In late April of this year, I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s, its sidekick auto-immune disorder. Now, thirteen weeks into healing my thyroid while combating Hashimoto’s, I’ve regained my energy levels, lost ten pounds, my skin feels soft again. The lost strands of hair have not started to grow back, but they have stopped falling out.

When Dr. Hillary Glenn initially diagnosed my thyroid and autoimmune condition three months ago, she threw another culprit into the mix, “…and you also have Leaky Gut.”

“Ewww. What’s that?” I asked, horrified. She explained it. Gross. I’ll spare you the details, but Leaky Gut, along with chronic stress, are two root causes for the inflammation that leads to disease.

They are what happen when you “diss,” ease.

“Get to the root cause of all of this, which is inflammation, and you’ll improve your likelihood of defeating the illness altogether.” The doctor’s words were encouraging. “It’s serious business, Anne, but it’s actually easy, once you eliminate everything that doesn’t support you.”

It didn’t sound easy. It was serious enough that I devoted the month of July putting out the fires of my inflamed insides by conducting a complete resetting of my lifestyle, with an emphasis on modifying my eating habits, learning how to dose my thyroid medication, adding new vitamins and supplements, eliminating any emotional stressors, and getting the free radicals out of my system fast.

I’m divorced. I’ve had a couple of boyfriends and a few lovers since my matrimonial days, but no one is committed to holding my hand through life or this healing process. So, I worked to diligently to finish all of my writing assignments and gallery responsibilities so that I could travel back home to the two people who have always been with me, my parents.

To prepare for my adventure, one of my best friends in NYC sent me the book Stop The Thyroid Madness, recommended by his mother, as a resource to getting well again. She was right. It is an incredible resource. There is so much to learn and the book and website is full of details and personal stories.

Next, I scheduled a session with Reiki and ThetaHealing practitioner, Felicia McQuaid, who did some energy healing and found the the root cause of my condition from an emotional and soul perspective. Reiki is healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body in order to restore physical and emotional well-being. The ThetaHealing technique is used in conjunction with conventional medicine. It teaches how to put to use one’s own natural intuition to heal. ””You feel silenced,” Felicia exclaimed at the end of our session. “Sing, laugh, talk, share. Exercise your throat chakra. Get it working!”

Finally, I went home to get started.

Here’s a recounting of my one-month reset:

It was the ninth week into my diagnosis, when I traveled back to my childhood home, curled up into my old bedroom, and with the help of Dr. Hillary, Felicia McQuaid, my new book, my sister-in-law, and the countless blog writers who were willing to share their trials and tribulations.

I began my reset by researching ways to eliminate the inflammation in my body that contributed to the onset of Leaky Gut, Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s.

First step was to start following Dr.Hillary’s anti-inflammatory diet which meant”dissing” gluten, dairy, and sugar, completely…as in “bye y’all forever, see you again. Never.” I’ve nixed each of them before, but never with the certainty it was the last time. I forced myself to hate them in order to leave them. It’s not the these foods are necessarily bad, it’s the way that they are processed that my body doesn’t agree with; and, because it’s so difficult to find these three categories of food in their purest forms, I opted to delete them from my life, altogether, or until I can devote the time to finding a healthy version. “I no longer love you bread, ice cream, popcorn, French-fries, cereal, oatmeal, pizza, candy, pasta, milk, cake, cookies. I did love you, but I don’t anymore. I hate you now. I need you like I need a bad boyfriend. It’s over. For real this time. Buh-bye.”

I imagined building a campfire like I did in my mountaineering days. Then I envisioned the opposite: how I would put out the fire.  I likened each dissed food to adding another log into the hearth that contained the inferno of my blazing belly. Eat the candy, stoke the fire, fuel the flame no more! I set my ambitions to dousing water on the flames, one drop at a time, by consuming the right foods and infusing my body with the vitamins and nutrients that it was starving for. All the while, aiding my body in the release of free radicals, which I likened to the ashes from the flames, left to smolder in my chimney after the fire had gone out. I had officially become a firefighter. 

