In college, a friend from a small southern Ohio town often played a country song I can’t get out of my head to this day: “There’s a Tear in My Beer.” And that song has been on my mind this week, as I cry all over the darn house.
It’s all good, though, friends. Happy tears. You see, my mojo has decided to come back after a long hiatus.
I haven’t talked much in my blog about the health issues I’ve had over the past couple of years. Mainly thyroid related. If you’re a woman of a certain age, your thyroid may also have gone haywire. The tricky bit is—you never know if it’s temporary or lasting. And for most women I know, it’s lasting. Which can cause complications with blood pressure, heart function and a host of other critical bodily functions. This tiny, butterfly-shaped gland—less than a centimeter thick–regulates so much of our health–metabolic rate, heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development, mood and bone maintenance.
Without getting maudlin (I’m no ninny), it’s been hellish. I gained 30 pounds while eating like a rabbit. I was so exhausted most days that I needed to nap—and was still in bed by 7:30 p.m. many nights. And when I did try to exercise, my body ached and hurt like I’d been punched. For days on end. The kicker to all of this? My normally sunny, energetic persona became depressed at times. The brain fog that descended—my absolute lack of ability to concentrate—was intense. The longer this scenario went on, the worse I felt physically and emotionally. I thought surely I had cancer or some other deadly disease because I could not imagine feeling as bad as I did.
There were good days and bad days. But “good” was redefined as just not being exhausted.
My doctors were of no help. They just wanted to push pills at me—one to make certain levels go up, another to make them come down. I was told everything from “just eat less” (oh, you guessed it—that doc I wanted to slap) to “this is just a normal part of aging.”
I call bullshit all over that kind of modern medicine, friends. (Now my doctor friends are going to email me indignantly, but so be it.) I’m heading to a very reputable functional medicine practice soon that combines Eastern and Western medicine. I’m done with the pill pushers. I want someone who will help me promote health to prevent illness, not just try to deal with illness as it crops up.
I turned to clean eating, cutting out chemicals, preservatives, gluten and more. I eliminated personal care and beauty products that contained anything but natural ingredients. I put nothing in or on my body that wasn’t clean and whole. Does that sound extreme? You’ll try anything when you feel as awful as I did. All of these measures helped to a point—but I was still far from who I used to be, health-wise.
If you’re nodding and saying, “Yes, this is me too, Kay” then listen up. I found something that has made me feel like myself again. I’m praying the feeling sticks. And I have Gwyneth Paltrow, of all people, to thank for it.
A while back, I wrote a blog on Gwyneth’s site, goop. Yes, they’ve posted some crazy things. They’ve also posted some very wise, helpful things. You can’t innovate and experiment without both, I guess. Anyway, this article on mitochondrial health caught my eye. So, I ordered the supplement mentioned in it, expecting it really wouldn’t help me much. But I was not willing to give up on the search to get back to my former self—and the science made sense to me.
It’s only been one week, folks. That’s my caveat. But this week, I have been to aerobics four times. I have run errands. Not one nap. I go to bed at 10 p.m. when I’m tired, instead of 7:30 p.m. in exhaustion. I’m still taking my doctor-prescribed synthetic thyroid hormone—but the supplement has taken me from just functioning to feeling healthy again.
I’m not here to sell you supplements. I just write this to say—man, does it feel good to be back. I know plenty of people who are struggling with what I have been over the past couple of years. Don’t give up. If you have your health, don’t be stupid with it like I was. I sat at my desk for hours and hours on end, too busy to work out. I ate on the fly. I swallowed stress like nobody’s business.
To sum it up, I was so busy “saving” my kids (financially and otherwise) from the painful events that transpired in our lives that I did not take care of myself. Stupid move on my part.
If you ask most people who know me, they have no idea of the depths of the pain I was in. It’s not in my genes to kvetch about my health. I bet you know someone going through the same thing.
I work in global business. I am all for innovation and speed. But we are only human, folks. Until we all start to pay more attention to our own health–and become more HUMAN in business and our day-to-day interactions with each other–results will be less than what we can achieve. Slowing down and treating each other as humans with lives outside of work–rather than just cogs in a wheel–is a necessary part of a happy, successful society.
If thyroids are our own tiny internal butterfly, I’m going to treat mine with TLC from here on in. As I will my own health and well-being. I don’t know if this feeling will last a week, a month, or years—but I am so grateful for it. I truly thought I’d never feel it again. I cried tears of joy in my kitchen a few days ago because of the sheer joy I felt in my body after aerobics. That feeling was pure goodness. Health. Power.
Butterflies are a sign of rebirth, right? I think I hear the flutter of tiny wings . . .