Health Diary Week 99: Step-by-Step

Image: Book-ladder-window (愚木混株 Cdd20, Pixabay)

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

Medical Updates

Firstly, just a couple of small medical updates to share…

ENT appointment:

I was supposed to have my ears, nose and throat (ENT) clinic appointment on Friday. But the day before I was due to go, it was cancelled “due to unforeseen circumstances”. They’ve re-booked me in for next month – fingers crossed it goes ahead. I still wonder whether it can help identify or treat what I’m sure is a mast cell and/or vasoactive amine (e.g. histamine) issue that flared up after having what I assume was Covid-19 in March 2020.

Optician appointment:

At my review, the optician reported my eyelids weren’t so badly inflamed anymore (the eye drops must have helped) but I should still apply the twice daily cold compresses (I’ve been rubbish at doing the compresses – I must improve). Also, I was given varifocal contact lenses to try out – I think I adjusted well, although reading was a bit weird, but I’m confident it will improve when my brain learns to figure out when to prioritise each prescription (distance, computer or reading).

Image: Me wearing glasses (awaiting clearance to start trialling new contact lenses)

Work Updates: Health and Wellbeing Coach (Week Three)

It was my third week as a Health and Wellbeing Coach. I keep thinking about how much there is to do and learn before I can start seeing patients – so much! On reflection, I had a positive and productive week – networking and/or shadowing reception and several nurses, including specialists in diabetes, cancer, coronary disease and respiratory conditions. I also attended a network meeting with a surgery’s doctors, nurses, dietician, lead pharmacist and mental health practitioner, where I spoke a bit about my role and answered questions. Everyone seemed so enthusiastic about my job (and the other new starters’) and how we can all work together more holistically to provide a better patient experience.

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

I had a fairly quiet weekend as it was a tiring week at work. So, instead of my usual smile-provokers I thought I would share some memes/quotes that help me feel less overwhelmed in my new work roles…

Working hard for something we love is called passion:

I feel so incredibly fortunate to have two jobs I’m passionate about: Supporting patients and hospital staff with their health and wellbeing. (Now, I don’t agree entirely with the below quote, because of course stress can occur when doing something you love, but I liked the general sentiment):

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion” (Source: Turning Point Counselling Service)

Focus on things that matter and can be controlled:

At times I can’t help but think about the enormity of what I need to achieve. I remind myself to prioritise and focus on the tasks that both matter and can be controlled, sometimes re-evaluating and re-ordering priorities depending on any barriers experienced (e.g. IT issues) or arising opportunities (e.g. networking, training). This enables me to see progress, keep moving forward and feel more positive about what I can achieve:

Things To Focus on Venn diagram (Source: Your Fresh Beginning)

The importance of small steps:

Before meeting patients, I want to build professional relationships, integrate into the NHS culture, become familiar with various IT systems, undertake training, and of course set up my own processes. If I look at all the tasks together, they feel mammoth, but I remind myself I just need to focus on each little step, one at a time – I will get there:

“The Importance of Small Steps” – ladder visuals (Source: Unknown)

It’s okay to be scared:

Also, I accept that it’s okay to be scared by what I’ve got myself into. But what I’ve got myself into is amazing – I get to empower people by coaching them (gently) in taking ownership of their health, learn problem solving skills and build their self-confidence. I mean, this is why I left my comfort zone – to re-train for a new career in health care:

“It’s OKAY to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave” – Mandy Hale, The Single Woman blogger. (Source The Simplicity Habit)

And lastly, some wise cautionary words that made me chuckle, partly because I might have fallen into the latter category occasionally:

“Courage is knowing it might hurt, and doing it anyway. Stupidity is the same. And that’s why life is hard” – Jeremy Goldberg, Behavioural Scientist and Mentor

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 98: Attempting Life Balance

Image: Me balancing my fellow travelling friends, Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia (2008)

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Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences. I’ve fallen a bit behind with posting again in my attempt to balance, work, play and rest.

My NHS Work Life

I definitely feel more comfortable in my Staff Wellbeing Admin role and I’m ready to take on more responsibilities (I’m five weeks in now). I still have loads of settling in to do yet with my Health and Wellbeing Coach job (it’s only week two): I attended the online Trust Induction, shadowed the Social Prescriber again and received some training on the GP patient system – there’s still loads more to learn and prepare before my clinic is up and running.

