Spring Cleaning Week – Uses For ZoFlora

So I hope you are enjoying Spring Cleaning week so far! Yesterday I posted a video rather than a blog post over on my YouTube channel, which you can check out at the link below – don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already!

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Spring Cleaning Week – April Challenge

Good morning, happy new week and happy new month! Today sees the start of my Spring Cleaning week – I will be posting blogs here and videos over on my YouTube channel all week about cleaning! Today I am starting with the return to my monthly challenge posts. Last month I didn’t do one as I spent a lot of it in hospital, so there isn’t one to review and I will plunge straight in to what I plan on doing this month.

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9 Vitamins & Supplements I Use and Recommend

AD ] Post contains gifted items

The week of March 11th sees the beginning of Nutrition and Hydration Week

This week is an annual event which aims to highlight, promote and celebrate improvements in the provision of nutrition and hydration locally, nationally and globally.

I have previously written posts about hydration as this is especially important for us ostomates.

Coping With A Stomach Bug When You Have An Ileostomy

Top 5 Hydration Tips

Today I thought I would share some information about the supplements I take to try and keep myself healthy. As always – I am not medically trained and this post is based on my own research and myself. Please ask your doctor for advice on your own situation and needs.

Vitamins and Supplements

I regularly take supplements – both prescribed and over the counter to help give my body a boost. I have two auto-immune diseases and take medication which lowers my immune response. Crohn’s Disease also makes it difficult to absorb everything you need from food, and you often have to get these levels tested followed by treatment if they are low. I have written a list of nine supplements I take regularly and how they help me.

Calcium and Vitamin D


Calcium has several important functions.
These include:
– helping build strong bones and teeth
– regulating muscle contractions, including your heartbeat
– making sure blood clots normally

NHS

This is one I am prescribed by my doctor as I am on steroids. Steroid treatment can cause thinning of the bones so you are given a calcium tablet to take alongside them, along with Vitamin D to help regulate it.


Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body.
These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

NHS

Better You Oral Iron Spray

(AD ] gifted previously but not for this post)

Better You Iron Daily Oral Spray

I have written an in-depth review of this for A Balanced Belly which you can read here.

This has been the only type of iron that I have used and noticed a difference in my levels with, that hasn’t involved going for hospital infusions. I am, unable to take iron tablets due to the effect they have on exacerbating my Crohn’s Disease. I found similar with the liquid iron which is supposed to be easier on the digestive system. Even though I try and eat an iron rich diet, it does not give me enough. The spray is really easy to use and it doesn’t taste too bad! Four sprays inside my cheek and I am good to go for the day!

Check out the spray at Better You’s website


Iron is important in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body.
A lack of iron can lead to iron deficiency anaemia.

NHS

Vitamin C & Zinc


Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, has several important functions.
These include:
– helping to protect cells and keeps them healthy
– maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage
– helping with wound healing

NHS

I buy this over the counter and take it as it is good for giving the immune system a boost. I am on a couple of immuno-suppressant drugs and try and think I will do everything to give my body a fighting chance.

Magnesium Bath Salts

Magnesium Bath Flakes

Currently something my body is struggling to hold on to is magnesium. One of the best ways to absorb this is through the skin which is why the bath salts are so good. I like the ones from Better You as I notice more of a difference after using them, but you can buy them from places like Asda and Home Bargains. They really help ease my joints and I feel refreshed after having a soak in them.

Better You has a range of forms of magnesium including the bath salts and gels which you can rub into the skin. See them on the Better You website


Magnesium is a mineral that helps:
– turn the food we eat into energy
– make sure the parathyroid glands, which produce hormones important for bone health, work normally

NHS

Multivitamin with Iron

I buy this over the counter just to give all the vitamins and my iron a boost.

Alflorex

(AD ] Gifted)

I was contacted by the people at Precision Biotics about their new product to help those with IBS. I have IBD but when I asked them about what the product was, I thought it would still be a great thing to try.

