The 2020 COVID-19 Outbreak: Keeping It In Perspective

I have a LOT of feelings about the COVID-19 outbreak and the paranoia and media coverage surrounding it. It’s dredged up a lot of memories of my dad, and of his fight in ICU in December 2013-January 2014.

COVID-19 Coronavirus / CDC

A month after he was admitted, we were suddenly without my dad. He was 62. His cause of death was sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome as brought on by double pneumonia (in both lungs). The pneumonia in turn, we believe, was brought on by an unknown virus, most likely the H1N1 influenza that was going around in the 2013-14 season. He also had an existing cellulitis infection that had worn down his immunity.

The 2013-14 H1N1 was a BAD year for flu. The CDC reports that in that season, there were the highest rates of hospitalizations for those age 50-64 than in 2009 when H1N1 first came to exist. All that to say: If my dad had his flu shot that year, it had a 62 percent effectiveness rate, and maybe he would still be with us today.

My message to those who are reacting to media coverage of COVID-19: Viral infections like these can happen ANYTIME. Getting your flu shot, and pneumonia shot for those over 65, is important EVERY year. Going to your doctor when you are sick is what everyone should do — though sadly, many cannot afford to. But if you can, GO.

And as for this year’s COVID-19 outbreak: Keep it in perspective. Odds are low that a healthy adult without preexisting immune-suppressing conditions will get a serious case of COVID-19.

But washing your hands with soap while singing “Happy Birthday” is always a good idea.

My Hashimoto’s Journey

When I re-branded and re-launched my blog last year, I wrote a new intro: “I am a work in progress. I’m journeying toward a better career for me, a healthier lifestyle, and financial freedom in order to attain my BIG goals.”

Well, the good news, one of those things — the career — is a nice big green check mark. October will mark one year in my role as social media strategist for Hearst Television, and I couldn’t be happier.

But the two other things — a healthy lifestyle and financial freedom — are works in progress. So that’s what I’ll be sharing moving forward.

One thing I’ve been dealing with since the age of 19 is ongoing thyroid issues. My pediatrician found nodule on my thyroid back then and ordered a biopsy. They were so small that the test came back inconclusive. We’ve been keeping an eye on them ever since, as well as checking my T3 and T4 thyroid levels. I was always borderline low on these levels, and I’ve been on levothyroxine her and there, but never consistently.

Since age 19, my weight has been an up-and-down battle. Around the time I got the thyroid nodules, I dropped 20 lbs, down to 125 lbs — and people were asking me if I might have an eating disorder. I was wearing a size 4/6 and felt very confident. Plus, I was 19 and 20 years old — who is’t gorgeous at that age! (more on this later)

Then, I ballooned up, gradually, to about 175. I stayed that size for several years, but remember being about 185 around the time Brian and I were engaged in 2008. I managed to lose some weight and weighed around 170 at our wedding in 2009. I also had some gastrointestinal issues during this time period.

I continued gaining weight until 2014, when my dad passed away. At that time, I weighed about 205 lbs., wearing a size 14. Then lost about 40 lbs., getting down to a low of 168 and a size 10/12 through Weight Watchers — all in 6 months!

I then lost a job and we moved to Atlanta. I enjoyed the food there, and my husband and I went through a lot of stress that year, so all the weight I lost came back, and then some. While in Atlanta, I received a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder and started on Lexapro, which greatly relieved my symptoms and helped me feel same for the first time in a while.

Flash forward to early 2017 and I’m at my highest weight ever. I am a miserable, bloated size 16.  My knees creak when I walk. I am tired all the time. And I am fat.

In March, I switched doctors. And for the first time, she ordered tests to look at my thyroid antibody levels, along with B12 and Vitamin D. A week later, the results: My thyroglobulin antibodies should be no more than 116 …. and they’re at 895.3. Antithyroid peroxidase [anti-TPO] antibodies should be no higher than 34… and they’re at 50.

I finally get a diagnosis for something that runs in my family: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It’s an autoimmine condition in which my body attacks my own thyroid.

Along with that, my Vitamin B12 levels are low, and my Vitamin D levels are borderline. No wonder I’ve been so exhausted.

Healing Hashimoto’s

Hashimoto’s is a complicated autoimmune condition that shouldn’t be treated with medication alone. I’m approaching my diagnosis in a few ways and concocting my own functional medicine approach:

Reading & Research: I’m currently reading Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause by pharmacist Izabella Wentz. Next up on my list is her second book, Hashimoto’s Protocol. After that will be How to Heal Hashimoto’s by Marc Ryan, which is a new release for June.

Traditional medicine: My doctor prescribed me Unithroid medication, as well as Vitamin B12 injections. I also started on Vitamin D supplements. It’s been a little over a month now, and after receiving a B12 injection weekly, I’m definitely seeing an improvement in energy levels and morning brain fog. I go back in July to have my levels re-checked and my Unithroid adjusted.

Herbal medicine: I consulted a former coworker who is a newly certified herbalist to discuss natural/herbal remedies for my condition. She recommended turmeric capsules, which I now take daily, along with ashwagandha root drops, which I bought in a tincture and add to my big Yeti full of ice water every morning. Turmeric has a lot of health benefits, including being anti-inflammatory, while ashwagandha is known to improve thyroid function, help heal adrenals and ease anxiety. I also now eat two Brazil nuts every morning, which contain a high amount of selenium, a trace mineral vital to thyroid function. Lastly, she prescribed me a specific tea blend that I’m going to start drinking daily.

Diet: Admittedly I have done no major changes here yet, other than adding in Brazil nuts — but come June, I will. My herbalist passed along a list of foods that are high in tyrosine, another antioxidant essential to thyroid function. And in June, I’m going gluten-free to see how that improves my symptoms. I’m also researching if I need to cut out other foods, such as dairy.

I hope that these changes can help me finally feel myself again. Wish me luck, y’all.

A Better Career, a Healthier Life

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

It’s been a tough few years for me.

I blogged a little bit more about my situation over at Medium earlier today. (Feel free to read, then come back here.)

How have I really gotten where I am? I think it’s through a series of poor decisions based on money, a big dose of fear, a bit of bad luck, and what I thought I really needed to be happy.

But as we all know, money doesn’t buy happiness. Happiness is felt through doing what you love and loving those who love you.

True happiness doesn’t come from impulse shopping, impulse eating, or how many likes your latest post gets on Facebook or Instagram.

For me, true happiness comes from what I love: my husband, my family, my dog, chiefly; but also doing what I love. And for the past several years, I haven’t been doing what I love. No wonder I’ve been dealing with anxiety, weight gain, and so on.

What I love: teaching and mentoring. What I love: Writing and creating. What I love: Genuine conversation. What I love: How social media can bring so much of this together.

Until now, I had all but quit creating, teaching and mentoring. I was working in a stressful agency environment that only exacerbated my anxiety. Sure, I’m organized and communicative, but I hated the agency-client relationship. I wanted to make genuine connections with those I worked with. And let’s face it, that’s hard to do in that kind of workplace.

So now, I move forward, fresh. Money no longer motivates me. I’m no longer led by fear of not being able to pay my debts, or lose my earthly belongings. I still aim to take care of myself and my family, but I have to let the things that truly make me happy guide me.

What do you love? Are you doing it?