Thyroid Disease

Team Work Makes The Dream Work....

I am back with a literal and figurative point to prove.  After a humbling medical DNF in Placid, I came home to nurse my injuries and wipe the slate clean.  I had nothing but time while laying in bed allowing my spleen and ribs to heal to read, research, watch videos, read blogs and take notes on everything triathlon.  

The first thing I felt I had to address was my diet.  I considered myself to have been eating the “right” foods for my Autoimmune Disease, cutting out all things Gluten as I was allergic to wheat.  I wasn’t a label reader by any means, the extent to which I would look was if the packaging said “Gluten Free” it was fine for me to eat. Lazy? MMMMM, Maybe.  For the most part, I’m like every other single parent working two jobs it was time, distractions and everything in my life was fit into a neat little compartment, I didn’t have the time or energy to put into structured shopping and meal prep.  I was a linear thinker when it came to nutrition and “diet”. I knew I had to follow the rules pertaining to the food pyramid. Eat your veggies, proteins, grains and dairy. This stuff is mashed into our lives from the time we are small. As a child of the 70’s and 80’s there were no water bottles at lunch for us.  We had trays stacked up outside of our classrooms of those little red milk cartons that make the fantastic bubbling sound with a straw. Admit it, you just giggled because you did it too.

I opted a few years ago to try various, internet and multi level marketing promoted shakes. What a learning curve.  Every product I tried or was suggested to me was made in a lab, compounded into a power to be consumed once or twice a day.  Are these good for some people? Yes. Are they expensive? YES. Were they right for Me? NO.

For each new shake trial, most days I felt worse than I felt better.  It became cyclical for me with a combination of good days and bad days, trying to find that perfect “shake”.  Daily I wondered what I was doing wrong and why it was working for all these other people and not me?? The more I read and took I notes, one thing kept becoming more clear.  Eating right is not a “one size fits all” thing. It is a thing that is specific to each individual person on a cellular level.

Because, you know...SCIENCE.  

In September, 2018 after Ironman on my follow up post Spleen injury I was 5 feet 5” tall and weighed in at 155 pounds.  I thought I was in relatively good shape and kind of just resolved myself to the fact that this was my “healthy weight”.  I thought my Hashimotos was for the most part managed as well as my asthma and other AID symptoms. (Prior to being diagnosed with Hashimotos Hypothyroid with Autoimmune (Celiacs) I was 5’5” and 124 pounds in October, 2010.  At my heaviest before finding the right dose of TiroSint (150mcg) I was 178 pounds in April, 2011. 54 pounds. In 6 months. Holy cow. I looked and felt terrible.

The end of September, I bought the book “The Plant Paradox” written by Steven R. Gundry, MD.  It was the first time in recent memory that everything that was going on in my body made any sense. I felt empowered.  Shortly after, I called my Mom, Joan on the phone. “Hi, Mommy!!” “Hi, Baby!!” (Our daily greeting for each other. ),  “Mom, I know you already think I am a crazy person with the Ironman obsession, but I need your help” “Sure, what do you need?”  I began to explain to my Mom in detail this super structured, daily food plan and diet I needed to try. I got the usual “Your Crazy” from Mom but surprisingly it was followed by a “I think this is fantastic and I’ll do what I can to help”.  

I first had to address my “vices”.  I don’t drink or smoke but, damn do I like my candy and potato chips. I had become dependent on their comfort food feel on a daily basis. Dare I say, I was addicted to simple sugars and starches.  I went through my house and purged it of any and all synthetic sugars and potatoes. (I cannot confirm nor deny that I cried a little). Next came the grains.  They all got packed up and stored into the bomb shelter in my basement, along with anything that contained any Soy byproduct. (I genuinely had no idea that Soy is in almost everything)  This was becoming a labor of love. I love my chocolate, however I had zero idea that most commercial chocolate has soy in it. I spent 45 minutes in my local health food store reading the back of every label of dark chocolate.  Know where I found the best one? Starbucks. As much as I love my dairy, that went too.

Then, I proverbially sat back and waited to embrace the suck.  The suck of withdrawing from synthetic sugar and grains. It was hard, but tolerable.  When it got bad at work and I was stressed, I would immediately have a thought pop up to grab for a comfort food.  I was crabby and a touch irritable but it was tolerable. I refused to get on the scale. (I do this every morning religiously to keep track in my upswing of maintaining water weight) I began to follow a daily, structured routine of certain foods and started to religiously meal prep.   My Mom helped. She would help me with my grocery shopping, reading labels with me. Everything became about “pastured” meat and dairy. Makes sense if your allergic to certain grains, to stop consuming things that consume grains. I would come home, Mom would have meal prep suggestions and find the best prices on pastured chicken and beef.  Courtney then jumped on board. “If your doing this, then I’ll do it too. Maybe it will help my Crohn’s”. It became teamwork.

About three weeks in, I noticed it.  My anxiety level decreased. My clothes began to feel loose and I genuinely began to feel like I had some energy back.  Initially, I thought it was a coincidence between my spleen healing and feeling better. But quickly I realized it wasn’t.  

Mid October, I went to Labcorp and had my annual blood work for my thyroid.  Dr. Fomin runs my Vitamin D, TSH, T3, T4, Cortisol and Thyroid Antibodies. I went to see Dr. Fomin on November 8th.  Dr. Fomin is a whirlwind of an Endocrinologist, her office staff is incredible. She comes buzzing in shakes hands, sits at her little glass computer desk and asks me how I am doing as she is pulling up my lab work.  I state that I am well, I now weigh 142 pounds, however my hair is falling out and my anxiety level has been a bit off the charts at night as I am not sleeping well. She looks up at me and back at the computer screen and asks what I am doing different.  I explain to her my diet and all of the changes I have made in the last two months. I talked to her about my training schedule and how well I have been doing with it.

She comes back from around her desk and says…”Well, these symptoms are due to you now taking too much Tirosint”  Wait. What?! She said “Your Thyroid antibodies have come down 60 percent, you have lost weight and your numbers show your taking too much, so we need to lower your dose.  That is what is causing your symptoms”. She told me it looks like I’m well on my way to “healing” my thyroid. Gave me a Script for more blood work in 6 weeks and told me to call her after I get it done.  

You know that feeling you get when you WIN at something?  That was the feeling I had walking out that door that day.  

Eating the right food initially was a labor of love, it turned into a love of eating right.  It made me more driven than ever before to be the best version of myself. I committed 100 percent to eating only the things I should eat to give my body the fuel it needs to succeed in healing.  Two weeks ago, after two really long training days (usually adds two pounds of water weight) and 5 12 hour shifts, I got on the scale. Unprepared for what I was going to see. 139 Pounds. Oh. EM. GEE!!!  This morning, I weighed in at 137.5. I have never been hungry, I have no gas or gas pains, I have zero joint pain, my anxiety level is almost gone (minus the one or two pucker factor jobs I have had at work), the brain fog has completely dissipated.   I am back to my 03:30 am wake ups and two hours of training before work. The most important part is I feel fantastic and have a positive mental attitude, which is palpable to all who know me.

Teamwork, has made my dream work and for that I am grateful.  

Here is a one day sample of what I eat on the Medic Truck:  (Most of what I get is from either Whole Foods or ShopRite)

Coffee is life.  Medium roast coffee with one teaspoon of coconut sugar and some Organic Heavy cream from Pastured cows and 1 tablespoon of organic MCT Oil.

1 tab of AltRed

Banana with shredded coconut, chocolate flax and chia seeds.

“So Delicious” brand Coconut milk yogurt.  (The Key Lime is crazy good)

Raw, unsalted almonds.

Broiled brussel sprouts baked with avocado oil and pink sea salt. (I love snacking on these while on the Medic truck)

1 pan fried then baked chicken breast, with organic pastured fresh shredded cheddar on top and ½ cup mashed red sweet potatoes with kerrygold butter and pink salt.  

½ avocado or broiled asparagus

If I really am in a jam and need something sweet, 1 teaspoon Manuka honey.  (Keeps the bad virus JUJU away)

For 2019’s Tri season, I am now a proud member of the Speed Sherpa Nation (www.speedsherpa.com). I have an entire, national Tri family who now has my back. They help me train, keep me motivated to help me be the best version of myself. Feel free to read all about them and their mission on their web site!

Next week Denise and I get in the pool for the start of our training and my cycling classes at Cycles 54 in Wall, NJ start January 3rd...can’t wait to tell you all about our training shenanigans!  Until then, stay safe and be good to each other! ~ T

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"You're Nuts..."

Today I had a new partner as my most recent one has left me for Medical School (Yes, Ed.  I am still holding a grudge until you return)

While it was just for today, Art and I seemed to have an immediate understanding of each other.  Our Medic numbers are only a few digits off and we both have experienced what life is outside of EMS.  We enjoyed our day, we had great conversations, saw a few patients, had a lot of laughs and because of him, I actually enjoyed my first day back to work since July 24th.  This was a relatively benign for a Medic Shift in this area (Lakewood, NJ).  So it was an easy day to ease back into the Medic saddle.

For those who don't know me...I am a walking talking shit storm when it comes to bad EMS calls.  The Nurses at Jersey Shore UMC in Neptune always give me a side smile when I walk through the doors and say "we should have known you had something to do with this" It makes me smile at times and others it makes me shake my head.   There is a lot of pressure in my job.  It's a job where you usually only see the worst things life has to throw at another human.  Let's face it.  If you have ever called 911, it wasn't because something good happened.  It was simply a cry for help in desperation or something life altering had just happened. 

After almost 20 years on the Medic truck, I still call my Mother, Joan every night on my way home.  It has become our "thing".  When she sees or hears my name being announced on her caller ID, she always answers the phone in her very upbeat voice and asks "How was your day, honey?" There is always some kind of snarky answer or a long drawn out silence, groan or grumble. (Anyone who has worked in public service knows those answers can vary greatly depending on what the universe has decided to throw at us in between punches of the time clock.) You see, I can talk to my Mom of the things I see, hear feel and experience "on the job".  She understands pressures of the job.  After some persuading by me in the early 90's, she went through EMT school and found her passion.  She loved every minute of it.  But she also got a good taste of how stressful the job can be.    

Today, my answer to Joan was: "Relatively benign for a Sunday in Ocean County, NJ".  Mom giggled. (She does, in fact have the best giggle ever next to Courtney's). While chatting with my Mom and her giving me the run down of her day, she states: "Well, now you can go home, peel off your uniform, climb into your comfy's and go to sleep". I unwittingly let out a sarcastic giggle. "Wait. What?! Why are you giggling??"  "Mom, I decided to sleep in today 'cause it was my first day back to work so I have to do at least part of my circuit tonight".  Mom:  "You're Nuts!" Me: "Well, kinda.  Yeah."  (It takes a nut to know a nut, Joanie)

My Mom and Dad have always been my own personal cheering section.  There were 7 of us growing up.  With my Dad working so much to support us, she tried her best to get to every sporting event and cheer us on.  Now, at 84, it's no different.  When I post something about my Tri Training on social media, she always chirps up with a "That's MY GIRL!" comment.  I think she lives her life vicariously through me and my adventures, I don't blame her.  I have a pretty amazing life. My generation of female athletes is only possible because of hers.  She has taught me to recognize and respect that, I do.  I go on to explain to her the amount of pressure I have put myself under as I am 27 days away from my first Ironman 70.3 and I am in fear of not being able to finish it as my body hasn't been cooperating.   She tells me she loves me, tells me I can do it, tells me to please be safe and call her tomorrow during my shift at Jersey Shore.  "I love you too, Mom".  Sleep well, beautiful. 

I disconnect the call through the magic technological person called Siri in my phone and much to my surprise what is on the Radio? Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen.  It's Jake's favorite song.  I have listened to the words for what could possibly be a million times.  I know them.  But I never really listened to them.  Until tonight.

"Pressure pushing down on me, Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure that brings a building down, Splits a family in two, Puts people on streets.  It's the terror of knowing, What the world is about, Watching some good friends
Screaming 'Let me out', Pray tomorrow gets me higher, Pressure on people people on streets, Chippin' around - kick my brains around the floor, These are the days it never rains but it pours."

All of a sudden, I got it.  Pressure comes from all sources, both Internal and external, some in our control some completely out of our control (like my job).  My fear of failure is my own personal pressure.  It's pressure I don't need.  None of us do.  So yes, Mom.  I'm Nuts.  Im Nuts if I don't think I can do this.  So even though today is one of those days where EVERYTHING HURTS, I'm swollen and exhausted, I put on my sneakers, my beats and my flasher (a gift from Michael for when I run at O'Dark-Thirty in the morning) and I ran.  Only two miles.  I did it for me.  Most importantly, I did it for you, Mom.  I love you. 

 

Stay safe everyone and be good to each other. ~ T

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Janae asked me a question.....

Well, she did and it got me to thinking.  A few weeks ago, my Friend Janae (Emergency Room Doctor in Newark, NJ and Former Paramedic) and I sat around the table at our Medic Station eating lunch.  We were live streaming Heather Jackson kick ass and take names at Ironman Lake Placid and stuffing our faces in between calls.  Janae watched me systematically go in the refrigerator a few times and pull out a few pre packed meals and eat them like I was going to the chair.

"Can I ask you a question, Tracy, Do you follow a specific diet for all the training you do?" My immediate reply was... "Yes!!  I eat everything"  Then I got to thinking.  No one has really asked me that before.  I mean really, I was never handed a guide book on what to eat when you have Auto Immune Disease and Celiac's.  I just knew in the beginning not to eat wheat, what made me feel crappy and what didn't.  Becoming an endurance athlete added a whole new dimension to my meal planning and eating habits. 

Listen, I am just a Paramedic who treats really, really sick people.  I am not a dietician, doctor or endocrinologist.  I just fix dead people, so I was kind of on my own when I got diagnosed.  Having been 2011 when I was, I had the benefit of the world wide web at my fingertips so that is where I started.  I read.  I read more.  I read even more than that.  It would have been easier if I had someone to text, call or guide me and do all of the leg work for me on a whole new lifestyle of nutrition. I didn't, it was just me. 

Let's be honest.  Most public service employees (Police, Firefighters, EMS providers, etc.) don't exactly eat right. We don't eat to be healthy, we eat out of necessity.  We eat in what's usually a super rushed environment, we are never guaranteed to even be sitting down, let alone have time to properly digest whatever crap we put into our mouths.  We have a joke in my house, keep all appendages away from me when I sit down to eat, you might be missing something when I'm done.  Its a matter of conditioning.  I eat fast.  Now I eat fast and I eat right.

I started following certain blogs, websites and reading every article I could.  The resounding theme: think about what you put into your body.  It is a machine that instead of being well oiled and functioning properly, it is in a constant battle with itself.  AID sufferers know the struggle well.  We can't just go out and slam down few beers, eat potato chips or whatever we want.  Well, actually we can but then we pay the price.  Gut pain, cramping, swelling in your face and joints, chicken skin, rashes, I could go on but you get it. 

One of my favorites to read is by AmyMyersMD.com, it is titled "7 Foods you should be eating if you have Hashimoto's".  It is a step by step that explains why, what and how our food works in our new AID food reality.  Lot's of B's.  ALL OF THEM! (B1, B2, B3, B9) IODINE. All the dark veggies, spinach, kale, sea weed and my FAVORITE Collard Greens. IODINE. All of the dark fruits.  IODINE. PROTEINS!  Beef and Chicken. IODINE. Salmon. IODINE. Avocado. IODINE. Bone Broths. IODINE. All the oranges too!  Carrots, Sweet Potatoes.  Did I mention Iodine? Good. Cause no one told me how important it is to thyroid health.  Something so simple like switching to table salt that contains Iodine fixes it.  

Here are a few more links to some good sites:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321197.php

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321197.php

https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/energy/a-hashimotos-diet-can-help-manage-your-autoimmune-disease/

I work long 12 hour shifts.  I get up at 3:45 in the morning, fumble my way to the coffee pot and sit for about 5 mins to figure out which way is up.  Then I start my circuit.  I either run for an hour, bike for an hour on the virtual trainer, or do a combo of both in rapid fire sequence to train the legs that even on a good day I can't feel very well. This shit is hard.  Really Hard. It's a full time job trying find that perfect balance between training time, work, kids, boyfriend, family, proper nutrition and staying healthy and most importantly: listening to your body.  Meal prep helps.  I buy only what I need for a few days, I don't like to waste.  I cook and pre pack everything to save time.  My time after work is spent preparing whatever I need to get me through the next shift, while tackling homework, sports, college shopping and social calendars for Jake and Courtney.  And the Laundry.  (Did I mention how much laundry two teenagers produce on top of a Mom who trains for Triathlons???)  

Here is a sampling of my daily meals:

Coffee. UGH. COFFEE, how I love you. (I am a coffee selfie nightmare on social media)

Refrigerator Oatmeal: Certified Gluten free Oats, Chobani Chocolate yogurt drink, chocolate flax and chia seeds, honey and topped with fresh blueberries or blackberries.

Starbucks Unsweetened Green Tea. (I love going there to see my favorite people)

Snacks bags of Almonds (avoiding peanuts) carrots and hummus.

Grilled chicken cooked with coconut oil, usually topped with home made pesto, or some sautéed tomato and parmesan cheese.

My Ka'Chava shake.

Minimum Three liters of water. (I usually drink Essentia 1.5 liter bottles)

Fage 5% yogurt, Kind oats and honey granola a banana and honey. 

Dark Chocolate.  Let's be honest, it keeps me sane and this makes all of my coworkers happy. 

I eat. A LOT.  Michael says "you need to feed the beast" I say I need to not be hangry.  Speaking of, it's time to feed the troops and tomorrow starts a long week on the Medic truck.  Stay safe and be good to your body! ~ T

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