holding hands for comfort

Speak Up About Your Health – Thyroid Awareness Week

It’s Thyroid Awareness Week. For something that’s a small butterfly shaped gland, the thyroid is so powerful, and can attack many different parts of the body if there’s an imbalance of hormone levels. Although I haven’t had an official diagnosis, I want to share my story as my symptoms and test results are leaning towards and under active thyroid (hypothyroidism). I also know a few people that have a thyroid condition, some under active and others over active (hyperthyroidism). I need to have one more test in a couple of months to be able to get a clear answer. This will help to determine whether there’s a need to start me on levothyroxine.

If you are wondering whether you could fall into the under active thyroid category, hopefully this post will shed some light and help you get the answers you need.

Since 2011, my thyroid levels (mainly TSH) have up and down like a yo-yo. In the last 6 months, they have been higher than usual. Every time something has lowered or increased, I have been advised, “It’s okay, it’s borderline.” But how does that interpret what’s low/high for every individual? We are all different and have different medical history, some heavier for some than others.

Since 2009, I have experienced a number of medical issues, some in more recent months, including:

  • Migraines (I was subscribed to Propranolol 80mg for 8-9 years by the hospital)
  • High blood pressure (controlled by medication)
  • Slow transit constipation/IBS – and now rectal bleeding – I am currently waiting for a sigmoidoscopy appointment
  • Tingling like pins and needles all over my body, on a daily basis
  • Longer, heavier, and more painful periods (to the point where sometimes, I only have a week window until my next one in-between the period itself and extra bleeding in-between)
  • Low iron levels
  • Raised cholesterol – this could be caused by a gene my mum has called ‘Familial hypercholesterolaemia‘ (I’ll just stuck to calling it FH!)
  • Low vitamin D – no chance of a beach holiday just yet though eh!

    Thyroid UK have reported on their Instagram account this week that, a lack of Vitamin D can be associated with thyroid disease.

Overall, I feel completely drained, and tend to have a lot of foggy moments. It’s been incredibly challenging in the more recent months, leading to low thoughts and feeling like giving up on finding answers. The weight gain on top of bloating due to bowel issues, not that many people notice, has still took quite a toll on me. However, with an extra influence from my boyfriend, I decided it was time to make a change. I have joined a new GP practice and it’s been one of the best choices I’ve ever made. I am heading in the right direction now.

During the last 6 or so months, I have been experiencing more cervical bleeding in between periods and after sex. So, with that on top of the rectal bleeding, you can understand why I’m on iron medication. 

I have an unexplained excruciating pain on the left side of my abdomen which could be caused by gynaecological problems or relating back to my bowel… or both? I don’t know at this stage but the pain has worsened over the last 12 months. My colposcopy results revealed there was nothing sinister and the cells which were causing me to bleed were treated. The only comment was that, my cervix still had some inflammation but it could be “a hormonal issue”. 

Although having the copper coil was good choice for me health wise (or so it seemed at the time as I can’t take other contraceptives), having it removed could be the next step. It wouldn’t scare me if anything happens as a result of this. I dream of having children, so I hope I get to experience this coming true in the near future once everything’s sorted. 

I am sharing this personal story in the hope that, if you ever develop symptoms, always push for answers. Your health is more important than anything – mentally and physically. Remember to look after yourself. I never used to speak up in the past but now I am glad to finally be getting somewhere. The answers might not be what you want to hear but it means you can get the help you need. 


If you have a thyroid condition, share your story on Facebook or Twitter using #ThyroidAwarenessMonth. Thyroid UK have lots of useful resources and support available on their website: https://thyroiduk.org/

woman's hands typing on laptop in hospital environment

My Experience of Having a Colposcopy Procedure

When I mentioned to the odd person that I was referred to gynaecology for a colposcopy, they replied, “Oh you are going for a colonoscopy?” Nope – a colPOSCOPY. 

Initially, I was told it was a 35 week wait for a referral. Then, I told my GP that I was willing to go to any hospital. Shortly afterwards, I had a telephone consultation and was sent a letter in the post for a colposcopy appointment – all within 4 weeks. Getting the appointment for the right date was important because well, the main reason for my appointment was due to so much more bleeding than usual. At first, I attended but they couldn’t carry out the procedure due to heavy bleeding so I had to re-book. Then, I needed a COVID-19 test because I had coronavirus symptoms. Finally, I was able to go for my appointment at the hospital a few days after the test as the result was negative. Third time lucky kinda thing! 

Why was I sent for a colposcopy?

For around 6 months now, I’ve had irregular bleeding and dark discharge throughout my menstrual cycle. My periods have been longer and much heavier, causing me to have accidents, which I didn’t even experience at 12 years old when I had my first period! Although, I’m coming up to 3 years since I had the copper coil fitted, it is expected that periods can be heavier when you have this type of IUD. However, other signs indicated that further investigation was needed. I continue to experience a sharp pain in my left side during and after sex, a much heavier cramping sensation during my periods, and overall fatigue and weakness. Whenever I get a pain in my side, I have to wonder if it’s cervix or bowel related. Having the two combined is… very uncomfortable. The pelvic pain though is more of a constant stab feeling.

I had a scan a few years ago to see if I had polycystic ovaries – but I didn’t. More recently I had an ultrasound and they said everything was fine and nothing sinister was apparent. However, before that, I had a cervical examination and cells were found on the outside of my cervix and the area was also inflamed. During that moment, I realised that when I had my first smear, the nurse did comment that it was “slightly red” and now, “it looks quite red”. The nurse said it looks as though as I have some ectropion bleeding, also known as cervical erosion which sounds scarier than it is. As soon as she touched my cervix with a cotton swab, it bled.

Unfortunately, I am also seeing blood when I go to the toilet (when I’m lucky enough to be able to go that is) and again, I get an excruciating pain on the left of my abdomen but that’s another story to tell you once I’ve had a sigmoidoscopy.

A couple of months ago, I was prescribed iron tablets because my iron levels were very low. It’s no surprise really when I’ve lost so much blood. They don’t help the bowel issues though because they can make you more bunged up. At least they help my iron levels though. There’s always a positive eh!

How did it feel to have a colposcopy for the first time?

Having a smear, cervical examination, or getting a coil fitted, doesn’t bother me. This procedure was also fine. I lay down and was told to relax and let the padded supports take the weight of my legs and push myself forward a little further. Just a warning if you are squeamish, everything can be seen on the screen beside you. I was completely fine with it other than seeing where I was bleeding around my cervix. It got me feeling a little sad because I just wanted it to go away. But apparently, it can be such a common thing for women. 

The nurse applied a couple of different liquids to highlight if there were any abnormal areas (biopsies are also taken if they think anything might be there). Overall, the cervix looked okay other than some inflammation again, but nothing to worry about. Medicine was applied to the cells that shouldn’t have been on the outside of my cervix, so hopefully this will reduce the bleeding in-between periods. But unfortunately, they don’t think it’ll answer the longer and heavier periods. The colposcopist is sure it’s hormone related which isn’t a shock as I am currently having my thyroid investigated. All I can do is persevere for a little while longer and see what happens after further tests. 

Swabs were also taken and I was given a sanitary pad for any bleeding and discharge. During these type of procedures, I prefer to let the nurses do what they need to do and get it over and done with. Maybe I’m luckier in the sense I could be one of those people who can persevere through the twinges and slightly uncomfortable feelings inside.

I did feel some discomfort afterwards, which was mostly period-like. Once I got home, I put my pyjamas on and had a cup of tea which of course was much cosier!

They said bleeding or brown discharge can occur 3-5 days after the procedure. Update: it’s a week afterwards now and I’m still getting this, which means I’ve bled for 3 weeks. Hopefully it’ll wear off soon.

The gynaecology department at Rochdale hospital and Royal Oldham Hospital have been so lovely and have made me feel comfortable throughout the whole process. If you are referred for a colposcopy, don’t ignore it or put it off, please attend. The nurses will make you feel as comfortable as they possibly can. 

I think what scares me, is knowing what my mum went through with two of her pregnancies (one being me). But hopefully there won’t be any reason why I can’t have a healthy pregnancy in the future. It’s one of my biggest dreams to have children. Many times, I have pictured so much in my head like, looking out of the kitchen window to see them playing in the garden or all of the first-time experiences that will be like no other. It’s important to keep a positive mindset and look forward to the future though. 

More information on how to prepare for a colposcopy and what happens can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/colposcopy/

COVID-19 virus

What to Expect When Having a COVID-19 Test

This is my experience of attending a walk-in centre by appointment. Near you, there might also be a drive-in centre, or the option to book a test online when/if they become available again.

Booking a COVID-19 Test

I was lucky when it came to booking a test. There were not any home tests available but over 100 slots had opened up at the University of Salford. I visited GOV.UK and followed the steps to proceed with booking an appointment.

If you are thinking of booking a COVID-19 test, expect to enter the date that the first symptom started to happen along with some personal details (name, date of birth, postcode etc.) The website will then bring up the closest testing centres. If you don’t have a car or live with someone who has a car, you are advised to walk or cycle to your appointment to reduce the risk of infecting others (if you have the virus) rather than taking public transport. 

When you arrive at your selected testing centre, a member of security or staff will ask you for your pass or email/text with confirmation of your appointment. You are likely to have received a QR code which they will scan and allow you into the building. This was the case for me as the test was taking place indoors. You must sanitise your hands upon entry then someone will direct you to a cubicle. 

Having the Coronavirus Test

A member of staff shown me where to go and I was provided with an information leaflet and testing pack. There was also further instructions on how to take the test with step by step illustrations on the wall in front of me. Staff members were around for further assistance if needed.

To start the test, you must blow your nose and dispose of the tissue in the bin. If you too attend a testing centre where you carry the test out yourself, you’ll find a swab in the pack on a table. You are asked to put the swab at the back of your throat for 10-15 seconds then using the same side, repeat up one of your nostrils approximately 2.5 centimetres. The only downside for me was that, my eyes were ridiculously watery on this day due to feeling unwell so, my eyes began to stream and I couldn’t stop sneezing because the swab tickled my nose! I think the staff looked at me as if to say “Well, that’s a different one!” haha. 

Once you have done the above, you place the swab into a container, snapping the other half off so it fits. Then, seal the bag you are given with the test inside. A member of staff will guide you to the next area where you sanitise your hands again, your QR code will be scanned for a second time, place your bag into a tray and you are all done. I was advised that my result would arrive through a text and email within 48 hours.

Getting Your Result

Less than 24 hours later, I received my result in a text then shortly afterwards by email. The sender will appear as NHS by text and NHS COVID-19 Notification on email. Thankfully, the result was negative. It felt good not only to discover I didn’t have the virus but to have received answers so soon. 

If you want, you can enter your code on the NHS Test and Trace app under the ‘Enter test result’ tab which will again notify you of your result. Further advice was given about isolation, if it’s necessary, and how to keep others safe.

I know it’s quite frustrating for people in some areas of the UK at the minute trying to get hold of a test or an appointment for one. But remember, your health comes first. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, book a test if you can. The first day I checked, there were no appointments available but the next day, luckily there was.

More information on testing and coronavirus can be found online at: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test 

hands holding a candle

3 Little Reminders for When You Are Feeling Stressed

Are you feeling stressed? This post might help to take away some of the things which are on your mind and are continuing to put a strain on you. Or at least, I hope it helps you to find a different perspective.

We all feel stressed from time to time and there are different coping mechanisms that work for each of us. Stress can cause many anxieties but there is a way to fight back if you take control. Feeling under pressure or worrying about situations, even the smallest things or events that haven’t even happened, there’s a type of stress which hits us all. For someone who suffers with a number of conditions that can be worsened by stress, I need to start taking a leaf or two out of my own book!

Why not think about these reminders below…

This period of time is temporary and will pass

What you are feeling so low about? Do you think it’ll matter in a few weeks, months, or a year from now? I like to think that challenges arise to test us but we can learn how we react to certain situations which also encourages us to grow. I have experienced this on both a professional and personal level. Learning to find a coping mechanism like taking deep breaths, or having a quick break from the thoughts swimming around in my head, seems to help. Sometimes, you have to remove yourself from the environment that’s making you feel this way.

There is guaranteed to be things in your life that make you feel happy and grateful to have. So, next time you are feeling stressed, focus on those positive things to help make you smile.

Always remember to switch off

It doesn’t matter if you need to switch off from work, family matters, friendship/relationship problems, or to come away from something personal, do it. I have struggled with this one before now and too many times, I have let negative thoughts beat me up inside. My mind has been overblown to the point where I don’t understand anything, yet I’ll still quietly say “yes” or agree to everything because I am mentally and physically drained to say anything different.

Also, another thing to mention, about life in general is, we aren’t here to just sit around and question why someone thinks what they do. It’s your responsibility to live your life how you want to live it and accept that people will always have something to say whether you like it or not.

Pay attention to things that settle you

What helps you the most when it comes to removing yourself from a stressful scenario? I can think of more than a few things, can you relate to any of these? A hug, something to make you laugh, having a soak in the bath, going for a walk to clear your head, listening to music, the list goes on…

When stress triggers had hit me in the past, and were much more long-term, I completed a mindfulness course online and it worked wonders! Give it a go if you haven’t already.

Remember, try not to create scenarios in your head when they haven’t happened yet or might not even happen at all. It’s quite hard for us perfectionists when trying not to stress if things don’t go exactly how you wanted them to but these things happen and it’s just how life can be.

You might also like to read: 5 Ways to Wind Down and Relax

alarm clock on quilt

Hypothyroidism Could Be the Answer!

I haven’t wrote a blog post for over a month now. So, I thought one thing I could talk about is health because there a few things that have been going on recently. I realise now that in the past, I might have brushed a lot of things off, or related a certain feeling to something which wasn’t actually the cause. It wasn’t until this week when I received my latest blood test results that the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together. My recent blood tests have come back and the GP suspects hypothyroidism. I just need one more test and to discuss medication.

Considering the thyroid is only a small butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, it can affect more parts of your body over the years than you would think. Anyone who has hypothyroidism will know the symptoms inside out. Here are most of the common signs:

  • Always feeling tired
  • Gaining weight – for me, I put on a significant amount in a short period of time, which so unusual for my body. Nobody notices but it doesn’t help how you feel about yourself.
  • Heavier or irregular periods
  • Dry/scaly skin
  • Tingling sensation
  • Constipation
  • Being sensitive to cold
  • Having sad thoughts (now I get why my emotional side is triggered)
  • Excessive hair growth on your body
  • Brittle hair on your head

Over the years I have experienced all of these symptoms. I have also suffered with migraines and I have high blood pressure but I have never known why. Could this be the root of it all? There are still a few things which need explaining but I do think it could be part of the answer.

2011

It was around half way through my first year of college when I experienced a major health change. I was suffering with headaches, an awful lot of them. I was nauseous and had a pins and needles feeling in my fingers, arms, and legs (I still do). This was occurring pretty much every day along with dizziness and losing balance. So, I spoke to the doctor, made sure I wasn’t dehydrated, created a food diary etc. After a short while, I was prescribed Propranolol beta blockers and was told I was having migraines. The only cause they figured back then was visual disturbances like bright or flashing lights. I was sent for a CT scan on my brain and my medication was upped. This helped to reduce the frequency of the migraines but not so much the severity. A dark room and sleep is what I would recommend to anyone is starting to experience migraines.

2016/2017

It might not be the nicest of things to talk about but if I’m going to share an honest experience, it needs to be included. I have suffered with constipation for around the last 3-4 years. Let me tell you, if you haven’t had constipation, don’t presume it’s just ‘constipation’. It starts off bearable. Then over the years it can cause other complications. I have tried over 6 different laxatives, a tablet from the GP, ate different seeds and foods that help you to go to the toilet, the list goes on.

My body always reverts back to normal and the above have only ever worked as a temporary measure. My stomach swells making it look like I have been carrying a food baby! The flare ups can be triggered by certain foods or emotions like stress. You can feel fed up more often than not and feel very negatively about yourself. Later, I had a colonic transit study at the hospital. I remember seeing the x-ray on screen to be told that almost all of the markers were collected on the left side and didn’t come out. I was diagnosed with slow transit constipation, leaning towards IBS.

2018

The year I was given the news I have high blood pressure. After loads of tests including an ECG, 24-hour monitor machine x2 ocassions, I remember being given the news because the appointment with my GP was on my birthday. Diet and lifestyle changes didn’t make a difference and there any other clear reasons for the cause, other than it possibly being a hereditary condition. Other than the blood pressure readings, other signs were: a difference in the blood vessels in my eyes and my heart was beating faster than usual.

Some would worry at a young age but I felt lucky to know and I was put on Ramipril to keep it controlled. There’s been no long-term damage to my eyes now other than slight reduced vision in my left eye. Also, I have worn glasses with antiglare ever since I was told I was having migraines.

2019/2020

After a long think, I decided to stop taking Propranolol, once I had spoke to the GP of course. This was obviously something I had to wean off. The migraines were not happening as frequently. Were things getting better? Not really…

Things have started to worsen. I feel exhausted. Sometimes, I feel so tired that I can’t be bothered talking or doing life’s day-to-day tasks or tasks at work. I brush my hair to find so much more hair malting than usual. The rash on my chest returns again and again. I am bleeding, which I won’t go into too much detail about but I have been referred to gastro and I’m being sent for a sigmoidoscopy. I also have a consultation with gynaecology coming up due to cervical eclroption (common with women where cells from inside the cervix go onto the outside of the cervix).

I’m lucky if I can go a week without being or feeling sick, and going to the toilet more than once every 2 weeks. In between all of this, I have been prescribed some iron tablets. I am not anaemic but due to the blood loss, my iron count is a little low. This is a win-lose situation because they help the iron count but not the bowel issue so, I have decided to take one every other day.

This brings me to today. Okay, I am finally getting somewhere. This might only answer part of what I have been experiencing over the years but I am relieved to know that I haven’t been going crazy. I feel quite annoyed that it’s took so long for things to happen before I was listened to but I like to see the positives.

There are many people out there with other chronic illnesses but I just wanted to share my story in the hope that it will help someone who is experiencing similar symptoms. Don’t be afraid to speak to your GP, no matter how many times you have repeated yourself. Keep fighting to get answers. And remember, your health always come first.

The NHS and Thyroid UK have some useful links on hypothyroidism:

I am grateful heart on wooden background

There’s Always Something to Be Thankful For

It’s crazy to think that our generation can say they were here when the Coronavirus lockdown was happening. We don’t know exactly how long it’s going to continue for but we do know how to do our part in keeping ourselves and others safe. Feeling positive during the Coronavirus pandemic can be difficult so, I’m sharing some of the things I’m thankful for and you might be too.

More time to spend with your significant other

Not everyone is lucky to live with their boyfriend/girlfriend/partner during the pandemic so I understand how lucky I am. Some might say they’re ‘stuck in the house’ with each other 24/7. But the way I look at it, you’ve got company all day and they are there to put a smile on your face.

Danny still checks in on me when we’re doing our own thing.  When I think about how we spend most of our times at work, we’re lucky to still be working in our house and seeing each other during work time. Our routines haven’t completely gone out of the window; we eat breakfast, lunch and tea together; have our film nights; and be there for one another if either of us are feeling a bit low.

Having health and happiness

As miserable as the COVID-19 climate is, continuing to do the things that makes you happy feels good. Okay, so, I can’t go out shopping in the home section all of the time or go on days out but there are several other positives. A number I’ve mentioned above plus, more time for cleaning and organising; a hug from Danny any time of the day. Don’t feel guilty for having these moments. You’re allowed to smile and do the things that help to maintain a positive mindset.

Although I was unwell for a couple of weeks, it could’ve been much worse. That’s the thing I keep telling myself about all of this. There are people losing their lives all around the world; families facing such heartbreak; and parents who can’t see their children or as much as they would like to. It’s important to keep a healthy mental and physical balance. Can we exclude the amount of Easter eggs I’m going to eat though? I think I’ve earned the chance to indulge after giving chocolate, cake and biscuits up for Lent.

More time to spend in the sun

We might not be allowed to go into the outdoors as far and as much as we would like to but there’s still ways to enjoy the sunshine. If you have a house, choose from your front or back garden; if not, try a walk around your local area. Some people underestimate the power of going outside and getting a breath of fresh air. I think it was taken for granted when we weren’t limited to where we could go before coronavirus hit us.

If you’re lucky to get your hands on some gardening bits, have fun and get things off your to-do list. Danny is planting new flowers in the back garden as I’m making my way through de-weeding the front. I cut my hands the other day (silly of me for wearing no gloves) but it feels good to get involved with the hands-on stuff!

Making the most of technology

If you didn’t hear on my Twitter @tashalifestyle, my mum has come a long way in her world of getting to grips with technology. She can now send photos on WhatsApp and calls a video call ‘Face WhatsApp. Bless her heart.

It’s so nice to keep in touch with friends and family over the phone, messaging, via apps. My mum started to cry at the end of a call last week because she just wanted to give me a hug. I cannot wait to squeeze her, the same goes for my dad and brothers whether they like it or not (mwuahahaha).

It’s also nice to FaceTime with people you don’t usually, like our nephew over the weekend, so cute! Unfortunately, I can’t keep in touch with my niece so she’s another little soul who’s face I can’t wait to see.


So, these are just a few things to think about. As bad as things might seem right now, it will get better. Each day is another day closer to hitting some kind of normality. Take the time to realise what’s important and you’ll see all of the things you’re thankful for. Remember you’re not in ‘prison’, you’re staying safe.