Tag Archives: Histamine

Confused.com

I’ve never claimed to have any answers to my, or anyone else’s, health problems and freely admit I just muddle along with the rest of you in the land of The Confused.  And there is no more confusing a world than that of histamine, as I’m sure many of my readers have discovered.

Having said all that, I’ve been diagnosed with both Histamine Intolerance (HIT) and Mast Cell Activation Disorder (MCAD) for 4 years now and have learned and made discoveries along the way so thought I’d share this knowledge, for what it’s worth, with you.

When I was first diagnosed I knew I had to start an elimination diet because I was having anaphylaxis every time I ate.  Naively I just thought there’d be a foolproof diet online that I could follow and all would be well.  Oh, if only it were that simple!  I did, indeed, find diets online that claimed to be ‘low histamine’ and I followed Dr Joneja’s because she seemed like an expert and the diet was comprehensive………but it was a nightmare.  As a pesco-vegetarian it cut out all the foods I’d lived on all my life and didn’t tell me what to substitute the excluded foods with.  Having been sick with M.E., which decimates your digestion, for years before my mast cells exploded I knew that lack of good nutrition causes as many issues as exclusion diets solve, so I instinctively realized that simply cutting out so-called “high histamine” foods without substituting foods with equal nutritional value would be disastrous.  Bearing that in mind, I set about trying to find alternatives, eg I cut out tinned, chopped, tomatoes in recipes but substituted them with a home-made red pepper sauce.  I cut out Cheddar Cheese, but substituted with Mozzarella cheese.  I cut out fresh fish, but substituted with frozen fish which I discovered was gutted and frozen on-board the ship thereby reducing its histamine load.  I cut out spinach, but substituted lamb’s lettuce.  And so on.  It took about a year but I finally came up with a diet which was still balanced and nutritious but low in histamine (or so I thought!).

This is what I learned: if you exclude a food, try to substitute it with a food of equal nutritional value. 

After 4 months on a ‘low-histamine’ diet I stopped having anaphylaxis every time I put food in my mouth and the relief was enormous.  But many of my symptoms were still present, eg. hives, insomnia, itchy skin, nausea etc.  It took a while to work out what was going on, but I discovered that mast cells react to all sorts of things, not just what we eat, and that realistically I was going to have issues for the rest of my life.  In particular I was in my mid-forties and had begun peri-menopause and I learned that hormones have a massive impact on mast cells.  There was nothing I could do about the situation and 4 years down the line I’m still suffering the effects of wildly fluctuating menopausal hormones on my histamine load.  In addition, I react badly to stress (which with 2 sick aging parents to look after can be unavoidable), extremes of temperatures, my dog, some pollens and simply doing too much and getting too tired.

What I learned: I could not manage my MCAD using food alone.

My next big revelation was that all of the advice on low-histamine foods online seemed to contradict each other.  It took a lonnnng time to figure out why, but eventually I discovered that no-one was testing food for its histamine content and that all the lists online were based on nothing but guesswork.  I was devastated by this revelation and everything I thought I’d learned about food and histamine came crashing down round my ears.  It was then I really started to look at where the information online was coming from and wrote my ‘Histamine in Food: the Evidence’ page.  Even popular histamine writer The Low Histamine Chef can’t find a lab that will test for histamine in foods and with all her connections if she can’t find proper info on the histamine content in foods it doesn’t exist.  That doesn’t stop people occasionally coming on my blog and telling me I’m talking crap and that this food or that food is high or low in histamine, not realizing that far from me being wrong, they are wrong and when I ask them to back their claims up with hard data they never can.  Bearing this in mind, and finding sticking to a rigid low histamine diet really difficult, I started to experiment with re-introducing certain foods.  I still exclude foods which I know have been properly tested and found to be high in histamine, eg. hard cheese, aubergienes, tinned fish, soya but now eat normal yeasted bread, beans and pulses (including red kidney beans as there is not a scrap of evidence they are high in histamine), and my symptoms are no worse than before.  Having said all that, my re-introduction of chocolate was a disaster and definitely increased my histamine load, so it is still forbidden *sob*.

What I learned: only a handful of foods have been tested for their histamine content.  We have no clue whether most fruits or veg are high histamine.  So-called low histamine diets are far too rigid and unnecessarily cut out highly nutritious foods.

