Musings on March

Remember how I had a plan for the month of March?   The first half of the month went really well as I wrote in my mid-month update.  But after that things rather fell apart.

I had finished a very rough first draft but I was at a crossroads.  My characters had built their own lives and the short story idea wasn’t working out with the plot lines very well.   I loved the plot that had developed but now I didn’t know how to make it work as a series of interconnected short stories.  So I dithered a bit and finally took a day off to consider the situation: novel or short stories?

While dithering about the writing was going on family life was intruding upon my writing time.  And then physical issues butted in and I confess:  I gave up. For now.

The good news is I loved doing the writing.  In the near future I plan to keep experimenting until I find a writing plan that works for my life, right now.

What did I learn?

  1.  Writing everyday is not for me.  Weekends were especially difficult.  I am a parent and parenting often takes precedence over everything else.
  2. Having a spreadsheet “yelling” at me that I was behind on my word count was not helpful.  I do much better with goals of completing scenes.
  3. But I do like the idea of seeing my word count progress divided up by writing session.  So I am making my own spreadsheet that I can adapt to my writing style/goals.
  4. Writing while walking on the treadmill was very helpful, really kept me focused. (I am walking as I write this!)

 

Since March ended up being about a lot more than writing let’s talk thyroid and menopause and allergies.  Yes the triple headed monster has re-emerged.  The first half of the month I did some excellent healthy eating, I was sleeping well and I felt like I had my allergies under control with the right combination of meds.

And then poof!  Total exhaustion, short tempered and eating everything in sight.  I went straight from my period to PMS to having another period ten days later.  So peri-menopause?  Of which I can do nothing about.  Or thyroid?

As luck would have it my prescription is due for renewal so I got my thyroid level checked this week and it is higher but still in the “normal” range.  But looking at my results on-line and looking at levels from the past five years I noticed (again) the pattern of how my TSH is always higher in the spring. So the doctor is renewing my meds at the same dosage but I will be secretly (don’t tell my doctor!) upping my dosage for the next two months or so during allergy season. (My prescription is filled via mail order and somehow I have ended up with an extra bottle. I have no idea how.) And we will see if I feel better in the next week or so. If I don’t feel better I guess that means it is menopause and you will find me on the couch in stretchy pants eating junk food.

As for the allergies my meds seem to be working pretty well.  My only issue is a bit of post nasal drip which leaves me with a bit of a sore throat some days.  I can live with that.

Not the March I had imagined for myself, but life is like that. It was a good experiment though.

Tune in tomorrow for an April surprise!

 

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Giving In

January was not a good month for me physically. My period lasted 21 days and hot flashes started up again. At the same time I was usually freezing cold from my thyroid. The same thing happened last January.  I was all ready for the final stage of peri-menopause to begin. Only it didn’t. I guess it was just a preview or a coming attraction because in February 2016 my body went back to normal.

So now we are in February a year later and I don’t know what to expect. No clue at all. I’ve read menopause is a pretty individual phase for women. Different symptoms, different things work to alleviate or lessen the symptoms. It is trial and error for each individual.

I think the hardest part is not knowing. Is this it? Will the end be soon?  Or am I looking at years of crazy periods, sleepless nights and uncontrollable eating?  Understandably I am feeling a bit depressed these days.  Friends ask me what my doctor says.  Doctor?  I didn’t go to the doctor, I’m not sick.  This is all normal for my stage of life.  If my doctor could write me a prescription to go stay in the Adirondacks at a rest cure place I would be all over it.  Breakfast in bed, a stroll around the lawns before lunch, a small craft project before a nap, a light dinner and a movie or reading before bed.  No cooking, cleaning, laundry or shopping.  No unlimited access to junk food. Just quiet occupations and fresh air until I pass into full blown menopause. That is the way to get through peri-menopause!

Alas, such places do not exist in this day and age and income bracket for a mother of a nine year old boy.  But I did find a way to give myself a break.  I gave into the depression, sort of.  I took five whole days off from my normal routine.  Yes I still cooked and parented and did things I had already committed to but the remaining time was all mine.

I let the days stretch before me with no plans or to-do lists. I simply asked myself what I wanted to do and I did it.  Some of the highlights:

Day 1:  I went back to bed for an hour to read and think after I got my son off to school.  Before lunch I sat outside on my porch swing under a lap quilt with my journal. I enjoyed the cool, cloudy day and wrote down some of the many things I have to be grateful for.  I planted some flower seeds my son gave me for my birthday last fall.

