Voices of IBD (10) - Izzy's Story

Welcome to PART 10 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 Izzy about her battle with Ulcerative Colitis.

What is your name and age?

I’m Izzy and I’m 19 years old.

What is your occupation?

I’m a Digital Communications Apprentice- I’m well on my way to becoming a fully-qualified professional Tweeter.

What form of IBD have you got?

I have Ulcerative Colitis.

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was 18 - I’m approaching my diagnosis anniversary, and there will be cake.

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

I’ve never had entirely normal toilet habits, but about a month after I started my new job I lost a lot of weight. I put it down to the fact that the new job nerves meant that I had no appetite whatsoever.
Next, the joint pain started. Some days it was so bad I couldn’t wash my hair, other days I couldn’t walk from my desk to the fridge. Then, I started noticing blood when I went to the toilet.
One doctor’s appointment, and a flexible sigmoidoscopy later, I was diagnosed.

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

I was gutted, but not all that surprised. I WebMD everything, and IBD had come up more than once when I had searched my symptoms. That said, I remember feeling a bit empty when I heard things like ‘lifelong’ and ‘incurable’.

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

I didn’t get any real support. I was referred to websites like Crohn’s and Colitis UK, but apart from that it was all quite isolating.

Do you take medication, if so, what?

I have tried a fair few things in the last year. I’ve tried two of the 5-ASA treatments, but it turns out I’m allergic to the ingredient common to all 5.
I have been on steroids almost constantly since my diagnosis, and finished another course a couple of days ago. With the steroids, I take Omeprazole to protect my stomach.
I’m also on Azathioprine, but it’s still too soon to tell if that agrees with me…

What are your experiences with hospitals?

Completely mixed. My hospital is the only in the world to specialise entirely in intestines, so I know I’m getting good treatment, but I’m not a big fan of the woman I have my regular appointments with.

Have you had many stays in hospital, or colonoscopies?

One sigmoidoscopy and two colonoscopies. I have been admitted once, but I was there for less than 24 hours. Also, an MRI, a bone density scan, a few x-rays, more blood tests than I can count and at least a dozen blood pressure tests.

Do you have an IBD nurse?

I’ve only met her once but it was the most productive and constructive appointment I’ve ever had.

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

Stress doesn’t help. A lack of sleep, or anything like a common cold, and it’s like my colon wants to remind me that it’s also not well- I can’t have a headache without feeling exhausted, nauseous and crampy. Also the classic things, like coffee and high fibre foods.

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

A nurse once told me that the most important thing is that I eat, so I pick a biscuit and live off that. If it’s so bad I can’t work, I start a new book, or pick a series on Netflix/Amazon Prime and retreat to bed. I get bored very quickly so try to work from home where I can.

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

I stopped drinking coffee, because it felt like a sensible thing to do. I also stopped being vegetarian.
I wasn’t exactly a little socialite pre-diagnosis, but I definitely say ’no’ to more now.

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

Don’t Google anything- seriously. Don’t panic. Don’t hang about.

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

Don’t offer unsolicited advice, no matter how much you think you know. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t be judge-y… Ever.

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

It could always be worse.

What is your favourite quote?

Can I pick two? *Yes* I hear you cheer…

            “Though she be but little, she is fierce” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
            “Nevertheless, she persisted”

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 Izzy on Twitter and Instagram as @izzyakennedy

Top 10 Affordable Autumn to Winter Lipsticks

I LOVE wearing lipstick. It's my favourite makeup item, that I can't be without. But like heck do I want to throw money away on makeup; so I've compiled my favourite lipsticks for this season (but also for anytime really), that are affordable, and look great too!

1) Rimmel Lasting Finish 128 Starry Eyed

A stunning, deep red-brown shade perfect for these Autumn months in the run up to winter. There are lots of Rimmel lipsticks in this post because Rimmel are killing the affordable lipstick game.

2) Rimmel Lasting Finish Kate Moss 30

A beautiful deep purple shade, which goes lovely with Autumn to Winter fashion. Wear this with your mustard jumper and tell me you ain't Autumnal AF.

3) Rimmel Lasting Finish Rita Ora 170 Alarm

The perfect true red. This is perfect for a night out and for all the Christmas fashion trends where you need a killer red lip.

4) Rimmel Lasting Finish Kate Moss 107

This is probably my favourite lipstick of all time. As you can see in the photo it's well loved, and well used. It's a great every day red shade, if you like to wear a red lip pretty much every day like I do. It's like a dark, but muted red.

5) Maybelline Colour Sensational Loaded Bolds 886 Berry Bossy

This berry-purple is PERFECT this season, and it's exactly as the name suggests. It's very bold and looks perfect when you're in a cosy jumper.

7) Rimmel Moisture Renew 770 Glam Plum Fulham

The Rimmel Moisture Renew range are often understated. They are super moisturising, and this deep red is perfect for the winter months.

8) Sleek Matte Me Liquid Lip Cream Velvet Slipper

I only recently discovered the Sleek Matte Me Range this year, and they fast became my all time favourite matte lips. The shade Velvet Slipper is such a stunning matte, mauve-purple.

9) Sleek Matte Me Liquid Lip Cream Vino Tinto

I love this shade and I wore it for my Vampire Halloween look. It's a beautiful blood red-purple, but of course you don't have to be a vampire to rock this look.

9) Sleek Matte Me Liquid Lip Cream Birthday Suit

Probably my 2nd favourite out of the whole list. If i'm not wearing the Rimmel 107, it's most likely this lovely nude lip I'm wearing.

10) Sleek Matte Me Metallic Liquid Lip Cream Rusted Rose

Lastly, we can't go into the Winter and Christmas season without a metallic lip. This Rusted Rose shade is perfectly shimmering with metallic tones but dries matte!

I hope this list was useful to you, if you use any of these lipsticks do let me know! Which is your all time favourite affordable lipstick?

Voices of IBD (9) - Sarah's Story

Welcome to PART 9 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 Sarah about her battle with Crohn’s Disease

What is your name and age?

Hi, I am Sarah. I’m 45.

What is your occupation?

I haven't been able to work for 10 years due to Crohn's Disease and a few other issues. I used to work in Social Housing and my last role was an Income Manager.

What form of IBD have you got?

Crohn's Disease

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was diagnosed with Crohn's when I was 18 after many years of being intermittently ill.

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

Severe mouth ulceration in my mouth and in the cheek mucosa. Pain and discomfort in my stomach and weight loss. It took several years for a diagnosis and several doctors I saw thought I was anorexic and did try and get me sectioned to force feed me. The Gastro consultant I finally saw for diagnosis was rude and had the attitude 'I know best'.

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

At that time there was no support or specialist nurses like I have now.

Do you take medication, if so, what?

I take Azathioprine with Allopurinol and Stelera

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

I am lucky I have a great team in Birmingham and have always supported me on admission. I have had many stays (can't remember!), yearly scopes and a great team of IBD nurses. I am on a very strict diet as foods can make things worse. But otherwise, I have no real idea. My Crohn's is not well managed.

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

I am on a very strict diet as foods can make things worse. But otherwise, I have no real idea.

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

I have depression and anxiety.

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

My disease is definitely a contributing factor. I have been taking medication for this since 2006.

Do you feel like you get the right support?

I don't really get any support, except family and close friends. My Partner and cats keep me (mostly) sane.

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

This is a difficult question to answer, I just get on with it. I like to read when I have the attention levels to do that as I have chronic fatigue. Lots of crap American TV shows! I never leave home without a change of clothes and I have to prepare a few days in advance to go out, to try and minimise the possibility of accidents.

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

If someone was worried they may have IBD I would tell them to keep a food and toilet diary and record the colour of blood etc and anything else that may have changed. Take this to your GP and be persistent. Ask questions, do proper research. Be honest with your family and friends about the impact IBD has. It takes a while for people to understand, especially if you look OK on the outside

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

I hope to at some point be able to return to work and have always worked towards that and my Mum was a great inspiration as she was severely disabled with Multiple Sclerosis and always had a smile on her face.

What is your favourite quote?

'Don't let the bastards grind you down'

'Don't fake with being OK. You only hurt yourself. Be real with what you are going through, just don't let it consume you'

Thank you Sarah 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.

Living with Anxiety and Illness.

I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder, as well as Ulcerative Colitis. Unfortunately, my colitis is largely affected by my anxiety. It sets it off and makes me flare so badly. When your mental health (which by itself is bad enough), causes your physical health to worsen, it becomes a vicious cycle. A cycle of worrying about day to day life, worrying about your health, worrying about whether you can go out that day.

This constant circle of worrying and pain is exhausting. People really underestimate how much anxiety can affect your overall health. When you also live with an invisible illness, that’s made worse by it, you can’t help but feel isolated and misunderstood.

What is there to worry about? I honestly worry about absolutely everything. Does this person like me? Is my friend, even my friend at all? What if I’m ill when I’m out and there’s no toilet? Where’s the closest disabled toilet? What if I make a fool of myself and start to stutter? Can I trust this person? Is this person lying?

Having taken different SSRI’s like Citalopram and Sertraline, and attended Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to try and learn to control my spiral of worry and anxiety; I have become better at intercepting my worry before it goes too far.

But it still affects me every day. My self-esteem is so low, I constantly seek reassurance from the people around me. I regularly seek love and affection. I can’t help but try and control situations by making sure I’m usually the one doing the planning; picking a time and location, giving myself plenty of time before and after occasions to calm down and keeping a fairly strict schedule with my calendar. Over the last year in particular, I have learned to love myself more and calm down, with the help of my favourite people.

I’ve learned about how important self-care is, and the difference it makes. Everything from little every day acts, to taking a couple of days out to relax and reduce my stress. One trick I learnt from CBT, was mindfulness. When I’m feeling anxious, I focus on the environment if I can. One of my favourite mindful activities is taking my dogs for a walk and really focusing on the things around me – the sounds of the ducks and geese, the feel of the cold, crisp air, and the beauty of nature. It might sound wishy-washy, but for me, it makes the world of difference.

Though it doesn’t always work. Sometimes situations can become out of my control, and I get a full-on anxiety attack, and it genuinely affects me for days. It makes my Colitis flare, and if you’ve read my Living with Ulcerative Colitis blog post you’ll see how difficult that can be. But basically, it’s draining, continuous toilet trips up to 20 times a day with blood, extreme stomach pain, fatigue and joint pain.

Thankfully, my anxiety has improved enough for me to no longer require SSRI’s or therapy. But that doesn’t mean it’s gone. The thing with anxiety is it’s a hidden mental illness, so although I share the positive parts of my life on social media and with the people around me – it doesn’t mean anxiety isn’t there.

My treatment for anxiety was also to help control my Colitis. While I’m still in a flare (Since June 2016), it has at least been moved from “moderate” to “mild” and fingers crossed I get remission very very soon.  

The Body Shop Christmas Launch - Winter Skin Saviours and Go-To Christmas Makeup

On 1st November 2017 I was invited along to The Body Shop, Eldon Square, Newcastle for the VIP Christmas Launch to enjoy drinks, snacks, and a talk to the go-to winter skincare products and a demonstration of the new House of Holland palettes. 

There are so many lovely products available over the festive season which would be perfect for Christmas gifting (hint hint to my friends reading this!), from advent calendars to skincare giftsets and makeup sets!

Winter Skin Saviours As recommended by the ladies at The Body Shop!

  1. Oils of Life Sleeping Cream
    A perfect pick me up over the colder months when your skin gets dry and dehydrated. Wake up in the morning with revitalised, fresh skin.
  2. Vitamin E Hydrating Face Mist
    An instant kick of refreshment for your skin any time of the day; also useful as a setting spray!
  3. Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter
    I use this product myself to remove my makeup. It's such a gentle cleanser, that melts your makeup away and leaves your skin feeling silky soft after a long day. It so gentle you can use it for double cleansing.
  4. Drops of Youth Liquid Peel
    A brilliant liquid exfoliant that literally peels away your dead skin cells before your eyes, for a boost of rejuvenation when you need it.

  5. Oils of Life Intensely Revitalising Bi-Phase Essence Lotion
    This is a great product booster, used after you cleanse before you apply other products to replenish the moisture in your skin and improve the results of your usual routine!

We were given a fab demonstration of the new House of Holland x The Body Shop range, which are The Night Is Mine Winter Trend Palette and We Rule The World Winter Trend Palette, both available for £15 each, and contain 3 eye-shadows, a lip colour AND a highlighter! Dann, the makeup artist, used them alongside a stunning star eyeliner stamp, which would be super cute over the festive season.

We were shown the new Glow For It Sparkling Body Shimmer which comes with an extremely adorable powder puff and leaves your skin glowing. It's also the perfect little addition to anyone's vanity table because it's so pretty.

Lastly, we were introduced to the new Metallic Matte liquid Lips, which are stunning. They are 100% my cup of tea and I can't wait to get some for the coming Christmas season.

As always, I couldn't leave the shop without buying anything! I left with a hefty amount of Bath Bombs, which smell amazing by the way. I was kindly gifted a Satsuma Shower Gel with the purchase, and I love citrus scents, so I was very pleased with that.

Thanks again to everyone at The Body Shop, Eldon Square for the demos, recommendations and the invite! 

Bring on Christmas!

My Geek Box Unboxing October 2017

Let's take a little look at what was inside the October My Geek Box!

The first item was this sturdy metal wall sign with Daredevil on it. I was quite impressed with the quality of the sign, it was very thick and quite heavy. It did look super cool, but it doesn't fit in with the aesthetic of my room. I think it would be a fab gift for a marvel fan!

Next up was this Judge Dredd helmet ornament. I was very unsure about this item. I'm not sure how many people are interested in Judge Dredd nowadays but I know it's not really my thing. Not just because it's Judge Dredd but also, why would I want a tiny plastic helmet...?

I was quite impressed with this Marvel Comics Incredible Hulk bowl. It's the perfect size for cereal or snacks, and was very good quality. I love The Avengers and most Marvel characters, including The Hulk. I think my little brother might just like this a bit more than me, so I might give him it. It'll be hard to give it up though because I'm currently picturing a Marvel film day with popcorn in this bowl!

Every month there's always a themed t-shirt, and this month we got a horror arcade one with a cute ghost! You can't quite see in the photo but there was raised detail on the ghost too, which was a nice little touch. The material was soft and stretchy, and much more comfortable than previous t-shirts in these boxes.

And of course, with the release of Destiny 2 (which I may have already completed the story on), comes a gorgeous metallic poster. It's a great A3 size, and looks absolutely stunning in person. I don't think the photo does it as much justice. I can actually see my reflection in the background that's how shiny it is. I love Destiny, and would love to have this up in my room in a frame. I just have to find the space for it!

This months box was a little bit on and off. There were a couple really good items, that I'm really happy with; and a couple that isn't very interesting at all. Overall I am pleased with the content and like I say every month - I do think they're well worth the price!

October Favourites 2017

Another month, another favourite blog post! I did a poll on Twitter the other week, and this was 2nd in your most favourite posts of mine so I will definitely be continuing to upload these every month!

My first favourite this month is an easy one. I've been drinking hot chocolate almost every single day. My hot chocolate of choice at home has got to be the Cadbury drinking chocolate with a sprinkle of cinnamon to really give me the seasonal feels. When I'm out, I'm loving the Starbucks hot chocolate BUT I ask them to put in some pumpkin spice. If you're like me, and don't really like coffee, this is how you get your pumpkin spice kick.

My 2nd favourite happened by accident. I wanted to try the Superdrug Vitamin E eye cream, and they happened to have an offer on so I also grabbed the Superdrug Vitamin E eye makeup remover. Honestly, the best eye makeup remover I've ever used. I simply place a little between two cotton pads, rub them together and lightly press them on my eyes for a few seconds. The makeup just glides right off. I'm sure this was very cheap too, so I would definitely recommend trying it out.

Next up is The Body Shop Seaweed oil-control gel cream. This moisturiser is perfect for people will oily, acne prone skin like mine. Straight after using it, my skin feels oil-free and matte. It makes a big difference during the day, and to how long my makeup lasts.

The Body Shop are killing it lately for me, and I've been loving their Vanilla Pumpkin Shower Gel. I haven't only been using it in the shower but also as a bubble bath, and when I shave my legs. It's been working brilliantly as a multipurpose product, and of course it smells absolutely divine.

My lipstick of choice has been this stunning Maybelline one in the shade 886, Berry Bossy. What I love about this lipstick is how moisturising it is on my lips, especially for this time of year when I normally struggle with cracked lips. It's also such a pretty mauve-purple, and has a slight matte finish without being drying on the lips.

I always like to talk about what TV shows I've been loving since I watch so much TV. This month it has to be The Great British Bake Off. It's the first time I've ever watched the whole series right through. I actually feel like it gets quite intense, which sounds silly because it's baking but you really don't want people to mess up! Surprisingly, I quite liked Noel Fielding as a host too when I didn't think I would!

My last favourite has got to be Don't Tell The Bride. I've been completely binge-watching the hell out of this while I've been writing assignments and video editing. Honestly, I just really like to see how creative some of the weddings are, and I find it really interesting to see non-tradtitional weddings. It's great for some light-hearted entertainment.

Have you tried and loved any of these products or TV shows? Please do let me know! I love to see if other people think the same as me!