Pregnant and in Lockdown

When I first started to write this my little one was nearly 6 months old and we were in Lockdown number 3 in the UK. Now as I share this our boy is 10 months old and our restrictions are slowly lifting as the months go on.

For me I was pregnant during lockdown with only one friend going through the same thing, all my other friends who had been pregnant had been so before Coronavirus was known to us publicly. So with that in mind, and I know this isn’t for everyone, I have decided to share my experiences with pregnancy during a global pandemic. In doing so I hope that anyone else who still is or who has also gone through it, knows that how they’re feeling is kinda normal for what we’ve experienced. That any worries, feelings or even emotions they feel is even more so normal than ever before!

So let’s start with when the pandemic really started to become clear to everyone that it was a pandemic…

We had our gender reveal with family and friends around us on March 1st 2020, was in London March 7th-9th and then March 16th I was working from home and in Social Isolation as I was considered vulnerable to coronavirus due to being pregnant and vulnerable to bacterial pnuemonia. By Wednesday 18th March my fiancé was sent home early from work due to my vulnerability status and then on the evening lockdown was announced. From then on every appointment I had related to my pregnancy I attended alone, and I had a few due to being considered high risk due to rhuematology medical issues (Hypermobility, Fibromyalgia and my spinal issues).

In total we had 2 telephone appointments with my consultant, 1 telephone appointment with the anaesthetist, 1 diabetes check, 2 midwife appointments, 2 scans, 1 covid test and 2 hospital visits . Minus the telephone appointments I had to physically attend every appointment/visit alone. Whether my partner was sat in my car waiting for me or whether one of our parents came to either take me or keep him company in the car, I was in the appointment/visit physically alone. Disclaimer; after a certain point you are unable to drive during pregnancy, I am the only driver in our house, so for the safety of myself and our unborn child we had to ask for help from our parents when I needed to attend appointments. Minus our father’s working, our moms were home and isolated to protect us and our siblings.

Now not every pregnancy is the same, and not every pregnancy with the same medical conditions as I have is the same. However, typically new expecting parents will have a lot of questions, concerns and queries. Its natural, this is your first time so you will have all of this as well as a lot of emotions. Now my pregnancy wasn’t too bad, I did struggle towards the end with my body and its limitations and I did have real bad sickness and queasiness throughout, but nothing was more challenging than the mental aspect of pregnancy and pregnancy in isolation.

Truthfully, I have always had anxiety. I have situation based usually, which makes it incredibly difficult to meet new people, go new places, go to new restaurants, travel via train and plane and well a lot of things. As soon as my pregnancy stated to develop more and more, my anxiety got stronger and stronger. I was now fearing the drive to and from work, due to previously having a very small bump on the motorway a year before. Add in being anxious about my health anyway, now an unknown virus and being labelled vulnerable. I was struggling. I am very lucky that my partner is very good at respecting my anxiety and supporting me, that my team were available to talk to and every morning we had team catch ups to make sure as a team we were okay and if not we had the support we needed. But also THANK the heavens that there is such a thing as video calling. I would video call my mom or my best friend when I felt I needed help, and now I’m stuck in a habit of video calling my mom daily because it has became a coping mechanism. So why am I telling you all this? Well it’s simple really, being an already anxious person and now being pregnant and pregnant during a worldwide pandemic having to attend appointments alone was incredibly hard!

Personally I feel that the mental health side of pregnancy isn’t very spoken about anyway. You go through a lot of changes during pregnancy with your body, and a good chunk of them is related to your hormones. Hormone changes can contribute to your mental health, as much as physical changes to your body can. For example, if you’ve struggled with body image you may struggle with the fact you are getting larger as the baby gets bigger. This isn’t something to be ashamed off and you definitely shouldn’t feel guilty either. Pregnancy can be the most beautiful thing but also the most challenging, and I hope that the mental health side of it can be spoken about more and be naturally discussed like the physical changes are.

So moving on from the announcement we were going into Lockdown, this meant all appointments now would follow the similar pattern of being alone and feeling confused. I would go into my appointments with all these questions in my head that we both wanted answering, but the anxiety would take over and id walk out with no answers. Even if I wrote them down on my phone, I’d say a good 8/10 questions were unanswered because I hadn’t asked them. I would feel incredibly sad watching our baby wriggling around on the screen at scans because I was the only one seeing it, as unfortunately the NHS doesn’t allow you to record your scans. Id feel a heavy feeling walking out with only a picture of a baby foot because little one hadn’t kept still for a full body shot. I dreaded going to midwife appointments because I just felt so deflated.