Day 2:  I had to attend a Guild meeting I really couldn’t miss (I am the Secretary) but afterwards I stopped by Target and had a leisurely browse while picking up a few items for Valentine’s Day.  After dinner I watched a cheesy Hallmark Valentine movie and ate some peach sorbet.  It just felt right.

Day 3:  I woke feeling rather exhilarated at the thought of the whole day in front of me.  To my surprise I did my yoga and walked on the treadmill while e-mailing a friend.  I watched “This is Us” and then thought I would sort through my paper organizer in my office. But on my way to my office I passed my bedroom and the sun and breeze coming in the open window looked rather inviting and the next thing I knew I was taking a nap.  Until the dog barking at the UPS truck woke me up.

Day 4:  After spending the morning helping out at my son’s school I felt wiped out.  I came home, changed into some sweats and watched some basketball I had DVR’d.  After the Heat win (Go Team Go!) I started in on the U of A basketball game.  By halftime I realized I wasn’t really watching and crawled into bed to sleep until my son came home.  Then I came downstairs and watched the rest of the basketball game while he had his snack and did his homework.  Then I went back to bed and read until the house got quiet and I fell back asleep.

Day 5:  As much as I wanted to ignore reality the truth was there were many things that had to be done.  So I did them.

What did I learn during my five day break (that was really only four days)?  1. Sometimes I really need a chance to catch up on my sleep.  2. Even just an hour or two of quiet time may be enough to recharge my battery.  3. I really need to get outside more, I always seem to forget how much I enjoy my swing.

And on this Monday a week later?  I feel good, ready to get back into the swing of things and not just sit on my porch swing.  The break was a success.

 

I hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day tomorrow!

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I helped my son make shortbread cookies for his Grandparents. A little tip from me to you:  don’t put the candy google eyes on until after you bake them!  Seen here with mostly replacement eyes. 🙂 

 

 

December Delights

The last two months I have been battling the three-headed monster of seasonal allergies, thyroid and menopause. I have been doing my best to stay healthy and enjoy life but some days are darker than others.  Lately I feel like I am either on the verge of tears or totally irritated and/or exhausted. Knowing it is out of control hormones doesn’t really help.

With the holidays approaching I am carefully planning out my time, trying to keep things in balance.  I want to make sure I focus on doing tasks and errands for the right reasons. I need to remember that I am doing these things to make others happy and because I love them.  But I also need to love myself.

So far my calendar looks balanced, quiet days intersperced with social events.  I revamped my cookie baking strategy to include more kinds that can be frozen and thus made ahead of time.  I have a shopping plan laid out, with all the buying done in the next 2 weeks.

And here is where you and this Blog come into play.  Everyday in December I am going to pause and find the joy in the task or project or errand that I am doing.  The goal is to focus on Gratitude as a way to fight the surging all over the place hormones.  And I am going to share as a way to keep myself focused and accountable.

Here is to a hopefully Delightful December!

A Visit to the Doctor

And the Doctor said….

“No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist, that line is stuck in my head!)

But first let’s go through the events leading up to the appointment.

I was having all the symptoms of my thyroid medicine not being effective.  I was tired, cold, crabby and my skin was itchy.  I got my blood drawn and my TSH was .87?  That is the lowest it has ever been which should have meant I was feeling great.  Tired and crabby could be from anything but feeling cold and dry itchy skin say thyroid to me.

I had to wait three weeks for an appointment to see the doctor.  Over time I started to feel a bit better and I thought about cancelling the appointment but I didn’t.  That TSH level worried me. My dry skin improved as did the crabbiness a bit.  I still felt chilly most of the time and I was still tired.  But it seemed like a different type of fatigue from my usual thyroid symptom. Maybe it was related to perimenopause or low iron or something?  I was also feeling a bit edgy.  Not quite to the level of jittery but certainly a bit off.  I was starting to have sleep issues again, waking in the middle of the night and taking a long time to get back to sleep.  Was my thyroid medicine now too high? Or was it really the start of perimenopause?

I started to worry about what I was going to say to the doctor.  I think my body is trying to drive my mind crazy?  And she would respond, ” Yes it is and there is nothing to be done about it.  You’ll just have to live with it and hopefully after a year or two your mind will be returned to you.  That is what happens to most women.”

And then I had this wonderful dream scenario where the doctor said, ” I prescribe complete rest in the evening.  Between 5 and 6 pm you need to retreat to bed with a book or the couch and tv. Under no circumstances are you to prepare or clean up dinner.  You may be brought a tray with a light meal and a piece of dark chocolate. I will call your husband and explain this to him in no uncertain terms.”

