Health Diary Week 89: A Day Out

Image: Winchester Cathedral, UK, 2021

Home
<<<Week 88

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

The Histamine Saga

I received my ENT (ears, nose and throat) referral letter and followed the instructions to book my appointment – but there were none available, so I need to wait for the clinic to contact me. As I said last week, I’m not confident that an ENT investigation is what I need for what I think are histamine related issues. But I will jump through the hoops as required to get to the bottom of my severe chronic rhinitis issues.

Histamine Food Challenge: Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

Since successfully re-introducing chickpeas (garbanzo beans) into my diet, I’ve been craving hummus every day! Thankfully it’s a nutritious craving, providing good quality plant protein, fibre, and health-promoting fats, as well as various vitamins and minerals (e.g. iron, folate)[1].

So, unsurprisingly, my favourite meal this week included a generous dollop of hummus with my go-to jacket potato – scooped out potato mixed with cooked courgette, sweetcorn, white onion, garlic, chia and hemp seeds, mixed dried herbs, turmeric and sweet paprika – always a winner:

Image: My vegetable filled jacket potato with a generous serving of hummus

Keeping Active

As walking is my main exercise for now, I use the free Active 10 app[1] on my mobile phone to track how much I walk (until I get a snazzy smart watch). Active 10 is part of the One You campaign launched by Public Health England and targets middle-aged adults (40 to 60 years – yep I’m in that age bracket). Health benefits of walking[2] include reduced activity of weight-promoting genes, chocolate cravings, risk of breast cancer and also eases joint pain and improves immune function.

I was interested in my amount of walking during work shifts (6 hours, 45 minutes), especially when directing patients into the assessment and vaccine bays. I was pleased to discover I’d clocked up 73 minutes, albeit none were brisk – regardless, any physical activity is better than remaining seated all day. When I’m allocated a seated task, I get up and move around when possible.

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

I had my first proper day trip since before the pandemic started – we went to Winchester. So, this is the focus of my week’s smile-provokers…

Climate change awareness:

At Winchester Cathedral we happened across a climate change display created by school children across the County – it’s encouraging to see such awareness raising activities. The display features some ingenious drawings, sculptures, recyclable and upcycled pieces. I particularly loved the owl made out of a plastic carton, octopus tree and somewhat squashed-looking turtle:

Image: Climate change awareness display. Top: Octopus and beehive trees. Bottom: Tree of birds
Image: Climate change awareness display. Animal sculptures: bears, jaguar, elephant and (squashed) turtle

Random art:

During my wanders, I stumbled upon some interesting art creations, including a Banksy-style piece by Hendog and a random chicken sculpture. Also in, someone’s garden we spotted a plant pot lighthouse and green figure:

Image: Clockwise: Banksy-style painting by Hendog. Chicken sculpture. Plant pot green figure. Plant pot light house

River walk:

I was keen to avoid the busy city centre, so we detoured to the river and surrounding gardens. It was peaceful and pretty, and I saw a beautiful swan:

Image: River walk. Clockwise: Stream. Swan. Gardens. Yellow rose

Ducklings swim school:

My highlight has to be watching two ducklings practising their swimming – soooo cute! I nervously observed the little ducklings navigate the river. Mummy Duck seemed completely unconcerned – she started off in the water with them and then casually watched from the riverside. She didn’t even seem worried when the yellow duckling got caught in the current and shot backwards down the stream out of sight. Thankfully, the little one emerged a few minutes later, swimming against the current with surprising strength:

Image: Ducklings swim time

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 90
<<<Week 88
Home

References

1. Harvard School of Public Health, Ca. 2021. The Nutrition Source: Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans).
2. Public Health England, Ca. 2021. One You Active 10.
3. Harvard Health Publishing, 2020. 5 surprising benefits of walking.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 88: Nature’s Magnificence

Image: Nature’s Magnificence – Blue Footed Booby bird (check out those blue feet!), Galapagos Islands (2008)

Home
<<<Week 87

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment (albeit a little delayed – sorry) of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

A Career in Health and Wellbeing

It was a standard week workwise. I’ve really enjoyed working in a Covid vaccine centre – I’ve felt part of something important and mostly everyone has been so nice (co-workers and patients). But I am ready now to move on to my real interest – Health and Wellbeing. So, I can’t wait to get started in the wellbeing admin post in August.

