A Little More About Electrolytes

So let’s talk a little more about electrolytes. I would suggest reading this article just to get a brief idea of what electrolytes are and what they do for you body and cells, general gist: they do a lot for your cells. But to summise electrolytes are very important in transporting the minerals in your body to your cells, for storage and also have the job of keeping those minerals in those cells, I had no idea how important they actually are. After being treated for the Anaemia and feeling like a million dollars for the past few weeks, just because I am generally not falling asleep on my feet at all times, I have started to notice those energy levels going down again. I remembered that I had mentioned previously that I would provide the recipe for the electrolyte drink that I was provided, I will warn you all that it tastes likes weird sweet sea water, just hold your nose and pretend it’s not happening when you are drinking it.

So all in all I feel that cutting out the foods that I have needed to has gone extremely well for me. I have lost a little weight and am so much less bloated everyday, I no longer have stomach pains and my blood sugar seems to have stabilised as I do not go through a lot of energy dips throughout the day, which is just wonderful( an update on that including tips on how to change your diet with ease and product recommendations is on the way). However that feeling of exhaustion in my limbs is starting to slowly creep back in and as I am now hypersensitive to what is going on in my body I do believe that it’s time to top up my electrolytes daily. I have actually requested that my nutritionist suggest a supplement to take as I just cannot handle this drink on a daily basis, but you may like it so please give it a try.

 

Electrolyte Drink Recipe:

1 Litre Purified Water

2 Tablespoons Honey

1 Teaspoon Bicarbonate Soda

1 Teaspoon Salt

 

Alice X

Exercise

So anyone who suffers from any form of thyroid disease, or any disease in general that can effect your everyday life will understand the annoying oxymoron that is physical exercise + disease. Obviously exercise+disease=a more healthy body and mind, but my god can it be hard to drag yourself around a running field, elliptical machine or yoga matt etc. whilst suffering the symptoms of a body impacting disease. Throughout the past three years I have tried to keep as fit and healthy as possible but with hypothyroidism giving you very low energy levels anyway, mixed with the intermittent anaemia that my blood count likes to treat me with sometimes I often find that I can do small spurts of exercise that last for a few days and then I will feel utter exhaustion for weeks afterwards. Oh how I long to be like my friends who talk about how after one gym session they just spring out of bed in the morning and feel so much better after their 10K run, that is merely a dream to a hypothyroid patient.

As I have been treated for my anaemia I am starting to feel a lot stronger on a day to day basis meaning that the idea of a prolonged exercise programme, other than the 45 minutes I walk everyday seems far more attainable to me these days. Today I started day one of ’30 Day Yoga Challenge’ and I felt great doing it. I will keep everyone updated on my challenge as much as possible over the next few days. I am no stranger to yoga, although I definitely still fall under the ‘beginner’ category. I must say I am already feeling more limber and am hoping to develop some core strength, which is very important to thyroid patients.

As always I will keep everyone updated.

Alice

THE FAT FABULOUS MANIFESTO

Firstly I would like to point out that ‘diet’ is a subjective word and the modern connotations of this word have become a lingering impression left on society by media driven, cultural norms that have become accepted by so many people out there. Most women in my life are diet obsessed, whether they identify themselves as dieters or not. For gender inclusion I will point out that the men are too, but I just don’t hang out with as many men, so this will be a feminine driven essay. I feel that there is too much emphasis put onto the fact that if someone cuts out carbs for a month they will look a certain way, people are living to attain a different version of the self, without considering the importance of living the here and now, this is why I wanted to write these self-reflective words.

