January Favourites 2018

I can't believe it's the end of January already... it's flown by! I haven't done a favourites post since October last year so this was long overdue. There's quite a few things I've been loving this month but I managed to whittle it down to 8!

My first favourite is The Body Shop Seaweed Oil-Balancing Clay Mask, which you may have seen in my recent skincare post. I've been using this mask probably way more than I should, but my skin is thanking me for it. I've always preferred clay masks to other types, and this mask really feels like it's giving your pores a deep cleanse.


I've been mourning Christmas this month by wearing very bright, colourful, and I suppose summery eyeshadow. My favourite combination at the moment is red in the crease and a yellow lid. I know that sounds odd, but it looks amazing with my warm toned skin and blue eyes. I'll likely do a tutorial or a post just on that soon! I've been using this Makeup Revolution #Revoholic The Matte Edit palette the most.


As you might have known from my social media, I've been making a transition to cruelty-free makeup and I recently replaced my foundation with this Elf Flawless Finish Foundation. It's quickly become a favourite. Not only is it good, medium, buildable coverage, but the colour match for me is brilliant, and it's long-lasting on my oily skin, which doesn't crease.


I've been setting my makeup every single time using this Makeup Revolution Pro Fix Oil Control Fixing Spray, and I've noticed a difference in how long my makeup lasts. It also helps to leave a matte finish, so my skin doesn't feel as oily throughout the day. Not only is it a great price, but it's lasting me forever so it's great value for money. 


I recently got this NYX Microbrow Pencil and it's a great dupe for the Soap & Glory pencil or the ABH pencil. I much prefer when eyebrow pencils have a very fine tip so I can focus on the detail in my brows rather than just making them thick and dark. It has a spoolie on one side, which is always handy too.


There are 2 TV shows that I've been obsessing over this month. The first one is The Good Place on Netflix. The episodes are short and sweet and always end on a cliffhanger. If the new season wasn't being released weekly, I'd have definitely binge watched the whole lot. It's quirky and fun and if you haven't already seen it, I'd give it a 10/10 so it's totally worth trying!


The other TV series I've loved is Victoria. Eric and I have genuinely watched the whole 2 seasons and the Christmas Special over the last 2 weeks. Which is kind of crazy to watch so much TV but we were hooked. The story is incredibly interesting and has some great side stories throughout too. It tackles important political topics and is just all around a great watch.


And last but by no means least... I feel like we need a drumroll here. No doubt anyone who follows my social media will know exactly what's next. It has to be The Greatest Showman, not just the film - which was fantastic, but the soundtrack too. When I saw it in the cinema I left feeling so elated and I also shed a few tears. I've had the soundtrack on repeat pretty much every day. I literally cannot fault it. To top off a month of my obsession with it, I won this print with the lyrics from 'This Is Me', from Kayley Mills on Instagram. It's proudly showcased on my wall of pictures now.


As you can tell, I fell in love with a lot of new things which, if you haven't tried, you certainly should! If you haven't seen The Greatest Showman or the TV shows, then my gosh where have you been? Get them watched and let me know what you think!

Voices of IBD (17) - Erica's Story

Welcome to PART 17 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.



This week we talk to Erica about her battle with Crohn's Disease. 

What is your name and age? 

Erica Knight, aged 40

What is your occupation? 

Stay at home mum, apprentice blogger

What form of IBD have you got?

Crohn’s Disease

How old were you when you were diagnosed? 

35

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

I’d suffered from misdiagnosed IBS since my teens. Stomach pain, loose stools, passing blood etc for years. Immediately prior to diagnosis, I had flu-like symptoms, high temperature and awful abdominal pain which the GP was convinced was appendicitis. I was sent to A&E where they carried out a CT scan prior to taking me to have it removed – which was a bit of luck!

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

I was given the diagnosis by a junior doctor at about 2am in the surgical assessment unit. “Good news it’s not your appendix. It does look like Crohn’s though. I don’t know much about it so you’ll have to wait until the morning for the consultant”.
The only person I knew with Crohn’s was bald and skinny. I was neither. I Googled it and scared myself stupid

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

At the time, not a great deal. I had t wait weeks for an appointment. They didn’t have IBD nurses at my hospital at that time. Now they do and they are fab

Do you take medication, if so, what?

