Top tips to keep warm in the winter with chronic illness and chronic pain

Tips to keep warm in winter

If you’re new to my blog ( where have you been?) when I talk of chronic illness and chronic pain it’s because I am diagnosed with M/E/CFS, Fibromyalgia and Joint Hypermobility.  Which in very simple terms means I am constantly exhausted and I’m in pain ALL OF THE TIME! Yes that is possible. We may say we are ‘fine’ but internally our bodies are screaming. So you can also find out what we say and what we actually mean here in a post a wrote a while ago. However, I’m now 10 years into living with these conditions and I have become a dab hand at being resourceful at keeping warm in the winter without actually having to blare my heating 24 hours a day.

If you are newly diagnosed with any of these illnesses these tips will not only be helpful but will also hopefully save you a fortune in heating bills!

Our house has been extended and our bedroom is in a Dorma loft so that would mean me having to heat a 3 storey house with only me in it when my husband and son are at work. That just doesn’t make any financial sense to me to do that. I refuse to have the heating on full time when it’s not necessary. Just call me Scrooge!

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What to buy older teenage boys for Christmas

I’d like to think this is a gift guide with a difference!

First of all, anything I have suggested here I have bought my teens through the years or I know of friends who have bought their boys similar. Secondly, none of it has been sent to me to be promoted, so any companies I mention here I have actually used or bought from them over the last 7 or 8 years.

I also think that teen boys are much harder to buy for than girls ( probably because I don’t have girls but I would imagine with clothes, perfumes and makeup and jewellery most things can be covered and they are so expensive too so a designer item could certainly be covered as a main Christmas present!) and I appreciate I could totally be wrong about this, but I have only experience in buying for boys in this house and so I think that is where my expertise lies. So I hope these ideas help others out on what to buy older teen boys for Christmas.

I also do not like giving my boys money! That’s just a personal choice I make and I also think they like it that way. Any family members who buy for them instead give them money so they always have cash to put towards something more expensive in the sales. We also aren’t the type of bargain hunters that go out first thing on Boxing Day to buy stuff in the sales either (again our personal choice). Therefore, I like to buy my boys things I know they want as a main present and then fill it out with the usual extras like, underwear, t-shirts, books, cd’s or films etc. That way we all still enjoy a chilled out morning with everyone opening their pressies etc as we did when they were little – and again they love it that way! Keep on Reading!

Chronic illness/ Chronic pain code for what we say and what we actually mean!

Most of you will know by now I have ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), Fibromyalgia ( widespread musculoskeletal pain) and more recently Joint Hypermobility ( in hands- when joints can dislocate!). I have had chronic illness and pain since 2009 and even with high levels of pain medications including morphine I still experience pain 24hrs a day, 7 days a week and 52 weeks of the year. In truth, I cannot remember certainly in the last 7 yrs or so of a time when I have been pain free. I read recently that the full list of symptoms of an ME or Fibro patient is the same as a patient with AIDS around 2 months before death! The most frustrating thing about my condition is that it is completely INVISIBLE. There is nothing to see, no bruising, no swelling of joints in my case, no identifying marks on the skin………….NOTHING. BUT MY BODY IS WRACKED WITH PAIN DAILY. It also varies day by day which doesn’t help at all. It is generally ( in my case) at it’s worst in the winter. I’ve also written about ways I can use heat to help with pain levels and trying to stay warm here as it’s just not possible to have your heating on 24hrs a day!

So I thought I would share a code for what we say and what we actually mean to help you gauge how we feel on a particular day.

Now it may be hard to believe – how can someone be in pain all of the time even with very strong medications? A normal person’s brain is not equipped to understand chronic, consistent pain at all. Yes they can totally empathise if someone breaks their arm, or has the flu or even something like appendicitis because naturally our brains can understand what’s seen as danger or acute pain –  pain that will be there until that body part has healed itself…………short term pain. They can imagine from past experiences how painful those things could be, but the normal brain is not equipped to understand a pain that does not go away! It’s just how we are made- and therein lies the problem.

