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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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Filed under Casual conversation, general topics, health, health thyroid TSH levels, senior citizens, Thyroid, Uncategorized

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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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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LEGOS is Dropping the Bomb!

Whose idea was this?

During the summers while I was still teaching in elementary school, I taught in an enriched program for gifted students. One of the programs was  for those interested in Legos….aimed at both boys AND girls.    The structures they were able to construct were mind blowing to me. There were roller coasters that came up to my knees. They built and played with helicopters, space shuttles, jetports, windmills, trains, cranes, on and on with motors and moving parts. The girls matched the ability of the boys in putting things together. The sets were marketed to both boys and girls.

Fast forward thirty years to the most recent offerings for girls by the Legos company.   After marketing almost exclusively to boys for at least ten years or more, they’ve decided to go back to marketing to girls. Great, you say? No way. The sets they are marketing show sitting in a hot tub, lunching at the cafe, at the beauty shop, and at the splash pool. To be fair there is the musician (even if she is singing in a club), the inventor, and the vet all displayed in 1950s pastels, especially PINK! (and purple)

I realize this blog is about a month late already from being ground breaking news, but I am no longer aware of what is out there being marketed to children. It will be a few years yet before I have to be concerned when I buy for my yet to be born grandchild.

I am seeing arguments on both sides for these obviously sexist toys. They pander to what society is trying to shove off on growing girls. They are supposed to be self-absorbed empty headed beauty conscious girls content with lounging around and primping.

As toys for boys become more war-like (Legos Star Wars) toys for girls are speeding back to the 1950s honoring the domestic diva beauty queen. Maybe since I am from the generation who became aware there was more out there for young women in the 1970s, I am so upset about this turn around forty years later. What ever happened to this goal of gender equality toys?

Yes, there are girls who will love these new toys. There is a broad spectrum of interests  among girls. There always have been. Legos is marketing to the top of the femininity scale…the sorority girls. I have no idea about what percentage that might be. But what about the rest of the girls, the independent girls, who prefer to be in the science labs, the engineering labs, the architect classes instead of trying out for cheerleading or participating in wet tee shirt contests?

It is my hope that the Legos Company would turn back the clock thirty years and start producing universal toys like they did back then. They were gender neutral. They demanded creativity. They didn’t emphasize sexual stereotypes with mini figs with boobs!

There is a petition from Change.org asking Legos to reconsider its latest entry into the girl’s market. If you don’t care about this matter don’t do anything. But if you do, speak up for the future of the current crop of girls who are learning self absorption is the primary goal of their lives. Namaste Attic Annie

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Feeling Great Even on a Rainy Monday

I am writing this on Monday even though it is appearing for the first time on Tuesday. That’s the benefit of having many ADD characteristics. I start out doing one thing and end up somewhere I had no idea where I was going. I had no intention of writing about Christina Aguilera yesterday when I started out ninety minutes ago. But that was where I ended up.

I wanted to talk about it being another rainy day and Monday. The rain has been falling non stop since before I woke up this morning. I have no idea when it began. I was too busy sleeping. Last May I went to a doctor I saw several years ago and dropped when I thought I was better. Little did I know what a big mistake that was. There were so many things wrong with me, I was a walking medical encyclopedia. One of my problems was chronic insomnia. Slowly I am developing longer periods of sleep. Last night was one of them. I didn’t wake until 8:00. Ri-Leigh, bless her soul, does not wake me to go out.  She will jump up and insist if she sees that I am awake but otherwise she is very patient.

Other things also seem to be falling into shape and I woke this morning to a feeling of wellness that is alien to me. I love it. I have never been bi-polar but to me this feeling would definitely be on the high end of my own polarity scale. I envy people who feel this energetic every day. To me it is a miracle.

Since I have an aversion to driving anywhere in the rain, I am confined to home. The sounds of the rain falling is very lulling and hypnotic but I am refusing to allow it to con me into losing this elevated mood I am experiencing today. It’s great to feel alive!

One of the things that happens when I feel good is that my words start tumbling out of me. It seems I can whip out a blog or several blogs in record time. I can’t attest to the quality of such blogs but they are easy to spill out. The other thing that happens is that I get the urge to dig myself out of the pit I call my home. When I do not feel well, which has been since last May, things pile up. Usually I find other things to do to occupy my mind until that urge passes, but today I think I’ll do at least a little work. It makes me feel better…like when I change my sheets and crawl into the spring fresh smooth bed at night. It’s a great feeling.

It’s hard to separate into different boxes feelings that might be physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual. I listened to a song sung yesterday by a great vocalist which contributed to my being in a good mood. All of them are contributing to my feelings of love and life. Will this last? Probably not. Will these feelings come again? Probably so. I’m still crying for the pain I feel towards my friend’s loss of a young daughter. I cry at the pain whenever any friend loses someone close. I am sending him my love and willing him to take one step at a time to get through this ordeal. But it’s still not dampening my mood.

My attitudes about so many things are changing. I think for the better. On those days when I realize I am actually feeling I am thankful. Decades of burying all emotions have taken their toll on me but I’m not finished yet. I envision the first spring’s sprout appearing ready to shoot up and produce some beautiful work of some type. I feel myself growing. Monday’s rainy day is a blessing. I feel like I am in and surrounded by love. No, there’s no particular person in mind….except maybe me. Like Martha Stewart says, “It’s a good thing.” Namaste. Attic Annie

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Let A Woman Be A Woman…not a sexy teenage Mouseketeer!

What does America have against curves on a woman? It seems all the fashion gurus want are women who perpetually look like emaciated teen age boys.

Granted I am speaking from the viewpoint of a woman who has had weight issues most of my life. When I wore a size 10-12 I looked to myself and others as quite thin.

I am not a big music fan. Perhaps it is because as a child we only had one radio in the kitchen for the whole house. I was never encouraged to enjoy music of any kind. I never intentionally listen to music when I am in the car or at home. I’m not sure why the “plight” of Christina Aguilera even caught my attention.

It seems many want to make her a social outcast because she now has curves. I would dearly love to have her figure. She looks like a woman. She is thirty one years old and looks well nourished. She does not look like an overexploited, overexposed sexy Mouseketeer any longer. Which reminds me….when did the female Mouseketeers change from being the wholesome teenage girls to the provocative teenage vixens?….another topic.

Recent comments about Aguilera have not been flattering. She is being criticized about her weight. I would like to know why. Depending on the camera angle she may now have a hint of a double chin and rounded face but nothing that maybe losing five pounds wouldn’t take care of. She is very normal looking for a thirty one year old.

Her pictures remind me of Mae West. Mae was certainly very sexy for her time even as her weight appeared to fluctuate in her photos. She definitely knew how to be a woman. She definitely knew how to be sexy. She definitely knew men did not appreciate a string bean.

Aguilera seems to have the same attitude. It is the entertainment media who seems to view her weight as a “plight” rather than her. She says she comfortable in her own skin. I applaud her for not caving in the the media moguls who want big boobs and an 18 inch waist before they give any woman the time of day.

Do I think weight is important? Yes. Believe me, I know the consequences physically, emotionally, and socially to being overweight. Have I been “comfortable in my own skin” as Aguilera claims she is? No. To some, she is a very accomplished vocalist. I am not familiar with her works. I’m not really into the dirrty hooker images for young women which are so prevalent these days. I yearn for the years when they were just suggestively sexy. But I do feel a woman should be judged, if she must be, on the health of her body, the generosity of her spirit, and her talent. Not her weight. Namaste. Attic Annie

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