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.

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 £1,100 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

Irish flag

The Bravest Irishman I’ll Ever Know

Sitting here with my headphones on trying to figure out a way to put all of the words together. Facing the fact that as you get older, you lose more people in your life, can be difficult. Not just friends who drift away but family members who you were close to. I don’t believe that there’s ever a right time or that we can make ourselves ready, even if we know it’s coming.

When I take part in Race for Life next month it’s going to be a very emotional day.

This isn’t only because of the huge crowds supporting Cancer Research UK. The run in Manchester takes place on the same day as my auntie and uncle’s ruby wedding anniversary. I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to help others who aren’t aware of neuroendocrine tumours.

My uncle might have been stubborn at times but his heart was always in the right place. Throughout all of my life, he was always there and he always cared. He welcomed anyone and everyone into his life. And we all know when getting a taxi home from his and auntie Linda’s, uncle Dom would always go out to the taxi driver to make sure you got you home safe.

Growing up as a child, uncle Dom always made me tea and toast for breakfast.

And I mean, he would pile loads on a plate to make sure you were full. Whenever I was sent home with a bad migraine from work he was there to let me into his house to either give me a blanket to lie on the couch with or send me up to bed with a glass of water. When we were little and I stayed over with my friends, he used to come into the room at night with a torch on his face and pretend to be a ghost.

I remember sitting there with you in the living room watching Fifteen to One after school. Every time I see a cowboy or Christmas film I’ll think of you.

There’s no one quite like you.

Your love for Man United, Rex and Tyson, Poker on your laptop, Irish music, a can of beer, and love for your family was like no other.

Uncle Dom you’re no longer in pain. The world is going to be such a different place without the crazy ‘Irish Salfordian’ in town. Here’s to you and all of the good times you brought into our lives. Miss and love you always.


If Cancer Research UK is close to your heart please support me as I run in memory of uncle Dom and to help others facing cancer. Donations can be made via our Cancer Research UK Giving Page. 

ribbon rolled out

Neuroendocrine Tumours and Race for Life with Cancer Research UK

Sadly, news has hit that my uncle has neuroendocrine tumours. Although it’s a short time to train, the news gives me more than enough motivation to start fundraising for Cancer Research UK. Anyone who knows me, understands how much raising money for charity means to me, especially when it comes to family. It’s been a couple of years since my last charity run but me and Danny will be taking part in Race for Life next month in Manchester.

Did you know that neuroendocrine tumours are rare?

According to Cancer Research UK, over 4,000 people in the UK each year are diagnosed with Neuroendocrine cancer also known as ‘Neuroendocrine tumours’ (NETs). Neuroendocrine cells are in the majority of organs in our body including the stomach, lungs and pancreas.

I want more people to know about this type cancer because of how rare it is. My uncle knew something wasn’t right when he was struggling to empty his bowels for weeks. Other symptoms have included, loss of appetite, sickness, weight loss and change of skin colour (grey).

His GP diagnosed uncle Dom with diverticulosis due to age. It wasn’t until he went into hospital that there was something more. It took a little while but the doctors and consultants carried out several tests including a biopsy, bloods and PET scan.

The motivation I need to take part in Race for Life

I want to raise as much as possible to help promote more awareness and more research towards fighting cancer. It’s something we hear about so often these days but there’s still no easy way of breaking the news to someone.

My uncle isn’t the first person in my family to face cancer so there’s even more reason to make taking part in this year’s Race for Life. I hope that by raising awareness, I will encourage others to participate. Don’t let the word ‘race’ put you off. Honestly, you can go at whatever pace works for you. Remember the real reason why you’re taking part.

All donations can be made on Tasha and Danny’s Race for Life. Thank you so much for everyone’s donations so far. It means the world to us and my family.

I’m ready to do this. And I hope that at least one of you out there will be too.

chia seeds on sprinkled with wooden spoon

Diet for Slow Transit Constipation

Have you been diagnosed with slow transit constipation? One of the important things to think about if you haven’t already is your diet. A healthy diet is essential for everyone but there are certain foods which can you eat to increase your chances of going to the toilet.

Here are some foods I include in my diet for slow transit constipation which have helped me.

Prunes

Prunes? Ugh, they don’t sound nice do they? Well I thought that until I discovered Activia prune yoghurts. I started off with the prune ones and blended with the yoghurt flavour it’s actually really nice. You can also buy a multipack of different flavours including fig and rhubarb.

Chia seeds

Mixed with something that you eat most days, e.g. porridge, yoghurts, salads etc. chia seeds are really good as they’re high in protein. They give you energy so they’re also beneficial to eat if you go to the gym or keep active and exercise. Also, they are very healthy for your digestive system and can help to relieve constipation.

Mackerel

I aim to at at least one portion of oily fish each week. Mackerel is part of my plan to maintain my this I think it goes well with salad and makes a nice dinner at work. As someone with hypertension, it’s also great that it helps to lower blood pressure too.

