Health Diary Week 63: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

A Brief Update…

Me Outside CommuniKate, Wales Trip (2005)

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Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate. Unlike my usual posts, this will be a briefer one, as I’m taking a bit of a break, which means I’m not keeping a diary for a few weeks. I still want to continue communicating with you all though, so I’ll report my weekly results and share some positivity.

What’s New

All-in-all it’s been a very quiet week.

Hello 2021:

Happy New Year everyone! Wishing you all much happiness and success in 2021. Unsurprisingly, given the circumstances, I had an incredibly tame New Year’s Eve – just my parents and I at home watching TV. Very different to last year’s rowdy night at the pub. It was pleasant enough though. I opted for one cheeky alcoholic beverage – Polish potato-based vodka with cranberry juice:

My vodka and cranberry juice indulgence

UK Covid-19 Cases Rising:

As expected, Covid-19 cases (especially the new variant) are rapidly increasing. So, there’s been more movement into the top Tier 4 restrictions (I was already in this), which is very close to a localised lockdown. Thankfully, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for use in the UK, which is great as it is more easily distributed than the current Pfizer one. Frustratingly, it sounds like it may take quite some time to trickle down to me, but I’ll be happier when my parents have been vaccinated.

Food and Nutrition

So, I didn’t keep a food diary this week – it was nice to have a break from tracking everything so closely. I was a bit lax on managing my histamine levels – although I mostly opted for low histamine foods, I did indulge in chocolate, ‘cheese’ and bread. So, I kept dosed up on medication to control most symptoms (I experienced some fatigue and nausea) – not the best method, but it’s only temporary.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I was completely surprised that I didn’t gain weight and body fat this week! Instead, I lost 1.8 lb (0.8 kg) and 0.3% body fat – amazing! I didn’t feel like I ate less or more healthily, so was I more active? I checked my Active 10 results for the past couple of weeks – I walked 66 minutes more compared to Week 62 and an extra 52 minutes were brisk walking. Maybe that swung it?:

Week 63 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Despite this being a shorter version of my usual post, I still wanted to share some of my week’s positive experiences with you all …

Storytime:

I absolutely love Pretty Pretty Good Short Fiction’s short stories, so I was really pleased to see a new release “Once upon a time… long, long ago…”. I look forward to the daily chapter publications, although sometimes I save them up for a good binge read. This tale was a little different to the previous love stories; instead, it was written from a child’s perspective, focused on homemade cookies made with mum. I could totally relate to this, as I fondly remember my sister and I baking cookies with our Mum and wanting to eat the lot immediately!:

My sister and I baking with Mum at Christmas time (actually, I just seem to be running around!), Tortola, BVI, late 1980’s (One of my favourite photos ever, because of the memories)

Delightful Nuts:

Macadamia nuts are one of the three types of nuts I know I can consume on a low histamine diet. Sadly, I wasn’t that keen on them despite their creaminess. As shared in Week 62, I was delighted to discover they work really well as a flavoured ‘cheese’, my favourite being onion, garlic and herb (ingredients here). I’d had some leftover in the freezer, so I decided to try it as a pasta sauce with added spring onion and sweet paprika (details here) – so delicious – I’m actually craving cheesy pasta now just thinking about it!:

Macadamia nut ‘cheese’. Clockwise: Cheesy pasta. Macadamia nuts. Crackers and bits with macadamia cheese. Macadamia ‘cheese’ spread

Snow – Well, a Little:

What a wonderful surprise to awake to snowfall on Tuesday morning, especially since we rarely get snow in these parts of the UK (video here). I threw on my dressing gown and hurried outside to enjoy the large clumps falling from the sky. I’m glad I went outside to appreciate it, as the snow didn’t settle and soon disappeared:

Snowy Morning. Left: Snowy sky. Right: Me in the snow soon after rolling out of bed

Princess Ariel:

I updated my Facebook profile picture and had a surprising load of likes and lovely comments. My favourite comment was my friend who said her young daughter was watching her scroll through the feed and asked if I was Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid – how adorable and incredibly flattering. To be fair, this isn’t how I look day-to-day – I’m usually somewhere in between ‘just-rolled-out-of-bed’ (above) and ‘made a proper effort’ (below):

Princess Ariel? Left: My latest profile picture. Right: Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid (Image: peridotmaize, 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 Wednesday for another catch up.

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Health Diary Week 61: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Unexpected Delights

Rainbow Spotted during my Walk

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

What’s New

Okay, I’m starting with a heads-up – I’m unsure exactly when I’ll post week 62 results, what with Christmas happening. It might just be that I post a slimmer version than usual (I might not be slimmer though!).

I’m happy (and relieved) to report I had a minimal rhinitis week – Yippee! 

My most exciting news (for me anyway) is that I have an NHS job interview for the position of Occupational Health and Wellbeing Practitioner. Honestly, I was surprised to be shortlisted, but having said that, this job sounds very me and the more I think about it, the more I want it. So, fingers crossed I perform well and impress the interview panel.

The big national news (not good news sadly) came on Saturday – the Prime Minister announced there’s a new SARS-COV-2 variant in the UK and it’s around 70% more transmissible than previous strains. Sooo, the plan for easing restrictions for five days over Christmas were changed to just Christmas Day. And they’ve introduced a Tier 4[1], which is pretty much a localised lockdown – anyone in this Tier misses out on Christmas mixing. I’m fortunate to be in Tier 2[1] (for now) and we didn’t have much in the way of Christmas plans, but it must be horrible for those finding themselves in these last-minute circumstances.

Tier System. Image: Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms via BBC News

Food and Nutrition

Okay, let’s have a look at what food was on my plate, the healthy and not so healthy choices and identify any tweaks I could make to improve my nutrition…

Breakfast:

I opted for a light breakfast of just three Brazil nuts twice, just because I didn’t fancy much. I had corn cakes with apricot and/or blackcurrant jams three times – I prefer the taste of corn cakes to rice cakes. I ate porridge oats just once with apple, chia seeds, maple syrup and sweet cinnamon. My favourite breakfast was mango – it’s low histamine and I tolerated it well (phew!):

Week 61 Breakfasts. Left to right: Mango. Corn cakes with jam. Porridge oats with apple

Lunch:

Lunches were either my pasta (three times) or salad (four times) accompanied by some form of cornmeal (no surprise there). Once, I made a tasty cornmeal-based frittata with red potatoes, Winter cabbage and sweet white onion – delicious. The salad typically contains leaves, radishes, cucumber, celery and spring onion with a sweet paprika and rapeseed oil dressing. My simple pasta (twice) just contains sweetcorn, onion, turmeric, sweet paprika and rapeseed oil. But on Sunday I got a bit snazzier and added courgette and grated carrot – tasty:

Week 61 Lunches. My New Typical Salad with Polenta (left to right: bites, balls, frittata)

Dinner:

All but two of my meals were utilised from previous batch-cooking – whenever I cook something, I try to have at least one extra portion left to freeze for days when I don’t have time to or feel like cooking. This week I used up my vegetable spring rolls, sweet potato chips and wedges, cauliflower bites, cauliflower ‘cheese’ and my unusual paella. I’d fancied vegetable paella, but didn’t have the typical ingredients, so I just used what I had – yellow pepper, purple sprouting broccoli, Winter cabbage, sweetcorn, celery and sweet white onion… and it tasted great. One evening Mum treated me to some homemade chips, which I had with a spring roll and not tomato sauce:

Week 61 Dinners: Left to right: Spring Roll with Sweet Potato Chips and Cauliflower Bites. Unusual Paella. Mum’s Chips with Spring Roll

Snacks:

Popcorn continues to be my go-to snack, especially the sweet and salty variety. Other snacks included corn cakes with jam, nuts and crackers. I took a risk on Monday and helped myself to a handful of ‘cheese’ and onion crisps I’d found that were open (may contain histamine) – there didn’t seem to be any adverse effects:

Week 61 Snacks Log Table

Drinks

I drank loads of Chicory Cup – up to four cups a day. I had a rooibos tea and apple concentrate once. I took a risk on Friday and had a tiny sip of Mum’s glass of red wine (high histamine content) – it tasted so good. My vodka order arrived (moderate histamine, so I need to be careful) – I really wanted a potato-based vodka, but I couldn’t find any in the UK – they’re mostly wheat. Instead, I settled for quinoa and white rice. I’d ordered the vodka for Christmas and my Birthday but decided to try it and poured myself a double topped with ice – it was so strong and took me two hours to drink!:

