Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hashi's and Me: my experience with a thyroid disease (part 1)

I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, an incurable autoimmune disease that involves the thyroid gland. In a series of 3 posts, I am going to detail my experience with this disease to date. It is my hope to raise awareness and understanding of the disease, as well as provide a bit of support to fellow sufferers. I am not an expert or a medical practitioner; I am simply a person who is trying to live with this disease.

Part 1 will cover the When: the timeline of my diagnosis.
Part 2 will cover the What: definitions, descriptions, and symptoms.
Part 3 will cover the How: resources I have used and methods of maintenance I have attempted.

When was I diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?

My mother suffers from a Hypothyroid, so in a way I have been awaiting the day a doctor would inform me I had an issue with my thyroid. In hindsight, I may have been showing symptoms years prior to my diagnosis, but as I will cover in the What, the symptoms all seem disconnected so it can be easy to miss that they all add up to something.

JUNE 2006
I was 5 months postpartum from my first son when I went to the doc for a sinus infection. As she was checking my adrenal glands, she noticed that my thyroid was enlarged. I hadn't even noticed. She brought me a mirror and told me to swallow so I could clearly see it. Of course, I had no frame of reference for what size it should be, but if she said it was enlarged it must be.

I went for blood-work and an ultrasound. The blood-work showed elevated thyroid levels and the ultrasound confirmed the enlarged and enflamed thyroid. My doc diagnosed Hypothyroid and immediately put me on Synthroid. Thus began the series of checking my blood-work every 6 weeks to make sure we had the right level. Once my thyroid levels were stabilized and my thyroid shrunk to normal size, I only had blood-work every 6 months... pretty standard for treatment by a general practitioner.

My doc noticed that yet again my thyroid was enlarged even though my levels were stable. So she sent me to an endocrinologist. My endo requested the ultrasound and blood-work. She noticed the levels were higher than she preferred for treatment so we adjusted the Synthroid. She also noticed very small nodules on my thyroid. Due to the size of the nodules, we decided to "observe" them for growth before doing any type of biopsy or surgery. This observation which involved yearly ultrasounds in addition to the bi-annual blood-work.

My endo was concerned that the nodules were consistently growing and ordered a biopsy. Thankfully, the biopsy came back benign, so we returned to the observation treatment method. At this point, my endo changed the diagnosis to Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, which did not change the treatment method... instead it has changed how I treat myself through diet, supplements, and health choices since I now understand better what is going on regarding my thyroid. Treatment is still a daily struggle, as I will outline in part 3.

In part 2, I will cover What the disease is, including definitions, symptoms, and common issues regarding treatment of the disease.

I would love to hear your stories! Leave a comment with your diagnosis story and how long you have walked this path.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Christmas Gifts 2012

Yes, the title is Christmas Gifts 2012. As I am planning the gifts I will make for 2013, I realized I never posted the gifts I made last Christmas. Oops. And I did not remember until a friend of mine invited me to a "craft day." I responded that I am not really that crafty, to which she pulled out the gifts I made last year. So, maybe I am crafty.

Just like millions of American women, my inspiration comes from Pinterest. I stumbled on these necklaces and these glasses and thus I knew what I wanted to make.

I made these for my son's teacher and they were extremely easy!

I found some great glasses at the dollar bins at Target. I have lots of glass paint (from 10 years ago when I made a bunch of votives for Christmas... again, forgot I can be crafty), but the paint can be found at any craft store. For a picture of the paint I use, refer to this blog post.

I squeezed the paint onto a paper plate and used the flat end of a bamboo skewer to put dots all around the glass, making them more dense towards the bottom. I was proud of the end result!

This project was a bit more time intensive, but I loved how I could make each one unique. Instead of square glass, I used the round stones found in the floral section of the craft store.

I wandered the scrapbook paper section for a while to find the perfect papers. I wanted paper with  "words" and paper with "music" for my project, and I also printed my own graphics. I used the stones to trace circles to fit perfectly.

