Hypothyroidism: Month Three

So, fun fact about hypothyroidism: if you have this condition, you get to go back in for blood testing once a month to check your levels until they even out. You’d think I’d be over my blood phobia at this point (the edges of my vision go dark any time I see red liquid) but nope. It’s just as exciting, every month.

The extra fun part about this condition is when my meds get upped. I’m still likely on too low a dose; every time they up it, I’ll feel GREAT for about a week, and then start to get tired. My feet start to crack and get gross and crusty again. I’ll wake up like clockwork in the morning, and then start to struggle.

So, here I am: dose has been upped again, 75 mcg of levothyroxine. Third time’s a charm!

If you end up with TOO much T4, you experience fun side-effects, like osteoporosis, heart palpitations, and random sweats. So, I suppose it’s better to up it slowly. But man, it’s frustrating in the meantime.

Stuff That’s Changed

Energy peaked, but again has dropped again on 50 mcg, but it’s still better than before.

Feet have gone back to being gross. Sigh. Hoping this upped dose will help with that. (Update: It did!)

Weight is unsteady; it keeps climbing randomly, then dipping.

My nails have an actual ridge in them from when I started taking meds. I can see the exact point in their growth when I started taking meds (it’s super weird.) They’re growing better and stronger now (and I like to chew them. Damn!) but you can see where they hardened up in the image here if you look closely.

Probably unrelated: my eyesight has gotten marginally better, per the eye doctor.

Verdict

It’s a fact of life that losing weight is just going to be harder for me, so I’ve hired a personal trainer and started working out every morning; I now have a month of working out 4x a week at 7:00 a.m. under my belt, and am sore as hell (it’s gotten progressively better), but we haven’t missed a workout.

The best part about this and working from home? I get to crawl back into bed and get all the cuddles afterwards. Which is necessary, because the soreness is real, ya’ll. Still, hurray for no commutes!

Future Goal: I’ll start riding my bike to and from it instead once my legs decide they’re no longer furiously angry with me.

Here’s the deal: I can look at this crap and rue the fact that this is going to be a struggle for me (WOE IS ME!), or I can suck it up and do something about it.

Men and women can be stunningly beautiful at any size, but at a certain point, their health suffers. I never, ever want to be a burden on those I love; I experienced this first-hand with my mother, for all of my life, until she passed away.

My mother’s weight (she spent the majority of her life morbidly obese) resulted in her crushing the cartilage in her knees, which left her unable to walk more than short distances. She had knee replacements, both of which went wrong (spiral fractures up her femurs and staph infections that never healed, from what I understand).

She needed help getting up single steps during most parts of her life, often from strangers because I was too small to help her myself as a wispy eight-year-old girl, and then later on she still needed the help of strangers because I was childishly embarrassed when I was a teenager. I am not proud of myself.

She carried a booster toilet seat around on any and all overnight trips away from home because it was too hard to get back up after sitting down.

She missed out on back-to-school shopping every year with me, instead needing to sit in the car, reading, while she set me loose with her credit card in a store–all because they didn’t have a scooter for her to use in department stores (I came home with a 36D bra when I was eleven–hope sprang eternal, I guess.)

She skipped several of my singing recitals because the venue had too many stairs and was not walker-friendly.

Oh, and by the way: She was in her 40’s and 50’s for a lot of this.

Camping, fishing, hiking, wandering festivals and farmer’s markets in downtown Denver–I asked my Dad when I was four why mom never joined us. Her weight was the reason why.

And then, when she needed to amputate the lower part of her leg to save her life, she was too heavy to do so, and her heart was too weak; she had to lose weight, or it would be too dangerous. By the time she finally did shed some of the weight, it was too late.

This whispering tickles in the back of my mind every day, so I choose another road: to do something about it.

I will not let obesity or a sedentary lifestyle win.