I find the world of probiotics and digestive heath a really interesting one. Alflorex contains a unique probiotic and in clinical trials has been shown to reduce

  • Bloating & gas
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Unpredictable bowel movements like diarrhoea and constipation

I was especially interested in seeing if it would help me with bloating. As possibly the only girl with Crohn’s Disease who has an anaphalactic reaction to Buscopan, I rely peppermint tea which doesn’t always help.

I was sent a sample month’s supply and am pleased to report I saw some great results and would definitely recommend. I felt it really helped my bloating and the pain associated with it. I have even been able to have the occasional fizzy drink without the usual, painful side effects. Due to having a stoma I am not in the best place to comment on unpredictable bowel movements, but if you do suffer from these symptoms, from the results I found with my bloating, I would definitely be inclined to give it a try. It is also suitable for those on the low FODMAP diet.

Alflorex

Visit the Precision Biotics UK website to read more and to shop

Vitamin B Complex

Another over the counter one which is just an attemt to build up the whole array of B vitamins in my body.

Folic Acid


Folate is a B vitamin found in many foods. The manmade form of folate is called folic acid.
Folate is also known as folacin and vitamin B9.
Folate helps:
– the body form healthy red blood cells
– reduce the risk of central neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in unborn babies

NHS

I am on a folic acid supplement as I take Methotrexate and this can help lessen the severity of side effects. IBD patients can also become easily deficient in this and so are also given supplements for it.

Better You b12 Oral Spray

Another nod to Better You and this time their B12 Oral Spray. I think the way Better You are helping patients by looking at HOW we best absorb the things we need is fantastic. Having certain parts of your bowel removed can lead to you being low in b12 and needing injections. I use this to hopefully prevent that, and it tastes lovely too!

Better You Boost B12 Daily Spray

Check out the Better You website for more on this


Vitamin B12 is involved in:
– making red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy
– releasing energy from food
– using folic acid

NHS

I hope this post has been helpful and has given you some ideas about things to look into and try. Feel free to let me know anything you recommend in the comments below, or ask if you have further questions and I will try and help.

References

NHS website – Vitamins and Minerals

A Smear Campaign

Good morning and happy hump day! For those that don’t already know, this is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week in the UK. The week aims to raise awareness of cervical cancer and the importance of smear tests. I am rather passionate about women taking up the offer of their smear tests as feel prevention is always better than cure. My mum is a smear test screener (she looks at them down the microscope and checks the cells) so have learnt a lot about the subject from her.

What Is A Smear Test?

A smear test is offered free by the NHS every three years to women between the ages of 25 and 49 and every five years from the age of 50 and 64. You will receive a letter from your GP inviting you to make an appointment for your smear test when it is due. The appointment will take about fifteen minutes, however, the procedure is over in under five minutes.

When you arrive the nurse will ask you some basic information and also about your periods – when your last one was, if you have had any irregular bleeding etc. You will be told about the procedure and asked to sign a consent form. You will then be asked to go behind a curtain and undress from the waist down, and then lay on the bed.

The nurse will then join you and ask you to bend your legs and keeping your feet together, lower your knees towards the bed. If, like me, you have mobility issues such as arthritis, please let the nurse know. They are always very helpful and accommodating with me!

The picture above on the left is the speculum. They are either made of plastic or metal ad are used to open up your vaginal canal. This isn’t generally uncomfortable unless you are very tense. It can be a bit cold, but a kind nurse will normally warm a metal one under the tap before using it!

The nurse will try and ‘visualise’ the cervix – that is, have a look and see if they can see any abnormalities in the first instance. Then will then use a small brush, and wipe it around the cervix to collect the cells. This will be popped into a test tube and sent to the hospital to be screened. The nurse will then remove the speculum and you will be able to get dressed.

The Results

The brush which has your cervical cells on will be sent to the hospital where it will be screened. The idea of a smear test is not to detect cancer, although it will do if it is present. A smear test is designed to identify changes in the cells in your cervix which could develop into cancer, therefore a preventative measure.

