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.

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