alarm clock on quilt

Hypothyroidism Could Be the Answer!

I haven’t wrote a blog post for over a month now. So, I thought one thing I could talk about is health because there a few things that have been going on recently. I realise now that in the past, I might have brushed a lot of things off, or related a certain feeling to something which wasn’t actually the cause. It wasn’t until this week when I received my latest blood test results that the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together. My recent blood tests have come back and the GP suspects hypothyroidism. I just need one more test and to discuss medication.

Considering the thyroid is only a small butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, it can affect more parts of your body over the years than you would think. Anyone who has hypothyroidism will know the symptoms inside out. Here are most of the common signs:

  • Always feeling tired
  • Gaining weight – for me, I put on a significant amount in a short period of time, which so unusual for my body. Nobody notices but it doesn’t help how you feel about yourself.
  • Heavier or irregular periods
  • Dry/scaly skin
  • Tingling sensation
  • Constipation
  • Being sensitive to cold
  • Having sad thoughts (now I get why my emotional side is triggered)
  • Excessive hair growth on your body
  • Brittle hair on your head

Over the years I have experienced all of these symptoms. I have also suffered with migraines and I have high blood pressure but I have never known why. Could this be the root of it all? There are still a few things which need explaining but I do think it could be part of the answer.

2011

It was around half way through my first year of college when I experienced a major health change. I was suffering with headaches, an awful lot of them. I was nauseous and had a pins and needles feeling in my fingers, arms, and legs (I still do). This was occurring pretty much every day along with dizziness and losing balance. So, I spoke to the doctor, made sure I wasn’t dehydrated, created a food diary etc. After a short while, I was prescribed Propranolol beta blockers and was told I was having migraines. The only cause they figured back then was visual disturbances like bright or flashing lights. I was sent for a CT scan on my brain and my medication was upped. This helped to reduce the frequency of the migraines but not so much the severity. A dark room and sleep is what I would recommend to anyone is starting to experience migraines.

2016/2017

It might not be the nicest of things to talk about but if I’m going to share an honest experience, it needs to be included. I have suffered with constipation for around the last 3-4 years. Let me tell you, if you haven’t had constipation, don’t presume it’s just ‘constipation’. It starts off bearable. Then over the years it can cause other complications. I have tried over 6 different laxatives, a tablet from the GP, ate different seeds and foods that help you to go to the toilet, the list goes on.

My body always reverts back to normal and the above have only ever worked as a temporary measure. My stomach swells making it look like I have been carrying a food baby! The flare ups can be triggered by certain foods or emotions like stress. You can feel fed up more often than not and feel very negatively about yourself. Later, I had a colonic transit study at the hospital. I remember seeing the x-ray on screen to be told that almost all of the markers were collected on the left side and didn’t come out. I was diagnosed with slow transit constipation, leaning towards IBS.

2018

The year I was given the news I have high blood pressure. After loads of tests including an ECG, 24-hour monitor machine x2 ocassions, I remember being given the news because the appointment with my GP was on my birthday. Diet and lifestyle changes didn’t make a difference and there any other clear reasons for the cause, other than it possibly being a hereditary condition. Other than the blood pressure readings, other signs were: a difference in the blood vessels in my eyes and my heart was beating faster than usual.

Some would worry at a young age but I felt lucky to know and I was put on Ramipril to keep it controlled. There’s been no long-term damage to my eyes now other than slight reduced vision in my left eye. Also, I have worn glasses with antiglare ever since I was told I was having migraines.

2019/2020

After a long think, I decided to stop taking Propranolol, once I had spoke to the GP of course. This was obviously something I had to wean off. The migraines were not happening as frequently. Were things getting better? Not really…

Things have started to worsen. I feel exhausted. Sometimes, I feel so tired that I can’t be bothered talking or doing life’s day-to-day tasks or tasks at work. I brush my hair to find so much more hair malting than usual. The rash on my chest returns again and again. I am bleeding, which I won’t go into too much detail about but I have been referred to gastro and I’m being sent for a sigmoidoscopy. I also have a consultation with gynaecology coming up due to cervical eclroption (common with women where cells from inside the cervix go onto the outside of the cervix).

I’m lucky if I can go a week without being or feeling sick, and going to the toilet more than once every 2 weeks. In between all of this, I have been prescribed some iron tablets. I am not anaemic but due to the blood loss, my iron count is a little low. This is a win-lose situation because they help the iron count but not the bowel issue so, I have decided to take one every other day.