I’ve also been exploring Health and Wellbeing Coach jobs. I had a meeting with potential employers to find out more about the role – it sounds challenging in a good way, and I liked the people I spoke to. The meeting felt like an interview, so I was relieved I’d prepared beforehand – something I’d learnt after a disastrous PhD studentship ‘chat’. Anyway, I’ll keep you posted…

Practice what you Preach

Now that I’ve committed to work in Health and Wellbeing, I really need to focus more on improving my own health behaviours, particularly my physical activity – I’ve got lax since returning to employment. So, I had a lovely walk, partly in the countryside (totalling 92 minutes, of which 69 minutes were brisk – an acceptable start), whilst enjoying a social catch-up with my neighbour Elise:

Image: My Active 10 app walks. Left: My walk with Elise (92 minutes total, 69 minutes brisk). Right: Week 88 walks (284 minutes total, 116 minutes brisk)

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

As you know, like many others, I have developed a greater appreciation of the joys of nature since this pandemic – nature’s magnificent beauty has provided me with many moments of happiness…

Our pond jungle:

I think it is amazing how quickly nature can reclaim its territory. The foliage by the pond next to our driveway has really taken a hold, especially the foxgloves. I love how the pond area constantly changes (more photos in Week 85):

Image: Our driveway pond jungle – Foxgloves

Invasion of the birds:

I walked out of the rental house on Sunday morning to a loud chattering of so, so many Starlings – they were everywhere – on rooftops and grass verges – it was almost intimidating, but also totally amazing. It brought back a memory of swifts at Iguazu Falls (Brazil) when my friend Claudia and I travelled South America:

Image: Swifts at Iguazu Falls, Brazil, 2008 (This image came into my mind when I observed all those Starlings outside the house)

Survivors:

How excited I was to discover that at least three of the baby blackbirds had survived the magpie dramas of Week 85. Daddy Bird seems to be doing the majority of feeding the not so little ones. We wonder if Mummy Bird has more babies on the way or maybe she’s just got Daddy Bird well trained – I think she might be a bit bossy:

Image: Our Blackbird family. Top right: Mummy Bird looking proud. Top left and bottom row: Daddy Bird feeding one of the demanding baby birds

Almost famous:

When I visited Bevy, she excitedly informed me that I’d had a mention on Gardeners’ Question Time, a BBC Four Radio programme – I was referred to as “my dear friend Katey”. If you’re interested, its 28.28 minutes into the programme. Bevy’s question was about the campanula plant I bought her several years ago when her son was born. The plant has flourished, but some of the flowers developed a mutation of four petals instead of the usual five – it’s a mystery… And Bevy, I totally love your nerdiness!:

Image by Bevy: The campanula plant I gifted Bevy (five petals)
Image by Bevy: The campanula where one flower has four petals instead of five

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 89
<<<Week 87
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 87: Lots Happening

Image: Owl at Hawk Conservancy Trust, 2012 (I was quite proud of this action shot)

Home
Week 86

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences. There’s so much to tell, but so little available time – I’ll do my best to be informative, yet succinct…

New Job?

The feedback from my Staff Wellbeing Hub Admin interview was that I was a strong candidate… But I was their second choice. They were concerned about my work-life balance, because of my interests outside of work – Ironically, I’d started adding my outside interests into admin job interviews to demonstrate that my mind would still be challenged outside of work. This was to counteract the other concern that always comes up when I apply for admin – “Would the job satisfy me when I appear to be better suited to an advisory role?” I honestly enjoy admin; I also enjoy advisory work too. I’d like to do both.

Excitingly, I was offered two days a week, because their first choice wanted to work three days, so I gratefully accepted. The bonus is that this still leaves the possibility of doing some advisory work too… Or perhaps a Health and Wellbeing Coach? – there’s currently adverts for this role within the NHS.

Image: Me listening to a student (well, posing for a promotional photo) at our work enquiry desk. Ca. 2003 (I look so young!)

The Histamine Saga

Here are the latest updates on my challenge to find out more about my histamine issues…

Allergy Clinic:

Last week the Allergy Clinic changed my appointment to a phone one – I reasoned maybe it was because the first appointment is just a consultation. But this week, the clinic rejected my referral – Nooo!  I phoned to check if this was an error… it wasn’t. They’ve recommended I’m referred to an ENT Clinic – I’m confused – I don’t think I need my ears, nose or throat checked out?

Food Risks:

We had family visiting for my Dad’s birthday, so I took some small food risks, with the support of my DAO enzyme tablet. Mum had prepared a curry for dinner – I had the dhal (lentils), potato and peas from the curry (tomato based), poppadom (chickpea) and Nita’s Mum’s coriander chutney (chilli, cashews). Thankfully, there were no ill effects from rhinitis, but I had a slightly sore (burned feeling) tongue for about a week – probably from the chilli, maybe also the tomato:

Image: My histamine food risk dinner: Lentils (dhal), potato and peas from the curry (tomato base), popadom (chickpea). Nita’s Mum’s green chutney not pictured

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

I love identifying things that make me smile. Here’s a few things from this past week…

I had pudding:

