My jet lag from our recent trip to Switzerland reminded me about my battle with autoimmune disease. Everybody gets jet lag to some extent but for whatever reason my condition exacerbates the effect of jet lag on my body. I'm ragged out for days.
Sixteen years ago, I was deer hunting with a buddy outside Coleman Texas, it was cold, near freezing. No matter how many layers of clothes and warm gloves I had on, I could not stop shivering. That should have been my first clue that something was not right. Of course at the time I had no idea. I just thought... "weird".
Later that year, I was golfing with our banker and clients in the Hill country. Like most of these trips, we stayed up late telling jokes and talking business over a drink or two. I was so bone dead fatigued on that trip that I couldn't keep my eyes open. I remember retiring to bed after dinner. That was not like me. My second clue.
I put on about 30 pounds of unexplained weight that year. My face seemed red all the time and the corner of my eyebrows kinda disappeared. My eyes stayed puffy throughout the day and not just when getting out of bed. During my morning grooming routine, I noticed more and more of my hair in the sink. On top of that my skin became so dry my feet cracked and my fingernails had weird ridges. All big time clues!!
In 1999, I was 44 years old but feeling more like 84. I remember wanting to sleep all the time but never feeling refreshed when I woke up. Sometime that year I called my doctor and scheduled an appointment. I told him my issues. I remember conveying to him, "If this is how old age feels then I don't think I'll make it to sixty". He did a complete physical exam including blood work.
Several days later I get a call from my doctor. He said, "I've got good news and not so good news. The not so good news is that you have Hypothyroidism. The good news is Hypothyroidism is the most treatable autoimmune disease." He prescribed a daily dosage of medication. I remember taking my first pill and feeling so much better within hours. The medication is a synthetic hormone that supplement what my thyroid is capable of producing. A thyroid condition affects every cell in your body.
I became a student of all things thyroid. I read books, surfed the net and found ways to take charge of my condition. The doctor worked with me to get the right daily dosage of my medication. My weight started coming off and I stopped being cold and tired all the time. Life started getting better for me by the day. Much of what I've read about managing hypothyroidism links back to what I eat and managing my stress. I've learned that if I stay away from processed foods, certain vegetables, and soy, then I feel so much better. Eating grass fed beef and other meats high in Omega-3, such as pasture-raised chicken and pork, natural eggs, and wild caught salmon helps me to feel great.
I manage my condition the best I can. I don't let it manage me. However, at times it bubbles up and smacks me good, like with that recent jet lag. As we age, there's a chance (especially in women) to develop an autoimmune disease. However, whether you have an autoimmune disease or not, I strongly recommend managing your diet, especially as we age. Don't think that you can eat what you want and then take a pill or a shot and all is peachy keen and good. You've got to take charge and I've found that it starts with eating healthier. Feeling good is worth everything to me!