How I’ve Been Passing My Time

Hey pals,

If you’re a regular to my social media, then you know that I am chronically ill and disabled which has lead to many, many months spent inside my own home, sometimes bedbound. I have a lot of isolation practice, except now my family are all home too to shield me, because I come under High Risk.

I can’t lie, I have moments of getting bored and I definitely miss my Costa or Starbucks iced coffees and a good take away, but generally I’m pretty used to this. Seeing all the able-bodied people struggling with spending time inside/at home kind of gave me a boost of energy and motivation because ‘haha! I am the highly functioning one now!’ and kinda just wanted to shove it in people’s faces that I’m doing stuff and filling my time! I even started exercising… daily. Who am I? At this point, I couldn’t really tell you just like I couldn’t really guess what day it is.

I have always been a bit of a loner, I enjoy my own space and I enjoy being alone. I was an only child so that probably helped. But I’ve always been a creative whether it was playing imaginary games with toys, making art, writing stories, singing My Little Mermaid songs, or watching television. I couldn’t read for a long time so I missed out on a lot of books that were turned into shows or films, and actually I’m starting to make up for that. I’ve become quite the reader over time (Yeah I should be after getting my Bachelors in Creative Writing…) and I have a large collection of physical books. One big job I did was to go through all of my read books and decide if I still wanted to keep them or not and I think I halved my collection. I still have a lot of unread books I need to at least TRY to read so that will be keeping me busy as well. I’ve recently found a love of ebooks where I find really cheap ebook versions of books I sort-of-kind-of wanted to read but not enough to splash out on a hard copy and postage. So the ebooks don’t take up physical space and they can be so much cheaper than physical copies, this benefitted me when it came to books I wasn’t sure I would care about, so I buy the ebook, give it a read, and if I really liked it I can buy myself the physical copy at a later date. Plus, it’s easier to read in bed on your phone, and it’s less work for my disabled hands to hold a phone than try to keep open a book! Some of these books are going to be great video and blog content in the future too (I Read the book and Watched the Film: Princess Diaries edition anyone?).

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We’ve had to get creative by baking. I have a really specific diet that makes it hard to shop anyway, but it’s even harder now when the shelves are empty and you’re limited to what you can buy online. So, for fun and delicious treats (for my MASSIVE sweet tooth) we have been experimenting with baking different things. We became the banana loaf cliche (but it’s so delicious… I’ve made FIVE) brownies twice but they weren’t gooey enough so we need to have another go! Crumble, and shortbread. But I’ve got a little list of things to try making for fun and see if I like them and it’s nice cooking with my mum… coz I can’t do it alone. I love being disabled, I can’t even stir the batter.

I’ve been re-organising and decluttering many areas but am far from done. I’m due a clothes re-organise coz I need to swap my winter stuff out and summer stuff in. I put my millions of hospital and doctors’ letters away in my filing box, each under different sections. Also watching DVDs I’ve not touched in a while and completing old games I’ve had for… maybe a decade so I can get rid of those too! But I’ve also been making art! Blackout poetry with some of the books I didn’t like, finishing old works and painting the backgrounds, collaging in my notebooks… I’m tired, the list probably goes on but those are the main gals.

I even figured out my streaming issues on my computer and started dabbling with the Sims 4 again, but there’s a massive bug at the moment making the game impossible to play so… it’s either decorating or not playing at all.

