Saturday 30 March 2019

Chronic Illness Bloggers Network

Text reading 'Chronic Illness Bloggers Network - Proud Member' and a picture of a laptop with a rainbow awareness ribbon
So I've recently received an email accepting my request to become a member of the Chronic Illness Bloggers Network.

The network brings together bloggers living with and writing about all sorts of illnesses and disabilities.

They offer a directory of blogs where you can find blogs which focus on all sorts of illnesses and disabilities. There's also a blog.

By becoming a member it just helps to put this blog out there and allows me to connect with other bloggers with chronic illnesses/disabilities.

There's also help for bloggers to help people like me grow my blog and make improvements such as the best hashtags to use on Instagram, improving accessibility, and there's blogging tips which I'm going to look at more when I get some free time.

Thursday 28 March 2019

A&E - Positive experiences so far this year

So far this year I've had a few admissions to A&E including today and a few paramedic call-outs were I've bee able to stay at home and so far this year things have been better than my experiences that I had last year.

My first experience of A&E this year I was already at the hospital having an appointment with the orthopaedic clinic getting my knee brace fitted and things are a bit blurry but I got good care then which made a pleasant change.

I then had a few call-outs at home. One call I was with my carer and the fast response paramedic came and gave me some Entonox and some of my own diazepam and even though my seizures didn't subside completely I like to avoid A&E as much as possible but things have calmed down enough for the paramedic to be happy enough to leave me at home with someone with me and my friend was popping round so she took over from my carer and sorted me out and we had a nice catch-up which was a much needed distraction and then my step-mum came home.

Today I had my appointment at Orchard Barn. Whilst waiting for my taxi to go home I had a few tonic-clonic seizures without warning and then like usual when I came round was having continual myoclonic seizures. I was quite postictal (the altered state of consciousness I'm in post seizure) and my speech was also stuttering. I'd dislocated my hip and shoulder. Dr Sally gave my some of my morphine but I was still in a lot of pain and kept going back into tonic-clonic seizures, probably because of the pain, so they called for an ambulance. The staff at Orchard Barn was great. The put pillows and towels around me to support me and put a cold flannel on my forehead to cool me down and they was really calm which was just what I need and the called my step-mum a couple of times.

The fast response car came first and he gave me some Entonox and IV diazepam and called for an ambulance crew. Using a scoop to get me onto the stretcher they got me into the ambulance. A&E was rather busy but I was still postictal and my brain had gone AWOL. I was initially in the ambulance handover bay. I spoke with my step-mum on my phone and she arrived not long after and stayed with me in A&E which was lovely of her. By this point I'd been moved to a spot in the corridor. A Dr came to take some bloods, unfortunately my veins are rubbish and I was still having myoclonic seizures in my arms so she had to put a cannula in my foot.
After a short wait got sorted out with some IV cyclizine and the off x-ray we went. They was going to take me to x-ray earlier but I asked if I could go after I'd had some anti-sickness meds.
When we got back we was in the corridor for a little longer and then I was moved to a room and I was finally given some more pain relief. I've been trying hard not to ask staff too much for things as I know they'll get round to me when they're ready but it's not nice when you're in pain and waiting for medication. 
Thankfully today that gave me all of my meds IV which on my care needs and wishes list as in acute settings it's what I need to to my poor absorption of tablets. 
The nurse looking after me was lovely as was the main Dr taking care of me. Dislocations sorted my bloods where okay, well borderline okay but that's normal for me though my haemoglobin was pretty low but the Dr just said to keep taking my iron tablets. I also have a UTI (bladder infection) so I've come home with some antibiotics.

The nurse suggested I do something like blogging to share my experience of being a young person with chronic illness and living with a disability and I said I already had a blog and told her a little bit about it and why it's called 'Diary of a Zebra' and she thought that was great and so told me to keep it up and that what's prompted me to write this as I think it's nice to turn a negative (my seizures) into a positive post about how A&E has been as okay an experience as A&E trips go this year.

I feel grateful for my step-mum being there for me today and for going to the kitchen's to get me some soya milk for a cup of tea as the nurse said I was better to drink tea than coffee and I'm not too keen on black tea. (My step-mum works in the kitchens so she was able to nip in for me). Tea always makes things better and it should be on the NHS prescription. 

I'm home now and my step-mum cooked tea (dinner if you're not a UK northerner) and now I'm just finishing off this blog post and I'm going to get into my pj's watch something on TV and then head to bed.

Tuesday 26 March 2019

The emotional toll of being chronically ill

The emotional toll of being chronically ill is HUGE. Most of the time you have to hold it all together and put on an mask and smile because life has to go on because there is no magic cure but then you get moments where you just crumble and you find yourself wrapped in wet towel crying because the burden of holding it all together became too much.

