turned a corner: thyroid and adrenals

My last post on this was in fact titled, still feeling lousy most days. Well, I’ve definitely turned a corner. I am now having more good days than bad. The overwhelming fatigue is down to a manageable level. No, I’m not bounding with energy just yet, but the improvement is huge. I began taking care of my adrenals on January 13 (vitamins/rest), I started dessicated thyroid on January 20 and progesterone cream on February 9th. I’m only doing the cream during certain days of my cycle.

I’m currently in my third cycle since the discovery of these issues and I’m still temping. I saw an overall average temp increase of 0.47 degrees between cycle 1 and cycle 2. Cycle 3 has begun a bit odd, but that could be because I increased my thyroid dose. This morning I had my highest “pre-ovulation” temp since I began this journey. If it maintains this pattern it will be in the low end of “normal range” for pre-ovulation. Hooray!

Since I am also logging my sleep hours/times, I have noticed that if I get fewer than 7 hours of sleep, it is likely my temp will be affected negatively. If I do not have restful sleep (frequently waking, tossing), it probably won’t matter how many hours I get – my temp will reflect negatively. Also, being in bed by a certain hour seems to make it more likely that my temps will remain stable even if I am just under 7 hours. I set my alarm for the same time every morning whether I have to rise early or not. This way the temp is taken at the same time and I take my thyroid pills at the same time.

I was having frequent headaches, but those seem to have subsided for the most part since the addition of progesterone. I was concerned that they would come back during the days I’m off the cream, but other than a mild headache for two days during my period, I have had no other incident of headaches.

I haven’t exercised of late. I think I’ve felt rebellious about physical activity because it seems to trigger “diet mentality” for me still. I hope to try again this week since I’m feeling better. I need to associate physical activity with feeling good, and not with weight loss. Speaking of weight, I think my jeans may feel a little looser today. I’m choosing to believe that stopping my dieting ways is going to lead to healing in this area as well.

So, that’s the update so far. I’m going to wait to see what my post ovulation temps look like before I make any decisions about thyroid dose changes. For now, I’m feeling much more stable than before.

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still feeling lousy most days

I guess I hoped that I would be one of those people who bounced back from adrenal fatigue over night. Nope. Have I had some good days? Yes. So, I guess that’s progress. And yesterday I had student orientation at our co-op (usually very energy draining), and while I did crash when I got home (migraine), I am up and about this morning with only a mild headache. Yes, I could probably go back to sleep, but at least I don’t feel wiped out. After registration a couple weeks ago, I was useless for two days. Ok, that’s definitely progress. I guess what I’m most frustrated about is that I hoped to be feeling amazing, and I’m not. I suppose I’m being rather impatient.

I recently read Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, and I was really disappointed to read that it could take 3 months before you notice any difference (6 months – 2 years to fully recover). Since I’m noticing something, I’m going to hope this means things are working. After reading the book, I did alter some of my daily vitamin regimen. I now have a few things I take at 2pm too. I’ve also added vitamin E. I haven’t been able to sleep the number of hours the book suggests. I’m not sure I could even stay asleep for 11 hours if I wanted to. I am trying (rather unsuccessfully most days) to be in bed by 10 though.

I’ve held my thyroid dose since the last increase 10 days ago. I’ve been waiting to compare temps from last month’s cycle. Remember, there was a break in my temps while we were out of town on vacation. Well, today I have something to compare again. It’s definitely higher (1.1 degrees higher). I haven’t had a morning temp below 96 since 4 days into adrenal support (vitamins/rest). It appears that overall I’m on an upward trend (slowly). I’ll have to wait a few days to see if the trend continues. I plan to hold this dose for the remainder of the cycle since I’ve added a couple of vitamins and will be adding progesterone next week. I don’t want to change more than one thing at a time so I can better chart the results. If my metabolic rate continues to improve without adding more thyroid, I would prefer that.

