I have spent much of the last 2 years feeling defeated and betrayed by my body. Auto immune diseases, fibromyalgia, allergies, etc. – the list goes on and on. I get sick a lot. I feel like crap a lot. When I go to the doctor and they ask me what medications I take, I have to turn on my phone and open up the list I have saved, because I can’t remember them all. I feel too young to have such a long list of medications. I’m supposed to be at my peak. I’m not 40 yet and have 2 young, very active boys that I need to keep up with. Why is this happening to me? I was laying in bed the other night wide awake (thanks to my husband’s snoring), and I kept asking myself that question.
Finally, I came to this conclusion: I may never know why. Most of it is probably genetic, which kind of freaks me out a bit. I worry about what my husband (a Graves Disease survivor) and I have passed along to our kids, aside from congenital hypothyroidism. What crap will they have to deal with because of us (but mostly because of me)? I don’t know the answer to that either – at least not yet. So here I was laying wide awake at 2 am feeling sorry for myself and feeling sorry for my kids for things they don’t even have yet. Then, it hit me that it was time to stop.
I decided that this was the year that I will no longer be defeated by my body or by my mind. I can’t control what may happen. I could have another kidney stone. I could have another trip ruined by a sinus infection. I could have multiple days with headaches and joint pain. OR I COULD NOT. I could worry away 2014, or I could start attempting to conquer it. The truth is I’m going to have crappy days. That’s part of my life. But, I am also going to have lots of good days and when you have lots of bad days, the good days feel amazing! My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer recently. She is an incredible woman and handled painful radiation with amazing strength. My worst days pale in comparison to what she has been through…what many people go through daily.
So this is it. I’m not going to waste any more time fretting over why, how, what and when. I want to feel like I’m giving every day my best shot. If my kids do end up with health issues similar to mine, I want them to have a good example of how to not be defeated by them. I want them to look back and think about how hard I tried. I am sure they will remember the days when I had to rest and not go bike riding or hiking. But, I hope they will focus on the days they came with me to Fit4Mom classes and watched me exercise or the days we went canoeing, hiking or bike riding. I want them to be able to say that their mom was never defeated by any of her health issues.
So, how do I do that? I think the first step for me was that middle of the night epiphany that my attitude and approach had to change. But what else could I do? How could I legitimately improve myself and improve my chances of not being defeated. I knew that I didn’t want to make any radical changes. That’s not my style. I don’t do things impulsively (aside from polishing off crackers and other snacks), and I don’t adjust to big changes very well. So, I’m not joining a gym or going on a diet. I knew I wanted to try harder to be healthier (mentally and physically) and be more active. So in addition to changing my attitude, here are the things I came up with during my middle of the night thinking session for other ways that I can be undefeated in 2014:
1) Climb. I want to be able to legitimately say again that I’m a rock climber. I took the first step towards this recently. I went to the indoor climbing gym and actually climbed a few routes. It was not pretty. I choked on the first climb. Over-gripped, forgot to breathe, and generally freaked out – and that was on a 5.6. If you’re a climber, then you know that’s pretty embarrassing (5.6 is a very basic climb). BUT, the important thing is that I climbed. It felt great to be back, even if it was messy. Climbing is a sport that challenges me mentally and physically in a way that no other sport has. Climbing forces me to rely on my body in a real and powerful way – this same body that I felt was betraying me. Climbing proves to me that I am not weak. I am committed to climbing regularly, and engaging in regular exercise to help me be a better climber.
2) Meet with a nutritionist. My mother gave me a few sessions with a nutritionist for Christmas. I am in email contract with the nutritionist about setting up my sessions. We eat fairly healthily, but I know we can do better. I know that we can find ways to improve our health through our diets. I want to learn more about what foods we need for our specific health issues. I am committed to preparing more meals at home and to introducing my family to a wider variety of healthy foods.
3) Learn more. I want to learn more about thyroid disorders. I think the more I know the better I can advocate for myself and my children. I want to share what I learn with everyone. I want to raise awareness of thyroid disorders, because I want more funding and research on thyroid disorders. I want this for all of us, but mostly for my children and for other children around the world with thyroid disorders. I want to see mandatory newborn screening in all countries for all children. I am committed to talking and writing about thyroid issues.
4) Parent better. I want to continue to grow and improve as a parent. On the days when I feel good, it’s easy to be the mom I want to be. On the days when I feel bad, it’s challenging. It’s hard not to yell when my head is pounding and the boys are being loud. It’s crucial, though, because how my children handle stress, anger and pain will in large part be determined by how they see me process those same feelings. How my children handle conflict in relationships will be determined by how they see my husband and I resolve our conflicts. I want to strengthen my relationship with my husband, as I think it will improve my parenting. I will do this by asking for help when I need it. I will do this by reading more and listening more. I have recently discovered TED talks, and am quite addicted. On the TED website (TED.com), you can listen to talks on everything from parenting to self-awareness. One of my favorite talks that I recently listened to was David Steindl-Rast’s talk entitled “Want to be happy? Be grateful”. I will also do this by putting down my phone when I am with my boys. I am committed to continuing to work on myself and to not allowing the “bad” days to control how I parent.
Those are the commitments that I made to myself the other night at 2am. I’m writing them down now for all to see, so hopefully it will help me be more accountable to myself. I want this to be the year that Hashimoto’s, Sjogrens, and Fibromyalgia are things I have, not who I am. This year, I want to be undefeated.
-Blythe Clifford aka Thyroid Mom