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My tips on preparing your teen for University

My eldest baby left us on 12th September this year to start his university adventures. I didn’t want to write about it straight away ( or before) as my head was literally all over the place with a huge mixture of emotions. Yes I was unbelievably proud of him, but I was, as most mum’s would be, absolutely terrified that he wasn’t going to cope! It was so hard to leave him there on his joining weekend although we are lucky enough to be relatively close enough to go there for a day visit- which we did the next day to take him for a final family meal before leaving him properly.

last-meal-pic-with-conor

Almost a month into his new independent life and I am super pleased to say that he is not only coping very well but he is also loving his new found freedom. He has done several weekly shops now ( he loves the fact that he has an Aldi near him) and also done a few clothes washes too…………….this probably amazes me the most. He has also got himself a part time promotions job as well so is now earning a few extra pounds here and there to boost his weekly spending amount.

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How to Prepare for Your Driving Test: Top 5 Tips

Having been a qualified driving instructor ( until my illness took over) I know how difficult it can be for anyone to transition from a provisional to a full driving licence, the driving test itself can often be a very daunting prospect. Both the theory test and practical test are actually very straightforward, but the pressure often makes these tests more difficult than they should be. My son has recently passed his theory test and hopefully will do his practical test quite soon ( when he gets a break from uni).

So, If you’re taking a driving test soon, these next five tips will help you prepare better in no time.

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Rug Doctor to the rescue

I have been meaning to try one of these machines for ages especially for my youngest teens room as his carpet is in a pretty grim state, but it has ended up being a job I just procrastinated about rather than got on with.

So a few weeks ago I sent Rug Doctor a very cheeky tweet with a picture of my son’s excuse for a carpet to see if they would be up for a challenge! Unbelievably they responded immediately and emailed me with an offer to try one of their machines. So, I could procrastinate no more and it forced us into a complete clear out in my son’s room which was well overdue.

Disgusting I know!
Disgusting I know!

So the Rug Doctor carpet cleaner was delivered to my house complete with all sorts of cleaning sprays and the detergent to get started immediately. The very next day my husband was off work he went straight to work with the machine, which had clear instructions on how to use it actually on the machine itself and seemed fairly self explanatory. We just started with a patch in the room to see if we could see a ‘before’ and ‘after’ shot which I think you will agree shows an unbelievable improvement literally within minutes.

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Popping my Britmums Live cherry- 2014

First of all this post is really, really late but I will explain that in another post!

Anyway on to the cherry popping.

So Britmums Live again, after listening to all the talk on Twitter last year, looking at all the fab pictures and generally feeling like I had missed out, I decided that 2014 was definitely the year I was going to go.

An amazing venue
An amazing venue

The venue was fabulous even on the outside.

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How to de-stress family car journeys

As most of you will know by now I have to teenage boys. Just because they are teens does not make car journeys any less stressful than with a journey with toddlers. I remember when they were little they always took books, colouring stuff, small toys. Then as they got older it was Gameboys, audio books and DVD’s and now that they are teens they automatically lift their headphones for their phones or Ipods etc.

One thing that is easier to deal with is the fact they have a concept of time so they know on a long journey not to ask ‘Are we there yet?’ They also know and understand they have to wait until the next service station to go for a pee rather than having to stop on the hard shoulder to pee in the bushes!! We also do our game of Yellow Car on long motorway journeys although I do tend to become a bit competitive with this one.But they have learned from an early age to bring stuff to amuse themselves.

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Thrifty ways of keeping warm when working from or staying at home

I am at home all of the time, sure I go out and about, meet friends for coffee, get my shopping in etc during the day while the boys are at school but because I’m unable to work I am generally at home most of the time.

Also because of my condition (ME/CFS) I feel the cold ALL of the time, but during the winter I refuse to heat a whole house by putting the central heating on when there is only me in the house. My OH always tells me off for this and will always tell me to put the heating on if I feel cold, which I do as soon as the boys are home from school.

When it is just me though I do think it’s a total waste. So I have over time found very thrifty ways to keep myself warm when I’m here on my own. Hopefully some of you who work and blog from home will find some of them helpful.

1. Wheat heat pads! These are fab and I was introduced to these by my mum as I struggle with muscular pain anyway. Literally you stick it in the microwave for 1min 30 secs and voila – instant heat. I use these to ease my neck pain and also helps to keep me warm.

2. Fingerless gloves! These may sound a bit Steptoe and Son but trust me when you are sitting at the laptop and your hands/ wrists get cold then you are going to feel cold generally. I’m a knitter so these are easy enough for me to make and I have several pairs. But really you could pick up a pair of cheap gloves from a pound store and cut the tips off so you can still type etc. It’s amazing how much heat they hold.

