Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If I knew then .......

The view out our back door


If you've read my profile then you know that my hope is, that if you are not well and if you identify with my story then maybe you will find an answer sooner than I did.

I found my confidence as a young adult at 18 years old when I discovered the world of bodybuilding. Inspired by the beautiful Rachel Mclish, the first female pro bodybuilder discovered by Joe Weider, I hit the gym for 2 hours a day, 6 days a week for the next 8 years. At 5'2" and 115lbs I could curl an 80 lb barbell, bench 145 lbs, deadlift 250 lbs, squat 200 lbs and perform giant abdominal sets of 4 exercises, 4 sets each of 30 reps. I followed a strict bodybuilding diet always and my world and life was at Gold's Gym. As I watched the pro women get more muscular I believed I could get there too. I was a fiercely determined young woman and never, ever was a doubt in my mind that I could not accomplish my goals.

Then I heard about the pro women being on steroids and even though I was disappointed I thought hey, I can do a novice competition, no one does steroids that early. I had never touched a steroid and never would. I trained hard for that competition adding 1 hour cardio to my 2 hour weight workouts while working full time. Then I heard that the two other girls I would compete against who had been training for only a year were on steroids! I was flabergasted that they would do that to themselves. At that point I decided that competition was not for me if it was not going to be on fair grounds. I never competed and was quite happy to do my thing in the gym just for me. Yes I wished I could look as lean and muscular as they did but not at the price you would pay for your health. I never compromised.

Working out gave me so much but I had also missed out on so much in life as well and so I slowed down the workouts and took up running, 5-8 miles a day as I dreamed of becoming a police woman. I could run an 8 minute mile and a half and felt incredible but after failing the written tests realized that police work was not in the cards for me after all.

Then a lump a little smaller than the size of a ping pong ball in my neck was diagnosed as stage 3 papillary thyroid cancer that had spread to 5 of my 8 lymph nodes on the left side of my neck. I was 30 years old and felt completely fine, better than fine, I felt great. What was to be a 5 day hospital stay turned into 6 weeks and I almost died 2 times due to hospital error. If I wasn't in such great shape to begin with and if it wasn't for my mom and dad watching over me like a hawk the whole time I would not be here today.

Six weeks later I went home anemic and so weak I could barely walk. They had removed my thyroid, a life giving gland that produces vital hormones and never put me on replacement thyroid hormone for the 6 weeks while I was in the hospital as I still had to go through 3 days of hospital isolation with radioactive iodine treatment. After RAI was over I saw a endocrinologist who finally gave me a prescription for what I now call SYNTHCRAP, synthetic thyroid hormone. I eventually recovered enough to go back to my job as an assistant manager in a high end health club but never did I ever feel the same both physically and emotionally. After a while I asked my doctor why I don't feel like I used to and she said, "you had cancer, you never will be the same".


Don't get me wrong, I lived my life, I just never went back to running as far or working out as hard and I also had many emotional ups and downs that I had never had before.

Fast forward to 6 years ago at 40 years old and slowly things were starting to change and get worse. I had always been a happy, gregarious, fiesty individual and I found my self coming home from work exhausted with headaches, depressed and not wanting to see or talk to anyone. I had developed food sensitivities, dairy first, then wheat and so I got tested and discovered a whack of foods I had to stay away from including sugar. I changed my diet and it helped but then I started to experience extreme fatigue, was freezing and wearing flannel pj's to bed in the summer time, had joint pain in my knees, hips and fingers and even a flight of stairs or walking up a slight hill became a challenge for me and left me exhausted at the top! I had never gained any weight and yet I had fatigue as if I had gained 100 lbs! My healthy glow was gone and I had developed dark circles under my eyes that were puffy too and the colour of my face became almost jaundice and blotchy. My once thick hair was falling out and I could hardly keep it in a pony tail it was so thin and my eyebrows were thinning to nothing on the ends. A 40 hour work week left me so exhausted that getting my groceries, house cleaning and laundry done on the weekend was next to impossible. I could not even find the energy to get together with family. I had also developed chemical sensitivities that left me sick if I had a customer come in to my work who was wearing perfume. Our home became a chemical free home, just vinegar and baking soda for cleaning and all natural products with no perfume and we switched to organic foods whenever we could. All the while every yearly physical my doctor reported me to be in good health. What a crock! My poor honey wondered what had happened to his once life loving woman and I wondered too. Through it all he was my rock and I don't know what I would have done without him.

