Catch-20 Poo

I’m not going to lie: hypothyroidism is hard.

I’ve been dutifully talking my meds every day for almost two weeks, always refrigerated, always on an empty stomach, always half an hour before any dairy but I really don’t feel that much different.

I don’t feel so exhausted that I’m seriously worried about myself, but I don’t feel much better and I certainly don’t have much more physical energy.

The worst part besides always being tired is the weight gain and being too tired to exercise.

I know what the Tough Love Club would tell me: suck it up and just hit the gym. Sometimes I feel so tired, thinking about talking to someone makes me feel upset because I can’t imagine how I’ll have the energy to do it.

I don’t know how to get to the gym. My super bright Nikes are just sitting in a box.

Everything seems like a Catch-22: exercise would help with the weight, the tiredness and the anxiety but the exhaustion is like a huge brick wall I can’t see a way around.

Treading Water

In almost exactly four weeks I’m taking two weeks off work which is the longest holiday I’ve had since 2011, which I know, cry me a river, isn’t all that long ago for some people. My dad used to only take about four or five days off a year until I was almost 20 and I don’t know how it didn’t drive him mad, except that I’m not sure he’s not mad.

As always, my brain has started to relegate all kinds of things to Things We Will Do In The New Year, Not Now. Mostly books. I’m only reading “filler” books at the moment, I tend to read thematically, so anything that is a quick read and doesn’t take me off on a tangent of other books is fine. My bookshelf is shifting and groaning; however, under the weight of 2014’s books.

Where to start? Global finance? A little dalliance with Michael Lewis, a twirl around the dance floor with Bethany McLean?

Should I start the new year with ambition and try re-reading Infinite Jest? Do I have enough non-broken pieces of heart to make that journey again?

Do I just find some list of The Top 50 books This Important Publication Thinks I Should Read and read all of them?

I don’t know!

Two weeks of holidays. All I know is that I plan to do a whole lot of not very much.


A year ago I was miserable.

I had anxiety up to my eyeballs, and had just being diagnosed with something called hyperparathyroidism, which began to be prefixed with something new every time I got a blood test back.

This year I am very happy but over the last few months I started to get really exhausted.

It wasn’t a normal amount of tiredness, instead it got to the point where I had to call in sick to work because I didn’t have the energy to turn my alarm off. Then I started to nap a lot. Then I woke up from a nap and my wrists and ankles were so stiff I could barely walk or open a door. Then my whole arm started to throb.

I had to go and pick up the results of my annual hyperparathyroid tests anyway, so I asked the GP to run some tests, and he initially suspected arthritis.

A few days later he sat me down and said, “You have hypothyroidism” and I said, “No, I have hyperparathyroidism” and he said, “Well, yes, but now you have hypothyroidism too”. We faced off, each certain the other was mispronouncing something.

Thankfully I had an appointment with my endocrinologist last week, so I took the test results to her.

“How are you?” she asked. “Good…ish?” I replied. “Well your blood tests aren’t. You have profound hypothyroidism”.

Please ma’am, may I have one new endocrine system while we’re here?

Sadly no, I could not have a new endocrine system, instead I got some shiny new meds to take for the rest of ever. I take so many things for so many things now that I’m seriously considering getting a chemist to make me up a Webster-pak just like the old people have.

The meds have strict rules: ALWAYS IN THE FRIDGE, and ALWAYS ON AN EMPTY STOMACH, and NO DAIRY FOR HALF AN HOUR AFTER TAKING, which is the strangest rule ever.

My GP called me back a few days ago with the results from an even more recent set of tests and THE RESULTS WERE WORSE. My body was stalled, it was in the pits, its tires had come off. Thankfully, the meds will change all that and I’ve been told the results should be pretty impressive.

I feel sorry for my poor body, it just ran clean out of energy. The best way to describe how I felt was the worst physical sense of depression, plus arthritis, but I was cheerful.

I’m not feeling all that much different yet, but I’m certainly not feeling any worse.

In the mean time, all of the sleeps with this kid will help:


The Land of The Bed and The Home of Two Punks.

Ever since Anna got back from America, we’ve both been on a mission to rearrange the house, probably fuelled by the toxic levels of corn syrup we have flowing through our veins at any given moment, post Candy Corn et al binge.

I’ve been focussing on my bedroom. I’ve been in my current house for almost two years and still had boxes stacked in a corner, unpacked. It’s the effect of having moved at least 17 times in 31 years. Sometimes unpacking seems pointless, but I am happy and I like where I live and I should make an effort so I’ve shifted things around and moved in a TV cabinet and ruthlessly culled my clothes to donate somewhere.

I also bought a stupidly sweet caramel and vanilla candle, so last night I lit it and framed some of my favourite photos from America. I want to surround myself with the memories, because it’s still a road trip I think about almost every day even though so much has changed.



