health

Book your f**cking smear test!

It seems very fitting that I am writing this blog post on World Cancer Day. It is also a strange coincidence that it was today that I had my smear test done. I’ve titled this blog post after something I say to so many women both in my friendship groups and on social media where I try and help spread the word about the importance of cervical screening.

For anyone that didn’t know, last month was Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.

FACT: 8 people every day are diagnosed with cervical cancer.

FACT: In 2012 I was one of them.

FACT: Because it was picked up early, I was able to have it removed with no need for chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

FACT: Cervical cancer screening can save lives. I’m proof.

So yes, it seems rather apt that I booked my smear test for today.

I keep hearing and reading so many statistics about the number of women that put off their smear tests. Yes it can be embarrassing – particularly if you’ve not had kids and you aren’t used to getting your foof out for all to see. Yes it can hurt – I wont lie (more in that in a minute), but so do tattoos, piercing and a whole host of other things people choose to do to their body. I love tattoos as much as the next ink freak, but they don’t save lives and they take a hell of a lot longer.

So back to me. I had a routine smear test in 2012 which came back with Cin3 changes. This is pretty much the next level of “abnormality” before cervical cancer. I had no clue anything was wrong other than cramps and some irregular bleeding, which I later found out *could* be symptoms of cervical-related problems. I was referred for a LLETZ treatment during which the cells are removed, and they are then sent for biopsy. A few days later I had a phone call telling me to go back and see the consultant who told me that they had found a very small amount of cancerous cells. As you can imagine my jaw hit the floor. However, the consultant was positive that they had removed it all, although they chose to take further biopsies to be sure. That is, as they say, a whole ‘nother story, but the upshot is that there was no more cancer and they had caught it before it had grown or spread.

I was incredibly lucky. I didn’t need any chemotherapy, any radiotherapy, any drugs or further treatment at all. All I had was a follow up colposcopy 6 and 12 months later, and now I have to have annual smear tests until 2022 – 10 years after the diagnosis.

Going for a smear test is emotionally and physically painful for me. It brings back bad memories, I suffer from anxiety in the weeks before and after whilst waiting for the results as I am statistically more likely to develop it again than someone who hasn’t had cancerous cells. And the actual procedure – for me – is something akin to a nurse shoving a red hot poker up my foof and wiggling it around for 30 seconds. I need to stress though – this ISN’T the norm. Most women don’t find it nearly as painful and some don’t really feel a thing. The reason that I do is because I had the majority of my cervix removed after my diagnosis, making what is left extremely difficult to reach. I’ve also had 2 children, 2 episiotomies and as such I affectionately refer to my lady bits as “frankenfanny”.

My nurse at my doctors, Caroline, is amazing. She lets me holler, swear, cry, whatever I need to do and always gives me a big hug after. She totally gets how difficult it is for me, and supports me throughout. I’m dropping in some flowers for her next week, as I really don’t know how I would get through it without her and she is the only reason I stay with my, quite frankly crappy, surgery.

But the point of this blog post it this: if I can go through the intense pain and stress it causes me on an annual basis then you can woman the hell up and have your 3-yearly smear test. You’ll be in there 10 minutes, less time than it takes you to blow dry your hair or apply your nail varnish. It could save your life and as such, it could be the most worthwhile 10 minutes of your life.

If you choose not to get your smear test done I would love to say you’ll live to regret it, but statistically many of you wont.

Please, for the sakes of your parents, your partners, your kids…. book your f**cking smear test!!!

Dee xoxox

 

Kids & Media Device Usage: How much is too much?

It seems kind of fitting that the day I intended to do this blog post, I came downstairs pre-8am to find the kids both sat like this…

kidsmedia

I posted the pic on my personal Facebook page with the caption “peace and quiet sponsored by Nintendo”.

We all know that kids are now exposed more than ever to a wide variety of media devices, and handheld computers like Nintendo 3DS’s are just the tip of the iceberg. From television – which seems almost primitive compared to some technologies – to Xboxes, iPads and Smartphones, most kids have access to one or more of these devices on a regular basis. My 8yr old has a Wii, a Kindle Fire, a Nintendo 3DS and an iPod touch. Oh and a tv/dvd in her room. My five year old has a Kindle Fire, a Nintendo 3DS and will be getting a tv/dvd from Santa this year.

With easy entertainment at the touch of just a few buttons, it is easy to embrace media devices. They are a great way to keep the kids quiet – as demonstrated by my picture this morning – without creating much mess or noise. When it comes to eating out in a restaurant, I almost always take the kids handheld devices so that they have something to keep them occupied if there is a long wait for food. My 8yr old always unwinds with a dvd before bed. The kids both love Minecraft and will happily sit and play it for an hour at a time without moving from their seats.

On the surface it all looks great. Mum/Dad gets some peace and quiet and the kids are kept busy relatively cost and mess free. And there is plenty of evidence that supports that media device usage does indeed have a heap of benefits, particularly in terms of language development. However, there is also evidence to suggest that too much screen-time can actually have a negative impact on some areas of kids lives.

So how much is too much? My friends over at California Cryobank have created the following powerful infographic detailing the pro’s and con’s of children using media devices. Their research clearly illustrates the effect that too much screen time has on our kids health and development. It’s thought-provoking stuff and well worth five minutes of your time to read – hence why I am sharing it with you today.

Feel free to like, share and comment on this infographic from http://www.cryobank.com entitled “The Pro’s and Con’s of Children’s Media Device Usage”.

Thanks for stopping by!

Dee xoxox

 

Getting under the skin of Psoriasis

So I read this article in the newspaper this morning

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/6599095/Psoriasis-sufferer-proud-to-reveal-sores-to-the-world.html

And I just wanted to do a quick blog about it because I am full of pride and support for this amazing lady. Not just because she is incredibly strong but because I know her story – I know it because I have lived it.

Whilst I am not going to give you a full biography of my life with psoriasis, I will give you the bare bones of it.

I have suffered with psoriasis since I was 3yrs old. All through both primary and secondary school I was teased relentlessly by certain individuals who told me that I was ugly, that I had “the lurgy” etc. They told other kids not to hang around with me or they would catch it too.

My teenage years were the worst. I hated school. I had very few friends, I had absolutely no self confidence or self belief. Puberty made my psoriasis even worse and much of my hair fell out. I hid my skin under long sleeve blouses and tights that itched the hell out of me but were better than having my skin on show.

All through this time I was back and forth to the hospital, trying every possible treatment under the sun. Dozens of different steroid creams, soaking in coal tar baths, being smothered in emollients and wrapped in bandages. I couldn’t wait to leave school at 16 so I went to college instead. Unfortunately things weren’t much better there.

When it came to the world of work I was lucky to be able to get good employment, but one employer made my life very difficult. When my skin got so bad due to the stress of working there and I was hospitalised with life-threatening erythrodermic psoriasis, I was “let go”.

In my early 20s my skin started to improve a little and so I changed – I had a small circle of friends, I became outwardly confident to make up for the fact that inside I was still nervous about rejection.

My tale has a happy ending though. When I was 23 I met my now-husband. Granted my skin was mostly under control at the time, but there have been times when I have been suffering badly with it, particularly during my pregnancies when it is not possible to take drugs to keep it under control. But my husband is amazing – he has only ever seen ME and not my skin. To the point that he only really notices if it has flared up because of the way that it affects me – the itching, the slight depression that accompanies it worsening.

So now, 2015 and I am a happily married mum of two – which during my teenage years felt like something I would never achieve. I am still taking strong chemotherapy drugs which – touch wood – are working well to keep my skin under control. I can’t remember the last time I felt the necessity to cover my face with a scarf or my arms with a cardigan.

And whilst I am nowhere near as brave and strong as this beautiful lady is, I can honestly say that I am over hiding away. The important people love me no matter how my skin looks.

So I applaud this amazing lady for being so confident, so strong and so inspiring. She proves that true beauty is a whole lot more than what is on the outside.

If you would like further information on psoriasis then I can highly recommend that you check out https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis

Thanks for reading

Dee xoxox

psoriasis%203

Keeping the Tooth Fairy Happy: My Guide to Oral Care for Kids

Any parent will tell you that persuading children to brush their teeth can be a difficult task. When there are cartoons to watch and toys to play with, those four minutes a day that your little one needs to spend brushing can seem like an eternity. Children with additional needs, and particularly those with sensory difficulties, can be even harder to convince. However, regular cleaning and teaching them about making good nutritional choices to support their oral care will ensure that they have healthy teeth and gums throughout their childhood. If you want to ensure that your child understands the importance of looking after their teeth then read on for my guide on how to keep your tooth fairy happy and make oral health fun for kids.

First Teeth

Babies may start showing signs of teething from as young as 8 weeks of age, but typically the first tooth shows up between 4 and 8 months. That said, some children cut their first tooth much later – my son was 14 months old – and although rare, some babies are actually born with a tooth! As soon as your baby gets a tooth you should begin the cleaning process. Get them an infant toothbrush to hold and demonstrate to them putting it into their mouths and the actions that they need to make. When you actually brush them, use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste. The important thing at this stage is to get them used to brushing their teeth as a part of their daily routine.

If you decide to give your infant a drink in a bottle then always try and give water or milk rather than juice. Bottles encourage prolonged sucking which means that any sugary drink that may be coating the teat/nipple will be in contact with your child’s teeth for an extended period, increasing the likelihood of decay. Teeth are also more at risk at night when there is less saliva to protect them so the sooner your child drops any night-time feeds the better… for your sanity as well as their teeth!

Nutrition

Good nutrition is not only important for your child’s growth and wellbeing, but it also plays a vital part of maintaining good oral health. Here are some basic guidelines for helping your child make the best nutritional choices for their oral health, but for more comprehensive advice please visit: diamondbraces.com/snacking-and-oral-health

Calcium

Calcium is an essential nutrient for developing strong teeth, and works to fortify the adult teeth during childhood.  A glass of milk is a great accompaniment to your child’s snack. Children under the age of 5 are recommended to have full fat or semi-skimmed varieties, whereas older kids can opt for lower fat versions.

The recommended daily allowance of calcium varies dependant on child age. Current guidelines suggest the following:

Children aged 1to 3 : 500mg per day

Children aged 4 to 8 : 800mg per day

Children aged 9 to 18 : 1300mg per day

milk

Snacking

Whilst we frazzled parents believe that our children suck the energy out of us for their own personal use, they also need plenty of snacks to keep them going. Unfortunately a lot of convenient snack items are packed full of salt and sugar, making them far from ideal choice for maintaining healthy teeth, particularly as brushing after snacks is a rare occurrence and sometimes impossible to do. Limiting processed snacks and keeping a supply of healthier, teeth-friendly alternatives is advisable. Raw veggies, complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain toast, and even cubes of cheese are much better alternatives.

Fruit

Fruit always seems like a great choice for a snack as it is usually easy and convenient, and it’s healthy too, right? Yes fruit is a healthier snack than the processed snacks I mentioned before. However it is also full of sugar – albeit the naturally occurring kind – which also damages teeth. Limit fruit and opt for veggie-based snacks where possible.

Drinks

It will come as no surprise to you that water is the very best drink that we can give to our children for their overall and oral health. It is sugar free, calorie free and great for staying hydrated. Sugary and fizzy drinks should be avoided as much as possible, and if you opt to give your child fruit juice, try and limit how often and opt for unsweetened varieties where you can.

Making brush-time fun

As I said at the start, getting your kids to take time out of their busy lives to brush their teeth can be a challenge. Making it a routine and making it fun are the best ways to ensure that they look after their oral health.

Ideally both children and adults should brush a minimum of twice per day and after each meal if at all possible, and you should do it for at least 2 minutes each time. That is a lot longer than most people realise and definitely much longer than most people brush for. Setting an alarm or using a timer is a good way to keep track, but I highly recommend using an egg-timer. Kids are fascinated watching the sand trickle away and the two minutes are quickly over for them. They are inexpensive and easy to find online. Another alternative is to find a song that they like that is at least two minutes long and ask them to brush for the duration of the song. They can even have a little dance around the bathroom whilst they do it!

