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