Grateful for Graves Disease – A Surprising Xmas Present

carla coulson loc boyle

Me fooling around at Bondi by Loc Boyle

Gosh.. I have been meaning to say hello for the longest time and to wish you all a fabulous 2014 but something has kept me from the computer.

After living through an exciting week of my book launch in early December in Sydney and meeting so many gorgeous people, finishing the Get Published Workshop and meeting more gorgeous people I finally found some time to get a couple of things I wanted done including a blood test.

So when I received an urgent call telling me to come to the doctors on Christmas Eve I knew something was up (yeah.. I had already received a copy of the blood test and was onto Dr. Google with the results).

Seems I had something with the terrible name of Graves Disease, an auto-immune disease that attacks your thyroid and makes your heart race (even when hubby isn’t around) and your hands shake and lots of other symptoms you check out here. I clocked in at 11 on a scale where you need just 2 to be positive.

The doctor being doctors scare the crap out of you, tell you you have no choice but a lifetime of medicine and you MUST take it otherwise you could risk a thyroid storm (gees just the sound of this brought Steve Speilberg images to my head of guys arriving in white suits with kalashnikovs to attack my poor defenseless thryroid).

But you see I had already been onto Dr. Google and I had questions of my own, what about changing my diet? what about checking my vitamin levels? am I deficient in anything? etc etc.. A big straight NO was responded and I was escorted to the door.

And by the way I wasn’t feeling THAT bad..well I at least felt confident those storm troopers weren’t on the way over.

Gees.. Merry Christmas Carla!

But here are the reasons I am grateful for my unusual Christmas present.

Grateful to live in this internet age and for the people out there and the information they are sharing about their stories and alternative solutions like Sarah Wilson. Sarah who offers tonnes of tips and advice and also talks to the marvellous Andrea Beaman who ate her way back to good health.

I am grateful for sites like Weston A. Price and even the heavy breathing Dr Johnson (a little salesy at times) and his almost 2 hour video that walks you through Auto-immune and how to heal your body naturally. To friends who told me about Nourishing Traditions an incredible book by Sally Fallon that talks about the studies of Weston A Price and offers create recipes and tips.

Their information gave me the courage to say NO to the medication and to call a naturopath at Newton’s Pharmacy, one of Sydney’s oldest herbalists. The naturopath wasn’t even slightly alarmed, she changed my diet, no gluten, no lactose, no sugar, no coffee, no tea, no stimulants, no alchohol (you getting the picture) but loads of good fats and proteins and whole foods (I had almost been exclusively vegetarian for the best part of 5 years cause I intensely dislike the industrialisation of animals) and she said to have regular blood tests to see what happens. Wonderful herbal supplement to get my intestine working again and lots of food state vitamins. Oh and the really good news was I was told to sit in the sun and eat lots of organic butter. That’s when I started to like this condition!

Here’s the funny thing, I thought I was eating well, lots of pulses and rice, veges, fruit and salads and all of it organic but almost no fats.

I went to see my favourite acupuncturist and more good news, there were things that could be done.

But the wellness package (if I didn’t want to take the drugs) included me changing the way I do things, slowing down, having time out and giving my body and mind time to regenerate and heal itself instead of rushing onto the next thing. I was part of the problem and the way I do things.

So I pulled out the plug (literally) no dinner outs, no running around the city instead I swam, slept and learnt to meditate.

Within 3 weeks I was almost sympton free, even i was shocked. I learnt there were things that could trigger it off like SUGARY fruits (Sarah Wilson and her I Quit Sugar program is onto something) and indoor heated chlorinated Parisian pools.

You are probably wondering why I am telling you this? January is Thyroid Awareness Month and so I thought I would share my story in the case that any of you out there are in a similar boat and as confused as I was when I walked out the doctor’s door.

Also I ask forgiveness if I haven’t got back to you in the past month..

I am grateful to have had a wake-up call when I had always PROMISED myself to change things but never seemed to turn the corner or get to the bottom of the washing basket of tasks to do.

I am grateful for photography that is my balm, my meditation and one of the things that I love most in life and I look forward to a wonderful year of photos, memories and great people.

Thanks for coming along for the ride and I look forward to sharing lots of photography and tips with you in 2014.

Wishing you great health, happiness and photos..

“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”

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PS: please feel free to share

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Rupert's Mum
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Rupert's Mum

Very pleased to hear you are well. Make sure you take care of yourself. I can relate to jumping into the next project. Stopping, reflecting and taking time out are skills I am working on. x

Sarah Hudson
Guest

OMG – I just had a blood test and a phone call from the doc because I have hyperthyroidism. I have to have an ultrasound on my thyroid to see what’s going on. I know the symptoms we’ll – thought I must be have the DT’s or something really horrible! Like you I want to see what I can do naturally before I start taking any little white pills. Thank you SO much for all the links- I’ll check them out. Can’t believe you and I have been going through the same thing at the same time. Hugs! Xxx

Carolyn Menadue
Guest
Carolyn Menadue

Dearest Carla, What a journey and great news about your encouraging progress! Sometimes the body gives us a wake-up call. I guess this was yours. I’m beginning to wonder whether we should all be gluten free. Just had a family farewell tonight for Felicity who’s heading home tomorrow. Sending you all our love. C xxx

Debra Kolkka
Guest

I am pleased to hear you are feeling well and staying off the drugs. Keep up the good work.

Pamela Bates/Mercantile Muse
Guest

Hi Carla, well,that is some sort of present. But glad you can see the good. it did force you to slow down and enjoy the ride, and now you’re armed with knowledge and already making a difference to yourself. i’ll have to check out all your links as i have psoriasis (also an auto immune disease) and I have no desire either to take any medication beyond the topical i use. and it would be great not to have to use that either. it can be quite nervewracking so if there is someway to change things on my own and… Read more »

Ann
Guest

Hi Carla,
So interested to read this. I too have just found out through a routine blood test that I have a problem with my thyroid. Doc says that it is inflamed but all should be well. I too have been very grateful for the internet for all the help there and have changed my diet (gluten free etc). Will now copy you and sit in the sun and eat organic butter. (Not at the same time!). Wishing you lots of future good health. Ann

Kate Mitchell
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Kate Mitchell

Hi Carla,
Snuck back onto Facebook and saw this tonight. I am a huge believer in we are what we eat. (I do not always adhere!) I have seen a naturopath on and off since I was 18. I am really happy you are back feeling better! I hope 2014 is a great year for you! Stammi bene bella Carla! Un grande abbraccio! Ciao Kate

Margaret Hogan
Guest

Hey Carla, I was diagnosed with Graves in 2005. PM me if you like. I took the meds for about 11 months. After one month I felt like I’d stepped out of a fog. Hadn’t realised how bad I’d been. Went into complete remission till 2011 when out of the blue it flared up again after I lost my mum. Again on Neomercazole- but just for a month. It was like an aberration. No naughty antibodies afterwards – the tell tale thing you’re looking for. I still have blood tests fairly regularly. What I would be more anti than the… Read more »

Felicity Menadue
Guest
Felicity Menadue

Dearest Carla, I was given the same Christmas present two years ago, only mine was hypothyroidism (or Hashimotos). It came as quite a shock as I too thought I had a healthy lifestyle and didn’t really have the classic symptoms. Like you, I began researching madly and immediately made some lifestyle and dietary changes, such as eliminating gluten, sugar and fluoride. It’s a slow process but I am making steady progress. I’m amazed at how many women have thyroid and auto-immune illnesses! It sounds like you are already on the path to full recovery and I’m sure with your strength… Read more »

Parisbreakfast
Guest
Parisbreakfast

Another Hashimoto-off-the-charts here. Yet it all went away mysteriously why I don’t know. So glad for your positivity and proactive approach to go your own way and get such fast results is wonderful news.
The idea that indoor heated chlorinated Parisian pools maybe a source of illness is worrying ;( i’m addicted to them.
Keep well Carla
XxxCarolg

Natalie
Guest

Carla, dear, I’ve missed you so much! What a roller coaster. Happy that you’ve found the way out. Takes a lot of self discipline to follow through but thankfully rewarding. Please don’t ignore the regular check ups.

Wish you all the very best and leave Graves far behind.
Love you.

Peggy Braswell
Guest

Charla dearest with that attitude how can you miss + have missed you + take care of yourself + love that you are doing it without medication just diet. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

Georgianna
Guest

Oh, Carla, what a shame you’ve had to go through this but you have really turned this into something positive that will be of great benefit to you. I’m very glad about that. (I’ve been on a gluten, sugar and dairy free diet since the day after Christmas and the difference in how I feel is huge.) Hope you are feeling better and better. x G p. s. if you saw my message, I’m here in Paris now. Totally understand your need to relax and recharge. If not this time, next time. Now to refigure my shot lists for a… Read more »

La Contessa
Guest

I have been GLUTEN FREE for about five years now…….I kept a diary of what I ate and then trips to the POTTY!Seems I have Celiac and I do believe I have had it for my whole life!With in three days I was a new person taking the GLUTEN away………another auto-immune issue!
SO, happy to see you in my inbox!Sounds like the trip was busy and full of NEWS!I hope the four legged beastie and your AMORE got my little Christmas box!
XX

A Gift Wrapped Life
Guest

Hello Carla, So sorry to hear you have to deal with thyroid issues and so good of you to share. it really helps when everyone is open which leads to education. I have had Hashimotos (hypo) and been on medication since I was in my 30’s but it has been the past few year that it really went haywire with odd weight gain, fatique, hair loss, etc. It is the reason I have been on a blog hiatus. Luckily for me, my doctor son is home while he waits for residency news and has been an enormous help in getting… Read more »

Tory
Guest
Tory

Very inspiring post Carla! Amazing how quickly you recognised that this diagnosis is a gift in disguise, it can sometimes take a long time to get to the place of embracing the new lifestyle regime and being grateful and accepting. Go Carla! It is also amazing the renaissance you can experience as a result. Two years ago i had a couple of phenomenal tachycardia incidents and instead of taking meds for my heart, i gave up all the stimulants/drugs (alcohol, cigarettes, herb, coffee, tea) i had been diligently consuming pretty much every day for 28 years. Hallelujah! The best way… Read more »

Linda
Guest

What a wonderful and positive, not to mention inspiring story. I wish you well….not that it sounds as though you will be needing it…lol! We all have or will have our struggles in life (health wise), but I love your attitude and I always believe that the way you look at these ‘medical hiccups’ (not to make light of yours) is sometimes the very best medicine.
Stay well….keep smiling……Linda x

sarah
Guest

Glad you are feeling better! You are so inspiring x

Meri Mancini
Guest
Meri Mancini

Hi Carla, I have sent your story to my daughter as she has Grave’s also. She takes no medication unless she has a change in a Thyroid function. I’m sure she’ll find your account very interesting so Thankyou for sharing.

Deborah Peterson Milne
Guest

You inspire me Carla. Your attitude is infectious and how you have grabbed ahold of what could have been a negative health issue & you attacked it head on. Wow!!! I have an under-active thyroid & have taken medication for 22 years now. I think I need to start reading & cease sitting back & being submissive. You bring such joy with your photography. You obviously have a unique perspective to our world whether behind the lens or not!
Happy 2014 to you & your husband. It’s going to be a great one!
xx Deb

Agnes Villanyi
Guest

Dearest Carla,
you are so inspiring even when you are unwell.
Wishing you all the best, please take care of yourself and looking forward to see all your beauties (both images and teachings) in 2014! Happy New Year!
Agnes xxx

Francesca Muir
Guest

Carla may you continue to inspire with your positive, infectious attitude. Reading through I am shocked at the prevelance of this insidious disease…but heartened to read that a good diet and change of lifestyle is the cornerstone to recover. Wishing you a speedy recovery, rest and laughter and bucketloads of Aussie sunshine my friend. F xx

Tricia Kay
Guest
Tricia Kay

Hi Carla, I wish you the very best of health and thank you for sharing your story! Keep up with all the good things you’ve discovered and your wonderful positive attitude. You’re an inspiration to us all – in your fabulous work and in health. Many thanks! lots of love Tricia

jann
Guest

Carla, I’m sending you warm and healing thoughts. It sounds like Graves is a lot about the mind-body connection and your amazing upbeat attitude will serve you well. After reading about all the things you’re cutting from your diet, I’m inspired to try to cut Evil Sugar from mine. Grazie & stammi bene. xxxx

Judy Sederof
Guest
Judy Sederof

Hi Carla, Glad to here you are on the mend, I have been living with an under active thyroid for 4 or so years, I was also diagnosed as coeliac at the same time. I would totally support your diet and nutritional supplements but be careful if you don’t take any meds. I do both and can live a reasonable normal life now, but I know if I went off them I would not cope with the stress of daily life. I have no side effects from the drug.I take a daily pill which I see as my brain turn… Read more »

Clare
Guest
Clare

Hi Carla, Like so many other women I’ve got auto-immune issues and was diagnosed with Hashimotos (under-active thyroid) in my mid 20s. (By the way, I’ve never had a mammogram.) I’ve been on thyroid medication since my early 30s. I try to take a balanced position on the issue. I take my pills without much resistance. (I’m not sure if its the same for Graves but I’ was told the thyroid medication I take is literally the same composition as the thyroid hormone that I’m low on- so the