Easy Breezy Non-Greasy Whipped Body Butter

aromatherapy, body butter, clean, cream, creamy, diy, diy lotion, do-it-yourself, essential oils, healing, health, holistic, home project, homemade, homeopath, homeopathic, natural living, naturopath, popular oils, pure, recipe, remedy, restoration, restore, soothing, Uncategorized, wellness

 

The other day I posted a luxurious body cream recipe containing water-based ingredients.  It’s a little more involved that your typical body cream.  Who has time for that!  So, in the alternative, I wanted to give you another recipe that is simple, contains very few ingredients, and effective – AND NON-GREASY. 

The other day I had to formulate a tummy tightening/stretch mark blend for one of my Aromatherapy course case studies, and I ended up loving the end product.  I don’t yet know if it will tighten saggy skin, or lighten stretch marks (because there isn’t much out there that can do that!) – but it is super hydrating and velvety and will make the perfect every day moisturizer.

If you’re into DIY personal products, you’ve most likely seen a bazillion recipes for whipped body butters containing coconut oil.  I’m sorry guys, but I’m soooo over that stuff… Really, it was a great discovery for me over 5 years ago, but I’ve moved on to something more sophisticated (i.e. LESS GREASY!!!!) – Babassu Oil.  Yes, I do have a Silky Whipped Body Butter recipe that contains coconut oil, which is very good, but only before bedtime…under socks and pajamas.  For years I brought that stuff to every “Make & Take” essential oils class that I taught.  From this point forward, I’m using this newer, snazzier, simpler body butter recipe.  And you may want to as well!

This recipe does not contain any water-based ingredients, such as aloe vera, hydrosols or distilled water.  This means that no preservatives are needed!  Raw oils and butters do not need preservatives and so your end product should last you a much longer time (12 months or more) if stored in a dark, cool area (Antarctica has nothing on my house!  I just keep it on my nightstand).  And if you add essential oils with antibacterial properties to it, it couldn’t hurt!

While water-based body creams soak in to your skin a tad quicker, I usually make up every excuse in the book NOT to make them because of the possibility of bacteria and all the stress of sanitizing everything with alcohol first.  I also hate having to use up an expensive bottle of natural preservative before it expires. Ironically, natural preservatives don’t stay preserved very long…go figure.

This body butter has a light, fluffy, almost whipped cream-like texture.  It soaks in pretty quickly, but is thick enough to create a great moisture barrier – keeping moisture inside where it belongs. It leaves my skin moisturized all day and incredibly velvety.

How is this possible?  The Babassu Oil.

If you hadn’t read about Babassu Oil on my other blog, here are some of the benefits:

  • It is light weight
  • It doesn’t clog pores
  • It soaks in faster than coconut oil
  • It is less greasy/messy than coconut oil
  • It has a very mild scent
  • It mixes better with essential oils
  • It helps heal damaged skin
  • It reduces redness & inflammation
  • It cools on contact
  • It repairs, softens & shines hair
  • It nourishes your scalp
  • It promotes healthy nails & cuticles
  • It locks in moisture
  • It helps prevent body odor
  • If you have the food grade, it’s a healthy alternative to other cooking oils
  • It improves pet health
  • It rejuvenates wooden surfaces

Read more about this oil’s benefits HERE

Just look at these photos.  Doesn’t it look scrumptious?  Like a white buttercream frosting?

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So, let’s crack on already!  (Sorry, I’ve been binge watching “Being British: Joel & Lia” YouTube videos lately, and am starting to use their slang!)

Easy Breezy, Non-Greasy Body Butter

(Makes just over 4 oz body butter)

2 Tbs (1 oz) sweet almond oil (substitutes w/ jojoba or apricot kernel oil)
6 Tbs (3 oz) raw mango butter (substitutes w/ raw shea or cocoa butter)
1 Tbs (1/2 oz) babassu oil  (I found mine here)
120-180 drops of your favorite essential oils (it mays seem like a lot, but for body oils and butters, it’s the recommended amount)

Before you start, you will want to liquify the babassu oil.  It’s a solid in cooler temps, but melts when you put the bottle in a hot water bath. So, fill a large bowl with hot water, and let your bottle of babassu sit inside it for a bit until you can get it to melt a bit.

In a double boiler (or a pot full of water, with a smaller pot sitting on top of the water), melt the raw butter and the babassu oils together. Add sweet almond oil and stir until fully melted together. Let sit to cool in the pot, or pour into a clean mixing bowl, until it’s thickened and no longer clear. You can refrigerate it, but make sure it’s cooled down first, so that it doesn’t create condensation on the lid.

If you refrigerated your mixture, let it sit out on the counter for about 30 minutes to soften it before mixing.

Add your essential oils to the cooled mixture. Beat the mixture for a few minutes with an electric mixer until white and fluffy.

SUGGESTIONS FOR USE:
(body only):

  • Hands, feet & elbows before bed (add Frankincense, Lavender & Tangerine)
  • Moisturizer after shower (add Lavender, Jasmine & Bergamot)
  • Hand cream at work or your kitchen/bathroom sink (add eucalyptus & orange)
  • Hydrate aging/crepey skin (wrinkly) (add Cypress, Frankincense & Helichrysum)
  • Massage a dab onto dry/split ends hair before bed.  Wash out next day (add Lavender)

My favorite EO aroma combos:

Frankincense & Lavender
Tangerine & Bergamot
Clary Sage & Lavender
Clary Sage & Rose
Jasmine and Lavender
Cypress and Lavender
Hawaiian Sandalwood
Rosemary & Peppermint
Litsea, Eucalyptus & Orange
Rosemary and Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus & Orange
Lemon & Lime
Patchouli & Lavender
Vetiver & Lavender

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Body Cream Perfection!

aromatherapy, aromatic, body butter, calming, cleanliving, cream, creamy, diy, diy lotion, do-it-yourself, essential oils, healing, health, holistic, home project, homemade, homeopath, homeopathic, lavender, natural living, non-gmo, organic, popular oils, pure, recipe, remedy, renew, restore, soothing, Uncategorized, wellness

This lotion/cream recipe is literally perfect!  (Too bad I can’t take credit for the original recipe, as it was created by well-known herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar, but I’ve done some tweaking to make it my own).  I hope you love it as much as I do!  Difficulty level is a little higher, but your skin will thank you for the efforts! (I’m going to post an easier version shortly).

When my Aromatherapy instructor shared this recipe with us, I was thinking we were sort of special – but apparently there are many variations of it all over the Interwebs…  This cream has probably been made a bazillion times by people all over the world.  So, while we weren’t especially special, this recipe is truly special!

What I love most about this recipe is that you can change it up with different base oils and/or hydrosols, to suit your needs and it always turns out perfect (but make sure you don’t replace a liquid oil with a solid-type oil, or the results won’t be so perfect!).  It yields approximately 16 oz. of cream, so make sure to have the appropriate containers.

Let’s get started!

FIRST!  Let’s extend the shelf life of our cream by disinfecting all utensils, bowls, spoons, blender, etc. with 70% rubbing alcohol.  Put the rubbing alcohol in a clean spray bottle and spray all items to disinfect them.  Lay them on clean paper towels to dry, or hand dry them.  Bacteria from the tap water could cause nasties to grow in your luxurious cream (this is another reason why we use distilled water or aromatic hydrosols versus tap water).

Preservatives are a must with any type of cream with a water-based ingredient, such as aloe vera gel and hydrosols.  There is a longer shelf life for body butters made with oils and butters only.  This recipe contains aloe vera gel and a hydrosol, so it will grow funky stuff within weeks if not preserved!  I’ve found some natural preservatives on the market to help increase the shelf life of our cream.

