Health Diary Week 98: Attempting Life Balance

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

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<<<Week 97

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.

>>>Week 99
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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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<<<Week 96

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.

>>>Week 98
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References

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

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Health Diary Week 95: Bittersweet

Image: Beautiful but menacing sunset, Bolivia, 2008

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<<<Week 94

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.

>>>Week 96
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Health Diary Week 94: Believe in Yourself

Image: “Believe in yourself” butterfly and crystal necklace, a leaving present from my lovely former university work colleagues

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<<<Week 93

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

My Dream Job

Okay, so I’ve been keeping this one quiet for a while (since June), because I couldn’t quite believe it was real until I’d received the contract…

… While I was working at the Covid Vaccine Centre there was a mini careers event on site, but its focus was recruitment into phase three of the vaccine programme. I very nearly didn’t visit it but remembered my promise to myself to take every opportunity to network. Recently I’ve learnt to believe in myself more (something I’d previously struggled with), so assertively I explained I was looking for a career in wellbeing and proceeded to inform the person I was talking to (I had no idea who they were) about my nutrition and health qualifications and advisory experience. Somehow, I impressed and was told about my dream job’s imminent release and offered a meeting with the specific Primary Care Network (PCN) and GP Leads to discuss further. The meeting went well, and I applied for the job…

…So, I’m now a Health and Wellbeing Coach for the PCN, with doctors referring patients to me (wow!). My specialism is Nutrition, although I’ll be covering a wider health area. It is a completely new post, recruiting nationwide, and I should be able to influence how my role develops – amazing! I’m so excited! Admittedly I’m also rather scared.

I think my two new part-time jobs will complement each other well. Linking me nicely into my other exciting new job that I’ve just started…

Image: Dream Job (Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

Another Great Job: Week One

…I’m also a Staff Wellbeing Hub Administrator for a group of hospitals – I love the idea of supporting hospital staff with their wellbeing. It was an overwhelming and exhausting first couple of days – a pre-first day disrupted sleep, nervousness about travelling on the train for the first time since covid, and new systems and processes to learn. But I reminded myself these overwhelmed feelings are normal when I start anything new – they always ease with familiarity. And everyone seemed so nice, including my lovely job-share.

New Glasses: Varifocals

For some time now, I’ve been aware that I’m at that stage where I’ll be needing varifocals to accommodate my middle-aged eyes. Now that I have a regular income and I’m double-vaccinated, I decided it was time to get this sorted (I really should have done it sooner). I collected my new glasses this week and was surprised that I easily adapted to the three different prescriptions (distance, computer work and reading) in the one pair of glasses.

Now I can see properly again (with glasses), I’m happy to start on the sodium cromoglicate allergy eye drops for the required 28 days, to reduce my eyelid inflammation (due to excess histamine), before I trial my new varifocal contact lenses:

Image: My new varifocal glasses, and eye drops to control my inflamed eyelids

Histamine Food Risk – Excessive Hummus?:

I know I’ve said it before, but I love hummus! After discovering I could eat chickpeas again, I became over-zealous, eating hummus pretty much every day. I even discovered that it is great as a creamy pasta sauce. But I started experiencing indigestion (extremely rare for me since becoming wholly plant based) and I wondered whether my excessive hummus consumption could be the cause, as histamine overload can result in gut issues for some. I also wondered whether feeling stressed may have exacerbated things. Regardless, I’m trying to reduce my hummus intake, but it is ever so hard:

Simple pasta (sweet white onion and sweetcorn) with a hummus, mixed herbs, turmeric and sweet paprika sauce – okay, it isn’t pretty, but tasted delicious nonetheless

Low Histamine Meal – Vegetable Risotto:

I love a risotto, so I was happy when Mum offered to make one for dinner. Nowadays, Mum makes a low histamine risotto – omitting peas, mushrooms, chilli, stock cubes, and lemon juice used in our former version. Instead we keep to courgette, asparagus and sweet white onion, with garlic, mixed herbs, oat milk and vegan butter (a small histamine risk). I add chia seeds to mine (for omega 3 goodness) and when my symptoms are well controlled, B12 vitamin yeast flakes which provide a cheesy, nutty taste. This time Mum included some roasted butternut squash too – a delicious addition:

Image: Mum’s yummy risotto (roasted butternut squash, asparagus and courgette)

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And let me happily share with you some of this week’s little smile provokers …

Kind freebies – pass on the smiles:

Carrying on with the food theme, I received my order from the Vegan Kind Supermarket and was pleased to receive a couple of freebies again – peanut caramel and mint chocolate bars. I passed them on to Mum who seemed pleased – it feels good to pass on the smiles:

Image: Chocolate bars gifted by the Vegan Kind Supermarket

The magpie tapper:

Now, I’m not particularly keen on magpies. But my heart warmed a little towards the one outside our office window where my job share and I were temporarily working. We’d been told to look out for the friendly magpie who likes to interact with people by tapping on the window – we were pleased to have a visit and tried not to be distracted by its tapping while we were in an online meeting:

Image: Magpie perched above the pond, Week 32

Hidden room:

At work, we received a tour of the hospital buildings where we were based for our Induction, including the impressive former chapel. We were guided down a distant corridor and through a plain door that gave no hint of the treasures behind it. We found ourselves in a little museum (a tribute to the chapel) and extraordinary function room. The stained-glass windows and ceiling were particularly impressive:

Image: The preserved hospital former chapel’s stained-glass windows

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 95
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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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<<<Week 87

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

A Career in Health and Wellbeing

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

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

Practice what you Preach

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

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

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

Our pond jungle:

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

Image: Our driveway pond jungle – Foxgloves

Invasion of the birds:

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

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

Survivors:

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

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

Almost famous:

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

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

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

>>>Week 89
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Health Diary Week 86: Kitten Therapy

Image: Loki, the Maine Coon kitten

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<<<Week 85

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

Some Job Updates

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

Covid Vaccine: Second Dose

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

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

My Covid vaccine sticker of bravery

Food Challenge: Houmous

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

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

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

I didn’t panic:

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

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

Family reunion:

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

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

Massages on tap:

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

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

Cats sleeping funny:

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

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

Kitten therapy:

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

Image: Loki kitten cuteness

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

>>>Week 87
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Health Diary Week 85: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Dramas

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

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

The Histamine Story

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

No ill-effects:

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

Medication shortages?:

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

DAO enzymes:

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

Vegan DAO enzyme supplement: Naturdao

Food

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

Exercise

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

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

A personal touch:

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

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

More garden socials:

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

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

What a difference a week (or so) makes:

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

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

Bird dramas:

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

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

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

>>>Week 86
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Reference

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

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

Broken

Image: Noupload, Pixabay

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<<<Week 82

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

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

The Histamine Struggles

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

Stinky people:

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

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

No-go prescription:

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

And… My Back

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

More Easy Meals

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

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

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

Interesting people:

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

Me ready for work (Week 81)

A good excuse:

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

Netflix binge. Image: Tumisu, Pixabay

Peculiar cats:

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

Buddy cat glaring at me through the window

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

>>>Week 84
<<<Week 82
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Health Diary Week 82: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Another Quickie

Image: Catherine Nikitenko, Pixabay

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<<<Week 81

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

NHS Covid Administrator – Week 3

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

Histamine Issues (continued)

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

Convenient Dinner: Vegetable Pasta

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

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

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

My new garden fence:

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

My garden fence. Left: Before. Right: After

New Starling family arrivals:

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

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

Rainbow:

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

I can see a rainbow

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

>>>Week 83
<<<Week 81
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Health Diary Week 78: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Just a Quickie

Speedy snail. Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay

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<<<Week 77

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

It’s been a fairly quiet week overall and I’ve been struggling with histamine issues (more on that in next week’s post), so this will be a bit of a quickie.

Antihistamine progress: Loratadine

I’ve started on 10 mg per day of Loratadine antihistamine solution[1]. I was previously taking 10 mg twice per day of Cetirizine solution[2] to keep my symptoms relatively under control (this was double the advised dose – not recommend without your Doctor’s approval). The new medication hasn’t been an easy adjustment, if you can even call it that. I’ve felt fatigued, itchy, snotty and sneezy all week – incredibly uncomfortable. I’m going to give it another week before I report back to my Doctor and explore other options. I’m starting to suspect my issue might be that my histamine-releasing cells (mast cells) are over-active, rather than my previous assumption that it’s my body having an issue breaking down histamine (an enzyme dysfunction). It would be great if I could be referred to an immunological clinic, so that they can figure it out for me.

Food Re-purpose: Pasta bakeCauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’

Last week Mum made a delicious cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’, which she served up with roast potato and sweet potato. I froze the leftovers for another day – I love it when there’s leftovers! I decided to re-purpose the cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’ into a pasta bake for a simple, low effort, tasty meal:

Cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’. Top: My re-purposed cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’ pasta bake. Bottom: Mum’s cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’ with roast potato and sweet potato

Food: New buy – Quinoa flakes

Someone on Instagram recommended quinoa flakes as a “game changer” ingredient if you’re not keen on quinoa, so of course I had to get me some to try. Apparently, they can be used as a breakfast cereal, porridge oats replacement or in baking. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’ll let you know how it goes when I do:

BioFair quinoa flakes

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Here’s a few positives from my week:

Every step counts no matter how small:

I hadn’t felt like I achieved much health-wise recently due to my histamine issues holding me back. But I’m happy to have made a little step forward: I realised that I don’t need to add sugar to my chicory (coffee replacement) drink – I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to realise this! Any improvement, as small as it may be, is better than giving up, or falling back into unhealthy habits. So, I’m giving myself a little pat on the back for reducing my ‘free sugar’ intake a little:

The ‘pat on the back’ image Pixabay offered me (Graphics@ HandiHow)

Friends in real life:

I was excited to meet up with Bevy in person, especially as we missed last week, for a good ole catch up on the driveway:

Dad’s pretty flowers along the driveway

Choir practice:

I joined a choir! For those of you who know me, this is a big deal. I don’t sing in front of people – it’s one of my fears. This started at Junior school (I must have been around 10 years old) after the music teacher stopped the whole class saying that someone was singing out of tune and everyone pointed at me. After that I just mimed. I used to love singing before this incident. Anyway, my friend, Dawn, encouraged me to attend the online long covid choir (and explained you can mute yourself). So, I thought why not give it a try? I’m so glad I did. Zoe (the teacher) had such a friendly smiley face and was really encouraging. I liked the breathing exercises and explanations of how to sing particular notes. It was fun, so I’ll be returning next week for more:

Heartfelt Choir. I joined a choir!

Happy Birthday to me, again:

My Mum found a Birthday present she’d put away ‘safely’ for me. My Birthday was back in February. I was given a bamboo comb, which I was on the verge of buying myself, so I’m glad I hadn’t got around to purchasing one yet. It was a lovely surprise receiving an unexpected late Birthday present:

Happy Birthday to me. My belated bamboo comb Birthday present from my Mum

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 79
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References

1. National Health Service, 2018. Loratadine (including Clarityn).

2. National Health Service, 2018. Cetirizine.

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