Brain Drain

Have you ever walked into a room to get something and immediately forgotten what you were going to retrieve? Imagine feeling like that all of the time. Some authors call it “Brain Fog.” I am calling it “Brain Drain.” Sometimes I sit in front of my computer for minutes, trying to recall what I was going to Google or if I had an important email to write. It’s really frustrating.Teenage-brain-1920x1080

Hashimoto’s disease attacks brain cells, in a degenerative process that can be the early onset of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. At 48, I feel like I’m slowly losing my mind, one day at a time. Thanks for nothing, Hashimoto’s.

There are ways to reverse the process, including getting more sleep, avoiding gluten, sugar and dairy, and exercising (but not overdoing it). Some blogs even promote dry brushing, or gently massaging to promote lymphatic drainage. Dr. Kharrazian has the best advice on Hashimoto’s that I’ve found, including one book linking thyroid disease to brain degeneration, and another purely focusing on the brain. https://drknews.com/

Ever since my diagnosis of Hashimoto’s, I’ve been consciously trying to apply some of the measures both Dr. K and my own functional doctor suggested to my daily routine.

Get more sleep? Check. I’ve been getting minimum 7.5 hours a night with a goal of 8-10. When I started having insomnia between 3-5 a.m., I began taking melatonin before bedtime. It’s really helped.

Reduce stress? I’ve been practicing yoga and meditation on my own. I still worry a lot, but I try to be mindful of that and tell myself that it will be okay, that Ballet Boy will be fine, that the dog will heal and the Brewmaster will always be at my side.

Get my butt in gear? Candy ass has motivated me to bike, run and lift weights at the gym again. I have lacked drive and motivation, which once again can come from the fatigue of Hashimoto’s. My old “oomph” to do brick workouts and really push my limits is gone. Poof. Thank goodness for friends who help you get to the gym when your gumption is gone.

Ballet is definitely good exercise and helps my balance and coordination. When I showed the Brewmaster the waltz we had learned in class, he looked genuinely surprise and told me I looked graceful. That is the first time someone has ever said that to me minus a sarcastic tone. Woot!

So what am I doing wrong? I’ve avoided gluten and even most grains except an occasional side of rice or quinoa. I’ve been taking my thyroid medicine and asthma meds. But I’ve failed in some ways.

I haven’t seen my functional doctor in a while as she had a baby and took some time off. I finally dragged myself for a physical this week. The doctor checked my thyroid levels and both my T3 and my Hashimoto’s antibodies levels were abnormally high again. I’ve stopped taking all the vitamins my doctor had prescribed because, well, it’s a heck of a lot to swallow in the morning, and I felt better for a while. So I’m back to taking high levels of Vitamin C, a multi, Vitamin B6, Vitamin D, fish oil, and an adrenal fatigue compound. So. Many. Pills. But Hashimoto’s depletes your body and makes it difficult to absorb vitamins the way the rest of you folks do.

And then there is coffee. And alcohol. My little addictions have crept slowly back in. I had done so well off caffeine for a year! I started finishing the Brewmaster’s french press…whatever little amount there was. Then I started having a Starbuck’s when we had long days of rehearsals followed by an evening concert. Then I started making half caffeine and half chicory at home. Then I ran out of chicory (which is not cheap) and started just making a full pot of coffee. And voila, the addiction won.

Wine, too, is an easier way to unwind after a stressful day, than getting out the yoga mat.

But it all has to stop. I’ve watched my mother fight Parkinson’s like a trooper in her 70s. She’s winning, because she does everything she can, like walking and exercising, taking her medicine, and eating healthily. But I know she’d love to be medicine free and more flexible.

So it’s time to put my own boxing gloves on and knock this disease out of the park. I slept 10 hours last night, and I just feel “normal.” I’ve gone back to being super picky about labels and whether there is sugar or other additives in food. I’m drinking some chicory/decaf that I bought at Whole Foods with the intention of going to straight chicory when that is gone.

Right now my garden is exploding with kale, tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. I’m going to make my own sugar-free pickles this year, and I enjoyed adding fresh kale to my egg scramble this morning. Since I’m so out of it I did not notice a gigantic zucchini growing, which I stuffed with organic turkey, mushrooms and tomato tonight for our dinner. The one that looks delish is the Brewmaster’s, as he has real cheese. Mine is topped with Daiya cheese, a non-dairy cheese-like substance that doesn’t come even close to the real thing.

Here’s to the rest of summer break, when I can sleep and heal. Here’s to my wonderful home, my great friends and my amazing family that always fill me with love and admiration. And here’s to all the folks that keep amazing Autoimmune Protocol blogs with great recipe ideas to keep me on track. Happy summer!

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