Chronic Illness Blogs, Mental Health Blogs

Nurse VS GP: which is more beneficial?

NURSE VS GP

For approximately four years, I have seen a variety of health professionals but never really knew which each individual one actually does. After seeing my Nurse Practitioner at the beginning of the week, I asked her what the difference was between her job and my GP’s in terms of what they specialize in and their roles when it comes to providing care for their patients. It is just as beneficial to see a Practice Nurse as it would be seeing a GP. Here’s why;

A Practice Nurse – 

Practice Nurses are registered nurses that work in GP surgeries. They provide care in the following aspects:

  • Collecting blood samples
  • ECG’s
  • Wound management
  • Health advice and vaccinations
  • Child immunisations and advice
  • Womens and Mens health including sexual health
  • Swabs
  • Blood pressure
  • Urine samples

A practice nurse will have more specific jobs within the practice. They can help and advice within minor illnesses however they cannot diagnose or prescribe medications, however you may find that some can. They also run clinics for long term conditions such as Diabetes and Asthma.

A nurse Practitioner is a nurse who has advanced in their nursing with additional training and skills who are usually able to prescribe medications and have more knowledge with chronic or long term illnesses.

Both have access to your medical notes and care plan if you have one put in place. Many Practice Nurses/Nurse Practitioners specialise in different areas of health which can be very helpful.

GP’s – 

GP’s (General Practice) provides care in all common medical conditions, refer patients to specialist hospitals and focus on the patients health in all aspects such as :

  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Social

This also includes community, home and care in hospital. GP’s who care for patients with chronic illness have the aim to enable them to stay at home and keep them as well as can be. GP’s can also work in different aspects of the hospital such as A and E centres, Discharge planning and may run clinics. They look at the patient’s medical history and the symptoms that they present with at the time of the consultation. If you have a phone consultation they can also give a patient advice via telephone or organise for them to come in for example a blood or urine test.

 

 

Chronic Illness Blogs

Diets For Different Illnesses

I wanted to do a blog to help those with diet issues with different illnesses and some easy go-to foods. I have done a lot of research into this on various websites such as Crohns and Colitis UK, Colostomy UK, NHS Top Diets Review, The British Dietetic Association, GIFT UK and various social media platforms.

The First Diet that I was really interested in after reading is the Blood Type Diet. From the research that I have done, it has shown to be a diet specified to your blood type. Peter. J D’Adamo suggests that the foods you eat reacts chemically with your blood type, so following a diet to your blood type may help you to digest food more efficiently and to help you lose weight, have more energy and help prevent disease;

Blood Type O: High protein diet especially lean meats (such as chicken and turkey), Fish, Vegetables. You also want to be light on foods such as grains, beans and dairy. It is said that people in the Blood Type O category suffer from tummy troubles and should take supplements.

Blood Type A: A meat free diet is recommended for this blood type, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains. It is also said that people in the Blood Type A category suffer from a weakened sensitive system.

Blood Type B: A diet avoiding corn, wheats, lentils, tomatoes, peanuts and sesame seeds. Chicken can be troublesome for those in the Blood Type B category too so eating things like eggs, green veg, other meats and low fat dairy.

Blood Type AB: This diet is more focused on tofu, seafood, dairy and green vegetables. People in the Blood Type AB category tend to have low stomach acids so it’s important to avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoked meats.

It is important that if you have an illness/disease that may prevent you from eating some of these specific blood type diets.

So let’s look at another diet that could be possible such as the Low Sugar Diet.

This diet focuses on certain food groups such as :

  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and cereals.
  • Meat, fresh fish, eggs and beans.
  • Milk and dairy foods.

Avoiding sugar is very crucial when you are a diabetic so always check the label of the food you are going to be buying. Ideally, you want a fat content of less than 100g, sugar content less than 5g per 100g and salt content of 0.3g per 100g. On occasion you can have the following:

  • fat content at 17.5g per 100g or more.
  • sugar content at 22.5g per 100g or more.
  • salt content 1.5g per 100g or more.

Advice from the British Dietetic Association is to try and snack when you are hungry, in between meals, and not just due to food being there. Try to drink something first before eating and sometimes we often mistake hunger for thirst. Also try not to buy things during your food shop which you know is your ‘danger foods’ that exceed the contents limits.

Diet advice on the Crohns and Colitis Uk website for people who suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease; by specialist Lisa Macleman.

“Excess calories can result in weight gain however if underweight then this is positive thing. If you are overweight it is important to avoid excess calories. Weight gain and loss is a huge problem for people who suffer from IBD, due to remission and flares. When in a flare people with IBD tend to eat easy go-to foods because it is needed for energy. When in a flare it is important to eat small portions frequently which is around 6 or 7 little meals per day.”

Many people claim that certain diets or foods can cure Crohns Disease and Ulcerative Colitis however there is no scientific evidence to support this, however diets can help someone achieve remission but never a cure, as for many illnesses. It can be helpful to recognise your trigger foods such as high fibre foods, spicy foods or other foods.

A Low Residue Diet can help when a IBD sufferer is experiencing a flare up of their disease, which many dieticians do recommend to try.

So What is a Low Residue Diet?

