A Health Update & a Foot Strain

Several of you have emailed and asked me for an update on my health and how I am doing with my food allergies.  If you are new here or missed it you might want to read these past posts so you know what I am talking about:

My struggle with Hypothyroidism

Multiple Food Allergy Diagnosis

It has been a little over 6 months since I discovered I was struggling with 7 major Food Allergies/Intolerances.  Needless to say, the past 6 months have been very difficult.  I went on an elimination diet at the beginning of the year and eliminated one food allergen out of my diet each week.  It took me about 8 weeks before I had eliminated the 7 Foods Gluten, Corn, Soy, Dairy, Peanuts, Tomatoes, and Baker’s Yeast)…so just a few things :)!

I am not going to lie…this was NOT an easy thing for me.  I was kind of an emotional wreck…and I was really mad.  I kind of had to pull away from the blog here and not share any personal things because I tend to be a very private person (which seems weird seeing as I am a blogger and all LOL).  It takes me a while to be able to open up about things because I prefer to wrestle with my own feelings before I feel like I can share them with others.

My body actually went through a sort of detox.  I was surprised at how sick I was during that 8 week period.  It was an eye opener to me to realize the effects these foods were having on my body without me even realizing it.  I was sick with several allergy symptoms which included the following:  hives, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, headaches, the shakes, brain fog, irritability, fatigue, swollen lips and tongue, swelling hands and feet, and severe neck pain and my left pointer finger had some serious arthritis pain and stiffness.

And then a week or so after the detox, sometime in March, I woke up feeling AMAZING!  I remember being surprised at how great I felt and realized that it had been a really LONG time since I had felt that way.  It dawned on me that I had forgotten what it felt like to feel good…and in essence that made me feel really bad.  I felt bad when I realized that I had gradually been getting sicker and sicker without realizing how sick my body had become or how rotten I was really feeling…you just get used to feeling that way.  The food I had been eating was poisoning me slowly and surely.

Now, I was not the best eater…and have always enjoyed a few treats here and there, but I always tried to do so in moderation and counteract that with exercise, running and being active outdoors.

Long story short, I made a lot of lifestyle changes and did really great eating a Paleo diet (mainly because it supported what I COULD eat).  I switched to eating mostly whole foods and my body felt GREAT!  I lost 10 pounds immediately, which was a miracle in and of itself as I have struggled to lose even ONE pound (even while training for a half marathon).  But the biggest difference I noticed was feeling like I had this layer of “puffiness” around my entire body, and feeling like it was melting away.

I am gradually making changes with the way my entire family eats…and that is proving to be a little more difficult, but we are making some good changes that they are mostly happy about ;)!  I still have days where I don’t feel great…and some days I cheat and eat something on my bad list and I almost always regret it.  But it is too hard to be perfect all the time, especially with Summer Vacations.

I still mourn some of my old favorites…like a great piece of Chocolate Cake, or an icy cold Dr. Pepper…but for the most part can deal with it.  Another thing I realized was that I am an emotional eater.  I didn’t really think that I was before this…but after not being able to eat some of my favorite foods, I realized that I had used them in the past to deal with uncomfortable feelings.  So I have had to learn how to face them in a healthier way.

My once, always inflammed, and swollen digestive system is healing now and I am beginning to notice a change in the way my body can metabolize food.  I feel like I am on a two steps forward and one step back road.  I feel better now more than I feel lousy, and that is a step in the right direction.  I feel like I have a lot more energy now too and I was really enjoying and looking forward to training for another half marathon this year.  I wanted to see how I felt this time around compared to my other half marathons now that I was eating foods that were not making me so sick.  And…I was also turning 40 this year…(which I did back on July 2 Winking smile), and I wanted to find myself at a healthier point that I did at 39 last year.

Lo and behold…life threw me another curve ball.  Just over 6 weeks ago, I slipped while walking down a really steep…like REALLY steep hill, at my daughter’s soccer game on May 31.  My left foot slipped and then folded under me and I landed with all of my weight right on top of it.  I tore several ligaments, tendons and a muscle on the top of my foot.

