After months of doctor consultations, blood work and radiology tests, none of my doctors have given me a definitive diagnosis for what is going on physiologically.* The best they could say is my thyroid is slightly enlarged, and my hormone levels are slightly elevated but still within the "normal" range. Neither condition is serious enough for them to intervene in any way, and trust me, I have been asking for reprieve. The impact these hormonal changes are having on my body are just about unbearable.
Once I realized my (Western) doctors were not going to be of much help, I turned to my Chinese medicine doctors for solutions. I have traveled to Philly twice and even to New York for acupuncture over the last four weeks to get four treatments. I still weigh more than I have ever weighed in my life, but I seem to have plateaued. The numbers are no longer going up on the scale. My mood has improved dramatically, and with it my motivation and interest in life. Finally, after weeks of wallowing in despair, I'm no longer at rock bottom.
In fact, the day I published a blog post about how poorly I was feeling three weeks ago was the day I made the first of those four acupuncture appointments. After acknowledging how miserable I was--and how little control I seemed to have over the changes that were occurring in my body--I reached out for help. First, I turned to my acupuncturists, and then I sought the Lord.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;
That is the hidden blessing of reaching your worst: You are so wretched that you abandon your pride, independence, and inclination toward self-preservation long enough to be weak and needy. You become open to help/relief in whatever shape it may take--acupuncture needles, prayer, therapy, etc. Once you do your part (surrender), you make room for the Divine to take care of the rest--answered prayers, returned phone calls, cash infusions, and the like. Then, the healing begins, and life begins to improve bit by bit, bird by bird (read Anne Lamott's memoir to get the metaphor).
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
I firmly believe my thyroid is the culprit. I am scheduled to get another ultrasound in six months to test if it has gotten any bigger. If so, the doctors will put me on synthetic hormones to replace the ones that are not being produced at the proper rate by the malfunctioning thyroid. The other possibility is menopause. In June, I wasn't considered to have begun yet, but the levels were elevated enough that my doctor asked me to recheck them in three months. So, I guess I also will keep testing my thyroid levels four times a year until my doctor is ready to declare that I have officially begun peri-menopause. In the meantime, while I keep waiting on my (Western) doctors to act, I will continue my acupuncture treatments at a more frequent rate than previously. So far, it has been a tremendous help to alleviating some of my symptoms.
I've also put myself on a strict diet and exercise regimen, hoping that I can convince some of this weight to go away. I'm committing to 30 minutes of cardio five days a week, and restricting my caloric intake to 1500 calories (with a little wiggle room). I went swimming last weekend for the first time in about three years. I know swimming is a great cardiovascular workout, and it's really good for my joints since I am carrying 20 extra pounds around. I am hopeful that eventually most of the weight I have gained will fall off. [Yes, vanity is a part of why I am so troubled by all the weight I have gained. But pragmatically, I don't have enough clothes that fit--and I sure don't want to go out a buy a whole new, larger sized wardrobe.]
Thanks for reading my blog and joining me on my wellness quest. From what I have seen with my mom and aunties, we are about to embark on a period of interesting and tumultuous excursions as I prepare to go through "the change" (AKA menopause).
* As mentioned in a previous blog, I have been moody, lethargic, and unmotivated. I also gained 20 pounds in three months. The clothes that I bought in the middle of April did not fit by the time I went to New Orleans for July 4.
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.