His Funeral was My Funeral

 

His funeral was my funeral in more ways than one.  It was my funeral because it was the end of my life as I knew it. It was also a glimpse at what my funeral would look like.

Steve died so suddenly that we didn’t have a chance to speak of his wishes around a funeral or celebration of life. I knew what he did for both his parents who pre-deceased him. And I knew the core and essence of Steve and who he was. So, choosing how to celebrate his life was easy. My wonderful sister was the project manager and dealt with all the details and delegated with the rest of the family and friends who were helping. His Celebration of Life was exactly how he would have wanted it to be.

But it was my funeral too. The life that I knew was over. A chapter was closing. One that I didn’t want to close at all. That I was extremely happy with.

It was like my world was a snow globe and someone shook it so hard that I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t walk straight and the snow storm flew all around me. When the snow settled, I didn’t recognize my world anymore.

However, one of the lovely things about his Celebration of Life was that it showed me how much love and support we have and I have. Our family, many of my friends, old camp friends, networking colleagues and supporters came out, quite of few of whom had never met Steve or only met him a couple of times.

It showed me how much I was loved. I could imagine what my Celebration of Life would look like with all of these amazing people.

So why do I share this with you? Because there are people around you who love you and support you. You are not alone even when you feel like you are. There are people who would do anything for you and show up for you. They believe the world is a better place because you are in it. So reach out. Ask for help. Ask for a hug. Ask for what you need. You’re worth it and the people who know the true you know you’re worth it too.

Dr. Whitney

For more about living our lives as while raising our kids, join me and other moms as we raise happy, healthy, & hearty kids without the Mommy Guilt in my private group called Guiltless Grace.

Our Future: Foggy but Hopeful

One of the things that makes me so sad is thinking about my family in the future.

All the dreams and plans we had for our family of 4 were shattered and scattered on the floor the day my husband, Steve, died a year and a half ago.

Just days before, we had celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary and we toasted and asked each other what we hoped for for the next 4 years. We talked of what we wished for each other and for our beautiful young daughters. We dreamed of vacation plans and a trip that Thursday to the local zoo. I couldn’t listen to the song “Mommy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow” for months.

Despite the ending to our story, our anniversary dinner by the lake was a beautiful moment in time and I’ll treasure it always.

Now, what makes my heart ache the most is what won’t be. The family trips, the walks to the park, the family bike rides or just movie nights all cuddled together. These will never be exactly as I had imagined. My world was turned upside down and for a long time, I couldn’t look more than 2 weeks into the future. It hurt too much and was too scary.

A friend recently brought something to my attention… now I can start to see a future for us again. I can look longer into the distance.

I’m learning that life is not the fairy tale I was lead to believe it was. That there are happy endings to chapters but then a new chapter begins. I didn’t want that chapter with Steve to end..

I also know that many people have lives that aren’t turning out the way they expected. That I’m not the only one who’s had suffering. Illness, divorce, infertility, and death can affect us all and change the way our family looks. It doesn’t matter if we are “good people” or “deserve” happiness.

I’m still saddened by the fact my girls’ Daddy won’t be there every step of the way in the little moments and the big ones.

But I’m not alone as we watch these young girls grow. I have amazing family and friends who love and support us and are thrilled to be there for those moments.

And now, through the fog I can start to dream that I may love again and this new person may walk with me and my girls as we go forward. However, if I love again, it won’t be my “happily ever after.” You need to have “happily now, in this moment, in this chapter.”

So I want to acknowledge all you moms out there who are making it work. Who are making memories with your children with the cards you’ve been dealt. Life may not be turning out exactly as you planned but we can still be hopeful through the fog while we are enjoying our kids right now.

Dr. Whitney

For more about living our lives while raising our kids, join me and other moms as we raise happy, healthy, & hearty kids without the Mommy Guilt in my private group called Guiltless Grace.

The Goal of the Stroll

The house we grew up in backed onto this amazing park with a soccer field and my elementary school. We had this secret door through the big gate that would open up into a world of imagination, play and adventure. I have so many childhood memories that involve friends and cousins and running out through the gate to the park.

The parks and the mature trees and the friendly neighbours are what I love so much about living in my neck of the woods. I love asking my daughters about which park they want to go to and they yell “the purple park!”

What’s even better is that there are amazing health benefits from getting outside and connecting with your neighbours. As a naturopathic doctor who works with moms, babies and kids, I love sharing about all the great reasons why it’s great to get outside and chat with your neighbours.

Park Perks

Being outside in nature just makes us feel good and this is a huge area of new research because of how much time we spend indoors and in front of tech toys like iPads, phones and TV.

Being surrounded by trees, forests and outdoor spaces has numerous health benefits for you and your kids. These include:

  • Improved short-term memory
  • Restored mental energy
  • Stress-relief
  • Lower levels of inflammation
  • Better vision
  • Improved concentration
  • Sharper thinking and creativity
  • Immune system boosts
  • Improved mental health

So, just being outside among the trees of your neighbourhood can really make you feel good.

Neighbourhood Networking

The number of neighbours who we actually know has changed over the years. We spend more time indoors and the nightly news gives us lots of reasons why we should hide out at home.

However, being with others is extremely important to our health. Having a social network helps with longevity. There was a Harvard study of graduates throughout their lifespans and they found that strong relationships are the strongest predictor of life satisfaction.

A lack of social ties is associated with depression and later-life cognitive decline as well as increased mortality. This increase in mortality risk is roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. So having strong relationships is really important!

Connecting with others relieves harmful levels of stress, which can negatively affect coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and your immune system.

So, let’s get outside more, let’s start talking to our neighbours and forming those relationships with each other, we’ll feel better for it.

Dr. Whitney Young, ND

Dr. Whitney is a Naturopathic Doctor and Super Baby Coach who has a special focus on fertility, pregnancy and children’s health. She is the founder of Guiltless Grace – an online community for moms who want to ditch the Mommy Guilt!

Seven Signs This Common Condition Is Causing Your Thyroid Disorder

Hypothyroidism (or low thyroid function) is on the rise and affects 1 in 10 women in North America. The most common cause of hypothyroidism? You may be surprised to know that it’s an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Disease.

In Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system produces antibodies against the thyroid. Overtime, this causes damage to the thyroid gland and eventually hypothyroidism. While Hashimoto’s affects primarily the thyroid, it’s not just a thyroid condition – it’s an autoimmune condition.

Testing for thyroid antibodies is the only way to truly know if you have Hashimoto’s disease. However, these are some of the signs and symptoms I see in people who have an autoimmune thyroid condition. These are usually in addition to the ‘regular’ or classic symptoms of hypothyroidism such as fatigue, trouble losing weight, cold body temperature and constipation.

1. You still feel like $h*t on Synthroid
Maybe you’ve been on thyroid medication for years (or decades!) but have never felt quite right. While thyroid medication can improve the hormone levels in your blood, it doesn’t address the inflammation and autoimmune process that happens with Hashimoto’s Disease. Without treating the inflammation your symptoms can continue to worsen over time even with “normal” thyroid tests.

2. You have digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, heartburn, diarrhea/constipation OR have been previously diagnosed with IBS
What does the gut have to do with our thyroid? A healthy digestive system is key to proper immune function. If you’ve experienced long-term gut issues, have been previously diagnosed with “IBS” or have never been well since something like food poisoning, Hashimoto’s should be on your radar.

3. You experience random skin rashes or hives 
This is another sign that the immune system is out of control and reacting to things it shouldn’t be. It is also a tell-tale sign that the gut isn’t working properly (see above!)

4. You have joint pain or feel puffy all the time
Autoimmune conditions often affect muscles and joints and can lead to constant aches and pains. Swelling, redness, and pain are all signs of inflammation, which goes hand-in-hand with autoimmune conditions and Hashimoto’s disease.

5. You already have an autoimmune condition
Having one autoimmune condition increases your risk for developing others. Autoimmune conditions seen frequently with Hashimoto’s include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Celiac disease, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Pernicious anemia, Vitiligo, and more.

6. Other members of your family have a thyroid condition
There is also a strong genetic link to Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune conditions. I often see autoimmune conditions being present in multiple members of the same family such as sisters, mothers and daughters. Remember, Hashimoto’s is much more common in females! If your family has a strong history of thyroid conditions, or a relative has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s or other autoimmune condition, you’ll definitely want to pursue testing.

6. Your thyroid condition was first diagnosed at a young age or after the birth of a child
I often see Hashimoto’s being diagnosed more commonly in young women between 20 and 30 years old. Pregnancy and postpartum is another time where a change in hormones and the immune system can ignite an autoimmune thyroid condition.

The Bottom Line
If you have been previously diagnosed with hypothyroidism I encourage you to also have your thyroid antibodies checked to rule out Hashimoto’s Disease (Your MD or ND can do this). You’ll want to ask specifically for Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (AntiTPO) and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb).