  • Bread, cereal and nuts – sweet plain biscuits such as rich teas, gingernut and NICE biscuits. Plain cake made from white flour. Plain crackers such as cream crackers. Smooth peanut butter.
  • Fruit and vegetables – Tinned or ripe fresh fruit that contain no seeds and have no skins on (only 2 portions of fruit per day), fruit juices and smooth coconut milk. Vegetables without skins, smooth or sieved tomatoes, strained vegetable juices, mashed potato and baked potato without eating the skin.
  • Desserts – Custard, ice cream, milk puddings, clear jelly and plain cakes.
  • Dairy – Milk (low fat is recommended), low fat cream, sour cream, creme fraiche, smooth yoghurt and cheese.
  • Drinks – Fruit, vegetable juices, milk, water, dioralyte (rehydration), soft drinks, decaffeinated tea and coffee and herbal tea.
  • Meat and meat alternatives for vegans – all meats and fish (less fat are better.)
  • Miscellaneous – eggs, tofu, soup, honey, jelly, jam, crisps and plain pretzels.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD.)

This diet specifically is restricting you intake of carbs, by eliminating certain food types such as grains, starches, dairy and sugar. The benefits to this diet are good for someone who suffers from digestive inflammation, eating foods that require minimal digestion which can reduce inflammation. It is said that following this diet can also cause some nutritional deficiencies so always ask your doctor first. Investing in supplements and vitamins is really important on this diet.

Foods that are allowed on this diet:

  • Fresh vegetables.
  • Poultry, fish and eggs.
  • Natural cheeses.
  • Home made yoghurt.
  • Fruit and fruit juices without additives.
  • Coconut oil, olive oil and corn oil.
  • Weak tea and coffee
  • Unflavoured gelatin.
  • Mustard and vinegar.

This diet still needs more research into it but if you have tried it, I would love to hear your feedback – good or bad!

I think it is really interesting to see what research there is out there when it comes to diets and what may be able to help you but as I have said, ALWAYS consult your doctor first!

Chronic Illness Blogs

Top 10 Chronic Illness Related Films

13413661_10208882577449309_7060998761965754705_nSometimes it is nice to watch a film with your feet up and to snuggle into a blanket. If you are in the mood to watch a film that could be relatable to you. Although this is not for everyone!

So here are a list of Chronic Illness related films:

  1. 50/50 – Inspired by a true story, a comedy centered around a 27 year old guy who learns of his cancer diagnosis and struggle beating the disease.
  2. My Sister’s Keeper – Anna Fitzgerald looks to earn medical emancipation from her parents who until now have relied on their youngest child to help their leukemia-stricken daughter Kate remain alive.
  3. Brain On Fire -Susannah Cahalan, an up and coming journalist at the New York Post becomes plagued by voices in her head and suffers seizures. As weeks progress, Susannah quickly moves deeper into insanity. Her behaviours shift from violence to catatonia. After a series of tantrums, misdiagnosis and a lengthy hospital stay, a doctors last minute intervention enables hi to give her a diagnosis and a chance to rebuild her life.
  4. It’s Kind of a Funny Story – A clinically depressed teenager gets a new start after he checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward.
  5. Split – Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities. They must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.
  6. The Fault In Our Stars – Two teenage cancer patients begin a life changing journey to visit a reclusive author in Amsterdam.
  7. Forrest Gump – Forrest learns that Jenny is sick from an unknown virus (either HIV or Hepatitis C) which has no known cure.
  8. 50 First Dates -Henry Roth is a man afraid of commitment up until he meets the beautiful Lucy. They hit it off and Henry thinks he’s finally found the girl of his dreams, until he discovers she has short-term memory loss and forgets him the next day.
  9. The Vow – A car accident puts Paige in a coma, when she wakes up she has severe memory loss. Her husband Leo works to win her heart all over again.
  10. Walk The Line – A chronicle of the country music legend Johnny Cash’s life, from his early days before fame on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis whilst battling depression and drug addiction.

These are some of my personal favourites ranging from romantic, horror, music related and comedy! You can watch most of these via Netflix, NOW TV, Sky Movies or Amazon Prime (or you can buy the DVD’S for cheap!)

I’d love to know some of you recommended chronic illness related films!

Chronic Illness Blogs, Mental Health Blogs

Mental Health

I have been struggling with my mental health for a long time, due to illness and things happening in my personal life. After being off of antidepressants for almost two years, my GP and I decided that it was best to go back on them as the problems I’ve been having are very complicated and I am in the process of working through them.

After my surgical termination last June it was really difficult having that procedure done itself but also coming to terms with loosing my baby and last month would have been my due date. When problems started happening at home I began to have frequent mental break downs and found it so hard to cope with life. I would lay in bed all day in the dark and try to not to talk to anyone. I would barely eat and I couldn’t see much point in being alive with the stress of everything and being chronically ill.

After months struggling with the mental breakdowns and thoughts of not wanting to be here or deal with the physical and mental pain, I went to my GP and told him that I thought it was time because everything I had tried such as medtitation and anxiety apps on my phone just weren’t helping. My GP had been asking for a while for me to go on medication for my depression and I refused because I was terrified of the side affects.

