COVID-19 virus

What to Expect When Having a COVID-19 Test

This is my experience of attending a walk-in centre by appointment. Near you, there might also be a drive-in centre, or the option to book a test online when/if they become available again.

Booking a COVID-19 Test

I was lucky when it came to booking a test. There were not any home tests available but over 100 slots had opened up at the University of Salford. I visited GOV.UK and followed the steps to proceed with booking an appointment.

If you are thinking of booking a COVID-19 test, expect to enter the date that the first symptom started to happen along with some personal details (name, date of birth, postcode etc.) The website will then bring up the closest testing centres. If you don’t have a car or live with someone who has a car, you are advised to walk or cycle to your appointment to reduce the risk of infecting others (if you have the virus) rather than taking public transport. 

When you arrive at your selected testing centre, a member of security or staff will ask you for your pass or email/text with confirmation of your appointment. You are likely to have received a QR code which they will scan and allow you into the building. This was the case for me as the test was taking place indoors. You must sanitise your hands upon entry then someone will direct you to a cubicle. 

Having the Coronavirus Test

A member of staff shown me where to go and I was provided with an information leaflet and testing pack. There was also further instructions on how to take the test with step by step illustrations on the wall in front of me. Staff members were around for further assistance if needed.

To start the test, you must blow your nose and dispose of the tissue in the bin. If you too attend a testing centre where you carry the test out yourself, you’ll find a swab in the pack on a table. You are asked to put the swab at the back of your throat for 10-15 seconds then using the same side, repeat up one of your nostrils approximately 2.5 centimetres. The only downside for me was that, my eyes were ridiculously watery on this day due to feeling unwell so, my eyes began to stream and I couldn’t stop sneezing because the swab tickled my nose! I think the staff looked at me as if to say “Well, that’s a different one!” haha. 

Once you have done the above, you place the swab into a container, snapping the other half off so it fits. Then, seal the bag you are given with the test inside. A member of staff will guide you to the next area where you sanitise your hands again, your QR code will be scanned for a second time, place your bag into a tray and you are all done. I was advised that my result would arrive through a text and email within 48 hours.

Getting Your Result

Less than 24 hours later, I received my result in a text then shortly afterwards by email. The sender will appear as NHS by text and NHS COVID-19 Notification on email. Thankfully, the result was negative. It felt good not only to discover I didn’t have the virus but to have received answers so soon. 

If you want, you can enter your code on the NHS Test and Trace app under the ‘Enter test result’ tab which will again notify you of your result. Further advice was given about isolation, if it’s necessary, and how to keep others safe.

I know it’s quite frustrating for people in some areas of the UK at the minute trying to get hold of a test or an appointment for one. But remember, your health comes first. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, book a test if you can. The first day I checked, there were no appointments available but the next day, luckily there was.

More information on testing and coronavirus can be found online at: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test 

hands holding a candle

3 Little Reminders for When You Are Feeling Stressed

Are you feeling stressed? This post might help to take away some of the things which are on your mind and are continuing to put a strain on you. Or at least, I hope it helps you to find a different perspective.

We all feel stressed from time to time and there are different coping mechanisms that work for each of us. Stress can cause many anxieties but there is a way to fight back if you take control. Feeling under pressure or worrying about situations, even the smallest things or events that haven’t even happened, there’s a type of stress which hits us all. For someone who suffers with a number of conditions that can be worsened by stress, I need to start taking a leaf or two out of my own book!

Why not think about these reminders below…

This period of time is temporary and will pass

What you are feeling so low about? Do you think it’ll matter in a few weeks, months, or a year from now? I like to think that challenges arise to test us but we can learn how we react to certain situations which also encourages us to grow. I have experienced this on both a professional and personal level. Learning to find a coping mechanism like taking deep breaths, or having a quick break from the thoughts swimming around in my head, seems to help. Sometimes, you have to remove yourself from the environment that’s making you feel this way.

There is guaranteed to be things in your life that make you feel happy and grateful to have. So, next time you are feeling stressed, focus on those positive things to help make you smile.

Always remember to switch off

It doesn’t matter if you need to switch off from work, family matters, friendship/relationship problems, or to come away from something personal, do it. I have struggled with this one before now and too many times, I have let negative thoughts beat me up inside. My mind has been overblown to the point where I don’t understand anything, yet I’ll still quietly say “yes” or agree to everything because I am mentally and physically drained to say anything different.

Also, another thing to mention, about life in general is, we aren’t here to just sit around and question why someone thinks what they do. It’s your responsibility to live your life how you want to live it and accept that people will always have something to say whether you like it or not.

Pay attention to things that settle you

What helps you the most when it comes to removing yourself from a stressful scenario? I can think of more than a few things, can you relate to any of these? A hug, something to make you laugh, having a soak in the bath, going for a walk to clear your head, listening to music, the list goes on…

When stress triggers had hit me in the past, and were much more long-term, I completed a mindfulness course online and it worked wonders! Give it a go if you haven’t already.

Remember, try not to create scenarios in your head when they haven’t happened yet or might not even happen at all. It’s quite hard for us perfectionists when trying not to stress if things don’t go exactly how you wanted them to but these things happen and it’s just how life can be.

You might also like to read: 5 Ways to Wind Down and Relax

woman's hand holding a sparkler

Holding Onto the Things That Make Me Happy

These last 6 months have been different, almost surreal, but there’s hope that we are heading towards the better side of things now. Under no means has Covid-19 gone away. However, the restrictions have eased compared to how life was in March. There has been so much negativity in the news, people’s spirits haven’t been as high which is completely understandable. I have been one of those people from time to time. I’ve also faced new challenges with my health trying to figure out what’s happening. Right now, apparently there are ‘no answers’. Although that’s not good enough, I like to think I will get there. As we approach the last 4 months of 2020, I want to share the things I’m thankful for and looking forward to.

Seeing friends and family more

It’s always nice to surround yourself with friends and family. When Covid-19 took that away, life was pretty hard. Calls, texts, and FaceTimes, just weren’t doing it for me anymore. No hugs or kisses. I’m that person who loves a good hug. I love to smile with my friends and family, have a laugh, and be as random as I always am. It’s good that I have been able to see much more of them recently and catch up. A couple of friends are buying houses this year and I am over the moon for them. The excitement is very real!

Making the most of challenging times

Luckily for me, I continued to do all of those things above with Danny. The smiles, hugs, being silly together, comforting me when I cried, holding my head up when I felt down and low. The biggest encourager on my running journey, and the best company to have when we worked from home together. I am so thankful for the last 6 months, for the way they have brought us closer to one another. I think seeing each other at work was the only way we had never seen each other before. So, I feel like all kind of experiences and emotions with each other are complete! Wow, I miss our adventures together but I’m so excited to re-book New York for next year (fingers crossed) and to see what the future holds for us.

Knowing that home is my favourite place of all

Home is my happy place. I mean, I am missing the getaways but I am glad that I have a home full of love. It’s been just over 18 months since we became homeowners and this December will be our 8th Christmas together. Time goes so fast and I’m so lucky that I get to build many more memories together. Unfortunately for Danny, that involves catching all of the spiders. I get over them… then it’s like I’m scared again because they are bigger each time *cry*. I love maintaining our beautiful home and continuing to make decisions on the little touches that make it our own. And as much as I love summer, I’m really looking forward to the cosy autumn/winter nights in as we approach Christmas. Let’s face it, it’ll be here before we know it!

What’s making you happy at the moment?

Follow Tasha’s Lifestyle on Twitter @tashalifestyle.

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.