So with a smile on my face I headed to the doctor’s office.

Here is what really happened:

I actually felt rather nervous going to the appointment.  I really was feeling better but the TSH result still bothered me.  What exactly was I going to complain about?  I mean, what exactly was my complaint?

My Doctor was wonderful.  She listened, she laughed at my nervous jokes and she gave some thought to my test results.  She said she doesn’t think I am crazy.  I had more blood drawn to test to see if I really am in perimenopause.

We also made a  thyroid game plan.  First up is an ultrasound of my thyroid. My thyroid has never been examined so she wants to make sure there isn’t any swelling or a goiter that isn’t overtly obvious yet.  At the end of April she wants to run a thyroid panel and see if my TSH level drops any further.  If it does she will look at adjusting my thyroid medication.  She said it was “interesting” looking at my TSH levels over the last three plus years as they have declined from 4.28 to 2.31 to 1.88 to .87.  I don’t think that is typical and hence the ultrasound.

So while nothing has been resolved  I do feel better mentally.  Steps are being taken and I feel like have a grasp of the situation.  I love being able to see the results of my tests online.  I feel much better informed at seeing the numbers and not just hearing “you are in the normal range”.  I am not sure if the doctor would have noticed the downward trend of my TSH if I had not pointed it out.   My doctor did confess that I was her first perimenopausal + thyroid patient and she didn’t know if going into menopause would affect my thyroid function.

For now I just have to wait, get the ultrasound done and go from there.  I will continue eating healthy, get my 10k steps a day in and deal with sleep issues as best I can.  I will take care of myself.

To be continued….

 

Random Bits

  • My doctor’s appointment went really well.  One, I am not crazy, and two she said my weight was “perfect”.  Perfect! Who doesn’t love that?  I wanted to run right out and eat a hot fudge sundae.  As for the not crazy part, wheat could very well be making feel cranky and causing my joint pain.  It is normal for changes to occur with age and the wheat intolerance could be a new thing and not even related to my thyroid issue.  Hmmm.   So this week I am back to avoiding wheat and  expecting to feel on top of the world again by Friday.  My thyroid antibody level is good, well in the normal range.  If I feel bad in the spring I will get tested again.  The doctor doesn’t think there is a known (proven) link between allergies and hypothyroidism but every person is unique and  I may have one.  Hmmm. 
  • What has been crazy is this heat. I really don’t want to leave the house or cook or do anything the least bit strenuous. There have been a few days where I wait until late afternoon when the sun is less intense before even getting in the pool.  I call this nauseating heat or crazy heat, as in I must be crazy to live here.

 

  • Summer lasagna. I have been doing pretty well using my CSA items each week. We had a couple of eggplant we had picked when we picked apples right before school started and I made ratatouille which was okay but not a fave. So when we got 2 eggplant in our CSA box I was a little stumped as to what to make. It was much too hot for a traditional eggplant parmesan but then I found a different recipe for a lighter version and modified that a bit more to keep things easy. I cut the eggplant into ~1/2 in slices, skin on and brushed both sides with garlic olive oil. I broiled each side for about 5 minutes then put it in a baking dish. I topped the broiled eggplant with leftover homemade spaghetti sauce that I had in the freezer. This sauce had ground turkey and diced summer squash in it . Then I threw a layer of mozzarella on top. That was it. I popped it in a 375 oven, set the timer for 30 minutes and went and jumped in the pool. When we came in the house it smelled just like lasagna and the taste? Wonderful and yet light enough for the heat wave. I could not believe how much we loved it.

 

  • My new downstairs office.  Not really loving it.  I miss the privacy and space upstairs, having a desk to spread things out on and a bulletin board to hang things on. My new space works okay during the day when I am home alone but I have given up trying to get anything done after 3:00p.  I still have no idea where to hide Christmas presents or the Santa wrapping paper.  I am still working on finding the best way to organize paperwork.  One positive side of the move is the view out the side window.  In the mornings I set up my workspace in the dining room.  (i.e. take my laptop out of the drawer and put it on the table.)  Then I open the dining room sheers and I have an unimpeded view of our grassy side yard and trees. I  can actually forget I am in the desert with this view. Since the window faces west it is nice and cool in the mornings but the sun in the late afternoon makes the room too warm to be comfortable  and too glary to see well.  So I close the sheers again.  Now I am wondering if I need to buy and install a second curtain rod so I can close the regular curtains in the afternoon.  I have put buy and install second curtain rod on the to do list. (Done!  I will get to test it out this afternoon.)