Histamine Food Challenge: Baked Beans

I was feeling reckless and craving baked beans, so I decided to top half of my jacket potato with some baked beans (one of the riskiest histamine ingredients, as it contains tomato) and a sliced pea-protein sausage! I took a DAO enzyme beforehand (just to be safer) and waited to see what happened – surprisingly, I seemed okay, so I’ll give it another go, without the enzyme, at some point:

Image: My jacket potato topped with baked beans and sliced sausage

Topped Meals

I hadn’t realised I’d been so into loading my meals with some kind of topping this past week. The most indulgent was my loaded cheesy nachos with a ‘ham slice’, spring onion and sweet paprika. I accompanied a salad with some free-from coleslaw (a small histamine risk). My pasta and rice were topped with reduced fat hummus (my addiction):

Image: My loaded meals. Clockwise: My typical low-histamine salad with coleslaw. My typical low-histamine easy pasta with ‘ham’ and topped with reduced fat hummus. Loaded cheesy nachos with ‘ham’, spring onion and sweet paprika. Vegetable rice topped with hummus

Physical Activity: Walking

I was pleased with the amount I walked, as I exceeded the government recommendation of 150 minutes moderate exercise, completing 172 minutes (nearly three hours) of brisk walking. My total was 296 minutes (nearly five hours) – I like to think those two slower hours included a great deal of mindfulness, like enjoying the scenery as I passed by:

Image: Left: River view on one of my walks. Right: My Active 10 week’s walks

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And of course, here’s a few of my week’s smile-provokers…

Appreciating a ‘Duvet Day’:

I was tired after the social weekend, so I was very happy to spend most of the bank holiday Monday lazing in bed watching television. Sometimes doing nothing is the best, but too much gets boring. Working full-time again has really made me appreciate the times when I can do guilt-free nothing:

Image: Charlotte (one of my besties) and I enjoying a relaxing duvet-based “girls’ night in” (2006)

A pub night:

I was feeling a bit anxious about this pub visit for my friend, Tina’s, big birthday (looking fab Tina!). We were sat in the outside area which helped me feel more comfortable and it turned out to be an enjoyable evening. What’s more, I’ve adjusted to just drinking a couple of vodkas (instead of far too many) and I particularly like not waking up with a hangover the next day:

Image: Tina and I taking selfies at her ‘Big Birthday’ gathering at the local pub

An afternoon out with my parents:

My parents and I decided to have lunch at a marina cafe as it was such a sunny, warm day. We parked about thirty-minutes walk away to give ourselves some exercise there and back. I took one of my DAO enzymes (to counteract histamine effects from the food) and thoroughly enjoyed a butternut squash and avocado salad with chunky chips, and salted caramel dairy-free ice cream for dessert – delicious (and histamine rebellious):

Image: Clockwise: My salad and chips lunch. My salted caramel ice cream. My parents and I attempting a selfie. Our view of the marina (can you see the swan?)

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 97: Be Kind, and Surround Yourself with Kind People

Image: Women on deck chairs (By: Here and now, unfortunately, ends my journey on Pixabay, Pixabay)

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

My NHS Working Life

Let’s start with some work updates…

Full-time Hours:

This was my first week working full-time hours, for years! The time flew by in a whirlwind and before I knew it, my working week was done. I was pretty tired by Friday, but also incredibly relieved I didn’t feel horribly fatigued (it was a long-haul Covid concern of mine) – I feel more confident now that I will be okay working full-time hours.

Staff Wellbeing Administrator: Week Four:

It was my first week working from home as a Staff Wellbeing Hub Administrator. I liked it. I feel more settled in the role now (everyone continues to be nice and encouraging). So far, I mostly answer the phone, and book and process counselling referrals. I’m expecting to take on more responsibilities soon.

Health and Wellbeing Coach: Week One:

This was my first week as a Health and Wellbeing Coach[1]. I met loads of people, many whose names I can’t remember, but everyone seems lovely. One morning, I shadowed the Social Prescriber[2] who I’ll probably have a lot of contact with – she was amazingly helpful. I’m surprised by the freedom in my role – lots to consider. It all scares me a bit, but I felt like this when I began a science degree with no science background and I excelled at that, so I’m sure I’m capable and will find the whole experience rewarding.