I miss you, Arizona. You are vast and lonely and warm.


maddI finished Maddaddam last night. I didn’t intend to, I thought I would take it away this weekend for reading on the train; but the last 100 pages or so were clearly building to a climax I hadn’t necessarily foreseen and I couldn’t bring myself to sleep without knowing the outcome.

Maddaddam is the weakest of the trilogy, it’s also the one that makes the most effort to tie itself to current trends, with mention of Anonymous, slightly grating use of ‘lulz’ and hacking terms and it was this in part that made it lose some of its charm. Atwood has always been so clever at placing fictional events at a particular time in actual Northern American history without dating it, and she usually succeeded by alluding to specifics rather than spelling them out.

Additionally, a lot of the ties between characters are left to Maddaddam, which at only around 400 pages, doesn’t leave a lot of space for the plot to progress without it seeming rushed. Some of the stronger characters from the first two books, Amanda and Jimmy in particular, are left to the wayside, their fate summed up in cases in a line or two towards the end of the book and it’s a shame because it doesn’t do them justice.

The Crakers remained completely endearing to me. I think they’re probably one of my favourite literary inventions and although the evolution of pigoons in this book felt forced and almost transparently required in order to speed up the conclusion, it was still very engaging.

Maddaddam felt a little like one of Atwood’s lesser novels, Surfacing where the themes are dense and their purpose unclear. I’m not sure what the lesson of the trilogy is yet and think I need to ponder it more, because on first reading, Maddaddam felt much less anarchic than Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, with concession regarding food and unresolved patriarchy-created jealousies between women.

Still, it’s been a long time since I’ve anticipated a book so much, or engaged in a series and it feels worth it.

It’s the most expensive time … of the year!

Everyone experiences a particular time of year that’s super expensive, like when your car rego is due at the same time as all your electricity and gas bills or when your cat eats an entire chop bone the same week as you have to buy Christmas presents. Mine is whenever I have an appointment to see my endocrinologist, not just because she’s expensive, but because every time I’ve had a blood test in the last few years, my GP is all, “Huh. Well that’s interesting!” because they find some new weird thing in my bloods, which really means, “Well now! That’s expensive!”

I call this time of year Junkie Chic, because I am so full of puncture wounds:


This year was meant to be a routine check up until I woke up from a nap a week ago with crippling pain in my ankles, wrists and elbows. Tests revealed Something Weird* I need a rheumatologist for as well as A New Familial Condition** that my endocrinologist needs to advise on.

The GP I saw today held one of my hands in both of his, softly patted them and said very cheerfully, “Lucky you have an endocrinologist appointment this week! Also, don’t have anything with high levels of calcium in it before Friday! That could be really dangerous for your heart! And if you have any concerns before Friday, make sure you see me right away! Good luck to you!”

I smiled, weakly, thinking about the delicious honey malt chocolate milk I chugged last night after some ice-cream. Sorry heart!

One thing I have learnt is that nothing is as it seems until the fat wallet of the doctor sings, so I’m not actually all that worried about any of it except the part where I can sleep for a million hours and still wake up tired and on the plus side, as if I don’t have the perfect excuse now to wear track pants and slippers all the time and grumble at people and walk really slowly!

* Official term
** Also official term


Enjoy is not the right word for the Couch to 5kms program. In the 30ish minutes each session takes, mostly I loathed it not because it hurt, and that surprised me, but because running for 30 minutes is boring. That said, I got a lot out of it, not just the ability to run for 5kms.

The premise is that anyone can build up to running 5kms, all you need is a program designed to build you up to it over nine weeks. The early weeks are interspersed with periods of walking, and each week is designed to have you running for longer periods, until on the last day, you run 5kms without stopping.

I used the Zen Labs app which I bought on iTunes.


It’s handy because it tells you when to walk and when to run and has a timer which counts down how long you have left in each session.

Unfortunately none of that helped on the days when I really hated doing it and the only solution I could come up with was making a playlist of revoltingly chirpy pop songs which were at least upbeat while I sweated it out on the treadmill.

I’m going to start the C25K program again next week to coincide with the beginning of the 12WBT (what is with the names of these things?) because I thought it would be good to get back into exercise with something I know I can achieve and because the most unrealistic aspect of the 12WBT is the exercise plan, which for gym-goers, is a different designated 60 minute class six days a week, which is a) impossible with my gym’s class roster and b) a lot of exercise to suddenly start doing.

All complaints aside, I’m looking forward to it. There’s something addictive about the rhythmic nature of exercise and the inability of your mind to wander much past surviving the pain.

The 5 ‘W’s and an ‘H’

After a lot of squinting at computer screens and pretending I have any idea how to use the back end of WordPress, I finally figured out how to create a page where I can file particular blog posts about a particular topic, so they don’t appear on the main page.