HPV screening is coming in in the UK and in some areas your smear will be initially checked for the HPV virus. If that isn’t present, you will be sent a negative result and asked to return in three/five years. If the HPV virus is present, your cells will be put onto a slide and sent to screeners who will look at it through a microscope and check for abnormalities.

There are three levels of abnormal cells that can detected before it turns into cancer, and this is the aim of the program – to detect these changes and treat before it gets that severe. Depending on the level of these cells will depend on what treatment needs doing and you may be invited for a smear test sooner than your usual recall time to ensure treatment is successful. You will be contacted by your doctors surgery in the event of an abnormal result.

“I had my first smear aged 25 and had stage 3 pre cancerous cells, basically the next step was cancer. I had them removed and had several colnoscopies which involved a camera up the foof but on my last one got the all clear.. They are so important”

COLPOSCOPY – A colposcopy is a simple procedure used to look at the cervix, the lower part of the womb at the top of the vagina. It’s often done if cervical screening finds abnormal cells in your cervix.

Facts & Figures

TWO WOMEN LOSE THEIR LIVES TO CERVICAL CANCER EVERY WEEK IN THE UK

9 WOMEN ARE DIAGNOSED WITH CERVICAL CANCER IN THE UK EVERY WEEK

I posted a series of polls and posed questions on my Instagram about women’s uptake and experiences of smear tests and the HPV vaccine. 

Statistics suggest that 4 in 5 women currently have their smear test when it is offered. The women who answered my survey were slightly above this rate which is encouraging, although there was still 18% of women who hadn’t had one in the previous three years.

“Never had one! I’m scared if I am honest”

75% OF CERVICAL CANCER DIAGNOSIS CAN BE PREVENTED WITH CERVICAL SCREENING (SMEAR TESTS)

The latest government statistics suggest that 83.9% of teenage girls in year 9 take up both doses of the HPV vaccine. This national statistic is higher than the results from my poll, in which 75% of people offered the vaccine had taken up the offer.

“I always have my smear. The NHS don’t offer anything free that isn’t necessary. Also, all women should have them as a basic form of self care”

The HPV Vaccine

HPV – Human Papillomavirus

HPV is a virus that around 80% of us will have at some point. It is passed through skin to skin contact, and in most cases our immune system will get rid of it.

There are over 200 different types of HPV, around 40 of which affect the genital regions of men and women. Of these, around 13 are linked to cancer and known as high risk. HPV can lie dormant in your system for years so you may not know who you caught it from or when you caught it.

The HPV vaccine is now offered to teenage girls in the UK. It helps protect against two strains of the high risk HPV virus which can cause cancer, and two strains of the HPV virus which can cause genital warts.

FAQ

Does a smear test hurt?

Not usually! It can be a little bit uncomfortable, but should not be painful. Please alert the nurse if you do encounter a high level of pain while having the test as soon as you can. You may experience a little bleeding after the test, I generally wear a panty liner just in case.

“It made me bleed. Was painful but not too much that it put me off. Peace of mind knowing”

What symptoms should I see a GP about?

Symptoms including bleeding after sex and between periods should always be reported to a doctor. They may decide to do a smear test before you are due, just in case.

I had the HPV vaccine and still got HPV. What is the point?

The HPV vaccine currently only protects against two of the high risk HPV strains and two other strains of HPV. Being vaccinated against some of these strains is definitely better than none at all, and scientists are working on the other strains to offer better protection for women.

I am so embarrassed, what can I do?

Remember that nurses are trained to do these tests, and do multiple ones of them a week. For them it is very normal and routine. Explaining to the nurse that you are worried/embarrassed can definitely help, and they will be able to reassure you.

When is the best time to book my smear test?

You should aim to book your smear test for around two weeks after the start of your period, mid cycle. However, a smear test can be booked at any time of the month.

I had her HPV vaccine, does that mean I don’t need a smear test?

YOU STILL NEED A SMEAR TEST EVEN IF YOU HAVE HAD THE HPV VACCINE. This information does not seem to be getting out there,so any girls think they no longer need a smear test after having the vaccine. However, as explained, the vaccine currently only covers two of the 13 high risk HPV strains, so smear tests are still very important.

I have had a fistula and seton in place, and am worried it will hurt more?

This was a question raised on my Instagram stories following my polls. I am not sure of the answer to this but wanted to say – it is still vital to have your smear test so speak to your practice/IBD nurse who will be able to give you more information.

Smear For Smear Campaign (Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust)

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to women, their families and friends affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. They aim to support, raise awareness and provide information.

Check out their website here

The Smear for Smear Campaign this week will see women all over social media posting pictures with their lipstick smeared. You can join in and don’t forget o include the hashtags #smearforsmear and #ccpw

I want to thank Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust for the great information available on their website. I have also been sent some fantastic leaflets through the post, and am happy to send some on to anybody who would like to read or who has a method of distributing it, feel free to contact me at thespooniemummy@hotmail.com

When did you last have a smear test? I would love to hear about your experiences, feel free to comment below of you have any advice or questions and I will endeavour to reply to everyone.

Baby Loss Awareness Week

#Blogtober Day Eight

Baby Loss Awareness Week starts tomorrow, so I thought today I would share my story with you.

What Is Baby Loss Awareness Week?

Baby Loss Awareness Week is held every year between October 9th and 15th.  It is a collaboration between a number of different UK charities and is designed to raise a awareness of the issues affecting people who have experienced pregnancy and baby loss.Baby Loss Awareness Week calls for improvements in research, care and policy in regard to bereavement support, as well as raising the awareness of it to people needing it.

babyloss

My Experience

My pregnancy with Leo was pretty straight forward.  I experienced some blood loss around the 11/12 week period and a scan identified a collection outside the amniotic sac, which was no danger to him thank goodness.

Deciding to go for baby number two was easy, I couldn’t wait to give Leo a brother or sister and absolutely loved being a mum.  I was lucky to fall pregnant quickly again once we could start trying.  Because of the medications I am on for my chronic illnesses I have to carefully plan this and come off some of them in order to try and get pregnant.

When I started bleeding again a few days before my twelve week scan, I panicked but felt that the problem may be the same as I had experienced with Leo.  I had suffered morning sickness with Leo but this pregnancy had been pretty rough, and I had struggled with the sickness terribly.

My World Starts To Crumble

I was called into the Early Pregnancy Unit at Southend Hospital and given a scan.  I couldn’t bring myself to look at the screen until they told me what was happening.  My world was shattered when they confirmed the baby had passed away at around nine weeks and five days gestation.

They cleaned me up and ushered me into a room with a midwife.  She was absolutely lovely and I felt very lucky to have her support and help.  She explained the scan had shown some issues with the baby’s brain which wasn’t growing correctly.  I know many people do not get a reason for their miscarriage and in some way, felt this helped.  At the time though I remember thinking that whatever the baby had wrong I would have looked after and cared for it.  The midwife handed me an envelope.  Inside , she explained, was a scan photo of my baby.  She explained that she understood I may not want to look at it right then and possibly never would, but she felt that I may want to in the future and suggested I take it with me, which I did.

Decision Time

I was then taken to see the doctor.  Unfortunately my body was hanging on to this baby, even though it had died, and that was in part why I had been so very unwell.  I was told that I could wait and see if a miscarriage would start naturally, but they were pretty against this as the baby had no heartbeat and would continue to make me more and more poorly in the meantime.  The next option was medication.  I would be given a pill to start the miscarriage, and then have to go back for a second one, followed by a scan a little while later to ensure everything had come away.  The next option was surgery, and this was what they felt was best at my stage of pregnancy and for my situation.  They explained that the baby would be surgically removed in an operation called a Dilation and curettage (D and C) and it would be a day case procedure.  I felt like my heart was breaking.  Of course my body wasn’t letting the baby go, I wasn’t ready to let go either.

Surgery

I decided to follow the doctor’s advice and opted for surgery.  I was told to come back the next day.  The rest of that day was pretty much a blur.  I went back to hospital the next day and the procedure went pretty smoothly.  I remember waking up in recovery and starting to cry.  The nurse came over, asking if I was ok.  I told her no, she panicked that something was wring physically, but I just remember feeling so empty.

I was in hospital till the evening as my blood loss was a little more than they would have liked and my blood pressure took a nose dive.  Luckily, they felt I could go home and keep an eye on things myself once it all levelled out.

Trying Again

There were lots of tears and sadness, but I was lucky to have Leo already who helped get me through those dark days.  Deciding to try again is terrifying, but eventually I was ready, and once again, fell pregnant quite quickly.  My pregnancy with Riley wasn’t so easy – I ended up being scanned at 6 and 8 weeks due to more bleeding but luckily my little man hung on in there.  My twelve week scan was an ordeal, I was being sick all morning, partly through morning sickness and partly through nerves, but it went well.

Baby Number Three

Unfortunately, trying for baby number three turned into another year of heartbreak.  I suffered two miscarriages in 2013, both quite early (at 5 weeks and 6 weeks) which happened naturally.  The first one was horrific due to the fact that we were on holiday, so I had to attend A and E at a strange hospital and did not receive an awful lot of support.  They confirmed what was happening and I was sent away.  Things were not passed on to my hospital properly and even though I let them know, I still got a letter a few weeks later inviting me for my twelve week scan.

When the second one started, I knew what was happening and I called the hospital to let them know.  They were concerned about the blood loss as it was pretty bad, but I could not bring myself to go in and have another person confirm another one of my babies had died.

I had very strong feelings about the sex of the babies I was carrying.  I guessed the boys would both be boys and I felt the first two babies I had lost were girls.  I think I had convinced myself I just couldn’t carry girls.  This last miscarriage though, I felt strongly that it was a boy and because of this, all would be ok.  When it wasn’t, it broke my heart that little bit more.  I had a very vivid dream the next night, that I gave birth to a boy and remember waking up, feeling the weight of the baby that had been placed in my arms in my dream.  I know some may not believe in spirits and things, but I truly believe he was coming to me to say goodbye.

Moving Forward

I feel that one of the hardest things to get my head around was the fact that it was like my babies never existed, except for me and their Dad.  We had only told our parents and siblings, as I prefer to keep it quiet until everything is confirmed at the twelve week scan.  I also don’t go shopping until after this date.  After my first miscarriage, I I did decide that I would go and buy a teddy when I found out I was pregnant again.  I still have Riley’s and the following ones from the two babies I miscarried.  Having something physical of theirs in the world helps me remember they were real, and here, even if only for a short time.

There Is Support Out There

I was lucky to have support from my ex husband, who, at the time, was very good.  Many people do not get this, and as there still seems to be this huge taboo in speaking out, have to deal with all these feelings themselves, quietly.

babyloss2

Miscarriages happen to one in four women.  It is so very common, yet so rarely talked about that people think they should just get on with it and cope by themselves.  This is not the case.  There are some great charities to help support parents out there who have lost a baby.  My inbox is also always open should anyone need to talk, and I am, more than happy to do that about this subject as I know not all the people get the support I did.

There are lots of things you can do to help spread the word about Baby Loss Awareness Week and Sands has some great ideas on their website

You can also share this post, or your own story, and add the hashtag #BLAW2018

The #waveoflight will also be happening again on the 15th October at 7pm.  Light a candle and leave it burning for at least an hour as we remember all the babies gone too soon.  Take a photo of your candle and share it on your social media with the hashtags too and show your support.

Thankyou for taking time to read this one.  I am never sure if these personal posts ever some across as well as I want them to!  As I said previously, my inbox is always open so please feel free to message me if you need a chat.

NatalieThe Spoonie Mummy