So Long, Maxine

Maxine1                                     Saying good bye to Maxine is one of the hardest things I am having to do. For those of you who followed me in the beginning, Maxine lived across the street from me. Of course that is not her real name, but she acts so much and looks so much like the Maxine cartoon that I started calling her that.

She and her husband moved to a retirement community in early January. It is only about eleven miles down the road, but it may as well have been 100. I was feeling my worst and not doing much other than keeping doctors’ appointments and shopping for groceries. Driving that far if not medically necessary was too much of an effort.

Maxine is in her early 80s. Her husband is 93. He has been having health difficulties with his blood for many years. It affects his energy and his cognitive abilities. For a while he was doing quite well, but for the past couple of months he is once again going down hill. Maxine dotes on him like a mother hen. Such dedication among married couples is not exactly common.

They invited me to lunch about a week ago. It will probably be the last time I see them. They are now living in a lovely retirement community. Their’s is a two bedroom apartment on the first floor. I’m not sure what the age range is, but the diners all looked approximately the same age. I had looked into such communities within the last year, but I think I’ll wait about at least ten more years before I make that move.

Alice has intentionally lost about twenty pounds and is looking quite healthy. She seems more filled with energy now that she is not taking care of her big house. Of course with the energy she has, she has met and knows the name of almost everyone in the building. She introduced me to about twenty diners as her neighbor while I was there.

After lunch we went back to their apartment. Her husband was very tired so he excused himself to take a nap. She and I talked about ten minutes more before I headed down the road again. I never have felt at ease to talk in person. It is much easier for me to write.

I love Maxine and will miss her greatly. I never learned that to tell Maxine was to tell the entire neighborhood. She would just mention my affairs to a couple of her friends but she just knew they wouldn’t tell a soul!

I don’t remember being especially that much taller than she, but when I hugged her good bye, her head came to my breast. I have no idea when she started shrinking. She certainly hasn’t stopped talking.

I will always think God put me in this neighborhood for a reason. My son was six when my ex left. Next door we had Grandma Annie and Grandpa John. John died when my son was in the first grade. Grandma Annie passed away when he was in middle school. The couple across the street from them and their daughter all died in the following years. Maxine was always there whenever I needed some help. She’d cook too much and bring over supper pretty frequently. Now Maxine and her husband have moved. I once stayed in this house because I didn’t want to leave the village that was helping to raise my son. Now my son has no desire to return and the village people who meant everything to me has gone.

I wish a Maxine on everyone at some point in their lives. She says she wants to get an IPad but that hasn’t happened yet. She refuses to touch her husband’s computer. I will probably not handwrite letters and she will probably not handwrite answers even if I do. I’m hoping the IPad, if she gets it, will keep us in contact. She always asked me questions that were very personal, she gave me advice I didn’t want, she was able to get more information out of my son than I ever was. She was special. She is the sister I wish I had rather than the one I got. She gave me a gift that few have given to me. She cared. Namaste. Attic Annie

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The Battle Continues…

Thyroid 2

Two days ago I started to write about my experience with being treated, or not, for hypothyroidism. For some reason it didn’t publish.  Yesterday my blog was almost finished and in switching from one site to another, most of it disappeared. I’m definitely rusty at blogging the correct way.

Whether the fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome were separate issues in themselves or were a manifestation of problems with my thyroid, I’ll never know. I only know doctors were throwing anti-depressants at me, giving me shots of testosterone, and cringing when I even mentioned what I thought was happening (this was the mid 1980s) was fibro and CFS. Those topics seemed taboo. Could it have been my thyroid? Nobody paid enough attention to even try to find out.

That has been my story for almost twenty five years  with fibromyalgia and CFS. It’s been almost sixty years with questionable thyroid treatment. I have had periods of being just “ok” to having major flare-ups.

Since the title of this blog is “The Battle of the Thyroid Docs” I’ll get back to the topic. A big brouhaha has been happening between the “synthetics” and the “naturals” ever since the middle 1950s when Synthroid was developed.Those of the synthetics think that T4 of such drugs as Synthroid  are the only way to treat hypothyroidism. That was the drug I was placed on in the mid ’60s and stayed on for so many years. There was never any attention paid to what I said about how I felt as long as the TSH level tests were “normal”.

