When Homeschooling Goes Bad

sign_slow_15_mph_000_0080Is your homeschool havin’ a bad, bad day? Every day? I’m not going to say it’s okay or that you should just be calm and relax about it. I don’t relax much about anything. Ha! No way! I’m a constant problem solver.

But I am going to say, “You’re not alone!” Oooh, doesn’t that feel nice? You’re not alone! I’ve had my share of bad homeschooling days. All of last year was a bad homeschooling dream. I remember Googling homeschooling blogs to see what other moms did when they had a toddler underfoot. What I walked away with was, “It’s okay, Sugar. Your kids will learn. Being together, happily singing, babysitting, and doing housework is more important than fretting.”

Just like I can’t sit with too many bad homeschooling days, neither can I chill like that. Here’s my top five suggestions for dealing with a homeschool gone bad.

1. Change up the curriculum: It’s not “the best” curriculum, but it works for us.

Who has TIME to use Susan Wise Bauer’s First Language Lessons? Or Charlotte Mason’s “living books” idea to teach?  I think it was another life (the vision is cloudy, but more like ten lives ago, actually) when I cozied up on the couch with two little angels (er, maybe it was another universe) flanking me on either side to read aloud. Twenty lives ago we used to cut and paste crafts and lapbooks. Maybe that wasn’t me at all! Maybe that was some pretty dream I had thirty lives ago!

With four kids, our curriculum needs have changed. Whether I like it or not, whether the kids like it or not, we have to move towards each child, young ones included (you should see our baby clean toilets!), doing more independent work. I feel like some of my homeschooling ideals have been compromised because I teach less, but since my top ideal is a lifelong love of learning, we’re safe. That’s intact.

I’ve had to mostly ditch my self-designed, teacher led spelling curriculum for my third daughter, who is an exceptionally motivated young student. My choice? An Evan Moore spelling workbook. Is it “the best” workbook? No. Is it “the best” spelling program? No. Will she be a fine speller? Yes. And I don’t have time to do all that spelling jazz, nor does she need me to.

We’ve ditched Institute for Excellence in Writing for a time, maybe a very long time. I just couldn’t get read up on the lessons anymore to assign them their work. So I found some journal writing prompts on-line and now they write these several times a week, while I check it for grammar. It’s my Institute for Sanity in Writing.  (Interestingly enough, this has been lots of fun! Their creativity has taken off, and they often let me be privy to some very deep, personal thoughts and dreams!)

Other things I’ve done in our curriculum include: not trying to do too much grammar and writing at the same time, taking breaks from Saxon math for focused worksheets, covering less subjects at a time.

2. Put your third hand down: The phone. The phone. The phone is on fire.

The phone. The phone. The phone. You know it. I know it. We’re both looking sheepish. The phone must go. Set it on “do not disturb” and check it at set times each day. Yes, it feels good to be needed. It is fun to get hot news off the press. Heart lifting to hear from an old friend. But I’m pretty sure the phone has killed more grooving homeschool lessons than there are dust mites in my pillow. (That’s a lot. Since we have allergies, we use dust mite protective cases, wash them on sanitize, and dry them on hot. Unrelated. Sorry. My husband says I always share too much information…but maybe it will help you?)

3. Schedule appointments in the afternoon: “No. I can’t come to that appointment! Do you have a three o’clock?”

I’ve finally accepted that any appointments need to be in the afternoon. That was bitter for me to swallow, because I like to get the early appointments when the doctor may still be on schedule. I thought by getting the appointment in the morning, we’d get it over with and school would rock on. It never happened that way. I’ve found it best to keep our morning schedule (that’s when we do “the hard stuff”) the same and fiddle with the afternoon schedule. School goes well that way, and we get our appointments in.

4. Find some childcare or housework help: “Get the baby off the top of the refrigerator!”

Last year, I struggled through the year with a toddler. It was not a new experience for me. I have four kids; I’ve taught with a toddler underfoot before! Of course, I didn’t like it then either, BUT at least then I was not trying to teach algebra, long division, and more advanced writing skills.

My toddler can be so loud and obstinate when she knows what she wants. And she wanted her sisters! This didn’t work well for my distractible child, who couldn’t focus with the toddler’s screaming, or my bleeding heart child, who hated to hear the screaming from the pack-and-play (where the toddler goes when she won’t stop fussing). I just couldn’t win.

