I’m a perfect 10. 10.32 to be exact. That’s my most recent TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) level for my Hashimotos Thyroiditis. I know, it sounds like something Doc McStuffins made up. And while I wish a Band-Aid and a kiss from Lambie would cure this, I’m learning to accept these numeric reports as temporary fact, not judgment. Like many of us, I’m learning, certainly not mastering, the art of acceptance.
The particular morning that I saw my latest “score,” on my phone app was not pretty. Here’s the part of my story where I’d love to say that upon receiving lab results I immediately find a calm place to meditate and breathe while chanting the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me the serenity / to accept the things I cannot change; / courage to change the things I can; / and wisdom to know the difference.”
Rather, I reacted with annoyance and disgust.
“I mean what the hell else could I possibly change?!” I ranted to my husband. “I’m already gluten free. And I barely have any %$&!# grains. I’ve replaced most dairy with coconut or almond milks, I exercise (when I’m not too tired to after teaching all day), try to get eight hours of sleep (to the detriment of a social life or virtually any alone time, TV time, etc.), I see a Naturopathic doctor (N.D.) in additional to my Kaiser endocrinologist, and I take my T-3/T-4 medicine faithfully on an empty stomach. And on I prated. You get the idea.
The pattern usually goes like this. The resistant head space lasts for about two weeks as I self-admonish, “Clearly I’m not doing enough. I can do more.” I rant to the people who love and listen with the deepest empathy and compassion, then I conduct frenzied proactive internet research, I question (read: doubt) my current dietary restrictions and consider my next phase of uber-paleo-whole30-cutvegetablesfor4hoursaday-nofun-nolife diet, followed by an email to my ND, and more expensive and time-consuming appointments and blood work. Once the adrenal rush of purely reacting slows, I feel I’ve done the best I can to control the situation. I bide my time. I wait for new protocols to start working, and I hope for a better score next time.
And in this state of reflection, I begin my tough love speech. The truth is, this isn’t incurable cancer. It’s not Leukemia. It’s not a rare disease, nor is it a curable disease in a place without the medicine or means. So, what’s my problem? “Get over yourself,” I repeat in my head. Just accept it and move on with life. However, I’m fairly certain that forced acceptance is an oxymoron. Yeah, that tough love speech is not effective.
So, here’s the real truth. If I’m going to accept this, I have to get honest with what this autoimmune disease means. Hashimotos is so daily. I will monitor this for life, making consistent and sometimes seemingly drastic lifestyle changes. Hashimotos is a life sentence of lab results that fluctuate to great degrees. This isn’t my first round being rated a perfect 10. A year ago I was a 12. And you didn’t think I could possibly do any better! Then the TSH returned to a 4.5, then a 1.5—and damn that felt good. At 1.5 I got my life back. I could think clearly—no more foggy brain. No more falling asleep on the couch at 7pm while my loving husband picked up the extra duties of parenting and household chores. 1.5 meant fewer achy muscles, less insomnia and anxiety. No more doubting my abilities. No more constipation—of body and spirit. Fewer mood swings. No more kindly declining outings with friends and family in an effort to reign in my calendar, so I could just get through the day’s obligations. Then, three months later, the roller coaster clicks up, up, up to a 10. And I hold on for another ride.
Acceptance comes over time with the belief in my ability to manage and improve my quality of life day by day. I am not the 10. It’s a number, a fluctuating number—just like the rise and fall of the tides, the ebb and flow of work, the closeness and distance of friendships, the emotional pushing and pulling of growing children, and the up down of the carousel horse on a spinning ride. Acceptance, whether through yoga, prayer, breath or blogging, will set me free. I am accepting that, right now, I’m doing enough. Right now, we are all, all 14 million of us in the US, doing enough. And how often do any of us tell ourselves that we are doing enough? Very rarely. We are enough, despite our setbacks, health concerns, and job and family stressors. Let’s speak to ourselves with compassion and recognize that each phase brings greater awareness of our resources and support, bringing us closer to who we are meant to be—and that’s perfection.
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