2. Good old fashioned water bottles! Either the full size ones or the little half size ones are fab. I have a full size one with a fleece cover on which will stay hot for ages. If I’m sitting on the sofa using the laptop then I rest my feet on it- once my feet are warm then I’m warm. I also have a little half size one which I use for my hands or rest against my back while I’m sitting.

3. Electric shoulder and neck pad. I was given this from my mum and use it all the time. It works the same as an electric blanket. If I’m sitting for any length of time then I plug this in pop it on a low heat and it has 90 minute cut off. I keep the heat minimal but wear it for the full time if I’m on the computer or sitting knitting/ crocheting/ reading/ watching telly etc. You can pick these up in places like Aldi or Lidl’s for around £15- a great investment rather than forking out for a days heating.

4. Thermals! I know soooo attractive- NOT. But these are great I have several pairs of ‘Heat’ knee length socks, normal thermal socks and some thermal vest style tops that go under what your wearing. Like I said not the most attractive things but they do work and can be picked up quite cheaply from sports shops to  Primarni!

5. Hot drinks.! This is obviously a no brainer and there is a chance you may get a bit waterlogged throughout the day but they do help. For this I recommend a flask- as sometimes when having a bad day I will be in bed or on the sofa most of the day. My OH and kids know to always leave me a flask of hot green tea! But for those lucky enough to have a little home office a hot drink from a flask is a godsend as it saves you interrupting your work or the flow of your writing all the time for a cuppa- so when you make your 1st cuppa fill a flask at the same time and that way you have your next warm drink at your fingertips. I have several single size flasks that keep a hot drink hot for ages.

So if your like me and are at home during the day but don’t want the expense of a huge heating bill over the winter try some of these tips and let me know how you get on.

 

 

 

The Importance of Bedtime Reading

So how important is bedtime reading to you as an adult? Hands up all you parents who have a read of a chapter or two before you go to bed yourself…………………..go on I will count you all…………………………..ok just a show of hands will do then.

So now as a parent how many of you actually read to your children before they go to sleep? Now don’t get me wrong there are days when maybe you have got home from work late to find chaos at home and by the time you have battled your way through dinner and the bedtime routines of baths etc, there may be a few nights that go past without a story………..Yeah?

We can’t always be perfect ( although we are most of the time of course!) but I would reckon that a good majority of us DO read to the kids before they go to sleep.

This was something I did almost religiously with my boys when they are young. My OH is not a big reader but I am and I knew it was important for the boys to enjoy books before they could master reading.

I am proud to say that both my boys are avid readers today, so that must be something I have done right at least!

Anyway, for those of you who maybe don’t read to the kids at bedtime, for whatever reason, check out this programme  online to help with the possible stress that bedtime reading can sometimes cause.

The Importance of Bedtime Stories

Watch our live show with Becky Overton, British children’s bedtime story writer, and TV presenter Helena Dowling to discuss why bedtime stories are so important for our little ones.

Show date: Friday 22nd March

Show time: 12:30pm  

Many parents can find bedtime stressful, but that needn’t be the case. Reading bedtime stories can really help your children relax and fall asleep more easily, and create an emotional bond between parent and child. Not only does a bedtime story help create a sense of occasion but it can also give children something to really look forward to before they turn out the light.

While some of us might lack confidence in our ability to read to our children, some of us are unsure of what tone or volume to use, or even what stories are suitable for bedtime reading – fear not, help is at hand.

So if you are worried about how you can read your children bedtime stories, don’t know exactly what the benefits of reading with your little ones are or want to share your tips and advice to other parents, then log onto our live show.

Becky Overton, a British Children’s Writer, whose stories are featured on A Bedtime Story with Arnie & Barnie on Nick Jr. and read by well-known celebrities such as Greg Rutherford and Kimberly Wyatt, is on hand to answer your questions, alongside TV presenter Helena Dowling and Holly Driscoll from Dolly and Daydreams.

Becky Overton, Helena Dowling and Holly Driscoll join us live online at http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/the-importance-of-bedtime-stories on Friday 22nd March at 1pm

Click here to submit questions before the show http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/the-importance-of-bedtime-stories

For more info check out http://www.nickjr.com/read