Week 61 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

Go me! – I got myself out for a walk every day this week, despite there being quite a lot of rainy days – somehow, I managed to dodge the worst of it. Once I went for a walk with my neighbour, Elise – it was good to have a catch up. So, unsurprisingly, I improved on last week’s total exercise – nearly four and a half hours this week compared to just over two hours the week before:

Week 61 Exercise: Left to right: Squirrel. My Week’s Active 10 Walks. Red Leaves

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Wow! 2.6 lb (1.2 kg) weight loss and 0.9% body fat reduction – I’m very happy with that. This brings me down to 158.6 lb (71.9 kg), so back under the 160 lb mark – yay! It seems that just little tweaks of getting out for a walk each day and being more mindful about how much rapeseed oil I add to my meals made a positive impact. Talking about positive…:

Week 61 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

It’s been a positive week (apart from the latest virus stuff), so of course there’s been lots to smile about. Here’s a few things that brightened up my life…

Journal Club:

MyNutriWeb hosted its third Journal Club with Dr Gemma Walton leading the discussion. The research paper[2] we critiqued reported on a randomised control trial that found a specific probiotic mix (Lactobacillus gasseri PA 16/8, Bifidobacterium longum SP 07/3 and Bifidobacterium bifidum MF 20/5) reduced cold virus symptoms by two days. We discussed how specific bacterial species and strain (as opposed to just genus) were important for health outcomes. In hindsight, I’d also be interested to know which cold virus(es) the participants had, because there’s loads of different ones and I wonder whether this would make a difference in how patients responded to the probiotics mix:  

MyNutriWeb Journal Club. Images: Right: MyNutriWeb Instagram Post. Left: My Certificate of Attendance

Garage Social:

Excitingly, the garage door has been fixed – we haven’t been able to use it for a couple of months. This is fantastic news, because I could meet-up with Bevy, even though it was pouring with rain – we were nicely sheltered in the garage doorway:

A Working Garage Door – Yay!

My Little Elf Friend:

Mum and I went for a drive to hand deliver some Christmas cards. One such recipient was Tina. When Tina opened the door, it brought a smile to my face, as I was impressed by Tina’s cute elf attire. And, it was lovely to have a quick doorstep chat:

Tina the Christmas Elf

Rainbow Delight:

I was out walking with my friend, Elise, when we spotted this delightful rainbow in the park. There was a hint of a second rainbow above it:

Beautiful Rainbow on a Grey Rainy Day

Random Happiness:

I had a message from a new Instagram contact, @majellarohan, informing me that I’d been randomly chosen for a positivity quote. How lovely:

Random happiness message from @majellarohan

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. Wishing you all a happy holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

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References

1. GOV.UK, 2020. Guidance: Local restriction tiers: what you need to know.
2. de Vresea et al., 2006. Probiotic bacteria reduced duration and severity but not the incidence of common cold episodes in a double blind, randomized, controlled trial.

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Guest Blog: Mythbusting the Coronavirus Vaccine

By Alice Taylor

9th October 2020 (updated 13th November 2020)

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Introduction

Hello! I’m Katey’s cousin Alice and I’ve spent 10 years working in the clinical trials industry. As you can imagine, over the past few months I’ve been following the news of coronavirus vaccine development closely, both from a personal and professional point of view. More recently, I’ve also seen alarming claims about the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine go viral on social media and am concerned that these claims may harm efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

A misleading message about the vaccine that was shared on my road’s coronavirus support WhatsApp group. I have seen many similar messages posted on other social media platforms.

I’ve written this article to explain more about the changes the UK government are proposing to make to existing vaccine legislation, and how these changes would apply to a coronavirus vaccine specifically, to try and combat misinformation.

To clarify, the organisation I work for now doesn’t have a potential coronavirus vaccine in development.

What is a vaccine?

A vaccine is a type of drug which is designed to prevent someone from getting a disease, rather than treating a disease once someone has already caught it. Vaccines work by teaching the immune system to fight against a weakened version of a disease, which is unable to cause the disease itself. This means that if the actual disease ever shows up in the body, the immune system will recognise it and can defeat it quickly before it causes any problems. Watch this video[1] for more information.

