Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (Interview 2)

At 5 months pregnant Charlene was advised to terminate her pregnancy but despite saying no she continued to stay strong and focus on her baby being born.
Charlene's son Kyle arrived at 36 weeks.
A beautiful boy whom was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.
Despite 3 surgeries Kyle is now an 11 year boy who has fought to survive.

Kyle's mother Charlene kindly agreed to an interview with me in regards to his condition.


An Interview With Charlene:

What is your name and age?
I'm Charlene and I'm 29 years old

What is your child's name and age?
My son is called Kyle and he's 11 years old

Did you have a normal pregnancy or were there any complications?
No complications

Did you have a normal labour or were there any complications?
I was induced at 36 weeks and had no complications during labour

When was your child diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome?
I found out my boy had Hlhs when I was 5 months pregnant and was adviced to terminate my pregnancy.

What symptoms did he / does he have?
Shortness of breath, rapid change of colour to he's skin, gets tired a lot during day, sometimes he has to have a little nap during school hours, also he suffers with bad cramps in he's legs due to poor blood circulation.

Is there a cure?
No unfortunately not

When did he undergo his first surgery and what was the process?
He had he's first open heart surgery at 16 hours old, known as the Norwood Procedure
It converts the right ventricle into the main ventricle pumping blood to both the lungs and the body, by this they inserted a small tube called a shunt.
He's next procedure was at 6months old, this is known as Glenn Operation, the shunt to the pulmonary arteries is disconnected and the right pulmonary artery is connected directly to the superior vena cava, the vein that brings deoxygenated blood from the upper part of the body to the heart.
And he had his 3rd operation at 2 years old and this is known as the Fontan Operation, It connects the inferior vena cava, the blood vessel that drains deoxygenated blood from the lower part of the body into the heart .

How long was he hospitalised for?
He remained in hospital till he was 2 months old after he's first procedure and was finally allowed home with a feeding tube, after his second he stayed in hospital for 2 weeks, and after his 3rd he stayed in for 7 weeks, only reason being because during surgery his kidney collapsed.

What advice would you give other parents/guardians in this situation?
Live each day, treasure every moment, our babies are miracles.


Monday, 30 May 2016

Type One Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)

Kelly Harrison and her partner Luke James are the proud parents of Kaydee Harrison and Vinnie James.

Parenting a child is the hardest job in the world and even more so when the child has an illness.

Kelly and Luke's son Vinnie is diagnosed with Type One Spinal Muscular Atrophy and despite this condition putting a strain on their family, they have fought and continue to fight every step of the way to help their little boy.

In order to help raise awareness of Vinnie's condition Kelly has kindly agreed to an interview with me.

I wish Kelly, her partner Luke, their daughter Kaydee and their son Vinnie all the very best for the future.


The Interview:

What are your names and ages?
My name is Kelly Harrison and I'm 33. Vinnie's dad is Luke James, 34.
I have Vinnie James who is 14 months and Kaydee Harrison who is 6.

When was Vinnie diagnosed with Type One Spinal Atrophy otherwise known as SMA?
Vinnie was diagnosed with SMA at 9 weeks old.

What symptoms did he / does he have?
He was floppy with no head control and couldn't bare weight on his legs.

How was the diagnosis made?
He was seen by a neuromuscular consultant who made a diagnosis by looking at him and was later confirmed by a blood test.

Is there a cure?
There is no cure.

Is the condition hereditary?
It's a genetic disorder where both parents gave to carry the faulty gene, 1 in 40-60 carry it.

What treatment/medication is available to him?
There is no real treatment or medication, just ways to help him clear his chest and keep his breathing stable by using a ventilator called bipap and keeping his airways clear with suctioning.

Please explain in detail what a typical day of caring for your son Vinnie is like?
A typical day is:
Get up and put Vinnie's nebuliser on to loosen any mucus that has been built up through the night.
We do chest physio to loosen it and suction his airways to remove the loose mucus.
We then do some physio with play using special devices called Angel arms and legs which are weightless so he can move.
He sleeps 12-2.
We then repeat chest physio after his nap.
We go out most days or if it's raining we stay in and Vinnie loves the tv.
He baths at 6 then has a nebuliser plus chest physio before going to bed around 7.30.
We feed him via a pump feeding system and an ng tube every 4 hours.
Through the night we have to get up to turn him every 4 hours or more as he gets uncomfortable.

What is Smnrx and what is its process?
The drug smnrx is administered via lumbar puncture and helps the smn 2 gene to replicate what the smn1 gene does.
Vinnie is missing the smn1 gene which produces the bodies protein for motor neurone survival.
By producing more protein it can restore movement and prolong life.

Please explain to me about the petition?
The petition was started by Charlotte Russell as we are trying to get the drug released early to all SMA children as results from phase 1 and 2 have been amazing.
The drug has been tolerated and the children have been reaching milestones where children not on the drug have been weakening and dying.

Vinnie is hooked up to a ventilator and feeding tubes, why?
Vinnie is on a ventilator around 22 hours a day, we are weaning him back to his normal 17/18 after an illness plus he is teething which produces more secretions which impacts on Vinnie's time off the vent as he has no swallow so can choke whilst not ventilated.
Vinnie has had a Feeding tube since 6 months old when he had his first serious illness.
He needs the ventilator to keep his airways open and help with chest expansion development.
Without bipap Vinnie would of died a long time ago as it allows them to rest and keeps them healthy.
He has a feeding tube as he has an unsafe swallow which can lead to aspiration.

Please tell me about the fundraising page?
We have Vinnie's fundraising page to raise money and awareness.
The money we have raised so far has bought us a wheelchair assessable vehicle as the government do not help children with mobility until the age of 3 and Vinnie cannot travel in a normal car seat and it's better to travel flat.
We use the money for family trips, equipment and more private physio as the NHS only supply this every other week.

What is the SMA Support Organisation Act?
SMA Support is a charity that offers support and some funding for SMA families.
I don't use them personally as the paperwork is ridiculous and it's easier to fundraise.

What advice would you give other patents/guardians in a similar situation?
My advice would be to fight fight fight. The NHS are not proactive, they wait until the child is critically ill before training parents in chest physio, suctioning and they do not give bipap.
If these steps were taken after diagnosis children would be living longer and more healthier.
Things need to change and soon and we nearly lost Vinnie because of this.
I educated myself in SMA as knowledge is power and not many doctors can test my knowledge or my passion.


Help & Support:




Featured Publication:




PLEASE Sign The Petition:



PLEASE Donate, Big Or Small - Every Little Helps:



Sunday, 29 May 2016

North Mayo Horse Sanctuary

North Mayo Horse Sanctuary
Co Mayo

Tel: 087 7659273

Email: northmayohorsesanctuary email.com

Mr Gerry Ginty, a Mayo County Councillor is the founder of the NMHS which he established in 2012.
Why did he establish NMHS? Because he was witnessing a large number of equines being abandoned and destroyed.
Some were being destroyed in the most barbaric way such as having a nail shot into the head which resulted in a horse taking hours to die!

Mr John Redmond of NMHS kindly agreed to an interview with me in relation to the NMHS.


The Interview:

Are you a business or a charity?
We are a registered charity

How are you funded?
We are self funded and often receive donations directly to the charity or through our shop in Ballina.
However Gerry Ginty (the founder) donates his work pay from Mayo County Council directly to the funding of NMHS.
We sometimes receive funds from the Department of Agriculture.

How is a horse rehabilitated?
We rescue a horse, take him/her to our stables, full medical assessments are carried out, the horse will be micro chipped and marked.
We will cater for the horses dietary needs.
We will interact with the horse so as to build trust.
His/her needs will be taken care of.
We will practise lunging in circles and eventually if we are satisfied that everything is alright we will re-home the horse.

As well as a horse being adopted, can a horse be fostered and what is the process involved?
Yes, horses can be fostered as well as adopted.
We do a home check so as to make sure there is suitable land/grass and shelter.
We want the fosterer/adoptee to be competent in how he/she cares for the horse.
We do routine follow-up checks.

What is a good diet for a horse?
Grass (but not too long), hay, maybe supplementary feeds such as oats, barley etc.

Case Study:
Q: I know of a horse that is being abused and mistreated, what can I do?
A: If the horse is on County Council Land you should contact the local County Council, however they will say to contact the Department of Agriculture, but when you do they will then tell you its a County Council matter.
You will be sent from one to another and back again...
If you contact the Guards (bear in mind they aren't aware if the equine standards)
The clarification is still needed, its still a grey area of topic which we want awareness brought to.
Maybe best to contact us directly as NMHS.