Mum made rhubarb crumble for Dad’s birthday treat, instead of a cake. I rarely get to have a proper pudding, because of my histamine issues. I decided since I’d already had my DAO enzyme tablet, this was my opportunity. And of course I drowned my crumble in the vanilla custard freebie gifted by the Vegan Kind Supermarket (Week 81) – delicious:

Image: Left: Coconut Collaborative vanilla custard freebie from the Vegan Kind supermarket. Right: Pudding: Rhubarb crumble drowning in vanilla custard

A gift from work:

I was just leaving work when one of the Admin Shift Leads asked, “Would you like a brown bag?”. I assumed this could only be a good thing, so I said, “That would be lovely, thank you”. And within my brown bag were two rhubarb and pineneedle drinks and a box of chocolate (my Dad’s favourite). What a lovely gesture. I passed on the chocolate to my parents and saved the drinks for myself:

Image: My brown bag contents: Monty Bojangles chocolate and Double Dutch drinks

Another friend reunion:

When I was studying for my Nutrition degree, my two main buddies were Magda and Emelie. Emelie has since moved back to Sweden, although we’re still in regular contact. Magda doesn’t live too far away, so we arranged to meet up in person for the first time since the pandemic started. We decided to have a walk in a country park and wow, we had so much to tell each other – it was so lovely to see Magda in person rather than online. The walk was picturesque – a change from my usual roadside walks. And my Active10 app reported I’d completed 168 minutes total walking, of which 88 minutes was brisk – go me:

Image: Countrypark walk – river view (it was a pity about the fallen tree, but a beautiful view nonetheless)
Image: Countrypark walk – field view

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 88
<<<Week 86
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 86: Kitten Therapy

Image: Loki, the Maine Coon kitten

Home
<<<Week 85

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

Some Job Updates

Currently I’m working for the NHS as a temporary employee in a Covid vaccine clinic. But, I’m looking for a more permanent job. I’d applied for Staff Wellbeing Hub Administrator, and I’ve been invited for an interview (yay!) – it sounds like something I could really get stuck into – I like the idea of supporting our NHS staff with their wellbeing. I’ll update you on how the interview went next week. Will they believe that I’m happy to be an administrator rather than an advisor? (I am). We’ll see…

Covid Vaccine: Second Dose

I had my second Astra Zeneca covid-19 vaccine – I’m so relieved. They fit me in at work, which was convenient. Due to my obvious nervousness, the Clinical Supervisor (who trains the vaccinators) kindly administered my injection. It didn’t hurt (this time or the first dose) and yet, I still get anxious – nowadays I comfortably watch everyone else having their vaccines and I’m often distracting nervous patients.

The after effects were minimal compared to my first dose (details here: Week 75). I had the obligatory achy arm for a few days, but less so than last time. On the second night after my vaccine, I felt like I was coming down with something (swollen glands, sore throat, tiredness), so I went to bed early – I was okay by the next morning. I’ll happily take these side effects over Covid-19.

My Covid vaccine sticker of bravery

Food Challenge: Houmous

I love houmous. This is definitely one of the foods I’ve missed since following a low histamine diet (since October 2020 – I can’t believe it’s been that long!). At the weekend, I had a serious craving for houmous – there was a pot of a red pepper one in the fridge about to be eaten with our family visitors – I just had to have some too. It was a risk, not only because of the chickpeas, but also it contained chilli and lemon (next time I’ll make my own). So, I decided to take one of my DAO enzymes (details in Week 85) to break down the histamine in my food – there were no ill effects, phew.

Image: My houmous dip platter. Red pepper houmous, baby orange and yellow pepper, gluten free pitta, salted crisps and beetroot crackers

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Well, I have to say, I had a great weekend of family and kitten time – absolutely fabulous! But first…

I didn’t panic:

So, there I was working diligently in the Covid vaccine nervous bay distracting patients when I felt something crawling up my bare leg. I surreptitiously glanced down and saw it was a big spider (well, fairly big, in my opinion). Did I panic? I’m proud to say “No, I didn’t”. I discretely flicked it off my leg and carried on chatting to the patient – go brave me. You can read my last spider tale in Week 51:

Image: Friendly spider. Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay

Family reunion:

I hadn’t seen my Aunty and Uncle since before the pandemic (about two years), so how lovely it was when they came to visit my parents over the weekend. And, I saw my sister too, which was also fantastic. Admittedly, I wasn’t at home much – I was kitten sitting, but at least I got to spend some time with them all. The weather was so glorious that we could comfortably sit outside and enjoy a barbecue:

Image: My barbecue plate of food. Actually, I only ate the veg from the barbecue (fennel, corn on the cob, courgette, pepper and asparagus). I separately cooked up a homemade rice and quinoa burger from the freezer. I also had steamed potatoes and a salad topped with vegan feta cheese. So delicious

Massages on tap:

Massages on tap? Yes please! My friends’ massage chair is amazing! So, while kitten sitting, I took advantage of this wonderful device. It even squeezes you, so you feel like you’re getting a hug. Now, Loki kitten did interrupt my deep relaxation one night – he suddenly pounced onto my chest and then attacked my feet – as you can imagine, it was quite a shock and not at all relaxing:

Image: The amazing massage chair (and Loki kitten). I want one – the chair and the kitten

Cats sleeping funny:

I love how cats can sleep almost anywhere and look so comfortable in their odd positions. Loki kitten seemed very relaxed and spent a lot of time sleeping in my arms or on my lap – so sweet:

Image: Cats sleep funny. Loki kitten crashed out in odd positions

Kitten therapy:

Oh my, how very cute little Loki kitten is. It was a pleasure to look after him, even though he had his moments when he suddenly decided to hunt me down. I miss having a cat in my life, but it was wonderful to get some kitten therapy over the weekend:

Image: Loki kitten cuteness

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 87
<<<Week 85
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 85: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Dramas

Me trying to act dramatic – reenacting being eaten by a sabre tooth tiger, Edinburgh (2007)

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

The Histamine Story

Here’s my histamine updates from the past week (more info about histamine intolerance here[1])…

No ill-effects:

I’m ecstatic (and massively relieved) to report there were no ill-effects from the Sunday socialising at Tina and Ben’s house where I ate food that I hadn’t sourced or prepared myself (absolutely delicious food) and indulged in a few vodkas and cokes (I thought these could be a huge mistake). Does this mean my condition is improving or that I was careful enough before the event by keeping my histamine cup relatively empty?… I just don’t know.

Medication shortages?:

There appears to be an issue obtaining the medications I use. Firstly, I had to go to another pharmacy (not my nominated one) to obtain my Loratadine solution antihistamine prescription. Secondly, there was the prescribed sodium cromoglycate (mast cell stabiliser) unavailability (Week 83), so I never got to try this medication. Then, it took me four different pharmacy tries to get my hands on the Cetirizine antihistamine liquid – I had to buy the branded version that costs twice as much as the generic one I would usually get. I hope this isn’t going to be an ongoing concern.

DAO enzymes:

I’ve read quite a lot on the long haul Covid and histamine intolerance social media sites about people using DAO enzyme supplements to counteract the effects of histamine containing foods. My concern about these supplements were that they’re all animal-based (taken from the kidneys of pigs) and there doesn’t appear to be much solid scientific research on them. But then, someone posted about a plant-based option, Naturdao, so I decided I would buy some to use cautiously – reserved for occasional use when I want to socialise more ‘normally’ with friends and family. I’ll let you know how I get on with them.

Vegan DAO enzyme supplement: Naturdao

Food

I haven’t got much to report food-wise this week. I’ve just opted for my easy go-to options of salad and pasta based meals. I hope to create some interesting dishes soon.

Exercise

I’m conscious that the title of this blog includes the word “Exercise”, and I haven’t done much of that in recent months. But I’m determined to try to slowly introduce physical activity again soon.

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And here’s some of my favourite smile provokers from this week…

A personal touch:

I try to buy from independent stores rather than big chains, so I often browse Etsy for cards and gifts. I recently stumbled across JuanitaManzana who sells “Illustrated greeting cards – with a touch of cats!” I ordered a birthday card for my sister and was pleasantly surprised by the cute cat paw tape on the packaging, followed by a sweet thank you note card and a bonus extra birthday card – how lovely is that?:

Top: Thank you card from JuanitaManzana, Etsy. Bottom left: Bonus greeting card. Bottom right: Cat paws tape

More garden socials:

Thank goodness for the recent decent weather. This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting up with Bevy, Harry and Loki kitten again in their garden. And I caught up with Neil, an old Uni friend (from my HND and degree courses in the 90’s):

Neil and I at my pub birthday party, Isle of Wight (1996)

What a difference a week (or so) makes:

Summer is my favourite season. So, I love seeing signs of Summer approaching – new buds appearing on bare trees as early as January, the Spring blossom and finally that summery greenery. Our pond view is a great place to observe the seasonal changes:

Pond greenery. Top left: Grey, bare trees and snowy, December 2020 (Week 63). Top right: Greenery appearing, April 2021 (Week 78). Bottom left: Lots of greenery, May 2021 (Week 84). Bottom right: Pond barely visible amongst the foliage, June 2021 (Week 85)

Bird dramas:

