The Thyroid Challenge – update 2

There are many thyroid patients who just aren’t feeling well, and share many of the same complaints and symptoms as myself, which means clearly, we are not making this stuff up, and no it’s not ”just in our heads.” As I described in the blogs dated April 6 and 25, 2017, I have had dramatic results from eliminating aspartame and other artificial sweeteners and fluoride from my diet. The fluoride battle is huge, because this toxic chemical is in tap water in Toronto, and many other places I visit when travelling. That means that coffee, tea and water served as a courtesy in many restaurants also have unknown amounts of fluoride in their water. Fruits and vegetables washed with what I now call, the ”f water,” also risk being contaminated. Rice and pasta freshly cooked in…you guessed it, also have this problem. I tried to find out how much fluoride is in the local tap water, and how and when it is measured, but so far no success.

But things are changing. Since the end of Feb 2017 this is what I am stunned but so happy to report:

I can stay up later, go out in the evening if I choose to, and sleep solid, restful and undisturbed by anxiety and wakefulness until morning. I have no diffuse aches and pains, way more energy, no constipation, fluid retention, or puffy abdomen and eye areas. My hair keeps growing!!!! It has grey now, yes, almost as much as my original dark brown, but I love it. My eyebrows and eyelashes are growing back. I even used mascara today for the first time in over twenty years! My blood pressure remains in the optimal to normal range, and my weight loss is slow, but steady, with no change in my usually healthy food choices. The no fluoride toothpaste I use does a great job, as my teeth are whiter, with no heartburn after brushing, which used to be a frequent occurrence with fluoridated toothpastes. Sometime soon I plan to have a section listing products that have helped me to encourage others to comment and share.

And one more thing to discuss: brain fog. Those of us who live in thyroid nation know what brain fog feels like. It is very difficult to concentrate, think clearly, and problem solve effectively; varying degrees of forgetfulness. It is an equal opportunity disorder, and it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, well educated or not, or what ethnic group, religion or private club you may belong to. I no longer have brain fog. Things that seemed so difficult for years are easily figured out now. Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back there are decisions I would never have made today, because I can finally think clearly again. I am grateful that I was able to work my way through high school and university and have a family before the diet cola and fluoride water started causing damage. Looking back I see that the damage was preventable and avoidable.

I am determined to get these facts out to as many people as possible. Life is precious.  I will not go the academic route and try to get funding for a study, as bureaucrats and politicians are not the best place to start. I encourage people to: 1. Read up on hypothyroidism, symptoms, diagnostic tests, medications, etc. 2. Stop consuming products with aspartame and fluoride to see if you have any improvements to your health and overall well-being.3. Consider sharing your experience.

I am not a doctor, so please find a doctor who will work with you. I am just telling my story because others might benefit from hearing my experience. There are quite a bit of evidence-based research papers on the thyroid/fluoride connections, and I will be sharing those links soon.

The Thyroid Challenge – an update

I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis many years ago and then Fibromyalgia as well. No matter which doctor or which combination of thyroid meds, I have never really felt well. As shared in the last post, dated April 6, 2017, I stopped using artificial sweeteners. Then at the end of February I stopped using water and toothpaste containing fluoride and now most of the unpleasant symptoms I lived with for years are gone.

Thyroid patients often experience disturbed sleep, anxiety, depression, “brain fog,” chronic and persistent muscle aches and pains, dry skin, hair loss, constipation, low energy, fatigue, and more. I no longer experience any of that. I can stay awake past 8 p.m. now. I can finally go to a concert or watch an entire movie without falling asleep. These symptoms were my constant companions, and now that they are gone I have to reinvent myself.

On a more serious note, I want to share this information with all thyroid sufferers and ask that if you choose to stop artificial sweeteners and fluoride, please leave a comment and let me know if you have any positive results.

As always, I am looking for donations. Any amount helps so that I can continue researching and advocating. Click here to donate today.

Want to get regular updates? Subscribe to my blog today. 