Image: An image of martial arts coaching that came up when I searched “coach”, which made me laugh because it’s nothing like me or what I was envisaging, so of course I had to use it here (By: 1820796, Pixabay)

Ears, Nose and Throat Referral

I received an ENT appointment – I’d almost given up on it happening. Now I’m a bit nervous about what they’re going to do to me – will they stick a camera up my nose that I’ll have to try not to sneeze out? – Every time I do a Covid lateral flow test, I retch, my eyes water and I sneeze violently! This could be interesting. Anyway, moving on…

Some Tasty Meals

Nowadays I can handle a wider variety of foods compared to when I first became low histamine back in October 2020 – almost a year ago! I had several tasty meals this week: Mum’s courgette and broad bean risotto, topped with roasted sweet potato. And Mum’s dairy-free cheesy vegetable bake (cauliflower, broccoli and carrots), served with roast potato, sweet potato, fennel and steamed courgette. A simple pasta salad. And a hearty Sunday brunch of scrambled tofu, served with potatoes, pitta bread and hummus – keeping me satiated until dinner time:

Image: Clockwise: Vegetable risotto topped with sweet potato. Cheesy vegetable bake with roast veg and steamed courgettes. Pasta salad. Scrambled tofu with potato, pitta and hummus

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Don’t you just love a sunny bank holiday weekend? – I most certainly do. My last three smile-provokers were part of my weekend, but before I get to that…

Dragonfly:

I’m sure I’ve told you before how much I love dragonflies – I think they’re beautiful. So you can imagine how delighted I was to get a close look at one in our garden during my lunch break and even capturing some decent shots (they don’t usually stay still for long):

Image: Dragonfly. I chose this photo to share, because from this angle the dragonfly looks like it has a friendly smiley face

Kind people, kind words:

My little monthly mindfulness friend group are so kind-hearted. Karen, who hosts our get-togethers gifted us all a book called “Kind words for unkind days” by Jayne Hardy. I like how it is divided into chapters, e.g. “Words for the days that feel overwhelming” and “Words for the days when you’re being unkind to yourself” – helpful and comforting:

Image: Kind words for kind days book

Crumble Club:

I had a particularly social weekend. There was my usual visit with ‘my dear friend Bevy’, but I also went to my lovely friend’s Crumble Club. Jen made delicious crumble (of course), which we drowned in custard (I took a DAO enzyme to reduce dietary histamine effects). We allowed ourselves some emotional crumbles too – it’s nice to feel comfortable enough to show vulnerabilities around friends:

Image: Tina and I at Crumble Club. Me unnecessarily scrunching up small to try to fit into the picture (hahaha)

A lazy Sunday in the sun:

Deciding to spend Sunday afternoon at a marina cafe was a genius idea, even if I say so myself. I indulged in three colas (sugar excessive, I know), one with vodka. My friend and I just chilled out for hours in some deckchairs over-looking the marina, enjoying the warmth from the sun:

Image: My bank holiday Sunday afternoon lazing in a deckchair overlooking the marina (there were some cloudy times, but it stayed pleasantly warm)

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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References

1. NHS, 2021. Health and wellbeing coaches.
2. NHS, 2021. Social prescribing.

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Health Diary Week 96: Quality Family Time

Image: Elephant family (JL G, Pixabay)

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Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences. I’m still trying to catch up with posting, but I keep getting delayed by my new work life and socialising (I can’t complain)…

Staff Wellbeing Hub Admin: Week Three

This was my third week in my new admin role, but also my last week on-site at the hospital before being based at home for the foreseeable future. I will miss the camaraderie of working directly with my job share, Lorraine. And while I won’t miss the early morning public transport commute, I will miss the walking part – I need to factor a walk into my working days.

