Are Medical and Life Issues Getting You Down?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
As I have previously shared, I have thyroid disease like millions of other people. For me, an autoimmune disease led to a subtotal thyroidectomy and a lifetime sentence of medication and battling to maintaining my weight and good health. I can empathize with others who try so hard every day to meet their health goals while living with a medical condition and a busy life.
A few weeks ago, I hit a few life and health issues all at one time that just made me want to give up, sit on the couch, eat what I want and feel sorry for myself. Have you ever felt like that? I'm hoping that hearing what I have been dealing with will help you know that it happens to everyone but also that life and medical issues don't have to cause a major setback as you work toward your goals.

Here is a snap shot of what has been going on in my life over the last month or so and how it has influenced my day-to-day life.
  • Allergic responses to thyroid medication - Constant itching and other ongoing allergic responses to the natural thyroid medication I had been taking for several years were making life uncomfortable. Working with my Pharmacist and Endocrinologist, another option was identified that we hope will work better. As anyone on medication knows, switching to a new medication brings hope but also a lot of trial and error and adjustments to find the "sweet spot." During that adjustment, sometimes there are responses that occur which can make you feel like you are taking steps backward before you start moving forward. I have been experiencing some bad with the good for sure.

  • Helping our dog with cancer - Previously diagnosed with a cancerous mass on her leg, our dog began barking and getting up multiple times a night due to increasing discomfort. Although we are glad our beloved 14 year old pet has been able to remain comfortable and at home with us, it has been a process finding the right medication, feeding and care routine. Being up many times during the night (as we used to do with our children) for weeks at a time has been a difficult adjustment. She is part of our family and it is what you do for family but makes the morning alarm difficult to answer.

  • Pop in my neck - I played competitive sports for several decades and upper back and neck injuries were prevalent especially when high jumping and rolling in volleyball. I have made many trips to the chiropractor over the years for adjustments and my neck and back crack very easily. However, on this particular night it was a pop like no other as I turned over trying to go back to sleep after tending to the dog. The stabbing pain in the shoulder blade indicates this is something different. After several weeks of applying ice, stretching, and waiting, I finally broke down and made an appointment to see a specialist to find out what is going on but the pain and discomfort continue.

  • Our oldest child went to college - Our children are supposed to grow up and move away but it does bring emotional highs and lows as a family goes through the process. There are also new adjustments in the daily household to learn as well as new types of worry and different types of stress.

  • Loss of bus service to high school - Changes in the economy have brought tough times to our public school system (like many others) resulting in no high school busing for our younger child. We have a great car pool pulled together but heading out to take my turn three mornings a week at 6:40 AM has been an adjustment.