I decided that being a good fire fighting was all a matter of becoming a good editor. Edit out the bad guys, keep the good guys. Replacing the foods I once consumed with a more conscious selection of nutrients took time and patience. My new best friends became the colors of the rainbow in the form of: vegetables, fruits, organic grass fed meats, wild fish, bone broth, nuts and seeds.

Narrowing my grocery list down to these essential foods was one thing, learning how to select the best version of  each one was another. Dr. Hillary explained why I wanted to go organic, “Foods with pesticides may grow to be big and beautiful but they have not matured on their own. They have been artificial stimulated. When you consume them, you are digesting their artificial cells. Your body wants to consume cells that have had to fight and grow their way out of the ground in a healthy normal way, just like you. You are what you eat. Once the living cells are inside you, your body will mirror their effects.”  Um. Wow.

“Same goes for beef, poultry and fish,” Dr. Hillary graduated from Columbia University and practiced at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, before moving to the beach to save  us from ourselves. “No farm-raised fish, no hormones, go grass-fed.” She was right. I do want to eat the fish that have to swim upstream, not raised on a farm for the sole purpose of being eaten. Why? Because I want to be strong and swim upstream, like them.

I watched the movie about Temple Grandin, and pondered how the cells of the animals we eat are filled with whatever they eat. Then I recounted Temple’s point about the psychology surrounding a caged animal’s fear of death. ““Nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be.” She believed that animals deserved a graceful life and exit from this world before they hit our plates, which made me think about the fact that we consume their cells, too, absorbing everything they have eaten, along with their hormonal terrors related to death. Ewww. “I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we’ve got to do it right. We’ve got to give those animals a decent life and we’ve got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect.” Well said, Temple, for them and for us. Watch the movie, y’all.

Dr. Hillary said that cooking is an important part of preparing to eat because it makes you salivate. Apparently, salivating is important for digestion. Ok, sounds good. I started cooking my new food groups in only coconut oil and then worked up to steaming my foods instead of boiling or frying them. I used olive oil as a substitute for dressing and Himalayian Salt to add taste. My sister-in-law is a great chef and figured out the anti-inflammatory diet years ago. She was a great resource on tricks of the trade, like blending avocado with olive oil for a tasty dressing. Yum. She also recommended the documentary, What’s With Wheat. We watched it one night after dinner. Be warned, it is like a horror movie. Watch it and you will never want to walk through the gluten door again. It’s scary in there.

For fluids, I swallowed 75% of my body weight in water everyday, drank Kombucha to give me extra probiotics, and quit caffeine. I love espresso, but my lust for it has now subsided. I’ll reintroduce it into my diet for sure, but now, I can sip the bean for pure pleasure instead using it as necessary evil to stay awake every day now that the healthy diet and Armour Thyroid are keeping me engergized. I’m not a big drinker. I can scarcely swig any libations without getting a migraine or feeling horrible after two sips. Doctor H warned that even though my re-calibrated body would able to better handle liquor, she did not offer a kitchen pass to add it into my special daily food groups. So, when I do drink occasionally, Scotch will stay on as my alcoholic beverage of choice. I like the peaty kind that takes like smoked dirt from Ireland.

Once I got the fire raging in my belly under control, I started reading about the importance of dosing the Armour Thyroid mediation and the countless other ailments that come along for the Hypothyroidism ride. The list is long and overwhelming. I couldn’t face it.

Instead, I focused on dosing my pig pill. It is a tricky science. I started low on 30mg around May 1. Two weeks later, I bumped it up to 45mg. Two weeks after that, I bumped it up to 60mg and held it steady there. Blood work can show you where you stand in all of your levels, but pioneering patients advise that it’s best to monitor how you feel in addition to the blood work, then adjust your meds according to both. The big relief is knowing that if you feel up or down, you can do something about it.