With the advent of the internet, I started doing my own investigating. You know, I was the kind of patient who started asking questions based on my research. It was through that research that I found an alternative in “dessicated  thyroid” which comes from the thyroids of pigs. Those doctors I call the “naturals”. The “synthetics” call them “quacks“.

When I had to find another  yet another doctor due to constant insurance changes, I found one who finally was willing to prescribe the “natural” thyroid. I felt better but year by year I started slipping. When that doctor died I found an endocrinologist who reluctantly allowed me to stay on the Armour. He kept telling me I was “normal” because my TSH level was 4. It was ten years ago that the thyroid physicians decided the range of normal should be .3 to 3. He’s using an antiquated scale! I have just discovered all of this since my last visit. My alternative doctor talked to me about all the symptoms I have been having and told me my thyroid medicine was too low. He recommended increasing my dosage. My feelings of well-being over the past month have been a complete change but that is another day’s blog.

In researching this topic I have discovered there are hundreds of articles about thyroid on the internet. There are pages of comments from patients who fought to gain the freedom to use desiccated thyroid over synthetics. It’s a very interesting search. There are major controversies on both sides.

As for me, yes, I am feeling much better but there are still road blocks. Medicare will no longer pay for desiccated thyroid. On top of that, newer recommendations are saying that thyroid medications should not be prescribed for those over 65. I can’t now find that web site to reference but I will continue to look.

I have already researched doctors in my new place of residence and found one who uses Armour in his practice. I know nothing about him but plan to make him a top priority in finding new docs.

There are millions of women out there who have been along the same path I have had to follow. Out of every ten thyroid patients seven to eight are female. Approximately one in thirteen people in the US have diagnosed or undiagnosed thyroid problems. Synthroid is the third best selling prescription.  The company heavily funds endocrinologists. The makers of the synthetics are banking on women to blindly follow the instructions of these doctors. I can only say to other women, be true to yourselves. How do you actually feel? Are you ready to question? Namaste Attic Annie

 

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The Battle of the Thyroid Docs

Statistics

According to studies, which present varying statistics, out of every 10 thyroid sufferers, approximately 7 to 8 are female. It appears that this difference is related to the fact that thyroid conditions are autoimmune in nature for the most part, and that women tend to have more autoimmune illness. (August, 2002)

Prevalence and incidence statistics for Thyroid disorders:

Prevalence of Thyroid disorders: 20 million Americans (NWHIC)

Prevalance Rate: approx 1 in 13 or 7.35% or 20 million people in USA [about data]

Undiagnosed prevalence of Thyroid disorders: about 13 million (based on estimates from the AACE, as reported by Reader’s Digest1; estimated 8 million people (American Medical Women’s Association)

Lifetime risk for Thyroid disorders: 1 in 8 women during their lifetime in the US (American Medical Women’s Association); 1 in 8 for women (NWHIC)

I won’t list all the thyroid symptoms for hypothyroidism but click the link. You will see a biography of my life. After years with our home town GP, I was advised to see a new doctor in high school who finally tested me when I was seventeen. He diagnosed me as being hypothyroid. He made the comment that I had probably had that problem for a number of years. I totally agree.

In third grade I was normal weight. During the next five years I had gained 111 pounds. You can imagine the social problems that caused. My height finally  caught up with my weight in eighth grade and I was able to wear a size 15. Still large but somewhat more proportional.

In high school I gained another twenty five pounds between freshman and senior year.  I lost those twenty five pounds over the summer thanks to Metrecal. That’s basicially a liquid starvation diet. I actually had new friends at college tell me I looked great when I mentioned my weight. They couldn’t believe I was so overweight just three months previously.

My weight yo-yoed for years during college. It once again went down after a tonsillectomy my junior year and once again I was looking fine enough to wear a two piece swim suit.

During that time I never seemed to have much energy, but that was pretty much my life. At times, I was hypersensitive to cold. My face, hands, and feet were often puffy. My hair, which has always been fine, kept getting finer. My brush was filled with hair every day as was the floor of the shower. My nails were brittle, my skin, dry. I lived in a brain fog. My muscles were weak. I was, for so many years, a train wreck. And through all of this I was “normal” on the TSH scale. Of course at that time I wasn’t regularly going to a doctor or having thyroid tests very often. The doctors never discussed the tests with me or told me what the actual results were.  Too often I just heard “You’re normal.”

