Thursday, 22 June 2017

Midsummer notes

As we head towards the end of the school year, there's a lot going on. More birthday parties, summer fairs, village fetes, book fairs, school trips... 

Not to mention that last weekend I lost a large part of a (Joe-free) Sunday. Completely my own fault: the hangover from hell. Cue the whole 'Never again' self-talk alongside the accompanying nausea, pounding headache and light-headedness. It was a good party though.

We've been trying to complete a job I wish we'd never started: painting the gable end of the house and the kitchen extension. Said gable end and extension are coated in pebbledash. Pebbledash is a nightmare to paint. You have to stipple. And bits of pebble come off so you then have to go back and redo those bits too. It takes a very long time to cover a very small area.

It was all my idea. I take full responsibility for it.

We visited our friend's plant nursery over in Cheshire again, which meant Joe got to collect eggs from the nesting boxes and to play on the old tractor. And we came home with a car boot full of lovely things to put in the garden.

Speaking of which, now my mum's house is sold I picked up a few of her plants: some big, fleshy geraniums in terracotta pots for the kitchen window and a lavender for the outside steps. I like the idea of continuation - she's gone but the living things she tended are now mine to take care of and enjoy.

I've been busy printmaking, writing and drawing. Then photographing things for the online shop. I'm planning to go and collect more flowers for pressing, especially now the nearby fields are full of tall grasses and wildflowers. I'm so inspired by them that I wrote a piece for Creative Countryside (here, if you'd like to take a look).

I've managed the odd little walk alone and am hoping to get out after lunch today. The skies are looking a bit ominous and it's damp out, which is just how I like it - always better for taking photographs when your preference is for the darker side of things.

After the stifling heat of the past few days it's a relief to feel a breeze. We had the gazebo out in the garden so Joe could play without getting burnt (despite his factor 50, super-sticky suncream). He loves getting dirty and the suncream acts as both a magnet and a fixative.

This week's obsession: making 'stock', 'soup' and ice lollies with water, bark chippings and herbs picked from the borders. Tasty.

Recently I wrote about being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Well, I'll be honest: that diagnosis just didn't feel right to me. After many years of symptoms, from gruelling fatigue to feeling cold all the time, gastritis to brain fog (and so very many things in between: gluten intolerance, suspected coeliac disease, B12 malabsorption to name just a few) I decided to do my own research.

I looked at some blood results I'd received earlier this year, I read some (reputable) books and articles and I went to see the doctor. I even took Jay with me for a bit of support. And it turns out that I have autoimmune thyroiditis. The condition I've been convinced has been behind all these issues all along.

Someone finally listened.

So I had yet more blood tests, and I get the results this afternoon. The doctor wants to start me on medication. It's a relief.

But I'm also a great believer in functional medicine, and despite being pleased that I'm going to get treatment at last, I also want to address the cause. So I'm currently doing the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) which aims to calm inflammation and stop the immune system going haywire through eating simple, non-processed foods and taking supplements to heal the gut. It's very restrictive but I'm almost three weeks in and other than the gin-related episode on Saturday night, I'm feeling pretty good. Not to mention I've lost 8 pounds. 

A few things: firstly - if you know something isn't right with your health, be persistent. Find out about things. Make notes. Ask for second opinions if necessary. And going private isn't necessarily going to solve everything (when I spent £250 on a private consultation with an endocrinologist I was sent away having been told to take some vitamins). Spending rather a lot with a herbal practitioner didn't get me very far either. I do prefer this natural approach, but in the end it was a young doctor in my NHS practice who came good.

Secondly: please don't write any scary comments about thyroid issues! I'm feeling a bit panicky at the moment. That solitary walk after lunch is definitely needed...

Enjoy these long midsummer days.


  1. Hi Sarah
    I've been on thyroid medication for years after being misdiagnosed by an arrogant doctor who told me that the symptoms were due to age (I was 33). It might take a while to find the right dose for you but persevere. I am very sensitive to the level of medication and prefer to keep it slightly lower than the target but I can fine tune it up and down. Keep the dose under review with regular blood checks. I have mine done once a year now but started off with more frequent testing. I don't really think of it as medication - more as a supplement for something my body needs but isn't very good at making. Good luck!

  2. Loving the long midsummer daylight hours - one of the best things of living in Scotland. I am really glad to hear that you have a diagnosis for your health problems and keep my fingers crossed that with the right treatment your symptoms will improve. As for the hangover, we've all been to that great party and regretted it :-) I have been thinking of painting our pebble dash house but I am definitely not now, after reading how tedious it is. x

  3. No scary comments but pleased you have a diagnosis, at least you know what you are dealing with and hopefully you will see improvement. As for the hangover... we've all done it! Lovely to see Joe out enjoying playing with the water and mud, just like little children should x


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