Health Diary Week 90: Feeling Appreciated

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

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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 89: A Day Out

Image: Winchester Cathedral, UK, 2021

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

The Histamine Saga

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

Histamine Food Challenge: Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

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

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

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

Keeping Active

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

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

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

Climate change awareness:

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

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

Random art:

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

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

River walk:

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

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

Ducklings swim school:

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

Image: Ducklings swim time

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

>>>Week 90
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References

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

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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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