Then we have the scares. We had two in total; one where baby hadn’t moved all day and he was usually a very active baby. This was around the end of March. I have never felt fear like it in my life, as you will automatically think the worst. I rung my triage, could barely speak, but they said to come in and after pulling myself together (with my partners help) I drove us the the hospital. As I walked in the usual thoughts crossed my mind, I hope baby is okay. But then due to being in a pandemic and super anxious, I had the terrifying thoughts of ‘what if baby isn’t okay, how do I tell his dad over a text or over the phone that something has happened’, ‘how will he get home if I have to stay in’, ‘what if this is all over and I’m here alone and can’t even tell my partner this journey has ended’. I am absolutely grateful that baby was fine, he started wriggling around the minute they put the monitors on and all stats were fine so I was allowed to go home. But those thoughts shouldn’t be something we have to experience, but unfortunately due to what’s happening with coronavirus I know I’m not the only one who has had to think like that. And unfortunately I know there’s people out there who had to experience those thoughts as an awful reality. Our second scare was around May/June time. I had bad pains in my lower stomach and pelvic area, so we went to a different hospital with my mother-in-law taking us this time as I could no longer drive and to keep my partner company so he wasn’t alone. Tests were run and it was ruled as normal pains, I presume pelvic girdle as a few weeks later I was told that’s what I was suffering with. Again those thoughts creep in, but this time it was ‘what if this is premature labour’, ‘how does this work during a pandemic, like when does my partner get to come in’, and ‘what if something awful happens’. Again all thoughts I had alone in a hospital bed with only the bleeping of the monitors attached to me for baby keeping me company.

Then we had labour… I went naturally into labour the evening before my induction, typical right, and went from nothing to 3cm quite quickly. Then from 3cm to 4cm even quicker. I was so grateful for this as at 3cm there were no beds on the ward and my partner couldn’t come in until I was in active labour. So once we went back to the hospital an hour after leaving, I was in active labour and moved to delivery with my partner meeting us there. Now we had come to terms with doing labour just us, but we hadn’t prepared for the possibility of hospital stays and separation. Something that since has been agreed shouldn’t have happened, but everything was so strange as again we were in the middle of a pandemic. This again for me was really hard, I was in a different hospital to my baby and alone. I, like all the other moms who have gave birth during the pandemic, had no visitors. Now normally I don’t mind my own company, but this was different. I was discharged the next day and man did I count down the minutes till I got to go into NICU at the other hospital and see my baby boy!

But NICU was just as lonely. We had to go in one at a time to see our boy, which led to us making the decision that I would stay with him for a large period of the day whilst my partner did errands. This was because I couldn’t really walk, having had a csection, and couldn’t do back and forth travelling to much due to how uncomfortable being in a car was. I was also in a lot of pain, very emotional (quite a usual reaction after just having a baby), and I was processing everything that had and was happening.

Once our boy came home things started to feel less lonely and more scary. I was a new mom, with a tiny baby who had struggled with breathing. My partner was a new dad, we were excited to be starting our new chapter as a family of three. But still surrounded by so much uncertainty due to coronavirus. After a few weeks things started to feel less lonely, we had started to get into the swing of things and due to a mixture of lockdown and me still being vulnerable, I had my partner around more than the month we had originally prepared for.

Months later and I can now safely say that despite the loneliness I truly believe we benefited from having time to ourselves with a new baby. It didn’t start straight away due to little ones health and my csection, but when it did happen it allowed us to learn and grow as a family together. And for that I am truly grateful that we were able to do that, thanks to the pandemic.

I would love to hear your experience of having a baby in a pandemic! Especially as pregnancy is different person to person, so please feel free to comment below x

With love,

The Unlucky Coeliac xo

My Pregnancy Diary – Trimester One

Lets go back to November 2019…

7th November 2019 I drove to work as normal, felt a twinge in my lower back which is quite normal for me and then I tried to get out of my car… I was stuck! My back had completely seized up and I was unable to move. In sheer panic I rung my Mom and then my manager. After managing to drive to my Nan’s as she lives closest to my work, my Mom took me to my Doctors. Co-codamol and ibuprofen were advised along side resting being prescribed.

The next day, I took some co-codamol and something told me to take a test before taking ibuprofen. I was a few days late, but that was normal for me when stressed. I didn’t think anything of it. Then I saw those two lines and everything changed!

Due to the medication I’d taken during the first few weeks, we booked a private scan and go to see our tiny baba for the first time towards the end of November. Baba was fine and then my body decided to let rip and release the pregnancy symptoms!

Hello “morning” sickness!! Goodbye soya milk, apples, kiwis and getting clean washing out the machine! Oh man did the sick come hard! I was sick whenever, wherever and hard. I had popped blood vessels around my eyes, was being sick at work and constantly feeling queasy. Then a wonderful woman at work shared how Lucozade worked for her. So every morning instead of a cuppa tea I was drinking original Lucozade, and the relief was incredible! But this relief only started towards the end of month 2 and didnt always work…

Trimester One was probably the easiest for myself, as I was excited and couldn’t believe we were having a baby! Don’t get me wrong the sickness was horrible and didn’t fully disappeared until I was 5/6 months pregnant, but that was the only symptom I had during Trimester One so I was very grateful for that too!

After our 12 week check up, we shared the news with the rest of our family (outside of grandparents and parents, and our closest friends as we had already told them). We made the announcement on Instagram and also announced that in October 2020 we were also getting married. In that moment it hit me that this was real, we were going to have a baby that was half me and half the love of my life. That our wedding was no longer May and that our tiny human would be there with us! It was such an incredible feeling and I was so excited to progress through pregnancy and do lots of shopping!

Then we hit the Second Trimester! After my birthday, Lockdown and Vulnerability would replace the shopping experience. Working from home went from 2 days a week to full time…

with love

The Unlucky Coeliac

My pregnancy diary

Welcome to my pregnancy diary introduction. Here I will be explaining what my pregnancy diary will consist of, why I am sharing it and how it will be shared…

Disclaimer… As I am writing this post my baby boy is currently 8 week’s old and asleep in his moses basket. Why has it taken so long to write this you ask, well being pregnant is one thing. Being pregnant with fibromyalgia and hypermobility syndrome is another, but then add in a global pandemic, lockdown and a state of vulnerability to covid-19 and you have a whole lot to deal with. Therefore, I feel it is better to reflect and share my experience now my pregnancy is over.