We had lined the pockets of 5 different naturopaths ( I was fortunate to finally find one who was  my saving grace,  Brenda Leite of Sunleite Integrated Health Clinic who told me she thought it was a hormonal issue and referred me to my current M.D.) with thousands of dollars looking for answers. I cleansed,  chelated heavy metals, juiced, became a vegetarian for a summer along with being gluten, dairy, sugar free and still no difference. Friends and family never understood when I told them that if I ate something wrong I would be so sick the next day like a truck had run over me and I felt so completely and utterly alone. How had I become such a weak, tired, sick person? I felt like a shell of a human being and with tears streaming down my face I watched the world go by outside my window, living the life I wanted to live again but just didn't know how that was ever going to happen.

Then one day about I came upon Janie Bowthorpe's website

and I remember the feeling of both shock and an overwhelming feeling of hope as there were so many woman and some men who were all experiencing the same debilitating symptoms I was and the reason was SYNTHETIC THYROID HORMONE. For the very first time I read about NATURAL THYROID HORMONE and and was soon in my M.D.'s office asking her to give it to me instead of the synthcrap she had me on all along. She said she could not as she knew nothing about it and could also get in trouble with her medical board for switching me. LOAD OF HOOEY!

I have now been on Erfa's natural dessicated thyroid since last February from my bioidentical hormone specialist M.D. I have tested my adrenals with saliva testing and after finding that I was in severe adrenal insufficiency have been treating my adrenals with hydrocortisone. One of the first things to change was my joint pain and then going up the stairs became easier. My digestion is getting better and I have experienced some pretty awesome days and I no longer freeze my buns off when it is 80 degrees outside. I still can't go for long walks without paying the price of exhaustion and I have had and will still have some ups and downs and so I realize it is going to take a while for me to get back to where I was but I have faith I will get there just as many others have after making the switch and treating the other serious imbalances that occur from being hypothyroid for years and years (from being on synthetic thyroid hormone).

Along with not having children, I have missed out on many things in life unnecessarily and my sister and mother have also suffered the same fate but as I am getting better I am letting go of my anger of not being able to change what has happened so that I can live in the present and cherish all the good moments of my life now. Perhaps what has happened to me will help you just as the pain and struggle of what others have gone through has helped me. If through the amazing world of blogging the word about natural thyroid gets out enough THEN MAYBE one day no one will have to suffer this way. Everyone knows a woman who is on thyroid medication and so we as women must take a stand and change what is happening to us.

Without our good health we have nothing and so we must not ever take it for granted. You know your own body better than anyone else including any doctor so if you are not getting the answers you need, do not give up!

A special hug and big thank you from the bottom of my heart to Darla, Sam, Valerie, Diane and Stephanie from the thyroidless, adrenal and iodine groups who have given me such unconditional support and guidance and to Janie Bowthorpe who I believe has saved my life to whom I am eternally grateful.


 June 2011:

 I have added pictures of myself from my bodybuilding days to show just how fit and strong I was in my twenties. As I reflect back, it is my belief that our well  on our 10 acer hobby farm  during my  teen age years was poisoned with pesticides from the surrounding farms. Thyroid cancer is slow growing and I have no doubt that those pesticides caused my cancer approximately 15 years  later along with my younger sister's rheumatoid arthritis, my other sisters goiter (enlarged thyroid), my mothers then hypothryoidism and contributed to her current autoimmune disease myasthenia gravis and  my fathers numerous health issues. I also learned recently from my mom that the previous farm owner had cancer also which is why he had to sell the farm. Why else would an entire family be stricten with such ill health. We always ate healthy and were active on that farm. My nephew who lived with us for many of his youngest years on that farm currently has a thyroid nodule. This is no coincidence. Toxins cause cancer, disease and illness.  I do not believe in a cure, I believe in prevention.

Monday, September 20, 2010

She's coming along

The weather yesterday and today have been fabulous for getting some painting done on our little garage. It may not look like a lot of work but you can't see the 12" slanted overhang that is a neck twister when you are on the ladder (yes I'm a shrimpo). We've got one more coat of paint to go on all trim and the upper shakes and the little back door needs some sanding and a fresh coat of paint.

Restoring the old window can be done inside after the weather turns, thank godness.