What additional information can you please share with me?
*We often employ people through local CE Schemes, for instance one young girl came to work at the stables and is now running the shop in Ballina.
*We have saved approximately 300+ horses since the NMHS was established in 2012.
*We often have young children visit, some who arrive are angry misunderstood children but when they leave us they have a new fondness of animals and respect not only for themselves but for others too.
*We do NOT like killing an animal unless it is absolutely needed.
*Horses bought on the "black market" such as through the website DoneDeal are not supplied with the appropriate paperwork, they are not medically assessed, are not micro chipped or marked and are often should from €50-€80 and often sold to young children.
You (the buyer) do not know the medical history of the horse, you do not know his/her temperament, you do not know the living conditions in which the horse was currently in.
Please do NOT buy a horse on the black market.
*Horses bought at civilised horse fairs are blood tested, come with the appropriate paperwork, are micro chipped and marked.
The rules are taken seriously and compassionately taken onboard.


Please Help:







The NMHS Charity Shop:



Equine Identification Advice Ireland:



Important Information:

The Anatomy of The Hoof -
The hoof is constructed of 17 parts;
Apex of frog
Seat of corn
Pigmented walk
Water line
Collateral groove
Central sulcus

How They Are Made:
Horse hooves are thick coverings that protect the end of the horse’s leg and also provide shock absorbency.
Horse hooves are made of keratin.
The keratin in a horse’s hoof is layered in horizontal sheets, so as to add strength and minimise the extent of any damage that could split the hoof irreparably in the event of a crack.
Horses walk on their tiptoes so they require a spongy pad beneath the heel on which to walk.
The outer wall of the hoof is insensitive but the inner parts can feel pain. Today most horseshoes are often made of steel and therefore offer added shock absorbency as well as traction on the ground.
The curved metal bands come with between six and eight square nail holes through which the metal pins can be slotted.
The nails are hammered into the nerve-free outer wall of the hoof which securely fastens the shoe.

Care of the Hoof:
During the Summer months horses should be trimmed or shod approximately every six to eight weeks.
Despite saying that, a responsible horse owner should trim the hooves as often as needed.
During the Winter months the hooves grow more slowly and because of the slower growth rate horses can be trimmed at a longer interval, approximately eight to twelve weeks. Each horse is different, therefore the trimming period depends on the amount of hoof grows.
A balanced hoof allows the horse to move better and puts less stress and strain on bones, tendons and ligaments.
Weather conditions can cause damage to the hoof.
During dry weather horses are prone to having dry and brittle feet that easily develop hoof cracks.
Proper nutrition and commercially available hoof supplements can help improve hoof quality.
During the Winter months special care should be taken especially if the horse lives outside or is turned out.
Snow can ball up under the sole and cause bruising and/or imbalance.
Ice can be very slippery if the horse is shod with normal shoes.
Snow pads will prevent snow and ice from building up under the shoe and will allow for better traction.
Winter weather can dry out the hoof wall and applications of hoof moisturiser may be needed.
A horse’s nutrition can help alleviate some hoof problems.
The perfect healthy diet and constclean water is important for hoof health and overall horse health.
Bad nutrition can result in hoof problems, but correcting a horse’s nutrition can improve the condition...

Friday, 27 May 2016

Depression & Anxiety

Depression is a serious illness caused by changes in the brain chemistry.
It is a very severe condition with feelings of misery, despair, hopelessness and more.
There are many types of depression such as; persistent depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, postpartum depression, psychotic depression, substance induced mood disorder, major depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, situational depression, atypical depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder...

Anxiety is an intense and overwhelming feeling that causes fear, worry and apprehension.
Anxiety is mostly triggered by stress however there are many other triggers such as; brain chemistry, substance abuse, medical conditions...
There are many types of anxiety such as; generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety, separation anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, phobias...

I have recently joined a group for people with depression and anxiety (the link is at the bottom of this blog) via the social media site Facebook.
I decided to contact the page admin to ask for their help in conducting interviews with group members.
I have interviewed several people about being diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
I have answered the questions too.
I understand that the symptoms I have another person with the same condition may have different symptoms.
I also understand that the medication I am prescribed maybe different to that of another person.
Therefore by asking everyone the same questions I (we) can see the results, we can see how each person is different despite being diagnosed with the same conditions.

Thank you to everyone who kindly agreed to answer my questions.



What is your name and age?
Sam aka My Sunshine Sparkles
Age 35

When were you diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
I was officially and medically diagnosed in 2009 after the death of my 18 year old brother but I do believe I have had depression and anxiety since I was 10 years old.

How was a diagnosis made?
The first doctor I went to basically laughed it off, however I changed doctors and my new one asked basic questions about my health, lifestyle, sleep etc.
He also did a full medical examination and took bloods too.

Was there a cause for your illness?
I do believe my depression and anxiety were triggered by the sudden loss of my brother however there were issues from my childhood which I believe were the root cause.

How was the depression/anxiety treated?
My depression was/is treated with antidepressants called Lexapro and I take one daily at a dose of 75mg.
My anxiety was/is treated with medication called Xanax at a dose of 25mg but I only take one when needed.

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?
My mother (65) has depression.
My daughter (16) has depression.

Apart from medication have you tried any alternative therapies?
I once tried counseling but I didn't feel ready at the time.

How has the condition(s) affected your daily life?
Depression - Some days I am really happy and other days I am really low.
I've had suicidal thoughts and I've self harmed but I'm still here, strong and fighting to survive.
On good days I'm happy and comfortable with my surroundings.
On bad days I feel lifeless, tired, upset, angry and so on.
Anxiety - I've had several panic attacks, two were so bad my doctor put me on the breathing mask.

What advice would you give someone who has recently been diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
Always seek professional advice first.
Its OK to cry and its OK to feel down but always remember "after the storm comes the sun" and in time you'll smile again.
I find it helps me personally to talk to loved ones but also keep a written diary/journal and write everything down.


What is your name and age?
Claire Hampson, 36 years old

When were you diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
3 and a half years ago

How was a diagnosis made?
By my doctor

Was there a cause for your illness?
Stress of family issues, being bullied at work and being bullied by husband and his family

How was the depression/anxiety treated?
I use to take medication but now I just have St John's Wort and medication didn't agree with me

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?
My mum and auntie

Apart from medication have you tried any alternative therapies?
Had counselling but it didn't help

How has the condition(s) affected your daily life?
I don't socialise and find it hard to go out on my own.
I struggle at work because it's a very high pressured job and have taken time off in the past

What advice would you give someone who has recently been diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
Try to think positive as it can change your mind set.
Self help is good


What is your name and age?
Alan, 52

When were you diagnosed with depression and anxiety?
18 months ago

How was the diagnosis made?
Mental Health Team/GP (doctor)

Was there a cause for your illness?
Childhood, life situations

How was your depression/anxiety treated?
Medications, talking therapy, CBT

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?

Apart from medication have you tried any alternative therapies?

How has the condition(s) affected your daily life?
Withdrawing into myself, Panic/anxiety attacks, low self esteem, lack of confidance

What advice would you give someone who was recently diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
Seek help as soon as you can, Mental Health is nothing to be ashamed of


What is your name and age?
Age 24

When were you diagnosed with depression and anxiety?
Depression 2012
Partum Depression and Anxiety 2015

How was your diagnosis made?
I knew something was wrong with me.
I wasn't the same person as before.
I cried all the time.
Then with the post partum depression I was lashing out at my fiance and young baby.
I couldn't stand her crying.
I also had extreme fears about things. Like her being kidnapped from our bed while she was sleeping right next to me.

Was there a cause for your illness?
The depression I think was caused by a major life change and the same thing with the post partum depression but hormones played a big part after giving birth.

How was your depression/anxiety treated?
I was put on medication both times.

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?
My mother has depression and although not formally diagnosed I believe my father has it as well.

Apart from medications have you tried any alternative therapies?
I am about to begin talk therapy for my depression and anxiety.
Medication alone isn't helping as well as it should.

How has the condition(s) affected your daily life?
Depression has a huge impact on my life. I feel as though my relationship with my daughter and fiance both suffer because I often don't want to do anything.

What advice would you give someone recently diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
My advice would be to seek help.
I was reluctant and still am.
I want to be independent but I also don't want to acknowledge that it had such a huge impact on my life.
That's changing though.
Always let people know how you feel.
You are not a failure.
If something doesn't work speak up.
If you need a different med that is ok.
If you need a therapist that's ok.
If you need to switch therapist that's ok. You are not a failure.
Depression is not you.
It's a disease that you have.


What is your name and age?
Nicola & 18

When were you diagnosed with depression and anxiety?
Just after my 15th birthday

How was the diagnosis made?

Was there a cause for your illness?
Controlling ex that locked me in his house for 12 months

How was your depression/anxiety treated?
Propranolol for 11 months but didn't work for me so haven't taken nothing in almost 3 years

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?
Only I have it

Apart from medications have you tried any alternative therapies?
I just get on with it day by day (baby steps haven't tried nothing else)

How has this condition(s) affected your daily life?
I don't leave my house alone other than that I've overcome the rest of the symptoms

What advice would you give someone who was recently diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
I'd tell them it's not a walk in the park and that with baby steps they'll get further and achieve there goals.


