Wow, Your Mom Really Is Crazy: A Complete Guide to Coping with Thyroid Disease: Stress, Weight Loss Tips, and More


When Carol Gray moved to an upper-middle class neighborhood, she found that it wasn't just her living space that was bigger; her physical and mental problems were also growing.

Most people who suffer from autoimmune diseases are usually sick an average of ten years with various ailments before getting the correct diagnosis. Carol was no exception, and she struggled to maintain the façade of normality among the neighborhood's stay-at-home moms, ...

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Wow, Your Mom Really Is Crazy: A Complete Guide to Coping with Thyroid Disease: Stress, Weight Loss Tips, and More

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When Carol Gray moved to an upper-middle class neighborhood, she found that it wasn't just her living space that was bigger; her physical and mental problems were also growing.

Most people who suffer from autoimmune diseases are usually sick an average of ten years with various ailments before getting the correct diagnosis. Carol was no exception, and she struggled to maintain the façade of normality among the neighborhood's stay-at-home moms, green lawns, and white-collar dads.

In this guidebook about coping with autoimmune and thyroid disease, she recalls her struggles and shares stress-coping tips, nutritional advice, alternative therapies, and insights on dealing with friends and family who want to see evidence of an invisible disease. She also explores how to deal with mood swings and other symptoms not yet fully explored by the scientific community.

Millions of people suffer from autoimmune and thyroid diseases, but they remain misunderstood. Find the answers you're looking for, and discover how to keep your sense of humor in Wow, Your Mom Really Is Crazy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781475953497
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/12/2012
  • Pages: 156
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Read an Excerpt

WOW, Your Mom Really Is CRAZY

A Complete Guide to Coping with Thyroid Disease: Stress, Weight Loss Tips, and More

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Carol Gray
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4759-5349-7

Chapter One

Stress, the Bad Kind

I want you to close your eyes and try to go back in time to remember a specific event in your life. Now, I know this is asking an awful lot of you, my thyroid-deficient friend. No one knows more than I do how difficult it is to conjure up memories. But I would venture to guess that the particular memory I am going to ask you to reflect on is probably still very strong because it relates to that spiteful, sinister substance that can strengthen any sickness: stress. What was the major stressor that helped jump-start your thyroid disease? I am quite sure this six-letter word kicked my butt to thyroid Hades.

Unquestionably, the medical community has given stress more respect in recent years, reporting that stress can intensify illnesses and, in some cases, kill. Just ask a cardiologist what stress can do. If this fact is recognized by so many, why do we ignore and/ or accept continuous stressful situations in our lives? Being the inquisitive person that I am, I began to analyze this phenomenon. I interviewed others to get their opinions about stress, watched documentaries, read articles, and so on. Then I checked to see what Mr. Webster had to say. Ugh! The dictionary's numerous definitions stressed me out. There are fourteen different definitions for the word stress. Weeding through all of those definitions—and then trying to decipher which one best fits the classification of something that could result in death or disease—caused me to do what I do best after a stressful situation: take a nap.

If my thyroid hormone levels are up or down either way, and I am faced with too many choices, I find myself heading down Berserk Boulevard. This is why we should continuously have our thyroid levels checked every three months (or sooner, if your doctor recommends it). So many of the non-thyroid afflicted, do not understand how difficult it is for us to make the right decision or any decisions at all, for that matter. To illustrate, it is like your brain is inside that head of yours, anxiously working away, literally trying to seek out a needle in a haystack. Once it finds the needle, the brain starts celebrating—"Yippee! Here it is!"—but the process was long and arduous. At my sickest, this simple question was like trying to locate that needle: "Ma'am, do you want paper or plastic?"

Before my thyroid diagnosis, I could never understand why that question from the store clerk would send me close to the edge. I knew making that decision was not rocket science, but it gave me trouble nonetheless. Every time! Somehow it didn't dawn on me that this question would be asked during every purchasing event. And understanding how simple a question it was, but also knowing that it caused so much deliberation, would perpetuate a dizzying effect. If only they would give me the chance to sit down for a minute in the checkout aisle and contemplate which one I really needed ... paper or plastic, I would say to myself. Ha! Perhaps they should have a separate checkout lane for us, "Lane 2: The Thyroid Lane."

When the thyroid goes all wonky, so can the brain—and vice versa, I guess—because the thyroid and the brain are tight coworkers. After diagnosis and treatment, I continued to have problems with working through multiple choices. This was mainly because a thyroid that is not fully functioning does not give a person the essential nutrients needed for ample brain and body performance. Also, it is difficult for doctors to dial in the correct thyroid medication dosage to mimic a healthy functioning thyroid. So while doctors try to figure out how to reign in my rogue thyroid and immune disorder, I use my MacGraver tricks (for example, naps) to keep all my symptoms at a dull roar.

Two hours after my dictionary-induced nap, I woke up refreshed and ready for more stress education. I isolated the definitions with which most of us are familiar and that negatively affect us. Whew!

Here's my abridged version: whatever causes pain, fear, emotional strain, or tension, both physical and mental, is stress.

As much harm as stress can do to the human body, I really wanted good ol' Mr. Webster's first description, out of all fourteen, to say the following: "Stress is evil; do something about it. Grab it by the you-know-what, or you will be sorry. Sickness and disease will take over your life." This would have warranted a "Yea!" and a fist pump—and no nap.

The American Psychological Association reported in 2009 that 66 percent of surveyed adults had been told by their doctors that they have one or more chronic stress-related conditions (, 2010). I believe most of us autoimmune disease sufferers would agree that stress was the main trigger that initiated our diseases. Stress is the kerosene thrown on smoldering coals that creates an inferno. Medical experts have often said that the daily personal anxieties we endure affect our dynamic trio: mind, body, and soul. Hey, think about this: your trio is not the only thing affected by stress; others in your path are affected as well because stress can be the gift that keeps on giving. Most of us aren't that skillful at maintaining calmness during highly stressful situations. We freely involve everyone—and who knows, maybe this contributes to the large number of chronic illnesses in our society. Wow, we all make each other sick. Isn't that great? Am I wrong? Look at my example below:

Hypothetical Example:

Pretend that stress is measured in pounds.

Your stressed-out friend calls you around 10:00 p.m., crying about a traumatic event going on in her life (three pounds). You listen intently, trying to be the good friend that you are, but your face tells a different story. You are rolling your eyes because this is the twentieth time she has been in this situation throughout your friendship. (It isn't necessary for me to detail the friend's circumstances in this hypothetical; you can insert your own drama-filled friend and his or her "situation," to paint yourself a better picture if you want.) You are quite curious as to how she has this enormous amount of desperation in her voice, as if this is the very first time she has ever been in this predicament. The first dozen or so times that you heard her rant, you made attempts to give advice, but now you have learned to respond by saying, "Uh, huh ... Really, that's horrible." You manage to get off the phone by 10:30 p.m., which is a record. You are tired yet all wound up from the conversation. You and your husband are settling into bed together, and you start venting your frustrations to him about how exasperating your friend can be. You turn to your husband and ask, "What do you think I should do?" He says, "Huh?" He was not listening to a word you said (five pounds). The next morning you are tired and mad. Mad at your friend for being an idiot, mad at your husband for not listening, and mad at yourself for losing sleep over any of it. Pissed that your husband got to the shower before you, you head to your child's room to make sure he is getting ready for school, and he is. Ahhhh, my baby, you think. This is the one bright spot in my life right now. Until your child hands you a two-page permission slip, asking for pertinent medical information and money so he can attend a field trip. The bus will arrive in ten minutes, and the slip shows in big, bold letters that the deadline to turn it in is today (ten pounds). You head off to work—lots of weight to be added here:

• Rush-hour traffic: five pounds (Add another five if you are late or if there is inclement weather.)

• Just the act of pulling into the parking lot: two pounds

• The wait for the elevator: two pounds

• The walk toward your cubicle: ten pounds (Five pounds if you have an office, and if your office or cubicle is near the break room, add another ten pounds.)

I could write an entire book about just the cubicle—for making many people's lives a living hell. The creators of this horrid contraption should be doing ten to twenty in a cubicle of the concrete variety. Dilbert, the satirical office comic-strip cynic, and I are kindred spirits; the man just gets it. We both feel the same way about those darn gray boxes. Cubicles give off a false sense of security—like driving down the highway in a golf cart.

Forty or fifty years ago when cubicles came onto the office scene, the cubicle salesmen probably enticed management with the notion that they could shove numerous, smelly, obnoxious, gum-chewing, long-nailed, computer-clanking bodies into one room ergonomically and effectively. Guaranteed to get the most out of every employee ... Yea!

If you are a cubicle dweller, this is your stress weight class:

• Tap on the shoulder to get your attention: ten pounds (twenty pounds if your neck hurts)

• Over-the-cube talker: five pounds

• The person who stands at your cube, silently waiting for you to notice: twenty pounds

• "I am going to set these papers down [at your cubicle] while I go to the bathroom": ten pounds (If they say "pee": fifteen pounds.)

• Your cubicle is Grand Central Station: thirty pounds (If you have to meet deadlines: fifty pounds.)

Add more work weight for IT issues, meetings, mandatory tornado drills, complainers, and visitor anxiety from management (thirty to fifty pounds).

After work, you make a stop at the grocery since you forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer to thaw for dinner because you were too busy in the morning making up fake dentist and doctor's telephone numbers for your child's permission slip. You have no idea where the school is taking your child; it could be to a strip club, for all you know.

While grocery shopping, you are able to find something healthier than pizza or fast food but not healthy enough to win you the Mother of the Year award. What your family eats is a big concern: five pounds.

The checkout lanes at the grocery go on forever: eight pounds.

Your stress weight is intensified by the checkout lady who feels the need to scan the items at a rate of one item per hour and then deems it important to strategically place the groceries in the bag as if she were placing a fragile, premature newborn in a car seat. "They are hash browns for crying out loud—throw those suckers in! Geesh." (Add ten pounds.)

Later in the evening, everyone in your household bears the brunt of the pounds of stress hanging from your shoulders. They pay the price, and you feel guilty. Guilt weighs a ton.

Take the above scenario and add other life stressors—environmental, food-related, spiritual, and so on. Why then are we shocked and amazed at signs of severe depression and anxiety (mental); headaches and stomach and digestive issues (physical); and discontentment (spiritual). And don't even get me started on the stress of getting repeatedly misdiagnosed. Years of living this way can most certainly lead to autoimmune diseases, especially if there is an underlying/subclinical condition lying in wait, anticipating stress weight.

Fifty million autoimmune disease sufferers in the United States and nearly two hundred million worldwide were perhaps oblivious to the fact that an enemy was awakened at the most inconvenient moment, rearing its ugly head, ready to strike. Strike with Hashimoto's, Graves', Crohn's, or type 1 diabetes. Then BAM! You are on medications for the rest of your life. Even after your diagnosis, allowing the weight of stressors to continue to pound on you can produce more illnesses or even kill you. Sadly, if enough weight is placed on even the sturdiest of structures, it will eventually break. I have no doubt my thyroid disease was borne from stress similar to that in the theoretical tale above, perhaps with a few extra pounds included.

Many of life's little stressors cannot be changed or avoided. What you can change is what I call the four Ps: your position, perspective, pressure, and pain.

Position: In season one of the television show, MacGyver narrowly escapes a car about to be smashed by one of those junkyard smooshers. Since he cannot flee from the side doors, he pries the backseat down and jumps out of the trunk in the nick of time.

Perspective: MacGyver's peril on the television show is usually displayed with humor. While instructing a female heroine who is trying to stop deadly sulfuric acid from leaking by blocking the leak with chocolate candy bars, MacGyver tells her to make sure the chocolate melts on the acid and not on her hands.

Pressure: This is not always the best solution. It could backfire. However, on occasion, even MacGyver would have to use extreme force if necessary. It always amazed me how little scrawny Richard Dean Anderson could continually knock the bad guy out with just one punch.

Pain: Although MacGyver's character was not super muscular, I am sure Richard Dean Anderson had to stay in shape to play that role. It takes a lot of energy to pull off some of those MacGyver-like tricks.

Once you are able to get your body conditioned to the point that it is stretched out enough for the pain to subside, you can then start an exercise regimen.

The thyroid regulates serotonin, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid, all of which contribute to normal brain functioning. So, when the thyroid is malfunctioning and your condition is not thoroughly controlled by medication, stress is magnified. When this occurs, there is no telling how a thyroid sufferer's will react to any stressor, let alone a major one.

I love grids and visual illustrations; you will see a lot of them in this book. Grids are great for those with thyroid problems because our cognitive abilities are somewhat diminished. At times, if information given to us is not compact and concise, it gets lost in the vast wasteland in our brains; and let me tell you, when it is lost ... it is lost forever.

Please take note of the following stress grid. If you have a thyroid condition, these symptoms can be extreme and hard to control.

Bottom line, a stressful situation can either come at you like a speeding bullet or like a piece of lint gently drifting in your direction, softly landing on your lapel. Either way it makes an impact. Learn how to recognize this unwelcomed visitor by taking inventory from the stress signs and symptoms grid. If you are feeling too much stress weight, remember the four Ps and put them into practice. Don't forget, my thyroid-ailing brothers and sisters, this is not about being mean, self-centered, or antisocial. This is about survival.

* * *

Coming Attractions

In the next chapter, I will tell the story of how the weight of stress triggered my own thyroid autoimmune disease (Graves' disease). My evolution into physical and mental decay was inconceivable. How could someone in her late thirties experience all these symptoms? My deep desire is to help other thyroid-disease sufferers (diagnosed or undiagnosed) understand that they are not alone. If my story sounds familiar to you, seek help immediately. If you are met with a lot of balking and resistance, keep searching until you find the health-care practitioner who will listen and treat you effectively. I can't stress this enough.

**And now a word from one of my MacGraver friends, Sherri, who has Crohn's disease.

I take inspiration from a book that says, "Under any circumstances always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next" (The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz).

I am working on remembering my best is defined by whether I'm sleeping well or exhausted, my symptoms are flaring or I'm feeling well, and gauging my emotions—angry, content, jealous, happy. These affect how high the bar is set for me daily (sometimes hourly). When I remember that, I feel less guilt on what I'm not getting done—the should'ves, would'ves, could'ves. And isn't guilt what causes us the most physical harm in the end?


Excerpted from WOW, Your Mom Really Is CRAZY by CAROL GRAY Copyright © 2012 by Carol Gray. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Stress, the Bad Kind....................1
Chapter 2 My Stress, The Pit....................13
Chapter 2—The Continuation....................27
Chapter 3 Finally, Treatment!....................36
Intermission & Chapter 4 Preview....................50
Chapter 4 Nutrition....................53
Chapter 4—The Sequel....................76
Chapter 5 Family and Friends....................90
Chapter 5—The Next Generation....................100
Chapter 6 Cautionary Tales, Take Care of You....................104
Chapter 7 The Twelve Steps for the Thyroid Sufferer....................109
Chapter 8 Crazy Thyroid Lady's Quick Guide and Other Tips....................119
The Final Scene....................131
Resource Page....................133
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