Just a glimpse of the newly painted back door. The juries still out. Even if I wanted to change it I may not catch enough good weather do to that (that is if I can convince him somehow that white is the way to go) What do you think? I also want to remove the cedar and plant a Blue Niko Hydrangea in it's place eventually, maybe this fall, just maybe if there is enough time.

I just love the job my honey did when he built the new doors replicating the old ones. I've got to find a pic of the old ones so you can see what I mean. I gave the siding at the front a fresh coat of Benjamin Moore's Weston Flax from the historical collection so she matches the house perfectly and she'll get a new pair of lanterns to illuminate her beautifully at night time.

Isn't that window just screaming for a flower box?

We may not get enough good weather to do the back, it's the north side and is shaded by a birch tree but we will try, it's going to dip down to 7 degrees tonight, BRRRRR.

Hope you are having a wonderful fall so far!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Boca Raton Back Door

I was told that the flowering almond in our backyard was planted by Millie's mother who passed away in the late 1890's. Is that possible a plant can live that long?Millie Quibelle's father Charles Brooks renovated our home in 1915. That's the neighbours 100+ year old drive shed in the back ground.

I spent the better part of one day of my weekend prepping our original old door for a coat of paint. The new but old screen door had been primed and I was pondering over white vs a colour but white was tugging at my heart. You see, I adore all white interiors and have ever since I first laid eyes on the gorgeous white home of the wonderful Tricia Foley in Country Home Magazine probably 8 0r 9 years ago. I still have it stashed in my inspiration binder I created back then. Problem is my sweet but tough guy has a different take on white. He'll say, Hon do what you want and then when I show him what I want he'll tell me he doesn't like it. So because he has worked his butt off pretty much single handedly (with most of the painting done by moi) to give me a more beautiful home than I ever imagined I would have there will be a happy medium and not as much white.

So, then I asked the question, Hon what colour do you think we should paint the back doors,to which he replied, BLACK...... the colour drained from my face. Black I said, are you kidding me. Now I have seen some black doors that are stunning but I just could not get my head around doing that to my pretty yellow and white house. I ran to my paint chips that I had been looking at for weeks now and under such pressure (the weather gods were cooperating this weekend) to find a happy medium hue ,waved a nice sandy taupe colour under his nose to see if her would bite and to my delight he did. I thought, hey I can live with that, it's not white but it's not black either. Delighted, I sent him off to get a quart mixed up at the local paint store and he proudly came back with the very most expensive quart of paint I'd ever seen.

One coat later of that nicely priced taupe and I hated it. It somehow had a fleshy look to it and he didn't disagree with me either. Back I run to my paint chips and with a roll of the dice and feeling as lucky as a gambling fool I pick Boca Rotan Blue by Benjamin Moore. At this point he has his power tools all set up in the driveway and is toiling away on the garage and past experience has told me he will not stop to do a paint run again. But he is sweet as pie and says ok.

Here she is with primer only and seems really pretty to me.

This is our couple of years old deck just outside our back door. Yup, it's a white deck, shows dirt but I don't care, I love it. I wanted a white gazebo but could not find one at the time so I got my white in somehow. I thought the blue door would maybe be nice with the blue stripe on the gazebo curtains and the seat cushions.

And here are the Boca Rotan Blue doors. The colour actually looks more green than blue here. I'm still spraying some of the hardware a matte black and it does look really sharp against the blue. It feels to me like a blue version of the red doors in Sarah Richardson's farm house mudroom which is a killer mudroom. My honey really likes it and my friend Joanne really likes it but I can't say I'm in love with it. It goes with the floors and the colour really suits the door (if that makes sense) and it is gives some contrast to the "Promise" grey walls and white beadboard but it may have to grow on me or maybe I need to go more blue than teal with it. Oh Gosh, I'm gonna give the poor guy more grey hairs.



I just love how the windows are such a focal point with white on the door. I mumbled to him wen he was almost asleep last night, honey, my Christmas wreath isn't gonna stand out on that blue door. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Keep it or paint it?

I found these incredible prints at an antique market about a year ago. I am GAGA crazy for the combination of creams, browns and of course blue background and even though they apparently are from the 1940's, they feel contemporary to me. They are by an artist called Turner and by the small amount of info I found could be in the original frames. They are probably not worth too much, maybe $50.00 each sooooooooooo
Would you paint the frames or leave them?