It wasn’t working. Not for me. Not for the kids. Not for the toddler. So I got help this school year. I know we can’t all afford help, but any help will do. If you can find a way for someone to keep the toddler busy so you can teach the others for even an hour without an interruption, you’ll feel so much better! A woman from church? Another homeschooling pre-teen? Swapping kids back and forth with a homeschooling friend; she takes your littles one day so you can teach the bigs and vice versa. Or even having someone come in and do a load of laundry for you or prep some meals.

With the help, our school is feeling nice again. I actually have time to print off some worksheets from the internet. I have time to write down a lesson plan. I have time to drill flashcards. If you can, get help. Then, you can breathe. Breathing helps. Breathing is good. Trust me. (And here you’ve been wondering why you’d been feeling so bad…🙂 )

5. Get some real help: You can’t do it alone and there’s a lot at stake!

Sometimes, more than you need help with laundry or impetuous, climbing, dangerous-to-themselves toddlers, you need help understanding and relating to one of your emerging older children. The anger outbursts, the seemingly laziness, the insolence–it’s overwhelming you and completely impeding learning. (Read here and here and here for my take on dealing with adolescents. Oh, and here when they say they hate you…)

Sure, sending them away to school is an option. It’s the option of least resistance, which does NOTHING to change coping mechanisms that are being set FOR LIFE.  Or does nothing to change your mechanisms which have been set and need changed so your family can live harmoniously together. As much as we like our friends and we need them, it is the family unit which all so much crave to have intact and at peace.

Don’t be afraid to get professional counsel. Alcoholics, borderlines, depressives, manic depressives, abusive adults—they don’t happen overnight. They happen with the pressures of life. Give yourself and your kids a chance to learn new coping skills when you see they’re needed. Ask a pastor or counselor for professional help!

Conclusion

You can do it! I ran out of time for more, but leave your best tips in the comments for others to learn from!

And also, if you decide you simply can’t do it, then don’t be silly and beat yourself up! There are tons of things you can do that I can’t! It’s what makes life fun! Do your best and learn when to let go! Now, go hug your kids today. Mine are milling in the kitchen, so I’m off this box!

Terri

Image credit: This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Betacommand. Found on Wikipedia.

Cleaning the Kitchen

398px-gray_vacuum_cleaner-svgCleaning up your health (and life) is like cleaning up the kitchen.

If my kitchen is a disastrous trash-dump mess, and I only unload the dishwasher, is the kitchen clean?

No.

If I proceed to sweep the hair and crumbs off the floor but leave the watermelon sticky-juice, is it clean then?

No-ooo.

Well, what if I wipe the bacon grease off the stove top, too? Then is it clean? I mean, come on! I have swept the floor, unloaded the dishwasher, and now the stove top is clean.

How much more must I do?

Counters? Tables and chairs? Mop? The inside of the refrigerator? Sort through those bills and catalogs I’m never really ever going to look at?

Gee. Slave driver. I’d hate to live with you.

Deep Cleaning

People frequently tell me, “I’m trying so hard, and I just can’t [insert phrase such as lose weight, feel happy, be nice to my husband].”

Stop.

Think of the kitchen. Have you “cleaned the kitchen?”

When it comes to something you really want, you can leave no stone unturned. No refrigerator door left unopened. No backsplash unwiped. The kitchen isn’t really clean till you’ve opened every cupboard, wiped down each sticky light switch face plate, put the shoes all away.

If you’ve not reached your health goals (or life goals), then ask yourself, “Is my kitchen really clean?” Is there an area I’m leaving unchallenged?

Sleep. Check.
Eating vegetables and fruits. Check.
Avoiding sugar and processed foods. Check.
Outdoor activity. Check.
Strong relationships. Check.
Forgiveness of yourself. Forgiveness of others. Check.
Minimizing alcohol and caffeine. (And cigarettes and other substances Mother Teresa might frown on.) Check.
Acceptance of an area in your life. Check.
Sunshine and fresh air daily. Check.
Getting your sweat up every now and then. Check.
Taking alone time daily if needed. Check.
Minimizing your schedule. Check.

And so on.

Warning: The Closet Effect

Don’t get sidelined by the closet effect.

Sometimes, as changes are made, things feel temporarily worse. It’s like when you clean out the closet. (I know it’s time to clean a closet when things fall on my head. You know that feeling when everything in your house seems to be falling on your head? I hate that feeling.)

Have you ever cleaned a closet and torn everything out of it? There are piles all over the place, and somehow, cleaning the closet made THE WHOLE HOUSE a mess! How does that happen? Some things to Goodwill. Some things to your sister. Some things to the trash. (Ooh, I’ll keep this Def Leppard tee-shirt.)

