Tag Archives: Health

Health: Making sick days better #VicksTricks

It’s February and we are slap bang in the middle of cold season; not that there’s ever really a time when you can’t catch a cold. With school being like it is – a festering swamp of germs. Bugs, viruses and colds can knock a whole class out for weeks at a time and kids are having sick days left, right and centre!

Inevitably the kids bring home germs and the whole family goes down. Whilst we make every effort not to take any unnecessary time off school and work, sometimes a sick day is what you need to knock the bug on the head. 

As a parent, the problem with sick days is that you don’t want them to be too much fun, you don’t want to give the idea that being at home is more fun than being at school, but you still want to be able to offer comfort and care to your child.

Health: Making sick days better #VicksTricks

The boy has had thankfully very few sick days off school. But when he has I always make sure he’s warm and comfortable. Snuggled on the sofa under a blanket is fairly standard. He might watch TV for a while, or do some colouring or work his way through an activity book. We will often read to each other and we will always have as many cuddles as he wants or needs. It’s a difficult balance to strike between keeping him entertained but not making it too exciting, so he won’t want more fun sick days at home.

In terms of looking after him when a cold hits, I let him drink as much water or watered down fruit juice as he wants. He’s not yet discovered the comforting hug in a mug a hot cordial can be, but that will come. If he’s suffering he can have some paracetamol medicine, and I encourage him to just keep blowing his nose. If he’s snuffly and coughing at night, the old trick of Vicks Vaporub on the feet really helps.

Interestingly Vicks have done some research into how parents cope with colds and bugs within their families –

• Over half (52%) of parents said that rest was the most important thing for making children feel better
• This was followed by ‘medicine’, which 40% of parents rely on
• More than a third of parents (36%) believe in the power of TLC

And when it comes to keeping children entertained: 

• Three out of four (75%) British parents put on the TV or a DVD
• Over a quarter (27%) read to their children
• 1 in 10 parents get really creative; either telling jokes (8%) or even do magic tricks (2%)

Of course prevention is always better than a cure. We are big on hand washing and trying to avoid getting the bugs in the first place. At the first sign of a cold, we adults start taking zinc supplements and praying for mercy. We’ve recently discovered Vicks First Defence. You spray it up your nose a few times a day at the first sign of a cold. It helps to stop the cold bugs in their tracks. 

Health: Making sick days better #VicksTricks

I admit to being a little skeptical, but last week I woke up with a tickly throat and reached for the Vicks First Defence Nasal Spray. It was easy to use and I used it for a couple of days and it really did seem to stop the cold in its tracks. I just don’t have the time to be fighting bugs, so this will be part of my bug battle armoury from now on. 
 

This post is an entry for the BritMums #VicksTricks campaign.

Chronic Health Conditions: I’m all out of spoons

In recent years the word “Spoonie” has been used to describe someone like me. Someone who has a chronic health condition. For me it’s pain. I live with pain, most of the time I am the boss of it. I manage it so that it doesn’t appear to the outside world that it manages me. Sometimes the mask slips and I have to admit that I just can’t do it anymore and I need to rest up. Today, this week, is one of those times. I’m all out of spoons.

The idea of spoons – you get X number of spoons a day and you have to choose how to “spend” them. For example a shower might take three spoons, a walk to the shops 5, but you might only have 15 spoons a day, how should you use them best? I don’t always think the spoons thing is always helpful to me, like most people with chronic health problems I have good days and bad. I might have five spoons today, but tomorrow I could have 50. And yes, some days if I use too many spoons I won’t have any or many to use the next day. I feel like I’m saying the word spoons a lot here.

Anyway, long story short. I’ve hurt my back a bit, so my pain levels are high. The numbness in my legs and pelvis is distracting, but I’m trying not to worry. On top of that I’ve got a stomach bug. I’m all out of spoons.

Today I managed to sit up in bed long enough to chug down some painkillers. Then it took me two hours to get the energy together to shakily make my way downstairs to keep the dog company. Then I had to find spoons I didn’t have to clean up the little puppy gifts she’d left me, before I grabbed a drink and lay on the sofa watching TV for the afternoon. I know the boys will be home from school and work soon, so I spent my last remaining spoon on a shower so I looked less like hell for them. No more spoons.

I’ve just had a text “what’s for tea?” To which I replied “I’m too wobbly to stand, sorry”. It’s official, I am all out of spoons.

