Thursday, October 1, 2009

When Healthy Isn't Healthy

I haven't "been myself" since Little Man was born. Crabby, achy and primarily just really, really tired. Exhausted to the point of forgetfulness, moodiness, short temperedness (if that is a word). I was sleeping 10 hours a night, fitfully, but waking up just as tired, or more tired, than when I went to sleep. I heard echoes of other moms saying, "Once you have kids, you'll be tired for the rest of your life." Tired for the rest of your life.... for the rest of your life.... for the rest of your life....

Is there anything more depressing than that? "Knowing" that even as a "healthy" mom in my early 30s, I would NEVER feel rested or "like myself" again?

So I called my doctor and made an appointment two weeks ago. Of course, being a mom and someone who tries, sometimes desperately, to succeed and not admit defeat, I waited until my exhaustion was to the point that I was only managing to be with it enough to care for my kids and household by dosing myself up with Pepsi, and I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Luckily, Eric was still speaking to me, but he was also encouraging me to call someone.

My doctor was fairly certain my bloodwork would indicate Hypothyroidism. I have had many of the symptoms in the last 2 years: fatigue, small weight gain, cold intolerance, joint and muscle pain, depression.
Two days later, my thyroid tests and a host of others -- 8 vials worth of blood -- came back pretty much normal.

It turns out I am a healthy 31 year old!  Vitamin D deficient. Oh yeah, and apparently I am hormonally imbalanced! Physically healthy, brain health -- not so much. It turns out my brain is only "half full" of progesterone and something wacky is going on with my cortisol.

I told my friend, Shelly, "When I write my memoir, it is going to be called, 'They Thought I Had a Thyroid Problem, But It Turns Out I'm Just Crazy'." At the very least, it would make a good country music song, I think.

I'm writing about this now because I am encouraged that I am actually feeling better, and it's happening without serious drug interventions. I'm on a host of vitamin suppliments. Let's just say there isn't a "Day by Day" pill holder large enough for my twice daily vitamin regimen. But, nothing wacky -- Vitamin D, Calcium, Zinc, Probiotics, Fish Oil. I'm also, for the short term, on a sleeping pill to help me make up for 2 years of exhaustion.

But, the big change? The thing I think is helping the most? I've pretty much cut all refined sugar and white flour out of my diet. That's right. No pop, lemonade, juice. No ice cream, cookies, or candy. No bread, rice or pasta unless it's whole grain. And, to top it off, lean meats only. My doctor told me: "Red meat should be limited to once or twice a month."

Did you know that sugar and white flour actually rob your body of iodine and other vitamins, which can cause "hypothyroid"-like symptoms in some people?

Here are the surprising things that I have discovered in the last 10 days of eating this way and taking my suppliments:

1) It actually isn't as hard as it seems! I am the opposite of a scientific minded person. My "science mind" is that of a 2nd grader, so I don't know details here, but apparently not eating those sugars and refined carbs has balanced my blood sugar so I don't even WANT those things! I am actually hungry for healthy foods! Which leads to number 2...

2) With ease, I have gone from being a habitual snacker and occasional craver to a person who... wait for it... eats when I'm hungry! That is a big deal!

3) I feel better about myself, my body, my mind. End of story... I feel better.

I feel better!

I am trying to look at this new way I am eating as something other than a "diet". There is no weight loss goal (though I wouldn't be surprised if I drop the 10lbs or so I've been hanging on to since my kids were born).  There isn't deprivation. This is a conscious choice I am making for my health, and feeling results after 10 days sure reinforces that choice.

I am sharing this story for a reason. Definitely not to laud my diagnosis - it's kind of embarassing, frankly - but because I know lots of other moms (and people who aren't currently moms of young children) who feel tired, run down, moody, achy and/or just downright gross. If that is you, maybe you should give "no sugar and white carbs, limited red meat" a chance and see how you feel.

No comments:

Post a Comment