Thursday, December 31, 2015

Everything Happens for a Reason... Even 2015

This year kind of sucked.

In March, the matriarch of my family died. I think about Granny just about every day. I miss her. Within a week of her death, The Broadcast was cancelled. Talk about a bummer. I loved that job and I hated to see it end. The week after that, I was still mourning the loss of my job and my income while laying Granny to rest. March super sucked.


























Then in June, I started having those familiar hyperthyroidism symptoms - fatigue, hair loss, heart palpitations, insomnia. I knew it was back. CRAP! I'm confident that all of the stress I'd dealt with earlier in the year triggered it. Then I had my hysterectomy in October. Between surgery and my thyroid being all out of whack, I still don't feel like me. I'm tired of being tired. I'm so over it.

But there were so many amazing things that happened this year. We continue to be blessed by our fellow warriors in the autism community. We continue to be inspired by everything organizations like Generation Rescue, KultureCity and the Autism Treatment Center are doing to make our lives better.

I worked a lot this year. From hosting the FC Dallas pregame show and web segments for CultureMap to working on several other projects including commercials and industrials, it was a good year.

I'm finally ready to get back to work and I've decided to open a solo practice focusing on special education advocacy. Creating the practice will be my number one goal for 2016. I've missed work. I've missed helping people. I'm ready to jump back in the saddle.

I hope that 2016 brings me better health. I'll start by following the Myers Plan and making some major life changes when it comes to food. I'll blog about my journey - I'm a sugar addict and a major Pepsi-holic. It will be hard to give up gluten and cheese (I love cheese) but hopefully my health will improve when I do.

I'll be competing in Mrs. Texas again in 2016. My 8th go-round. I wasn't thrilled with my top ten finish last year, so I'm hoping for a better outcome this time around.

I don't know about you... but I'm over 2015. Bring on the new year.

And I'll write about the Myers Plan tomorrow. I'm certain it's what will get me back on the road towards good health.

Happy New Year Everyone! Make 2016 spectacular!

Radioactive

The hair loss started back in June. I'd wash my hair and clumps of curly strands would be entwined in my fingers. It was more than usual. 

Then the heart palpitations picked up. They were constant and kept me awake at night. 

Then the insomnia picked up. Even after popping an Ambien every night I'd still be up at one or two o'clock in the morning. And the exhaustion... there is a reason why sleep deprivation is a form of torture. I was always tired and had very little energy to do more than lay in the bed. 

Tremors. 

Walking up stairs... by the time I made it to the top of the staircase in my house I'd be out of breath. 

And I lost weight... and I'm talking a LOT of weight. Between my hysterectomy recovery and my thyroid issues, I'd lost about 15 lbs. It was cute... I looked sick. Totally lost my booty.

And sweating... I was always hot and sweaty. Any time Ryan says he's fine and I'm burning up, I know it can only be one thing...

After about 8 months of feeling pretty good, my thyroid decided to act up again. I wasn't surprised - the months leading up to my thyroid problems were full of stress. The Broadcast ended and my granny died within a week. It was devastating. And stressful. And I'm certain the stress triggered my issues.

My endocrinologist ordered an uptake scan a couple of months ago to confirm my thyroid was working overtime again. I'd put it off but figured I'd get it down since I'd met my out-of-pocket expenses on my insurance. Uptake scans are interesting. You swallow a pill full of radioactive iodine. The thyroid is the only gland in your body that sucks in iodine so if a bunch of it ends up in your thyroid, it's overactive. The normal uptake range is 5-20%. Mine? 95.7%. My thyroid lit up like a Christmas tree on the scan. My Grave's disease was confirmed. It's an autoimmune disease that causes the thyroid to overwork. And I have it and it's screwing up my life.

The technician was really nice, but she starts going into her spiel she gives everyone in this situation. "You have two options. You can take another radioactive iodine pill with a stronger dose that will basically kill your thyroid. But you'll have to take medication for the rest of your life. I can give you that pill today... It started sounding a bit like Charlie Brown's teacher to me. Womp, womp, womp, womp, womp. "Your other option is just a band-aid. You'll take medication and you'll gain weight and your thyroid probably won't ever get better." Womp, womp, womp, womp, womp.

I stated that I was going to wait to talk to my doctor before making any choices. The options given to me today seem like last resorts. I have another plan... and I'm hoping and praying it works. I'll write more about it tomorrow because it's going to be a difficult journey but well worth it if it works. So check back tomorrow for deets!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Texas Tornadoes

Earthquakes. In California where I grew up, we worried about occasional earthquakes. There were always little tremors - I dare say I kind of got used to a little ground shaking every once in a while. Occasionally though, there were bad ones like the Northridge earthquake in '94. But it was California, and earthquakes happen.

I guess the same can be said for Texas and tornadoes. They happen occasionally. The tornado sirens will go off and we'll take cover in our downstairs closet. It happened about a month or so ago - right in the middle of the night. We woke the kids up and hustled them down the stairs and into the closet. We put them back to bed after the sirens stopped, and then five minutes later they went off again. Back into the closet. At times, the drill seems like a bit of a nuisance... the tornadoes haven't really gotten THAT close to us since we've lived here (the closet was about 30 miles or so a couple of years ago). But tornadoes happen... and they happen here... in Texas. 