I never identified myself as ‘fat’ and still wouldn’t necessarily do so, despite what the modern media and BMI calculating systems tell me. I suffer from Hypothyroidism and have seen a steady weight gain in the past two and a half years that have definitely tipped my BMI to the ‘Overweight’ side, but as a 34GG breast size and UK size 14-16 I am not too worried at all. I know I eat very well and exercise as much as possible, the nature of my disease means that I am bigger than I have ever been, yet this side effect has not affected my self-confidence, positive body image, personal drive or my health in a negative way. This is not to say I wasn’t shocked when I was in my local gay bar dancing to Morrisey, when a famous fat activist Amy Lame approached me last year and asked me in a very coy way whether I would like to be part of a fat person beauty contest? At this point I was smaller than I am now and undiagnosed, meaning that being approached and identified as fat, despite the celebratory fashion in which it occurred, did come as a shock.

 

I was left to ponder my personal bodily identity, was I to accept this as a compliment that she felt I had what it took to take part in the competition, or was the former UK size 12 person in me to be offended that I had gone from being perceived from normal girl to fat girl? It took a while to get used to but as I did not yet know why my weight was creeping up despite no change in diet or exercise. Yet I have always considered myself to be beautiful and I know that all those around me do to, so despite the odd crisis when realising that yet another priceless vintage dress was getting that little bit too tight I decided to accept my new frame with open chubby arms. I wasn’t able to attend the beauty contest as I was taking a trip to South Africa at the time, a place where the women are big, beautiful and proud. I took my own journey to accepting my new body instead through dressing up in even more ridiculous outfits than ever before: more glitter, more novelty items, more sequins and most of all so many patterns in each outfit I was like a walking swatch book.

I’m not sure whether this essay is about fat acceptance, as I still wouldn’t associate myself with the word ‘fat’ as it has become a cultural taboo associated with bad health and general negativity, which are terrible assumptions. I don’t want to add this negative word to my healthy bodily image and self-approving psyche.  I think this is more a letter to all other women out there, to love themselves no matter how big or small they may be, just throw on some glitter and sequins and accept the FABULOUS within us all. Life is way too short to worry about how you look and as I have done through my own fabulous acceptance journey, worry about the ways in which we are perceived. Rather than put your energy into something that is so peripheral to your own, everyday life, put that energy into being the very best, most fabulous version of you. As long as you can claim that you are living the life you want to lead, whilst treating your body and mind kindly then I don’t really think you can go wrong.

 

Me at the heaviest I have been having a wonderful time in Cape Town, loving life as a FABULOUS person:

Image

 

My Thyroid Diet

So after being prescribed these ‘magical’ tablets: ‘thyroxine’ and waiting for three months for my symptoms to slip away with ease I came to the conclusion that things wouldn’t actually be that easy. After much research on a site I would highly recommend  about.com, I realised that these standard NHS issues pills were not the answer to all my problems as promised upon diagnosis and dispension. I researched a lot into what the thyroid actually is and why these pills may not be working to help stem my problematic symptoms, as although I was far happier than before I still suffered greatly from chronic fatigue, memory loss, brain fog and was unable to lose any weight at all despite changing my diet dramatically and exercising.

It was through one of the many helpful articles and forums on this site that I began to realise that many thyroid patients use food to improve their symptoms and many are able to get some quality of life back. This was when I decided that I would see a nutritionist. I made a few attempts to give up foods that had been recommended on the many forums and articles I had read, such as cutting out wheat, but decided that I needed to work out a personal plan with someone able to create a diet surrounding my needs. I chose an Ayurvedic nutritionist because I didn’t want someone too invested in Western medicine to help me though, not that I have no regard for modern medicine, I am thankful for it every day. I just wanted to speak to someone who wouldn’t recommend lot’s of expensive supplements or more medication.

The person I consulted with was a specialist in autoimmune disease and knew a lot about my problems. We came to the conclusion that to start with (as I had suspected from my research) I needed to give up all Cow Dairy, Wheat, Gluten, Soy and Peanuts. The Gluten, Diary, Wheat and Peanuts are commonly knows to irritate the thyroid gland making symptoms more severe. Soy just interrupts with thyroid medication, stopping it from working properly. So that is where I am at now. I am trying to get used to giving up all these food and discovering what exactly has wheat, gluten and diary in, which is so many more products than you would think.

