Resigning myself

Hi again world.

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After a string of solid blog posting I’ve obviously gone all quiet (it’s nothing personal) but I’m hopefully back on the wagon for a bit now!

The reason for this is many-fold. First, I’ve had a series of “blah” days and just felt generally that I had nothing worth talking about. I decided right from the start of this blog creation that I never wanted to make it a chore and although I always want to remain committed and update regularly, I will only ever write when I feel like I have something to ponder.

Largely too, it’s just because I’ve been so tired, so very, very tired.

Yawn.

But actually, I slept well last night so I take back that last yawn! My stomach over the last few days has been at an all time cramp fest (cramp not crap, although the two are interchangeable). Occasionally I’ve had pains in the day but by and large, boy does it hit hardest at night! It actually wakes me up, like clockwork, at the same time (around 1am – I know this because I have automated emails that come through on my work phone at this time every night and I hear it vibrate). Usually it’s discomfort, a pretty exasperating form of discomfort but now and then it crosses the line well and truly into pain.

I’ve resigned myself to this being IBS.

Since my digestive issues really peaked around August I’ve been determined to resist attributing symptoms to IBS as I IGNORANTLY thought the condition was a “wishy washy” label for someone with occasional digestive complaints resulting, mostly, from poor diet or perhaps over indulgence. I see know how pigheaded that misconception was. I just didn’t think a syndrome I didn’t view as all that serious could cause symptoms so intense as mine. In a twisted way I wanted to be diagnosed with a more significant (and treatable) condition, the likes of Endometriosis or Coeliac if not so that I could present others as ignorant as myself with an excuse for wanting to avoid certain foods or make allowances for missing social occasions. Of course, all the tests for these came back negative again and again and I realise now how fortunate that was (although I still feel better cutting back on gluten and dairy and haven’t been tested fully for intolerances to these so will continue to do so).

Looking tentatively at IBS forums I realised very quickly that this is a big deal condition. It’s not a syndrome that just occasionally causes an attack of the smellies. Here were people regaling anecdotes of pain and discomfort, unpredictable bowel movements leading to embarrassing accidents and general all round debilitating issues. I’ve experienced all of these myself in exactly the same ways that everyone else had. Immediately I recognised my problems for what they were – IBS (or maybe IBD – given the inflammatory results from my blood tests).

I was actually formally diagnosed with this a few years back whilst at uni. After making a few healthy changes to my diet, things cleared up and I put my problems just down to poor diet and unhealthy habits, which a lot of the time it probably was.

Fast forward several years and, despite my diet being consistently good (I’m not just saying that, it really is varied with fruit, veg and nothing too “processed”) I started having further on off digestive problems. That was a year or so after my Copper IUD was inserted. Things got worse and worse and, eventually, I was admitted to hospital by an out of hours doctor. He suspected appendicitis due to pain and high temperature. Tests and scans followed – as I’ve mentioned all were fine but I had a broad series of intravenous and oral medications dispensed to me; antibiotics, painkillers, glucose etc, etc. I believe that SURELY this had a big effect on my stomach. Not surprisingly then since my release from hospital in November my stomach has been ALL OVER THE PLACE. Not agony but certainly uncomfortable and yes, painful at times. I also believe that my bowel problems have always been connected to my menstrual cycle and in months when I’m late, it’s almost as though there’s a build up of digestive discomfort and things get pretty riled all up in there until about day 3 of menstruation. Since having my IUD removed just over a month ago, my cycle has been somewhat delayed so predictably things in IBS terms have really come to a head.

Well that was certainly more than I’d intended to share on the health side of things. Guess I had a lot to get off my chest!

Alas dear reader(s), in light of my contemplations I have a number of “exciting(?)” new blog posts coming up. Things I want to diarise for my own benefit but also to put out in the internet world in the hope of helping others;

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I stumbled across this probiotic online a few days ago when I was desperate and a hot water bottle had done all it could for my stomach! It’s super expensive but has had some good reviews for those with IBS so I thought I’d give it a try and track my progress in the hope that mine, along with other people’s reviews may help others form a decision before biting the bullet and starting such a long term, expensive supplement course themselves. Please be assured that I am in NO WAY being paid to write about this, my comments and thoughts will be entirely my own.

