I’m going to try my best not to come across as self-righteous and a know-it-all like I sometimes do. But I really have some questions around how people respond to chronic illness that I need to get off my chest.
I developed a stress-induced autoimmune thyroid disease. It shook me. It turned my life completely upside down. I lost my business, my trade, my identity, my income, some relationships and many other things. And I’m sure this happens a lot. When you need years of recovery from any kind of illness or if you develop something from which you’ll never fully recover, it changes you. Or at least it should.
For those who are religious or spiritual, it simply must be an answered prayer or a sign. It must create some sort of shift, surely? Even for those who aren’t religious, facing our own mortality must create some sort of introspection or new perspective, shouldn’t it?
I know that I’m a thinker and I consider things very carefully. I’m also a personaliser which means that I take accountability for everything. I’m aware that the combination of those two things lead me, personally, to think about how I got sick and to understand how not to get worse or do it again. I know that everyone doesn’t think like this. But surely a chronic life-changing event is a catalyst in some way? Surely there is a better way to respond than to drown it with drugs and keep doing everything the same?
My thyroid condition means that I have to eliminate gluten from my diet. I didn’t just take it at face value from my endocrinologist. I researched it. I wanted to know why. I found out that gluten mimics the thyroid antibody and since gluten leaks through the gut it ends up in the bloodstream and the body thinks it’s time to attack the thyroid again. So I know that eating gluten has an autoimmune effect on my body and I don’t want that to happen because it makes me sicker. You see how logical this is? But I have encountered a number of people who have the same condition and just take pills. No dietary changes, no lifestyle adjustments.
My thyroid is still functioning and I want it to last as long as possible. I’ve read that about eighty percent of people with hypothyroidism (an under active thyroid) have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, like me. It’s common and perhaps not everyone was correctly diagnosed. I certainly wasn’t the first time around. I found a better doctor and received much better care. How many people question their doctor and challenge what they come up with? It was well worth it in my case. And now I have a doctor who really appreciates my efforts to heal myself, in conjunction with his treatment.
Since stress caused my condition, I looked at what aspect of my life created the most stress: work. So I quit my own business and handed everything over to minimize any harm to anyone. Even though my doctor didn’t ask me to do that, it seemed pretty obvious to me. He’s not living my life. He doesn’t have to struggle the fatigue and look after little children at the same time. It’s my body and it’s my life. Why would you put that purely in the hands of someone else? Or a bottle of pills? I’m not saying pills are bad – I take the pills – but what I am saying is look broader at lifestyle, diet, relationships and anything else that may need to change.
I read that estrogen pushes up cortisol which affects my health in a negative way. My doctor recommended that I stop taking my oral contraceptives and I did because I understood why. My health improved dramatically with that change. Imagine if I had refused or ignored the advice, how much longer would I have taken to recover and how much longer would my children not get the best of me?
I spent a lot of time online researching ways to make my Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis stronger. This aspect was completely missed by my first doctor. I learnt that alcohol and caffeine are harmful for the adrenal glands so I cut them out of my diet entirely. I learnt that you can strengthen your microbiome or gut bacteria in order to improve your health and prevent leakage. Clearly everything we put into our mouths become waste or fuel. If you put acid into your car’s fuel tank you can’t expect great results. Why is our body not more important than a vehicle?
So I made some bone broths and I eat foods that are good for my body like beetroot, celery and coriander. I learnt that alkalizing the body helps to eradicate and prevent disease. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an alkaline environment. So every day I have lemon with warm water in order to create an environment that is not conducive to disease. I want my body to thrive, not the illness.
I also understand that there are foods my body doesn’t like. I went for food intolerance testing and I’m reducing these items in my diet. If I think about an allergic reaction I think of swelling and a rash. If you know that’s what’s happening on the inside of your digestive system, why would you not make changes? One of my problem foods is gluten, which was no surprise and another is sugar. It’s common knowledge these days that sugar is not good for you and it also creates acid. Since I’ve been giving my body what it likes, I feel a lot better and my stomach is flatter. Do you know any woman who doesn’t want a flatter stomach?
I must admit that it isn’t easy cutting out so many enjoyable things. But I do think it’s worth it. Only once you’ve been really sick do you know what it’s like to lose life as you know it. I’m really hoping that one day I’ll be able to have a cappuccino or a glass of wine occasionally without there being major consequences on my body and my health. But I think the gluten is forever since the antibodies will always be there.
I really think it’s crazy to see how many people put all their faith in a doctor to heal them with just pills. I also think it’s amazing to see how many people are suffering with illness or have fought cancer and yet they are not kind to their bodies. With so much information available, there is really no excuse for being uninformed about your condition and how to ease it.
My body has to last me a long time because I want to meet my grandchildren and I want to be around for a few more decades. So I’m taking extra care of my body and giving it what it likes so that I can have a high quality of life for a long time. Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one who thinks this way. Take the pills, get better but look broader into what could really improve your life. I’m asking you, please love your body.Follow me: