My health story – an update

Nikki ParkinsonHealth, Life 39 Comments

Editor’s note: This post is not meant as medical advice that would necessarily work for you – please see your health care professional/s and work together on a plan that works for you.

I sat in my GP’s rooms last week with my latest blood tests up on the computer screen for us to check.

“Your iron levels have dropped by half,” he said. “Have you been tired?”

Um, yes. I’d put it down to the 2015 festive season apparently aligning itself with the retail Christmas calendar and starting in October.

And then it clicked.


I’d forgotten to re-stock – and therefore take – the iron supplements I’d been prescribed earlier this year when my levels had initially dropped – but not to the extent they were now.

It was kind of relief to have this diagnosis. The tiredness wasn’t just my fault – or in my head. It was real.

I’m just so bloody used to living with tiredness that I glossed over what I was really feeling.

I wasn’t being true to myself and my health “why”.

My health “why”?

My health goals are not centred around weight loss – I couldn’t even tell you how much I weigh. My number one goal – my why – is to feel the very best I can.


Abi & Joseph @ Elsa throw-over, crop and pant Health story update Hashimotos

Abi & Joseph @ Elsa throw-over (I’m wearing XL), high-performance sports bra (I’m wearing XL) and tight (I’m wearing L)*

It’s the only why that works for me, a Hashimotos sufferer for the past 17-plus years, who can put on 3kg in one day for no rhyme or reason.

{If you’re new to the blog then you can catch up on my health story hereherehere and here}

I’m not going to sugar-coat it, Stylers, this year has had its ups and downs in the health department.

Iron levels aside – and yes, I immediately re-stocked and am hoping for improvement again soon – it’s been a year of trialling natural desiccated thyroid extract (it’s a prescribed medication that can’t be bought over the counter and is created by a limited number of compounding pharmacists) instead of my previous thyroid medication mix of thyroxine (artificial T4) and tertroxine (artificial T3).

We’re still to get all my thyroid levels in the zone my GP would like the to be but we’re close. Very close.

And most days – apart from the iron hiccup – I do feel SO much better than I did 12 months ago.

I can’t imagine going back to the old medication.

What did set me back this year was getting the mother of all flus in July in Italy, bringing it back with me on the plane (sorry fellow passengers) and letting it move in with me until September.

To say this flu was an unwelcome guest would be the understatement of the year.

I don’t get sick. I rarely need antibiotics. I never take steriods. Over the course of those few months I was on doses of both. Twice.

About six weeks in, I tried to go back to my walking and yoga exercise routines but ended up back on the drugs.

It didn’t help that this period was also one of my most busy – and exciting – professionally. I simply didn’t have the time to stop.

It’s a poor excuse but it’s how it played out. I put on my makeup, got up, did what had to be done and got on with it.

I’m not proud of this.

I was frustrated that I wasn’t operating at full capacity – even my thyroidy version full capacity.

I was frustrated that the usual things that help me to feel the best I can feel were not working.

But by September, I started getting glimpses of my pre-flu self.

I set that alarm, got up and got back on the yoga mat. I took to the hills again.

That’s the toughest thing, isn’t it? When your routine gets broken for whatever reason and you have to find something within you to get back on track?

Food and diet wise? That didn’t really stray from its usual path.

I craved healthy food choices when I was sick. I haven’t strictly been doing the 5:2 diet I’ve talked about in previous health update posts. Instead I’ve just been eating less full stop. What doing that diet helped with was levelling out of blood sugar levels. It helped give me an understanding of what hunger was – as opposed to just the habit of eating.

The final health test of the year will happen over the next couple of months, through the festive season and on to the holidays, but I’m feeling pretty confident that over the past two years, I’ve made some seemingly solid lifetime choices in that department.

They may not be always perfect choices but 80% of the time they are and that works for me to sustain a healthy way of eating – and to enjoy a social life.

That’s my ongoing health story and I’m sticking to it.

What have I learned about my health this year … that might help you?

1. Having a GP or health professional on your side – on your health team – is crucial to keeping your eye on the bigger picture – and the little findings within that regularly monitored health care can make a huge difference. (Email me if you’d like details of my GP in Brisbane)

2. That the best intentions health wise can be undone in an instant. When that happens, keep focussing on the “why”. Keep focussing on the aim to feel the best you can. It might take days – or months – but that focus was what enabled me to get back on track when the flu fog lifted.

3. That if something doesn’t feel right, seek advice. Push for tests. Don’t stop until you have answers as to why you don’t feel right.

So tell me, what would you write on your 2015 health report card?

* I’m 166cm and usually a size 14-16. These pieces were gifted to me for editorial consideration. Full disclosure policy here.

Comments 39

  1. Hi Nikki, just wondering what your experience is with drinking coffee and your thyroid/adrenals? I am 37 and seeing my first holistic endocrinologist. My blood tests through the GP are all at okay levels, but my body is telling me otherwise, so I want to check it out properly. Thanks, Dani

    1. I have one coffee a day Dani – maybe two on occasion – it’s probably not ideal but I can’t give up all my vices. My adrenals are checked each time I have a thyroid blood test and I do take supplements for those too. The two glands need to work together so it’s worth getting them checked. Hopefully your holistic endo can help look at the bigger picture. My GP won’t accept me feeling the best I can possibly feel and I’m very grateful for that.

  2. Because I went in to have the flu shot, my Dr noticed I had not had a blood test for a while ( although I had had one with the Endocrinologist) -so we did it.. results indicated higher that before cholesterol, but not that bad, BUT my sugars WHOA!!!!!!!!! it showed 11. something -so a GTT was to be had and result???? 13.4!!!! so now on medication Type II diabetes.. WT??? so now even though I ate fairly well ( cannot tolerate fried food anyway) my lazy and getting older pancreas is being a Bit*h so have to now endure lots of tests, and HAVE to get back to exercise, which I might add was interrupted with my “2014 annus horribilis” after breaking my ankle in Paris last July. I am struggling getting back to exercise.. need a training buddy !LOL

  3. I have had my ups and downs too, with two major surgeries this year and a range of side effects, complications and treatments. I am really hoping that 2016 will allow me to get back into running and that I can finally focus on being a good mother again. I am still recovering from my last surgery as you know, and am now written off until the end of the year, but I still try to have some peace and quiet each day and think about what I want to do in 2016.

  4. Hi Nikki,

    ugh! I can so relate to soldiering on when you’re sick and having the illness drag on.. and on. I think that’s part of being a mum and self-employed. We can’t seem to stop.

    I’m glad you’re feeling better again. I take iron constantly, as soon as I stop my levels plummet. It’s just one of those things and so good to be on top of. Sounds like you’re getting on top of everything so hope you have a great holiday. x A

  5. Dear Nikki so sorry to hear of your health issues this year, one would never know it from your bright bubbly face and posts.Wishing you the best to feel as good as you look 🙂 love Maria xx

  6. Thank you for your honesty and sharing this with us. People see or expect us a certain way so as mums & career women, we soldier on and do what we have to do.
    I too have struggled with extremely low iron levels for more than a year and a half. During my down period as I called it, I would barely be able to open my eyes (not a nice thing for kids to see) yet I soldiered on, attended training/running thinking I needed to do more to feel better.
    Thankfully my friend, who also suffered for years with hereditary thyroid symtoms, recommended a great naturopath that helped me bounce back with herbal iron tablets & liquid.
    Wishing you nothing but great strength & strong health in 2016, keep going you a an inspiration!

  7. Well I wouldn’t have thought, going by the photos and your posts, that you were anything other than in great shape. So that means you are good at hiding it when you feel low! I’m pleased you’re feeling much better tho’, and that flu sounded dreadful going on for so long. I look forward to hearing more good news from you on the health front. Keep on swimmin’ 🙂

  8. I think I was meant to read this tonight. After 18 months of poor health (a couple of run-ins with monster blood clots in your lungs will do that I guess) I had a blood test last week and found out my iron level was at 7. I was feeling so incredibly ill and I truly thought it was just going to be my life from now on because of my medication and its charming side effects. I was beyond exhausted and then when I found out I was angry that any number of specialists should have been keeping an eye on those levels.

    It is so, so true about finding a good GP and don’t second guess yourself, chances are it’s real.

    Thank you for writing this Nikki, truly.

    Running off now to consume more steak & spinach with a side order of oranges and kiwi fruit 🙂

  9. My health took a beating this year, a recent diagnosis of MS has made me appreciate my body so much more. I am now so much more conscious of what I am putting into my body and making sure I stop and listen to it when its trying to tell me something. I’m positive 2016 will be a brighter one, sounds like you’re certainly on the right track. Thank you for sharing! x

  10. I have been seeing a new GP, he uses natural supplements to complement western medicine. The man is brilliant. He’s at the clinic I’ve always gone to since moving to Caloundra, but I only saw him for the first time a month ago when a post menopausal problem reared it’s ugly (and scary) head. He sent me for ultrasounds, and blood tests, and with a referall to a gyno. Got in to see him the next week, had surgery the week after and finally got my all clear today, a polyp which was benign. My GP prescribes Metagenics too, he told me about copper toxicity, which I had never heard of. He checked in the blood tests and mine is sky high. Gave me heaps of info, and I came home to google it. Now I take zinc, vitamin C and SAMe which is a supplement. My IBS is better, and I feel better all round. So yes a good supportive GP is an absolute must. Other than that, I could really lose some weight, it’s getting to me. You look amazing Nikki, I love reading your health posts, always inspirational x

  11. I have had a great year health wise too. I have really struggled with finding a great or even a good gp that doesn’t have an epic wait list in Sydney. There is apparently a shortage in my area. Luckily I haven’t had to worry too much this year. Glad to hear you are back on track and hopefully you will be full of get up and go when the iron kicks in.

  12. I’ve found a great GP (and I’m making my husband swap to see her too since his GP is less than great) and I’m proactively seeing a dietician to help with bad habits. 2015 hasn’t been great for my health with sinuses and chest infections and low iron causing havoc at times but I’ve had a great GP which made all the difference.

  13. I’ve had a great year health wise – I got another one year reprieve and my endo is finally taking my weight gain seriously. Woot! I think having medical professionals on side is so important. They can literally make the difference between wellness and meh-ness. Onwards and upwards, here’s to a happy and healthy (and flu free) 2016 x

  14. So pleased you’re back on track Nikki. My ‘why’ is the same with a few little additions this year. Of course surgeries etc throw a spanner in the works for a little while but I’m feeling like 2016 is my year. Having health professionals you trust and can have a laugh with is vital, something I’m grateful to have. X

  15. Long haul flights and illness seem to have a co-dependent relationship: you can’t have one without the other! No matter how I plan it, my work always seems to require something of me immediately after a holiday, and I end up working through when I should be tucked up resting, so I’m familiar with that feeling you’ve described of forgetting how good it’s possible to feel.

    It has always been my style to keep working and exercising through any health issues. Recently I’ve been watching my mother struggle with her own health and have realised this is at least partly related to that same stoicism. This was followed by my mylotherapist telling me to stop pushing myself so hard when I exercise as he can feel the tension- well, everywhere.

    Now I’m re-assessing my ‘go hard or go home’ attitude to exercise and when Mum was in hospital two weeks ago, I dumped the gym for lots of early morning power walks around the bay. They cleared my head and meant I felt like I was still moving enough.

    I’m not sure what’s next, but I’m ready for a new routine.

  16. This year certainly has been full of ups and downs for most people it would seem… and not just in the health department. Me? A health highlight was having food intolerance testing done and discovering the issues I thought I had were not just in my head. That has made such a big difference. As for exercise, it seems to have slipped off my radar a little in recent times but with a bit of time off coming up, I’m looking forward to getting back into it and keeping the habit going once work resumes again next year. x

  17. My health report card would be a shocker this year Nikki as you know! I haven’t felt this horrible for a long time and a bit low to tell the truth,I even started crying when I saw my neurosurgeon oops but maybe that was a good thing,he told me it’s very normal to get depressed after this sort of operation as it’s such a long recovery. I’m learning to ask for help and say thank you without pushing myself as I still can’t lift more than 5kgs or vacuum or drive very far and need a nana nap in the afternoon.
    You have had a horrible year for the flu but that’s great news about your thyroid levels,they are such a hard thing to get just right,mine go up and down! I had hashimotos and a multinodular goitre before I had a total thyroidectomy many years ago and fully understand about how awful it makes you feel.
    You look glowing Nikki yoga and walking is clearly working for you.i hope your iron levels are back up soon and you feel amazing Nikki Xx

  18. Thanks for sharing beautiful, I have a few health problems and I have a fabulous GP who is supportive and understanding and realistic, life happens and you have to just try your best to stick to the things that work. Keep loving and looking after yourself xxx

  19. nikki you are amazing!
    always stoic and looking like you are up for anything life throws at you!
    it sounds like that doctor has his finger on your thyroid pulse! … good for you to have someone who is willing to try something different and more natural!
    it is such a balance! hoping the iron helps too!
    i’m good at the moment! keeping body and soul connected hun! love m:)X

  20. More downs than ups for me heath wise at the moment but I’m doing everything in my power to turn this around. My body just doesn’t want to play the game. Or any game really. My iron levels are low and 12 months of triple dose supplements have not helped. So I would love to know what you are taking?

    Awoke to find my blog has been hacked. It follows another vicious troll attack and I’m wondering if I wouldn’t be best to just hit delete on everything right now. Going for a 4:30 am walk to the beach instead to clear my head and find some much needed clarity.

    1. Oh gosh that’s just awful. Don’t hit delete – walking always brings clarity. Did you ever contact that GP I suggested? Sometimes a fresh approach can be helpful?

      Re iron, I use either the Metaganics or BioCeuticals branded supplements for this. Not sure how long it will take to correct the levels but next blood test not until February.

      1. Feeling a tad more positive after my walk and the Oprah evening last night. Hoping to see your GP in the new year. He is over an hour’s drive from me and with several unexplained falls and a popped shoulder I had to wait for the latest MRI before I could drive. It’s the second condition (which they thought was lupus but now suspect worse) rather than the thyroid that is giving me grief.

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