close up of pink petal flowers

Things to Do During the Coronavirus Lockdown

As surreal as the lockdown in the UK might feel right now, there are plenty of things you can do to stay occupied. Unfortunately, for the most social groups of people this is probably quite difficult. Also, it can pose challenges for those who are out of/can’t work. I’m lucky enough to be working from home so I still have some kind of routine. It does feel strange not having to travel to and from the office and I miss seeing my colleagues face-to-face.

For the past 10 days I’ve had Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms so I’ve stayed indoors (self-isolating). The only places I’ve been includes the bins at the front of the house and going into the back garden. Those who are on the COVID-19 high risk list have been urged to stay at home (shielding), whilst others are staying 2 metres apart (social distancing) and under restrictions to only go outside for:

  • Shopping for necessities
  • Exercise
  • Medical reasons
  • Traveling to and from work if ‘absolutely necessary’

Take advantage of the time you have to relax

If you’re anything like me and you struggle to just relax and chill, now is the time to understand why you should do it more often. ‘Me time’ is really important. I’ve talked about ways you can relax before. Pamper yourself or take the time do something you usually put aside because you don’t always have the time e.g. reading a new book, starting a blog etc.

Clean up and tidy up

I always find something to rearrange whether it’s clothes in the wardrobe, the cupboard under the sink, the medicine cabinet, you name it, there’s always something. Why did I have 6 boxes of plasters in the medicine cabinet, who knows? I love to organise and keep the house clean and tidy so this an everyday hobby for me.

Binge watch TV series or films

Okay, I’ll admit, I do this anyway. But there’s no harm is watching more right? Make the most of those Netflix subscriptions. I’m making the most of some girly series at the moment, including a bundle of Gilmore Girls episodes (my 3rd time watching the whole series from start to finish). And as Disney+ is out in the UK, you might as well sign up and be ready for all of your Disney favourites. I’m so looking forward to reliving my childhood!

Do some gardening

If you have the tools available, why not take the opportunity to venture into garden. It’s never really been on my to-do list before. However, since we moved into the new house last year, the back garden has been an area I like to spend my time in, when the weather is nice enough. I’ve had fun tidying the garden, cleaning the patio, and painting the fence.

Keep in touch with family and friends

The most important one on the list. Check in on your family and friends. And don’t forget about your neighbours, especially those who are vulnerable. There are many options such as: a call, text, social media, instant messaging like WhatsApp, video calls e.g. FaceTime etc. Some groups of people are also using quiz/gaming apps to keep them in high spirits.

As miserable as everything seems at the moment, do something that you can look back on and know it was time well spent. Think about the positives and have a forward-thinking perspective to keep you motivated.

pathway made from decking with hearts at the side

Don’t Let Anything Stop You From Dreaming

With everything that’s going on at the moment, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what happens next. It’s so easy to feel unmotivated or doubt many things right now. But it’s down to you and the perspective you have that makes a difference. There were so many things I was looking forward to in 2020, it was going to be the year.

  • June 2020 – New York
  • July 2020 – finally going to see Alicia Keys
  • Somewhere after that – buy a puppy (I’m a changed woman)

Never stop dreaming

You can wonder, it’s only natural to think things like… “I wish… We could’ve..” blah blah. But for me, the thing that matters the most is the health and happiness of those around me. Yes, I’m gutted that we might not get to experience the trip of our dreams to the one place I’ve always wanted to return to. But it doesn’t mean that we have to stop dreaming. There are countless of things to be thankful for and many things we’re blessed to have, putting each other at the top of that list.

I also think that as much as you to try plan things, life happens. It always will. If the current situation around the world doesn’t teach you the importance of not taking the small things for granted, I don’t know what will. Time is more precious than some people realise.

Putting all of this into perspective I know that good things can still happen. No matter how long it takes, I’ll keep dreaming until it’s real. And that’s why I’m not afraid to share it. I don’t talk about every single detail of my life with others everyday. But sometimes as long as you know what you want and you’re not afraid to go for it, you can do anything. When it comes down to it, there are much bigger and special things to look forward to than trips, no matter how exciting there are/were going to be.

Anything can be in store for the future

There’s so much the future can hold – good and bad. But I think even during the hardest of times, if you have each other, you have everything. That’s something I’ll never take for granted. And as most of you will have read before on my blog, I’m a big believer in doing things in your own time. Life isn’t a race.