I love birds, but I am not a fan of Magpies since I discovered they eat our Blackbirds’ babies – I know its nature, the circle of life and all that, but I can’t help but be biased. So, you can imagine my horror when a Magpie found our Mummy Bird’s nest. One of the youngsters flew out in a panic, straight into the side of our house, fell onto the porch roof and rolled down onto the front doorstep! Now, you’re probably exclaiming “How on earth could this make you smile?!?”. Fear not, there was a happy ending (as far as I know). Baby Bird was stunned – we didn’t touch her, but took turns standing guard, even eating our lunch out the front of the house. This gave Baby time to recover until eventually Daddy Bird located Baby and they flew away together. Baddie Magpie returned later but the Blackbirds and Sparrows joined forces rather impressively chasing it away. The Starlings just legged-it! – I’m not sure how I feel about those guys either:

Bird dramas: Top and Bottom left: Mummy and Daddy Blackbirds obtaining much needed energy post the Magpie attack on their babies – they’re still looking fairly alert. Bottom right: Magpie (photo from Week 32 last year, but a similar time of the year)

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 86
<<<Week 84
Home

Reference

Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI), 2019. Outline.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate


Health Diary Week 84: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

A Marvellous Weekend

Hello weekend. Image: messersrach, Pixabay

Home
<<<Week 83

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

My Back is Better

I had to cancel my week’s work shifts, because of the ongoing back pain and related sleep deprivation – I was forced into attempting to sleep in a somewhat seated position, rather than my usual on my side preference. Thankfully, by Thursday the pain was almost gone – I reckon the heat wrap and hot water bottle helped ease things up. When I spoke to the Physio, we decided I need to be more mindful of my posture at work and move about when possible.

Shoulder Physiotherapy (2nd appointment)

On Thursday, I had my second shoulder physio appointment. I was a bit worried, because I hadn’t done my exercises for a week. But my Physio confirmed I’d made good progress, with increased strength and range of movement. I was given a couple of new exercises and encouraged to think about re-introducing swimming when I feel more Covid-safe.

Me after my individual 5 km charity swim (Swimathon, 2012)

Histamine update

On Friday, I had a phone appointment with my doctor. I updated I’d received my Allergy Clinic referral and had booked the first available appointment, but it’s not until the end of August. I explained I’m often taking the Loratadine antihistamine twice a day (instead of once) to minimise symptoms. So, since my mast cell stabiliser prescription is unavailable, we decided to try a combo of two antihistamines with different active ingredients – Loratadine in the morning and Cetirizine before bed.

Ben Cooks Plants (incredibly well)

I decided there wasn’t any point in writing about my homemade meals this week, because there wasn’t anything new and they were completely overshadowed by the massive food treat I had on Sunday. I’d headed over to Tina and Ben’s garden for the afternoon and was invited to stay for dinner. Now there’s absolutely no way I could decline Ben’s cooking – it’s my favourite! How fortunate I am to have a friend who is not only a vegan chef (fence replacer too – Week 82), but also up for the challenge of producing a low histamine meal. I have to say it was as excellent as my memory remembered his meals to be – so yeah, superb! You can check Ben’s food out on Instagram at Ben Cooks Plants:

Ben’s food. Check out this spread! I could eat the four dishes to the left, because Ben made them low histamine for me – thank you!
Ben’s food, closer. Clockwise: The dishes I could eat. Pulpo a la Gallega (palm hearts replace octopus). Courgette and cucumber salad. Serrano ‘ham’ with cucumber and mint. (There were also fried peppers with garlic shown, in first photo). Sooo delicious!

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

The amazing food above definitely made me happy and here are a few more things that made me smile…

Al fresco dining with friends:

I really do love socialising and dining outside when the weather is good. I had a lovely Saturday in Tina’s and Ben’s garden. I was only planning on visiting for a couple of hours, but we were having such a good time and the weather was gorgeous and another friend (Mark) arrived in the evening, so I ended up staying until 10.30pm (I’d arrived at 2pm!):

Social in Tina and Ben’s garden (the evenings are still pretty cold!). Left: I was giggling away at how funny Tina and I looked while trying to take a photo of us. Right: A less blurry picture of us

Upcycling old stuff:

There’s something incredibly satisfying about livening up an old item to make it something better than it was originally. In this case, a couple of our outside seat pads had faded to a horrible grey colour in the sun (unfortunately, Mum didn’t take a photo of them before she started her magic). So, instead of just throwing them away, Mum found a design she liked and used her acrylic paints to liven them up. They look great, don’t they?:

Mum’s upcycled seat cushions. Top: The finished product. Bottom: In progress

More kitten cuteness:

On Sunday, I visited Bevy’s and Harry’s garden to get to know their kitten, Loki, better as I’m due to be cat sitting for them. Well, Loki is just adorable, I could watch him for ages – serious kitten cuteness overload! And of course it was wonderful to sit in the sunny garden with Bevy and catch up on each other’s news:

Gorgeous Maine Coon kitten, Loki

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 85
<<<Week 83
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 83: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Broken