Last night's storms were forecast. Weather folks on the news have been warning about them all week. But I don't think anyone expected them to do what they did yesterday. So far, 11 are dead; homes and businesses destroyed. Because tornadoes happen in Texas.

We had plans to attend a hockey game with some friends of ours from out of town. We'd already told Will about the game and he was so excited to go. The first tornado touched down way south of us a little after 5 pm. Just as we were ready to leave a little before 6 when our city's sirens starting going off. Ryan and Will ran to the closet while I tried to corral the cats. It didn't work.


























The sirens went off for a while (20 - 30 minutes on and off it seemed) and the entire time Will kept asking when we were leaving for the game. We finally decided to leave around 6:30. Sure enough, the second we hit the tollway, the sirens started going off again. We kept driving. We made our way to another highway in another city and sure enough, the sirens started going off. We were watching a local news broadcast the entire time and knew there wasn't an actual tornado near us (the closest was about 30-40 miles away) so we made our way to the game. We made it safely, but as we watched the news in our game suite and saw that cars were tossed off a freeway as a tornado churned by (at least 5 people died this way last night), we'll just have to deal with Will's disappointment because we won't do that again.

Please pray for the folks in North Texas. The damage is horrifying. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

CONTEST: Concussion Tickets

I'm giving away two pair of tickets for an exclusive screening of Will Smith's new movie Concussion. The screening is on Wednesday, December 16 at 7:00 pm at the Angelika Dallas. Two winners will win a pair of tickets each. So here are the rules:
  1. "Like" my Dawn Neufeld fan page of Facebook.
  2. On the Dawn Neufeld fan page under the Concussion thread, tell me a little bit about what football means to you. Include the hashtag #ForThePlayers with your post.
  3. Make sure all entries are received by 5:00 pm on Sunday, December 13th.
This contest is open for folks in the DFW area who can actually make it to the screening. Ryan and I will review the entries and pick our favorite two. I'll let the winners know on Facebook Monday.

This is going to be an amazing movie. Will Smith stars in Concussion, a dramatic thrilled based on the incredible true David vs. Goliath story of American immigrant Dr. Bennet Omalu, the brilliant forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma, in a pro player and fought for the truth to be known. Omalu's emotional quest puts him at dangerous odds with on of the most powerful - and beloved - institutions in the world.

Please let me know if you have any questions.



Sunday, December 6, 2015

My Broken Heart

I remember the first time I had a heart palpitation. I was home for Christmas break from my first semester of law school. I'd gone to bed, and as I laid there trying to go to sleep, my heart started taking little breaks...

Thu-thump, thu-thump, thu-thump, THU................................... thump, thu-thump, thu-thump.

Over and over again, my heart would take a little pause mid-thump. Scared the crap out of me because of my dad. This slight variation in my heartbeat brought up every bad memory of my dad passing away from a heart attack when I was nine. I finally got to sleep that night, and made it through Christmas break with the occasional THU...... thump. When I made it back to school I went to the health center and had an EKG. Everything checked out. Stress, they said.

Fast forward almost twenty years later. I see a cardiologist once, maybe twice, a year. I'm four years shy of my dad's age when he died from his heart attack so I get checked. Regularly. EKGs every year. A full stress test a couple of years ago. I passed every test. No red flags. And everyone has palpitations here and there... some of us are just more sensitive to them. At least that's what I've been told.

Enter hyperthyroidism.

When I had my first really bad pre-diagnosis episode a little over two years ago, I went to urgent care because my feet were swollen for no reason. I could tell my heart was racing, and as the sweet nurse checked my pulse, he said my heart was beating at a rate of 147 beats per minute. That's high. Normal is between 60-100. After they hooked me up to an EKG machine to make sure I wasn't having a heart attack, they pumped me with fluids and sent me home with some Potassium pills.

My palpitations started increasing. They happened all the time (except for when I'm hooked up to an EKG machine - without fail, they stop as soon as I'm hooked up to that machine). I found that if I laid off the caffeine and hit the gym more frequently, my heartbeat would sort of regulate itself. When they started happening more frequently without ceasing though, I knew something was up. When I was finally diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, I was told a fast heartbeat and palpitations are par for the course.

Now that I'm in the throws of my thyroid issues again, living with palpitations is pretty much my reality. They happen all the time and there's not much I can do about it until I get my thyroid regulated. And it's tough. I can't sleep on my left side - I can feel the palpitations more on that side. And when they happen frequently (sometimes as often as every couple of heartbeats), it feels like I'm losing my breath. The palpitations are such a pain in the behind, but with the hair loss, fatigue, etc. I have to deal with them until I get this nonsense under control.

The good news is I saw my cardiologist two months ago and I checked out fine with him. But goodness, I can't wait until my heart is thu-thumping normally again.