 

  • Right now I am drowning in good books to read.  This happens every once in awhile.  Sort of like your eyes are bigger than your stomach adage.  Yesterday I started reading “Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks”  by John Curran despite being in the middle of “Some Luck” by Jane Smiley and “Bertram’s Hotel” by Agatha Christie.   I need to pick up “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” from the library as after a very long wait it is finally my turn.  And I have four more library books on my shelf waiting patiently to be read.

I have words to write and words to read, Life is Good.

Why was I feeling better?

Up until about a week ago I was feeling really good.  Happy, energetic, sleeping well.  Now I feel sluggish and blah again.  I get cranky very easily too.  I have my doctor’s appointment at the end of the week so I can get some input from my doctor.  I already had my lab work done and saw my results online.  Everything looked good, no flags, even my thyroid level is in the right range.

I have been doing some thinking and some research about what could be making me feel bad (in addition to my hypothyroidism).  The most likely culprit is diet.  For awhile I was eating very healthy, not too much sugar and I was avoiding wheat.  I wonder if I may have a wheat intolerance?  Wheat can not only cause gastro issues but also mood swings.  While I avoid bread or rolls while eating out that doesn’t mean I avoid wheat.  Even here at home I haven’t been fanatical about not eating wheat.  I am not actually allergic but now I want to avoid wheat more diligently and see how I feel.  I am also going to ask my doctor if there is a test to see if I am wheat intolerant and to what level.

And then there is sugar.  I was doing really well not snacking or eating candy and then PMS hit.  I had no control and when my PMS ended I didn’t stop mindlessly eating the candy.  So now I am back to square one and determined to regain control.   Odds are I will do well until I get hit with PMS again in a few weeks.  I need a plan.  A good plan.  It is not pretty when the sugar craving slams me and I have nothing in the house.  Fruit and nuts might work, maybe with a small piece of dark chocolate kept in a very inconvenient place.

Anyway, other than the snacking I have been eating fairly healthy meals.  The CSA box has been great for that. We have had salmon and corn on the cob, corned beef and green beans, ratatouille, squash and pork chops as recent meals. Last night  I am made spaghetti but I ate spaghetti squash instead of pasta. I used ground turkey and cut up a summer squash and put it in the sauce.  In this heat I like the lighter spaghetti squash even more than pasta.

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I have also been swimming most days, I walk my son to and from school and am walking the dog around the block in the morning.  So,  I am getting some exercise in despite the horrid (terribly hot, muggy, broiling sun) weather.

It is not easy to eat healthy every single day.  I am doing well with meals, it is the in between meals where I am failing epically at the moment.  Especially with sugar,  it seems one slip up ruins weeks worth of work.  But I really liked feeling better.  It was great not snapping at my son all the time, waking up looking forward to the day, getting lots of projects done and being able to stay awake past 9:00p.  All I can do is keep trying, taking things one day, one hour at a time.  I won’t beat myself up when I err but try my best to put it behind me and move on.  And maybe the doctor will be able to give me some direction and tips.

Yesterday’s this and that

With the increase of my thyroid meds I am feeling soooo much better. Not looking forward to dealing with the doctor but I will have to remind myself how much happier I am when my meds are correct.

Since I have resumed my computer time on the treadmill and started averaging about 13k steps a day I have been sleeping soooo much better. The other thing I have been doing to help with sleeping is turn the a/c down a few more notches. I sleep better when it is cold enough to use a light quilt or blanket. It may be having the extra weight as much as the temperature. I  know I do not sleep well under just a sheet. I decided I am worth the extra few bucks on the electric bill.

I finally took care of two annoying tasks that have been hanging over my head for awhile now.  I have wanted to cancel my book club membership and the newspaper delivery.  I tried to cancel them via e-mail months ago but they make you call so they can deliver the sales pitch. I knew this task would take way more time than I wanted to spend on it so I kept putting it off.  This morning I finally bit the bullet.  It took 45 minutes, most of that hold time. I put the phone on speaker and folded laundry, read the comics (yes, in the paper I am cancelling) and straightened up the family room.  I am not proud of this but I really wasn’t in the mood for the sales pitch so I lied.  I told them I was moving overseas and my internet access would be spotty.  I am sure I saved another 10 or 20 minutes of wasted time.  I am glad to finally get those tasks off my to-do list.  I may have to celebrate by watching “Mr. Selfridge” this afternoon!