It’s like when I tell people about how I’ve longed for a family of our own for quite some time. They seemed shocked. Perhaps it’s because I don’t put it out there. I’m already afraid that it might not happen because of complications mum has had in the past and wonder if I’ll experience it too. Kinda stupid I know because we all have our bodies but it’s true. And she does have 3 children who adore the bones of her. Some might wonder, why haven’t you got there then? It’s not about ‘getting there’. Me and Danny talk about these things and have known from the get-go what we want. I can only imagine how heartwarming it would be. Until then I might just have to bombard you all with some puppy love when that happens! Can you guess what Disney character’s name we’ve picked?

There’s always something to be thankful for

When you think about these things, it shows you what matters in your life. As much as I’d like to venture outside more often and continue my usual routine, it’s not much of a sacrifice when I still have the luxury of working from home, Danny’s company 24/7 (yes I genuinely love it) and my health and happiness.

Think about all of the reasons to be happy If you’re missing someone right now, FaceTime them, message them, call them.

close up of 3 dumbbells

Living in the World of Fitness and Exercise

The other day I was running on the treadmill and an idea came to mind for a new topic on the blog, that being, the world of fitness and exercise. There are many reasons why exercise is good for you including a boost in feel-good moods and making you stronger. I don’t mean that it’ll turn you into Mr Muscle man, I mean it could do if that’s what you’re going for… but it helps to keep the strength up in different parts of your body.

Loving your own body is hard, isn’t it?

Well it sure is for me and there’s no doubt that you haven’t found at least one flaw with your body. On the fitness side of things is where it can get dangerous. You can damage your mind comparing your weight, capabilities and energy to others. The truth is, some people can run faster than others; swim lengths quicker than others, lift heavier weights than others etc.

Now I’m no fitness guru but I do know that it should be enjoyable. Once you see things from that perspective, it really does help. You live in your body every single day of your life, you shouldn’t be so harsh on something that helps you to develop and grow, mentally and physically.

My fear of going back to the gym since my teenage years was known very well by Danny. I would constantly say, “but they’ve got toned stomachs, they can go into the gym but no fear about who they see and what they can do in front of anyone…” I used to be with weighing myself every week. If I didn’t have a £1 coin on me, I’d ask Danny and he would say no straight away because I seen what I doing to myself.

I’m not overweight (and wasn’t then) nor am I underweight.

I’m actually in the ‘ideal’ weight category. But I mean, shouldn’t ideal be what we’re comfortable with? Of course, if exercise and diet tips have been advised on a health level by your GP, nurse etc. then that’s different but I’m talking about loving your body for what it is including those flaws you see, no matter how they may or may not appear to others.

I can’t emphasise enough how your body is YOURS. There’s so much influence online, some good, some bad. You don’t have to be like anyone but you. I slack with the gym from time-to-time; eat those snacks that aren’t ‘good for you’ sometimes. But guess what? Both of those things are good for me. Sometimes it’s nice to take a step away and be in little piggy mode as I like to call it.

It’s amazing when you do the simplest thing and that’s doing what makes you happy. Sometimes it’s nice to push limits like training for a run if that’s your thing. It could be anything such as lowering the weight of an applicator but increasing the number of sets.

In school, I enjoyed running, but it wasn’t my favourite thing.

I was more of a rounders, circuit, a bundle of activities kinda girl. I was chosen for the relay in high school on sports day and I used to love it. Cross country was a thing that everyone used to hate (usually a punishment if someone complained about a sport or forgot their kit) but again I didn’t mind it.

Back in 2017 I completed my first 10k run with Danny. It wasn’t about being the fastest, it was about finishing the run for our grandparents and the charities we had chosen in memory of them. It did take a lot of training. We surprised ourselves yet again at Race for Life where we beat our goal by 5 minutes. A little encouragement from each other was all we needed.

Fitness and exercise really can be fun

The main point I’m trying to get across is start doing what you’re comfortable with. One day you might want to try something new and push yourself further but it’s okay if not. Keeping fit and exercising should and can be enjoyable.

I hope you’re going to come away from reading this post and look at your body in a more positive way.

box of tissues on table

What to Expect When Having Septoplasty Surgery

Danny has had problems with his nose for years now – breathing, sneezing, and… snoring! His GP never really seen it as a concern. Then, after pushing for a second opinion he attended his appointment at Oaklands Hospital in Salford (as an NHS patient, not private).

His original date for the procedure was postponed until more recently, which I was quite happy about for the most part because it meant he could take part in Race for Life with me.

