My Hashimotos health story update | Nikki Parkinson | Styling You

My health story – an update

Nikki ParkinsonHealth, Life 37 Comments

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

Forgive me dear readers, it’s been way too many months between updates on my health.

My blog tells me it was December last year. Eek. Where has the time flown?

At that time, I was kicking myself for forgetting to take my iron supplement. Tests had revealed that my iron levels were ridiculously low.

I’m pleased to report that we’re sailing in the normal range. Because I’ve REMEMBERED to take my supplements.

What that test and revelation taught me was that my regular (three monthly) blood tests are so worth the time and investment – they’re a crucial part of working partnership I have with my GP.

My primary blood test is for thyroid function.

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

In short, my thyroid has not functioned on its own for almost 20 years – probably longer – but it was about 18 years ago that I was diagnosed with Hashimito’s, an auto-immune condition that causes your thyroid gland to be under-active.

The thyroid is super essential in the whole body metabolism equation. My metabolism is now pretty much reliant on the prescribed medication I take.

This might sound like an easy proposition: patient has hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), give the poor woman (and most of us “Hashies” are women) some Thyroxine and all is well.

Except that in most cases, all is not well.

It’s a long and tricky process to get the right balance of medication for your particular level of hypothyroidism.

And it takes a special health professional to work with you to help you feel the best you possibly can by adjusting those medication levels to suit.

I can tell you something for nothing, an under-active thyroid is the pits. It’s not a life-threatening condition but it can be a life-limiting condition.

I have lived so many years with brain fuzz, tiredness, sluggishness (yes, toilet sluggishness too!) and, oh the clincher, the ability to put on weight just by looking at food.

If you’ve followed along with my health story updates then you’ll know that I’ve come to peace with the weight thing.

I had to. I had to let go of weight loss being my benchmark for good health. I had to find a new “why” to keep me motivated to eat well and to exercise regularly.

That “why” is to wake up every day feeling the best I can feel.

Arming myself with that “why”, I’ve worked together with my GP for two-and-a-half-years to achieve that.

I’m not going to lie, finally finding a GP who really wanted to help me feel the best I could feel, has been crucial to me being at the point I’m at now.

That point?

My last thyroid function blood test results were the best they’ve been since we started working together.

THE BEST.

My Hashimotos health story update | Nikki Parkinson | Styling You

Medication

That most recent blood test result has come about from regular tests and trialling different levels of medication.

For the first year with my new GP that was a combination of Thyroxine and Tetroxin.

After that first 12 months, when my GP was happier with where my levels were at, we switched to natural desiccated thyroid extract (NDT) – a non-synthetic combination of what the Thyroxine and Tetroxin had previously done, with some added vitamins and minerals in the mix.

It is only available through select compound pharmacies. It’s not cheap but has been a worthwhile investment in my health.

This was not a simple switch but I did feel better within a few weeks. It still then required some tweaking with levels within my prescribed NDT.

It’s not something that will work for all thyroid patients but my GP had had success with 90% of his patients and that was a good enough stat for me.

I also discovered that not all compounding pharmacists are the same in consistency with their batching of NDT. Where I’ve had my last two scripts filled has produced a better result – in my overall wellness feeling and in the tests.

But medication is just one part of my health picture.

I can tell you that if it were just medication alone I was relying on to feel the best I can feel every day, it would not be happening.

Diet

I’m far from a green-smoothie-toting saint when it comes to what I put in my mouth but I am very conscious of keeping away from processed foods and sticking to whole foods, cooked simply with flavour. There is a moderate amount of red meat in my diet every week (see above re iron) and I avoid gluten as its a known problem with anyone suffering an auto-immune condition.

Every so often, I’ll test the digestive system out a little to see how things are going on the gluten front. I reserve this test for dumplings (because DUMPLINGS!) and only in the knowledge that I don’t have too much planned for the next day (because potential TOILET SITUATION!).

I’m far from paleo but I don’t eat a lot of refined carbs. I love carbs and would happily insert them into my every day but generally they love me a little too much and make my pants feel tighter than they should. See above re sluggish metabolism.

I love my wine and Champagne and espresso martinis … give a girl a few vices, please … but I do know that too much of a good thing is far from a good thing and I pay for it big time if/when I go overboard.

Exercise

It’s three years since I made a solid commitment to myself to make regular exercise a habit.

I never thought I’d be that adult person. That adult person who loved exercise. I grew up playing team sport but it fell by the way when I started my career and shift work didn’t fit in with training or game times.

I’ve also discovered – and this is probably why I’ve been able to commit to making exercise a habit – that hard core training or running is not a match with my auto-immune condition. Such activity will make it worse and really put a big kibosh on my “why”.

What is good for me is walking (and around the hills where I live it’s far from a gentle stroll); yoga and Pilates. Yoga is very much a part of my life and I’ve reacquainted myself with Pilates in the last month (more on that on the blog soon).

I aim for two-three yoga or Pilates classes each week and two-three walks. It’s a level of consistency that works for me and I don’t beat myself up if I miss a walk or the odd class.

Having said that, walks have been a struggle for me of late but that’s going to improve out of sight because I’ve now got orthotics for my sneakers to help deal with the issues in my feet that were causing pins and needles and discomfort. Yes, who knew that wasn’t normal? Thanks to my brand ambassadorship work with FRANKiE4 Footwear, the designer Caroline was quick to order me into All Podiatry (also their business) for a check over when I casually revealed said pins and needles.

Self care

This is the final quarter of my all-round approach to feeling the best I can each day. It’s taken years of practice to drop the mother guilt and accept that it’s ok to make yourself a priority.

Sure, prioritising myself was more difficult when my kids were younger but most of it comes down to mindset. I CAN find five minutes, 30 minutes or an hour to myself whenever I choose and I should choose to do so on a regular basis.

My exercise fits into self care but so does meditation, taking an afternoon to read a book, booking in for a facial or a massage, going out to lunch with girlfriends, going to the movies, and having a date night (even if it’s on the couch) with my husband.

Life can’t all be about kids and work. Balance is only possible if you decide that it is possible and schedule in “me time” stuff without one ounce of guilt.

How’s your health right now?

My aim with all of these posts is to get you thinking about where you are at with your health right now.

Does everything feel ok? Are you ignoring a niggling mental or physical something?

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.

Find health professionals who will work with you, who’ll support and champion your efforts to feel the best you can feel.

We only get one shot at this thing called life. Let’s not accept anything anything about our health that we don’t have to.

How are you feeling right now? What would your health report card say?

PS. If you’d like the contact details for my Brisbane GP, please email [email protected]

Comments 37

  1. I’m glad you are feeling better. You look great! I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s some years ago and was on thyroxine for a while. But then because my levels constantly changed – one minute high, the next low – they said my body got too confused and it would work hard to correct the levels, making my overall condition worse. I also had two nodules in my thyroid which I’ve had to have checked on every six months as they were just under operating size. Last time – they were gone! The doctors couldn’t really explain it. And my thyroid levels have been good the past few blood tests too, though I have had a vitamin deficiency. I’ve lost some weight so perhaps that has helped, and I certainly watch my diet. I need to get more exercise and that’s started so we’ll see how it goes. I hardly ever drink coffee or alcohol, and I also find carbs and gluten mess with my body so I’ve cut a lot of it out but I’m not super-strict. Anyway – go us! I find out more about these things from talking to other women and reading blogs like yours than I do from medical experts a lot of the time!

  2. Hello, Thank you for sharing your story Nikki. I was diagnosed with hashimotos in May this year and was recently put on tertoxin in addition to the thyroxin as I was still unwell. Whilst I’ve had some improvement, I still have bad days. My specialist scared me off NDT with lots of bad stories….I guess my question is has anyone had success with tertroxin or should I be finding another specialist willing to prescribe NDT? Did anyone else get warned about the dosing errors and poor quality product from unknown disased animals in india by their specialist?

  3. I am reading a particularly good book, “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington. Discusses wellness and taking care of ourselves. Very good book, loving it.

  4. Great article. I was excited to see your results changed with a change of doctor.

    I’ve recently changed doctors only to discover I’d been chronically over medicated…which can cause life shortening side effects. The new doctor has changed my meds and ordered a raft of testing to determine any damage. Fingers crossed there’s none!

    Your comment of weight attraction…let’s face it, it’s what happens regardless of how carefully you eat…made me feel normal. Thank you!

    I’m really looking forward to discovering how my health might improve if I commit to more exercise and self care.

  5. Thanks for sharing your health update Nikki. I also have Hashimoto Thyroid disease. I too was started first on Thyroxine then added in Tertroxin but now I am on NDT and have been for 3 years. It sure took some tweaking and I hopefully have got to the right dose. I am also on a ton of supplements and iron medication too. I have just got back from a quick trip to Europe. with my two sisters, 7 days on the Rhine on a cruise and 5 days in Paris.
    We walked everywhere in Paris only getting a taxi back to our hotel as a last resort. We must have walked around 20-30 kms a day. I have a dog and we walk at least 5-7 kms a day.
    I can say NDT has given me back some of my life. I do have other auto immune conditions and a couple of rare diseases thrown in the mix, but thats ok.
    I love your blog and used a lot of your travel hints etc for the trip.

  6. Thanks for sharing your update Nikki. I’ve always read these with some interest, but having recently being diagnosed with an underactive thyroid myself (after a horrible miscarriage earlier this year and a bundle of hormonal issues resulting) it took on some new meaning.
    I’m just working out how to manage both the medical side of things along with all the components I can (hopefully!) regulate myself (stress, diet etc.) so it’s really encouraging and helpful to see someone in a similarísh position managing this all so well. Again thankyou for sharing – it’s reinforced to me also the importance on daily movement to help with everything else… my main struggle area!

  7. Well done on focusing on your health. I too have made health check ups a priority lately. Finally getting dental treatment (goodbye two wisdom teeth, two more to go next month!). Just had a skin check this morning and grateful I have only one sunspot to worry about treating. Yay. My next priority is to take action on my physical health: I am seriously considering joining a 12 week overhaul which I’ve heard good things about.
    We must put our oxygen mask on first before we assist others!xx

  8. My beautiful crazy skinny 8 year old son has been diagnosed with prehashimotos. He said to me the other day “mum, when will I get, you know, fat?” Heart break. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  9. Thanks so much for that post. I have an underactive thyroid and will be talking to my GP about NDT this morning. I have also realised that intense exercise just does not work long term. As soon as you stop the weight just comes back on and on and on……. I have just started Reformer Pilates and find it so great and an achievable exercise that I mix in with my walking.You should also check out the website Bespoke Wellness. The lady who runs this site is a wellness coach and fellow Hashimotoes sufferer. Well worth a look at. She is also on FB. PS: I love your capsule wardrobes too xx

  10. Hi Nikki
    I recently lost my lovely, caring & compassionate lady GP to cancer. She had battled it for a few years & was most recently only back working a couple of days a week before having to give up entirely. I heard from other doctors that she recently passed away. Really sad, as she was such a lovely person & one of those rare individuals who you could trust entirely. She was also the same age as me and has two kids roughly the same ages as mine (in their 20’s).
    On an entirely selfish note, I’m devastated that I now have to hunt for a GP that lives up to her standard! I will email to get your GP’s details, but am wondering if he is on the North or Southside?? Do you feel that your male GP is “on board” with our “middle aged lady” concerns? I’ve seen other GP’s at the same practice but never really feel the right connection with any of them.
    Thanks Nikki for any feedback

  11. Thank you for sharing this. My mum suffers from the same condition and something I have kept an eye on myself as it can run in the family.

  12. So pleased to hear about your latest results, you are such an inspiration. I wish I had similar to report. Still trying to find the right mix of meds that work and get the second condition under control. It’s a lot of trial and error. The weight gain and potential diabetes as a result is something I’m really struggling with. It is hard when you do all the right things, tick all the right boxes in terms of exercise and diet and still put on weight.

  13. It’s great to read someone elses health journey. I’ve been on an IBS journey for 12 months with only temporary relief, and it all gets quite hard. I was saying to my husband just last night that I feel quite hopeless about finding answers and yet, also desperately searching for answers at the same time. It’s a peculiar place, that I’m glad you’ve found your path through. It’s a comfort to know that it can be done.

  14. Fantastic post, great to hear you’re going well on the health front & yes its important to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. I was in quite a bad car accident a couple of weeks ago so i’m going to be having physio which should help with the ongoing neck pain. and i’m pleased to say i’m feeling a lot better about it emotionally now, our kids were in the car with us and we rolled over, so for the first week I was a bit of a mess, but feeling good again now.

    1. Oh Kel, that’s just frightening and awful. I can’t even imagine. Thank goodness you’re all ok and I hope that with the ongoing physio you can get relief from the neck pain. Sending you a massive virtual hug x

  15. Wonderful post Nikki,I’m glad that your health is going well for you Nikki,you look amazing!
    My wonderful GP unfortunately has a brain tumour so I’ve been seeing a new Dr I can’t say I love her but I am determined to find one I really like in the not too distant future Xx

  16. Great post Nikki and thank you for the proverbial ‘kick in the butt’ reminder 🙂
    Since relocating to BrisVegas 23.5 months ago [time flies] I’ve been driving back down to the GC to see my old GP for my thyroid, it’s easier and he knows me. The consequence of the distance is that I’ve missed my last three appointments due to traffic, etc, so finding a Brisbane based Doctor who knows what they’re doing and has statistical success with thyroid issues is exactly what I need. Expect an email from this little chick-a-dee today!

  17. Great to read that your back on track with your health, Nikki.

    I know for me when the IBS is playing up that as much as might wish I could eat chocolate and lay on the lounge, that does NOT make me feel better. What does work for me is exercising and getting the blood flowing. Sometimes once I get going I can push a bit but even my regular walk circuit around the harbour makes me feel so much better.

  18. I’m thrilled that everything is going so great for you, you’re looking fabulous and I’m pleased you’re feeling it too! Your GP sounds like a legend. I wish we could clone him/her in Sydney 🙂

  19. Great news for you Nikki, wonderful!
    Our health is so, so important and we each have to find what works for us. For me that might mean travelling over an hour to see a GP who ‘gets me’ even though we have a perfectly competent GP 5 minutes away. It also means finding exercise that I like and just getting on with it. I have a nasty scoliosis and it is too easy to say my back hurts when I exercise – it hurts when I don’t too!
    I also have just had a raft of blood tests and happily nothing there that my GP was concerned enough about for a follow up. Still I am taking myself off to the naturopath today to make sure those slightly off the scale results don’t get worse. Oh, and having a swim (in a heated pool of course because – Victoria) on the way.

  20. Excellent post! We all need to remember to take care of ourselves. As they say on the plane “put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others”! It’s too easy to forget when we get busy with work and running around after kids.

    I’m also becoming quite conscious of my advancing age (where do the years go?) and the need to start embedding the right habits and perhaps stop eating and drinking like I’m still a twenty-something..

  21. I am so with you on being consistent. It is not about climbing mountains or breaking records (not that that isn’t fabulous if you’re doing it). But a simple 30 minutes a day, most days, walking the pavement is actually amazing for fitness levels!

  22. Sounds like you’ve got an excellent balance of meds and lifestyle choices that are working really well for you Nikki!
    Not so great this end of the world… I had surgery for cubital tunnel syndrome (like carpal tunnel, but the ulnar nerve in a tunnel in the elbow) three weeks ago, which tripped an RA flare, and we’re moving from Sydney to Melbourne, so packing…which is keeping the flare highly active. It WILL pass, I know, but right now it’s a blur of pain and painkillers, and endurance. Sunday is the road trip to get me and our two Siamese there, and once we pick up the keys, I’ll be camping in the house with them. Dragon Dad will have flown back here to deal with the removalists, cleaning and the final rental inspection, before driving my car down. I’ll be receiving the truck at the Melbourne end. My current mantra is, “This time next month it’s ALL OVER.” Hardest thing – replacing my medical team, who have been BRILLIANT. New everyone. Cos none of them here would consider a Melbourne move…I mean, REALLY?!

    1. Oh dear Karen, I’m going into shutdown mode just reading what your month holds for you. Moving is stressful at the best of times but not when you have had surgery and a flare. Thinking of you and hope you get through as best you can. x

      1. My secondary diagnosis of chronic bloody mindedness comes in handy for times like these! It’s one of those times when it’s a case of getting there because there’s no other option… this time next month (!) we’ll be pretty well organised. Hopefully I’ll have found a good GP, my rheumatologist will have sorted out my referral for the guy in Melbourne, and I’ll have found an excellent chemist… AND Spring will have arrived in Melbourne! x

        1. Hi Karen
          As an ex-Melburnian I recall there is a compounding pharmacy at Docklands and another in the Malvern area. If you are looking for an integrative medical professional you might want to research Pamela Dagley.
          Good luck with settling in.

            1. Dr Hanner in Brighton is awesome. Not cheap but very worth every penny. His wife also has underactive thryoid disease. The Alfred hospital has a compounding pharmacy. However now I am in the country so I use Border Pharmacy in Albury, and they send it to me.

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