Another round of tests and two upcoming appointments!

All of a sudden, I’m feeling like I’m starting to get some momentum here.  (knock on wood)

Let me tell you about the past week…

I spent some time at the hospital yesterday and Monday to get my thyroid uptake testing done.  Finally, they called me to do it last week and I was pleased to get in right away.  I swallowed the radioactive pill on Monday morning and got tested throughout the day to see how my thyroid was functioning.  Then, yesterday, I went back for a final scan and they also took a series of pictures.

The picture taking was the worst part.  I had to lay on a table with a pillow under my shoulders and my head propped back in a weird position.  Chin way up so my neck was stretched up.  

Of course, I’m freezing all the time so the radiation tech was kind enough to wrap me in a wooly hospital blanket like a burrito.

Then, she put me in a tube machine that looked like something for a MRI but instead she used a flat panel to take xray like pictures.  I had to sit perfectly still, in this contorted position, for 10 minutes at a time.  She did four total films.

And, because I’m a smart cookie and I know better, I asked for a copy of the films before I headed home.  No, I don’t mind waiting for them.

So without further ado, I give you my beautimous thyroid.

Image

 

I know, it’s more exciting than you thought it would be, right?

I have no idea how to read these, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the darker spots are not normal.  But, then again, I’m not a radiologist, so I’ll have to wait for the report. That’s just what I found when I was looking online.

Next Monday, I have an appointment with my primary care doctor to go over all of the results.  If she is willing to treat me, great.  If not, then I go to plan B.

Plan B came up unexpectedly on Monday night when my phone rang and one of the doctor offices from Richmond called.  I’m going in on the 18th!  I wasn’t expecting to get in so fast but after they got my labs and whatnot, I guess they figured I was really serious.

I’m cautiously optimistic that these turn of events mean that I’m going to get some treatment soon!

Armed and dangerous…with information!

I love the internet.  Not only am I finding great resources on thyroid advocacy forums, but I am also able to view test results now from LabCorp without being a slave to my doctor. Yay, interweb.

So my test results came back from all of the bloodwork on Saturday and I’ve had a few days to sift through it all.  I know you are all dying to know what I found.

The bad news is that EVERYTHING came back in the normal range.  The good news is that I know better than to lay down and take it like before.

First of all, it doesn’t look like I have the thyroid antibodies, so that is great news.  No Hashimotos or any other autoimmune diseases appeared to be present.

I ran a ton of thyroid tests, as I mentioned before.

I immediately checked my TSH levels.  Lab Corps range is .45 – 4.5.  Mine came back at 3.75.  Yes, it’s in the normal range.  But, as I found in my sleuthing, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists advised the public in 2003 that physicians should be using a smaller range and looking at .3 – 3.0 as a level of normalcy.  Anyone who scores above 3.0, according to the AACE should be treated for hypothyroidism. In fact, they recommend that a patient be treated until the levels fall between 1.0 – 2.0.

When I read this, my reaction was like this:

  1. Read the article
  2. Look at my test results
  3. Scour the internet for references to this article
  4. Look at my test results, double checking that I really am above a 3.0
  5. Get mad.

I have never been given my test results from any of the 6 endocrinologists that I’ve seen in the last ten years, but I remember many of them saying, “oh, you’re 3.whatever, so that’s the normal range.  You’re fine”.

No, obviously, I’m not fine.  I’m mad.

I’m mad that this has been going on for 10 years untreated.  That I’ve been suffering for a decade.  I’ve been thinking that I have a major problem with control over my diet and exercise because nothing ever works for me. I’m mad that I’m so tired all of the time that I often close my door, lay down on the floor, and sleep at lunch- even though I slept 7-9 hours the night before.

I’m mad that I’ve been above these recommended clinical ranges and 6 doctors have dismissed me, despite my insistence that something is WRONG.  They looked at me and said, I can see you are unhappy but then didn’t bother to do anything to help me.

I AM NOT A LAB VALUE ON A TEST REPORT.  I am a human being who knows what is normal and not normal for ME.

And now, I have my labs so I can fight.  I have documentation from a national organization saying I should be treated.

So what next?  I push forward.

I emailed my PCP yesterday and let her know that I received the results (probably before she did) and gave her the link to the AACE press release.  I asked her how she wanted to proceed.

Then, I called the three doctors I’m on the waitlist for and checked my status.  I also let each of them know that I have lab work so I would need a longer appointment.

I’m waiting to hear back from my PCP.  She told me that she was willing to treat me if it came back abnormal.  I guess I need to hear what she has to say after reading the AACE recommendations.

Even if she is willing to treat, I’m still going to meet with one of the specialists, just to get another opinion and ideas on some holistic treatment methods.

