Lessons Learned Living with Hypothyroidism: A Look Back on 3 Years of Hypothyroid Momby Yumhee Park Content Producer
During our ChronicLife Facebook Q&A, we were joined by Dana Trentini, the voice behind the award-winning Hypothyroid Mom blog. HealthCentral had the opportunity to interview Dana about her journey with her blog and hypothyroidism before, and this chat allowed Dana to interact with the HealthCentral community for the first time about thyroid disease. Below is a recap of our chat.
HealthCentral (HC): You have managed to take care of your health, have a family and run a successful business. How can others have it all with chronic illness?
Dana: When I was a new mom I expected or hoped to be a "supermom". I've over the years reshaped how I see my role as a mom. The most important thing is not expecting myself to be perfect. Doing the best I can while taking care of myself too. Dropping the guilt has been the most important thing. In my eyes, moms with chronic illness are "supermoms" we manage to keep it all going while struggling with a health condition.
HC: Why do you think people with chronic illness experience guilt? How have you coped with it?
Dana: Guilt is actually one of the hardest things I've dealt with as a mom with chronic illness. Before I was diagnosed I had no idea why I was so unwell. I watched other new moms taking their children out to the park, activities, outings, etc and I could barely make it through the day with my eyes open. I felt guilt that I wasn't being a good mom. I've had to drop that guilt to be well. I no longer feel guilty that my house isn't the cleanest it could be, that my children don't do all the extracurriculars their friends do, that I order takeout whenever I don't have the energy to cook. Being good to myself has been a hard lesson but an important one.
HC: How do you advocate for yourself as a patient?
Dana: I did not advocate for myself as a patient and miscarried a child as a result. So this is a serious question for me. I expected my doctors to have all the answers and I discovered that they don't always have all the answers. It's up to us to do our own research no matter what health condition we struggle with. If we have symptoms but no diagnosis too it's important to keep searching for doctors that help get answers. It may mean seeing 10 doctors until you find the one.
HC: Beyond medical treatment, what everyday lifestyle changes have you made to be well?
Dana: I take thyroid hormone replacement medication for my hypothyroidism and getting optimally treated has been essential to be well. However there is much more that I do to stay healthy. I'll name a few here. Going gluten-free (yes it's very hard for me but I keep trying) helps me feel better. I meditate and exercise regularly with Pilates and yoga. I incorporate some of the Ayurveda way of healing including dry brushing, using a tongue scraper, self-massage, and drinking warm lemon water every morning. I've had testing for nutrient deficiencies and found that I'm deficient in many nutrients essential for thyroid health including vitamin D, B12, magnesium, and selenium so supplementation is important. My adrenal health is key so I try to de-stress and take time for myself. I love to read so I incorporate that into my life every day.
HC: What tips would you give to others interested in sharing their experiences to help others?
Dana: Good question. Not feeling alone is so important when you are struggling with a chronic illness. We appreciate hearing the experiences of others in a similar situation. Joining Facebook groups like HealthCentral and blogs specific to your health condition, such as Hypothyroid Mom in the case of hypothyroidism, helps you connect to other people. My followers are always sharing their experiences on my wall and in the comments to my post and it's a wonderful thing to see happening. If you like to write, starting a blog of your own is another great idea.
To get plugged into supportive chronic conditions groups, get on twitter and use the #ChronicLife hashtag.
HC: Clearly, a very important part of your mission is to raise awareness of thyroid disorders, especially during pregnancy. What would you like our audience to come away knowing?
Dana: I paused after reading this question because my mission in life is to bring about universal thyroid screening in pregnancy. What I have to share is that many doctors have not kept up to date on pregnancy guidelines related to thyroid disease, as I discovered myself. It is important for a thyroid patient to do their research before trying to conceive to be sure you are fully informed. I have a book coming out Spring 2016 called "Your Healthy Pregnancy with Thyroid Disease" with Perseus Books/Da Capo Press. I'm co-authoring with the fabulous Mary Shomon and I know this book will save babies' lives. In the meantime, here are some of the key things that helped me go on to have my second son Hudson after my miscarriage due to maternal hypothyroidism. Yes, miracle babies are possible even for hypothyroid moms!
HC: What inspires you or gives you hope, even while living with a chronic condition?
Dana: My sons, Benjamin and Hudson give me hope! My doctor actually told me to not have more children after I miscarried my child to maternal hypothyroidism. He didn't know how to manage my hypothyroidism in pregnancy. I researched all day and all night and drove 5 hours to find a new doctor to get thyroid healthy and went on to have my second son Hudson. It's possible.
To see the entire Facebook Q&A, click here.