Plenty of water

It goes without saying that hydration is an important factor of a healthy diet. I’ve learnt the importance of drinking more water at work not just in the evenings at home. It can be so hard when there are a lot of tea bellies at work!

Remember, each individual is different. Our bodies work in their own ways. What works for some may not work for others. This post has solely been based on my own experiences that might help someone else with slow transit constipation.

Share your tips for the best diet for slow transit constipation in the comments box further down the page.

daisy on a woman's stomach

Slow Transit Constipation Diagnosis

Slow transit constipation (STC) is a neuromuscular problem where the muscles of the large intestines have delayed movement. It’s also associated with a ‘sluggish bowel’.

A bit of a background with my diagnosis… It had been a couple of years since I had my visit to the doctors explaining that I was constipated. But back then, I felt like my body became accustomed to feeling the way it did and it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

That was until a while later when my body just wasn’t right. No lifestyle change or dietary improvements were helping. I’m an active and healthy person, I eat my oily fish once-twice a week, drink plenty of water throughout the day etc. However, I was lucky if I could go to the toilet (to empty my bowel) for at least two weeks at a time. And even then, I’m talking small hard pieces, not a proper poo! No matter how much bloat was building up, a very tiny amount of coming out of me.

There’s more to the side effects of slow transit constipation than people think.

Not only that but I could no longer eat, I was being sick in the morning and throughout the day when I attempted to eat. It caused me to feel anxious whenever I could manage a small amount of food because it would either harden my stomach or come back up.

Feeling dizzy was a regular occurrence, probably because I had zero energy levels. I felt sad all the time and didn’t want to see friends. It’s awful to admit that I punched my stomach a few times because it was so swollen. I hated how I looked in clothes – one big ball of bloat.

It’s got to the point where I had an awful amount of fear and embarrassment about eventually needing the toilet. To this day, I still get the urge to go and can’t miss the opportunity but still have pain. My left abdomen suffers the most. But more recently, I’ve started to feel a sharp pain my right side too.

What’s worse is the frequent urge to need a wee but not always being able to go. The pressure from my bowel is the cause of this.

Once you’re diagnosed with slow transit constipation.

After feeling my left abdomen, the consultant said he could feel an unusual sized hard lump. He gathered this was due to a build up of impaction. Afterwards I had an internal examination, which resulted to the decision of booking in for a colonic transit study.

In the meantime I had a trip to A&E. I had to leave work because I was experiencing an excruciating pain in my left abdomen and I was throwing up. The same abnormalities were picked up but there was nothing they could do other than prescribe more laxatives. Eventually I was booked in for the colonic transit study after waiting 6 weeks for a letter or phone call. But that’s another story.

During the study, you take a capsule which has lots of tiny radiopaque markers inside.  On day 5 you go back into the hospital to have an x-ray. This reveals where all of the little markers inside have reached. To their surprise but not mine, I had more than 20 markers left inside, some of which hadn’t even reached my small bowel and there was also some faecal residue in my colon.

The consultant said, “Yes, it confirms you have slow transit constipation.” And when I asked how I move forward with this, he said try more laxatives or there’s a tablet you can take which he suggested my GP to prescribe me.

Guess what happened next? I was passed back to my GP which he for one, couldn’t understand how it had ‘been dealt with’ and why my follow-up appointment was so rushed. I took a course of the medication and it didn’t work. This was after I tried Laxido, Lactulose, Senna, Movicol, Dulcolax etc. so you can imagine how frustrating it was.

Moving forward with slow transit constipation…

As advised from the consultant, there’s no way to cure slow transit constipation. But it was interesting to hear that it’s a symptom rather than a condition on its own. Whenever I look up slow transit constipation, I see a lot of web pages relating to slow transit constipation being more common in children than adults.

It’s quite annoying because my body always seems to be, let’s say, a bit odd. For example, my diagnosis of hypertension (high blood pressure) at the age of 23. I often wonder if the constipation, high blood pressure, migraines and sensitivity to coldness causing blue/grey hands are all linked together in some kind of way – perhaps thyroid related? However, blood test usually reveal ‘borderline’ or ‘normal’ results.

The slow transit constipation doesn’t go away but I’ve just got to learn different ways of coping.

I try to eat less portions but still make sure I’m having enough food and fluids intake. Mostly, chia seeds and prunes help me to digest food. My stomach can go from flat to a huge ball and it’s very uncomfortable. Just the other day, my boyfriend asked me when did I last go to the toilet. Other than a night out where one drop of Malibu had me running to the nearest toilet, I honestly can’t remember.

There are still occasions where I cry because of the pain. Digesting food is the most important thing for me. Without it I’m weak and let’s face it, a little grumpy too. We all need food!

If you suffer from slow transit constipation share your experiences below.