Hypothyroidism & How It Affects Me

thyroid awareness week - hypothyroidism

As you may have read here before, I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) in February 2015 and in the 20 months since then I have had the dosage of my medication very slowly increased and a few months ago I started to feel great (almost WELL, which I hadn’t felt for a very long time!)

Hashimoto’s is an auto-immune disease, where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland which stops it producing the thyroid hormone. It’s a complicated thing and I still don’t fully understand it all myself (and it’s not through lack of trying!) The medication gives my body synthetic thyroid hormone. So you’d think, being on the medication would make it all better, right? Oh, you have no idea how much I wish that was the case.

Hypothyroidism, when untreated or being treated at too low a dose, makes you so exhausted that you just can’t function properly. It affects your metabolism and because it is so slow to develop and be diagnosed, I had gained 70 pounds by the time I went to my doctor in December 2014.

With the benefit of hindsight I can almost pin-point the exact time this disease took hold, because I now know that one of the first symptoms can be a sudden and rapid weight-loss, followed by a steady gain over a long period of time. So, towards the end of 2007, then. I recall going to my then-doctor for something else and mentioning I had lost an awful lot of weight and he told me not to worry, that I should be happy! And without any other symptoms, I was very happy about it because I (wrongly) trusted him that all was OK. I was the slimmest I’d ever been since becoming an adult and for the first (and potentially last) time in my life I was really happy with how I looked.

Over the last 20 months, I’ve had So. Many. Blood Tests. This is one of my most hated things to have done and I’ve had so many I’ve lost count. Each blood test with a nurse was followed a week later by seeing my present doctor, who would either keep me on the current dose of synthetic thyroid or raise it slightly depending on the results.

Earlier in 2016 I was getting on OK with the dose I was on. I was starting to feel human again. There was light at the end of the tunnel and I thought this is it, I’m going to improve now and maybe I’ll stabilise at a feeling-good point and then it’ll stay that way forever! Being on thyroid medication saw me lose over 20 pounds, have less fatigue and better skin and things were starting to really improve. My doctor thought this was good; my last blood test confirmed everything was OK and he said I should stay at that dose and come back in 6 months for another blood test (so, January 2017).

However, over the last couple of months I’ve started feeling really unwell again. What a lot of people don’t realise about my illness is that it is forever and it is a chronic illness. For those that don’t know, the term ‘chronic’ means persistent and recurring. Maybe I didn’t quite grasp that myself.

Right now, my skin has got all dry and itchy again, my sleeping pattern has gone crazy again, I’m feeling the cold again (I’ve had hypothermia more than once since developing this disease), my body hurts, my weight-loss has reached a stand-still and my hair is falling out at a really alarming rate. I have very little energy each day – enough to get the most important things done, like washing the dishes, feeding the cat and putting the laundry on, but that’s about it. It’s exhausting to have to do more than that. Sometimes I have to force myself to do more, like actually leaving the house, but I pay for it later. The exhaustion is all-encompassing. I have good days and bad days, and right now they’re mostly bad.

(Side note: have you read about Spoon Theory? This explains very well how I have to conserve energy and what happens when I overdo things.)

Clearly, things are on the slide again and I need to make an appointment for another blood test much sooner than expected and hopefully have my dosage raised again. The problem with blood tests is that they are only a snapshot of how you are on that particular day.

Meanwhile, I’m not on any medication for my depression (worsened by the thyroid disease) due to the near-fatal Serotonin Syndrome I was diagnosed with last year, so with that and the hypothyroidism, life can be pretty hard going at times.

So why am I telling you all this about hypothyroidism?

At the time of writing this post, it is Thyroid UK’s Thyroid Awareness Week (15th to 21st October 2016) and I wanted to use the little bit of Internet-land I own to bring about some awareness of how it can affect people.

hypothyroidism symptoms

Some of the symptoms (Source)

Thyroid conditions affect 1 in 20 people in the UK. That’s really common, and I can tell you from experience that hypothyroidism is life-changing and it’s limiting in many ways. I feel that if the first doctor I went to when I lost all that weight in 2007 had thought to test my thyroid function then maybe it wouldn’t have got this bad. If you have some of the above symptoms, please go and ask to have your thyroid function tested.