What is your name and age?
My name is Peter John Whyman
I am 43 years old.

When were you diagnosed with depression and anxiety?
I would say I was diagnosed with "generalised anxiety" and "panic disorder" in November of 2015

How was the diagnosis made?
The diagnosis was made by a combination of my doctor and a councillor I was seeing at the time.

Was there a cause for your illness?
At the time I couldn't find the main cause for my condition.

How was your depression/anxiety treated?
I went through CBT which helped a little bit, it gave me the tools to help.
I just find it hard sometimes to get it in my head and get the anxious feeling out.
I took 10mg of citalopram which  recently has been upped to 20mg.

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?
No members of my family are being treated for any mental illness conditions.

Apart from medication have you tried any alternative therapies?
I have tried hypnotherapy CBT and self help therapies.
I am currently trying hypnosis again through relaxation recordings via Mark Bowden Hypnotherapy which I find very calming.

How has this condition(s) affected your daily life?
The condition affects my daily life by way of too many anxious feelings that tells my head I can't do this and I can't do that. It makes me stay in too much and not drive too far out of my comfort zone.
It makes me feel like I've let everyone down, especially my partner and my 11 year old son, by not taking them out much.
I think my son has missed out on so much but he tells me he loves me regardless, kids do that no matter what, they will always love you.
My partner tries to understand, she does her best but sometimes I know she doesn't understand how I feel but she helps me so much it's unreal.
I feel I don't deserve the love she gives me.
I have since been trying to get my head around things a bit more by reading books on the subject and have found a couple which are really great books; Anxiety Rebalance by Carl Vernon and a book on Driving Fear by Joanne Mallon which I am still reading.
I am also a member of a great facebook group anxiety and depression - there's more to me than what you see.
I am an admin for the group also and I would personally like to thank Clare Lou Hampson for starting it up, we had a good chat about when I accidentally posted something on a comment she made on another page.

What advice would you give someone recently diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
I would say to people don't give up hope. Stop saying you suffer and start saying you live with anxiety because at the end of the day we need anxiety in our lives to survive and we do have to live with it as part of our lives we just need to find the strength to control it in our minds.
It is hard but if you stick at it you can do it and be able to control your anxiety to help you to live a happy fulfilling life.
Stop saying no and start saying yes to things.
The more times you beat the anxiety the more you will be able to control it
I am getting better each time at being in certain places and environments that I would normally shy away from.
I stick in there and stay with it and eventually the anxious feeling subside
I have good and bad days but God I'm trying and want to beat it.
There isn't a cure for it, just a change in mindset.
I was looking for a cure for years, never been able to find one, most probably because there isn't one.
I would also say; talk to people tell them how you feel and what you have to go through each day.
It will help you and it will help people to understand "our" conditions a bit more and they may try and help you.
Tell them what you would like them to say to you because what we don't want to hear calm down you'll get over it and things like that.
We don't want to be patronised, we want to be treated like everyone else in the world.
We don't want sympathy we just want understanding.
I have lived with anxiety for over 20 years.
I lost my brother to cancer I had to watch his deterioration from being about 16 Stone to a skeletal skin and bone while the cancer slowly starved him over 18 months.
I watched my father die of lung disease over a long period of time, after being a strong healthy mineworker.
I lost a couple of close uncles at that time also, which didn't help.
I think now my anxiety probably started on one particular day; my brother was an entertainer and this particular day he wanted me to go and help him out on the road which I didn't want to but he and my parents kept telling me to go.
I had feelings of shall I go but I don't want to but if I don't go I'll let them down.
I started to go but then I had a panic attack, some thing I never want to go through again, it was a feeling I never ever want, it was horrible.
I thought I was dying, my breathing changed, my hands and face tingled like mad, all I could see was whiteness in front of me, my hands had seized up into a fist which no one could prise apart not even my dad who had big strong hands. When I came around, the doctor was there he said I was panicking.
When asked why, he said because he couldn't get his breath, but why couldn't I get my breath, he said because he was panicking.
A vicious circle continued from that episode.
I had numerous tests and saw numerous doctors to be then told I have asthma which brings us up to today.
I feel like when I am calm and not anxious my asthma is lovely and when I'm anxious my asthma is usually dreadful so I'm in a circle there aswell.
In a whole I'm a lot better than I was this time last year.
I'm finally starting to live a little bit more with each passing day.
Here's to the future may it bring us all happiness that we deserve.
We need to raise more awareness of mental health conditions.
Tell people to smile more, it doesn't cost a penny and if you smile at people then you are giving out positiveness which will in turn give you positive feelings back.


What is your name and age?
Camille Urban, 33 years

When were you diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
Initially I was diagnosed with depression when I was about 19 and was put onto anti-depressants, spent the next 14 years on and off meds.
In January this year I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and Anorexia Nervosa and have struggled with self-harming.

How was a diagnosis made?
I was placed onto anti-depressants by my GP in December 2015 after sitting sobbing in his office for no reason, but my sister who also has depression suggested I see her psychiatrist.
I was sceptical as I had been through the psychiatrist-meds circus many times before but eventually made an appointment.
When I went to see the psychiatrist she immediately booked me into a clinic and told me that if I didn’t get help and onto the proper meds it would most likely develop into psychosis.

Was there a cause for your illness?
It is a genetic chemical imbalance that runs in my family but has been worsened by various traumatic events in my life. The most obvious I can think of is that my mother died of a heart attack in front of me when I was eleven, I did a lot of drugs in my teens and early 20’s, was in an abusive relationship with an addict for three years and shortly after I managed to leave him, my father died of a heart attack, again, in front of me.

How was the depression/anxiety treated?
I received counselling while in the clinic in the forms of one-on-one sessions with my psychologist and psychiatrist, group therapy and occupational therapy.
The psychiatrist has got me on various meds to keep me stable. (Venlor, Trazadone and Rivatrol)

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?

Apart from medication have you tried any alternative therapies?
I am a Christian now so I pray, spend time reading my bible, go to church, seek God for my strength and peace and I feel that has helped me a lot.

How has the condition(s) affected your daily life?
All my diagnoses are a daily battle but if I had to look at each individually I would say;

My depression is being managed but I have good days and bad day like any other person but when you suffer from depression, your bad days are that much worse.
Anyone who suffers from depression knows that it is a deep black pit that you actually cannot see the way out of, when people try to give helpful advice like “exercise and sit in the sun” it makes me want to laugh because if only that fixed the problem.
But it doesn’t, just getting out of bed, showering and getting dressed feels like a 40km marathon.
I remember mornings when I would just sit on the side of my bed and sob because the thought of getting dressed and going to work felt like more than I could handle.
But I somehow always managed to get to work and act like I was ok. 
I recently relapsed badly with my depression because of outside stressors and toxic people in my life and picking yourself up and carrying on are hard but it’s worth it.
You have to hold onto that hope that it won’t always be like this, even if you can’t see a way out, you can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, it must get better because I have come to realise after my stay in the clinic in January and all the work I did, taking my own life is not worth it.
Plus with my faith, I can hold onto the knowledge that Jesus is sitting there in that deep dark pit with me and when the time is right, won’t help me out of it, He will carry me out because he loves me and died for me and if my life can be a testimony to his love and His grace, I would gladly suffer for His glory.

I believe I have suffered with anxiety since I was a child, either that or I was/am on the lower end of the autistic scale because small things like my socks pinching me in my school shoes would get me so upset I would completely freak out.
To this day I have to constantly analyse my thoughts and consciously decide if it’s a real threat or if it’s just my anxiety, but I don’t always get it right.
Especially in highly stressful situations, I suffer from bad anxiety attacks and have had to pull off the road while driving to or from work many times because I felt like I was having a heart attack, I can’t breathe, I shake uncontrollably, get incredibly dizzy, my arms go lame, my hands go cold and numb, my mind races and I can’t control my thoughts, they run wild like a pack of wolves chasing its prey.
Anxiety is a hard thing to explain to someone who has never experienced it, it’s like this cold icy hand grips your heart and mind and takes over completely, logic and rational thought go straight out the window and all you can feel is this wave of panic washing over your body.
Many a time I have had one of my colleagues (who luckily is a good friend and understands) come and talk me  down from an anxiety attack while I have been sat at my desk, or outside the office trying to appear composed and professional but almost hyperventilating and crying my eyes out.