Then in 1987 my health status really hit the fan. I became extremely tired and my muscles ached and cramped more than I could hardly stand. Those were the early days of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. None of the series of doctors I was seeing (thanks to frequent changes of insurance providers) even recognized either of those problems. I was “depressed” or I “needed to lose weight”. That was in the time of “Yuppie Flu” for those of you who were similarly affected. I don’t remember any of the doctors tracking my thyroid levels. I’ll continue the battle tomorrow. Namaste Attic Annie

 

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Learning All Over Again HELP!

I was halfway through writing yesterday when I had to stop. I saved the draft to finish when I could. Well, now I have the time again but I can’t find the draft to work on it.

I haven’t blogged since December of 2012. So much has changed with WordPress I can’t believe I have to start all over again relearning how to publish. I was proud of myself yesterday when I finally figured out how to add a picture and link sites using visual rather than HTML. I was even researching and using information correctly (I think) directly linking the sites in the material so I wouldn’t be caught plagiarizing.

I’m in the process of moving and can only do a little bit of packing and sorting at a time, so sitting down at my computer is my way of relaxing. It keeps my brain more active than just sitting in front of the TV. I do that as well. I remember when an acquaintance showed me how to originally set up my web page in 2009. My brain was much more able to absorb directions back then and, even though it was very frustrating,  by trial and error I learned how to do pretty much all that I wanted to.

Now I visit the WordPress site and find everything has changed. I click on all places I see, but my “saved draft” is playing hide and seek. My current status says “New Draft”. I know I used to be able to save several drafts so I have hopes that I haven’t permanently sent the old one into oblivion.

Maybe in the new town I will be able to find a WordPress guru who can become my advisor. That would be nice. Right now I’m pretty frustrated with all the blank white spaces and pale blue borders. It’s very soothing to look at but not helpful to my needs right now.

In the meantime, I just have to put yesterday’s draft on hold and hope I can find that lost “child”. Does anyone else who is blogging here have similar problems or am I just showing my age and mental status?

By the way, when I first started blogging I would find a picture that went along with my copy and insert it into my blog. I found a photo on IStock just now I was going to use but when I read the licensing information it says 1 credit is $12.00. Please help! I’m not going to be able to afford any pictures if I have to pay for every one. Where can I find complete guidelines as to what to do?

Namaste Attic Annie

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Old Friends, Dessicated Thyroid Meds, and Moving

Thyroid
A week ago I found an old friend on FB. I lost track of her almost 40 years ago. I’ve asked about her occasionally but never got any information. We had no friends in common. A couple of weeks ago I checked FB again as I have done periodically and there she was. We have been exchanging messages ever since discovering how much we were and still are really alike and different.

I have not blogged since Christmas 2012. Slowly before then and since I have felt the life drain out of me. Doctors really could not figure out what was wrong (and probably dismissed me as depressed). Every CBC that I had showed for several years a very slow but consistent decline in every cell count…white, red, platelets, hemoglobin…my GP sent me to the hematologist twice but all they ever said was “That’s just you. Some people have lower counts.” I finally talked to my alternative MD and showed him the results of my lab work over time. He immediately said, “Your thyroid medication needs to be increased.” The thyroid stimulates the bone marrow to produce blood cells.

I have been on thyroid medication since I was 17. At first until about 10 years ago I was on synthroid. I finally changed doctors (insurance changes) who listened to me. He granted me a prescription for Armour thyroid. We experimented with levels until I felt it was right. Most doctors just look at the test levels. He respected my sense of well being.

Due to my GP’s death, I found an endocrinologist a couple of years ago who tested my TSH levels every six months. He always told me they were in the normal range on the dosage that I was on. I always told him how I was feeling. He never listened. Not only that, through research on the net, I have discovered that the thyroid doctors revised “normal range” to be lower than what my doctor was using. The change in normal range happened ten years ago! Now I’ve never asked him if he ever prescribes Armour thyroid to anyone else. I’m just glad he didn’t insist on putting me back on synthroid. He keeps telling me that only one T4 test is necessary (or maybe it’s T3) when there are several other tests available. It’s all about only the TSH test results. You see there is a tremendous battle going on between those who believe in dessicated thyroid and those who believe in the synthetics. Medicare has even stopped paying for anything but the synthetics.

