Saturday, 31 March 2012

Positive Body Image

Body Image

Do you ever catch yourself thinking 'I'll start [insert activity here] when I'm lighter/ healthier/ prettier/ smaller' etc? Good news if you're not alone in that train of thought as a lot of people think like this. Bad news is that it is not a great frame of mind to have for promoting a positive body image for you present self in the here and now.

Amber from has written a smashing article about body image and how it effects everything! She talks about how you don't need to lose the weight to live your life when you can just be getting on with it now. The basic crux of her article is to love who you are now not what you expect to be, you should learn to accept how your body is now with all its curves and dimples as it's the only one you'll ever have.

Head on over to her site and check it out or take a look at these other resources on how to improve your body image and self worth.

Body Image Workbook: An Eight-step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks

Body Image: Understanding Body Dissatisfaction in Men, Women and Children

Overcoming Body Image Problems including Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Friday, 30 March 2012

Contraception choices (continued)

Aside the Top 5 Choices of Contraception there are still plenty of alternatives. In this article I will continue to discuss the choices ranked in popularity by

Coitus Interruptus (Withdrawal Method)

The withdrawal method is a frequently contested method of contraception. It often has a failure rate of 15-28% resulted in more unwanted pregnancies compared to using medical contraceptives (including devices), it also does not protect against STIs either.

There is a lot of contention as to whether sperm is contained in the pre-cum of a man, however in the past studies have shown that it can exist but then another will disprove that fact. This may be one of the reasons for a high failure rate, along with experiencing poor timing and leaving small amounts of ejaculate in the women.

The withdrawal method can often be frustrating for both partners as they have to constantly think about when it is the right time to pull out. This can often cause a lot of emotional tension in a relationship so in a modern society where there are plenty of alternatives it would be wise to use them.

Contraception Resources

Contraception: Your Questions Answered
Contraception: A History

Rhythm Method or Fertility Awareness

This method is not a reliable form of contraception but can be useful with couples trying for a baby. This form helps to identify the stages of a women's menstrual cycle and recognize when she is at her most fertile. However, if her cycle is irregular then it will be less reliable in both instances. Also bear in mind that it does not protect against STIs either.

There are a few methods used in family planning but I will not go into any great detail on them:
  • The calender method: helpful in determining phases of a women's cycle
  • The temperature method: identifies when a women is ovulating as her temperature will increase by half a celsius
  • The mucus test: mucus will change in consistence depending on where a women is in her cycle
  • Ovulation tests: either through urine or saliva to try and identify a surge of estrogen
  • Persona: test the urine and glows green for 'go ahead' or red for 'don't have sex'
To find out how each method is used you can find more information from netdoctor or the NHS. 


Clearblue Fertility Monitor Test Sticks - 20 Pack
Cyclotest Temperature Fertility Monitor
Taking Charge Of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement and Reproductive Health: The Definitive Guide to ... Pregnancy Achievement and Reproductive Wealth
The Fertility Awareness Handbook: The Natural Guide to Avoiding or Achieving Pregnancy

Implants and Injections

These are long-lasting effective (99%) forms of contraception. Both types work in the same way by releasing progesterone which stops ovulation, thickens the cervix mucus and thins the womb lining. These forms are great if you want to prevent pregnancy (they do not protect against STIs) and your fertility will return after you stop using them. However, some women experience headaches, weight gain, nausea and disrupted periods.

Although this form of contraception is widely used it may not be suitable for you if you have had, or still have some health problems; heart disease, liver disease, blood clots, breast cancer, migraines, diabetes, cirrhosis or osteoporosis. 


The only form available in the UK is know as Nexplanon. Implants are small (4cm) thin flexible tubes that contain progesterone that is inserted in the upper arm by a Doctor or nurse. It can be used for up to three years or if you are older you may reach menopause by which time you can have it removed.


These are normally given in a muscle in your bottom or upper arm. There are currently two types of injection on the market at the moment:
  • Depo-Provera - effective for up to 12 weeks
  • Noristerat - effective for up to 8 weeks
It is important to get you injections done at the same time everyday otherwise it will not be as effective.


The Pill and other forms of hormonal contraception: The Facts
Your Guide to Contraceptive Injections
Long Acting Injections and Implants (Advances in Delivery Science and Technology)

Contraceptive Patch

This device is a 5x5cm patch that sticks to a women's arm and releases estrogen and progesterone into the blood stream. It is over 99% effective, however does not protect against STIs. The patches are replaces every week and on every fourth week you do not wear a patch so you can have a withdrawal bleed.

The patch may not be suitable for the following women with these health conditions:
  • Over 90kg (14 stone)
  • Might be pregnant
  • Breast feeding
  • Smoke and are over 35 years old
  • Blood clots
  • Heart problem
  • Migraines
  • Breast cancer
  • Liver or gall bladder disease
  • Diabetes
The patch will also not be effective if you take antibiotics, St Johns Wort or medicines used to treat epilepsy, TB or HIV.

More Information

Diaphragms and Caps

Both of these devices are barrier methods that stop sperm from reaching an egg. The diaphragm is a dome  that fits inside the vagina: caps are similar just smaller.

When used in combination with spermicide (and left in for the recommended six hours after sex) these methods can be 92-99% effective and they do offer some protection from STIs.


Vaginal Ring

The ring is inserted on the first day of a women's period and lasts for 21 days. This form of contraception is 99% effective and works by continually releasing estrogen and progesterone into the bloodstream. However, it does not protect against STIs. As with the patch there are certain factors that will prevent some women from using it (see above).


So that covers the methods and devices used to prevent pregnancy and to also help prevent (in some cases) STIs. However, there are often times when there will be unprotected sex or when the contraceptive has failed, in this instance Emergency Contraceptives are available.

Emergency Contraceptives

There are two methods to prevent against unwanted pregnancy after unprotected sex:
  • The morning after pill
  • The copper intrauterine device

Morning After Pills

There are two types of pill available:
  • Levonelle: can be taken up two 3 days and is available free of charge on prescription or bought from your local pharmacy
  • ellaOne: can be taken up to 5 days and is only available on prescription
The effectiveness of emergency contraception decreases over time; within 24 hours it prevents 95% of pregnancies.

Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD)

Most women can use this as emergency contraception particularly if you cannot take hormones or are on certain medication such as epilepsy drugs.

What You Always Wanted To Know About Emergency Contraception

So that concludes my posts on contraceptive options and I hope they have been some use.

Related links:

Top 5 Choices of Contraception


The term contraception literally describes the methods a person (mainly women but there are choices for men) can use to prevent pregnancy. There are various types that range from devices to surgery or hormones to prevent a women from conceiving. Over the years the market for contraception has grown as there is now a wide variety from which to choose. In this article I will provide you with the top five choices and their different options, how they are used and the benefits and problems that you might experience with each.

Let's start with the most popular.

The Pill and Mini Pill

Combined Pill

The Pill, or combined pill contains synthetic hormones of estrogen and progesterone and is used to prevent pregnancy but also to help treat:
  • Heavy periods
  • Painful periods
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
  • Endometriosis
When taken correctly (everyday at the same time) the pill is 99% effective - so 1 in a 100 women will get pregnant, obviously this increases if you forget to take a pill etc.

The pill works by first thickening the mucus that surrounds the neck of the womb (cervix) to make it harder for sperm to get through. It also works by thinning the lining of the womb making it harder for a fertilized egg to implant and grow.

There are three main types of combined pill that you can take:
  • Mono-phasic 21-day pills: each pill has the same amount of hormone in it and they are taken for 21 days followed by a pill free seven day break.
  • Phasic 21-day pills: they contain two or three sections of different colored pills where each section contains a different amount of hormones. One pill is taken each day for 21 days and then you have a pill free seven day break.
  • Every Day pills: these have 21 active pills followed by 7 inactive (dummy) pills so you have a pill for 28 days with no break but they must be taken in the correct order.

Progesterone-only Pill

The progesterone-only pill works in a similar manner to the combined pill but if often prescribed to women who cannot take the combined pill: smokers, over 35, DVT patients. 
This type of pill is also 99% effective when taken correctly but this depends on the type of pill that you take.

The progesterone-only pill works by first thickening the mucus that surrounds the neck of the womb (cervix) to make it harder for sperm to get through. It also works by thinning the lining of the womb making it harder for a fertilized egg to implant and grow.
There are two main types of progesterone-only  pill:
  • The 3 hour pill: must be taken within a three hour window everyday
  • The 12 hour pill: must be taken the same time each day within 12 hours - this is not as common as the 3 hour pill.


Condoms are a barrier form of contraception; they literally stop the sperm form entering the women and also sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) - the only method that does both. If used correctly they are 98% effective against pregnancy and STIs.

Condoms are made out of a thin latex rubber, however some people are allergic to latex so they also make them out of thin plastic; these are just as effective as the latex version.

You can pick up condoms from a variety of places and if you are below the age of 25 ask your GP for a C (condom) card and you can get them for free at certain places. Here's a list of places that will supply condoms:
  • Family planning clinics
  • Sexual health of GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics
  • Brook Centre (under 25s)
  • GP
  • Gay pubs and clubs
  • Pharmacies
  • Supermarkets
  • Online - make sure that they carry the European CE mark or British BSI Kitemark as a sign of quality assurance.



This is a very reliable form of contraception that involves sterilizing a male, it is mainly considered permanent but can be reversed. This method is done by cutting, blocking or sealing the tube which carries the sperm to the penis with heat.

Since this is considered a permanent procedure there are a few things to take into consideration. For example, when should it be done, what if you want to father a child after and what the emotional impact would be for yourself and your family. However, this is a good option for men who do not want any more children (if at all), however it does not protect again STIs or HIV so if in doubt still use a condom (see above).

Vasectomy Resources

Female Sterilization

This is also a fairly common procedure that involves blocking or cutting the fallopian tubes that carry eggs to the womb. It is found to be a very reliable form of contraception, however it should only be considered for women who do not want any more children (if at all) as it is very difficult to reverse (not always successfully) and is very expensive (only available privately at the moment).

There are a lot of factors to consider so you should really take heed to what you want in life. For example, is this the right choice, will it have any effect emotionally, are there alternative contraception choices?

Female Sterilization Resources

The Coil

The coil is a small t-shaped device that is fitted into the womb by a fully trained nurse. These types of devices last from 5-10 years and are a great form of long term contraception as they are 99% effective. There are two main types of coil:
  • The copper coil, or intrauterine device: this contains no hormones and stops sperm from reaching the egg or the egg implanting by releasing copper which changes the make-up of fluids in the womb and fallopian tubes.
  • Mirena or intrauterine system: this works in a similar way but releases progesterone instead of copper. It works by thinning the lining of the womb to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting and thickening the mucus on the cervix to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. It can also stop some women from ovulating, however most women continue to do so.
Having a coil fitted can be quite uncomfortable for most women so it is advised to take some pain relief and to also use relaxation technique during the procedure. Some women may also experience headaches, acne and breast tenderness so you should discuss these with your health care provider.

Coil Resources

Contraception: A User's Handbook

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Mystery Disease Investigation: Rheumatology

Rheumatology Outpatients 

I had my first (well, this is now my second round) outpatient appointment today at the rheumatology clinic. My consultant was great and has really put my mind to ease, we looked at all of my blood work and I had an examination as well (joint and muscle function). Basically his conclusion is that my blood work has not changed in the last two years (this is good news) and that my joint and muscle pain is actually due to hyper-mobility (double jointedness). He wants to run a couple of other specific tests just so that he can be 100% certain that I'm cleared with them.


To treat the hyper-mobility I'm going to need to go through some extensive physiotherapy to get the ligaments and the surrounding muscle nice and strong again to support the joints. However, I can't have any PT done until the clot in my leg has cleared up: bummer, guess I'll have to wait a while on that one.
One thing that he did mention though was that I had a mutation on one of my chromosomes and had some indications of Factor Five Lipids (no idea what that is all about!) but basically it makes me super prone to clotting. He couldn't really go into much more details as it wasn't his speciality but that's exactly what hematology are for.

Back to Marathon Training?

So the good news is that I can almost cross rheumatology of my list of suspects and that also gives me the opportunity to start running again once I'm back up to that standard of health and fitness. I suspect I'll need to go through a lot of rehab, training, and weight loss again before I get back to my marathon days (sighs and goes off into a day dream ...). I mean I can barely walk at the moment and have put on about 40lbs - that is not good and needs to go now!


Rheumatology has now been crossed off as all my blood work came back within normal ranges for their tests. Yay!!

Morphine Withdrawal

On a side note has anyone ever gone through morphine withdrawal? I switched from morphine to tramadol a couple of days ago and I just cannot sleep and have these nasty headaches. Let me know if you have any tips for getting through this.

Related links:

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Improving Upper Back Pain

Always Listen to Your Mum!

If you have a desk job or sedentary lifestyle like a lot of people you might have the hunched rounded look in your shoulders and upper back. I've decided I should listen to my Mum more often, she was right about sitting up straight as it does help your back and prevent problems later down the line.

Sloping Shoulders

Having the 'hunch' or rounded shoulders just isn't good for you and is often very painful, and if it goes on for a long time it can also take a long time to cure - think physiotherapy and pain killers. However, I can across this great little stretch that is really helping my back pain and hunchiness in my upper back, shoulders and neck: it's called thoracic extensions.

Improving your posture with this little exercise can not only bring you relief but it can also help you to make gains in your fitness regime as well. By having a better posture you'll be able to do push ups more effectively, lift harder and for longer in your squat sessions and also help you relax your upper body when you're walking or running.

I'll be honest with you, this isn't a quick fix, nor will it will be comfortable. If you're serious about looking after your body and undoing any bad habits you've picked up over the years then you'll certainly take a look a thoracic extensions and add them (or something similar) to your wellness arsenal. I've been doing these a couple of times a week for a month or so and I can definitely say that my back (and hips) are feeling a lot better from it and I will be continuing even when I fell 'fine'.

How to Improve Upper Back Pain

Here's a video courtesy of  YouTube to show you how it's done properly - you can even make the little device at home if you don't already have access to a foam roller.

Have fun and let me know how you get on with these.

Walking vs Running: Which is Better?

In the fitness world a beginner will often ask themselves 'is running better than walking?' Well, in this article I'll be discussing that age old question and the pros and cons of each.


Pros of Running

  • You get a higher calorie burn over a shorter distance
  • It can be done anywhere or anytime - hop on the treadmill or run outside
  • You can get a really high after a good run
  • You make progress really quickly

Cons of Running

  • Running can put up to 3 times more stress on your joints so is not really recommended for the overweight or people with joint problems
  • It is easier to pick up a lower body injury
  • You'll need to pick up a pair of quality running shoes


Pros of Walking

  • Walking  is easier to start with
  • Walking has a lower rate of injury, especially for those who are over weight or have an existing health condition
  • It can be done anywhere anytime - just walk out your front door or hop on the treadmill

Cons of Walking

  • You might find it too boring or easy: add hills or listen to music to switch it up
  • Progress is harder to see
  • You have to be really consistent


Either way it's all down to your preferences, goals and fitness level. Over the same distance walking and running will burn approximately the same calories it's just that walking will take more time; you you want to get more distance in the same time then running is for you. However, both are great cardio options and if done consistently with a healthy diet then you'll get fitter and even loose those extra pounds.

If you are just starting out then you must remember that it's all about intensity with both walking and running. If at first you have an increased heart rate with walking then do that until you make progress then add hills or short bursts of running. It's all about the perspective of intensity: if it's getting easy then knock it up a notch, set goals to help you along the way.

Another thing to remember with the weight loss aspect is that a 250lb person is going to burn a lot more calories than a 100lb person; that's true for walking and running. There are loads of online calculators to see how many calories you'll burn during each exercise.

All in all, it's all down to your preferences, do what you like and stick with it to see results.

Related links

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Rehab: Core - Getting Stronger Abs

Getting Stronger Abs

As part of my rehabilitation plan to walk again I was advised by my physical therapist to work on my core strength (abs, back, thighs and pecs). I thought to myself 'sure, no problem I've always had pretty strong abs anyway.' Boy was I in for a shock yesterday! I decided to settle on ABs 10 which is a core routine in Charlene Extreme's Turbo Fire series. Well, I got 6 minutes into it and just couldn't take any more; it's surprising, and easy to forget, just how weak you can get being bed bound for even just a month.

The Bus

I woke up this morning (insert your blues lyrics here) and felt like I had been hit by a bus. Now, this might have had something to do with coming off the morphine and going onto a weaker painkiller (Doc said I had to switch to Tramadol to avoid addiction), or it might have had something to do with my ab routine yesterday - I'm guessing it was a bit of both to be honest. Just everywhere on/in the middle portion of my body ached, and you know what? I actually missed having that ol' DOMS feeling (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

Thoracic Extensions

On the upside my back is feeling a lot better now that it's having a bit of work to do and now has the opportunity to get stronger. I've also starting doing thoracic extensions with a homemade devise (I'll be writing a detailed post on that soon) which basically stretched your spine and helps to correct the slumping look that you get after years of sitting at a desk.


Just as a side note, I managed to walk half a mile today with only the one stop - go me! My endurance on my leg and lung capacity has improved so much since leaving the hospital that I'll be ready to go back to work soon.


Related Links

Deep Vein Thrombosis Prevention

Previously I have discussed the causes of a Deep Vein Thrombosis so now I'm going to talk about how you can prevent DVTs from forming. Here we will look at being hospitalized, lifestyle and travel and things that you can incorporate into your life to keep you safe.


Before going into hospital if you are taking estrogen based contraceptive pills or are undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) you may be advised to stop taking it a few weeks before your stay. The same applies for blood thinners such as aspirin but these are normally stopped a week before.

Whilst you are in hospital it is important to remain hydrated and to move around as soon as you are able to; this keeps your circulation healthy, therefore preventing any clots. You may also be offered anti-coagulants (these include warfarin or clexane) and compression stockings depending on your risk factors.

When you leave the hospital you may have to continue on anti-coagulants and compression stockings but your health care provider will give you any necessary information.


Two main causes, or contributing factors, for DVTs are smoking and poor lifestyle choices. Here are some tips you can implement to improve your lifestyle and decrease your risk of blood clots:
  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • Moderate exercise
  • Lose any excess weight and maintain a healthy weight.


Travel is often difficult for DVT patients as it requires a lot of planning and often multiple stops on long journeys (more than six hours). Here are some tips to make your journey as comfortable and risk-free as possible:

  • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated
    • Avoid alcohol as this contributes to dehydration
  • Do leg exercises such as flexing your ankles
  • Take brief walks every hour if possible
  • Wear compression stockings
  • Avoid sleeping pills as these cause immobility

Amazon Products

Related Posts

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Introduction to CFS (History and Symptoms)

Do you ever feel so tired that you could just fall asleep right where you stand? Had 12 hours sleep last night but still need that 3pm nap just to keep you going until you get home? If that sounds familiar you might be suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Once known as 'yuppie flu', CFS is a fairly controversial disease that is under regular debate in the medical community since there are a variety of factors that can present. However, the most common symptom is extreme fatigue that lasts for six months or more. Other symptoms include:
  • Sore muscles - as if you've done a heavy workout
  • Stiffness and swelling of your joints
  • Disturbed sleep - this can include excessive sleeping and insomnia
  • Severe headaches - often including migraines
  • Sore throat and runny nose - flu like symptoms
  • Occasional fever
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Brain fog - trouble focusing or forgetting things

So How Does Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Appear?

At the moment there is no one particular factor that causes an onset for CFS but the following events will often trigger an episode in patients:
  • Viral infections - including flu
  • Depression and other conditions
  • Stress - such as losing your job or a loved one
  • Genetic factors
  • Hyper-reactive immune system
Unfortunately there has yet to be a blood test, or any other medical test, that can tell us for sure if you have chronic fatigue syndrome but the medical community are making constant steps forwards. A diagnosis is normally carried out over a series of months ruling out any other diseases you may have, taking a detailed medical history and a lot of lab work to rule out any other causes of fatigue such as anemia.

So Will I Ever get Better?

The answer is who knows? Some people recover from the disease in a few months (especially with children, they seem to 'out grow of it'), or it could be with them for the rest of their lives. 

Some people have a mild - moderate condition where they can continue with their work and home life but have to rest up at the weekends or shorten their work hours or recreational time to ensure adequate rest periods.

Others, however, will have moderate - severe symptoms where they may still be able to do most things around the house or they might become completely bed bound where they can no longer work or take care of themselves. These are extreme cases but unfortunately there are people who suffer this badly with the condition whilst trying to conserve as much energy as possible.

Are There Any Treatments?

There are no proven medications available just yet as there is simply not enough data about the disease  or the patients to begin something of that scale. The best way to manage the disease is through lifestyle modifications:
  • A healthy diet
  • Anti-depressant drugs in some cases
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) - you learn where it is necessary to expend energy and how to conserve it
  • Graded exercise - it is very important to remain as active as possible
  • Medication - pain management is the most frequent series of drugs along with sleeping pills
  • Sleep management techniques - getting your bedroom in the right setting and creating a sleeping schedule
I hope I've provided you with enough information to start with. This is a disease that I am currently struggling with, although they believe there is an underlying cause for it. If I've missed anything out or have any questions please leave a comment, thanks.

Related Posts

Useful Products

An Alternative Outlet for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

I came across an article called 'ArtSunday: "trapped in our bodies" - coping with chronic fatigue syndrome through photography' published in Scholars and Rogues. Here the author is talking about alternative methods for dealing with the frustrations, worries and sometimes hopelessness that comes with the disease.

The photography, on the other hand, not only helps to represent what CFS sufferers go through on a daily basis but it also serves to raise awareness of the disease: how it is real and not just in our heads as once thought.

There is still a large proportion of medical community who will only treat it as a mental condition, prescribing anti-depressants and counseling, when really there is an under-lying cause to these draining symptoms that vary from person to person, but most notably fatigue is the main problem and linking factor.

I would highly suggest reading this article as it may give you some ideas to release your own frustrations in life.

Useful Products

Related Posts

Monday, 26 March 2012

Top 5 Fitness Excuses

Everyone has a day when they just cannot be bothered, have the time or the energy to fit their workout routine into their day. But what happens when these excuses just keep on cropping up? Quite often you'll find that you've got yourself into a rut. One of the best ways to get out of that rut is to look at your priorities and see where your health sits on that list. Let's see if any of these 5 excuses ring a bell, if so here are some tips on how to beat them.

  • There's just not enough time

    Make yourself number one in your life and schedule in your workout, it doesn't have to be a grueling 5 mile run it can be as simple as a 15 minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout using your body weight as resistance which can be done at home. Or get someone to babysit your kids for an hour whilst you do your favorite workout, or get your kids involved and teach them healthy habits.

  • I can't get to the gym

    You could walk or jog outside, use your body weight as resistance, invest in some exercise equipment and hey-presto you have your own gym at home.

    I'd feel embarrassed to workout in front of people

      Again you can workout at home, or, if you do go to the gym people are so engrossed in their own workout they will not notice you. No one is going to judge you for improving your health so get out there and get some exercise.

      I have a health condition

        Most health conditions can be improved with some form of exercise but of course be sure to check with your health care provider first. Something as simple as walking during your lunch break can have such a positive improvement on you health and well-being - give it a go for a few weeks and see how you feel.

        I'm too tired

          Believe it or not but expending energy through exercise will actually give you more energy in the long run. Exercise helps to boost your circulatory system and your body will become more efficient at getting oxygen to your brain and muscles.

          I hope that's given you some food for thought if you've been a little lax on the exercise front. By avoiding exercise you are not taking care of yourself as much as you could be, and you never know you might end up losing those extra pounds or finding an activity that you love.

          Sunday, 25 March 2012

          Symptoms of a Deep Vein Thrombosis


          I though I'd write a post on how to recognize the symptoms of a Deep Vein Thrombosis or pulmonary embolism because without identification and fast action you could end up with some serious problems or even losing your life. Luckily enough I was able to see my GP provider the next day, not know I had a DVT, but she recognized the symptoms immediately and sent me straight to hospital - she probably saved my life that day given the extent of the clot in my leg and lungs.

          What to Look Out For

          The signs you should look out for with a DVT are:
          • Pain or tenderness - this can range from an ache or to the point where you can't bear anything on your leg
          • Swelling - I didn't realize how much swelling there was until I put on my jeans
          • Warm to hot skin in the area of the clot(s)
          • Redness or bluish tinge to the leg especially if lowered for long periods of time
          • DVTs normally effect the calf but can occur in the groin, thigh or even the arms


          If the clot is left untreated for a period of time you can risk some of it breaking off an traveling to you lung (pulmonary embolism), heart (coronary thrombosis/heart attack) or brain (stroke). There is a vast vat of information out there about heart attacks and strokes and recognizing the symptoms so I will just be focusing on pulmonary embolisms here.
          The symptoms to look out for with pulmonary embolisms are:
          • Breathlessness - this may happen suddenly or gradually
          • Chest pain - it may become worse when you breathe in deeply
          • Sudden collapse - call the emergency services immediately
          If you are asthmatic or suffer from any other respiratory condition you might find it a little difficult to gage whether or not this is a bad episode of your condition or if it relates to clotting. If you are ever in doubt seek medical attention immediately, it is better to get yourself checked over and find out it was 'nothing' than to suffer the effects of a clot and risk losing on organ, or worse your life.

          One of the after effects of you may experience, especially from a large clot, is venous insufficiency. This term means that the valves in the vein do not work properly so the blood flows back down the leg instead of back to the heart which causes blood and fluid to pool in the feet and ankles.

          Another complication of deep vein thrombosis is post-thrombotic syndrome which is experienced by at least 50% of DVT patients. PTS occurs when the body releases enzymes to create scar tissue from the clot causing the vein to narrow which leads to pain, swelling, fatigue, and even skin changes such as ulcers from poor circulation. 

          Related Posts

          Products of Interest

          I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has every experienced this. Please leave or comment, or email me if you would like to share.

          Coming Off of Hormonal Birth Control


          I've just come across this article that talks about coming off the pill. This is a personal issue for me at the moment as I had to come off my oestrogen based contraceptives when I went into hospital with my DVT as they are a risk factor. In the referring article the author basically talks about her experience coming off the pill; waiting for her cycle to regulate, waiting to ovulate again, the damn cramping, and the bitchy mood swings.

          My Experiences So Far

          Some of the biggest problems I've got at the moment are the hormone swings, random outburst of crying and [TMI warning] really tender and swollen breasts. My skin is also going a bit weird as well, to start with it's really dry on my face but tends to be oily elsewhere.

          Cravings are a nightmare especially as food is still a bit of an issue with me; when I was in hospital and when I first came out I had no appetite whatsoever. However, that is now changing for the better, my appetite is getting better and I can normally manage three small meals a day (I'm talking about saucer sized plates here) but the thing that's driving me crazy at the moment is my brain and the craving signals it is sending at the moment. When all you want to do is stuff your face with chocolate and pizza but barely get through a couple of mouthfuls it can be pretty frustrating, but on the other hand it has been really good for weight loss; 7kg since my hospitalization and that's just from lying on my back constantly. Fruit juice has helped in slowing my weight loss to a pound or two a week which is much more acceptable in my books.

          One of the subjects that the author covers is becoming fertile again. I'm sure one of the biggest concerns most women have, when choosing a birth control that tampers with their hormones, is how is this going to effect my fertility later on in life? The answers I've been given so far are a little disconcerting, for some women they'll get straight back on the a regular ovulation and menstruation pattern but for others it can take years even after some medical intervention to jump start the system - normally achieved with a shot or pill form of progesterone. 

          I'll be covering different types of contraception in a later post. However, in the mean time do  you have any concerns about hormone controlled contraceptives? Have you had any experience coming off the pill? What are your concerns regarding fertility? I'd love to hear your comments and advice.

          Related Posts:

          Saturday, 24 March 2012

          Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis (Blood Clots)

          Will it Ever Happen to Me?

          There are many people out in the world who will think to themselves "that will never happen to me I'm too [insert your excuse here]". However, there are plenty of reasons to be taking care of yourself from the youngest age. Many of you probably don't know how old I am, since a lady never reveals her true age let's just say I'm in my early twenties, and yet I've suffered a full leg DVT and two pulmonary embolisms this year. So don't say it will never happen to me because it might just turn up one day when you least expect it!

          What can Cause a DVT

          There are a few factors that will increase your risk of getting a DVT or pulmonary embolism so if you fall under any of these categories I would recommend speaking to you health care provider about the best ways to prevent this from happening in your specific circumstances.

          • Being overweight or obese
          • Having an inherited condition that causes your blood to clot more easily
          • Having a condition that causes you to be at a higher risk of clotting (antiphospholipid syndrome)
          • Having a family history of blood clots in veins
          • Having a blot clot before
          • Suffer from cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease or other long-term health issue
          • Are taking an oestrogen contraceptive pill
          • Are having hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
          • Are pregnant of have just had a baby
          • Are immobile; having surgery or are bed bound
          • Are traveling for long distances where you cannot move your legs
          • Smoke
          • Or are over 60
          Now remember these are only factors that increase your risk of having a blood clot but it is always wise to be in contact with your health care provider if you think you are at risk.

          Related Posts

            Thursday, 22 March 2012

            Learning to Walk - Rehab Plan

            So far I have only been able to walk to my GP, which is a 1/2 mile round trip, once a week and that just exhausts me so I can't do anything else. I've got some rehab exercises that will help improve


            I've decided that I need to start building up my core again as that will help to stabilize me when I'm walking around or doing anything really. I've got a variety of ab/core routines from the Turbo series, P90x, Insanity and Charlene Extreme so I'm going to be set for a while on those. I'll let you know how my core is improving, I'll be posting up some base stats as a benchmark and see how we go from there.


            As for the picture of the bike, I managed to not only get on the machine but to cycle for 5 minutes on the easiest setting. I got to 5 minutes and my leg was already fatigued, I thought about pushing through for another couple of minutes but my calf was already swollen and tight so I elevated it straight away so that the blood and fluid could return. Not only does cycling help return motion to my muscles but also helps in building strength and speed with very little pressure on the joints. It will also help my lung capacity return to normal as I breathe deeper through the cardio sessions.

            Keeping track 

            After years of manually tracking my progress on countless spreadsheets I found Dailyburn that allows me to track pretty much anything I need. It has workout sections, nutrition, challenges, and forums to pose any question that you might have. It's a great little tool and would recommend it to anyone looking to track their nutrition, body stats and workouts.

            Has anyone else had to go through any rehab? Any tips would be great!

            Part 3: Out of the danger zone and the start of my recovery

            A Ray of Hope

            After having the IVC filter in I'm finally out of the danger zone and into the unknown recovery zone. I spent the next week and a half being moved every other day to another ward; I wasn't on the DVT ward because it was under infection quarantine. One of the problems that I had though was that the medical teams on these other wards didn't really know how to look after a DVT patient. Don't get me wrong though as they were perfectly competent at their jobs, gave me medication and the care I needed but they couldn't answer any of my questions so I had to wait until one of my doctors came round and put it to them. The respiratory wards I found were better as they had some dealing with pulmonary embolisms before and knew how much oxygen and type of care I needed for my lungs.

            One of the things that makes staying in hospital bearable is the people you meet and make connections with. I met some lovely ladies who made my life easier and brightened up my day; there was one lady who would come and hold my hand whenever I had to have blood taken or a new cannula fitted, it was like having my mum or dad there telling me it would all be over soon and she would make everything Ok. 

            A Couple of Tips

            About a week later I was settling into a lung cancer surgical ward and a nurse comes over to me and says she just spoken to my doctor and has some news for me: my catheter can come out and I can start moving around! Best. News. Ever!! So I've got some tips on catheters while they're in and for when they come out:
            • It's going to hurt when they put it in so ideally make sure that you're not desperate for the toilet otherwise it makes it worse.
            • Ideally have it put at bedtime, that way you can sleep off the biggest discomfort.
            • If you are allowed to move I would recommend taping the tube to your thigh, this way you don't have to worry about getting caught or dealing with gravity and the tugging sensation you'll get when you stand up.
            • Don't wait until the measuring part is full (sometimes difficult at night), it will get uncomfortable and will feel really weird when they empty it.
            • When it's time to take it out continue to drink as normal as this reduces the chance of a water infection.
            • Have the nurse take it out at night time, this will let your bladder fill over night and also get over the discomfort. 
            • Be aware you may leak slightly and that's nothing to be embarrassed about, it will take your bladder a good few hours to return to its normal functioning pattern. If you are worried about leakage then just ask for an incontinence pad then you can sleep without worrying.
            • The first time you empty your bladder might be a little awkward and uncomfortable; I was desperate for the toilet and yet it took a long time for my bladder to release that it had to open and it stung too (the kind of sting you get with cystitis) but after a couple of toilet stops you should be back to normal.
            • Of course if you have any concerns speak to your nurse or doctor who will be the best person to advise you.
            Another little problem you might suffer from being bed bound is constipation. The best combination I found was a little tablet called Senna which helps to regulate the bowels and also a powder (mixed with water) called Movicol that helps to soften the stool. Trust me, you'll need the softener if you haven't been for a week or so as passing a hard stool is really quite painful and distressing.


            By now I was getting pretty desperate to go home as I had moved wards yet again and was getting frustrated at having to repeat myself and somewhat educate the nurses on my condition. I was given some crutches so that I could get to toilet and shower by myself but I was told that I couldn't go home until I could walk up a flight of stairs with them (living in a first floor flat this made sense).

            So one afternoon one of the patients had received some physio and I caught one of physios walking out the door and made the passing remark of "can I be next?". Of course I was expecting them to say no as the doctor told me there was a waiting list but the lady came over and asked what was wrong and what I needed to do. She listened and said that she had a spare hour so she'd go over my notes and come back in a little while; 15 mins later two of them came back with a wheelchair.

            The stairs of doom loomed in front of me: I had to get up and down 15 stairs to go home. Since I had only been walking for 12 hours I knew that I had no strength left in my left leg and that my breathing was still weak but I was determined to go home; facing that flight of stairs was like facing one of your worst nightmares, I was scared of falling and terrified of failure. The physio showed me the best way to get up the stairs (good leg first) and down (bad leg first) and off we went. It was hard work getting up there but with the encouragement and determination I made it up and down in one fell swoop and the collapsed into the wheel chair from exhaustion. 

            Home Time?

            Back in bed I slept for about 4 hours but yet again was woken up by my rheumatologist who had a great big grin on his face. Apparently the nurses had told him what I had just accomplished and he was super pleased, so much so that he wanted to send me home the next day! He explained that I was now stable enough and fit enough to continue my treatment at home and we could continue the investigations with me as an outpatient. Hooray!!! I made all my phone calls to say I was being discharged and everyone was thrilled.

            The next morning my nurse came round with three huge bags full of medicine for me; painkillers, clexane injections (to keep my platelet levels down), antihistamines (morphine makes me itchy) and something for my bowels -they had also arrange a taxi for the afternoon. I spent the morning packing, saying goodbye to my new ward friends and then had a nap before lunch.

            The taxi came at 3pm, got me loaded into the cab and then off we went. Being outside was a little strange at first, mostly just really bright though. I was home by 4pm and was relaxing on the sofa with my partner feeling great that I was home again where I could focus on my recovery in a nice quiet environment.

            Yay for being home!

            I'll be making regular posts on my recovery and getting back into my fitness regime. 

            Here are the previous posts for part 1, part 2a, part 2b, and part 2c.