The Thyroid Fluoride Challenge

I have not posted for quite awhile but this past summer I came across some information, which dramatically changed my life. I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis decades ago, but regardless of which doctor or medication or change of dose, I was never symptom-free. Many of us with underactive thyroid problems have persistent symptoms that are often dismissed by doctors who tell you ”your blood tests are fine” and “within normal range.” Conversations usually were like this: ”Maybe you are eating too much of the wrong foods”, “try to exercise more”, “there’s nothing more to be done.” To the doctors, it was my fault and I was to blame. Their advice was “Just live with it.” So I did, although I sure didn’t like it!

This summer I stopped drinking diet colas and other soft drinks, which contain aspartame. I never used sweeteners or sugar for coffee so it was not a big effort on my part; no withdrawal, discomfort or cravings. Some research I had found indicated that artificial sweeteners could be harmful to some, especially to people taking thyroid medications. Within a few days of stopping, I felt a significant improvement. I felt more relaxed and was thinking more clearly. The heavy-duty symptoms were still there though, and there was never a day where they were all gone. With a little less of the brain fog that we in thyroid nation endure, more research followed. Thanks to Google and a local pharmacist, I learned for the very first time that fluoride can negatively affect the reliability and functioning of thyroid medications. Many countries have banned fluoride from being added to tap water. I found an affordable, pleasant clean tasting spring water with no fluoride at all, and I changed to a toothpaste without fluoride. I also decided to use spring water for tea and coffee, to cook pasta and rice and to wash fruits and veggies. Within a couple of days, everything was changed. To use an expression from my past, it really freaked me out.

The following is a partial list of what I lived with every day, and how I am today. After two months with no fluoride, that I am aware of (that’s a story for another time), take a look at how my life has improved:

  1. For the first time in more than thirty years, I went to sleep and woke up when it was getting light outside. No more disturbed sleep, waking up tired unsure how I would face the day and get everything done.
  2. No more pain and achy-tired feelings regardless of the weather.
  3. My blood pressure went from high to normal/optimum
  4. So far I have lost five pounds with no change in diet or amount of exercise.
  5. No brain fog.

There’s more, which I will describe next time.

Now back to the hypothyroid/fluoride challenge. I would like this information to reach as many people as possible. If anyone wants more information please contact me. I am not a doctor, so do check with your own doctor before undertaking such a feat. If anyone does try this and is willing to share results, please let me know.

Living with Hypothyroidism

Many of us have lived our lives believing that it is okay and safe to trust doctors (the Hippocratic Oath above all, do no harm), dentists, lawyers, friendly mortgage brokers, bank managers, elected officials etc. They are professionals after all, not criminals, and are guided by the rules of conduct of their profession. While most of us in every walk of life here in Canada do take the high road and govern ourselves ethically, there are, unfortunately, those who do not.

Hypothyroidism. I have suffered from this disorder most of my life, and only in 2007 did I finally get a combination of good doctors and effective medication. While there is still room for improvement, I often wonder what my life could have been like if I got the right help back when I was young. My story would make a good documentary, but for now I want to urge anyone who has the following symptoms, or knows someone who fits the description, to check out Mary Shomon and also Hypothyroid Mom on Facebook. If you are fat and unable to lose weight despite eating healthy and exercising; if you have thin hair; if you have fine hair and/or bald spots; if you have very dry skin; if you are always cold and always tired; if you are depressed; if you are unable to concentrate, (brain fog we call it) –many of us for decades were told that the above are “our own fault.” This blaming the victim still goes on today.

Please learn and share. I welcome feedback from readers.

Looking for Rainbows in Turbulent Times

I intend to write about things that are not beneficial, harmful, and need to be changed. However, there are also many good services, programs and people that I intend to highlight because too often, those who could benefit do not have the information to access and benefit, even though they or a family member is entitled.