I started taking the recommended increased dosage and it’s almost like waking up. Not every day, but more frequently I FEEL GOOD! SO GOOD! For me feeling how other people feel (normal) is a God send. I don’t know if I could handle ecstatic. This is good because I’m in the process of packing all my earthly belongings and moving in three weeks. I never would have been able to even contemplate such physical exertion a couple of months ago. When I visited my son at Christmas I had to request a wheel chair at the airport because it was too tiring to pull a suitcase and walk to the gate. I will be ready having done all the packing by myself when the packers come to load the pods. That is a success story for me.

What does this have to do with my friend? The last few messages I’ve sent to her have been rather long. It was almost as if I were writing a blog. I realized how I feel has a direct connection with my desire to write. I decided to see if my blogs could still be found. With changes to wordpress I was frustrated about how to even log in and write a new blog. I have to relearn how to post pictures and videos like I once did.

There’s been so much I want to say but didn’t have the energy to say it. I think I’m ready to share my opinions again.To me it is fun. I”ll have so much to say about my new home town. If you were an old follower, thanks for reading. If you are new, I can’t promise a blog every day like I used to do, but I will sincerely try to be more frequent with my posts. Namaste Attic Annie

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Day After Christmas

Christmas Love

My bed was warm and cozy this morning. I managed to sleep until almost 8 a.m. I have made an executive decision that most of the day will be spent in my flannel pajamas and thick fluffy robe, tube socks, and slippers that are faux fleece lined. They look ridiculous because several years ago I covered them with green felt when I went to a Red Hat sleep over. I wore a huge sleep shirt with a picture of a gigantic frog perched on a lily pad. The slippers were converted to frog feet. There were toes at one time but I had made them too long. I kept stepping on them and almost falling so they now have a toe-ectomy. Since no one will see them, I continue to wear them because they are the most comfortable and warmest in my closet.

I’m staying in this attire because it is the warmest and coziest outfit I can think of. I have given up trying to stay warm in my house when the thermostat is set on 68. As the years go by, I have made staying warm more of a priority. It is now set on 70 and the furnace is running almost constantly since it is in single digits outside. My home is as insulated as I can make it, but there is still a slight chill. I give thanks for warmth on cold winter days.

Every once in a while I am given the gift of realizing that I feel really well…not just physically but also spiritually. Today is one of those days. Even though Christmases are a little hard for me, I found comfort in this one.

A birthday buddy I found about seven years ago has included me as part of her family. She has reunited with her estranged father and so she hosts a dinner for him and his wife. After so many years there seems to be a bond forming between them again. I kind of envy that since there was never enough time for me to experience that with my own father.

After the dinner the two of us went to the candlelight service at church. It is the same every year, but this year I felt a solace that I don’t usually sense. Ill feelings about Christmas go all the way back to childhood. It was a little sad when she confided to me on the way home that she is thinking of changing churches. There has been much conflict the last couple of years in our congregation and we split almost in half. She stayed as I did but she is thinking of moving on.

Yesterday I was invited to the gathering at another friend’s home across the street. She cooks a huge pot of tortilla soup, tamales, beans, and makes wonderful chip dip. They buy a honey baked ham which gives me my pork fix for the year. Her family and friends arrive whenever. I walked across the street around one and had a nice visit while all was calm. It was very nice visiting with her and watching huge snow flakes fall outside. As the day went on, her two daughters and their families appeared, and a short while later two more relatives and their families arrived. The house was getting crowded so I decided to come home, full of her delicious food.

Her home is a little more drafty than mine so I had wisely chosen to put on another layer of underwear. By the time all those people had gathered, I was getting a little toasty. My introversion kicked in and I realized it was time to move on. I weary after four hours with any group.

Before I went to bed, another friend called to share her success about hosting her family for Christmas. She has so many best friends I can’t count them all, but she has chosen to add me to her “club”. It is one of those rare honors one is given in life to find a friend like her.