The World Health Organisation estimates that vaccines prevent 2 – 3 million deaths globally each year from diseases like diptheria, tetanus and pertussis[2].

How is the UK government proposing to change the law with regards to a coronavirus vaccine?

The British government published a consultation paper on the 28th August 2020[3], which lists changes they are proposing to make to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012[4]. This law governs the licensing, manufacture, wholesale dealing and sale or supply of medicines for human use. The consultation paper was addressed to key people and organisations with specialist knowledge of public health and the existing law, although anyone was welcome to comment on it.

The 2012 Regulations already state that exemptions to certain aspects of this law can be made for medicines used to treat a pandemic disease, like COVID-19. However, the law doesn’t currently allow any exemptions for medicines used to prevent pandemic disease, so a coronavirus vaccine would not be covered by the existing legislation. As the government believes an effective COVID-19 vaccine will be the best way to deal with the pandemic[5], they are proposing to change the law in several ways to make widespread rollout as easy as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about the proposal, based on comments I have seen on social media. Note, these questions and answers only cover this particular proposal – I haven’t tried to predict any further changes the UK government may consider, or how other countries may choose to roll out a vaccine.

If the coronavirus vaccine is unlicensed, does that mean it hasn’t been tested?

No, ‘unlicensed’ doesn’t mean ‘untested’. All drugs in the UK have to go through three phases of clinical trial testing to prove the drug is safe and effective before they can be rolled out more widely, and this is true of every potential coronavirus vaccine too. There are currently over 40 different coronavirus vaccines being developed by scientists all over the world, in various stages of the testing process[6].

It usually takes a really long time, sometimes up to 10 years, for all three clinical trial phases to be completed. As the COVID-19 pandemic is an urgent, global threat, the testing process is being sped up by overlapping some of these phases. (Check out a really useful diagram which illustrates this here[7].) This is a much more difficult and expensive way of conducting clinical trials, which is why this isn’t the normal process. Although the trial phases for potential coronavirus vaccines are being accelerated, in the UK the testing itself within each phase is no less strict than it would be under normal circumstances. At each phase, if there isn’t enough data to show a coronavirus vaccine is sufficiently safe or effective to move on to the next phase, that vaccine will be abandoned.

Licensing is the stage that takes place after these three trial phases have been completed, where the licensing authority (the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency [MHRA] in the UK) reviews all the trial data. It then decides whether the drug should be granted a license, and what patient population, disease indication and dosage that license covers. If a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine is available, as proven by clinical trial data, the manufacturer will still have to apply for a license from the MHRA. However, given the circumstances, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (who advises UK health departments on immunisation)[8] will advise the UK government to proceed with coronavirus vaccine rollout before a license has been granted if they believe there is strong enough evidence to do so.

Could I sue the drug company or the person administering the coronavirus vaccine if I had a bad reaction after receiving it?

Generally speaking, no. The law already protects drug manufacturers from being sued in the civil courts when the licensing authority recommends that an unlicensed product is used in response to a public health threat. The government is proposing to expand this legal protection slightly to include drug companies who want to put an unlicensed product on the market, where that drug company is not the manufacturer of the drug – as is the case with several of the potential coronavirus vaccines, which are being developed by universities rather than drug companies.

You couldn’t sue the person administering the vaccine either. The law already protects people administering licensed vaccines from being sued, on the understanding that it isn’t their fault if someone has a bad reaction after vaccination (provided they administered the vaccine correctly). The government wants to amend this part of the law to include people administering unlicensed vaccines too, for the same reason.

You could still sue the drug company if the vaccine is defective, with defective defined as not as safe as you are entitled to expect. Likewise, you could still sue the person who gave you the vaccine if you could prove it was administered incorrectly.

Could I claim compensation from the government if I had a bad reaction after receiving the coronavirus vaccine?

This isn’t yet clear. The government does currently operate a compensation scheme called the Vaccine Damage Payment[9] for people who are severely disabled as a result of vaccination. Individuals are only eligible for this payment, given as a one-off tax-free sum of up to £120,000, if their severe disability was caused by vaccination against certain specific diseases. The government hasn’t yet clarified if coronavirus will be added to this list of diseases. 

Will the people administering the coronavirus vaccine be unqualified or non-medical?