The moral of the story is this:  always trust your gut.  Even if you have to go to 12 doctors to be taken seriously.  Even if it takes you 10 years.

Because it’s worth it.  Getting those test results directly gave me a great amount of validation.

I’m not a crazy machine.  I don’t have to feel like a slob because I can’t lose weight or get in shape. My husband doesn’t have to live with my exhaustion hopefully for much longer.

This is where shit gets real, people.  I’m armed and dangerous now.

Report from the appointment with my PCP

Sorry for the delay on getting this up- I’ve had some people ask how things went and I meant to get it up last week!

The appointment went well with my primary care physician on Thursday.  Remember, I haven’t seen this woman in 4 years so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I got there and was the last appointment of the day, so I was pretty tired, which showed when she walked in the door.

As soon as I saw her, I was having hard time composing myself.  I love my PCP.  It’s just too bad I don’t have a reason to see her more often.  She took one look at me and was like, oh you look bad.  I know, I said.

So she asked me what was going on, how Kevin was, and the normal small talk.  Then, I unloaded on her.  Like really unloaded.

She listened and was generally irritated that I wasn’t getting a lot of people taking me seriously here, which she admitted has been a problem for a couple of her other “subclinical” patients.  At one point she said, I’m not sure when this happened but doctors stopped looking at a person and seeing illness- they wait for test results and then decide to treat.  She agreed to take all the blood work I asked for and wrote the recommendation for the doctor in Fredericksburg.

One interesting thing that I found out from meeting with her (over an hour appointment) was that all of the specialists that I have seen have only tested me for one of the Hashimoto’s antibodies.  There are two tests. I have always been given one, which never comes up positive.

That is good and bad.  It would be good if I didn’t have an autoimmune disorder because treatment wouldn’t be so complicated.  It would be bad if the other one comes up positive because Hashimotos basically attacks your thyroid so it would be exponentially harder to treat.  In addition, the likelihood of having another autoimmune disorder is higher.  She elected to do a full panel for other autoimmune disorders, including Lupus and all of that, just in case.  Sigh.

She also put in for the Celiac testing again.  Why not.

Then, she drops the big one on me.  Have I had my thyroid ultrasounded before?  No, I said, I haven’t.  She’s all like, WHAT?  You’ve been to six specialists and no one has done this or an iodine uptake on you before?  That’s inexcusable, if you have a patient suffering like you, she says.

So here is what it is: a small dose of radioactive iodine 123 is given in pill form. Several hours later, the amount of iodine in the bloodstream is measured, often accompanied by an x-ray that views how the iodine concentrates in the thyroid.

Decreased levels of activity can indicate subacute thyroiditis, which is what she says she thinks I have.  We even went back years ago and she had written that down in her notes from when we met in 2005.

I did the blood work this morning, since I had to do a 24 hour urine panel first, which tests the cortisol levels.  I’m hoping to hear from the hospital to do the ultrasound and uptake in the next week or so. 

She agreed that even if my labs come back all normal that there is definitely something wrong with me.  She said after 10 years, I should have had some relief. 

 

 

Prepping for appointments

Over the weekend, I received a package from Dr. Gent in Midlothian.  Thank goodness I’m actually on the waiting list!  It included new patient forms and two items for subclinical thyroid patients.   The first item was a symptom checklist, which yielded a 95% yes response rate from me.  Big surprise.  The other item was a set of instructions on how to take my basal temperature prior to my appointment.  Many integrative doctors follow this method for diagnosing subclinical hypothyroidism, which is also known as Barnes’ Thyroid Test.

The idea with this test is that you chart for 30 days, first thing in the morning.  Normal temperature readings should be 97.8 – 98.2.  If it’s below that, then you likely have a thyroid problem.  I took mine for the first time today and it was 97.68.  Well, that’s interesting.

There is a growing movement and belief that blood tests fail to detect many cases of hypothyroidism. It appears that many individuals have “tissue resistance” to thyroid hormone. Therefore, their body may need more thyroid hormone, even though the amount in their blood is normal (or even on the high side of normal).

So I’ll be charting my temps for the next month in hopes that I will get an appointment with Dr. Gent in October.

Thursday, I have an appointment with my primary care physician to discuss this whole fiasco.  My hope is that she would be willing to treat me.  If not, then I plan to ask for her to run the necessary bloodwork so I can take it to any other doctor, thereby avoiding a wasted appointment.

Most endochronologists will test for TSH, which is the thyroid stimulating hormone.   TSH tells the thyroid gland to release two hormones, T4 and T3. These hormones are released into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. A lot more T4 is produced than T3. T4 doesn’t do much until it is converted into T3. T3 is what does the ‘magic’, and activates metabolism.  Traditionally, doctors will only test the TSH and T4.  If  these thyroid test results are found to be at “normal” levels, you will most likely be told you don’t have a thyroid problem.  This has been my issue in the past.

