Archive for the 'Health' Category

Hospital Visit

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Another morning spent at the thyroid hospital.  I always knew that the hospital was efficient but today they had posted expected waiting times in the various waiting rooms.  They aim to take blood from 50 people every 10 minutes. It always takes a little longer to take my blood, than the ideal time, as it makes me feel faint.  This seems to amuse the phlebotomists who don’t seem to understand that I can’t relax even if instructed to do so over and over.

Today I also had an ultrasound and it seems they aim to do 50 of these in an hour.  That is rather ambitious though, and they are failing to meet their targets.  The notices, inside the treatment area, suggest that they are averaging 37 an hour.  The other great thing about the hospital is that the provide the results quickly.  Today’s results were mostly good.  My thyroid gland has gotten smaller, I have no nodules, and most of my hormone levels are good.  The one that isn’t is more than the likely the reason why I’m having problems with insomnia and anxiety, but changing my medication would make things worse, so I’ll just have to find other ways to deal with that.  And hopefully it will be months before I have to have another blood test.

More Exercise

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

I have been trying to get into a routine of exercising everyday.  I thought I would try to exercise for at least 30 minutes for 30 days and I have managed to do that.  I have been using a pedometer to monitor my walking and yesterday I broke my step record and walked for 46,012 steps (21.52 miles) taking my 7 day total to 152,522 steps.  I had wanted to walk further yesterday but my feet let me down.  Between blisters and having someone stand on one of my feet by accident it was not sensible to try to walk the 30 miles I had planned, but I’ll certainly try that walk again once the weather gets cooler and I have better clothes to wear.

Health Matters

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

People often ask me questions about my life in Japan with the sound of excitement in their voices.  “Oh it must be fantastic to live there”, “your life must be so interesting”…  When really my life is full of normal things that become difficult because of culture and language.  Today I tried to go to the gym.  It really should not have been difficult but I only know of one way in and it’s via an elevator which was not working.  After pushing buttons a number of times like an idiot I finally worked out that the recorded voice was telling me that the elevator was not going to the 3rd or 4th floor.  Once I got outside the lift I saw a printed sign with instructions on how to get to the gym if the elevator was not working.  I was too embarrassed to spend 5 minutes reading this so I took a picture and wandered off to somewhere less public to read it.

After working out the meaning of the instructions I did eventually find my way into the gym only to discover it was closed for Obon.  I’m aware that the festival takes place at some point in the middle of August but it’s not a national holiday and it never occurred to me that lots of businesses would close for the week.  So 30 minutes after I left the apartment building I went back to use the small gym there.  But first I had to rest because I was so hot and sticky from the humidity outside.   The gym in my building is not great.  It contains 3 treadmills, 3 bikes, and an area for stretching with gym balls, mats, and stretch rollers.  I spent an hour on the treadmill and 20 minutes on a bike.  It was not easy in the heat and I sweated most of my life force away in order to burn around 500 calories.

I had wanted to go to the gym to lift weights but I still had to do something when that failed.  I’m really making an effort with exercise as my thyroid function is continuing to decline and my medication has been increased again.  I was told at the hospital yesterday that it’s going to be incredibly hard for me to lose weight with my current hormone levels but I’m going to keep trying.  It will take at least 6 weeks for the change in medication to have any effect but I really don’t want to gain any more weight.

Return to the Gym

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

I made it to the gym today.  It felt great.  Not because my workout was fantastic, it really wasn’t, but because I actually made it through the doors of the gym.  I find it incredibly hard to get back to an exercise routine after the thyroid sluggishness of the winter.  I’ve been talking about going back for weeks but today I actually did it.  My local gym is beautiful and it’s been renovated yet again since my last visit.  It’s one of the things that scares me about going, that it will have changed in some crazy way that I won’t understand.  But it all made sense apart from the advert for “Kendama Fitness“.

Kendama Fitness

Kendama Fitness



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.