Monday, April 25, 2016

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Well, I can't be that good...

...I can't get that silly white background out of the previous post

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Damn, I'm good...

...from an interview of renowned nutritional counsellor, Dr Raymond Peat by thyroid advocate Mary Shomon:

High cholesterol is more closely connected to hypothyroidism than hypertriglyceridemia is. Increased T3 will immediately increase the conversion of cholesterol to progesterone and bile acids. When people have abnormally low cholesterol, I think it's important to increase their cholesterol before taking thyroid, since their steroid-forming tissues won't be able to respond properly to thyroid without adequate cholesterol.

And then he talks about progesterone and oestrogen and the effects of too much/not enough of each. Back in the day when I was still young enough to take the contraceptive pill, I could not tolerate the combined pill as it made me ill, but the progesterone only one was fine and in fact I felt so much better. Nice to know there is an explanation that makes sense.  Makes me think of all those doctors with their "whatever," attitude, and not in a good way.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I smelt a rat...

...quite literally.  About 2 months ago, a pregnant rat moved into my apartment.  At the time I did not know it was a she, let alone pregnant. How I found that out may well disgust some people, but if you enjoy a good rat story, read on.

The first sign of course was a bit of rat poo. I diligently cleaned it up and made a mental note to watch out for other signs of the offender. A bit more poo appeared in the kitchen and the first sighting came shortly thereafter. I was in the kitchen one day using some strong vinegar to clean something. I turned towards the fridge and a huge rat was sitting beside it looking at me.  I discovered two things; rats don't like vinegar, and floor tiles change colour when you throw vinegar at rats.

The next sighting came at about 1am one morning. I was watching the end of a Lord of the Rings marathon 3 movie screening on tele when I had that feeling of being watched. Poking around the corner of a sofa was the bewhiskered face of the she-rat. 

Now I have had the unfortunate experience of being caught in a rat colony migration in the past, so I have experienced the rather weird effect that I believe rats can exert on humans through their pheromones. The effect is that despite your disgust, they make you feel sympathetic towards them. In the case of the colony, it kept me calm so I didn't make a move that would otherwise have resulted in being torn to shreds. With the mother rat, I felt great empathy for her.  I realised that some kind of rat trickery was being visited upon me as I was torn between killing the reviled creature and providing a nurturing environment for it.  I didn't know what to do, but like females the world over, I knew that if I held onto a broom, I would feel a lot better about the situation and everything would be alright.

It's amazing the empowerment that a broom holds. Once so protected, old fashioned human disgust rose to the fore and I chased the critter around my apartment. It ran into my bedroom. OH MY GOD!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOO, NOT THE BEDROOM!!!! Feeling utterly violated, I was invigorated to protect my territory and proceeded in a broom-thumping frenzy to terrify the rat into retreating to the kitchen/bathroom/stairwell area. I could then shut the door to my living and bedroom areas. I was safe for the night.

The next day I ran into my downstairs neighbour. "Got a rat have you?" he asked. He had heard the manic thumping and presumed it was the beast his flatmate had chased out of their kitchen.  Luckily, said flatmate had managed to kill it's mate so at least I was only contending with one. "It's a really big one, too," was his parting, cheery comment. Thanks for that.

The rat was now coming and going as it pleased as evidenced by the amount of poo I was now cleaning up. Why the hell it didn't just move out, I don't know as I was making life very difficult for it. Tiled floors are ideal when hosing out the kitchen and especially under the refrigerator, and the broom was getting a regular work out. However, it became clear that I needed stronger eradication measures than broom and hose. 

Now here in Cambodia, you can't just go and buy rat poison, probably because as soon as anyone slighted anyone else they'd have their beer spiked with it. Instead they have non-toxic glue traps. The idea is that the pesky critter gets so stuck that in it's struggle to get out, it literally tears itself apart. Colleagues have reported that their unwanted mice have indeed met their ends in this manner, and suggested strongly that I didn't resort to such a medieval weapon. It sounded perfect.  

So in the kitchen, I put down a glue trap with a bit of cheese in the middle as a tempter.  1am (again), I wake to a thumping and a banging from the kitchen.  I rush out expecting to see my prize stuck to gluey cardboard. All that was left was a shredded trap and glue everywhere. Despite the rat's unfortunate success in getting out of the trap, I felt that it would still be a strong enough negative reinforcement to deter it from returning. How wrong/naive/stupid I was.

