health

Why everyone who can give blood, should give blood.

The blood you donate gives someone another chance at life. One day that someone may be a close relative, a friend, a loved one—or even you.

Earlier this week I was getting ready to give blood, and whilst the lady was sorting the bags out, we were discussing how many people give blood. “Only 4% of people who can give blood, do give blood” she told me. 4%??! This seems outrageous to me. Even if you take away everyone who has a severe needle phobia, this statistic would still be unbelievably low.

This got me thinking about why people who can, don’t give blood, and I thought that maybe some people don’t because they have a fear for the unknown. I remember being nervous the first time I went to donate because I didn’t know what to expect. So I’ve decided to do a bit of a rundown of what you will be faced with if you sign up to give blood, and I’m sure it’s a lot less scary that what most people expect!

The service is all online now so it is super easy to sign up at http://www.blood.co.uk.

Once registered, you can browse sessions to find a location, date and time suitable for you. There are sessions everyday of the week from early morning till late evening, so there should be something to suit everyone.

Once you’ve booked, you’re paperwork will be sent to you in the post. This is just a questionnaire to make sure it is safe for you to donate. It takes about 1 minute to complete.

So when the date comes for you to donate, just turn up at the location and there will be signs directing you to the correct room. Here you let a member of staff know you have arrived. You will be given an information leaflet to read and some juice to drink whilst you wait for part 1 of the process.

Before long you will get called for your finger prick. This happens a behind a screen to ensure privacy. One of the Donor Carers will ask you a few questions about your recent health and prick the end of your finger with a lancet device. This doesn’t hurt and is done to make sure you have enough iron in your blood. Once you’ve passed this stage, you get taken to a chair to give blood. You get to lie back and have a few minutes to yourself whilst you potentially save a life!

The Carer Donor will clean your arm and then insert a needle into your arm. If you’re not fond of needles, just look away and it’s all over in a matter of seconds. They will then take a couple of tubes of blood before connecting it to a bag to fill up. This takes about 10 minutes, and you are left to relax during this time. You can’t tell anything is happening and can’t feel the needle.

***IMAGES OF NEEDLES BELOW***

Once your donation is finished, you even get a cup of tea and a biscuit, giving you chance to make sure you feel OK before you go home!

The whole process takes about an hour. One hour out of your week.

I hope reading this makes you feel a little more comfortable about the process of giving blood and encourages you to join up! A few weeks after each donation, you get a text telling you where your blood has gone and one day it might be you or your family needing it, so why not become a donor today?

Love, RouxWithAView xxx

lifestyle

I have quit social media.

Social media should improve your life, not become your life.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat… you name it, I have deleted it.

Most people I tell, agree what a good idea it is and how they are in the right mind to do so themselves. I doubt many of them actually do. I doubt this not because I do not trust them or think they would lie, but because I know first how how completely addictive social media is and how checking it constantly throughout the day can become obsessive.

I struggle slightly with my mental health, I have had issues with OCD in my past and still battle with bouts of anxiety. I am not embarrassed to say that I am on medication to help me control the anxiety, but I still have bad days.

I was having one of these bad days last week, I had felt stressed and anxious for a few days and found myself sat at home scrolling through Facebook, looking for nothing in particular, and suddenly realised how this situation was not helping with how I was feeling at all. I was absorbing a whole load of negative, useless information that was neither educational nor enlightening. It was in that moment that I made up my mind and immediately deleted all of my social media apps.

The first of the month was the following day and I decided there and then to make some changes:

  1. I decided to keep the messenger app on my phone so that I could still speak to my friends. I realised that I really only ever know what is happening in their lives due to their social media accounts, and not because I actually speak to them. This needed to change.
  2. I decided that I was going to spend much more time working on myself and my own happiness. I was going to put more time aside for reading, writing and watching those TV shows I never get round to enjoying.
  3. I was going to spend some time working on my professional development.
  4. I was going to focus on my health and losing some weight.

Today is the fourth of the month, and so far I have already started eating much healthier, I have read the equivalent to what I usually would in a fortnight and best of all, I have been back in touch with some friends I haven’t actually spoken to in years, which is amazing!

I am not saying I will never have social media. In fact, I do think it has the benefit of being able to keep up with family and friends on a day-to-day basis, but I completely believe that a break can only be positive.  I plan to have a break for a minimum of one month, or until I feel that I have successfully put some changes in place to make me a happier, healthier person.

Watch this space…

lifestyle

Diabetes and Us.

“Type 1 Diabetes is a completely manageable disease – but there are some days that are just rough.” – Nick Jonas

I’ve realised in the past few months that not many people actually know what having or living with Type 1 diabetes is like, and many are actually quite interested, so I’ve decided to write this blog post. This is Diabetes and Us!

This is my partner, Kieran.

He’s 26 and builds cars for a career. He’s a qualified football coach and an amazing big brother.

He also has Type 1 diabetes.