Exercise: Walking

Talking about walking, my current physical activity is mostly limited to walking. I completed 320 minutes (over five hours) and was pleased to scrape the UK’s government recommendation for 150 minutes moderate exercise per week, in the form of brisk walking:

Image: My Active 10 walks and rewards for Week 96

My Low(ish) Histamine Meals

It’s been a while since I’ve shared meals I’ve prepared, so I thought I’d show you some of this week’s meals I made to substitute those the rest of my family were eating. My food choices are quite limited on this low histamine diet, although thankfully my options are slowly increasing…

Pasta, salad and garlic pitta:

I enjoyed my dinner of gluten free vegetable pasta (yellow bell pepper, courgette, sweetcorn, sweet white onion, garlic, chia seeds, B12 yeast flakes, turmeric, dried herbs and cold pressed rapeseed oil), served with a side salad (mixed leaves, red onion and cucumber) and a garlic pitta pocket – tasty:

Image: Pasta served with a salad & garlic pitta pocket

Vegetable & pistachio rice mix:

This vegetable brown and white rice dinner actually contained most of the same ingredients as the above pasta, except the pasta was swapped out for rice, and I added some chopped pistachios:

Image: Vegetable and pistachio rice mix

My tasty salad:

I love a salad. My go-to low histamine salad contains mixed leaves, spring onion, cucumber, radishes, beetroot, chia seeds and cold-pressed rapeseed oil. Here I took a risk and added pre-prepared roasted bell pepper and artichoke hearts. Also, I always accompany the leaves mix with a potato salad of steamed potatoes, hemp seeds, dried Italian herbs, turmeric, sweet paprika, vegan mayo (a teaspoon) and cold-pressed flax oil. Always satisfying:

Image: My tasty salad

Cheesy Nachos:

My end of the working week meal was indulgent cheesy nachos. I topped mine with coconut-based cheese (an occasional indulgence, as it is so high in saturated fat), roasted bell pepper, artichoke hearts, red onion, dried herbs and sweet paprika:

Image: Cheesy nachos

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And of course, I couldn’t leave without sharing a couple of smile-provokers…

Family guests:

Kerry, my cousin-in-law (well near enough) and three of the children (two I hadn’t met before) stayed with us for a few days. It was great getting to know Kerry better and having time with the kids, albeit I was shattered by Thursday afternoon. I did very much enjoy my time with them though:

Image: Baby Eric

Memory lane – The shell house:

On one of our walks, Mum and I found this minature stone town in someone’s front garden. One of the neighbours told us it was built over fifty years ago and was far more impressive back then. What I loved most about this little scene was that it brought back happy memories of my grandparents taking my sister and I to see the Shell House near Bournemouth when we stayed with them – I was always excited to go there:

Image: Minature stone town

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 95: Bittersweet

Image: Beautiful but menacing sunset, Bolivia, 2008

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Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates and smile-provoking experiences. This is a late post I’m afraid – I’m a week behind (again) – I’ll will get caught up…

Staff Wellbeing Hub Admin: Week Two

My second week at work disappeared too quickly to learn everything I wanted to learn. I was only onsite one day, so I still need to complete my understanding of the different Counselling referral processes. On my other day, I completed loads of online training from home – I passed all the assessments (phew):

Image: Online training modules completed on Thursday

Histamine Reaction – Elbow Rash

I’ll be working from home for the admin job, so Dad kindly helped me increase my desk space. We’d purchased a wooden top from Ikea, which Dad secured neatly onto my current desk (there’s a photo in my What Made Watson Smile section). Within an hour of sitting at my desk, I noticed my elbow was itching – the skin reacted to whatever chemical was on the wood even after a good clean with soapy water. I’m annoyingly sensitive to what feels like everything at the moment. Thankfully, the rash cleared when I stopped leaning my elbow on the desk (a bad habit anyway):

Image: My itchy, sore, rash-covered elbow (it doesn’t usually look like that!)

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And, of course, here’s a few smiles for you – the last one somewhat unexpected…

My new working from home desk:

I used to spend a lot of time studying from home – the lack of desk space was always a nuisance. Dad suggested securing a top to my current desk, making it longer and wider – a simple £15 fix. We had an amusing visit to Ikea: Dad drove around the car park for ages looking for a space, refusing to go up a level, I took us on an unnecessary walk around the shop trying to find the lifts and we got stuck in the car park, creating a queue of cars when we were trying to leave – we did chuckle afterwards though. Dad attached the desktop while I was at work and as a bonus, fixed my filing cabinet drawer so that I no longer need to use a doorstop to keep the drawer shut:  

Image: Top: My new desk set up (before I tidied it up nicely). Bottom right: The doorstop I used to keep the cabinet drawer from sliding open. Bottom left: The simple hinge solution now keeping the drawer closed – why didn’t we do this before?

A lovely leaving card:

I had my last day of work at the Covid vaccine centre – I will miss that buzzing atmosphere. The amazing Admin Shift Leads pulled together a lovely leaving card for me, despite only finding out that morning that it was my last day. I’m eternally grateful for my job at the vaccine centre – it was the doorway into my new dream job as an NHS Health and Wellbeing Coach:

Image: My leaving card from the Covid vaccine centre

The 100 club:

I received a WordPress notification informing me that I’d reached 100 posts – it took me a while (21 months of blogging), but I got there eventually – go me:

Image: 100 posts on WordPress notification

A family get together (under sad circumstances):

We went to my cousin’s funeral. Understandably, you might ask why a funeral made me smile. The situation and funeral itself didn’t make me happy at all, but it was nice to see family I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic started. The Wake was in the countryside, in my cousin’s garden. We were fortunate it was a gorgeous warm and sunny day, making outside socialising particularly pleasant. Also, this was the furthest I’d travelled since before the pandemic started – it was lovely to see all the pretty countryside whizzing by on our journey there and back again. A bittersweet day, one might say:  

Image: People in silhouette against a sunset (kholisrevenge, 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.

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Health Diary Week 93: Catching Up

Image: Catching up (mohamed Hassan, Pixabay)

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Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences. You might have noticed, this is my second post of the week, as I’ve needed to catch up after falling behind on my weekly posting…

Histamine Issues: Inflamed Eyelids

At my Optician appointment, I was surprised to discover I have inflamed eyelids, likely due to excessive histamine. The thing is, my eyes hadn’t particularly bothered me, at least not compared to everything else, but as soon as I knew there was an issue with them, they started feeling uncomfortable – go figure. Having said that, I’m glad the issue was picked up before it became severe – attend your health check-ups folks.

So, I have instructions to use a cold compress for ten minutes twice daily for two months, plus lubricating eye drops four times a day, and mast cell stabiliser eye drops four times daily for 28 days (sodium cromoglicate – same as the tablets I was prescribed by my GP but couldn’t get hold of due to supply shortages).

Histamine Food Challenge: Broad Beans

I wanted to try broad beans again (because I love them so) to check if I’m as okay with them as I think. So, I decided to add them to a simple vegetable pasta – nothing bad happened – yippee!:

Vegetable pasta, including some tasty broad beans, orange pepper, courgette, sweetcorn and sweet white onion

My Hot Chocolate Replacement

I used to love a comforting mug of hot chocolate or a matcha latte, back in the day before my histamine issues, so I was searching for an alternative. ‘My dear friend’ Bevy, and I decided my chicory drink would work well as a latte with gluten free oat milk, so I whizzed one up in my trusty Vitamix – I was not disappointed by this frothy, filling delight:

Image: Chicory latte – frothy, delicious and ridiculously filling

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And let me share some of my week’s smile-provokers with you all…

Birdies:

I can’t believe it took us years to discover the joys of a bird feeder. While I was sat out having a mug of chicory I was treated to a visit from loads of little birdies (some kind of tit I think). It was a nice change from the squabbling starlings who currently dominate the feeder:

Image: Our busy bird feeder (I think there’s eleven tits on the feeder in this pic)

Molly and Not Molly captured together:

Neighbourhood cats Molly and Not Molly have featured in my blog for some time, but I’d never seen them together until now (Not Molly is incredibly elusive). For a while, I’d mistaken Molly for Not Molly (I don’t know Not Molly’s name), but now that I’ve seen them together, I’m confident I can tell them apart:

Image: Molly and Not Molly (finally). Top: Molly bottom left and Not Molly top right. Bottom right: Molly (Week 71). Bottom left: Not Molly (it is really hard to capture a photo of this one)

Mini work reunion:

In my University Disability Adviser days, I worked within a team of kind, caring and encouraging people. So, my highlight of this week was a catch up at a cafe (outside) with two of my former colleagues, Rachel and Marjory, who I hadn’t seen for far too long:

Image: Mum and I at work (2007) – yep, we worked together – at the university and our previous organisation. (I didn’t have a photo of Marjory and Rach together to share)

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 92: A Surreal Week

Image: Surreal time, Spinxh21 (Pixabay)

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

Time Out

This week was the start of my two weeks off work to relax before starting my new job as an NHS Staff Wellbeing Hub Administrator. It started well: Gorgeous sunny weather and socialising, but then…

A Family Bereavement

…Very early on Wednesday morning, when you know it can only be bad news, we had a phone call: My cousin, Ben, had passed away suddenly from a heart attack. As well as it being an upsetting shock to the whole family, it also made me think about my mortality, as Ben was only a few years older than me (still in his forties). I want to be here for many more years, and crucially, enjoy those years feeling as healthy as possible.

