Counseling Someone With A Possible Hashimoto’s Disease

I grew up with a fear of needles. My pediatrician, when I was a child, did not have the softest touch, you see. All I remembered was that she would squeeze the part of my arm to inject the needle and jam it there without warning. It wasn’t very good, to say the least. Because of that, when I became an adult, and my parents were like, “You are old enough to get an executive checkup every year now,” I said, “Uh, no, thanks.”

The reason was that I had seen my parents get those checkups in the past and knew that one consisted of a lot of examinations, and some of them would require blood extraction. Meaning there would be needles involved. Even if my parents told me that not all doctors and nurses were as harsh as my old pediatrician, I still did not want to take chances.

Another reason why I was not so keen on getting an executive checkup was that I felt healthy. I was 5’1; I weighed 71 kg. I was technically overweight, but I felt normal. I said I knew my body more than anyone and was also very young at the time (only 26).

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When The Deed Had To Be Done

There were three long months when I worked nonstop due to overlapping projects. I would wake up at 8:00 a.m. and go to work by 9. While most people would go home at 5 o’clock, I would stay in the building until midnight, finishing my projects. To keep me awake, I would order fast food all the time, feeling like the greasy foods would help compensate for my exhaustion.

Sooner than later, though, my feet started aching. For instance, since I had my own office, and I would be alone there most of the time at night, I would sit in an Indian position. I used to do that for hours, but this time, my feet and ankles began to ache after two hours. I found it odd, but I thought that I merely overextended my feet. After all, I learned that it was a thing and that it was nothing that a good exercise could not fix.

During the weekend, I decided to go hiking. I loved working out outdoors instead of signing up for a gym membership; I had just not been able to do that because of my busy schedule in the last few months. However, I noticed that I had difficulty breathing after only walking for 3 kilometers. It used to be easy-peasy for me, considering I had solid lungs and did marathons not too long ago.

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Then, when I went on an eight-hour car ride with my friends, I was only a passenger, so I got to extend my feet. I was not paying attention to them, but it felt like someone was gripping my ankles, making my feet a little numb. Once I looked down, I saw that they were very swollen. That’s when I got scared. That’s when I thought, “Oops, that’s not normal. I need to see a doctor after this trip.”

I called our family doctor first and told him about my symptoms. Since I was overweight and knew about my relatives’ history with diabetes, he wanted me to do a fasting blood sugar test to rule out the possibility of me having the disease. It turned out I was prediabetic, but it could be resolved quickly. It could not be the reason why I experienced achy or swollen feet or breathlessness.

The doctor then asked me to get FSH, FT3, and FT4 lab tests as they were all meant to check someone’s thyroid conditions. It sounded a little scary to me. It meant more needles, but there was no going back. I got the tests done, and when the results returned, the doctor gave me devastating news. My thyroids were flaring up.

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I most likely have Hashimoto’s disease, a form of autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland. The doctor said there was no cure for it except for a significant lifestyle change and constant monitoring. He must have noticed my devastation; before I left, he recommended a counselor to me. He said, “Sometimes, we need help in accepting a medical diagnosis.”

Counseling

Our family doctor was spot-on – I could not accept that I had an autoimmune disorder. I knew that my aunt had that, but she got diagnosed in her early 40s. I was too young to worry about chronic illnesses like that.

Those were just some of the issues I mentioned once I contacted the counselor. She was patient enough to listen to me, although I felt like a whiny little kid while doing so. “How can I accept it?” I asked in the end.

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“Well, you need to see it in another light. Do you think it’s better if you have not known about your illness? No – it may have aggravated that way. Instead of getting upset, it is healthier to be thankful for knowing your medical condition early so that you can stop doing things that can make matters worse than ever.”

I had to do counseling a few more times, but those words stuck to me. The counselor was correct in every way. I should be grateful for an early diagnosis, so that’s what I tried to do. It was not the doctor’s fault that I had Hashimoto’s disease, after all. I had to change my lifestyle habits, work less, exercise more, and eat more healthily.

I would have become depressed instead of thinking of that if I did not see a counselor immediately.