My beautiful son is making his Beavers promise tonight. I really should go and watch him and his proud moment. I will probably make myself go, using the precious spoons I’d squirreled away for tomorrow. The dog remains unwalked for now, but she’s been played with, which was all I could manage.

I’m normally on top of this. I am normally well in control of my spoons but I’m all out. I’m all out of spoons for now and I’m running up a deficit for tomorrow and the day after.

Note – I wrote this last night on my iPad but didn’t have any spoons or energy left to publish it. I didn’t have enough to get me to Beavers to watch Ben make his promise either, so now I feel like a terrible parent. So here it is, my blog post, and now I’m going back to bed.

Chronic Health Conditions: I'm all out of spoons

Review: Seven Seas Perfect7 Supplements

This year I’ll be 40 and although I try and look after myself as best I can, I’m well aware that I’m starting to age. I hate taking loads of tablets so I was looking for a good all rounder, something that would suit someone of my age and something that would help me fend off creakiness for a little while longer. I was sent some Seven Seas Perfect7 to try out.

Seven Seas Perfect7 comes in two different kinds, one for men and one for women. I tried the Seven Seas Perfect7 Woman which contains a blend of Marine Oil with Omega-3, plus essential multivitamins and minerals. The specially developed formula encourages the effective absorption of nutrients to support you from the inside as you get older.

Seven Seas Perfect7

Seven Seas have identified 7 key needs for women and have developed Perfect7 Woman to try and meet those specific needs. Perfect7 Woman has been scientifically designed to support:

  • Skin & Nails – Zinc helps to maintain normal skin and nails
  • Hair – Biotin contributes to the maintenance of normal hair
  • Energy – Magnesium contributes to energy yielding metabolism
  • Brain – DHA contributes to normal brain function
  • Vision – Vitamin B2 contributes to maintenance of normal vision
  • Heart – EPA & DHA contribute to the normal function of the heart
  • Hormonal Activity – Vitamin B6 helps to regulate hormonal activity

Seven Seas Perfect7 comes as a 30 day duo pack. It contains two different tablets to take each day with water. There is one slightly squashy marine oil tablet and one brown speckled tablet. They are shaped like little bullets and although they’re not small, I managed to swallow them easily. I hate taking tablets and often gag them back up, but these were fine for me.

I’ve been taking the Seven Seas Perfect7 for a little over 3 weeks now, although it’s probably too early for me to notice much of a difference, I have noticed that my normally brittle and flaky nails are a bit stronger than they have been for a while and my skin is glowing a bit more, several people have commented about that recently. 

I find the tablets easy to take and as they are a good all rounder, containing the following vitamins and minerals. 

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin C
  • Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B12
  • Biotin
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Chromium
  • Iodine

The marine oil tablets contain both fish oil and gelatin making them not suitable for vegetarians which is a shame. I would like it if a vegetarian version of these supplements were available so veggies could take advantage of the benefits of Perfect7.

For me Seven Seas Perfect7 is worth sticking with, in two tablets I can get pretty much everything I need to supplement my diet and hopefully see me into middle age in a more sprightly fashion.

You can find out more about Seven Seas Perfect7 on their website.

Glue Ear – Another operation for the small boy?

*Personal, meandering blog post alert*

This afternoon we are taking the small boy to hospital for a consultation about his glue ear. Almost exactly two years ago he had his first operation to have grommets put in his ears to alleviate the problem. At the time it was very apparent that he was starting to struggle and fall behind his peers, even at the tender age of 3. 

I remember him coming round from his anaesthetic, he started chattering away and he’s not stopped since. In the months following he seemed to come on in leaps and bounds, making up for lost time and we looked forward to a problem free future for him.

Regrettably that was not to be. About a year after his operation we suspected that he was starting to struggle to hear again and his ear infections, caused by the glue ear were becoming more frequent. Thankfully he was still having regular-ish appointments with ENT and following a hearing test last year they said they needed to keep an eye on him.

In December they tested him again and he had “significant hearing loss”, they sent us away to consider our options. Really there are only two options; let him suffer repeated infections, pain and discomfort as well as see him struggle at school, or have new grommets put in and his tonsils and adenoids taken out.

Today we go to the hospital to speak to the consultant. Yes we’d like him to have the operation please. Yes can you do it asap please. Yes we understand the risks and yes we’ve both tormented ourselves over making this decision. It doesn’t make it easy and it’s not something any parent wants, but we know that he needs this to be done. I just hope this will be an end to it for him. Poor lamb.

Glue Ear - Another operation for the small boy

Health & Fitness – Squat Challenge March 2016

I’ve become a bit frustrated with myself of late, I need to exercise but it’s hard to find the time and the inclination. I live with chronic pain and like most people I have good and bad days, so it can be hard for me to absolutely commit to doing Pilates every Thursday, or to go swimming each Monday, because I never really know how good, or not so good I’ll feel. That’s at least one of my excuses, so I’m sticking to it.

I’ve decided to set myself a squat challenge for March. I’ve seen these kind of challenges before and they’re pretty much designed for reasonably fit and healthy people, not for slightly wonky people like me who make a noise when they stand up. Now I’m no fitness instructor, I have no qualifications (consider this a disclaimer of sorts), but I know from various Pilates and Yoga classes, and from my rehab physios that doing squats is pretty good for me and my condition, which is basically a ruined spine, nerve damage and constant pain. Yay me.

Even though I can’t always feel my legs, I feel happier when they are feeling strong, so I know that squats will help this, as well as helping to give me buns of steel.

Why do squats?

A quick search of the internet throws up many many good reasons for including squatting in your daily exercise regime, these include –

  • Buns of steel – you get a nice toned bum!
  • Squatting can work your lower body, helping to strengthen your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, lower back (yay) and even your abs and as a result squatting will help you burn fat.
  • Squatting helps to strengthen your muscles, joints and ligaments and improved the flexibility in your ankles, knees, hips and back .
  • Improves core strength and stability.
  • Squats can also (apparently) help to combat cellulite and firm up your thighs.

I’ve created this Squat Challenge for me to do in March, it starts off super-easy. I’m pretty sure I can do 10 squats with no trouble at all, but the thought of doing 70 squats in a day sounds like it might hurt, but by slowly increasing the number of squats I do each day seems to me to be more doable. I’m not going to pressure myself to do them all in one go, I might break them up into sets of 10 or so and do them each time I go in the kitchen. I’ve printed off my Squat Challenge calendar so I’ll just stick that to the fridge and cross them off as I do them.

squat challenge

If you’re not sure how to to do squat correctly then the video below is great and gives tips for people like me how have mobility and stability issues. I always make sure I’m near something I can grab should I lose my balance, and like she says in the video, you can always add weights to help make things more challenging once you’ve got the posture right.

Like I said, I’m no health and fitness expert, but I’ve devised this Squat Challenge just for me and my physical limitations and needs,  but you’re welcome to join me during March in my quest for buns of steel. Who’s in?

You can download my FREE Squat Challenge Calendar here.

Health Update: Weight Loss or Wheelchair

I’ve been putting off writing this blog post for a week now. You may remember a couple of weeks ago I had an MRI scan, well the results are in and it’s not the news I’d hoped for but it was the news I was expecting. My quite ruined back is absolutely ruined, my dodgy disc has now vanished, leaving bone rubbing on bone and I have multiple disc bulges.

I’ve been referred for pain management, physio and told to think very careful about my next surgical option which is getting my spine fused. In the meantime I need to lose some weight to take the pressure off and to help get me fit for surgery. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve spent much of the past week crying. I will not feel sorry for myself now, I have a project to focus on. Losing weight.

I’ve done it before. In 2013 I lost about a stone and a half, mainly through starving myself and walking miles, but starving myself isn’t a sensible option. Nor can I walk for miles, I just don’t have the time these days. So what am I going to do?

I’ve logged back in to ‘My Fitness Pal’ which is an app where you diarise your food and exercise each day. I’m aiming to eat around 1300 calories a day to begin with and its already starting to have a positive effect. I’ve lost a couple of pounds in just under a week. I’m feeling positive about that. I’m trying not to drink, or drink as much. I went to the pub with a friend and drank diet coke and survived. It’s doable.

We’re going away for half term and I’m not going to deny myself nice food and drink, but it will be in moderation, I’d just like to get a bit of a head start on losing weight before I go.

As for exercise, well I am quite limited in what I can do. I spent Monday morning helping out at school and both of my legs have been numb ever since, I know resting will help the feeling come back, it’s just stuff from inside my discs pressing on some nerves. It’s weird, it’s worrying but it’s kind of normal for me.

I can walk, so when I can I will. I can swim, so I know I must make an effort to get down to the local pool during their ridiculously restrictive swimming times. And I’ve just bought myself a Fitbit which should help me get an idea about my current level of (in)activity and hopefully help motivate me to improve.

I think long term it’s going to be about making small changes, keeping moving, drinking less, making better choices about what I eat. It’s a long journey, a lifetime journey but if I want to stay out of a wheelchair and on my feet then it needs to be done. Wish me luck.

Weight loss

What’s it like to have an MRI Scan?

I had an MRI scan this week. It was my third time in an MRI scanner and if I’m honest, it’s not the most fun thing in the world. As part of what is turning into an occasional series of ‘medical things which have happened to me, explained in non medical speak’ here is my MRI Scan story.

Most people will be sent for an MRI scan by their GP or hospital consultant. My first scan was a private one which I paid for myself because no one would believe that I was in as much pain as I was, as a result I was rushed in for urgent surgery to prevent paralysis, but that’s a fun story for another day.

If you’re having a scan on a small area, like an ankle or elbow, your scan shouldn’t take long, maybe 15 minutes tops. I’ve previously had two scans of my lumbar spine which took around 20 minutes each. This week I had my lumbar, thoracic and sacral bits of spine scanned, it’s a large area to cover, so I was in the scanner for nearly an hour, although scans can go on for as long as 90 minutes if you’re getting everything scanned. Around 15 minutes is the average though.

My advice would be eat and drink normally before your MRI scan, maybe tone down the amount of liquid you consume, you don’t want to be dying for the loo while you’re in there. My other piece of advice would be take off all unnecessary jewellery before you leave the house. I removed earrings, nose stud, necklace, bracelet, wedding ring and my watch, not only does this save time, but it stops you worrying about them being pinched. You can’t wear anything metal while you’re in the scanner. This includes your bra, but you can take that off in the changing room.

You’ll be allowed to keep your normal clothes on. As jeans are out (metal studs, rivets and zip or buttons) leggings or jogging bottoms are a good and comfortable option. The temperature in the scanner can be all over the place, my head and feet were freezing, but my body found it almost intolerably hot, so dress lightly but with good thick socks.

You’ll be asked to complete a short safety questionnaire and they’ll double check that you don’t have any medical conditions or metal in your body before you start.

They will then take you into the scanner. You lie down on a table, they can provide a pillow for your knees if like me you’d find that more comfortable. They gave me a panic button to be used if I got into any difficulties and they put some headphones on me. This was to protect my ears from some of the banging, and for the first 15 minutes I was played some awful local radio station. I actually preferred the horrible banging.

The scanner is a fairly tight metal tube and you are encased in it. The table will slide up or down every few minutes so they can scan a different section. It is tight and claustrophobic, but you can cope with it. I promise.

When the radiologist leaves you and you feel the table start to slide into the tube, it is best to close your eyes and not open them until you are out of the scanner at the very end. This stops you seeing just how claustrophobic it is, so you shouldn’t panic as much. It is tight and you have to remain perfectly still throughout the scan.

There is a camera above you, so the radiologist can see your face throughout and you have the panic button. They can talk to you through the headphones if they need to and usually they let you know when it’s over too.

While you’re in there it’s best to try and distract yourself, your nose will itch and you can’t scratch it, if you’re familiar with meditation now is a really great time to practice. Lie still, breathe calmly, eyes closed, thinking happy thoughts. What might interrupt this will be the banging. This is very loud and alternates between quite pleasantly rhythmic to “borrower trapped in an alarm box”, it can be a bit frightening but it is perfectly normal.

Do distract yourself with happy or amusing thoughts. I planned some holiday activities, thought about some boots I’m going to buy and during desperate moments imagined a large glass of red wine gradually filling as each minute passed. It helped. One thought which kept coming back was “how bonkers is this? I’m stuffed in a mental tube, I can’t move and I’m listening to an inept steel band warming up”. That helped too.

My MRI scan went on for much longer than I’d anticipated, so I was very near the end of my tether when I got out. I did survive it, and although I don’t know the results of my scan just yet, I know that having a scan has saved me in the past, it’s not something I look forward to but if you plan a mental strategy for dealing with it you will be ok. Close your eyes, think happy thoughts, buy new boots, find out what is wrong with you so they can fix you.

If you’re going for an MRI scan, read the information sheets they give you carefully, take out that piercing you got on holiday in Thailand, lie back and think of England and for gods sake keep your eyes closed. It’ll be over before you know it and it will make a real difference to your treatment. Good luck, you’ll be fine.

MRI Scan

Family First Aid

Following a recent playground accident involving a heavy chain and my son’s head, I decided it was high time we got a proper first aid kit in the house. So I ordered a kit from Premier Healthcare & Hygiene Ltd; it’s a handy kids first aid kit which is small enough to carry in your bag or keep in the car, or in your bathroom cupboard. It’s got some of the essentials we’ll need to tend to the bumps and bashes that small people get, neatly packaged and would be great for camping trips and days out.

First aid kit

I was lucky enough to interview first aid expert Jason Conn who gave me some idea of how to deal with some common paediatric first aid issues.

Is there anything that can be done to reduce bruising to knees etc when kids fall over?
The first priority is to reduce the bruising and swelling. Apply a cold compress as soon as possible and if possible elevate and rest the affected area.

After the bruise has developed (which may take a day or so) a heat compress will stimulate blood flow to the area and speed the healing process.

The ideal product to use in these situations is a reusable hot/cold pack. The pack can be kept in the freezer or warmed in the microwave to suit the specific situation.

What’s the best way to clean grit and dirt out of a graze?
It would of course depend on the nature and type of wound. Small cuts and scrapes should be cleaned thoroughly using an alcohol free wipe and covered with a plaster to keep the wound clean.

Larger wounds should be judged on a case by case basis. Always seek professional medical attention if unsure.

How should you treat minor head bumps?
As long as the injury is minor and superficial the same processes as above apply. Cold compress, clean and cover wound if required. You can take medication to relieve symptoms but please take professional advice first.

If symptoms persist or get worse it’s essential to seek immediate medical attention

What’s the best thing to do with a nosebleed?
Nosebleeds are common in small children but most can be treated at home. Pinch the nose just above the nostrils and tilt the head slightly forward. Applying an icepack or cold pack to the nose will constrict the blood vessels and help stop the bleeding. Most nosebleeds will stop after 10 minutes or so. If you are having frequent or heavy nosebleeds it’s best to seek medical advice.

What are the essential first aid items every family should have?
It’s important to have a well-stocked first aid kit in your home, so you can deal with minor accidents and injuries. Your first aid kit should be locked and kept in a cool, dry place, out of reach of children. Many people also keep a small first aid kit in their car for emergencies.

Your basic first aid kit may contain:

  • plasters, in a variety of different sizes and shapes
  • small, medium and large sterile gauze dressings
  • at least two sterile eye dressings
  • triangular bandages
  • crêpe rolled bandages
  • safety pins
  • disposable sterile gloves
  • tweezers
  • scissors
  • alcohol-free cleansing wipes
  • sticky tape
  • thermometer, preferably digital
  • skin rash cream, such as hydrocortisone or calendula
  • cream or spray to relieve insect bites and stings
  • antiseptic cream
  • painkillers such as paracetamol (or infant paracetamol for children), aspirin (not to be given to children under 16), or ibuprofen
  • cough medicine
  • antihistamine tablets
  • distilled water, for cleaning wounds
  • eye wash and eye bath

It may also be useful to keep a basic first aid manual or instruction booklet with your first aid kit. Medicines should be checked regularly to make sure they are within their use-by dates.

Thank you to Jason Conn for giving his time to answer my questions. I think it’s so important to have some kit on hand to deal with everyday issues, but if in doubt always consult a pharmacist or a Doctor.

Note: I was sent the kids first aid kit free of charge for review purposes.

2013 – The Year I Survived

2013 bad yearI don’t know where to start with this one. It’s been a massive year, full of change. It’s been scary and awful and wonderful. I’ve been on Twitter today and people have been reflecting back over the last 12 months and most people are saying it’s been a tough year, or a weird year, certainly a year of change for most.

Last New Years Eve where was I? I’d seriously damaged my back and could barely walk. I was so off my face on painkillers I’d struggle to tell you my name and I was waiting for a call to go in for urgent surgery to try and fix it. My husband was worried sick and we’d just coasted through the most bizarre Christmas ever. To this day I have no recollection of my son getting up on Christmas morning and opening his presents. It chokes me up to think about that now.

Apart from being in unendurable agony, it was my sons third Christmas, he still wasn’t old enough to appreciate what was going on, but who doesn’t love a pile of presents under the tree?

I was employed by the NHS as a Project Manager, something I loved doing, I was in secondment from a job I really didn’t love doing and was trying to hatch an escape plan. Around Christmas time when I was laid up, it came to me that as I was already running the Twitter accounts for some friends businesses and I might be able to make a go of that. More of which later.

January came and went, still immobile on the sofa, still as drugged up as a human can be without actually being in a coma. On 1st February I went and had my first operation. It was to a degree a success. The searing pain had gone and I was able to move around more freely, but I was still in considerable pain.

The months rolled by, I was still a zombie, eating handfuls of strong painkillers several times a day just to be able to exist. I wasn’t a wife, I wasn’t a mother. I was a thing on the sofa that cried, cried out in pain, cried in sorrow, cried in grief for not being the mother I should’ve been. For months on end I couldn’t cuddle him or do anything for him, the day I made him a piece of toast, the first piece of toast in five months was a monumental one. I hope he has no memory at all of this year.

The pain continued until mid-April when I stood up and felt something go in my back. I knew instantly I’d really, badly messed myself up again. Five days later I was lying prone in an MRI scanner knowing what would happen next. I was not chuffed to put it lightly. The following week I had my second urgent surgery of the year. Just to explain, a disc in my back had cracked open on both occasions spilling its contents so they were pressing on my spinal cord (huge risk of permanent paralysis and/or double incontinence) and my nerve root (unendurable pain and lasting pain). Thankfully my second surgery was successful but I was so weak I couldn’t sit for more than 20 minutes without everything hurting, my core muscles had all but gone and I was unable to walk even to the end of my road. I was fixed but I’d never felt more broken.

Luckily I was referred to a wonderful physio who instantly got me. He worked with me for months giving me tasks and homework to complete, telling me off for pushing myself too far and too hard. After three months of hard work I was able to touch my toes again and I was going on three mile walks. I was stronger and feeling good about myself. I now swim twice a week and go to Pilates as well as trying to keep up with the walking (weather permitting). I will never be able to thank my amazing physio enough.

However during this time my mental health deteriorated. I’d been stuck in the house unable to move with virtually no company or visitors. During that time friends on Twitter had kept me sane, but once the physical pain had levelled out I realised I was in trouble. I acted out, I drank a lot, I was having full blown anxiety attacks, my self esteem was through the floor. I hated being in the house, I couldn’t wait to go out. The walls of my house had kept me in like a prisoner for months, and I never wanted to see them or be confined by them again.

So I had a summer of madness. Self harming, suicidal thoughts, drinking, partying. I had a lot of fun, I met some great people. I met some horrors too, but I had a mad summer, there were incredible highs and the lowest of the lows. God knows how or even why my husband stuck with me. It must’ve been like being married to an overactive 16 year old. But I was moving through the depression and anxiety and trying to find a path forward which suited me.

I was assessed by various professionals and put on stupidly long waiting lists for therapy. I have no idea when or even if I’ll see someone, but through my old work I was referred for therapy. I was allowed six sessions which was perfect. It kick started a process of healing inside me. I’m no longer on my meds, I’m standing up by myself for once. I know I’ll need more therapy but it’s a start.

As far as being a parent, I love it, my boy is the business. He’s so funny and loving. I wish I could do more with him. I can take him to the park now, but I can’t run and chase him, I can’t pick him up and swing him around. If he falls I can’t pick him up for a cuddle. For a start he’s a big lad and it’s not worth risking taking all those steps back. I never want to go back to being a sofa slug again.

2013 for all it’s dark, difficult days did force me to make a much needed change. I’ve set up my own business. I tweet and Facebook for businesses and charities now. I love the copywriting aspect of what I do, I produce email newsletters and I have my blog. No two days are the same. I love the variety, I love everyone I’ve worked with and all the friends I’ve made. Yes it’s really, really early days and if I’m being honest, I could do with a bit more work (hint) but I’m happy and I get really good feedback from my clients.

I couldn’t have got through this year without my husband, he’s been amazing. He’s had to look after us all while I was physically incapable and then he’s put up with me while I was spiralling out of control. The man is a legend and I’ve never loved and appreciated him more.

Having a year like the one I’ve just endured makes you really realise who your friends are. Some stepped up, some didn’t. I made a whole raft of amazing, funny, brilliant new friends and I met some horrors, well one horror and a few weirdos. But I’m ending the year with more friends than I’ve ever had and better friends than I’ve ever known.