Before you ask ‘is that the bad one’, let me explain.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by lifestyle choices or from it running in your family (not actual running, although this would probably help). It is caused by the sugar levels in your blood being too high. It is treatable by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, or through medication.

Type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by anything in particular. The healthiest people can still suffer with T1. It is caused by your pancreas being unable to produce insulin (the chemical that keeps your blood sugar levels balanced).

Both types are ‘bad’, but both are treatable in different ways.

So in order to treat his diabetes, K has to monitor his blood sugar levels constantly throughout the day and often throughout the night. He does this by pricking his fingers to get a drop of blood and testing it on a little machine, which will churn out a number between 0-30+. Healthy blood sugar levels will come back between 4-8. If this is the case, he’s all good and doesn’t need to do anything. If they are low, he has to eat something that will make them return to the ‘healthy zone’, and if they are high, he has to inject himself with the right amount of insulin, via a little needle on the end of a ‘pen’ to bring them back down. There’s a lot of maths involved in this but I won’t go into this just yet.

So he will test his blood every couple of hours, and on a bad day, might have to inject on every one of them. This is unlikely, but sometimes his body just doesn’t behave!

Now on top of this, imagine having to do maths, and then inject yourself with a needle every time you wanted to eat. This is just reality for people with T1. For every meal and every snack, every drink and every treat, Kieran (and his mum a lot of the time!) has to weigh, measure, and note down the amount of carbs in everything he eats. (Carbs because they are directly related to the sugar content.) He then has to inject enough insulin to counteract the carbs!

To give you a quick idea:

  • 1 unit of insulin will bring his blood sugar level down by 3 (so if it’s 17, he’d have to inject 4 units to bring it down to 5)
  • 10g of carbs requires 1 unit of insulin (so if a muffin has 25g carbs, he has to inject 2.5 units of insulin)

Mental right??!

We’ve heard people say “awh I couldn’t do that, I hate needles”. But the reality is, he has no choice. It’s that, or a coma. Like genuinely.

He tests his blood and injects all over the place: in the car, in restaurants, in castle gardens. If we eat pizza late at night we will set an alarm for 3am to check his levels aren’t through the roof. He gets up at 6am every day to inject a ‘baseline’. It’s just a way of life.

The truth is, he can eat what he wants. If he wants a cake or chocolate, then he eats it. He just has to balance out the sugar with insulin, just as a healthy pancreas would. The downside is that diabetes often comes with tiredness, thirst and changes in mood.

So far, thanks to his attention to detail and the incredible care from his family, he has managed the diabetes amazingly, and I couldn’t be prouder of him.

Please don’t ever be afraid of asking questions. Diabetes shouldn’t be a taboo, and you’ll probably find people are relieved to be asked rather than being watched!

I hope this gave you a tiny insight to Diabetes and Us!

RouxWithAView xx

Ps. I am doing a skydive on June 9th to raise money for DiabetesUK. If you would be interested in sponsoring me, the details are on my Facebook page. Thank you.

Food

Veganuary

The lack of compassion and respect for anyone who is a few degrees too different from us, anything that is foreign or weird or a little bit unfathomable to the human psyche is what separates us all and what causes suffering. – Evanna Lynch

I have a real issue with the idea of my life falling into a regime, so I am constantly looking for new ideas and challenges to keep me excited.

With New Year on the horizon, it seemed like a great time to think of something a little bigger and more challenging. After speaking to a vegetarian and a vegan from work, I had some ideas about what my New Year’s resolution could be. I had also been reading some articles about how starting new things and having something new to focus on is good for your mental health. So it was then that I decided… I am going to do (or try my best at doing) Veganuary!

I have always had thoughts about animal welfare in the back of my mind, but if I’m honest, that’s where they stayed! Although I adore animals and am against violence, I was never really passionate enough to do something major about it. I was also inspired by people living a vegan lifestyle, such as Evanna Lynch, but their lives seemed so far off the one I was living.  I also had the issue of my health. My body struggles to hold onto the vitamins and minerals I need now, without removing vital elements from my diet.

With these doubts in mind, I did some research and, to my surprise, found hundreds of recipes that include all the nutrients I need to stay healthy. Loads of them used ingredients that I already had in my cupboards! Maybe this wasn’t going to be so difficult after all!

My journey started with a slightly dubious trip to Tesco. I had a list of essentials but went with the idea that I would see what took my fancy! I can honestly say that there are a lot more vegan friendly foods out there than I expected, and despite feeling a little bewildered, it was actually really fun hunting for things I can have!

Alpro is a complete saviour, offering substitutes to milk, yoghurt and even chocolate pudding, all three of which went straight into my trolley! I also found vegan friendly granola by Deliciously Ella, Agave Nectar by Groovy Food to use as a substitute for honey, and hot chocolate syrup by Sweet Freedom. Flora also do a fantastic vegan butter made entirely from seeds, which is delicious when melted into a toasted bagel!

It may only be day two of my one month Veganuary mission, but so far I am having a ball! Not only am I full up and feel much healthier than I have done in a while, but I also feel like I am doing my bit for the future of the planet!