that give you instant energy and then you crash so that you have to have more, this is the roller coaster I was on and it didn’t feel like a good idea to mess with sugar, both in the glass and in the blood, this way.

I also did some deeper research and found a few key things about this cleanse.  First, when you fast this way, you’re bound to lose muscle tissue.  That’s not terribly desirable considering I’ve lost a lot of muscle over the years during periods of hyperthyroidism.  The problem is twofold.  The body is indiscriminate and will take muscle not only from those you lift weights with, but also from the heart.  According to Paul Pitchford:

“In the case no food
is eaten, then I suggest folks add the appropriate
micro-algae to balance blood sugar and protect
the organs from damage [during fasting and
cleansing protein can be taken from the heart and
other organs to maintain bodily functions].”

I have intermittent arrhythmia due to Graves’ Disease, and the couple of nights I was on the cleanse, my heart was beating quite fast and I was experiencing more frequent arrhythmia.  It can also cause an electrolyte imbalance which is especially dangerous for those with heart or kidney ailments.  On top of that, the reason I was looking to do a cleanse, was to give my digestive system a break as well as cleanse my kidneys.  Normally the kidneys filter your blood and release the toxins while keeping protein.  Leaching protein from my muscles just didn’t seem like a good idea on top of everything else.

During the fast, you’re meant to take a laxative tea morning and night to aid in elimination.  What I found was that (unrelated to the tea), I was dehydrated.  I was taking in plenty of water, but the cleanse itself was a heavy diuretic. Fortunately I tried this while off from work.  This is the first time I’ve ever tried a laxative and it doesn’t stop working.  I couldn’t even go to sleep because I was up every ten minutes.  I did not want to risk sharting at work!  Seriously.  That may have been my most compelling reason to end the fast.

So, I’m off the Cleanse and am doing my best to eat a clean diet.  Starting the day with warm lemon water and eating mostly fruits, vegetables, and beans.  I’m glad I experimented with it, as I had been curious and I like to speak about these things through personal experience.

 

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2011 in Lifestyle

 

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Master Cleanse: Day 1& 2

Last spring, I took about 8 weeks off from drinking alcohol.  I realized that in about a decade, I hadn’t gone more than a week without a drink.  I decided to do it partially to see if I could, but also to give my body the rest and to reset my relationship with alcohol.  After working in bars for so many years, it got so easy to have a drink or two after work, and if you work 4 or 5 nights a week, that’s a lot of drinks, especially when you include wine with dinner or a few pints with friends on a night off.  It became too habitual to have a drink after work, so I wanted to eliminate the habit and adjust my relationship with alcohol.  It was just what I needed, and it did just what I wanted it to.  It’s something I feel I should do at least once a year.

Recently, I started a new job at a restaurant that includes a bakery.  Without going into too much detail, the bakery is where most of my on the job “nutrition” comes from.  The last few weeks, I’ve been eating in a very out of control fashion.  I love food, sometimes I wonder if I don’t go through periods of food addiction.  When I’m eating well, it’s relatively easy to avoid the refined stuff, but once I start on it, it spirals out of control.  I’ve been able to mitigate my exposure to sweets and super refined calories by not keeping it at home, but it’s in my face constantly at work, and I’ve succumbed.  I feel like in the last few weeks, I’ve had a very dysfunctional relationship with what I choose to put on my plate.  I’ve been making poor food choices, eating too much, eating when I’m not hungry, and quite voraciously regardless of the status of my hunger.  I’ve often read of food addiction being compared to drug or alcohol addiction and heard it said to be a trickier thing to control because you can not cut food out of your life, you have to eat it.  The thing is, you can cut it out temporarily.  That is partially why I am trying out the Master Cleanse for ten days, it’s my food rehab.  Much like the sabbatical I took from alcohol, I am taking one from food.

I started the cleanse yesterday and most of the times I craved food were when I drove by a place that I’d normally stop if hungry and nearby.  I noticed how many times I’d have the impulse to reach for food out of habit over hunger.  I’d get excited like eating something “bad” was a fun thing to do on my day off and have to remind myself that I’m off food for the moment.  When I sit down at the computer, I habitually have food.  I know that’s an awful habit and that’s why I want to break these.  I want my impulses to eat food to stem from hunger; to feed my body, not overload it.

Yesterday I felt mildly headache-y most of the day, but my mood and energy were pretty good.  I had a haircut and there were a few hours where I got rumbles in my stomach, but nothing too bad.  Today I haven’t really had any rumbles, though I can definitely feel it when the lemonade wears off and it’s time for another.  I was under the impression that today was supposed to be the day where I felt bad physically due to toxins being released, but actually I feel pretty good.  As for the saltwater flush, I couldn’t get the whole quart down this morning, the taste was just dreadful.  I think I got enough down for it to do the trick, though, as elimination is a very important part of this cleanse.

In general, I’ve eaten real food, most of the time in the last couple of years, as my diet and learning about food evolves.  However, in the last few weeks I’ve chosen way too much refined flour & sugar.  In the last ten years I used to smoke and work in a smoke-filled environment, I used to drink diet energy drinks, I used to microwave plastic wrapped veggie burgers, I used to drink Slim-Fast as a meal replacement at work…  aaaaand I’ve been on medication for almost 5 of the last 6 years.  I’m sure there are plenty of toxins built up in my fatty tissue that are keeping me from feeling my best.  I’m looking forward to releasing it as well as my toxic relationship to food.

 

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Lifestyle

 

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