Gluten Free Who? Thyroid What?? I need to do what?!

A little while back, I talked about the cranky old lady who kept asking me whenever she saw me how much weight I’ve lost after having the baby. Her greeting never included a hello- this (senile?)bitch would jump right into “So? Well how much weight have you lost??!”…I fought back by giving myself time to lose the weight patiently, trusting my body would do its job and that maybe being just 10 weeks post partum, it truly was too early to worry about it. I knew most moms drop the weight like a dirty shirt when they’re breastfeeding, and was slowly coming to grips with the fact that I’m not one of them. Fast forward to where we are today, Bella being six months old, and the question would kill me if she asked today. Because I haven’t lost one. single. pound. And its not without having tried and tried and tried.

I used to have a metabolism that not only hummed, it cranked. About a year before I was pregnant with Bella, you could easily find me awake in the kitchen at 3AM because I couldn’t sleep through my hungry, growling stomach. If I dared miss or delay ‘a feeding’, I’d spend the day battling low blood sugar bad enough I wouldn’t be able to see. To make matters worse, the low blood sugar would still sneak up behind me and take hold faster than I would realize, despite haven eaten recently, leaving me literally walking away mid conversation to get something to eat- quick! I was one of those people who had to keep snacks in the car lest I get hungry on that 15 minute ride to work in the morning. I couldn’t stand being in a grocery store or restaurant in the summer without a sweater (and sometimes a jacket on top too) because of the air conditioning. I needed to sleep all. the. time. (and still do). Seriously, I’m the only person I’ve ever come across that would say “I cant go out to breakfast until I have something to eat.” (Otherwise the wait for a meal would set me back for the entire day). It started when I was pregnant with Jax, almost six (!!) years ago. I would complain to the doctors about ridiculously low blood sugar and they told me to eat. Well, duh! If it was that easy! Thanks for making me feel like a crazy, pregnant, moron. (In my defense also, those doctors seem to have been the group that graduated with less than stellar grades, but lousy OB GYN’s don’t belong in this post). Yes, I’ve seen other doctors, My thyroid levels have come back borderline abnormal several times, but since apparently most doctors these days see ‘borderline’ as ‘untreatable’, I’m stuck feeling miserable. At least I could eat though, and I was spared the dread of going to my 10 year high school reunion overweight.

SO here I am, wishing I could have the overdrive metabolism of days past- because now my body is stuck in full reverse. My hair is falling out, my skin is on fire with flaky, dry patches of eczema, and on some days my energy level is low to the point it feels like I’m walking through waist deep water just to get up the stairs. And its all new issues since having Bella. Ugh. Cant someone fix this for me!? Well, since I’ve already seen doctors and the ones that I’ve seen were not keeping up with their research, which leaves them stumped and me without a solution, I’ll be seeing a chiropractor in a few weeks who specializes in natural medicine and particularly, autoimmune disorders and thyroid disorders. Having done my research (meaning having spent a bunch of time on Google, which means I could be an unofficial expert *not really*), hypothyroidism and gluten intolerances (and full blown Celiac Disease), go hand in hand. And to treat hypothyroidism, you have to cut out glutens… Doh. To add to the fun, the most common form of hypothyroidism, is an autoimmune disorder. Chris Kresser, L. Ac says “hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease in 90% of cases” and that “(o)ne of the biggest challenges facing those with hypothyroidism is that the standard of care for thyroid disorders in both conventional and alternative medicine is hopelessly inadequate.”
 

He goes on to say, “The link is so well-established that researchers suggest all people with AITD (autoimmune thyroid disorder) be screened for gluten intolerance, and vice versa. What explains the connection? It’s a case of mistaken identity. The molecular structure of gliadin, the protein portion of gluten, closely resembles that of the thyroid gland. When gliadin breaches the protective barrier of the gut, and enters the bloodstream, the immune system tags it for destruction. These antibodies to gliadin also cause the body to attack thyroid tissue. This means if you have AITD and you eat foods containing gluten, your immune system will attack your thyroid. Even worse, the immune response to gluten can last up to 6 months each time you eat it. This explains why it is critical to eliminate gluten completely from your diet if you have AITD. There’s no “80/20″ rule when it comes to gluten. Being “mostly” gluten-free isn’t going to cut it. If you’re gluten intolerant, you have to be 100% gluten-free to prevent immune destruction of your thyroid.”

