Weekly Ways to Replenish Yourself
The kitchen is my meditation room. There I make the food that will allow me to thrive, nourish my family's health, delight friends, and hopefully inspire you to try the same. The Archives section of Replenish PDX houses the newsletters where I write about recipes, nutrition information and the wellspring of reflections that come from those kitchen meditations. With these words, my hope is to bring you deeper into the connection with food your body and your understanding of how you feel and function. This is where you get to take it all home.
A NOTE FROM CAROLINE STAHLSCHMIDT: Girl’s Guide graduate and now Replenish Nutritionist!
Posted on: September 29th 2014
SUNDAY REPLENISH TIMES
In the coming weeks you’ll find that I’m bringing my very trusted and talented nutrition team out from behind-the-scenes.
At Replenish, we bring our collective insights to each and every case in ourCounseling fold. And while each of these stellar practitioners has been trained in the philosophies of nutrition care and detective work that I believe are critical to the healing process, they also each come with their own insights, expertise, and, of course, personal stories of health, healing and transformation.
Today I’d like to introduce you to Caroline Stahlschmidt, the battle with her husband’s cancer and the discovery of her own health challenges as a result. It may sound quite similar to my story, or in some ways, to your own.
I think you’ll enjoy reading her words and being as inspired by her as I am.
A NOTE FROM CAROLINE STAHLSCHMIDT
I’m Caroline, one of the nutritionists on Andrea’s team at Replenish. Like Andrea (and maybe like you), I also have Hashimoto’s. As is often the case, my Hashi’s was triggered by a major stress event in my life.
Five years ago, my husband, Paul, was diagnosed with Stage II colon cancer. At the time, he was 38 years old and incredibly healthy (at least on the outside). To say cancer was a shock, is a huge understatement, and it took a toll on us both emotionally and, as I would learn, also physiologically.
Although he had blood in his stool (that’s what led to the colonoscopy), it never crossed my mind that he might have cancer. I though the surgeon would find a hemorrhoid or two and we’d be on our way. The day turned out much differently. The doctor found a tumor. Our life changed in an instant.
The next few months were a roller-coaster of emotion and stress with an intense surgery, six nights in the hospital, radiation, and deep sorrow. Within the month, we also lost 2 beloved pets and I broke my right hand. When it rains, it pours as they say, and during that summer, it felt like a very grey cloud was permanently parked over our house.
What does this have to do with my Hashi’s? Six months after Paul’s diagnosis, I had my annual blood work drawn and my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) came back high. Further testing revealed thyroid antibodies that were off the charts.
As Andrea likes to say. . . Hello Hashimoto’s.
I didn’t think I was having symptoms per say and I didn’t fit the “classic” hypothyroid case by any means, which made it all the more confusing. In retrospect, I was indeed having symptoms but I wasn’t connecting the dots or being honest with myself about how I was truly feeling.
Maybe you can relate. Are there times when you sweep some of your niggling symptoms ~ fatigue, swollen hands and what seems like minor digestive woes under the rug?
Autoimmunity is in my genes. In fact, every person in my mom’s family has an autoimmune condition including my mom who has rheumatoid arthritis. My “gun” was loaded, so to speak, and the experience and stresses of having my young husband diagnosed with cancer pulled the trigger for the expression of my Hashimoto’s.
Before I get too far, I want you to know that Paul, my husband, is doing great. Although we’re always working to support his digestion (since he had part of his colon removed and irradiated), he’s cancer-free and thriving. (Sometimes I forget to mention that when I tell my story and leave people wondering about him!)
For the first few years of having this Hashimoto’s diagnosis, I didn’t think much of it. My doctor prescribed Synthorid and I took it. I didn’t research it. I didn’t dig deeper. I didn’t question why I’d developed it. I just accepted it and moved on. My energy was 100% focused on healing Paul and let’s face it ~ compared to cancer, Hashimoto’s seemed minor.
Things changed when I started studying with Andrea during the Holistic Nutrition Lab’s Digestive Intensive. I started to realize (or perhaps more accurately, be honest about the fact) that I had a weird kaleidoscope of symptoms.
I had chronically loose bowels for as long as I could remember. I’m embarrassed to admit it now but it had been like this for so long that I didn’t know it wasn’t normal. Mind you, I had mentioned it to a few doctors but they always just brushed it off as “normal” (hello, sooooo not normal or healthy!).
My eyes were always red. Let me give you a picture of what I mean: Every morning, I looked like I had just smoked pot (not a positive thing for a nutritionist!). I used Visine daily to clear my eyes (not so good for my eyes). I tried new contacts, new solution, switched to glasses, kicked our cats out of our room and more. Nothing worked. My eyes stayed red and I accepted it.
I also got a funky (and very itchy) rash on my right foot that came and went. I chalked it up to athlete’s foot from time spent in the locker room after swimming. Now I realize it was eczema and a manifestation of what was going on inside my gut! My body was talking to me but I wasn’t listening. I hadn’t learned how to listen.
I had decent energy most of the time. Or at least I pretended I did. In reflection though, I would have days or weeks of deep fatigue. I was often slow to get out of bed in the morning or my eyes would be incredibly tired, like I couldn’t keep them open for a second longer. I was eating a really healthy diet and I think that helped keep my energy levels up but the undercurrent of fatigue was there.
I never thought my symptoms were related to each other or my Hashimoto’s until I attended Andrea’s Mapping Your Signs and Symptoms Class. I finally had a framework to look at me (and my symptoms) in a bigger context. Instead of seeing them all as isolated symptoms that needed to be addressed individually, it became clear that they were all manifestations of deeper imbalance that needed to be managed.
I also realized that I needed to dig deeper and get to the roots!
Mapping my symptoms gave me clarity. It wasn’t a pity party for how much was “off” in my body. Instead, it was empowering! It was a enlightening to make connections that I had never thought about and finally be honest about my signs and symptoms. Finally, it all started to make sense and my roadmap to healing began to emerge.
And I’ll be blunt here. No doctor was going to help me do this. I have a great doctor (he’s thyroid-savvy enough to check more than just TSH for all of his patients), but he didn’t have time to help me map my symptoms and connect the dots that are particular to my unique history and the expression of my signs and symptoms. I had to do it for myself. So do you.
Mapping my symptoms also woke me up to the fact that Hashimoto’s is indeed serious. It’s not just a matter of popping a pill each morning. Autoimmunity doesn’t get the press (or strike the fear) that cancer does but it can be just as debilitating, if not more.
With Andrea’s guidance, the real questions that I needed to be asking emerged.
The next step in my healing journey was participating in The Girl’s Guide to Hashimoto’s with Andrea. Now I admit, I’m a little biased, I think Andrea is brilliant and that’s why I went on to train further with her and was giddy to be offered a spot on her team. Her teaching style and spirit resonate deeply with me, but I can tell you tha beyond my respect and admiration for Andrea, Girl’s Guide was a game-changer for me.
I was already a practiced health coach and had been studying with Andrea all year in Holistic Nutrition Lab, so I was no stranger to the physiology and the power of food. In fact, I knew a lot! But Girl’s Guide brought all the informtion home. It allowed me to internalize that knowledge and turn it into wisdom. My body’s wisdom. For the first time, I came into a place of honesty about what my body needed to thrive. My body (and mind) started to heal.
I won’t lie or paint a false picture. My healing journey has been a slow process with ebbs and flows. At first it was frustrating as I tried to uncover what foods caused digestive distress for me, but as I allowed the process to unfold, the pieces started to fall into place.
More than anything, I came to a place of peace with my Hashimoto’s and my symptoms. Instead of feeling panic when a symptom emerges (like my eyes getting a bit red or a hint of rash on my foot), I honor it. I ask what’s going on in there? What is my body trying to tell me? That feeling of peace and confidence in my ability to manage my Hashi’s is the most beautiful gift I received from Andrea and my participation in Girl’s Guide.
It’s still a journey. I think that’s the case for all of us! My Hashi’s teaches me every day to be mindful and listen deeply to my body’s signals. But it’s a journey I’m grateful for because it informs my life and spirit in ways I never imagined.
I hope to see you in Girl’s Guide so we can support each other during our healing journeys, and where, this year, I get to help support you.
Don’t you just love how Caroline took her health into her own hands?
It’s funny (or I found it funny anyway. . . ), that the biggest question coming out of the Hashimoto’s Institute which ended earlier this week, was “where do I find a doctor who will address my care from all these different angles?”.
The reason I found it to be funny is because I don’t know that one exists! ~ even among the amazing practitioners we included in the Institute and the hundreds of other physicians that I know personally and hold in such high regard.
There are limitations to what our medical system and medical professionals can provide. In fact, one of the Number One tenants of functional medicine is that the provider and patient form a therapeutic partnership. But as you and I both know, most partnerships don’t thrive when one person has all the power or is expected to have all the answers.
Whether it be a personal relationship or a professional one, a partnership is an alliance. It’s cooperative. In the case of the strongest and most effective partnerships, both “stake holders” are equally responsible for the desired outcome.
This is where YOU come in.
And I’m here to help you become a fully vested partner.
It’s my passion to help you to be the most viable collaborator in your own care, just as Caroline became for the health and medical partnerships on her own health care team and has become for her Replenish clients. Ultimately this ability enables you to work with any physician to manage your signs and symptoms.
I’d like to invite you to download our Hashimoto’s A to Z Symptoms Checklist and spend some time considering the symptoms that might be affecting your life and pursuit of your passions. Like Caroline pointed out, remember to take the time to be honest with yourself!
And please do register for Mapping Your Signs & Symptoms 2.0 where we’ll start to break it all down.
Where to begin?
Even if you know you don’t have Hashimoto’s, please join me for this deep dive in becoming a major “stake holder” in your self care. We’ll be talking Hashi’s, but you can always see through your own lens. It’s the most important lens at all points in your health care!
Free Online Workshop with Andrea Nakayama
Mapping Your Signs & Symptoms 2.0:
Addressing Your Hashimoto’s from a Full System’s Perspective
Saturday October 4 at 9am PT / 12pm ET
Duration: 90 minutes (plus Q&A)