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If you follow me on Instagram, you were aware of this as I have shared small updates along the way.  I visited a foot specialist who was shocked at the severity of my injury.  The hill played a major part in that.  Apparently my injury is in the top 10 percent of most severe foot strains.  FANTASTIC!  I have been in a walking boot for about 5 weeks in and out.  And just two weeks ago got rid of the boot for good.

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I was so mad at myself.  LOL!  When I injured my foot, my VERY first thought was…”This is going to mess with my running!”  I had also just barely paid for the entry fee for my August 17th Half Marathon.  Go figure!  Running was also the way I had been dealing with my stress and the fact that I was unable to eat my emotions any more.  Like I said…One step forward…and two steps back (or was it two steps forward?…).  Either way, at this point…I wouldn’t be taking any steps forward…physically or figuratively (is that even a word?).

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Two weeks after the injury, we spent a week on a family vacation in Lake Powell boating.  I was given strict instructions by my doctor to get in the water and swim.  The cold water and swimming GREATLY strengthened and healed my foot…so much so that at the beginning, I could not move my foot and swim without horrible pain, just to be able to swim by the end of the week with little to no pain.

boating boot

I was also faithful about using my favorite doTerra oils 3 times a day.  My doctor was greatly surprised at the amount of healing that had occurred.

Then 5 weeks post injury, my husband and I spent my 4oth birthday in NYC.  He had a work conference there…and I tagged along.

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Manhattan is a walking city and we walked anywhere from 5-8 miles a day.  My poor little foot did amazingly well and I feel like all the walking actually did it some good.

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Anyways…that was supposed to be a long story short…but its still pretty long.  If you are still with me, I feel like I could finally give you all an update.

I don’t want you to think my life is perfect…cause heaven knows…we are far from that.  The truth is, that I just have to process my own feelings before I can type them out for the world to read.  I try to keep this little corner of my life (my blog) a positive and upbeat place, as so much on the web can be dark and/or a place to tear others down.

We are enjoying summer, but it always tends to run me a bit ragged.  I crave cleanliness, and order and having 5 kids at home…all day long…is not conducive to that…at least at my house.  I don’t like to be the cranky momma all day so I try to just deal with it and enjoy having the kids around…but I don’t always do a great job at that…but I am learning!

I hope to keep you updated more here on our family as I have several of you asking and inquiring.  I plan on sharing a bit of our two trips so far when I can.

As always, I am so grateful to those of you who are still there…in the shadows.  This blog is a big part of who I am and it is mainly in part because of you.  I thank you for your kind words and support and I truly enjoying sharing with you.

So Apparently I have some issues…

Have you ever struggled with something for a really long time? Something that you deal with on a daily basis but never really talk about to others outside of your innermost circle of confidantes?  Today I want to discuss my hypothyroid symptoms and my new found health issues.

Since giving birth to my 5th child just over 5 years ago, I have been struggling with feeling like something was “just not right”.  After the births of my other children, I remember feeling like I got “my body back”.  Do you guys know what I am talking about?  It took longer after each pregnancy, but I always felt “back to normal” again.

Pregnancy can cause a lot of unpleasant changes in your body and for the most part I would get back to my normal “pre-pregnancy” state (well…other than wider hips and saggy belly skin, mommy brain, wider feet, stretch marks, etc…).  haha

For some reason I NEVER felt like I got my mojo back after my last baby.  I still felt pregnant even though I clearly was not.  I was tired all the time, I had no energy, and suffered from constipation.

But…I was a mom to 5 busy kids, age 9 to newborn.  My husband had a busy job that took him out of town for up to 3 weeks at a time.  And I liked to keep myself busy with my projects.  So, I just assumed I felt this way because I had a lot going on.

(March 2010—Puffy face)

I thought that when my kids got older things would get better…but it was slowly getting worse.  Then 2.5 years ago my hair started falling out in clumps. I was developing some pretty serious carpal tunnel in my wrists and elbows, which I attributed to typing on the computer and my home projects (remember my painting addiction?).

I also developed arthritis in my left pointer finger joints.  On top of that, I was freezing…all of the time, like so cold that I would get grumpy if I had to go outside in the cold.  Ha!  I even slept with a heating pad in the summer.  But I had been running at night, so I assumed it was because my body was cold because of the sweating.