At the start of taking Prozac, I was also given Pregablin to help manage my pain. At the same time starting these medications, I caught a sickness bug and was extremely ill so they weren’t able to kick in as well as they should have so they took a little longer to kick in! I felt a little tired for the first week but nothing more than the usual tiredness I get.

Slowly those bad thoughts went away and I felt so much more motivated with my life and wanted to not only live but to accomplish goals and dreams, doing more for charities and also taking care of me more. After a few months the dosage was put up because I felt the affects were wearing off a little. Since then I do still struggle some days but not as bad as before. My Anxiety and PTSD isn’t great but I’m working on those by distracting myself when I feel anxious by watching films or cuddling my 2 yorkies.

Just recently, I had an iron infusion as my ferratin levels were below 50 again. As my iron was dropping, I felt my mood dropping too. After talking to my IBD nurse and another GP it was said that when your iron drops it can also affect your Depression which I didn’t know! So in 2-4 weeks my iron should hopefully be back on track!

When you suffer from mental health, it is really difficult to open up to anyone but also to admit when you need help. Taking antidepressants is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about because the way I see it – you are helping to help yourself get better. Finding a GP or someone close to talk to can really help let out some pain of feeling alone in the battle inside your head. There are a few things you can try with mental health but I really strongly recommend talking to your doctor and making sure they are happy for you to try other things first.

There are apps you can download for Anxiety such as Headspace and learning meditation. Many people find that seeing a councillor helps but the waiting list for one is very long on the NHS. You can also read books on coping with anxiety and many various mental health conditions from amazon or local book stores. Colouring in books can also be very relaxing and handy when you want to go somewhere quiet and colour. Animals can also really help to comfort you and knowing a little furbaby loves you unconditionally is one of the best feelings in the world!

I have heard people refer to antidepressants as “wacky pills” and “loopy tablets” and I just think that is completely unfair for those who suffer. Taking antidepressants does not define you! For anyone who does not walk a day in our shoes they have absolutely no right to judge what they do not know or understand. Be proud for taking that step in talking to someone or swallowing your dose of antidepressants for the day, each day. To fight those relentless demons day in, day out makes you fucking strong.

And if nobody has told you, I’m proud of you.

Chronic Illness Blogs, People's Stories!

Funny Stories With A Chronic Illness

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Brenda and myself wanted to a blog about the funny things of being chronically ill, to make others laugh. You never know when someone may be feeling a little down and need a good laugh!

In various chronic illness groups via Facebook, I asked people if they would like to share their funny moments with me. Enjoy!

Shannon:  ” I was in the A and E once and the nurse came in and asked what the problem was. I said “I’m pretty sure I’m dehydrated. I have a rare autoimmune disease called Behcet’s are you familiar with it?” She looked at me like I’m stupid and says THE SHITS? Yeah it’s not that rare.. I looked down and said no BEHCET’S but my husband was in the corner cracking up and trying not to let the nurse see. She eventually said to us when we got our survey at home about our experience to say her name was phoebe bushé and not her actual Name. She was mortified we would tell in the evaluation about her and THE Shits Tale.”

Nick: ” I feel sorry for the poor sods who have go on nights out and have to crap on toilets that has no lock on the door. All while i’m still boogying and having a cheeky crap in my bag!”

Claire: “My funniest is when I sat down for a breather on the edge of a freezer in Tesco… of course I fell in didn’t I and couldn’t get back out again. Spent a good 20 mins sitting in the frozen sausages!”

Perry: “After my operation when I could finally stand up and I needed to go toilet, I stood up and went for a wee in the sample bottle. The curtains around my bed were shut but as I finished, I pulled my bottoms up I turned around and realised my windows blinds were up and everyone in the cafe could see my bum cheeks through the window..”

Tina: “When I was teaching and the time came for a stick, so I invested in one that had fairies on as the children used to call me mrs fairy instead of Ferrie. Even had one child ask if the reason i worked in school was to see which children had lost teeth! They also asked if I got tired collecting the teeth and took me a while to click they thought I was the tooth fairy.”

Josh: “I was getting a scrotum ultrasound with a male ultrasound technician as Behcets can cause pain there for males. Anyway we were having small talk about where I was from and talking about how I had moved back to town from a place that has a bad name for crime.  I said I’d never had a problem in the 2 years I was there but that I had read in the newspaper that a man was killed for money in front of the pawn shop just 2 weeks after I had left, the same pawn shop that I used to visit all the time a few times a week. The ultrasound technician was just about finished scanning my sack with the ultrasound and he said “the guy must’ve been wanting money for porno’s” but I didn’t quite hear him so I just said “mmm.” He was finished and I left. I then realised later what he had said and I felt so stupid this guy had his hands near my man parts scanning me with the ultrasound machine the whole time thinking I was talking about a adult shop “porn shop” but in reality I was talking about a pawn shop “second hand trader!”

Val: ” I took my mum along to a seminar (she had a colostomy called Arthur) well he blew off all through one of the speeches my mum, me and my husband (who by the way has an ileostomy) set off giggling and didn’t stop. My step dad did not see the funny side and at the end a lady came up to us and said I knew that was you Sheila, as they was in hospital together.”