Dr. Hillary put me on these vitamins and supplements in April when we were waiting for my first round of blood work to confirm the diagnosis:

UltraFlora Spectrum: I keep it refrigerated and take one every morning after the thyroid pill.

Metagenics: I take six a day. Three in the morning after my first meal and three around 5pm after a small meal.

Noridic Naturals Pro Omega 2000-D: I take four a day. Two in the morning after my first meal and two around 5pm after a small meal.

For my reset month, Dr. H added Glutagenics as a supplement to heal my leaky gut and a Garden of Life – Raw Organic Protein  to give me more protein. I also added and iodine drops from Herbal Healers since my blood tests showed low iodine levels, which are common with Hypothyroidism. If I can’t fall asleep by 11pm, I take 1 mg of melatonin and I’m out.

The vitamins and supplements aren’t cheap and I’m not rich, so my goal is to budget for 6-months of them while I transition into being a super healthy hero. I’ll determine what I can do without, once my body has fully integrated all of this new wellness. Either that, or I’ll get rich in the next 6-months.

Combine the thyroid meds with the vitamins, supplements and anti-inflammatory diet, and here is what a daily routine of belly fire fighting looks like:

5-6AM: Wake up. Reach over to the night stand for 30mg of Armour. Sip it down with 8 oz of water. Fall back asleep or just lay there and think about something happy. Sing. Make love to yourself or your lover. Daydream. Whatever it is, wake into a positive restful state after your night of dreams.

6:30AM: Get up. Take the probiotic, iodine, and drink the Glutagenics. Wait 30 minutes. Walk outside and feel the weather. Sing while doing some chores. Remember your dreams and try to decipher them. Stay away from electronics. Do not watch the news. Do not check your phone.

7AM: Prepare a light breakfast. Salivate and eat it slowly. Once it settles, take the Metagenics and Nordic Naturals. Dress yourself, then, check your phone. Send someone a positive text and start your day.

10AM: Prepare a light snack. Salivate and eat it slowly. Drink some of the protein powder mix.

12PM: Prepare a light snack. Salivate and eat it slowly.

2PM: Take 30mg of Armour

3PM: Prepare a light snack. Salivate and eat it slowly. Drink some of the protein powder mix.

5PM: Prepare a light dinner. Salivate and eat it slowly. Once it settles, take the Metagenics and Nordic Naturals.

8PM: Prepare a light snack. Salivate and eat it slowly.

10PM: Go to bed. Check your phone. Make love to yourself or your lover. Drift into a positive restful state to prepare for your night dreams. Sleep.

The routine also included exercise and mediation, reading, studying, grooming and doing only those things that I felt blissfully passionate about. And, of course, singing in order to un-slience my imprisoned throat chakra. I also dared to try a list of things that I have always wanted to do…like being a dancer.

The results?

I dropped 10 pounds in the first 2 weeks and found myself back down the average weight that I have been since I was 16 years old: 125 pounds. Most of the weight had been stuck in my sad, swollen, inflamed gut. It left a nice little pouch of adipose fat that won’t go away, as a nice reminder of the consequences to of eating the fire  foods.

I’m 45 years old. Naturally, my skin isn’t as supple as it was at 16. I bought a dry-brush because I read that it helps to free the radicals from my lymphatic system, while simultaneously exfoliating the beginnings of old lady crepey skin. I don’t know if it works, but it feels good.

Since I could fit back into my clothes again, I spent a night trying on my beloved designer dresses that were destined to become hammie-downs before I put out the inferno. I stared into the mirror at my aging body and face and accepted them. I don’t mind growing older. I find it fascinating. I love my body more than ever, especially now that I understand how not to be a pyromanic and enliven my body, instead of setting my insides afire and charring them with chronic inflammation.

I had the energy to resume intense work outs, which also helped free the radicals through sweat. On the treadmill, I dreamed of becoming a middle aged version of the soccer playing, mountain climbing, marathoning and all-around athlete that I once had been.