Back in 1968 I was dating a young Marine. He surprised me at Christmas and came home on leave. It was during that time we got engaged. Since he was in officer’s school and knew he would be heading to Viet Nam, I had no idea what to give him as a present. I decided to borrow a negligee gown and wrap from my aunt, (which had remained unworn in her drawer for several years), wrap a ribbon sash around me and sit under the tree with a gift of a big smile. It was a wonderful Christmas. I believed I had been given the gift of love. Things didn’t work out with him, but if I concentrate, I can connect with the good feelings of those few days.

I woke up this morning realizing I had been dreaming about him. I realized that the dream was probably because of “King of the Hill”. John reminds me very much of Hank Hill.  If I wake during the early morning around 4, that show is usually on. I guess I was hearing it in my sleep and started thinking of my love. After all these years I accepted the fact after fighting it for almost fifty years that for a number of reasons there will always be a part of me that loves him, but I realized today that I am setting myself free. Maybe the memories will now fade and I will recognize that that relationship also had its toxic moments that I have too long suppressed and all worked out for the greater good.

Whatever the cause of my feelings of joy today, I am grateful and will relish every minute. It is a new feeling to associate with Christmas and I will hold onto it as long as possible. I hope your days were as blessed as mine. Namaste. Attic Annie

holly

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What to Wear on Christmas Eve

sue's sweater

…and there it was, hanging right in front of me.

Once again it is Christmas Eve. I have been invited this evening to a friend’s home for tamales before going to the Candlelight Service. I have known this friend for about six years. I think this is the fourth year of invitations. I have been trying all day to figure out what I want to wear. It makes little difference at our church. There will be many in jeans and several in new outfits with every style in between. I guess that’s one of the reasons I like going to this place. I have never felt any sense of pretension. It really isn’t a matter of what one wears.

I have not bought any new clothes for Christmas in more years than I can count. Actually after twenty years of being unchurched, it has only been eight years that I have attempted to attend. My memory of Christmas Eves does not extend much beyond that.

I have a black long sleeve tee that is decorated with an embroidered cardinal and sequined white poinsettia  flowers. The cardinal is the state bird of Illinois, my home state, so it is a little connection with home, even though I haven’t lived there in thirty five years. The cardinal is a beautiful symbol for Christmas and winter I think.

“The cardinal makes a fantastic animal totem. It reminds us to hold ourselves with pride – not ego pride. Rather, the cardinal asks us to stand a little taller, be a bit more regal, step into our natural confidence as if we were born to lead with grace and nobility”. I tend to hold back in crowds. I thought perhaps if I wear the cardinal I can be a little more joyous.

“As we observe the cardinal – particularly against the backdrop of the stark winter months, we are reminded that even when things appear bleak or isolated, there is always the presence of beauty, hope, and love”. The tee was a gift from my cousin’s family. She transitioned two years ago. The top still had its tags on. I had been with her when she bought it. The cardinal was her favorite totem. I wanted to feel close to her tonight.

I mentally went through other things in my closet. It’s not supposed to get really colder until tomorrow when it might snow. I don’t think it will, however. I think any snow will stop about forty five miles north of us around Denton.

I washed a couple of loads of clothes and hung them on my rack in the laundry room. And there was my answer hanging right in front of me. The very last time I saw my cousin she was wearing a new sweater. When we hugged, I was amazed by the softness of the weave. It felt so like her. Her husband asked me to take whatever I wanted when I left because by that time it was a matter of weeks. I couldn’t get myself to take anything without feeling very uncomfortable. I kind of felt I would be in the deathbed scene of Scrooge when the chambermaids were stealing the curtains before he was even dead.  I did ask him to mail me a couple of things when he was able to get around to it. That sweater was one of the few things I felt I truly wanted.

So tonight I am wearing that sweater. It will be warm enough to wear without a coat as opposed to the thinner tee. It will be soft and cuddly and I will be sharing  the service with Sue once again feeling her loving arms wrapped around me. The number of people I share this holiday with has almost entirely dwindled away but the spirit of my gentle, talented cousin will be with me to the end…at least until the sweater and the tee become too tattered to wear. Merry Christmas, y’all. Namaste. Attic Annie

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