Furthermore, the symptoms of both thyroid disorders and gluten sensitivities, intolerances, and full- blown “dont touch me with that gluten molecule” issues all mimic each other, especially when someone with gluten issues has ‘silent symptoms’- meaning they experience sluggishness, feel cold, have rashes and itchy dry skin,

 

Okay. So I read information like this about a week ago and have been milling it around in my head trying to come to terms with it. “An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Up to 60 percent of these people are unaware of their condition. One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime. Levothyroxine, a synthetic form of thyroid hormone, is the 4th highest selling drug in the U.S. 13 of the top 50 selling drugs are either directly or indirectly related to hypothyroidism. The number of people suffering from thyroid disorders continues to rise each year.”

Got it. I totally get it. All these hypothyroid articles were written about me. Yes, I get it. But Really?? What about my undying love for crusty, artisan style bread? What about the wonderful pizza Dean made which I devoured the other night having full knowledge the research says I wont be able to do that anymore?

And for ultimate insult added to injury, my beloved vanilla Coffee-Mate coffee creamer, with its lame vanilla flavoring, is probably off the list of foods I’ll be able to eat. I’ll get over it, eventually, since its not good for me at all anyways, but come on. The discovery of gluten sensitivities has achieved something no diet has ever accomplished with me before: STOPPING ME FROM having my vanilla flavored coffee. Damn the people that started sourcing vanilla flavor from barley. Damn them! (And if anyone knows for sure its Gluten Free let me know. I checked the website and it just lists artificial flavorings so I’ve said screw it. Its probably better for me NOT to be consuming that crap anyways.)

 

In the great words of my mom, when I was talking to her about all this hootenany, “well, now

you cant even have a beer!!” Thanks mom!

I’ve always understood how serious it is to avoid glutens for those with Celiac Disease. I get it. I just never thought I’d have to deal with it. On top of that, I DO believe some people say they need to eat gluten free because they think they are on a diet. I know these people arent really gluten free- eaters though because I would watch them devour all sorts of foods without even a glance at the ingredients. Hello!?!? Its a way to drive me crazy. I know food allergies and sensitivities are REAL, and I am a firm believer that NUTRITION HEALS. But the people that waltz into a restaurant saying they require a gluten free meal but then order the soup of the day (thickened with a flour roux), the grilled chicken with vegetables (the chicken is injected with broth solution and then marinated in who knows what), and the vanilla ice cream and a brownie to share (again, the dreaded vanilla flavor, the brownie is just stupidly gluten unfriendly) are full of shit and always have been.  

The long and the short of it is that I’m gonna have to bite the bullet and stick to this. I made it through Day ONE fairly easily, and am on day two. Its easier said than done in a house full of pasta and wonderfully fluffy white bread just baked in the wood stove. This will have to be a learning process. But at this point, anything I can do to feel human again must be a step in the right direction. Have you dealt with gluten allergies?Thyroid disorders? Did your whole family have to go gluten free? What are your favorite resources? Stay tuned for more of yet another crazy chapter …

 

 

 

 

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Jax: Challenges that make a mom feel like she sucks…

I need to talk about some challenges we’re facing with Jax. I don’t have any trouble at all talking about these issues, I’m almost embarrassed to admit I’ve had a lot of trouble coming to terms with having to do something about them.

Jax has always been a vivacious, happy go lucky kiddo. His energy is never ending and he has the enthusiasm to match. I talk a lot about the great results I’ve gotten from integrating techniques from Attachment Parenting theories, and about changes we’ve had to make or try in order to adjust some of Jax’s behaviors. But what I haven’t talked openly about is the challenges we’re facing with Jax. We re-enrolled Jax into his preschool in Massachusetts. Jax and I were both so excited to have him back in his element with his school.

I walked Jax into the classroom for his third day back when I heard the dreaded words: “Kate, could you take a second and have a little talk with Inga? It won’t take a minute.” Awww, Crap. Its like getting sent to the Principal’s office. Sure, I’ll go outside with Inga and get my ‘You’re a bad mom bitch-slap’ from Inga. Does she have a whip!?

Inga’s ‘very concerned’ about Jax. He’s five, you know, she says. I give a gentle ‘I know what you mean smile’, but I’m thinking to myself ‘I’m not such a terrible mother that I don’t know how long ago I squeezed my son out’…and I resist the urge to tell her he’s only been five for three weeks, but I have to admit, she’s right. I’ve been a little worried too, I just have no clue where to start and how to help him. Or, I have a clue or two, and some ideas on where and how to help, but its an overwhelming can of worms to tackle.