In order to REALLY clean the closet, you’re guaranteed to make a bigger mess. Guaranteed. Why in the heck did you decide to clean the closet, stupid? (Because of that breathless sense that makes your heart sing when you open the door, not to chaos, but to competency and efficiency and order.)

So when the going gets hard, when you feel like you fix one thing only to have another break, don’t despair! Slowly, like a gutted closet or a nasty fridge, things will come around if you persist and seek the right things.

When it comes to health, the body cleans out a closet, only to make a mess downstream. So you have to help it out in that area too. It’s like tailoring a suit to fit you. Nip and tuck.

Norwex Power To You

Today, whatever it is, I encourage you to not give up. Motivation. Attitude. They count. They are truly the difference between success and failure. As you move through challenges in your diet, life, exercise plans, relationships, look for those little areas you can clean up a little.

Then, scrub on. (Anyone use those Norwex cleaning cloths?)

Keep it whole. Keep it real. Keep it simple.

Terri

Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gray_vacuum_cleaner.svg

 

 

 

A Real Fiber Challenge

256px-annibale_carracci_the_beaneaterI have just completed the most fascinating 30 day food experiment. Well, actually, my husband and kids requested that I cut it short at 29 days, so it was actually just a mere 29 days. I’ve read that what we eat affects our brain, and I believe it, but during this “30 day” experiment, I lived it! It was very uncomfortable, like how I picture walking around hypo-manic would feel.

Experiment

My goal was to eat 50 grams of fiber from real, whole foods, supplementing if I had to with supplemental powders for 30 days. Nothing was counted except fiber grams, and only those as listed in a nutrition facts count on any given internet site or on any given label. No resistant starch was included to get me to the 50 gram mark, so I am sure with resistant starch included, I was definitely exceeding 50 grams of fiber daily.

Foods

I realized very quickly how hard getting 50 grams of real, whole food fiber was going to be, and that my normally vegetable rich diet wasn’t going to get me but less than half of 50 grams! THAT was a SHOCKER!  I love red cabbage and broccoli, but at 2 grams of fiber a cup, I couldn’t eat enough of that stuff to get me anywhere close to 50 grams! (Most fruit is the same way! About 2-3 grams per cup!)

I didn’t have a set list of foods. I just looked for the highest fiber counts I could. What did I eat all month?

  • Beans about daily
  • Avocado about daily
  • Chia about daily
  • Bananas very commonly
  • Sweet corn in season
  • 100% whole grain/seed buckwheat, quinoa, and seed-based soaked and fermented homemade bread
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Flax
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Peas
  • Dried fruit: figs, apricots, dates
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Pumpkin
  • Berries
  • Plantains
  • Sauerkraut
  • Peanut butter
  • Cocoa powder/cacao nibs
  • Bulleted list is getting too long: Broccoli, red cabbage, kale, cabbage, cilantro, parsley, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, rice

Results

Appetite: After my mid-morning 25 grams breakfast/brunch of the above foods, I was not hungry. The first week I had pretty intense cravings for sweets, but these calmed down by week two. By week two throughout week four, I was NOT hungry. Nothing sounded good. It was hard to cook for my family because nothing sounded good. I just wanted to hand them more beans and say, “Supper’s ready!” I forced myself to eat more because I wanted to try to hit the 50 gram mark. I literally couldn’t do it. So about every night I had to top off with about 10 grams of chia seed or inulin powder.

Weight: I started with my appetite rather than my weight because some people will find the weight gain disturbing. I started at about 138 pounds, and I ended up at about 146 pounds. I believe my weight went up because I forced myself to eat. Had I let my eating follow my appetite, the numbers may have been different. HOWEVER, my husband gained 5 pounds this month! This is one reason he feels he gets a veto on any diet I experiment on myself (and subsequently my family) with. He didn’t like the high fiber diet. Isn’t that strange he gained weight? I thought so!

Endocrine: My two-hour postprandials ran in the 90s. This is where they ran before this experiment as well.

Neurological: Three days into the diet I developed a severe headache which didn’t go away until on about day four I took an Aleve. I used to take Aleve about three times a week before I changed my diet (four years ago). I now take it maybe once or twice a year. Also, by the third day, brain fogginess and tiredness had set in.

I could have tossed all this onto a stressful life heap, but what was new was a tremor! By about the third day, I developed a fine tremor which made buttoning buttons difficult. I just felt tremulous throughout. The tremor lasted until about week three, when it slowly receded. In this time, I tried changing my coffee, because it felt like you feel when you have too much coffee.