I found out that my body was extremely erratic, when my nutritionist told me that my ‘Dosha’ fell under the ‘Vata’ category, which was something that I had always known really. I also found out that despite drinking three litres of water a day, my water levels are almost to the point of dangerously low. After explaining that I always felt dehydrated my nutritionist realised that I must be very low in electrolytes meaning that I would not store all the nutrients from the foods I eat, and water goes straight through me rather than hydrating me. I have the recipe for an electrolyte drink that I will give on ‘The Thyroid Diet’ page. I am now waiting to get a blood test to test my blood nutrient levels as my persistent brain fog could be the result of a vitamin B12 deficiency.

After visiting the nutritionist I found that I was very anaemic and am now being treated for the anaemia, I am feeling a little stronger every day. As for the thyroid diet I am not certain whether the improvements I am feeling are from the anaemia treatment or the brief change in diet, but hey that is what this blog is all about, so I will keep you all posted on that one.

Alice

Hypothyroidism – My Own Experience

How does one even contain a written piece about something that slowly infiltrates your entire life, creeping into every little nook and cranny over a period of years? This, I think, is going to be a hard one to write and keep concise, because just like the effect that is left on my body, Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s Disease is erratic at best. I will try my best to give some chronological order or at least, symptomatically categorical order.

About three years ago, which happened to be my third year of University I started to get really ill all the time, colds that would turn into nasty chest infections. I had pleurisy at one point, I even got mumps (although that was just a very freak spate that happened to travel around my shared house). This was when I noticed a difference in my health and wellbeing. I started to become tired all the time and in turn found it quite hard to want to leave the house, I noticed that I would get pains in my joints and that my arms and legs constantly felt heavy. I guess I started to put a bit of weight on too, but equated that to my general tiredness. And anyone who has written a thesis or dissertation knows the toll it can take on your body, mind and social life, I become a total hermit.

I have never been a sporty or athletic person but I have always walked everywhere, I have never driven a car in my life and walk on average 45 minutes a day, most days. I had been at a pretty steady and healthy BMI weight for a good few years at this point, with the obvious feminine fluctuations that occur. So at this point three years ago I started to notice a decline in my health, energy levels and slight increase in weight, which were all things I put down to  university induced stress. Then my usually very fast working and reliable brain started to fail me more regularly, now, as a bit of a party girl who lived in a shared house with 8 other party people this didn’t worry me too much. I did however have to start putting actual effort into my university work, which was something I had never had to do before, this came as quite a shock to me, but was once again something I could blame on increased work load and course intensity.  My grades declined slightly and my memory let me down at times but there was always an excuse for my bodies erratic behaviour at this point: crazy uni schedule, too much partying, uni stress and my general lack of understanding of how to get around London by myself (I still struggle after 6 years here). It was easy to blame my symptoms on other occurrences in my life, from the extensive research I have carried out I can see that often this disease can go unnoticed because there is such a mishmash of symptoms that may rear their heads at random time. I also have found that many sufferers are deemed as being dramatic or suffering from bouts of hypochondria, which is why many go undiagnosed for long periods of time. There were definitely many moments I wondered whether I was suffering from hypochondria when my symptoms first started to flare up.

 

