My efforts to be “healthy”

6 Feb

Healthy.  It’s what we all long for, isn’t it?  But we all seem to go about it in different ways.  Even in different ways in different times of our lives.  At least it seems that way to me.

When my children were little, I was into “healthy” high fiber, low fat, limited sweets.  And along with that came my weirdness.  Sometimes I would come up with a concoction that was questionable, to say the least.  But my motto was–at least try it.  (See my “Back Online” post of 10/16/12.)  My kids will also tell you of eating salads with flowers added.  But one sweet they did like from that time was the sugar coated rose petals.

Then, several years after, I joined a food coop.  I got lots of “healthy” type food.  At that time I couldn’t understand why everyone wouldn’t want to eat that way.  But of course, that too changed.  Although I still tried to eat healthy, I began to try different diets, foods, and ways of eating.  And somewhere along the line I became much more tolerant of others ideas–which I’m very glad of.

Early last fall I realized my thyroid was acting up again.  I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in 2000.  At that time, I was put on beta blockers and scheduled for further tests.  The medical solution that was presented to me was radioactive iodine treatment to kill off the thyroid.  I was scheduled for the treatment, but then got to really thinking about that.  Was killing of the thyroid the only solution?  It meant taking thyroid meds for the rest of my life.  It just didn’t set right with me, especially because I knew others with low thyroid who had so many ups and downs getting the meds right.

Since I’ve always been interested in the natural, back to the basics kind of lifestyle, I started researching it.  There wasn’t the abundance of material on the internet like there is now.  In fact last fall when I again checked out the symptoms I was amazed at the wealth of information!  But, even back then,  through much searching and asking I was able to find alternative methods.  I learned that in Germany radish is used to treat high thyroid.  Bugleweed, motherwort, lemon balm,have been used through the years for high thyroid, hawthorn for healthy heart and skullcap–along with other herbs for relaxation. After learning  the symptoms I realized that I had probably had flare-up hyperthyroid episodes long before that, but just didn’t know what they were.

I cancelled the radioactive iodine treatment–in spite of the doctors warnings that my condition could be life threatening.  Mostly because it weakens the muscles, and the heart is a muscle.  With a my research and a phone consultation with a ‘natural’ type doctor I was able to work out a program.  I decided to try it for six months, then re-evaluate.

I do understand thyroid disease is a serious condition and I am certainly not advocating ignoring your doctor.  I’m just relating my own personal journey  and its results for me.

My program consisted of the herbs I mentioned above along with diet and massage and vitamin/minerals.  My diet was lots of the cabbage family, lots of peaches and pears, no meat, no milk products, no caffeine  no added sugars, no added salt, high fiber and lots of fruits and veggies.  After following this for several months I felt great and was even able to get off the beta blockers!

But the diet was hard.  I love meat so I thought that would be the hardest for me.  But surprisingly it wasn’t the meat that finally tripped me.  It was the sweets.  This was odd for me, because I don’t crave sweets.  When I have cravings it is for salty things.

We were at a family reunion.  I did so well all weekend, then at the very last they served strawberries enfolded with sweetened whipped cream.    If they would have kept some strawberries separate I could have handled it.  But it was mixed together.  So I thought, maybe just a little won’t hurt me.  Well, I don’t know that it hurt me, but it did wreck my diet.  It was so strange that such a little, what I thought was one-time thing could mess me up.  It was just so hard to go back to my strict diet once I got home.  As I write this now I realize it may have been the whipped cream instead of the sugar that tripped me up.  But regardless of what it was, I just had trouble getting back to the diet.

Also a change of in my lifestyle made keeping on it harder.  But luckily by that time I no longer had any hyperthyroid symptoms.  One thing I do remember though, is that I could actually feel my body getting sluggish!  But I still went back to normal eating.  It sounds so stupid when I think of it, yet I know I might do it again.

My thyroid has acted up a few times since then–in high stress situations.  In those times I used massage and herbs, no sugar, and no caffeine to get it under control.

