Untethered Dog

You Never Know Where He Will Go

In the Normal Range

I waited longer than I had to in order to find out how my thyroid is doing sans the levothyroxine. The longer the wait, the more accurate the snapshot. The test results are now in: my thyroid still can produce thyroid hormone. I am in the so-called “normal” range.

Two reactions to this news.

First: wow. It is something of an upset that my body can do this. For fifteen years, I didn’t ask my thyroid to do its part to move this vessel. Now I am asking and it is saying, “aye aye, captain.” I am proud of myself for trying and I am grateful that it seems possible I may succeed. I may very well be able to successfully come off a medication I was told by many medical professionals I would need to take until I return to the ground.

Second: I don’t feel exactly “normal.” Mostly, this is a matter of energy. Once I get into the day I notice little difference from before stopping the medication. But getting going in the morning is a slower process and the crash everyone feels at the end of the day, well, I often feel that earlier than I used to and that crash is sometimes more pronounced. This is not surprising, for while I am producing a “normal” amount of hormone my body is not creating as much as I had in my system while on the medication. My TSH scores are higher than they have been for at least years (meaning, less hormone.)

Like everything else, it is a work in progress. I will test again in another month or so. In the meantime, I will do what I can to help the boys keep me afloat: diet, exercise, rest, relax, repeat. In other words, the antidote to most any minor malady.

Pants With a Hole in the Butt

I’ve got a pair of pants — actually PJs — with a hole in the butt.

One morning, this was not too many weeks ago, I was doing some air squats. I went down and up, down and up, down and …. rrrrrrpt!

I have since washed the PJ pants. More than once, if you must know.

I have not sewn up the hole in the butt.

I have not replaced the pants.

I have worn the pants and washed the pants and worn them again.

The pants are a dark plaid.

I have never especially liked the pants. These feelings I have for the pants predate the rip.

I am wearing the pants right now, in fact.

And you want to know something else? The dog doesn’t seem to mind.

Save Us From Ourselves

Consider the seatbelt. Under the law, you must wear one. Why should this be? The intent of a seatbelt, of course, is to protect a person in a car from getting hurt in the event of a sudden stop, car malfunction, accident, or so forth. Yet why is there a law that I says I must protect myself from such an injury? I can see why there must be such a law for minors. They may not be old enough to fully understand the possible consequences of not wearing a seatbelt. But an adult who qualifies for a license to drive a vehicle … shouldn’t she or he be able to make a determination as to whether to put themselves in bodily harm?

To be clear, I am grateful for the law. I do know bad things could happen to me if I don’t wear a seatbelt while driving. Yet, sans the law, I would, no doubt, go without one from time to time. I would do this out of laziness. Or forgetfulness: some years ago I got pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt — I had driven not even two full blocks, going from one business to another. I was pulled over as I entered a small parking lot. I recall this incident every time I start my car before strapping in.

Too, such a law does more than protect me — it protects others. If I get hurt unnecessarily during, say, an accident involving another driver, that driver might have greater problems, financially and/or emotionally, to deal with as a result. It is also certain that my unnecessary injuries or death would cost society in terms of hospital bills and site cleanup, not to mention possible increased insurance premiums as I skew the stats. Indeed, you can make the argument in favor of the seatbelt law strictly on the grounds that society would pay too much a price if seatbelts were optional.

Which leads me to wonder: why do we outlaw certain such self-afflicting behaviors but not others?

Why, for example, is an otherwise healthy person able to weigh 100, 200, 300 or more pounds over the high end range of healthy weight without facing a no-seatbelt-like fine? (Again, excepting persons with untreatable and diagnosable conditions. I will also addd that at one time in my early adulthood I would have likely qualified for this fine.) The cost to society in terms of health care alone is substantial. I don’t think it would be hard to make the case that French fries and donuts cause more harm than unclicked seatbelts.

Further: Why are cigarettes legal? Alcohol? Soda? Candy? Fox News?

Understand, I am not advocating Prohibition. If everything bad for you were outlawed … first of all, what a boring society we would have — there goes every food booth at the State Fair, save for maybe pickle-on-stick — and what a restriction on personal freedom we would experience. (No doubt, I will have fries with that.)

It is curious, though, what we choose to protect ourselves against and what we choose not to protect ourselves against.

Anyway, time to hit the road. Please be sure to buckle up. By the way, if you are not yet done with your 64-ounce Mountain Dew, no worries, you can finish it along the way.

Morning Light

After the morning walk, we sit on the back step. Soon, I will need to get into the shower. It is, after all, a work day. But that can wait. We have a few ticks. Thank you for coming close. And letting me look with you. At the sun coming through the tree. Thank you for letting me listen with you. To the birds tweeting from the top of the shrubs. Thank you for taking your journey with me. See there! The last drops from last night’s rain slip off the leaves and fall to the ground.