So third year went by and my health declined further, although if it weren’t for the constant stream of infections and antibiotics that I was put on (at least once a month) I don’t think anyone, including myself would have paid much attention as it is a very gradual and subtle process. I then started a Masters at the same University in the same Anthropology department:  one I knew like the back of my hand and knew how to get good grades in, with ease. My first term flew by and I had a few illnesses and still had the constant impending feeling of exhaustion at all times but I did well and went through to the new year of 2012 in reasonably good health. Over the next few months though, I can now in retrospect see that my health slipped considerably. In February I had my first bout of blood poisoning and Cellulitis caused by a bruise that turned into an abscess on my leg, not something you should see in a 22 year old. I took my antibiotics and painkillers that the very busy hospital had issued not realising that this was potentially life threatening and I should probably have been in hospital on an intravenous drip. From this point on all started to decline, my weight started to gradually creep up despite me doing more running around and exercise than ever in my part time job as a nanny and attending the gym three times a week. My grades started to slip as I could no longer trust my notoriously good memory, then the dreaded brain fog started. For anyone that is unaware of this symptom, for me this is the worst symptom of hypothyroidism of all. I would describe it as after a big night out with your friends, when you have around two hours sleep and the next day you try so hard to kick your brain into gear to concentrate on what is happening around you, focus on the conversation or even remember your own friend’s names. That can be hilarious when it happens every so often when perhaps you should have been a little kinder to yourself on a night out, but to someone who prides themselves on their quick wit and fast thinking, it’s an absolute killer.

So my brain and memory had finally started to give up on me. I went to the Doctor a lot through my Masters year trying to put together all the strange little things that were happening to me and to get an explanation for why a healthy 22 year old was getting colds, infections, tonsillitis etc.  so frequently. I was turned away at least 5 times saying it was just a viral thing I was probably catching from the kids. I eventually insisted on a blood test, which came up with an Iron deficiency. I was told to go to Boots Drugstore and get some Iron tablets and that everything should get better after that. Like many thyroid patients out there I was failed by my Doctors and the health service, I’m not angry or bitter about this as I know it’s a very hard thing to spot and I had not realised that I had it in the family, but after this point my accumulation of symptoms became out of control leading to the hardest year of my life. I got my Masters results and they were pretty average for someone who happened to be a high achiever, this sent me into a spiral of depression and self-doubt. All these years I had been told that I had a special, insightful and analytical mind, a talent for writing, outstanding people skills and a personality that would help me along my way into working life with ease, but I was left with no confidence in my ability to get a job once I had finished University.

So, here I was not being able to remember things that had happened two days earlier, conversations with my family or best friends, concentration levels so low that I could hardly make it through a paragraph of my favourite book, no energy and an average degree result (which at the time mattered to me, I understand now that I actually did very well considering my circumstances). I had a year in which I truly became a hermit, I couldn’t speak to my friends because I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t my normal witty self but I had no explanation for them as to why this was happening, so it was easier to pretend that they weren’t there than have to admit that something was wrong. By this point my skin all over my body, especially my head was so itchy and dry all the time I was almost obsessively scratching, something that had never affected me before. My self-confidence for the first time in my life became very low as I was constantly doubting my own mind and by this point I had gained around 30lbs in weight for no apparent reason, it is safe to say I felt truly out of control of both my body and mind. I vaguely knew that I wasn’t OK and that things were getting out of control but I couldn’t focus my brain for long enough to notice or do anything about it.

Thank goodness I lived with my best friend at this point who was very supportive about everything and could see my struggle and just went with it at every twist and turn. My boyfriend was also great and tried to help in any way he could. I spoke to my Mom a lot and once again thank goodness for her support and input. So everything came to a head after being a walking zombie for almost a year.  I had left Nannying because I didn’t agree with the childcare techniques of one of the families and thought that this could have been the source of my unhappiness. I then contracted in a corporate job for three months, which I was terrible at because I couldn’t get my brain to work for long enough to do the work I was given, I also hated the company but that’s another story. I went to Bestival, which is an amazing music festival in the Isle of White, UK and had the best time with my friends and felt that things could be on the up. I came home to another bout of Cellulitis from a bang on the leg and some nasty blood poisoning, upon visiting the Doctor he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, he described this as ‘the kind of thing little old ladies come in with 4 times a week, not in a fit and healthy 24 year old. He sent me for a lot of blood tests: kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes and hypothyroidism. I had a crazy, nervous three week wait for my results.