Brushing should always be done in a circular motion so encourage your kids to make “train wheels” with brushes (with accompanying noises if necessary!) and use brushes with smaller heads to help them get to those harder to reach teeth. Battery-powered toothbrushes are also a great choice for helping children do an awesome job of brushing.

Other useful ways to encourage brushing include stickers and reward charts and allowing your children to pick out their own toothbrushes.

Don’t forget about the dentist!

As soon as your child has a number of teeth ensure that you register them with a dentist and start taking them for the recommended schedule for check-ups. Your dentist can ensure that your child’s teeth are in optimum health, your child will learn to feel comfortable in the environment, and going for an oral check up will quickly become an easy routine.

I hope that you have found this guide interesting and useful, and can use some of the ideas and information to make brush time fun for your children. For further, comprehensive guidance on oral health I recommend visiting this awesome website, diamondbraces.com.

livteethcleanPhoto: my 8yr old enjoying brush time!

 

Post kick-fit update

Well needless to say I didn’t have the energy to blog Friday night, post kick-fit.

The class was really good, but really hard going in places. Now I know I’m not fit, but I didn’t realise how badly unfit I still am.

It started off with walking, stretching, some light jogging (which felt to me more like running!), some other aerobic moves and OMG …… burpees! Now I CANNOT do burpees at all. I have zero upper body strength, heavy boobs and I could only do a few before having to stop. Apparently burpees are a regular part of the class though so I am clearly going to have to shape up or ship out. I may start practising in the week…. once I stop hurting!

The boxing element of the class was great, I’m a big fan of getting the frustration out!

We also did a little circuit training which was fun, required effort but didn’t completely kill me, and I found a great exercise to tone up the old bingo wings!

Aching like a bitch yesterday and today – mostly in my arms and shoulders! Hopefully I will be fully recovered ready to go again on Friday!

xxx

Cutting the string update

Hello lovelies!

I have been neglecting my blog a lot lately and for that I am sorry. I have been pretty much working non-stop setting up my business and work orders have been coming in thick and fast. It’s also been Easter holidays and so my terrors have been at home for over a fortnight, meaning I have been struggling to keep all the balls in the air.

We haven’t done a weigh in in a little while as the weight loss seems to have plateaued and it was getting depressing only seem very small amounts each week, so instead we decided to weigh in less often at the moment. I am going to do my next weigh in on Monday 11th May so just about 3 weeks away, and hopefully I will have a significant loss to report. Fear not though, I am still hovering somewhere between 12st 12 and 13st 1lb which is where I have been for the last month. The string of this yoyo is still firmly cut!

The plateau has been a little hard going to say the least, I keep trying not to feel like crap and then something happens and I still feel like a whale. However today I tried on most of my summer clothes ready for my holiday in May and I was extremely pleased to see that the shorts I was wearing last summer are now falling down……

shortsapr152 shortsapr15

That has given me a massive boost and I am happy to resign these pairs to the charity bag! I can also get on my size 14 denim shorts that I love again, so am really pleased about that too!

I have fallen off the exercise wagon due to lack of time the last month or so, but I am determined to make even just 20 mins every day for a little bit of cardio or resistance training.

I will see you back here on the 11th May where I will hopefully be reporting a nice weight loss!

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Dee xoxoxox

And here’s a Freebie…

SFF

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00VD9FV4W?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_d_detailpage_o04_

So it’s that time again where I shamelessly give myself and one of the websites I work for a plug!

I have helped to produce this awesome eBook, “Simple Fermented Foods” for SoundBodyLife.Com

It is currently FREE until 3rd April (that’s tomorrow folks so buy it now!) to download on Amazon

I would be super grateful if you could pop over and get a copy – it’s free after all!

It is packed with information on what fermenting is and how to do it.

If you could leave a sneaky review on the Amazon page too I would be forever in your debt!

😉

Dee

xoxoxo