Exercise: Walking

As part of my health-promoting behaviours, I’ve been trying to get out more for walks (a convenient, low impact activity). I was pleased to achieve 334 minutes (over five and a half hours) total walking, of which 246 minutes (four hours) were brisk. Active 10 rewarded me 2000 Club (2,000 brisk minutes since starting a year ago), Perfect Week (for hitting my daily targets) and Wonder Week (for daily brisk walking) – go me:

Image: My Active 10 walks and rewards. Left: Week 92 walks – 334 minutes total, 246 minutes brisk. Right: My rewards: 2000 Club, Wonder Week and Perfect Week

Histamine Food Challenges

This week my main histamine risks were avocado and lentils:

Avocado:

Last week, I’d started re-introducing a little avocado back into my life and I thought all was going well. But I got carried away, increasing the quantity and consuming avocado several days in a row. By Thursday I was suffering with some sneezy and snotty issues – no surprise really. So, I’ve decided to quit the avocado for now and try again another time:

Image: Avocado on my plate of salad delights

Lentil dhal:

On Monday, my parents had visitors – friends we met when we lived in the Caribbean back in the 80’s. Mum cooked up a curry lunch and ensured I could tuck into the side dishes: Lentil dhal with rice, spiced cauliflower and potatoes – yum! The dhal was made with the usual spices, so these were a risk on top of the lentils:

Image: Some of Mum’s curry feast. Lentil dhal (centre dish), spiced cauliflower, spiced potatoes and rice

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Despite the difficult news, there were still occasions for smiles this week, so I’d like to share some of these with you…

Rusty the loving dog:

A big highlight was cuddles with the gorgeous Rusty, who visited with Dennis and Jenny, our neighbours when we lived in the Caribbean. Rusty loves attention and I was very happy to accommodate him, so we spent most of the day together:

Image: Rusty the loving dog lying with his leg on my lap (we spent much of the day like this)

Bevy, Loki and a new campanula:

Looking back, it was actually quite a social week. As well as my parents’ visitors, I met with Karen, Julie and Chrissy for our monthly catch up with mindfulness (courtesy of Chrissy). Also, I had my usual weekly visit with ‘my dear friend’ Bevy (and Loki kitten). Bevy proudly showed me her latest campanula plant, grown from cuttings of the one I’d bought her years ago:

Image: Loki kitten with the new campanula outside plant (a cutting from the one I’d gifted Bevy)

I went to the pub:

The big social event was a visit to the pub (outside) with friends. I have to admit it ended up being a bit of a sensory overload situation by late evening with people becoming inebriated and louder, whereas I hadn’t consumed much alcohol and was sober. I left at the end of the evening feeling quite anxious and was relieved to return home. But, having said that, it was exciting to go out and lovely to see everyone together in person:

Image: Me ready for an evening at the pub with friends

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 90: Feeling Appreciated

Thank you postcard received, as part of the NHS Big Tea event, 2021

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<<<Week 89

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

Physiotherapy

I had another in-person physio appointment, which was great as a couple of new exercises were introduced to improve movement of my dominant arm behind my back and to increase overall shoulder strength. It is expected I’ll only need one more appointment, as I’ve almost recovered normal use of my arm – great news.