Yes, I tried Pentasa but it was too late and I had to have a bowel resection. My most recent flare has presented with active Crohn’s in my colon and a fistula. I am on Infliximab infusions every 8 weeks and Mercaptopurine daily. Vitamin B12 injections every 3 months

What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

Following my initial colonoscopy to confirm Crohn’s I have had 8 operations. The first being the bowel resection, unfortunately, that went wrong and I had an anastomotic leak which nearly killed me. I had an emergency laparoscopy and ended up with a stoma, mucous fistula and a stint in intensive care. That stay was 4 weeks in total. I had the stoma reversed 7 months later, I was in for 4 to 5 days. I developed an incisional hernia so that was operated on, it was a bit of a mess of adhesions and I was in 4 to 5 days again. Unfortunately, the mesh used to repair my hernia became infected so I had to have another emergency operation to remove it. That was fun.
I then fell pregnant and had a period of being well before having another flare after my baby was born. I had a fistula and had to have 3 operations on that before I could go on the current medication.

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

Both big flares were following pregnancies but that may have been a coincidence. I would say being run down or stressed makes it worse. I don’t have trigger foods, unlike some people.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

I’ve struggled with depression since my teens. I try to remain positive but obviously having this amount of ill health affects me. Especially the side effects, needing the loo, bowel incontinence etc.

Was this because of your IBD, or influenced by your IBD or vice versa?

I think they go hand in hand. It causes depression and in turn, the depression can make the IBD worse.

Do you get support for your mental health?

I have had counselling but not specifically Crohn’s related. I’ve been on anti-depressants in the past but not at the moment.

Do you feel like you get the right support?


Probably not, I need to come to terms with it properly at some point. Right now I feel like I am winging it.

How do you cope?

Having two young sons I try to just “get on with it”. I can’t stop or spend too long worrying about it, I don’t have the time or energy.

What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring?

I now call my IBD nurse. I am in a constant flare at the moment, it’s just being managed.

What do you do to give yourself a break or relax?

Sleep!

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a teenager. I haven’t really changed my lifestyle much. I am not as active as I’d like due to the fistula

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

Go to your GP and demand to be tested. I wish I had made more of a fuss rather than accepting that it was “stress-related IBS”. It might have prevented me from needing the operations, at least at that time

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

Be supportive, understand “bad days”, be there for them. There are times we’d love to go out but we just can’t – we don’t want to let people down. Turn up with some chocolate and put the kettle on and have a good giggle instead. Visit us in hospital – we appreciate it

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?

My family, my friends. I write about Crohn’s on my own blog and Facebook page. I get some lovely comments from people. I am open about it and have a laugh about it. It’s what keeps me going

What is your favourite quote?

"It is what it is"


Not because I’ve given up, but because life is what you make of it. You can’t change what is thrown at you but you can change how it affects your future.

Thank you for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information.

You can find Erica on her blog at:

and her social media:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Cruelty Free Skincare for Oily, Spot Prone Skin

It's taken me YEARS to find the right skincare routine for my skin, and I finally feel like my skin is more stable than it ever was. I used to have acne and still struggle with hormonal break outs, with the odd cystic spot. My skin is very oily as well, which is something I've always struggled with, and probably always will since that's just my skin type.

For the New Year I decided to go completely cruelty-free on my cosmetics and skincare, and I'm so glad I did because, I've found some amazing budget beauty products! Everything I'll be mentioning below is cruelty-free.


The Skin System Foaming Face Wash 
£2.00 at Asda
I use this foaming tea tree face wash every morning in the shower when I wash my face. Tea tree is great for acne and spot prone skin with it's purifying and antibacterial properties that kill the bacteria causing spots. I find this face wash isn't too harsh on my skin like I find most acne-targeting products are. It also contains salicylic acid and witch hazel  to fight against blemishes as well.

The Body Shop Seaweed Oil Balancing Toner
£8.00 at The Body Shop
It's always important to tone your skin to remove any left over dirt from cleansing, as well as tightening your pores. I love this seaweed toner, and it's great for oily and combination skin.
My skin always feels more matte after using this, which is what you need when you have oily skin. I use this twice a day, both morning and night in my skincare routine.

Superdrug Vitamin E Nourishing Eye Cream
£2.99 at Superdrug
Now this product is aimed at normal to dry skin, but as it's an eye cream, I find it does a brilliant job at protecting and moisturising the delicate skin around my eyes, since I use harsher products on the rest of my skin to combat my spots. I feel like this cream has really made a difference to the brightness of the skin around my eyes and it's non-greasy, so it doesn't feel heavy.

