Saturday, 30 October 2010

Sod politics, i'm lovin' the eggs!

I just can't bring myself to blog about politics at the mo, although it has been comsuming me, in a bad way, so much so that I cannot watch the news in case one of THEMcomes on. So before I start on my true, egg blog, here is a task for my 2 readers for next week. Bear with me. I have set myself the task of writing one outraged letter a week to my local MP, the Conservative Stephen Barclay, whose blondish, young-ish, Tory mug can be seen every week in our local rag, grinning as he watches the scythe of cuts ruin the Fens (further), pretending to care. It is my intention to gather as many of his asinine replies on House of Commons paper ("I share with you some concerns, but policy....all in this together.... a council matter.....central office....blah blah blah")as possible, and then with a final flourish, use them all to bed down the hens so they can shit all over him. Maybe he'd like to come to a photo shoot for that. So, pick an issue, any issue, and i'll do it in next weeks letter. Challenge!
So, with the politics/chicken poop link nicely done, I can get down to the egg lovin'.
It is now about 2 months since the 3 brown hens came into our garden (and dug most of it up). I am SO CONVERTED. I will never eat an egg that's not from a free range happy hen ever again. I get 3 , super huge, super tasty, super yellow yolked eggs per day. And they ask for so little in return. A scoop of pellets, a clean out once a week, and whatever scraps you have left over. Mine are in their nice run for the mornings, and out all afternoon. I do this because I'm out in the mornings with playgroup, and I fear for predators, but in the afternoons, they charge about the garden with the kids. They peck at the grass, eat all the weeds (goosegarass, dandelion, all gone!), eat all the pests (slug eggs, grubs, leatherjackets), try to get in to watch tv, and make themselves little dustbaths everywhere. They rummage through the gravel, chase flies, and play football with tomatoes. One is so placid she sits on the trampoline with son and allows herself to be carted around. They all nestle together under the Canna lillies and cluck. And then trot merrily back into the coop all by themselves when the dusk draws in. At which point I don the rubber gloves, pick up the poo, and say goodnight to them, knowing that in the morning, the kids will charge down to the coop with breakfast for the hens (leftover cereal is OBSESSING them), and come back with 3 warm eggs.

They are utterly charming. Everyone who has met them has gone, "Oh! Funny!" and then said "They're big, aren't they?" and that's the thing. When you buy eggs, or think of battery hens, you don't think of how big a hen actually is, or what a hen likes doing. You don't have a picture in your mind of how a hen lays. You don't know what a hen eats. The eggs from batteries are from hens who cannot run, or even stand up. They have yellow yolks because of colouring in pellets, not because of the greens and insects they've eaten. They're not sometimes ovoid rather than oval, or speckley or not, with SUPER STRONG shells, like mine are, because those chickens lead an unhappy, uniform existance, with no joy whatsoever. Find someone with hens, eat a fresh that day egg from a happy hen, and then watch the hen for a bit. Scratching about. Doing a happy triumphant cluck that that huge egg is finally out. Watch them queue to use the nesting box in the mornings (that cracks me up). Watch as one of them finds a juicy leatherjacker grub from underneath what was your bulb patch, and run off with it with others in pursuit. Realise that they are funny, bright creatures, and need a bit more than a box to live in, if they're to produce eggs for your box. Respect to the hen.

A few things i've discovered if you're thinking about hens in your garden.
  • Cheap! After the initial cost of coop, woodshavings are cheap, a sack of pellets lasts ages, and if they free range, they don't eat that much anyway, as they're filling up on grubs and weeds.
  • They don't wreck the garden that much. They eat weeds, pests. They WILL scratch up seedlings, and they WILL strip a bush of berries, so protect seedlings and any berries you want to eat. If it's muddy, you might want to keep them off the lawn. But they'll be great for clearing ground and veg patches before the Spring.
  • They actually do make clucking noises when laying.
  • Chicken poo picking up isn't as bad as nappies was.
  • Don't panic about kids and chickens. A few simple rules: wash hands afterwards, don't chase, don't pick up if they don't want it will suffice. I researched hygiene, kids anc chickens online beforehand, and really, if you wash hands, and don't actually smear the poo over stuff you're fine. More danger of getting something from the dog poo on paths.
  • Get some hens! And write cross letters to your MP!

Friday, 22 October 2010

A freezer week: use up those unidentifiables!

Now we have been earmarked to be poor for the rest of our lives, by dint of not being born a Tory grandee landowning family, I have been thinking of ways to minimise our weekly shop and cut, cut, cut. I've been tight as Osbourne on Xmas presents, ebaying like mad and carbooting to raise funds, which are strictly controlled this year. If I was any good at it, i'd be making presents, not buying. As it is, there is a cap on spending in this house.

I already meal plan like a modern day Beeton, only without all the 5 course meals and servants. I make a weekly plan and do not deviate from it. We are a snack free, treat free house. We splurge on fruit. We buy seasonally from the old geezer down the road, who grows it himself. The chooks provide 3 eggs a day, we eat a LOT of eggs. They eat the scraps. But still, I feel, we eat too much meat. So i've cut down on the expensive cuts, and buy the cheaper stew friendly ones. I eke out a chicken to 3 or 4 meals, and I make stock. At the end of every week, husband gets a curry made from any veg that are looking sad. But I still overcook. I still make too many portions. For example, we had cauliflower cheese as a side last week. Nobody in my family loves it so much that they'll eat a whole cauli. So half gets frozen. In an attempt to cut right back and empty that freezer, last week I took a good hard look inside that chest freezer and was amazed.

Meat: mince, 1/2 pork loin, 2 chicken breasts, bacon.
Cooked meals: 1 portion chilli, 1 bolognaise, 1 chicken stew, 1 cauliflower cheese, 4 homemade fishcakes, 10 homemade chicken nuggets, 2 portions lamb curry, 4 portions marinanded ribs.
Veg: frozen sweetcorn, bananas, blackberries x 1 million, peas, lemongrass, chillis, chopped leeks
sundries: enough ends of loaves of bread to feed an army.
That is more than enough, I saw, to feed us this week. So all I bought this week were fresh veg from the market, and tinned tomatoes and dried chickpeas/ lentils. And this is what we had.
Monday: minced beef pasties with leeks and sweetcorn and chickpea relish.
Tuesday: Fishcakes and cauli cheese with broccoli.
Weds: kids had nuggets, we had the curry.
Thursday: Kids had bolognaise, we had chilli.
Friday: Kids had chicken stew, we will have ribs and salad. And wine. A lot of it. I've been inside a lot this week.
Also managed a bread pudding using chooks eggs and the arse ends of bread from the freezer. Total expense on shopping this week was probably less than a tenner. Plus, I didn't have to cook per se, I only microwaved and defrosted, and it was LOVELY. Instead, I stood in the kitchen pretending to cook, standing by the microwave and reading while the kids waited. Ha!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Theme your weeks with toddlers and stay sane(r).

I regularly post on Netmums, and other "mummy" sites, I use it as a way to connect with other Stay at Home Mums (we deserve capital letters! And a pay packet, come to it. ) Recently, i've mentioned how I approach a week with my two, who are 3 and 2, and had lovely positive feedback, so I thought i'd blog it. One of the most difficult transisitions from working to staying at home was the lack of structure. I found that, at work, teaching, i'd measure my success through results, lesson attention or any number of other measurable outcomes. At home, what do you get? Nobody says "Yes, you met that outcome!", there is nothing to give structure to your week unless you make it. To keep me sane, I decided to approach my week with son and daughter in a more structured way.

I get a theme. Sometimes they are suggested by son or daughter, sometimes externally. In the past we have had boat, dinosaur, baby, flower and vegetable weeks. Every Sunday, we think of a theme. Last Sunday was "Autumn". So this week, we gathered leaves of different colours, and used them to make collages of bonfires and leaf prints. We walked the footpaths and took photos of the walk, and compared them with Summer photos. We gathered conkers, and sloes. We made autum and halloween masks from papier mache. We read books on Autumn from the library, spotted evergreen and decidouous trees, and gathered beech nuts. In our discussions, questions came up I had to research: Why do some trees lose leaves not others? Why is it darker at bedtime now? and so on. It makes me plan the way I used to plan lessons.

This weeks theme, decided by daughter, is HAIR. Unpreposessing, at first. But she's really aware at the mo of hair. Readers will be aware that I am almsot bald due to medical complaints. Daughter has the only flowing locks in the house. She spent Saturday with family friends with hair, the Mummy had hair,the daughter had hair, I do not have hair. So, hair it is. So, it's Rapunzel, Micheal Finnegan, animals that moult, and the various uses of hair through history, as walling, bedding and quilt stuffing. Animals that grow and lose hair, animals without hair, porcupines: are quills hair? Why is some short, some long, men have short hair, ladies do not, and why some ladies have it or not. And why, what I have, is growing in grey. Amd what is it anyway? I wish I had a microscope. I think we'll use soem chicken feathers to make prints and collages, we'll take a trip to the barbers and have a haircut, and we'll see what happens when we plait Stellas hair wet and leave it overnight.

If you are bored of your routine with your under 4, I urge you to think of a theme, or get them to, and see what a week you have. My whole working life, i've never answered as many questions as now. When you focus and choose to direct the questions of your children as a SAHM, you are not making an easy life for yourself. Tonight, I looked up why the moon controls tides. This for a 3 year old who wanted to know why little magnets made no difference. "What if there were more magnets and the moon moved away a bit on its' line?" Er, hang on a minute. This weekly focus is less about them, and more about me. Kids are sponges, brain sponges. All we do is wet the sponge.

And the quilt? Yep, still going. It's too BIG (single bed size), I sew so slow, and I am positively , never, ever sewing another one by hand ever again. I do not think it will be finished for Xmas, even if i do finish the quilting, the binding will drive me spare. Sons' birthday is in January, and so maybe by then.....

Saturday, 16 October 2010

It's that time of year again: indoor games for 3's and under

The weather is against us once more. When it's not pelting down, we still go outside and ramble. It's still good for foraging (sloes and crabapples, rosehips and mushrooms), but i'm gearing up for the Winter. Being inside with a 2 year old and a 3 year old can be akin to being in a state penitentiary with no time off for good behaviour, and the days can be long, long, long. So how to get through? Standard mothers helps during this long period of drabness obviously include the useful playdough and craft buckets, but boy, playdough does my HEAD IN after about 10 minutes. (The picture to left is son, at about 18 months, INSIDE when I was also INSIDE with a 4 month old. How fun is that? Not much. Look at how gross his nose is.) And really, it's not all that much fun, for 5 months of the year. Sure, you can buy Moon Sand and board games, but Moon Sand gets everywhere and board games just don't do it for my 3 year old. "MUUUUM! Stella is hiding the dice again!" Now son is getting a tad older, he can play imaginative role playing games or playmobil, and will, for hours, play at being a shopkeeper or librarian, but after 60 minutes this palls with me and daughter generally resorts to trashing the aforementioned shop/library. So for those times when role playing and playmobil are just too much, try these.
  • Baking: Muffins and biscuits. In the next few weeks, i'll be posting my gingerbread recipes, useful for tree decorations and stuffing your face. Baking makes a mess, sure, but you do get to watch them lick the bowl.
  • Painting: Yes, painting is icky and you clean up a lot after. But try this: get a wee bouncy ball, roll it in paint, and then stick a sheet of paper inside a biscuit tin and let them go hell for leather banging the ball around (lid on!) and see the patterns it makes. Or paint on mirrors, patio doors, or, even, the bath. Then wash it all off afterwards.
  • Dressing up: You don't need special outfits. Mum and Dad clothes are fine. Get them all in a heap and demand outfits of a certain colour or style. Let them be "Mum" or "Dad" and listen as they parrot back your catchphrases to you.
  • Assault courses: Take all the cushions off the seetee, the matresses off the beds. Use the whole lounge floor. It's not a lounge, it's an ASSAULT COURSE!Plus, you can see all the crap under the cushions, ignore it, and then put them back again. It feels great.
  • Dens: the best way not to see your kids for at least an hour. Pull out the seetee, get that sheet attached, and give them lunch in the den.
  • Hunt the object/Colour/Shape: Get yourself a prize bag of biscuits or something. Dole out prizes for the first one to find something ....BLUE! Then.......ROUND! and after a few minutes send them to find something very hard to find and eat some biscuits yourself.
  • Memory testing: Remember that bit in the Krypton Factor where contestants would watch a video clip and then answer questions on it? (No? You are TOO young.) Well, now do it to your kids. Watch a bit of Dumbo or whatever, and ask memory questions about it, rewinding to check the answers. What colour hat is Mrs Dumbo wearing.......
  • Get yourself a roll of plain wallpaper, get a kid to lie on it, draw round them, and then spend a few minutes drawing on features before "dressing it". Always goes down a storm with my two, particularly if the person is drawn in an anatomically correct style.
  • Pretend cleaning: for some reason my two are kept amused for up to 30 minutes by being given a sprayer full of water and a cloth. Result: damp, slightly cleaner house, and a chance to have a cuppa.
  • Being sick: they are the doctors, the stuffed toys the patients, and you are really, really ill and can do nothing except lie down and direct things from the sofa. Remarkably, this often means a lie down for me for up to 20 minutes. Result! If you really want to get gruesome, you can cut a hole in the most knackered and loathed cuddly toy and tell them to dissect it and have an operation. Trust me, they will LOVE this.
  • Hide and Seek: pushing the limits with this one, I can hide in some places for 20 minutes with a book. They never, ever, look in the bath. Not even when i've hidden there for the 20 minutes beforehand. There will be a place with the properties of a cloaking device in your house too, and you must find it.
  • Stair death toll: there is endless, and I mean endless fun to be had from flinging toys down the stairs. Hear my daughter as she "does" Baby Boo Boo Puppy the raggy dogs' voice as he plummets down the stairs. Followed by son mouthing "Heeeeelp Meee" as he flings poor Makka Pakka down. Also useful to re-enact the physics test of "What is heavier: a pound of feathers or pound of something else?".In other words, what flings down fastest. Trust me, they love this, and all you have to do is provide a lot of flinging stuff and sit and drink tea. And pick it all up afterwards.

Oh, there are more, but you get my drift. This is all about minimizing the time spent going "ARRRGGGH! When is it Spring?" and instead buying you time to have a cuppa/snifter. Being in with kids doesn't have to be terrible, it can be fun. You just have to allow them to mess up things a little, and really, it's fun to mess things up. Bet you, if you start off stair flinging, you'll get into it. There ARE things you want to fling. Just like a 3 year old. And how they LOVE seeing you do it.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

When mummies shout.

Most days, even the 5am start days, I am pretty calm. For a mum of a 2 and 3 year old. I do my fair share of semi-yelling "Come on! Come ON!" when i'm flapping out the house to playgroup. I do a lot of deep breathing. But usually, I use the "1,2,3" method, and it works. I say "That is the first time i'm warning you, that's 1". "Now, that's 2" and on "3" it's off to their thinking spot (usually their rooms) for 5 minutes or until they are ready to talk, usually quicker than that, sometimes longer. Most days, for most things, I don't have to go beyond "2" until the afternoon grumps arrive.

But something bad has been going down in our house. I feel poorly. Daughter has the night terrors, so I am up between 4 and 10 times a night. Son is sniffly and needs tissues all night. Daughter has reached the contrary "no!" stage, son has his first testosterone surges and / or behaviour picked up from playgroup. Suddenly, I have two boundary testers, 2 and 3 going on 13. And i'm tired. My mum is having a heart bypass, I'm hating my new medication, and I am this far from constantly vibrating with tension. So, I managed to get them out of the house, and son to playgroup with no major trauma. I managed to sit through toddler group with contrary daughter ("do you want to go on the rocker?" "No". "Do you want to try the slide?" "No." "Do you want to do some painting?" "No". You get the gist), without throttling anyone. We all got back home without being too damp and only one collywobble on the way. But lunch was the straw. The last one. Alright, I know I make food and the chickens eat most of it. I know kids are fussy. I know son in particular is antsy about "wet" food and wants it all "dry". But today, the sandwiches were wrong, oh so wrong, with a tiny smidgeon of mayonnaise on. Cue squalling and weeping worthy of Bernhardt at her best, and then copycat wailing from daughter "And my yoghurt has BITS in!". Did I do "1,2,3"? No. I YELLED. I WAILED. I actually threw the sandwiches away with a flourish, and screaming "DON'T EAT IT THEN!" waltzed upstairs and sat on the loo. I could hear them both, being silent. Then they cried. Then they remonstrated with each other. "Mummy is cross because you didn't eat your yoghurt!" "No, it was your sandwiches!" etc etc. Then they crept, actually crept upstairs and said sorry meekly. Unprompted (thud as I hit the carpet in amazement). They still didn't eat the sandwiches, mind. We all ate crisps instead and felt better.

Do I feel bad about it?Should I be weeping? Kids are little, we shouldn't yell. An adult yelling is probably pretty scary. But I think that once in a while, it does no harm to lose it in a mild way. They should see that adults can have bad days too, and be upset and angry. They should see that the constant carping can whittle away my sanity. And decide which damn sandwiches they want before getting me to make them. They should see, also, that adults can be cross and say sorry. I apologised for shouting, I explained I was tired and in a bad mood. I then used it as a way of pointing out to them why I don't like it when they yell at each other / me/ the world. And then they forgot it and started to argue about who had the Ducati model and who got the Cagiva, before settling it with violence. 1, 2...........

The brand before the brain

On Friday, son (3) came home from playgroup saying Ben 10 was "coolio" and he wanted Ben 10 for Christmas. He has never seen Ben 10, and only glancingly seen some adverts that haven't been whipped away quick enough after Humpf or something equally innocuous has finished. "I think you'll like something else better" I said. "Maybe a 2 wheeler scooter?" "YEAH! The sparks one!" What sparks one? Oh, that sparks one. How long does it take a brand to be recognised by a 3 year old? About 20 seconds, apparently. And i'm a mean mummy TV policer. I don't buy branded clothing for myself, I don't buy branded food, I am mean all round. So it has intrigued me that, since starting playgroup, son has become brand aware.

How? Kids go into playgroup with branded lunchboxes, Timmy, Thomas, Roary, Ben 10. They wear branded t-shirts,(all the above plus Disney). The girls sport hideous, hideous, pink Disney Princess outfits. (Take note daughter: this will not be you. Thankfully, she has already shorn the hair and disfigured the Snow White doll, so there's hope). A lot of marketing goes on directly targeted at kids. Read this article to recognise the full horror. Research shows that young pre-schoolers cannot tell the difference between adverts and reality, and are especially open to brand suggestion. So, short of no tv at all, what can you do? I believe that, as we are in a media world, kids need to learn how to manage their tv and PC viewing and learn what is real, what is selling, and what is entertainment. I can cope with "pester power", but I don't want my kids branded. I don't want them to be able to recognise brands even I don't. But already, a quick recce of my kids rooms and the house, apart from the toys, shows a brand awareness. When shopping, the kids clamour for the cereal with the charcaters on. Daughter wanted the Princess pants for her first set of pants. She's never seen a Disney Princess movie, but her older friend has. When teaching, I saw young girls with playboy pencil cases. Toddlers wear Tommy Hilfinger tops. It's everywhere, and it's damaging, I think. This may well be our last "brand free" year or two in our house.

What can you do? I'd like suggestions. Here's what I do so far.

  • I buy second hand, brand free kids clothes.

  • I don't wear brands myself

  • I buy generic food, and grow my own. "Finest" is just a fine package.

  • I explain the cost of something, and that the drawing and branding just mean it's "more pennies".

  • I explain that brands are "all the same" and that YOU are different, individual, wouldn't you rather be you? So we decorate our lunchboxes etc.

  • I say people like individual gifts, not "everyone" gifts. Let's make our own.

  • I encourage individuality in clothing. As an ex indie chick, I love it! It means that son has gone out wearing his superhero cape, wellies, and long johns, but hey! Daughter loves leggings and legwarmers and nighties.

  • We thrift. We make an outfit. I show how you can get more for your pennies.
But they are 2 and 3. When they are 6 and 7, it will be harder. This year, their stocking fillers are all ebay second handers. When they are older, will this still be possible? It worries me. My kids are MY kids, but also their own people. I want them to have a strong sense of what a brand is, and why they don't need them, before they reach school, so that they are more able to withstand the peer pressure and must-haves. ( At some point I will blog on just how worried I am about "Free schools" and the possibility for branding there. In the USA, schools are affiliated to Pepsi, or Coke. Really.) Of course, it has ever been thus, but back when I was a nipper, my yearnings were for slip on shoes and pedal pushers in maroon burgundy, not fly trainers and Ipods. Girls wore orange, red and the aforementiond burgundy, not just pink. Lego was for both sexes. Things are different now. The ELC does everything in blue and pink. Brands are everywhere. Kids of 8 have Facebooks pages, and can see all the ads. Of course parents have a responsibility, but even the meanest parent (me: no tv apart from 1.5 policed hours, no PC apart from the ever excellent Boowa and Kwala, and that is in the lounge, and will be for EVERMORE. You hear me, one day teen kids? It's never going to happen, that PC and TV in your room!) Navigating this branded world is so confusing for a toddler preschooler. How can we ensure that we teach that branded is not best? Please do comment.


Eric Schlosser: "Fast Food Nation"

Naomi Klein: "No Logo"


Saturday, 2 October 2010

Thyroid disease: the silent majority.

Because I am a woman with thyroid disease, I am not necessarily crazy. Because I am a woman with thryoid disease, I am still capable of holding a job, or staying at home, without being driven crazy. Because I am a woman with thyroid disease, I am not necessarily over or under eating. I am normal, I am just ILL DAMN YOU. Look, the woman on the right is happy, because back then, you just got a pig thyroid and it worked.

Yes, it's a visit to those crazy endocrinologists. Hey, how about this, you endo guys. (They say, in their big swanky offices). Why don't we, just for a laugh, get ourselves put in charge of an almost wholly female disease, and be mostly male ourselves. Then let's hone our patronising gland till it is as big as an airship. Then, after our patients, driven to us by misery, aftera torturous referral "service", turn up, let's discount everything they read, know, and feel, in favour of a sodding blood test. And oh, let's make the test we pick the most useless, generally unhappy making one. And when they visit, we can point to the test and say "We know best. We are men, we have never had this disease, but we went to medical school. We recieve visits from drug companies that give us golfing weekends, and this dictates our drug preference. We will not allow any other drug, because then people might start thinking we are soft. We are the endocrinologists, men who really don't like women that much".

How long did it take to get diagnosed? 10 years. How ill was I to get taken seriously? Nearly dead. How ill am I now? I am ok, but I have niggles that are not taken care of by my one and only choice of prescriptive drug. I thought i'd see if I could have another. Bad idea. Your (healthy) thyroid gives out hormones called T1, 2, 3, and 4. When your thyroid has gone kaput, you get given replacement hormone. But only 1, T4. The others can go hang. According to the British Thyroid Association (men), this is just dandy and fine. (So what were the other 3 horones for then, exactly? Window dressing? A trick of biology?). So, here I am facing a life with only 1 hormone out of 4 replaced on a daily basis until I DIE. You know, it doesn't work for me. I don't absorb it. I'm on a MEGA dose. And yes, dumb endo, I do take the tablets "properly" (did he think I didn't know how to take them? Gave them to the cat instead?) I still have thyroid symptoms. But, the designated test shows i'm hyper, not hypo, according to the dumbfuck endo. My TSH is 0.02, my T4 is 16. It took me years on a mega dose to reach a T4 that good. Good is 18-24. So, I say, "I've been hyper. I was skinny, eating for England, panicky, not sleeping, pooing 7 times a day and manic. Now, i'm not eating, gaining, backed up, my hair is falling out, i'm practically dead in the water, i'm NOT hyper." I point this out. Endo says, I quote "But you wouldn't know if you were hyper". I say "I would, I just told you". "But he moved on. "Having a surpressed TSH will kill your heart" "Only if I have symptoms, I don't". "It will ruin your bones" "Research says not" "Have you been reading on the internet?" "Well, yes. I have a lifelong condition that i'd like to know about. I'm not an idiot. I can read abstracts and articles from Medline as well as you do (or don't). I know there are alternatives. I know I can have a dessicated thyroid as treatment instead of T4 only. It will give me T1,2, 3 and 4, and might just make me able to function again. How about it?" "Well, it's unstable". "Well, my generic T4 is unstable. You just told me I could have a named brand on prescription, because some generics are unstable. What's the difference?" (silence). Result, a reduced dose, no hope of a new medication, and an anger that makes me boil. My last chance is my GP who may, just may, agree to do a "named person" prescription for the terrible substance that is not golf-weekend giving pharmaceutical thyroxine but natural. What are the chances of that happening? Nil. Excuse me while I venture out into the online world of prescription free pharmacies. I am 38. I am not prepared to stick with one medication, that does not work, for the rest of my life because the NHS says so. Think of any other illness that has no choice of treatment.Find me just one.

Why does this happen? Because 99.9 % of people affected by thryoid disease are women. Because there's no money in providing another option. Because generic thyroxine is cheaper than natural, and it's the only one they're prepared to give out free. Because sadly, it's seen as ok for women to remain at a below par level of wellness,because it's "as good as we can get you" (yes, really, I was told that). Or because it's easy to say "Well, it's your age" (I'm 38!) or "having children takes it out of you" (so that's 50% of the population written off, is it? There was me thinking it was my THYROID). And the one female endo, who you might have expected to be a little better, also diagnosed me as being hyper. She has super powers, because she did this through the wall without even seeing me. Wow! Women unite. So I will see my Gp on Monday, to persuade him to allow a trial of dessicated thryoid, which I will have to pay for, and source, and that's IF he says yes to my trying. If he doesn't, i'll be buying it without a prescription, and dosing myself. I won't be alone. There is a whole subculture of women, tired with being fobbed off doing it, at their own expense, because they couldn't face another 20 years ona drug that doesn't make you better than "i'm coping, just". How wrong is that?

It makes me angry. 1 in 50 women has this disease, yet there's no publicity, getting diagnosed is a nightmare, it affects fertility, pregnancy, menopause. It accounts for depression, Post-natal depression, and myriad health related problems. Yet it is consistantly undertreated, women are not, for the most part even given their results properly, if the correct tests are taken (I was told "who's the doctor, you or me?" and "you don't need to know the numbers, that's for me". "Have you been reading?" "You're within range, that's all you need to know" Except I wasn't. For 10 years. ). The NHS would rather fund anti-depressants, and weight clinics, when a little extra throught to the cause of the problem would eradicate the problems for many many women. could this be something to do with the way drug companies work with the NHS? Possibly. Definately something to do with the fact that it's women affected, and sadly, when you're feeling unwell, you are very unlikely to confront the doctor, and they know it. Women: get your angry pants on. If you have thyroid disease, here are a few pointers to getting treated properly.

1. Get the results. Get TSH, T4, T3, and TPO antibodies tested. Get the numbers. If they won't give them, say you'll go to Data Protection. They're yours. You own that data. Then get the ranges for the numbers.

2. Find someone to help you interpret them. Me, i'll do it. Or the thyroid mums thread on Netmums, or the Thyroid UK website will help.

3. Go in armed and dangerous. Insist on taking the meds and upping them until you are at TSH of around 1 and T4 of around 18-22, and feel well.

4. Take selenium, for antibodies.

5. If you are trying for a baby, tell your GP. Your TSH needs to be at around 1, or the change of miscarriage is MUCH higher.

6. If you are pregnant, likewise. You will need to increase meds whenever, GPs will say by 25%, rubbish, less for some, more for others. Test every 4-6 weeks.

7. After a while, they will say "it's a yearly test for you". Ok, but if you feel crook, GO BACK.

8. Menopause will most likely come earlier, be nastier, and will need dose adjustment. Get your angry pants back on, now you are not only an annoying sick woman, but you're old, and will be treated even worse.

9. Safety in numbers. If you can't get heard, take a friend or partner. And if you still can't get heard, change Gp's. I've been through 10. In 4 years.

10. Read. Learn. I can guarentee that by reading one book, you'll know more than your GP does. He learnt it all in 10 minutes at med school. And then forgot it.


Mary Shomon: Living Well with Hypothyroidism. A fab book.

B Peatfield: Your thyroid and how to keep it healthy, the great thryoid scandal. This is by a guy who was actually done by the BMA for daring to suggest that dessicated thyroid might be ok for some people.


Netmums thryoid mums club: a support thread I started and which is now HUGE, very supportive.

Stop the Thyroid Madness: fab stuff on why single T4 is so bad, and what to do to get dessicated.

Thyroid UK: a patient advocacy support group and charity with some excellent advice pages.

Thyroid disease .org: a wide ranging support board.

There are many more, but these represent a good uk selection. Mary Shomon runs a great "About" site on the thyroid, which is very informative, but it is best to start on the UK sites, as the test ranges in the USa are better. Here, you have to be practically dead to be diagnosed. In the USA, they are more sympathetic and dessicated is diagnosed regularly, also T4/T3 combination therapy. I want to move!

Wikipedia: on Dessicated hormone.