Posted in Life

Self Isolation Diaries: Day Two

26.06.21

Dale asked me this morning when we got up if I’d made any plans… well funnily enough, no! I had a morning spin class in the garage and apart from that, bugger all.

My intentions, as usual, were to be productive after I’d done spin, but it’s just gone 4pm as I’m writing this and literally… I showered, published a blog post, ate lunch and then had a nap. That’s it. That’s been my day. I’m not even sorry to be honest!

I still have 3 whole days left to be productive… honestly the rest of the day after a spin class I’m just totally done in. I thought exercise was supposed to give you energy?! It’s all lies…

I will probably have a little bit of a potter about this afternoon and in to the evening, as Dale has gone out to a wedding. This means I have to get my own dinner sorted, so I actually do have to get back up off my ass at some point…

Even to turn the TV on, I need to actually get up… currently all I can hear is the neighbour singing along to Bon Jovi and it’s not exactly the soundtrack I want for a Saturday evening.

Reggie and I have had a lovely cuddle though, which is always the best. He’s now currently laid across the foot stool in front of me, absolutely fast asleep. I love him so much.

I’m going to make myself tuna pasta for dinner, although the only pasta we’ve got in the house is spaghetti. It feels weird to have that with tuna although I know it’s technically all the same. I think I’ll stick a film on while Dale is out too, I fancy watching Dirty Dancing. We’ve been binging New Girl on netflix and there’s an episode where Dirty Dancing is bought up and I’ve been wanting to rewatch it ever since.

Tomorrow is another day to be productive!

Posted in Life

Self Isolation Diaries: Day One

This certainly isn’t the return to blogging that I planned but here we go…

25.06.21

I no longer work Fridays, so today started like any other day off.

I got out of bed when Dale went off to work and I walked Reggie. Came home, had some breakfast. Did a bit of tidying up before getting ready to out for an appointment.

I went to my appointment with no hiccups, then met my mum in town for some lunch. We had a great catch up, actually sat inside Costa with actual coffee cups and were about to head to Boots. “How long do you have left for your parking?” She asked me… as I got my phone out to check the time, there it was. A notification from NHS test and trace.

Being rather an anxious person, my initial reaction was of course blind panic. Immediately I felt ill, as if I’d just been told I actually HAVE Covid-19. My mind raced and I realised I needed to head straight home. Mum helped me to switch my rational brain back on and reminded me that I’ve already had both my jabs and besides… I’ve not felt ill until right in that moment. So to go home, take a test for peace of mind and just make the most out of the situation. I’m always craving more time at home and here it is!

I was exposed on the 19th June and only just being notified on the 25th, so it’s 5 days at home.

If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being home with no plans, so 5 days is nothing! Although it does concern me that I’ve been going about my business for almost a full week, before being notified of the exposure… Luckily I’ve only been to work, wearing PPE, so actually it’s pretty ironic that on one of the rare occasions I’ve ventured out to anywhere else, I was “exposed”.

First things first was to let work know so I rang my boss whilst walking back to my car. Luckily I would only miss two days and can easily make up most of that time. So may as well enjoy the time off… there’s always plenty to do at home, Reggie loves the company and I can make plenty of candles and wax melts.

I calmed down and got home, tested and it was negative. Phew.

So time to get on with all this extra time at home…

I’ve been struggling to stick with any kind of blogging schedule for a little while and fell out of love with it all as a result. I’ve been trying to kick my butt in to gear and make a grand return, just not quite managed it yet. So I’ve decided to make a diary style blog series about how I fill my time. Plus of course, it means I can work on the many drafts I’ve started over the last few months! Stay tuned, I hope you’re all safe and well.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve had to isolate recently and how did you fill your time?

Posted in Life

What it’s like to get the COVID-19 vaccination

Well, here’s a post I could have never predicted that I’d write when I started blogging…

I will start by clarifying that this post is about my personal experience, my own opinions and my own understanding of the COVID vaccination. I welcome any questions but do also be aware that there are much more qualified people to direct any queries to!

I think we all know by now that the world as we knew it prior to 2020, has been flipped upside down… probably more than once. Life just hasn’t been the same since COVID-19 reared it’s ugly head and spread like wildfire, so it’s no surprise that the opinion of many people is that the only way out is with a vaccine.

I’m very much pro getting the jab, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. The vaccine is NOT compulsory, despite what some may seem to think. I can, however, completely understand why many people have reservations in that it came about so quickly… but really, seeing as this is a huge global issue, what else would you expect?! The research has been ongoing and the vaccine certainly wasn’t concocted overnight so personally, I trust the science.

Why I got the vaccine

I want to start by clarifying that I am by no means on the frontline and there are many people working more closely with the public and in a position of higher risk than me. However, I have worked throughout the pandemic in the healthcare sector so luckily for me I was in the second priority group for the vaccine.

In the UK, those currently receiving the vaccine are:

  • people aged 80 and over
  • some people aged 70 and over
  • some people who are clinically extremely vulnerable
  • people who live or work in care homes
  • health and social care workers

I actually feel slightly guilty in a way that I got mine so quickly, because it felt a little like jumping the queue. However, with all that is going on the world, this was not an opportunity to be missed.

What it was like getting the vaccine

On January 13th, 2021, I found myself queuing up outside a health centre, in the rain… buzzing with excitement, but also with slight terror, as I HATE needles. I’m not the kind of gal to get jabbed unless I need it, let me tell you that much!

The system in place was incredible. The queue outside moved quickly and was socially distanced, with everyone respecting the rules and wearing masks. Then at the front door, my temperature was taken and hands sanitised before checking in. I then joined another socially distanced queue, following the markings on the floor of what I assumed would have normally been the waiting room. Again, it moved quickly but there was still enough time to read over the vaccination leaflet and see the ingredients of the vaccine and what side effects I might expect later on. Once I was at the front of the queue, I could see there were a number of rooms in use, with many people gliding in and out, as they received their jab.

A friendly lady called me in, asked me if I was generally healthy and if I may be pregnant. Side note: current advice is to wait until you have given birth to receive your vaccine, and this is purely because they’re not able to trial a vaccine on pregnant women. The NHS website states that “There’s no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you’re pregnant. But more evidence is needed before you can routinely be offered it.” That being said, if you’re in a high risk group you can still get your jab, even if you’re pregnant.

I said that I was healthy, just very nervous… she made small talk to put me at ease and let me know that she was actually a phlebotomist, so very good with needles! Fun fact: many of those that work in medicine are training to deliver the jab so that it can be rolled out at quickly as it is.

The needle went in my arm quickly and painlessly. Just like that, I had my first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. I said my thank yous and made my way out of the back door, greeted by some of my colleagues who also had their jab at the same time, and we all went back to work for the afternoon!

I was amazed at how efficient the whole process was.

Did I have any side effects?

Keep in mind here that everyone will react differently to any kind of vaccine and mild side effects are common. With the Oxford vaccine, the most common side effects include:

  • tenderness, pain, warmth, redness, itching, swelling or bruising where the injection is given
  • generally feeling unwell
  • feeling tired (fatigue)
  • chills or feeling feverish
  • headache
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • joint pain or muscle ache

You can read more about the less common side effects, as well as all the other information from the vaccine leaflet, here.

For me personally, I feel that I ticked off most of the above but let me be clear in that I did not feel extremely unwell in the slightest. A couple of colleagues felt a lot worse than me (many of us went the same day) but on the other hand, many didn’t feel anything afterwards at all. Like I said, everyone will react differently.

12 hours post vaccine – during the night

I woke up in a cold sweat, like… really sweaty. Plus, I ached all over. That being said, I didn’t actually think anything of this as I also had a really strange dream, which is not uncommon for me and I often wake up in the night, somewhat clammy and aching.

Day 1 post vaccine

After that fairly disturbed nights sleep, I got ready for work. Group chats on WhatsApp pinged away as we all discussed how we felt and then I realise that perhaps my night sweats were actually due to the vaccine. I still didn’t feel too bad so I didn’t mind. Lots of people were feeling much worse then me but as I said, about the same number of people also felt absolutely fine.

For the rest of the day, getting ever so gradually worse in the afternoon, I personally had a very fuzzy head and felt extremely tired, as well as having hot flushes. By the time I was home, I was utterly exhausted.

Some people had a completely dead arm or painful injection site but I personally had no pain at all in my arm.

Day 2 post vaccine

I had an early night and then felt fine the next day. All of my other colleagues also said they felt fine by now as well. I was still quite tired but seeing as the dog kept us up that second night and it’s not unusual for me not to sleep well, again I didn’t blame the vaccine!

My arm was a bit sore by this point but not bad at all, mainly just a little sting around the injection site.

Day 3 post vaccine

I felt completely normal with just a little sting in my arm every now and then. I didn’t even feel the sting by the fourth day and everything was completely back to how I felt pre-vaccine.

Overall thoughts

The whole experience was incredible and without sounding over the top, I feel honoured to be part of it all – let’s face it, this really is history in the making.

Don’t get me wrong though, I have my own doubts too… I can’t help but feel uneasy about the fact that the time between doses was increased from 3 weeks to up to 12 weeks. I understand why it was done and it’s meant that a much larger number of people were able to receive their first dose, however I do wonder how the gap could have been increased by such a significant amount of time. On the other hand, I’m very much one to trust the process so for now, I eagerly await an appointment for the second dose.

But what happens if you don’t receive the second jab?

My completely honest answer can only be that I don’t really know. My understanding is that the first dose only gives a certain amount of immunity, I believe around 60%, and then the second dose then boosts this up to over 90% and means that it will last longer. This is only what I gather from the information that’s been available to me, and I’m the furthest thing away from an expert on the matter! That being said, I’m keen to update you all once I do get the second dose or if I do get any more information.

I hope this post has been helpful and if you have any questions about getting the COVID-19 vaccination, then please feel free to ask away!

Posted in Anxiety, Life

10 Things I Do To Help My Anxiety

I’m going to come out and say it: I’ve suffered with anxiety for most of my life. When I was a teenager, I had frequent panic attacks, often cancelled plans with friends and made myself physically ill with stress and worry. As I grew up and saw more of the world, my panic attacks eased and, in many ways, I got “better”. Except, I wasn’t better at all, I’ve just learnt how to cope a bit more and function as an adult.

At the start of this year, I realised I finally needed help. The problem is that of course, I let my anxiety get in the way and now, we’re in the middle of a lockdown and the whole world is now in state of panic. The new “C” word understandably puts a knot in my stomach and I’m sure I’m not alone. Due to my work, I knew this was coming a couple of months ago and have therefore been an anxious wreck for some time. I now regret not getting any help before now and although I’m sure there’s still avenue available, it just doesn’t really seem feasible all the time we shouldn’t be leaving our homes – and whilst I’m too scared to do anything or go anywhere. I’ve come to appreciate my health and the need to look after ourselves, so as soon as it is safe to do so I will finally get the help I need.

This post isn’t about the “C” word though, and it’s not a complete story of my anxiety as to be honest, we’d be here quite some time. I thought that just for now, I could share with you some of the small things that make a difference to how I feel day to day:

Fresh air, or a walk if you can. If you feel up for it, go for a walk, it doesn’t have to be far. I find that I instantly feel calmer after a few deep breaths in the fresh air and a quiet walk somewhere to clear my head. Some days, it’s a struggle to get out the door and all I want to do is curl up, but once I’m dressed and outside, it really does help. If you’re really not up for a walk, even just opening all the windows and letting the air in helps.

Play with my puppy. I have dreamed of having my own Corgi for several years and a few weeks ago was incredibly lucky to finally get one. Nothing is more calming than playing with my lovely boy! Of course, playing with a puppy wasn’t always an option but even before we got Reggie, I’d spend a chunk of time scrolling through photos of other corgis… maybe that sounds weird, but it’s always helped.

A hot bath or shower. Nothing is more relaxing than a lovely hot bubble bath, or if you’re in more of a rush then a shower will still help, at least I find that it does anyway. I like to sweat out all my problems without having to go to the gym!

Deep breaths. This sounds like a given really but taking a few deep breaths and just giving myself a moment to focus is a key part of my day, sometimes several times a day! Try to relax your shoulders, really breath in through your nose and gently breath back in again out of your mouth. Doing this for a couple of minutes is so beneficial for relieving anxiety and stress.

A distraction – like colouring or reading. A simple hobby to focus on, like a good book or colouring something in, is a nice distraction from my anxieties. Watching a film, drawing or painting, anything that you enjoy that will also distract you. Set yourself some time to focus on something else.

Tidy up. It’s so true what they say – tidy space, tidy mind. Unfortunately I often struggle to get motivated to get house work done, even though I hate the mess. It really depends on my mood. I think it’s important not to be too hard on yourself and force yourself to do too much when you haven’t got the motivation or energy, but if you can, tidying up just one room or small space does actually help. Once I get started, I often can’t stop and go full nesting mode! If it feels like too much, I declutter something else, like the photos on my phone or a small task like clearing out my purse. A small victory in the day to be celebrated!

Speak to a friend. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about your problems, I know that for a factbut it does help. Even if you don’t talk about what’s bothering you at first, just reach out for some communication and a good laugh. Talking about your concerns can follow later.

Make plans. I’m terrible for making plans and then sticking to them but having something to look forward to always gets me through anxious times. It helps to focus on something that will be happening after you’ve faced your demons, or whatever is worrying you.

Drink water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – you’ll feel so much better! Being dehydrated makes me feel so unwell, which I’m turns makes me panic more. Just drink your water!

Write it all down. This is something I’m still working on. I struggle to communicate my anxieties, because a lot of the time I don’t actually understand it myself. I don’t know why I’m in a blinding panic, I just am. Processing it by writing it all down instead is super helpful, I just seem to forget this and bottle things up instead!

I hope you’ve found these helpful, let me know in the comments what you do to ease your anxiety and get you through the day!