I’ve filmed so many book videos… I’m not a booktuber, I’m a dabbling booktuber but now… my channel is full of books! I’m reading and editing things my friend has written (for her uni course and… her hobby of just writing to maintain sane.) I’ve gone back to my BSL (British Sign Language) course and actually progressing a little… I know how to say ‘sorry, I don’t understand’ and ‘I missed that’. I think there may have been a point where I actually wrote something for my WIP… but that must have been in the early days because I can’t remember a thing. (If you want to learn something, give Skillshare a try)

IMG_7506I keep a daily diary of things I do/things I have accomplished so that I don’t lose the plot and feel like a failure and haven’t done anything. It’s for all things, big and small and some days are shorter because I decided I was going to spend time relaxing either in the sun or watching mindless television/YouTube because we still need to let ourselves rest during this time. Actually, writing this post has ticked something off a massive list of things to do I have. TICK. I’ve made a very long list of things I can/should do for the days I feel restless but can’t THINK of what to do. It’s pretty useful. I’ve been writing in my journal under the writing prompts I found. Practicing mental health care is really important during this time I’m even seeing a counsellor right now but we chat over the phone or video chat. If you need some help, I recommend reaching out and seeing if it’s possible. I’m sure lots of therapists and counsellors still need money to pay for things too.

I’ve already watched almost everything worth watching for me on Netflix but I’m sure most of you lot haven’t so just binge watch a show or film series! I have so many recommendation posts for things to watch, support me by clicking them and give yourself something to do! Want something Spooky? Give this list a try. 

If you want to see what my isolation diary actually looks like, let me know and maybe one week I’ll post some of my diary (coz as I’m writing this I’m on day 30 but this will probably not be out for at least 2 weeks…).

~ Artie

Please check out my YouTube, I’ve been working really hard on content there!

And check out two recent blog collaborations I did! Disabled Writer Tips and Being Disabled during the Pandemic.

Clothes Shopping: Midsize and Disabled

Hey pals!

This is a post that has been planned and pre-written/experienced before lockdown, don’t worry, I am keeping safe and haven’t left the house in a month. I wanted to talk about what it’s like to go clothes shopping on the high street as a midsize disabled person… coz the facilities are pretty minimal in most shops, it can be really difficult to do.

I have different levels of shopping, I always start with window shopping/browsing. I take a lot of photos of items I like and their labels so I can find them when I have more time/energy. Before lockdown I used this as a mode of exercise when I needed to be in town for my Chiropractor or a massage, I’m quite an anxious person and end up being somewhere really early. (Well, you never know, I might struggle to find parking where I usually park and have to find somewhere else in the annoying one-way system and I’d rather be too early than LATE) So, I often have something like a spare 20 minutes before appointments and some time after (coz my ticket is usually up to 2 hours parking) and I find I can walk more when my brain is distracted by stuff.

I saw a few pairs of trousers that I like and all looked very similar. The difference? Apparently only colour even though on is ‘Lift and Shape’ but the other is ‘Tori’? I’ll let you know now, I didn’t go with Tori, just like in every election I’ve ever voted in.

I also really liked these t-shirts, but only the one on the left came in my size, or anything CLOSE to my size. Seems like the biggest most clothes go in NewLook is a 12. I took photos though, in case I ever came back in or wanted to find something similar elsewhere. Sadly not yet. I ended up buying the light blue top but recently decided it’s not really me and is too similar to the colour of my jeans so will be selling it on depop. I really wanted the yellow top, I’ve fallen in love with mustard yellows.

I decided on this trip (A different one, and this is the next stage of shopping) that I would try on some of the clothes that caught my eye and see which I liked on me more. I can’t trust high street sizing, even in men’s sections. It’ll say 34 waist and be too big, but pick up a pair of 34 waist shorts? Can’t do them up! But that’s a lesson I’ve learned so I have to try things on, especially if they’re a big purchase. This first pair of trousers looked nice on the hanger, but the material resembled something cheap and thin I would purchase off Blue Banana in 2010 as a teenage emo. They were dreadful and looked horrendous on. Clung to all the worst places. These were a quick no.

I struggle in changing rooms coz I need to get a decent distance from a mirror to see if I like the item I’m trying, so I tend to go down the end and not use a disabled cubicle even though I am entitled to it. A lot of these non-disabled stalls don’t even have a bench to sit on inbetween item or to help you pull things off or on. On this trip, this store doesn’t have seating anywhere in the changing room except right at the entrance for those waiting on someone, or in the disabled stall. Standing for too long, I get quite dizzy and sick. Plus, changing rooms can get quite stuffy and the lights are so industrial… It’s just not a good place to be sat on the floor wondering if staff could get you water or let you use a toilet. Oh, also I can’t really tell the difference in these photos which jeans are which!