Also, I’ve had some blood sugar crashes. This is new. I haven’t had hypoglycemic symptoms since we eliminated animal products over three years ago. I don’t know if this is due to the thyroid meds, the adrenal fatigue (which can cause it), or the chocolate cake (non-vegan) and root beer (high fructose corn syrup) I was hooked on for a few weeks. I haven’t had cake or root beer since January 31st, and aside from the seemingly constant headache, I’m not having those nauseous bouts of hypoglycemia like I was. I don’t have any crashes listed on my chart since the 31st, so it’s highly likely it was the chocolate cake and root beer. It’s not like I haven’t had any sugar since though. I have had fruit, skittles, bagels, strawberry jam, and oreos… oh and the caramel syrup I put in my morning decaf coffee (Yes, I know I’m not supposed to have coffee of any kind with adrenal fatigue. One thing at a time.). None of these items have animal products in them. I don’t know if there is a link, but that’s what I’m seeing.

Progress is slow, but I have felt ok enough to go for a 30 minute walk the last 4 days. I have more I’d like to say about the cake and skittles and such, but I’ll save that post for another day. I think right now I’m going to go rub some PanAway on my scalp and neck. That seemed to help my headache last night.

adrenals & thyroid: 14 days

I began treating my adrenals 14 days ago, and my thyroid 7 days ago. I’ve learned a couple of things in the last 14 days. My adrenals are affected negatively by ibuprofen and inadequate sleep. The morning after I had ibuprofen before bed, my basal body temperature plummeted. Now, this drop also coincided with what appears to be an ovulation shift in my chart, so it’s difficult to say how much of the drop was ibuprofen and how much was ovulation. I’ll keep an eye on this in the future. Secondly, the night I stayed up till about 4am the next morning (resulting in 3-4 hrs sleep), caused a dramatic drop in my basal body temperature that took two days to recover back into the previous range. Still, my temps are more stable than they were even with these interruptions. I’m currently reading Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L. Wilson. I don’t expect this resource to alter my treatment, but so far it suggests I have had moderate to severe adrenal fatigue for quite some time (some symptoms since childhood).

Now, let’s talk about the current temperature range. Since I was charting my temps for a few days during this point in my previous cycle, I have something with which to compare the last 4 days. I only have 6 temps before our Disney vacation, and I didn’t temp while in Florida because I figured the lower altitude and change in climate would most certainly skew the numbers. Anyway, comparing an average of the last four days with this same point in my last cycle, I am showing a 1.25 degree average increase in my body temperature. This indicates an increase in my metabolic rate. Despite this increase, my body temperature is still too low overall. So, after six days at my initial thyroid glandular dose, I’m increasing from half a pill to a whole pill. I plan to maintain this dose for 7 days to evaluate it’s effectiveness.

Some symptoms that have improved in 14 days are:

  • The debilitating fatigue has become more manageable. While I still feel an overall “tired” feeling, I feel less like I’m fighting to stay awake most days. I had reached a point where any activity would zap everything. We’re talking worse than 1st trimester fatigue. The only reason I had any energy for Disney was probably due to the forced rest I had with a knee injury and then a nasty cold that hung on for over a week. Well, that and I had a lot of caffeine on that trip. I usually do de-caf everything. After our trip to Disney World, I was on the sofa for about 3 days straight… spent, exhausted, migraine. I would get some energy after dinner for a couple of hours, but then crash again.
  • Most days, I feel more up to accomplishing simple household tasks that require physical energy.
  • I felt like taking a walk yesterday… so I did. If I exercised before, I wouldn’t feel energized, I would feel like crashing afterward. I didn’t feel like crashing yesterday.
  • I feel less irritable, which is rather miraculous at this point in my cycle… well, I just snapped at two of my kids… so obviously I’m still somewhat irritable lol.
  • My cravings for certain foods have diminished even more. I believe this was already happening very slowly by eliminating diet mentality, but it seems to have sped up since starting treatment. The biggest difference has been not seeking out food for pain, fatigue, and boredom as much. I think sometimes I was eating to keep myself awake too. Generally this meant something that would give me a sugar spike. Overall, this has lessened significantly in the past few days.
  • More in control of my emotions.
  • I feel warmer. My hands, feet, and nose felt like ice most of the time. Mostly they are just “cool”, which is better than “icy”, but occasionally they’ve actually felt warm (without exercise).
  • I’ve had some really restful nights. Not every night has been, but more than usual. Last night wasn’t one of those nights, so I do feel tired right now. In fact, I could probably go back to sleep very easily.