I watched my mother pass away at age sixty-six, three weeks before I was to be married, days before I got the job offer that would send me (finally) above the poverty line, when I was twenty-four years old, and her death was entirely preventable. 

Things may be harder for me with this condition, but fuck it. I got this, and I will take this hill.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts

This salad is drool-worthy. Like, restaurants, seriously–take notes and sell this for like $14 a plate. It is so. good.

Ingredients

Green of some sort – arugula works well.
Toasted pine nuts, like 1/4th of a cup. Maybe less. Up to you.
Strawberries.
Goat Cheese.
Balsamic Vinegar

Directions

1. Toast some pine nuts. Turn your stove on lowish, toss your pine nuts in, and stir constantly until they start to brown. Don’t let ’em burn, keep stirring!

2. Chop your salad up, cut some strawberries, sprinkle some goat cheese, then add the pine nuts.

3. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. We go to a specialty store and get a fig-flavored one for extra brownie points.

4. Drool a little because it’s that good.

5. Eat.

Really good with grilled duck. Just saying.

Spicy Chickpea & Quinoa Bowl

This has been the busiest. Month. Ever. We spent August gearing up for the wedding of the century (it did not disappoint–holy WOW, Kitty and Jim!) and have barely had time enough to breathe, let alone cook things we aren’t sure we’ll like.

During the wedding prep (it was a masquerade ball, so we didn’t want to stick out for the wrong reasons), Jason went to Montreal for his all-staff retreat, then my brother came to visit. We then went to Denver where Jas met all my various and sundry friends, and I then immediately headed to Chicago for my work retreat, and finally Jas just got back from New York.

We. are. tired.

xD Still, we’re back at it until the next travel bug bites us!

THIS IS SO GOOD! Spicy and filling and protein packed!

Deliciously spicy, satisfying, and filling chickpea dish. I’m actually not missing chicken (to which my beau is allergic, as he has recently discovered) much today!

Spicy Chickpea and Quinoa Bowls
Serves: 6 Servings
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cups beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeños (seeded unless you’re crazy like us)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes (save like half the juice)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (or more if you like a lot of heat!) We used a tablespoon. Will probably use two next time.
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • Spinach/kale/green of choice
  • Fresh cilantro, garnish (optional)
  • Hard boiled egg, garnish (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. To make quinoa, rinse and soak for about 10 minutes in warm water. Bring 2 cups of beef broth (we used two cups of water and two bouillon cubes) to a boil in a small saucepan, drain quinoa and add to boiling broth. Add 1/3rd to half the can of juice from tomatoes. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow quinoa to sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork; set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle olive oil and sauté onion and garlic  and jalapeños until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients (minus the cilantro), stirring to combine. Towards the end, add the cilantro.
  3. Cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. To assemble the bowls, lay down a bed of greens, place ½ cup quinoa in each bowl and top with a heaping ½ cup of the chickpea mixture.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (Ish. We added things.)
Serving Size: ½ cup quinoa + ½ cup chickpea mixture • Calories: 342 • Fat: 5.8 g • Saturated Fat: 0.5 g • Carbs: 62 g • Fiber: 10.2 g • Protein: 12.4 g • Sugars: 2.2 g • WW Freestyle Points: 4
Recipe adapted from EatYourselfSkinny.com. If you want a less spicy or all-vegetarian option, use their recipe instead of our modified one! IT IS SO GOOD!

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe – Allrecipes.com

These chocolate chip cookies were gooey and delicious – even I, Cookie Monster’s cookie-hating antithesis (there’s a childhood joke in there), LOVED these cookies. Will make again.

Ingredients
1 h – 12 servings – 298 cals

.5 cup butter, softened
.5 cup white sugar
1/4th cup honey
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon hot water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cups semisweet chocolate chips
.5 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
White chocolate chips to taste.

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
Dissolve baking soda in hot water.
Add to batter along with salt.
Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts.
Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.

