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How I'm Staying Healthy These Days

lifestyle thyroid-healthy bites

The Omicron tidal wave hit my house this week. While I can't say we're in the clear for sure, it has made me think a lot about all the things I do to stay healthy. See, all the principles of thyroid-healthy living that we talk about here, are also helping me maintain my health through a scary, and way-too-long global pandemic. 

These principles are what I call...

My 8 Daily Rituals of Thyroid-healthy Living

  1. Remembering to take my medication and supplements
  2. Eating nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, whole foods
  3. Staying active without overdoing it
  4. Supporting my gut health and immune system
  5. Regular self-care and stress management practices
  6. Avoiding dietary and environmental toxins
  7. Fostering community support
  8. Prioritizing adequate and quality sleep

Stacked on top of one another, these make up the backbone of a thyroid-healthy lifestyle. The benefits of these practices and habits are not only to help us improve our health but maintain it. I am living proof that they work, and I am one of many. 

There's no silver bullet, and no magic pill when it comes to staying healthy. Truth be told, it took me years to reach a point where this lifestyle became my new normal. Sure, I'm always working on it, and tweaking things. Sometimes I start to go off track and need to course correct. But overall, these are the guiding principles I use to maintain my health. 

Doing so has never been more important than it has throughout the pandemic. In this post and episode of Thyroid-healthy Bites, I'm going to share the story of when Covid came to my house, and how it helped me connect the dots between my choices, my health, and my big WHY.

 

 

We’ll discuss:

  • My 8 Daily Rituals of Thyroid-healthy Living
  • What my life was like before Thyroid-healthy Living
  • How Thyroid-healthy Living has Changed My Health
  • What happened when Covid came to our house
  • My personal experience with the vaccine
  • Connecting the dots between my choices and my big WHY

Podcast Links: 

 

Before and After Thyroid-healthy Living

Before I adopted a thyroid-healthy lifestyle I was sick all the time. I recently came across an old journal from that time, back in 2014, where I was sick all the time. It was as if my whole immune system was hobbled. I had been on 4 rounds of antibiotics in just a few months. It started with a virus. A cold had turned into strep. Strep became tonsilitis. Tonsilitis morphed into a double ear infection. I had laryngitis for three weeks, which was becoming a chronic occurrence for me.

Throughout it, I was struggling to keep the pieces of my life together and take care of James. I was having to cancel cooking classes that had been booked months in advance. I remember it well because it was traumatic, and I was terrified. 

Even between bouts of illness, I was always tired. I lived in a constant state of "low-power mode," barely making it through the day. It took everything I had to get out of bed, get showered, dress, feed myself and my family, take care of James, and attempt to continue working.  

At wellness checks, my doctor suggested it was just the effects of getting older, that I should try eating less and exercising more, and that because my TSH was normal it had nothing to do with my thyroid. She asked if I wanted to discuss anti-depressants, but I knew that wasn't the problem. 

When I was sick, multiple doctors dismissed my concerns, chalking it up to having a 4-year-old who brought every virus on the menu home from preschool. Sure, that was part of it, but I could not get well. This went on for four years. I just wasn't bouncing back in a way that felt normal for me at all. I used to be a person who rarely if ever got sick. 

"Could this be related to my thyroid issues?" I remember asking. "No," multiple doctors told me, "This has nothing to do with your thyroid because your TSH is normal."

My body was sounding the alarm bells. I could hear them even if no one else could. I ended up with a burning headache that lasted weeks, and drove myself to the ER, convinced I had meningitis. I didn't, but I had reached rock bottom. 

That was the point where I decided that if no one else was going to help me get well, I WAS. I started reading, educating myself, and ultimately found a better doctor

Further Reading: How to Find a Good Thyroid Doctor

With the help of my new, whole-health-oriented doctor, I immediately started making diet and lifestyle changes, in addition to optimizing my medication and supplements and doing root cause testing. 

You can read the full story of how I reclaimed my health from Hashimoto's HERE. But here's what I want to highlight today:

That turning point happened in 2015, and I haven't needed ONE round of antibiotics since (not counting those I had to take for my shoulder surgery). I went from being on round after round of antibiotics throughout those four long years, to BOOM, I have my energy back and I haven't needed to take antibiotics in SEVEN years. 

 

When Covid Came to Our House...

This week, when the Omicron tidal wave reached my house, it hit my son. We saw it coming a couple weeks ago when the school started sending close-contact letters to the entire student body because there were so many cases.

On Saturday morning, James came down with a nasty cold, in spite of testing negative with a home test kit. He had a mild fever, a super sore throat, and a barky cough. James is highly prone to croup, and that barky cough all day meant a long night was in store. There was a good chance he would wake up in the middle of the night saying, "Mom, I can't breathe." 

That's exactly what happened. I jumped out of bed, and went through our usual protocol of getting ibuprofen on board, giving him a little bit of ice water, and bundling up to go sit outside on this January night. I was so proud of the way he stayed calm through it all, as we waited for the cold air and the meds to help his throat calm down so he could breathe more easily.  