Looking back to last New Year, when I toasted the coming year with some diazepam and codeine, I am a completely different person. I’m stronger for my struggles, I know where I stand with people, I’m happy, I have a future, I have a life, my life, and I have my boys and if they love me half as much as I love them then I’m a lucky woman.

Happy New Year. Hope 2014 treats you well xx

Review: QV Skincare for Eczema & Psoriasis

I have psoriasis on my feet. It’s horrible and can flare up to the point where I can barely walk and the soles of my feet bleed. I’ve been prescribed some ointments from my GP, a standard emollient and Betnovate which is used to treat inflammatory skin conditions. They work to some extent but it never really goes away.

Psoriasis is the rapid acceleration of skin cell production. Skin cells are normally made and replaced every three to four months, but with psoriasis this process only lasts about three to seven days. The resulting build-up of skin cells is what creates the patches associated with psoriasis.

Frankly, my feet have been so bad recently, if it worked I’d happily rub dog poo on them (rest assured, I won’t). So when QV Skincare asked me to try something new, I jumped at the chance. I gauged my skin on their website as being level 4 which was the very worst imaginable and they sent me a range of samples to try.

The QV skincare range is from Australia, an Australian friend spotted them in my house and was pleased they’d made the journey over, QV is a well recognised and trusted brand in Australia. I do rate Australian Skincare products too so knowing this I was excited to try them.

QV skincare
Unlike a lot of skincare products which tend to be petroleum jelly based, QV Skincare use Glycerol. Glycerol isn’t greasy and won’t block pores, and leaves skin feeling smooth and soft. This is important; we’ll come back to this point later.

I was sent and tried the following products:

QV Gentle Wash This is a mild, foaming cleanser which you could use as a hand soap or facial wash. As I have dry skin on my body. I used it like I would a shower gel and I have to say I was impressed. It was developed for sensitive skins and there are few as sensitive as me. I noticed a visible difference to the dryness on my skin within a few days and some of my bad rashy patches had massively improved. I will be buying this again.

QV Bath Oil I hardly ever have a bath because it dries the skin out on my feet and usually within minutes of getting in. my psoriasis is insanely itchy and I scratch all my skin off. Not so with this. I ran myself a lovely bath, put the recommended amount in and had a good soak. There was no in bath itching and when I got out my skin felt soft and lovely and my feet weren’t horribly dry and hating me. I have in the past used oilatum but this seems much, much better, maybe it’s the glycerol base. This is another product I’d have as a skincare staple.

QV Skin Lotion When I opened this I thought it was like a baby lotion for sensitive skin. I actually loved this and it would be perfect for babies and children with dry skin. I used it on all my dry bits but not my feet. My dry, rashy bits showed quite incredible improvement after just a few days. My skin felt happier and just looked less angry. I think this will be a staple skincare product for me. You can also use it to remove make-up which is a real boon for sensitive types.

QV Cream When I opened this it reminded me of E45 cream, I have to say this was my least favourite product by a long way. I think it’s great for dry skin and eczema but I made the mistake of putting it on my feet and within minutes I was scratching the skin off. I did use it on my legs and it worked perfectly well on them, I think maybe it just wasn’t right for my condition. Everyone’s skin is different so what works for one won’t necessarily work for another. I was sad that I’d loved everything else but not this.

QV Intensive Ointment This is probably my very favourite product in the range. When I opened it I thought it’d be just like the emollient I get on prescription. Not so, again my standard emollient is petroleum based and this being glycerol based seemed lighter and better suited to treat my psoriasis. Within 24 hours I noticed a change on my feet and by the end of the week they were looking fantastic. Honestly the best they’ve been in years. I was delighted and will be sticking to this product in future and foregoing my prescription emollient.

I was delighted with this range, like I said earlier the glycerol really does seem to make the difference, certainly with my skin.

The QV skincare range is suitable for all ages but is great for kids; they have a character called Qool Vince who explains all about eczema and itchy skin. I suffered (really suffered) as a child with my skin and explaining things to children in a really accessible way can only be a good thing.

Few things are more miserable than itchy, cracked, dry, bleeding skin. I think it’s excellent that more products are being developed to treat and ease the symptoms. Once you find something that works for you you’ve got to stick with it. I’ll be sticking with QV Skincare.

For more information about QV Skincare, visit their website.

Disclaimer: I was sent the products mentioned above for the purpose of this review. However all photos, words and thoughts are my own.