Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Is it better to have loved (had) and lost….?

“It is better to have loved and lost then to never have experienced love at all.”

I’m not so sure.

The last 7 months have been the most frustrating of my life when it comes to my body. I see numbers on the scale that I remember being thrilled about – when I was on my way down. But it seems like every week is a new adventure in pain…even if it is only in the form of five pound increments or strange and bizarre symptoms all related to a suppressed autoimmune system.

I think I wrote previously (a testament of how long it has been since I’ve been here) that in August I was diagnosed with autoimmune thyroiditis – or Hashimoto’s. Essentially that’s the autoimmune attacking the thyroid, to the point that the thyroid no longer works. Since the thyroid controls most major systems in the body, you can just imagine how many things are out of whack. And the symptoms just keep coming, or so it seems. And of course they’re all unattractive, unfortunate, and socially stigmatized! How come thyroiditis doesn’t come with improved disposition, fat loss, or mental clarity? I guess if it did it would be a boon, as opposed to a disease. Trust me, I had never fully appreciated that disease was actually DIS-Ease. Sort of like I hadn’t realized that Diagon Alley was diagonally!

But I digress….

Over the last six months or so, I realize that I have been working slowly through the stages of grief, without having noticed. More to the point, despite the depth of my agony, I hadn’t realized that I was grieving. Grieving what you ask? Youth, for one. My perfect body (that lasted for all of six months) for another. But also the idea that I – and by “I”, I mean my strength of will and determination – was in control of my physical body.

Did I deny that I had a problem? You betcha.

Was I angry? You have no idea.

Did I bargain? Absolutely, for all of the good that it did me.

Was I depressed? Scarily so.

Have I accepted? I’m getting there.

Every morning, I get up and try to remember why I am thankful for my body. Every morning, I try to remind myself that everything is as it should be and that there is a lesson here if I would only look hard enough to find it. Every morning, I thank my lucky stars that I am loved by the most wonderful man in the world who holds me when I cry and thinks I’m beautiful and charming regardless.

So what does acceptance look like?

Acceptance means buying bigger clothes and not beating myself up for it.

Acceptance means recognizing that this is not going to be fixed overnight.

Acceptance means exercising and lifting weights so that my body – to the degree that it can be – can be as efficient as possible even though the net effect on my actual physique is minimal.

Acceptance means swallowing my pride – despite that swallowing hurts these days – and taking the Western prescription for hypothyroid. (Notably, after two months of nothing, my endocrinologist doubled the dose set forth by my general practitioner and I am actually beginning to feel better.) It’s not perfect, but I can actually get out of bed when the alarm rings, and I can focus for more than five minutes at a time when I’m up. Baby steps.

Acceptance also means appreciating that the thyroiditis is only a symptom of a larger (most likely) genetic problem with the autoimmune system. Thus, I am incorporating other treatments as well: weekly visits to the acupuncturist, which leave me with nightlong dreams about running water (he’s trying to activate the water in my body). He’s already eliminated one symptom and is hopeful about another.

Acceptance also means that I need to live my life in a less stressful manner. Thus, I have started turning down the things I don’t want to do and I have also started meditating. I have done the former once and the latter twice, and I must admit that I love it. And I really can’t believe that I hadn’t done either one before now.

So, that’s the update.

I’m still creating the movie of a vibrant healthy Kathryn in my head and I am trying desperately to stem the negative self talk (Michael says I am not FULLY succeeding, btw, but I am at least trying).

I think that the lesson here is self-acceptance and self-love, no matter what. It’s a hard lesson for me, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not willing to try.