That last bullet point just proves that this is a process… often a long process… toward healing. It can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to heal the adrenals. The fact that I’m having any marked improvement this early in the game is marvelous.

the beginning stages of treatment: adrenals & thyroid

I figured today was as good a day as any to give an update on my quest to care for my adrenals and thyroid. For starters, I mentioned I’ve been taking my temperature, so I thought I would elaborate some on that. I started out taking an average daily temp. The first would be 3 hours after waking, then every three hours till I got three numbers. Then, average them. I did this for 5 days to get a picture of what was going on. As per several websites (& books) on the topic, my pattern suggested hypothyroid with adrenal fatigue. I also did the pupil eye test suggested by Stop the Thyroid Madness, and failed that miserably. Since adrenal fatigue can make hypothyroid symptoms worse, I opted to address that first (I’ll talk about this in a moment). Now, there was a break between my 5 days of temps and when I began treating my adrenals. This was for two reasons. One, where it fell in my cycle and two, we went out of town for five days (the latter being the main reason).

The morning after we returned, I began tracking my basal body temp (taken before getting out of bed in the morning). I did this for three mornings before starting to add adrenal support. During these three mornings my temps were so erratic and still low, just like the averages I had done before vacation. I was so tired I could barely function and so very cold. Since I haven’t been dieting for a couple of months now, I know this wasn’t a reaction to calorie restriction and excessive exercise. So, on the fourth day I started taking these supplements: Women’s multi, anxiety Essential Oil combo, turmeric & ginger,  magnesium, and chromium. I did these because I already had them in the house. My temps stabilized for three days and then took a dive (ovulation). I was having some twitching in my eye, so on the fourth day I added potassium. It shot back up on the fifth day (confirming ovulation) and went higher than previous. On the fifth day I began adding Super C, Super B, and EndoFlex Essential Oil (2 drops). Days 5-8 were stable (with one going slightly higher, but not as dramatic as before) and overall they were higher (although still lower than “normal”).

The temp reactions, coupled with feeling far less fatigue (not debilitating, but still tired), indicate that rest, intuitive eating, and vitamin supplements are helping my adrenals. My temps are still lower than they should be, and the last thyroid panel I had done indicated hypothyroid too. So, after checking out Stop the Thyroid Madness from the library (has more info than the website), researching thyroid supplements and dosing information, I ordered OTC “whole desiccated glandular concentrate” bovine thyroid (just can’t bring myself to ingest anything pig related unless I have to). I figured I would start with OTC first since people with mild hypothyroid have had success with this route. I don’t know if I’m “mild” or not, but I figure this will probably tell me. I started on half a pill this morning and will maintain this dose for 7 days unless I have an adverse reaction to it.

In the immediate future, I hope to see a steady rise in my temperature, an increase in energy, and warmer extremities. Well, there you have it. That’s where this process is at the moment.

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Ugh, cake

I might be sick of cake… I said, “might”. Just when I think I’m over my cake obsession, I want more cake. I wonder if I filled my kitchen with cake, maybe then I would be sick of the sight of it. I’m sitting here staring at the plate, that just a bit ago, held a slice of chocolate cake. All that’s left are the chocolate frosted skid-marks.

Am I hungry? No. Yet, I keep thinking about going into the kitchen for another slice of cake. I think I’m struggling with what Josie Spinardi calls, “eating cause I ate”… or it could be emotional eating… or procrastination eating… or “oh my gosh I’m going to turn 40 in a few weeks” eating. What’s worse than “turning 40 eating” is “I’m turning 40 but I feel like I’m 80 eating”.

