Monday, 19 February 2018

Health update - Upright MRI 2018

Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by! Here goes with all the boring health updates. Starting firstly with the obvious, the important London stuff including upright MRI.

At the start of the month myself and Bicky set off for London for the upright MRI and to meet with an experienced physiotherapist there. We booked three nights in the hotel, knowing that travel is very difficult, tiring and painful. And from what I had heard the upright MRI is no picnic (plenty of rest needed afterwards -not travel). Flexing the neck triggers the symptoms we are there to investigate in the first place.

I spasmed, jerked and gagged during the long and slow scans. But all in all I did pretty well and was quite proud of myself. It wasn’t pleasant, to say the least, but the staff were lovely and understanding. Afterwards I vomited, the gag reflex was just too much, but that was after the fact so I’m not counting that, haha.

Physio


The next morning I met with the physio, and what an experience! I don’t think I’ve ever had such a comprehensive and educational appointment. I learned so many interesting things about how my body works. The lovely physio didn’t have my MRI results, which the consultant had hoped she would by then. But by simply feeling my spine and areas of my body, she was able to tell me a lot about what was happening under my skin.

Spine

Feeling along my spine as I moved my head to the sides, backwards and forwards, she was able to tell me that only part of my cervical spine was assisting in this movement -unlike with the average person, who moves parts of both their C spine and their thoracic spine. My T spine is locked and will not move on its own, causing pain to the overworked C spine. She pointed out that our bodies are quite amazing, in that if they can’t do something in the normal way, they will endeavor to find a way – even if that way is injuring us -“Your body will find a way to make that movement if it can”. So interesting. 
Image by Freepik
This explains one of my longest running symptoms and major causes of pain. As a child I called it “spine freeze” but this is NOT a medical term, merely a childish way of trying to explain to doctors what was happening to my body. On lying down my spine would seize entirely, although more so focused at neck and mid back areas. I could barely move, and any tiny movement felt like my spine was about to snap. It was like one, long unflexing pole. It was both terrifying and agonising in equal amounts when I was a child. I still experience this phenomenon but only a few times a month.  Sometimes I feel what I call twitches when standing/ sitting, but I can unlock these. Unlike when I’m lying down and I just have to wait it out. While still scary, the lesser frequency has helped, as does age -I suppose I got somewhat used to it.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

More than just abortion; more than pro-choice

[Originally written in August 2017. Updated December 2017]

By now most people have probably watched Amnesty International's video regarding Ireland's 8th amendment and why it should be repealed and what issues it currently causes (if not, watch below).

25 Annoying Things About Being Pregnant



For me it brings to mind of when I was diagnosed with cancer, back in 2013.
It's probably best to start with a personal story.

No I was not pregnant, no I was not planning to become pregnant, and no I was not planning on having an abortion. Yet the tone was set for many a discussion around such subjects, the very minute I was diagnosed. One might assume this conversation would take the form of discussing options for egg preservation, in case of future fertility problems. Although this was never mentioned really, only glossed over very vaguely, and only when I tried to bring the subject up. A simple "I'm sure you'll be ok" was all that was given in this respect. Something I realised later was vastly different from the experiences of UK cancer patients, through discussions on support forums. I can only assume such options aren't granted free by the HSE, and perhaps some doctors just see it all as a bit "icky"? I really have no idea. The only guidance I was given with that side of things was the nurse whispering to me during chemotherapy inquiring about my periods, stating that a regular flow (sorry lads, not sorry) was a good sign at least.

No, this was not the route of the pregnancy conversation. The one and only topic was around what would happen if I became pregnant during my treatment. Of course I was advised to use all the contraception possible, to not purposely become pregnant during this time -obviously, that would be irresponsible. But as we all know, even with all the contraption in the world -shit happens.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Vegan aubergine lasagna

Loving aubergine lasagna at the mo. It's light yet tasty, perfect dish for any spoonie who can't deal with much pasta or heavy dishes. This is a basic recipe, so perfect if you're only transitioning from meat eater and still a bit cautious -All very normal ingredients that you'll already be acquainted with. Also easy to buy in Irish shops... I get so disappointed with American, even English vegan recipes that require things you haven't a hope in hell buying here. "Now add the Flogerddergabu to elder flower dew and beat in dried ugloblili berries as your egg substitute " -eh yeah mate, I'm having issues even finding meat free bread around these parts, but ok... But even though it's quick and easy, it's still full of great flavours. A real comfort food.

Ingredients


1. One large aubergine -this will be the pasta sheets.
2. Tomato based sauce -simply make your own with some passata or a tin of tomatoes, or I suggest one from Lidl by Batts, red Thai curry (see my photo below, oddly enough cannot find an image online of the product). It's got a creamy taste which I personally prefer for a dish like this as the more sharp sauces have my reflux going crazy. At the same time, it's not a sickening creaminess and is vegan too.
3. Hummus -this will be your white sauce substitute. You can of course simply make a béchamel with a milk alternative, or even buy Tesco's free from white sauce or similar (which Dundalk now have, by the way!), but I personally love the thickness of hummus. It's the perfect sauce really, doesn't turn to water when cooked.
4. Your veggies. LOADS of course. I went for: Cherry tomatoes, peppers and onions. Mediterranean vegetables work best in any lasagna, obviously.
5. Garlic and herbs. You can really use any herbs, go for your favourite flavors or use a simple dry mix.
6. Grated vegan cheese. Currently where I live, north-east, the most readily available vegan cheese are Violife and Nature & Moi. Both have grated versions, or simply buy the block and grate it yourself. You can usually purchase from Tesco and Dunnes Stores. I went for the Violife block from Tesco.
7. Meat alternative. NOTE: I did not add this, and I would suggest you don't either. Unless you are transitioning and still getting used to life without meat, or just trying this out for "meatless Monday"... I just don't think it's that nice for this recipe, or needed in it. Really just see it as a vegetable lasagna, fully packed of veggies. A light, yet filling dish.

For me adding in the meat alternative would probably be too much (on top of the cheese and sauces). If you have stomach issues relating to your chronic illness too, then consider just having plain, ol' veg. If you do wish to add in a meat substitute, I suggest a dry soya protein mince like this one from Tesco. It's really handy in the press as it lasts ages, and quick to make up.

Tip - For a dish like this, simply soak the protein granules in a bowl with plain water. Cover only until water is slightly visible -don't drown. Wait a few minutes for them to expand/ soak the water, then add in flavourings -soya sauce and dry herbs are good. Then add to whatever food you are making. Add to oven dish with your vegetables in this case, or simply fry up and have with some mash spuds. Yum. It's pretty versatile.