Monday Meditation: The Art of Self-Care
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism this month, after struggling for quite awhile with the symptoms, and chalking it up to "getting older" or "peri-menopause". One of my best friends has Hashimoto's disease (where the body attacks the thyroid, thinking it is a foreign object). She self-diagnosed years ago, and was forced to have to self-medicate due to inaccurate diagnoses from physicians. She and I had discussed the symptoms and I finally came to the conclusion that I may have an underactive thyroid. The unexplained weight gain, feeling tired all of the time, irregular menses, etc... were not simply me getting to a 'certain age', but part of a disease.
I went to the doctor and requested a thyroid panel. I was completely unaware of the impact our thyroid has on our bodies. My blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, weight, iron content, et al.. were all out of whack. No wonder I was feeling so badly. When I shared my labs with my bff, she said, "How are you even walking upright with a TSH of 94?" My doctor immediately ordered a prescription for Nature-throid, and within a week, I was feeling much better. My skyrocketed bp went from 189/120 to 132/80, and my energy levels drastically increased. But, prescription drugs are not my only medicine.
I had to make a dietary change as well. I have to avoid gluten, and eat a high-protein, low-fat, low-carb diet going forward. My food also has to be my medicine.
Another lesson was that I must educate myself on my disease, and not just accept everything that a doctor says as the gospel. Hypothyroidism is under-diagnosed and misunderstood. I've learned from many who have this disease that doctors are grossly undereducated where this is concerned. I got lucky. My doctor is phenomenal. She knew exactly what tests to order, and what to do with me. Most patients go through an average of 2-3 doctors before finding one that is willing to listen and act accordingly.
Self-care also has to address the emotional and spiritual aspects of one's life. Hypothyroidism can cause depression and a feeling of malaise. It is important that I take care of my connections to the earth and to my own emotional well-being.
As I am gaining more energy, I feel more like working out and doing those physical activities which also bring me joy. Artful living is turning out to be a lot of work, but worth it.
January is Thyroid Awareness Month. I highly recommend that you take a moment to look at the 300 symptoms of hypothyroidism. If you see yourself in those, get tested immediately. This is a dangerous disease, and people die from it daily. It can also morph into other diseases like lymphoma. It is hereditary, and therefore, my children and grandchildren will need to be on the lookout for its symptoms. After studying up on this, I firmly believe my grandmother had hypothyroidism, but was never diagnosed until it became lymphoma.
Your physical health is critical to your overall well-being. In Paganism, we pride ourselves on personal responsibility. We don't blame our issues on things like "original sin" or a "devil". We embrace our choices and their consequences, and are admonished to consider those consequences when making choices. I would argue that our health is also part of that personal responsibility. If you aren't feeling well, take action to determine the root cause, and make changes accordingly.
It's something to consider...
Sláinte (to your good health!)
Posted by Alexis Kallan Kennedy