Monday, September 13, 2010

The domino effect and some overdue garage time

When we bought our three bedroom 1 1/2 baths century home in February 2001 it was still stuck in 1940 with wallpaper on absolutely every single room INCLUDING THE CEILINGS, that's a lot of paper stripping folks. The kitchen although a nice size needed a gut and reno badly but my honey opted to do the main bathroom first since he refused to shower in a 4 1/2 foot claw foot with a hoop and shower, apparently guys have an issue with that, not just him

I was working in trucking as account executive at the time and ate, slept and breathed that kitchen design. I worked up my own design sketches/floor layout inspired by the incredible Brian Gluckstein's own kitchen right down to the exact cabinet sizes with prospectives of each wall.

I could not believe when it was done how lucky I was and still am to have such a nice kitchen for the very first kitchen I ever owned.

The problem is that I'm not in love with the cream cabinets with the cherry island anymore. I have been wanting to make a change to white for a while but now that the mudroom is so crisp and fresh with the white beadboard I think it will flow much better if the kitchen is white and with a espresso island. It is not in our budget to have them sprayed and due to chemical sensitivities I have I only use latex in our home but I am not convinced that that will be ok durability wise in the long run for cabinets.

My honey is working on our cute little garage this weekend and today is the perfect weather for painting. He has been replacing the wood in the eaves/overhang and even built a new window frame for the old window. We'll give the upper shakes in the peak a coat of white so they match the house. The over 100 year old glass is like nothing today with it's waviness and air bubbles and we will reglaze it so it's just like new and out last any vinyl window. Last year he replicated the old carriage style doors as the originals were really beyond restoring and then he added the hand forged butt strap hinges made by Mennonites. It was his first attempt at building doors and I think he out did himself.

We found this empire style dresser last year for $175.00 and I'm stealing it's large mirror for our mudroom over the sink. That would make it a free mirror, yes, I love that! It's getting it's last coat of paint today. I'm leaving the grommets in the mirror and keeping it's harp so if one day we make a change and want to give it back to the dresser we can. I like to keep my options open.

Hope you are having a wonderful Monday!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pretty Porches

Our front porch after much work is a nice place to sit and read or just watch the world go by. The painting is another beautiful piece by Mom and inspired the colours for the porch, thanks Mom.

The outside of our front
porch last year
with the addition of a new
drought tolerant garden
of limelight hydrangeas,
lavendar and boxwoods

Sorry this is not in sequence, I'm still figuring out how to post pictures in order. The next three pics are of the after shots of the front porch with the floor painted in Benjamin Moore's Manchester Tan . We even have a coloured glass window in it to add to the pretty factor.

The before shots, Front Porch

A yet to be painted floor, a new threshold made from reclaimed wood and a
new flagstone step and walkway that my honey laid 8 years ago and it still
looks fantastic.

Walls all closed up after serious structural issues and carpenter ants are taken care of.

Before shots, Back Porch

Just a couple of good look'in brothers working on a new tongue and
groove ceiling.

Ah that's much better now isn't it, no more
worries that the top porch will one
day fall into the bottom porch, we even gained a few
more inches of ceiling height!

Two lights instead of one make folding
laundry an illuminating job
in the dark winter months.

This is what we feared was above
the old ceiling, so glad he talked me
into checking it out, even though I was almost
in tears at the thought of removing the original
old ceiling.

This quartzite real stone floor was on sale for just $1.99 sq ft and I adore the colours.
Hint, if you buy uneven stone tile, just know that it is not
an easy task to install level so no one stubs a toe
on a corner, my honey did a superb job.

A peekaboo window is removed to make way for beadboard, a shoe bench and hooks.
A glimpse of the then cosmetically revamped powder room that has since been
completely overhauled.


The outside of the back porch

The front Porch with it's original shiplap siding and ceiling, can you believe
that the siding was covered with wood panelling and we removed it and painted everything Benjamin Moores Cloud White. We went to just one place looking for the perfect
bench and I guess the stars were lined up for me that day as I found this beauty for the right price and gave her a lick of paint and some Debbie Travis cushions for a comfy spot to sit while you put on your shoes.

I adore our salvaged farm sink in the back porch with its deep and shallow basins

I was thrilled to find this old wood screen door for $40.00 on craigs list complete with
a screen and glass insert, it awaits it's final coat of paint, hmmmm leave it white
or maybe a pretty blue?

Sarah Richardson's "Promise" a soft warm dove gray is serene to me in this space against
crisp Benjamin Moores Oxford White. My honey's gonna make me a shoe storage bench for under the hooks hopefully before the snow flies!