Adapted via Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe – Allrecipes.com

Spicy Shrimp Stacks: Modified from Pinterest

When I was craving sushi like whoa, this dish totally hit the spot. The best part? Everything is cooked! ❤

Spicy Shrimp Sushi Stacks
Prep Time:10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Total Time:30 minutes
Servings: 4

Spicy shrimp sushi stacks with layers of sushi rice, cucumbers and avocado in addition to the spicy shrimp!

Ingredients
For the sushi rice:
1 cup uncooked short grained rice, well rinsed <–We used brown.
2 cups water
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

For the avocado and cucumber layer:
1 cup avocado, mashed
1 cup cucumber, diced
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt to taste

For the spicy shrimp:
1/2 pound cooked shrimp, diced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sriracha

For the stacks:
4 teaspoons furikake

Directions
For the sushi rice:
Bring the rice and water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes, before letting it cool for a bit.

Gently fold the mixture of the rice vinegar, sugar and salt into the rice.

For the avocado and cucumber layer:
Mix everything.
For the spicy shrimp:
Mix everything.

For the stacks:
Place the rice into the stack guides, pat down lightly, top with the avocado and cucumber mixture, followed by the shrimp mixure
Option: Change the cooked shrimp with your favourite sushi meat like raw tuna, salmon, etc.

Option: Add a layer of diced mango!
Tip: Use an empty can of soup with both ends removed to stack the layers.
Tip: Use a greased 1 cup measuring cup to stack the layers in and then flip it onto the plate.

Note: Furikake is a Japanese style rice seasoning that typically contains toasted sesame seeds, salt and shredded toasted nori.

Nutrition Facts: Calories 397, Fat 15g (Saturated 2g, Trans 0), Cholesterol 123mg, Sodium 735mg, Carbs 47g (Fiber 2g, Sugars 3g), Protein 17g

via Spicy Shrimp Sushi Stacks – Closet Cooking

You can also make this as poke if you’re hungry and don’t give an eff about presentation. It’d also be good with some smoked salmon instead of shrimp, likely. Mm. Now I’m hungry again.

Grilled Duck & Peaches w/ Balsamic-Raspberry Drizzle

This duck dish… omg. It makes one feel like royalty among plebeians.

Ingredients

Protein
Whole duckling

Spice Rub (Equal Parts…)
Japanese 7 Spice
Chipotle Pepper Flakes
Coriander
Tumeric
Garlic Salt

Other Stuff
Ripe Peaches – 3 Peaches
Frozen Raspberries (No Sugar Added) Thawed – 1.5 Cups Raspberries
Water (1/8th a cup)
Balsamic Vinegar (A Dash)
Goat Cheese – To Taste
Arugula (we used whatever we had for it)- (3 Cups)

Directions

  1. Preheat the grill. Make it hot. 😀
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, grind spices, then rub on quartered duck.
  3. While the grill heats, quarter peaches. Puree raspberries with water and balsamic vinegar (to taste). Put bed of arugula on a plate, scatter with goat cheese.
  4. Cook duck on grill until it’s done. Flip every five until done.
  5. Towards end, put peaches cut-side down on the grill; about five minutes.
  6. Put duck and peaches on top of salad. Drizzle with raspberry-balsamic sauce. Serve.

Tasty, right?

Hypothyroid: One Month Since Starting T4-Only Treatment

I can’t believe how many small, tiny details of my life were negatively influenced by my under-active thyroid. Mayo Clinic covers a lot of them, but “dry skin” doesn’t even begin to address the small life annoyances that drove me crazy.

“Thinning hair” didn’t equate to the hair I was losing in the shower – my hair looked fine and had always been on the thin side–losing a few more strands, and then a few more, and then a few more, didn’t exactly raise any warning bells.

“I thought it was normal.” Over and over, I told myself this.

It wasn’t.