My next big revelation came from my lovely readers, who would write and say that although I might be tolerating lentils, or wheat, they reacted to them.  This totally threw me, so again I researched what might be going on and discovered that we are all simply individual and will react differently to our friends.  In addition, just because we’re reacting to a food doesn’t mean it’s because it’s high in histamine.  You might also have a problem with nightshades, fructose, gluten, lactose, salicylates or any number of other components in foods, whereas I might not.  This is why I don’t give advice on my blog.  For a start I’m not qualified to, secondly I don’t know you and thirdly we are all so different that it would be totally pointless in any event because what works for me might not work for you.

What I learned: we are all individual and our mast cells react differently other people’s.

When I was first diagnosed I read everything I could about MCAD………..and found that much of it was totally contradictory to my own experience.  For example, on Yasmina’s Healing Histamine website is this post about Melatonin and how research has shown that it counter-balances histamine.  I’ve had horrendous insomnia because of my illnesses and years ago tried a Melatonin supplement, which gave me one of the worst mast cell reactions I’ve ever experienced.  Wondering why, I had my melatonin level checked by a lab and discovered it was  actually far higher at 3am than a healthy person’s, despite the fact I was wide awake!  So melatonin doesn’t appear to be reducing my histamine levels, which flies in the face of this research.  The research does say, though, that mast cells produce melatonin which makes more sense – my mast cells were rampant and this would obviously mean a high melatonin output, but in my case this wasn’t a good thing!  Some of the histamine writers online are treated a bit like God and their every word taken as Gospel, but trust me when I say if Dr Afrin doesn’t have the answers yet no-one else does either.

What I learned: don’t believe everything you read.

My experience with MCAD is that it is a highly fluctuating condition, which changes over time.  For example, when I was severely ill with M.E. (which as my readers know I think is some kind of mast cell disease) I was highly sensitive to chemicals, eg. I couldn’t bear to read a newspaper because the ink used in the printing gave me asthma-type symptoms.  I couldn’t tolerate normal paints, hairspray, perfume, bleach and any number of other substances.  However, as my M.E. started to improve my chemical reactions also improved and now I don’t have any problems with smells.  My drug reactions started off fairly minor, with me reacting to just the odd medication, but over the years this has gotten worse and worse to the point where I have anaphylaxis to just about all drugs.  To make matters worse, I can start off tolerating a drug really well but 12 months, or 6 years, or 20 years down the line suddenly have anaphylaxis to it and be unable to take it ever again.

What I learned: things can change, for the good or the bad.

When I was diagnosed with MCAD I thought there would be information out there in cyberspace that would have all the answers and it came as a huge shock to discover that that information simply doesn’t exist.  This is a new area of medicine and even leading Doctors in the field are still finding their way around the complexity of mast cells and the havoc the chemicals they release (like histamine & prostaglandins) play on our bodies.  If the experts don’t have the answers yet, no-one else does.  Not me and not other bloggers or writers, and if they pretend they do they’re fibbing.  Much of the research cited online is conducted on animals or in a lab, and this often doesn’t translate to human beings.  We are decades away from any real understanding of mast cell disease and when it does happen you can bet your life the answer won’t lie in whether or not you eat Pak Choi on a regular basis!  There are diets which may help, but absolutely won’t cure you.  There are drugs you can take which might help, but won’t cure you.  There are supplements you can take which might help, but won’t cure you.  There are ways you can live your life which might reduce symptoms, but again won’t cure you.  And that’s because MCAD is currently a chronic, incurable disease.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news 😦

What I learned: MCAD may, or may not, be manageable but certainly isn’t currently curable.

My journey with mast cell disease is ongoing, but I’ve learned a fair bit over the past few years.  You’d think this would make me more knowledgeable, but in fact it’s been the opposite and there are days I feel more confused than ever!  My biggest revelation has been that we are all basically in the dark……Doctors, Researchers and Patients………because our knowledge of MCAD is in its infancy and, much as we’d all like it to be different, no-one really has the answers to our questions yet.  Which makes me feel kind’ve adrift and alone and scared.  But I’ve had M.E. for 2 decades too and no-one knows anything about that either and I’ve survived….just.

Gastrointestinal problems

I have several issues with my gastrointestinal tract so I thought I’d cover them all in one post, which has ended up stupidly long so you may want to make a brew before you start.  On the other hand, if you’re squeamish, you may wish to look away now 😉

Bowel

I had my first issue with pooping when I was a toddler.  My earliest childhood memory is being pinned down on the bed, screaming blue murder, while my Mum shoved Vaseline up my back passage (be thankful we now have modern laxatives for children).  It was shit (excuse the pun), made me feel like I’d been physically assaulted and, to add insult to injury, it still didn’t make me go to the loo.

When I was a child I didn’t much like food and was a “fussy eater” consequently my diet wasn’t as good as it could have been.  Knowing now I have Ehlers-Danlos and how that affects your gastrointestinal tract, plus my lack of soluble fibre, it’s no wonder I couldn’t poop.  I was permanently constipated in the true sense of the word, ie my poo was small, pellety, hard and only came out occasionally with me straining til I thought a vein would burst in my head.

At 21 I became vegetarian and everything changed.  For the first time in my life I started to enjoy food, ate loads more fruit, veg, beans and pulses and my poop became better in consistency.  Sadly though it still didn’t come out easily and I only managed a bowel movement about twice a week.  I was eventually diagnosed with a “lazy bowel” – in other words they had no clue why I couldn’t shit.

Fast forward 25 years and my change of diet to ‘low histamine’ following my MCAD and HIT diagnosis and my use of H2 antihistamines.  Finally I am able to poop almost normally.  I go virtually every morning and my poo is normal in consistency.  Well, as normal as it gets for someone with EDS and an overly stretchy bowel – I actually produce crap the size of elephant dung and when someone accuses me of being full of shit they have no idea how accurate they are 😉  I no longer strain when I go to the loo but it is a bit like giving birth, and I sometimes have to flush the loo three times before my monster poo disappears!

My endometriosis and many burst ovarian cysts have caused adhesions to my bowel particularly on my right hand side and this also affects my ability to poop.  Add to this a suspected floppy ileocecal valve, where faeces passes from the small intestine to the large intestine, and my poo does has the tendency to get stuck there.  It’s painful and I can actually feel (and often see) the long sausage lump of poo in the lower right of my pelvis sitting there waiting to find its way out!

Due to the enormous size of my poo I’ve now developed piles, which are swollen veins which appear either inside or outside of your anus.  They itch, and can be sore, but at the moment don’t cause me enough problems to want to do anything about them.  I also have various types of abdominal pain, from all over colic through to random sharp pains, but the cause is anyone’s guess.

Despite all this I’ve never been windy, either up nor down.  One has to be thankful for small mercies 😉

I still have issues with my bowel but I’m amazed at the difference a low histamine diet and histamine-reducing medication has made to my toilet habits.  Who knew the havoc histamine was creating and I’m sure no Doctor would believe that my lifelong ‘lazy  bowel’ has been largely cured by simply reducing the amount of histamine my body produces!

Bladder

Speaking of histamine, reducing it has made a massive different to my wee habits.  I’ve always peed a lot, but in the several years leading up to my MCAD diagnosis I weed for England, often going 3 times every hour and having to get up three to six times during the night.  Reducing the histamine levels in my body has changed my life and I now feel I pee almost normally.  In fact, I know when my histamine levels are high because I start peeing more, including during the wee small hours (wee, get it?  *groan*).

People with EDS have stretchy bladders which you would think would hold more therefore you’d go to the loo less, but I feel it somehow causes me to wee more often than most.  I also do the longest wees in history as my bladder holds vast quantities of liquid.

Reflux/GERD

In 2006 I developed a chronic cough.  I coughed so much at times I honestly thought I would die.  I had all sorts of investigations – xrays, scans, peak-flow and allergy tests – and everything came back normal.  I now know I had silent reflux and that acid was escaping from my stomach up into my oesophagus and being inhaled into my airways producing walking pneumonia.  With silent reflux you have no indigestion, no typical burning pain in the stomach or chest, just a cough for which no reason can be found.

After about 4 years of coughing I developed upper back pain.  It felt like a burning, muscular pain right between my shoulder blades and was so bad at times I could barely sit upright.  Nothing I did alleviated it and it became increasingly difficult to live with.  At the time I just put it down to my EDS ligaments but I now know this was acid burning the back of my oesophagus.

A couple of years after the back pain started the typical pain of reflux began.  My stomach felt sore and inflamed, and the pain in my oesophagus right between my boobs was horrendous.  It went all the way through to my back and felt like I was being stabbed by a bread knife every second of the day.  I developed intense and chronic nausea which also really got me down and had the most awful taste in my mouth all the time.  As it progressed I could actually feel the acid rising into my throat burning the flesh – it felt like I was being boiled alive. I wouldn’t wish severe reflux on anyone.

I ate Rennies like they were smarties and knocked back Gavison by the truck load.  I slept with the head of my bed lifted 6″ off the ground, cut out fizzy drinks and tried all sorts of different diets which didn’t help one iota.  Unlike other people’s experiences of GERD which I read about online, my pain didn’t come and go – it was constant, even waking me up from sleep at night.  I couldn’t tie it down to eating any particular food and it was actually worse when my stomach was empty.

I had all sorts of investigations which were largely normal.  No ulcers, no H-pylori infection, no bacterial overgrowth, no hernia, no delayed stomach emptying/gastroparesis.  The only thing they did find on endoscopy was 11 stomach polyps which all thankfully turned out to be benign and gastritis (ie stomach inflammation).  In the end I didn’t really get a diagnosis other than chronic GERD of unknown cause.

I manage my pain with H2 antihistamines, which definitely helps with the nausea and stomach pain but doesn’t do much for the esophageal/back pain which is still a constant.  I also continue to have the awful taste of acid in my mouth day and night and a sharp, stinging pain where my stomach meets my oesophagus which feels like I have a permanent piece of dry toast stuck there.  When it’s really bad, the burning stinging pain radiates up into both shoulders and down the inside of both arms and goes from the bottom of my neck to my waist at the back.  I also continue to have a chronic cough, though nowhere near as bad as it was pre-medication, and if I breathe deeply my airways feel constricted and irritated.

I suspect the mast cells in my stomach are producing too much acid, but quite how it’s finding its way into my oesophagus is anyone’s guess.  Although I don’t have a large hernia maybe my diaphragm is floppy due to my EDS and just doesn’t do a good job of keeping my stomach contents actually in my stomach?  Or it could be something else entirely none of us have considered.

I am having an ultrasound on my gallbladder shortly, as bile backing up from the gallbladder can mimic the symptoms of GERD.  Interestingly, my Mum developed horrendous indigestion in her early 40s.  She describes the pain as the kind that “makes you bang your head against the wall” and an abiding memory from my teenage years is listening to her pace the floor groaning night after night after night for nearly a decade.  She was told she was being “dramatic” and needed to see shrink – after all, she was female and we all know women are just hysterical hypochondriacs don’t we?!  Eventually she was given a gallbladder scan, which showed an organ so diseased it had shrivelled up to a black dot and she had to have an emergency operation to remove it.  I clearly remember the Surgeon saying “I’m amazed you didn’t develop septicemia and die”.  My Mum never had gallstones and was the 1 in 20 people who develops chronic gallbladder issues for no obvious reason (except we now know she almost certainly has MCAD which is, surprise!, implicated in gallbladder disease).

Difficulty With Swallowing

When I became severely affected with M.E. I constantly felt like I couldn’t swallow properly.  My muscles felt floppy and unresponsive and I always felt like a had a large, swollen mass in my throat which I had to swallow past.  Naturally all tests were normal and no-one’s ever been able to tell me what this is all about.

As I started to improve this feeling lessened but has never gone away.  Even as I sit here typing this post my throat feels hugely swollen and with each swallow I feel like I want to gag.

Sore Throat

Needless to say, if you have M.E. you will inevitably have a chronic sore throat.  I continually feel like I have some kind of infection though my throat looks entirely normal.  The more I do the more my throat hurts, and if I way over-do it (either mentally or physically) I feel like I have tonsillitis.

This kind of symptom is why I get irritated when the focus for M.E. research centres on ‘fatigue’.  It’s so obvious people with well defined M.E. have some kind of immune issue going on, and the ‘fatigue’ is just a by-product of that.

Oesophageal Spasms

When I was severely affected by M.E. I developed what are termed ‘oesophageal spasms’, in other words the muscles in the oesophagus cramp which, for me, made me retch and retch and retch…….and retch some more.  It wasn’t related to feeling nauseous, I didn’t vomit and they were often worst in a morning just after I’d woken up for reasons I’ve never understood.  Once I could manage a warm drink they’d sometimes settle down, but there were days when they wouldn’t and I’d be retchy all day.  I still get the spasms, although they’re occasional now rather than an every day occurrence.

When I have a mast cell reaction to food or drugs the spasms are severe and I can retch for hours on end.  The chemicals released when mast cells activate causes muscles to contract, so I wonder if my spasms have been mast cell related all along?  If so why do they happen on waking though?  It’s still a puzzle and, although I don’t ever worry about it, it’s still decidedly unpleasant when it happens.

Nausea

I’ve always been a sickly person, even from childhood.  I suppose with everything that’s gone on in my gastrointestinal tract over the years it’s no surprise, but it’s something you never get used to.

My bedridden M.E. years were plagued by severe nausea, though this only occasionally became actual vomiting and that was usually because my oesophageal spasms/retching made me bring up bile rather than any kind of projectile puking.

These days I feel nauseous when I do too much (like tonight!) and if my throat feels swollen (like tonight!) – even healthy people feel sick if they’re swallowing past a sore, swollen-feeling throat.

On the whole, my nausea hasn’t affected my appetite though and I can eat a 2 course dinner feeling sick to the very pit of my stomach – go me 😉

Appetite

Speaking of which, my appetite has always been excellent.  No matter what has been going on I’ve still loved my food, which is weird for a kid who never ate!  When my HIT/MCAD exploded and I started reacting to everything I put in my mouth it was one of the lowest points of my entire life and trust me when I say I’ve had a few low points over the years.  No matter what else in my body had gone awry I’d always looked forward to my meals (and snacks, and sweets, and anything else I fancied!).  To suddenly be terrified of food and not be able to eat many of the things I loved was torture.  I still think it’s unfair of my body to inflict this on me and to take away the one thing I had left which I enjoyed 😦

Dental

At the age of about 9 I had to have four of my adult molars removed as I had a vastly overcrowded mouth.  I didn’t know it at the time but it’s a classic sign of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, along with my high roof palate.

When my M.E. was really bad my teeth ached.  It was like having throbbing tooth ache throughout my entire mouth and didn’t respond to any kind of painkillers.  I had similar throbbing pain in other parts of my body, particularly my knees for some reason, so I assume it was just part and parcel of the pain of having M.E.  As my illness improved the pain went.

Ehlers-Danlos pre-disposes you to cavities and early gum disease and I have both.  All my adult molars were filled by the time I was in my mid teens and now I’m nearly 50 I’m at the stage where they are all having to be replaced, alongside new bits of decay.   I am already ‘long in the tooth’ and have pain in my receding gums and actual teeth.  Smiling when it’s windy is no longer fun and eating anything cold makes me wince!  I had my first adult tooth removed last year which actually took a lot of coming to terms with.  You’d think after everything I’ve been through it would be no big deal, but it affected me emotionally in a most unexpected way, particularly as I didn’t have the tooth replaced and instead just have a huge gap and now can’t really chew on that side.

Conclusion

M.E., EDS and MCAD can all cause gastrointestinal symptoms so most of the time it’s impossible to know which disease is causing what.  Please don’t tell me to change my diet – I’ve been ill since the day I was born and there isn’t a diet around that I haven’t dabbled with at one time or another including gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and joy-free!  Having to eat low histamine for the rest of my days is bad enough, and I’m already a vegetarian who can’t eat soya, so I’ve no intention of embarking on any more restrictions particularly as all the diets I’ve ever tried (bar low histamine) have not made one ounce of difference to my health.

Obviously I’ve tried drugs to help with my symptoms and one by one have become allergic to them all, in particular the medications used to treat nausea, so I use my hot water bottle for virtually all my gastro problems and it probably helps as much as anything.  I also have some Sea-Bands which sometimes takes the edge off my nausea as does lemon verbena tea.  Other than that I just have to get on with it, which I swear should be engraved on my headstone:

“Here lies Jak.  She suffered but she just cracked on” 😉

Symptom photos

This is just a quick post to say that I’ve added two new pages to my blog.  I’ve used various photos of the symptoms of my diseases over the years in lots of different blog posts, so thought it was time they were all put together in one place.  They can now be found under the ‘My Story’ menu heading.

Photos of hEDS symptoms here:   https://mastcellblog.wordpress.com/journey/edsphotos/

Phots of MCAD symptoms here:   https://mastcellblog.wordpress.com/journey/mcadphotos/

I haven’t included any photos of M.E. because there is basically nothing to see 😦  Plus I don’t like having my face online because there are some very strange people out there who illegally  download pictures without my permission and they could end up anywhere for any reason.

Must dash, my cleaner is due shortly and I need to tidy up because my house is so messy it looks like I’ve been burgled 😉

Weekly roundup

This week was the first of my stay-cation but I’ve been so busy I think I’m going to need another holiday to get over my holiday 😉  Back pain aside, however, it’s been a fabulous few days and I’ve enjoyed every second.

On Monday a friend and I went to photograph wild Red Squirrels.   They are native to Britain but in the late 1800s North American Grey Squirrels were let loose in the UK (for reasons unknown) and over the years they have decimated the native Red Squirrel population, not least because greys carry squirrel pox to which they are immune but the reds are not.  We have one of the few remaining red populations here in Cumbria but they are very timid and shy animals and very difficult to capture on film.  But I managed it and had an enchanting hour sat by a tiny waterfall in woodland watching 3 reds foraging for food:

Thursday I had a lovely day with my best mate, having lunch out to celebrate her birthday.  I had taken a shot of a local stone circle and, having seen that on my Facebook page, my friend had asked for it to be printed off for her birthday.  I’m a shit landscape photographer so was extremely flattered that she’d liked it enough to put it on her wall.  I went the extra mile and had a custom frame made and even I admit it turned out nice.

Thursday night didn’t quite go to plan as I discussed in my last blog post, however I still made it out on Friday night to my Camera Club’s annual awards dinner.  Food was fab, company was great and I walked off with 3 trophies for winning the Summer Challenge, the Intermediate Print League and the Intermediate Digital Image League – there was much ribbing about me needing a wheelbarrow to take my haul home and an extension built on my house to put them in 😉  As a bit of fun we had to produce an image we’d taken with a caption and I also won the caption competition:

Saturday I had booked to go on a short Portrait photography workshop.  It was a stupid thing to do considering I’d been out the night before and knew I’d be absolutely knackered but there was a reason to the madness – I needed a distraction from the fact that 300 miles away 6 judges were looking at a panel of 10 of my photographs and assessing me for my first photographic distinction!  So off I toddled to the workshop along with 5 other people from my camera club.  I have to admit it wasn’t that great and made worse by being so tired and still having awful back pain, but having said all that it was interesting to be in a proper photography studio with expensive lights and stuff.  I managed to get a nice image of the model too, though it still needs some work:

After the workshop finished I tentatively checked my phone and saw I’d received a text from someone I know who was at the Distinction Panel – I held my breath as I opened it.  Hurrahhh I had passed and can now put the letters CPAGB after my name! 🙂

So, as weeks go this has been one of my best in a long time.  I’ve way over-done it and will suffer the consequences over the coming days but I don’t care!  I’ve spent time with fabulous people doing the things I love and life doesn’t get much better than that.

Weekly roundup

I do not have pretty legs.  Along with the ‘elephant knuckles’ on my hands I seem to have ‘elephant knees’, and in addition I’m bow legged due to my flat feet and consequently rolling ankles.  It’s my Camera Club’s annual dinner and awards presentation this Friday and one thing’s for sure, I won’t be wearing a skirt which is a shame because, although I’m not the most girlie girl in the world, I am female and it would be nice now and again to wear something pretty.  The situation has not been helped by all the bruises I managed to acquire while helping my neighbour last week.  I’ve no clue how I got them, they just appeared, but they sure aint ladylike!  Is it just me who thinks the bruises on my right knee have made a face?  And the ‘face’ on my left knee looks like it’s winking LOL!

For about 5 days this week I had bags of energy.  At the time I had no idea why but was grateful and made the most of it 🙂  I got all sorts done, then woke up Tuesday morning to discover my period had arrived.  I was only on day 19 so it was completely unexpected, bearing in mind my cycle last month was 32 days.  Due to my endometriosis I usually have plenty of warning when my period is on the way in the form of back and stomach pain, but this month nada.  I can’t believe some women go through their whole lives like that, just having periods and it’s no big deal.  I’ve never had a pain-less period in my entire life and it was wonderful but weird!  I’m now putting my preceding energy spurt down to hugely surging hormones.

The few days since my period has ended have not been as great.  I appear to be having post-period tension and am like a weepy bear with a sore head.  My dwindling hormones also give rise to spotting for days on end and my back and reflux are rubbish.  My proprioception is also way off and I’ve spent three days banging into the furniture, dropping every item I pick up and spilling everything from my morning cuppa to the liquid which goes in my washing machine draw.  It’s driving me nuts!

To add insult to injury my cold-induced cough is still lingering.  Three weeks of hacking up phlegm when you’re already ill is pants and I just wish it would do one.

Wednesday was my last Camera Club of the season and we won’t meet again until September.  I’ll really miss it.  It’s the only time I ever get to see people and I enjoy being sociable as much as I enjoy the photography.  However, at the same time I do find the 2 hours I spend there exhausting.  Thursdays are always a right-off and I’m still suffering the consequences on Friday.  Bertie will be happy though.  He’s usually fed at 4.30pm then sleeps til 6am the next morning – having to go out in the cold at 6pm to be dropped off at his Nannie and Granda’s and not getting back home til 10pm makes him tired and grumpy 😉

I started a 2 week stay-cation on Friday.  As regular readers will know, I decided that I deserve holidays just like everyone else and although I can’t afford, and am not well enough, to go away that doesn’t mean I can’t abandon my parents and my home for a fortnight three times a year.  I’ve made sure my Mum and Dad don’t need anything doing, I’ve cooked and frozen enough meals to see me through and caught up with my laundry.  Apart from still having to take Bertie out, I’m spending my days doing what I want and not thinking about anyone else for a change.  Bliss 🙂

Today is Easter Sunday.  Like most heathens the religious significance passes me by, but I am going out with my parents for lunch which I’m both looking forward to (getting out of the house and not having to cook) and dreading (Dad being scatty and Mum being drunk).  Whatever you’re all up to I hope you have a lovely day 🙂

Weekly roundup

I really must make more lists.  As I’m going about my week I think to myself “I’ll tell my readers this on Sunday” but when Sunday comes I can barely remember what I did an hour ago let alone on Tuesday 😉

I do know that I spent the whole of Monday in bed with a migraine due to my attendance at the Photography Salon last weekend.  It was to be expected but still sucked.

The good news is I am feeling so much better since starting the Spatone iron water for my low ferritin and making a concerted effort to include iron-rich veggie foods at every meal and snack.  When I first tried the Spatone it gave me awful nausea, stomach pains and a bit of a runny bum (iron supplements are notorious for giving people gippy stomachs), so I took a break then restarted it a little bit at a time, working up to a full sachet.  I now have no side effects and the daily dizziness I’ve had for months has totally gone 🙂

After 16 days my cold is still lingering.  I’m not alone – a friend at Camera Club also has the bug and has been coughing and sniffling even longer than me.  I woke this morning and my runny nose finally seems to have dried up, only to be replaced by the raging sore throat which started the whole debacle.  WTF?!  I take Sambucol daily (which contains both Vitamin C and concentrated elderberries which are high in mast cell stabilizing quercetin), with added vitamin C in my Spatone, yet the bioflavanoid doesn’t seem to be helping my immune system fight the good fight.  On the plus side my hive outbreak, brought on by my mast cells having a virus-induced hissy fit, has finally cleared up though I did have to use steroid cream on my butt for a week.  For anyone who wants to know the technical ways in which mast cells react to viruses see Lisa’s article here.

I was given a garden centre voucher as a “thank you” when I left my volunteer job as compositor for our Church newsletter recently, so on Tuesday my bezzie and I had lunch out and a potter round a Nursery.  I bought 11 plants which, with my voucher, only cost me £8 🙂  I now have to find the energy from somewhere to actually put them in my garden!  I love gardening but plants are now so expensive I can hardly ever afford to buy any and actually doing any gardening cripples me :-/

I finally exploded over the situation with my 90 year old next door neighbour this week.  She fractured her hip last year and now has great difficulty walking let alone doing anything else.  She has two children who are about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.  My neighbour agreed to home care, but they were terrible – often turning up an hour late and sending someone different every week so that no-one ever knew what needed doing.  It rightly drove my neighbour nuts so she cancelled them.  Her house isn’t just filthy, it’s squalid.  She only has a bath 4 or 5 times a year.  She has a skin condition, which means she has weeping, pussy, bleeding blisters constantly.  She wears blood soiled clothes and sleeps in a blood soiled bed which again only gets changed 4 or 5 times a year.  Her kitchen is so dirty you can hear your feet sticking to the floor when you walk in there.  No-one seems to be helping her and it makes me furious.  It’s now so bad I feel physically sick when I visit as her house is so disgusting.  So on Wednesday, when I was paying my cleaner £10 an hour to clean my house, I went over to my neighbours and cleaned her oven. Four hours and a lot of elbow grease later it’s still only 50% clean but at least it’s something. Her hob is now spotless, but sitting on it is the most disgusting pan and casserole dish you’ve ever seen.  They’re beyond cleaning, so I’m buying her some new ones this week even though I can barely afford it.  She can no longer reach her wall units, so there is food and crockery all over the counter tops which makes cleaning those impossible.  Why aren’t her children sorting all this out?!!  She also has a huge apple tree in her garden, and all the apples have fallen off onto the lawn where they have lain rotting for months.  So for the past two days I’ve been picking up apples and have so far filled 5 dustbin bags which I’ll have to take to the tip.  Her only crime is being old and sick and unable to care for herself.  The District Nurses know about her, Social Services know about her yet she is still left in filth – it’s inhumane.