If this post has been helpful to you, please consider making a donation to Thyroid UK here. Thank you.

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Create a Zendala Canvas with Acrylics – NEW CLASS!

I did it!! ‘Create a Zendala Canvas with Acrylics‘ is my new thing!

If you read my post the other day, you’ll know something was being developed behind the scenes here at Treasures HQ, and you’ll know I was having huge anxiety about doing it.

I’m very happy to tell you that my very first art class is now LIVE and waiting for you to come and join! There are a limited number of free places, but if they have run out you can get access for just $0.99 (and that gets you access to thousands of other classes too, for 3 months!)

Create a zendala canvas with acrylics

Back in July I had an email out of the blue, from someone who saw my Etsy shop and believed I could turn my art into a class and teach others. She just so happens to work for Skillshare – one of the biggest community learning platforms on the internet with over 1.5 million users. After taking some time to think about it, and with MUCH encouragement from her and my little family, I decided to go for it. Nothing to lose, plenty to gain!

blue zendala canvas -sm-WM

I had never really seen or heard myself on video before and the thought of it was terrifying. Also, I don’t know how to film videos and edit them, process them, add music and all that other techie stuff. Thank goodness The Teen is a YouTuber. She and Mr F became my production team – he edited the sound and she edited and produced the videos. I couldn’t have done it without them!

red zendala canvas - sm-WM

In my first Skillshare class, you will watch me create a zendala canvas with acrylics and learn just how simple it really is to create a complex-looking design. One of the great things about it is that you can follow along and make your own canvas at the same time with minimal supplies. You can then upload photos of your progress and your finished canvas right there in the class, as well as talking with me and your fellow students! An important note – if you take the class and leave a positive review, it helps more people to see my class and gives me more social proof and I would really appreciate your help with that!

giveaway canvas

I have a limited amount of FREE places in this class, but once they run out, you can get access for just $0.99 (about £0.75) to my class and thousands of other fantastic classes for 3 whole months! The usual price is $12 (about £9) per month, so I think you’ll agree this is an amazing deal!
Just click the link to enroll:
 Create a Zendala Canvas with Acrylics
Hurry before the free places run out and feel free to share the link with anyone you think might enjoy it!

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Something New Is Coming!

something new is coming

Something new is coming!

I’ve been working on this ‘something’ for a few weeks…

It has pretty much been dominating my thoughts:

“Is it really something I could actually do?”

“Why did they ask me? ME? WHY??”

“OK well I’ll give it a try…”

“Yes I think I can do it…”

“No, no, no-no-no NOPE not gonna happen!!”

“Absolutely not, I can’t do it.”

Try again…

Panic attack. Discomfort. Pushing through. Doing it anyway.

“I can’t do this by myself.”

“I need help.” (Family support is a wonderful thing.)

And now it’s almost done.

Are you ready to find out what it is?

Watch this space.

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#ICAD2016 – Week 2

#ICAD2016 - Week 2

CLICK HERE to discover more about the ICAD challenge where I introduced it during Week 1 and showed my first week’s art cards.

CLICK HERE to look at all 61 cards that I made last time I took part, in 2014.

Here are my art cards for #ICAD2016 – Week 2:

(all cards start out as 6 x 4 inch plain white Exacompta index cards)

#ICAD2016 - Week 2

Day 8: My own hand-carved peacock and arches stamps, handwritten words and Caran D’Ache Neocolor II crayons applied with a waterbrush.

#ICAD2016 - Week 2

Day 9: Zendoodle and words drawn with a black Pilot Permaball pen. Colour added with Neocolors and waterbrush.