Image: Noupload, Pixabay

Home
<<<Week 82

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

I’ve come to accept that these posts may have to be briefer nowadays to fit with my work life. But honestly, I still love sharing my diary with you all. Also, I hope you benefit from my posts, whether you find them helpful or just interesting. So let me update you about this week’s occurrences…

The Histamine Struggles

The histamine saga is ongoing. Here’s the latest…

Stinky people:

During lockdown I’d almost forgotten how much of an issue I have with people’s perfume products. Over the past two weeks, this has been a particular struggle at work – I’ve had a constant burning and itchy sensation in my nose, despite coating my nostrils (inside and out – yea, yuck!) with loads of Vaseline (it helped) and wearing a mask. This suggests to me that my mast cells (histamine releasers) are being over-dramatic, reacting unnecessarily. To enable me to function, I took an extra dose of my antihistamine, Loratadine (once in the morning and again in the evening) – I will inform my Doctor in case she has any concerns about this.

Our Border Collie boy, Shep, making friends with a goat, or perhaps they’re just intrigued by each other’s whiff (1988)

No-go prescription:

You may remember, I was excited last week to report I’d been prescribed a mast cell stabiliser to help with my histamine issues. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to obtain this medication and I don’t know why exactly – the Pharmacy seemed kind of cagey. I went into the Pharmacy on three days to try to collect my prescription and was told it was on order and then when my Mum went while I was at work, they told her they could no longer obtain it from the supplier and that I had to go back to my Doctor. So, I completed another e-Consult form requesting an alternative. To be continued…

And… My Back

I swear I’m falling apart! I woke up on Friday morning in agony with my back – I haven’t had this happen before. It felt like a combination of a trapped nerve (radiating from my back through to my side and ribs), a muscle knot and a tender bruise-like feeling. Even breathing hurt, until the pain eventually eased a bit. I somehow made it out of bed, but I couldn’t bend down to carry my laundry to the washing machine. I thought I was over the worst, until on Saturday afternoon the pain started increasing again. It got unbearable when I was in the shower – I struggled to seat myself on the side of the bath and was stuck there for about half an hour before I could move again. I’ll let you know how it progressed…

More Easy Meals

Once again, I had no energy to spend time in the kitchen creating new dishes. Instead I opted for easy options like simple fusilli pasta (with sweetcorn and onion), filled pittas (e.g. burgers) and leftover freezer options (e.g. roast). Once, Mum cooked me up some fennel steaks and homemade chips/fries – always a treat:

Some of my easy meals. Clockwise: Quinoa & rice burger (from freezer) in salad pitta. Simple pasta (fusilli, sweetcorn, red onion, Italian herbs, turmeric, sweet paprika & cold-pressed rapeseed oil). Mum’s fennel steak and homemade chips. Leftover roast items from the freezer (roast & sweet potato, courgettes & stuffing)

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Here’s a few things that made me smile this week…

Interesting people:

I know I’ve already said this, but I’m particularly enjoying the social aspect of being back at work. And the thing about where I’m working (Covid vaccine centre), means that you get to meet a wide range of different people, with one great thing in common – wanting to support the community and reduce the spread of Covid-19. This includes quite a few retired health professionals (including a skateboarding former WHO medic, and retired midwife vegan of 40 years), loads of people furloughed from airlines or cruise ships, a wedding photographer, lighting engineer (working for bands touring the World) and even a Baroness opera singer – amazing! Who knows who else I’ll get to meet…

Me ready for work (Week 81)

A good excuse:

I was feeling a bit sorry for myself over the weekend because of my painful back. But then I decided to appreciate having time to myself in the cosy house where I was cat sitting during this rainy weather, along with a decent excuse not to move much and just binge watch Netflix – it could be worse, right?:

Netflix binge. Image: Tumisu, Pixabay

Peculiar cats:

My friend Tina likes me to cat sit for her “fur baby”, Buddy, when she’s away – apparently, he likes me. It’s been a long time since I’ve spent time with this guy, so I wasn’t sure how he’d react when I looked after him over the weekend. On the first evening, I couldn’t understand why Buddy was sat outside on the window ledge glaring in at me and ignoring my offer for him to come back inside (via the door). I messaged Tina, who explained he wanted to come in via the window and would therefore refuse the door option. Cats are so peculiarly funny:

Buddy cat glaring at me through the window

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 84
<<<Week 82
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 82: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Another Quickie

Image: Catherine Nikitenko, Pixabay

Home
<<<Week 81

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate. This is just a quick check-in to say “hi”, provide a little update and share some of the things that made me smile this week…

NHS Covid Administrator – Week 3

I’m pleased (and relieved) to report that I’m still enjoying working in the Covid vaccine centre. Interacting with people again is great.