I used modge podge to attach the circles to the stones, let them dry, then used modge podge to seal the back of the paper to the stones. Once that dried, I attached magnets to some, and necklace/keychain loops to others, using really strong epoxy. The most time intensive part of the entire project was waiting for "dry time."

So now that I have finally shared my gifts from last year, I can start gathering materials for the gifts for this year. Happy crafting!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Square-Foot Gardening

For the past 4 years, I have been attempting to start a garden. It started with a container garden in our previous house. I did not feel like digging up the backyard, especially since we were planning to move, so I worked with containers.

My first container garden
The laundry basket is petite cucumbers and the red buckets are 2 varieties of tomatoes. I started them from seeds indoors and transplanted when they were big enough. I also had railing planters on the porch that container lots of herbs: cilantro, basil, thyme, etc. The containers were a good choice since we moved that summer and it was easy to take them along.

Then next step was to create some raised garden beds. Last summer I bought some cheap wood through a yard sale page on Facebook and built the frames for the raised beds. I was determined to build them myself, so other than my husband giving advice and being an extra set of hands, I did ALL of the handy work. I mowed the grass as short as possible in the locations for the beds and laid anti-weed fabric on the grass. The beds were placed on top and I had a local guy deliver top soil. Of course, the delivery truck got stuck... but that's a separate story.

Then the beds sat for a year.

What can I say? Life gets busy.

This spring I got my act together and plotted out my garden. After measuring the width and height, I made a plot on graph paper. Then I did a little research into companion planting and square-foot gardening to came up with a plan.
The paper plan
Then I measured, marked, and used twine to set my square foot boxes within each bed. As you can tell, I had a "helper." My real super-duper helper (my 7-year-old) is not pictured.
Raised beds divided into square foot boxes
I intend to garden from seeds, however I did not have a greenhouse ready to go this winter. Guess what I received as a Mother's Day gift? Guess what is still in the box?

My helpers and I visited a local farm to get plants. My neighbor recommended the place and although it was a 40-minute drive, it was well worth it. I got all of the plants pictured plus two butterfly bushes and 4 rose plants for $60!!
The (almost) finished garden
The items missing are kale, spinach, pumpkins, and potatoes, however I added marigolds and more lettuce than in the original plan.

Fingers-crossed that all the plants survive and grow to fruition!

UPDATE 6/25/2013:

 My garden is doing tremendously well! Of the original plants 2 cucumber, 1 lettuce, 1 cauliflower and 2 marigolds did not survive. I have since added cilantro, pumpkin, and spinach, as well as replacing the 2 cucumber plants.

Picture of the garden with the same angle as the first picture.

A picture from the opposite angle, since the tomato plants block the view.

First tomatoes

First zucchini

First green pepper
UPDATE 7/5/2013:

Picture of the garden, same angle as first picture

Picture from the opposite angle, due to huge tomato plants!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Necklace Frames

For a few years (10? maybe) I have had this very nice jewelry box. It has 4 small drawers, one that is divided into 4 sections, and a large ring drawer. There is also a necklace "cabinet" that has turn-able hook wheel. The main problem is that most of my necklaces are longer than the height of the cabinet, so my necklaces constantly get tangled when I turn the wheel to find the one I want. And it is dark in the little cabinet, so I am not always able to see what I'm trying to find.

Thanks to Pinterest, I've seen lots of cool ideas for displaying jewelry as if it is artwork. I got a basic idea in my head of what I wanted to create and just kept my eyes open.

I was recently at a church rummage sale - you know, the kind where you fill a bag for a buck? - and found the supplies I was looking for: pictures frames and fabric. I found an empty frame to use, as well as a frame with "art" that I had no problems sending to the curb :) I found a lovely purple velour skirt to use as the fabric. After purchasing foam sheets and straight pins from the art supply store, I was ready to create my new necklace frames!

The "art" that can find a new home.

Remove the art and the glass from the frame.

Cut foam to fit the frame (I used the art as the template).