#ICAD2016 - Week 2

Day 10 and my favourite so far! Leaves drawn in black Permaball pen, colour added with orange Uni Posca acrylic paint pen. This card borrows parts of a repeating pattern I made some time ago which you can see the original version of in my Instagram post here:

Working on some hand-drawn repeating patterns. #art #doodles

A photo posted by Zoe Ford (@topfloortreasures) on

and a slightly different digital version I made for this Instagram post here: 

Happy 182nd Birthday to William Morris, textile designer and painter . 

A photo posted by Zoe Ford (@topfloortreasures) on

But back to the ICADs!

#ICAD2016 - Week 2

Day 11: Bubbles drawn with the Permaball, colour added with Neocolors and a waterbrush.

#ICAD2016 - Week 2

Day 12 and another favourite! As with my card for day 10, the design is drawn with a black Permaball and coloured with a yellow Uni Posca.

#ICAD2016 - Week 2

Day 13: Something a bit different… I randomly stamped prints onto this card using a 3 x 5 inch Gelli Plate and Golden Artist acrylic paints, then added the pink and blue with Uni Posca pens and doodled with a trusty Permaball.

#ICAD2016 - Week 2

And finally… Day 14: I cheated and made this one at the same time as the previous card and it was done in the same way with the same supplies 😉

Don’t forget to check out my year 2014 ICADS here and my #ICAD2016 – Week 1 here!

So, that’s #ICAD2016 – Week 2, what do you think? Come back next week for the next seven cards in the series!

Thanks for visiting!

Zoe's signature photo◄◄ P.S. I really don’t look like this any more. I should get around to updating my sign-off pic!

#ICAD2016 – Week 1


ICAD is back!

Back in 2014 I took part in Daisy Yellow‘s Index-Card-A-Day challenge and I thought I’d join in again for the 2016 session. The point of the challenge is to make some kind of art on an index card each day throughout June and July (61 days). The art you make doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, or even ‘good’ (define ‘good’!) It’s about having fun! There are prompts which are completely optional, which are good if you need a creative kick-start. I tend to do a mix of using the prompts and freestyling it. Go on any of the big social media sites and search #ICAD2016 or #DYICAD2016 to see index card art from all around the world.

Click here to see my ICAD2014 cards

Here are my #ICAD2016 cards for week 1:

I’m using 6 x 4 inch, plain white, Exacompta index cards.

#ICAD2016 title card

Title Card: many layers of Golden Artist acrylics with stamped letters and numbers, plus ink outlining and doodling.

#ICAD2016 Day 1

Day 1: Golden Artist acrylic paints in various yellows, with a zendoodle drawn with my trusty Pilot Permaball pen. The blues and greens were added last with Caran D’Ache Neocolor II crayons and a waterbrush.

#ICAD2016 Day 2

Day 2: Again, Golden Artist acrylic paints for the background in Quinacridone Magenta and Hansa Yellow. Pyramids cut from a lined index card and collaged onto the card, outlined with a black Stabilo All pencil and waterbrush. Quote handwritten on the back of an old envelope using a Pilot Permaball pen and a white Uni Posca acrylic paint pen, cut out and collaged onto the card.

#ICAD2016 Day 3

Day 3: Inspired by a drawing class I took online with Lisa Congdon, I decided to draw lots of dogs (although some might be cats!) with my Pilot Permaball pen. The green is a Neocolor II crayon with waterbrush.

#ICAD2016 Day 4

Day 4: Phrase with typewriter-style stamps, cut and collaged onto a card I had been using to wipe excess paint onto, outlined in black ink.

#ICAD2016 Day 5

Day 5: Acrylic painted and stenciled background with butterfly washi tape border and acrylic and ink clouds. Houses painted with Neocolors and a Stabilo All pencil and waterbrush onto a separate card, cut out and collaged in place.

#ICAD2016 Day 6

Day 6: A zendoodle that was originally just a basic line drawing of something else. I added colour with Neocolors and waterbrush, then added a top ten of things I like in pen.

#ICAD2016 Day 7

Day 7: A black Pilot Permaball zendoodle.

Are you doing #ICAD2016? Feel free to leave a link to where I can see your cards in the comments!