As I sit here, writing what is supposed to be the final post in this series. Writing what is supposed to be the light at the end of the tunnel post… the hope for the weary thyroid disease sufferer post… the don’t worry, it gets better post… I am coming off of a week of dealing with an aggravated thyroid. Stress aggravates Hashimoto’s disease. You can have all your ducks in a row… eat the right food, take the right meds, drink the right amount of water, get tons of sleep, fresh air and exercise… and still, at times, it doesn’t matter. It’s as if Hashimoto’s says “Up yours! I’m here to stay!”
That’s the kind of week I had. Last Monday, I sat on the recliner in my living room all day. All. Day. I got up, fixed breakfast and sat in the recliner. My husband went to work and I sat in the recliner. My children played and I sat. I work from home. I tried to muster the energy to get some work done… because if I’m going to sit all day… why not make the most of it? I stared at the computer screen and I sat. I got up to feed the kids lunch and then I sat back down under my blanket. I stayed there until dinner time. By then… by around 5:30 in the afternoon, my body finally decided to wake up. It was only after a whole day of feeling like my body was lead and my mind was a fog that I was able to get up and function. It was rough, but thankfully those days are few and far between (now, at least). It was a harsh reminder that I will always live with this thing, this autoimmune disease, lurking in my body… ready to rear it’s ugly head.
I know that sounds hopeless. Believe me I know. And, like I said… those days are few and far between. I have been going through a particularly stressful season because of various things and it finally took it’s toll on me. I wasn’t able to get ahead of it this time. I used to have days like that more frequently and often several in a row.
A friend asked me last month if I felt like I was on the road to recovery. I had to be real with her and tell her there is no road to recovery, barring a miracle, for me. Autoimmune disease is still a bit of a head scratcher in the medical community. It is still a box that runs deep, with many factors that have yet to be all sorted out. My body is literally my enemy. My own immune system has been reprogrammed to attack itself. That very mechanism that was designed to protect me and fight off sickness is now fighting me… and will continue to do so. No, I am not on the road to recovery. BUT… I have learned quite a bit about managing the beast. I do not want this disease to own me.
Here are a few strategies that I have taken on to help me in the day to day of living with chronic illness, specifically in the form of Hashimoto’s disease. And, just to be clear… I am in no way a medical professional. I highly recommend seeking a doctor who will listen and help you get to where you need to be to live a normal life if you are struggling with Hashimoto’s or any other thyroid condition.
1. Community- I am talking about local and online. Find friends who you can call to go out for a walk, go to the park, go out for coffee. Don’t turn in on yourself.
Connect to a larger community online. I found two specific pages on Facebook that I follow: Thyroid Sexy and Hypothyroid Mom. Both have incredible resources and real life stories that have encouraged me not to give up.
2. Go gluten- free. Again, I am not a medical professional, but a lot of research shows that gluten puts a strain on the body of those dealing with autoimmune issues. Eliminate that strain! It takes some time to get used to… but just remember… Nutella is gluten free!
3. Take your meds first thing in the morning with a full glass of water. Wait at least 30 minutes before eating.
4. Use regular old iodized salt in your diet. Don’t over do, but your body needs that iodine that can be found in good old Morton table salt.
5. Celebrate the small victories. You read a story to your child. You got out of bed. You hiked, you walked, you ran. You took a shower (ok… maybe I’m the only one that counts that as a victory).
Do you live with chronic illness? How do you cope? Comment below and share your strategies!