Shirley: “When I was out shopping one day I had nerve spasms, so I decided to look in a shop window and do breathing exercises til they passed. Someone inside was waving at me and I waved back! I didn’t recognise the person but when the spasms eased, I looked again and realised I’d been waving at a MANNEQUIN!!!”

Em: ” I was meant to be collecting a sample for the Doctor. I felt an urgent need to go and nipped to the loo. Thought “ooh this will be a good one, I’ll just grab that bowl” (located about 2m from toilet). In the time it took to travel across the bathroom for the sample bowl, I couldn’t hold it and pooped everywhere. I definitely saw the funny side but this really is toilet humour!”

Jennifer: ” My 2nd symptom was going blind in the left eye for a few weeks. I got sent to ophthalmology and they said “cover your left eye and read the board on the wall” so I obliged. Then they said “now cover your right eye and read the board on the wall”, I said “what board?” then the ophthalmologist said ‘”the one there on the wall. I said “yeah, what board?” Again they said “the one on the wall, starts with E at the top!”which went on for another couple of minutes before they realised that I couldn’t see anything out of that eye, even though I told them that to start with!”

John: ” I went for a job interview and thought it was best to tell them I had MS. They said “that’s good, being well versed in Microsoft programs is just what we need!”

Ceri: “My very first relapse, before diagnosis, I had double vision so the eye specialist gave me an eyepatch. After the hospital visit my sister took me to the coffee shop and all I could hear was a little boy telling his mum.. “mum” mum there’s a pirate over there, over there Mum” The poor mum was so apologetic but all we could do was just laugh.”

Kevin: “I was at a routine hospital appointment and went to pharmacy. They said “do you pay for your prescriptions mr Childs?” I mumbled something about permanent colostomy and that I have medical exemption certificate. I then patted my abdomen to indicate where bag was. I sit down and 10 minutes later called back up. “Thank you mr Childs my colleague says you don’t pay for prescriptions because you’re pregnant..”

Jo: ” I’ve always been quite a good mimic and so when I had a huge facial weakness a good few years back, with my short hair and glasses, for nearly two months I was a very popular Anne Robinson (from the TV show You Are The Weakest Link) ‘look alike’!”

Victoria: “When my muscles spasm they can be rather violent. So one night I was sat watching telly and hubby gives me a Magnum ice cream, cue a violent spasm and my ice cream goes flying across the room and the bloody dogs think it’s Christmas!”

Helen: “My GP was explaining my CT scan results and that I had a fistula from my bowel to my bladder. So not funny, but she said “Basically Helen, you are farting into your bladder.” For some reason, that set us both off and we giggled through the rest of the appointment!”

Megan: “So my dog willow had an itchy annoying butt so we got an appointment at the vets. The vet told me it was probably her glands that needed emptying and that he would do it just now. So there he is sticking his fingers up my doggies butt when i awkwardly say “oh me willow its normally me we fingers up my bum!”The sudden realisation that this guy has no idea I have bowel disease and thinks Im a dirty mare who needs locked up. I didn’t know where to look. I was just trying to lighten the mood and make my dog feel better!”

Stephanie: “There is nothing more satisfying than having a poo in marks and Spencers food hall…. It’s not just a poo but a marks and Spencers poo!”

Colleen: ” I have a LOT of difficulty sleeping. SO, there’s no telling when I will have a sleep ATTACK! So, one Sunday morning I went to Church, sitting next to my husband and fell asleep HARD! My neck fell back, and a GIANT SNORE came shooting out of my nose. If you picture that, you can imagine the sound. It was LOUD and although I was with Church folk, I did feel a bit judged, so I tried to keep from laughing as I slithered out of the door!!!”

Libby: “I took my daughter to the ER because she had a bad migraine from Behcets and the doctor came in to check her. She said ” I have Behcets” and he said “oh I know what that is…you get lesions on your penis!” haha shes female..”

Callum: “Every time it farts it feels like someone is blowing raspberries on my stomach!”

Joseph: “I once was at the casino playing poker, and the person next to me thought it was my way of wishing good luck on my cards by shaking the cards a little. It’s actually bc I have a bad tremor in my left arm right now.”

John W: “When I first told my now partner I had a colostomy bag she sed so u are a real living shit bag!I found it funny don’t know if others will but 7 years on we are still together.”

Robin: “I was at my 1st appointment at an MS Clinic and in the midst of my first really bad flare-up. All the nurses were incredibly nice and I had asked them what their favorite treats are (so I could bring them something at my next appt). I got no answer at the time of my question…but about an hour later, as we were preparing to leave the office and head to the infusion clinic – one nurse says “jolly ranchers”…I thought to myself – You can have any treat you want and it’s Jolly Ranchers, weird – but okay- looked at her with a smile and said, “Awesome, I’ll bring you a huge bag of them tomorrow ” she laughed and says, “NO, bring Jolly Ranchers to your IV steroid infusion, they are the only candy that will get the metallic taste out of your mouth!”

Helen M: ” My recently installed bag is called Louie, I’ve never been able to afford an original Louis Vuitton bag but he is my sure my own original!”