No, the people administering the vaccine will be qualified. Given the huge number of people who would have to be vaccinated in as short a timeframe as possible, the government wants to amend the law to allow healthcare professionals who do not normally vaccinate, e.g. midwifes, physiotherapists and paramedics, to be able to administer a coronavirus vaccine. The group of people allowed to administer a coronavirus vaccine may be expanded further to also include those who are not registered healthcare professionals. In all cases, there would be a detailed protocol to follow to ensure all of these people are appropriately trained via an NHS approved training programme before they may start vaccinating.

The people administering the coronavirus vaccine most likely will be non-medical – just as they are now when it comes to other vaccines. ‘Non-medical’ means anyone except doctors or dentists, so that includes pharmacists and nurses, who administer most vaccines like the flu jab already[10].

Will the coronavirus vaccine be mandatory or mass promoted?

No, the proposed changes to the law do not include plans to make a coronavirus vaccine, or any vaccine, mandatory in the UK.

The government is planning mass promotion of the coronavirus vaccine in a similar way to how they promote the flu vaccine. It is already legal for vaccination campaigns to be advertised to the public, but the vaccines in these campaigns currently have to be licensed. The proposed changes would allow the promotion of an unlicensed, temporarily authorised COVID-19 vaccine.

Will the coronavirus vaccine be 100% safe?

No, no vaccine is 100% safe. The underlying principle behind a coronavirus vaccine, same as any other vaccine, will be that vaccinating is safer than not vaccinating[11]. People can and do suffer bad reactions from vaccines and this is unquestionably terrible for those affected. However, this is a very, very small proportion of the total number of people who receive vaccines, the vast majority of whom experience no significant side effects. Given the potentially fatal consequences of COVID-19[12] – as well as serious long-term effects aka ‘long covid’[13] – and provided that there is very robust scientific evidence to support it, the government would deem the benefits of taking a coronavirus vaccine to far outweigh the risks. It is up to individuals to decide if they agree.

Update: Consultation Outcome (added 13-Nov-20)

The government published the outcome to their public consultation on proposed changes to the Human Medicines Regulations on the 16th October[14]. Based on the 191,740 responses received, the government will go ahead with drafting legislation to amend the existing law as they had outlined, and as summarised above, with 3 key changes:

1. Attaching conditions to a temporarily authorised vaccine

The consultation outcome emphasises that although the existing law contains a provision that enables the temporary authorisation of an unlicensed medicine in response to a public health emergency, this provision should only be used in truly exceptional circumstances. The decision to use this provision will only be used at the request of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if the MHRA advises that there is robust evidence to demonstrate that the vaccine is sufficiently safe and effective. The government has amended the proposed changes to say that a review must be done within a year of the first use of this provision in order to evaluate the whole process, but they note that they expect any temporary authorisation to be short-term anyway as it would cease as soon as a full license is granted.

2. Extending immunity from civil liability

Many people responding to the consultation were concerned that pharmaceutical companies would not be held accountable for any problems with the vaccine (e.g. serious side effects). The consultation outcome explains that the existing law already recognises that it is unreasonable to ask drug companies to take on the liability for consequences of the government’s decision to authorise the supply of an unlicensed drug. However, the outcome stresses that you would still be able to sue the drug company who make the vaccine in the event of a ‘sufficiently serious breach’ of the approval conditions set by the government. Where the original consultation proposed that the courts would judge the seriousness of any breaches of the approval conditions from the perspective of a pharmaceutical company, the outcome states that the courts must instead make this judgement from the point of view of a person who has ‘relevant expertise in the subject matter of the breach’.

3. Expansion of the workforce

The consultation outcome makes it clear that new vaccinators must undergo comprehensive training and pass a competency assessment, under the clinical supervision of a healthcare professional, before they can administer vaccines to patients. Based on the consultation feedback, the government has added a requirement for new vaccinators to receive continued supervision by an experienced vaccinator, where appropriate, once this training is complete.

The outcome also clarifies that vaccinators must obtain informed consent from each person receiving the coronavirus vaccine before it is administered, as is standard practice now for all other vaccines or indeed any kind of medical treatment, test or examination[15]. This underlines that the coronavirus vaccine will not be mandatory – it will only be administered to people who voluntarily consent to receive it, after they have been fully informed of all potential benefits and risks.