Eating disorder:
Shew, where to begin, I can’t actually tell you when my eating disorder started.
I was always a skinny active kid, but when I hit puberty, I just ballooned, only finding out when I was 19 that it was due to PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and my hormones were just a mess and no matter what I did, I kept picking up weight.
So I remember hating my body from a young age, looking in the mirror and hating myself, lying in the bath looking at the rolls on my stomach and wishing them gone, wishing I was thin and desperately crying out for help but could not voice it, which is when the self-harming started.
When I was a teenager I got involved in drugs and due to doing a lot of these drugs (mostly LSD) I lost a lot of weight and finally felt I was worth something.
My self-esteem was so low after being over-weight, losing my mother at a young age and having to figure out how to run a house, care for my older sister who after my mother’s death lost herself in various addictions and my father who was incredible but for a long time, completely lost without my mother.
Being thin for me meant being worth something, boys paid attention to me, even though I only started dating when I was 18 as I was too involved with drugs to really care about boys for many years. But I liked their attention.
My eating disorder has come and gone over the years, certain things have made it worse, for example one guy I dated in my early twenties used to force me to go to gym and weigh myself and told me if I picked up even 500g he would break up with me.
The last serious relationship I was in before my current boyfriend (who is amazing and loving and supportive) was the abusive one I referred to earlier.
He also got me back onto drugs after being clean for maybe five years.
We did a lot of cocaine and again due to the drugs I lost weight which reaffirmed my idea that weight equals importance as he used to abuse me emotionally and mentally as well as physically.
I still struggle to this day and even though I do eat now days, I can’t help but feel guilty when I do, even though I don’t show it.
I have done it all, starved myself, purged after eating what a normal person would consider a small meal, sometimes 4 or 5 times a day, been hospitalised more than once because of this, although I never told the doctors so they just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.
I believe the thyroid condition I suffer from (Hashimotos disease) is because of my eating disorder and all the strain I have put my body through over the years. I’m learning again now that what I look like doesn’t matter, but it’s a daily battle.

As I mentioned earlier, this started at a young age, it started with physically hurting myself, hitting my head against the wall repeatedly, punching myself, scratching myself, doing anything to feel physical pain to numb the pain I felt inside.
After my mother’s death it got worse, the pain was like a cancer that grew and grew and just consumed me, I started cutting myself when I was 13 or 14 and have done so repeatedly over the years, as well as physically hurting myself (hitting myself, banging my head against the wall, scratching myself until I bruise). It’s hard to explain but when people say “it’s just for attention” most of the time (because sometimes it is) they couldn’t be more wrong.
The harm you do to yourself from real pain isn’t going to be easily seen; you cut and hurt yourself in places where it is easy to hide.
You don’t show the world the physical scars because those scars represent times when physical pain is less sore than the pain you feel inside.
It’s a release in a way.
You look down at the blood and the cuts and you don’t actually see it, all you see is a way to stop the hurt in your heart, in your mind, in your soul.
I recently relapsed and cut myself again, I know now it’s when I feel overwhelmed and worthless and can’t cope with the world or the expectations people have of me because despite all my issues I have become a master of disguise.
I don’t show my emotions easily to the point that I found out just 3 days ago that I have a mass (teritoma) in my right ovary that has been causing me so much pain that I have been physically ill and throwing up from the pain, but not even my  housemate knew the extent of this pain. I have learnt over the years to hide it so well.

What advice would you give someone who has recently been diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
Don’t try to run from the pain, as hard and as terrifying as it is, face your fears, look back and see your life for what it was but understand that it does not define you.
All you have is this moment in time, the people who love you and the connection you have with God.
See your depression/anxiety/mental illness for what it is, but know that you CAN overcome it, it takes true courage to admit your weaknesses and ask for help but it is the best thing you can ever do. We were not created to be alone, to walk this path alone, fine someone who can walk alongside you and help you up when you fall, but remember, it’s a give and take, and be there for them when they stumble, show love regardless and forgive.
Forgiveness is key, holding on to hurt is like stabbing yourself with a knife and expecting the other person to feel pain.


Help & Support:

http://www.aware.ie/ (depression)

http://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/depression.php (depression)

http://ie.reachout.com/inform-yourself/anxiety-panic-and-shyness/generalised-anxiety-disorder/ (anxiety)

https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/ (anxiety)


Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)

When a woman becomes pregnant, the first or even the fifth time, it is always a magical experience.
However at 28 weeks pregnant Dawn Flitcroft was told her unborn baby had a serious heart defect.
Despite this devastating news and two bleeds, Dawn went on to enjoy a normal pregnancy and birth.
On the day that her beautiful daughter Kendal was born, the medical team diagnosed Kendal with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome otherwise known as HLHS.
This is a serious defect that affects the flow of blood through the heart.
It is just one type of a congenital heart defect.
Despite the fact that Dawn was told her daughter may not survive, Kendal fought to stay alive.

Dawn kindly agreed to an interview with me.


An Interview With Dawn Flitcroft:

What is your name and age?
Dawn Flitcroft
Age 36.

What is your child's name and age?
Kendal Flitcroft
Age 16 months (on the 3rd)

Did you have a normal pregnancy or were there any complications?
I had two bleeds.
One at 16 weeks and another at 21 weeks.
But pregnancy went fine.

Did you have a normal labour or were there any complications?
I had normal labour and it all went fine.

When was Kendal diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome?
I was told of the diagnosis when she was born.
I found out when I was 28 weeks that she had a serious heart condition and that she wouldn't survive birth. 

What symptoms did she / does she have?
She has rapid breathing and she turns blue a lot.

Is there a cure?
No her heart condition can never be fixed.

When did Kendal undergo her first surgery and what was the process?
She had her 1st open heart surgery at just  10 days old, her 2nd at 7 months old and she will need her 3rd one at age 4 years.
Then eventually a heart transplant.
The 1st one was to put a shunt in.
The 2nd one was to bring the main arteries from her neck down to her heart. The 3rd one is for the main arteries from her legs.

How long was she hospitalised for?
She was in hospital for 9 and a half months and that was from birth.
The doctors had no hope for her.

What advice would you give other parents/guardians in this situation?
My advice would be to always have hope and cherish every second as you don't know when God is going to call them home.


Help & Support:




A La Carte Candy

Barbara, the creator and owner of A La Carte Candy kindly agreed to an interview with me.
I spoke with Barbara over the phone and she is a lovely lady to talk business with.
If you are planning a party, I highly recommend that you consider contacting Barbara at A La Carte Candy.


The Interview;

What is your business called?
The name of my business is A La Carte Candy.

When and why was the business established?
The business was established in July of 2014 and the website was live in September 2014.
The business was created by myself through the love of creative design and event planning.
I came to find out how creative I could be from my  previous position as a store manager and how I loved visual merchandising and displaying product items both in store and front of shop.
The party planning came from the love of designing parties for my loved ones.

Where are you located?
The business is located in Kildare but I do travel where ever my services is needed.

Please explain in detail what the candy and desert buffets are?
For me my buffets are Bespoke Candy and Desert Buffets which means confectionary displayed in beautiful glass pieces in an custom design and colour coordinated manner to match your theme or event.
The idea for me is Candy and Desert Buffets which will be designed with the use of props, lighting, linen, raisers for different height's, candy label's, backdrops if required.
In essence brining all your favourite confectionary to your buffet and display them in a manner that's suites your event.

What else do you provide?
Here at A La Carte Candy we also provide you with personalised candy bag wrappers, personalised candy bars, personalised backdrops that are yours to keep and hang on your wall as a keep sake.

Please explain in detail about your packages?
We have currently three packages.
Parties and Events catering form 50-100 guests.
Corporate and Weddings catering from 100-250 guests.
Kids mini Buffets catering for up to 20 guests.

Please explain your prices?
Our package prices depend on your choice of confectionary and design and location.
To date you can spend between 350-450 Euros on our first package.
The second package catering for up to 250 guests can be from 450- 650 Euros. Your location and travel time will be taken into consideration when booking.
Our kids mini buffet price is 200 Euro's catering for up to 20 guests.

Do you cater for themes?
We do cater for themes.

Do you put into considerations those with food allergies?
If you have allergies we will organise confectionary that will suit your needs.

How do you promote your business?
A La Carte Candy is promoted through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Linkdin and our website alacartecandy.com.





Monday, 23 May 2016

The "Breast" Side of Parenting

Featured Publication:


An Interview With Naomi:

What is your name and age? I am Naomi Jael Covert and I am 21 Years old. 

What is your don's name and age? TJ (short for Anthony lee Covert JR) and he is 10 months old.

Why did you personally choose breast feeding over bottle feeding? Because it is simply better and more nourishing, with all the antibodies that protect him as long as he drinks breastmilk (and it reduces breastcancer in women)

Why do you think some people disagree with and criticise against breastfeeding? I personally think it is because some feel angered by the "breast is best" some who come from a different country ( states for example) it has been sexualized, tabooed, I dont know why but they were raised to believe you dont breast feed in public but wearing a shirt with big cleavage is ok (obviously that doesnt go for everybody). To be honest this question is hard to answer for me, because it has always been the number 1 rule for us when we grew up, that you breastfeed, unless you really can't.