My boyfriend cried when we got the results because they were the best of a bad bunch. Not long before we got the results I was sitting on my bed and had an epiphany that I had been having some pretty bi-polar symptoms for a year, and remember a friend had told me when she was sectioned that the first thing they do is check for hypothyroidism as it can unsettle your brain so much. When I got the diagnosis I was given the standard ‘Thyroxine’ NHS tablets and pretty much told, whilst being given a leaflet that my whole life was going to change and improve from the moment I took the tablets. I spent about 3 weeks elated that this magical tablet would fix all of the problems that has slowly set in over the space of three years. I was soon to find out that these tablets were definitely not the miracle cure that I thought they would be and carried on with my struggle for a further 5 months, just with a lot more spirit and hope this time. That is where I am at now and after carrying out a huge amount of research, about a million blood tests, speaking to a lot of different Doctors I am finally making some headway and beginning my journey to recovery, and that is where all of you readers come in, for a little extra help and support and of course so that I can help, support and inform you with what I find out along the way of my recovery discoveries.

 

Me masters

Me with my Masters Certificate despite the shortcomings of my disease!

Alice

 

Diet is a Subjective Word

I would like to start this blog by affirming that fact that despite the confusion that the title may cause, I truly am a non-believer in all things ‘diet’, or, what the modern connotations of the word ‘diet’ have become. I personally have never been on what is the modern conception of the word ‘diet’, you know, ones like: The South Beach, The Atkins, Cabbage soup, etc. etc…FADS. The reason I haven’t been on these diets in fact equates to many reasons:

 

1. I love food and I have never understood why anyone would ever deprive themselves of one of the greatest pleasures in life, this is a very short life we live and I will eat what I damn well like (thyroid conflicting foods not included as of now, obviously).

2. Faddy diets don’t work and they only seem to spurn the hideous industry of media driven beauty ideals that are pushed upon people worldwide, making them feel inferior and terrible about themselves for the aforementioned very short time in which we live. I choose continuous happiness over temporary thinness followed by  inevitable weight gain after completion of diet, leading to guilt and self loathing induced by the very thing that nourishes us and, ya know, keeps us alive.

3. I have never needed to diet, there have been the odd couple of weeks or months here and there in which I have had to assess my Haribo or take-away consumption and reign myself in. Of course I have over-indulged in the past and at times I feel the need to reassess my portion sizes. Generally though as a young woman I have always eaten a varied diet, at least 5 fruit and veg per day and have kept to my maximum calorie intake to produce the energy that my body expends by merely being. Before the dreaded hypothyroidism I was a healthy UK size 12 – 14 (sometimes even a 10)  fluctuating as all woman do with the stereotypical hourglass proportions. I reiterate, I have never needed to diet.

4. As a young feminist finding her way through the scary world I have been trying to enforce a positive body image upon myself and my peers to love ourselves for who we are now, not what we could ideally be if we just cut out carbs for a week. I am not trying to say that body image crises aren’t a feminist issue in fact body image is an issue throughout every culture and belief system that exists in this world. I just personally did not want to add the dimension of obsession over food, equating it to negative feelings of guilt and self-loathing  to the repertoire of me and myself.

 

Now you have I subjected you to my list of anti-diet propaganda I will talk briefly about how I am starting to make changes to my own diet after struggling post-diagnosis for 6 months with a huge list of life impacting symptoms that I will talk about in another post. I did a lot of research online into quelling thyroid symptoms; having a BA and MA in Anthropology, History and Cultural Politics surely helps my ability to research extensively and discern information with ease. I came to the conclusion that a nutritionist, specialising in autoimmune disease would be my best option on my slow road to recovery. I have just received her feedback from our appointment and am feeling rather confused and apprehensive about the whole thing, but this is why I started this blog. I will follow this post with a piece about my personal Hypothyroidism experiences, medications and struggles. And of course a post about my new diet plan, the science behind it and how I am taking to the change. Until then,  I wish all fellow thyroid patients luck and patience in your disease and your own abilities dealing with it.

Alice