A few nights later, again at about 1am, something woke me up. The building was quiet, my next-door neighbour wasn't playing any music, but something had pulled me out of a deep sleep. My rat radar kicked in, and I just knew.  I picked up the broom, which by now accompanied me where ever I went in my flat, and opened the door to the uncontrolled area. I flicked on a light. No sign. My nose was telling me a different story though. By this stage, I had become extremely sensitive to Eau de Rat, and what my nose was telling me was that there was a rat under the shoe rack.  The broom then suddenly found itself beating the crap out of the shoe rack, which was beaten with such effect that the rat was forced out. By focusing on the shoe rack, I am attempting to deny any responsibility for the resulting effect on the rat, which is detailed next (warning: disturbing content ahead).

The rat was in the process of giving birth, with a young 'un on it's way out of its back end. It crabbed and heaved its way to cover under the fridge. I dragged the poor shoe rack into the safe zone & closed the door on the problem. The light of day would be too soon enough to deal with this curve ball.

Morning came with the resolution that the rat bitch was going to move out of my apartment or die. I hosed under the fridge again. Nothing. With the shoe rack now in the safe zone, there was nowhere else she could hide. Relieved and a little mystified, I went downstairs on my way out to get on with my day. At the bottom of the stairs, outside the back of the filthy local restaurant which serves as mother ship for the building's rats, was the result of my bashing up the shoe rack/rat: an amniotic sac full of dead rat babies. 

Did that make me 'the exterminator' or 'the terminator'? Whatever, I was now sure that was the end of that. Been there before though, hadn't I?

A couple of days later I was heading to Vietnam for a spot of shopping.  Just in case, I bought three big, strong glue traps to cover one of the steps on my stairs. I returned with some trepidation and a little of excitement. Would there be a stuck and dead rat? A stuck and alive rat? No sign of any rat action? Could I have predicted the mystery that presented itself?

Two of the traps had disappeared and the third was trashed, upside down and stuck to a stair. I checked the unsecured zone, but no rat or glue traps.  How the hell did the rat get out with two one foot square pieces of cardboard stuck to it?.  Did it snow-shoe under the gap below the door with the cardboard pieces stuck to its feet, as one friend suggested, or had it become a high-sided rat, with cardboard stuck vertically to it, and slipped under sideways? My downstairs neighbours saw and heard nothing. I could only presume it made it's way back to the mother ship, where the rather unpleasant owner had to deal with it. 

Or was that just hoping? Surely, surely the war was over. I had won, hadn't I, even though this was a rat of unusual persistence and determination?

Two days later I came home from work earlier than usual. Now, it's quite a procedure to get inside. I have to unlock my light switch at the entrance, turn it on, relock the box and proceed to the first of the locked inner gates which is beside the mother ship, and leads into the stairwell. This area is dim and dingy in an Eastern European shabby filthy way, rather than a shabby chic way. As my hand went to the gate something large and feral went on the attack. My god, it was big! In terror I ran back out of the building and into the safety of the light. Shaking and almost in tears, I didn't know what to do. Everyone who could have helped was working. Then I remembered my leasing agent. I called him. By this point, I had lost my last shreds of composure and my bawling guilted him into coming to help me immediately.  He assumed the role of brave (but frightened) warrior and escorted me up to my apartment, which did result in better lighting and a rat proof door. And what was the big feral creature that attacked me? A high-sided rat, perhaps...

I'm baaaaackkkk...

...on track and online.  What a hell year it's been and it ain't over yet.  With moving back to Asia, the death of a dear friend, the return of the Hashi monster, long hours at work (hey, I do this job cos you generally don't have to work every bloody hour under the sun), money struggles, apartment woes (more on this later) and now job insecurity, I think I'll write this year off as a whole lot of nothing but pain.  

Things are starting to look up though. After battling the return of full on Hashi symptoms (BTW, I think I'm an Ord's, not a Hashi - same same but different) since last November, I am finally winning again.  In the past month, I have lost about 5 of the 8 kgs I had put on, and while everyone at work is catching the flu bug that's going around the teachers' room, I'm actually bouncing around. 

As I've noticed in the past, it seems that I battle on and on and nothing changes, then suddenly I wake up one morning and a switch has been flipped. I have energy: I immediately fall into a more active routine, I don't need coffee and I can tolerate being hungry, which of course means I can get back onto calorie restriction. 

