Today, I had my first acupuncture appointment. Well, not truly my first, as I’ve done it many times. But, my first appointment with a purpose. The previous visits were just because I wanted to give it a whirl for this or that, but wasn’t serious about maintaining it as a part of my wellness. This time, I am.
I saw a woman named Sarah (recommended to me by a dear friend) who runs a place in Manhattan. First plus, easy to get to. This appointment was far more than just, “Where does it hurt? Lay down. Insert needles. Pay. See ya.” I completed an extensive form, which gave her a picture of where I am and what I may need. Then, we had a 45 minute discussion about my form, food, supplements, myths, facts, and after all of that, I was on the table with needles.
This was (and will continue to be) a thorough investigation. She confirmed many things I’ve read (and have been told by doctors), one of which irritates me to no end: We don’t know why Hyper or Graves’ happens. We have speculation, we have good guesses, and it just happens because it happens. Bah!
Anyway, we talked a lot of digestion and the role it plays in Graves’ and anything thyroid-related. Not the first time I’ve heard this, but oddly, this kind of discussion wasn’t initiated by my R.D. as I thought it should have been. Quickly: Graves’, an autoimmune disease, means my body is attacking itself because it thinks there is something attacking it. It can often be because of what is simply called “leaky gut”. Undigested nutrients, which are read as toxins, sneak past the small intestine through cellular gaps (I think cellular is the right word, not membrane, but you get me) which then get into my bloodstream. This causes the creation of antibodies which then attack what they think are toxins. My body is doing what it’s supposed to do, but doing it to the wrong thing. And, it all happens from the small intestine. This particular behavior is the Graves’ >> Graves’ causes Hyper >> et, voila, Zovig is a world of hurtin’. [side note: I am not a doctor. What I just relayed is a very, very dumbed down version of leaky gut.]
What we will do in acupuncture is reset the way my body is dealing with stress, which exacerbates everything, including Graves’. I have a trifecta happening; a thyroid triage, if you will. Meds + Food/Diet + Acupuncture = hopefully over time, healing.
What I loved about the acupuncture session was the comprehensiveness. It was the longest conversation I’ve had about my Graves’ with someone other than a friend. And it was an exploration. There was no right or wrong answer. I didn’t get a wagging finger because I had a diet root beer last week. I was having a talk as an additional step in getting to the bottom of this. I also got three emails after my appointment in follow up. One was a tome of information about food and things to consider with my approach to food. One had links to some really good resources about food labels and what to look for when buying certain foods. One had a whole explanation of bone broth for leaky gut. Consensus has it that this collagen (in bone broth) is very good for me. I also like that she doesn’t use capital letters in email and dropped an F-bomb in our session (probably to make me feel comfortable because I did.)
I have seen an Integrative MD and an RD and an Endocrinologist. And, if I’m being totally honest, the Integrative and RD didn’t do a whole lot except have conflicting opinions, and give me a diet recommendation I am already doing. Oh, and yoga and meditation [insert deadpan face emoji here] No disrespect at all (I am not an MD or an RD) but I’m past the “sit for 10 min a breathe to connect with your body.” I do this daily. It’s wonderful, and I need more depth.
Next steps: I will see Sarah after I return from CA and the Christmas holiday (not so secretly, I am happy to have so many food restrictions right now. Takes away the holiday eating guilt I was sure to experience). In addition to the acupuncture, I also have an appointment with an ophthalmologist who specializes in thyroid/Graves’ impact on the eyes. Graves’ causes my eyes to bulge which stresses and stretches out the muscles of my peepers, therefore it’s important to make sure there’s no damage. What if there is? I don’t know but maybe I can remedy it with some cool looking glasses (?).
Now that I am “in this” process, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. Three weeks ago, I felt like I was drowning in not knowing what to do and who to talk to. Now, it’s more of: see this doctor here, take these blood labs there, make this appointment for this time, ask these questions I have written down. I’ve settled into the necessity of time, patience and exploration in this process. There’s no one answer as much as I wish there was. There is management and maintenance and adaptation (kinda like yoga). Fun fact: I was able to exercise this week, which I am certain makes a difference in my level of my optimism. I did not go hard in my workouts, but I can’t be at this time. Sixty is my 100…for now.