Having the septoplasty procedure

The procedure itself takes approximately 30-40 minutes.

What do they do?

Dependent on what’s required they do different things. With Danny, they shaved away some of the cartilage and stitched it back together. They also cauterised at the top.

How long until you can go home?

In most cases you can go home two hours after surgery (which was the case for Danny), but sometimes they will keep you in for longer if your nose doesn’t stop bleeding or if there’s a complication.

Recovering from septoplasty

The majority of people recover from septoplasty in 1-2 weeks before they can go back to school or work. The actual benefits aren’t usually fully felt for a good few months though.

Luckily, Danny had no bruising. However, bruising is something that can occur with others around the eyes and nose. Danny did suffer with quite a bit of bleeding from his nose and pain in his upper lip. He was advised to not sneeze or blow his nose for at least a week. It’s really important to remember to breathe from your mouth on a daily basis.

Being at home

Going home to your own comforts is good but there are things to remember. It’s important and worthwhile to lie on your back, keeping your head elevated with 2-3 pillows. There isn’t much that Danny has had to change around the house e.g. I can still spray Febreeze, however in moderation and not when he’s in the room.

As advised by the hospital, Danny stayed indoors which was terrible when we had the strong heatwave that hit the UK. After one week he did step outside to the shop to grab some dinner as he worked from home in his second week after surgery. He wasn’t allowed in an office as there are groups of people and air con where germs can spread very easily.

One thing Danny says I’ve got a terrible habit with is kicking in my sleep which usually involves me spreading my arms and legs out. So I kinda need to be careful to make sure I don’t hit his nose. I feel awful when I have brushed past it accidentally.

Have you ever had septoplasty surgery? What were the long-term benefits for you?

lots of tablets on a table

Coming off Propranolol Beta Blocker Medication to Treat Migraines

At the age of 16 I was prescribed propranolol medication to help reduce the frequency of migraines attacks. My dosage increased from 10mg to 80mg at the hospital. I’ve talked about the side effects of beta blockers before but my decision to gradually stop taking them was a big one to make. The biggest bother was extreme sensitivity to cold and pins and needles through my whole body. I also made the decision to stop with the hope it would help the discolouration in my skin. (I don’t have Raynaud’s Disease)I’d like to talk about the feelings I’ve had since I’ve stopped taking the medication. 

Body temperature

The biggest and best feeling of all has got to be not feeling so cold all of the time. Honestly, I know a lot of girls feel cold a lot of the time but it was just silly with me. The worst body parts affected had to be my hands and feet. My hands especially would get that cold, they would sting and hurt. I used to struggle writing, opening things, I was just a walking shiver really. Now I find it so much easier with choosing what clothes to wear and being able to get cosier is much easier because my body is at a temperature I like.

Pins and needles free

Okay this is a strange one because I think it always got mixed up on the symptoms side of migraines. For example, when I went to the doctors to talk about my hands discolouring and turning a crazy blue and grey, the pins and needles worsened. But because I had pins and needles every single day (I’m not kidding), I thought it was a part of me and it was normal. Clearly I was wrong. Around about a month after I stopped taking propranolol, there wasn’t a single tingling pain in my fingers or anywhere in my body. I feel amazing.

Less headaches

My migraines must have been slowly disappearing over the last few years (touch wood). The reason I was prescribed propranolol was due to having more than one migraine a week following sickness, blurry eye sight, flashes, losing balance etc. After being on the medication for a few years I expected at least one a month, maybe one severe migraine every couple months if I was lucky.

There’s no saying that stress won’t cause a migraine but I’ve gotten a whole lot better at realising the dangerous side effects of stress e.g. increase in blood pressure, shaking, diet etc. Thankfully, blood pressure medication is all I need to take on a daily basis now.

There’s an even bigger bonus, the headaches after a night out aren’t half as cruel as they used to be. I still can’t handle them like 18 year old me could though!

This post was based on advice by my GP keeping in mind the importance of keeping my body as natural as healthy as possible. I reduced my dosage from 80mg to 40mg to nothing. The last jump was a risk but it’s been a risk worth taking and for that, I’m so glad. I took propranolol for 8 years and it came to a point where they started to overpower my body. Each individual has different needs – mine being to consider what I’d rather cope with than put up with in the long run.

Have you ever taken propranolol for migraines? How do/did they make you feel? Tell me in the comments box below or via Twitter @tashalifestyle.

man and woman holding hands

Thoughts After Someone Loses Their Life to Cancer

Cancer – everyone hates hearing that word, right? For years it’s something that has hit people around me.

