Monday, 21 November 2016

Coping or managing

Most of my blog posts are about what we are up to, what's changing on our smallholding and how I've tackled various tasks with the poultry, vegetable garden or food forest. But sometimes the reasons that we've chosen this lifestyle become clear to us once again and although I try not to bleat on about being unwell, I think it's also useful not to pretend that all is hunkydory, because it's not. That said, we have better health than many people and better than many of our friends and family, so I do keep a sense of perspective and write with the knowledge that in the grand scheme of things, we are very fortunate.

It's been a funny few weeks. My thyroid has been playing up and I've been working with my GP to try to get it under control again. I had a marvelous spring and summer in terms of energy and pain levels and I have learnt how to better manage both, but at the end of September I started feeling not as well as I could (read about it here)

It seems that every now and then I will have a blip, one that I cannot manage and find it hard to cope with. Now I know how that feels and how it affects me, I can find ways to deal with it and act more quickly to counter the deterioration. 

One of those ways is to get a blood test as soon as I start feeling ill so that the GP can adjust my prescription. But this is easier said than done, getting a blood test can take two to three weeks and the GP appointment is usually a week after that. Once the prescription has been changed it can take a couple of months to feel the full effect of the new level of medication. So potentially once I start feeling unwell, it can be three months or more before I am back to feeling like me again. Clearly this is not an ideal situation, but it is one that I am going to have to learn to cope with.

Anyway, back in September a blip (often known as a Hashi's attack) caused my thyroid to function less well again and my GP increased my prescription with a view to getting my hormone levels correct, for how I want to feel, again. I have muddled through the last couple of months knowing that the medication level wasn't high enough and as instructed, I booked another blood test for six weeks after the last GP visit. Those blood tests were last week and the results show that there has been a slight improvement in the hormone levels, hooray! Although they aren't at a level that allows me to feel fully well, boo. And this week, I have been experiencing yet another blip, double boo! So today was the day to see the GP and I was going to tell her I felt I needed to increase the prescription and to talk to her about this next blip that I am having which will be knocking my thyroid function yet again. 

Unfortunately my GP is unwell and my appointment has been cancelled and there isn't another appointment for three weeks. So I have booked another blood test for two weeks time so that my GP and I can discuss up-to-date and relevant results rather than a month old results. It is not my doctor's fault that she is unwell and in the meantime I have the choice to self-medicate and increase my dosage or continue in this downward spiral of dysfunction.

Here's what I have learnt about my illness. Hashimoto's is an auto-immune disease and only attacks the thyroid, which means my body thinks my thyroid is a problem and is attacking it (doh!) and little by little is destroying it. Once my thyroid is totally destroyed I will no longer have Hashimoto's thyroiditis. There will be other issues to contend with if and when that stage comes, but at least the Hashimoto's will have gone. The thyroid is the gland that controls most of our hormones and our metabolic rate is all tied up in the same system. People with hypothyroidism are often (but not always) overweight as their metabolisms don't process food in the same way. They can also have all sorts of other issues as a result of a slower metabolism, like slower heart-rate, poor digestion, swelling, pain and weaker immune systems.

The prescription that is usually given in the UK is a synthetic replacement of a hormone called T4 which the thyroid converts into T3. T3 is the form that the body can actually use to regulate all the functions that the thyroid is supposed to regulate. It seems to me that it would make more sense to prescribe a replacement of the T3 hormone, but what do I know?

When a Hashi's attack occurs the thyroid function decreases and so more T4 is needed for the thyroid to convert it into T3 and so the spiral continues. Many folks find they get to a level and stop having attacks and can function fully on their synthetic replacement, for others it is harder or more complicated. So far I am pleased to say that I seem to be responding well to the synthetic replacement and as long as do several other things to support my systems, I can trundle along pretty well.

As result of either the Hashimoto's or adrenal fatigue (which most UK doctors don't recognise) I do not absorb nutrients as well as I could previously, so I take nutrient supplements every day. These include several vitamins and a handful of minerals. A catch-all multi-vitamin doesn't work for me, so I take individual vitamin and mineral tablets at different times of the day because trial and error has shown me which times of day to take which supplements to have the most positive impact.

And, there are several things I don't do any more to help my system work more effectively. I am now on a caffeine free, alcohol free, gluten free and as much as possible an organic diet (yes, mostly that feels pretty fun-free too!).

I know this isn't my usual type of blog post, but occasionally I feel the need to take stock and to remember that even though I don't feel 100% healthy all the time (or any of the time), I have achieved an enormous amount on the smallholding over our first year and that's something to celebrate!

Time for a cuppa!

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  1. Not your normal blog no, but it's so important to help educate people who don't know about these things! I talk to you daily and about this regularly and still feel like I learned something! Fingers crossed your levels start to behave soon! Cx

  2. I agree, you've done very well in your first year. I know when I've felt under the weather I've thought 'oh well I can do it tomorrow'. With your livestock you can't do that, they need attention. So, well done and I hope you find the right dose soon. Sheila xx

    1. On bad days, having to go out and care for the animals has been a good thing as it has got me moving even if that was for only a few minutes. On really bad days when I haven't been able to get up, Mr J has had to care for them. Overall, I am really pleased that we have them.


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