I realised that I’d picked up a pair of trousers with short leg, and though I liked the look, I like the idea of flexibility so I got them in the Regular length so they at least grazed my ankles. After trying on three pairs of trousers and nearly passing out/being sick on the floor, I had to pile back on my usual clothes including a coat coz it was chilly that day and go home… I think I went and got some food and a drink first so I would stop feeling so dizzy. I took pictures so I could look at them later when I regained some brain function and make a decision. I had to come back at a later date to actually make the purchase. I bought them in a size 16 because size doesn’t mean a damn thing, I wanted to be comfortable, and the cashier confirmed that NewLook clothes run small so bare that in mind when you go shopping there.

 

This isn’t supposed to be some super hard hitting piece about how HARD it is being disabled, it’s just a commentary pointing out how weirdly inaccessible shopping for clothes is which is why many buy online. I never find clothes that fit me online unless I’m going oversized so this is the best I have, but like… can we turn down the intensity of the lights please? They don’t flatter anyone and I’m gonna get a migraine.

 

~ Artie

 

 

Check out this article on Huffington Post by Wendy Lu about the inaccessibility of the acting industry and education systems and how grossly ableist they are!

Bored? Like shopping? A UK reader? Check out my depop I have much available for sale!

Why I Haven’t Self Isolated Yet.

Hey pals,

There has been a huge mix of information of who should and should not be isolating, and most countries have jumped to action a lot quicker than the U.K. though I know people are supposed to start isolation today and over the weekend, particularly the vulnerable and over 70’s. But here’s why I haven’t fully isolated myself yet.

This week and some of next, I’ve had some really important doctors appointments at hospital that I’ve already been waiting months for. One was a discussion about medication for Crohn’s that was overdue, the second was a chat with a colorectal surgeon to check how my surgery site was doing and this was also overdue, and Thursday I had an imaging appointment to finally get my right arm scanned with ultrasound to find the reason I’m always in pain. Then next week I might be seeing my IBD Consultant who I have never met, and then a dietician but this one I might be able to move to a phone appointment.

All of these have been in the works or postponed by bad communication within the department and all super important to my health. I’ll be starting a new medication soon at home for my Crohn’s now I’ve met with everyone and they’ve all agreed it’s the best next step. We have finally found out what’s happening with my arm, all I will discuss in due course as I am awaiting the official letter that explains everything, but what I can say is it is a genetic thing and rare… typical me. And hopefully the dietician can help me work with my dietary restrictions to start leading a healthier life with food.

My experience going to these appointments has been pretty different to the usual. Most of the elderly staff who do the carting around of medical files and weight and do your blood pressure were not there, the number of patients lingering had dropped drastically, everyone was on time, there is really a low risk of contamination. Luckily the antibac dispensers still had gel in them, whereas I’ve seen London hospital shave been ravaged. Even the hospital car parks are half empty when it’s normally so difficult to find a space.

Now I will say, before anyone gets to heated about me going outside, I have taken precautions. I’ve avoided people or contact for the most part, washed my hands or used hand sanitizer, I have avoided touching doors or buttons, and kept my timing outside to a minimum.

It’s near impossible for everyone to stay inside, but as long as you are doing what you can to avoid contamination or possibly spreading the virus, and staying isolated if you have a suspected case! We are doing what we can.

I hope you are all safe and well.

~ Artie

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IBD Food Talk with a Trained Nutritionist

Hey pals,

Nutrition is a big part of having an IBD, whether you have trigger foods or are

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a photo of Ash, a white woman with long dark hair wearing a striped red and black top.

struggling with malnourishment, it’s all important to learn what we can do for our bodies. Seeing a dietician/nutritionist through the NHS can be really hard, and seeing one privately costs money and you’re not always going to find someone who specialises in IBD. I’ve spoken with my friend Ash (from This Dreams Alive and Prickly Pineapples) who is a qualified nutritionist with a focus on plant based conclusions. I am personally a vegetarian and have a lactose intolerance, so these are things I wanted to know for myself because I find a lot of professionals are not equipped to work with me on this due to my restrictions. This post is helpful for everyone, even if you are a meat eater.

I asked what we can eat to help combat certain typical symptoms of an IBD, and this is what she came back with:

Fatigue: fatigue is often caused by low-iron so I’d recommend getting a blood test to make sure your iron levels are good before doing anything. Plant-based sources of iron are leafy greens like spinach and kale, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, seeds like chia seeds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds etc. Tomatoes themselves don’t have much iron but it adds up well when they’re concentrated in forms like tomato paste if you want to make pasta, pizza, or soup. The vitamin C content is also helpful for absorbing iron. Drinking tea and coffee with meals is a bad idea if you’re vegan or prone to anemia because the tannins inhibit the iron absorption so have them at least half an hour before or after eating an iron-rich meal. It can be harder to absorb plant-based sources of iron than animal-based sources, and you need to eat a lot to hit the RDA (and who is actually going to eat a whole bag of spinach) so you might have to consider a supplement. Foods with B-vitamins are good too because the B-vitamins help the body convert food into energy. It’s why bread is often fortified with B12! B’s are in hibiscus tea, watermelon, soy,  sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, spirulina, tahini, mushrooms, rice bran, peanuts/peanut butter, and nutritional yeast. You can also try have more low GI foods that have a slower stable release of energy so you don’t crash, so brown starchy carbs like rice, pasta, and bread, oats, sweet potato etc.

Diarrhea & Constipation: people call the diet that helps with diarrhea the “BRAT” diet which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. It basically just entails bland foods that are low in fiber. You don’t need to cut out all fiber if you have diarrhea because there’s actually two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can’t be digested but it attracts water which can basically add bulk to stools, it also slows down digestion. It dissolves in the water in our bodies into a gel which basically lubricates your intestines. Soluble fiber is in flaxseeds, apples, carrots, sunflower seeds, oats, barley, hazelnuts. Insoluble fiber makes stools pass more quickly by speeding up digestion so it will help for constipation but not with diarrhea, so you might want to stay away from nuts and seeds, root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, celery, and whole grains. 

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a photo of blue, white and yellow pills

Body pains: cherries are good for muscle pain, which is why concentrated cherry juice is kinda popular in fitness communities. When joint pain is caused by inflammation you can try ease with anti-inflammatory foods like most fruit such as blueberries, oranges, apples, tomatoes, and omega 3s like salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod liver oil, and algal or flaxseed oil for vegans. Algal oil is basically made from the algae fish eat which is where they get their omega 3. Stay away from processed foods and alcohol as they can trigger inflammation. 

Sleep: CBD oil and teas can be good for sleep (and inflammation & pain) but they can be expensive so a cheaper way is to drink relaxing teas like chamomile and peppermint before bed (and not black or green tea because they have caffeine). Carbs can also help you sleep because they help boost serotonin and tryptophan, but it’s best to have it with protein. Although it sounds contradictory it’s actually high GI carbs that help you sleep. You could have whole-grain crackers and a handful of nuts or a sugar-free cereal. 

Hair-loss: biotin is popular in hair, skin, and nail supplements because it helps with keratin production which is what our hair is. If you don’t want supplements, almonds, cauliflower, mushrooms, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocado, bananas, and oats have it too. Biotin is a B vitamin so eating these might also help with fatigue. Omega 3s will help your hair look shinier and stronger too. 

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A photo of Ash drinking from a mug

I then asked her what she would recommend for the typical vitamins a lots of us can become deficient in. It’s known to be best to get the vitamins and minerals from a food source rather than a tablet, so it’s always best to do this if you can but for more serious cases you should be consulting a doctor as I know we can get iron tablets and infusions as well as B injections.

Potassium: potassium is actually really common to be deficient in! It’s in bananas, coconut water, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms, peas, and sweet potatoes. Licorice can actually affect potassium so if you drink licorice tea, but have low potassium, then you might want to drink another, like peppermint. 

B Vitamins:

B12 is the one vegans get a lot of shit over, it’s in nutritional yeast, and most bread and dairy alternatives are fortified with it, apparently, scientists also found it in water lentils which is exciting and means it’s technically no longer only naturally available in animal products. The reason it’s only in animal products is because cows eat grass, and the soil with it, but we wash vegetables so thoroughly (and should because germs) that there’s nothing left, so getting it from animal products is getting secondhand b12. 

B6 is also often in nutritional yeast and fortified bread and milk, but it’s also in corn, avocado, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, tahini, oranges, and quinoa. Quinoa [and soy] are the only non-animal-based protein with all the essential amino acids, so if you feel weak it could be because you’re not getting all your amino acids on a plant-based diet. A lot of vegans don’t have quinoa and soy, so you need to mix protein sources like pairing hummus on pitta bread and beans on toast. 

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C Vitamins: sources of vitamin C are broccoli, pineapples, brussel sprouts, kiwi, peppers, oranges, spinach, strawberries, kale, mint, lemon, and tomatoes. If you’re gonna hop on the lemon water trend, you need a whole lemon to get around a half of the RDA of vitamin C, lemon water is a little help but not a huge one if you only put in a few drops.

D Vitamins: D vitamins are hard to naturally get on a vegan diet, so they’re mostly in fortified foods like milks, cereals, and bread but it’s also in mushrooms, and orange juice is often fortified with it too. If you can’t get it from sunshine or food then you might be able to look into light therapy that people with SAD use. 

What’s important to remember is that plant-based sources of these foods are often lower than animal sources and can be tricker to absorb. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be healthy on a vegan diet, you just need to eat a lot more of these kinds of foods to make sure you’re getting enough. If you’re gonna take supplements, speak to your GP or a dietitian first rather than guessing because you can make yourself sick if you take a supplement you don’t actually need and basically OD on vitamins. 

I found Ash’s answers really helpful in starting to understand what vitamins do and where we can get them from. I hope this is helpful for others in a similar predicament but also people generally interested in bettering their nutrition through plant based options. I’d love to hear what you think and if you learned anything new, leave a comment and I’m sure both myself and Ash will be really excited to read!

UPDATE: Since collaborating on this post together, Ash has written a post on Nightshade vegetables and inflammatory responses do to me asking some questions on the topic. I see a lot of sensationalised ‘information’ about food that I find hard to believe (because there is no science behind it 90% of the time) and Ash put some effort in to researching and putting the infor all in one place on this topic and where these rumours start from. 

Check out Ash’s content here! I collaborated with her on a post for her blog with a link to having an IBD, I hope you go and have a read of that too!

I have a YouTube video on some tips for people newly diagnosed with IBDs (Crohn’s and Colitis) and things to test and try to find something that works for you. No one thing will work for everyone. I’ve also talked about my trip to A&E with Erythema Nodosum caused by a Crohn’s flare on both the blog and my channel. I have also done a selection of videos discussing my diet and showing you what I eat in a day etc. I recommend checking out my channel for a lot more of my Chronic Illness content.

Also I recommend this post for anyone struggling to talk about their IBD and come to terms with it, by Zipporah Arielle for Human Parts.

~ Artie

Check out this post on intuitive eating, something I’m looking into more. Here are the ten principles. 

‘Reforming my relationship with food and exercise’ by Serronda J. Brown

A useful checklist of health maintenance when you have Crohn’s or Colitis from the Crohn’s and Colitis foundation.

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