Jessica: “I still laugh about my enema being put in the wrong hole by the student nurse. I had to tell her it was the wrong hole before she squirted it.. She was very embarrassed. Then afterwards, she was like do you want privacy … yes but instead she was in asking bloody questions and doing obs!”

Anonymous: “There is this funny thing that always makes me laugh! I have dual mental health diagnosis and other crap like chronic IBS. I get very very down in this life. One of my fond memories is when I was living with my now passed away Grandmother, she had slight bowel issues also. Each step she took up the stairs to the loo, she farted! She was all like “Ooooh these stairs are creaky today!” It’s even more amusing as she was all prim & proper!!!”

Nuala: “When i was very ill and hospital told my family I have to have colostomy our young James said to his mum “she said it’s bag and you can’t poo only in a bag” he thought about it and said “oh will she have to have big hood like max?” who is the dog so he couldn’t bite his bum after his operation! I thought that’s great made me laugh!”

Brenda: “My first funny story happened in 2015 after surgery for an abscess on my surgical scar. I was fitted with a vacuum dressing and pump then discharged. I got home and settled for a bit then at bedtime went to the loo to discover that the nurse who discharged me had put the vacuum dressing completely over my bag which had leaked output and blood. I couldn’t deal with the bag because it was trapped under the dressing which I couldn’t do myself. After a few calls an ambulance was sent and a paramedic was dealing with me in our tiny toilet. Now when I change or empty my bag I pull my top right up and fold it up. Paramedic stands me up to take me to the ambulance and asks if I feel comfortable. Totally forgetting I’m in my pjs with no bra up goes my top and that poor bloke got an unexpected eyeful particularly as my boobies have gone a bit south. All the way back to the hospital I kept avoiding his eyes!”

“My second funny story was when the hospital the nurse took me into the patient toilet to sort the bag out and as I sat on the loo she crouched and balanced in front of me till she lost her balance and fell forward on to me. I fell back onto the flush sensor and had what I can only call an unexpected bidet. We both laughed so much it happened again and decided I’d better stand up!”

“My third one is from a couple of months later. My daughter was taking me to Birmingham on the train for the gybo first party. The train pulled up, doors opened and I got one leg on but didn’t have the strength to get the other leg on. Two lads who were on the train came forward and grabbed a hand each and started pulling me on and my daughter put her shoulder under my bum whilst explaining to the people in the queue behind me that I’d been poorly. We did have a good laugh about that one I won’t mention going to Earl’s Court to see George Michael with my daughter when I was newly diagnosed. Seats up about as high as you can go and three guesses who was just coming back from the toilet as the lights went down and George walked on the stage. I think I spoiled the moment for the people in our row who had to stand up and let me through.”

Justin E: “Best I have done is I was putting stock away in shop and just fell asleep on floor with packets of nut and bolts and I was found by a customer who woke me up as he thought I had fallen and knocked myself out!”

Nan: ” i sat on the loo for ages couldn’t feel the wee but could hear it. I sat thinking god that’s a long wee till i realized i wasn’t weeing at all and it was the cistern filling up!”

 

Hope you have enjoyed these funny stories as much as I have! I have had tears in my eyes reading them with laughter! Thank you so much to all who took part and to Brenda for the idea and inspiration of this blog!

-Alannah

Chronic Illness Blogs

Preparing For A Colonoscopy

 

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Many people who are diagnosed or undiagnosed may go through preparation for a procedure such as a Colonoscopy. This is where a thin tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the rectum and travels into your intestines.

Before I begin on the preparation drink information etc, I want to let you know that this procedure can save lives and can help get a diagnosis of what is happening. Usually the drinks they give you are either Picolax or Moviprep and sometimes Kleanprep which are laxatives to clear out the bowels to get a clear look inside. When I had prep, I found Moviprep easier to handle than Picolax however if constipation is something you suffer from Picolax can be a better option but it really does depend on what your consultant or appropriate person doing the scope wants you to have.

The first drink isn’t pleasant and I’m not going to sugar coat it and say “it tastes divine like a cocktail” because it doesn’t but you can make it taste better by adding diluting juice that you like to it, which can help make it more bearable for you. You can also put it in the fridge. With Picolax make sure you stir it and leave it to sit for a minute as it can be sore on your lips when newly mixed (just from my experience.)

A few hours later your letter or information sheet will tell you to drink the next sachet. Many people find that even after taking both, a few hours later nothing happens and are left wondering why it was even important to drink them.. that is until you feel the sudden need to run to the loo! It’s not pleasant but it does the job it needs to which is essential for your scope. If you are allowed sedation they will put an IV line (cannula) in a vein for direct access for the sedation, this is to help you relax.

There are some thing you can do to make preparation easier for you:

  • Have some heat pads or a hot water bottle close by if you have pain/cramps.
  • Keep a blanket in the bathroom near the toilet.
  • Keep a bottle of water in the bathroom and by your bedside.
  • Take some paracetamol to help with pain and sweating if going to the loo is making you sweat.
  • Pads incase you don’t make it in time.
  • DON’T plan to go anywhere!
  • Keep your medication close by so if needed it is there.
  • As said above, diluting juice.
  • Comfy clothing that isn’t tight as you may bloat.
  • For the 24 hours leading up and waiting, only drink clear fluids.
  • Avoid taking iron tablets a week before your procedure.
  • Drinking plenty makes the bowel prep work better.
  • Using a straw to drink the prep.

My first Colonoscopy was back in 2012 when I was 17 and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. The prep wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, I found not being able to eat the hardest part! At the time I finished my second drink my mum was eating a tub of my favourite kind of pringles and I cried (ha ha.) I was terrified when I got to the hospital, clutching my hot water bottle whilst crippled over with pain, not knowing what was wrong with me.

I was given sedation and pain relief through my cannula and I felt quite tired and drunk! They first inserted a long tube which puts air into your intestines and then the flexible colonoscope with the camera and a light at the top. I found that the air was more uncomfortable than the procedure itself. Before I knew it, I had to fart and I didn’t know what to do. I lay there squeezing my cheeks and I couldn’t do it any longer. I said to the nurses in the room that I really had to fart and could I be excused, I was told to go ahead as it wasn’t anything unusual! So thinking only air would come out I went for it and I messed everywhere and felt terrible for everyone in the room and I was so embarrassed. I was so surprised that the nurses didn’t care, they’d seen it all before me! They completely put me at ease and held my hand through the tears of anxiety and embarrassment.

At the side there is a screen so the doctor or endoscopist can see from the camera inside you, if you are squeamish then don’t look. The endoscopist or doctor may also take biopsies to send away to the lab. Recovery took a few hours as I slept off the Sedation then I was allowed to go home, stopping at McDonalds first of course! Eating my entire body weight in fries and chicken! My rectum was quite sensitive for the next few days due to the wiping from frequent toilet trips. It can take a few days for your bowels to calm down and usually you do experience bloating from the air that is put inside your bowel so drinking plenty and walking around can help shift it. Taking paracetamol can help too.

I hope this helps you with your first time having a Colonoscopy.

-Alannah A.K.A Glitterygutsx

Chronic Illness Blogs, Personal Blogs

Self Care

Self care is so important especially to those who are chronically ill. Looking after you can be hard when you struggle just to do basic tasks from fatigue.

When able, take some time out for you. Do a facemask or have a soak in the bath with your favourite bath bomb. Watch your favourite films or shows and eat the crap you have been craving! Chill out time can also benefit anxiety if you have been feeling on edge or suffering from panic attacks. Working on self care can also help you try to figure out what to do when a panic attack occurs.

For my self care routine (when able) is to sit on my bathroom floor with a basin of warm water, bodywash, netflix on my iPad and shave my leggies. I then wash my face, exfoliate, cleanse, tone and hop in the shower and I come out not looking like a hairy yhetti! Ha ha. I will also change my bag if it is bag change day and apply moisturiser to my legs, all of these combined makes me feel so relaxed. I always worry about my image and I can’t stand having hairy legs but I struggle a lot so by the time I’m able, they look dreadful and my self esteem drops to an all time low.

Pain, fatigue, sickness and all that negatively affects you with an illness can be a struggle. It is not glamorous and it can make you feel shit. A little bit of pampering goes a long way in terms of making you feel better mentally and can help to give you a confidence boost. Nothing beats feeling fresh, getting into clean pyjamas and relaxing in bed even when in pain.

Hoping everyone manages a pamper some time soon and remember to look after yourselves.🖤

Awareness, Chronic Illness Blogs

My Go-To Hair Products for Chronically Ill Hair

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For so many men and women who are chronically ill, their hair also suffers as well as a wide variety of symptoms. This can be caused by using medications to control the disease such as chemotherapy drugs (you can read my blog Chemo Isn’t Just For Cancer here) or by vitamin deficiencies, malnutrition and sometimes from long term steroid use.

I remember talking to my hairdresser recently about this issue as back in 2015 I was on a chemotherapy drug called Methotrexate and my hair was thin, I lost almost all my eyebrows and my eyelashes looked awful with what was left of them and back then had no real clue as to what to use that could help. It’s really important to try and do what you can to look after your hair to avoid getting the chop, which believe me is devastating if you had long beautiful hair before medications!

It’s also important to get your bloods checked for any vitamin defencies or thyroid issues before following any the tips and products below.

So what products and things can help?

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Matrix rebond Trio

This trio helps to repair the hair that has either been chemically damaged or is just pretty damaged as it is and helps the hair to become strong again. The number 1 and 3 you use as normal then once a week use the number 2, after using 1 then add number 3 without washing out number 2! I also use a tangle teezer brush and brush this through my hair which helps when I need to brush my hair afterwards.

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Nioxin Hair Care

Many people including myself recommend this from my own personal experience if you have had or have thin hair that is thinning. It can help but do bare in mind that it may not help completely. To see which one is best for you please click here to visit the website.

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Regular trims

Having your hair trimmed from time to time can help to cut off the bad straggles at the ends which in time travel up the hair and cause damage and split ends. It also helps your hair to be healthy and shiny. Trims can also help your hair grow but that depends on your own body.

Hair conditioning treatments at your hairdressers

This helps to rebuild broken bonds and damaged hair and repairs leaving your hair beautifully soft and conditioned. It also helps repair the split ends.

Less heat

Using heat on your hair too much causes damage to the hydrogen bonds in the hair making it dry, brittle and full of split ends. Leaving your hair to air dry and only using heated irons every so often is recommended by hairdressers. Be sure that when using heated irons, you use a heat protection spray, the Matrix one is really good and smells lovely!

Washing every 3-4 days

Washing your hair a few times a week is better than every day, as washing every day strips the hair of its natural oils keeping your scalp and hair healthy. This gives you hair the chance to heal and have more shine.

Taking vitamins

You can find these in Holland and Barrett however always ask your doctors first!

Avoid box dyes!

Box dyes are great for saving money and time however they are extremely damaging to the hair over time. It makes it harder for a hairdresser to take out the dye without damaging your hair so it is a very long process to get it out and the desired colour to enable good condition of your hair.

Tangle Teezer Brush

Using a tangle teezer brush is much better for getting those tough knots and tangles out! I personally use mine to brush through conditioner in the shower so after rinsing, there is less tangle and the product is taken evenly through my hair.

Here are some examples of what people have faced with their hair from being chronically ill:

Levi now (left) and when she lost her hair (right) due to being on cyclosporine to treat Ulcerative Colitis.

Myself now (left) and when I was on methotrexate (right) to treat Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

Emma now (left) and whilst on plaquenil to treat connective tissue disease. (right)

Brenda now (left) and whilst on Methotrexate (right) to treat Crohn’s Disease.

Kay before treatment (left) Kay now (right) from infliximab medication to treat Ulcerative Colitis.

Sarah now (left) with thin hair due to the medication vedolizumab to treat Crohn’s Disease and when she had thick hair before treatment (right)

Lauren now suffers with alopecia areta and both these pictures are recent.

Emily now (left) whilst on Colchicine and what her hair was like before this medication which is to treat Behcets Disease. (right)

Candice before methotrexate (left) and now after having to have the chop (right)

Nic now (left) after long term treatment of Steroids for Crohn’s Disease.

Chronic Illness Blogs

Fatigue.

Fatigue is a not so funny, funny thing. You go to sleep, you wake up and still feel as if you could sleep but your mind is wide awake yet at the same time giving you brain fog – a term in which is used to describe the inability to function mentally with the fatigue.

Your body says no can do today. So you wish the next day for yourself to be full of bounce and able to do some simple tasks. But again you wake up repeating the same process, hoping the next day, then the next day for this lease of energy. You struggle to shower, get dressed, you forget medications or forget to eat, the housework and daily chores are literally – a chore! Your body aches and some days the fatigue can make you feel low in self esteem, lack confidence and just feeling down in the dumps. You nap and wake up feeling worse then unable to sleep at night and before you know it your sleep cycle is totally f*cked up!

Then a day arrives that you get energy and it is truly amazing! You get all the housework done and the house is sparkling clean, if you have animals or children everything is all upto date and all are washed and clean with clean bedding, you remember to take your medication, you make a meal and eat, you drink plenty fluids and enjoy listening to the radio or music, you are able to go for a walk and actually enjoy it without the aches and pains of your body. You can read a book without looking at the words without being completely confused by gobbidly gook!

So what steps could you take to help in preparation for a bad day of fatigue?

Having drawers for certain things really helps – for example my bed side drawer I clear out monthly which holds my medications, glasses, hand cream, wipes, peppermint oil for my sinuses and lip balm. On my bedside table I keep a bottle of juice to keep hydrated and to take my medications.

Cleaning dishes – I got a table top dishwasher so that all I need to do is rinse my dishes and put them in and they are done in an hour or so. As for the dogs, I have their bowls and food looked out on the counter so it’s easily accessible. You can also benefit from hiring a cleaner if that is something you can afford!

Changing bedding – Changing bedding once a week is hard but if the day of changing my bedding arrives and i’m not able, I will do it the next day, having a dedicated day each week to do this may be difficult but it’s handy as you will get into a routine of say for example “sunday is bed change day“, you can rest the day before.

Freezing home made food is great. I recently had my fridge freezer break so I got an american fridge freezer so meals are more accessible and I know that they are home made and I like them. Sometimes I will find it handy to take things like crisps and biscuits into the bedroom so that if I don’t feel like eating a meal, snacks are at hand.

Don’t feel bad for asking for help. Sometimes it can feel degrading asking for help because you are so tired, but don’t feel bad! If you have a partner, friend, neighbour, healthcare professional or family member that is able to attend your home and help you – ask! When my fianceè comes to visit I ask for help even though I don’t like to. That one person can make that one day much more bareable and easier for you and the company is also really nice.

Netflix and NOW TV on a TV or laptop helps pass the time. There are many good shows on Netflix such as The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, Jane The Virgin, Grimm, Riverdale, The Ted Bundy Tapes, Evil Genius and The Staircase. On NOW TV there are great Disney films such as Moana, The Lion King 1, 2 and 3, The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory and Tangled.

Many people that donot suffer with fatigue think that fatigue is the same as normal tiredness after a hard days work or a sleepless night. The reality here is that it is not the same thing. The definition and meaning of Fatigue: extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.