The Body Shop Seaweed Oil-Control Gel Cream
£13.00 at The Body Shop
This is my morning and daytime cream as it's very lightweight on the skin. Gel based creams are great for not leaving oily skin feeling oilier than it needs to. This cream leaves my skin feeling clean and matte as it helps to balance the oil.

Superdrug Vitamin E Gentle Eye Makeup Remover
£2.99 at Superdrug
I use this eye makeup remover on a night with two cotton pads to remove my eye makeup. It even removes my heavier makeup looks, and waterproof mascara which I thought was bloody amazing when I first tried it. This is my second one, and I think this will be a firm favourite for a while. It's super gentle for the delicate eye area, and makeup just glides off, so you don't need to rub unnecessarily.

The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Oil or Butter
£12.00/ £10.00 at The Body Shop
I go between both the Camomile Cleansing Oil and the Butter, but I think I prefer the Cleansing Oil slightly more because it's easier to work into the skin. Both of these products are great at melting your makeup away after along day and are very calming and gentle on the skin. I apply them to dry skin and wipe away with a warm, damp flannel or muslin cloth.

Superdrug Naturally Radiant Renewing Night Cream
£5.99 at Superdrug
For the night time, I like to use a more moisturising cream, since so many of the products I use can be quite harsh on the skin - with all the tea tree oil, salicylic acid and witch hazel. This cream doesn't make my face feel greasy or heavy, it settles just nicely, and I feel like it really helps prevent my skin from drying out a bit too much with the other products.

The Body Shop Seaweed Oil-Balancing Clay Mask
£11.00 at The Body Shop
I absolutely love clay masks, they're my favourite type of mask to use because they work with my skin so amazingly. If you're a fan of the Himalayan Clay mask by The Body Shop, this is a good alternative as it has the same effect. I use this mask once or twice a week on an evening to do a really deep cleanse of my pores, and it's especially good when I'm having a spot breakout.

Witch Naturally Clear Blemish Gel
£2.99 at Superdrug
I use this blemish gel with witch hazel at night after my usual skincare routine; when I have a particularly nasty break out. It helps to clear up my spots quicker than usual, and it really helps to balance the oil on my skin.


Usually, I'm all for budget beauty, and while The Body Shop isn't exactly cheap, nor is it high end; I do find the quality of the products are worth it. It's particularly good when they have special offers on, which is when I tend to buy from them. Equally, I think Superdrug have released some pretty impressive skincare products for such a low price. I'm really pleased I've found products that seem to work with my skin after trying so many different things, and it's a huge plus that they're all cruelty free.

Have you tried any of these products and feel the same way? I'd love to know any recommendations for other skincare products for oily spot, prone skin. If you end up trying one of these, I'd also like to know what you think of them!


Voices of IBD (16) - Casey's Story

Welcome to PART 16 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.



This week we talk to Casey about her battle with Crohn’s Disease.



What is your name and age?

Casey Flancbaum, 26 years old

What is your occupation?

Music Teacher and performer. I am also on the Board of Directors for a foundation that works with the homeless animals in our city (Denton Animal Support Foundation). 

What form of IBD have you got?

Crohn's disease

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

22 years old 

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

Bleeding, inability to eat, and rapid weight loss

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

I felt pretty relieved when diagnosed.  I struggled with digestive problems my entire life - my mom suspected IBD when I was young and tried to get a diagnosis but the doctors didn't see enough evidence on the outside to run any tests.  I was told most of my life it was IBS and to just work on my diet for relief (which didn't work).  When I was 22 and planning my wedding I went into the worst flare I ever had, which led to an Ulcerative Colitis diagnosis.  That doctor ended up not working out, and the next doctor did a colonoscopy and changed the diagnosis to Crohn's.  As tired and sick as I felt, it was nice to have someone validate the pain I was going through and help to form a plan for treatment. 


What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

The doctor who first diagnosed me told me up front that he didn't have any IBD patients and that I would need to move on, which I did.  The next doctor was very good and was always giving me more information and involving me in my treatment plan, but as my disease got worse he decided to send me to a specialist who has been amazing! Besides my doctors, my husband has been my biggest support system.  He comes to every appointment, takes notes, does research, and advocates fiercely for me.  I'm very lucky to have someone like that in my corner.  