That was me tonight. Just the thought of getting dressed too tiring let alone the thought of getting through tomorrow. Knowing you will have unrefreshed sleep because I can never get comfortable and another day of relentless pain, debilitating fatigue and the unknown and unpredictability of what symptoms I will have, or how many falls or seizures I will have.

The unpredictability brings a lot of anxiety and a few weeks ago I had a really bad seizure a church resulting in paramedics being called and that's taken a huge knock to my confidence, especially leaving the house.

Simple things can can set me off sometimes, like tonight. I can find myself getting angry or frustrated or upset over spilling coffee granules because of my tremor or myoclonic seizures, or people not understanding me when my speech is slurred or stuttering, or my continence pad leaking and having to change my clothes or bedding at 4am. But in that moment those small things become big things.

It's like chronic illness is a cup and every minute of pain, or being too tired to move, or spilling a drink etc is a drop of water into that cup and it gets to a point where that cup overflows and you breakdown because you can't contain it anymore.

For me I see my specialists in London every 6 or so months but in-between then I get little medical support so I feel like I see them and then I'm left on my own. Everyone seems so wrapped up in my physical health that the emotional toll of my health gets forgotten about. I'm under mental health services for my mental health but they're so clueless about  my physical health that they're not much help either. 

It's not just the medical burden of symptoms but the day-to-day activities that become an emotional burden because of how difficult they are to do. Things that able-bodied people take for granted and don't think twice about being able to do like getting dressed, or having a wash, or getting up to make a cup of coffee.

I think the emotional aspect of being chronically ill is the most invisible and sometimes the worst aspect. 

As well as having to deal with the illnesses themselves comes all the admin which is also emotionally draining. The phones calls and emailing which is exhausting especially when you get bad news and so you have so sort that out or there's a meeting so you need to invite this person and that person and you have little help in doing that.

It really is hard to sum up, especially to able-bodied people how emotionally overwhelming being chronically ill is and I find myself typing here over the past few days putting this post together getting frustrated trying to find the right words to get across what it is I want to say in explaining the emotional toll of being chronically ill.

You become sick and tired of being sick and tired. And there's no let up; no days off; no hours or even minutes where I'm symptom free. Being ill and disabled is my full time job and it's a job I didn't choose and one I can't resign from.

I'm not quite sure how to end this post but it was a place to vent and explain that there's a whole emotional side to being chronically ill that people with chronic illness and disabilities have to live with. And for those whose illness or disability came later in life there is also the loss of the life we had before.

My advice to able-bodied people is if you have a friend with a chronic illness/disability is just simply be a friend and listen to them - a chat over a cuppa can go a long way. Or ask if there's anything you can do to help. But also remember that there is more to a person than just their illness and it can be nice to talk about other things too which gives us a nice distraction from the illness that we're having to deal with on the inside. 

Monday 25 March 2019

A-Z of survival tips for UK FND Awareness Day 2019

Acceptance of what you can and can't do
Breathing exercises
Communication aids 
Essential information, such your care plan
Glasses, especially if you're photosensitive 
Headphones, especially helpful as a distraction or to reduce noise overload
Jotting down notes, especially important things
Knowing when to ask for help
Looking  after yourself, your physical, social, emotional and intellectual needs
No, knowing when to say no
Sleep routine 
Time out to look after yourself
Useful contacts, especially for emergencies
Vent, speak with a friend/family member or professional
Work/life/rest balance 
X - eXpressing yourself, you needs and your care wishes
Yes, knowing when to say yes
Zzz's, getting plenty of sleep

Thursday 21 March 2019

GUEST POST by Hannah for World Poetry Day 2019

I have a number of diagnosis’, and in June of 2016 I was finally diagnosed with EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) type three (now hypermobile EDS). EDS, along with another neurological condition, has wreaked havoc in my body. In January of 2015 I began to no longer tolerate food or water – and so now have a feeding tube directly in to my bowel. I have gastroparesis – but tests show that not only is my stomach paralysed, but my whole gastrointestinal system. I also have PoTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), neurological deafness resulting in use of hearing aids, and many other conditions. 

In January 2015, I was in my dream position in life. I had passed all of my GCSE’s, smashed all of my target grades, and was in sixth form, beginning to think about applying for uni to do teacher training. My illness resulted in a sixth month stay in Manchester Childrens Hospital – a very far way away from the rural life I usually lead. This resulted in the inevitable – my friends moving up a school year to year 13, while I started over in year 12, once I was home from hospital. My whole life had changed, and I found it so difficult to relate to people my own age. My family always say that I may be 21, but I have the life experience of a 40-year-old. I felt so desperate – like my life had been destroyed and I was never going to be able to accomplish my dreams; and that is where I was completely wrong.