This brings me to today. Okay, I am finally getting somewhere. This might only answer part of what I have been experiencing over the years but I am relieved to know that I haven’t been going crazy. I feel quite annoyed that it’s took so long for things to happen before I was listened to but I like to see the positives.

There are many people out there with other chronic illnesses but I just wanted to share my story in the hope that it will help someone who is experiencing similar symptoms. Don’t be afraid to speak to your GP, no matter how many times you have repeated yourself. Keep fighting to get answers. And remember, your health always come first.

The NHS and Thyroid UK have some useful links on hypothyroidism:

Tasha running by the river side

My Running Journey to 100k for Guide Dogs UK

Remember when I said I was running 100k for charity and your jaws probably dropped just as much as mine did?! Well, believe it or not, I have now completed the challenge. My plan was to run 5k a day for 20 days in July to raise £100 a couple of days before my grandad’s birthday. However, I managed to finish the run 3 days early. Those 17 days (+2 rest days) have taught me a few things. So, I am going to talk about those along with answering a few questions Guide Dogs UK have asked me.

Why did I choose to fundraise for Guide Dogs UK?

In the earlier years of his life, grandad used to visit Henshaws every Wednesday afternoon on Talbot Road in Stretford. He helped out there with various projects to support people with sight loss and other disabilities. Another thing I recently learned from my mum is that, grandad visited the Disabled Living Centre, to pick up some kitchen gadgets such as alarm assisted mugs etc. that had been donated to Henshaws. I currently work for Disabled Living and I remember the feeling I had when I was accepted there. It turns out the link between my charity work and disabilities is even stronger now I know this.

The past few months, me and mum have been reminiscing about loads of different memories of my grandad to the point where I wondered what charity challenge I could do next.

I was browsing through the Guide Dogs UK website and found that the 100 for 100 challenge was live between 1st July – November 2020. Of course, my mind immediately thought, “Ooo let’s give this a go!” and that’s when I made the decision to carry out the challenge in July and it fit nicely around his birthday (today, 22nd July).

Guide Dogs UK is an amazing charity and one which meant a lot to my grandad. The charity supports blind people and those who are partially sighted. When grandad was alive, as soon as he found out he was partially sighted, he decided to sponsor a Labrador puppy and I still have the little teddy called Angel which he received in one of his ‘Sponsor a Puppy’ packs. He also went on a 5-day training course with Guide Dogs UK and was offered the chance to have his own guide dog but he thought as he had the support of his family around him, a guide dog would give someone who lived alone the help and comfort they needed.

How well did I tackle the challenge?

Tasha running down the road in the rain

Running in the rain

I may have finished the run early due to some routes being longer than others but it doesn’t mean that I breezed through it so easily. The hardest part of it all was the middle stage – back and shin aches. Knowing that I had ran so far but still had the other half of the hurdle to complete made me worry if I could actually do it.

The piece of advice I would give to anyone completing any challenge is, to not doubt yourself. Tell yourself you can do it and you will. Also, don’t forget to create a music playlist which encourages you to keep going. There’s nothing wrong with taking breaks along the way and changing your pace. For me, it wasn’t about speed, I just knew I would get there and that some days were going to be tougher than others. My biggest motivator was Danny. Each day I came home after running, he said, “How was it? I’m proud of you.”

The best thing about this particular challenge is that I did it alone (other than 3 occasions where I had some company). It helped me find more confidence in myself and not to be afraid. I’ll admit, as sad as it sounds, I did have a few tears strolling down my face as I approached the end of my running journey but it was only because A) I proved to myself I could finish it and B) when it’s someone you love and miss, it’s bound to be at least, a little emotional. Grandad may not have been there at the end of the road in person but I did visit him and granny every other day as I went by the cemetery.

How did I exceed my fundraising target?

running route map on the MapMyRun app

The last day of running for the 100k

I think the main reason I exceeded my fundraising target was due to lots of social media promotion across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And of course, without the generosity of my lovely supporters who donated to my page, I wouldn’t have reached over 300% of my target.

The importance of supporting Guide Dogs UK

If you have a family member or friend who lives/has lived with sight loss or visual impairments, why not think of challenge you could do this year for Guide Dogs UK? Or perhaps you would like to offer your skills and volunteer for them. Take a look at their website to see how you can help. Visit: https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/how-you-can-help

running trainers on path

Finding a Love for Running Continues…

Running – some love it and some hate it. I never classed myself as a ‘runner’ until I started to beyond the professional and competitive side. I started to enjoy running more once I did it in my own time and noticed the many benefits along the way for my own body. Up until June this year, I hadn’t ran since March on the treadmill in the gym. Due to the mixture of lockdown, feeling sluggish and having quite low thoughts, I needed to do something. I wanted to find something to focus on. That’s when I realised that I could try to discover a new running journey.

You might ask, how did I get into running?

Back in school I always took part in the relay for Sports Day and 100 metre sprints here and there. I didn’t hate cross country but I wouldn’t say I loved it neither. As for the bleep test, I weirdly looked forward to that because I always up for a challenge to see how far I could push myself.

Fast forward a few years, I’m onto a few cardio workouts in the gym. Nothing too strenuous but a fair bit to keep myself fit. Alongside the cross trainer and treadmill, I absolutely love strength workouts, particular strengthening my legs and arms. Now those, I really miss!

Some of you may already know that fundraising for charity isn’t new to me. Over the years I have fundraised for St Ann’s Hospice, Tommy’s, Alzheimer’s Society, British Heart Foundation, and Cancer Research UK. Two of these occasions included participating in a running event. So, it comes as no surprise that I found myself searching for a new charity fundraiser, which I’ll touch on below.

Work on your own goals

The thing I’ve found with fitness and exercise is that, you don’t have to follow what everybody else is doing. You can particulate in any shape of sport or exercise at your own pace and do what works for you. It’s always good to set yourself little challenges but there’s no need to compare to anybody else’s lengths, times, and strength. For me, feeling stronger starts mentally. Using exercise to take away irrelevant or low thoughts, especially on this running journey, as it’s something which has significantly changed my outlook on things.

I find myself feeling accomplished at the end of each run. I am determined and more focused on positive things e.g. doing things for me and trying to less critical of my appearance and how I am. It’s a way for me to keep active, explore the outdoors (great for my photography page), and release any negative energy. All of these benefits and more make it worth the while, donating for a good cause at the same time.

100 for 100 challenge

My current challenge, running 100k for £100 has been pleasing so far. I’m so thankful for my amazing 22 supporters who have helped me to exceed my fundraising target already. Here’s to 20th July when I will have completed the full distance, in time to commemorate grandad’s heavenly birthday on 22nd July.

All donations are sent to The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, in memory of my grandad and all of those who have/had visual impairments. For more information visit my JustGiving page.

visiting granny and grandad at the cemetery

The Importance of Memories With Your Loved Ones

Memories and experiences shape you into the person you are today. No matter your age, you have your own story. So far in life, there have been some difficult situations I have experienced, fortunately outweighed by the good. I’m a firm believer in taking something good from a negative event.

Family is everything. I love the bond I have with my mum, dad, and brothers. We have shared so much together, tough times and also some of the best times. I think we will always have each other and I’m so glad.

This last month or so has been a reflective time for me. Maybe a lot of things come down to my emotional nature, that’s what got me started on this blog almost 5 years ago after all. It got me thinking, you waste too much time wondering what if, I wish I could have… and so on.

You can look back, dwell in sorrow, or smile and grow stronger. I must admit I still cry no matter how many years go by but that’s just in my nature. I’m still much stronger than I used to be. Danny’s endless love for us and our life always gives me something to hold onto. Whatever may come, we face it together. I have lost count of the amount of times he has held me when I have hit such low points.

Life is what you make it…

You can’t predict the future, nor can you force things to happen. However, you can hope and think positive. Life can throw twists and turns. How you deal with them, is down to outlook. Take someone who you were very close to and the day you lost them. You feel raw. A piece of the jigsaw that made your life whole is missing. It is also a very confusing and a lot for your heart to take.

I remember I was 7 years old when I lost someone I loved for the first time, someone I was very close to, my granny. I couldn’t prep for school plays or assemblies. I didn’t understand how you could just lose someone. It was painful enough seeing her unwell in hospital. I cried at home. I cried at school. I cried at my friend’s house.

Someone taught me how to braver and stronger – my grandad. I used to think seeing granny’s face in my dreams was scary, waking up to the reality that she was no longer here. Grandad always said, she is always going to be there and when I look at the sky at night she will be one of the stars twinkling bright. I haven’t stopped paying so much attention to the stars since. When I lived at my mum and dad’s, I always thought she was there each night in the same spot. Although I’m in a house of my own now, I still smile when the stars are out at night.