Leucidal SF or Leucidal Complete are nice, broad-range and more natural preservatives used mostly in creams and lotions.  Leucidal also provides extra silkiness to your cream.  Who doesn’t want silky skin!?  I sure do…especially since I recently hit 40!

One of the main base oils I chose to use instead of cocoa butter (and am currently obsessed with) is the incredible, but somewhat pricey, Babassu oil.  It is like coconut oil in that it is a solid and melts when warmed in your hand, but it seems to get a bit harder when cooled.

Babassu oil comes from the nuts of the babassu tree in Brazil.  It has so many benefits.  Here are a few to persuade you into loving it:

It is light weight
It doesn’t clog pores
It soaks in faster than coconut oil
It is less greasy/messy than coconut oil
It has a very mild scent
It mixes better with essential oils
It helps heal damaged skin
It reduces redness & inflammation
It cools on contact
It repairs, softens & shines hair
It nourishes your scalp
It promotes healthy nails & cuticles
It locks in moisture
It helps prevent body odor (this would be great in my Deodorant recipe!)
If you have the food grade, it’s a healthy alternative to other cooking oils
It improves pet health
It rejuvenates wooden surfaces

…just to name a few. 

You can read more about Babassu oil HERE.  I may replace coconut oil in all of my recipes with babassu from this point forward – if I can find a good quality, lower-priced supplier.

Below are photos taken step-by-step as I moved through the process. The actual recipe is at the bottom:

Gather all ingredients, sterilize and dry. Ignore the shea butter. I ended up changing the recipe and replaced it with a more liquid oil.

Measure all aqueous ingregients into a sterilized measuring cup.

If using babassu oil, you may need to liquify it by placing in a bowl of hot tap water.

Melt all oils (babassu oil, almond oil, beeswax), minus essential oils, in a double boiler until completely combined.

Fully melted!

Pour hot oils into sterilized blender and cool until room temp. Blend on high and slowly pour in water ingredients through the hole on blender lid. When fully combined, scrape into a sterilized, glass bowl.

Fold in your essential oils with a sterilized spoon until combined. It is a tad blue because I added a few drops of skin-nourishing Blue Tansy essential oil to my cream.

Pour into glass cosmetic jars if you prefer, but make sure your hands are clean when you scoop some out.

Or pipe into lotion containers. It’s much more sterile this way, since your hands never touch the inside.

I had on hand three 4oz lotion squeeze bottles, and one 2 oz round cosmetic container.  I filled all containers the top, and there was enough remaining for me to apply to my super dry arms and legs.

This recipe is velvety, silky and luxurious, and I slather it on after the shower (make sure to have clean & dry hands before putting them into your jar, or use a utensil to scoop it out)

ROSEMARY GLADSTAR’S “PERFECT CREAM” (my personal variation)

Group 1 (Waters)
2/3 cup white rose water/hydrosol (or you can used distilled water)
1/3 cup pure aloe vera gel (no junk from a drugstore – the real stuff)
48 drops of essential oils of your choice (or less)
1/2 oz. Leucidal Liquid SF (natural preservative/antimicrobial)

Group 2 (Oils)
3/4 cup apricot kernel or sweet almond oil
1/3 cup Babassu oil (or shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter)
1/2-1 oz grated beeswax
1/2 tsp. Vitamin E oil

FIRST, see my note above about cleaning everything with rubbing alcohol and drying with/on paper towels.

  • Combine your hydrosol, aloe vera gel and preservative in the glass measuring cup and set aside (cover with saran wrap if you have cats in the home – their fur gets into everything!)
  • Measure the babassu/mango/shea butter (whichever you chose), and beeswax into a double boiler and heat on low until melted completely.  Transfer the melted liquid to your blender, cover with a paper towel, and allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to help cool it down.
  • When oils have reached room temperature, secure lid and turn blender on high. Add the water/aloe mixture through the hole at the top of the blender in a slow and steady stream.  (Adding slowly is KEY to getting the waters and oils to emulsify well).  When 3/4 of the water has been added, monitor the cream in the blender. At a certain point, it will thicken and pull above the blades, no longer accepting more liquid.  If okay, add the rest of the liquid.
  • Scrape as much out of the blender as you can, into an alcohol disinfected bowl, and gently fold in your essential oils with to make sure all oils and water are incorporated evenly.
  • Transfer to disinfected storage jars.  The cream will thicken as it sets.
  • Label your jars with all of the ingredients used and store in cool location (the fridge is best!).  Use within 3 months, or until you see mold!  If you added preservatives, it should last 6 months to a year in the fridge.

Enjoy!

How I Ditched My Acid Reflux Medication

Acid Reflux, apple cider vinegar, aromatherapy, essential oils, GERD, gut health, healing, health, holistic, indigestion, natural living, peppermint, pure, recipe, Uncategorized

About 5 years ago, my insides felt like they were coming undone.  I had horrible heartburn, nausea, pain under my rib and sometimes food that I’d just eaten kept coming back up over, and over again.  After a quick visit to the gastroenerologist, I was diagnosed with GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) and was prescribed a Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) drug called Omeprazole.  I was overjoyed to find a solution to my problem and so I began eating whatever I wanted and life was good.

Heartburn is one thing, but GERD is a whole ‘nother ballgame.  It makes you afraid to eat because of the wrath you feel on your innards.  I enjoy pasta, pizza, Mexican food, cheese, whole milk, heavy cream, cheesecake, you name it – I eat all of that stuff and there was no way I was giving it up while I’m still young.

You may have GERD if you have at least 4-5 of the symptoms below (but not always):

Common symptoms include:

Frequent heartburn
Trouble sleeping from heartburn
“Vomit burps”
Sore/scratchy throat
Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
Feeling like there’s a lump in your throat
Damaged teeth from stomach acid
Chest pain
Bad breath
Nausea
Vomiting

During the years I was taking Omeprazole, it gave me my life back, at least that’s what I thought.  My doctor gave me a prescription with unlimited refills.  So, month after month, year after year, I continued to refill my prescription.  I can’t remember the last time I was actually in to see the doctor.  Out of the 4-5 years of taking Omeprazole, I believe I only saw him 3 times.  Once for our initial consultation and diagnosis, and then for 2 colonoscopies (oh yeah… aren’t you jeally?).

Not long ago, a friend from my oils company, who also happens to be a Nurse Practitioner, posted an article on Facebook about the dangers of Omeprazole.  And that natural means could be used to ease symptoms.  I’d never heard of there being any issues with acid blockers, but I read the article anyway and then shrugged it off.  There was no way I was ever going to discontinue Omeprazole.  Picture Gollum from the Lord of the Rings holding a prescription Omeprazole bottle – that would be me.  It would take an elephant tranquilizer dart to the neck to pry “My Precious” Omeprazole from me.

Fast forward a few years, and I’m making my usual errands, stopping at Walgreens to refill my Omeprazole prescription.  There was a problem.  The pharmacy assistant said that they have to contact my doctor to refill the prescription.  What?  That’s weird, I thought.  I forgot about it until a week later when I get a message on my doctor’s online medical portal stating that he’s no longer going to refill my prescription because PPIs aren’t recommended for long term use.  Okay then, why did you allow me to refill it for 4-ish years!?!?  Also, the doctor recommended using over-the-counter omeprazole, as needed.  My initial thoughts were, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!” Now what do I do? 

I’m a foodie, food junkie, gorger of goodies, cookie chomper, butter slurper, cheese muncher, pizza hoarder – you name it! Also, I eat out ALL the time – it’s one of the things my husband and I really enjoy doing together on our date nights.  I’m a Yelp ‘Elite’ member, meaning I write Yelp reviews and get invited to all of Yelp’s free food tasting parties at various restaurants throughout the year.  It’s my thing, and I love it.  There is no way I could give that all up.