This time I didn’t connect the dots on the symptoms I was having to hyperthyroid until I started getting the hard, fast heartbeat.  I knew what that meant but thought if I avoided coffee (I had been drinking a lot of coffee) that might be enough.  However, a few weeks later I found out that I was worse off than I thought.  My friends brought the goats over for me to milk again.  I realized my arms were really weak.  It took me over an hour to milk 3 goats.  Toward the end I even had to hold one arm up with the other.

Knowing I needed to act now, I looked up the symptoms again and realized the  symptoms had been present since late last winter.  Some of the symptoms, such as nausea, were new ones for me.  But others were the same.  I was so glad to finds all the new information on the web

Since I knew it was my thyroid,  I had to decide what to do about it.  The problem with my 2000 program was that I did so many things I wasn’t sure which were really the most helpful.  I decided to take the components one by one and evaluate them.

I ordered the herbs, except the radish, because I knew they helped, .  The radish was a lot more costly than before.  I had already stopped the caffeine.  Massage would be good–I could afford one every couple of months.  Pears were plentiful and  I ate as many fresh as possible and preserved and dried some.  I’ve been trying to have cabbage family foods, if not daily at least every few days.  I don’t eat a lot of sweets so that isn’t a problem.  I probably did need to cut back on the salt a bit.  The high fiber I could do and I love fruit and veggies.

I’ve tried to find info regarding the meat and milk and hyperthyroidism.  Not much luck yet in finding the reason for limiting them.  I wonder if that was just a preference of the doctor I consulted.   I’m still searching.  I don’t eat a lot of meat, so think I will be ok with that.  It might be harder to avoid the milk products.  I love cheese.

I decided to get on a diet with lots of nutrients.  I read that B vitamins are helpful.  So, since I like fresh food, I decided to grow sprouts.  I did very well with that for quite awhile.  Except for the soy sprouts I tried to grow.  They just didn’t seem to be right.  As luck would have it, this was right at the time one of my brothers and wife came through.  He had a fit that I was eating those smelly things that attracted all the gnats!   (I realized later, they were fermenting and had to pitch them.)  But on the whole I did well with them, except for the radish, mustard, cress mixture.  I just don’t really care for them.

Then I began my round of visiting relatives, which threw the diet off.  I still tried to take the herbs and supplements as much as possible.  I was doing pretty well, till I caught a stomach virus in middle of January.  It is slow getting over.  I feel so much better, but still have a few rough, washed-out feeling days after having several good ones.

I haven’t been able to get back on the sprouts though.  I’ve tried a few times, but end up throwing them out as they get too tough.  Guess I don’t do well with them during the winter.  Just the other day, I ground up some of the radish seed sprout mixture and put into capsules.  I hope to be able to consume them in that form.

When I’ve not been visiting this winter, I’ve been indoors a lot.  I know that continued days indoors, without much contact with others, is not good for my health. But I  do need to rest on the days I’m not feeling well.  It’s hard sometimes, finding the balance.  I want/need to start volunteering at the nutrition center again. I’ve learned through the years that so much of our health is not just physical, but emotional.  They tend to go together.  One tends to build upon the other.  It seems to me, that when one is low, if we don’t bolster it, the other will also go downhill.  I truly believe that having good health is a balance of our whole being.  Perhaps, in a way, the emotional is really more important than the physical.  I’ve known people with terrible physical conditions, that are very healthy emotionally, and a joy to be with.

I’ve noticed some bulbs popping up outside, so I know spring is on the way.  It will be good to get outside again.  I’m thinking of planting more of a  garden this year.  I would like to add a herb garden and some fruit trees.  And some more flowers, the fragrant kind that I love–and yes,some of the edible ones!  Gardening always means more health.  Not just for the produce, but for the act of planting, weeding, and harvesting, and just being outdoors.

So I continue to be hopeful that I will find health in this new year.  And I have the same hope for all of you.

One Response to “My efforts to be “healthy””

  1. Jerry March 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    This is an interesting blog, I haven’t fully digested it, need to re-read. Keep on writing, a great source of enjoyment for me. Thank you.

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