Having always enjoyed writing, I took to the internet to try and find a club to join which would allow me to enjoy this hobby again. This is when I found Dove Cottage Young Poets, a group run by poet Kim Moore and funded by the Wordsworth Trust. I didn’t know anyone who went to the group, but decided I had nothing to lose. 

I had always wanted to be a writer. In Primary school I received the leavers certificate for the person “most likely to be a writer”. It was in high school that practicality took over – I decided to train to be a teacher – because writing was never going to pay the bills. Despite this, I ran the school creative writing club from year eight through eleven, and wrote many short stories. I still had the dream of being a writer in mind, although I was definitely listening to my head over my heart when it came to career prospects. 

The first year after coming out of hospital I felt I had nothing to lose. It took a few months of writing before I could allow myself to write about my illness and disability. I was so used to my conditions being the only thing people saw when they looked at me that I didn’t want my writing to be about that as well. However, I quickly learned how unaware the general population was regarding disability issues. I knew I had to start writing about that. First of all I started my blog, . Where I started listing all of the medical and non-medical things that are going on within my life. I started the blog because when I went out of the house, the only thing anyone wanted to talk about was my illness. The blog has become so much more than a place to refer nosey people, it became my online space to give my opinion on the world. I also started to send off my poetry to journals and magazines – and had a number of acceptances.  This all gave me confidence, and also acceptance of my new body and experience of the world. 

Poetry has been so much more than a hobby for me. It has allowed me to explore where I now fit in within the world. It has given me the confidence to read in front of audiences and get away from the ‘rat race’. I don’t think you realise how restrictive school and work are until you are outside of that way of thinking. In many ways I am happier than I have ever been – and in other ways I am more depressed than ever, thinking of a life that could have been. Poetry has been a therapeutic and important thing for me, I feel privileged to have my first poetry pamphlet published and to have the opportunity to work alongside festivals, bloggers and to have made a whole host of writing community friends. I never thought poetry was something that I would grow to love. I think the intensive ‘unpicking’ of poems in school killed them for me – it was more about literary devices used and hidden meanings needed for essays, than an experience of being able to enjoy and love poetry.

The poem below is taken from my first poetry pamphlet ‘Dear Body’. Which is available for sale on my blog (, which is sold through PayPal.

I also have a Youtube channel where I talk about all things illness and disability which is


Watch Rapunzel
as she can’t get to the top of the tower
because there is no lift.

Or Cinderella, 
who can’t get to the ball
because there are no accessible pumpkins available. 

Watch Jack
as he learns to live with a brain injury
after he tumbles down the hill with his water;

Or Goldilocks
as she can’t find
an accessible bedroom.

Watch the princess
as she gets bed sores
from the pea in her bed.

Watch Snow White
as she recovers 
from her coma.

Watch Aladdin 
surrender his magic carpet license
because he’s having seizures.

So many stories
ignored because
they are not beautiful.

March 2019 Birchbox - 'You Go Girl'

This month's Birchbox theme is 'You Go Girl'.

In honour of International Women's Day and inspirational women out there this month Birchbox are donating a beauty product to Beauty Banks for every order placed in the Birchbox shop.

Inside the box it includes...

The Beauty Crop - Bronzer Compact  in 'Sardinia Sand'

Full size - RRP £8

This long wearing bronzer is filled with antioxidant reich green tea extract to energise and refresh the skin.
Simply dust over the cheeks for a healthy looking glow.

Chella - Clear Eyebrow Defining Gel 

Full size - RRP £15.50
Taming the brows to stay in a lovely shape whist fixing products in place.
Simply brush through your eyebrows to set.

Generation Clay - Detoxifying Clay Mask

Sample size - RRP £28.50
Packed full of natural activated charcoal which works like a magnet to draw out dirt and detoxify, clean, hydrate and reduce oil and minimising the appearance of pores.
Apply a thin layer to skin and leave to set for 10 minutes then rinse off.

Caudalie - Vinosource SOS Thirst Quenching Serum

Sample size - RRP £29
This product is 97%natural ingredients and will restore the skin's balance.
All Caudalia products use the power of grapes to renew and regulate the skin's hydration levels.
A perfect base for make-up.
Applying morning and night to cleansed skin.

BOD - Glitter Body Scrub in Pink Salt and Coconut

Full size - RRP £4.99
A vegan body scrub infused with ingredients to get rid of dead skin to bring a happy and healthy glow to your skin. Apply to the skin and rub all over to for a soft and scented skin.

Charlotte Tilbury - Scent of a Dream 

Perfume sample - RRP £49
An award winning fragrance with floral hints including lemon, peach, black pepper, jasmine, tuberose, violet and patchouli and amber based notes.
Simply fritz onto pulse points and smell amazing.