2) Period diary
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Goodbye prospective male readers!! No, hopefully not. I’m not talking anything graphic here. It’s just that, with my cycle having been so irregular the last year I’m hoping that now I’m at a pause in birth control I may be able to get a better understanding as to how my cycle empowers and/or hinders me and my personality. I’ve suspected for a while that I’m massively steered by it; maybe I’m estrogen dominant or my IBS impacts upon my hormones (or vice versa)?! WHATEVER! I just want to record how I’m feeling, more from a mood and energy perspective to perhaps use it to my advantage and assess optimum times to get the best out of myself.

3) General nutrition
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I’m hoping to educate myself more about food and nutrition. In an ideal world, I’d love to bake something experimental and new once a week. Sadly, it feels like I won’t have the time. But on the rare occasions I do, I’m kicking myself into gear to do a write-up documenting my hits (if there are any) and misses (more likely!)

4) A review
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My very first, of sorts. I have something booked in my diary tomorrow that I’m REALLY hoping I can write about. Watch this space.

5) New Year’s Resolutions
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I’ve been pretty reflective these past few days. Sleep deprivation does that to you ‘ya know! I intend to list some of the personal goals I’ve been contemplating. Perhaps I won’t list them as resolutions. Most of them are long term and I don’t want to put time-scaled pressure on myself. I just don’t need the stress right now but I’d like to acknowledge that they exist!

What are your upcoming plans for the New Year and beyond (be it blogging-wise or personal)?

Amy xx
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Health Takeaway, no 2

As with all supplements, I’m very much of the mindset that, unless you have a specific suspicion (resulting from a specific health complaint) that you’re deficient in something then it’s not a good idea to be adding anything artificially into your daily regime as a pre-emotive strike. Chances are most of us have an adequate amount of the major vitamins and minerals that they need and, despite what you may read online, there is no real benefit to taking anything extra (in some cases this could perhaps even cause more harm than good). Of course, this is just my own personal opinion and is certainly by no means sound medical advice.

Wherever possible, I’d certainly advise prior to taking supplements that you arrange to be tested to ascertain if you are in fact low in whatever you’re planning to take. Ok, so there are times when this may not be necessary. You may feel now and then for instance that your immune system could use a little boost and begin taking a temporary course of Vitamin C. I don’t think that this relatively harmless vitamin, taken within the recommended daily allowance is likely to do anyone any harm. Again though, I am no doctor. By ensuring you get tested and checked for your suspected deficiency you may get an insight into more than just whether you are lacking. You may become alerted to a possible question mark over whether the vitamin in question is interacting in the best way with other complimentary or antagonistic vitamins and minerals. You may also be guided to other deficiencies or health issues that can be flagged up coincidentally within the same test. You may even become inspired after receiving the results and getting drawn in by their complex numbers to learn more about what they mean and consequently discover other more general ways in which you can help improve your health by yourself. There’s a fine line between research and paranoia when it comes to Googling your own health and well being but I firmly believe that a greater understanding into your own body and it’s workings is a valuable empowerment tool in day to day life. Not to mention, it’s fascinating.

For me, further research into what my B12 blood tests actually meant was what led me into supplementing my levels in the first place as the results themselves only confirmed that they were NOT actually formally “low” (more on this later).

A key fact to note on Vitamin B12; unlike its counterparts – such as the likes of vitamins D and E, B12 cannot be produced by the human body. We therefore need to source our requirement dietarily, either through foods where it is naturally derived or that have been fortified. It’s a water soluble nutrient which means that it does not require dietary fat to aid it’s absorption. This effectively means that it is vastly difficult (but not impossible) to overdose on with some individuals, particularly those suffering from an illness known as Pernicious Anemia (a type of B12 deficiency where the body is unable to adequately absorb the it) being prescribed doses of anything up to 1,000(!) micrograms a month. Absolutely under no circumstances however should this be self-prescribed not least because, whether or not a dose this high has negative consequences on your health, the interactions that it could have with other medications, vitamins or electrolytes could render them to become dangerously low or high as a reaction.

The family of B Vitamins are integral to cell metabolism with B12 being especially involved in the production of bone marrow, nerve sheaths and proteins. A deficiency in this can present itself in the form of weakness/tiredness, confusion, heart palpitations, pale skin, digestive problems, muscle tingles, weaknesses and mental problems.

In supplementary terms, as far as I’m aware, you usually find that B12 tablets or liquids are sold as a combination B Vitamin complex including Biotin, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pyridoxine and Folic Acid. The body needs B6 (Pyridoxine) in order to absorb B12.  Both B12 and B9 (Folic Acid) can also have an indirect effect on Iron levels. Long term insufficiency in these can, so I understand, lead to Iron Deficiency Anemia.

I’m currently taking 0.5ml of Sublingual B Vitamin Complex a day. I’ve been taking this for many, many months now and have played around with the dosage but, particularly in light of my erratic sleep patterns of late, have settled on this dose as it seems to bestow me with just enough energy to get through the day after a night of fitful to no sleep. Whether or not this is psychological and the dosage would actually make no odds to how lethargic I feel is a valid consideration but hey, if it seems to work for me then I’m chuffed.

So here are some of the key takeaways I’ve learnt based on my own experiences and research. REMEMBER here, I’m NOT an expert.

1)I was concerned about the length of time I’ve been taking the B12 and B Vitamin Complex supplement (at least for the past six months but probably more like nine) and had upcoming intentions of “weaning myself off.” This will still remain my intention but, having spoken to my doctor, I’m reassured that in the dosage I’m taking both B12 and its partner B vitamins will be harmless over long periods of time. The usual caveat applies here however which is: talk to your own doctor about what works for you. They may have a different opinion depending on your own individual circumstances.

2)I should’ve discussed further earlier the TYPE of supplement that I’m taking each day and why. With my frequent and peculiar digestive issues the option of tablets, as I learnt from my research, may be inadequately digested. A better form of the supplent and one which allows for a far greater absorption is that of sublingual liquid. Perhaps it could be argued too of other vitamins that pills in themselves may not be the best way to get what’s needed into the body but this is particularly relevant with B12 where a high fat intake may interfere with its absorption into the gastrointestinal tract and subsequent circulation.

Here are some images of the Sublingual B Vitamin Complex that I’m currently taking – apologies for the well used packaging! It cost me £7.99 and I purchased it from Holland & Barrett. You use the pipette to soak up the measurement required, place the drops under your tongue, take a time out for 30 seconds whilst letting it sit there (I recommend you don’t have a go at bursting into song at this point – it can get a little messy) then swallow it down. The flavour’s not bad once you get used to it.

3)Some excellent advice here from labdoor.com:- B12 is best taken on an empty stomach. Personally, I find it easiest to take it first thing(ish) between an hour or so after breakfast and before your mid morning snack just as you’re about to get REALLY hungry (or is it only me that gets super ravenous around about 10.30am?!)

4)I mentioned earlier that some people opt, or perhaps have no choice but to, take a really high level of B12, usually on a monthly basis. Frequently this is administered through an intravenous injection carried out by a medical professional. There is some debate as to whether or not this should be made readily available to all those who are plagued with fatigue related symptoms as there has been good, solid evidence that this can significantly help reduce tiredness. I suspect of course that there is still a great deal of research to be done on the topic before we see this type of service offered out to one and all on the NHS. I’m personally on the fence as to whether this should be made available – I can see how it COULD help so many individuals but I have read a lot about the kind of “come-down” that many people experience towards the end of the month after their last shot and just before the next is due. I certainly think a decent form of oral supplement should be anyone’s starting point prior to injections.

5)Interestingly, for a person to be considered B12 insufficient in Japan, their blood tests should reflect a level of 500 pg/mL or higher (max 1300 pg/mL). In the UK it’s 180 pg/mL and in the US it’s 200 pg/mL. I came across some research (which I now cannot find!) undertaken by an Oxford University that indicates anything below 300 pg/mL can lead to symptoms of a deficiency. I also discovered the following comment when I was looking into Thyroid information which is ultimately the reason I commenced with B12 supplements;

“Ask your doctor to check your B12, folate, ferritin and Vitamin D levels as deficiencies of any one of these could be a reason for your ill health.  The symptoms for Pernicious Anaemia are very similar to those of hypothyroidism. The range for B12 is quite wide and some patients feel much better at the upper end of the range.”

6)If you’re plagued by fatigue but your results have come back suggesting you to NOT be B12 deficient, it may be worth requesting a more specific form of analysis, an “Active B12” test. More info on this can be found here;

http://www.thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/testing/Active-B12.html

7)Weight loss claims have been banded about in relation to taking B12 on a regular basis. It’s worth a mention purely for the amount of noise that’s being made online about this possible theory. It seems to me however that there’s not strong enough scientific evidence behind the claim to back this up so I’m extremely dubious and would never supplement it primarily for a weight loss goal alone.

9)It wouldn’t be one of my health articles If I didn’t wang back to the Copper IUD. Interestingly, several women experiencing peculiar symptoms attributed rightly or wrongly to their contraceptive coil (which I have spoken about here) have supplemented with B12, often reportedly to good effect. I didn’t notice it having any great improvement on my brain fog but I certainly noticed an improvement in my general all over body fatigue just weeks after taking it. Coincidence? Yes of course it could have been. I will always keep in mind however what I read online again and again about how deficiencies in B Vitamins can cause Copper to over-accumulate and Zinc to deplete. Vice versa, it has also been suggested that Copper excess can ultimately cause these Vitamin deficiencies so whether or not this will ever be a proven medical certainty, I’ll potentially always wonder (chicken and egg style) whether an IUD Copper toxicity reaction came first and led to a slight B12 deficiency or if I could have had a B12 deficiency BECAUSE of the Copper coil

10)There are a number of medications that, as I understand it, should NOT be taken alongside B12 supplements including some antibiotics, anticonvulsants and Proton Pump Inhibitors.

I hope this information proves useful to someone.

As always, me = not a doctor (you won’t have missed me stressing this point throughout repeatedly I’m sure!) so please take advice from the medical experts prior to making any decisions on what to/what not to supplement.

What has been your experience of Vitamin B12?

Amy xx

 

 

What I Learnt Today, # 2

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People LOVE it when you smile at their dogs.

My experience: you can be out running, smile at everyone you see and roughly 80% of the time, NO ONE will smile back at you.

BUT, smile adoringly at the dog of an owner out walking it along the beach and you’re practically guaranteed to look up and find them beaming at you with a grin that says proudly, yes this is MY dog!

It’s adorable really.

Amy xx

Oh What a Beautiful Morning!

And world’s apart from yesterday. I just had to exclaim that I finally, FINALLY had a good night’s sleep! I was so worried because often what happens when I get into a string of bad nights is that my body almost gets into a poor sleep routine that I struggle with for weeks.

But today the sun is shining and I’m raring to go.

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It’s hard to not feel perky when it’s this bright out

Amy xx

Eurgh

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I’ve not posted a view for a while (shame I’m in there spoiling it!)

Today was pretty hellish.

At this point I find myself wondering whether I should go on writing. Whether it’s a good idea to be opening up and sharing myself with the big wide world. I mean, there’s thoughts on here that I wouldn’t share with my nearest and dearest but somehow I find writing in this context cathartic.

I’ve been a fogged out zombie all day, functioning like a normal human being has been out of the question. For the third night in a row I haven’t slept. My stomach simply will not settle. Whether it’s still a run off from the gluten ladened weekend I had I don’t know but it’s impossible to sleep cramp free. So I’m incredibly tired from that but I’m also spaced out presumably from inflammation or something.