Do you take medication , if so, what?

I am currently on Lialda, 6mp, and Entyvio (every 8 weeks, probably switching to 6 though). I also take different things for nausea, pain, GERD, and such. 


What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital, or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

I have way more hospital visits than I'd like, but on top of having Crohn's I also have Type 1 diabetes, so there are some other complications that require a trip.  My first year with the disease I was in the hospital a couple of times a month, since then i've gotten better about managing pain and dehydration - I really only go to the hospital if I feel like I can't get the dehydration under control.  I'm hesitant to go for pain, as we have a large drug problem in our community and I don't want to get into a situation where they see me as someone with an addiction.  I had 11 colonoscopies in my first year and a half of diagnosis, which I never thought to question because I wasn't sure if it was standard or not.  Since then its usually twice a year for both scopes, more if something is wrong.  I don't have an IBD nurse. 

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

Stress is a big one for me, I start hurting soon after getting stressed out.  I also notice worsening symptoms in the summer and usually end up in the ER more often because of it! For the most part though, flares and symptoms seem pretty random. 

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

I do struggle with depression and anxiety, and wish this was something that was discussed more with doctors because it is a huge component of our disease! 

Was this because of you IBD, or influenced by your IBD or vice versa?

I'm sure there was some underlying depression before the illness, but it definitely got worse once I started getting really sick.  I don't always notice it, but the people around me let me know if they're noticing a change in mood. 

Do you get support for your mental health?
Do you feel like you get the right support?

I tried seeing a couple of therapists, but didn't feel like they had enough understanding of what life with chronic illness is like to be able to help me.  If I could find someone with experience in that I would definitely make an appointment! 

How do you cope?
What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring?

I have the cutest dogs on the planet, and they are my favorite coping buddies.  I spend a lot of time in bed or in the bathroom when flaring, and they are always by my side and remind me that there's more to life than just illness. When I feel like a flare is starting, I usually stop eating and up my fluid intake to try to give my body a rest.  I make sure to rest as much as I can, and I use a heating pad for pain.  Flares for me usually means liquids and solids will either cause bad pain or send me straight to the bathroom, so if its bad enough I will go to the ER for IV fluids.  If I can drink, I use homemade electrolyte drinks or DripDrop. 

 What do you do to give yourself a break or relax?

I love to cook, garden, and spend as much time outside with the dogs as humanly possible. 

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

I started following the Autoimmune Protocol a little over a year ago.  It didn't help with my Crohn's as much as I would have liked, but it definitely made my body stronger and healthier.  It is an elimination diet that is similar to Paleo with more restrictions.  At this point I have reintroduced a lot of foods but don't eat gluten, dairy, or raw greens and that seems to be okay for now. 

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

Don't wait until you are too sick to get out of bed to look for answers! IBD might not be the answer, but if you are experiencing concerning symptoms a doctor should know! 

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

Try to always see things from your loved one's perspective.  If we have to cancel plans or leave something early, we have probably gone back and forth over that decision for hours before bringing it up.  Most of all just be understanding that we didn't choose the way our bodies work, and we can't control what it decides to do. 

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?

I try to always pay attention to the good that I have in my life.  I have a wonderful family, husband, pets, career, and can afford to live on the salary we bring in.  I may be sick, but some people have it much worse than I do. 



What is your favourite quote?

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." - Theodore Roosevelt

 I do a lot of volunteer work, but can't always do as much as i'd like.  I have to always remind myself that giving 100% looks different for everyone, and we have to constantly evaluate where we are to know if we are doing our best because our best changes from day to day.

Thank you Casey for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information. 


Voices of IBD (15) - Rachael's Story

Welcome to PART 15 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.


This week we talk to Rachael about her battle with Crohn’s Colitis.




What is your name and age?

Rachael, 28 years old.

What is your occupation?

Teaching Assistant.

What form of IBD have you got?

I have Crohn’s Colitis, Peri-Anal Crohn’s.

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was diagnosed when I was 13.

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

It’s hard to think back to then, but I had lost a lot of weight and slept pretty much all the time.

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

I was confused when I was first diagnosed. No one had heard of the disease, so it was all new.

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

The support I received was fantastic. The Paediatric team were amazing, and there all the time. So are the team I have now, going above and beyond in helping me.

Do you take medication , if so, what?

I take two lots of medication – Humira and Azathioprine.

What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital, or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

My hospital has always been fantastic, I couldn’t fault them. I’ve been quite lucky. I’ve not had many stays in hospital – once a year maybe. Which I think is quite lucky compared to most people! So far, I’ve had a Sigmoidoscopy each year due to my Crohn’s and before that I had a Colonoscopy. I hate the prep, so I bargain with my surgeon to not have them. I have an IBD nurse, who is amazing. In fact, all three, with Jo being the main one, are great, knowledgeable and caring people. They speed things up, and see me in clinic.

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

I would have to say that stress can aggravate the symptoms, which can cause me more problems.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

I can’t say that I’ve been diagnosed with any mental health issues, but I can say that emotionally – it’s hard to get around. Especially for me as I’ve been told in the past and even now that I need a stoma bag. I’ve had days off because I cant cope very well with it. I think you go through all the emotions with it, especially if your medications don’t work either.

Do you get support for your mental health?

My IBD nurse and GP were there for me when I was having a tough time. My friends where there and we would more cry than talk about it.

How do you cope?
What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring?


I cope with it by keeping busy, colouring all things calming, and even just lying in my room. Sometimes I go to bed early, just to catch up on sleep.

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

I think I was lucky as I didn’t have to make many changes to my lifestyle or diet. I think it’s because I’ve always been a fussy eater too. I’ve had to cope with a stoma, which changed a few things - like not being able to lift things.

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

I would definitely say go get checked out if you have symptoms. I was quite young when I was diagnosed. It was my aunt and mum that noticed I’d lost weight when I got poorly. I know they were quite persistent too.

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

Take it easy on them and let them rest. Don’t go on at them. I know that’s the hardest bit!

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?
The thing that keeps me motivated is my job. I studied to be in the job I do and I love it. I work with children and watching them grow takes the pain of the Crohn’s away. Because I’m so busy I’m like a flamingo really. Burying my head in the sand and getting on with it. I like to be busy so it helps.


What is your favourite quote?

I have loads!

“What goes around comes around”

“Ironing boards are like surf boards that give up on their dreams. Don’t be an ironing board!”

“If you get tired, learn to rest not quit”.


Thank you Rachael for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information.

Mermaid Makeup

I got the Makeup Revolution Mermaids Forever eyeshadow palette at Christmas, and I've used it most days already. I'm in love with all the shades it has in it. I created this pastel makeup look that reminds me of mermaids or unicorns (are they still on trend?), and I'm not exactly 'into' that sort of thing but I thought it looked really pretty!


I started with the shade Pretty in the crease of my eyelid, really working it up to the brow. I then made it even deeper using the shade Pink Sea, which has more of a red undertone. Because I have hooded eyelids, it helped to accentuate more definition.


For the eyelid itself, I used 3 different shades. I started with Sea in the outer corner, which is a beautiful blue shade. I went across the centre of my lid with Land, a lovely mermaid green, and then took Song on my inner corner which is a lilac colour. I blended plenty to makeup sure the colours didn't look out of place. 


I then took the shade Seashell on the very inner corner of my eye as a highlight. I used my Marc Jacobs Highliner in the shade Pink Of Me on my waterline which is a pretty light pink eyeliner. Of course, I finished everything off with my Kat Von D Tattoo Liner and you can use any old mascara.


I added the Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick in the shade Lovecraft which is probably my favourite lipstick at the moment. I only have a mini, so I will definitely be getting the full size. I love this makeup look so much. I've been wearing it almost every day. I don't even care that I'm almost 25 and wearing mermaid makeup!

New Years Resolutions - 2018

I've seen quite a few of these posts. I'm not going to lie, I'm mostly writing this for myself; as a motivation to make me push to do it. I'm very much a "give up" person, and I feel like maybe if these are written down, for everyone to see - maybe I'll actually do it... who knows!

I'm keeping my resolutions realistic for me. Like I said, I give up a lot, and I never usually stick at anything I set out to do. So I didn't really want to make things that I'm likely to give up whether its a week or months into the year.

1) Eat less meat.
I originally wanted to go vegetarian or pescatarian, but I was already struggling within a week. Now before anyone says "how hard can it be to not eat something", I do have medical needs and a very restricted diet already so cutting out a food source completely that I'm actually ABLE to eat without getting ill is hard when there so many foods out there that do the opposite. So at least until I'm in some kind of remission from my illness I think eating less meat is better than not doing anything at all about it.

