I haven’t written for ages. The main prompt for my post today is to remind you to take a moment to celebrate all the good things, however small. This Winnie the Pooh quote (big fan here!) by Eeyore spoke to me “It never hurts to keep looking for sunshine”.
This year, 2022, has thrown its fair share of challenges my way but I’m sitting here writing this having come through most of them and working on the others. In writing this, I want to record the highs and lows, as a reminder to my future self. If you haven’t guessed, I’m all about the positives today.
I may be here to celebrate all the good things but to appreciate them I have had to overcome a few hurdles then an aha moment to realise that I need to celebrate today. Without going into the gory details I still want to give you an outline of the journey that took me to my keyboard today…
2022 So Far
In January and early February I had a cancer scare, mid February I caught Covid for a second time, in March both my clinically vulnerable parents and their carer caught Covid, as a result my dad was hospitalised for 2.5 weeks which directly caused his Alzheimer’s to deteriorate a great deal, I stepped in to temporarily care for my parents having no previous care training, April disclosed extensive water damage in my flat which needed major repairs. All the while I continue to struggle with Long Covid, which has been going on for 2 years now. In May things got on top of me and my mental health took a turn for the worse. This caused several bad incidents involving some good friends.
Now for the positives!
Please celebrate all the good things with me:
I don’t have cancer and I was privileged to road test a brand new biopsy machine at the Birmingham Breast unit. The staff there are really amazing, thank you.
My mum and dad are ok. I’ll visit them this week and give them a huge hug.
I’ve now been referred to a Long Covid clinic.
The bathroom will be sorted out soon.
I’m talking to a therapist regularly, working on understanding myself better. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to do this but better late than never.
My self care, that has fallen by the wayside this year, is firmly scheduled back into my routine.
I have very understanding friends. A million thanks!
My business is going well and I won 2 awards: West Midlands & South England Winner in category “Jewellery” from English Wedding Awards 2022 and UK winner in category “Jewellery” from Guides for Brides customer services awards. With everything going on I have only just added this to my website.
I created a brand new online course for jewellery making which is launching tomorrow.
So to conclude my post today, can I just urge you all to celebrate all the good things today, acknowledge your mental health and look after it. I can easily see from writing all this out that my list of wins is longer than my list of hurdles. Being here to share all of that with you is the biggest win of all. If any of this resonates with you please leave your thoughts in the comments below, thanks.
Tomorrow I have a big announcement ! Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day, Elizabeth
OK, I admit it, I’ve been getting really down about my health. It’s coming up to 2 year anniversary having Long Covid and the last 2 weeks have been particularly bad. It wasn’t till I woke up this morning that I realised it was Blue Monday but I was in the perfect mood for it.
This isn’t as horrid as it sounds. I started cold water therapy last summer to help with Long Covid symptoms. As winter came I stopped taking cold showers but this week I’ve started up again, here’s how: After you’ve finished your normal hot shower simply turn off the hot and turn up the cold to full. With only cold water running from the shower let the water run down your back for 30 seconds. Breath slow and deep to prevent hyperventilation. The following day stay for 40 seconds, each day increasing your time by 10 seconds until you reach 3 minutes. The cold water helps with low mood, inflammation as well as having many other benefits.
Cleanse and moisturise
What I mean by this is that I took a few minutes longer than normal to get ready in the morning. Taking more time to get ready and applying lotions and potions to your body makes you feel better. You could even apply your favourite fragrance, even if you’re not seeing anyone.
Take a stroll
With my health being so rubbish last week I’ve not been able to get out on a proper walk but today I took a very slow ambling walk into my local village. It’s about a 5 minute walk but I wasn’t in a hurry so I took my time, looking at everything on the way.
Make D while the sun shines
While in the village, I bought a few supplies. In one of the shops I overheard the shopkeeper say “make D while the sun shines” and I thought that’s exactly what I need. So on the way home I sat on a wall with the sun on my face, closed my eyes and soaked it all up, creating vitamin D that I’ve probably been lacking the last 7 days. When I got home I found another patch of sun on my balcony. I sat for 15 minutes and felt the warmth on my face.
Reach out to a friend
Because I’d been stuck in a rut with my health, when my neighbour messaged me I kindly took up her offer to have a cuppa and a catch up. It was so lovely to have a chat and find out about her graduation. She also gave me a lovely little miss sunshine card which is just brilliant. It really did me the power of good and I’m very grateful.
When I eventually settled down to do some work today I light my oil burner and put a blend of sweet orange and geranium oils in it. As well as smelling gorgeous the orange oil is uplifting and can help with anxiety and depression.
A Little Treat
I know it’s not always favourable to treat yourself to food but I find cooking relaxing so I bought some nice ingredients to make a delicious dinner tonight.
Invest in a SAD daylight lamp
I’ve heard good things about daylight lamps for Seasonal Affective Disorder so I ordered mine last night. I will report back on how it works.