The reason why I am sharing my pregnancy experience is because I didn’t have another person to speak to who had been pregnant with fibromyalgia or even hypermobility syndrome, and there wasn’t much out their on the wide web I could find. That itself was a little daunting as I didn’t know if I was being too cautious, not cautious enough or even if what I was feeling was “normal” for me. Therefore I am putting my experience out there in hopes to help someone who is in the same boat, or is supporting someone in the same boat. But also to help any momma’s to be who are struggling with anything I mention such as Pelvic Gurdle Pain and Morning Sickness.

I will be splitting my pregnancy experience into the following sections;

Trimester 1

Trimester 2 – Global Pandemic

Trimester 3 – Health Conditions and Anxiety

Once each of the above posts have been published they will turn into links to guide you directly to each one!

Dating with Coeliac Disease

When I was first diagnosed with Coeliac Disease I was just starting to go out on dates and was so worried about how long I could hold off on going for the dreaded meal date when I had no idea where I could eat!!

Now currently with the pandemic we aren’t really able to go out and have dates but it doesn’t mean we can’t plan them, right? So I thought what better time to share my Top 4 restaurants and Top 5 non food related date ideas, then now when we are all excited for a date night with the other half outside the house or desperate to finally go on a date with that special someone who’s kept you sane during lockdown!!

I would like to add that you will find the restaurants listed aren’t solely Gluten Free restaurants. This is due to my fiancé being able to eat gluten as he doesn’t have any intolerances, but also as I am the only person in our immediate families and friends who has any dietary restrictions. I have included menus where I can, these should take you directly to the Restaurants websites where you can check for your local one and what they offer, as some locations have differences to the menus.

My Top 4 Fav Restaurants for Date Night

Miller & Carter – Somewhere fancy but also relaxed in terms of the environment of the restaurant itself. With Miller & Carter you can dress up a little without having to go fully suited and booted (unless you really want to). The bar area is a great place to meet if you’re travelling separately, and they have a great selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks too! Now their Gluten Free menu, the reason why we are here, is so identical to their main menu that only you, your date and the staff will know that you’ve ordered gluten free. This was a massive thing for me when I was first settling into the new diet, as I didn’t want to look “awkward” or “weird”. From my experiences, staff are alway so clued up on what Coeliac Disease is and how to handle your food. Which is so reassuring! I have ate both their steaks and their chicken, with and without the iconic onion loaf (I’m sorry if you have an onion intolerance, I couldn’t help myself as I love it so much)! Everything has been carefully prepared, cooked and brought to me, and I have felt so relaxed eating there that we still use this as a date night or even a go to for family members birthday meals.

https://www.millerandcarter.co.uk/gluten-free-menu

Zizzi’s – This was actually the first restaurant I actually ate in with my fiancé, and he the clever person that he is was the one who told me I could eat here! Best news I ever received, as I love Italian food. They keep their menu for allergens as up to date as they do their main menu, including seasonal updates. The thing with Zizzi’s that makes it a good date place is you have the choice to dress up like you do at Miller & Carter, but you can also have a lunch time date and keep it a little more casual. The environment is always friendly and Also if you aren’t feeling Pasta or Pizza they do delicious salads and fish dishes. Zizzi’s also offer vegan and non-gluten items which is perfect if you have other intolerances alongside gluten! They also have incredible drinks, a personal favourite of mine is the raspberry and mint cooler, so I am very excited to try their new orange and watermelon one!! What I have experienced when eating at Zizzi’s is that when you order from the non-gluten menu they will be asked if its an allergen or preference. When you state allergen they will ask what it is, this is solely for your safety and also theirs, so they can ensure that you are only provided with food that is safe for you and you are not misguided. The staff are also very clued up and are able to answer any questions! A perfect example of this was when I went for my works Christmas Meal there, and they gave me a brownie that looked like a few of my colleagues. I double checked with the waitress and she informed me that the brownie across their menus is naturally gluten free as it doesn’t contain any flour which is why it looked identical to my colleagues. I trusted her, ate it and had no reaction at all!

https://www.zizzi.co.uk/menus/full-menu/non-gluten

Hickories – Now Hickories do have amazing cocktails, mocktails and proper Southern style drinks including amazing ice teas! But my favourite thing about Hickories is that you can dress as casual as you like and even go on a double date! My biggest advice with Hickories is to not eat anything big for lunch if you are going on the evening, purely because their portion sizes are decent and you will have a massive menu to pick from! Starters, mains, sides and deserts! What more could you want?! Hickories is a good, American style bbq place that is also family friendly. We have been with friends on a double date, my parents and with my parents and brother for birthdays! The staff at Hickories follow strict guidelines from the government, which means when you order a manager should come over to you and confirm that what you’ve ordered is safe for your intolerance/coeliac disease. They should then also bring your food out with a little flag in, but the flag doesn’t identify an allergy like what you would see at Nandos. If this doesn’t happen, don’t be afraid to double check with the manager that your food has been prepared safely. I have been to Hickories properly 3 times in total, and only once have we had to question it. They were so apologetic for it and even went and triple checked with the chef that the food was safe for me, and it made me feel cared for which for me is important when dealing with such a big dietary requirement.

