Lifestyle blog; Edinburgh, MS, food, beauty and chit chat.

The best Christmas gift

This December the MS Society asked me ‘What’s the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?’ as part of their Christmas campaign to raise funds for research, which is vital to help the thousands of people suffering from this awful disease in the UK.

So what is the best gift I’ve ever received? Well, that’s easy to answer…

As I’m lying in bed on a Sunday morning with a cup of tea writing this blog post, I can feel our feisty wee baby wriggling and kicking inside me. This is the most surreal yet comforting and exciting experience ever! I know how incredibly lucky we are to have even got pregnant as this isn’t an easy journey for many. I feel even more grateful to be where I am now considering how awful the MS relapse was that I had in my first trimester.

So even though we haven’t formally met our baby girl, I can safely say that she is the best Christmas gift that my husband and I could have ever wished for.

If you want to find out more about the MS Society Christmas campaign, or donate, visit them here.

So now I want to know, what’s the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

MS & pregnancy; my story so far

I’m currently 18 weeks pregnant and couldn’t be happier. Now I’m in my second trimester I feel better than I have in years!

However, I didn’t actually have the best start to my pregnancy due to quite a severe relapse of my MS. I wanted to share what happened as I felt quite alone during that time. After speaking to other women with MS and doing some Googling I found that most of them seemed to feel much better and/or stopped relapsing when they fell pregnant. This made me feel awful. I was obviously very happy for them but literally the day I fell pregnant, I relapsed.

If you have MS and you’re pregnant or thinking of starting a family, this blog post is here to give you hope, reassurance and comfort. I don’t want to scare you or make you have doubts. Even in the darkest times everything will be okay and you will come out the other side. I’m proof of that.

MS differs vastly from person to person, so it goes without saying that every pregnant woman with MS has a very different experience. So here is my experience during my first trimester…

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Staying positive with MS

I’ve been a wee bit quiet recently so I thought I’d share a quick update on what’s been going on. Over the past few weeks I’ve had an MS relapse.

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What is a relapse? “the appearance of new symptoms, or the return of old symptoms, for a period of 24 hours or more – in the absence of a change in core body temperature or infection”. (MS Society)

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This relapse has displayed itself in a few different ways. First, my left arm became extremely sensitive to touch like it had been scalded. This was painful but at the same time a bit numb – I know, MS doesn’t make any sense to me either. After a week or two, the pain dulled and it was just numb. I could cope with this, as I’m right handed, but the second symptom was with my left leg, which impacted me further and was more visible.

As MS damages the nerves in the body, something had happened with this relapse which meant the nerves somewhere between my brain and leg got disrupted. More simply put, when I’m walking, the signal from my brain to lift my left leg gets a bit scrambled. This means that I’m very slow, trip over my left foot and am walking with a limp. Do you have to really concentrate when you’re walking? Of course you don’t, but at the minute I do.

On top of this, I’ve had a flare up of existing damage in the top of my spinal cord with results in my right calf heating up when I look down. Then there’s my biggest MS battle that I constantly deal with, the crippling fatigue.

So now I’ve explained it all, I’m staying positive. Last week I made the decision to sign myself off work this week and rest. I decided that every now and again, it’s okay to give in and stop for a while. I’ve always struggled with giving in when my body is screaming at me to stop and take a break. I’m my biggest barrier to resting, maybe I’m just too stubborn!

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Kiss Goodbye to MS

Recently I took part in the MS Society’s #KissGoodbyetoMS campaign for #MSawarenessweek.

I was off sick from work, full of cold and struggling with my chronic MS fatigue. I desperately wanted to take part in this awareness campaign so as soon as I was feeling ever so slightly better, I put on some lippy and took a photo.

Kiss goodbye to MS
Unfortunately, this photo demonstrates one of the most frustrating things about having MS; it’s an invisible illness. Anyone looking at the photo wouldn’t think that I had shooting pains in my left hand and was so overwhelmingly fatigued that I was on the verge of tears. I look fine so I do understand why people can be sceptical and maybe don’t believe I wasn’t well. It’s a shame that unless I’m sneezing or coughing, I feel like a fraud and people won’t understand that I’m not well.

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Coping with anxiety

2017 started in the most amazing way, as we welcomed in the new year whilst on our honeymoon in Australia. Even when we returned in mid-January, after 3 weeks away, I felt so refreshed and the most ‘new year, new me’ I’ve ever felt.

This continued for a few weeks; I felt so in control of my life and positive about everything. I was continuing with my weekly yoga classes at work and adopting some mindfulness activities.

And then my old, unwelcome friend, anxiety, started to creep back in.

So which coping mechanisms and activities do I find help me? Read on to find out…

Coping with anxiety (more…)

MS & Anxiety

Firstly I’d just like to say how delighted I am at the amount of awareness that has recently been raised around Multiple Sclerosis. There has been a massive breakthrough in a new treatment recently which has been allover the news. Panorama aired a special program about it too, which I definitely recommend watching here. Here are just some of the things I’ve read recently:

  • One of the articles about the new stem cell treatment: http://bbc.in/1lHNNP9
  • Actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler announced that she was diagnosed with MS 15 years ago but decided then to keep it quite in case it impacted her career. I can totally relate to this and kept my MS pretty hidden for many years. Read her story here: http://wapo.st/1lHNKCM I particularly like this quote from her:

“It’s part of me, but it’s not who I am.”

  • Another actress, Amy Schumer, has been raising awareness as her dad battles the disease: http://bit.ly/1lHNUdu

All of this coverage is really fantastic and leaves anyone who has the disease full of hope. However, it is currently still a daily battle. Recently I have been struggling with something that many other MS sufferers are also affected by; anxiety. It got to the point where I was actually having anxiety attacks and I spent a lot of time researching how to cope with it and speaking to people in the MS pals Facebook group – they are a great support. So here are some coping mechanisms that I’ve found to work for me…

MS & Anxiety (more…)