Spring Cleaning Week – 10 Chronic Illness Cleaning Hacks

Happy Friday everyone! We have made it through another week! Who has kids that are breaking up for the Easter holiday today? The boys are spending the first week with their Dad and the second with me, I can’t wait! Today as part of my Spring Cleaning Week I am sharing ten hacks to make cleaning easier for those with chronic illnesses. I hope you find my tips useful and if you have any more, please add them in the comments below so everyone reading this can see them as well.

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Health Update

Well, what a month! For anyone not following me over on social media, I am now out of hospital, yay!

I was released on Monday 16th March after three weeks in hospital. Although my symptoms haven’t all been rectified, they are a lot better than they were.

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Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month

March is national Deep-Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month, a public health initiative aimed at raising awareness of this commonly occurring medical condition and its potentially fatal complication, pulmonary embolism.

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

DVT is a blood clot which develops in one of the deep veins in the body – usually in the leg

What is pulmonary embolism?

This is a complication of DVT, where a piece of the blood clot in the leg breaks off into the blood stream and blocks one f the blood vessels in the lung.

What are the symptoms of a DVT?

  • pain, swelling and tenderness in one of your legs, usually your calf (DVT tends to only affect one leg at a tjme)
  • a heavy ache in the affected area
  • warm skin in the area of the clot
  • red skin, particularly at the back of your leg below the knee
  • in some cases here may be no symptoms

What are the symptoms of pulmonary embolism?

  • If left untreated, around 1 in 10 people with DVT will develop pulmonary embolism
  • breathlessness – which may come on gradually or suddenly
  • chest pain – which may become worse when you breathe in
  • sudden collapse 

Both DVT and pulmonary embolism require urgent investigation and treatment.
Seek immediate medical attention if you have pain, swelling and tenderness in your leg, and you develop breathlessness and chest pain.

NHS England

What causes DVT?

  • DVT affects around 1 person in every 1000 in the UK
  • Anyone can develop DVT but it becomes more common over the age of 40

Other risk factors include

  • having a history of DVT or ulmonary embolism
  • family history of blood clots
  • being inactive for long periods – during a long journey or after an operation for example
  • blood vessel damage
  • having certain conditions or treatments that cause your blood to clot more easily eg. cancer, heart and lung disease, thrombophilia, Hughes Disease etc
  • being pregnant
  • being overweight or obese
  • taking the combined contraceptive pill or HRT

So I wanted to highlight this important information because so many don’t know about it till it is too late. After spending time in hospital again, I have been subjected to the daily injections in my tummy and am covered in little bruises which makes it look like I have some kind of weird skin disease, however the importance of these lies close to my heart.

During his most recent hospital stay, Ste was diagnosed with blood clots and is now on a six month course of blood thinners to hopefully dissolve them. This will need checking again later this year, and his treatment time will be extended if need be.

One of my best friend’s, Daniel, has also been diagnosed with blood clots which they have linked to his Crohn’s Disease. In 2016 Daniel supported me through a hard time personally and with my bowel surgery and ileostomy formation. He was then taken into hospital, where the DVT affected the blood flow to his lower left leg, leading to him needing it amputating. I thought I would interview Daniel for this post, so he could explain more about what happened, and why it is so important that people are aware of the risk factors and symptoms of DVT.

An Interview With… Daniel Lee

Hi Daniel, can you give us brief intro about yourself?

I’m Dan and I am 33 from London. I am a Chelsea fan and enjoy going to watch them play regularly. I have also been studying accountancy at college.

What are your diagnosed medical conditions?

I have Crohn’s Disease, a genetic blood disorder and arterial thrombosis. Arterial thrombosis affects the arteries, whereas DVT affects the veins. Arterial thrombosis is apparently quite rare but the doctors have said it may be due to the inflammatory factor of my Crohn’s Disease.

What were the first symptoms you experienced in respect of the blood clots?

One day I was walking down the road and it felt like I had pulled a muscle.I was limping for a few days but didn’t think much of it. Then it got really painful.I was back and forth to outpatient appointments trying to get a diagnosis. They ruled out blood clots straight away.