Non-Gluten Menu

Prezzo – Another great Italian restaurant, Prezzo really feels like a intimate restaurant! Even when busy there is a sense of everyone is there for there own experience, there is no fear of people watching. Something that makes a first date/first food date venue more relaxing. It’s also a great place for meeting each others friends for the first time, due to the intimacy of the tables and the relaxed environment. Prezzo’s gluten free menu is very similar to their main menu, with identical dishes, however it does look very different as the size of the menu paper itself is so drastically different. Why their main menu is so large I don’t know, but the food and the service makes up for it! My favourite menu items have got to be the meatball starter, the garlic bread and the carbonara pasta bake! Followed by the delicious Citrus Cooler cocktail, which is so refreshing yet has the right level of tangy to it I always order it! We enjoy prezzo because you can also go for a lunch time date not just evening, and we have also go with friends and family (on different occasions including birthdays and telling our friends we were expecting a baby). Why I enjoy it as a coeliac is down to the professionalism, the feeling of being included and that my food isn’t an issue to them to prepare. Now I haven’t experienced many places that make me feel like its an issue, but Prezzo is definitely one of those restaurants that just make you feel very cared for naturally. Something I value as someone with such a serious issue based around food and my health.
I have included the link to their website as you will need to check your local restaurant for items and prices, however, when I checked our local menu it appears to be a reduced one. I can only assume this is in relation to covid-19.

https://www.prezzorestaurants.co.uk/menus/

My Top 5 Non Food Related Date Ideas

Live Performance – Music, Theatre, Comedians; Now my fiancé is not one for the theatre and I haven’t seen a comedian live. However, we are both very into the music scene and love going to gigs/concerts! We have so far managed to go to The 1975, LANY, Halsey (that was definitely more for me haha) and have plans for many more in the future when things get back up and running. My favourite thing about these types of dates is that they are so low key and relaxed, that it doesn’t matter if you are a fan or not, and they also give you a little more of an insight into one and other without it feeling like an intrusive round of 21 questions.

Cinema – Everyman; Now where we live we are quite lucky to have an Everyman cinema and a “standard” cinema very close to us. Our favourite thing about the Everyman is you get to sit on a sofa together, have a table to put your drink and snacks and the food there looks incredible! Now I, as a coeliac, cannot eat anything other than the popcorn and a few of the snacks in the chocolate department. However, I personally don’t enjoy eating burgers in the cinema. The cinema is such a nice relaxed date, that you can whack whatever outfit on! I personally love a good jean and top combo from a bloat friendly wardrobe (- you need to check out the hashtag mybloatedwardrobe on instagram started by The Tummy Diaries, the inspo on there is unreal!), and you can meet there like 30 minutes beforehand as they have a lovely seating area and do great drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, as well as hot and cold!

Day trip to another city – We’ve done this a few times now, including going to a Free From Event in Oxford. This may be something more when you are both comfortable with each other, or as a date day when you’re already in a relationship, but either way its such a good experience! Whether you drive or get public transport, you are in the company of each other all day yet there is no pressure to do anything too extravagant or fancy, unless you really want to. We have been to Nottingham and Oxford a few times, and have also been to London for the weekend (which I know is a bit different to a day trip), where we have looked round the shops or explored the town centre just taking in the scenery. We have included going for food in these, but you really don’t have too. You could visit museums, local landmarks such as castles or nature parks. If you did want to incorporate food, but not a restaurant, you could organise a picnic that you pack and look after. Easy way to have safe foods for you without feeling awkward or like a nuisance.

Ghetto Golf / Crazy Golf – We actually have only done a crazy golf styled date once when we went to Oxford for the weekend, but, before Lockdown happened we were looking into going to Ghetto Golf as I have never been. Similar to going to an arcade, it is so much fun going to crazy golf! You don’t have to be into golf or even be good at it to go, you get to laugh at the scores/the shots/the set up of the hole your’e at. With places like Ghetto golf, you can add cocktails/mocktails to the mix, and there are no children so it can often be more funnier as there are more ‘adult’ decorations to have a laugh at. Although, I do hear there is a clown room in Ghetto Golf, so if like me clowns are not your thing, be very prepared!! Again this is an activity date you can do as a pair, with couple friends, or even a perfect mate date with the girls/boys! A bit of friendly competition never hurt did it 😉

Bowling & Arcades; If you are looking for a bit of fun and some friendly competition you can do this as a couple or add a few couple friends and make it a double/triple date! Visiting the Bowling alley and Arcades is such a timeless date, they are often in one location and can be quite cheap too! With bowling I will say book a few games, we did it just the two of us and two games went so quickly we ended up going to the cinema too! Which to be honest, was a really good date overall, and was our second ever date! My favourite thing about these date nights is getting to have a laugh, its the least embarrassing as you will both be bad at something if not the same thing and it is just all about being in the moment. You’ll end up with some really good memories too! We still laugh about how we thought two games for just the two of us would be enough.

Some of these may not be to your taste, but sometimes a date you have never done before or would never do can be so much fun! Even if you never do it again…

I would love to hear some of your date ideas too, please feel free to share what’s your favourite type of date! If you try one of these date ideas, let me know how you found it!