My reason for not wanting them to appear there are two-fold. First, they don’t really fit with the other topics I post about here and secondly, weight and health related writing is some of the most boring and repetitive content on the Internet ever. And so rarely can it be improved even with photos of cats.


I don’t want to motivate anyone, or share kale recipes, or promote products or particular ways of exercising or losing weight. I am not an expert in anything except how not to eat, and I have a Certificate 4 in bacon.

Mostly this is to make myself accountable and to talk myself into getting fit and losing weight and maybe have a few laughs along the way.

I’m Julia, I want to lose 20kgs because I am unhealthy and uncomfortable, I’ll mainly be hanging at my local gym and at home, trying to learn how to cook and feed myself like an adult and I’m going to take 12 months to do it. How? I’m beginning with the 12WBT, I have not drunk the Kool-Aid, I just think it’s a good start to learning what proper portion sizes look like and how to cook.

I don’t know how I’ll go, I’ve never done this successfully before, but I do know that about 17 months ago I looked like this, and was fine with it:


Read along if you wish, or skip if you can think of nothing more boring, I don’t mind which!

The Year of the Flood

yotfIt took me a long time to get to a point where I wanted to own this book, let alone read it.

Dystopic fiction creeps up on me like that a lot, curiously, given it’s a favourite genre of mine and the basis of a large part of my thesis.

Why didn’t I want to know more about the fate of Snowman, who I cared so deeply about when I read Oryx and Crake? Was it because happily ever after is irresponsible in the case of a dystopia but I still held out hope for some kind of saccharine end game that I knew I probably wouldn’t get?

After finishing Oryx and Crake last night for the third time, I realised when it first came out, I don’t think I was aware it was part of an intended trilogy, which would have made the ending wholly unsatisfying in every regard, except for the Crakers purring over Snowman’s wounds, which is one of my all-time favourite Atwood inventions.

The Year of the Flood seems to divide fans. Its scope is wider, the viewpoints more numerous. I think it works though: Oryx and Crake is about containment, creating a singular environment and destroying everything outside it. The Year of the Flood is about leaks: leaks of information, disease, the literal tendrils of the past creeping into this diseased, problematic future. The storytelling mimics the environments of both plots: succinct and enveloping on one hand; catastrophic and disorganised on the other.

The 4-year-old of the species is more deadly than the grownups.

The nerdphew is getting a baby sister for Christmas and his parents were attending an all-day baby class on Saturday, so I offered to wrangle Short Stuff for the day.

It was mostly fine, V and I have been good buds for almost four years now. I found the best way to cheer him up in the morning when he was asking for his parents was to take him to a park underneath the Sydney Airport flight path so he could swing and watch planes, as well as mercilessly mocking his whispered, “I want my mum and dad”. Whispering back, “What? Who do you want? Mum and Dad? Oh well, too bad. Oh no, life is terrible!” soon had him laughing and ordering me around the playground like some kind of hired entertainer. Quick Julia! Come here and steer the spaceship to another planet! No Julia, get off my spaceship! Push my higher, Julia! Why are you too big for the slides, Julia?

*narrows eyes* Trolled by an almost four-year-old.

Afterwards we went to B’s place, which as it turns out, works well as a bachelor pad and a toddler day care! Strange that. We ate giant pancakes and played with trains and watched videos of planes taking off. Four-year-olds and 30-something-year-olds have very similar interests.


After some time at the park shooting hoops and racing around on a flying fox, we thought V might like a swim, but the week before he had an accident with a door, a toenail and a tantrum and so was very precious about getting his foot wet and even more precious about getting his tender, pale baby skin in the sun, so B constructed him a sun hut, in which he could sit and order us around:


Look at that face. That’s a face that knows it can get exactly what it wants, when it wants it.

B had to leave and hang out with people his own age, so V and I settled in to watch a Thomas the Tank Engine movie staring Alec Baldwin and eat the chippies B cooked for us. I have similar interests to a four-year-old in that regard.


All too soon it was time to pick Mary and Drew up, which I thought would be incentive enough for V to make yet another pleasant car ride with me, listening to Playschool. Instead he decided to be a right Mucklebird (Mucklebird!) and undo his seatbelt while we were driving, constantly howl about how far away his parents were and at one heartbreaking stage, scrunch his nose up and fold his arms and tell me we were no longer friends. “I never even wanted to be your friend! I’m so telling your mum on you anyway, so shut up!” I yelled, before bursting into tears and handing him the wheel.

After handing him back to those who spawned him, we all gathered to have some dinner, during which V displayed no interest in eating, yet immediately after which I found him outside trying to eat a bowl of lamb … printed on a poster:


What a Chucklebird!

So would I do it again? Sure … in about 8 years when my energy levels have recovered!