If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, you’re lucky enough!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The BEST trail ever......

The best trail ever...... well, that has to be the Comeback Trail!!!  That's the route I (we) am currently on and it is a FANTASTIC trail to be travelling.

I've been a bit hesitant to say too much too frequently about my journey with Graves Disease this past 18 months or so because I suspect that most people really don't want to "hear" about it but a number of people  this past week encouraged me to write more about it. Reality is - it's where we are and where we've been for the past two years or so - so here's the updated scoop:

After having the Little Fella (thyroid) nuked back in February - necessary to shut down the war between the body's attacking auto-antibodies and the thyroid  - we were in waiting mode - waiting for the final verdict that the Little Fella was dead or essentially non-functioning as a result of the radiation treatment.  That final verdict came about 7 weeks ago and thus started my new, daily, life-long regimen of synthetic thyroid hormone replacement ~ levothyroxine.  For fellow hypo-thyroid  folks, this is ho-hum stuff.  For me, it's new territory.  I've always had a nicely humming metabolism so there have been many fears and unknowns encountered along the way.  
The morning set-up
Every morning I now wake up between 5:15 and 5:45 to take this little life-giving pill.  The pill bottle is next to our bed along with a big glass of water and a straw.  I am not allowed to eat anything within an hour of taking the pill - I usually push that out to 2 - 3 hours, just to make sure I am not short-changing the absorption process.  Overkill - probably - but that's how I roll.  I am not allowed to consume any calicium, iron, or caffeine within 4 hours of swallowing it.  This required a new breakfast menu.  Because I am a creature of habit,  for years my breakfast generally consisted of greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, and slivered  almonds or walnuts.  Yogurt has calcium so no more morning yogurt.  I am now enjoying frozen blueberries, granola, shredded coconut, a touch of ground flax, and slivered almonds or walnuts.  Can't do cow or almond milk over the top due to the calcium so, gross as it sounds, I splash a touch of water on top just to soften things up.  It actually is fine.  I am really liking my new breakfast - it fuels very well.  Thank you to my beloved hubby for suggesting it!

I have now been on levothyroxine for almost 7 weeks.  Doc had said to expect to really start noticing an improvement in how I feel at the 6 - 8 week mark.  She was right on target.  I felt like a 'switch' finally 'flipped' right around 5 weeks - I started to feel a flicker of 'good' and catch a  glimpse what 'normal' is.  When a person is in a constant state of various levels of crumminess for so long, she forgets what 'normal and good' really feels like.   It's a nice feeling.
Sweet nectar of life
The realization of finally arriving at the Comeback trailhead hit a few weeks ago when I was in the kitchen putting a couple of pathetic, overly ripe bananas to rest in the form of banana bread.  I enthusiastically  mashed the bananas in a bowl with a fork and then set about to vigorously stirring the batter by hand.  I paused a moment and alerted Steve to what I was doing.  He knew.  You ask, "What's the big deal about mixing banana bread batter?".  Well, here's the deal:  The past 18 months I have been UNABLE to vigorously stir anything.  I was too weak.  Couldn't hold my arms up and stir.  Steve had to do all the mashing and hand mixing of banana bread, brownies, cookie mix, pancakes, waffles, you get the picture.  Completely ridiculous and crazy, I know, but true and the common  nature of Graves Disease.  There are many symptoms and side effects that are part of the disease and muscle wasting and weakness is a biggie.  I was completely powerless to change that aspect - no amount of "try harder" or magic protein shakes improved the wasting and weakness despite being on the anti-thyroid med. So that magical moment in the kitchen of being able to mix the banana bread without an arm falling off was a monumental one.  It caused us to cautiously muster hope that I was possibly FINALLY  turning the corner and heading to a better place not only physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Graves messes with everything BIG TIME.  And there's nothing that can be done to change it unless a person has effective treatment, which for me, started on February 16, 2012, thankfully!

So today, I am two weeks post-banana bread mixing break-through and the improvement has continued.  I am seeing the potential of being able to rebuild the withered and lost strength and stamina for the trail running and biking we so love but also the strength and stamina needed for life in general.  With the active Graves,  I found myself withdrawing socially, to a great extent, because I just didn't have the strength and energy to invest in relationships, which are so precious and invaluable.  It is exciting to come full-circle and return to being "me" again.  It has been so long.

Despite feeling the remarkable improvement, I am not "there" yet - it will take time.  We essentially had to "tear the house" down to the foundation in order to re-build a new and better structure.  I wonder, too, if the foundation got a little chunked up in the process.  The rebuilding process will need to proceed slowly and not go "buck wild" and try to regain strength and fitness too quickly.  I've learned (sort of) the virtue of patience through this process - a necessarily slow and gradual one - exercising that virtue a little longer won't hurt.  I have to admit, though, that running and riding SO slowly and somewhat feebly is a bit frustrating but it can't be helped and it IS getting better and will continue to get better.  So incredibly THANKFUL and INCREDIBLY BLESSED.......  Our bodies are certainly fearfully and wonderfully made!

My doc (whom I started with in Dec 2011) is having me put off blood work for another 2 to 4 weeks and maybe a bit longer if I continue to experience improvement and feel good.  Normally, folks go in at 6 to 8 weeks after starting a replacement regimen or a change in dosage.  Thyroid is my doc's gig - not only is she a physician who deals ONLY with thyroid related disease, she is an endocrinology professor, and is involved in active research related to thyroid disease.  She knows her stuff and is experienced and confident in her treatment protocol.  I am confident, as well, as long as I continue to feel good, that is!  :-) 

Initially, I am/was expecting a dosage adjustment which is normal.  But if things keep perking along in a positive manner, maybe not yet.  I am carrying around a few pounds of extra 'fluff and puff' which doesn't thrill me and unsavory images of morphing into a puffed pastry or the Pillsbury Dough Girl have flashed through my mind.  In actuality, it has had me FREAKING out because I've never had to worry about extra, uncontrollable 'fluff' and seeing numbers on the scale NEVER seen before in my life has been unsettling.  After being assured this is part of the normal process,  I've subsequently calmed down about it and am hoping that once the hormone levels stabilize and I am able to start rebuilding the muscle that was cannibalized by the Graves, some of that 'fluff and puff' will start to melt away.  Fingers crossed......  :-)

I am sensing a spark just beneath the surface - something not felt in a VERY long time.  Steve and I are excited to have, at the very least, parked at the Comeback trailhead - soon to be soiling our shoes on the actual trail - the best trail ever!

A BIG THANK YOU for all of your care, concern, encouragement, and from several of you - wise and personal expertise - it has calmed fears, helped keep me going, and has been a priceless treasure to US. You guys are awesome. Thanks, too, for enduring this LONG post!  Here's to a return to true Happy Trailing, hopefully just on the horizon......

Steve will do a post on our weekend fun in a few days......

Happy Trails to all this week!
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