Histamine Issues (continued)

On Friday, I had another phone appointment with my Doctor to reassess my histamine issues (mostly chronic rhinitis). I was pleased that she agreed to prescribe mast cell stabilisers for two weeks, initially. Most excitingly, the Doctor agreed to refer me to Immunology for further investigation.

Convenient Dinner: Vegetable Pasta

I haven’t been creative in the kitchen since I started back at work. Instead, I’ve concentrated more on easy meals. One of these was batch cooking a load of vegetable fusilli pasta. I just added sweet white onion, garlic, sweetcorn, courgette, baby peppers, chia and hemp seeds, dried Italian herb seasoning, turmeric, and sweet paprika with a cold-pressed rapeseed and flaxseed oil dressing – simple yet satisfying:

Enjoying my batch cooked vegetable pasta from the freezer with a ‘cheesy’ garlic pitta

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And here’s a few of this week’s smile provokers…

My new garden fence:

Last week I told you about how the storms had blown down my fence (it was already in a sorry state). How wonderful it was on Monday to get a message from my friend, Ben, with a photo to say the fence was up. Such a load off my mind:

My garden fence. Left: Before. Right: After

New Starling family arrivals:

One morning, we were sat on the driveway looking out at the pond when a load of Starling birds flew in. The new Starling youngsters were quite sweet, but I think we can expect some noisy squabbles in the near future:

Starling youngsters looking unsure about how to deal with the bird feeder
The Starlings enjoying the driveway buffet

Rainbow:

We’ve had a lot of rain and general rubbish weather recently. This time last year, I was out in the sunshine loads. But, at least at the end of the week, I looked out of the window and saw a rainbow, which brightened my day – I do love a rainbow:

I can see a rainbow

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 83
<<<Week 81
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 81: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Stormy Spring

Stormy Spring clouds on my walk back from physio

Home
<<<Week 80

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

NHS Covid Administrator – Week 2

I successfully completed my second week as a Covid Administrator. I’m enjoying the social interaction and having a variety of tasks: Check-in, directing people into assessment or vaccine bays and working in the vaccine bays. The vaccine bays were particularly interesting – I checked and updated patient records and distracted nervous people. Also, I had the opportunity to observe syringes being prepared and vaccines being given – I can’t believe that I can handle this now – a few years ago there’s no way I could. And, during down-times I chatted to some inspiring vaccinators from a variety of backgrounds.

Physiotherapy

I received a phone call on Tuesday, offering me an in-person physiotherapy appointment the next day. I really liked my physiotherapist, Arienne, who asked lots of questions and made me feel listened to. Arienne tested me for nerve damage (all seems fine) and assessed my range of movement and strength – I can’t believe how much strength I’ve lost in my damaged shoulder/arm. I found out there’s no such thing as a locked rotator cuff – I’m sure that’s what A&E told me I had (I’d wondered why I couldn’t find anything about it online). It was decided the exercises I’d been trying to do were too advanced for my current situation, so some new ones were assigned. I’m back for another session in a couple of weeks. I now feel a lot more confident that my shoulder will eventually heal.

New physio exercises to improve the range of movement in my shoulder and arm

Easy, Convenient Dinners

I haven’t had much energy for cooking since I started work, so thank goodness for simple options and frozen batch-cooked food. My go-to post-work light dinner is a simple filled pitta of Violife ‘cheese’ slices, Quorn ‘ham’ slices and salad – simple yet tasty (but admittedly a histamine risk). One evening, I added frozen cooked veg and notomato sauce to noodles and topped them with spring onion. Noodles are really convenient; so, another time I accompanied them with a simple macadamia sauce (macadamia butter, oat milk, garlic granules, mixed herbs and sweet paprika) and served them with a side of coated cauliflower wings from the freezer. I also made a cheesy vegetable pasta using frozen cauliflower and broccoli cheese, carrots and sweetcorn – convenient and delicious:

My easy dinners: Clockwise: ‘Cheese’, ‘ham’ and salad pitta. Vegetable noodles in notomato sauce. Macadamia noodles with cauliflower wings. Cheesy vegetable fusilli pasta

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

As always, I’m happy to share a few things that made me smile this week…

Kind freebies:

I ordered some supplies from the Vegan Kind Supermarket. They added some free vanilla custard and chickpea fusilli to my delivery – how kind:

Vegan Kind Supermarket freebies: Vanilla custard and chickpea fusilli

Helpful friends:

I received a message from my tenants to say that my garden fence had fallen down in the storm. I must say this was not a smile provoker, but what did make me smile was that one of my friends replied to my Facebook shout-out and confirmed he could help rectify the problem:

Fence down: My poor garden fence finally came down in the most recent storm

Catch-ups:

The stormy weather meant that I couldn’t meet up with Bevy in person. This is another situation that could have been seen as a negative. But, meeting online meant that we got to chat with Charlotte too – and we had such a great much-needed catch up. And, at the end of the week, I had an online chat with Dawn, a like-minded new(ish) friend:

Great friends: Charlotte, me and Bevy (my Mexican-themed party, 2011)

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 82
<<<Week 80
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 80: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Back to Work

Back to work: Me looking a little dazed by the prospect

“The best way to enjoy your job is to imagine yourself without one”

Oscar Wilde

Home
<<<Week 79

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences. Firstly, I must apologise for the delayed post – a couple of unexpected situations and general work tiredness slowed me down.