2) Do more for charity.
I did the odd bit here and there last year and I definitely want to do more this year. Especially for Crohn's and Colitis UK and local cat and dog shelters because they're pretty important to me. I've already started collecting dog food for the shelter which I'll continue to do all year then donate it just before Christmas when they're at their busiest.

3) Move to cruelty-free cosmetics/skincare.
I'm super proud that a week into January and my skincare is already all cruelty free thanks to The Body Shop and Superdrug. My makeup however, will get used up and then when it comes to replacing products I'll only buy cruelty free brands. So that should slowly happen over the next few months, since I didn't think wasting products (and money) is useful for anyone!

4) Go out more.
I have a real problem with going out. Things have to be very well planned, I like to know exactly where I'm going, where toilets are and how long I'll be out because of my illness. I don't want to let it dictate my life anymore and I want to make a point of getting out more since I did turn down some things last year because of this stupid condition. Not anymore!

5) Stick to a regular gym schedule.
Now I actually enjoy the gym, and I enjoy working out. But I just don't do it. I just don't get up and get out. I have a real problem with fatigue and motivation so I want to make a point of doing it more. It might mean building it up slowly or doing a few workouts at home too, but I want to make a real difference to my health with things I can control myself. Since medication and 'doing less' has caused me to gain a couple stone, I want to feel a bit more comfortable in myself so actively doing something about it should help!

There we have it. I will do this.

What are your new years resolutions? Are you like me and find it hard to stick at things? Fingers crossed that 2018 is the year I really get my butt into gear and get things done!

Voices of IBD (14) - Natalie's Story.

Welcome to PART 14 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.


This week we talk to Natalie about her battle with Crohn’s Disease.





What is your name and age?

Natalie Hayden, 34 years old

What is your occupation?

I'm currently a blogger and freelancer. Prior to having my son, I worked as a television news anchor and reporter for nearly a decade. I've also spent a few years doing public affairs PR and media relations.

What form of IBD have you got?

I have Crohn's disease.

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was diagnosed in July 2005, I was 21 years old.

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

Luckily, it only took two months for me to receive a diagnosis. My symptoms included excruciating stomach pains, extreme fatigue, high fevers/chills, inability to eat without feeling pain immediately after and lots of bathroom breaks.

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

I felt like a ton of bricks came crashing down on me. I knew a couple of people with Crohn's, but I had been perfectly healthy my entire life. Knowing that you have a chronic illness, for which there is no cure, at age 21...was a lot to process. I felt overwhelmed and isolated.

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

Back in 2005, there really wasn't a whole lot of conversation on social media or online. I didn't have anyone but my friends and family for several years.

Do you take medication , if so, what?

When I was first diagnosed I was on 22 pills a day (prednisone, cipro, flagyl, asacol, prevacid)...in July 2008 I was hospitalized with a phlegmom abscess and was put on Humira. I've been on Humira more than 9 years. I also take Lialda along with several vitamins (Vitamin D, calcium, a prescription prenatal and folic acid).

What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital, or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

I have had several hospitalizations and ER visits since being diagnosed in 2005. I believe I've had seven stays of 5-7 days and then multiple ER visits. I've had one Crohn's-related surgery. In August 2015, I underwent a bowel resection and had 18 inches of my small intestine removed. I've had three colonoscopies, I go for another in January (19th). My GI doctor has great IBD nurses, but when I've been hospitalized, I have not had a specific IBD nurse for my care.

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

Stress and excitement are my biggest triggers. I find my emotions really play a big role in how my gut feels. If I'm flaring, certain foods can also be difficult to digest and give me pain. Luckily, I really don't have any dietary restrictions. I stay away from diet soda, beer, nuts and popcorn.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

Luckily, I have not had any mental health issues. Each day with IBD you have a constant inner dialogue that can make your anxious and feel uneasy. The worry of the next flare is always looming over you.

How do you cope?

I cope by writing my feelings and sharing them with others. I find it to be incredibly empowering to blog and inspire people through my own patient journey.

What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring?

I put myself on a liquid diet to calm my bowels and rest.

What do you do to give yourself a break or relax?

I used to be able to relax, lay on the couch and take it easy...now I have a son, so being a mom can be a challenge at times. There is really no downtime, I have to push through, even when it's not the best day.

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

I've learned not to spread myself too thin and to be more aware of the signs my body is giving me when something is not right. I find exercise and breathing exercises help to clear my mind and put me at ease.

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

Don't be afraid to tell someone and speak up about your worries. Do what you can to get answers for yourself before your disease spirals out of control. If you catch it early on, you will be better off. Know that you are not alone in your fears and concerns. Those of us in the IBD family have been where you are and we are readily available to offer comfort and advice.

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

Show empathy. Have compassion and patience. Don't pretend your loved one or friend is perfectly fine and never ask them how they are doing. When they are in the hospital or flaring and you know about it, do a random act of kindness. Don't act like you get it, if it's not your own personal reality. Educate yourself and those around you. IBD is an invisible illness, those of us who battle it are very good at pretending everything is fine, even when it isn't.

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?

Yes, my son and my husband inspire me to be strong.



What is your favourite quote?

"Keep Swimming"

and

"Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it. Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfil it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it” – Mother Theresa. 



Thank you Natalie, for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information.

You can find Natalie on her social media:

Instagram: @natalieannhayden
Twitter: @nataliesparacio

Simple Steps to Improve Your Nail Health

Our hands and nails are often neglected since we use them every day for so many different tasks. They become dry, cracked and nails can break. Here are some simple steps you can take to improve your hand and nail health!

  1. Wear rubber gloves when doing housework. This prevents nail chipping and damage and avoids chemicals getting on your skin.

  2. Use hand cream regularly to keep your skin hydrated and moisturised... just like how you use a face moisturiser.

  3. Avoid metal nail files. They are too abrasive for natural nails and damage them. Stick to regular nail files!

  4. Keep your nails at a workable length. Natural nails aren't designed to be very long, and keeping them at a good length prevents damage and breakage.

  5. Drink plenty of water. It's good for our overall health, including our hands and nails!

  6. Do simple hand exercises to keep joints supple. Things like finger and wrist rotations make a big difference.

  7. Avoid hard or drying soaps. Harsh and scented soaps leave your hands coarse and dry. It's best to use natural, skin-kind soaps.

  8. Don't use your nails as tools, like opening cans. This weakens the nail.

  9. Use cuticle cream or oil daily to keep your cuticles moisturised and prevent them sticking to the nail plate.

  10. Use acetone-free nail polish to prevent damage to your nail, and always use a base coat to protect your nail from polish. 

I'd recommend regular manicures too. Manicures can improve healthy nail growth, increase blood circulation, increase hand and wrist flexibility, improve some skin issues, increases cell renewal, and relaxing treatments can sometimes aid stress and anxiety! So if you haven't had one before, definitely give your local salon a visit.






A look back on 2017: My Life.

I really like seeing what others have achieved in the year, and what they’ve overcome… I thought I would make a similar post. Mainly, for me to look back on, and be able to remember not only my accomplishments but also the things I’ve struggled with and come through stronger. 2017 was a big year for me in many ways; perhaps not big in comparison to others who maybe got their first home or had a baby, but I definitely feel like I achieved a lot, and met some real personal goals!

January 2017

I had my first ever personal trainer session at the gym and I was very proud of myself (I didn’t keep it up.)

We went on Eric’s belated work Christmas do because they made it January instead of December (not sure why) at The Earl of Pitt Street, Newcastle.

February 2017

Eric and I went to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the theatre, it was lovely!

I had my last day as a Deputy Manager at a preschool after 2 years, I got so many flowers, cards and gifts and it was very emotional. I was leaving for a similar job with more hours, so I could save up more money for a house.

Eric and I visited our friends who lived in Bracknell at the time. We went to Stonehenge, Clearwell Caves and played games while we ate pizza.

I started Skinnypigs Fitness Classes (I didn’t keep it up).


March 2017

I had my last session at Cognitive Behavioural Therapy because my anxiety and depression improved, and I felt like I left with some useful coping mechanisms!

I started my new job as a Deputy Manager in a different preschool, which I thought was really going to make a difference to me and Eric getting a home (I was wrong).

I kept up Skinnypigs twice a week for the whole month – I was so proud of myself!

April 2017

I turned 24 on the 22nd April. I celebrated with a meal and drinks with friends.



My illness started to get worse even though it had recently improved. My colitis was flaring. I wasn’t enjoying my new job which was creating a lot of stress and affecting my anxiety and depression. I was placed on heavier drugs.