I once read "breastfeeding is a way of sexualising one's breasts" what is your response to this statement? I think that is total nonsense. It makes no sense literally. Its a boob, nothing more. As soon as you become a mother boobs belong to the babies.

In Germany where you are located, it is the "norm" to breastfeed so why do you think it is different elsewhere by some? It is the norm, but there are also a few that chose bottle feeding over breastfeeding, simply because they dont get as much support anymore. Because they aren't taught how to eat, what to eat, what to drink to produce milk. Most also give up way to early, yes it hurts like hell at first but you can do it! I dont get how its not the norm in some countries, but I do think that both parents having to work in order to "feed" the family, probably had to do with becoming very formula friendly. Its just mindblowing how its "not accaptable" in some countries, or frowned upon.

What changes would you personally like to see in regards to breastfeeding? I do think everybody should do what they think is right and best. But I wish young/older moms could openly feed their kids without being shamed/ bashed. It shouldnt be a huge deal.

What advice would you give other breastfeed mothers? Just concentrate on what you are doing, do not feel ashamed, dont let them get to you, because usually when you breastfeed in none fancy dressed like I did, you cant even see a breast, and if they can see it, they could look away. Some babies take blankets, if thats the case with the mom, take the blanket, if its not the case, dont feel ashamed of feeding without a cover. Its not like you are flashing your boobs.


Help & Support:


Twizzlers American Sweet & Shake Shop




An Interview With Twizzlers:

What is the name of your business?
Twizzlers American Sweet & Shake Shop

When and why was it established?
Our business was established in Sept '16, we used to own an olde sweet shop and through the advent of YouTube we noticed more and adults and children looking to source American sweets. That's why we changed our "Type" of shop.

Where are you located?
71 Main St. Bray, Co. Wicklow

Who are the founders?
David Dunne & Barry Murphy

What are your hours of business?
Mon-Sat 10am~6pm & Sun 1pm~6pm

What products do you sell?
A whole range of American confectionary eg would be Twinkies, Bean Boozled, Twizzlers, 12 varieties of M&Ms and many many more

Where do you find your products?
Research American wholesalers who ship to Ireland.

Do you or would you consider selling organic/vegetation/lactose intolerance/diabetic etc products?
We would of course, many of our products are GF.

What is your best selling product to date and why?
Bean Boozled due to a YouTube craze, search Bean Boozled challenge on YouTube.

Mortuusequusphobia - The Red Stuff

As an avid reader and follower of the news I've heard of a lot of strange phobias.
Lauren-Rae Dodd has "mortuusequusphobia" which I personally find impossible to pronounce.
It's the fear of red sauces;  Tomato Ketchup.
This lady kindly agreed to an interview with me in relation to her phobia.

What is the strangest phobia you have heard of, or even have yourself?
Please comment below...


An Interview With Lauren-Rae Dodd

What is your name and age?
My name is Lauren-Rae Dodd and I'm 22 (I was 21 when the article first surfaced)

When did you first gain a fear of Tomato Ketchup?
I can't pin point an exact time that made me phobic, it's just something I had  been uncomfortable and scared of it for as long as I can remember.
There's isn't one specific incident.

What symptoms did/do you have?
What I was most scared of is the idea of it being on me and having that cold, messy smelly texture on me or having it stain something on me or near me.
The smell caught the back of my throat almost instantly and always made me gag.

What is it that scares you about tomato ketchup?
When I came into contact with ketchup (it didn't even have to be contact, when my phobia was at its worst, I'd be accutely aware of someone using it at the table next to me, or when I was living with a lot of people in university someone having it on a plate in the same room as me was a nightmare), I would hold my breath and often close my eyes to try and talk myself out of panicking.
It would again make me gag and it's more or less all I'd be able to concentrate on.
I'd focus on distancing myself as much as I could from it.

Does the colour RED symbolise anything in particular to you?
Red doesn't symbolise anything in particular to me - I'm actually a fan of the colour.

Why is it that you are calm and collected with tomatoes in general but the sauce causes a reaction?
I'm not entirely sure!
I think the sharp vinegary smell of ketchup is a massive factor in what I associate with my fear, where as regular tomatoes don't leave as much mess and are much fresher and cleaner.

Have you tried or would you consider trying;
Cognitive therapy,
Tapping therapy,
Or even traditional psychotherapy for your phobia?
I've actually received a little cognitive therapy as channel 4 approached me to take part in a short documentary about strange phobias and how to cure them. The therapist I saw was ideal, and we under went some intense spoken therapy and then exposure therapy and I would say the fear has significantly reduced now.

How do your friends and family feel in regards to your phobia?
My family think it's quite funny but they're used to it and simply know it's never going to be a large part of meal time for us.
My friends especially when I was living with them for university, took it more seriously and were super considerate...
I try not to tell too many people as not to be awkward!
And there's always a risk of once I've told someone they'll go out of their way to expose me to it as a joke.

If I were to squeeze an entire bottle if tomato ketchup into your hands, how would you react?
Right now if you did that I'd be more annoyed at the mess you'd made!
Before the therapy, I'd have to leave immediately and basically hold my breath until I was satisfied my hands were clean, but that would probably involve scolding them.






Thursday, 19 May 2016

Never Judge A Book By Its Cover, Never Judge A Person By Its Title

Opi is a young woman who is Gender Neutral.
Like many others she does not fit within the category of Male or Female, instead she is and as I quote "I am neither but closer to female"

Gender Neutral means a person sees themselves as both male and female, neither or a mixture of both.

Male, female, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, transgender and so many more are "titles" but why are people looked upon as a "title"
When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

The Daily Mail newspaper recently did a story on Opi however some if what they stated is NOT FACTUAL therefore I'd like to correct this...
*Opi's breast size was stated which shouldn't have been.
*It stated that Opi wants a Bilateral Mastectomy, this is a lie.
*It stated "Opi no longer feels comfortable in the female body" this is a lie.
I personally believe The Daily Mail should reprint the story with ACTUAL FACTS and issue an apology to Opi.

Opi kindly agreed to an interview with me and every word stated below is the truth.


The Interview:

What is your name and age?
Opi, aged nineteen.

You identify as Non Binary, please explain in detail?
I am Gender Neutral with a heavy female lean.
Meaning that, in the grey-spectrum towards 'male' and 'female', I am neither but closer to 'female'.

How was your childhood in relation to health, beauty, clothes etc?
My childhood, as a young child, had complications that are not relevant.
Being a teen (13 - 17/18), I heavily compensated with makeup, very feminine clothing and typical female habits.
All in all in made me severely unhappy.

At what age did you start puberty and why did you suddenly feel ashamed?
I started developing very young, around nine or ten.
It was awful.
Suddenly I was told I had to 'be a woman' due to physical changes.
The feelings of shame came with the feelings of hating my physical body; I knew I shouldn't hate myself because I was a 'girl' and that all of things I was experiencing were a sign of becoming a woman.
I know now this is why I experienced such distress.

You are hoping to raise £6,000 so as to have your size 30D breasts removed, why?
For the record, I don't know WHY the articles have listed my breast size like that.
It's a very poor estimate - either way...
I wish to reduce the size of my breasts dramatically in order to rid myself of gender dysphoria.
Having them causes me great distress.

You wear unisex clothes, why?
I just wear clothes.
I don't know why every article has specified 'unisex'.
A t-shirt is a t-shirt.

Everyday you "bind" your breasts, what is the process of this and why?
Some days I will just apply a sports bra of varying degree.
Some days I will put on my heaviest sports bra then bind with bandages; this is is to make my chest flat, so I do not experience the dysphoria has heavily.

According to Daily Mail Online it states you "no longer feel comfortable in the female body" can you please explain this in more detail?
The Daily Mail online is a complete and utter disgrace.
That statement is their own addition.
I experience dysphoria with my chest, and some other functions that can easily be avoided.
That article was designed to get a response from the public - it did just that.

What is the process of a Bilateral Mastectomy?
I do not want a bilateral mastectomy. Again, lies from the papers.

You are in a Heterosexual Relationship with your partner Phill Abbott, how does he feel in relation to your decision to become Gender Neutral?
I am in a relationship.
Being with a straight male does not make me in anyway heterosexual.
I am also not a woman and therefore 'straight' cannot be applied to me anyway. As for my other half, he has been wonderfully supportive as he always is. He stands by my decisions.

Do you friends/family support you in your decision?

Have you ever been the victim of narrow-minded attitudes due to your lifestyle choice?
Of course; upon coming out to the public I was met with a barrage of insults and demands I should end my life - people are ignorant.

What advice can you give parents/guardians of children in similar situations?
Even if you don't understand, please support your children.
They will need your strength and your support; it is not wrong or strange, they are still your child, they are still your baby.