With love

The Unlucky Coeliac xo

Beryl’s Victoria Sponge Cake

I’ve decided to name this recipe Beryl after my Great Nan, the OG of cake baking! This recipe is based off my Great Nan‘s and so it just felt right to name it after her.

This recipe is Gluten Free, but if you swap the Gluten Free components for Gluten Containing ingredients the cake will still be just as good! It is also a 1:1 ratio when swapping from Gluten Free to Gluten Containing, which makes it super easy for you!!

Ingredients;
8oz Self Raising GF Flour,
8oz Stork Butter (or margarine),
8oz Caster Sugar,
4 eggs (medium),
2 oz Stork Butter (or margarine),
4 oz Icing Sugar,
1tsp of Vanilla extract

(Cake ingredients)

Method for cake;

1. Preheat your oven at Gas Mark 4, this also works out to be approximately 175 degrees for an electric

2. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until you have a light creamy mixture. If you are using an electric whisk or mixer this will only take a couple of minutes, if you are doing it by hand I recommend a large metal spoon and a lot of patience. This took me around 5 minutes to ensure the mixture was creamy and light.

3. Add your eggs bit by bit, for example one egg at a time, ensuring to beat the well with each addition. At this point you will find your batter isn’t the prettiest! That is absolutely fine.

4. You will now want to fold in your flour, ensuring you are adding it bit by bit as to not over mix your batter or throw flour out the bowl. I prefer to fold my flour by hand, however, you can still use an electric mixer.

5. Now you can add your batter to your desired tin! This mixture will fit inside two 7-inch tins. You can either add to one 7-inch tin or two 7-inch or similar sized tins.

6. Once you have moved your batter into your desired tins, bake in the centre of the over for approximately 25-35 minutes for multiple tins or 40-45 minutes for one 7-inch tin. Make sure you check your cake(s) cooked prior to allowing it to cool. I use a skewer* to ensure the batter has cooked through. If the skewer comes out sticky or with a lot of batter visible then it isn’t cooked. If it comes out with a few crumbs then the batter is cooked through.

(*You can purchase a cake testing probe to do the same job as the skewer!)

7. Allow cake to cool, remove from tin(s) and prepare to decorate! If you have used one 7-inch tin you will be able to cut your cake in half and fill it with your desired jam and buttercream to make the perfect Victoria sponge cake! I have included below my go to method for making vanilla buttercream.

Method for Buttercream;

1. Cream your butter and icing sugar together, by adding little bits at a time of icing sugar.
2. Once the mixture is smooth and creamy, add vanilla essence and mix thoroughly.

This is enough buttercream to sandwich the Victoria Sponge cake together, if you double the quantity you will have enough to sandwich and decorate! If you wanted to you could add different flavouring or colouring to your buttercream! Alternatively for chocolate buttercream, you will want to add 1oz of melted chocolate.

I have used this recipe to make Victoria Sponges, loaf cakes and even cupcakes! This quantity makes roughly 24 cupcakes, which is perfect when making them as a gift or as an afternoon cream tea treat…

If you do use this recipe be sure to let me know how you found it via the comments or even on Instagram! You can even use the hashtag theunluckycoeliacrecipe on instagram for me to see your creations!!

with love

The Unlucky Coeliac xo

The Unlucky Side…

Since the age of 13 I have struggled with constant pain in my joints, and it has and still is a very slow journey to finding a pain free and more enjoyable way of living. This post details the journey I’ve had from start to where I am now, which includes opening up about p personal frustrations and losing a family member.

At 13 years old I joined the Air Training Corps, better known as the Air Cadets. On and off, I spent around 4 years with the ATC and loved every second of it. It came with struggles, my school friends didn’t understand why I went and often made comments about the way I looked when I went. But it was linked to my decision to get myself a step closer to joining the RAF as an avionics engineer, which was my dream at the tender ages of 13-15, until I discovered Physics just wasn’t for me! Being in the ATC I become more active then walking round with mates or doing PE at school. I started doing Drill, playing field Hockey, Netball and found a love for cross country running I never knew I had. But that’s when my knees became very quite problematic and not doing what they were supposed to. It also become clear that my arms weren’t straight like everyone else when marching. Which is a massive issue when you want to compete in cross country and Drill competitions! Fall after fall, multiple twisted ankle injuries resulted in visits to the hospital for X-rays and finding out I had soft tissue damage diagnoses, were becoming too frequent for mine and my parents liking. The crunching noises my knees made, the clicking of my toes when walking barefoot and the swelling of my joints all become too much for a young me. And thats when my first doctors visit resulted in being told it was growing pains. I mean I get it, I was 14 years old but how much more growing did I really have in me? I think this was the last time I ever saw my knees when they weren’t swollen 24/7…

Fast forward to being 17 years old, I am in my second year of college and find standing up in the chemistry labs doing experiments too painful and am often sitting down more than others. I have lost a large amount of weight, and haven’t grown a centimetre since I was 14 years old. I’m now struggling with my shoulder, which maybe is because I have the weirdest accidents and funniest most clumsy Nan ever who managed to shut her boot on me onto my shoulder. That was checked over and was completely fine, Nan’s okay too! But was it the right or the left shoulder that happened too, I can’t remember… Anyway, I have not long been referred for an MRI after falling into the road because my knee gave way, which resulted in my school best friend having to physically PULL my jeans off my leg as my knee was so swollen! Oh and my Dad having to take me to my GP after just getting back from holiday (don’t think that was on his agenda). MRI’s are such a strange experience, as they’re super loud and make a weird noise but everytime I go in one I manage to fall asleep! Honestly if you’ve not had an MRI its hard to understand how crazy that is without the following description… Imagine being in a tub that has a Jackhammer going off right next to it, but when that stops it turns into a power drill and they just take it in turns really, oh and you have to remain super still otherwise it messes the whole thing up! Can you tell I’ve had more than one?