Vaccine Information Resources

If you’re looking for further information on vaccines and the coronavirus vaccine in particular, try the following links:

  • The Oxford University Vaccine Knowledge Project[16] – an excellent resource recommended by the NHS for all kinds of clear, general information about vaccines, with detail on those which make up the UK immunisation schedule.
  • Full Fact: Coronavirus Treatment[17] – Full Fact is a charity based in the UK which addresses a wide range of viral misinformation. Their expansive coronavirus coverage includes responses to claims that RNA vaccines change your DNA, and that Bill Gates is planning to put microchips in COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center: Vaccines FAQ[18] Johns Hopkins University in the US has been a brilliant source of coronavirus information from the start of the pandemic. Some common questions about the coronavirus vaccine are answered here, while elsewhere on their vaccines hub they go into detail about COVID-19 vaccine trial design, regulatory integrity of vaccine studies and more.
  • CDC: Busting Myths and Misconceptions about COVID-19 Vaccination[19] – a short but useful piece from the American Centers for Disease Control tackling common COVID-19 vaccine myths.
  • WHO: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Advice for the Public: Mythbusters[20] – a very handy page that pools together a large number of myths about the coronavirus, including the claim that vaccines against pneumonia offer protection against the coronavirus.

I’ve found it a lot harder than I thought it would be to find good resources debunking coronavirus vaccine myths specifically, so I’m not surprised that misinformation about it has been able to spread and take hold among the general public so stubbornly. Speculation, unconfirmed reports and outright lies have filled the hole where reliable information should be. Experts are well aware of this issue and know that it’s essential that it’s dealt with in order for the vaccine to be rolled out successfully[21]. Now the first effective coronavirus vaccine is on the horizon (albeit with many questions still to be answered[22]), hopefully a comprehensive, nationwide myth-busting campaign will follow shortly. In the meantime, if you do see or read something alarming about the coronavirus vaccine, remember to follow advice on how to spot misinformation[23] before you get tricked into believing (and worse, sharing) something untrue.

References

1. https://youtu.be/-muIoWofsCE
2. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/immunization-coverage
3. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/distributing-vaccines-and-treatments-for-covid-19-and-flu
4. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1916/contents/made
5. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/distributing-vaccines-and-treatments-for-covid-19-and-flu/consultation-document-changes-to-human-medicine-regulations-to-support-the-rollout-of-covid-19-vaccines
6. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html
7. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54027269
8. https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/joint-committee-on-vaccination-and-immunisation
9. https://www.gov.uk/vaccine-damage-payment
10. https://www.independentnurse.co.uk/news/health-secretary-draws-ire-of-practice-nurses-over-flu-jab-remarks-1/229985/
11. https://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/vk/vaccine-safety
12. https://ourworldindata.org/mortality-risk-covid
13. https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3489
14. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/distributing-vaccines-and-treatments-for-covid-19-and-flu/outcome/government-response-consultation-on-changes-to-the-human-medicines-regulations-to-support-the-rollout-of-covid-19-vaccines
15. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/consent-to-treatment/
16. http://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/vk/faqs-about-vaccines
17. https://fullfact.org/health/coronavirus/?utm_source=homepage&utm_medium=trending#treatment
18. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/vaccines/vaccines-faq
19. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/about-vaccines/vaccine-myths.html
20. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters
21. https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2020-11-10-covid-19-vaccine-reliable-communications-needed-beat-infodemic-misinformation
22. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-54880084
23. https://fullfact.org/health/how-to-fact-check-coronavirus/

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Article: Probably ‘That’ Coronavirus: My Symptoms

By Katey Watson, July 2020

Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay

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Appendices

Disclaimer: I wasn’t tested for COVID-19, so I don’t know for sure if it was ‘That’ virus; however, I strongly suspect it was – I’ll update this article accordingly if I find out for sure.

Introduction

I thought I’d share my symptoms of ‘probably’ COVID-19 for anyone who’s curious, as I’m interested in peoples’ varied experiences, so I thought you might be too.