Psychological: Flat. Flat. Flat. Edgy. Edgy. Edgy. Go. Go. Go. OCD. OCD. OCD. Forgetful. Forgetful. Forgetful. (Because I literally felt like my mind was on speed.) My kids wanted me to stop the diet. My husband wanted me to stop the diet. I wanted to stop the diet, but I wanted to see where this would take me. My husband said, “Maybe you’re depressed.” I felt like my face would crack if I smiled, and I said, “I don’t think I’m depressed. I don’t feel like I’m depressed.” So I watched some hilarious YouTube videos and laughed my socks off. I wasn’t depressed.

But my brain was bad. It had a motor and it wouldn’t shut off. My whole body had a jittery motor! No meditation. No prayer. No sitting watching TV. No whatever—would make my brain shut off. I corresponded with some people during this time, and I know they think I’m a raging lunatic. I accept it that I have some of those qualities above, or at least have some of them at various times; they make me me! I like a clean house. I like my to-do list done. But this was taking all those traits and raising them to the 50th power all at the same time!

With that tremor, headache, fogginess, racing mind, edginess—I just was a mess. The second reason my husband says he gets diet veto power!

Gastrointestinal: I usually cruise along happily on what I eat, but occasionally, I get it in my head that it’s time to try something new to see if I can get off of magnesium, which I see no end in sight of. I’ll be on it till I die. (Don’t get me wrong! I’m happy that it works! That’s more than many people with severe slow transit have!) My constipation flared up after three days into the experiment (along with that horrid headache), and I had to up my magnesium. Then, I overshot, of course. Then, distended anal vessels flared up from the overshoot and from the increased abdominal distention. Ouchie.

Usually, I take my magnesium about every third day, and it still works “daily.” On this experiment, I had to take magnesium every night. Bummer.

Bloating was very bad the first week. Then, by week two, it actually decreased to less than my normal baseline! That was nice! It came back for some reason the last week of the experiment.

I checked a UBiome right at the start of my little experiment, and then the kit was in the room where they baby was sleeping. So no UBiome after.

Reproductive: At the end of the first week, I was having hot flashes at night and very restless sleep, along with the tremor I already mentioned. These went away by the end of week two. I had Mittelschmerz that woke me up one night, which I’ve never had before, although that’s maybe not fair. I’ve had it during the day a couple of times before like that.

Summary:

At the third day of week one, things were uncomfortable: headaches, brain fog, flatness, irritability, jittery, tremulous, bloating, constipation. I hung in there this way for two weeks. At that point, I decided maybe I’d have to take a day off this challenge. So, I fasted and my head and tremor seemed to improve dramatically late morning and early afternoon. Then, at 3 pm, since I felt good, I decided to get back at it.

All my symptoms returned by late evening. I took to eating a late breakfast/early lunch to have some moments of clarity. By the end of three weeks, I could feel, and my husband noted too, that I was having increased moments where I was more “me” again, even after eating. What was surprising was that this week was a very stressful week in our home, with a common childhood disease making the rounds of the house. Yet, I was feeling calmer. Still not baseline (which, lol, isn’t all that calm to begin with!).

I’m two days off the high fiber diet, and I’m feeling like me again.

Go ahead and criticize my self-study. There are flaws. I DIDN’T put it on the internet to bash high fiber in any way, shape, or form. I am putting it here for us to maybe learn something together. I’ve come up with a differential in my head. What do you come up with? (But be nice. My kids read my blog stuff.)

I’ve decided that I won’t jump into high fiber suddenly. That was pretty painful.

With respectful regards and voracious, healthy curiosity,

Terri

PS: Always be careful! Talk with your doctor or healthcare provider before you make any big changes. Don’t use internet information to experiment without your doctor or healthcare provider knowing and being on board.

Addendum: After thinking on this more and more, I’m thinking that my poor results stem from either sensitivity to the foods I started consuming more of (chia, non-gluten grains, legumes) or dysbiosis of my GI tract leading to these symptoms. I do not believe it was the “fiber” per se.

Image attribution: Annibale Carracci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain, PD-Art.

 

 

Your Thyroid Problem and Your Breast Cancer Risk, Part II

Certain common thyroid conditions put women at a higher risk for breast cancer, yet this isn’t common knowledge to even medical professionals.

Why Isn’t It Common Knowledge That Certain Thyroid Diseases Are Associated with Higher Breast Cancer Risk?

The research available on a thyroid disease and breast cancer connection is very, very conflicting, depending on the thyroid disease state and the study being looked at. One study says there are Martians, and other studies say there are not. (Joke.)