You hear about people to went to school with, their parents or relatives being diagnosed. Then there comes a time when it happens to your own. You’re aware that down the family history some people have suffered from it, some best it and some didn’t. But it doesn’t mean they didn’t fight it.

The fact that there’s over 200 cancers in the world makes this planet a very, very scary place to be. Cancer is happening right now. We ask ourselves why such an evil disease exists. The answer? I wish there was a valid one.

These things don’t just happen in films

Have you ever seen My Sister’s Keeper? I cried at that film, it’s so sad. However, I never really took into consideration how I would feel if someone close to me was diagnosed with cancer. That was until my uncle heard his likely diagnosis of cancer.

At the time they thought it was lymphoma. There was so much optimism to fight it as it’s a common type of cancer and the treatment would help. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. You know how everyone’s body is different? Well, my uncle’s body was hit harder by cancer than we thought. And it wasn’t only the physical aspects that changed. His actual diagnosis was neuroendocrine tumours.

Neuroendocrine? That’s the brain? Well, ‘neuro’ does relate to the nervous system. The reason why we hadn’t heard anything about this type of cancer before is because it’s a rare type. Me and mum went to ring each other at the same time pretending to one another that each of us weren’t worrying. But that wasn’t the truth. My heart was pounding with wonder and my mum was doing that thing where you’re trying to hold it together for someone.

What are neuroendocrine tumours?

Neuroendocrine cells are in the majority of organs in our body and have usually spread before they’re found. All of this information was a lot to take in but I couldn’t just let go of the feeling of hope I was holding onto.

If anything, I hoped for those around be to be stronger, and for me to be just as strong for them.

It’s one of the most difficult things to do when all you want to do is break down and cry – and several times you end up doing so.

Heartache is something that can tear you apart – especially seeing two people married for 40 years come to the end of their lives together.

The person who had the greatest amount of strength throughout all of this was uncle Dom. Knowing how concerned he used to be if I had the slightest of headaches to a severe migraine, he didn’t think it was fair to suffer pain. I can’t even imagine the amount of pain he was in. But he was still so invested in hearing about how we were and what we’ve been up to.

Keeping spirits high is an important thing to do during these times

Emotions can be very high. You’ve got to try your best to understand what someone’s going through. Sometimes, being there is all you can do.

As much as I would’ve loved for uncle Dom to have been there watching us run at the Race for Life event in Manchester, I hoped he was looking over me and Danny on the day. I told him I was doing the run for him so that’s what I had to do.

As soon as I heard the word ‘cancer’, alarm bells rang and I said, “I’m gonna look for a run with Cancer Research UK”.

It happened to be that, Race for Life was taking place on Sunday 14th July – the day that marked 40 years of marriage for my auntie and uncle. I can’t bring into so many words how I felt during that day. It was difficult for sure.

There are audio clips that you listen to before the race begins. Of course, tears were strolling down my face and I wasn’t the only one. Danny has been with me through every emotion. But when he had tears I wondered if I’d be able to do it. I stayed determined because I knew that the hardest part hadn’t hit me yet.

Heading towards the finish line

The part I was kinda dreading the most was approaching the finish line. And it was even more than I imagined it to be. As soon as I seen ‘FINISH’ in the distance, that was it. I ran faster and stayed focused, looking straight ahead.

When I reached the finish line I was shaking, not because of the energy used to participate in the race, it was all of the emotion I was holding inside in order to complete the race. Family cheered and I think the best reaction that got me was my dad’s proud expression on his face.

My auntie came looking for me and I was heading in her direction to run up to her. That moment was what it was all about. The huge hug from her was as if it was just us two in that moment in time. I felt her pain. But I also felt so much love. The hug had enough power to be from my auntie and uncle together.

Another date to remember

Uncle Dom’s birthday is coming up next month and being the organised person I am, I already bought his birthday card before he passed away. I’ll think of something special to commentate the day. I’m so pleased and amazed that we have reached £1,088 in our fundraising for Cancer Research UK.

I feel like it’s all over and I need to be doing something else. Maybe the series of blog posts I’ve written will help to raise awareness. I really hope they do.

Cancer might take our loved ones but it’ll never take the memories.

I’d like to thank Rosie at Race for Life, for being so understanding and helping to support me with raising awareness of uncle Dom’s story. For information on where to find your nearest Race for Life visit: https://raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org