When grandad passed away, I may have been older but it didn’t make it any easier. My heart sunk harder than I ever thought it could. You see, he always shown us that Granny’s life was around us. Having his hugs, holding his hand, and sharing the most exciting adventures was everything. He brought anything he could to life, the light always shined, and he was my hero.

Together, granny and grandad were a significant couple, not just as grandparents, but because they were special in their own ways. Granny – a beautiful woman, so playful always making us laugh, caring, always looked out for you, and the best kind of granny ever. Grandad – he gave you his heart and soul, he was the strongest man. Not once did he stop loving any us differently, and he did everything in his power to give you the best in life, most of all, his love. Together, they were one in a million.

There’s always something to give back

My mum and have have always understood that dreams can come true if you fight hard enough and that love keeps everything alive. Through my dad’s protective streak and being the person I can always turn to for help, to my mum’s loving nature and showing me that I should always “hold my head up high”, no matter what life throws at you, plays a part in the person I am today. But it goes without saying, granny and grandad helped me to see that, life is what you make it and more.

I’m always on the look out to see how I can support charities in memory of the those who were very special to me. A few that are close to my heart are Cancer Research UK, Tommy’s and The British Heart Foundation. I wonder what my next charity challenge will be?

I hope this post inspires you to reflect on what the most important people in your life have taught you and how you should always hold them close to your heart.

rainbow drawing outside with chalk

Hold on in There… A Life After Lockdown Awaits

Another week in the UK lockdown has passed but is slowly phasing out with less restrictions e.g. unlimited time to exercise and going for a walk with someone outside of your household bearing social distancing is in place. I recently held a poll on Facebook and Twitter, asking my friends and followers what they are looking forward to the most post-lockdown. The answers to choose from were:

A. Hug from a family member
B. Seeing friends
C. Leisure services resuming
D. All shops reopening

On Facebook, 83% said ‘hug from a family member’ with 59% holding the same answer on Twitter. It’s nice to see the majority of respondents have the same outlook as me. I’m so excited for the moment to hug my mum, dad, and brothers. There have a number of occasions where I’ve seen my mum from a distance and just want to run and hug her. To the honest, I miss all 4 of the above, of course I do! However, the freedom of being close to family is the hardest part throughout all of this. Also, most of my friends live a bit of distance from me too.

Can you imagine what life is going to like after lockdown?

For some, life might not seem so different now or after lockdown. However, for the more active and outdoorsy people there are, the life is come is something to look forward to. Though, at the same time, it’s still quite a scary thought. Many of us want to see our friends, celebrate, get back to the gym etc. but it’s important that we continue to take precautions. I’m sure we can all continue to implement these changes into our daily routines.

What’s the biggest impact lockdown has on travel for me?

At the moment, I’m adamant that I will not travel via public transport. I haven’t been on the bus since mid-March, which is my usual method of transport to and from work along with walking for 40% – 50% of it. Other than really miserable days with rain and wind, nothing bothers me about walking. In fact, anyone that knows me, sees the explorer in me. I’ve found it really difficult to spend a full day in the house without going somewhere. It’s in my nature, I have to go outside! So, planning trips to work when that time comes will mean putting some extra aside in the morning.

Optimising cleanliness and hygiene

As much as I’m fed up of all of this, which I’m sure many of you are too, I’m still taking it very seriously. For example, I haven’t entered anybody else’s house other than my own. Keeping things clean is no change and I’ve always that down to a tee – another thing that’s in my nature! The same goes for handing washing – a dispenser in the kitchen, downstairs toilet and each of the bathrooms upstairs. Pre-lockdown, I kept hand sanitiser in my bag the odd time but all the time now and also in the hallway of the house. I find myself being much wearier of what I’m touching e.g. shopping baskets, trolleys, items in a store that many people will have touched before me etc.

What exciting events in my life have been cancelled due to COVID-19?

Let’s start with the best one, New York. Many of you might think “Ah right, yeah, big holiday that.” Well yes, but that’s not why we’re so gutted. New York is the place I’ve always dreamt of returning to and I never knew who that would be with until Danny. When we became homeowners in 2019, we didn’t go away because we were putting everything into this year’s big trip. It’s okay though because I know we will get there, maybe next summer, we’ll see.