I hope this can help some of you or better; all of you!

-Alannah A.K.A Glittergutsx

Chronic Illness Blogs

Dating With an Illness or Disability

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Following The IBD and Ostomy Support Show conversation, talking about body confidence and dating with a disability got me thinking, how is dating with a disability? The real answer is that it really isn’t any different at all. Many people struggle with body confidence or putting themselves ‘out there’ for love because of their illness(s) or disability.

Before having any disabilities, I lived life as normal and dated and never even gave illness a thought.. that was until the age of 17 when I got poorly. However this didn’t change finding love or having relationships. The problem was that the people I gave my time to didn’t give me their time back. After surgery for a stoma I wasn’t given the right support and he only came into hospital once on valentines day 2015 then dumped me on the way home when I was discharged just a few months later. It wasn’t until after my surgery for my stoma that I truly appreciated my body, including my stretch marks and flabby parts! I wanted to know what people’s advice is for people looking for love with a disability..

This is what they said!:

Louise with Crohn’s Disease and an Ileostomy: “Be honest. No point in beating around the bush, getting attached and then revealing your secret and having them turn around and say it’s not worth their time!”

Kaz with Ulcerative Colitis: “Patience and understanding. Be prepared to be cancelled on short notice- offer alternatives- if not we’ll enough to go out, maybe offer to go to theirs and cook- they’re probably exhausted and feeling awful for letting you down and that offer could really boost them up!”

James with Crohn’s Disease: “Let people know that your condition can change at any time for example one minute you can be okay but then you can become really ill in a short amount of time.”

Hanna with Ulcerative Colitis, an Ileostomy, PSC and Fibromyalgia: “My main advice, don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Jonathan with an ostomy and Crohn’s Disease: “Best thing when dating is to be honest and just be yourself. If anyone has a problem with your stoma then that’s they’re problem! I have had Crohn’s Disease since the age of 16 and got my stoma at 26.. 10 years later and I am planning my wedding day!”

Annie with Fibromyalgia, Colonic Inertia, Crohn’s Disease and Bile Salt Malabsorption, Ankylosing Spondylitis: “Don’t be an ass!”

Laura with Crohn’s Disease and a Colostomy: “The disability isn’t who you are. I was completely honest with my now hubby when we first met and we sat and chatted he asked lots of questions, some which I thought were brilliant and I needed to ask myself . BUT I did also burn lots of amazing strong smelling candles too should I have to dash off to the loo! It also helps if you invite your partner along to your consultations. “

Theresa with an ostomy: “Honesty and having a sense of humour.”

Jennifer with Painful Bladder Syndrome, Depression, Anxiety and PTSD: Patience, Compassion and understanding. Just because we have done something before doesn’t necessarily mean we can do it every time and that our ‘days off’ will likely be interrupted or structured around hospital appointments.”

Sahara with Ulcerative Colitis and an Ileostomy: “Just being honest at the start. There’s no point wasting your time dating someone, only to find out a month down the line that they can’t deal with it. So be as honest about how your condition affects you as you feel comfortable early on. That’s what I’ve always done.”

Murk with an ostomy: “Being open from the start is probably the biggest thing. Some people might not be able to accept it so it’s best to get it out there so you don’t waste your time with them.”

Tim with a J-Pouch: Try not to be defined by your pouch it’s not so much a *disability*, it is more something that enables you to live more normally!”

Vivian with an ostomy: “Honey, never forget how to flirt! Even if that’s all we want to do!!”

Jack with Crohn’s Disease: “Be open minded!”

Dustie with an ostomy: “Dating can be a fun learning opportunity and lead one to finding a match made in heaven. My husband still loves me— Zebra or not. I am still super awesome, sexy, funny and his wife after all we’ve been through with my health. He wouldn’t change a thing about his decision to marry me and have baby zebras to have avoided my health issues interfere with our lives. I also realized that for me to stop feeling like I’m a burden to those around me, I have to stop believing I am one. My family and friends would rather have a disabled mom/daughter/sister/wife/bestie in their lives than no one.”

Katie with IBS and Damage of the Sphincter through childbirth: Honesty – I had a wheat and caffeine intolerance but when the man of my dreams asked me out for a pasta and coffee meal deal I couldn’t refuse! Needless to say I spent a lot of time in the toilet so had to confess. He didn’t mind though and he’s now my husband!

Sue with an ostomy: “I love being single…disability or non….❤️”

Myself with Behcet’s Disease and Vasculitis: “be accepting of your swelling, stretch marks and imperfections.. it makes us who we are!”

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I think these are some fantastic tips to give to someone who is either dating with a disability or dating someone who suffers from a disability. It is so important to listen to one another and to definitely be honest with the person at all times, and explaining things they may not understand. If it’s something you don’t really understand yourself, there are lots of facebook groups or websites available which can help answer those questions. Be respectful to the person that is suffering and not being ignorant towards illness or disability is key!

If you are looking to date and have a digestive disorder of any kind, please sign up to Gutsy.Dating!

Hope you all have a fantastic valentines whatever you choose and whether you have a partner or you are single!

-Alannah A.K.A Glitterygutsx