Monday 27 April 2020

IBS Awareness Month 2020 - The Low FODMAP Diet

So, this is my second year blogging for IBS Awareness Month.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is something that I've struggled with for a long time and for me it's just become my new normal. 

IBS is the medical name given to describe a number or gastrointestinal symptoms. IBS affects around 1 in 5 adults in the UK and it can vary in severity from person-to-person. Some of the symptoms include abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating, symptoms being made worse after eating and more. (British Dietetic Association)

This year I thought I'd give you a recap and update on the Low FODMAP Diet that I've been on since 2018.

For those who don't know the Low FODMAP Diet (link to a blog post I did which gives a fuller explanation) is a medically prescribed elimination diet specifically designed for people with IBS or other functional gastrointestinal disorders.

FOMAP's are different types of short-chain carbohydrates and FODMAP stands for each type of fermentable carbohydrates; these are...

These foods are poorly absorbed in the gut and include simple and complex sugars which can be found in a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, wheat and milk.

The Low FODMAP diet has been pretty incredible for me. It's defiantly reduced my gastrointestinal symptoms (though I still have issues related to my other illnesses), but in terms of my IBS it is now so much better than it was a few years ago.

I still do get IBS symptoms like bloating, pain, cramping, constipation etc, but it's not all day everyday and when it does falre-up its more manageable and I also notice that often my symptoms will flare up after eating a food high in FODMAP's. 

Now usually when I have a flare up I'll just need to put some heat on my tummy and drink some herbal tea which usually settles things as well as remembering to be extra cautious for a short while to avoid FODMAP foods. If my IBS flare is really bad I might take some medication like Buscopan. I have my Mebeverine which I take before eating. I now longer need to take my Colpermin and I very very very rarely need to take strong laxatives except senna which I currently take every night. Before going on the Low FODMAP Diet I was taking bowel surgery strength laxatives and they still didn't work.

I still find it amazing how just changing my diet has improved my IBS.

One thing I've found really interesting is how before going on the Low FODMAP Diet I ate and drank everyday things now I can't tolerate any more such as soya, wheat, gluten and certain fruits and vegetables.

The Stage 1 of the Low FODMAP Diet was completely cutting out all foods that contains FOMAP's. 

The in Stage 2 of the diet you start to reintroduce foods to find out what you can or can't have, or what you can tolerate in small amounts.

I'm now on stage 3 which is living with a customised Low FODMAP Diet.Like for example I'm on a total wheat and gluten free now, and I've switched to drinking oat milk but I can tolerate small amounts of soya, like one soya yogurt a day or have a small latte. 

If you have IBS or any other form of digestive discomfort I would highly recommend the Low FODMAP Diet but you would have to speak to a medical professional first such as a doctor, nurse specialist or dietician who will know if it is suitable and safe for you to do so. It also helped to talk to a Dietician who can explain the diet to you and what you can and can't eat, how you're getting on, meal ideas and also to ensure that you're still getting enough calories and nutrients.

When I first started on the Low FODMAP Diet it was a fairly new thing in the UK, but now it starting to be better understood and there are many dieticians who specialise in it.

Obviously it's not a magic cure but it certainly has made live a lot better for me.

Monday 13 April 2020

Introducing 'Monthly Makes'

Starting on the 1st of each month I will be sharing with you a 'Monthly Make' which will include a variety of different things you can make yourself at home. Including origami, crochet and printmaking.

If there is anything in particular that you would like me to do a 'Monthly Make' on just comment below.

See you on the 1st April for my first 'Monthly Make'!

Saturday 4 April 2020

FND Awareness Month & Guest Post by Georgina

This month we see the first ever FND Awareness Month (which is pretty exciting). 

FND has affected my life a lot over the past 6 years, though it's now not my 'main' illness. I think it's great that FND, Functional Neurological Disorder, is getting more of a spotlight. Especially so because from living with the condition I know first hand how very little understanding of the condition there is and for me this has lead in my life to some very negative experiences especially amongst care professionals who don't understand the condition correctly or have the most up-to-date knowledge as Georgina writes about below. 
FND is basically where the brain's messaging system doesn't work as it should. The best way to try an explain FND is that your brain which is the hardware is fine, but the software doesn't work so well or not at all resulting in a wide range of neurological symptoms.

It's important to note that FND affects everyone uniquely; with it being a neurological disorder and the fact that as many people know there are many things that can go wrong with the brain the list of symptoms that come with FND is quite a long list. Some people may only experience one or two symptoms whilst others may experience a multitude of symptoms, but regardless of how many symptoms a person may have we're all struggling together and we need to be listened to and get the help we need.
Georgina's StoryA young woman sat crossed legged on a sofa with two dogs beside her.Hi! I'm Georgina and I'm living with a chronic illness called FND which developed after a trauma.
To better understand FND you can watch my How I explain Functional Neurological Disorder - see video below; there are other videos about my life with FND on my YouTube channel too if you would like to learn more.

How FND affects my life
FND affects every single aspect of my life. It dictates whether or not I can get out o bed, the clothes I can wear to the mobility aids I have to use. Due to FND, specifically my intermittent paralysis I have to use a wheelchair when I go out as I can't walk far. I've also had my driving license suspended due to having non-epileptic seizures which is another of my symptoms. There is little I can do by myself. Yet somehow, living with FND is possibly the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me. It's hard t explain and I don't expect anyone to understand. If I wasn't going through all of this I wouldn't;t be who I am today and I am thankful for that.

What I wish I knew before being diagnosed with FND
I wish I knew how much people blamed me for being chronically ill. I'm not in control of my body or my brain. People ay that my brain is 'just playing tricks', but that's not right. When you have FND the signals to parts of your body are impaired meaning that they get sent to the wrong place or don't get sent at all. I don't control these signals and it's not my brain purposely sending those wrong signals.

Sometimes doctors in the past have used the term 'psychosomatic' (which is a very outdated understanding of FND) instead of 'functional'; this makes understanding FND more difficult as it implies that FND is under the patient's control and it is a mental illness. This is NOT the case all all!
The invisibility of living with FND

On the outside and even inside my brain, I look like a normal 18 year old. I'm far from that. My life since developing FND has been a torrent of things from blood test to all sorts of different types of scans as well as all the medication I need to take. Yet despite all of these test the results have always come back clear. I've seen countless medical professionals from paramedics to various doctors in different specialities and I've had several hospital admissions. Unfortunately I've had doctors not believe me, blaming my symptoms on things like anxiety.
The invisibility is that you can't see that my brain doesn't function properly which is the difficulty in having an invisible illness.


Georgia is also taking part in my blog's #LetsTalkFND awareness event where she answers a question each day about living with FND to help raise some much needed awareness around FND and understanding of how it affects individual's uniquely. 

Each day Georgina makes a post on either her Instagram or YouTube channel in response to that day's question.

Question's include: 'I am ___ despite FND', 'FND in one word', 'Gratitude', 'Dear FND...', 'FND in three emojis' and 'inVISIBLE disABILITY'
If you want to join in it's not too late.