How can medical research be so murky? It is frustrating, but I think there are some reasons for it:

One. There is not a direct causal effect between thyroid disease and breast cancer. Having thyroid disease does not cause breast cancer. It’s just that there’s something medical researchers and clinicians haven’t pinpointed with unanimous certainty leading to faulty issues in both organs. Flooding in the basement doesn’t cause my leaky roof; the rain does. (Yes, iodine advocates, I agree. It could be in part a deficit of iodine and its associated necessary co-factors.)

Two. Another problem leading to “research conclusion confusion” in this matter, I believe, is how thyroid disease is diagnosed. About everyone can agree on a TSH (an initial screening thyroid function test), but after that, it starts becoming no-man’s-land about what should be ordered next.

In general, there is an over reliance on TSH, and less monitoring of other thyroid tests, especially thyroid antibodies. Sometimes patients are simply given the diagnosis of “Your-TSH-is-too-high-here-take-this-Synthroid” and little else, if anything, is checked–sometimes not even the thyroid gland itself! I was floored when a newly suspected thyroid patient (a friend) told me the doctor didn’t even feel her thyroid! Another friend, who I sent to go see her doctor for a new goiter (and symptoms of hypothyroidism), was given a good bill of health with no recommendation for close follow-up or any inquiry into her diet; her TSH was normal and so was her ultrasound.

So in the studies, I have to wonder what it means when they say Hashimoto’s, hypothyroidism, or hyperthyroidism. How uniform are the patients in reality? How were all the patients diagnosed? Because so much data was pooled from so many studies for some of the bigger research analysis, it’s hard to say.

Three. Different doctors use different terminology. For example, Hashimoto’s disease can be called 1) Hashimoto’s 2) hypothyroidism or 3) chronic autoimmune thyroiditis (or chronic thyroiditis, autoimmune thyroiditis). Hashimoto’s IS a type of hypothyroidism, but not all hypothyroidism IS Hashimoto’s. However, some doctors will diagnose someone with Hashimoto’s without ordering antibody tests or even imaging. I think some studies aren’t able to tease out how different doctors label thyroid disease differently.

Four. Thyroid fluctuation can also confound statistics. A diseased thyroid will often fluctuate in its function for years, sometimes overproducing thyroid hormone, other times under producing thyroid hormone, and other times managing to make just the right amount of thyroid hormone. Eventually, after years, it may arrive at its final diseased balance. If a patient is monitored at one particular time, they may look completely normal based on TSH. The natural progression of thyroid disease is one of relapsing and remitting changes, sometimes high, sometimes low, and sometimes normal, and I believe this will affect research findings.

Okay. So now that you see reasons why the studies may be so contradictory, let’s look at different thyroid disease states and their breast cancer risk.

The following information may not make sense to you unless you have thyroid disease. Sometimes, even people who have thyroid disease don’t know their specific diagnosis, and this might sound complex even to them. I encourage you, if you have thyroid disease, to know specifically what you’ve been diagnosed with and how that diagnosis was arrived at (TSH, T3/T4 values, imaging, antibody tests, etc.).

Graves’ disease patients seem to consistently show up with higher breast cancer rates. (1, 2, 3)

Hyperthyroidism, not necessarily classified as Graves’ disease, has been shown to have a higher risk of breast cancer. (4)

A patient who has TSHR antibodies (usually diagnostic for Graves’ disease) has an increased risk for breast cancer. (2)

TPO antibodies and thyroglobulin antibodies, commonly found in autoimmune thyroid disorders (Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease), have been found in some studies to be associated with a higher risk of breast cancer, but in other studies the antibodies were shown to have no relationship, or even an improvement, in the rate of breast cancer.

  • TPO Antibodies:
    • In some studies, TPO antibodies seem to be associated with less risk of breast cancer. (5)
    • Other studies indicate a higher risk of breast cancer with TPO antibodies. (6, 7)
  • Thyroglobulin antibodies:
    • May suggest, but not statistically significant, an increased breast cancer risk. (2)
    • Do show an increased risk for breast cancer. (6, 7)

Nodular goiter and diffuse, non-toxic goiter are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer incidence. (8, 9)

Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism  (Hashimoto’s usually causes hypothyroidism) patients can take their pick, as there have been reports with no significance in the rate of breast cancer (10), a decreased risk of breast cancer (4), or an increased risk of breast cancer (11).

Conclusion:

Okay. I’m reaching my word and reader attention span limit, but I want to tell thyroid patients that this knowledge should not mean fear. Do not be afraid.

This knowledge means vigilance—lovingly tend to your body with good sleep habits, stress management, nurturing connections with friends and family, activity outside in the fresh air, and whole, real food choices rich in vegetables and fruits, and food sources rich in what both the breast and thyroid need.