Looking After Mental Health In Style

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I have had regular checkups for a year since my wedding. It was not because we needed a doctor’s help to get pregnant, no – my husband and I wanted to wait for two more years before having a baby. I got appointments with various doctors because I was dealing with multiple conditions almost every month.

The first time it happened, my vision was blurry for a few days. As far as I knew, it was 20/20; that’s why I did not wear prescription glasses. The ophthalmologist reiterated the same reading, so she told me to get anti-radiation glasses to protect my eyes while I was working. It did not eliminate the blurriness until I got a few days off work and rested for a while.

A month later, I went to a urologist’s clinic because my bladder did not feel like it was ever empty. The doctor ruled out a urinary tract infection, so he wanted to do more tests on me. While waiting, I was ordered to drink more water.

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After that, I dealt with muscle spasms and poor coordination. Things got to the point where I almost fell down the stairs a few times, so my husband took me to a specialist. I agreed, thinking that I would get muscle relaxants or – if I was lucky – a full-body massage prescription. That’s initially what the doctor wanted to do until I slipped up and mentioned my trips to other specialists in the last few months.

“Just to be sure,” the doctor said, “You should do an MRI scan and have your blood tested. I will call you when I have the results to interpret.”

However, when the test results came out, I was across the country, so the doctor told me that he could wait until I returned to discuss it. But I was stubborn – I wanted to know what’s up with my body immediately – so I insisted on hearing about it over the phone.

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Learning About Multiple Sclerosis

Ever since the doctor said that I had multiple sclerosis, I could not will myself to cry or blame the gods. No, thanks – I was never that dramatic. Although the diagnosis shocked me, it made me feel relief because it was not cancer or worse. At the same time, I could not wait for two more days to learn more about my case straight from the doctor, so I went online right after our call.

The first thing I learned was that multiple sclerosis was an autoimmune disorder. The immune system, which we all depend on to keep us safe from foreign substances inside the body, turned against me – that’s what I understood. Why and how it happened, even the experts could still not figure it out. 

For multiple sclerosis patients like me, whenever the immune system would act up, it would attack my nervous system, especially the nerves that send signals to various body parts. Though these were comparable to the copper wires inside the electrical cables, the immune system could not always pass through the myelin to enveloped the axons. Still, such covering could get hurt and endure scarring, to the extent that the axons would be exposed and could not send electrical signals throughout the body.

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Looking After My Mental Health

I looked deep down myself and asked, “Am I still okay?” Fortunately, I was. 

I must admit that I felt a little scared after finding out that I was forever stuck with multiple sclerosis. While it did not require me to do chemotherapy or radiation therapy and lose my hair in the process, the disease would always shadow me from that moment. If I could not be careful, my immune system could attack my nerves all the time.

But I chose to focus on that “if” part to ease my anxiety as I looked for potential trigger factors of my disease. If I stay indoors often and not get enough vitamin D, the myelin around my axons may sustain more scarring. If I continue being around my husband when he smokes, my immunity can retaliate. If I remain under the sun for too long or catch a virus, both can increase my temperature and push my immune system to act up.

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So, I thought, “Hmm, I need to do the opposite of all that.” I informed my husband about my autoimmune disease, and he vowed to stop smoking at that instant. Although he was not a chain smoker by a long shot, he would not light up another cigarette again – a true testament of love. 

Then, we started going on light jogs and hikes before the sun rose. We would remain outdoors until around 8 A.M. and go to work until 4 P.M. In the evenings, we would take immunity-strengthening vitamins so that neither of us would catch the flu. My husband also surprised me when I came home to brand-new air conditioners in the living room and master’s bedroom. This way, I had low chances of feeling too hot anytime.

Final Thoughts

My autoimmune disease still catches me off-guard sometimes, but I already know what signs to watch out for. The doctor also recommended MS therapy for me, which stabilized my mental health further as I knew that my chances of being disabled were low.

 

Exercising Tips For Those With Autoimmune Disease

Seeing the athleticism at the 2019 Athletics Event is motivational for those who need to do daily exercise. Exercise is proven to have long term benefits for those who are suffering from autoimmune disease. It helps manage the flare-ups and symptoms of the disease. Below are some helpful tips to get you going.