As of 2003, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists is recommending that the normal range run from 0.3 to 3.0, versus the older range of 0.5 to 5.5. So, according to the new standards, levels above 3.0 are evidence of possible hypothyroidism.  I am curious how many doctors actually use these new levels.  Even worse, you can go to different websites and get different ranges, including Mayo Clinic and other established organizations.

Two websites I really like are Mary Shoman’s thyroid advocacy page and Gina Lee Nolin’s (of Baywatch fame) Facebook page.  Both pages are dedicated to helping people who are struggling with symptoms, poor treatment plans, and lack of medical attention.  I have spent hours looking through them and I can’t tell you how angry it makes me to see that this is a national epidemic, the lack of proper health care and attention to suffering individuals.

I read accounts and pleas from people that sound just like me.

I may be a hypochondriac. I may be looking for an excuse for why I’m 50 pounds heavier than I was 15 years ago.  But I don’t think so.

I truly believe that in my heart of hearts something is wrong.  After 10 years, I know it’s not all in my head.  Taking my temperature this morning may be a bunch of “woo hoo”, but it validated something for me.

So I’m going to be going in on Thursday and asking for the following tests, as recommended by both Mary and Gina’s websites.  Here they are and why:

  1. Free T4 / Free Thyroxine: Free T4 measures the free, unbound thyroxine levels in your bloodstream. Free T4 is typically elevated in hyperthyroidism, and lowered in hypothyroidism. Free or unbound T4 levels represent the level of hormone available for uptake and use by cells. Bound levels represent a circulating hormone that may not all be immediately available, because it is affected by other drugs, illness, and physical changes such as pregnancy. Because the free levels of T4 represent immediately available hormone, free T4 is thought to better reflect the patient’s hormonal status than total T4 (below).
  2. Total T4/Total Thyroxine/Serum Thyroxine: This test measures the total amount of circulating thyroxine in your blood. Thyroxine, a hormone produced by the thyroid, is also known as T4. A high value can indicate hyperthyroidism, a low value can indicate hypothyroidism. Total T4 levels can be elevated due to pregnancy, and other high estrogen states, including use of estrogen replacement or birth control pills.
  3. Total T3/Total Triiodothyronine: Triiodothyronine is the active thyroid hormone, and is also known as T3. Total T3 is typically elevated in hyperthyroidism, and lowered in hypothyroidism.
  4. Free T3 / Free Triiodothyronine: Free T3 measures the free, unbound levels of triiodothyronine in your bloodstream. Free T3 is considered more accurate than Total T3. Free T3 is typically elevated in hyperthyroidism, and lowered in hypothyroidism.
  5. T3 Resin Uptake (T3RU): When done with a T3 and T4, the T3 resin uptake (T3RU) test is sometimes referred to as the T7 test. This test measures the amount of unsaturated binding sites on the transport (binding) hormones. Elevated T3RU is more commonly seen with hyperthyroidism.
  6. Thyroglobulin/Tg: Thyroglobulin (Tg) levels are low or undetectable with normal thyroid function but can by elevated in thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, or thyroid cancer. Monitoring of Tg levels is frequently used to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment for thyroid cancer and to monitor for thyroid cancer recurrence.
  7. Reverse T3: When the body is under stress, instead of converting T4 into T3 – the active form of thyroid hormone – the body conserves energy by making what is known as Reverse T3 (RT3), an inactive form of the T3 hormone. The value of RT3 tests in diagnosis is controversial, as some practitioners believe that the body continues to manufacture RT3 instead of active T3, causing various symptoms that are identified as the so-called “Wilson’s syndrome.”
  8. Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) Antibodies (TPOAb) / Antithyroid Peroxidase Antibodies: Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) antibodies, are also known as Antithyroid Peroxidase Antibodies. (In the past, these antibodies were referred to as Antithyroid Microsomal Antibodies or Antimicrosomal Antibodies). These antibodies work against thyroid peroxidase, an enzyme that plays a part in the T4-to-T3 conversion and synthesis process. TPO antibodies can be evidence of tissue destruction, such as Hashimoto’s disease, less commonly, in other forms of thyroiditis such as post-partum thyroiditis. This is the test that I believe I was given 10 years ago at EVMS that the doctor (now gone with my results) told me that I had Hashimoto’s. I remember him saying that my thyroid wasn’t “dead yet” but it may end up that way some day.  Until then, he said, your ranges are normal so you don’t require treatment. It’s estimated that TPO antibodies are detectable in approximately 95 percent of patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
  9. Thyroglobulin Antibodies / Antithyroglobulin Antibodies: Testing for thyroglobulin antibodies (also called antithyroglobulin antibodies) is common.  Thyroglobulin antibodies are positive in about 60 percent of Hashimoto’s patients.
  10. Thyroid-Stimulating Immunoglobulins (TSI) / TSH Stimulating Antibodies (TSAb): TSH receptor antibodies (TRAb) are seen in most patients with a history of, or who currently have, Graves’ disease. Testing is usually done for a specific type of stimulating TRAb that goes by several different names, including:
    • Thyroid-Stimulating Immunoglobulins (TSI)
    • TSH stimulating antibodies (TSAb)