What advice can you give other people in your situation?
Keep your chin up!
You aren't wrong or broken, no matter what anybody tries to tell you - remember you are valid and that you matter, remember that ignorant people have no place in your life!
If you wish to be apart of a Non Binary community, I run a facebook group called the Non Binary Network - http://www.facebook.com/groups/NonBinaryNetwork - and we're always open for more members.


Help & Support:

(Page) https://m.facebook.com/thenonbinarynetwork/
(Group) https://www.Facebook.com/groups/NonBinaryNetwork


A Dog's World

Jo-Rosie Haffenden is an animal behaviourist and the owner of Scool4Dogs (along with Debbie).
Jo-Rosie's dogs have appeared on Channel 4, BBC and ITV television adverts.
They have also worked alongside Vogue, Cosmopolitan, GQ and Topshop.
And let's not forget they have featured in 2 shorts films and 2 comedy series.
Jo-Rosie along with her partner (and fellow dog trainer) Nando Brown have currently been working on a new series for Channel 4 which should be aired next month.

Jo-Rosie kindly agreed to an interview with me regarding her life and her work with dogs.


The Interview:

What is an animal behaviourist?
An animal behaviourist is someone who is qualified to work with animals that show problem and/or abnormal behaviour like.
For example, separation anxiety - which is when an animal becomes distressed when they left or separated from their primary caregiver.

What training/qualifications do you have?
There are many different journeys into dog training and behaviour.
It's important to have a thorough understanding of the science (and academia is a super way to get this); as well a practical experience.
I got a degree in psychology and specialised in zoology.
Then I gained a post grad in animal behaviour.
During study I was lucky enough to work at an animal hospital where I developed my practical and handling skills as I became accredited.
There is no real regulation in the industry however the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers provides a very good mix of theory and face-face hands on practical in their assessment which is why I think it's an excellent accreditation scheme.

What is Real Dog Yoga?
Real Dog Yoga is a concept I developed when I started working with one of my own dogs.
It involves training dogs to take and hold specific postures which help them to learn to practice relaxation, calmness and control - key features for being a good pet dog.

What is School4Dogs?
School4Dogs is a training centre owned and run by myself, my business partner Debbie.
We are lucky to work with a team of wonderful trainers and behaviourist and we provide training and behaviour throughout the whole of Sussex.

What does a Dog Yoga class consist of?
Dog yoga workshops are run by accredited instructors throughout the country at varying costs.
These workshops are for owners and their dogs.
I also run instructor workshops which are a week long and run at rescue centres handling the dog looking for homes.

You are the proud author of a book called The Real Dog Yoga, where is this available to purchase?
To learn more about Dog Yoga get the book which is available at Dogbooksonline.com

Your talented dogs have featured on television and in publications, please explain?
It sounds really funny but my dogs and my old Bengal are represented by an agent.
They been cast for various magazines and TV shows including GQ, Vogue and Cosmopolitan.
I've also just finished filming a series with Channel 4 with my partner and fellow dog trainer, Nando Brown.
It's very exciting but I can't say much.
It should be out early next month.



The Real Yoga Dog (book)

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

A Plus Size Beauty

Mariangela is a young woman who wants to put a stop to body shaming and show people that you don't have to be thin to be beautiful.

Mariangela kindly agreed to an interview with me.


The Interview:

What is your name and age?
My name is Mariangela.
I am 32

What is your height and weight?
Height - 5.10
I'm pregnant so I'm not sure what my weight is at moment.

What is your clothes size?
My clothes size is 16-18.

As a child you were slender, how did that make you feel?
People always used to say to me when I was skinny, "do you have hollow legs" or commented on how skinny I looked.

At the age of 16 you were prescribed the pill and since you were a toddler you were diagnosed with ADHD, you gained weight as a result.
How did that make you feel?
Now I am plus size I feel amazing.
I love my curves.
I put on weight because I was on the pill when I was 16.
I've had ADHD since I was a young toddler.

What symptoms did you / do you have due to ADHD?
My parents found out I had ADHD when I was very young by a doctor up at the hospital.
I used to have so much energy and wouldn't sit down, I just danced about.

In 2012 you did a nude photo shoot, why?
I did a nude photo shoot in 2012 because I wanted to show other women, plus size is sexy and show those curves.

What are your thoughts on body shaming?
I don't think its right that people body shame others.


Featured Publication:



Help & Support:




An Interview With Lettie:

What is your name and age?
Lettie and I'm 22

When did you first become pregnant?
I first fell pregnant at 17

Were there any complications throughout the pregnancy?
I was crushed by a horse and that's how I found out I was pregnant.
I went into pre term labour at 29 and 31 weeks but they stopped it.
I had group b strep and developed late sudden on set pre eclampsia at 39 weeks.

How long were you in labour for?
I had a 4 day induction followed by 17 hours of contractions.

Why did you need an emergency caesarean?
I was hyper stimulating which is where I had a natural contraction and then an induced contraction.
They were 20 seconds apart.
My son Zachary became distressed and they needed to get him out straight away.
Once they delivered it turned out the cord was twice around his neck so tightly he couldn't get his head down and make me dilate.

What weight was your baby?
He was 7lb 9oz, one day late.

When did you become ill?
Around 3 days after birth I got a fever.

What were you diagnosed with?
After several tests, scans and blood tests I was diagnosed with sepsis.
A life threatening blood infection.

How was this treated?
I was given tons of IV antibiotics and went home on oral antibiotics.

When did you fall pregnant for the second time?
I fell pregnant for the second time aged 18 in June 2012.

Were there any complications throughout the pregnancy?
My son Henry did not move much but apart from that everything seemed fine.

How long were you in labour for?
My waters broke 15 days early and Henry was born 26 hours later.

You had another emergency caesarean, why was that?
My waters broke naturally and meconium was being passed.
It got thicker and greater in volume.
I was placed on the monitor and his heart rate went flat and they rushed us into theatre.

Your second child had inhaled meconium which is "unborn baby poo" what was the result of this?
He was born grey and floppy and needed resuscitation.
The doctors ran into theatre and I watched them place a tube down his throat.
He is now delayed but thriving otherwise.

What weight was your second child?
He was 5lb 3oz.
Scans had failed to pick up the fact my placenta was failing and he did not grow properly.

You became ill for a second time, what was the diagnosis?
I once again had sepsis.
This time I also developed septic shock.

How was this treated?
Blood transfusions, CT scans and the combination of the right antibiotics.
I also had two returns to theatre.

What happened to you after surgery?
After the first surgery I was just not getting better.
I had a large open wound that specialists where treating and I had to undergo more tests.
The tests showed I had internal bleeding.

You had more surgery, why was that?
I had a large collection of internal bleeding and they had to drain it to make me better.

You were diagnosed with Sepsis, what symptoms did you have?
I started with a high fever 39.3-39.4 degrees.
This then progressed to Riggors ( excessive shaking) my heart was racing up to 145 beats per minutes.
My lungs had began to fail so I needed constant oxygen.
I became delirious and very sleepy.

Have you had any health complications since the diagnosis?
I am now left with a compromised immune system and a damaged right kidney.
I also suffer mental health issues due to the severe trauma.

Since then you went on to have a third child and this time you weren't ill.
What was different with the third pregnancy unlike the first and second?
My third pregnancy was a breeze.
All that's different was she was a girl!
I was very closely monitored and had antibiotics before I delivered her.



Body Modifications

Body Modifications Wiki:


Miss Kylie Garth is a unique and modified individual who's personality shines through her amazing body modifications and artwork via her tattoos.

Kylie kindly agreed to an interview with me.

The Interview:

Kylie Garth


Professional piercer and handpoke tattoos

How many tattoos, piercings and other body modifications do you have?
Right now I only have maybe 20 piercings, that includes a bunch of little ones in my ears.
I have had more but have taken out a bunch over the years.
Tattoos I have a lot, lots on my legs and one arm is completely covered

What do tattoos, piercings and body modifications mean to you personally? My piercings are very special to me as they were the starting point of me expressing myself on the outside.
They were the first step to me accepting myself and gave me confidence as a young teen, they don't have a specific meaning but what the represent as a whole is very important to me.
My body modifications are all very special individually.
Some have a very personal meaning to me that others may not understand, and as a whole I feel they complete me and they make me feel beautiful.

What do your friends/family think of your tattoos, piercings and body modifications?
My family and friends like everything I've done.
My mum is a very open minded person and raised me to be the same.
She said it doesn't matter what you do to yourself as long as you're a good person. I don't think that she ever thought about eyeball tattoos but she likes them.

What is your favourite tattoo, piercing and body modification?
I have favourite tattoos, I like the design but also the artist that did them.
I think if you have a bond with the artist and they have good energy that energy stays in the tattoos.
I don't only see a beautiful tattoo, I remember the positive experience of receiving a piece of the artist.