1. Start Slow

If you are only beginning after a while, start with easy exercises. Later, after you have adjusted, you can move on to a more challenging routine. Do not forget to warm-up before starting. Go slow and work around your pace. Allow yourself to adjust, which might take some time. Don’t be hard on yourself if there are days when you might miss a workout session because of flares.

2. Choose Low Impact Workout

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You can begin walking and jogging, for starters. These exercises are kind to your knees, joints, and back. This kind of activity gives you the option to either run on a treadmill or outside of your house. If you feel like it, you can run in your neighborhood or the park near you.

You can also try doing yoga. Not only that it involves the physical body, but also it helps in calming the mind. Pilates, spinning, and swimming are good options as well if you have the equipment. Try different low impact exercises and see which works best for you.

3. Take Rest Regularly

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If there are days when you feel like taking a break from working out, then do so. Listen to what your body says. Sleep deprivation can be unsafe for the immune system, so never miss an opportunity to get 8 hours of sleep.

4. Eat Well

Since you are moving more, you will need more energy sources so your body can sustain you. Fill your diet with fruits, vegetables, and high-quality protein. Avoid inflammatory foods such as sugar, dairy, soy, legumes, and corn. Consuming healthy meals for the immune system helps eliminate unpleasant symptoms. It will help you perform better with your workout. Eventually, you’ll feel better and empowered.

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The idea of having to exercise daily might feel overwhelming at first. But once you start and get the hang of it, it will easily be a habit that you will enjoy. Remember, you can begin slow and easy.

Autoimmunity: My Wife Has Lupus And It’s Badly Affecting Her 

My wife has been diagnosed with lupus and is now struggling with her health condition. It’s difficult to understand her situation, and I honestly don’t see anything different from her overall health, as she seems perfectly okay. She looked fine, but she was currently struggling. However, I realized that there’s something more about the disease that I should know to be able to help my wife get over the symptoms that drastically made her weak and dysfunctional. 

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Autoimmunity Is Destroying Our Relationship 

As I begin to share my experience with other people, I realize that I am in need of help. I don’t honestly understand how autoimmunity works, but it seems to pretty much affect everything that I entirely do in my life. My routines have changed, my wellness is at stake, my illness escalates quickly, and my relationship is currently dying. That’s all because I have lupus. 

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The Possible Therapy: Counseling For Autoimmunity

Multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, type 1 diabetes, Guillain-Barre syndrome, systemic lupus, inflammatory bowel diseases, etc. are just examples of autoimmune diseases. It is composed of a broad range of human illnesses that comes from the body’s skewed immune system. Specific proteins called autoantibodies are released, and they attack the body’s healthy cells.

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Natural Remedies And Tips On How To Reverse The Symptoms Of Autoimmune Disease

Everyone is susceptible to developing an autoimmune disease. This kind of sickness can be severe and can cause a sharp decline in health. To ensure protection and prevention in the family, we should promote awareness of the cause and symptoms and observe a healthier lifestyle.

Autoimmune Disease And Its Causes

The body’s immune system acts as a protective structure against foreign elements to the body such as viruses and germs. The immune system sends a group of cells to attack these elements to keep away infections and diseases.

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The immune system, in the case of an autoimmune disease, mistakenly determines a part of the body as foreign and thus sends out autoantibodies to attack the healthy cells.

Simon Rego, PsyD said, “Unfortunately, there is still a stigma against mental health disorders in general.”

Common Symptoms Of Autoimmune Diseases

An autoimmune disease is hard to detect in its early stage. Although one may exhibit the typical symptoms, some downplay them as common sicknesses like fever, overfatigue, and other reactions to viral infection.

Therefore, it is best to have a regular check-up with your doctor because an autoimmune disease can be severe and destructive. It may cause abnormal growth and failure of an organ. Here are some early symptoms of the autoimmune disease:

  1. Frequent feelings of fatigue
  2. Fever
  3. Severe joint pain
  4. Inflammatory disease
  5. Rashes
  6. Malaise

There are more than 80 diseases that result from autoimmune reactions; therefore, before the sickness gets severe, it is best to seek early treatment to prevent developing terrible diseases such as lupus and cancer.