This knowledge means to talk to your doctor about self-breast exams and mammograms. It means to learn the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, like skin changes and/or nipple discharge. Mammograms and self-exams should probably be more assertive than in a patient with no breast cancer risk factors, especially now as the mammogram guidelines suggest starting later and doing fewer mammograms (which I’m not adverse to that idea necessarily either, but not in patients at known higher risk).

I suggest you know the specific type of thyroid disease you have and whether or not you have antibodies. Doctors think it’s overkill to check antibodies, but if you take in a study that I’ve listed showing an increase in breast cancer with these antibodies, I think a reasonable doctor working with a reasonable patient would order them. I also think that knowing whether or not you’re consuming adequate iodine and iodine co-factors is important. Doctors aren’t well educated on iodine, other than, “Don’t,” and so finding someone who has read some of the newer stuff on iodine insufficiency, women, and breast disease is challenging.

No fear. No anxiety. Awareness. Uncontrolled anxiety does a woman no good. Sure, a little anxiety motivates us. But too much paralyzes us.

The last thyroid and breast post I did discussed thyroid cancer, so if you’re interested, go back and check that one out. Let me know typos, citation issues, or anything else pertinent to the accuracy of this post. Lastly, my blog is not professional advice. Use the citations I list to help you understand your disease better and to help you discuss your own case with your healthcare team better.

The Homeschooling Doctor logoStrength and joy to you all!

Terri

 

 

 

Citations:

1. Johnson RH,  Chien FL, Bleyer A. Incidence of Breast Cancer With Distant Involvement Among Women in the United States, 1976 to 2009. JAMA. 2013;309(8):800-805; doi:10.1001/jama.2013.776. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=165625

2. Thyroid-Cancer Survivors at Higher Risk of Breast Cancer. Medscape Web Site. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/845605. Published June 1, 2015.

3. Nielson SM et al. The Breast-Thyroid Connection Link: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. February 2016 25; 231. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0833. http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/25/2/231.abstract

4. Sogaard M et al. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism and breast cancer risk: a nationwide cohort study. Eur J Endocrinol. 2016 Apr;174(4):409-14. doi: 10.1530/EJE-15-0989. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26863886

5. Itoh K and Maruchi N. Breast Cancer in Patients with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. The Lancet. Volume 306, Issue 7945, 6, December 1975, Pages 1119-1121. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673675910065

6. Turken O, Narin Y, Demirbas S, eta al. Breast Cancer in Association With Thyroid Disorders. Breast Cancer Res. 2003;5(5). https://breast-cancer-research.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/bcr609

6.http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2016/01/28/peds.2015-1226.full.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8772562

A Child in Need of Diagraming and Proofs

I’m working hard here to get our upcoming school year teed up, and therefore, I’ve not had the time I want to tweak the second thyroid disease and breast cancer post. It is on my mind, and it will get finished.

But, as I was looking for a couple of books to round out my school plans for the year, I thought of something I’d like to throw out there for homeschoolers about geometry and grammar. It will be stream of consciousness to get there, so hang tight a minute.

I tend to be interested in many, many things and ideas. My head can get cluttered. I also tend to be a “feel-er” rather than a “fact-er.” (More interested in feelings than facts and arriving at solutions because I just know it’s right. Drives my husband, a stone-cold numbers guy, crazy–but after 30 years together, he knows I’m right. :-)) I’ve been this way since forever.

I looked back at my education, and I realized that learning to organize my thoughts in junior high and high school was invaluable for me, especially as I interacted and discussed ideas with others. (Maybe that’s the idea of “logic” from a classical curriculum? Dunno.)

With that in mind, my children will be diagraming sentences and doing proofs in geometry. Just now, I was looking for a diagraming book to supplement our usual grammar work. When it comes time for geometry, I will look for a program with proofs.

I don’t think that they’re necessary for mastery of grammar or geometry. I certainly won’t allow them to be thorns in our school year when the time arrives. But I will explain to my children that sometimes thoughts fill our head, and we need to be able to not let them overwhelm us. That we need to be able to organize them so we can see them better and make better decisions.

As a medical doctor, when I worked in the intensive care unit, my patients were really sick, in so many places. If I tried to make one organ better, it put a hard strain, sometimes a near-fatal strain, on another organ system. The kidneys LOVE fluids. The heart gets overwhelmed by it.

When I’d first look at a patient and their chart, I’d groan inwardly, thinking, “No way. This is impossible.” But then, I’d sit down with the chart, and I’d do what I’d trained my brain to do since junior high (thank you, teachers), thinking through each organ and weighing in my mind which organ was crashing fastest and how much I could push the other organs to get what was needed done.

