60: The Best Birthday Ever
If you're tired all the time, you have falling hair, you're gaining - or losing - weight for no reason, please read this - It might save your life, or at least improve it beyond imagining. I am not a doctor. I don't even play one on TV. But this is serious stuff.
The unfolding story about my recovery from a non-functioning thyroid of many years duration will take awhile. I'm not one to share my miseries, but this is one time that I believe it's important to give my account of this absolute miracle of recovery, because so many women are in the same boat I found myself in. Undiagnosed and untreated, hypothyroidism can kill, or, at the very least, destroy the quality of your life until it resembles nothing so much as a trailer for a Wes Craven movie. The word that springs unbidden to my mind is morbid. But it all has a VERY happy ending for me, and I'll log some of my observations and revelations here as I go through what I now call, fondly and with great affection, LIFE.
Again, the main article is here, and I hope you read it, particularly if you're dead-tired all the time.
Entry for Mar 9, 2008:
Richard threw a big birthday bash last night for me... I am 60 now, but I feel 30 again. As a matter-of-fact, I don't remember ever feeling quite this good. I noticed that, as I played my heart out, my energy GREW throughout the evening. By the end of the night, I could've easily played on until 3 am! Not at all like the "old Jessica" who had quite enough fire in her blood for the concert, but became a zombie afterwards.
Below, Richard, the instigator and host.
Below, friends. As I was very busy playing, eating cake, and having a blast, I didn't get many pictures. The young man in the foreground of the picture is Adam Stansell, a wonderfully gifted young pianist. He played Misty for us and left us all wanting more. What a marvelous gift he has!
And the people! Their reactions! Most of them know me to some degree, and many of them said things such as "you look so radiant tonight" and "your eyes are sparkling" and "you seem so alive and vital and... well... different!"
One gal mentioned that my aura was really bright, and that my spiritual vibe was putting out signals on a much higher bandwidth than she had ever experienced from me.
I saw Richard's house (and Richard!) as if for the first time! I know and love Richard. He's always been one of my favorite people. But last night I saw just how dear and kind and special he is. I saw his art collection. I saw all the colors in the room. I saw all of the beautiful people that came to see me and hear my music. I saw a woman with thick beautiful gray hair, and she shined with an inner light that was so intense... and another lady that made me deviled eggs (she knew it was a favorite of mine) and she was also 60, and she was just radiating beauty. I saw my ex-husband from 25 years ago, and he was just so cool to look at!!!
No. I am not on any narcotic or other substance. I do not drink and have been sober since '98. I don't even smoke. I am taking levothyroxin - read all about it here. And I was living all those years without a thyroid! Definitely for 5 years. Maybe 10. Possibly 20! My pituitary gland was screaming "wake up!" but my thyroid was kaput forever. Now, nearly a month into the levothyroxin - one tiny pill per day - I am a totally renewed and rejuvenated Jessica. It's almost embarrassing.
And not everyone approves of the positive changes. That's their problem! Record producers, sensing my illness, were perhaps hoping for my early demise so that my music might be theirs with little or no legal opposition. Sorry, misanthropes. Even if I kakked tomorrow, there are documents and litigators to prevent such larcenous desires. And, unhappily, some marginal "friends" who hold on to negativistic misery and nihilistic ennui as if it were the only option for being both human and intelligent simultaneously... they seem positively disgruntled by, and OPPOSED to, this sudden brightening of the life-force within me. Elan Vitale! Joie de vivre! Yippee! These are states of mind that cause grumpiness, cringing, and obstinate disapproval in the diligently and doggedly depressed.
So far, I don't have much to report that's easily put into words. Here's a quick look at the improvements after almost a month on thyroid replacement:
- I sleep like a rock with no sleeping aids necessary
- I awake refreshed and happy and ready to make things happen
- The yellow around my eyes and on the palms of my hands has faded
- I can taste and smell food again
- My appetite has accordingly returned
- I usually laugh now when I see bush on TV
- I work without exhaustion
- My neurons are firing quickly again... I can tell by how easy it is to play and speak
- I can run up and down the stairs
- I see beauty everywhere it exists
- My voice is stronger and clearer
- My hair is thickening again
- The ugliness of the world doesn't depress me... it motivates me, infuriates me, horrifies me, and drives me to work for change
- My little dog Angel plays with me again and is more lively as a response to all of this
A list of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are here
I get to have two parties this year - see below for numero two. I get to play concerts at both of them. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, about really super-duper happenings of this nature: "Now, if this isn't nice, I just don't know what is!" As for my having told everyone that I've been sixty for the past year or so, I feel like it's a kind of "free catch-up year" for me now. I get to be sixty for a full two years this way, thus avoiding aging. At least in my mind. And since my curse has been lifted, I feel like I'm thirty again. More on that literal miracle here ... So, yay for March 17th! Happy Birthday to me! And to: Nat King Cole, Kurt Russell, Rita Beigh, Alan Schultz, Williams Gibson and Gary Sinise.
Entry for Mar 15, 2008:
Last night I played another concert, given in honor of my having survived 60 years on this mudball called Urth, and coming out in pretty fair condition. It was interesting to see and hear folks sound off again about how GREAT I looked. Different. Younger. Healthier. More alive. Maureen, who put on the concert/party, said "you look TIMELESS!" That's as great of a compliment as I could hope for!
Maureen has two fine pianos: a '34 Steinway and a Chickering. I played by myself, and was then joined by Maureen for a duet - she's a fine, fine pianist - and we played like angels. She's a very gifted young lady and a fine vocalist too. But her pianistic ability is the foremost of her talents, and she is no slacker when it comes to bluesy, hip, and technically astute playing. Also, her time is perfect! And then, out of nowhere, the voraciously iconoclastic and more-than-occasionally hilarious Overton Berry was there, poof, so I had him up to do a number. He sure did a number! It was a gas all around for all of us.
And two b-day cakes AGAIN! Please. NO MORE CAKE!!!
I concluded the concert with Coltrane's After the Rain. In the key of A major, a brilliant and emotionally-charged key. The blue-green key. And then I just burst out crying in front of everyone. Because of how beautiful life is, how lucky I am, how many friends I have, how much I want the war to end, how much I want the world to be right again. And everyone knew that. And more than a few folks that I hardly knew cried with me too, for the same reasons, and I hadn't said a word. We all just knew.
All these beautiful people, celebrating, not just this magnificent music, but magnificent life and how wonderful it is when you're healthy! Which, until a few weeks ago, for reasons of illness that had plagued me for year after year, remaining undiagnosed and unattended, was not mine to enjoy.
Health. That entity without which all else becomes meaningless. A long, dark passage, a descent into utter blackness and chaos.
Fortunately, hypothyroidism is curable for the most part, and manageable. My experience is chronicled here.
Thank you all - my friends and my doctor - for the great birthday!!!