In the back of my mind, I knew he might have Covid, but there was no way in hell I was going to send my kid outside alone in the middle of the night, without his mom's arm around him. Our protocol worked, and soon he felt better. We cranked the humidifier, kept his room cool, and he went back to sleep.

He had been coughing all over the place throughout the day, and I knew my exposure level was high. Feeling like it was too late to prevent exposure, I let my guard down and slept in his bed. We've had a couple of visits to the ER for croup over the years and I was in full mama bear mode, hyper-vigilant. Not saying it was the best idea or the right idea, but that's what this mom needed to do-- to stay close by and monitor her kid who was having airway issues.  

The next day, James's home Covid test lit up like a Christmas Tree. POSITIVE. When you see that for the first time, it's hard not to get hit with a wave of anxiety. We had all been vaccinated or boosted in December, and I knew the stats were in our favor, but it seems like we've all been touched at this point by the losses and health complications (and scary news stories) of Covid within our circles.  

Personal note: I am vaccinated. We had all been vaccinated or boosted in December. Because so many of you reached out with questions about the vaccine back in the early days of the pandemic, I had NYT bestselling author and thyroid expert Mary Shomon do some research and write an article about this, back when I was at the helm of Thyroid Refresh. Then, as now, the personal conclusion I came to based on her expert input, was that the risks of the vaccine for thyroid or autoimmune thyroid patients were far less than the risks of catching Covid and getting very ill, or ending up with long-covid. 

As we covered in the beginning, I've had some rough times early on in my thyroid journey, with not being able to recover from illness, so my personal decision to get vaccinated was not a difficult one for me to make. I did feel like I had an autoimmune flare for about 2 weeks after the first shot, but since then, have had just brief, normal reactions to the following two shots (a day or two of fever, aches, and fatigue). 

Whether or not to get the vaccine is your decision to make. If you would like more information about this, you can find Mary’s personal vaccine experience and more information on Covid-19 vaccination for hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s patients, over at Paloma Health.

The antidote to my anxiety during the next couple of rough days and long nights for James was hinged on a few things: Trusting whatever protection the vaccine offered us, leaning on texts and phone calls with friends, family, and medical professionals, taking preventive measures to prevent another croup attack (like middle-of-the-night meds), and trusting in my thyroid-healthy lifestyle practices. 

From doubling up on my vitamin C and D and being religious with my other supplements, to sipping bone broth, avoiding sugar, and loading up on colorful veggies, to reaching out for support, to resisting the urge to binge-watch Ozark until 1 am, to supporting my son and husband in their own health-boosting practices...we all made it through the week. 

By Tuesday night, James had turned the corner. He was back to his silly, happy self, asking to go back to school. He's still a bit symptomatic but his cough and sore throat are dying down, and he hasn't needed any meds in 48 hours. My shoulders have dropped, and that tight ball of worry in my chest has eased its grip. 

 

How Thyroid-healthy Living Has Helped Me Through the Pandemic

I have no idea what's to come. My husband or I could get taken down next week. But it was impossible not to think about and be grateful for the ways that my thyroid-healing journey has taught me-- forced me even-- to take better care of myself, and in doing so, be able to take better care of my family. 

James, especially, has always been my big WHY. I lost a parent at a very young age and I want to be here for, be present with, and enjoy life with him as much as possible. 

This thyroid-healing journey is NOT easy. I know this. I live this. And I see YOU. 

There are days when it truly hurts not to be able to just live and eat like a "normal" person. It's painful to notice how we struggle in ways that others don't. But this journey has turned me into a biohacker, a health ninja, a better person, and ultimately, a Thyroid Thriver. 

There's a lot of wackadoodle stuff out there surrounding the pandemic, and I'm not here to judge or argue or tell you how to defeat this virus or live your life. But I do understand and agree with the frustration in the health and wellness community that we're missing a BIG opportunity to educate and inspire people about healthy lifestyle practices, and what they can do to keep us well and out of harm's way.  Let's talk about it, and make these practices more accessible to all. 

I have no idea if I'm going to come down with symptoms, and I can't say for sure if it was the bone broth, the self-care, the vitamins, or the vaccine that helped me dodge it (so far...let's not jinx it). I can tell you this: I believe it ALL matters. 

You've heard me say this before, but I'll say it again: It's not one thing, it's all the things. It's our mental health, the food we eat, the medical science, the good night's sleep, and it's digging deep to find our commitment to taking the best possible care of ourselves. 

I wanted to share this personal story with you because maybe there's something in it that will resonate with you, help you connect your own dots, and inspire and inform your own health journey. There are no guarantees on this journey, but what we do have are choices. These days, it's a really good time to make healthy ones. 

Stay safe out there, be well, and keep thriving, Thyroid Thrivers! 

 

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