What tests did you have?

I demanded a scan, so they gave me an ultrasound but only of the veins, not the arteries. I was misdiagnosed for a few months before they gave me an MRI scan.

What happened next?

I was diagnosed with arterial thrombosis. The arteries in my leg were completely blocked. I had 5 operations in the following two weeks, including an artery bypass which worked well for about 6 weeks. One night I woke up in agony, and my foot was freezing cold. I rang an ambulance and after a couple of days of tests was told the only option left was to amputate.

Losing your leg was extremely difficult. Did you get a lot of emotional support at the time?

I’ve been very lucky with the amazing support I have had from family and friends. Some of the amputees I have met in physio have o one. If I was one of them, I wouldn’t know what to do.

Have they linked your blood clots to the Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s Disease was a contributing factor to the blood clots, as well as the blood disorder I have.

How do you manage the Arterial Thrombosis now on a daily basis?

I am on blood thinners (warfarin) for life and have regular blood tests to check my clotting factor.

How are you finding life with a prosthetic limb? Looking forward, what are you hoping to achieve now you are healing?

I am back in the gym regularly now and my main ambition is to run the London Marathon, although it may not happen for another couple of years!


A huge thank you to Daniel for answering my questions, I hope you found his story interesting. I won’t be letting him get away with not doing the marathon now either but will make sure I am at the finish line with a pint! I hope this post has been interesting and insightful for everyone. Let me know in the comments below if you knew about blood clots or DVT , or have learnt about it through this post. As always, thank you for reading,

World Sleep Day – 14 Ideas To Help Aid A Better Night’s Sleep

Good morning and happy Friday everyone! Today is World Sleep Day and so I thought the perfect day to share this post with you all. I have included some of my top tips, as well as some others from a few different bloggers which may be helpful as well.

World Sleep Day


World Sleep Day is an annual event, intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to sleep, including medicine, education, social aspects and driving. It is organized by the World Sleep Day Committee of World Sleep Society (founded by WASM and WSF) and aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders.

worldsleepday.org

Many people struggle to sleep, but chronic illnesses can make this much harder. Medications that are taken can cause insomniac like side effects and if you are pain, it can be difficult to get comfortable enoughto drop off. If you are struggling with bedtime and sleep routines, hopefully this post will have something you could try for a good night’s rest!

14 Ideas To Help Aid A Good Night’s Sleep

1 – Lush Sleepy Lotion

I went into Lush and one of the incredibly friendly staff in there came over to ask if I needed help looking for something. My reply was the magic sleepy lotion everyone was talking about. She helpfully showed me where to find said body lotion but was asking me not to blame her if, in fact, it wasn’t magical, even though she knew many people were saying it was fantastic.

Lush Sleepy Lotion

Since that day I think me and Ste have gotten through four pots and are almost through the fifth. Even Ste gave it a try and will now use it most nights. We rub it on the pulse points on our neck and the insides of our wrists as this is supposed to help the smell linger all night. The smell is lovely and the body lotion as good as other Lush ones I have tried, so it is not at all unpleasant to use either.

2 – Candles

I am a big fan of candles anyway and often light them around the house. In the bedroom I tend to use a lot of lavender type ones to promote a sleepy, relaxed environment.

Lavender Candles

3 – Weighted Blankets

I was bought a weighted blanket at Christmas – makes a huge difference!

Claire from painpalsblog.com

Weighted blankets have been seen to help aid people sleep who suffer from anxiety, restless leg syndrome, insomnia and many more conditions which affect a good night’s rest.

4 – Eye Pillow From That’s Sew Fetch by Katy

AD | Received this product at a discounted price

I have known Katy since the age of 4, when we both attended the same infant school way back when! Upon leaving school we didn’t keep in touch but have recently reconnected via Facebook. I saw a status update about some eye mask pillows she had made for family and friends at Christmas being really popular gifts and she was looking at offering them for sale. I got in touch as though it would be a perfect way of relaxing and getting a good night’s sleep.

Katy will ask what type of effect you are looking for (I wanted somehting calmin and relaxing) and then makes up a personal blend of oils to scent your pillow with. She has taken the time to research and acquire quality oils for this and also uses small businesses for her fabric purchases which is great. She is also happy to let you have the ‘recipe’ for your personal blend so you can purchase the same oils to ‘top up’ the scent on your pillow when it starts to fade. I love the weight of the pillow on my face in bed, and also like to slightly warm it (which can be done in the microwave) as it feels more comforting and also makes the smell a little more potent.

Check out That’s Sew Fetch by Katy on Etsy

5 – Space Masks

I also wanted to mention the Space Masks from spacemasks.com

Spacemasks

I received a couple of these in a subscription box I ordered and was intrigued to see what they did. The mask is self heating and starts to work when you take it out the packet. It suggests leaving it on for fifteen minutes but it was so incredibly relaxing that Ste cam in from his shower and had to take it off me as I had fallen asleep! I have another one left and am saving it for a day I really need relaxing from!

6 – Bathtime

I always think a nice, relaxing bath and getting into fresh clean bed sheets has got to be one of the most comforting things. To make it extra relaxing you could use a bath bomb or bubble bath, or even do a face mask.

7 – Sleep Hygiene

Sleep Hygiene is so important

Jo from jboccupationaltherapy.co.uk

Check out Jo’s post about Sleep Hygiene with some more great tips for getting a good night’s sleep included.

8 – Banning Screen Time

This is one of the things I struggle most with. Screen time before bed definitely affects my sleep, meaning I take longer to ‘turn off’ every night.

To help combat this I have started reading my paperbacks instead of a Kindle at night time, and my Kindle screen is also set to black with white writing, so if I am reading a book on there it is not so bright. I have also been giving myself a social media deadline and try not to go online after this time. Switching my phone to a Do Not Disturb mode has also helped with this as it turns off the internet connection. I know some people leave their phone over the other side of the room to resist temptation – this also helps you get out of bed in a more timely manner in the morning as you have to actually get up to turn off your alarm.

9 – V Shaped Pillows

V Shaped Pillow

A V shaped pillow helps me. I have 2 from Ikea. I use them to alleviate pressure on my hips or prop myself comfortably in bed during a bad flare.I wouldn’t be without them!

Rachel from whatapain.co.uk

We have lots of pillows in bed for a similar reason. I can use them under my head, neck, knees, feet, in between my legs and in all manner of ways to get some comfort in my joints.

10 – Routine

Routine has definitely meant that I can get a better night’s sleep. My body starts to expect bedtime when I try and keep it at the same time and similar to waking up in the morning. Almost every day now I set my alarm so that I don’t lay in bed for hours. I will always factor in to have a nap if I have a bad night and this helps recharge the batteries. I will also try and set my alarm and not nap for too long or too late, so it does not affect my night time routine.

I read somewhere that the optimum nap time to fit in with the cycle of sleep is to have either half an hour, 1.5, 2.5 hours etc so always try and stick to that, depending on what time of the day it is and what I have planned.

11 – Shhleepies Feet Foot Oil

I have seen a lot of my mummy blogger friends talking about how this has really helped improve their children’s sleep – which in turn makes their’s better too! I have actually purchased a bottle and… misplaced it, so haven’t had chance to try it yet. I thought it was still worth a mention though as there have been some brilliant reviews on it and you might want to give it a go. The owner is absolutely lovely as well. I pointed a friend in her direction but her daughter has an allergy to orange. They were able to still create a special blend for her without the orange oil which was so lovely!

Shhleepies Feet Foot Oil

Check out Shhleepies Feet Foot Oil from Mummy Loves Organic

12 – A Reset

Here’s my post about the method I use to get over sleep inversion and insomnia, resetting the body clock

Char at chronicallyhopeful.com

I loved this post from chronicallyhopeful.com – How I Overcame Insomnia

Once you end up in a vicious cycle of not sleeping all night and then napping all day it can be hard to get out of. This is a really good technique for helping to reset your body clock.

