Take your medication and having regular blood tests

Taking your medication each day is very important and forgetting to do this is one of the main reasons why people don’t feel well. It’s easy to forget your medication and being made responsible for taking your own medication isn’t always as easy as it sounds. One of the commonest reasons for forgetting is not having any systems in place to remind you; a simple system is to set a reminder on your phone. It’s easier to remember things when we’re in a routine, so you might find that you remember to take your tablets during the week, but struggle at the weekend when you may do things to a different schedule. For example, it can be useful to have a reminder in your phone on a Thursday to remind you to think through your weekend plans and what that means for your weekend medication reminders.

It’s also important to have regular blood tests to check your thyroid hormone levels. Your doctor will discuss with you how often you should have thyroid hormone levels checked. Once you’ve agreed the schedule it’s useful to put a reminder into your diary or calendar to remind you to make the appointment. However, if you’re not good at remembering to do this, you might want to consider asking your GP to set a reminder to come to you from the GP system in the form of either a letter in the post or a text message.

It’s not easy having to take medication and undergo regular health monitoring as a young person. There are other things you’d like to be doing, and you might find yourself feeling resentful about having to do it because it reminds you that you’re not the same as your friends in this respect. There are times in our lives when we all have to take medication in order to feel better, but you might think (with some justification) that what you’re having to deal with isn’t the same and that it’s not fair. You might also feel awkward and embarrassed about the ways in which it makes you different from others.

The irony is that in not taking your medication and keeping an eye on your health, you run the risk of making yourself very unwell and then you really won’t be able to keep up with your friends. And remember, if you had a friend with a long-term condition where there was regular medication and a way of checking that they were OK (with regular blood tests), can you honestly say that you’d be impressed if they didn’t do it and make themselves ill? And do you really think your friends would have a different attitude about you and your choices to manage your condition?

What if I have regular blood tests and take my medication but still don’t feel well?

Taking your medication and having regular blood tests may not be enough in itself to make sure you feel well all the time. If you’re doing those things and still don’t feel well, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor (or talk about this with your parents or carers who’ll be able to do this for you) to discuss your symptoms with them. Keeping a record of your blood test results and how you feel can be helpful both for yourself and also to help you discuss how you’re feeling with your doctor.

Keep a self-care diary

Life with a chronic health condition can feel like it’s always, and only, about medication and blood test results, but there’s much more to life than that. A self-care diary might help you to manage your condition whilst achieving a good quality of life. A self-care diary can take many forms from an actual diary to some kind of computer record (for example a spreadsheet).

Here’s an example of how you might use a self-care diary. At the beginning of each month make three lists:

  1. fun or interesting things you want to do
  1. deadlines and other things you have to do (e.g. school assignments, work, or chores)
  1. self-care activities such as exercise and relaxing things such as hobbies

As you go through the month, review the lists each week and plan to fit in some things from each of the lists. Each day make a note of what you’ve done and how you felt (e.g. giving things a score out of 10 for how much you enjoyed them). Also note any symptoms, especially those that bother you or stop you from doing things, such as tiredness or pain.

At the end of the month review how things went, and see if you can spot anything that you might need to do differently to help you manage your condition and/or to improve your quality of life. As an example, staying out past midnight might not be worth what it costs you in terms of the tiredness it causes for the next few days. Or you might notice that while spending time with some people is really good and enjoyable, there are others who are hard work and make you feel tired and out of sorts.