Saturday 16 March 2019

GUEST POST by Hannah for Disabled Access Day 2019

Disabled people have the same hobbies, interests and passions as non-disabled people. We also need to go through the same mundane motions as the rest of society – from getting about our houses, to doing our shopping and going to work. But, whatever our health condition, disability or impairment, we’re still a long way from having equal access to most aspects of daily life. From architecture to attitudes and everything in between, we are not there yet. 
When you think of disabled access, what comes to mind? Is it an accessible toilet, a ramp or a lift? How about hearing loops, British Sign Language, lighing, braille, large text, easy read, personal assistants and the language we use?
Disabled access is so much more than ramps and toilets, and I want to share my thoughts on the least remembered yet most important element of access for disabled people everywhere – ATTITUDE! So, without further ado, here are my top 5 tips for being accessible by attitude:


Attitude begins with open mindedness and understanding that, whatever your background there is, always more to learn. Disabled people, like anyone, are diverse and complex – they have different abilities and strengths and weaknesses and needs. Even people with the same impairment like to do things differently. Disabled people are not one size fits all. Treat disabled access as individual and listen to what people have to say.


Don’t be scared to talk for fear of saying the wrong thing. Disabled people have heard it all and as long as you have the right attitude and are willing to learn, say what feels right. When I’m accessing a building, event or attraction my general rules are to only ask what you need to know. You need to know how I can access the occasion. This doesn’t matter what my diagnosis is. Start by asking ‘How can I help?’ Don’t ask ‘What’s wrong with you?’ and don’t ask ‘How long have you been disabled?’ Always assume ability (go back to your first question, if a disabled person hasn’t mentioned that they need something, don’t assume that they do). Don’t be offended when a disabled person refuses your help – your offer is still appreciated. Most people prefer being referred to as a disabled person and some people prefer person first language such as ‘person with a disability’. Disability is not a dirty word but always consider whether you actually need to refer to someone’s disability and if not, just reference them as any other person – by their name or pronoun. Lastly, DO NOT make a joke or light-hearted comment about someone’s access requirements (unless you know that person well enough to do so). Just be friendly – good access really is in being a nice, friendly human.


Information is so important for disabled access and good access information demonstrates a good attitude. The more you think about the information you give, the more confident I will be in accessing a service. Share all of the information, even the parts where you aren’t quite so accessible. Most people will be much happier to access a service that isn’t fully accessible if you have the right attitude and know they will be supported to access the bits they can and treated with respect. When sharing information think about everything you can offer as well as the room layout, ticketing (if appropriate) and event format. Attitude is Everything have a great template for thinking about access information for people with disabilities.


Ask for feedback on your service from a wide range of disabled people and act on their feedback. If you have a business or you run an event, you can use feedback to sell your service, whilst demonstrating your attitude and making more disabled people feel welcome in future. Make sure you talk to disabled people and ask them how they’re finding it. Most disabled people will be so happy to share their experiences for improvement. I go to a lot of gigs – it’s my favourite thing to do. Disabled access and attitude is so varied in live music; I’ve experienced the very best and the very worst. I almost always give feedback when attending somewhere new and it feels so good to tell someone they’re doing something well. I wish more places would sell their good work through access information (tip number 3) so that more disabled people would access their service. Remember – the purple pound (that’s the spending power of disabled people) is worth £250 billion! Let’s start making disabled access competitive


Be an ally of disabled people by spreading the word of good practice and raising awareness of attitudinal barriers. Tell your friends about all aspects of disabled access and raise awareness of all the barriers that disabled people face – it’s not just about ramps and toilets! Make yourself aware of good initiatives that need to be recognised more, like the Access Card (, which helps businesses understand the needs of disabled people. Keep talking about the importance of attitude in disabled access. The more we talk about it, the better we’ll get at it!

Hannah at a concert with a backpack for her enteral nutrition equipment
Hannah's blog can be found here where she writes about different topics including disabled access, live music, life with a disability, and her travels and adventures.

Helpful Links for Disabled Access Day:

Monday 4 March 2019

Action For M.E. - 'Walk with M.E.' Campaign

Action for M.E.'s campaign Walk with M.E. event which is a sponsored walk with a twist: everything is done as a team. Starting on Friday 1st of February, team members count their steps for 100 days and add them together to make one grand team total, aiming to reach one million steps between them.

Walk with M.E. was organised for the first time in 2017 by Action for M.E. supporter Natalie, who was diagnosed with M.E. in 2010 and has kindly allowed us to continue running the event.

Natalie explains below how she designed the event to be accessible to as many people with M.E. as possible:

Natalie’s story 

“Ten thousand steps per day is quite achievable for most but it's actually quite a lot for someone like me. M.E/CFS participants will need support to complete this challenge, as they may do with their usual day to day activities. The challenge is therefore designed to be completed in teams, which means my team mates can help me out and donate their steps to help me achieve my target of 1 million steps over 100 days.”
To find out more or take part click here.