So I do some physio, and that doesn’t really work but I’m discharged anyway with a diagnosis of Ligamentous Laxity (which basically means really relaxed ligaments) but this was after the growing pains and Slatus diagnosis I received before the MRI. Now I’m 18 and going clubbing for the first time ever! I’m excited, I have had a little drinky drink at my house with some friends and head into town to pre-drink and head to the legendary Snobs. Now if you are from Birmingham in the UK you will know what Snobs is, and I must inform you my 18th was celebrated in old Snobs not the new one…

… Anyway, sidetracked a little there…

… So we have had one drink each and are walking over to Snobs down some steps and that’s when the most embarrassing thing ever happens! My knee gives way, I fly forward down the concrete steps in high heels. Somehow I miss smashing my face off of them, but my foot has chunks of skin taken out off and my knee is now throbbing and is huge! Like a boss I get up (with help from my friends) try and laugh it off, with some tears, and head over. I can barely walk but I make it into the club and play off like I’m chilling. I couldn’t get shoes on for like a week and had a scar that finally disappeared when I was about 20. For the next few years I battled with a love for heels, but my body hating it and having to give up wearing them more then every now and then when I was 20. The few occasions I have worn them since, I am pretty much unable to walk for days or even weeks. Oh and I have to take them off after having photos taken, which made looking for wedding shoes very interesting…

At 19 I felt the urge to work on myself to improve my body and self confidence. I found a love for the gym, started going out on weekends with my friends and just tried to be your “normal” young adult. I was going the gym 3-4 times a week, working with one of my longest friends from school who was my PT. We would work on exercises that wouldn’t irritate my knees and shoulder, oh and my hips, by simplifying movements or tailoring programmes for me. Then I fell on the treadmill. It was a minor fall, I was very lucky, but boy do treadmills burn!! The gym become a very big outlet of stress, anger and disappointment in the way things work out when my uncle was diagnoses with a very aggressive and well studied by myself brain cancer. Which unfortunately meant I was becoming more frustrated with myself when I started to struggle with things I used to be able to do. Then I met a boy and took some time out of the gym and stopped going to PT sessions. As you do 😉

At 21 I had one of the biggest heartbreak i’ve ever experienced! During an adjustment period with work, my uncle passed away after a very strongly fought battle with Cancer. During this very raw time I threw myself back into the gym, I went with a very close and super supportive friend who I hold very dearly in my heart for helping me with this incredibly difficult time of my life. She would try and keep me motivated when I’d get frustrated with myself. We even moved gyms to one closer to where I was living. But at 22 years old, after no longer being able to use weights, deadlift or even squat without my pain increasing and feeling completely deflated; I finally admitted to myself something wasn’t quite right and went back to my GP.

Now when your knees are constantly coming out of alignment, you feel like your legs are been pulled out of your hip socket and twisted, you’re letting people down with last minute cancellations (including your family), things start to eat up at you. Those feelings, with the support of my friend, encouraged me to go back to the GP be the most open about my struggles with my body than I had ever been. Finally the GP who had witnessed my subluxation of my shoulder, the delay in healing from whiplash from a car accident earlier that year and helping me get out of a gym membership said ‘lets get this sorted shall we, and find out why your body is doing the things it is’. That was one of the best days of my life, feeling that relief that someone is listening and that you’re not crazy is unreal!! That leads us then to the rheumatology appointment I discussed in my coeliac diagnosis post.

Now in my mid-20’s I have a diagnosis of very server hypermobility syndrome from the Rheumatologist and a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia from the Pain Management Team. I walk with a walking stick sometimes, I pretty much live in KT Tape and have had many, many appointments that I have attended over the last few years including physiotherapy that was every 4-6 weeks. I have also seen a specialist in London, who reviewed me and my case and confirmed I have components of EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) but do not have the full package that would see me as someone who has that as a diagnosis. It’s been a long journey, but my diagnosis has been found and I have been working since 2018 on understanding my body and it’s limits. As well as understanding and trying not to get frustrated at my bad days, or overdo it on my good days.

The most important thing to take away from this is that despite the frustrations and feeling so confused and lost, it’s so important to trust your instinct and your own understanding of your body! If I didn’t I could have hurt myself, faced full dislocations and even could have made myself ill with guilt and feeling ashamed. So if something doesn’t feel right, please go with your gut and enquire it with the correct people!

with love

The Unlucky Coeliac xo

The Start to my Coeliac Journey…

My diagnosis of Coeliac Disease was a massive shock! I had no idea what Coeliac Disease was, that it was being tested for or even that I had been struggling with a dietary problem for so long!

In January 2018 I was referred to Rheumatology for an assessment regarding issues I was having with my joints. During my assessment I was advised I would need to go through a number of tests including a blood test to check my Thyroid, for Rheumatoid Arthritis and my vitamin levels.