I also began to develop some serious anxiety.  I couldn’t ride in the car with someone else driving because I was seriously anxious about their driving skills.  I mean, I was fine on the outside…but on the inside I was a tangled wreck of nerves.  I was also getting pretty irritable.  I also suffered from muscle aches and pains.  My immune system was terrible.  I never used to be sick.  And suddenly I was catching every little cold out there.   My memory was horrible and I was beginning to forget all sorts of things like picking up my children, appointments and deadlines.  Something needed to change and my life and kids were suffering.

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(August 2012—Non puffy face)

I was pretty good at looking like everything was okay on the outside.  Because really…who wants to hear about how lousy you feel…all the time? I didn’t want to be “that” person.  But in the back of my mind I knew I was not “normal”.  Or at least I was not “my normal” self.  I felt crazy!  But every symptom could practically be assigned to being a busy wife, a mother and a wanna-be runner.

So 2.5 years ago I went to see a couple of different doctors.  I got the “your getting older and need to eat right and exercise” dismissal talk.  One doctor even told me my thyroid was abnormally enlarged but then dismissed all my symptoms (which were classic hypothyroid symptoms).  What??  He then and sent me on my way telling me I was just a normal middle-age woman who needed to get some exercise and eat right.

Gah!!! I was so frustrated!  Maybe I was just getting older.

By this point, I was waking up tired and was not be able to get through my day without needing to take a nap.  I have NEVER been a nap person.  I usually lay there thinking of everything I should be doing.  On Sundays, I began taking a 3 hour nap and and still be able to fall asleep for the night at 11 pm. I was ALWAYS tired!

After giving birth to my 5th I was able to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight.    But I was slowly gaining weight and gained back 25 pounds.  In spite of all my running and efforts to eat right, I couldn’t stop gaining weight.

thyroid gland image source

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So we prayed and my husband and I searched the internet looking at reviews trying to find a great doctor that would LISTEN to me.  Someone who could help me figure out what was wrong with me.  I found an amazing doctor, who I believe I was meant to have.  He is not a thyroid specialist but is actually an allergist (which ended up being a huge blessing in disguise).  I decided to meet with him since he had some great reviews online from patients who had trouble getting diagnosed with hypothyroidism who claimed to be having great success with his treatment.  So in December of last year I finally was able to meet with him.

He listened to everything I had to say and spent a lot of time talking with me and asking me more questions.  He ordered all sorts of tests instead of the normal thyroid tests and actually tested my thyroid hormones instead of just my TSH levels, which is all my other doctors had ever done. He wanted to see what was actually going on with my thyroid because of all the symptoms I did have.

Well, it turns out that I was on the high end of “normal” and that…yes indeed my thyroid was not functioning properly.  He immediately diagnosed me with hypothyroidism and told me I also was suffering from a severe vitamin D deficiency.  He immediately started me on Armor Thyroid.  I shared more about that initial diagnosis with you in an earlier post about my hypothroidism here.

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(before Thyroid medication)

Well, my diagnosis and taking the Armour Thyroid, of my hypothyroid symptoms have gotten so much better.  I haven’t taken a nap since last January! My hair stopped falling out and I felt like I was getting back to normal…Finally!  We have made several adjustments got me on a dosage that seemed to be the right amount.  It took about 6 months.

However, I hadn’t lost a single pound but I haven’t gained any weight either.  I was waiting for my body to regain it’s balance and expected that I would start being able to drop weight again when my body caught up.

But I started to have people ask me if I had lost weight.  After looking at pictures of myself before and after the medication, I realized that it my face was loosing it puffiness.  My face was most definitely thinner and therefore I looked like I had lost weight.

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(after Thyroid medication and same weight)

There was one symptom that I couldn’t seem to get any relief from.  My constipation actually started to get worse.  Much worse.  And then I started having a little bit of night-time bloating.  It continued to get worse despite my best eating efforts.  I felt swollen everywhere.  Gah!  I kept saying to my mom and husband, that my abdomen felt puffy and swollen.  It was different than weight gain and it was only around my mid-section.  At night I looked like I was 8 months pregnant.  Not. even. kidding.  I was trying to eat so great.  I had cut out most sugar and running a ton and I still could not lose ONE single pound.  Not one!

