Tension Tamers

Tension tamers have become an essential part of adulting these days. If you’re like me, you carry all of your life’s stress and tension in your shoulders and neck. Since my Graves diagnosis, the pain in my neck and shoulders has increased. Apparently, your thyroid hormones like to f*c& with your body in a myriad of ways.

Since most of us have issues with tension in our neck and shoulders, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tension tamers. These items have been extremely helpful. Here’s the list:

  1. Trigger point massager: this simple contraption from Gaiam is great at taking at knots in your shoulders and back.
  2. Tune Up therapy balls: these little miracle workers can help you release muscle and soft tissue tension all over your body. They’re very effective in relieving tension headaches. I’ll be posting a Vlog soon on just how do do this.
  3. Yoga Mat: best place to stretch and utilize your Tune Up therapy balls.
  4. Bolster: the bolster is a great tool that will allow you to settle into restorative poses that will reduce tension in your body.
  5. Foam Roller: I love using my foam roller to roll out my trapezius muscles when my upper back, shoulders and neck are tight. It feels amazing!!!
  6. Shiatsu neck/back massager: this is an essential tool for days when the tension in your upper back and neck are at its highest.
  7. Massage gun: so these things are all the rage. I decided to give it a try. I’ll be posting a full review shortly
  8. Essential oils: I like using Chill Pill by Aura Cacia to relax and reduce tension. A small pat on the forehead or in a diffuser will do wonders for your relaxation.
  9. Tiger Balm/Salonpas patches. These are perfect to wear at night for some relief while you sleep. It is a bit of an unspoken rule that you don’t wear them to work or school. Unless, of course, you want to smell like Ben-gay all day.
  10. Hand warmers: this is my favorite hockey mom hack. I carry all of my tension in my left shoulder right under my bra strap. Accordingly, by placing an activated hand warmer in that place, the heat starts to melt the tension in my muscles.

These are just a few of the tools, I keep in my tool belt to fight tension. On a macro level, I’ve gone back to my yoga practice and stretching daily to alleviate muscle tension before it begins. Yoga has been an essential part of my recovery and my quest for remission.  All of my  product recommendations are below and range in cost form $6.00-$129.  While it may seem like a lot of products, it’s a lot cheaper and a healthier alternative than popping NSAIDs or other medications.

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What Next: taking supplements

So you’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease, what next? Can you still take my supplements? When I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, my life was flipped upside down. There are plenty of treatment decisions to make, but there are immediate consideration as well. In fact, I had to evaluate all the supplements I was taking. Anything that was considered goitrogenic had to go because it could cause a thyroid storm. Moreover, I had to make decisions on how to mitigate the symptoms before treatment.

Here are the supplements I’m using to cope with my autoimmune disorder (as a major caveat everything I take has been played by my endo:)

1. Selenium – this mineral is essential for normal thyroid function and is beneficial for hyper/hypothyroid patients.

2. L-Carnitine – before I was given beta blockers, I used L-Carnitine to mitigate the hyper thyroid symptoms. Once I was post-RAI, I stopped taking this supplement.

3. CoQ10 – I was taking this before I got diagnosed and was advised to continue. Apparently, patients with Graves’ disease have lower amounts of CoQ10 in their blood.

4. Zinc – I just added this to my regimen after meeting with the registered dietician at my Endo’s office. There is evidence to support that zinc supplementation helps support thyroid function.

5. Collagen – I’m loving Vital Proteins Collagen Powder. It ‘a flavorless, can be mixed into coffee, is only 70 calories and has 17 grams of protein. As for why I’m taking this, it’s really about my vanity. I’m trying to keep my hair, skin and nails as healthy as possible. Thyroid disease and thyroid hormone supplementation can lead to hair loss. I am not about that life.

6. Biotin – see the explanation above.

7. Essential oils – no I don’t think they are a cure all, but lavender has helps calm me down if I’m Graves’ raging. Peppermint and Eucalyptus are critical in relieving congestion . Since my blood pressure is not always normal, I avoid taking decongestants.

I used to take a multivitamin and myriad of other supplements, but had to stop them once diagnosed. There are a lot of supplements that interact with the thyroid or thyroid medication, so you have to be careful. I have a lot of friends that have great results with Thrive and other supplements. The temptation to try those supplements is real, however, until my doc gives me the all clear, nothing in my small regimen will change. What’s next: adjusting my exercise routine.

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Handling Thyroid Disease

Handling thyroid disease is the title I settled on after ruminating on coping and dealing. Both coping and dealing felt too passive to me, so I opted for handling. What does handling thyroid disease even mean? It means learning to thrive in spite of the misfiring or non-existence of that bitch is a gland.

When I was first diagnosed with Graves, I did what most people do and consulted Dr. Google. The medical part didn’t bother me too much. No, what bothered me is how those coping with the disease were failing to thrive or continue a productive existence. I was resolute that I would not follow that path.

Of course, in the beginning it was easy to think that way. It became hard as my heart rate soared and the RAI (radioactive iodine) was slow to work. Nevertheless, the fun and my weight were doubled when my thyroid failed. It literally happened over night. For the next several months and even still, I would migrate between hyper and hypo from day to day. It was beyond frustrating.

Thankfully, I have a wonderful Endo and have high confidence in her. Slowly, she has returned me to my normal life. I’ve run three 5ks since diagnosis, restarted my yoga practice and started the BBG workout. Nevertheless, it has taken a lot of work to get back to this place. I’ve read a lot about auto immune disease, worked with my endo and her in house R.D. and changed my workouts. I even feel back to my old gregarious self.

Now that my thyroid levels have stabilized, it will take 1-3 years for the symptoms of Graves to abate. My antibodies still show positive for both Graves disease and Hashimotos. My next task is get rid of those. In the meantime, I continue to research ways to reduce inflammation and improve my health. Each Thursday, I’ll be sharing my autoimmune experience with you. Next week, I’ll be sharing a list of the top 10 items that have helped me through my personal journey.

P.S. the title photo is from my first post diagnosis/treatment 5k.

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