I started working for the NHS

I was nervous (but also massively excited) about starting work as a Covid Administrator in a vaccine centre. I’d been a University Disability Adviser until mid-2017 when I took voluntary redundancy to complete my studies full-time. After graduating at the end of 2019, I’d intended to have a few months break. And then Covid-19 emerged and I contracted it mid-March 2020 (read my story here), leaving me with some lingering symptoms delaying my return to work.

I had no idea how I would handle my fatigue, despite only working three days a week (just over six hours each shift). I worked Wednesday to Friday and was hugely relieved I was okay, but I spent much of my weekend sleeping before my next shift on Monday. My shift pattern will settle down soon, so I’ll be able to develop a routine.

I worked on check-in, where I welcomed and booked-in people for their vaccine, before directing them to the assessment queue. I’m hoping to work in the vaccine bays soon. What I’ve absolutely loved is being around people again.

Me dressed for work: NHS vaccine support staff

I lost weight

I was hoping that being back at work would increase my activity levels and halt my recent creeping weight gain. When I weighed myself on Monday, I’d lost 2.2 lb (1 kg) in weight after my first working week despite being sat down most of the time – yay! My shift timings mean I miss a meal at work, so that must have helped. And I probably burnt a few calories trying to keep warm, as the building was well ventilated (rightfully so).

Medical updates: Histamine and clicking jaw

I missed a phone call from my Doctor to review my histamine issues, whilst I was at work. So, this meant another e-Consult form to request a set time to speak to my Doctor. Hopefully I’ll hear back soon.

Also, I had a dentist appointment to shave down one of my teeth to reduce a heavy bite. Hopefully this will stop my jaw from clicking so much and improve bone repair from an extra tooth previously removed. Thankfully, it was a simple process – no anaesthetic required and over quickly. I’ll be interested to see if my jaw does stop clicking.

Pre-work breakfast: Baked oats and quinoa flakes

Now that I’m working, I either miss lunch or dinner, because of my shift timings. My employers provide sandwiches and snacks, but sadly I can’t eat these (except the apples) because of my low histamine, gluten free and vegan diet. I just take dry foods (popcorn, crackers, nuts) to snack on during a break and eat filling pre-work meals. My pre-work breakfast was baked oats and quinoa flakes with apple and blueberries, topped with macadamia butter (details here) – super filling, dessert-like breakfast – yum!:

Baked oats and quinoa flakes with apple and blueberries (and other goodies)

Pre-work lunch: Pasta salad in macadamia butter

My pre-work filling lunch also incorporated my trusty, newly discovered quinoa flakes and macadamia butter. This time I made a fusilli (brown rice) pasta salad – I have an idea on how to improve it next time, but I must say, I was impressed with this creation (details here):

Pasta salad with macadamia nut butter and quinoa flakes – so filling!

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Here’s a few of this week’s smile provokers…

Real-life people:

What really made me smile this week was interacting with people in real-life – returning to work and seeing friends. It was wonderful to meet in Karen’s garden for the first time this year (and the bonus was it was daylight, initially) instead of on Zoom. We had a lovely catch-up (myself, Karen, Julie and Chrissy) and a calming mindfulness session led by Chrissy:

Garden meet-up and mindfulness (Week 47)

The talented Mr Blackbird:

Our blackbird friends have been incredibly busy with nest maintenance and feeding. Mummy Bird and a male were collecting mud and sticks from the pond, flying back-and-forth to a nest somewhere behind our house. Our blackbird friends have also been enjoying the abundance of worms in our garden and the buffet we provide on the driveway for the ground-feeding birds. But impressively, Mr Blackbird has also figured out how to hang from the bird feeder to obtain extra sustenance:

Mr Blackbird demonstrating his skills

Super Moon:

I awoke Tuesday morning (27 April) at 4.30am to a huge, clear moon lighting up my room. Unfortunately, my photo attempts didn’t do it justice, so you’ll have to take my word that it was gorgeous. I found out later this was a super pink moon. I didn’t notice it being pink, but then the one shown below isn’t obviously pink either:

Super pink moon. Image: TheOtherKev, Pixabay

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 81
<<<Week 79
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate