Almost There

It is my last week of teaching for the year. I am grading final research papers, presentations, and tests this week and after turning them in this weekend then I’ll be done.

Although we have discovered that there are several very nice Christmas tree farms very close to our house we will not be buying or decorating a tree. This is our first year in our plan to “every-other year” travel back to the west coast for Christmas.

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This time next week we will be at Luke’s parents house enjoying a Greene family Christmas. We will also be spending a few days with my parents, brother, and his wife at my parent’s new lake home in Florence, Oregon.

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Now this doesn’t mean we did not decorate for Christmas. We hung stockings over our fireplace mantel, put up the nativity scene and of course a wreath on the door. New this year we also bought electric candles to put in the window sills; a very popular form of decoration here in upstate New York. My mother also made me some beautiful crocheted and starched snowflakes that we will eventually use as ornaments on a tree. This year I taped them in our front windows.

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Last of all we still have a decorated tree: just not one that is alive and smells like pine. If you read my blog last Christmas season then you will know that my dad made both my brother and I wood Christmas trees  out of studs from the home we grew up in in California. It all folds down to a small and easy to pack triangle and when you want to use it it can be pulled around in a spiral to look just like a Christmas tree with a nob at the top to tighten the whole tree in place. This year I chose to decorate it with some small snow flake name tags and green-mini tree ornament with a small angel on top.

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Last weekend the holiday baking also began. I made two blueberry buckles one for Luke to take to work for a breakfast meeting and one for me to take to my classes end of the semester party.  The plus from this party is that I had leftover perfect lunch treats for Luke and I.

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I also made my chocolate sugar cookies and white chocolate peppermint sugar cookies as well to give away to my students on the last day of class and for both of us to take to work as a Christmas present our co-workers.

We are almost there. Just a few more days and we will be on a plane our way to family in Oregon. It has been a year and a half since the last time we visited the west coast so we are more then ready for a trip back.

What are your family Christmas travel plans?

The Dishwasher

Yes we finally have an installed dishwasher! A big package was delivered from Lowes the day before Thanksgiving ready for us to install.

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Luke had spent a good amount of time cutting out a hole where the cupboards were previously in order to fit the new appliance.

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Then on Thanksgiving via skype Luke worked with is father to connect the plumbing and run the electricity. With a few minor adjustments  we were able to run a tester cycle to check for leaks and had a working dishwasher!

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Since then we have added the toe-kick board, some insulation for sound and finished off the wiring. Now all that is left is to replace a board on the side of the dishwasher that is stained the same color as the rest of the kitchen. As Luke says the “cosmetic” work.

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But until we find the right stain we have a working dishwasher. It has been an adjustment getting used to using this appliance. I have to remember to rinse dishes and put them in the dishwasher instead of letting them pile up in the sink. As you can see I was very happy to put our over-used dish drying rack in the trash pile!

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Unless I have a lot of baking we are only running the dishwasher every-other day. It has wonderful features such as a pre-steam that helps to get off all the sticky pieces of the food off the dishes. And of course my favorite is the heat dry so that I can take the dishes out and straight into the cupboards without any drying time. The silverware container comes out easily and so far even my big steel kitchen-aid mixer bowls fit perfectly in the bottom rack.

So far we are happy customers and proud of our first big project in our new house.

Genetics and my Thyroid

This is part three in a series about my health in the last few months and dealing with a hypothyroid for parts one and two see Grace and my Thyroid and Patience and my Thyroid.

I want to clarify that these problems with my thyroid did not come out of thin air. I knew that I could have problems with my thyroid but based on my mother’s experiences I thought I would not struggle with this until my mid-thirties.

My mom has been on levothrixine to treat an under-active thyroid since for years with no changes to the dosage or other issues. But within the last year or two her TSH levels have sky-rocketted and she has changed her medication from a synthetic hormone replacement to a more organic one. Through all of this she for the first time decided to go to an endocrinologist who diagnosed her with Hashimotos.

Hashimotos is the name for a genetic thyroid disease. Thyroid disorders or diseases are within the auto-immune problem category. Basically your body attacks the thyroid instead of allowing it to do it’s job which is to to regulate your metabolism, development and maintenance of your bones, as well as heart, digestive function and muscle control. 

In researching all of this I found that high TSH levels in blood tests are usually the indicators of the hypothyroidism. It tends to take awhile for hashimotos or hypothyroidism to be noticed because symptoms can also be signs of stress or can be brought on by stressful situations. They also tend to become worse the older the person is and the problem is not noticed.

After talking to my mom we decided that it is possible my mother was having thyroid issues as far back as my age. It is a possible reason she was placed on hormone medication while pregnant with me in her late twenties.

I also discovered while asking questions of family that my maternal grandmother is on thyroid medication although has never been diagnosed with any specific disorder, but her sister has Hashimotos and had part of her thyroid removed for swelling many years ago .

Through all of this I have learned that the more you know about your families’ health history the better. You can’t fight or change your genetics and it’s much easier to take care of your body and it’s specific diet, vitamin, and nutrition needs etc. when you know problems in your family beyond the simple questions.

I’m grateful to learn all of this and work through this problem now instead of years down the road where the problems could be more complicated or the symptoms worse.

Grace and my Thyroid

This is my second post on an update of my health. To read the first part of this blog see: Patience and my Thyroid.

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Around mid-November I finally went to see an endocronologist. I had been as patient as possible while counting down the days. Finally, I went to a Rochester hospital to see a specialist. After filling out all the new-patient information I talked to the nurse who inputed the medical history information, then an NP came in and talked with me and looked at my chart, she felt my neck and glands then left to talk to the doctor. I was relieved and impressed that I was seen by three medical professionals all who shared with the next person what they saw in my charts.

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The doctor came in and share with me his plan: to put me on a low dose of levothroxine, a hormone pill to help balance people with a hypothyroid (under-active/producing thyroid) and then check my blood work again in two months to see if they need to adjust my dosage. He said that my TSH was a little on the high end even if it was in normal range. My guess based on my symptoms is that number has gone up since the blood work he was looking at was  done in August.

I asked him what could have caused the nodules on my thyroid and he said it is common for those with hashimotos (a specific type of hypothyroidism) to have nodules. He did not say I had hashimotos; he did not make a clear diagnosis, at least not yet, but knows my family history. He plans on doing another ultrasound in 6 months to see if the nodules are smaller with the medication.

I was relieved and grateful to have progress forward after my meeting with the endocronologist.

I was able to pick up the medication over the weekend and have been on it now for almost three weeks. I have had to change my routine a little so I can take it on an empty stomach and hour before eating but it has been worth it. Although they say it takes more than 2 weeks to notice a change I saw changes right away in my energy levels and focus. I have already dropped two pounds and for the first time in a long time I can tell when I am hungry; so I know that this is helping my metabolism along.

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During this whole situation I have had to show myself a large amount of grace. I expect a lot of myself as a teacher, as a wife, etc.  With the exhaustion and lack of focus it was hard to keep up with my normal activities of cleaning, cooking, laundry, lesson planning etc let alone helping with packing up the old house and moving into the new one.

Things definitely at times fell through the cracks which I never allow.  But I had to recognize this was not the “normal” Amanda this was the sick Amanda. I needed more sleep, more sitting, I needed more time to do an activity, and I needed to not be hard on myself when I did not accomplished what I wanted to. My husband also showed me grace, helping me out when the routine chores and activities began to pile up or were to difficult for me. And of course I’m grateful for the encouragement, prayers,  and understanding of those who knew what was going on; that makes all the difference.

 

Patience and my Thyroid

 

Among the craziness of starting a new job, getting a second car, looking for, buying, and moving into a new house I have also been fighting a health problem.

I have not told everyone online about it yet because until a few weeks ago I did not have enough information about what was happening to share with you.

Back in June/July I noticed the base of the front of my neck hurting. Sometimes I would feel a sharp pain on the left or right side of my esophagus and other times my throat would just feel tight even though I could swallow and breath just fine. As this continued I decided to go into the doctors to see what could be going on.

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In August I finally was able to make a doctor’s appointment. They told me I had a low grade fever and probably thyrodtitis, which is a general term for an inflammation of the thyroid. They had me do blood work to check my thyroid’s hormone levels including TSH, and T3 and T4. All came back within normal range but they had me go in for a ultrasound of my thyroid anyways.

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A few weeks later I went to have the ultrasound of my thyroid. The ultrasound took longer then usual because instead of finding swelling they found several nodules on both my right and left side of my thyroid. Now nodules are like cysts that can be solid or full or liquid. As people get older they tend to develop nodules on their thyroid which is normal but at my age with as many nodules as they found it is usually an indicator that something is wrong. Everyone reassured me that the shape and placement of the nodules did not mean I needed to be concerned about the C word at all. Still I knew something was not right and so did they.

By the end of August I given an appointment with an endocrinologist specialist in Sayre PA for the week of Thanksgiving! I was worried and feeling worse. I was not happy at all the I would have to wait that long. So Luke helped me find someone in the Rochester area who could see me earlier in November.

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This is where patience comes into play. As September came and into October I began to feel worse.  I gained weight, I had on and off  low grade fever, I was always exhausted and struggled to exercise. The main sign that this was a thyroid issue was that my hair also began to thin. Now if you know anything about me from past blogs you would know I love my hair.

If You Are Waiting For Your Customers To Call You – You Are Too Late!

So it was hard to wait and wait knowing something was wrong with me and only being able to rest and take vitamins. Some days at work were very long and my mind was foggy. I was struggling more with dyslexia and with remembering small things: what I wore yesterday, ate yesterday. My students were asking me questions about an assignment or when it was due and I couldn’t to answer them right away. This was beyond frustrating especially at a new job.

I had to be patient while waiting; counting down the days to when I would get answers and some movement forward to resolve my thyroid problem.

Well that is step one of my healthy update: coming next: grace and my thyroid where I will share how my endocrinologist appointment went and how I am doing now.