Roll forward to a couple of weeks and I was sat in my GP being told I have Coeliac Disease, low Vit D and told what the next steps were. What a learning curve this was going to be for myself and my family.

To say I was confused is an understatement. I’d always struggled with my weight, but I had never been underweight (only as a baby in the first few months) and didn’t have the generic symptoms my GP had mentioned. Had they got it wrong? Turns out massively that they definitely hadn’t!

In May 2018 I had my Endoscopic Biopsy (basically a camera sent down your throat to take a biopsy of your small intestine and gut), which required eating gluten containing food for a week to avoid a false negative. I originally thought, amazing I can eat everything I’ve been missing the last three months! Oh boy was I wrong… After half a day of eating gluten containing food I looked 5 months pregnant, was in serve pain and couldnt wait to go back to eating gluten free food!

It’s safe to say my biopsy came back confirming Coeliac Disease and since the biopsy was done I’ve been living a Gluten Free life. I will be completely honest, it was and still is a struggle. After spending so many years eating “normal” food, there were things I missed and things that I was shocked had gluten in (like gravy!).

What I learnt very quickly about Coeliac Disease, is that everyone reacts differently. You may very well have similar symptoms to someone else, but your body is so different to another. I was sure I didn’t have Coeliac Disease in the early days, now I am 100% positive. Whether its a swollen belly, rash, sickness, very frequent toilet visits (lets be real now), please if you suspect you have an intolerance or even Coeliac Disease go to your doctors! It is not living in pain or constant illness.

I would like to add to the end of this post that I am always open to questions or for a little chat, drop a comment on this post or drop me a message on Instagram! But please remember, I am not a medical profession! I can only answer from my own experience or what I’ve researched myself or been provided by my GP and Dietitian.

with love

The Unlucky Coeliac xo

Baked Oats Muffins Recipe

A breakfast favourite of mine is baked oats! This is something I first became aware of when I was following the Slimming World plan around 6ish years ago. I still use the basics of the recipe but myself and my Mom have tweaked it a little with how we serve it! Which lets face it is the most important bit…

For this recipe you will need the following;
– 40g Gluten free oats
– 50ml Soya Milk (or any milk of your choice)
– Blueberries & Blackberries (raspberries and strawberries also work
amazingly in this)
– 1 table spoon of Sweetener
– 1 Egg (or half a banana)
– Vanilla Essence (Lemon or Almond flavouring work really well with this too)

Now the fun bit! Pre heat the oven at Gas Mark 5!

1. Mix the oats, milk, sweetener and egg together in a bowl.

2. Add 1/2 tea spoon of Vanilla Essence or flavouring of choice and mix well

3. Add fruit of choice to your cases/non-stick muffin tin (this mixture makes four muffins)

5. Evenually add the mixture into your cases, and bake for 25 minutes.

6. Once baked you can either allow to cool for 5 minutes and enjoy them or allow to cool completely and pop in a sandwich box for lunch, a snack, dessert or breakfast the next day!

Now so far this is perfectly following the slimming world recipe, however I like to add a twist to it by drizzling yoghurt over the top of them and allowing them to cool so the yoghurt stiffens, or adding a drizzle of Sweet Freedom’s Choc Shot!

If you are feeling even more adventurous you could make them using poppy seeds and lemon, or carrots and almonds with a cream cheese drizzle! There are many varieties to this recipe!!

Let me know if you use this recipe and share your images with me on Instagram (@theunluckycoeliac) or in the comments below!

With love

The Unlucky Coeliac xo

Adventuring Through Music…

It’s no secret whether you know me personally or only through reading the blog, that I just love finding out peoples tastes in music. Personally it doesn’t get better than discovering it of the people who are closest to you. Naturally its your immediate family and friends you know the most about, where you’re able to hear a song and know exactly who’s going to love it. But what’s more exciting in my eyes is learning it of someone new whether its a friend or someone special.
 
Now I am terrible for if I hear one song that I like, I need to investigate and find out as much about the sound/artist/their work as I can. For some its annoying as whilst i’m doing this it’s often the only thing they’ll hear my listening to for a while. For others its a chance to join in on my adventure with the music…
 
My latest adventure has been with The Hunna, and my god what an adventure it is turning out to be. They have this vibe that adds a little something to their indie sound, that has a way of just reaching you and bringing you in so casually it feels natural to be drawn to them. And that’s before we discuss vocals!
 
There are many aspects to The Hunna that I am intrigued with and is making me want more from them. However, this post is all about one little track from their latest album Dare. This track was brought to my attention by someone very close to me, who’s music taste is proving more and more to be incredible and I love finding out more about it! This track is the whole reason why I have gone on this little The Hunna adventure and found another addition to my ever grown music library. The track in question, well you’ll have to keep reading…
 
…The instruments and the sound all in one word – wow! The guitars are just incredible, with the slightest scrap of their fingers across the strings making that metallic slide between chords more prominent and beautifully placed. The drums in this song are strong yet feel almost delicate, even when the cymbals are so active it still feels gentle. Between the two of them there is a beautiful piece of instrumental music. The sound of this song to me is light yet wants to be heard.
 