Do you have any regrets about any tattoos, piercings or body modifications? I have no regrets about anything I've done.

Do you plan to get anymore tattoos, piercings and body modifications?
I'll get more tiny piercings in my ears, and more tattoos but as far as heavy mods go I feel I am complete

When did you get your very first tattoo, piercing and body modification?
I got my first piercing at 14, it was my belly button and I lied about my age.

Do you feel there is stigma that comes with such body changes?
Yea I do, but you can't please everyone. You could be a banana split with cream and sprinkles, there's always going to be vegans, lactose intolerant people and people who hate sprinkles.
You will never please anyone no matter what you do.
As long as you are happy then that's all that matters 

Do you feel that body changes can have an effect on one's career?
Yes totally, I think it can limit you, or it can trap you.
I think the more alternative educated people out in the work force the better.
If you are the best for the job then eyeball tattoos won't/shouldn't matter.

For those wanting a tattoo, piercing or modification what advice would you give? Research your artist.
Look for healed pictures, and a lot of them not just one.
Make sure you are comfortable with the person, and their skill level.


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Monday, 16 May 2016

Bladder & Prostate Cancer

What is your child's name and age?
Sebastian Stevens
2 years old

When was he diagnosed with cancer?
18 months ago during October 2015

What type of cancer does he have?
Rhabdomyosarcoma of the bladder and prostate

How was a diagnosis made?
An ultra sound showed the tumour and the MRI, biopsies, camera into his bladder

What symptoms did he have?
Blood in urine, prolapse bowel and 6 weeks of intense pain

What treatment has he received?
chemo x9 cycles, surgery to remove 1 third of his bladder and brachytherapy, catheters, NG tube, port line

What is Brachytherapy?
When they insert rods into the effect area and use radioactive drugs to blast the cancerous cells in an attempt to preserve the other organs.
Seb had to lay still for 3 days whilst he underwent 6 cycles

What is the Lily Pad?
The lily pad lays in the bottom of the UV pole and allows the children to sit on it instead of lugging the pole around after them.
It helps prevent them pulling out their lines.

Who is the founder of the Lily Pad?
Nick Konkler

At what cost is it to purchase and from where?
At present America and Ireland are producing them for us in the UK but I would like to get them started over here and we have worked out each one would cost about £6-£10

Please explain in detail about Nick's Lily Pad Fund on GoFundMe?
You would need to speak to Christina Konkler about this as it is her fund but basically as all the lily pads are made by them it helps to pay for the production and shipping costs

Please explain in detail about the JustGiving page called SuperHeroSon?
This is to raise funds for the Royal Marsden who took away sebs pain and spent time with him to manage him anxieties and pain.
Seb wouldn't of been able to have his treatment without this charity  and we want to raise as much money and awareness for them to say thank you for saving our baby boy's life

What advice would you give to other parents/guardians of children in similar situations?
Every situation is different.
We did not look up anything on google as it is all doom and gloom and everyone's experience is different.
Take any offer of help.
There are so many people and charities that are set up to help you.
It does get easier even though your whole world has crumbled unfortunately you and your child will get used to the hospital life and it just becomes the norm.
You don't have to be strong, I cried for the first month and still do whenever I think about things!






Help & Support:






Help & Support:








Fibromyalgia can affect people in many different ways, in fact some might have a couple of symptoms whereas another person might have several.
Someone might be prescribed medication and be content with it but another person might be prescribed the same medication and fail to adjust to it.
Therefore, I've decided to write this blog not only to raise awareness of this chronic condition but to show you via several interviews how differently it can affect people.
I've asked each person the same questions and you will see from their answers how different each one is.

I am also diagnosed with fibromyalgia and I've answered the questions too.


What is your name and age?
Sam aka My Sunshine Sparkles (Interview Blogger)
Age 35

When were you diagnosed with fibromyalgia?

What symptoms did/do you have?
Chronic muscle pain. Spasms, fatigue, insomnia, stiffness, brain-fog, diarrhea, cold, anxious, depressed, abdominal pain, coldness, migraines and tingling

How was a diagnosis made?
Various blood tests and x-ray

What treatment have you received?
No treatment

What medication(s) are you prescribed?
Xanax for panic attacks.
Zomig for migraines.
Lexapro for depression.
Lyrica for fibromyalgia
Occasionally I receive an injection in my hip when the pain is at its very worst.
And I often take paracetamol or panadol too.

Have you tried alternative therapies, if so what?

Do you take any nutritional/herbal supplements, if so what?

Have you made any lifestyle changes, if so what?
I'm currently dieting

What causes you to suffer a flare-up?
Stress is the biggest cause for me although the weather too.

Have you or do you use crutches and/or a wheelchair?
I have used crutches.

What is your prognosis for the future?
A long and happy one I hope although I know I'll still have fibromyalgia.

Do you / can you exercise?
I try my best.

Other than medication, what else eases your pain?
A hot water bottle, deep heat.

How do you explain your condition to family/friends?
I try to explain although I may look fine I'm actually in a lot of pain 90% of the time.
I don't ask for sympathy only understanding.

How has this condition affected your life in general?
The brain fog is terrible, at times I find it hard to remember things and often how to spell a word that is so simple and normally I'd know.
I have fallen in the past when my legs suddenly feel like heavy planks of wood and I collapse.
I don't normally attend parties or social outings although since meeting my partner I'm starting to venture out more despite the pain.

Please explain in detail what a day is like for you with this condition?
My alarm clock rings at 7am 
I get out of bed, sometimes my legs feel like planks of wood and my head hurts as soon as my eyes open which means getting out of bed at times is slow and difficult.
I have a shower and brush my teeth.
I wake my daughter for Youthreach which is a further education centre, she gets ready and leaves.
Most mornings I skip breakfast, I know I shouldn't but I do.
I take my daily medication then I start cleaning my house.
Despite the pain, I push myself as far as I can...
I polish/dust, hoover/mop and if there is linen to be washed I do just that.
I empty the ashes from the range and depending on the weather I light a fire.
After the house is in order I then sit down with a cup of tea or coffee.
At this stage my body is sore and in agony but I refuse to let my condition ruin my life.
I work on my blog.
If I receive mail in the post from my lovely pen pals I then reply to them.
I might have a sandwich for lunch depending if I feel hungry or not.
I then prepare/cook the evening meal for when my daughter arrives home.
Often around 3-5 o'clock, my body feels worn out and extremely tired, I try my hardest to not fall asleep but sometimes it just happens.
When my daughter arrives home, we have our meal.
I tidy up afterwards then take my second medication of the day.
I have a shower and I try to relax.
My back hurts most by evening time, no matter how or where I sit it hurts and often reduces me to tears.
At bedtime I wash then brush my teeth.
As I lay in bed, most nights my ankles feel like they are about to snap in half.
My knees hurt and my legs too.
Sometimes I have major headaches also. 
Most nights I take extra painkillers.

What advice can you give others in this situation?
Seek medical/professional advice.
Don't give up without a fight.


What is your name and age?
Angela Chambers aged 39.

When were you diagnosed with fibromyalgia?
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2011, but have had rheumatoid arthritis since 2002.

What symptoms did/do you have?
I had severe pain everywhere and was constantly tired. 
I was only able to get around with a crutch.
My rheumatologist didn't know what was wrong as all my bloods were fine so he admitted me to hospital. 
While there they found out that I had fibromyalgia.

How was a diagnosis made?
I was in hospital and my rheumatologist touched a number of points on my body and the pain was unreal.

What treatment have you received?
I was put on lyrica and antriplene.
I couldn't take the antriplene as it put me to sleep all the time.
So I  was left on lyrica for a few years until my stomach couldn't take them as I was vomiting after taking them.
Now I'm not on anything for the fibromyalgia but I take an injection called Cimzia  every 2 weeks for my arthritis.

What medication(s) are you prescribed?
The only medications I am on is a tablet for my stomach (nexium) and Cimzia for my arthritis.

Have you tried alternative therapies, if so what?
I have tried complementary therapies.
I tried Reiki and cranial sacral therapy.
I have been recommended to try massage.

Do you take any nutritional/herbal supplements, if so what?
I just take multi vitamins making sure the they don't contain iron and have magnesium in them.

Have you made any lifestyle changes, if so what?
I try to do as much exercise as possible.  I am hoping to get back swimming soon.

What causes you to suffer a flare-up?
That I still haven't figured out.
I know if I have too much iron in my diet or take iron supplements I have a flare and the heat doesn't agree with me.

Have you or do you use crutches and/or a wheelchair?
Thankfully I haven't had to use crutches since before I was diagnosed. 
I have a stick in the car with me all the time but again I haven't had to use it.