13 – Headspace App

Headspacce App

Again, this is not one I have tried myself but I have heard great things about the meditations on it, and know many people find it effective to help them relax at bedtime.

14 – White Noise

Some love it and some hate it. White noise machines are popular for babies but can be really useful for adults too. I like to have the fan on at night, part of it is because I am struggling with my temperature due to being poorly at the moment, but I also like the gentle noise to go to sleep to. If you don’t want to buy a fancy machine you can also get videos on YouTube that play all sorts of things from the waves on a beach, to the rain forest to a hoover!


So that’s my list with some of my top tips for helping to get a good night’s sleep! Do you have anymore you can add? Please pop them in the comments below as they may help someone else reading. A big thankyou to the other bloggers I have featured in this post who had some great ideas which I had to include! Hope you all have a great night’s sleep now after reading this,

Book Review – Brace Yourself by S. E. Smart

AD | Gifted

Good morning and happy hump day! I was recently contacted by Sarah on Twitter (@BraceYourselfSS) who asked if I would be interested in reviewing her new book. She describes it as a work of fiction, based on her own experiences, and the main character lives with chronic illnesses including Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome  (POTS) and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). I jumped at the opportunity to read a book with a chronically ill lead, and being in hospital has given me lots of time to catch up with my TBR list.

Brace Yourself by S. E. Smart

The Blurb

Brace Yourself is a light-hearted look at the atypical life of ‘nice’ Lizzy, who doesn’t understand why her body and her men always let her down. Looking to regain control of her life in this rom-com with a twist, will Lizzy’s bright-side attitude finally attract the perfect partner?

This isn’t a self-help book, but if you’ve lived with chronic illness you’ll identify with Lizzy’s struggles to stay upright in a world that knocks her down. We join Lizzy on her humorous journey through a series of painful disasters. 
But with bad choices, bad men and bad Doctors behind her, Lizzy finally braces herself for a comfortable life.

Brace Yourself observes what it’s really like to live with Chronic Illness. 
Lizzy spent much of her life negotiating undiagnosed Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTs), Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and associated conditions. Rated 5 stars by fellow spoonies and zebras, with plenty of ‘me too’ moments, this unputdownable novel combines rom-com with Lizzy’s health struggles until she finally gets her diagnosis.
Described by a reader as “witty, fun and spot on!” 

“Reading this is like hanging out with your best friend” – your single, disastrously dating best friend, who is a good laugh, and who also happens to have POTs and EDS.

What I Thought

I have always fancied the idea of writing a book with a disabled or chronically ill character, so was really excited to read this and see how it worked. I loved the cover of the book, and the subtle nods to things like the zebra (the EDS spirit animal) which people in the chronic illness community will love.

Any fans of Bridget Jones type rom coms, the ‘chick lit’ genre and anyone with a chronic illness is going to love this one! The story flows really well, is definitely very witty and the lead character is so likable, she becomes like a friend. I loved the fact that there was a story alongside the chronic illness, which shows people that our lives don’t solely revolve around our illnesses. For Lizzy in this book, that centers around the world of dating post divorce. Her chronic illness throws some often hilarious spanners into the works, as well as the usual dating nightmares that can exist.

Being chronically ill I could identify with so much of what Lizzy was going through in the book. It was so good reading something like that as there are very few books I have come across that I can relate to in this way. You will find yourself laughing out loud thinking that happened to me too, as well as commiserating, thinking I know ow she feels etc.

I believe this will be the first in a series of books about Lizzy and I really hope that is true. She is a fantastic character and I really enjoyed this one so would love to read more.

Where To Buy

Amazon (Kindle and Paperback)

I hope you enjoyed reading my review and really do think everyone should give it a read, especially if you have chronic illnesses yourself or are a fan of the genres I mentioned above. My mum has now taken my copy to read as she sat chuckling reading the first few pages when she came to visit me the other day! Have you ever come across a book with a chronically ill character in it? I haven’t but would be interested in hearing of any more – pop them in the comments below and I will check them out.

I was gifted this book in return for my honest review. All opinions contained here are my own