  • Pulling weeds included poison oak - About twenty years ago, I had a bout with being covered with poison ivy. Thanks to a steroid shot, it cleared up and I have been able to avoid further problems since that time. That is until a few weeks ago when I decided to multi task while cooling down after an early morning (5:00 AM before driving car pool and heading off to work after a night of being up with the dog and suffering with neck pain!) workout. I pulled a few weeds, which unfortunately included some poison oak and then wiped off sweat BEFORE washing my hands. Thanks to the previous exposure and current autoimmune disease, the rash went systemic very quickly requiring a trip to the doctor for a twenty-day high dose steroid taper to heal and several weeks of uncomfortable itching.
Add to all of that the day-to-day life of a full time job, family and home requirements and the desire to make time for friends, exercise, and dealing with all the other activities of daily living and I know you get the picture. I was tired, missing my child, trying to fit everything in, dealing with constant pain and itching like crazy. Sweating made me itch more and getting up at 5 AM was not a fun thought. It was very tempting to just rest on the couch, eat all my favorite treats to soothe the emotional and physical pain and tell myself tomorrow is another day and I deserve to do what I want.
I am not sharing any of this for people to feel sorry for me because many people deal with much more than my itches, pains, busy schedule and sleepless nights. I am very fortunate because I have the benefit of a flexible work schedule, the support of family, and life experience that allows me to plan for the rough times. However, even if you find yourself in less flexible or supported situations, you can plan for the difficult days that are sure to come. Illness, injury, and tough times are a possibility for all of us. If you face ongoing medical issues, tough days are almost a certainty. Here are some things I have learned that might help you keep moving forward when those days come.
I have learned that I can resist temptations because I know how bad I will feel at the end of the journey when life is better but my choices caused me many more setbacks then the stresses, illness or injury itself. Instead of giving in to the temptations regardless of how justified they seem, I keep my focus on following through with as many of my daily healthy habits as I can without beating myself up for the ones I can't muster the energy, time or commitment to fulfill. Instead of running several mornings a week, which caused me to sweat and itch like crazy, I walked. I was still exercising and active even though it wasn't at the same intensity. On the days when I was tired and in pain and didn't want to cook and was tempted to go for the fast food I modified my plan. I asked for help from my family and went with easier meals that didn't require as much time and preparation as what I had planned. The key was having an easy back up ready for those days. When chocolate seemed like a soothing answer to missing my child or being uncomfortable, I was able to resist because I didn't have it in the house and went for dried fruit instead. If the chocolate had been here, it would have been gone and no amount of good intentions would have been able to stop me.
Three Keys for Your Success
  1. It is important to plan for busy and tough days. Know your food weaknesses and keep them out of your home, office, and life. We are all human and when we are at our weakest and most vulnerable physically and emotionally, no amount of good intentions is going to pull us through. If the healthy options are what are available with healthy and easy backups on stand-by, you have set yourself up for a win-win situation when the chips (pun intended) are down. If you are relying on willpower and motivation every day to help you meet your healthy eating goals and resist the chocolate, chips, soda or dessert temptations that are all around you, you are sure to meet disappointment when the difficult days come. Treats are treats and they are most enjoyable when you have them only at special times. If they are always readily available, they are just daily options and opportunities for failure at meeting our goals when life is hard and our willpower is down.
  1. Be active any way you can every day without fail or excuse. Move what you can safely move for as long as you safely can to get your circulation going and the heart rate increasing. Even if it is less than you usually do. You will be amazed at how you feel physically better but also emotionally better too because you are still able to mark exercise off your list even on a bad day. Who cares if you can't do what you "usually" do or "planned" to do, what matters is that you did something.
  1. Commit to sticking to as much of your healthy living plan as you can but accept that you won't always be able to do it all. Life happens, especially if you have medical issues and the all or nothing idea leads to feelings of failure and not measuring up and can lead to giving up entirely because you couldn't do it all. The idea that if you can't fit in a thirty or forty minute workout means you can't work out at all can give way to new ideas of fitting in what you can. If the meal that takes an hour to prepare isn't feasible, fast food doesn't have to be the only other option. Plan ahead, make the plan fit the life circumstances you have and rejoice that some healthy choices are better than nothing at all. This allows you to maintain your momentum of moving forward even if it is a slower pace. Always remember that slow and steady wins the race and keep moving forward.
What do you do when life and medical conditions throw you a curve? What can you do differently?

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Thanks for sharing... very good idea's on how to always have an alternative plan for life medical curves and hills... I appreciate how you help me get rid of the all or nothing mentality... that was POWERFUL within it self.. Life is about what you can do not about what you CAN'T do...

Thank You Again

Thanks for sharing. I have also been feeling overwhelmed lately - moving to a new home, working in another state 125 miles from home in order to have a good paying job, and having additional work/education requirements that had to be met (requiring me to be gone from Monday until Friday of last week) - thus not allowing me to un-pack or work on the home. Came home after 4 days to find nothing done by DH or kids. Left only 3 hours after coming home to watch DH and oldest son run a 1/2 marathon. Exhaustion set in. I just keep trying to get done what I can and not stress about what I can't. Prioritize and eventually, somehow, you manage to get the "to do" list done. Report
Thank you for posting this. Report
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I too battle thyroid disease, and recently had a shocking change at my yearly physical (now much higher dose of Synthroid needed). Losing weight has been one of the greatest challenges of my life, but like you, has also been coupled with other heartbreaking times...miscarriage, kids growing up, job loss, divorce, and most recently...the passing of my best dad. Reading about your thoughts helps me to stay positive on this rainy afternoon. Blessings to you, my fellow Sparker. Keep up the good work toward reaching your goals.
Hugs... Report
I too deal with my thyroid shenanigans! It was depressing for me this past weekend when I did everything I was supposed to and stayed within my range but because of a bite from my husbands sandwich and two pieces of my sons cotton candy, I gained SIX pounds! Unfortunately, my body gains anytime I take a bite. This occurs with exercising 6 days a week and constantly adjusting my eating habits. I can't go on holiday without paying the price! I cried and just let go on Saturday and Sunday. I'm back on track today but I did give up for the weekend. I regret it but this has been going on for ten years and I feel so beaten. I won't stop but I'm bruised emotionally from all this. I appreciate your blog and will do better. Report
I will keep you in my prayers. At the moment, I'm in a lull between problems (nice to know when I'm in one of these, rather than only noticing afterwards...) but even here, I battle weariness and dysthymia. I like your strategies for coping.