For example, an accountant living in the suburbs of Toronto, who worked full time, was taking care of her elderly mother who lived nearby but could not grocery shop, do laundry, go to medical appointments or prepare anything other than coffee or microwavable items for herself. She was lonely and isolated but could not take public transit and could not afford taxis. Before her health problems, she worked for a few years, but now, she sat all day with only the phone, television and her daughter’s visits. This woman was eligible for the Federal Disability Tax credit. I encouraged the family to get the forms from CRA, have their doctor fill them in and apply retroactively to the onset of the health problems. The daughter was skeptical at first, saying her mother’s income was so low, it would be a lot of fuss for no benefit. However, the credit can be transferred to the caregiver. Eventually, this family received a significant amount of money, which they used to improve the elderly woman’s quality of life. Inspired, they applied and were approved for Wheel Trans ($2.00 per trip), and with a part time support worker, the woman was able to go to community seniors programs, where she even got lunch and snacks. This family moved to Canada from another country years ago and English was still a second language.

Another example I would like to highlight includes a university professor and her husband, also a professor, who have a similar story. The husband had a stroke a few years ago and could no longer work. He was eligible for the Disability Tax credit from that time, but no one had ever told them about it. As the caregiver, the credit was transferred to the wife. His wife continued to work part time. They also dipped into retirement funds. They were astonished to be successful, got retroactive payments from CRA and can benefit going forward every year.

I am a social worker/community advocate, not an accountant, but I urge everyone to contact your accountant if you have one and CRA to see if there are benefits you may be entitled to. Please check Canadabenefits.gc.ca or call 1-800-622-6232 and see if there are benefits you may not have known about.

I value any feedback on successes or failures that you would like to share that may help others in a similar situation. Feel free to contact me and reach out.

Homelessness

It’s time to speak out.

Today, on Toronto TV news there was a brief mention of a funeral being held for a homeless man who died recently in his makeshift shelter on the streets. Clearly, he did not know of any better options available to him or was unable to process information that could have saved his life. Do you care? I do! And now finally we have a mayor who has said he cares, too.

So, what’s next? There is a committee meeting that will provide a report in March, but it’s important to make sure that new voices and ideas are heard on the topic if we have any hope to institute lasting change. The current system is not working; costs increase while numbers of homeless people increase. Creating more shelter beds and pouring more money into social housing will not significantly change anything. To truly address this issue, we must first define the problem. We currently have several thousand shelter beds which are very expensive. We also have more than two thousand rental buildings owned and operated by the same city department, many of which are in disrepair while others remain vacant or rented to ”market rent” people. Both of these industries cost the city a lot of money but have failed to contribute towards any improvement in the numbers of homeless people or the lives lost.

Since I became involved in the homeless industry about fifteen years ago with Sister Susan Moran nothing has improved. I have tried to define the problems, so now we must ask, “are there are any feasible solutions?” The answer is a resounding “Absolutely!” However, in order to actually institute change there must first be an acknowledgement that things can and should change. Toronto can be a world leader, a city where homelessness is infrequent and handled quickly with innovation and compassion. (I expound on this in my book ”Urban Exiles: An Overview of Homelessness”) I have approached the last two mayors full of hope, but they passed me along to bureaucrats who were not interested at all in working together to make things better for everyone in this city.

Please think about this for a moment. If you were alone in this city and a personal situation arose where all your assets were gone and you had nowhere to sleep, who would help you until you could get back on your feet? If you can name a few people, consider yourself lucky! But, what if you had nothing and no one could or would help? What if this were to happen to your child or grandchild after you are gone? Are you ok with what Toronto is (not) doing? I know that things can be different, fast-tracked, innovative and millions of dollars cheaper. I am going to send this post to everyone who knows my efforts, research, advocacy and success with vulnerable people. Please support this project by sharing this post and donating so that I can keep the momentum going while encouraging conversation and innovation. I would love to hear from everyone who cares.

“Social” housing in Toronto

When we care about someone and see that they are doing things that are not in their best interests, we try to find constructive and supportive ways to communicate that to them.When we care about a city, province. and country, it becomes much harder to find a way to make a difference.

Politicians vary in interests, life experience, values and goals. Some bureaucrats are impressive in their commitment to doing the best for the area they oversee. The Ontario Ombudsman, Andre Morin, and the Children’s Advocate Irwin Elman are two examples. However, there is a side of bureaucracy that can be narrow, cold, impersonal, indifferent, and forgetful of the fact that they are public servants.

I love Toronto, Ontario, and Canada! An architect with a vision can do a set of drawings and people will see exactly what he/she hopes to achieve. An engineer could estimate the time required to complete the project, and the cost. After several decades of helping people solve problems, I can see where certain systems are not as helpful nor as cost efficient as they could be. For more than ten years I have approached various mayors, bureaucrats and politicians from time to time. I have a file of letters that could provide material for a sitcom. The response has always been a variation on the same theme…basically, ”get lost”. There are programs and services that we have on the federal, provincial and municipal levels that are world class and my plan is to share these ideas internationally. However there are programs and services which are not OK and I plan to describe them.

Here is my 2015 challenge to everyone reading this. Please share the content and if any of it is important to you, speak out, say something, do something!

Our city, Toronto, has a few thousand people in shelters at any given time at an enormous cost. Despite this investment, after all these years we still have people living and dying on the streets. Read my book, available on Amazon, “Urban Exiles: An overview of Homelessness.” Then, check on Google for the costs to our city of perpetuating a system that is not working. Our social housing is not working either. The last I heard, there were seventy-seven thousand people on the waiting list.

About ten years ago, determined to solve this problem, I went to the then head of the housing organization with some ideas. I explained that in the course of my work I had met a number of people who were living in social housing who could be living in the private sector. Some worked for cash which they did not declare while others brought in friends or relatives who worked full time but were not officially on the lease. Others lived in the so-called “market rent units” of our social housing program. I suggested that we offer an amnesty and an incentive so that people would move out and either rent in the regular market or buy a place of their own. Prices were affordable at the time. Under this plan, no one would be pursued for misrepresenting their financial situation. Rather than heeding my advice (or returning my call), the then top man instead instituted a policy demanding full disclosure of tenants income annually ”or else”…

A few years later once leadership had changed, I tried again by meeting with a staff member at the housing office on Yonge St. I shared my ideas for helping those with the ability to move out of social housing thus freeing up units for people from the shelters and those living at, or below, the poverty line. Again, she said she was not really interested in my idea. I will never forget this one comment she made: ”We are landlords, not social workers… we collect rent and maintain the properties.. we don’t get involved with the people otherwise”. She walked me to the elevator. ”You call this social housing,” I asked, “what’s the social mean?” She turned and walked away.

When I read in the paper that a new director had been hired, I arranged another appointment. Hope dies hard. He listened politely, and then walked me right to the front door and I never heard from him again. He’s since been replaced and I’m glad.

It is possible to restructure social housing, empty units, help people move on and reduce the need for anything but short term transitional shelters. Shelters should be a hub for all restorative services not just ”three hots and a cot” for the amount of money they get per person (read the book, and read my lips)!

Last for today, why would a person with a job and a paycheck be in ”market rent housing” owned by social housing when they could be out here like the rest of us in the private sector and free up those units for people who do not have a choice other than shelters or streets?

The next few posts will be about improving healthcare for all of us in Ontario and, on a federal level, stopping the huge underground economy which does not pay tax.

As always, I welcome comments, suggestions and donations.

Potpourri for a snowy day

There is a part of me that retains a naïveté, leftover from another era. If you let people know that there are ways to be more helpful, generous, and supportive to those who could really benefit, they would welcome this information and use it wisely. Last week I wrote about a disappointing taxi experience. Since then I have tried to contact the owner and manager of the large, longstanding company to discuss my concerns and suggestions. Several messages and several weeks later, I am still waiting to be called back. A couple of other companies I contacted stated they did have seniors discounts but were very vague and reluctant to provide information about how to access them.

Uber is a new taxi service that has brought a lot of attention to the taxi industry in the GTA and this dialogue is important and timely. I have tried to contact them but cannot find a phone number. I want to ask if the drivers are licensed and insured, are there any background checks and how much information do they require about private drivers who join. The idea that someone with bi polar disorder or schizophrenia, an addiction or a child predator can be a private driver is terrifying. Being able to confirm that standards are in place is crucial to feeling safe and protected.

