Health Diary Week 86: Kitten Therapy

Image: Loki, the Maine Coon kitten

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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.

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Health Diary Week 75: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

My Medical Week

I got a Covid vaccine sticker – like when I went to the dentist as a kid

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<<<Week 74

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

Covid vaccine and my side effects

Excitingly, I had my first Covid vaccine, at the centre I should be working in soon (no updates yet about when I’m starting). And I must say, it was well organised – efficient, yet friendly. I was given the AstraZeneca vaccine[1] – the one where concerns were raised about strokes as a possible rare side effect. Personally, I’d rather take the much smaller risk of a stroke than the much larger likelihood of contracting covid and its nasty complications. I mean, have you seen the potential side effects from taking paracetamol?![2]. Interestingly, all I found about this stroke complication (that wasn’t just a media news report) was a science article[3] linking to a research paper based on only nine patients (not yet peer reviewed)[4] with an Editorial note advising that the researchers work for Pfizer – massive potential for bias!: “The authors disclose conflicts of interest, including personal fees from Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies”[4]. They also state “At the time of this posting, the World Health Organization maintains that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommends that vaccinations continue”[4].

So, what happened to me? I had my vaccine at 9.30 am (it just felt like someone touched my arm – easy peasy). At 6.30 pm I started getting shivery – I checked my temperature and it was 36.6o Celsius (C), within the normal range (35.7 – 37.3 o C, 96.3 – 99.1o Fahrenheit (F)). After dinner, I had gut ache and felt a bit nauseous for a couple of hours. I became increasingly shivery and by 8.30 pm I had a low-grade fever of 38.5o C (101.3o F). I took some paracetamol and gradually my temperature and shivering decreased. I became incredibly hot for a while and had a headache. By the morning my temperature had returned to normal, although I needed to take more paracetamol for my headache, but this soon eased up. My most surprising symptom started about the same time as the shivers; I developed pins and needles, and numbness in my right-hand fingers (the arm I chose to have vaccinated as it was already injured) – the information leaflet stated this occurred where there was already nerve inflammation – I guess that makes sense. The next day and onwards, I’ve just had a sore, achy arm. Overall, a small price to pay to hopefully avoid catching Covid-19 (again).

Covid vaccine card (1st dose completed) and new staff ID card (“Covid Administrator” sounds like I’m actually dishing out Covid!)

Clicking jaw

I had dentist check-up and hygienist appointments this week. It feels so weird going inside a building, removing my mask and having someone poke around inside my mouth, when the rest of time I’m being so cautious. I’m pleased to report no fillings were required and my gums were okay. But I have a clicking jaw on my left side (probably a hypermobility thing) – the dentist checks it each visit, but this time, she noted an issue with a “heavy bite” on my right side that could be making it worse, so she wanted to do some research and get back to me. Later that afternoon she phoned and advised the “heavy bite” could be impacting the bone healing from where I’d had an extra tooth removed (right side), so they want to shave it down to reduce the pressure and it may also relieve the clicking – so that’s happening next month.

Antihistamines continued

I had another phone Doctor’s appointment to reassess the histamine intolerance. We agreed the Fexofenadine wasn’t going to work if all formulas contained Allura Red (E129), so I offered to contact the pharmacist and ask about this. We briefly discussed first generation antihistamines as an option, but I’m not keen on these, because they cause drowsiness and I’m unsure about potential long-term neurological health effects[5]. We discussed trying the other second generation options, Loratadine and Acrivastine, although weaker than Fexofenadin. There didn’t seem much difference between them, so I was told I could investigate and choose which I wanted – I’ll let you know what I decide and the outcome.

Food challenges: Excessive risks were taken

I took some excessive risks this week. I went overboard on the Quorn vegan ham and Sainsbury’s free from grated ‘cheddar cheese’. I hadn’t realised until looking back while writing this post that I’d eaten these foods three times in one week (that’s too much). Also, I’d avoided looking too closely at the ingredients, until now – they both contain several ingredients incompatible with histamine intolerance. I’ll probably still eat them occasionally, but I need to keep track of how often and how I react. Then of course there was the yeast from the two pittas I ate, also filling up my histamine cup/bucket.