Even more, I respect your awareness (and that of several of the previous commenters) that these things ARE "just" parts of a life, they aren't what make us unable to live. Report
I have a plethora of medical problems. The chart that my primary doctor uses is now on volume three with the rest in storage. This is all just in the last five years. It has gotten to the point that I hate mentioning new problems to my doctor because I think she must think that I'm starting to make all this stuff up. She did tell me recently that my medical issues definitely keep her up to date on a variety of medical problems.

I've dealt with my medical problems in a variety of ways over the years. For the most part, I am truly grateful to be alive and I feel that each day is a blessing. Holding onto the thought that God has a plan and a purpose for each of the struggles that I'm dealing with gives me the strength and the courage to persevere no matter what. Report
Thanks for writing this. I saw the title and wanted to scream "me, yes, I do!" I have fibromyalgia and arthritis which got so bad I had to quit my job back in February. It was a job that I loved so I spent the summer dealing with the pain and moping. I am sinsitive to meds so they had a hard time finding anything that I could actually take. Finally just a little over a month ago they found something and I started exercising since it finally didn't hurt so bad. I started with 10 minutes a day and worked my way up. I agree with planning for bad days because they will happen. Since my family is not on a diet I am not able to keep stuff out of the house but I've learned to keep things that I like that I can eat instead. When I crave something sweet I've been having smoothies. Sometimes fruit yogurt, sometimes a green smoothie. They are filling but low on guilt. I also make meals that I can divide up and freeze portions for days when I don't feel like making something healthy. All I have to do is microwave it and I don't end up eating something unhealthy just because I don't feel like making something better. And, no matter what, I always exercise for at least 10 minutes every day. It helps, it really does. Report
I am waiting for two knee replacements..the 1st. one in November. I'm also looking at having my old (17 yrs. ago) hip replacement revised. My left rotator cuff is ripped right through. I go to physio for that. I go to water aerobics, ride my bike and do some yoga.
My first husband died of cancer in I still miss him. I go through life with a happy attitude, and really do love my life.
I wish your family the best, but each and everyone of us, has a story to tell. you have to keep on truckin', don't give up, or give in. Report
I am having some tough times and what you wrote helped me put my issues in perspective. Thanks! Report
No matter WHAT Life throws me - and it's thrown me a LOT - I weight or measure, write down, and honestly track ALL my food and drink.
Thank you for being honest & candid. It is never easy to put oneself out there like that, but you've done it with dignity & grace. If you don't mind, I would like to make some suggestions that may prove useful to you. Shiatsu is a wonderful way to work with the body to help alleviate symptoms & increase prove energy flows within the body. When combined with or used seperately acupressure is also an effective alternative treatment. These are also things that can be used to help the pets in our lives. Reiki is especially nice for people & animals dealing with chronic issues, such as cancer. While it certainly can't cure it, it is a lovely way to help alleviate the symptoms of pain, as well as nausea for those people who are using chemotherapy. I wish you all the very best & hope that things have improved for you & your family.

May Munay & Light be yours. Report
Even though many have said it much more eloquently than I can - Thank You for helping us keep our perspectives! I do have a question - did the 20 day high dose steroid med cause you problems with your weight and/or appetite? I am sure you are pressing forward because you have the determination and insight to do so. Thank you again. Report
Loved your Blog! It is nice to know there others out there. I just want to let everyone know that you can lose weight even with injuries. I loss 15 lbs waiting for knee surgery. I watched what I ate, and did what the physical therapist told me to do for exercises-no cardio included. Just a lot of leg strengthening, with and without light (2 lb.) weights. One year later, I was down another 15, doing the same things (I reinjured the same knee in a fall). And now, I have a leg boot as I that is the last result for severe plantar facitis, and I am still losing,although slower. Look into food combining, it seems to work for some, I stick by protein, and less white carbs, and that seems to work for me.
Reading your entry didn't feel like you were feeling sorry for yourself. You just needed to let "it" out and you did with humor, understanding and compassion. It's a great post! WooHoo! Report
I'm always sure, but I'm so frequently wrong so I ask now, but do you know about The Spoon Theory? It works so well in helping me keep my heart up on bad days.

Being okay with always giving one's best, and accepting that what "best" will accomplish on any given day will vary wildly, keeps one's expectations up. (I may have *finally* started to not automatically beat myself up for being lazy, on days when I can't get out of bed.)

I've never left a note on anything on Spark before, but this was such a good entry I just had to tell you so. Thank you. Report
You are so right... there are so many times when real life gets in the way of a life we want to have!! But.... if we can't laugh at the absurdity of it all and at the fact that we still go on and prevail despite everything.. then we loose. Glad to see that you keep your sense of humor and grounding in all of life's trevails. ENJOY & PREVAIL... Report
I hope that you all find comfort from your troubles from your friends here at SPARKPEOPLE. Life is often very hard, but better when it's shared with caring others. Report
Yes, YES and YES... Since Feb my new outlook is forward and onward.. I am not looking back. I have been going forward since and not stopped. I still have my bad days... but I am going forward! I refuse to give in and I refuse to give up.

Thank you for the encouragement.

Spark on!
jean Report
For a moment there I thought I was ready my own life story...............God Bless you..........I have been down most of those paths you described...........HUGS!!!! Report
this is something I needed to read! I've also had neck pain since August 4th (yea, I know the date!) and it is slowly going away, after weeks of physical therapy. I haven't exercised since the week before it happened. All I did was wake up one morning with the pain and was told I slept "wrong." I've had a few other things go wrong during this time, but nothing even close to what you've been going through! I hope things get better for you soon :) Report
I can totally understand your struggles. I suffer from hypothyroidism myself and some days are better than others. They are working to regulate my thyroid but, I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which is an autoimmune disease. I think that is the culpret for my tiredness.
Keep your head up and things with look up....I look to my faith for strength! :) Report
I choose to LIVE, every day. I navigate moment by moment, learning the right choice for me in the present. We all have our STORY, so step out of your story and live in the PRESENT MOMENT. Thank you for sharing your way of LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE NOW. I am learning to move on from what I cannot do and to do what I can right now. "Instead of giving in to the temptations regardless of how justified they seem, I keep my focus on following through with as many of my daily healthy habits as I can without beating myself up for the ones I can't muster the energy, time or commitment to fulfill." This is VERY TRUE FOR ME. Report
Whew! That's a lot of curves being thrown at you. No one could blame you for taking a few moments to curl up someplace comfortable and gather your strength - without the chocolate of course.

Hang in there. Report
Wow, Tanya, that's a lot to deal with all at once, but it's great that you've found ways to cope. Thanks for the inspiration! I have Hashimoto's, so I know how much tougher things are when you have an autoimmune disease, but as you said, giving in just makes things that much harder. Report
Not to belittle the problems you have or are going through, but when I read the title of your Daily Spark, I thought, 'at last something I could really related to!'. My medical issues prevent me from exercises at all somedays, I am lucky to be able to sit up or stand for more than 15 - 20 minutes. One of the meds I was taking causes weight gain, I am now off that one (why would a doctor give someone who cannot exercise a prescription that causes weight gain when there is one that does EXACTLY the same thing that does not cause weight gain? Boggles the mind). On top of all the pain meds and treatments I get, I am never completely pain free. I cannot work so I am on worker's comp which is a nightmare where you are truly a second class citizen - not to get into details but this system meant to protect the worker really protects the insurance company - I don't think the average educated person can navigate this system on one's own so you need a lawyer which means you have to have his payment deducted from your already meager payments. My first and second grand children - my son and daughter-in-law had twins (boy and girl)- were born early (they live 7 hours away) and asked if we would come up to help them out after their first few days at home alone. We ended up staying 2 months (luckily we are able to do that because my husband is retired). Being with my grandbabies is the only times I don't think about my pain. They are healthy but small except for my monkey Ryan who has stomach issues and needs special care or he suffers severe pain. But he is a true soldier with the sweetest smile and the special care means extra time with him. Then I want to spend time with my princess Elyssa so she doesn't get shortchanged for being healthier than Ryan. On top of all this we almost lost my 82 year old father due to pneumonia, he has other health issues. And I am not losing weight, not gaining but not losing. . So that is when I call up my son or daughter-in-law and ask to skyoe for a glimpse of my grandbabies and lookforward to our next visit (they tell us we are welcome almost anytime). We know we have to get in our visits now because once the winter hits we will not be able to get through to them for at least 3 months. We know they will not try to come down this winter with the babies(they always made the trip here), maybe next year, thank you to whoever invented skype! Doesn't your day look better already. I can still count my blessings but there are times when it gets hard Report
Thank you very much for this blog. I really needed to read this right now. I have been having both medical and life issues and have had difficulty dealing with them and keeping on track with my weight and fitness goals. This blog gives some good suggestions that I am going to incorporate into my plan. Report
Thanks very much! I feel a lot better after reading your blog. Report
My mantra too. If I wait to get healthy when a tough life circumstance is over, I'll be in poor shape to enjoy it! Another take is that losing weight is a great stress reliever! I spend my mental time saying "six pounds in six months? Wow, that means I'm losing and maintaining loss." Last night I was carrying my 15 month granddaughter up and down stairs and feeling her weight. I realized I've lost a pound.
each month if her life and weight: now that's a real load off! Report
A very well written blog and how well it identifies as being my own.

I have Hypothyroidism as well as Epilepsy and the two along with all the medications for both really drain me making exercise the last thing on my mind, but then feeling lousy because of not feeling like I want to get up and go.

I just wish we had the chance to even try other Thyroid medications over here, it's either Levothyroxine or nothing - and the chance to ever see an Endocrinlogist is absolutely out of the question and never offered! You either get on with the drug given - or you don't!!! When I go for my blood levels, my Dr reports to me that they're acceptable and that's it!

At last someone talks about itching......I'd never even dreamed it was to do with Levothyroxine - thank you so much, not that it'll be possible to alter it, but at least I'll know what I hardly ever stop itching.

Thanks for the blog, all the very best for your future and all those like us.

Sue x Report
Thanks for sharing. Some days I can't do all that I want. Means that do less is still doing my exercises and I shouldn't feel guilty about that. Report
That was exactly what I needed to read, to help me remember that life isn't as hard as I make it out to be. What an inspiration. Thank you! Report
I think they should do away with all high school busing, since nearly all of them drive to school now & the younger ones could easily carpool with the older ones. I drove two of mine to regular high school as they didn't want to go on the bus & three of them went to Catholic High School which had no bus service. Report
Thank you for sharing! Report
You deserve a lot of credit for hanging in there under such circumstances! Congratulations, and keep on sparking! Report
I agree with your ideas on keeping positive and busy - unfortunately - I did not follow it myself when I was injured and awaiting surgery -- wait from Jan 2011 until surgery date Aug 15/2011. In that time I gained 45lbs....and became depressed. Add to that unsupportive husband - who has been out of work almost 2 years...and no income from him at all. Add the pressure - he is putting on me to return to work early - since I am the bread winner -- in this area - I stuck with my guns and am learning to speak up....NO...not until surgeon said it is matter if we have no money to pay bills or health is more important. I feel that he needs to step up to the plate and even find some way for himself to get some income...even a bit... Thanks and take care. Report
Your comments were great to read. I am feeling majorly stressed out with getting my mom moved into an Assisted Living facility. It just seems like there are a million things that have to be done and I'm up against a deadline. I'm not even sleeping good at night. Your suggestion for doing exercise is something that might help. I know the temptation to just "eat my way" out of feeling so stressed. Thanks for your comments. Report
Excellent blog, I had anemia issues and was off work for 6 weeks - didn't exercise, no appetite, slept alot. But took my iron citrate and got better so got back into eating good, exercising, sleeping. Feel much better. Take it a day at a time and make good choices every day. Report
I love this line-
Treats are treats and they are most enjoyable when you have them only at special times. If they are always readily available, they are just daily options and opportunities for failure at meeting our goals when life is hard and our willpower is down.

That needs to be how I look at things. I, too, have had major health issues that complicated my already complicated life. I have a son with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and ADHD, another with ADHD, am divorced for good reasons and had a heart attack last year. I have lost 66 lbs, 45 since last year. I have stalled and that line about the treats was just perfect. It's what I needed to hear right now, so a hearty thank you and best wishes for the future, health and life together!
Laurie Report
You have a great outlook on things. I hope things get better for you, although you seem to be dealing with them!! Report
Wonderful Blog! Thank you so much! Report
Thanks - this was just what I needed to read today after another round of invasive tests. Report
Wow.... I was wondering if someone had been peaking inside my life window. What a well-written blog.... keep the faith! Thank you for having the courage to share your life story - prayers for you and your family. Report
Thank you for sharing this. Please do keep in mind that yes, there are others who 'deal with much more', but that doesn't invalidate the experiences that you're having and the feelings they bring up, too. Wishing you the best of luck. Report
i will keep you and you family in my prayers. thank you for your inspirational words. i needed them more than you know :) Report
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