A little ketchup polishes up the original old brass push button switch plate beautifully

Ok, now this shelving just sets my heart a pitter patter, we may take the top one all the way across the room, you'll just have to wait and see and the cabinet may get a coat of paint, what do you think, oh yeah and we'll get the other cup pull put on.

I had previously chosen a modern glass pendant light but decided these were more fitting for our home. Four coats of primer and enviro friendly latex semi-gloss paint over the lead paint on all those windows was no easy task but they are so fresh and clean now that I can't recall the pain. That little japanese bench is over 100 years old and has found many different spots in our home. I love it's rustic feel against the crisp newly painted white.

The front porch windows are actually storms that we installed and the original windows are just like the back porch with many many mullions, one day they will be restored and reinstalled, one day....

In the dead of a very snowy winter in 2000 my honey and I took a drive north of the town we were renting our basement apartment in to see if we could find somewhere else to rent. Our landlords family was growing and they wanted their basement back for the kids to play in. It had been a great place to live for 6 years but the town had grown and I found that the congestion was becoming too much for me to handle on a daily basis. The very best years of my childhood life belong to a 10 acre hobby farm with a creaky old barn and a beautiful red brick century home that had bricks turned up on their sides to resemble Pez candies and so I hoped to find that feeling of home somewhere else.

I remember being so surprised that I had never known about our town as it was only a 30 minute drive away and sat discretely tucked away from a major road. It had a bank, a pub, a variety store, a hardware store and a few other small stores and it was love at first site even though I had not set one foot onto its streets. We didn't see any rental signs but we did see one large yellow century home with green shutters, a green roof and green cedar shakes for sale, the only one in the whole town. Well I just had to live in that town and since their were no rentals available we decided to check into home ownership and found ourselves walking around this empty old home of ours for the first time one week before Christmas and signing the papers for her soon after. On February 9th 2001 we became "pinch me I'm dreaming" home owners and she became our home, OUR SERENDIPITOUS HOME!

I don't know if I new what I was falling in love with then as I had never ever seen a decor magazine or watched a design show but she had all the good things a home built 132 years ago should have and always keep. One of those things were her enclosed porches. There are three of them. One at the front of the house and two, one stacked on the other at the back of the house. The 2nd story porch is actually called a cure porch which was meant to help cure tuberculosis in the 1900's with the large casement windows allowing lots of air in for night sleeping. Although beautiful, behind the walls lurked dreaded carpenter ants in the front porch last year and above tongue and groove ceiling structural errors were disguised in the lower back porch.

We decided after many different changes that our large comfy chairs were the perfect fit for two to curl up in and have tea in the mornings on the weekends. The old wood table, a free find from the basement when we moved in still has it's chippy paint and a coating of tung oil revived it's top for carefree use. We found the bench for a steal and had it in the kitchenin but I could not resist how perfectly it fit this wall of the porch instead.

The back entry porch/mudroom is also our laundry room which conveniently opens into the kitchen We still have a couple of things to cross off the list but it is becoming one of my favourite rooms. It originally had vinyl flooring, a big old 2nd fridge, washer, dryer and a plastic laundry tub. I found the double cast iron sink in the city for $80.00 thinking it would be great for the kitchen when we renovated it but it ended up being too large. I couldn't give it up so we bought a sturdy cabinet for it and we chose a quartzite stone tile for the floor that was nothing like I'd ever seen before with it's colours reminding me of the sand, sea and beach. We also added beadboard and new shaker trim and doubled up the lighting with vintage inspired lights. We kept the push button light switch but replaced the interior parts with safer reproduction ones. Originally we placed a large cabinet over the washer and dryer (another basement find) but decided open shelving was much better as it doesn't block the beautiful windows. We even had to remove a large window that used to be where the coat hooks are. The powder room was on the other side of it so that wasn't suiting anyone's purpose, especially the person using the loo. Now we have a great wall space for coats and hats and I love the sparkle the chrome hooks give to this north facing room. There will eventually be a built-in bench with shoe space below just below the hooks, a large mirror over the sink so you can check out the backyard in the reflection when your cleaning up and a folding counter over the machines will complete the function of our mudroom.

We are so thankful that Charles Brooks chose to build these indoor/outdoor rooms when he renovated our home in 1915 for us to enjoy today and now that my honey has breathed new life into them we hope they will remain for another 100 years!