The brain fog lifted and I was able to recall the names of people, places and things. I found that I could stay up until 10pm or 11pm at night instead of collapsing around 8pm or 9pm. By all physical counts, things where going well.

But suddenly, in the midst of all of this good fortune, I was blindsighted. During the second week, I suffered a terrible allergy attack that came out of nowhere. It happened in a funny way, at my first-ever dance class. When I lifted my leg for the first dance move, my body paralyzed.  I forced out the dance move, causing my body to shutter. In defiance it let out a huge wet sneezy “achoooo!”

“Could this be linked to my thyroid?” I wondered?

Autoimmune disorders are caused by the organs turning against themselves. I had always wanted to be a dancer but I was told as a child at church that dancing was a sin, along with a whole host of other normal human behaviors that were seemingly wrongdoings. So, I felt shame and stopped following my true desires in order to follow the list of right things to do. No more dreams of dancing, I turned against myself and my true passions based on what was put in front of me…just as I would ultimately repeat later in life with food. Dr. Hillary’s words echoed through my body, “get to the root cause and you can eliminate the dis-ease.”

I’ll spare you the details of the root cause of my “leaky gut” life in this blog post, but if you are really interested, read the fictionalized account in my book, The Jesusmonkey.  In a nutshell, the root cause of the chronic stress that I didn’t know that I had started around age 13 and stemmed from striving to follow the standard set of cultural codes designed to support a “system” instead of me, as a vibrant human. The system seems to work for most people, but it chewed me up and spit me out, sending me sailing down a slippery slope. While I managed to maintain my emotional sanctity, doing so put me forever outside of the system, which came with its own set of fiery inflammations that were now coming to light.

The next shocking stress blow came during the third week of reset, when I was  studying a filmmaker whose work I admire. One night, while reading about his life and watching one of his movies, my blood pressure suddenly soared. I thought that it was the result of adding an extra 15mg of Armour, but a few days later, after referring back to my book, I realized that I had suffered an autoimmune attack, triggered by an re-living an old emotional trauma. The images from the filmmaker’s life had resurrected an old wound, triggering my adrenals to signal my thyroid that it was under attack.  I ran to my mother in fear. Should I go to the ER?

No.

Dr. Hillary talked me down with four sets of six deep inhales. I held each inhale for four seconds and exhaled for a count of six, until my heart settled back into its normal beat. But the heart-racing moment had done it’s damage. It sent my adrenals into flight-or-flight overtime to protect me from a harm that no longer existed, except as a haunting memory that had finally been resurrected.  As a result, I lost a few strands of hair, gained a pound back, and threw my sleep patterns out of whack, but through the process I was conscious of what was happening, which allowed me to put out the fire. By confronting the emotion, I stopped my body from attacking me.

Just like the toxic foods were leaving my body, the toxic moments of my life were surprisingly working their way out too. They also found their way out in archetypal dreams and sometimes nightmares.

My month-long healing reset is over tomorrow and I’m spending the next week integrating my old work life into my new healthy anti-inflammitory life. Dr. Hillary said to allow six months for my body to regenerate and recover. This was month three. I’ll let you know how four and five go. I do expect more ups and downs as the free radicals of old foods and emotions continue their release, while I find the perfect dose of the pig pill, try t figure out what my adrenals are all about.

Now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, I’ve realized that the anti-inflammatory, no stress life is the way we were designed to live. Who knew? 

And, it’s easy.
Getting there doesn’t have to take as long as reading this blog and you don’t have to get Leaky Gut, Hypothyroidism, and Hashimoto’s to wake up to the benefits. It’s as easy as making these three decrees:

THREE EASY STEPS TO STOP DISSING EASE

1)  FOLLOW YOUR BLISS – It’s good for your soul

2)  EAT AN ANTI-INFLAMATORY DIET – It’s good for your body

3)  FOLLOW STEPS 1 AND 2 – It’s that easy

 

 

 

 

 

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