Hangover, Too

You can, of course, experience a hangover without having first consumed any amount of alcohol or drugs. The body reacts to just about any over indulgence.

I staggered out of bed yesterday morning and tried to pry my eyes open — about needed a power tool — as lightning reflected through my living room window like the last slow turns of a disco ball. I didn’t immediately recognize that the lightning was, in fact, lightning. I wondered for a hot minute if the cops were outside.

Is the party over, ocifer?

I wrote a lot the day before. It is how I started my day. It is how I ended my day. I wasn’t so much as in a groove as I had a deadline. I could not sleep on the piece even one more night. And, of course, the daily rounds — work, workout, dog duties, dishes — did not take a vacation (well, maybe the dishes got something of a rest). It was the proverbial long-ass day.

One of the body’s reactions I can count on after deadline is the need for immediate stress release. After sending the piece I was way past tired but still well wired, as they say, and I had already stayed up even later than late to finish the writing. Meanwhile, dinner had been cheap and easy and almost entirely carby.

Deadlines are essential for me or else I might not ever finish. And as someone with a fair amount of experience in higher education, this time of year brings back memories of the rush to wrap up a term, a year, a degree. These are unique times, some call them stressful times, and, to be sure, I don’t enjoy every minute of them. Generally, it’s not advised to go to extremes. Yet sometimes you must. And I feel uniquely alive on deadline days and nights. I think to myself “what if I could always keep up this pace. Think of how much I could get done.”

The body has an answer to that sort of mind distortion, of course. And usually, at least for me, that answer is felt the very next morning.

Status Update

It has been nearly a month since I stopped taking levothyroxine. There’s no question now that, among other symptoms, my energy is lower. I take longer to get going in the morning and I lose my breath more quickly during the day when, say, climbing stairs or running with my dog. I have not posted to this blog in some days at least partly for this reason. I get tired.

This lessened energy stands to reason. While on the medication my thyroid would not have fully engaged. It would not have needed to. My body would have instead depended on — would have become dependent upon — the artificial hormone.

The thyroid, a butterfly shaped gland found at the front of the neck under the voice box, plays a significant role in the body’s metabolism. It helps to regulate many bodily functions by releasing thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. When the body needs more energy to, say, grow or move or warm itself or, in the case of a pregnant woman, feed a fetus, the thyroid gland responds to produce the hormones needed for that function. While the average person thinks not at all about their thyroid, it is an important little organ. You certainly notice it when it’s not doing its job.

I think now of how reflexively I was put on the medication, all those years ago. And how long I took that medication without seriously questioning the diagnosis. I think of how many times I was told by one medical professional or another that I would need to take levothyroxine for the rest of my life. (Those medical professionals may ultimately be correct; after fifteen years I may be so dependent upon the artificial hormone that I need to go back on it.) It strikes now what they didn’t say then — that, hey, maybe you should have a consult with an endocrinologist. It is important for people who are not experts in something to admit that this is so. Especially when the matter at hand is a person’s health.

That in my case they did not do more than would today be reasonable to expect makes me angry — but, I must admit, only a little. More so, I am grateful for this challenge. I am grateful even for the energy drop. I feel strongly in the body’s ability to heal itself and I am more prepared than I ever could have been before to surf a low tide.

The body is so wise. We all know that to slow down can sometimes be a gift. So I shall rest my thyroid and continue to feed my body with the fuel it needs to rev this little engine. It might take awhile just to know what is possible, longer still to know if i can, in this way, heal. It will, in other words, take more than a month — like anything else that is deeply satisfying.

Wishful Thinking

May all four legged creatures everywhere experience at least a moment of peace.

Sigh

Is there a more comfortable creature to be found on the planet than a dog in a bed of blankets?

Innies

Why do people say they “tweeted out” whatever it is they posted to their Twitter feed?

Tweeted out: can you tweet in?

Up?

Down?

Sideways?

Diagonal?

I mailed the letter.

I emailed the document.

I shipped the package.

The word “out” is unnecessary. It is redundant. To tweet is to do the “out.” There is, in fact, no tweet without the “out.” #justtweetnoout

Now if you will excuse me I mist go and annoy people elsewhere.

Essential Zzzzs

The body can withstand the high heat of the Sahara and the bone chill of Alaska; can recover from ultra marathons, a boxing match, too much exercise, too little exercise, and physical abuse; can manage the effects of high stress, of no stress, and a long lack of light from the sun. Yet don’t underestimate the universal need for a good night of sleep.