The question is whether there is an accumulation of efforts that finally start to pay off, a daily falling of another domino in a very long line to reach a final goal, or is there a trigger, something that tips the balance in my favour.  Being the tipping point theory kind of gal that I am, I'm going with the second theory (I'm fairly sure that most of our doctors think along the lines of the first option - even the good ones).  Anyone who has experienced this 'flipping of the switch,' knows that this works both ways, i.e. on AND off. And once we've had that 'ON' experience, we want to find the trigger, aka "THE MAGIC BULLET." 

Magic bullets don't exist, and we know that, but we still look for them. I think we do that because we innately know that we need to add something to the mix of good things that we are already doing in order to tip the balance in our favour. Once this happens, it's like pushing over that first domino. In my case, that first domino had been firmly glued to the floor until 4 weeks ago.

So what's my tipping point? I'm beginning to think that it's cholesterol. Occasionally I've just gotta eat cholesterol laden food. This is not only contrary to everything I think I know about what is healthy to eat, but also contrary to the kinds of foods and flavours that I like to eat. Most of my life I've eaten very low fat, very fresh and 'zingy' kinds of foods. I do like some sweet stuff, but it is not the stuff of my life and I can happily go without it when I'm on track. 

I'm beginning to put together a picture of how this craving works. Thyroid, pancreas, adrenal glands; the trinity of health & well being. If you have issues with one of these three, odds on another one will be playing some kind of role, either obviously or subtly.  I have blood sugar issues in that my blood sugar can suddenly plummet and I lose conciousness. I have been repeated tested for diabetes and not only do I not have it, all indicators apart from weight show I'm really not likely to develop it. I did experience a noticeable jump in cholesterol level when the OFF switch was triggered in November, but it only went from lower than low to high-normal, which the doctor thought was fine. I didn't. I usually have very low cholesterol. There's a clue in there somewhere.  I control my blood sugar by spreading out my daily protein requirements over breakfast, lunch and dinner. My protein of choice is any high-quality, low fat animal flesh.  So there's a corner of the triangle.

Another corner of the triangle is the one that I'm just beginning to get an idea about.  I've read a lot about the adrenal glands over the years and a couple of small details keep coming back to me. The adrenals need a little bit of cholesterol to get them going and to keep them going. This is one of things that goes badly wrong in babies who are put on extreme diets by misguided parents.  Recently I read that when your body is not getting enough thyroid hormone, the adrenals work harder to compensate.  I had been experiencing little bursts of adrenaline over very small incidents that mentally barely registered but to which I had this physical overreaction. They really were WTF? moments: Another clue. Five weeks ago I went to Vietnam for a few days and while there experienced severe cravings for cholesterol laden BBQ ribs. The Vietnamese do the best ribs ever so I 'indulged,' accompanied by much self recrimination. Three days later, the switch went ON.

In hindsight, this pattern has repeated itself a number of times in my life.  But, it only works in one direction i.e. low fat, low cholesterol diet that needs the occasional boost of cholesterol. My Nana swore by the intake of cholesterol, claiming that it "oiled the insides," while I poo-pooed her idea.  Perhaps if she had said it "oiled the adrenal glands" I might have taken more notice. Apart from arthritis & finally dementia, she enjoyed good health for most of her 93 or 94 years, so maybe I should just have taken more notice full stop.  Oh, yes I almost forgot. She had Hashimoto's too. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Slowly, slowly catchee monkey...

Progress has been slow, but progress nonetheless.  I've lost 2 inches off my waist since the last post but I haven't felt as though I've been losing weight. Perhaps it's moving around? I did get weighed at the doctor's this past week, and confirmed that I've put on 8kgs since December. Sheee-it!!! Doc is worried by the rapid gain. I've had (almost) all the brakes on for a while but it's still been climbing. 

On the positive side, my TSH is on the way back down. After being 5.4 in May last year and 5.1 in December, it's now 3.82. The integrated physician I saw last year wanted me to aim for 2.0 as she uses a very narrow band (as it should be). T4 is 15.4 (don't think that's free T4, not sure I can get that tested here) . The last result I have for this is from about November 2010 at 17.8. I was just looking at the 'normal' range for T4, 9.2 to 23.9, and realised that this was borderline low in my late 20's. I remember a consultation about thyroid, and that the bottom of the range was 9.2 and I was 9.1 or 9.2. The doctor, of course, dismissed this as being in my head (how the f**k does that work?) and not a problem. It clearly was a problem.

