Friday, May 17, 2013

Be Kind to the Butterfly...

I have chronic hypothyroid issues which,  according to my endocrinologist, are most likely related to the autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto's Disease.  In addition to Hashi's, I also suffer from allergies and asthma.   Both of these conditions have genetic components.   My mother and her sister both had thyroid problems, and my grandfather and other relatives have suffered from asthma.  On top of all that, I have recently gone through menopause.  As you can imagine, I have some pretty rugged hours as far as my health is concerned.  I rejoice, though, that Hashi's and asthma are treatable diseases and that menopause is a natural process. 

Because the thyroid is shaped somewhat like a butterfly, it is nicknamed "the butterfly gland".  I don't think if we actually held a thyroid gland in our hands, we'd think it looked much like a butterfly -- other than a slight resemblance in shape.  LOL    I happen to love butterflies, though, so I love the butterfly nickname. 

I have decided that this is my year to give my body the support that it needs so that I can feel the best that I can.  In that sense, I do want to treat my thyroid gland as I would a butterfly.  Whenever I see butterflies, I am moved to thank God for them, to appreciate their beauty and purpose, and to treat them gently.  In the same way, I want to be grateful for all the tasks that my thyroid gland performs in my body and to treat it gently, as well.

There's a lot of controversy on the Internet about how to treat Hashimoto's.  As with any chronic auto-immune disease, it can leave you feeling so drained that you will try most anything to get some energy.  The treatments that can save our lives may not bring us all the way to abundant health.  The desperation of Hashi's sufferers sometimes drives them away from evidence based medicine to more alternative cures, some of which have very little scientific evidence backing them. Likewise, there is a movement to use the pig or bovine replacement hormones that were prescribed by doctors before synthetic thyroid hormones were developed.  There are pros and cons to using the animal derived hormones.  I will explore that issue later but won't go into it in this introduction.

I, personally, regularly visit my internist and an endocrinologist.  Within certain guidelines, I am willing to consider alternative perspectives, too.  After all, it can't hurt to try changes in diet, environment, exercise, and stress management.  Even if these do not cure Hashi's or even treat it, there is every possibility that such changes will  contribute to an overall sense of well-being.  I don't consider these a replacement for treatment by doctors who know the science of the thyroid and how it works in the body, however.  Neither, do I consider these as replacements for thyroid medicine, whether it is synthesized from a pig's gland or from other substances.  I would encourage anyone with hypothyroid (or hyperthyroid) symptoms not to treat this disease on your own.  The thyroid gland controls so much in the body, and diseases that affect it are nothing to play around with.      

I have a friend who ignored her doctors' advice to take thyroid replacement hormone, and she ended up suffering and eventually having to have her thyroid taken out.  There are different forms of hypothyroid issues, some of which are temporary and do resolve with time and rest.  Hashi's is not one of those!  Neither is the opposite problem, Grave's disease.  Don't take risks with your health!  Consult a doctor who can give you solid, evidence-based information and guidance.

We can rejoice that there is treatment today!  In the past, people died from severe thyroid issues (and still do when it is not treated).  While I am open to alternative treatments, I don't consider science based doctors to be the enemy that many alternative medicine devotees make them out to be.  I believe that we take modern advances in medicine for granted and don't realize just how far science-based medicine has brought us all toward greater health in less than two hundred years.  I see God's hand working in the process of medical scientists who study the bodies God so wonderfully made.

Likewise, there are those on the net who are so skeptical of anything alternative medicine offers that they reject anything from that realm out of hand.  Here again, God has provided us with healthy choices, some of which are emphasized more in the realm of alternative medicine than in science based medicine.  So, I hope to avoid extremes.  I want to sample the best of both worlds to see what works for me.  If you are going to lean just one way, though, I'd implore you to lean with the science.   

Standing above all doctors, medical advisers, and Internet gurus is the Lord.  My ultimate trust is not in doctors or in my ability to manage my disease, but in God.  It is he who made us and who knows what we need.

This blog will document my stewardship of my health, and I'll post what things I find work for me and what things don't. I will also curate articles about thyroid health. I hope that the material will be of help to any of you who also suffer with an autoimmune disease -- particularly thyroid disease -- or who simply want to do what they can to feel better.  And, you will probably also find that you have something to offer that I can learn from.   I'd love to hear from you, especially if you're on the Hashi's journey with me. 




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