I mentioned that I’ve got hormone palooza happening here, so it’s entirely probable that I have “hormonal eating” going on. I’ve upped some of my vitamins, with more supplements ordered. I should start thyroid treatment next week. While at the moment I’m not asleep, drooling on the sofa cushion (or crying because I want to be asleep), I still feel quite fatigued most of the time. Healing the adrenals means no strenuous activity… which means no marathon this year. I had all these plans to train for another marathon, but I can’t do more than take a stroll.

On the upside, I have had three days of stable temps so far. This means my adrenals are responding to the rest and vitamins. My weight is responding by increasing, but I’m trusting the process. The temps are still entirely too low (like way low). I hope that treating my thyroid will help to raise them. As I change my treatment, I plan to track my temps (and symptoms) to see how my body responds. It’s tedious, but I really, really want to feel better.

Hmm, I think typing up this post proved to be just the distraction I needed to get me to stop obsessing about cake…

…mmmm, cake. Ooops. Ha Ha.

maybe it’s hormonal?

Years ago, (like 13-14 years), I asked my doctor to test my thyroid. She did. She never showed me the numbers, just said, “they are normal”. I had just come off of a long bout of “low carbing” where I’d lost over 100 lbs, but, as is the case with most restrictive type diets, I began to crave what I was forcing myself to restrict. Eating even a little popcorn made my weight skyrocket. How do you know you’re restricting? Well, does taking a day off make your weight go up immediately? Yeah, every restrictive diet I’ve been on has had this effect. If I eat what I’ve told myself I can’t have… bam, weight gain. It wouldn’t be about increasing calories at first, it would just be about having carbs if I was avoiding carbs, or eating fat if I was avoiding fat… bam, weight gain.

Anyway, this is about hormones, not restrictive diets… although I do believe there is a link. I had to maintain a fairly low calorie count in order to lose or maintain weight, OR I had to eat completely “clean” (code for follow the dietary restrictions to the letter). So this is what initially made me go in and ask to be tested. She looked at me like I was looking for a scapegoat for the sudden weight gain. Move more, eat less – that’s what I got from her. You know what’s funny, this could very well be a huge factor in why I was having issues in the first place… dieting! I had other symptoms of hypothyroid besides weight gain though (some since childhood) and ironically, the same doctor would put me on anti-depressants just a year later after I finally worked up the courage to go talk to her again about my symptoms. I didn’t even bother specifically mentioning thyroid that time because I didn’t want her to blow me off again. I actually cried in her office. She asked if everything was alright at home. I wanted to punch her. YES, everything is fine at home, great in fact! I have absolutely no outside reason to feel like such a mess… which is why I’m here, lady! And I cried. I guess you can’t starve/binge and overly exercise for years and it not catch up with you eventually. At the beginning of last year, I thought my thyroid bloodwork was looking pretty good, but after doing some more research and discovering that most doctors have no idea what to actually look for when it comes to thyroid bloodwork… I’m further convinced there is an issue related to my hormones.

I have a whole slew of family members on Thyroid treatment of some kind and even more I suspect should be. I was even recently told of a family member who passed away from a thyroid condition. I’ve decided that in addition to “letting go” of diet mentality, I’m going to look more deeply into what is going on with me hormonally. I’ve waited over three years for the vegan thing to fix some of these issues. I am thrilled with cholesterol and heart related test results from dropping animal products. However, since some of these hypothyroid symptoms are still hanging around, maybe I need some additional support.

Most recently, I’ve been over at Stop The Thyroid Madness. They mention thyroid just being one part of what could be going on. So, per their recommendation, I’ve been tracking my temps for 5 days. These numbers indicate I have Adrenal fatigue and am Hypothyroid. Lovely. Double whammy. My sister is currently on several supplements because she was recently diagnosed with these two as well. She is trying to go as natural as possible. Her treatment is slowly helping her feel better, so she has inspired me to be more purposeful in how I approach my hormonal side.

I intend to continue tracking temps while trying different supplements. I want to see how those supplements affect my temps and symptoms. It seems you can’t entirely go by the blood work numbers alone anyway. So, I’ll be posting how that’s all going out here. I’m hopeful that by the end of the year I’ll have some answers… and even better, healing.