This was right at the same time that I was training for my 2nd half marathon this past summer.  Was I overdoing it?  Was I stretched too thin?  Was it stress?  I didn’t feel like it was.  Running actually made me feel better and helped relieve some of my symptoms. But I knew something else was wrong this time.  It was different than my thyroid symptoms.  I was so frustrated because I was FINALLY feeling like I was getting back to my normal self.

(August 2012)

So, I shared my new concerns with my awesome doctor (who is a trained allergist) and he decided he wanted to do some food allergy tests.  I went in on December 21, 2012 and was tested for 17 of the most common food allergies.  I was SHOCKED to find out that I had 7 major food allergies/food intolerances.  The normally 3-hour test took over 4 hours because they had to keep neutralizing my reactions.

I had the greatest reaction to corn and tomatoes, and also found allergies to soy, wheat, yeast, peanuts and milk.  Say what???  SHOCKED!!

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But…at the same time…I felt vindicated.  So many explanations for all my crazy symptoms.  And?  I wasn’t crazy.  Maybe, just maybe there is an answer and a solution now.  So…I am currently embarking on a HUGE elimination diet.

I was really overwhelmed as I began the diet.  How was I going to do this?  Pretty much everything I was eating I was allergic too.  This was going to be an entire lifestyle change.

As the year was ending, I began going through some major food withdrawl, which I had been told to expect. I was so sick and couldn’t sleep. And I was angry. I spent over two hours searching the aisles of the grocery store for something I COULD eat and there wasn’t much.

So I started to think about what I could eat.  I can eat chicken, meat, fish, fruits and veggies (except for tomatoes), rice and oats.  I had several people suggest looking into the Paleo diet since it was pretty similar to what I needed to be eating with a few personal adjustments.  But everything I eat has to be clean.  No sauces, or packaged foods or prepared foods.  It is time to get to the basics.  I can’t eat gluten free items because they are usually filled with corn and soy to replace the wheat.

So we are in a lifestyle change here.  I am currently still making healthy meals for my family like I normally would and then making something for me on the side.  I have been eating about 5-6 small meals during the day instead of eating 3 large meals.  I have found this works best to keep me feeling more full.

I am not going to lie.  At first I was simply overwhelmed and in shock.  I felt really sad, but also felt a bit vindicated.  But as the holidays set in with the food and the parties I was angry.  Haha!  I couldn’t eat my Grandma’s Fudge (which I did sneak a little bit).  Our culture is so tied into food and I was beginning to realize just how difficult this new lifestyle was going to be.  It was going to be a life changing event for me and my family.

But, I feel like I am at the point where I can actually talk about it and be okay with it.  I can see now what a blessing in disquise this is going to be.  I never ate terribly unhealthy and I have always been a runner.  But I can already feel a difference in my body.  My bloating has gone way down.  I actually look like I have a waist again.  And I feel less puffy.  My jeans even feel different on the last three days!  I had a few days last week where I felt so great that I noticed it.  And then it made me realize just how yucky I have been feeling.  It happened so gradually that I didn’t realize just how sick I really was.

So the plan is to go off all the no no foods completely.  Let my intestines heal from a state of chronic inflammation which could take from several months to a year or two.  Then I can start to add foods back into my life one at a time and see how my body reacts.  Right now I am not thinking about the adding them back.  I am trying to embrace my new lifestyle.  I am optimistic and am looking forward to feeling better and maybe finally getting my life back.  I have taken a little break from running which I do each year at this time but am ready to get back into it with some new found energy!

I just felt like I needed to share this with you since I have met so many women who are dealing with similar issues.  Get checked!  And be sure to keep looking for answers.  And I would love some awesome new recipes if any of you have any that fit my needs!  I am dying for some yummy food again! xoxo

p.s.  Let’s not be repinning my puffy face pictures :)…just kidding! haha!!