Now lets talk vocals. My god, do I love the vocalist’s voice!! When he sings their are a mixture of pitches and the way they fluctuate so naturally makes me get goosebumps. His voice isn’t your usual kind of husky, but its so beautiful I honestly could cry.
 
Lyrics. My guilty pleasure to all songs. The first line alone hits me with such meaning, and connection. “And all the stares that people may”. The lyrics get stronger and stronger from then on. For me this isn’t a song about a man falling in love. This is a song about relearning to love and accepting love. More importantly a love that came out of the blue, the kind you just can’t prepare yourself for, but need so badly all at once. This song screams so may things, and I just know (and I will happily be proven wrong) that there are many people who can and will be able to relate to this song. This song is pure, raw, unedited emotions. This song is real life at its finest.
 
If you haven’t guessed already the beautiful song thats be put in my head for the last week (maybe a diddy bit longer) is  Lover by The Hunna delicately placed on their album Dare.
 

 

Have a listen to it and let me know your thoughts, because it’s safe to say currently it is one of my favourite songs.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my post filled with my opinions and thoughts. I honestly means more than you could imagine!
 
If you’d like to leave any feedback or comments, please do so in the comments box below.
 
Thank you,
 
Leanne xo

Relax don't…. Wait what's your arm doing?

Firstly, thank you for your patience with my absence. Secondly, blogging for me is about being honest. Sharing with you how things like music make me feel, experience and my general thoughts/opinions. Therefore this post is me being as honest as I can about why I’ve been distant from blogging and reviewing for so long. And to explain what’s been going on since December 2017.

So in December 2017 I plucked up the courage to go to the doctors, to try and get them to understand what I was dealing with. At 22 years old I had been living every day for the last 9 years with chronic pain in my knees. A chronic pain which had spread to my left shoulder, hips, wrists and fingers, ankles and toes, elbows and lower back. I am suffering with joint movement, where often my knee cap wouldn’t be in the right place, and could be visibly seen. My left arm would be much longer in appearance as my shoulder would partially dislocate. My hips would move around often resulting in serve pain. And finally they listened and referred me to a Rheumatologist!!

Along came the appointment in January 2018, where I was asked questions that if it wasn’t a doctor I would usually lie about. Had to do things like touch my toes, stretch my arms out and show how close my thumb can get to my wrist. Then the Rheumatologist confirmed I had scored 8/9 on the Beighton Score, I had severe Hypermobility and would need an Echocardiogram, MRI of my lower spine and pelvis, blood test and would be referred to a specialist Physiotherapist.

In February the results of my blood test where back. Low vitamin D levels and Coeliac Disease. That was the biggest shock, as I didn’t know it was being tested as I only knew about my Thyroid being tested. This meant a Gastroscopy was now needed and I must live a Gluten Free life. But the best news from that was no sign of any arthritis kicking in yet (as I am prone to getting it at an early age). Buzzing! Then I had my MRI & Echocardiogram done.

MRI results weren’t the best as they showed problems with discs in my spine, meaning I have things to look out for which could mean an A&E trip. But on the flip side my pelvis was okay, which was great news!

So April lead to another doctor’s trip as now my right foot was turning in. With anticipation I explained what was going on, and after an examination was referred again to another specialist who then referred me to Podiatry.

Roll on to May and I’ve had the Gastroscopy test (sedation is a very strange experience I must admit), and the results are back confirming I must live a Gluten Free diet due to having Coeliac Disease – 100% confirmed.  It is great to have confirmation that I am doing the right thing by eating Gluten Free, but even better results came back for my Echocardiogram! The results showed no problems with my heart, so at least my heart is behaving!

Physiotherapy sessions are going well with each one so far focusing on different areas of my body. There are talks of moving from exercises to physical activities to try and feel more active and like my old gym going self before the pain and dislocations got too much.
Podiatry have told me no more Converse (but I can’t part ways yet so still wear them but not as much) and high backed supportive shoes are a must! I’m still looking for a pair that I like and can wear at work as I work full time in an office and I need the support as I can often be on my feet for long periods due to being a trainer. More so I need the high back and support because I have to wear an insole in my right shoe, which makes me look wonkier than normal which is a little bit funny lmao.

With all this I have had to come to terms with a lot of things the last few months however I am now in a good place. With all these tests now nicely finished, and only regular trips to physiotherapy and podiatry, I am getting back into my routine. I am doing yoga, and looking to start cycling again (as advised by my physiotherapist) and getting back into writing. Which has all contributed to me being ready to get back to what I love; blogging, reviewing and sharing my thoughts/opinions with you all. I’m looking at music and adventure posts like before, but now looking at food and hypermobility posts too! I have found my silver lining…

So… I am 23 years old living life with Chronic Pain, Severe Hypermobility Syndrome and Coeliac Disease. I am learning to be open about things, to be realistic and to let go of feeling ashamed that I will not be able to do everything without help – when I said learning I definitely mean it with that bit as I am so stubborn aha. As well as learning to listen to my body and trying very hard to not see my conditions as massive negatives.

My advice to anyone regardless of age or how you feel about what you’re going through, make the doctors listen! Listen to what your body is telling you. It knows you better than you know you!

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch in the usual means!

Thank you all again for your kindness during this time of disappearance xo

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my post filled with my opinions and thoughts. I honestly means more than you could imagine!
 
If you’d like to leave any feedback or comments, please do so in the comments box below.
 
Thank you,
 
Leanne xo