Each day, each problem can be managed by stepping back, examining all the pieces of what’s going on, and then using what you know or going to get a piece of information or help you don’t have or know.

For children who are more verbal, more feelers, who are fascinated by everything around them and sometimes locked by indecisiveness, it just might be a good idea, if you have the opportunity, to help that child see that complex math problems and complex sentences aren’t all that intimidating when you break it down. That life isn’t all that intimidating when you use what you know.

I don’t like facts all that much. Seems like even the facts are ever-changing to me. On the other hand, facts can keep you from lying to yourself that there is no solution. From lying to yourself and saying there is no way out.

And that is why I plan to guide my kids through geometrical proofs and diagraming sentences, urging them not to see work, but to see the ability to think through stuff in life.

Thanks for letting me put that out there. Back to picking a diagraming book.

Terri

And HA! I see now maybe it’s diagraming! Not diagramming! Go figure. Or is it? I’ve seen both. Do you know? Is it a fact? Which one is it? If you know for sure, do let me know! I think it can be both?

Your Thyroid Problem and Your Breast Cancer Risk

A 36 year-old spunky, bold, compassionate mother of two (and good friend of mine) discovered her own breast cancer. It wasn’t even a lump, more of a “leatheriness,” she said, and she almost hated to go get it checked out, as it felt like something she might just be imagining. But alas, it was not an overactive imagination. It was advanced breast cancer requiring chemotherapy, radiation, and mastectomy.

When I was in med school, I was taught that breast cancer under the age of 40 was RARE. Yet, every month or so it seems as if I hear a story of someone younger than 40 getting breast cancer. Good friends and acquaintances. Indeed, the statistics are changing, and it is a documented, terrifying fact that breast cancer rates are increasing in women younger than 40 years old, particularly the rates of advanced breast cancer requiring chemotherapy and radiation. (1)

(This post will not be about  breast cancer. It’s just going to briefly touch on the idea that thyroid condition patients are at higher risk for breast cancer, a fact I don’t think they all know.)

“Could my thyroid cancer have anything to do with my breast cancer?”

My friend asked her breast surgeon: “Could the thyroid cancer I had when I was younger have anything to do with my breast cancer?”

His reply to her question was apparently a flat-out NO.

He told her wrong.

If you read no further than this next paragraph, here’s my take-home:

If you have thyroid disease, I encourage you to be assertive about breast monitoring. Those with thyroid disease deserve to know that certain thyroid conditions are definitely associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.  Print off any of the articles I list in my references which may apply to you and take them into your healthcare provider to develop a breast monitoring plan together.

Thyroid Cancer Points to a Woman at Higher Risk for Breast Cancer

Thyroid cancer is associated with an increased breast cancer risk. In 2015, Dr. Jennifer Kuo (M.D.) of Columbia University presented pooled data from something called the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Database-9 (between the years of 1973-2011), reporting that patients who had had thyroid cancer were at an increased risk for developing breast cancer in comparison to the general population.

The 10-year risk for developing breast cancer at 40 years old was 5.6% after having thyroid cancer, while for the general population, breast cancer risk was only 1.5%. By age 50, the rate increased to 12.8% while the general population hung out at about 2.4%.

Simple recap for those with a history of thyroid cancer:

  • At age 40, 5.6% risk of breast cancer versus 1.5% risk in “normal people.”
  • At age 50, 12.8% risk of breast cancer versus 2.4% in “normal people.” (2)

Review of different data by other researchers indicated that a woman who had survived thyroid cancer was 1.18 times more likely to develop breast cancer than controls. Interestingly, this review also indicated the risk went the other way too! A breast cancer patient was 1.55 times more likely to develop thyroid cancer than the general population. (3)

So the answer is not NO. The answer is YES.

If you’ve had thyroid cancer, you and your doctor need to know that you’re at a higher risk for breast cancer and should take steps for monitoring your breast tissue.

Will Continue Next Post

In the next post, I’ll briefly cover other thyroid conditions and what the research indicates regarding breast cancer risk. And of course link it to food and encourage you to stick with whole, real food rich in vegetables and fruits! Both you AND your kids.

Have a wonderful Monday! Remember something that really makes you smile today. Think on it all day. And let that smile out. Share it. The world changes only as people’s hearts change. Your smile and joy can change people’s hearts.