And on Mum’s birthday, I indulged in some chocolate mint ice cream and mango sorbet (both containing risky ingredients) – what was I thinking? Sometimes its so hard to stay on track on this low histamine diet. To be fair, I resisted some of the temptations on offer, but I admit, I’m a little worried about the looming consequences from the foods I caved into.

Food challenges. Clockwise: Quorn vegan ‘ham’ slices in salad pitta. Jacket potato with Quorn ‘ham’ and Sainsbury’s free from ‘cheddar cheese’. Northern Bloc ice cream and Hackney Gelato mango sorbet. Quorn vegan ‘ham’ and Sainsbury’s free from ‘cheddar cheese’ pitta

Food creation: Quinoa and brown rice vegetable burgers

For months now, I’ve been meaning to attempt making burgers with a quinoa base, to get more of this great plant protein in my diet, despite not being keen on the stuff. My first attempt went well (details here), but I need to make a few tweaks for next time. I definitely need to add more chia and flax seed binder and maybe chop the veg smaller to hold the burger together better. The flavour was decent, but next time I’ll rinse the quinoa more before cooking to remove any bitterness (thanks for the tip Deb):

Food creation: Quinoa and brown rice vegetable burgers. Clockwise: Making the patties. Pre-cooked burger. My messy hands! Cooked burgers ready for freezing
My dinner: Quinoa and brown rice vegetable burger with roast potatoes, celeriac, fennel, bell peppers and courgette/zucchini

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

What made me smile this week? Quite a few things. Here’s a few…

A walk in the park:

I went out for two walks this week before I succumbed to post-vaccine tiredness and took it easy for the rest of the week. I walked through a park and noticed a tree full of white blossom – such a contrast compared to its surrounding bare trees. I actually saw this last week too, but I couldn’t get a picture (without looking dodgy) as there was a cute couple sat under the tree kissing:

Walk in the park. Clockwise: Blossomy tree from afar. Closer. My shadow. Blossom close-up

From sunrise to sunset:

I just love a sunrise or sunset (although its rare I’m awake for sunrises). This week I was treated to both. Such beautiful colours. My favourites are those over the ocean (whilst sipping on a cocktail) – maybe I’ll get to see one again (and have a cocktail) in the not-too-distant future:

Left: Sunrise. Right: Sunset. Both beautiful in their own ways

Low histamine wine:

Instagram can be a useful resource (and a source of procrastination). I was excited and delighted to find that low histamine wines exist – I think the one below only supplies to Austria and Germany. But when I shared the post in the Long haul Covid food Facebook group, someone else found a company in the UK – yippee! And, then I stumbled across wine wands, which apparently filter the histamine out of your drink. I’ll be looking into these further – they’re not a complete solution as the actual alcohol itself encourages your mast cells to release histamine, but I’ll take it as hope for an occasional tipple further down the line:

Low histamine wine options – woo hoo hoo! Left: Low histamine wine (source: bioweingut.weiss, Instagram). Right: Wine wands (source: Lowhistamineeats, Instagram)

An abundance of Italian herb seasoning:

I like to have a mix of dried herbs to easily flavour my meals. I had asked Mum (who places the online grocery orders) to order some more Italian herb seasoning. It turns out she got a little carried away and ordered six lots! Apparently my usual one (M&S) said out of stock, so Mum ordered alternatives and both came, but that still leaves the random one in the middle. Unfortunately, I can only use the M&S ones as the others contain black pepper. We did laugh at Mum’s surprise excessiveness:

Over-ordering Italian herb seasoning

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 76
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References

1. GOV.UK, 2021. Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency: Information for UK recipients on COVID 19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.
2. Drugs.com, 2021. Paracetamol Side Effects.
3. American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2021. A rare clotting disorder may cloud the world’s hopes for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.
4. Greinacher, A., Thiele, T., Warkentin, T. E., Weisser, K., Kyrle, P. and Eichinger, S. 2021. A Prothrombotic Thrombocytopenic Disorder Resembling Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia Following Coronavirus-19 Vaccination. Research Square.
5. Coupland, C. A. C, Hill, T., Dening, T., Morriss, R., Moore, M. and Hippisley-Cox, J., 2019. Anticholinergic Drug Exposure and the Risk of Dementia – A Nested Case-Control Study. JAMA Internal Medicine, 179 (8), 1084-1093.

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