Summers are Awesome Here

    1024 768 Terri Rylander

    Once the snow stopped falling in late June (yes – late June!), I was able to get up in the mountains. Like way up. Like up to the continental divide at 12k feet. That’s where the magic happens.

    I love hiking with a goal. A lake, a waterfall, a mountain top, or just a great view. The Rockies have all of that! I spent most of my time this summer hiking up to the divide. I enjoy the long hike, the workout, the views, and just doing something most people don’t do.

    The wildflowers this summer have been spectacular. Every week, a new species has been in bloom. It often looks like a garden that’s been intentionally planted.

    The colors, shapes, and sizes of the flowers are astounding and pictures just can’t do it justice.

    Getting there though has not been easy. I’m still struggling with a high heart rate (170+) just hiking. It’s both frustrating and depressing. The good news/bad news is that my lab work is now perfect. PERFECT. So…what could possibly be the reason? Back to doing more research.

    Meanwhile, more hiking, more views, more lakes, streams, waterfalls, and joy.



    Rocky Mountain High

    1024 768 Terri Rylander

    Jaxson and Dexter

    Well, it’s been an interesting summer, to say the least. Not having much in the way of paid work in August, I decided to take a 3-week road trip. It’s ungodly hot in Mesquite pretty much all summer long, and August was no exception. So, I dropped the dogs at the dog sitters, and took off.

    First stop, Grand Junction. I spent the evening with good friends who also have a home in Mesquite. They are just such fun to be around. We enjoyed dinner and a nice neighborhood walk, looking up at the Colorado National Monument that is just outside their back door. She showed me the damage a recent flash flood had done to the creek behind her house. Fortunately, the homes were high enough that they were ok.

    Vail Village

    Next stop, Vail. My sister is on a long-term work project there and invited me to come stay with her. A free place to stay in Vail for the summer? Sure!  Vail is gorgeous in the summer time. Mountains and meadows, lakes and flowers. Fresh air. I have always loved the mountains. There is something so majestic and strong about them. And, there’s that feeling once you complete a climb to the top that is just so satisfying. It’s raw beauty and nature at it’s finest.

    Hiking in Vail

    I hiked and explored the town and trails nearby. My sister and I went out for happy hour at nice restaurants. I attended a wonderful concert on the lawn in nearby Avon with some good friends I’d known in Seattle that moved to Colorado. I was even there for the eclipse and got some great pictures. My 10 day visit was amazing and so special. But, it was time to move on. I spent one night with my same Seattle, now Colorado, friends who suggested I drive up Mt. Evans, a local 14’er.

    View from Mt. Evans

    The next morning, I did just that. The narrow, winding road dropped off steeply. There were no guard rails. Fortunately, I was often on the inside lane. Once up top, the views were astounding. 360 degree views of all of Colorado. A mother mountain goat laid on the rocks with her two babies. There were remnants of an old structure made of rock. On the way back down, I stopped for a herd of bighorn sheep. They were just feet away from me, cautiously watching as I took pictures.

    Iceberg Lake in Glacier NP

    My adventure continued as I drove in to Denver, having lunch with friends and then dinner and a sleep over with another. It’s moments like these that I really treasure. The sights are one thing, but friendships are very special to me. That is where memories are created.  Speaking of friends, I left Denver the next morning and headed north to Glacier NP to see my friend Karen who took a job as a park ranger there.

    My friend Karen hiking in Glacier NP

    Karen and I have become fast friends, having so much in common. We enjoyed the days hiking in the park and the chatting away the evenings of a glass of wine. We talked about hiking, working, dreams, goals, friends, and everything else two girls choose to talk about. I saw a black bear, a female moose, a male moose, a grizzly bear (through a telescope), a mountain goat, and many smaller critters. Unfortunately, there were terrible wildfires nearby that clouded the view and even made it hard to breathe.

    We made way for the mountain goat

    Heading back home, I stopped at one more friend’s home in Park City, UT. What a beautiful place. We also shared good times, thoughts on the world, had dinner on her deck on a warm summer night, and did some hiking. And, just like that, it was over. I was back home and back to the daily routine. Memories safely tucked away to recall again in those quiet moments.


    False Start in 2017

    1024 817 Terri Rylander

    January 1, 2017. After a very tough 2016, full of a variety of mysterious health issues that turned out to be related to Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroid disease, I resolved to get back on the running track again. I wanted to be driven to a goal, so with lofty exuberance, I signed up for the Bryce 50K in June and the Tushars Half in July. I dusted off an old training plan and, with new hope, I starting running again. Then I got my tests back.

    Getting the thyroid balance right is not easy. Doctors raise your levels very slowly so as not to overdose you. Apparently, too much thyroid hormone can cause heart issues or even strokes. So you spend way too long being under-dosed. For most of 2016, I was tired, cold, foggy, and fat (10lbs up). It sucked but I was willing to be optimistic that I was on the path to getting better. Other people with Hashimoto’s seemed to be able to live active, normal lives so there was no reason I couldn’t.

    In the fall of 2016, I was definitely better than I had been, but still not great. My running had slowed to just a couple days a week at a frustratingly slow pace. But, my thyroid results showed everything was fine! I will never forget my endocrinologist looking directly at me and saying, “I really don’t know what else I can do for you!” I was devastated. Was this my new life? Will I be low-energy and achy forever? This must be what it’s like when you get old. I should just accept it. But I can’t and didn’t.

    Fortunately, I was listening to a podcast one day about functional medicine. It had always been in the back of my mind, but it isn’t covered by my insurance and I wasn’t yet fully convinced that Western medicine couldn’t fix me. Well, I was all over it now. I listened to the same podcast twice. Then I made the decision to give it a try. I pulled $2000 out of my savings and decided I would commit to at least 6 months to see how it goes. I made an appointment that same day.

    Our first meeting was all about history. There was a lot I could say no to. But in a way, that made it harder. If there was something obvious in my past, the treatment path would be more clear. So, we started with two tests to see where I was at. The first is called a GI Map. It’s a test for virus, bacteria, and parasites in your intestines. They check for things like candida, norovirus, h. pylori, c.diff, e.coli, etc. The second test was a hormone test called the DUTCH test. It looks at your various hormone levels 4 times over the course of 24 hours.

    The GI Map tests your poop. Collecting and prepping the sample is kinda gross. The DUTCH test looks at hormones in your pee. You pee on the paper and let it dry to send off. Then I waited and waited. It took over three weeks to get the results. And, the results were quite interesting! I don’t know why Western medicine does not run these as a matter of course. It turns out I tested positive for salmonella, staph, and giardia. What? I never drink unfiltered stream water. Oh, but my dog does… and he likes to lick faces. Crap. (no pun intended)

    The hormone test was a bit more complicated. It showed overly high free cortisol on waking that then plummets all day. Additionally, my other hormones (estrogen, testosterone, progesterone) were all under range too. Turns out to be a sign of adrenal fatigue. Sounds easy – just let it rest. Unfortunately, it needs to rest a long time. Average recovery is 9 months. I also tested high for gluten antibodies and low for gut health. This means my intestines are as porous as can be, letting in all the bad stuff. Plus, now I have to be serious about no gluten. That really sucks.

    All of this news really took the wind out of my sails. A few weeks after the results, I jogged about 7 miles on Saturday and hiked 8 miles on Sunday. Nothing hard and nothing at all compared to what I used to do. But, I paid for it for three days after. I had what is called “wired and tired” where I was anxious but couldn’t sleep, as if I had too much caffeine too late at night. Apparently, your body just does not have any reserves at all.

    I am on a large handful of supplements three times a day, in addition to the normal vitamins and supplements. I have sworn off gluten, as hard as that may be. I am eating and sleeping well. I even started yoga. The supplements will treat safely and slowly versus the quick and dangerous of pharma drugs, especially the anti-parasite drugs. I’ve since gone way over my $2000 budget, but after being on these meds for nearly two months now, my need for thyroid meds has been cut in half and the nodules I have, that so many experience, have shrunk 25%!

    I am ready to give running a try again.

    Will Wog for Food

    1024 683 Terri Rylander

    My journey to find answers to Hashimotos continues. Some days are ok and some are not. None are what I would call good. I have done a ton of research and reading.

    I was surprised to read the numerous articles that suggest Hashimotos, and autoimmune diseases in general, may have a diet component. Specifically, food sensitivities. I have never been one to feel like I was sensitive to food. But, I am open to the idea that some kind of sensitivity is causing my whole body inflammation. Unfortunately, the variety of articles suggest all kinds of possible culprits:

    • Gluten (or even all grains)
    • Dairy (yes, even Greek yogurt)
    • Soy (take a look – it’s in everything!)
    • Nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc.)
    • Legumes (think kidney, garbonzo, green, peas, peanuts, etc.)
    • Nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes)
    • Raw cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc. – reduced iodine effectiveness)
    • Citrus (grapefruit, oranges, lemons, etc.)
    • Fungi (mushrooms)
    • Corn (also in everything)
    • Sulfites (wine, etc.)
    • Sugar
    • Caffeine

    I remember reading this one day, early on, around lunch time. I looked in my fridge and just started crying. What on earth does a person eat? One can only eat so much lettuce! I decided to start with gluten for sure, but avoid dairy, soy, nuts, beans, and nightshades. I am basically following a Paleo diet, sometimes called Auto-Immune Protocol (AIP), but not been overly strict about it. Although I am one who claimed I would be devastated if I ever had to give up my cereal and milk, it hasn’t been that bad. Plus, I am very motivated.

    In the morning, I make myself a smoothie with vanilla-flavored rice milk, vanilla-vegan protein powder, spinach, ginger, banana, avocado, and frozen berries. It’s a treat. Lunch is typically a big salad with vinegar and oil dressing. Dinner is pretty plain, with a protein source and steamed veggie. I am also experimenting with gluten-free things, but they are pretty expensive. So many people claim to feel so much better in just days. Honestly, I wish I could say it was a miracle cure, but it hasn’t been. After nearly 2 months, I really don’t feel much different. I have yet to give up sugar and caffeine but may have to consider that.

    Meanwhile, I continue to jog/walk (wog) at about a 14-15 minute per mile pace. It’s depressing but all I can do.

    And the journey continues…



    Do All Good Things Come to an End?

    1024 768 Terri Rylander

    It’s hard to believe nearly a year has gone by without posting about an exciting adventure. Truth is, I’m on a new journey – one I never expected to be on. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. An autoimmune disease where your body mistakenly attacks your thyroid.

    I had no idea that your thyroid controls every single cell in your body. I barely knew what and where it was. Sure, I had the signs. But, they were gradual and explainable. Last summer, I noticed some aches in my joints. I am pretty active, so maybe that’s the cause. I am also a “woman of age” and my periods had pretty much stopped and the hot flashes came on with a vengeance. They were more intense and frequent than anyone else I talked to. It was also a sign. I started gaining weight. Every time I stepped on the scale it seemed to go up a pound. I gained 10 lbs in 6 months. It was also a sign.The voice in my head said I really need to stop snacking, but I was so hungry all the time. I couldn’t go longer than 30 minutes after waking without eating. I carried snacks with me everywhere. I often felt hypoglycemic. Also a sign. I was running 35 miles a week, so I could explain it away.

    One of the more curious signs was that I was/am cold all the time (also a sign). I have two heating pads I use daily. One on my work chair and one in my bed. You mean that’s not normal? Sores seem to take longer to heal (another sign). My running pace got even slower. I was never fast to begin with but could never understand why, with all my efforts, I could never improve. My resting heart rate was in the low 50’s (a sign). My exercise heart rate easily escalated into the 160’s and 170’s on any small hill. It’s called exercise intolerance and is also a sign.  I was sleeping 11-12 hours every night and never feeling fully awake until mid-day (also a sign). I hated that I had a hard time remembering or focusing on tasks (also a sign).

    In a strange twist of fate, I was about to learn something that would change my life forever. My annual ob-gyn visit was in November. Again, it came back abnormal. After an attempted but unsuccessful colcoscopy (extremely painful – Google it), my doctor decided he should do surgery and perform a cone biopsy of my cervix. Even though it came back cancerous, they were able to tell that they got it all and the whole thing was relatively uneventful. However, my blood pressure through each of these checks came back somewhat high. It wasn’t alarming, just high for me (also a sign).

    What we did learn through the preparatory blood work was that my thyroid level (TSH) was really high. I remember, just before surgery, he came in all excited to tell me he found out why I am gaining weight – it was due to my thyroid. We did some follow-up work which looked for the Hashi antibodies and it was confirmed. I asked for a copy of the blood work and noticed some other interesting bits. My cholesterol was 210!! It’s never been above 150. It was also a sign. My alkaline phosphatase was low. It seemed random but turns out was also a sign.

    I was excited to find out all these oddities (signs) were related. Just give me that thyroid pill! It will be my fountain of youth! Well, even though I started taking thyroxine, it hasn’t helped all that much. I maybe feel about 20% better.

    Although it is difficult, I am still trying to stay active. It would be easy to stop exercising altogether but I refuse. I also refuse to think that I may not be able to experience and post about more epic outdoor journeys in the future. Till then….