This week, I have been at a terrific annual meeting for the environmental education program for which I consult. The people (from 25 countries) are amazing. The work inspires me. The opportunities thrill me. What kicks my ass? The temperature. They keep it so cold that yesterday, I simply shut down. I was so freezing that while everyone else was at lunch listening to a talk on communicating climate change, I was in the room in which I was teaching, lying in a fetal position, aching, barely able to move, and trying not to throw up from the misery. My nails and skin turned blue. I hurt everywhere. I wanted nothing more than a very hot bath. The trouble is that while I would have benefited greatly from that hot bath, it might have gotten too hot and then I would have been miserable in the heat.
One of the most insidious symptoms of being an EZH*, is that your body can't regulate and adapt to temperature changes. You think you're going along fine. You think you can handle whatever is going on and then you get too cold, or too hot and BAM, you are miserable and feel like you have gotten the flu.
It takes me a while to get to the too cold state. I really will keep going for a long time and move or stretch or run in place to keep warm, but when the cold overtakes me, I am lost. EZHs typically have a lower resting body temperature than normal people. And our thyroids kick our butts by not letting us adapt easily when the external temperature is at an extreme or when it changes quickly.
Oh, how I'd love it if I didn't lose my ability to function when I am too warm. But, I do. I absolutely do. I get flu-like symptoms and would welcome a quick death. When I get too cold, like yesterday, I add layers (I bought a university sweatshirt from the bookstore and wore it the rest of the day. I practically kissed the feet of the students who had the store open.). But, when I am too warm, there are only so many clothes I can remove before I get arrested. I used to power through and just deal with it, but that has become less of an option for me. Now, I have to stop and take care of whatever it is that is making me either boil or freeze.
And that's the important point here: EZHs have a special problem with temperature. We don't just feel a little cold. We turn into human popsicles, like Luke Skywalker on the Ice Planet Hoth. We don't just feel warm. We melt and have the same mental and physical acuity as liquified butter on a mid-summer's day.
When it starts to happen, step back, get warmer if you are cold and colder if you are warm. Take care of yourself, first and foremost. Stop trying so hard. Just because you can turn yourself inside out to get something done, doesn't mean you have to do that. I get that it's vulnerable to admit, publicly, that you have an issue, that you need help, particularly because there are no real outward symptoms. People can't tell how miserable you are by looking at you and so don't know that you have special needs.
The advice here: take it easy on yourself. Because we have an invisible disease (and not just invisible to others but often to ourselves as well), we might try to carry on regardless of how crappy we feel. We tend to feel like we ought to be able to do whatever it is we are trying to do and so we keep pushing. Our endocrine system can not take the strain and while other people who try too hard might be exhausted from the effort, we might end up curled up on the floor, barely able to move or worse, passed out or at worst, in a coma. This downward spiral will end in agony.
There is a lot to be said about our own perceptions of how much we should be able to do while living with this disease. Often, because it is invisible, we push ourselves further than is healthy. We don't necessarily let other people know and even if we do, few people have the knowledge to appreciate just exactly what EZHs go through. That makes it tougher to be honest and to communicate our situation properly.
Every time you get on an airplane, the flight attendants always give that spiel in the beginning. One of the things they say is, "When the oxygen masks drop down, put your own on first before taking care of others around you." Truly, those are golden words. If you don't help yourself, if you don't take care of yourself, you will be no good to anyone else.
Be honest with them and more importantly with yourself. Educate yourself and others. Assess your needs. And ask for help. It is crucial to your well-being and might even be vital to your survival.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it. Until next time, Izolda. http://izoldat.com
*Exhausted Zombie Hypothyroidics
Welcome to Natural Thyroid. This blog details my process of treating my hypothyroidism naturally. Please note: I am not telling you *to* do or not to do anything with my posts (remember to work with your medical practitioner, whether it's an allopath or an alternative medicine practitioner).