Taxis are licensed and controlled by local municipalities and there are a limited number of licenses. Those who are licensed or work for someone who owns a license can work in the taxi business but no one else so it does discourage customer service since there is no incentive to compete with fares, benefits etc. Monopolies can do whatever they want and have little incentive to improve services or benefits to customers, or at the very least, be open to conversations and innovations.

I don’t expect or require anyone to always agree with me as healthy debate is crucial to a healthy community. If anything I write about matters so that you can add your own voice and direct your own views where they will do the most good. My daughter once told me this inspiring anecdote when I was feeling weary about really being able to make the world a better place:

“A tiny pebble appears insignificant. However as it rolls down a cliff and gathers earth, grass, other pebbles and momentum, and by the time it reaches the bottom it has become a powerful boulder.”

So, fellow pebbles, wherever you are, stay with me. I will be tackling much heavier subjects in blogs to come.

Not Small Potatoes

I am a writer and community advocate with a lot of joie de vivre but very limited budget partly because of doing so much pro bono work on behalf of people who needed my help but had no way to pay for it.

I am determined to make the world a better place. Therefore, these blogs will sometimes have a short anecdote/memoir; a tale of something that I hope will be changed if enough good people step up, and stories of inspiring acts of kindness on individual and community levels.

So, what’s with the potatoes?

When I was a child, to make sure we didn’t go hungry, my mother always managed to buy a large sack of potatoes that would last all winter. My brothers and I would help peel them. As the youngest, I got the small potatoes because they were easier and faster to peel with less chance of cutting a finger, as the blood would require throwing the potato away, and bandaids were expensive.

I realize that the things I would like to change will take time and patience, and that’s OK. So, I will start with the ”small potatoes”.

I have not had a car for the last two years and have adjusted to the so-called (not) “better way” of public transit. However, I will treat myself to taxis when the weather is bad or I go shopping when hungry and the bags are too heavy. Yesterday was a day like that.

Sitting in the back of a cab I had ordered to pick me up from a friend’s house, I heard the dispatcher give out information to various drivers. More than once he mentioned ‘‘senior’s discount’’. I had never heard that before and the social worker part of me asked if that meant the “Wheel Tran’s service”. The driver got uncomfortable and said no, there was a ten percent discount for seniors but he didn’t tell me and doesn’t routinely tell passengers because that would cut into his profits.

He went into a tirade about why it isn’t fair that the driver and not the company owners should have to absorb the seniors discount, and urged me to call the head office and complain on behalf of drivers. When we got to my destination, the meter read $15. I gave him $20. He looked conflicted and said that he would give me five dollars back and since he was sure I wanted to give him a tip he would not enter the discount on the meter and that could be his tip.

If this conversation hadn’t happened he would have the discount and the tip I usually give for himself.

I plan to contact the company and other taxi companies and find out why the seniors discount is not public information. Once I know more, I will share and ask you to share with seniors who do use cabs and may be trusting and unaware of benefits as well as predatory/deceptive tactics.

Small potatoes can add up. Messing with grannies can backfire.

Welcome!

Welcome to the first edition of this blog and I hope you will share.

What’s it all about?

When you see a film, listen to a piece of music, read a book or look at a painting, you glimpse the message, the emotion, that the artist is sharing. How do you use words to convey information about social problems and innovative solutions in a way that inspires and succeeds? I have spent many years helping individuals overcome their problems and obstacles and move on to happier, satisfied lives. I have also spent a lot of that time trying to impact communities to continuously evaluate and innovate services to the vulnerable. That has usually resulted in a few standard outcomes which I will describe more fully and with humour, in weeks to come. I will also share more about myself but to start, check out my book on Amazon called Urban Exiles: An Overview of Homelessness, and you can also ”check with the google” as my elderly neighbour advises.

There are many people who say “if I knew, I would have done something.” Then there are others who say “I don’t want to know, it’s not my problem.” I plan to describe, advocate, collaborate and continue to help. But as for having dinner and drinks, only with the first group. Thanks for stopping by,

Thanks for stopping by,

Lillian Freedman