Here’s the thing. A little while back, we took Jax in for a screening for some speech therapy. What started as a simple screening for a lisp and some letter replacements turned into a two hour meeting with an IEP (individualized education program) to address the fact that Jax didn’t want to stand on one foot on the Occupational Therapist’s ‘X’ mark on the floor and ended with them telling me if they enrolled my son, he’d be an easy case to get more funding from. (Incidentally, the assessments the occupational therapist was doing with my little guy oddly resembled a field sobriety test, minus the ‘recite the alphabet backwards’, and he would have failed. Miserably.)

When we were sitting in the meeting to discuss the many ways my poor little guy wasn’t measuring up, the director of the program said something along the lines of adding my son to their program, with his needs being ‘easy to address’, that they get the same funding for any child and our case is ‘great for funding’. Realistically, of course the funding would come to the programs per child, its done through the school system. But really? Who tells a parent they want their child to be enrolled in their school for easy funding?! Duh. Say it when we’ve left the office, please.

Jax needs a little extra help with his grip to hold a pencil, crayon, etc- apparently this will help his teachers’ issues with the fact that he doesn’t want to color in the lines. No Big Deal. (Although technically speaking the ability to color in the lines falls into the ability to write legibly.) He’s clutzy, and thinks its funny to slide into home on his knees on the playground, always wearing through the left knee of his pants. So randomly playing a lousy game of baseball when the other kids aren’t playing is out for this kid too. Heaven forbid. When the Occupational Therapist asked Jacob to balance on one leg, and then to walk on the straight line touching his toes to his heels, had Jax been capable as an almost 4 year old, he would have told her to shove it. (See? Just like a field sobriety test.) Sometimes kiddos just aren’t interested in what the teachers want them to be interested in. Other times, in teacher speak, they say the child isn’t ‘interested’ (fingers in air making quotes) because they can’t do it.

I’m grateful Jax’s needs are simple but need time with special treatments. We are fortunate we aren’t facing the uphill battle of special needs some families are. Some I hope he’ll grow out of or are just a phase, but my deepest worry is that they might be searching for underlying issues with the ones his teachers keep bringing up. It concerns me that parents and some teachers today may have the tendency to jump onto names and conditions and medications instead of relying on simple, gentle coaxing of a child’s natural need to be just that- a kid!!

Honestly I’m happier to keep us trudging along, with faith in our little guy to catch up on his own time, than to have him toe the lines of experts who say he is lacking fine motor skills. Don’t they see him build cars and assault vehicles out of legos!? Obviously we’ll get him whatever help Jax might need, but I love my Jax just the way he is.

2011 Recap

Now that we’ve all survived Christmas, and are relatively unscathed, its time of course to take a few moments to reflect on the past year and what’s to come. 2011 has been quite a year! I am finding it hard to believe we’re heading towards the very end of another year. Over the past year, my daughter was born, my son turned five years old, we’ve moved (a couple times). I left my job (terrifying). I’ve found new passions, lost others, and rediscovered some the old.

2011 has been a year for learning- learning things about myself, and learning what I’m capable of. I’ve always been the type of person to be self-confrontational and to face whatever I’m afraid of. Sometimes it might take longer than other times, but eventually, as long as it has nothing to do with spiders, I will face it. I did something I never would have imagined myself doing in the past- having Bella naturally. I actually had imagined doing that in the past- and thought I’d never be able to do something like that! I’ve talked in the past about how transformative this experience was and still is for me, and it will continue to be as it leads to some of my plans for this coming new year.

2011 has proved a time to realize my little guy, no matter how much I love him, will have time where he drives me Bat-Shit Crazy. (In case you’re not familiar with that term, its a description of how parents feel when they reach the point of going outside just to scream or to tear their own hair out in chunks.) Its also been a time for me to learn how to deal with it. Sometimes the only way I’ve been able to face it is to shout, to Time Out, to let that Bat Shit Crazy feeling have its turn. But other times its been a great opportunity to reflect on how to deal with the situation differently, thanks to some shiny new ideas from attachment parenting techniques, to find some compassion and redirection and solve the problems before they get to be a problem.

2012 is full of hope and optimism for me. I’m excited for some projects I’ve already been working on for a couple of weeks, and I’m looking forward to striving towards some new goals I have set out for myself. Because I don’t necessarily believe New Year’s Resolutions are effective or often even achievable, I’ve been working on forming these goals since the beginning of December, but am excited to work them more into my daily life with the freshness of the new year.