Terri

 

Citations:

(Doing the citations is the biggest headache of my scientifically related posts, but I think citations are monumental to include–and especially helpful when the citation is linked to the piece of information in the article so you don’t have to go searching for which article information came from. When I re-write paragraphs, it messes the citation order ALL up. What a headache. So please, let me know if something doesn’t look right and I need to look at it again. Or if you’re a scientific writer who knows the trick to doing citations more easily, please do share!)

1. Johnson RH,  Chien FL, Bleyer A. Incidence of Breast Cancer With Distant Involvement Among Women in the United States, 1976 to 2009. JAMA. 2013;309(8):800-805; doi:10.1001/jama.2013.776. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=165625

2. Thyroid-Cancer Survivors at Higher Risk of Breast Cancer. Medscape Web Site. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/845605. Published June 1, 2015.

3. Nielson SM et al. The Breast-Thyroid Connection Link: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. February 2016 25; 231. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0833. http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/25/2/231.abstract

Gluten-Sensitivity Validation and More Discouraging News about Obesity

I’ve wanted to make time to share two articles with you from the last week or so. One on the brain and obesity and one about gluten sensitivity.

The first, and I’m going to summarize brutally, indicates that middle-aged obese people have smaller brains.

Now let me fill in a few details. The journal Neurobiology of Aging posted the article  “Obesity associated with increased brain-age from mid-life,” reporting that when middle-aged, obese study participants were compared to middle-aged, normal weight study participants, the obese patients had more brain atrophy. (Atrophy means shrinking or wasting.) When matched according to white matter volume, obese patients’ brains appeared the size of patients ten years older.

Make sense? Basically, obesity for some reason predicted that a middle-aged person would have a smaller brain, about the size of someone ten years older. (Brains naturally atrophy as we age.) An obese patient’s 50-year-old brain would look 60 years old.

(What is obesity? If you don’t know your BMI, I suggest you calculate it so that you are not lying to yourself about the state of your weight. Obese people tend to just call themselves overweight. And morbidly obese people tend to just classify themselves as obese. Here is a BMI calculator.)

Please focus on changing your eating for forever—not on temporary weight loss. The article (and other articles reporting on it) really focuses on the weight. I DO believe that weight is important—BUT more in light of the reflection that food choices are not being matched for the individual person. You can lose weight eating only green beans from a can and shrink your belly. But I don’t think that’s the best deal to protect your brain!

Eat real. Don’t eat anything processed. If the weight is still stubborn, eat real, unprocessed AND make it PLAIN. Protect the brain. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. Your kids are worth it. Obesity kills your life slowly. Painfully.

Next article up is about gluten-sensitivity.

Do you feel bashful saying you’re gluten-sensitive? I mean, it’s not like you’re terribly allergic and going to die. Or celiac and really killing your organs by eating wheat. You just, well, you just don’t feel good after eating that bread. And your mom gets a little frustrated with you at family gatherings, having nothing to thicken the gravy with! Can’t she use a little bit?!? That wouldn’t hurt you, would it?

The journal Gut ran a research article titled “Intestinal cell damage and systemic immune activation in individuals reporting sensitivity to wheat in the absence of coeliac disease.”

That’s a long title. I’ll explain the article really briefly:

Definite lab abnormalities were found in those who reported gluten sensitivity, and the changes were NOT the same as those found in celiac disease. Gluten sensitive patients had lab markers suggestive of systemic immune activation and a compromised intestinal epithelial barrier integrity. (Specifically, they had increased levels of soluble CD14, increased lipopolysaccharide-binding protein, increased antibodies to microbial flagellin, and elevated fatty acid-binding protein 2.)

Specific symptoms they looked at for inclusion in their study were bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, memory problems, thinking problems, or numbness and tingling of your arms and/or legs. They felt these were the most common symptoms associated with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

After six months of a gluten-free diet, the non-celiac gluten sensitive patients felt better and their labs returned to normal.

The discussion of the article is very interesting, worth a read if you are up to the terminology being thrown around.

I’m one of those people who hates to be a nuisance, but when I eat gluten, I get side effects. So I went gluten-free four years ago (and ate real, whole foods and watched out for other food sensitivities). Being a medical doctor by training, it was really hard for me when the medical field really shamed the idea of gluten sensitivity. Suddenly I was personally pitted against everything and everybody I believed to be true and right professionally. The last four years have been QUITE the eye opener professionally.

So it’s good to see validation.

I really, really encourage you to eat whole, real food. No strange added ingredients. Grains as fresh and whole as you can if you do them. Oils and fats as unprocessed and as close to the source as you can get them. Skip white sugar unless you’ve decided it’s a really special day.

The Homeschooling Doctor logoYou are worth feeling good.

Terri