The doc didn't retest my iron, but I been having something of a red meat fest (lean beef and chicken livers) following which my energy levels have perked up no end. I guess I was still borderline low and just needed to get on top of it. Anyway, my energy levels are rising so I actually did some exercise today.  I went for a 25 minute walk and followed that up with 3 one minute run, one minute rest cycles to test out that 3 minute exercise theory.  I feel really great. It feels like I have had an hour in the gym, and I've done hardly anything. Best of all, I haven't blown out my knee. Anyway, I'm going to keep up the 3 minute running thing and see how it goes,  and how my knee goes. 

Other dietary stuff: I forgot about sugar, rather my problem with sugar. If I have even a small amount of sugar in my diet, I can't stick to my diet. It makes me crazy with cravings. I started including a little sugar again after I had the major hypoglycaemic attack last year, but forgot to phase it out again.  I've now gotten rid of most of the sugar but still have the yoghurt problem. Yoghurt here is either low fat with sugar or no sugar but full fat and often with cream in it. In fact, it's so creamy that sometimes it just tastes rotten rather than activated by probiotics.  I will have to make my own. In the meantime, I'm having low fat with sugar but this is my only source of this white poison. I've taken to buying a pile of individual yoghurts and throwing them in the freezer.  I turn one out and put it in a nice glass with some passionfruit drizzled over, and then it takes a good 20 minutes of attack to eat it. This has solved one of my big problems with yogurt: a portion is over so quickly it leaves me wanting more. This way by the time I've finished my brain thinks it's had a right old yogurt feast. Other mind/food games trickery I'm employing includes carrots, chewing gum, ice-cubes and green tea made into ice-cubes. Slowly I am defeating the sugar demon. A major bonus with this is that as the sugar is coming under control, my alcoholic tendencies have dried up. Another thing I had forgotten about.

I have one more month left on my 3 month lease and I've decided to move into the main part of the city. It's too isolated for me out here on the edge of town even though I love the peace and quiet and big open areas. It's important I spend more time around friends, but it's not only too far away where I am, it can also be quite dangerous at night so I avoid tuk-tuking after dark. This has severely limited my social life, and is not good for my head space.  I just need to choose an apartment carefully to make sure it's quiet enough for me. Oh, and it has to have a good kitchen.  I would also be very close to the riverside which is great for walking, running, outdoor exercise classes, not to mention all the cafes and restaurants and people watching - believe me, there's a hell of a lot to watch there.

Well, it's back to work tomorrow. I think I've managed to use the break time for some good. I could have been more onto things and more dedicated, but hell I'm coming back from zero motivation to actually running so I can't beat myself up for only getting to that part on the last vacation day.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Baby steps...again...

OK, so I've made a couple of small changes for some noticeable benefits.  The chocolate bug bit me big time during the week so I bit back with a bit of a rum and raisin chocolate bar binge.  Strangely enough, that sorted out my salt cravings, although has left me with the urge to overuse the letter 'b'. I'm back to my regular level of salt intake, which is probably more than what is recommended anyway, but then, I don't have high blood pressure, heart problems or anything else that warrants reduced salt intake. I do get low blood pressure and occasionally very low bloody sugar and an adequate salt intake seems to help keep me in some kind of balance.  While living in Oz, I did pass out from low blood sugar so I'm rather keen for this not to happen again. 

One small step was to stop taking the Levothyroxine from Australia and go back to the French generic stuff I used here before. One small step, one big improvement, a fraction of the price. My body actually feels like it's getting some thryoid hormone now.

I have not made it to the gym yet to try the "3 minute workout." End of term is coming up in two weeks and I'll be using that time to set in some exercise routines, including giving this one a go. I will also be buying a bicycle this pay day, which coincides nicely with the last day of term. I have some time over the break to develop the confidence/skills necessary to take on the erratically speeding SUV monster pin balls that are a feature of the traffic here. I have managed to do some walking around my neighbourhood, although in some pain.  That was more than compensated for by the genuinely friendly locals and kids who greeted me on my way. Even the dogs were better behaved than in town. 

Pain levels overall have reduced dramatically over the past week, except for the ongoing issue of more titanium in my body than it's comfortable with - literally. Going back to basic broken bone care i.e. staying off it, elevating it etc has sorted out most of that.

As for the weight I've put on, I feel as though I'm on the verge of going into weight loss mode. I just need to push things a bit harder in that area and I think it will slot back into place. The next two weeks provide an ideal opportunity to get back on that horse, so high-ho Silver, away!