Pre-Virus

During the 14 days leading up to my first symptoms (13 March 2020), I had several social contacts: On the 14th day before my symptoms occurred (only 19 total UK COVID-19 cases had been reported in the UK, none in my area) I hosted my open house Birthday party with a total of 20 guests, some travelling from further afield, including London. Over the following days, I went to circuit training, a Jobs Fair in the city centre (I used public transport), local busy pub night, dentist appointments and met two friends from outside my city of residence (two of us used public transport). In hindsight, I’m annoyed with myself for not being more cautious, but then, very few people were at the end of February/early March.

Image: Chris und Alisia Alpinger, Pixabay

Symptoms Summary

Officially recognised symptoms were initially fever and persistent cough. However, more recently, 19 symptoms were identified[1, 2].

I had a wide variety of symptoms, some fading and later re-emerging – some days I felt awful, followed by others when I thought I was recovering, only to relapse a day or so later. I wasn’t ever aware of having a fever and I didn’t realise until day 72 of symptoms that I’d partially lost my sense of smell – my Mum apologised for the overly ripe fruit stink, something that would usually bother me, but I hadn’t noticed it at all. I haven’t included the smell loss below, as I have no idea when it started.

My main symptoms spanned over 67 days. I went through a symptom-free phase between Day 29 and Day 35. At time of writing, it’s Day 112, and I’m still experiencing insomnia and fatigue, although lessening. It’s been an odd and interesting illness, COVID or not!

My Symptoms in Order of Appearance

Headache: Days 1 – 4, 6 – 8 & 10
(Image: mohamed Hassan, Pixabay)
Sore throat: Days 1 – 4, 6 – 8, 12 & 38 – 47
(Image: Ary setyobudi, Pixabay)
Cough (mostly dry): Days 2 – 21, 23 & 36 – 67
(Image: mohamed Hassan, Pixabay)
Breathlessness: Days 4 & 21
(Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay)
Insomnia: Started after waking in the middle of the night unable to breathe. Resultant fatigue & brain fog: Day 4 onwards
(Image by Stephanie Ghesquier from Pixabay)
Gut discomfort: Days 4 – 5, 7 & 9 – 11
(Image: Christian Dorn, Pixabay)
Light-headedness/dizziness: Days 5 & 7
(Image by Stephanie Ghesquier, Pixabay)
Chest tightness/heart pains: Day 7 & Day 21
(Image: mohamed Hassan, Pixabay)
Body aches (mainly back, ribs & kidneys): Days 10 – 27 & 36
(Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)
Impaired hearing: Day 21
(Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay)
Skin burning sensations (right hip, waist & right thigh): Days 27 – 28
(Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay)

I was mostly symptom-free (except insomnia, fatigue and brain fog) on Days 29- 35 and from Day 68 onwards.

Table of My Symptoms in Order of Appearance

Table: Summary of my symptoms & their duration, in order of appearance.

I hope you found this article informative and helpful. For graphical representation and more detailed extracts from my health diary, please click on: Supplementary Information.

Please consider joining the ZOE COVID Symptom Study (endorsed by the NHS) to help track the virus, including emerging hotspots. All you need to do is download the app and report daily on whether or not you feel well – it only takes a minute to complete:

– Apple Store: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/covid-symptom-study/id1503529611
– Google Play store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.joinzoe.covid_zoe&hl=en_US

I hope you found this article interesting and informative. Stay safe.

Image: Elsemargriet, Pixabay

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Appendices

References

1. World Health Organization, 2020. Coronavirus: Symptoms [online]. Available from: www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_3.

2. COVID Symptom Study, 2020. 7 things you need to know about staying safe as lockdown measures begin to lift [online]. Available from: https://covid.joinzoe.com/post/tips-covid-safety.

Health Diary Week 22: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Somewhat Unsettled…

Portrait of my sister (Frida-style) that my Mum painted for art class

<<<Week 21
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Hey everyone. I hope you’re keeping well. Welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate, health and nutrition updates and some positive smile-provoking experiences…

What’s New

I’ll admit I’ve had a week with feelings of anxiety sometimes creeping in – but then haven’t most of us? It wasn’t helped by becoming unwell last week, starting with a headache, sore throat and gut ache, later with further symptoms of light-headedness, dry cough, slightly tight chest and body aches (no fever). It wasn’t a cold, so I assume it was either mild flu but ‘Probably That Coronavirus’ (no testing for mild cases here yet). Thankfully, at time of writing (Week 23) I’ve progressively felt better.