Yesterday I aged 5 years. I was helping the neighbour mentioned above walk to a seat in her back garden, looked round and Bertie (who had been right next to me) was nowhere to be found.  He has a tendency to wander up the village, so I thought he’d be on the verge at the front of the house. Nope. I called him. Nothing. I then spent 20 minutes running up and down the village like a loony toons shouting his name and couldn’t find him.  I always fear that, being a cute Pedigree, if he’s loose in the village someone going past in a car will snatch him. I was crying and terrified.  I was too exhausted to walk another step, so decided to get my neighbour back into her house so that I could get on my scooter and search further afield. I opened the back door, and there was the Bertster in her kitchen – he had pulled over the waste bin and was busily trying to eat the rubbish. I didn’t know whether to kill him or cuddle him! I have no idea how he got in the house as the back door was shut and why did the stupid git not bark when I was shouting for him if he couldn’t get back out?!

I’m now off to spray my throat with Ultrachloraseptic and am wondering if it’s OK to eat ice cream for breakfast!

 

Weekly roundup

They say time speeds up as you get older and they’re not kidding.  Not only can I not believe it’s Sunday again I also can’t believe it’s March already – where the hell did Jan and Feb go?!!  Not that I’m complaining about the fact it’s March because that means Spring is round the corner.  There are cute lambs in the fields, the lovely Oystercatchers have returned to the river and yesterday in a brief period of sunshine the chatter from a large flock of Siskins in next door’s apple tree was wonderful.


The decorating is finally finished and everything has been washed and put back.  I’m now crippled with awful back pain as a consequence of helping with the DIY but such is life.  The day I helped paint the skirting boards my right hand was so painful I couldn’t even put the top on my hot water bottle when I went to bed :-/

Speaking of pain, my gut is seriously getting me down.  I hurt from my throat to my backside every minute of the day and eating is no fun at all.  I can’t lie on my right side in bed because of a shooting pain near my right rib at the front and if I lie on my left side I get reflux.  I have random, shooting, stabbing, stinging pain all over my belly and also still have weird poop transit and soft stools, despite stopping the iron supplement 6 days ago (until I tried the supplement my poop was fine).  I feel nauseous all day every day and my appetite has done a runner.  Combine all that with back pain and my entire torso is miserable and so am I.

Thank God for my photography which is a much needed distraction.  We had our last Projected Digital Image competition on Wednesday night and I’m delighted to say the image below got 1st place 🙂  It is made up of 11 different photos and, yes, it is me in the frock 😉  It was the last PDI competition of the season and I received the overall highest score in my league over the year, which means I will be promoted to the Advanced league in September (gulp!).

Since Christmas I’ve been spending all my ‘spare’ time working on 10 images to enter for my first photographic Distinction (the CPAGB).  I finally got them all done this week and they are ready to be posted off to Croydon where they will be judged at the end of April.  I’m also entering my first International Small Print Salon which is being judged at the start of April, and have had to do my prints for the annual Northern Counties Photographic Federation competition also being judged in April.  I’m a bit photographed out now and ready for the season to end next month and to have a break over the summer from the pressure of competitions!  Having said all that, I’ve been asked to judge the portrait section of an international Salon in October, which is a huge honour and about which I’m massively nervous but excited 🙂  You can see the standard of photos entered in international Salons here.

Whilst recently looking for new recipes to try containing quinoa I came across quinoa crips!  They have the texture of Quavers but with a sour cream & chives flavouring (my fav).  OK so they’re junk food, but I have no problems with a little junk food now and then and at least both the quinoa and lentil flours are high in iron  😉

I re-started the Spatone iron water yesterday but this time I’m trying a small amount and working up to a full sachet in the hopes it doesn’t make me more nauseous than I already am or give me diarrhea.  Wish me luck, because if I can’t tolerate this most gentle of supplements there’s no way on earth my stomach would cope with anything stronger and I’m desperate to get my iron levels up.

Right I need to get my lazy but snuggly warm backside out of bed, have some breakfast, get dressed and take the mutt out!