Living With Thyroid Dysfunction – My Diagnosis Story

Jennysmile

So there I was on a lovely sunny saturday morning having coffee with my fabulous mum telling her my tale of woe.  ‘Mum I’m just so tired, no matter how much sleep I get I still feel terrible all day, I can’t concentrate, I’m irritable and moody.  It’s so hard!’

I’ve been telling her this same story every so often for the past three years now.  I was 7 months pregnant with baby number 3 watching my two little girls play and a new feeling came upon me.  Irritation.  I had never felt irritated by my children before but I woke up one morning and I was tired.  And that tiredness never went away.  Even after I gave birth, or after I stopped breastfeeding when my son turned 6 months old in a hope to increase my energy levels.  I felt exhausted all the time.  So after two months of negative pregnancy tests I went to the doctor.  A routine blood test and a week later I was diagnosed with an under active thyroid.

I was given a piece of paper telling me what my thyroid was and what had gone wrong with it along with a ‘prescription for life’.  I went home took another pregnancy test by the doctors orders and – oh, it’s positive!  Without sharing all the gory details things got a whole lot worse before they ever got better.  But with tons of support, love and prayer and determination, perseverance and hard work I’ve learned what it means to overcome and not succumb to living with a dysfunctional body part.

It’s been a pretty big year so far.  The year that was supposed to be my peaceful, calm and restful year is turning out to be my fullest, biggest and hardest working year yet.  And if there’s anyone I can pour my heart out to its my mum.  But, one thing my mum is most certainly not is a pitier.  She’s an encourager, motivator and edifier.  And once again her wise words have left a footprint on my heart and mind.  The longer you’re around the more you’ll realise that every women has got something working against them.  Be it our thyroid dysfunction, physical disability, mental instability, emotional trauma or whatever else.  We all have our tale of woe.  You just have to stay focused on God and be willing to do the hard work necessary to overcome it, she said (paraphrasing).

Hard work!  Did you say hard work???  Please no more!!!  Now some of you may understand what I’m talking about (as 1 in 4 women have a thyroid dysfunction), but for now just know that the symptoms creep up slowly on you until you almost feel like you’re having a nervous break down.  Praise God it can be stabilised, regulated and maintained through medication, but that’s not much fun either.  Itchy dry skin, weight gain and hair loss are a few of the physical side effects, but then comes the irritability, sleepless nights, mood swings leading to depression, lack of concentration and brain fog – its true, that really is a symptom!

This brain fog can be the one that really gets me down the most.  Missed appointments, forgetfulness, incomplete thoughts and sentences, and a total lack of patience.  I hit a 4pm wall and then my brain just shuts down on me.  I can’t answer any questions I can no longer multi-task and I feel like it’s 4am and all I want to do is sleep.

So how am I possibly going to overcome this!?!  Well starting on my knees in prayer and realising that I can’t do it in my own strength.  I need to gain strength from my God who can give me back my joy.  ‘The Joy of the Lord is your strength” *. When we lose our joy we lose all our will to keep trying.  Don’t give in and don’t give up.  Lean into God, get your joy back and gain your strength from the Lord.

I have to chose to not give into my ‘feelings’ but chose to trust in my God that he supplies for all of my needs.  I have to accept that I have to work harder than all the other ladies who have perfectly healthy bodies and adjust and be disciplined with healthy habits.  That means spending time with Jesus – every.single.day, keeping organised in the home for a healthy and happy family life, eating super healthy and exercising consistently.

If you’ve been where I’ve been I want to encourage you to keep fighting the good fight of faith.  We don’t have to do this on our own.  When we are weak our Saviour’s strength is made perfect.  Let God show you his strength and open your eyes to the source of strength within you.  Because He has overcome, we have overcome.  Accept his truth in your life today to live out his success story in your future.

*Nehemiah 8:10

An Honourable Women

Dan & Nori Chesney

Today is mother’s day, but I’ve had this topic brewing in my head a while.  Did you know that honouring your father and mother is the first commandment in the Bible with a promise??  That it may go well with you.  Wow, really?!?  Life will go well if I honour my parents?  How great is that.  Well, I can tell you from personal experience, life really is great.

I mean look at that women up there.  Isn’t she mind-blowingly beautiful!?!  Oh yeah, you guessed it – she’s my mum.  And I can add best friend, mentor, inspiration and biggest role model ever to that list.  She has raised me to honour and respect her and my dad, to love the Lord with all my heart, soul and mind and to live with complete abandon to God’s will.  And all I can say is, she did good.  And she continues to teach me about honour every day when I see her with my dad loving him, helping him and faithfully serving alongside him.  And when she flies out to LA at the drop of a hat to go and give all of herself to care for her mom in need.   She has been able to teach honour because she is honourable.

My husband and I want to raise our kids to honour us and God so that they can have the assurance that life will go well with them.  But here’s the clincher, I actually live with my parents.  My kids see me with my parents almost every day.  So in order for me to make sure that my kids will honourable I have to be sure to set the example of honouring my parents.

As we become adults it can be very easy to set ourselves apart from our parents.  How many times have you heard or even said yourself that you’ll never do what  your mother did?  Honouring our parents doesn’t mean that we always agree with them, want to be just like them or do what they do.  It is to respect and esteem, to show courteous behaviour towards them.  I looked it up – it really says that on dictionary.com.  I have a deep desire to raise my children to serve our living and loving God.  And to do that I must first honour God, my husband and my parents.  I need to show my children what it means to honour someone so they’ll be at the advantage of living a long and satisfying life.  Every parent wants that for their child.  Well lets start with ourselves.

“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3

Getting Rid of Clutter

So this is our last week in the Cleaning Through Spring series.  You can click here to read through all the posts.  Now that March is at an end its time for us to finish all those odds and ends jobs that just seem to get passed over throughout the rest of the year.  My husband is in India again this week and with him out of the house its given me a clearer idea of exactly what jobs I want to get done by the end of the month.  They mostly come down to organising.  There are lot of things that seem to end up in piles around our house.  My bedside table attracts clutter like kids to candy.  Every whatnot and thingy-ma-jig possible ends up there for some reason.  Hair ties and clips – check, very important paperwork – check, used mugs and glasses – check.  One rule I have most certainly learned is clutter attracts clutter.

For me, the reason I end up with enormous piles of stuff around the house is because I’m unable to always follow through with tasks.  Whilst hoovering I’ll pick up that lost piece to the puzzle and put it on the mantle and continue hoovering.  When opening the mail in my room I’ll have to put it down before taking it to my office to be filed, and then of course as the children move freely around the house toys, coins, hair ties, pencils, shoes and everything else imaginable can be littered from room to room.

It’s one thing for me to teach my children to pick up after themselves, but I have to do the same!!  So this week I’ll be tackling – piles.  Organise, sort, move and throw away anything and everything that has collected in the wrong place.  And following on from my previous posts I’m starting in my bedroom.  Again, when it comes to cleaning take it one task at a time.  Taking on too much in one go ends in disappointment and leaves you wondering why you bothered in the first place.

Take a loot a this list to get you started in tackling your piles.

  1. Throw away any rubbish from the pile first.

  2. Stack things that belong together and put away (e.g. paperwork, books, clothes)

  3. Create a home for odds and ends such as paperclips and lego pieces.  Don’t just add it to another pile!

  4. Clean the surface

  5. Keep the surface as minimal as possible.  Having a clean and bare surface creates a big sense of space in the room and order in your mind.

Help! I Need Somebody

help!

I’ve been reading through the old testament and I’ve finally made it to Exodus – hooray!  I’m so loving all the intense and intriguing stories.  I’m now reading through the story of Moses and its another one of those amazingly epic stories that has carved the foundations of our faith.

As Moses was tending his sheep one day in the wilderness he came to Mount Sinai and saw a bush that was on fire but was not being burned.  He drew closer in amazement and then God himself spoke to Moses.  He wanted Moses to return to Egypt and set the Hebrew slaves free from Pharaoh.  Now Moses’ first response to the audible voice and physical presence of God was a protest.  Can you believe it!  God had come down to earth just to speak to Moses, his chosen one, to tell him to go and do a great thing and Moses protested God’s plan.  Wow.  Now from all the other stories from the Old Testament something as simple as not sacrificing the right kind of sheep could cause God to kill you, but here was Moses arguing with God himself.

But God had already chosen Moses.  He knew all of Moses’ shortcomings, weaknesses and character flaws.  He didn’t need to be reminded of them.  Moses was afraid that he couldn’t speak properly, that nobody would listen to a runaway Hebrew Prince and felt he would never succeed in God’s plan.  Now this made God angry but rather than just striking him down dead and moving on to the next available person God listened to Moses.  He listened!  Just as he had been listening to the cries of his oppressed people he heard Moses’ objections to his plan.

So what did God do about it.  He brought in a helper.  He gave Moses a sidekick, his blood brother Aaron,  who would help him fulfil God’s plan in delivering the Isrealites out of Egypt.  And they did.

There are times in our lives when God asks great things of us.  When he reveals his purpose for our lives we can suddenly see all of our weaknesses and rather than just saying yes we can go into panic mode and start trying to find a way out.  We are allowed to ask for help.  He wants us to succeed!!  God is willing to place people in our lives who will walk beside us to fulfil our God given purpose.    And He will do everything he can to make sure we do.  All we have to do is obey.

What is God asking you to do?  Is there someone God has placed in your life to help you succeed?

Why I Stopped Using Shampoo

Jenny's hair3

I am blessed with long thick locks of hair that grow at an exponential rate.  But I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it.  Washing and blow drying it just seems like such a time waster.  And with every stroke of my hair brush through my hair it feels as if a tiny needle is pricking my scalp – not nice.  But I love that my hair doesn’t need much primping to look nice.

Washing my hair has always been far too big of a task for my liking first thing in the morning.  Taking a good solid ten minutes in the shower and a further 30 minutes of drying time – who has time for that!?!  Not only was washing my hair time consuming but with every shampoo I used I found I got what I paid for.  Cheap meant squeaky clean and a tangled mess after blow drying, and expensive meant – well, expensive.

I searched the web for a good compromise and found something quite interesting – the no-poo method.  Say what!?! It means no shampoo, but it does not mean not washing your hair.  It merely means not using shampoo to wash it.  All you need is bicarbonate of soda.  Honestly, this stuff is so multi-functional I just went ahead and bought a 10kg bag of it from here.  So now all I have to do is get a bit of bicarbonate of soda in a cup, mix with a little tiny bit of cold water to make a paste and rub into my scalp on a wet head.  Leave it in for a few minutes to work and then rinse well with warm water.

You’ll find as you’re massaging the bicarb of soda into your scalp your hair will start to feel more silky and your fingers will brush through your hair quite nicely.  It removes all the dirt and oil from you scalp without leaving behind any residues or toxins.  It’s simple, dirt cheap and the best part is I now only have to wash my hair once a week.  That’s right, only once.

Now transitioning from shampoo to bicarbonate of soda is not a quick switch.  It takes time for your scalp to adjust.  Because the more you wash your hair with shampoo the more you need to wash your hair.  It’s the same thing as using soap on your face.  The soap removes all the natural oils and so your body has to work overtime to replace it all.  So give yourself at least 2-4 weeks for your head to ‘get in the game’ and you’ll end up with perfectly clean, naturally cared for hair that is seriously low maintenance.

When I started out I needed to wash it about every three days, but now once a week, maybe twice if I’ve exercised, is all it takes to keep my hair looking like this,

Jenny's hair

This is my hair six days since my last wash.  You can condition your hair as normal, but I don’t bother with this.  Every now and again I’ll pour a little apple cider vinegar on my ends.  It brings back some nice shine and gets rid of split ends.  I like to rub in coconut oil on my damp hair as a little post wash conditioner, but again I hardly ever do this.  So if you’re fed up of having to wash, blow dry, style and repeat day in and day out, then give this a go and give it some time to prove itself.  Here is a list of the steps to washing no-poo style:

  1. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda with a little cold water to make a paste  (this is not a science so don’t get hung up on consistency)
  2. In shower get all your hair nice and wet
  3. Separate your hair into sections and take bicarb mix and rub into your scalp all over – massage well, you do not put it all over the rest of your hair, just the scalp and roots.
  4. Leave in for a few minutes and then rinse well with water – don’t forget behind your ears!
  5. Use conditioner on your ends or spray/soak with apple cider vinegar.
  6. Rinse and you’re done!

Here’s a closer look at my roots so you can see there’s no dandruff and what not!

Jenny's hair 2

Have you ever tried the no-poo method?  Share your experience in the comments.

Photography by Tyron Cupido – thanks babe x

Edit Note:  Just to mention that I do not dye my hair and have been told by a hair dresser friend that using bicarb of soda on dyed hair can fade/strip the colour.  

Bicarbonate of Soda 10kg

 

Spring Cleaning Check List

cleaning

The Sun is shining the air is warming and the flowers are blooming.  Spring is most certainly here.  We’ve all heard about spring cleaning but many of us don’t really know what makes spring such a special time of year to do some extra cleaning.  Well I’ve put together a few things that are great to take care at this time each year.  As soon as the weather gets dry and a little bit warm it means it’s time to get your ‘clean’ on.  By doing a little extra work in the Spring you can give your house a little facelift after a winter of having windows closed and curtains drawn.   Spring is the best time to get to those nitty gritty jobs that often get overlooked and freshen up your home for the rest of the year.

Now if cleaning isn’t your favourite thing then why not set the challenge to tackle one item per week.  Having a goal to set and accomplish can give you that boost you need to get the job done.  I like to also have a little reward in mind at the end.  Having something to look forward to like buying some fresh flowers for the house, having friends for a braai/bbq or buying a little something for myself  is always a good incentive.

Spring Cleaning Check List

Open a window in each room for at least 30 minutes

Your house needs fresh air.  This will reduce odour, mildew and dust in your house. Try to do this whenever you strip the sheets off the beds to help freshen up the mattress and pillows as well.

Dust from ceiling to floor

When I say dust I mean use a damp cloth ( I prefer microfibre) and wipe down all along mouldings and skirting boards.  Dusting with a dry cloth merely moves the dust around. Using a microfibre cloth and water means there’s on need for any toxic sprays to be involved.  I also wipe down plug sockets light switches as I’m going by them.  Take a broom to collect those hanging dusty cobweb things (anyone got a name for those???) from the ceiling and walls.

Disinfect all door handles, light switches and drawer handles

Has anyone in your house been sick in the past six months?  Door handles hold loads of germs from the mere fact that everyone in the house has to touch them.  The best way to kill the germs without toxins is to spray or wipe down with hydrogen peroxide 6%.  You can buy this in Sainsbury’s (not Tesco) at the pharmacy for just over a £1 and is the best disinfectant you will ever need.

Clean windows inside and out

A winter of rain, sleet and sometimes snow leaves our windows dirty and dull.  Clean with a mixture of half warm white vinegar and half fairy liquid for a scrub free and squeaky clean window.

Clean mattresses and pillows

Did you know that our slept on mattresses contain anywhere between 100,000 to 10 million dust mites*?  Yikes!!  But the good news is that we can reduce this by sprinkling baking soda all over the bare mattress, leave for at least 15 minutes then take your vacuum extension and hoover it right up**.  This kills and removes dust mites – brilliantly – and getting rid of them in Spring kills off any that survived the Winter giving you a fresh mattress for the rest of the year.  Also our pillows are supposed to be washed every three months because they quickly build up dead skin cells, dust mites and mildew.  Put two in the wash at a time to balance the washer and if you have a dryer put in a dryer ball or tennis ball to keep its shape and eliminate all moisture.

Sources:

*http://www.livescience.com/33097-does-your-mattress-really-gain-weight-over-time-.html

**eHow

How To Be A Good Wife – Lessons From Early Marriage

How to be a good wife2At my bachelorette party the married women bestowed on me their nuggets of marital wisdom. The only piece of advice I remember from that day has stuck with me, haunted me and convicted me many times through my 7 years of marriage.  It went something like this – Always look for the good in your husband.  It’s so easy to see their flaws but always bring out their best and give grace for the rest.  That was shared by my lovely and almost life-long friend, Jo Sherlock, who continues to bring great words of wisdom into my life.

Being in that moment all I could think was – but there’s nothing I don’t like about my husband-to-be, he’s perfect and that’s why I’m marrying him.  Sound familiar???  If you’ve ever fallen in love and fallen so far and fast that you are in a complete daze for a year or so you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

We were madly in love enjoying every bit of each other’s company and then the bills had to be paid, the laundry needed to be washed and dinner needed to made – every. single.day.  And pretty soon all my romantic fantasies of having candlelit dinners every night staring into my husbands dark chocolate eyes were soon painted over with the reality of married life.

And those words of my dear friend would ring in my ears every time I came home from work, pregnant, tired and hungry and hear ‘what’s for dinner?’  You want to know what’s for dinner?  I’ll tell you what’s for dinner, a whole lot of nothing, because that’s what you deserve!

Don’t worry, I never actually said that to my darling husband, but I certainly thought it more than once.

You can start off with the same opinion about everything and then down the road you suddenly have to compromise on every little detail because you can’t stand the dirty clothes on the floor and he can’t handle the lofty demands of colour coding the laundry.  Always, always, always remember to look for the best in your husband.  If you’re having a short fuse moment where the monologue in your head is too long to finish while you count to 10 then here’s a thought:  stop looking at your husband and start looking to God.  We can never expect our husbands to change their ways and hearts if we are unwilling to be changed ourselves.  Let God do a work in you that will bring you to a new level of love and respect for your husband.

When you’re picking up those smelly socks off the floor just pray for your husbands feet to carry him far in success, when you’re screwing the lid on that toothpaste – again – pray for your husband to receive a ‘fresh’ revelation from the holy spirit today.  Turn your complaints into prayers and before you know it you’ll be loving rather than complaining.