Download a affirmations app
I spend a lot of time on my own, mostly that’s fine, but sometimes the conversations I have with myself can become negative without me even consciously realising it. Yesterday I downloaded a unique daily affirmations app on my phone. Each day it gives you a positive affirmation, you can get alerts through the day to remind you to read it. You can record yourself saying the affirmation and you can even get Siri to read it out to you. A bit of positive brain retraining can’t do any harm.
Listen to some music
I’m just off to cook my evening meal and I will be putting on my favourite uplifting tunes to help me along. Often I get so distracted by my brain that I forget to put on some music to sing or sway along to. Music is a very powerful mood changer.
How did you combat Blue Monday?
I hope these 10 simple things to combat Blue Monday are useful to you for today and beyond. Please let me know if you try any of them and how they work out for you. Have you got any good tips to turn your mood around during these winter months? Please write them in the comments below.
I’ve decided to document my Midlands walks here on my blog. Hopefully they will provide some useful inspiration for readers who may have Long Covid, or are local to the area or just want to view pretty photos of the West Midlands through the changing seasons.
As a side note I want to add that I am not a photographer. I photograph anything that appeals, from landscapes, reflections, paths to nature textures. I try not to apply filters so what you see is what you get.
Between Christmas and New Year I decided to treat myself to a spa break in Sutton Coldfield and whilst I was there i went for a chilly walk in Sutton Park.
My first Midlands walk of 2022 was in my local park, Highbury Park. I love this park all year round. It is vast and wild and full of trees.
On 3 January 2022, I was invited by a lady I’d met on a previous walk, to walk the Harborne Walkway (a disused railway line) and around Edgbaston reservoir. It was a sunny but cold morning but I joined her and a few other ladies on the lovely 5 mile walk.
On 9 January I joined a meetup group for a walk along the Stratford and Avon canal (starting just north of Stratford) to Wilmcote village and back. The total was 4 miles and the sunshine made for a beautiful walk with friendly folk.
Because I’m still being cautious about Covid and because I have Long Covid myself, walking is one of the only exercises I can do at the moment.
I’m still learning my own limitations with this illness and what my body can take without causing severe fatigue etc. It’s a fine balance to walk without overdoing it but still going out walking for all the benefits that it brings. In November I stupidly decided to go on a 9 mile walk and was sick for a month afterwards as a result. I’m finding 4-5 miles is a good distance for me at the moment. And walking once a week seems doable.
I hope my notes and photo from these Midlands walks have helped or inspired you. Please leave your comments or feedback below. I’d like to hear from you.
I’ve been meaning to write about my experience of Coronavirus and Long covid for months now. Unsure whether to write it at all, I asked my friends and the majority said do it. If this article gives information to others or perhaps resonates with someone else’s experience then it will be good. Or perhaps someone can offer some tips on how to get through it? Also, I know there are some people who don’t believe coronavirus is real. The more people write about their own experiences, the more people will realise that it is very real.
I have split this blog post into “The Science” which are facts based on research done by others and the “Personal” bit which is merely my own experience, interpretation, feeling, conclusion which is not based on scientific fact. Also, I know others have suffered from Coronavirus much worse than me so I am focussing this on the Long Covid part of the illness.
According to Zoe, the covid research programme based at King’s College London there are two broad groups of long covid sufferers. One is dominated by respiratory symptoms as well as fatigue and headaches. The second group was ‘multi-system’, affecting many parts of the body including the brain, gut and heart.
My Virus Timeline
I believe I contracted coronavirus in early March, but given that there were no tests available to the public at this time I can only conclude that what I had was coronavirus. Doctors that I have spoken to since March have also concluded that I had coronavirus. I had all the main symptoms of this virus namely cough, fever, lethargy, loss of taste and smell. I also experienced dizziness, stomach upset, heart palpitations, aching lungs, aching kidneys, restless legs and a hoarse voice. At the time when I first got ill I was not prepared. I live on my own and had not stocked up on food or medicine. I had recently moved to Birmingham and didn’t know many people in the area. I was pretty scared. My lowest point was one night when I was dizzy, sick and needed to get to the bathroom. I had to crawl there because I was so dizzy. I ended up lying on the bathroom floor, for I don’t know how long, with the room spinning. I was on the verge of calling the ambulance. After a long while the dizziness subsided and I managed to crawl back in bed. Luckily I felt a lot better the next day.
After 14 days of isolation I felt much better so decided to venture out on a cycle ride. This was a big mistake. I felt ok but was not 100% and I realise now that I overdid it. I relapsed in a big way and was sick again.
April to October 2020
It would be nice to describe this period of time as “recovery time” but it was more like better days and worst days. Since first contracting coronavirus in March I have not felt 100-percent well. This has been coined by many thousands of sufferers as Long Covid. Some days I feel slightly better, some days I feel completely drained and unwell. On a good day I have that feeling that I’m coming down with something. You know the feeling when you don’t feel quite right, you feel a bit unwell not at full capacity? On bad days my main Long Covid symptoms are swollen throat glands, sore throat, hoarse voice, sinus pain, extreme fatigue. I had a relapse during this period and have had to take time off work when I was not well enough to work.
Another persistent symptom, which is annoying rather than debilitating, is altered taste and smell. Some things taste and smell very different, even now, 8 months on. Household cleaning products smell really strong and chemically, quite unbearable. Mint toothpaste doesn’t taste the same anymore. I still get the cool sensation in my mouth but none of the minty flavour, very disappointing. It just tastes weird. I can no longer smell sulphurous things. I use a sulphur based chemical in jewellery making and it smells completely different now. It used to be really unpleasant but now it smells quite nice, almost nutty. It’s very strange.
Now, November 2020
So, 8 months on and I’m still suffering with long covid. At the end of last month and the beginning of this I have done quite a lot. I moved house, went on a long country walk and been busy at work. I believe this has caused yet another relapse. For 3 weeks I have experienced my symptoms (swollen throat glands, sore throat and fatigue) in an extreme form. For approximately 3 days I could not do anything but move slowly around my flat and rest. I feel like I’m through the worst of it but I’m still recovering. I realise now that this long covid is ongoing and I don’t know when it will end. I am learning what my limits are and thinking how to plan my life accordingly.
Why did I get Long Covid?
Prior to getting coronavirus my doctor suggested I might have high blood pressure and wanted to investigate more. Alas the pandemic intervened and the investigations couldn’t go ahead. During lockdown I bought myself a blood pressure monitor. I measured my blood pressure every day and as the doctor had suspected my blood pressure was high. Having read the news reports and scientific research in the press it became evident that my high blood pressure could be a cause of my long covid.
Trying to cure Long Covid
Realising I had hypertension prompted me to purchase several recipe books on the DASH diet, the mediteranean diet and the Doctor’s Kitchen (my favourite). The DASH diet is doctor approved to reduce hypertension. I made it my lockdown mission to eat healthier, lose weight and reduce my blood pressure. I really enjoyed learning new recipes, making delicious food whilst I had the time. I learned how to prepare food to make myself more healthy. To a certain extent the diet helped me feel better and my blood pressure did go down. I did lose weight. I did have more energy. However the diet did not cure my long covid. I must admit I don’t stick to my healthy diet every day but I do try for the majority of the time. Mentally I feel that a healthy diet is helping me a bit even though it hasn’t cured my long covid symptoms.
Recipes from the Doctor’s Kitchen include lots of medicinal spices including ginger, turmeric, garlic & cinamon. The dishes are really tasty but they haven’t cured my long covid symptoms.
Some people with long covid had said that giving up sugar, caffeine and alcohol helped with their symptoms. So I tried to give up processed sugar, reduce my caffeine and alcohol intake. Again I did feel very virtuous for a while but unfortunately it did not cure my long covid symptoms.
I have also been taking vitamin supplements but cannot say that they have made any improvement to my long covid symptoms or not?
I got myself a fitbit and started walking. Because of my energy levels and anxiety my first walks were short. I slowly built up to longer walks. When we came out of lockdown I joined the Ramblers and managed some fairly long walks over the summer. Whilst they mentally boosted my wellbeing I felt completely shattered for a couple of days after each walk.
Whenever I’ve felt well enough I’ve continued to do Pilates with Kate on Zoom during lockdown and briefly (whilst we could) in King’s Heath. Kate is a brilliant and supportive teacher and a wonderful lady. She came to my rescue with paracetamol when I was in isolation with Coronavirus. Thank you Kate.
I’ve watched many videos on lymphatic drainage self massage and tried it for 2 weeks. I don’t know if I was doing it correctly? Perhaps you’re not supposed to do it whilst you are sick? Anyway, it made me feel worse so I stopped.
As several doctors have prescribed, I am taking paracetamol 3 or 4 times day to help relieve pain in my glands and throat. I’ve been taking paracetamol everyday now since mid March. That’s 8 months! This is not really something I want to do but it does provide some relief so I will carry on as long as it’s not detrimental to my health.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Stress and anxiety reared their ugly heads during my illness with coronavirus. My anxiety got so bad I had to speak to a counsellor. I feel in a much better place now but it was a scary experience. I don’t know if the anxiety was bought on by coronavirus or by the media? I have put myself on a strict media diet now and this is definitely helping to reduce my anxiety levels. Counselling, meditation, Zen with Kim, gratitude, aromatherapy and reflexology have all helped to get me through the worst. I’m happy to say that now I feel much more able to cope.
I couldn’t have got through the last 8 months without my close friends support network. They have been amazing, thank you to you.
Friends, family and colleagues ALL want to help and offer me suggestions of how to get rid of long covid. These include cold water swimming, Reiki, chakra cleansing and more which I have yet to try.
Long Covid – The Conclusion…?
So, I still have long covid symptoms 8 months on. They haven’t improved at all. I don’t know how to cure them. I don’t think the doctors or researchers do either? I don’t know how long they will last? I don’t think the doctors or researchers know either? Have you had a similar experience and want to share it with me? Perhaps you have some tips on how to improve long covid symptoms?
Please feel free to share this article with anyone who might find it useful.
Please write your comments below, all are welcome. Thank you, Ellie