I am also going to ask for:

    • Iron
    • Ferritin
    • TIBC (Total Iron Binding Capacity)
    • Iron Sat
    • Vit D
    • Vit B12

So there you go.  A lot of blood work is in my future.  If this doctor refuses, then I will have to wait until I can get in to see one of my wait list people.  I hope that is not the case.

Ah, the waiting lists…

A lot has happened in 24 hours.  I’ve been busy.

Local doctor updates:  the Chesapeake doctor won’t accept me as a new patient (see lying never pays) and his entire practice is full.  I have a friend who says she knows someone who will be graduating next year and starting at the practice, so that may be a local option down the road.

But I’m not willing to wait right now.

I called and made an appointment with my primary care for the 19th of this month, just as a precaution.  Maybe I can convince her to do the bloodwork I want.  If not, I can use her as a reference to get with a doctor in Northern Virginia.

So here’s the scoop on doctors around the state.  I scoured the interwebs for top thyroid docs in the state and I found three that accept insurance.

  1. Dr. Peter Gent in Midlothian.  He has a wait list of 6-8 weeks but they are sending me a new patient packet now and have told me to start tracking my basal temperature for a month before coming in.  He is a Doctor of Osteopathy and his website specifically says he treats subclinical hypothyroidism.  Yes, please.  The downside to this practice is that he only sees patients from 8-2 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.  But the receptionist said I’m 10th in line and seemed really nice.
  2. Dr. Kevin Harrison in Richmond.  He also has a wait list, but the receptionist would not tell me how long it would be.  She thought sometime later on this fall.  He used to be in practice with Dr. Gent before starting up his own deal.  He is also a D.O.  His website has a special section for thyroid disorders that says, “Many patients are suspicious that they suffer from low thyroid yet their lab tests are “normal.” We depend on lab tests, but we also use basal temperatures to assist with the diagnosis and treatment. Most importantly, we evaluate patients by listening to their symptoms and evaluating their response to treatment. We utilize several medicines to treat thyroid disorders including Synthroid, but we also use T3 therapy such as Armour Thryoid“.  I can see that he and Dr. Gent are cut from the same cloth.  I’d be happy to get into see either of them.
  3. Dr. Mark McClanahan in Fredericksburg.  I called and spoke to his receptionist yesterday.  She said that I have to have a referral from my PCP to see him but didn’t say there was a wait list.  If anything, on the 19th I can get that referral and see if he’d take me earlier than the other two.  He is an endocrinologist (MD) but he takes a more holistic approach to his patients, according to reviews I’ve seen on thyroid discussion boards.  That’s a little more of a drive for me, but if it’s my only option I will do it.

Going to Midlothian or Richmond would be about 2.5 hours each way.  Fredericksburg would be a little over 3 hours with no traffic each way, but there is always traffic up in Northern Virginia so it could be more like 4 hours each way.

So I’m off to buy myself a basal thermometer.

 

 

Sometimes, you just have to take the bull by the horns

I’m back!  I know I’ve been pretty absent over the past month.  Truthfully, I’m just tired.

And a lot of other things, but mostly tired.

For those of you who followed when I started my first blog, you will remember when I gained like 20 pounds in 2 months.  I’m sad to say that it seems like that’s the way I’m going again.  I’ve gained almost 15 pounds in 6 weeks.

I know, it’s not normal.  We’ve been down this road before, my friends.

The last time this happened was in 2009 and I went to my primary care physician, like I always did when this happened at 2-3 year intervals.  She referred me to another thyroid doctor who told me “you’re fine, but I’m fascinated that you have such extreme hypothyroid symptoms and don’t range in your test results”.  Thanks, bro.

He convinced me that I was just stressed out and that once I finished my dissertation, I would magically lose the 50 pounds I’d gained in graduate school.  Yes, 50 pounds.

So a few weeks ago when things started to seem strange, I panicked.  Oh, god, please don’t have this start up again.  Then, two weeks ago, I started to have EXTREME ovarian pains.  Great, cysts.  After a week of that, I saw my gyno who said that she definitely thought there was something wrong and that I needed to be seen by someone.  My fingers are so swollen, I can’t put my rings on and off.

My hair is falling out, I get 8 hours of sleep a night but I’m dozing off during the day, I am having brain fog (ask me about the flip flop incident a few weeks ago if I didn’t tell you), I’m cold all of a sudden all the time, my fingers and feet are tingling.  My face is puffing out, the corners of my eyebrows are falling out, my eyes are swollen and baggy.  I have heart palpitations.  My cholesterol is through the roof.

So I decided last week that I needed to find a doctor that may listen to me and believe me that I have a serious problem.  I have spent hours, HOURS, scouring the interwebs for people in Virginia who are forward-thinking doctors.  I am appalled by the message boards on websites that have hundreds of stories of people just like me who suffer without proper treatment.

I may be wrong, but I truly, deeply believe that there is a thyroid issue going on.  I also have two generations of women before me with thyroid issues.

So where do I start?  At the beginning.

I went back to EVMS and called to see if I could get in with the first doctor that I saw who believed I have Hashimoto’s.   This is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in your thyroid that leads to hypothyroidism.   Turns out that I went to him 10 YEARS AGO. Ten years, people!  I can’t believe I’ve been dealing with this on and off for 10 years.  No wonder my body is such a mess.

When I asked if he was still there, the receptionist said no.  I knew at that point, I needed to keep going.  I’m hoping to get my records, but that is a long shot.

Since that appointment, I have seen about 6 other doctors about this issue.  All of them say the same thing.  You are fine according to your labs, but you have classic hypothyroid symptoms.

Gee, thanks.

How about this, medical professionals?  How about you actually listen to me and treat my symptoms, rather than acting like I’m a overemotional person who is a hypochondriac?

I understand what comorbidity means in a journal article- I have a PhD and I’ve pulled dozens of research papers about hypothyroidism, including recent papers on how physicians rarely look outside of normal ranges, even though patients could benefit from treatment at low dosages.  I know that in last years national endocrinology  conference, it was determined that natural desiccated thyroid should be considered for patients who cannot convert T4 to T3 using traditional medications like Synthroid.  I know that there is a high rate of incident between polycystic ovarian syndrome and hypothyroidism.  I’m not stupid, I’m not Googling on WebMD, and I’m not misinformed.

What I am is a little mad.

In my search, I’ve scoured message boards for recommendations from people and it’s a lot of the same:

  1. I’m desperate to find a doctor who won’t make me feel worthless when I tell him or her that I don’t think my labs are accurate
  2. Does anyone know of a doctor who will test for T3 and not just the normal TSH panel?
  3. How can I find a doctor who prescribes natural diseccated thyroid?
  4. Why won’t anyone take me seriously?

What the hell, medical community???

So here is what I found.  It is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find the holy grail endocrinologist who is willing to look outside the box, who is willing to do the unusual tests, who is willing to consider symptoms outside of the “normal” range on the lab tests.  In Virginia, I was able to find less than 12 doctors.  I called three who are within a 4 hour drive from me and two are not accepting any more patients and one wants me to have a referral from my PCP.

The rest are integrative doctors who do not accept insurance.  Am I willing to spend $350 for an office visit and then countless dollars on lab work and followup visits?  Not yet, I’m desperate, but not crazy.  But I’m almost there.

I called a doctor locally who is not an endocrinologist, but gets a lot of props on the interwebs for his bedside manner and willingness to think outside of the box.  He’s not accepting new patients, I’m told.  I lied and said I had a friend refer me.  Now, all of a sudden, they are going to “try” to get me in.  This is the beginning of my criminal life.

I’m now on the waiting list for two doctors in Richmond and Northern Virginia.  It will be a holiday miracle if I can get in before the new year.

After a week of this, I am hitting the wall today.  I’ve made an appointment with my primary care physician on record, whom I haven’t seen since 2009, to go and cry my eyes out and beg for her to try to treat me on her own.

This is my new quest.  I’m determined.

Feel like getting angry about how women are treated with thyroid disorders?  Yes, I said women.  There are men, of course, but go on these boards and take a look.  It’s mostly women who are struggling.

http://hypothyroidmom.com/hypothyroid-mom-top-resources/

You’ll find sick, desperate people who are tired of being tired.  Tired of being dismissed.  Tired of feeling like they have to get a MD themselves to advocate for better treatment.  I’m shocked by the level of expertise these college students, mothers, sisters, wives, and friends have acquired in their own quest for better medical care.

Buckle up, people.  It’s about to get real up in here.

You are about to get a sideline seat in my quest for proper medical care and treatment.

 

 

Getting back to it and learning how to wall walk

It’s good to be back in my yoga routine.  A Groupon came out a couple of weeks ago so there are a lot of new people at the studio. It’s nice to see new faces and I wonder now how many will stick with it.  I’ve been four times in the last week and I have only seen one person that I’m used to seeing.  Maybe it’s because of the summer break.  

It was so crowded in all of the classes (newcomers) that I actually moved up to the front of the room, rather than staying in my “spot” in the middle of the room.  It’s nice to have people who know what they are doing up front so I asked Becka if she would prefer me to move up a row and she was glad for it.  I certainly wasn’t excited to have a dozen people behind me watching for form help since I’m certainly not the expert, but I was glad to help. 

I was so happy to see Pong, Becka, and Erin in class over the past few days.  I’m sleeping much better too.

Last week, I also got an email from Becka about a back-bending class with Pong on Sunday after the 10am class.  For 10 dollars, I figured that I could use some extra help and Pong is ridiculous with her form. I’ve also seen her and Aimee wall walk before and after class, so I was curious.  Here is a pic of Pong in her usual bendy glory.

Pong

Of course I signed up! 

After the 10am class cleared out, I was surprised that only 6 people showed up.  Pong explained that they only invited a small group, rather than opening it to the entire studio.  She said that she just wanted people there who were practiced in Bikram and those that she felt were “ready” to do this sort of deeper practice.  I was like, uh, are you SURE I should be here? I’m not too sure you made the correct choice on that one, Pong, but hey, you’re the expert.  

She told us that she had gone to an intensive retreat with Esak Garcia over the summer and we were going to learn some of the things she did while she was there.  If you know a little about Bikram yoga, you may have heard of Esak.  If not, Google him.  He’s a competitive yoga person but he started this group called the Jedi Fight Club, which is a group of people who get together to do intensive work over a 10 day retreat.  They do two Bikram classes a day, practice competitive postures, and wall walk.  They wall walk a lot.  As soon as Pong told us that is where she was (she didn’t mention the Jedi Fight Club thing, I just knew that), I knew we were going to wall walk.

Here is a video of Esak wall-walking.  Basically, you stand with your back to the wall, lean back, touching your hands to the wall and walk them down to the ground.  Then, you push your chest to the wall and then walk your hands back up.  While this is happening, you are on your tippy toes.  

There is no way to explain these better without experiencing them for yourself.  It’s a bizarre experience.  Pong said that they will do hundreds of them a day.  She suggested if we wanted to deepen our practice, we could start with 10 a day and move up to 30.  Most people that do the retreat with Esak end up wrapping their wrists because they do so many.

I could barely do 5.  And from those, I barely got all the way down.  

It’s a freaky sensation.  But exhilarating when you do it right.  It’s also important to keep breathing or you get stabbing headaches.

We moved from there into some back bends on the floor with push ups (bizarre) and some work with a ledge to isolate our back muscles.  Pong swears like a sailor and she had some very explicit thing to say about the whole process of wall walking and back bending.  It was hilarious.

After it was done, we agreed that we would try to wall walk once a week with each other after class.  Like our own little Jedi Fight Club, I thought, smiling.  Oh, sneaky Pong.

Yesterday, I was super sore.  Pong said that it really works your back and abs to move up and down like that and she was not lying.  I really need to do more of this.  

I Googled some more about the Jedi Fight Club and those people are really dedicated.  Esak also does some cool work with youth groups to introduce them to yoga in the school systems.  It seems like a fun activity and clearly, Esak doesn’t take himself too seriously with such a funny name for a group.

So I’ll do my wall-walking and see where it takes me.  If I can work at it slowly, hopefully it will help me in my postures during class.  Pong assures me this is the case, especially because of my neuromuscular issues.  There were several times where I was down in the wall bend and I couldn’t figure out how to get back up.  Pong was over me saying, just get up, move, do it now.  She knows that half of my issues are brain-related and the longer I think about something the less it makes sense to my body.  The wall-walking forces me to take action, regardless of my abilities.

In other news, I picked up my 30 day challenge t-shirt!  I thought Becka did a cute job of coming up with something to put on the shirt.  Just think, everything on this I did double for 60 days!

30 days

 

What happens when you go back to Bikram yoga after almost a month off?

I know you are all dying to know about how yoga went last night.

The good news is that I survived.  In fact, the heat wasn’t bad at all.  I didn’t feel like I was going to die during class, which is a plus.  There were a couple of times that I took a knee and slowed down my breathing, but that was it.

The bad news is this: I realized last night, in the middle of one of the more challenging postures in the standing series that I literally could not do what Pong was asking me to do.  Not because I didn’t know what was going on (how many hours have I been in that studio in the past 5 months?) or that I was too exhausted.  It was literally like I didn’t know how to move my body to follow along with the dialogue.  It was in that terrifying moment that I realized I had completely lost all of the neuromuscular connections that I had established before.

It didn’t make sense to tighten my kneecap or to lift up my quad.  I was literally overwhelmed with information, feeling like I was a stranger in my own body again.

I can tell you that I had visions of calling up Cori and crying about having to go back to PT again.  In a matter of minutes, I constructed a scenario in my head of some of the worst possible things.

Then, I sat on my knees and calmed myself down.

And had an epiphany.

I’m not going to Bikram to get buff like everyone else.  I’m going because this is my PT.  This is my rehab.

I have neuromuscular issues STILL and I need to go or its all going to fall apart again.  I am still not well, heck, this may be a lifelong issue for me.  Because clearly, even after 5 months and HOURS in a studio, I got to work this morning, sat at my desk, and tried to make my left quad tighten….and nothing happened.  That’s how I knew I was in trouble.

Bikram is non-negotiable for me.

In other news, I found a cool video online of one of the Carolina Crown members performing their encore show with a head cam on.  This is the group I mentioned yesterday that won the world championship title.  If you have the time and want to see the vantage point of someone on the field, watch this entirely.  You will be amazed.  As a side note, the guy playing is a 5th year corps member that “aged out” that night.

Ready for some normalcy

It has been three weeks since I’ve been to yoga, people.  THREE WEEKS.

I’ll let you absorb that for a second.

What the hell happened, you may wonder?  How does someone go from doing doubles and a 90 day challenge (ending at 75 days) and then just stop going?

Was it because I hated it? No.

Was it because I was burned out? No.

Was it because I hurt myself?  No.

I literally shut down.  As you read in my last post, life just got too much for me during June and July.  You can refer back to that post for a refresher, but here’s basically what has been going on with me.

Everything.  I’ve been like a crazy person for the past two months.  Plus this month.  The good news is that Kevin started up at his new school two weeks ago and he is actually doing much better as of last week.  We have been sleeping throughout the night now for about a week now and it’s making a big difference.

We traveled up to Pennsylvania for a drum corps show two weeks ago, which was a bit of a drain on both of us but it was a lot of fun.  There are some amazing professional drum corps out there.  One of my favorite corps, Carolina Crown, won the world championship last weekend in Indianapolis and totally knocked my socks off at the show in Allentown.  Their show was entitled, “E=MCsquared”.  Here is a link to a video someone took at another show earlier in the summer.  Drum Corps International (DCI) may not be your thing, but this corp took it to another level this year.  The vocal track that you hear throughout the show are actually three percussionists in the pit up front.  You can hear them counting to 8 throughout the show and they have other dialogue in there you can hear too.  And, they are running back and forth and playing marimba when they aren’t singing into the microphones.  It’s just insane.  Watch it and turn up your speakers to be thoroughly confused and impressed.  My other favorite corp for the year is Santa Clara Vanguard, which is based out of California.  They did a Les Miserables show.  Here is a link to a part of their show, which has an amazing brass line “hit” on the I Dreamed a Dream song.  People went ballistic in the stadium when we were there.  It was a hair-raising moment for sure.  I may bitch about having to deal with band geeks, or even worse, marching band geeks with this stuff that Kevin drags me to, but I have an immense amount of respect for these young people.  You have to be 14-21 years old and the audition process is ridiculous.  Hundreds of people audition for spots in a variety of corps and only a handful of spots in each section are open each year.  Their talent is ridiculous and they are practicing for 16 hours a day usually, in crappy hot weather in the summer and running around blowing into/carrying an instrument.  Imagine running, then playing an instrument at the same time, getting good sound out, and making sure you navigate to a specific spot on the field and then move again.  These are truly musical athletes!

Getting back to my need for normalcy…

This week is the last week of my summer class, which has been giving me fits for the past 5 weeks.  I just want to be done with grading and exams.  Thankfully, that ends this week. Then I get to hurry, hurry, hurry and prep my three classes for the fall.

So I have to get back into a routine.  In a weird way, taking three weeks off from Bikram has showed me how much it was helping me.  I have noticed a gradual decrease in my energy, deep sleep, and my back hurts so much this week.  I need to get in the hot room again and work hard.

I’m going tonight, so that will be interesting.  Pong is teaching and she has a faster cadence to her dialogue.

 

90 Classes in 90 Days: Words of wisdom from Willie Nelson

You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold em’….

Words of wisdom from WillieNelson.

I’ve made a decision about the 90 day challenge, with a little over a week to go.  I’ve decided to stop the 90 day challenge.

I know.

I’m so close, but things have been crazy this month and I’m a week behind.  I’d have to run doubles for the next 8 days and that’s just too much.  Notice, I didn’t say crazy.  We have already been down that road.  I can handle the crazy.

What I can’t handle is running myself into the ground.

I was telling Cori on Saturday night- why am I doing this to myself?  I don’t need to prove to anyone but myself anything about this 90 days.  It’s enough that I did 30 days.  Then, 60 days.  But 90 is something that even the instructors at my studio were like, really?  I’ve only been going for 5 months so I’m still a beginner.

Could I have planned better?  Sure.

Could I have anticipated what my life would have been like starting at the beginning of July?  Hell no.

Here’s what has been going down in my world for the past three weeks.  Actually more than that.

First of all, Kevin has been sick for over a month and getting progressively worse.  He has ulcerative colitis, which has been in remission for at least 5 years.  Then, in the middle of June, he relapsed.  I may as well have a baby in the house with the lack of sleep we’ve been experiencing.  For the first two weeks of July, he was up almost on the hour, every hour.  If you don’t know what ulcerative colitis is, Google it.  It’s not fun.

So I’m sleep deprived.

Then, I started teaching a 6 week compressed class at the beginning of the month, which I’ve never done before.  This is taking up way more time than I had anticipated.

Finally, in a strange turn of events, Kevin has accepted a new band director position in Chesapeake at a large school.  In a matter of two weeks this month, we cleared out his old office, moved everything into our house, put together a huge portfolio and dealt with the stress of interviewing and prepping for band camp that started today.

Yesterday, as I was laying on my mat in between postures, knowing I had another class to complete in an hour, I made up my mind.

I don’t want to kill myself doing this 90 days.  Mentally, I am exhausted.  My house is a disaster.

Bodily, I feel great.  I am still going strong in my classes but I can tell that I’m hitting the wall in terms of fatigue.  Going to classes 2 times a day would have just made that worse.  And, quite frankly, I was afraid that if I felt like I was burning myself out in the next 10 days, I would hate going to yoga and really lose some good habits that I’ve been building over the past three months.

It kills me to stop this challenge, but I have to.  For my own sanity, I have to.

I have learned a lot about myself and yoga in the process, which I would like to share.

  1. Your mind is a crazy place. Don’t let it take your body into that place.  Shut it off and just keep going.  You might surprise yourself.
  2. Consistency is key.  Don’t take more than 3 days off.  Your body will hate you.  You will sleep terribly.
  3. Planning classes in advance is still important.  Challenge or not, 90 minutes is a big time commitment.
  4. Make sure to hydrate on the days you take off like you went to the studio.  Your body responds to a drop in liquids pretty quickly.  The next day at the studio will not be as fun.
  5. Be curious about the postures in class.  Just because you’ve never been able to do something doesn’t mean that it may not happen, even at 2% that day.  Envision yourself doing the posture, what should be happening in the posture, and try.
  6. Just one more pose.  Just one more pose.  Say this to yourself repeatedly if you feel like sitting down.
  7. Sit down if you can’t psyche yourself up for a posture.  I have learned that sometimes, especially if I am really tired, sitting down gives me a mental break and gives me a chance to listen to the dialogue more closely.
  8. Understand where pain is dangerous.  Uncomfortable is not dangerous.  Nagging pain is a warning for me, especially in my left knee.  I have learned that doubling up day after day is a quick way to get my tendonitis flared up in my knee.  This tells me that my quads are still not strong enough to support a vigorous practice.
  9. Be glad for what I can do!  Sure, I may not be a super star in class but I show up and give it my best.  I don’t make excuses for myself and I’m proud of the neuromuscular progress that I’m making.
  10. Wear things to class that make you happy.  I recently bought two pairs of new shorts and I love them.  They are the side string kind and they are teeny tiny, but they make me happy.  Fun, colorful prints add some whimsy to your practice and sometimes that extra happy is what makes a miserably hot class more bearable.  Everyone has their own “style” in class.  I’m figuring out that mine is becoming a black sports bra and a colorful pair of shorts.  I have to look at myself for 90 minutes at a time.  You bet your ass that my ass is rocking some cute shorts!

shorts

Aren’t they cute!  They are from a brand called Onzie, based out of California.  I like them because the bottom is full coverage.  They really are short, but totally made for a girl with a booty.

So, what next?  My goal is to go to yoga at least 5 days a week.  I am going to try and avoid doubles as much as possible.  If I can get to the point where I am able, I would like to do every day, but I don’t see how I’m going to be able to maintain that in the fall, with football and teaching.  It’s just not realistic.

Don’t worry, I will still be writing updates.  Because after all, life really is never boring in the Hall Hacienda!