What else? Another big one – Kraków to see Alicia Keys. It’s funny actually… a group of us booked to go there for the fact that Alicia Keys was in Manchester when we would’ve been in New York. And now, neither of the two are happening! I haven’t been to Poland before and I love to visit new cities so I’m sure it would’ve been really fun. As for Alicia keys, I can’t even tell you… I was only wondering at the beginning of the year if she’ll tour again and how she hadn’t brought any new music out for a while then… her song played on the radio and she announced a world tour. Out of all the singers I’ve seen live, other than the Spice Girls, Alicia Keys has always been on the top of my ‘got to see’ list from an early age. One day eh!

Better days are coming…

We have come this far, what’s a little while longer? Frustrating I know, when all we want to do is resume to some kind of normality. And that we will, we just need to be a little more patient I suppose. The more people listen to the rules, the quicker that time might be. There’s bound to be low days. If you are feeling down, reach out to the people who you know will do their best to cheer you up over a little chat or video call.

Family and friends, see you all soon (I hope), I can’t wait for a hug!

star lit sky

13 Years Later and You Shine Brighter Than Ever

I was about to write a short caption on a draft photo upload to Instagram, then I realised that I had more to say.

You can’t fit into one blog post how having someone in your life makes such a significant impact. I spent 13 years with him and now it’s been 13 years without him. My grandad was my biggest hero. He taught me how to be strong, brave and kind. The most generous hearted person. He was the only one who would play shop and post office with me more than twice at a time. He encouraged me to go on my first huge rollercoaster ride when I was absolutely terrified. And since that day, I’ve learnt the importance of being brave and coming out of my comfort zone. The one person I could share everything with and made it all better. He always gave me the greatest hugs and tickled my arm when I needed to go to sleep.

Nothing beat the love he had for his grandchildren. He wanted to give us the world. The amount of happiness he brought into our lives will always give us something to look back on and smile about.

I never thought anything could break grandad. You know, it was as if he was unstoppable. There’s been two instances that shown me otherwise. The first – when granny passed away on 9th February 2002. Stood alone, I watched him crumble, crying so hard, putting his head into his hands. I was in the hallway at mum and dad’s house and I looked into the kitchen to see him, heartbroken. As much as it’s a memory I’d like to phase away, I don’t think it ever will.

You build such a strong bond, share adventures and they hold your hand throughout childhood. They watch you become a teenager and then…

The second – the day his heart stopped on 21st May 2007. My dad told school that he needed me and my brother to come home. A guidance counsellor who got to know me though being bullied at the time, found me straight away. I was so confused. I didn’t say much until we walked to the car waiting for my brother to come. “Is it mum?” “Is Gaz okay?” My dad didn’t know what to say even though he was trying to tell us. I asked, “N-no, no, Grandad?” and my dad’s face said all it needed to. The car journey home was probably the quietest moment I’ve shared with one of my brothers. It was happening all over again. That was us, home, ran to our bedrooms and cried uncontrollably.

I remember visiting grandad in hospital and him telling me, “You’re growing up so much”. Getting on a bus to visit him at the hospital on my own didn’t phase me one bit. Walking through the hospital, seeing Ward H2, seeing him lay in the hospital bed didn’t scare me. No longer being able to hold his hand scared me. I used to bring 2 of my high school friends to stay on many weekends at his house – his kindness spread to others like them. They seen, no matter how old I was, the relationship we had didn’t change. I only wish I could’ve seen him when he went home this time.

I could spend my life hating coronary heart disease but hate isn’t something that grandad would’ve wanted. Hopefully you’ll see, why I love doing all I can to support the British Heart Foundation. Also, I think it’s crazy how, ever since I was a little girl I’ve always wanted a golden Labrador/Retriever and that’s the breed of dog grandad sponsored and almost had one as a guide dog for his visual impairment.

Grandad, just as we used to do for granny, every time I look to the sky at night and I see a star, I’ll think of you. “Love you millions!”

I haven’t written this blog post to give myself a good cry, as much as I’ve had to fight it whilst putting it together. It’s more to remind myself how special life is. Time and love is everything. There’s no escaping loved ones, they are in each and every little thing we see or do. You find yourself thinking about or doing something they taught you. And I hope this teaches anyone who’s reading this post, to hold tight onto everything that makes you happy.