You can also check out my other blog post here on what tests you need for a complete thyroid assessment.

Have questions? We’re here to help!

Dr. Katie Rothwell, ND

The 3 Thyroid Nutrients I Check In Every Single Patient

nutrient deficiency thyroid

Today I want to share 3 specific nutrients that I make sure to check in every single thyroid patient I see. These nutrients tend to be chronically low in most people with thyroid conditions and this alone can be a major contributing factor to symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, hair loss, muscle aches and more. The first step in many of my treatment plans is to improve these nutrients to optimal levels as it often gets people feeling better than they have in a long time!

1. Ferritin (Iron levels)

Hypothyroidism and low iron often go hand in hand. We can test your iron levels by looking at ferritin, a measure of iron stores in your body. The most common signs of low iron include fatigue, hair loss, feeling cold, weak or brittle nails, and palpitations or shortness of breath. Your thyroid also requires adequate iron levels for two key enzymes that are vital to thyroid hormone production and activation. Without iron, your thyroid just can’t function properly.

If you experience heavy menstrual periods (common with low thyroid function), are vegan/vegetarian, or have a chronic digestive disorder it’s even more important to have your ferritin assessed on a regular basis.

2. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency is frequently reported in those with thyroid conditions and I certainly see this in practice. A 2014 study stated that over 55% of patients with an autoimmune thyroid condition had low B12 levels. A series of Vitamin B12 injections often does wonders for thyroid patients in terms of energy levels, memory and concentration, as well as aches and pains.

We get most of our B12 from our diet in the form of animal products, so if you are vegan or vegetarian you should definitely have your B12 checked more often.

Another condition called Pernicious Anemia commonly co-exists with autoimmune thyroid disorders. If you have pernicious anemia your body is unable to absorb B12 from food sources and you will require supplementation long term.

3. Vitamin D

Most of us know that Vitamin D can be helpful for our immune system, but did you know that it is also an essential vitamin for preventing and healing thyroid conditions?

Low vitamin D levels have been implicated in the development, severity, AND progression of autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s Disease and Grave’s disease. Vitamin D can also be anti-inflammatory for the thyroid and has a role in reducing thyroid specific antibodies.

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, muscle/joint pain, and frequent colds and infections. Our body makes its own Vitamin D but only with exposure to the sun. Many of us (especially as Canadians) are vitamin D deficient and require supplementation.

Test, don’t guess!
All of these important nutrients can be tested accurately with a simple blood test. Remember to check your labs carefully or review them with a knowledgeable health professional to make sure they are optimal, and not just falling within the ‘normal’ range. Your Medical Doctor or Naturopathic Doctor can run these tests, ideally alongside a full thyroid panel, which I talk about HERE.

Take good care!

Dr. Katie Rothwell, ND

 

References
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24630032
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19625225
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19625225
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25854833
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24532520

I Found More Rope

This week has been a bit crazy.

My oldest has been home sick for a couple days with a fever and bad cough.

The night times have been rough. I’m sure you can relate – no matter what age your kids are now. There are just some of those nights.

At the end of 2016, I made a list of all my “wins” and accomplishments. 

One of them was that I got up every night and night-time parented my kids. WIN!

I got up and comforted, cuddled and reassured either of them or both of them. Sometimes at the same time (those times are super hard!).

But there were times that it was really, really hard. There were times that I was at the end of my rope. That I felt like I didn’t have it in me.

Sometimes I would cry. Sometimes I would leave the room, let them cry while I took a time out to regroup and go back in and try again. Sometimes I needed some late night texts with my sister to get me through.

Somehow, I always found more rope.

I know we’ve all been there. When you’re exhausted and feel all alone and briefly hopeless. When you’re at the end of your rope, what do you do to find more rope?

The ability to bounce back….that’s called resilience.

And how do we build resilience in our children??

The #1 way is for those children to have one (or more) consistently supportive adult in their lives. A person who is their cheerleader and will be there no matter what.

So, if you’ve found more rope…and you keep on finding more rope when you’re at the end of it…you’re being that person to your child and building resilience in them.

Keep it going. One step, one night, one moment at a time. Sometimes those nights can be hard…but the cuddles are worth it.

Talk soon,

Whitney

p.s. join me over at Guiltless Grace on Facebook with some other supportive moms as we get through this together with grace and poise but without the mommy guilt.