Archive for the 'Health' Category

New Year, Old Flu

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

It would have been nice to wake up today feeling better but my flu is not yet gone.  There are things I would like to be doing, and people I would like to talk to, but they will have to wait until I have a voice and feel less like a zombie.


Friday, December 13th, 2013

I never expected thyroid hormones to have such an impact on my daily life.  Silly really, since I studied hormones at university, but reading about them and experiencing them are quite different.  Now that it’s much colder I have become hypothyroid again.  This is to be expected but I do wish I lived in a country that adjusted medication for the winter.  At my last health check the doctor was surprised stating as always that I shouldn’t be like this on medication.  But, anyway, it happens every winter even though my Japanese doctors act as if their will alone should stop such things.

I’m aware of them today as I’ve made a mistake and taken too much medication.   I usually avoid doing this through routine.  I take my medication as soon as I go into the living room in the morning.  This morning it was really cold and I dashed out of bed to grab my laptop and went back to bed again.  An hour later, when I went back into my living room, I took my medication.  Given that I’m now incredibly warm it seems I forgot that I taken it when I got my laptop.  There is no heating on in the apartment, it’s about 7 C (44F) outside, and I’m as warm as I feel on a summer’s day.  Having an overactive thyroid must be great for the heating bills, but probably not so good for the extra food you would have to eat to burn this hot.

Short term memory problems are a issue when hypothyroid and really I should have a better system for taking tablets.  I also like to think I can change things through my will alone so I have been ignoring my short term memory issues.  Even I noticed that I spent quite a bit of time yesterday walking around the living room in circles.  I mentioned it to Marty and he tells me I’ve been like this for a while.  But it amuses him to see me behave like a caged polar bear, so he didn’t point it out.

I have been attempting to deal with the mountains of laundry and got annoyed that my hormones also cause a problem with storage space. I have too many clothes.  I need to keep them in different sizes as my weight can fluctuate horribly over the course of the year but I’m not sure where I’m supposed to store them.  I’m also annoyed that I’m bigger in winter as winter clothes are bulkier and it would be nicer if these were the clothes in smaller sizes.

Hormone changes happen gradually and it can be difficult for me to see when I’m deteriorating.  I don’t want to slow down in the winter and I do a great job at ignoring the changes.  The most noticeable change is sleeping patterns.  In the summer I would sleep around 7 hours and 45 minutes if I was left to waken naturally.  Now I’m at 9 hours and 15 minutes.  It’s not so bad though, two winters ago I was sleeping more than 12 hours a day in December.


Tired Today

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

December may be my favourite month, but in recent years it has not been a good month health wise.  The change in seasons causes problems for my thyroid disease and I still struggle with pace.  I know that I need to slow down but I resent it.  It’s strange how lying on the sofa reading a novel seems like such a luxury until it’s all you have the energy to do.  I did manage to do a few things today but I’m finding it hard to concentrate.  I hope tomorrow is a better day.


Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Physiotherapy is hard work.  I spent an hour on Wednesday trying to get my body to do things it’s not built to do.  It’s easy to get embarrassed when I can’t even work out how to sit down correctly, but my therapist is kind and has a sense of humour.  I think I’m finding it easier because I learnt to ice skate as an adult.  I took lessons with tiny children who glided over the ice while I was a unsteady mass of fear attempting to cling to the ice by clenching my toes inside my boots.  I overcame my fear and awkwardness and I learnt how to skate.  I also learnt that it’s OK to look stupid and to fall on your ass.

I don’t like to look stupid, but I’m getting better at it as I get older.  Just as well really as so many of my new exercises involve attempting to stick my bottom out.  It really does not want to do that.  I find it hard to even understand that.  Instead my waist bends, or my shoulders bend forward, but my bottom refuses to obey.  And when it does obey it hurts!  I have all these underdeveloped muscles that don’t want to be used.  Thankfully my body can do some things.  I am able to stand on one foot with my eyes closed for more than 15 seconds. I did not know that this was a thing that people should do but now I am working on improving my balance.

The thing that I really like about physiotherapy is that you can measure progress.  I think that I am feeling less pain in my legs than less week, but I know that I can bend my knees a whole extra centimeter.


Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

After years of problems with my ankle joints and calf muscles I decided it was finally time to go and see a physiotherapist.  I have pain in my muscles every day and it’s getting harder to ignore this at night.  I made a half-hearted attempt to do something about this years ago when I was at university but all I can remember is the horror I felt at the suggestion of corrective surgery and the pain I felt after trying the stretching exercises.

Today I got to feel bliss caused by someone who knows what they are doing massaging my aching muscles.  To have no pain in my calf muscles was such a strange sensation.  I was taught a number of stretching exercises and given a program to follow which was also sent to me in email complete with video instruction.  It turns out I don’t walk correctly when on my toes or my flat feet, but first I need to lengthen my muscles, learn how to stand correctly, and then work on my walking.  This could take a while.

I also managed to squat in the proper form with my feet on the floor, something I thought was impossible.  This was done using a swiss ball and was a great way to show me that the problem is not in my knees.  It was a very good use of an hour and something I should have done a long time ago.

Bored Now

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

I’ve had a dull week.  It had the potential to be fun, my wedding anniversary was on Monday, but I’m still ill.  I’m finding it hard to concentrate, I have no energy, and I’m sure there are many things I would like to be doing other than sleeping.  I don’t understand what is going on in my head but I’m driving myself mad.  When I’m healthy curling up with a book in the afternoon and having a nap is such a luxury yet when I’m ill it seems like such a waste of time.

I was reading somewhere* recently that one of the central tenants of the Western worldview is that we should always be engaged in some sort of outward task.  The author talked about the Swahili word for “Westerner” which translates to something like “one who moves around” or “who wanders aimlessly”.  There is no doubt that when I’m sitting at home I feel as if I should be doing something, that I should achieve something every single day.  Today I managed to make dinner, which is more than I managed yesterday, but it still feels like I’ve wasted a day.  Of course it would be idiotic to do too much when I’m ill, but I have not found the balance between listening to my body and fighting illness.

*I’m not entirely sure which book I was reading but it was probably “Hide and Seek – The Psychology of Self-Deception” by Neel Burton.


Saturday, March 31st, 2012

I took ill at the start of March and every day since I’ve  expected to feel better.  There were days in the month when things did improve, but then a day later I would wake up and feel as if someone had stabbed me in the throat again.  Yesterday I went to see the doctor as it was fairly obvious that wishful thinking the infection away wasn’t working.

I will only go and see a doctor if I feel I have no other choice.  But in Japan you are expected to go and see a doctor as soon as you suspect that you are ill, even if you think that illness may be nothing other than a cold.  The doctor was not happy that I had waited nearly 4 weeks to see someone.  I was not happy that the doctor spent his time with me typing notes on his computer and asking me questions as I was expecting him to examine me or maybe even look at me.  At the point where I was wondering why I couldn’t just have sent an email diagnosing myself he did look at my throat.  He then prescribed four different types of medication.  He didn’t tell me much about them, but then I knew that the pharmacist would do this.

When I saw the pharmacist he also wasn’t happy that I had waited for weeks, his assumption being that the symptoms had started maybe a day ago.  He told me that I was being given medication for my throat and sinus infection that included a pain killer, throat tablet, decongestant, and something for the cough.  I was given detailed verbal instructions on how to take the medication and a detailed printout.  If I had received this medication in the United Kingdom I would have been given some additional information.  The throat tablet was an antibiotic.  I wasn’t told that nor was I told that it is important to take the full course of antibiotics.  It makes me suspect that in Japan people take the medication that they are given and don’t just stop taking it when they feel better.  I also wasn’t told about possible side effects the most important one being that one of the drugs would make me drowsy.  Maybe I’m supposed to stay inside and do nothing for the next 7 days?

As always after a visit to a Japanese doctor I arrived home with what seemed like far too much medication.  But I will be good and take it for the next 7 days as I would like to be able to talk without pain.


Medication for Throat Infection

Unexpected Consequence?

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Somehow I forgot to blog in November.  It was a busy month and I don’t write as much when I’m travelling.  I also haven’t been overly well, which is probably the fault of my out of control thyroid hormones.  I was at the hospital this week and had the worst set of results in three years.  The doctor wasn’t exactly sure what has gone wrong, but one explanation was a consequence of the March earthquake.

When I went to the hospital in June I was given a different brand of medication.  It was supposed to be exactly the same thing only made by a German company and not a Japanese one.  I couldn’t completely understand what had happened with the old medication but there was some issue with the hospital being able to get their supply after the earthquake and the German supplier stepped in to help.

My doctor told me that some patients had problems with the German brand and that it’s possible that my medication hasn’t been absorbing properly for six months.  It would certainly be odd to blame the earthquake on my insomnia or to say, “really it’s not my diet, the earthquake made me fat”.  It is just one explanation though.  The other ones involve the disease progressing faster than expected, winter badly affecting my hormones, having some sort of viral infection, or my immune system weakening.  Horribly, whatever is happening is probably caused by a whole combination of factors.  I just wish that when things go wrong they could be corrected faster, but it will be four months before the next set of tests, and it could easily take a year to get back to where I was in June.  This could be a long winter.

Cold Prevention

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

We received information today from our medical insurance company listing medication that they supply once a year.  This included a set of things for cold prevention.

Japanese Cold Prevention

I’ve gotten used to the Japanese wearing masks in the winter but I hadn’t heard about Isodine Gargle until one of my doctors asked me if I was using it. She was concerned that my thyroid function was being affected by me gargling too often with products that contained iodine. For me it was an incredibly strange question but it seems that lots of people in Japan gargle with a mouth wash when they arrive home.

I’m not sure what a medical company in the UK would suggest for cold prevention. Maybe a medicated hand-wash, as there was much talk about these after the swine flu scare, but I can’t think of anything else.  All the other things for cold prevention that come to my mind aren’t backed up with much science.  My mother would encourage me to take echinacea which used to make me laugh as she pronounced it like “itchy kneea”.  There was a time when Vitamin C was considered to be the best thing to take to prevent a cold.  And now I hear people talking about Zinc.

When I was younger I spent more time arguing about these things.  But I was never persuasive enough to convince my grandmother that I wouldn’t “catch me death” by going out in the winter with wet hair.


Small Steps

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

I know I’ve been quiet.  I was hoping to write about my new pedometer and the number of steps I take each day.  But the first day I used it I had a migraine.  The first migraine I’ve had in years.  That was promptly followed by shingles, which I haven’t had in just over four years.  I haven’t been walking much.  I haven’t been doing anything much.

I’m contagious and should really stay inside.  But yesterday I snuck out and bought coconut milk so I could make a coconut cake.  I couldn’t find raspberry jam so I made a cream cheese coconut frosting to go with my cake.  I also decided to make a dinner that involved lots of chopped vegetables, multiple salads, and dips.  All this on a day when I shouldn’t have been allowed near a knife.  I was a wee bit clumsy.  Both the kitchen and I survived.

Today I want to exercise but I’m not well enough.  Another few days of this and my wall crawling won’t be metaphorical.