What’s all the Hype about my Hypo…thyroidism?

It is about to get a bit personal in here…so if this bothers you and you are coming here from some crafty goodness, you might want to come back tomorrow for a Christmas related tutorial!  But I wanted to share a little bit about what has been going on with me “behind the scenes” if you will.   I don’t share a lot of personal stuff on here but today I wanted to share with you something that I have been dealing with for the past couple of years now that I FINALLY have an explanation for.  I do this for myself and hopefully for others who may be finding themselves in a similar situation.

Ever since giving birth to my fifth and last child, I have felt a bit “off”.  Nothing big or alarming, but I just didn’t feel like myself.  I had this feeling to a certain extent with the birth of all my children as my body went through many changes from pregnancy, delivery, nursing and then through recovery.  I felt like with each pregnancy my body took longer to bounce back to its pre-pregnancy condition.  But when I gave birth to my last child four years ago, I just never felt like my body “bounced” back.  I felt like I am still waiting to get my body back.  Does that make sense?

I was still suffering from a lot of the side effects of pregnancy.  I just kept thinking it was eventually going to get better.   But instead of getting better, it seemed like my symptoms were getting worse.  I was feeling sluggish and fatigued to the point where I would wake up from 8 hours of sleep and want to crawl back in bed and take a nap.  This was so unlike me.  I have never been able to take naps because I would lay there thinking of all I wanted to get done.    I was also having brain fog and memory loss issues frequently to the point that it was interfering with my functionality.  I was also beginning to develop some pretty serious carpal tunnel in my forearms and my elbow joints to the point that I would wake up with them numb and aching. 

I was also starting to experience some mild hair loss and my hair started to feel coarse and dry.  I attributed this to the fact that I had been spending a lot of time in the pool swimming and training for the triathlon I had completed earlier in the spring.  I also started getting mild headaches more often, though they never really got to the point of becoming debilitating…just more of an annoyance really.  Then…my neck started to feel swollen, like I had a tight turtle neck on.  My hands and feet would swell sometimes as well and since it was summer time I chalked it up to the heat. 

But then I started seeing pictures of myself like this one below.  What???  Why is my face so swollen?  I would ask my friends and family…”Does my face really look like that?”  And they were like…”not at all!”  But there was the proof staring right back at me.  Then it was happening more and more often in my pictures.  And look at my neck in that picture…see how swollen it is on the sides?

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So back in the summer of 2010 I decided to figure out what was going on.  I KNEW something was wrong but didn’t even know where to start.  I went to the doctor and had some tests and everything came back normal.  I got the “your getting older and your metabolism is slowing down” speech.  So I tried to put it out of my mind and concentrate on eating better and getting more exercise.

I started eating better and started running again more regularly.  I did start to feel a bit better and thought things were going to start changing.  I decided to run a half marathon and thought that would be the perfect kick start to lose the 10 pounds of baby weight that I still hadn’t been able to lose.  But with all the running and training and eating right I started to slowly gain weight.  I thought…maybe I am gaining muscle since I was running up to 20-30 miles per week for a while. 

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(When I look at this photo of my race, I can see the face swelling as well.  I feel like this other photo of me, in front of this famous landmark (haha), is more what my face actually should look like.)

I started to feel really anxious and irritable about the littlest things.  When I was running, my feet felt like two bricks.  I look back now and can’t believe I was even able to run my half marathon.  I was tired all of the time and always felt cold.  I was slowly gaining weight and I just felt “crazy”!  My brain was foggy and I was forgetting so many things.  Things that I had normally been so on top of.  I started to feel like I didn’t even know who I was anymore.  And I had no idea what to do about it.   It was affecting me and every aspect of my day, and people were beginning to notice.

