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Monday, March 3, 2014

The Road to Recovery

I am not a doctor. I am just writing about my own personal experience.

Recovering from adrenal exhaustion and hypothyroidism is a slow process. It takes 8 to 9 months to recover from minor adrenal exhaustion and 12 months for a moderate case. In severe cases, it requires 24 months.

What is Adrenal Exhaustion?
The adrenals are responsible for producing a whole lot of hormones that regulate bodily functions. For example, the adrenals produce cortisol that is important in regulating blood sugar. Don't ask me how okay... I am not a doctor. All I know is that one day, I ate a delicious bowl of white congee and within 30 minutes, was fast asleep. I slept for 2 hours. I thought I had diabetes. I went for a check. Nope!

Cortisol is also responsible for regulating sleep cycles. I was sleepy all day. I moved about in a brain fog and once, I fell asleep staring at bananas at the NTUC supermarket. I thought I needed exercise. So I went walking, swimming and cycling. After even moderate exertion, I came home and crashed out. In fact, once, I crashed after watching an action movie! The high adrenalin movie tired me out!! However, every night, at 3.30 am, I woke up, heart pounding and pyjamas drenched. I thought it was perimenopause and accepted my lot. However, things got worse. The premenstrual mood swings became a horror to control. The poor Husband bore the brunt of it. At one point, I sort of went outside myself and stared at me, the crazy woman yelling at The Best of Husbands accusing him of anything and everything. I went to do checks at the gynaecologist. Again, nothing.

I began to wonder if I had a psychological condition.

Now I know that the body's hormones interact with each other in complex ways. A lack of cortisol can set off other hormonal imbalances leading to a whole host of seemingly unrelated symptoms. I don't quite know how, but malfunctioning adrenals have an effect on the thyroid too... which I think contributed to my sensitivity to gluten (i.e., bread and pasta).

Going off gluten was a breakthrough. Thank you Mommy P.

Thank heavens for the internet. I came across websites where people described symptoms exactly like mine. From these sources, I learnt how to help myself recover... and so far, it has been an effective therapy.

Home Therapy
From Beth Dreyer, I learnt to...

- Sleep a lot. I force myself to sleep till 9am every day. In stressful moments, my cortisol levels still go crazy and I cannot sleep at night. However, even if I cannot sleep, I lie in bed till 9am. Also, whenever I feel sleepy, I sleep. I don't fight the urge to sleep like I used to. Sleep heals.

- Eat a certain way. No gluten. No simple carbs. High protein and plenty fibre.

- Say no. I wasn't good at that last year. Not doing enough for other people made me feel guilty. An overactive professional conscience did not help. Last year, I would suck up a lot of things, wanting to please others, needing their approval. This year, I have forced myself to say "No" to things and people. I wasn't good at it at first. However, with the help of Mommy A, I am getting better at it.

- Take negative people out of my life. Zero tolerance for people who are negative or who disempower themselves. Sometimes, there is a thin line between "I dunno how" and "I won't". I can give dispassionate and logical advice or diagnoses to address the Dunno How, but the moment I discern any hint of "I won't", I disengage. Your won't is your cross to bear, not mine. When push comes to shove, I value my health more than your problems.

- Prayer. Oh yes... every single step towards recovery is covered by prayer. I have had the benefit of strong Prayer Warriors in Mommy T, Mommy ML, Mommy Y, Mommy P and Mommy D. Knowledge and wisdom come from God. He is the one that manages everything. So, without prayer, I don't think I could have come so far.

It Works!
Guess what... it works. I think my adrenals have recovered enough that I no longer fall asleep 30 minutes after taking rice congee. As long as I don't take any gluten, I don't experience brain fog. I can cycle 9km without crashing out. Slowly I will expand the envelope of what I can do without crashing out. Hopefully, by then, I will lose weight too. The hormonal imbalances have padded me up quite a bit.

Maybe... just maybe... I don't need 24 months to get well after all. **Fingers crossed**


Blur Ting said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your health and was too busy to ask. But it is good to see you're making some progress. With your determination, I'm sure you'll be well sooner than expected.

Petunia Lee said...

Yup... determined.

Celine said...

I am happy that things are working out (although slowly) for you. Will pray for your health with the little-Cs tonight.

I believe the prayers of the little ones connect most directly to His Heart. :)

Petunia Lee said...

Thank you Celine. Of all things, I am MOST grateful for prayer.

L said...

Hope you feel better every day!

Petunia Lee said...

Thank you L!

Malar said...

Oh dear! Hope you get well soon Petunia! You're strong woman!

Petunia Lee said...

Thank you Malar! Thanks for visiting the blog too!

Lil Bookworm said...

God made us beautifully complicated. Thank God you are getting better!

Petunia Lee said...

Many thanks L'il BookWorm