Resuming the routine despite the thyroid

“Her normal life pleased her so well that she was half afraid to step out of its frame in case one day she should find herself unable to get back.” Jan Struther from “Mrs. Miniver Comes Home”.

 

I was a little worried about what life would be like after Spring Break.  Would I be able to resume my yoga and writing and ten thousand steps?  So far the answer is yes!  And that was despite horrible allergies that led to a sinus infection.

I have also been so very tired and very impatient, a result probably linked to my thyroid.  It seems every spring when my allergies start up my thyroid symptoms return.  So far I have been able to push through my days but I go to bed really early.  Most nights I am asleep between 8:30 and 9:00p.  My eating habits are horrible. All I want to do is eat and eat junk food.  I am not hungry in the slightest and I find myself foraging around the kitchen looking for candy or cookies.  It has been really bad.  It is a real challenge to distract myself from food. I am blaming this on my thyroid too.

Just knowing that I feel bad because of my thyroid helps.  I use to think I was losing my mind or a really mean, terrible person or incredibly lazy.  I have to remind myself that this is a chronic condition, that I will have bad days or off days.  Yesterday I only walked nine thousand steps because I wanted to try and save some energy for my bowling night.  It didn’t work but at least I tried something. 

So now I have done what you are not supposed to do.  I found an old bottle of lower dose thyroid medication and increased my dosage by the same increment my doctor usually increases it.  And we will see what happens.  If I feel better then I know I need to go to the doctor and get tested and officially get my dosage adjusted. And if I don’t feel better?  I don’t even want to think about that.

In the meantime I will keep walking on the treadmill and working on my latest project (to be revealed in a future blog post!).  I have also requested “The Omnivores Dilemma”  from the library in the hopes that reading about healthy eating will actually help me eat healthier.  The book is by Michael Pollan and I already read  “In Defense of Food” and found it very enlightening.  I will try to enjoy this last month of my school routine.  Yup, my son’s school gets out mid-May and then I get to develop a new rhythm for my days, which of course will really be our days.  I am looking forward to our days together.  I hope my thyroid cooperates.

 

 

Me and my $@#! thyroid

Shortly after moving to Tucson I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  It sucks.  I am just now starting to try and learn more about it.  I am on medication and the dosage increases every year.  Before Christmas I was feeling pretty well.  I had reduced the amount of wheat I was eating and had my snacking under control.  And then we went to Flagstaff and ate out for 4 straight days, then I got sick and then it was Christmas.  My exercise/yoga routine was on hold for a few weeks and my eating habits imploded.  I am having lots of joint pain (hands and shoulders), am ready for bed by 7:00p and scary crabby.  It is time to retake control and see if I can help myself feel better.

I have somewhat impulsively decided to eat uber healthy for 30 days.  I made the decision on Monday to start today,  Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  My 30 days will end the first day of Spring.  It seems like a nice window for self-improvement.

I will sort of be following the Whole 30  rules, but not entirely, hence I am NOT doing the Whole 30.  I have tried it twice and never could complete it.   Three  no-no’s from the whole 30 I am going to break are: 1.  I am going to eat real butter (instead of ghee)  2.  I am going to eat Greek yogurt (at least until the ones on hand are gone) 3.  I am going to eat peanuts (and Trader Joe’s peanuts only peanut butter).

What I will be doing:  eating lots of fresh veggies, some fruits and lean proteins.  Only planned snacks, no random binge eating.  Mid-morning an apple or banana with PB and late afternoon nuts or celery, carrots and/or cucumber.  I will not let myself get too hungry.  I will drink lots of water.  Avoid sugar, soy, grains and dairy (except for the above mentioned items) and anything artificial.  I will be doing lots of cooking and lots of dishes.

This blog will be my accountability watch dog.  I won’t post every day but I will keep track of how things are going.  I don’t know if I will write down every morsel of food but I will admit any slip ups or full scale crashes.  I will also be on the look out for physical and mental changes.

I was going to write “send me luck” but there is no luck involved. What I need is willpower, perseverance and the ability to keep my goals in sight.  My goals are to sleep better (no insomnia and sounder sleep), stop the mood swings and reduce or eliminate my joint pain.  My starting weight is 142.0.  I would love to lose 5 or 6 pounds but that is a secondary goal. For now my scale is out of sight in the cupboard.

I have a good feeling about my success for the next 30 days.  I have very specific aims I am trying to achieve and I am using a plan I have devised myself that should meet those goals.  And if  not?  I will worry about that in 30 days!