This little pill feels magical. Sure, I’m still tired first thing in the mornings and do seem to still have less energy than everyone else (might just need a higher dose), but I am functional. I am functional. I am not broken. ❤ It’s a touch rough, not being able to eat or drink anything of substance for an hour after taking my pill, but the benefits SO outweigh the drawbacks.

One Month of Taking 25mg of Levothyroxine: The Difference

My hair is growing! There is far, far less hair clogging my drain in the shower. It’s been essentially the same length since I cut it over a year ago; now, it’s shoulder-length! The downside is that I have to pluck my eyebrows more often, but I’ll take it!

My energy levels have evened out some; I’ve stopped waking up in the middle of the night, but it’s still less difficult to wake up in the morning. Now, I stay awake during every movie I try to watch after five p.m. Before, I used to fall asleep the moment a movie started playing.

Now, it doesn’t take all day to wake the hell up. For example, I awoke at eight a.m. this morning, and stayed awake. Even without coffee, by nine, I felt like a normal person. Previously, I would feel exhausted for hours (usually not feeling fully coherent until three or four in the afternoon).

No more unexplained bruises. I’ve stopped bruising constantly. I always had random, unexplained bruises all over my body, and no recollection of trauma. That has stopped. I’m not a banana anymore!

Lady perks: My period has gone back to the clockwork 28-days of my youth and is far more normal. Before taking my meds, it was bizarre — 31 days between cycles, 34, 37, and the last one, 62 (?!) – my periods were basically non-existent, way lighter than they should have been (contrary to the super-heavy-intense-pain that many women with hypothyroidism experience). The point? Not all symptoms will match the diagnosis exactly. The downside? Normal lady-time symptoms have come back with a vengeance, so that’s less pleasant, but again, I’ll take the energy thank you very much!

Fingernails: My fingernails have stopped breaking off. Literally the day I was diagnosed, my pinky toe nail just fell off. Yes, the whole thing. It didn’t hurt, just separated from the nail bed. It has since grown back in a single month!

My pedicure will LAST this time! My feet look like NORMAL FEET. No more disgusting, peeling, painful, cracked dry skin all over the soles of my feet; before this, I had no idea how everyone else had smooth, pink heels. Mine were dry, crusty, painful, and cracked, always. I just figured everyone else invested much more heavily in pedicures, or wore house shoes like my boyfriend. I haven’t done anything else to them, and the callouses and nastiness are wearing off, all on their own. I’m thrilled!

I have a chin again! My face seems thinner (could just be my imagination) and my chin is back to being pointy; for awhile there, it was rather puffy and unpleasant. This one could be my imagination, but I’ll take it!

Easier time exercising: I no longer feel HORRENDOUS after every bout of exercise. This weekend, we spent all day on a pontoon and I spent literal hours just swimming around. Sure, I was tired at the end of the day, but I didn’t feel like absolute death!

Fortunately, even before being diagnosed, I escaped some of the less fun gastrointestinal issues many people with hypothyroidism face, but I suspect a lot of that has to do with my pre-existing diet. We cook at home constantly, eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, which likely helped all along. Additionally, I have always avoided fried foods and generally don’t consume a ton of added sugar–just fruit (hurray for fiber and nutrients!) I’ve switched to black coffee instead of drinking sweet chai lattes in the morning, cut any lemonade I do drink with unsweetened black tea (Arnold Palmers for the win!), and drink soda water with lime instead of any sort of sugary beverage. With this in mind, I’m not implementing any of the super restrictive diets many of the hypothyroid books suggest. I’ll probably stick to mixed greens over kale and limit my cruciferous vegetables just in case, but generally, most doctors don’t think there is any benefit or credence to aiming for a “hypothyroid diet”. This may not be true for everyone, especially if your tummy is often upset, but for now, this works for me!

We’ll see how this continues – I suspect my dose is a touch low still, but I had blood drawn today to see if my TSH levels have gone back down to normal levels or not. I am just so absolutely relieved!