What is your prognosis for the future?
I've been told I'll always have arthritis and fibromyalgia.
I am only able to work part time at present but am in the process of retraining.
I hope eventually to be able to work for myself and on my own terms so if I need a few days off during a flare I'm not letting anyone down and I don't have to spend extra time catching up. 
I don't know how my health will be.
I know I can't work the way I used to.

Do you / can you exercise?
I do a little walking. 
I was going to kettle bells last year and found it brilliant, however, I am not allowed to do them anymore as I had a detached retina last November and the doctors won't let me.

Other than medication, what else eases your pain?
Exercise and rest help.
Sometimes meditation can help.

How do you explain your condition to family/friends?
I don't. 
They have seen me when I was on the crutch and barely able to move.
I don't worry about what they think.
My children have grown up with me having the conditions so it's just a way of life to them.
My husband has seen me at my worse also and I remember him having to help me out of the bed and get dressed.
My sisters seen it with my father as he also had arthritis.
I really don't care how my sister in laws think or know.
I don't explain it to them.
If they ask I'll tell them.

How has this condition affected your life in general?
Apart from having to give up the full time job I had it hasn't really affected my life. At that time I was working 42 plus hours a week and bringing my children every where.
So it was probably good that I gave it up. At times I have to depend on my husband to bring me places if I'm bad.

Please explain in detail what a day is like for you with this condition?
I have to go to bed early as I have to be up at 6.30.
It takes me a good half an hour to get up out of bed.
Then it takes me a good while to shower and get dressed. 
I then call the children at 7.30.
I get my breakfast then I make lunch for my son.
We leave the house at 8.40 to drop my daughter to school and then I  drop my husband to the farm before I drop my son off at 9.10 at his national school.
I then go to work.
My job is desk based so I sit at the desk for about an hour before I have to move.
I repeat this until about 1.30 and then I leave.
I go to see my mother in law before collecting the children. 
When we get home I have either to sit and do nothing or go to bed for a while before I prepare dinner.
I then go to bed after dinner around 8 or 9, unless I don't have to the be up as early.

What advice can you give others in this situation?
I think I would tell them not to worry.
Don't listen to what anyone else says or if they say that it's all in your head.
I would say to them to do things for yourself not for anyone else.
Take plenty of rest, exercise If you can. Do things that you enjoy.


What is your name and age?
Lyndsay Nolan Martin and 38

When were you diagnosed with fibromyalgia?

What symptoms did/do you have?
Body sensitive to touch, sore and stiff bones, tiredness and IBS, memory loss and tremors.

How was a diagnosis made?
I've had all these symptoms for many years along with narcolepsy and endometriosis and the doctors decided to see if there was a connection between symptoms.
After 6 months they diagnosed me fibromyalgia.

What treatment have you received?
Painkillers, physiotherapy and counselling.

What medication(s) are you prescribed?
Amitriptyline, Cocodamol, beta blockers and diclofenac .

Have you tried alternative therapies, if so what?
Yes green tea and it really helps.

Do you take any nutritional/herbal supplements, if so what?
Multi vitamins and green tea.

Have you made any lifestyle changes, if so what?
Yes I can't drink alcohol.

What causes you to suffer a flare-up?
Anything and everything.

Have you or do you use crutches and/or a wheelchair?

What is your prognosis for the future?
Live each day as it comes.

Do you / can you exercise?
Walking is only thing.

Other than medication, what else eases your pain?
Mindfulness helps a bit.

How do you explain your condition to family/friends?
I try explaining but don't think they understand.

How has this condition affected your life in general?
My social life has disappeared.

Please explain in detail what a day is like for you with this condition?
Exhaustion, painful and hard.

What advice can you give others in this situation?
Research and speak to other suffers so your not alone.


What is your name and age?
My name is Candi Foster 
I'll be 57 years old in 2 weeks

When were you diagnosed with fibromyalgia?
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia when I was in my 30s.
I was also told that I possibly had LUPUS at around the same time.

What symptoms did/do you have?
When first diagnosed I had several years of severe fatigue, abnormal heart rhythms, depression, anxiety, abnormal labs and general flu like symptoms but nothing came back positive.
I was sent to multiple physicians.
I had a positive ANA and symptoms would come and go.
As an RN I would not discuss the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
I had been on the other side of medical profession.
I worked with physicians that couldn't find reason for symptoms so the gave them fibromyalgia and all the while discussing with their coworker that the patients symptoms were all in their heads, or they were trying to get attention, or even they were attention or medication seeking hypochondriacs. 
I did not want to be placed in the same category as the patients that were discussed.
So I kept my mouth shut about my symptoms and took care of those that  needed the extra support letting them know I believed them and would make sure their information was documented and reviewed by their physicians.
I even dissed what options the patient might have with the Dr.

How was a diagnosis made?
I went through 8 years of symptoms and treatment, multiple physicians and testing.
I believe the physician gave up and gave me fibromyalgia diagnosis just so they didn't have to put up with my visits.

What treatment have you received?
I was placed on plaquneil and steroids when I complained but as the symptoms worsened I tried ever muscle relaxant, antibiotics, medication for anxiety and depression they could offer.
Then I received injection, physical therapy, diets every specialist in every part of the medical field and even went to Mayo  Clinic for an internal bleed that lasted 11 but the physicians couldn't find.
The bleed was found and I had a surgery to repair a Para esophageal hernia with 8 bleeding ulcers inside it.
I had received blood transfusions every other week and iron infusions every other week for several years.
I had several PPICC LINES placed and then had to have a port-a-cat in my chest for the transfusions and infusions while I was admitted in to ICU every week for the treatments.

What medication(s) are you prescribed?
I am currently on;
Cymbalta 90 MG a day,
Lexapro 20mg a day
Ultram 100mg as needed while I work, xanaflex (Tizanidine) 4 MG 1-2  up to 3x day Tylenol arthritis pain as needed. 
I refused opioid or narcotics as I am a nurse and knew the side effects an couldn't work with the medications in my system. 
I tried every therapy, medication and treatment over 25 years that have been used for this diagnosis.

Have you tried alternative therapies, if so what?
Physical therapy  tense units, chiropractor, water arobics relaxation therapy, physiology with CBT and DBT, injections, and diets to rule out allergies or triggers to food.

Do you take any nutritional/herbal supplements, if so what?
I take protein supplements D3 and multivitamin.

Have you made any lifestyle changes, if so what?
Diet and exercise doing water aerobics.
I try to decrease stress and have weekly therapy

What causes you to suffer a flare-up? Mostly stress, overexertion, PTSD symptoms.
Any illness, surgeries or changes in medications or treatments

Have you or do you use crutches and/or a wheelchair?
No I walk with a limp and use walls or stationary furniture to support myself when I walk.

What is your prognosis for the future?
I just gave my notice at my job.
I plan on applying for disability and can only pray that my spouse and I can survive without losing everything we have worked for in the past 37 years of marriage.

Do you / can you exercise?
Not currently as I have had worsening symptoms over the past few years.
I can hardly do my daily activities.
I have to have help even getting out of bed.
I sleep most weekends and never do or go anywhere except work and home to bed.
I can't even do normal housework.
On good days I may cook and try to med it through my work.
On bad days I sleep 20+ hours.

Other than medication, what else eases your pain?
NOTHING sleep, and heating pads with max amount of medication decrease it but never fully relieve the pain.

How do you explain your condition to family/friends?
It has taken almost 25 years for my family to try to understand.
I encouraged my spouse to go to physicians appointment and asked if he would read about the disease.
My friends, well I don't explain. 
If I don't have to.

How has this condition affected your life in general?
I feel I am a totally different person, I have never lived a life without pain, medication, or physicians.
I feel cheated out of happiness, out of doing normal things.
I have become withdrawn, depressed,  even angry at God for allowing this to happen to me and others.

Please explain in detail what a day is like for you with this condition?
Alarm goes off at 4.30 AM so I can get to work by 7.30.
I try to turn off the alarm, take off my C-PAP and gradually get out of bed.
Some days by myself some days with help from my spouse.
I shower and if I am not totally exhausted I slowly get dressed.
I don't eat my spouse makes us coffee and I drive 30 minutes to work.
I sit at a desk almost all day taking 30 minute sessions of standing sitting or adjusting myself to decrease pain.
I no longer do any physical labour as an RN.
I am a psychiatric nurse and do telephone triage and support.
I sleep for about 45 minutes of my hour lunch and often find myself in brain fog between my telephone calls to my patients.
I head home from work at 4.30.
Find my way into the house and rest.
If I am able I cook and usually head to bed at 6.30-7.00 pm.
I don't sleep but 4 hours on a good night.
I lay under my heating blanket and just try not to move.
Not a very exciting life.
No real married life.
I sometimes will Skype with my Grandbabies from my laptop or call just to hear their sweet little voices.

What advice can you give others in this situation?
Don't over work.
Be your own best advocate.
Get in a good support group and don't let others take advantage of you as there is nothing wrong with you because they can't see the disease.