Cut the fabric to fit around the foam. I taped the back... it is not pretty!

The fabric on the foam.

Insert the foam/fabric into the frame and use the original backboard.

Both of the finished frames.

Hang pins a different points. A great way to display my jewelry!

It looks pretty and makes it easy to find what I want to wear.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mikey at MMEA

A few years ago, there was a commercial where a little girl stuck her teddy bear in her dad's suitcase when he went on a business trip, so the dad posed the bear all sorts of places and sent pictures to the daughter.

Last month, I attended the Maryland Music Educators' Association conference and my sons were a bit sad about my departure. So I snagged a toy and had myself a little fun...

Getting comfy in the suitcase
Listen up, All-State Band: I am your guest conductor!
Hey, look! I play the french horn!
And Leo plays bassoon!
What you lookin' at, fish?!?
It's a jungle in here!
These Quaver games ROCK!
I may not be able to carry it, but I can play it.
Snack time!
How about the bari sax? I can rock that...
Good night. I need my beauty sleep.
Maybe the tenor sax is more my size.
I'm a great presentation assistant.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Fairy Garden for My Birthday

Ice Cream Cake... my favorite!!
The month of March means I get to celebrate my birthday. My family provided my favorite kind of cake and wonderful gifts. Then I received an email from my best friend, who lives in California. My birthday gift would be arriving in multiple packages and assembly will be required. Ooooo! How mysterious!!

The first package: live greenery
The first package arrived: live greenery. Various types of tiny, shade-loving plants. Hmmm.

Third package: 18" bowl
The second package was three small decorative mushrooms (pictured in the center of the next photo below) and the third package was an 18-inch bowl.

As my husband said, this is starting to seem illegal: bags of weeds, a bowl, and 'shrooms... So I texted my best friend to find out if there would be more boxes coming and what the heck I will be assembling!

Second & Fourth packages: decorating items
The final package arrived containing miniature decorations: fencing, a bench, garden tools, and gravel. My best friend made my a Pinterest board to help me understand what I would be assembling.


I looked over the examples of fairy gardens she provided on the board and started brainstorming what to do with the supplies I received.
Fill the bowl: dirt on the bottom, soil on top
Set the non-living items; I buried an empty plastic bottle to create the mound for the bench
Add the living items and garden tools
I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. I have no where to put it, so it is only my kitchen counter for now. I'd like to put it on my deck, however it gets the afternoon sun. I have to figure out how to shade my little garden.

The only downfall of it being on the counter is that is is in prime invasion location...

Invasion of Army Men

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Are the Days of Sleeping in Really Over?!?

It is quick lesson learned that once a woman becomes pregnant, "sleeping in" becomes part of a history lesson. At some point during pregnancy (not until the third trimester, if you are lucky!), multiple trips to the bathroom and being too uncomfortable to sleep any more forces a woman out of bed way earlier than we desire to be. Then comes the newborn who gives us the sleep pattern causing insanity and then the toddler whose internal alarm is predictably early.

Now that my boys are getting older (7 and almost 4), they are mostly trained to leave us alone on weekend mornings. But their definition of leaving us alone is quite interesting.

Around 6:00am, we hear them arise... and argue about who gets to be the first person out the bedroom door. They head for the snack drawer, which may buy me 15-30 minutes before they want something they can't make themselves, like a waffle. So I make the waffle and wander back to bed. All is good until the arguing, yelling, and tattling commences in waves: 10 minutes of peace, then 2-3 of loudness, 15 minutes of peace, 5 minutes of loudness, etc.

Either my husband or I finally give up and get up around 7:00am, leaving the other to attempt another hour of sleep.

I just spend 2 nights at a hotel since I attended a conference 2-hours away. You may think this would be an opportunity to sleep in. Sadly, no. The boys have me so well-trained that I still wake up by 6:00 and can only catnap from then until I need to physically get out of bed. Grrrr.

Does this mean when my children are teenagers and sleep until noon that I will STILL be waking up at 6:00?!? Curses!!!!