Then right before my race in August of 2011, my hair started falling out by the handfuls.  I would wake up in the morning and my pillow would be covered with hair. This perhaps was the most alarming symptom for me for some reason.  I could not explain it away I guess…and I liked my hair Winking smile!  I had previously shared my concerns with my friends and family when one day my mom suggested that I could have Hypothyroidism.   My mom actually has it and it can run in families.  So I found a new doctor and went to get a TSH blood test.  This doctor was one of the rudest, most condescending doctors I have ever been too.  She did not listen to one thing I had to say and kept shrugging off the list of symptoms I was sharing as “part of getting older”.  Then she proceeded to give me the “exercise and diet talk”…like training for a half marathon wasn’t really an exercise plan….really??!  I was so frustrated!  She did tell me that my resting heart rate was unusually low…49 beats per minute, and that my Thyroid gland did feel enlarged.  She sent me to the lab to get some tests and told me she would contact me with the results.  A week letter I received a letter in the mail with my test results and a typed message that all looked “NORMAL”!  Gah!  I knew I was not my “normal” self…regardless of what the normal test standard said.

So I kept researching and was pretty positive I had an underactive thyroid.   I had about 95% of the symptoms.  Here is a site that lists many of the symptoms I was having.  And then my voice started getting noticeably more and more hoarse.  People would call me at 9:00 in the morning and ask me if they woke me up.  And I was like…”no”!  But they would never believe me.  Then I started to notice it more and more often and during the middle of the day and in the evening.

My husband found a doctor who had some really great reviews from people who had been told they were “normal” when they did indeed have a low functioning thyroid.  I went to see him in October and he was so great.  He sat and really listened to me and asked me a lot of questions.  He was so great!  He said that even though my TSH test was in the normal range, it was on the high end nearing the abnormal range.  So, because of that he ran several more blood tests including a T3, T4 and T antibodies, Vitamin D and Calcium tests.  Well, it turns out that I was right.  I am hypothyroid and…not only that, I have a Vitamin D Deficiency.  I was really surprised at this news since I spent so much time outside.  But the doctor told me that having a low thyroid production can affect your Vitamin D levels.  I also found out that I have Osteopenia (pre-Osteoporosis).  Yikes! 

He immediately started me on some Thyroid medication at a low dose and I go back in a couple of weeks to get my blood levels tested again.  This could be a long process to get my medications to the point that they are just right to control my condition.  But I have to tell you…when he personally called me on the phone to tell me about my condition I just about cried from relief.  Not that I was happy to have a condition that requires medication for the rest of my life, but I felt vindicated and relieved that there really was an explanation for all of my symptoms.  I have tried to learn all that I can about what this mean for me and my health and the best way for me to get back to being myself again.

I already feel a little bit better…but I am not sure if it is because I have an answer to my many frustrations the last couple of years or if the medicine is starting to work.  Probably a bit of both. 

I found the following from Livestrong.com that explains pretty well what was happening…

“Hypothyroidism is the result of the thyroid gland not producing enough T4 and T3, causing the metabolism to slow down. As a result, people with hypothyroidism may experience weight gain (from not burning enough energy), as well as feelings of fatigue and lethargy. Patients may feel cold because the burning of energy creates heat, which helps to maintain body temperature. Hypothyroidism can also cause dry skin, constipation, hair loss and irregularities in women’s menstrual cycles; all normal body processes slow down due to the decreased use of energy”.

With all that being said, I know that this a health issue that can be managed if I take my medication daily.  But anytime you feel out of sorts or not yourself, every area of your life suffers. The thing I feel the worst about is that is was affecting how I was being a mother to my children. I didn’t even realize just how much it was affecting me and them. When momma ain’t happy…ain’t nobody happy! My doctor said that pregnancy can trigger hypothyroidism in women and feels that my last pregnancy my have triggered it and that my symptoms continued to worsen over time.

So, my resolution for the new year is Balance.

I really want to focus on developing the best habits for me to become balanced again…Balanced physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I also hope that by sharing my story with you that it may help some of you who may be experiencing some the same issues and to encourage you to continue to find someone who will listen to you.  I have learned that there are many others like me who are told that they are “normal” when in fact they are not.  The longer a diagnosis gets put off the sicker you and your body will become.  I would also love to hear from some of you who may also be hypothyroid and may have some advice for me as I begin to try and get this under control. 

As always, I want you to know how much I appreciate being able to interact with you.  With all the craziness in the last few months, my blog, other than my husband and kids, has been something that has kept me motivated to keep doing things I loved!

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