My biggest ‘umbrella’ goal I’ll be working on in 2012 is organization. Those who love me or know me well enough know I suck at planning and organizing. If you want me to put together a great menu for a special party, I’m your girl. If you want me to do something a normal adult might be capable of, such as scheduling my dog’s shots annually or knowing where I took off my shoes, or actually mailing the bills I just wrote checks for, you’ll need to look somewhere else. The amazing thing is I’ve gotten much better than I used to be. Before Jax was born, just getting out of the house was a struggle: I’d get out to the car before realizing I had no idea where my wallet was (I still lose my debit card a few times a year).

So this is the thing I’ve promised myself: no more chaotic moments of forgetting where I’ve put something, and no more ‘oh I meant to clean that’ or ‘that was due WHEN!?’ I’m fine as long as I have a system; my remotes never go missing as long as they are returned to the same place everytime. My shoes are always put away on a rack because that’s where I’ll look to find them. I’m the type of person that has to park in the same place whenever I go to the mall otherwise I won’t be able to find my car. And I’ve promised myself I’ll make those appointments, like bringing my dog to the vet on time. (Somewhere my sister in law, aka ‘our vet’, just did a happy dance of relief- finally she’ll make that appointment!, haha). I solved the bill issue (where I’d write the checks and forget to mail them), a long time ago by automating, but this year we’ll be taking a step further towards some bigger savings goals. I’m working on losing the baby weight consciously, with a system, instead of floundering unhappily day to day with the issue staying I’ll sign up for that doula course I’ve been wanting to take, and we’ll make some plans for our family, really mapping things out better for ourselves.

I plan on organizing everything to bring a sense of calm and order to our lives. Too many things in 2011 and before were full of ‘ups and downs’ and temporary fixes, so its wonderful to be feeling like we’re aiming towards a place of permanence and balance. And with that comes a time to purge the closets (moving and leaving the majority of your things two states away puts things into perspective for ‘needs’ vs ‘need to get rid of’). Overall, I’m hopeful and excited to see what 2012 will bring for me and my family.

What about your goals and hopes for the new year and beyond?

You’ve Gone Crunchy

I’ve never really considered myself all that crunchy. I like to luxuriate in super hot long showers- I’ve actually forgotten I was warming the shower up and left it running. What a waste of water, right? I love my blackberry and other technology, and my occasional sense of outdoorsiness and adventure is more often brought to life with dinner and a big glass of wine on the deck rather than some grand hike. When in Massachusetts, I am in the habit of driving to Target at the drop of a hat and inevitably will come home with more useless plastic to indulge my son’s whims. I do love to get outside and have a hike, but life over the past few years has caught up with me: working all the time, Jax, traveling back and forth between Maine and Massachusetts. Invariably, the combination of being forcibly busy and, let’s face it, laziness, kept me from embracing many of the things I’m doing today. There was hardly any time to hear myself think- now something I’ve made time for.
The other day, sitting with Bella’s pediatrician, Karen. We chitchatted about life, cute shoes, decisions we all make, and my family. She is a high energy, fast talking NP who knows her stuff AND her patients- the kind of person who takes the time to remember us and our conversations whenever we’re there- almost family therapist mixed with Oprah: You can’t help but have a great fulfilling conversation with her. Our focus turned to Bella, of course, but she was remarking upon how content Bella is in her sling, wrapped snugly against my chest, and how much she loves the cloth diapers Bella was wearing that day: “seriously, you can’t find underwear that cool!”. And that’s when she said it. Karen smiled, looked me up and down and said “you’re different now, yah. With two. You’ve gone so crunchy!”
Whoa whoa whoa. Me? Crunchy? Because of the baby? And then it hit me. Yeah, I have. But the thing is, I may always have been. And you know what else? So what?! Call me Granola. I love the stuff and eat it almost everyday. It drives me crazy when people don’t recycle. I piss and moan that we don’t have as much space as we used to in our giant Yukon SUV (I do miss it), but I love that my little Subaru is so much better on gas. Recently I even talked about proposing a program to ‘green up’ some restaurants I know of. Maybe it just took Bella for me to really do things about it.
So here I am. Natural childbirth, baby wearing, attachment parenting (learning), granola eating, cloth diapering mama. And proud of it. While I think some things I have found passions in are actually what I believe should fall under the ‘Normal’ category, call it what you like. The best part is its all a learning process, even the crunchy parts.