Exercise: Walking

In my current job, I can get in a fair amount of walking during a shift, even when working in a seated role – I recorded 70 minutes walking on the day I was mainly sat updating medical records in the vaccine bay – I try to get up and move around between vaccine vials (when the vaccine drawers need to prepare the next batch). My total weeks walking was recorded on my Active 10 phone app as 296 minutes, of which 101 minutes were brisk.  And sometimes I don’t have my phone on me, so my stats are lower than the amount I actually walked. I still need to get out for more brisk walks though, as you can see in the below graph:

Image: My Active 10 walking stats. Left: My week’s walking log. Right: 70 minutes walking when working in a seated role (not bad)

Food Risks

I don’t know what got into me this week – perhaps it’s because I was feeling particularly well since having the antihistamine combo (Loratadine liquid in the morning and Cetirizine liquid before bed), so I got a bit lax on my low histamine diet. As it was, my rhinitis and fatigue symptoms started flaring up on Saturday, but they calmed down by Sunday – phew! I experienced minor gut ache, which could have been histamine related or due to the re-introduction and increase in different types of fibre (legumes) as explained in my article: Carbs: The Good, the Bad and the Sometimes ‘Farty’![2]. Anyway, here’s more about what I ate:

Scrambled tofu:

Mum wanted scrambled tofu again (as did I), so of course I made us all some. The tofu itself was a risk (significant histamine symptoms expected[1]), and the risk was further increased with my wholegrain pitta (yeast, fermented products) and cauliflower hash browns (sunflower oil, black pepper). I absolutely loved this comfort food meal and don’t regret it one bit:

Image: My scrambled tofu with pitta, hash browns and notomato sauce (a proper comfort meal)

Broad beans (risotto):

Now, I love broad beans, to the extent I used to cook up a whole batch, peel off the outer coat and just eat them as a snack. But, they are listed as “Incompatible, significant symptoms at usual intake”[1], so I’d obediently avoided them. But I’d been craving them recently and they’re seasonal, so I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. Mum kindly cooked up a rather delicious risotto loaded with broad beans, asparagus and courgette – divine!:

Image: Mum’s green risotto: broad beans, asparagus and courgette (divine)

Chickpeas (hummus):

Now, the chip butty is one of the Brit’s proud inventions – basically a chip (fries) sandwich – trust me they’re wonderful. And when I visited Amsterdam (many years ago), they made amazing falafel wraps loaded with hummus and salad. Well, I kind of combined these two delights to make my own creation – chips, salad and hummus pitta – I can’t even begin to tell you how good this was! But risks were taken (again) – the frozen oven chips were pre-cooked in sunflower oil (single dose considered okay[1]) and hummus is listed as incompatible[1], and there were the pitta bread ingredients as well – but it was totally worth it:

Image: Chip, hummus and salad butty (yum!)

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

As always, I’m very happy to share a couple of my smile-provokers with you…

A family visit:

My Uncle Chris dropped in for a visit as he was in the area for work. It was lovely to see him and catch up on some family updates. The last proper family event where I saw this part of my family was at my cousin Alice’s wedding in Liverpool, a great vibrant city – we had a fabulous weekend. Hopefully, we’ll meet up with the wider family in the not-too-distant future:

Image: Mum and I (and Cilla), Liverpool, 2018

Return of the long-tailed tits:

Our long-tailed tit bird visitors have returned. These little fluff balls are so cute – they look like little anime characters. I was starting to worry that we wouldn’t get to see them this year, because the starlings have been so dominant at our bird feeder:

Image: Oldiefan (Pixabay): Long-tailed tits. My own photos just didn’t do these little cuties justice

Feeling appreciated:

On Tuesday, I got to my work position to find a little message for us all on one of the boards, wishing us a “Happy Tuesday” – courtesy of one of our friendly security guards. Then during my break, I received a gift bag as part of the “NHS Big Tea” event – they contained a cupcake, cup with tea and coffee and a thank you post card – how lovely. I passed on these treats to Dad who seemed to enjoy them:

Image: NHS positivity. Clockwise: “Happy Tuesday” message. NHS Big Tea gift bag. “A Big Thank you NHS” sign on someone’s house that we pass on my way home. The cupcake and postcard from the NHS Big Tea

I feel a lot of appreciation recalling the moments that bring me happiness. Likewise, feeling appreciated makes me happy too – I receive a lot of that nowadays since working for the NHS, from both patients and line managers – I really appreciate the appreciation – thanks so much to all those lovely people:

Image: NHS appreciation on one of the walls at the Covid vaccination centre where I currently work

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 91
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References

1. Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI), 2016. Food Compatibility List.
2. Watson, K, 2019. Carbs: The Good, the Bad and the Sometimes ‘Farty’!.
3. RSPB, Ca. 2021. Long-tailed tit.

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Health Diary Week 88: Nature’s Magnificence

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

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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
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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.

>>>Week 87
<<<Week 85
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