Within the days following my prescription cancellation, I ate food and got acid reflux all over again.  I had bloating, gas, vomit coming up to my throat and excessive burping.  I was not happy.

I began doing my research and I came to discover that there are a bunch of natural means to help with acid reflux.  Apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, licorice root, digestive enzymes, just to name a few.  I’d already been using digestive enzymes, which helped my bloating greatly.  I was seeing a glimmer of hope.  Why hadn’t I done this in the first place!?

After more research, I discovered that I might have leaky gut.  That’s a whole other issue to work on, and maybe I’ll do another blog on that some day.  Leaky gut can be a cause of GERD, and needs to be taken care of. 

I also recently learned that having LOW stomach acid can mimic the high stomach acid symptoms.  Great…as if we needed more confusion.  Oftentimes, people are diagnosed with GERD because of heartburn and acid reflux, and given a PPI prescription.   This causes unnecessary harm to your body if you have low stomach acid because PPIs decrease stomach acid.  What someone with low stomach acid should be taking is Betaine HCL with Pepsin (which is betaine hydrochloride with digestive enzymes).    Betaine HCL with Pepsin helps aid your body in creating it’s own stomach acid.  If you’re experiencing GERD symptoms, it wouldn’t hurt to test for low stomach acid before going to see a gastroenterologist.  It’s a simple test, in which I’ll explain below:

TEST FOR LOW STOMACH ACID:  When you first wake up in the morning, before eating or drinking anything, dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of baking in 4-6 oz. of water and drink it down.  After you drink it, check the clock.  If you do not belch within 5 minutes, you have low stomach acid.  If you belch within 2-3 minutes, you don’t have low stomach acid.  If you belch a lot, then you have high stomach acid.  Don’t mistake small burps for belching.  We swallow air when we drink, and little burps might be caused by that.  Do this for 3 mornings in a row so that you get a good average reading. 

If you have low stomach acid, you would benefit by taking the Betaine HCL with Pepsin that I mentioned above.  To figure out your personal dosage, do this experiment: 

Take 1 HCL pill with your largest meat meal.  HCL helps break down proteins.  If you don’t feel a burning sensation in your stomach, then take 2 pills the next time.  Keep adding another pill on to the regimen until you feel a burning sensation in your stomach.  Once you do, then you can decrease your dose by one pill and continue that dose for as long as you need to manage the symptoms.  Once you feel the burn again, you will decrease by another pill, and so on, until you don’t need to take them anymore. 

Obviously, if you have other worrisome symptoms, please make an appointment with a doctor.  And before taking any new supplements, be sure to contact your doctor to be sure that there are no interactions with any medications you might be taking already.

My routine now consists of taking 1-2 Aloe Vera Gels by NOW Foods (I got mine HERE), along with 2 digestive enzymes from my company, before each meal – and BAM! – no acid reflux.  Just like that.  No vomit burps.  No nausea.  No bloat.  It’s amazing.  Aloe has such wonderful health benefits already, I’d never dreamed that it would help my stomach issues!  You have to make sure to get the good stuff, making sure it does not contain any part of the plant that contains latex.  I also take a good probiotic daily.   With the American diet, I believe everyone should be on probiotics.  They are necessary for maintaining a healthy gut.  And last, I take Betaine HCL with Pepsin with each large protein meal. 

I am literally overjoyed that I can finally use more natural means to ease my digestive discomforts.  Omeprazole is a thing of the past for me – it’s one less prescription that I need to pick up at Walgreens.  I seriously don’t even miss it!  In fact, I wish I’d known this sooner so that I didn’t have to cause my body any more damage than it already has.

I should note that, as always, changing your eating habits and exercising regularly help greatly.  I am in the process of finding a lot more GERD-friendly recipes to add into our family’s mix of meals, so that I’m not purposely provoking my gut. Eating smaller portions will help, and eating foods that are low fat, low acid, and avoiding caffeine, red meat, chocolate, alcohol, fried foods, processed foods, tomatoes, onions, garlic and citrus fruits.  Basically everything I like and eat on a regular basis…

For those interested, you can read about Omeprazole’s harmful effects in this article. You will find plenty of information online by Googling: “dangers of Omeprazole” or “dangers of PPIs.”  The stuff is pure garbage – plain and simple.  If you’re currently on a PPI prescription for major digestive illnesses or ulcers – please stay on your medication and talk to your doctor about using natural means to manage symptomsIf you have acid reflux for other reasons, or occasional heartburn, you might just want to try this regimen.  I swear by it. 

Have you used any other natural means for GERD, leaky gut, or other disgestive issues?  I’d love to hear your regimen. 

Life After Thyroidectomy & Parathyroidectomy (with photos)

depression, essential oils, Graves Disease, healing, health, hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, parathyroid, surgery, thyroid, tumor, Uncategorized, wellness

ALL UPDATES ARE IN ORDER AT THE BOTTOM

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3 mos. post-op

So I recently had a total thyroidectomy and a parathyroidectomy of one tumor and lived to tell about it. 😉 Below I’ll share with you as many details as I can remember (but my memory still isn’t the best – thanks to hyperparathyroidism!) I’m hoping to give those having this procedure in the near future a little preview of what to expect. If you’re like me, you’ve been grasping for positive stories online, but can’t find any! That’s because there are very few positive stories online. There’s a much smaller percentage of people coming back to tell their positive stories than there are people reporting negative ones.

First, I have to mention that I’ve had multi-nodular goiter for many years, and more recently I discovered it was it was growing downward under my sternum. It was also pushing on my windpipe causing coughing and making it hard to take in deep breaths. Doc said it would continue to grow if we didn’t remove the whole thing.

I also had Primary Hyperparathyroidism, which is a tumor on one of your parathyroid glands, caused by the glad producing too much PTH hormone. The only cure for primary hyperparathyroidism is to remove the tumor.

I did not know if the goiter, nodules or parathyroid tumor were cancerous because I never got a chance to have a Fine Needle Aspiration biopsy on them. Since my surgeon, Dr. De Jong, knew the whole dang thing needed to come out, it wasn’t necessary to biopsy it. He would have my thyroid sent to pathology once it was out, and then we’d find out if it was malignant.

Dr. De Jong said the goiter was the size of his fist! :-O So my incision would be 3 – 4″ long. Apparently you could only see the tip of the iceberg when you looked at my neck. The rest of the large goiter was inside, and growing downward. I was ready to get it out and move on with my life. So we booked surgery for a month out.

Ten days prior to surgery, I was asked to stop taking Advil and all herbal supplements. I hate missing 2 days of my fabo supplements (they hugely help my mood), let alone go completely off of them for 10 days! It was a bit rough because I rely on those supplements for mental clarity, stomach issues, energy and more. My head wasn’t very clear at work during those 10 days – but then my mind hasn’t been clear at work for a LONG time thanks to the parathyroid tumor. So my bosses would just have to deal.

Two weeks prior to surgery I went in for pre-anesthesia testing. They took 5-6 vials of blood to make sure I was healthy enough for surgery. They like to see where your hormone and calcium levels are. Makes sense. My poor nurse though… She was telling me how she has a horrible anxiety disorder, and so she had visibly shaky hands. I tried not to look nervous as her shaking hand came towards my vein with a needle! In my mind I was thinking, “is this for real!?” Everything worked out though – blood was drawn and I lived to see another day.

Thursday, January 11, 2018, (my thyroid and parathyroid eviction day!) was here before I knew it. I’d gotten a lot of prayer from a lot of people, and so I was as cool as a cucumber on my way to the hospital (I was ready to get this thing out of me). I wasn’t afraid of the surgery as much as I was the recovery, and the thought of being hypothyroid (weight gain, more depression, hair loss – NOOO!)

They wheeled me into a prep room where I put on a gown, hospital socks, a gigantic hospital maxi-pad (in case my period came during surgery). They also wrapped electronic massage sleeves around my calves that constantly squeezed and massaged my calves. This was to prevent blood clots. Dr. De Jong came to say hello and that he’d be ready for me in a few minutes.

Some people (nurses, medical students?) came by to wheel me away, but not before first putting a weird metallic shower cap hat on my head. Once I was in the operating room, they exchanged the metallic cap hat for a knit cap. I am not sure what that was all about… but I was ready. Drug me up and get that beast out of me!

After moving me to the operating table, they put a mask over my nose and mouth and asked me to breathe in deeply a few times. That was the last thing I remember before actually waking up in the recovery room after surgery. Surgery was over before I knew it and I was on to recovery – yay! The surgery was apparently 3.5 hours long, and Dr. De Jong successfully removed the very large goiter and parathyroid tumor – leaving the 3 other parathyroids and vocal cords intact and in good shape. Thank God! If you have a poor surgeon, you may get damage to your vocal cords. Please do your research and find the best surgeon on the block.

I don’t remember much about waking up from anesthesia except that the nurse administering my pain meds wasn’t exactly a warm and fuzzy gal. I was drenched in sweat – dripping from my forehead down into my eyes. I felt disgusting. Oh, and guess what? Aunt Flo came to visit me DURING surgery (wasn’t that thoughtful of her??!!??). While I was trying to wake up from the anesthesia, I felt stabbing cramps in my uterus. Perfect timing… They couldn’t give me Advil, only Tylenol. Essential oils to the rescue! Thankfully I’d brought a roller-ball blend of my female/hormonal support oils to ease my cramps (a mix of Geranium, Clary Sage, Lavender, Marjoram, in case you want to make your own). 😉

Once I was more awake, I was put in a real recovery room where I would spend the night. I’d heard that you are usually in a room with a bunch of people, but I got a single room, with a TV and sink. Not too shabby! My husband arrived shortly thereafter, kissed me and sat down…and then I don’t remember much of what happened over the next hour or so. I was so out of it from the anesthesia – foggy and sleepy.

I don’t know if you are aware of this, but apparently some people can’t handle anesthesia, and they puke after surgery. Can you guess what type I am? That’s right – a puker. It is a good thing they put a vomit bucket on my lap right away. If it weren’t so easily accessible, I’d have made quite the mess all over their nice sheets. After vomiting, my mind felt clearer and I was much more awake.

At this point, I didn’t feel any pain in my incision, but I did have a scratchy/sore throat. The sore throat was due to the breathing tube and camera tube that were put down my throat during surgery. They brought me Cepacol lozenges to suck on for throat pain. Other than that, the only other issue I felt was a stiff/sore neck and weakness. The stiff neck is from how your head is positioned during surgery. I also had to keep the IV in my hand overnight just in case they needed to use it. And the massage sleeves were still pumping away at my calves – I need one of those for my house!

Below is a photo of me not long after I puked. Still out of it, but forcing myself to smile…because you can’t take a picture without smiling. Well, you can, but I usually don’t. It’s not very often that I will share a photo of myself without any makeup on, so you’ll notice this particular photo is extra small compared to the rest. 😉

A few hours later I felt much more alert, so I took another photograph. This time my bandage had been removed and I forced an even bigger smile even though I still didn’t feel so hot.

I was starting to get hungry but could only order from the liquid diet portion of the menu. Chicken broth and Jell-O sounded the least likely to induce vomiting, so that was dinner. It was horrible, but I wasn’t expecting much from a hospital. You basically get a bowl of broth, with a packet of protein powder to mix in. It was like eating Ramen noodles….minus the noodles. Allll salt.

The nurses gave me Tums to chew on every few hours. This was to provide my body with calcium because my 3 remaining parathyroids still needed to “wake up” and start doing their job in regulating my calcium level. You don’t want to have low calcium in your blood. It causes hypocalcemia, which is very dangerous.

My husband and I watched TV – sort of – I kept nodding off. When he had to leave for the the night, I tried to get some sleep – but everyone knows you don’t sleep much in a hospital. Nurses came in every few hours to give me the Tums, take my vitals, take my blood, etc.

I don’t remember sleeping much, but the night went by pretty quick. Though weak, I had to keep trying to get myself up and walk to the restroom out in the hall. I had to remember to hold my gown tight so I didn’t give the other patients a “show.” ;P Before I knew it, it was morning and I was hungry! I ordered an oatmeal and a yogurt and ate about half of each. A nurse came by and gave me my very first Levothyroxine pill, which I was told I would be taking for the rest of my life. “Hello Levo, so nice to meet you. We’re going to be lifelong friends…as long as you do your job and don’t jack me up.”

At one point before my husband arrived, I got up to use the restroom and got a whiff of my armpits. Holy mother of pearl…it was horrible. I don’t know if the hospital gown hadn’t been properly washed before I got it, or if a family of skunks had burrowed into my armpits and died. I just knew that I needed to freshen up quick – my husband was going to arrive soon and I didn’t want to smell like roadkill. Thankfully my room had a sink with handsoap and paper towels. I scrubbed my pits as best I could with that pink junk soap, and asked a nurse for a fresh gown. Muuuuch better. I smelled like a human, and even put on a little makeup. Ooh, la la.

One of the medical students came in that morning and says to me, “so, now we’re going to take out your stitches.” What the?! Already??? I apparently said that out loud – not just in my head. She sort of condescendingly/jokingly made me feel like a baby for being scared. I squeezed a pillow while she plucked each one out and tossed them in a bowl. It didn’t hurt, but it pinched a little as she tugged on each one. The last one stung – it was stubborn and didn’t want to come out! They remove stitches the day after surgery so that the scar is less noticeable – fine by me!

My husband arrived that morning and we watched a little TV until I was able to leave. The nurse came by and gave me a prescription for Levothyroxine and post-surgery instructions to rest, drink lots of water, take 4-5 Ultra Strength Tums (1,000 mg) per day for the next week, etc., etc. We would discuss more at my 1 week follow-up appointment. I was given the go-ahead to get dressed and was able to leave around 10:00 a.m.! Couldn’t wait to get home – I missed my kitties…and my cozy pajamas and couch. A very nice nurse took me down to the hospital entrance in a wheelchair. Wheeee!! It was the most fun I’d had in over 24 hours.

It was about 20 degrees and snowing that morning, and there was ice covering our parking lot, so my husband took my arm and lead me into the house. Then he led me to the couch – where I would spend the next couple of weeks watching TV.

I felt pretty good the next morning, and so I was able to take a shower. But not without packaging and taping up my neck real nice so that the water didn’t soak the steri-strips. And not without the help of my husband. Here’s a lovely photo of me pre-shower:

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It felt so good to wash off all hospital odor from my body – especially being able to wash my armpits without paper towels and hospital soap! A little water ended up seeping in and touched my incision area, but all-in-all it was a productive first shower.

Below is a photo of my incision 2 days after my surgery. It wasn’t looking so bad for only 2 days!

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We purchased a bunch of applesauce and yogurt so that I could eat soft foods for the first few days. By the 3rd day or so, I grew tired of yogurt so we ordered pizza! Probably not the best idea, but my throat felt a little better and I needed something tasty.

Note: You’ll have a bunch of disgusting yellow mucous stuck in your throat. You need to get that out. You don’t want it getting into your lungs. So, hopefully your surgeon will give you a breathing tube (which looks sort of like illegal drug paraphernalia), that seems to help it come up.

On the 4th day post-surgery, I felt pretty good. I had some irritating leg cramping, and so the nurse called in a prescription for Rocaltrol, which was an active form of Vitamin D. It seemed to help the cramping a bit, but it kept coming back throughout the day. I had to keep rubbing a blend of essential oils to relax my legs. It helped a ton, but I didn’t want to keep doing that every few hours! Eventually it subsided and the cramping stopped. I think part of the cramping was due to inactivity. Sitting on the couch for 4 days wasn’t good for circulation or my leg muscles. I got up and walked in place for a bit, which helped.

My sister came to visit me on my 4th day post-op. We ended up talking too much, as I normally do, and it irritated my throat. I started to feel something swell inside my throat. It felt like a little ball was inside my throat every time I swallowed. I freaked out and thought I was having a side effect from the Rocaltrol (“throat swelling”), so I called the nurse. She assured me that it wasn’t going to be the death of me. She explained that they have to cut through a pretty thick muscle in order to remove the thyroid. Apparently that muscle gets “angry” for being disturbed and takes a little time to heal.

Below is a picture of my 4th day post-op incision. It was healing up pretty nicely:

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As the days progressed, it was easier for me to get around and do a few small chores, without lifting anything over 10 lbs. I tried to do as little as possible. You know what? Cable TV stinks. They replay episodes over and over and OVER. I was incredibly bored. I literally spent most of my mornings searching On Demand for movies, without actually deciding upon one.

I don’t remember what day it was, when I got the surgical pathology results, but when they came in, it showed that everything was BENIGN! Praise God!

Below is a photo of my incision on my 5th day post-op. Just a couple of days before my 1 week post-surgery appointment with the surgeon. He would be removing my steri-strips, and I couldn’t wait to see what it looked like once removed.

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I saw my surgeon a week after surgery for my 1-week follow up. One of the medical students removed my steri-strips and I checked myself out in their mirror – not bad! It felt less tight, but I still felt like my neck was pulling if I moved my head around.

A few of days later, my incision was looking even better. See the photo below. Some of the scabs had come off with the steri-strips when they removed them.

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At this point (10 days post-op), I started to do what my surgeon told me to do. And that was to gently massage Vitamin E oil above and below the incision for 2 minutes at a time, twice a day for two months. He told me that it was better to rub it above and below, versus on top of the incision, and that it would heal beautifully.

The Vitamin E oil I had was incredibly sticky, so I switched to rosehip seed oil and a blend of essential oils: helichrysum, frankincense, lavender and a skin blend that my company makes. The steri-strips had irritated the skin around my incision, and so it was super sensitive and irritated easily. Knowing how potent essential oils are, I decided to back off of them for a bit, to let the sensitivity/redness go down.

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Once the sensitivity healed up, I began using organic calendula oil, which is very soothing to skin, along with a with a drop of Copaiba essential oil. This didn’t irritate my incision, so I kept doing it every day from this point forward.

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It’s now been 4 weeks since my surgery, and the photo below shows my scar looking a lot darker and more pronounced than it did a week ago! I’m not sure if this is because I hadn’t begun using a scar-diminishing oil, such as Neroli, or if I stretched it out somehow? I think when I took the above photo, I may have had the “skin toning” feature on that blurred out skin imperfections. Durrr.

Now that the incision is sealed and healed, I’m going to start massaging Neroli oil into it 3 times a day. I don’t want it getting any darker than it already is. Don’t bother with the Scar Away silicone patches. Maybe they work on some people, but they irritated my skin.

Now that it’s been a month since my surgery, and I’m back at work (returned after 3 weeks), I am feeling pretty good. Some days I feel achy/fatigued, and other days I feel fine. My main complaints are moodiness and depressive episodes, anxiety, fatigue and some body aches (feeling like I have a fever), cold feet and restless legs. The cold feet has been improving a bit over the last week or so. I’ve had depression and anxiety for over 20 years, so I am not sure either of those will ever improve.

I don’t think I’ve lost any extra hair, and I have only gained 3-4 lbs (but I’d lost that exact amount right after surgery, so I guess I’m just getting it back by eating too much junk food!). I believe my surgeon said they would probably be increasing my Levothyroxine at my next appointment in 2 months. I am hoping once they do that, my hormones will regulate and the remaining symptoms will improve. I’m currently taking 100 Levothyroxine, and 2 Calcitrol +D supplements per day. But that may change at my next appointment. I’m staying positive because the surgery was a success, so I know that future healing will be a success as well.

So far, at 4 weeks post-op, some of the symptoms that I used to have due to my hyperparathyroid tumor have begun to improve. Such as:

  1. Frequent urination (I go much less often – almost normal now)
  2. Extreme thirst/dry mouth
  3. Brain fog/confusion (feeling somewhat clearer and able to focus better)
  4. Breathing better (no more goiter pushing against my windpipe!)
  5. A tad more energy
  6. Joints not as achy when sitting still for too long

I’ve read that it can take up to 6 months to really notice improvements after removal of a hyperparathyroid tumor, so I must be patient like grasshopper. It will come in time. I am praying I am one of the success stories of those who do great on synthetic thyroid hormone and can feel completely normal one day.

If you’re about to have this surgery, please make sure you have a fantastic surgeon. Make sure you have help for the first few days post-surgery. And be sure to get a lot of rest, drink lots of water, and give yourself time to heal. Don’t rush back to work if you don’t have to. I pray your surgery goes well and that you have a positive story to share as well!


UPDATE: It’s been close to 3 months, and here’s how my incision is healing. This is with massaging Neroli oil into the healed scar 3x per day:

Lovely bags hang below my eyes these days. A tell-tale Hypo sign of fatigue. And stress might play a part too…

Other changes include: hair loss, hypo fatigue, 5 more lbs of weight gain. and depression and moodiness. Dr. De Jong switched me over to the name-brand, Synthroid, and increased my dosage to 112, so I’m hoping this regulates me. I miss going to the gym!

But, this is life, and I’m glad I had the surgery. I would rather deal with meds, than have my goiter continue to grow down into my chest.


2nd UPDATE: It’s been just over 4 months, and I’ve had some ups and downs. I’ve gained a total of 9 pounds (not bad) after surgery. Brain fog was gone for a bit, but it’s back somewhat. I have no motivation to go to the gym nor do I have motivation to clean my house (but who does!?). I have lost a lot of hair. It doesn’t come out in huge clumps, but every day I lose way more than I used to. I don’t know if this is from the shock of surgery (surgery can cause hair loss out within a few months of the procedure), or if it is from Hypothyroidism – either way, it stinks. My hair was fine and limp to begin with. Now it’s fine, limp and thinning. Lovely. I sleep pretty well, but wake up exhausted and weak – as if I didn’t sleep at all.

So, I kept hearing/reading about how many people do better on T3 medications, like Cytomel, when taken in combination with their T4 medicine, like Synthroid. I asked my doctor for Cytomel, and he gave me a prescription to start on 5mcg per day. Within the first week, I started getting headaches, I felt wired but fatigued at the same time (how is that possible?!?), I was having hot flashes, my brain felt heavy/foggy, my legs seemed a little crampy, I was irritable (on a recent date night, I almost jumped out of our truck and verbally attacked the person that cut us off in the mall parking lot – SO not me!), and I had serious worsening of my depression and anxiety. My doctor told me to stop taking it, and he increased my Synthroid to 125 mcg instead. I’m hoping and praying that I finally start to feel some energy and that my mood lifts, so that I don’t lose my mind and actually attack someone!

While I am not a fan of most Endocrinologists, mine seems to be doing a pretty good job. I’m grateful that he at least listened to me when I asked to try Cytomel, and didn’t shrug off my request. I think I’ll let him be the doctor next time and listen to his suggestion!

Here’s a recent photo of my scar. I covered it a little with makeup this morning:


3rd UPDATE:

It’s been 5.5 months since my surgery. Since the increase to 125 Synthroid, I lost a few pounds, but basically feel the same. Perhaps a tiny big less depressed. I left a message with the nurse today to ask my doctor if he would increase my dosage to 137, even though it’s only been 5 weeks since the last increase. I want energy!! And, I want my hair to stop falling out!


neck

7 months post-op

7 Months Post-Op Update

It’s been 7 months since surgery, and I’m finally feeling better! I believe I’m now on the right dosage of medication – which is .125 of Synthroid. Hallelujah, praise the Lord!

My scar is looking a little better – unless that’s because I dabbed some makeup on it this morning? Sometimes I hate the way it looks, and other times I just don’t care. I mean, getting that huge thing out of my neck was the best thing I ever did, and most likely saved me from an earlier death, so I can’t complain about a scar, can I!?!

I copied the list of symptoms from my older blog and noted the improvements next to each. Here’s what’s up:

– Extreme fatigue – GONE! Still a little tired – but I’m 40 years old now, so…
– GERD – still have it, but I’m off Omeprazole and managing it with essential oils.
– Depression – somewhat improved.
– Anxiety – somewhat improved.
– Hair loss – finally slowed down! I was losing chunks for a while there.
– Brain fog/confusion – much better! I finally don’t feel like an idiot.
– Memory loss – improved in some areas, but not others.
– Frequent urination – GONE!
– Constant thirst/dry mouth – GONE!
– Dry/scratchy eyes – GONE! I can wear contacts (the “moist” kind) again.
– Stomach issues – improved with essential oils use, but still bloat if I don’t use my oils.
– Hoarse/scratchy throat/voice – GONE!
– Trouble sleeping – only when I eat too much before bed.
– Irritability – GONE! (except for when I’m hangry and tired!)
– Muscle & joint aches – mostly GONE! (still taking Boron for aches)
– Frequent headaches – GONE!

It’s so odd to me to read these symptoms now, because I don’t even remember having some of them! These symptoms were mostly caused by my parathyroid tumor, but some were hypothyroid symptoms from having my thyroid removed.

My doc ordered blood tests the other day and I got my results within 24 hours. My levels are all normal, and he wants me to continue with this dosage until something changes. I’m hoping and praying that my symptoms continue to improve, but for the most part, I’m all good.

So, this is happening:

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I think these are new baby hairs growing back after losing so much from hypothyroidism and the shock surgery had on my body. I’m so happy to see them, although they are almost impossible to tame throughout the day! My hair used to come out in clumps, and now I may find 5-10 hairs on my comb each morning after I use it.

I can only see my symptoms improving from this point forward.

God bless!


If you’ve recently had this surgery, or had it in the past, will you please comment below and let me know how you are doing? I know our bodies are all different, but I’d like to hopefully hear some positive stories about depression going away and weight loss after Synthroid regulates!

God bless and make sure you check your TSH and calcium levels whenever you get a blood test!

To Become, or Not to Become, a Certified Aromatherapist?

aromatherapy, aromatic, certification, essential oils, Uncategorized

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So, I’ve been a rep with a very well known essential oils company now for over 3 years.  While I get loads of education and information from them, I figured it was about time I take that leap and go one step further in my botanical therapy education to become a Certified Aromatherapist.

I’ve always tried to educate my clients/customers as much as possible with information on how to safely use essential oils and help them figure out which to use, but now I can do it with much more confidence and knowledge.  I really thought I knew enough about oils to get by, and what I didn’t know I’d just ask my team or Google it.  I mean, Google has the answer to all things, right?  😉  I joke.  What I am now learning is that becoming a Certified Aromatherapist gives me much more opportunities and abilities than I ever had before.  There are various types of work you could do with this title, besides sales, and I cannot wait to find my niche!

For those of you who love learning about oils, or even do it as a business, I highly recommend getting certified.  You will have the education and certification to back up what you are telling your customers.  You will feel even more empowered to take your health into your hands.  And you will just feel more confident as you explain essential oils and their benefits to others because you will understand the science behind them.  I am starting to think all sales reps of essential oil companies should become certified before teaching anyone how to use them.  I think there’d be a lot less mishaps with oils than there are because customers would be getting the correct information.  But, as long as you have a great upline team, consisting of some medical professionals, who can teach you the correct information, you should be fine.  I’m just doing this more for my own goals/purposes.

As for certification courses, there are multiple levels of certification.  And my school also has extra courses to further your education in various specialties.  My school of choice is, of course, approved by NAHA and is taught mainly by Jade Shutes.  Jade Shutes is the President of NAHA, and has been studying essential oils for over 20 years.  She’s studied in France, among other countries and is extremely knowledgeable.  She is very soothing to listen to and makes it very easy to learn.  Her love of plants and natural alternatives is evident, and she loves to teach.  The audio and video clips make it easy to sit back and listen from the comfort of your own home.  The school’s Facebook page is for students to interact with each other and to ask questions of their instructors.

So, what school is it?:  The New York Institute for Aromatic Studies (they recently changed the name from The School for Aromatic Studies).  Click here to be directed to their website:  The New York Institute for Aromatic Studies.  I am taking the first foundational course (as stated in the photo above), which is a Level 1 Aromatherapist.  This course is online and allows me to go as slow or quick as I want.  It’s perfect for me because I currently can’t memorize/study much as my parathyroid tumors cause memory loss and brain fog, so it is very hard to take an exam when you forgot almost everything you read!  Once my surgery is over, I’m hitting the books and finishing my certification – and I’m going to slay it!! 😉  Also, if you have a full time job, the online courses are great because you can fit it in whenever you have time!  You will have to complete some case studies in order to complete your certification, and so you will need some family and friends who are willing to be your guinea pi test subjects. 😉

If you have any questions, I’m always available to answer questions.

Blessings,
Karen

 

 

 

Hyperparathyroidism & Multinodular Goiter = Total Thyroidectomy & Parathyroidectomy

auto-immune, endocrinology, Hashimoto's, hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, parathyroid, parathyroidectomy, total thyroidectomy, wellness


To skip to this blog and see read about the actual surgery and recovery (with photos), click here:  Life After Thyroidectomy & Parathyroidectomy.


As you may have read in my previous blog, I had Grave’s Disease (hyperthyroidism) as a teenager, and had toxic multi-nodular goiter (which is, in a nutshell, an enlarged thyroid with nodules on it, that produces too much thyroid hormone).  After taking PTU and Synthroid medications for about a year, and not seeing any changes, my doctor decided it was time for the Radioactive Iodine Treatment (“RAI”).  RAI is a large radioactive pill that they drop down your hatch while donning special gloves to protect themselves from the radiation.  They don’t want it to touch your mouth, and can only touch your throat enough for you to swallow, due to its radioactivity.  Sort of scary…not gonna lie.

For the following 3 days, I was to flush the toilet three times each time I used it.  I could only use plasticware and disposable plates when I ate and I couldn’t sit next to anyone who was pregnant.  Yikes!! I didn’t glow, nor was I green, but apparently I was dangerous to an unborn fetus outside my own body!  This whole ordeal was meant to stop my thyroid from overproducing thyroid hormone. And, it worked! For the most part…

All was well in the thyroid department for the next 23 years – or so it seemed.  My goiter stopped overproducing thyroid hormone, which was great, an and added bonus was that my thyroid didn’t become hypo (which normally happens to patients who have this treatment).  I think the goiter even shrunk a little after treatment.

Now, rewind to about 10 years ago. I began experiencing annoying symptoms that no one could explain.  My leg muscles were always cramping.  My anxiety had gotten worse. I was extremely fatigued, often depressed, and rarely wanted to clean my house or go out with friends. Over the years, more symptoms were added to the list.  Below is my running list of symptoms (the list isn’t conclusive to the actual disease – there are a few others that I never acquired – thank the Lord):

– extreme fatigue (even brushing my hair poops me out)
– GERD (acid reflux) (diagnosed and taking Omeprazole)
– depression (let’s not even go there)
– anxiety (waking up every morning with a nervous stomach ache, fears, inner shaking and sometimes hand tremors)
– hair loss (pony tail? more like a weathered paintbrush)
– brain fog/confusion (bosses think I’m an airhead)
– memory loss (I’m apparently a very large goldfish)
– frequent urination (I should set up my work computer in the stall)
– constant thirst/dry mouth (drinking so much water makes frequent urination even frequent-er)
– dry, scratchy eyes (some mornings, my lids literally are stuck to my eyeball)
– stomach issues (let’s not even go there)
– hoarse/scratchy throat/voice (no, not the sexy kind – the phleghmy, groggy kind)
– trouble sleeping (due to frequent urination all through the night)
– irritability (sorry, hubs!!  I’ll be normal soon, I hope!)
– muscle & joint aches (I’m only 39!)
– frequent headaches (sort of dull, and sometimes daily)

Over the years, my previous doctor would test my thyroid hormone, to see if my thyroid was over- or under-producing thyroid hormone.  The results always came back normal, and so I assume the doctor (and possibly friends and family members) thought my bodily complaints were all in my head. I mean, I constantly Googled my symptoms, always trying to find a diagnosis.  I’m sure the word “hypochondriac” came up in conversation when I wasn’t around.  I didn’t care – I knew there was something wrong with me and I was determined to figure it out.

Finally, in October 2017, after the frequent urination was just ridiculous (I’d go 20-30x in a 24 hour period), I decided to get a ton of blood tests to see if I had diabetes.  Frequent urination is a symptom of diabetes, and we have a lot of diabetes in our family.  I figured I was bound to get it at some point. It had also been 2 years since I’d had a complete blood workup, so…

My blood tests came back “prediabetes,” but that didn’t concern my doctor.  He was more concerned with my consistent abnormal calcium level. It had been high in 2014, 2015 and again in 2017.  He wasn’t my Endocrinologist before 2014 (I skipped seeing one for many years, so I am guessing my levels have been high for at least 10 years).  I also had low Vitamin D.  He was concerned about the frequent urination, high calcium and low vitamin D, so he sent me back for a PTH test, which tests for raised parathyroid hormone in your blood.

Being an avid, self-professed, online medical researcher (i.e. “Compulsive Googler”), I found out that high calcium, high PTH hormone and low Vitamin D means that you have a disease called Hyperparathyroidism.  Hyperparathyroidism basically means you have a tumor on one…or two…or theee…or four of your 4 parathyroid glands.  It’s most common to only have one parathyroid tumor, but some have multiple diseased glands.

This disease is slow progressing, but in time it can cause major problems if you don’t get it taken care of.  Problems such as osteoporosis, osteopenia, cardiac issues, kidney failure and more.

From my limited understanding of biology, and proficient Googling abilities (don’t laugh), these parathyroid tumors cause the overproduction of parathyroid hormone. This will cause calcium and phosphorus to be pulled from your bones – not good. You can’t absorb the calcium, and so it floats around in your blood, wreaking havoc and causing annoying symptoms.  This is called hypercalcemia.  This leads to bone loss and that is where the osteoporosis can come into play. I have never had a bone density scan (DEXA) done, so I don’t know how my bones are, except for the fact that my dentist keeps telling me how much bone loss they notice at every one of my dental visits.

This extra calcium can even attach to various tissues in your body and cause calcification of that tissue.  Basically, it’s like growing a tooth over your organ! (I’m sorry if you have nightmares tonight…).  One of my thyroid nodules was calcified.  Parathyroid tumors must be removed.  Surgery is the only treatment for them.

I am eternally grateful that my primary car physician noticed the high calcium levels in my bloodwork, and catching this before I spent any more precious years feeling miserable.  Please, if you have any of these symptoms, and no one can figure out what’s wrong with you, please advocate for yourself and ask your doctor to order blood tests for Calcium, Vitamin D and PTH.  If your doctor won’t do it, find a new doctor.  Seriously.  Or, if your doctor says “let’s keep an eye on it,” so you can go longer feeling miserable…find a new doctor.  Unfortunately, there are many endocrinologists out there who will only go by the numbers, and not consider a patient’s symptoms.  This should not be happening.  If you don’t have any good endocrinologists near you, but you believe you might have a parathyroid tumor, you can try contacting the Norman Parathyroid Center in Florida.  They are experts in all things parathyroid.

Always read your bloodwork (if you can access it online like many medical groups are doing these days), and if any levels aren’t in the normal range – ask your doctor why.  Again, if your doctor shrugs it off, find a new doctor!!  See as many as you can until you get answers.

As a member of a parathyroid disease support group on Facebook, I’ve learned a lot from many poor souls who have experienced my same symptoms, but worse.  Many of them have developed painful kidney stones due to the damage done to their kidneys from the excess calcium in their blood.  Most people end up discovering they have a parathyroid tumors by accident – through a CT scan or blood test that they are getting for some other ailment.

So, once my doctor referred me to an Endocrinologist, everything starting coming to light – and fast!  My blood tests confirmed I had hyperparathyroidism.  That was the first step. The second step was to send me for a 4D-CT scan.  This scan showed 2 parathyroid tumors.  We wouldn’t know if I actually had 1 or 2 until I was actually opened up (they aren’t always correct).  The third step was to refer me to a surgeon to remove the bugger(s).  Being the proactive researcher that I am, I already did my homework and had already chosen my surgeon.  If anyone was cutting my neck open, it would be one of the best in the Chicagoland area: Dr. Steven DeJong at Loyola.  He’d been doing these surgeries for over 25-30 years, and it appears he does them every week.  That’s a lot of experience!

I met Dr. DeJong for a consultation and he spent a lot of time with me, showing me my CT and Ultrasound photos on the computer.  He basically told me that my thyroid/goiter was the size of his fist, and that it had started growing down into my sternum.  Oh my wow – a little freaked at this point.  This meant that I didn’t just need to have 1 (or 2) parathyroid tumors removed (which would have been a quick non-invasive surgery), but I needed my entire thyroid removed, and 1 or 2 parathyroid glands that contained tumors.  This was more involved than I imagined, but I trusted him and agreed to schedule surgery for January 11, 2018.

Removal of the entire thyroid will mean that I need to supplement my body with a synthetic thyroid hormone for the rest of my life.  Strangely, I know a lot of people who have had this surgery, and who are on this drug.  I’m not worried about that.  What gives me the creeps is that there is always a possibility of malignancy, AND there is always the possibility of complications during surgery.  One complication would be permanently damaging the vocal cords.

So, being this is an essential oils-themed blogsite, I figured my surgery would be the perfect way to show off my favorite essential oils after surgery.  I’ll use some for comfort and aches from the surgery it self, and then I’ll use skin, wound and scar-mending essential oils on the incision.  I’ll be posting pictures of the progression of healing of my incision in a separate blog, once I get to that point.  So if you are squeamish, you might not want to read my post-surgery blog.

Before the steri-tape is removed, I’ll be using a blend of essential oils, such as frankincense, lavender, helichrysum, rose, sandalwood and melaleuca around the area for inflammation, tenderness and skin recovery.

When the tape is removed, I’ll be using the same blend on the already-healing incision. I’m going to add some Vitamin E oil to the mix and also be using an “everything ointment,” which my company sells, that includes many of those same oils.  They are all fabulous for skin repair/soothing.

You can also view my videos at my YouTube channel: Karen K. – Aromatherapy

Click here to read my post-op story and see all of my incision healing photos.

Homemade Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

cast iron, cheese, Chicago pizza, comfort food, crust, deep dish pizza, dinner, food, Giordano's, homemade, homemade pizza, pizza, recipe, skillet, stuffed pizza, Uncategorized

Here in Chicago, most of us don’t call it “deep dish pizza,” we call it “stuffed pizza.” Why? Who cares!?  It’s delicious!

What makes stuffed pizza so delicious and special to the hearts of us midwesterners is the unique buttery, flaky crust, gobs of mozzarella cheese and a thick, zesty sauce.  I grew up on it, and in my opinion it is the best stuff on the planet…besides ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s “Peanut Butter World,” to be exact).

Before you go and try to make this pizza with a regular pizza dough, do yourself a favor…don’t do it.  Stuffed pizza has a lighter, flakier crust due in part to the cornmeal and also in part by “laminating” the pizza dough with butter (I’ll explain later).

I have to be honest and admit that when I first tried making stuffed pizza, I bought pre-made regular pizza dough from Caputos.  Regular pizza dough bakes tougher and when it’s used for stuffed pizza, it makes for a hard time cutting each bite of your slice.  You end up scraping all the gooey cheese out of it to eat by itself.  And then you either eat the crust separate, or you end up tossing the entire crust.  While it tasted pretty good with the regular dough, nothing tops actual stuffed pizza crust!!  So, I highly, HIGHLY, recommend using this recipe.

All of the “oohs” and “aahs” that I’ve gotten from this pizza is enough to make it a staple comfort food in our house.   My sister even said it was probably the best stuffed pizza she’s ever had.  Did you hear that, Giordano’s??  In yo’ face!  (Just kidding – I love you.)  It is quickly becoming a family tradition to make these stuffed pizzas for game night with the family.

TIP:  You will first want to read these instructions all the way through, at least a day ahead, so you can make time for preparation and purchase the correct ingredients. 

YOU WILL NEED:  either 2 cast iron skillets (10″ or 12″), or 2 springform pans.  I prefer cast iron all the way!  I must warn you though, it is hard to cut the cooked pizza in a cast iron skillet since you can’t take it out of the pan.  A springform pan easily comes off and you can cut it easily.  You don’t want to use a rolling pizza cutter because it will crush the crust and not look pretty.

NOTE:  This is a very LONG recipe, but simple enough.  Hang in there with me. You will be glad you did because this is what you will get (yours won’t be as yellow as the one in my photo – I tried using a filter and failed miserably):

CHICAGO STUFFED PIZZA

INGREDIENTS:
Crust (makes 2)

  • 3 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 & 1/4 tsps salt
  • 1 Tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 standard packet of yeast (not instant)
  • 1 & 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided (1/4 cup melted, 1/4 cup softened or room temp)
  • olive oil for coating

Sauce:

  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, grated (about 1/3 cup)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1-2 drops oregano essential oil)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano (THE BEST), if possible)
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp granulated sugar
  • Optional:  1-2 drops basil essential oil

Toppings:

  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (buy a block and shred it yourself, rather than buying pre-shredded – you will thank me!)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Topping Options:  approx. 20 pepperoni slices, 4 slices cooked/crumbled bacon (2 per pizza), cooked and crumbled mild Italian sausage, thinly sliced green peppers and/or onions, sliced mushrooms.

Crust Directions:

Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, or food processor with dough attachment.

If you do not have any mixer, you will have to do it by hand.  Use a large bowl. Give the ingredients a quick toss with your mixer on low or with a large wooden spoon.

Add the warm water and 1/4 cup of melted butter.  The water should be warm – not hot, or it will kill the yeast.  Also, make sure the butter isn’t super hot.

On low speed, mix the ingredients until everything is moistened.  Continuing on low speed (or remove from the bowl and knead by hand on a dough mat), mix the dough until it is soft and pulls away from the sides of the bowl and falls off of the dough hook (about 4-5 mins).  If the dough is too hard, mix in a teaspoon of warm water.  On the other hand, it feels too soft, mix in a Tablespoon of flour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball.  Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside, turning it around so that all sides of the dough are coated in oil.  Cover the bowl tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rise in a warm environment for 1-2 hours or until double in size.

TIP:  If your house isn’t warm, preheat your oven to 250F degrees.  Once it’s 250F degrees, turn it off.  Place the bowl of dough inside and close the door.  The heat will help your dough rise quickly like magic!

When the dough is ready, lightly flour a large work surface.  Remove dough from the bowl, set the bowl and aluminum foil aside to use later.  “Punch down” the dough to remove any air bubbles and roll the dough into a large 15×12″ rectangle.

Slather 1/4 cup of softened butter on top of the dough, covering every inch.  This is the “laminating” part.

Roll the dough up lengthwise like a roll-cake or Litttle Debbie “ho-ho”.  Cut the dough log in half.  Form the two pieces of dough into balls and put them back into your greased bowl.  Cover again with aluminum foil and allow it to rise in the fridge this time for 1 hour until the dough balls are fluffy.  Make the sauce during this time.

Sauce Directions:

Place butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat to melt.  Add grated onion, salt, oregano and red pepper flakes.

Once the onion has browned a bit, after about 5 minutes, add garlic, tomatoes, and sugar.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and allow to simmer until it’s hearty, fragrant, and thick – about 30 mins.  If it isn’t think, keep cooking until the moisture reduces a bit.  Remove from heat and set aside until ready to be used.  (You can store the sauce in a covered container in the fridge for up to 2 days, or freeze up to 2 months.)

Preheat oven to 425F degrees.

Assembling the pizzas:

After the dough balls have risen and are fluffy, take out only one ball to start.  Roll it out on a lightly floured work surface, working it into a 13-inch circle (if your pan is 12″) to about 1/4″ thickness.

Pick up the circle of dough and place over your skillet or springform pan so that the dough is hanging slightly off the sides.

Using your fingers, gently press the dough down a little, leaving some dough hanging off the sides – try not to tear it.  Then add your cheese – 2 cups of cheese per pizza. Next add your meat/veggie toppings – except your pepperoni – you will use that towards the last step.

Then, use a knife to cut off the extra dough hanging off the sides of the pan and save. We will use it to make the top layer – just like the famous Giordano’s stuffed pizza. It’s their secret step, and what I believe makes their pizzas so awesome. (Giordano’s seals up the pie with a super thin layer of dough before topping it off with the sauce and parmesan.)

Roll a bit of that extra dough into a circle as thin as possible.  Place it over your filled-up pizza, and pinch it together with the dough on the sides to seal the pie.

Place pepperoni on top of this dough layer, then top your pie with half of the sauce. Finish by topping it off with half of the grated parmesan cheese.  Add more, if desired.

Here is a photo before it went into the oven:

Repeat steps with the 2nd dough ball in a 2nd pan.

If using springform pans, place them on top of a large baking sheet, which will catch anything that might spill over.  Bake for 20-28 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Remove the pizzas from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

YUM!!:

Place any leftover pizza in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days (yeah right, as if there will be any leftovers!!!)

Reheat leftovers in a 300F oven for 15-20 minutes or until hot.   Enjoy!!!

Pleeeeeease tell me if you made this pizza, and if you have any suggestions or comments!

Blessings