According to Jim Jackson, PsyD, “Many ICU survivors were thrust far too quickly into normal roles and responsibilities.”

Natural Remedies For Autoimmune Diseases

When you already have the disease, more grueling treatments, and medication are needed; however, there are some simple practices that you can incorporate in your daily routine to lessen the symptoms and help speed up healing:

  1. Medication And Deep Relaxation

The cells that fight harmful foreign elements from our bodies are called white blood cells. When we experience stress, our bodies produce a stress hormone called corticosteroid that suppresses the white blood cells.

It results in adverse reactions in the immune system wherein excessive corticosteroid may cause the immune system to breakdown causing the onset of an autoimmune disease. To lower stress levels, there are many breathing techniques and yoga exercises that you can try. You can also go to sauna salons and get massages for relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety.

  1. Regular Exercise

Inflammation of a body part is one of the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. Exercise is an anti-inflammatory activity that improves your mood and reduces stress by increasing the production of hormones called endorphins.

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However, types of exercise vary according to the autoimmune disease. For example, if you have problems with muscle tissues and joint pains, a high-intensity workout such as weightlifting is not recommended.

  1. Taking Care Of Your Gut

The immune system is near the digestive system. Therefore, the food we eat and other things we may intake affect it. The best way to keep the stomach healthy is by eating healthy organic food and avoid those with high chemical content.

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Include in your diet anti-inflammatory food such as high-fiber fruits, green leafy vegetables, and lean meat with good oil and high protein like mackerel, tuna, and salmon.

Lifestyle Tips To Fight Autoimmune Disease

For those who already have a diagnosis, for sure your doctors have already prescribed a particular routine to follow. But it is easy to neglect healthier lifestyle choices when we do not have any sickness to worry about.  Whether you have the disease or not, here are some practices you can take note of:

  1. Make A Diet Plan

Often, we forget to eat healthy because of the alluring temptation of craving for greasy and high-fat food. Although we know what we have to eat, sometimes we lack discipline. So, it is better to have a written diet plan to help you organize your food intake and keep you disciplined and motivated by tracking down your meals.

  1. Make An Easy Workout Plan

Much like the diet plan, you should also have a workout plan. It does not need to be strenuous. You have to move your muscles regularly and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. There are a lot of five- to ten-minute workouts available online. As much as possible, engage in a routine that is easy and enjoyable so that you will not lose motivation in doing it.

  1. Manage Your Time

This one is critical in reducing stress. With the demands of work and a hectic schedule, we often find ourselves scrambling to finish tasks and meet deadlines. It is one of the leading causes of high-stress levels among adults.

So, as much as possible, budget your time, keep a schedule, and be disciplined to work on tasks because having a good workflow reduces stress and anxiety.

Notice that these tips apply to everyone even those without autoimmune disease; however, these are just a few of the practices that are critical in taking care of our bodies. Remember that the immune system is only as good as how we take care of it.

“People need time off from work to recover from stress and prevent burnout,” said David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA.

Therefore, following these natural and practical routines will boost our body’s defense system and help with the prevention and healing of autoimmune diseases or any sickness for that matter.

Is Your Sickness Causing Stress? 

Are you aware that experiencing stress is actually normal when you are going through a difficult or challenging time in your life? According to experts, stress is the body’s reaction to tension or pressure. It is a result of too many negative emotions running through your system. This is why you must not be surprised if you find out that your physical illness or sickness is causing stress.

According to Laurie Leinwand, MA, LPC., “increased resiliency can improve someone’s life by enabling them to move through transitional phases or stressful situations with greater ease.”

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Autoimmune Disease: What’s There to Worry?

Did you know that in a human body lies our immune system which is supposed to defend it from foreign bacteria and germs? However, this system sometimes makes a mistake when distinguishing cells and in return, it attacks your own cell. A lot of trouble can build up and hence, an Autoimmune Disease comes in the picture.

What is Autoimmune Disease?

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There are a lot of autoimmune disorders. There are at least over a hundred autoimmune diseases as far as studies have been recorded. These conditions, although varying from each other, shows the same symptoms like a headache, fatigue, feeling pain and hotness all over the body.

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