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Blog announcement

Greetings Blogosphere. 

Quick announcement. For a while now I’ve been maintaining 2 blogs that serve very similar purposes with ever so slightly different focuses. The Pippapotamus has been for articles whilst Girl Under Duvet has been a blog about my battle with ME and auto-immune thyroid disease. 

So from now on all ME etc related things will be moving over to The Pippapotamus - Enjoy!

Websites For Dog Days

This has been a really good week. It’s been a hard week, but I finally got back to the pool for the first time in almost 9 months. When in the pool I just floated a bit, but it felt incredible. I used to do long distance swimming and it was ‘my’ sport. Hours and days have been lost in water and so it felt like a big hurdle to get back to it. I’m a walrus compared to my old size 8 frame - Thyroid diseases are horrible things that turn you into monstrous versions of yourself - but this is a big step to getting parts of myself and my identity back.

In the spirit of all things jocular I thought I would share my two favourite doggy websites with you all for those times when you just need to smile. 

First up is something you’ve probably heard of as it’s a bit of a viral internet hit - Text From Dog

The premise is beautifully simple but painfully accurate and just so irresistible to any dog owner. The mastermind of animator Joe Butcher, the site is presented as texts sent between one October Jones and his Bulldog Cooper. The charm of it is the dog has dog-type questions about life that October really doesn’t stand a chance of being able to answer. Recurring themes include Cooper’s dislike of October going to work, Cooper’s insatiable sex drive/appetite/need to bark…

It makes me laugh out loud, without fail every time. The BEST bit is, it’s being made into a book in time for Christmas this year (out in October called Texts From Dog - October Jones. Available to pre-order now)

Next up is something a bit cuter… The Daily Frenchie… Sadly no witty premise here, but a lot of very gorgeous photos of readers’ French Bulldogs (so only really worth a look if you like the snub-nosed bat-eared cuties that are French Bulldogs)…

The Paleo Pyramid
The Paleo Diet - 1 Month On
Perhaps the biggest challenge in the process of getting my thyroid disease under control is the lifestyle changes that I need to make. Because it’s not just an under-active thyroid but an auto-immune disease it would seem there are a hell of a lot of them. Ostensibly the most daunting felt like it was going to be the revolutionary diet that my doctor insisted I go on. I’ve always been suspicious of anyone who just says ‘dairy’s bad’ ‘gluten’s bad’ but never actually explains why, but it would seem that in my case there are very specific reasons why I need to radically change what I eat. It would seem there are lots of things thyroids don’t like. First of all there are goitrogens - foods that contain these, such as broccoli, actually work to suppress the thyroid further. Then there are foods that inhibit the absorbtion of the thyroxine drugs I need to get my thyroid gland functioning again. Secondly, auto-immune diseases are actually enabled by gluten - somehow gluten is basically auto-immune disease fuel and is very readily absorbed into your blood, letting the auto-immune disease have as much fuel as it wants. These are very good arguments to me, not just hippified rants about whole food groups being bad for no discernable reason. 
Of course dairy is always a contentious issue too, but one of the most powerful arguments for giving dairy up for me was an archaeology paper I read about the history of agriculture that said that historically, man only ate dairy during times of famine when the harvest failed - ie when they couldn’t afford to kill the animals or times when perhaps many of their herds had been killed or perished for some reason due to weather perhaps as they didn’t have enough other food and had to make everything go a lot further. Studying LBK era pots and dating presence of dairy fat deposits in the pots showed that dairy was only eaten for these time periods and then given up when crops were plentiful again and animals healthier. Dairy was an emergency ration not something they naturally felt should be part of their diet and I feel there is a lot to be said for that natural instinct of our earlier ancestors for what is good for the human body. Man’s natural lactose intolerance meant milk was rarely imbibed in liquid form but made instead into cheese as apparently this was easier to digest for those people who lacked lactase (needed to digest lactose). You can read more about the origins of milk and dairy in man’s diet in this International Dairy Journal here.
To resolve these and many other conflicts my doctor put me on a diet that was pretty much what is more popularly referred to as the 'Paleo' or stone age/caveman diet.
So what does that mean? This basically eradicates any ‘modern’ processed food from diets. No dairy, wheat, refined sugars, grains, legumes… Some fruit is vetoed too for its sugar levels as mainly nuts and berries are preferred. All meat is allowed, as long as it’s lean and preferably grass-fed to prevent dairy and nasties entering the food chain. So, nothing that man hasn’t eaten naturally for thousands of years. This has complications when mixed with a thyroid condition. Taking out all glutenous vegetables and legumes (peas, rice, beans, lentils, pulses) and just leaving mainly green vegetables, there is a conflict in that some of these green vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach etc - are goitrogenic and unless cooked will suppress thyroid function.
At first it seems daunting and terrifying. No carbs, no comfort food. But then you start realising all the inventive yummy things you can have. For example, all casseroles (herbs, spices, garlic, onions etc are all a-ok) are good to go, as are delicious soups. No wheat and gluten or dairy seems hard but there are alternatives, and whilst the Paleo diet shouldn’t be about finding alternatives (it should be about adopting a new diet that embraces fresh food and unprocessed food), almond and chestnut flours and sweet yummy almond milk mean you can still occasionally have an illicit carb-like hit. Also nuts and dried fruit can become a good go-to snack I’ve found. 
What do I miss? As someone who couldn’t go more than a few hours without chocolate I thought that it would be the brown, velvety, milky hit of heaven I missed the most, but surprisingly, the cravings that hit me when I’m walking round the supermarket are for baked goods - for cake or doughnuts or other really bad glutenous treats. (Praying they alleviate soon)
Being on this diet has turned me into a total twat when I’m in the supermarket. I almost cannot bear what comes out of my mouth. I’ve always eaten well and always been a big fruit and veg fan so I guess that’s probably one reason why this hasn’t been impossible for me - It’s not like I’m a fried food junkie trying to convert to only eating green things - but I still feel really self conscious as I hobble round the aisles, studying labels asking my boyfriend “Is this organic darling?” and exclaiming “Oh my God why have they added sugar to this it’s ridiculous!”… I sound like a food fascist… and I guess the diet is making me one, a little bit. But in a good way. I was someone who was already aware of healthy eating, of calories and food groups and nutritional values, but going Paleo has been a whole new level of education and trying to get rid of all processed food and all refined sugar alerts you to just how much seemingly inert and ‘good’ food is horrifically bad for you and crammed with extra sugar and maize starch (another no-no for Paleos as it’s a legume).
Right now it’s all a bit too soon to tell if it’s all working - sadly I was coming from a place of being far too ill to expect too much in a month. I think there are changes but they could be the drugs, they could be the diet. I expect that in all truth, the two are working together to fix how much damage this disease has done to my body over the last 4 years and it’s going to take a while to really feel all the benefits of it, but it’s a challenge I’m enjoying and a positive step I’m enjoying undertaking after being so ill for so long and bed-ridden for so long.
Obviously as an off-shoot whilst the diet has been recommended specifically for the Hashimoto’s disease, many elements of it are things that people have been recommending I try for a while to help aspects of ME, but the reasoning behind it was never as compelling for me personally. I had been tested for celiac disease and was found to be negative and trials of giving things up before never really gave me any real benefits so I just tried to eat healthily and eat a balanced diet (even if that entailed a bit too much chocolate). I’m hoping very much that such a big change will have health benefits for me across the board and if it helps the underlying ME that I still have to contend with after this thyroid business is back under control then I ain’t complaining!
I’ve started collecting my favourite Paleo recipes and snacks on a Pinterest board HERE. It’s just started but will be growing as my exploration of this strange new food world continues. My next plan is to invest in a food dehydrator to make everything-crisps!

The Paleo Pyramid

The Paleo Diet - 1 Month On

Perhaps the biggest challenge in the process of getting my thyroid disease under control is the lifestyle changes that I need to make. Because it’s not just an under-active thyroid but an auto-immune disease it would seem there are a hell of a lot of them. Ostensibly the most daunting felt like it was going to be the revolutionary diet that my doctor insisted I go on. I’ve always been suspicious of anyone who just says ‘dairy’s bad’ ‘gluten’s bad’ but never actually explains why, but it would seem that in my case there are very specific reasons why I need to radically change what I eat. It would seem there are lots of things thyroids don’t like. First of all there are goitrogens - foods that contain these, such as broccoli, actually work to suppress the thyroid further. Then there are foods that inhibit the absorbtion of the thyroxine drugs I need to get my thyroid gland functioning again. Secondly, auto-immune diseases are actually enabled by gluten - somehow gluten is basically auto-immune disease fuel and is very readily absorbed into your blood, letting the auto-immune disease have as much fuel as it wants. These are very good arguments to me, not just hippified rants about whole food groups being bad for no discernable reason. 

Of course dairy is always a contentious issue too, but one of the most powerful arguments for giving dairy up for me was an archaeology paper I read about the history of agriculture that said that historically, man only ate dairy during times of famine when the harvest failed - ie when they couldn’t afford to kill the animals or times when perhaps many of their herds had been killed or perished for some reason due to weather perhaps as they didn’t have enough other food and had to make everything go a lot further. Studying LBK era pots and dating presence of dairy fat deposits in the pots showed that dairy was only eaten for these time periods and then given up when crops were plentiful again and animals healthier. Dairy was an emergency ration not something they naturally felt should be part of their diet and I feel there is a lot to be said for that natural instinct of our earlier ancestors for what is good for the human body. Man’s natural lactose intolerance meant milk was rarely imbibed in liquid form but made instead into cheese as apparently this was easier to digest for those people who lacked lactase (needed to digest lactose). You can read more about the origins of milk and dairy in man’s diet in this International Dairy Journal here.

To resolve these and many other conflicts my doctor put me on a diet that was pretty much what is more popularly referred to as the 'Paleo' or stone age/caveman diet.

So what does that mean? This basically eradicates any ‘modern’ processed food from diets. No dairy, wheat, refined sugars, grains, legumes… Some fruit is vetoed too for its sugar levels as mainly nuts and berries are preferred. All meat is allowed, as long as it’s lean and preferably grass-fed to prevent dairy and nasties entering the food chain. So, nothing that man hasn’t eaten naturally for thousands of years. This has complications when mixed with a thyroid condition. Taking out all glutenous vegetables and legumes (peas, rice, beans, lentils, pulses) and just leaving mainly green vegetables, there is a conflict in that some of these green vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach etc - are goitrogenic and unless cooked will suppress thyroid function.

At first it seems daunting and terrifying. No carbs, no comfort food. But then you start realising all the inventive yummy things you can have. For example, all casseroles (herbs, spices, garlic, onions etc are all a-ok) are good to go, as are delicious soups. No wheat and gluten or dairy seems hard but there are alternatives, and whilst the Paleo diet shouldn’t be about finding alternatives (it should be about adopting a new diet that embraces fresh food and unprocessed food), almond and chestnut flours and sweet yummy almond milk mean you can still occasionally have an illicit carb-like hit. Also nuts and dried fruit can become a good go-to snack I’ve found. 

What do I miss? As someone who couldn’t go more than a few hours without chocolate I thought that it would be the brown, velvety, milky hit of heaven I missed the most, but surprisingly, the cravings that hit me when I’m walking round the supermarket are for baked goods - for cake or doughnuts or other really bad glutenous treats. (Praying they alleviate soon)

Being on this diet has turned me into a total twat when I’m in the supermarket. I almost cannot bear what comes out of my mouth. I’ve always eaten well and always been a big fruit and veg fan so I guess that’s probably one reason why this hasn’t been impossible for me - It’s not like I’m a fried food junkie trying to convert to only eating green things - but I still feel really self conscious as I hobble round the aisles, studying labels asking my boyfriend “Is this organic darling?” and exclaiming “Oh my God why have they added sugar to this it’s ridiculous!”… I sound like a food fascist… and I guess the diet is making me one, a little bit. But in a good way. I was someone who was already aware of healthy eating, of calories and food groups and nutritional values, but going Paleo has been a whole new level of education and trying to get rid of all processed food and all refined sugar alerts you to just how much seemingly inert and ‘good’ food is horrifically bad for you and crammed with extra sugar and maize starch (another no-no for Paleos as it’s a legume).

Right now it’s all a bit too soon to tell if it’s all working - sadly I was coming from a place of being far too ill to expect too much in a month. I think there are changes but they could be the drugs, they could be the diet. I expect that in all truth, the two are working together to fix how much damage this disease has done to my body over the last 4 years and it’s going to take a while to really feel all the benefits of it, but it’s a challenge I’m enjoying and a positive step I’m enjoying undertaking after being so ill for so long and bed-ridden for so long.

Obviously as an off-shoot whilst the diet has been recommended specifically for the Hashimoto’s disease, many elements of it are things that people have been recommending I try for a while to help aspects of ME, but the reasoning behind it was never as compelling for me personally. I had been tested for celiac disease and was found to be negative and trials of giving things up before never really gave me any real benefits so I just tried to eat healthily and eat a balanced diet (even if that entailed a bit too much chocolate). I’m hoping very much that such a big change will have health benefits for me across the board and if it helps the underlying ME that I still have to contend with after this thyroid business is back under control then I ain’t complaining!

I’ve started collecting my favourite Paleo recipes and snacks on a Pinterest board HERE. It’s just started but will be growing as my exploration of this strange new food world continues. My next plan is to invest in a food dehydrator to make everything-crisps!

Perhaps misleading in its form, the thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly.

A familiar trope for any ME sufferer when visiting even the most understanding of doctors is one of misunderstanding and of having symptoms and frustrations overlooked. Many struggle and battle to get their initial diagnosis even made, whilst others battle to get their doctors to look past their ME diagnosis. I fall into the latter category and since getting diagnosed with ME 13 years ago my - largely very kind GP - and all the other doctors and consultants I have seen have often been all too quick to blame any symptom or problem I have on my ME. This has been problematic. ME is a vague and grey mass of symptoms but having it does not mean you are excluded from being able to get anything else wrong with you. I’ve just spent 4 years battling to get recognised a thyroid condition that has totally decimated any progress I previously made with my ME management diagnosed. The combination of having ME and a thyroid problem is overwhelmingly difficult to cope with when untreated and when my doctors have glossed over it and looked everywhere else but the most obvious place in my blood test results for almost half a decade it has been disheartening to say the least. It has been uplifting and relieving to get to the bottom of the mystery. It won’t help my ME symptoms but it will help me get back on track with managing my disease and I could have been saved 4 years of extra suffering had my doctors been a bit more open to what else my symptoms could mean in an ME patient.

What is most agonising is that the thyroid disease I have runs in my family and so they had a huge genetic marker to go on. but we got there in the end and I will soon be on my new medication and also having to start a radical new ‘stone age’ or ‘paleo’ diet - yoiks! No dairy, gluten or wheat (or most grains, some fruits and many other carb sources) for me any more folks! but I’m excited to do anything however radical now I can actually get better from this 4 year slump. Before the thyroid diagnosis I wouldn’t have done the diet, only in combination with the drugs am I happy to give it a go as a supporting mechanism for the actual medicine that’s going on that my body desperately needs to start functioning again.

I have auto-immune thyroiditis which is developing into something called Hashimoto’s. This article about Sarah O’Neil’s fight with the disease from The Independent in 2006 describes perfectly what it’s like living with an underactive thyroid, just how debilitating it can be, when it is untreated for a long length of time and degenerates.


There is no doubt I definitely have ME as well as a thyroid problem as the ME predates my thyroid symptoms, but this thyroid problem could be masking progress I could have been making with the ME and also has destroyed all the headway I made fighting to manage my ME.

If you think you might have problems with your thyroid, read more at the British Thyroid Foundation

Another good source of information is online at endocrineweb.com
Perhaps misleading in its form, the thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly.
A familiar trope for any ME sufferer when visiting even the most understanding of doctors is one of misunderstanding and of having symptoms and frustrations overlooked. Many struggle and battle to get their initial diagnosis even made, whilst others battle to get their doctors to look past their ME diagnosis. I fall into the latter category and since getting diagnosed with ME 13 years ago my - largely very kind GP - and all the other doctors and consultants I have seen have often been all too quick to blame any symptom or problem I have on my ME. This has been problematic. ME is a vague and grey mass of symptoms but having it does not mean you are excluded from being able to get anything else wrong with you. I’ve just spent 4 years battling to get recognised a thyroid condition that has totally decimated any progress I previously made with my ME management diagnosed. The combination of having ME and a thyroid problem is overwhelmingly difficult to cope with when untreated and when my doctors have glossed over it and looked everywhere else but the most obvious place in my blood test results for almost half a decade it has been disheartening to say the least. It has been uplifting and relieving to get to the bottom of the mystery. It won’t help my ME symptoms but it will help me get back on track with managing my disease and I could have been saved 4 years of extra suffering had my doctors been a bit more open to what else my symptoms could mean in an ME patient.
What is most agonising is that the thyroid disease I have runs in my family and so they had a huge genetic marker to go on. but we got there in the end and I will soon be on my new medication and also having to start a radical new ‘stone age’ or ‘paleo’ diet - yoiks! No dairy, gluten or wheat (or most grains, some fruits and many other carb sources) for me any more folks! but I’m excited to do anything however radical now I can actually get better from this 4 year slump. Before the thyroid diagnosis I wouldn’t have done the diet, only in combination with the drugs am I happy to give it a go as a supporting mechanism for the actual medicine that’s going on that my body desperately needs to start functioning again.
I have auto-immune thyroiditis which is developing into something called Hashimoto’s. This article about Sarah O’Neil’s fight with the disease from The Independent in 2006 describes perfectly what it’s like living with an underactive thyroid, just how debilitating it can be, when it is untreated for a long length of time and degenerates.
There is no doubt I definitely have ME as well as a thyroid problem as the ME predates my thyroid symptoms, but this thyroid problem could be masking progress I could have been making with the ME and also has destroyed all the headway I made fighting to manage my ME.
If you think you might have problems with your thyroid, read more at the British Thyroid Foundation
Another good source of information is online at endocrineweb.com

Chronic fatigue syndrome eased by cancer drug

An anti-cancer drug could hold the key to treating chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Symptoms of the disease eased in 10 of 15 patients given rituximab, an anti-lymphoma drug.

Thanks to We are Cardiff for helping me spread awareness for May 12th - International ME/CFS & FM Awareness Day by including my story of my battle with ME today on the site. Please support ME Awareness day by Informing yourself about the illness and tweeting about how others can learn a bit about it too. Read the story on We Are Cardiff here: “ME is debilitating, misunderstood, confusing and unpredictable” – Pippa | We Are Cardiff - thank you Adam Chard for lovely photo too!
Please support International ME Awareness Day. The best thing you can do is to learn a bit more about the disease – The best place to do it is at the ‘Get Informed‘ page at the actionforme.org.uk charity site. On May 12th, tweet the link, post it on your profile and help increase awareness and understanding for this stigmatised disease. We need the government to put more money into research. You can also support the Facebook page for ME awareness day. Or donate to ME Research UK, the UK body funding biomedical research into the disease.

Thanks to We are Cardiff for helping me spread awareness for May 12th - International ME/CFS & FM Awareness Day by including my story of my battle with ME today on the site. Please support ME Awareness day by Informing yourself about the illness and tweeting about how others can learn a bit about it too. Read the story on We Are Cardiff here: “ME is debilitating, misunderstood, confusing and unpredictable” – Pippa | We Are Cardiff - thank you Adam Chard for lovely photo too!

Please support International ME Awareness Day. The best thing you can do is to learn a bit more about the disease – The best place to do it is at the ‘Get Informed‘ page at the actionforme.org.uk charity site. On May 12th, tweet the link, post it on your profile and help increase awareness and understanding for this stigmatised disease. We need the government to put more money into research. You can also support the Facebook page for ME awareness day. Or donate to ME Research UK, the UK body funding biomedical research into the disease.

Any of you who know me how much swimming means to me and how 4 years ago i was swimming 7-8 miles a week. You also know how ill i’ve been and i’ve gone the longest in my life without being in water - almost 6 months. My body hates me for it. it’s a catch 22. Swimming helps all the ME symptoms so much, but not when you get to the point of being ill enough to be hospitalised. Then you just cant do it. I have been having so much trouble breathing and moving but, today, finally… i made it to the pool for the first time in months. now. i dont want to make this sound grander than it was. i just did some stretches and a couple of very slow lengths, but it felt magical and my body and blood pressure was so happy to be back in the water. Now im home im a blubbering, tired, aching mess with a migraine, but im glad i made it back and it’s going to be a slow road. but i swam today. i might not make it back for weeks. but today i did it. i know today some people ran the london marathon and i dont want to disregard their efforts, but i envy them. what i would give to be able to train for a marathon right now! Like I said. Today I got in a pool. This time my recovery is going to be a long road. I dont think im going to be swimming regularly for a long time. but it felt so lovely and all i right now is to be able to be a fitness freak again! but i must be patient with this ill body that needs time to heal.

Any of you who know me how much swimming means to me and how 4 years ago i was swimming 7-8 miles a week. You also know how ill i’ve been and i’ve gone the longest in my life without being in water - almost 6 months. My body hates me for it. it’s a catch 22. Swimming helps all the ME symptoms so much, but not when you get to the point of being ill enough to be hospitalised. Then you just cant do it. I have been having so much trouble breathing and moving but, today, finally… i made it to the pool for the first time in months. now. i dont want to make this sound grander than it was. i just did some stretches and a couple of very slow lengths, but it felt magical and my body and blood pressure was so happy to be back in the water. Now im home im a blubbering, tired, aching mess with a migraine, but im glad i made it back and it’s going to be a slow road. but i swam today. i might not make it back for weeks. but today i did it. i know today some people ran the london marathon and i dont want to disregard their efforts, but i envy them. what i would give to be able to train for a marathon right now! Like I said. Today I got in a pool. This time my recovery is going to be a long road. I dont think im going to be swimming regularly for a long time. but it felt so lovely and all i right now is to be able to be a fitness freak again! but i must be patient with this ill body that needs time to heal.

Run up to ME Awareness Day and We Are Cardiff

This week I wrote a piece for ME/CFS awareness day (to be published for May 12th) for the fabulous website We Are Cardiff. It has been a very personal undertaking to help try and increase awareness and education of the disease and I will share with you the story as soon as it’s been blogged.  I was also lucky enough to have my photo taken by Mr Adam Chard / Croatoan Design for the blog piece – one of the few people who I think could make me look human right now!

Some Facts You Should Know

Some interesting (US-based) factoids… such as

"Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a disabling neuroimmune disease that affects more Americans than AIDS, breast cancer and lung cancer combined; more people than have multiple sclerosis or cystic fibrosis; a disease where patients are more functionally impaired than those suffering from diabetes, heart failure and kidney disease.This disease, which costs the US as much as $26 billion annually, has been sorely neglected by government health agencies."

Blog announcement

Greetings Blogosphere. 

Quick announcement. For a while now I’ve been maintaining 2 blogs that serve very similar purposes with ever so slightly different focuses. The Pippapotamus has been for articles whilst Girl Under Duvet has been a blog about my battle with ME and auto-immune thyroid disease. 

So from now on all ME etc related things will be moving over to The Pippapotamus - Enjoy!

Websites For Dog Days

This has been a really good week. It’s been a hard week, but I finally got back to the pool for the first time in almost 9 months. When in the pool I just floated a bit, but it felt incredible. I used to do long distance swimming and it was ‘my’ sport. Hours and days have been lost in water and so it felt like a big hurdle to get back to it. I’m a walrus compared to my old size 8 frame - Thyroid diseases are horrible things that turn you into monstrous versions of yourself - but this is a big step to getting parts of myself and my identity back.

In the spirit of all things jocular I thought I would share my two favourite doggy websites with you all for those times when you just need to smile. 

First up is something you’ve probably heard of as it’s a bit of a viral internet hit - Text From Dog

The premise is beautifully simple but painfully accurate and just so irresistible to any dog owner. The mastermind of animator Joe Butcher, the site is presented as texts sent between one October Jones and his Bulldog Cooper. The charm of it is the dog has dog-type questions about life that October really doesn’t stand a chance of being able to answer. Recurring themes include Cooper’s dislike of October going to work, Cooper’s insatiable sex drive/appetite/need to bark…

It makes me laugh out loud, without fail every time. The BEST bit is, it’s being made into a book in time for Christmas this year (out in October called Texts From Dog - October Jones. Available to pre-order now)

Next up is something a bit cuter… The Daily Frenchie… Sadly no witty premise here, but a lot of very gorgeous photos of readers’ French Bulldogs (so only really worth a look if you like the snub-nosed bat-eared cuties that are French Bulldogs)…

The Paleo Pyramid
The Paleo Diet - 1 Month On
Perhaps the biggest challenge in the process of getting my thyroid disease under control is the lifestyle changes that I need to make. Because it’s not just an under-active thyroid but an auto-immune disease it would seem there are a hell of a lot of them. Ostensibly the most daunting felt like it was going to be the revolutionary diet that my doctor insisted I go on. I’ve always been suspicious of anyone who just says ‘dairy’s bad’ ‘gluten’s bad’ but never actually explains why, but it would seem that in my case there are very specific reasons why I need to radically change what I eat. It would seem there are lots of things thyroids don’t like. First of all there are goitrogens - foods that contain these, such as broccoli, actually work to suppress the thyroid further. Then there are foods that inhibit the absorbtion of the thyroxine drugs I need to get my thyroid gland functioning again. Secondly, auto-immune diseases are actually enabled by gluten - somehow gluten is basically auto-immune disease fuel and is very readily absorbed into your blood, letting the auto-immune disease have as much fuel as it wants. These are very good arguments to me, not just hippified rants about whole food groups being bad for no discernable reason. 
Of course dairy is always a contentious issue too, but one of the most powerful arguments for giving dairy up for me was an archaeology paper I read about the history of agriculture that said that historically, man only ate dairy during times of famine when the harvest failed - ie when they couldn’t afford to kill the animals or times when perhaps many of their herds had been killed or perished for some reason due to weather perhaps as they didn’t have enough other food and had to make everything go a lot further. Studying LBK era pots and dating presence of dairy fat deposits in the pots showed that dairy was only eaten for these time periods and then given up when crops were plentiful again and animals healthier. Dairy was an emergency ration not something they naturally felt should be part of their diet and I feel there is a lot to be said for that natural instinct of our earlier ancestors for what is good for the human body. Man’s natural lactose intolerance meant milk was rarely imbibed in liquid form but made instead into cheese as apparently this was easier to digest for those people who lacked lactase (needed to digest lactose). You can read more about the origins of milk and dairy in man’s diet in this International Dairy Journal here.
To resolve these and many other conflicts my doctor put me on a diet that was pretty much what is more popularly referred to as the 'Paleo' or stone age/caveman diet.
So what does that mean? This basically eradicates any ‘modern’ processed food from diets. No dairy, wheat, refined sugars, grains, legumes… Some fruit is vetoed too for its sugar levels as mainly nuts and berries are preferred. All meat is allowed, as long as it’s lean and preferably grass-fed to prevent dairy and nasties entering the food chain. So, nothing that man hasn’t eaten naturally for thousands of years. This has complications when mixed with a thyroid condition. Taking out all glutenous vegetables and legumes (peas, rice, beans, lentils, pulses) and just leaving mainly green vegetables, there is a conflict in that some of these green vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach etc - are goitrogenic and unless cooked will suppress thyroid function.
At first it seems daunting and terrifying. No carbs, no comfort food. But then you start realising all the inventive yummy things you can have. For example, all casseroles (herbs, spices, garlic, onions etc are all a-ok) are good to go, as are delicious soups. No wheat and gluten or dairy seems hard but there are alternatives, and whilst the Paleo diet shouldn’t be about finding alternatives (it should be about adopting a new diet that embraces fresh food and unprocessed food), almond and chestnut flours and sweet yummy almond milk mean you can still occasionally have an illicit carb-like hit. Also nuts and dried fruit can become a good go-to snack I’ve found. 
What do I miss? As someone who couldn’t go more than a few hours without chocolate I thought that it would be the brown, velvety, milky hit of heaven I missed the most, but surprisingly, the cravings that hit me when I’m walking round the supermarket are for baked goods - for cake or doughnuts or other really bad glutenous treats. (Praying they alleviate soon)
Being on this diet has turned me into a total twat when I’m in the supermarket. I almost cannot bear what comes out of my mouth. I’ve always eaten well and always been a big fruit and veg fan so I guess that’s probably one reason why this hasn’t been impossible for me - It’s not like I’m a fried food junkie trying to convert to only eating green things - but I still feel really self conscious as I hobble round the aisles, studying labels asking my boyfriend “Is this organic darling?” and exclaiming “Oh my God why have they added sugar to this it’s ridiculous!”… I sound like a food fascist… and I guess the diet is making me one, a little bit. But in a good way. I was someone who was already aware of healthy eating, of calories and food groups and nutritional values, but going Paleo has been a whole new level of education and trying to get rid of all processed food and all refined sugar alerts you to just how much seemingly inert and ‘good’ food is horrifically bad for you and crammed with extra sugar and maize starch (another no-no for Paleos as it’s a legume).
Right now it’s all a bit too soon to tell if it’s all working - sadly I was coming from a place of being far too ill to expect too much in a month. I think there are changes but they could be the drugs, they could be the diet. I expect that in all truth, the two are working together to fix how much damage this disease has done to my body over the last 4 years and it’s going to take a while to really feel all the benefits of it, but it’s a challenge I’m enjoying and a positive step I’m enjoying undertaking after being so ill for so long and bed-ridden for so long.
Obviously as an off-shoot whilst the diet has been recommended specifically for the Hashimoto’s disease, many elements of it are things that people have been recommending I try for a while to help aspects of ME, but the reasoning behind it was never as compelling for me personally. I had been tested for celiac disease and was found to be negative and trials of giving things up before never really gave me any real benefits so I just tried to eat healthily and eat a balanced diet (even if that entailed a bit too much chocolate). I’m hoping very much that such a big change will have health benefits for me across the board and if it helps the underlying ME that I still have to contend with after this thyroid business is back under control then I ain’t complaining!
I’ve started collecting my favourite Paleo recipes and snacks on a Pinterest board HERE. It’s just started but will be growing as my exploration of this strange new food world continues. My next plan is to invest in a food dehydrator to make everything-crisps!

The Paleo Pyramid

The Paleo Diet - 1 Month On

Perhaps the biggest challenge in the process of getting my thyroid disease under control is the lifestyle changes that I need to make. Because it’s not just an under-active thyroid but an auto-immune disease it would seem there are a hell of a lot of them. Ostensibly the most daunting felt like it was going to be the revolutionary diet that my doctor insisted I go on. I’ve always been suspicious of anyone who just says ‘dairy’s bad’ ‘gluten’s bad’ but never actually explains why, but it would seem that in my case there are very specific reasons why I need to radically change what I eat. It would seem there are lots of things thyroids don’t like. First of all there are goitrogens - foods that contain these, such as broccoli, actually work to suppress the thyroid further. Then there are foods that inhibit the absorbtion of the thyroxine drugs I need to get my thyroid gland functioning again. Secondly, auto-immune diseases are actually enabled by gluten - somehow gluten is basically auto-immune disease fuel and is very readily absorbed into your blood, letting the auto-immune disease have as much fuel as it wants. These are very good arguments to me, not just hippified rants about whole food groups being bad for no discernable reason. 

Of course dairy is always a contentious issue too, but one of the most powerful arguments for giving dairy up for me was an archaeology paper I read about the history of agriculture that said that historically, man only ate dairy during times of famine when the harvest failed - ie when they couldn’t afford to kill the animals or times when perhaps many of their herds had been killed or perished for some reason due to weather perhaps as they didn’t have enough other food and had to make everything go a lot further. Studying LBK era pots and dating presence of dairy fat deposits in the pots showed that dairy was only eaten for these time periods and then given up when crops were plentiful again and animals healthier. Dairy was an emergency ration not something they naturally felt should be part of their diet and I feel there is a lot to be said for that natural instinct of our earlier ancestors for what is good for the human body. Man’s natural lactose intolerance meant milk was rarely imbibed in liquid form but made instead into cheese as apparently this was easier to digest for those people who lacked lactase (needed to digest lactose). You can read more about the origins of milk and dairy in man’s diet in this International Dairy Journal here.

To resolve these and many other conflicts my doctor put me on a diet that was pretty much what is more popularly referred to as the 'Paleo' or stone age/caveman diet.

So what does that mean? This basically eradicates any ‘modern’ processed food from diets. No dairy, wheat, refined sugars, grains, legumes… Some fruit is vetoed too for its sugar levels as mainly nuts and berries are preferred. All meat is allowed, as long as it’s lean and preferably grass-fed to prevent dairy and nasties entering the food chain. So, nothing that man hasn’t eaten naturally for thousands of years. This has complications when mixed with a thyroid condition. Taking out all glutenous vegetables and legumes (peas, rice, beans, lentils, pulses) and just leaving mainly green vegetables, there is a conflict in that some of these green vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach etc - are goitrogenic and unless cooked will suppress thyroid function.

At first it seems daunting and terrifying. No carbs, no comfort food. But then you start realising all the inventive yummy things you can have. For example, all casseroles (herbs, spices, garlic, onions etc are all a-ok) are good to go, as are delicious soups. No wheat and gluten or dairy seems hard but there are alternatives, and whilst the Paleo diet shouldn’t be about finding alternatives (it should be about adopting a new diet that embraces fresh food and unprocessed food), almond and chestnut flours and sweet yummy almond milk mean you can still occasionally have an illicit carb-like hit. Also nuts and dried fruit can become a good go-to snack I’ve found. 

What do I miss? As someone who couldn’t go more than a few hours without chocolate I thought that it would be the brown, velvety, milky hit of heaven I missed the most, but surprisingly, the cravings that hit me when I’m walking round the supermarket are for baked goods - for cake or doughnuts or other really bad glutenous treats. (Praying they alleviate soon)

Being on this diet has turned me into a total twat when I’m in the supermarket. I almost cannot bear what comes out of my mouth. I’ve always eaten well and always been a big fruit and veg fan so I guess that’s probably one reason why this hasn’t been impossible for me - It’s not like I’m a fried food junkie trying to convert to only eating green things - but I still feel really self conscious as I hobble round the aisles, studying labels asking my boyfriend “Is this organic darling?” and exclaiming “Oh my God why have they added sugar to this it’s ridiculous!”… I sound like a food fascist… and I guess the diet is making me one, a little bit. But in a good way. I was someone who was already aware of healthy eating, of calories and food groups and nutritional values, but going Paleo has been a whole new level of education and trying to get rid of all processed food and all refined sugar alerts you to just how much seemingly inert and ‘good’ food is horrifically bad for you and crammed with extra sugar and maize starch (another no-no for Paleos as it’s a legume).

Right now it’s all a bit too soon to tell if it’s all working - sadly I was coming from a place of being far too ill to expect too much in a month. I think there are changes but they could be the drugs, they could be the diet. I expect that in all truth, the two are working together to fix how much damage this disease has done to my body over the last 4 years and it’s going to take a while to really feel all the benefits of it, but it’s a challenge I’m enjoying and a positive step I’m enjoying undertaking after being so ill for so long and bed-ridden for so long.

Obviously as an off-shoot whilst the diet has been recommended specifically for the Hashimoto’s disease, many elements of it are things that people have been recommending I try for a while to help aspects of ME, but the reasoning behind it was never as compelling for me personally. I had been tested for celiac disease and was found to be negative and trials of giving things up before never really gave me any real benefits so I just tried to eat healthily and eat a balanced diet (even if that entailed a bit too much chocolate). I’m hoping very much that such a big change will have health benefits for me across the board and if it helps the underlying ME that I still have to contend with after this thyroid business is back under control then I ain’t complaining!

I’ve started collecting my favourite Paleo recipes and snacks on a Pinterest board HERE. It’s just started but will be growing as my exploration of this strange new food world continues. My next plan is to invest in a food dehydrator to make everything-crisps!

Perhaps misleading in its form, the thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly.

A familiar trope for any ME sufferer when visiting even the most understanding of doctors is one of misunderstanding and of having symptoms and frustrations overlooked. Many struggle and battle to get their initial diagnosis even made, whilst others battle to get their doctors to look past their ME diagnosis. I fall into the latter category and since getting diagnosed with ME 13 years ago my - largely very kind GP - and all the other doctors and consultants I have seen have often been all too quick to blame any symptom or problem I have on my ME. This has been problematic. ME is a vague and grey mass of symptoms but having it does not mean you are excluded from being able to get anything else wrong with you. I’ve just spent 4 years battling to get recognised a thyroid condition that has totally decimated any progress I previously made with my ME management diagnosed. The combination of having ME and a thyroid problem is overwhelmingly difficult to cope with when untreated and when my doctors have glossed over it and looked everywhere else but the most obvious place in my blood test results for almost half a decade it has been disheartening to say the least. It has been uplifting and relieving to get to the bottom of the mystery. It won’t help my ME symptoms but it will help me get back on track with managing my disease and I could have been saved 4 years of extra suffering had my doctors been a bit more open to what else my symptoms could mean in an ME patient.

What is most agonising is that the thyroid disease I have runs in my family and so they had a huge genetic marker to go on. but we got there in the end and I will soon be on my new medication and also having to start a radical new ‘stone age’ or ‘paleo’ diet - yoiks! No dairy, gluten or wheat (or most grains, some fruits and many other carb sources) for me any more folks! but I’m excited to do anything however radical now I can actually get better from this 4 year slump. Before the thyroid diagnosis I wouldn’t have done the diet, only in combination with the drugs am I happy to give it a go as a supporting mechanism for the actual medicine that’s going on that my body desperately needs to start functioning again.

I have auto-immune thyroiditis which is developing into something called Hashimoto’s. This article about Sarah O’Neil’s fight with the disease from The Independent in 2006 describes perfectly what it’s like living with an underactive thyroid, just how debilitating it can be, when it is untreated for a long length of time and degenerates.


There is no doubt I definitely have ME as well as a thyroid problem as the ME predates my thyroid symptoms, but this thyroid problem could be masking progress I could have been making with the ME and also has destroyed all the headway I made fighting to manage my ME.

If you think you might have problems with your thyroid, read more at the British Thyroid Foundation

Another good source of information is online at endocrineweb.com
Perhaps misleading in its form, the thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly.
A familiar trope for any ME sufferer when visiting even the most understanding of doctors is one of misunderstanding and of having symptoms and frustrations overlooked. Many struggle and battle to get their initial diagnosis even made, whilst others battle to get their doctors to look past their ME diagnosis. I fall into the latter category and since getting diagnosed with ME 13 years ago my - largely very kind GP - and all the other doctors and consultants I have seen have often been all too quick to blame any symptom or problem I have on my ME. This has been problematic. ME is a vague and grey mass of symptoms but having it does not mean you are excluded from being able to get anything else wrong with you. I’ve just spent 4 years battling to get recognised a thyroid condition that has totally decimated any progress I previously made with my ME management diagnosed. The combination of having ME and a thyroid problem is overwhelmingly difficult to cope with when untreated and when my doctors have glossed over it and looked everywhere else but the most obvious place in my blood test results for almost half a decade it has been disheartening to say the least. It has been uplifting and relieving to get to the bottom of the mystery. It won’t help my ME symptoms but it will help me get back on track with managing my disease and I could have been saved 4 years of extra suffering had my doctors been a bit more open to what else my symptoms could mean in an ME patient.
What is most agonising is that the thyroid disease I have runs in my family and so they had a huge genetic marker to go on. but we got there in the end and I will soon be on my new medication and also having to start a radical new ‘stone age’ or ‘paleo’ diet - yoiks! No dairy, gluten or wheat (or most grains, some fruits and many other carb sources) for me any more folks! but I’m excited to do anything however radical now I can actually get better from this 4 year slump. Before the thyroid diagnosis I wouldn’t have done the diet, only in combination with the drugs am I happy to give it a go as a supporting mechanism for the actual medicine that’s going on that my body desperately needs to start functioning again.
I have auto-immune thyroiditis which is developing into something called Hashimoto’s. This article about Sarah O’Neil’s fight with the disease from The Independent in 2006 describes perfectly what it’s like living with an underactive thyroid, just how debilitating it can be, when it is untreated for a long length of time and degenerates.
There is no doubt I definitely have ME as well as a thyroid problem as the ME predates my thyroid symptoms, but this thyroid problem could be masking progress I could have been making with the ME and also has destroyed all the headway I made fighting to manage my ME.
If you think you might have problems with your thyroid, read more at the British Thyroid Foundation
Another good source of information is online at endocrineweb.com

Chronic fatigue syndrome eased by cancer drug

An anti-cancer drug could hold the key to treating chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Symptoms of the disease eased in 10 of 15 patients given rituximab, an anti-lymphoma drug.

Thanks to We are Cardiff for helping me spread awareness for May 12th - International ME/CFS & FM Awareness Day by including my story of my battle with ME today on the site. Please support ME Awareness day by Informing yourself about the illness and tweeting about how others can learn a bit about it too. Read the story on We Are Cardiff here: “ME is debilitating, misunderstood, confusing and unpredictable” – Pippa | We Are Cardiff - thank you Adam Chard for lovely photo too!
Please support International ME Awareness Day. The best thing you can do is to learn a bit more about the disease – The best place to do it is at the ‘Get Informed‘ page at the actionforme.org.uk charity site. On May 12th, tweet the link, post it on your profile and help increase awareness and understanding for this stigmatised disease. We need the government to put more money into research. You can also support the Facebook page for ME awareness day. Or donate to ME Research UK, the UK body funding biomedical research into the disease.

Thanks to We are Cardiff for helping me spread awareness for May 12th - International ME/CFS & FM Awareness Day by including my story of my battle with ME today on the site. Please support ME Awareness day by Informing yourself about the illness and tweeting about how others can learn a bit about it too. Read the story on We Are Cardiff here: “ME is debilitating, misunderstood, confusing and unpredictable” – Pippa | We Are Cardiff - thank you Adam Chard for lovely photo too!

Please support International ME Awareness Day. The best thing you can do is to learn a bit more about the disease – The best place to do it is at the ‘Get Informed‘ page at the actionforme.org.uk charity site. On May 12th, tweet the link, post it on your profile and help increase awareness and understanding for this stigmatised disease. We need the government to put more money into research. You can also support the Facebook page for ME awareness day. Or donate to ME Research UK, the UK body funding biomedical research into the disease.

Any of you who know me how much swimming means to me and how 4 years ago i was swimming 7-8 miles a week. You also know how ill i’ve been and i’ve gone the longest in my life without being in water - almost 6 months. My body hates me for it. it’s a catch 22. Swimming helps all the ME symptoms so much, but not when you get to the point of being ill enough to be hospitalised. Then you just cant do it. I have been having so much trouble breathing and moving but, today, finally… i made it to the pool for the first time in months. now. i dont want to make this sound grander than it was. i just did some stretches and a couple of very slow lengths, but it felt magical and my body and blood pressure was so happy to be back in the water. Now im home im a blubbering, tired, aching mess with a migraine, but im glad i made it back and it’s going to be a slow road. but i swam today. i might not make it back for weeks. but today i did it. i know today some people ran the london marathon and i dont want to disregard their efforts, but i envy them. what i would give to be able to train for a marathon right now! Like I said. Today I got in a pool. This time my recovery is going to be a long road. I dont think im going to be swimming regularly for a long time. but it felt so lovely and all i right now is to be able to be a fitness freak again! but i must be patient with this ill body that needs time to heal.

Any of you who know me how much swimming means to me and how 4 years ago i was swimming 7-8 miles a week. You also know how ill i’ve been and i’ve gone the longest in my life without being in water - almost 6 months. My body hates me for it. it’s a catch 22. Swimming helps all the ME symptoms so much, but not when you get to the point of being ill enough to be hospitalised. Then you just cant do it. I have been having so much trouble breathing and moving but, today, finally… i made it to the pool for the first time in months. now. i dont want to make this sound grander than it was. i just did some stretches and a couple of very slow lengths, but it felt magical and my body and blood pressure was so happy to be back in the water. Now im home im a blubbering, tired, aching mess with a migraine, but im glad i made it back and it’s going to be a slow road. but i swam today. i might not make it back for weeks. but today i did it. i know today some people ran the london marathon and i dont want to disregard their efforts, but i envy them. what i would give to be able to train for a marathon right now! Like I said. Today I got in a pool. This time my recovery is going to be a long road. I dont think im going to be swimming regularly for a long time. but it felt so lovely and all i right now is to be able to be a fitness freak again! but i must be patient with this ill body that needs time to heal.

Run up to ME Awareness Day and We Are Cardiff

This week I wrote a piece for ME/CFS awareness day (to be published for May 12th) for the fabulous website We Are Cardiff. It has been a very personal undertaking to help try and increase awareness and education of the disease and I will share with you the story as soon as it’s been blogged.  I was also lucky enough to have my photo taken by Mr Adam Chard / Croatoan Design for the blog piece – one of the few people who I think could make me look human right now!

Some Facts You Should Know

Some interesting (US-based) factoids… such as

"Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a disabling neuroimmune disease that affects more Americans than AIDS, breast cancer and lung cancer combined; more people than have multiple sclerosis or cystic fibrosis; a disease where patients are more functionally impaired than those suffering from diabetes, heart failure and kidney disease.This disease, which costs the US as much as $26 billion annually, has been sorely neglected by government health agencies."

Blog announcement
Websites For Dog Days
Run up to ME Awareness Day and We Are Cardiff

About:

A girl under her duvet, living with severe ME, looking for greater awareness and more research