I hate feeling like this. It’s like the worst version of myself. We were doing some really in depth data analysis at work today and I couldn’t understand any of it. Not surprising really as, when I’m feeling like this I struggle to understand even the most basic of things, intrinsic things like an awareness of how to interact with others. Stuff that on a normal day, I wouldn’t think twice about – when to jump in on a conversation for instance (I spent the whole day speaking over people as couldn’t judge the gaps in their conversations, all talk sounded like muffled noise. People must have thought me so rude). Or like my inability to recognise whether people were laughing at something I’m familiar with or not – I’m new at work so often people are talking about past events but where my concentration is so off I’d snap into the topic half way through and laugh heartily along with them just in case I ought to be which I’m sure would have looked super needy on my part if it was an “in joke.”

These are just small things, I get it. But it’s mad what a bit of sleep deprivation can do and so it all seems like a big deal today.

Is this a gluten-type dietary issue or am I still suffering effects from the IUD? I’d really like to know.

Oh well, back to nursing my stomach ache. To make matters worse, I’ve just been invited to after work drinks which I just don’t feel up to so have had to say no and now I feel so guilty and lame!

Health and happiness to you all.

I hope your Tuesdays have been far more constructive?

Amy xx

Quick Fix Nesquick

Maybe it’s a little too early to be talking alcoholic beverages at this time on a Tuesday morning? On the other hand, is it ever to early to be planning ahead for the weekend’s cocktail treats? NO.

So there we go.

Around about this time last year, I posted this photo on Facebook.

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Bizarrely and somewhat unexpectedly I was then inundated with folks commenting to ask for le recipe. I will tell you, dear friends (friend – still just the one follower) what I told them.

This concuction came about when we were in a particular mood for Baileys. It’s rare that this craving will occur for me, normally I find it sits quite heavy but nonetheless on this occasion Baileys was what I was wanted and so Baileys was what it had to be. Except it didn’t.

We hadn’t any in the house, EVEN THOUGH it was December (what?!). Who doesn’t have this immediately to hand on a cold December’s eve?! Well, us. But that was fine because it allowed me to flex my creative cocktail muscles, aka throwing together anything I could find lying around and the result, in my opinion, was a VERY surprising success. Simple as this, we just poured out the below all up in a Champagne glass, yo (’cause we’re fancy), mixed and sipped. Lovely! I’m not a 2 parts this to 1 parts that kinda girl. Ratios aren’t my thing, or numbers in general in fact (I can BARELY tell the time) so I’d recommend you do what we did and just mix and sip, mix and sip until you get the flavour (and alcoholic percentage!) that’s right for you.

Nesquick (chocolate)

Milk (obviously), or maybe Almond Milk for a nuttier taste and thinner consistency

Martini Bianco

And then of course a fancy straw (makes everything taste better).

Amy xx

Look at the State of my Uggs!

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Actually, that photo doesn’t do the stains justice.
I got them Christmas Day last year and by Boxing Day they were already soiled on the tips like you can see in the photo. Nobody told me that you need to get them specially treated before you go out a-marching on a rainy day. Oh well, at least they look rustic I suppose?
I’m sat here waiting for my Coeliac/Celiac blood test. As much as I loved the weekend it was a struggle at times feeling so weird from all the gluten I had to digest prior to the test. It would have been more manageable had the discomfort not been at its worst at night which really made it hard to sleep and thus the knock on effect is that I’m super tired.
I’m pretty convinced that this test will come back negative. This would of course be good and it’ll be great not have to go through a stomach biopsy.
Is it bad that I’m secretly hoping that when the results come back they DO reflect Coeliac or at least a gluten intolerance? I’ve decided that whatever the outcome, I’m going to cut-back on gluten or wheat regardless. It’s ironic; in my ignorance I always thought that a gluten-free lifestyle was just for far out “hippies.” Now I have total sympathy.
What are you up to this Monday morning? 
Amy xx