Eric took me to a beautiful lodge in the Lake District for my birthday. It was beautiful, the weather was perfect – despite being very poorly with my colitis and tonsillitis, I loved it.



May 2017

I got sicker and ended up off work with a sicknote. I was experiencing gaslighting at work, and found myself crying most days.

I did the Crohn’s and Colitis WALK IT Charity Event despite being very poorly. It was silly hot weather for the UK so I was super sweaty.



May was a difficult month. I was more depressed, and very anxious about everything – work, my illness, going out.

I decided to quit the job that was making my illness worse, that I worked so hard for a year to improve. I handed in my notice.

I had an MRI scan on my spine to check for Arthritis, and it was good news. No Arthritis!



June 2017

I was unemployed properly for the first time since I was 18, and was in a dark place in my life.
I decided to start blogging and YouTube to fill a lot of my new spare time!

I got a professional photoshoot from Sit Stay Capture for my puppies before they get very grey. I wanted to remember their youthful faces!

I had several job interviews with no luck – so I kept myself busy with a regular blog schedule and lots of social media promotion.

I had my 3rd Flexible Sigmoidoscopy in 10 months because of my stupid Colitis, I hate those things.

July 2017

I went on my first hen do with a friend, and really enjoyed it!

I signed on to Universal Credit because I was struggling to find a paid job, and was so worried about bills! My first time on benefits and for some reason I felt ashamed…

I quickly got over people’s judgements about being unemployed and on benefits. I worked solidly for many years – if I need some support temporarily, I’ll take it.

August 2017

Eric turned 26 and we celebrated with a meal and drinks, and doing an Escape Room with friends.


I went wedding dress shopping with one of my best friends, and cried when she found ‘the one’!

Eric and I attended a friend’s wedding together with our group of friends, it was lovely!

I went to my first bloggers event, and it was with The Body Shop. I was so happy my blog was doing well!

Eric and I went on our first holiday abroad that we’d waited over a year for! We went to Ibiza and it couldn’t have went any better. We enjoyed the Hippy Market, Ibiza Old Town, live singers and lots and lots of food.

I enrolled to go back to college and change my life. I decided to do Beauty Therapy.



September 2017

I started college. I was extremely anxious about it, but I’m so proud of myself for making such a big decision!

My blog hit 10,000 views. I was over the moon! All the hard work was paying off.



October 2017

I went on a Speed Awareness Course because I was stupid and did 36 in a 30 zone. I have never gone over the speed limit since.

I started getting invited to more blogger events, like with intu Metrocentre!

We celebrated my 2nd favourite holiday… Halloween! Eric and I dressed as a Day of the Dead couple.



November 2017

Eric and I went to see the fireworks at Whitley Bay for Bonfire Night.

I started feeling better in myself… both mentally and physically. So, I started a new gym membership. I went to Yoga and Pilates.

I had my first ever smear test. Got freaked out that I bled a lot, but I had good results!

December 2017

Eric and I went to Edinburgh for the day. Our first weekend away almost 3 years ago was Edinburgh, so it was lovely to go back. We explored the Christmas market and made a day of it.

I had my final assessments at college for my first term. I had convinced myself that I’d do badly, but I left with 3 distinctions and a merit!

I got referred to the Breast Clinic for a cancer scare and had an ultrasound scan. It was good news, and it was just that… a scare and nothing more. It was a very stressful week as you can imagine!
Because my Colitis wasn’t improving, I was put on even more drugs (I was already taking a hefty amount).

I arranged a blogger night out with some local bloggers and I was so proud of myself for overcoming my anxiety on this one! Everyone was lovely, and I thought it went really well.


Eric had his Christmas work night out at Jesmond Dene House… so technically we had 2 Christmas nights in one year!

My blog hit 20,000 views! I was ecstatic.

I completed a spray tan course and became qualified!

I stuck at my new gym membership – a first for me!

Celebrated Christmas with lots of family and friends.

Saw the New Year in with Eric and our closest friends.




I’m still unemployed, and my Colitis may not have improved. But I achieved so much in other ways with changing my career path, going back to college, not allowing a workplace to treat me the way they did, and achieving so much through my blog and YouTube.

I’ve received so much support from the people around me, and I’m also really proud of myself for the choices I’ve made and the things I’ve achieved. I’m really hopeful that 2018 will bring even more accomplishments!