A Few Reasons to Be Thankful Today

Last night, my doctor's wife told me that I must have a lot of patience. I kindly thanked her for her nice comment; she couldn't have been anymore wrong.  The truth is that I am quite the impatient woman these days, and I often have to stop myself during the middle of a negative thought and take confidence in knowing that I have come too far to revert back to hopeless thoughts. I now know what is wrong with me! Fifteen years of symptoms may soon be a chapter that I can finally reflect on in a positive light. So, I think it's time for me to honor the reasons why I am here and alive, rather than the reasons as to why I'm sick or perhaps my most negative thought, 'Why  me? Why is this happening to ME?'

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the day that my husband's younger brother tragically passed away.  He left the world with more than photos, belongings, and memories, he left us with these words that were well beyond his years,  " Find what you love in life and do it."  I've always loved those words of wisdom, and I ponder on them often.  The saying is fittingly in the eye of the beholder.  He offered the advice to his dad, who was not happy with his job at the time.  It resonates with me in a way that it makes me want to find something that I love in those moments, where I feel like my body is my biggest enemy, and I feel like losing hope in the rest of my day.  I am also reminded that Jordan no longer has even the slightest opportunity to find what he loves on earth, and well, I am still here, and that's not so bad after all.

This is where my lack of patience joins me. I've been on Armour for a week now, but have not started feeling better, and I've actually had a few ill effects from  the medicine. I'm only taking 30 mg. per day (1/2 grain), which is a minuscule amount.  It's common to start with a small dosage because too much of the drug can potentially shock the system or can send the thyroid in to hyper mode.  My doctor told me that it usually takes about a month for the medicine to kick in and start making a difference in their level of energy.  For the majority of this week, I've felt weak, experienced achy joints, irritability, and swelled up like a balloon.  I would be lying if I told you that I'm always positive and wearing boxing gloves ready to just, fight! fight! fight! I've have many 'feel sorry for myself' moments every month...actually I probably have them everyday.  It's not like I have a magic pill or I can get an injection everyday and I feel even partially like my old self. The process of properly treating Hashimoto's disease is like perfecting a recipe, so not adding enough of one ingredient  or adding too much of another can affect the quality of the final outcome. With Hashimoto's, the adrenal glands must be working just right, vitamin levels need to be optimal, gastrointestinal problems should be in check, and of course, the patient must be on the right dosage.  Thyroid disease slows the metabolism, which affects every organ, system, and bone, and muscle in the body. It can wreack havoc on the adrenal glands, heart, kidneys, skin, circulatory system, etc.  If I'm not constantly working at being a positive person, then that negative energy is probably affecting my physical well-being too. Sometimes being in the right mind-frame and 'getting my head in the game' is therapy too. Here's the part where I realize what I have- I have found a doctor who immediately wanted to start treatment with Armour.  He is willing to work with me and monitor me from a functional standpoint.  I could have went to another doctor, who did not want to run proper tests or even believe me when I told them that I was suffering from an unknown illness.  I could have also went to a doctor, who believed me, but was best friends with his Synthroid pharmacuetical representative, therefore that was the only medicine he felt like pushing on me.

On the days when I feel my worst, I worry that my light will not glow as it once did, and that I won't be able to have kids in the next few years, have enough energy to take them to the park, or simply bake them cookies.  I miss dreaming of silly things and having casual conversations about nothing in particular, like which local dives are popular and where I picked up my latest fashion find. I do walk down the path of 'poor pitiful me', and suddenly, I am reminded of my blessings, like the times that I see a story on the news about someone with cancer, hear about a family who lost their house to a fire, or  read about a woman who had many miscarriages and was sick for decades before they finally figured out what was wrong with her. My negative thinking caught up with me yesterday, when I saw an interview with Amy Copeland, the strong young woman, who recently caught the Flesh-Eating disease and lost multiple limbs, and the interviewer asked her if she had ever had "why me", moments. She said, "Not especially...I don't tend to think on those terms, it could have happened to anyone."  I felt ashamed and angry at myself for having so many of those moments, where I do question why I am dealing with this autoimmune disease. I felt guilty for being upset  because I was fatigued while walking down the steps. At least I have both of my arms and legs!

Lastly, this disease is progressive, but the right treatment and some hard work can drastically alter its course.  I could still be trying to figure out the cause for my illness, while the nodule on my thyroid continues to grow. It could be worse; I could be sitting here twenty years from now, still sick, but suffering from autoimmune hepatitis, heart disease, or worse.

So, when I found out that I had an autoimmune disease, I constantly wondered,'why me, God?' However, I realized that if I continued to ponder on such a question for too long, the years would quickly pass me by, and one day, I'd find myself looking back on my current days, with envy but with shame because I was able to walk with my back straight, exercise on an elliptical machine, shower, and live independently.   Poisonous thinking causes degeneration to the mind, and ultimately it will poorly communicate with the body. Today, I remember that there are many reasons to be grateful for the exact hand that I've been dealt, despite a few undesirable cards. At the end of the day,  I don't have cancer or a similarly horrible disease and that's reason enough to wake up each day with the acceptance that I'm not a patient or a victim of a disease, rather a student of a disease. The more I learn about it, the more determination that I have to control it.



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