Me keeping cosy & reading one of my favourite books in the sunny garden during self-isolation

My sleep has been very much disrupted, with late nights, troubled dreams and waking several times. On Saturday night, I woke in the early hours of the morning feeling I couldn’t breathe. I suspect I had a sleep panic attack[1] – panic attacks are highly unusual for me – I was okay after giving myself a calming talk. Usually when I’ve slept poorly, I get hungry and have little willpower, but it wasn’t an issue this week – perhaps a mix of feeling unwell and a bit anxious.

Me asleep, totally exhausted & struggling with altitude sickness at a cafe in Peru after returning from the Inca Trail trek (2008)

Despite feeling a bit rubbish, I was able to occupy my mind through some reading and learning, including a fascinating (free) online NutriWebinar lecture about how diet affects gut microbes and athlete health by Dr Neil Williams from Nottingham Trent University. Next week I start a 3-week (free) online course ‘COVID-19 – Tackling the novel coronavirus’ by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine via Future Learn – I studied ‘Infectious disease and public health’ throughout the final year of my Health Sciences degree, so it’s something I’d be interested in regardless of the current situation.

My continuing professional development certificate: Diet & the gut microbiome in athlete health & performance

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

This week I wasn’t surprised to have lost both body fat and weight – I was expecting to have lost more weight, although on Thursday my weight was at its lowest since this journey started at 164.2 lb (74.5 kg). However, it rose to 165.0 (74.8 kg) by Monday’s weigh-in. Worth noting, is that I haven’t been able to exercise for over a week:

Week 22 results – 10 lb total weight loss – yey!

Food and Nutrition

So, what did I eat? Thankfully, we had plenty of fresh food items that were topped up later in the week with an online delivery. This supported us to consume adequate nutrients, including varied fibre sources – important for helping our gut microbes protect our overall health[2, 3].

Snacks:

Snacking was minimal – once I had mixed unsalted nuts and another time some raw chocolate goji berries.

Breakfast:

I skipped two breakfasts, but others consisted of fruit salad three times, mixed unsalted nuts and a slice of seeded wholegrain toast with coleslaw and tomato – no photos unfortunately.

Lunch:

Lunches were mainly various versions of my My Typical Salad depending on what we had available and once a wholegrain pitta with hummus and slice of toast with coleslaw & beetroot:

Some of my various salad lunches – dependant on what we had available

Dinner:

Our oven temporarily broke – very bad timing given we’re self-isolating! Thankfully it started working again later in the week with a bit of tinkering, but we think it’s ‘on the out’. For dinners: twice we had mixed bean chilli with brown rice, avocado and salsa. A couple of times we had mushroom, pea and potato curry and red lentil dhal with rice. Another meal was  Linda McCartney red onion and rosemary sausage, stuffing, roast potato, butternut squash, carrot, celeriac and griddled courgette with gravy (similar to Week 21). Also a jacket potato with baked beans and red lentil pasta with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

This week’s dinners: Clockwise: Mushroom, pea & potato curry & red lentil dhal with rice. Mixed bean chilli with brown rice, avocado & salsa. Red lentil pasta with extra virgin olive oil & B12 nutritional yeast flakes (‘nooch’). Jacket potato with baked beans. (A fibre fest!).

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

So that’s the news of what’s on my plate. I’d like to finish this post with some photos taken of things that made me smile whilst recuperating in the garden this week. Until next time, take care all…

Making shapes out of clouds (what do you see?) and that beautiful blue sky:

Busy Bee:

Flowers:

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 Wednesday for another catch up.

Week 23>>>
<<<Week 21
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References

1. National Health Service, 2019. Anxiety, fear and panic [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/understanding-panic/.
2. British Nutrition Foundation, 2018. Dietary fibre [online]. Available from: www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/basics/fibre.html.
3. Neyrinck, A., M., Rodriguez, J., Vinoy, S., Maquet, V., Walter, J., Bischoff, S. C., Laville, M. and Delzenne, N. M., 2020. The FiberTAG project: Tagging dietary fibre intake by measuring biomarkers related to the gut microbiota and their interest for health. British Nutrition Foundation: Nutrition Bulletin [online], 45 (1), 59-65. Available from:  https://doi.org/10.1111/nbu.12416.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate: