Hypothyroid Mummy!

I gave birth to my second child in October 2013. She (along with my eldest daughter) has already filled my heart and my World with so much happiness and love that sometimes I think I just might burst! But along with immeasurable joy, bringing new life into the World has also brought with it an auto-immune nightmare. Just over six weeks ago I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (an under active thyroid). Extreme fatigue, hair loss, severely aching muscles and joints, and carpel tunnel syndrome have wreaked havoc on my day-to-day life. Some days I struggle to even get out of bed… but I do, because I am a Mum and by extension that means that I have to! Prior to pregnancy I was a healthy woman, now my condition puts me at increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

So what is happening to me?

Postpartum Thyroiditis

Postpartum thyroiditis is a condition in which the thyroid, a small butterfly shaped gland at the base of the neck, becomes inflamed and fails to function as it should in the months following childbirth. As pregnancy causes great hormonal upheaval, women are at an increased risk of developing thyroid dysfunction during this time. Indeed, studies have shown that 1 in 12 women Worldwide will experience postpartum thyroiditis. And as with any medical condition, each woman will experience symptoms differently. Some may experience what has been termed the ‘classical form’ of postpartum thyroiditis; where symptoms of short-term hyperthyroidism (an over active thyroid) present initially, and are followed quickly by hypothyroidism symptoms. Others may experience isolated hyperthyroidism or isolated hypothyroidism.

It is early days for me and so I am not yet sure which form of thyroiditis I have. I am scheduled to see an endocrinologist later this month and will hopefully find out more (fingers crossed!). I am aware that some women recover fully within 12 – 18 months postpartum – a fact I am clinging onto – but my research has also found that almost half of the women diagnosed with postpartum thyroiditis continue to experience symptoms for the rest of their lives.

So what about you? Do you suffer any of the following symptoms?

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)

• Sudden weight loss

• Rapid heartbeat and palpitations

• Nervousness, anxiety and irritability

• Sweating

• More frequent bowel movements

• Fatigue

• Muscle weakness

• Difficulty sleeping

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

• Fatigue

• Unexplained weight gain

• Constipation

• Pale, dry skin

• Elevated blood cholesterol level

• Puffy face

• Increased sensitivity to cold

• Muscle aches and weakness

• Heavier than normal menstrual periods

• Brittle fingernails and hair

• Depression

If this sounds like you, perhaps you should consider seeing your GP (local physician). A simple blood test to check your thyroid levels will give you a conclusive answer, one way or another. After-all knowledge is power! I wonder how many sick, tired women are out there today, not knowing that their thyroid is to blame?

Love-Dawn

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No Make Up Selfies for Cancer Research

Social media crazes come and go, last month we had NEKNominate, and now we have make up free selfies. Last night and throughout today my news feed has been inundated with pictures of naturally beautiful girls posting their bare-faced selfies in an attempt to raise awareness for cancer charities. To the same extent, my news feed has also been filled with people questioning the point of this whole campaign or saying that people should be donating to cancer charities, or arranging fundraising events. But are these people not missing the point? The aim of this campaign was to raise awareness of cancer charities, not money! And as women dare to bare in their selfies and others critisize them for doing so, people are talking about cancer. Of course, many people have donated to Cancer Research and other cancer charities, as well as uploading their photos, as did I! It was as simple as texting BEAT to 70099 to donate £3.

While I am delighted that people are donating to cancer charities, I am even more delighted that people are starting to talk about cancer. As Cancer Campaigns Coordinator in the city of Manchester (UK) I regularly meet people for whom the word ‘cancer’ is taboo, and where a ‘head in the sand’ attitude towards the disease is the social norm. In other words, many people, young and old, still believe that cancer will not happen to them; even when science tells us that in the UK we have a 1 in 3 chance of developing the disease. And so if anything comes from this latest ‘no make up’ selfie craze, I hope it will be that more people now have a greater awareness of cancer and the cancer charities available to offer support should the worst ever happen to them.

If raising awareness in this manner saves just one life, or takes us a baby step towards finding a cure for this dreadful disease, I’ll happily go without make up everyday!

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Back to Blogging…

I cannot believe it has been sixteen months since I last posted to my blog! Where has the time gone? I almost feel guilty for not keeping up with my favourite pastime – I love writing after all – but I have a good excuse for not doing so, a reason definitely worth every second of absence from paper & ink (or my keyboard)…. Motherhood!

On 17th October 2013 I gave birth to a baby girl – Isla Sarah-Jo! And here she is:

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I am now blessed with two beautiful daughters, one who depends on me completely and the other on the cusp of becoming a teenager, and barely needing me at all (or so she thinks!!). I’m more than sure that they will keep me busy as they follow their individual paths in life, but I’m also sure they will gift me with many wonderful memories, and numerous stories to tell. So as of today I am back to blogging…

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NaNoWriMo

Wow! I can’t believe its been two weeks since I last posted to my blog! Time has simply slipped away…. Now as a consequence of this  I am flabbergasted to find that I have missed the start of NaNoWriMo - National November Writing Month to those of you who are not writers or who may not know about such a thing. It is an event where people sign up to write 50,000 words before the end of the month. You can find more information at http://www.nanowrimo.org/.

I wanted so badly to participate this year but as has been the case for the last couple of years, my schedule just won’t allow it. There is so much going on in my life currently – one rather tedious and stress-inducing full-time job; one sometimes-troublesome-not-quite-a-teenager daughter; two unconventional and definitely stress-provoking in-laws; the small matter of a few hospital appointments; and of course my existing novel! And so it doesn’t seem wise to become involved in another time-consuming project.

The reason I’m so eager to participate is that I think NaNoWriMo is an activity that is particularly well-suited to writers like me, who live in paralyzing fear of imperfection.

I have tried to be any other writer but the one I am. I have tried to mull things over and to be very careful and deliberate as I work and to proceed slowly through drafts. I have tried detailed outlines and planning and story mapping. All that these attempts did for me is give me more time to doubt myself, more space to second-guess things, and the result was drafts that were just as messed up as all the drafts I had written quickly, that required just as much revision.

Some people need time and a slower pace. Other people need to churn out a fast, sloppy draft so they know what their story is before they try to make something of it. Some people relish their first draft. Other people pretty much spend all their drafting time with the fear of imperfection chasing them to the end (just like me!).

NaNoWriMo, I believe, is a fantastic opportunity for writers like me, who need to rip off the band-aid of first drafting so they can get to the good stuff– the revising. NaNoWriMo is an exercise in forgiving yourself for the grotesque imperfections of your first draft. It can teach you to allow things in your life to be “good enough…for now,” instead of experiencing the anxious desire to tweak…. continually! And NaNoWriMo gives you the added bonus of a writing community to cheer you on when you’re down, push you when your motivation has already ran out the door screaming, and dance around excitedly with you as you celebrate.

Yes for me, NaNoWriMo provides the opportunity to learn a very important lesson in writing. Life is full of imperfect things–imperfect works, imperfect stories, and imperfect moments. You can’t fix them all, especially not RIGHT NOW! And I think us perfectionists need to learn to stay in that uncomfortable place where you know something needs work but you aren’t going to fix it yet.

So NaNoers…GO FORTH and use this month to get words on the page, to make friends, to make mistakes, to learn, to make plans to revise, and to celebrate the utterly imperfect but altogether amazing accomplishment of writing a whole crap-load of words.

Good Luck!

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Read this: The Maze Runner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is black. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls. 

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as they could remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the maze after dark. The Gladers were expecting Thomas’s arrival. But the next day, a girl arrives in the lift—the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might be able to find their way home . . . wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the maze is unsolvable. 

And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers—if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.

I am absolutely, one hundred percent, recommending this book with a giant runner stamp of MammaHannah approval (in case that means anything). It is well constructed, intriguing and bountiful in suspense. I am a huge fan of suspense in novels and The Maze Runner does suspense with the greatest of ease. I found myself asking question after question…. Why are a group of kids trapped in a maze? Who could do such a thing? Has something awful happened to them?…. and then arguing with myself over the answers! And should you be wondering if the payoff of the mystery is worth reading this book from cover-to-cover, I can confirm that it most DEFINITELY is! 

As the story unravels Thomas learns more and more about the dark shadows of his past, and we as readers learn this information with him. There is no backstory to beef out the first few chapters, to keep us one step ahead of our protagonist. No! We experience everything that Thomas experiences, when he experiences it! And that was somewhat refreshing to me. It made me devour every word on every page with greedy anticipation.

And so if you enjoy a book whose plot hits you square between the eyes then this is very much the book for you! And I wholeheartedly suggest that you READ THIS!

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Wouldn’t this make a great writers retreat?

iceland beautiful I want to go to there

This enchanting house is located on an island called Elliðaey near Vestmannaeyjar, a small archipelago off the south coast of Iceland. The house was given to singer, Bjork from her motherland as a “Thank You” for putting Iceland on the international map (even though I think Mr Rand McNally put it there first). I think it would make the most delightful writing retreat…. don’t you??

Here are some other photo’s of this little jewel in Iceland’s crown…

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Writing Seasons

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns” ~ George Eliot


Ah, autumn, that special time between lazy summer days and the onset of my seasonal affective disorder. It is also my favourite time of year.

Of course, summer is most commonly associated with sunshine… and I love sunshine! Aside from stopping me from going mad, it is warm and nourishing and promotes life. It makes me feel relaxed and free, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed… you get the picture?! But all that perkiness also serves as a distraction from my writing, which is not a good thing when trying write a rough draft of a first novel. Indeed, it is incredibly difficult for me to write when the warm summer sun is beating down; hence the progress of my novel slowed in recent months.

I much prefer cool autumn days when I can wrap up in a gilet and scarf, or pull on a pair of boots and trek though piles of vividly coloured leaves that make a glorious crunching sound underfoot. And of course there is an abundance of deliciously warm drinks to soothe and replenish my somewhat sun-scorched imagination. Yes autumn provides an opportunity for cozy reflection and increased productivity.


Winter is a close second in the seasonal stakes – I love snow, snuggling on the sofa with a warm blanket, seeing my breath in the frosty air and Christmas; but my mood does take a dip during the shorter days and some of my writing time is lost in trying to entice happy thoughts.

Spring here in Manchester, England tends to last about two weeks, if it comes at all, and it is certainly nothing to write home about… so I won’t!

So there you have it, writing for me is best when I feel cozy and reflective, and that’s during autumn. How about you? What season inspires you most?

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