Let’s Talk About….. Endometriosis

Yesterday (7th October) endometriosis was trending on Twitter. Largely in part to This article. Now why would I possibly be bothered by this, or why would anyone be bothered by this? Well according to Endometriosis uk the current figures indicate 1 in 10 women have the condition….. and I’m one of them.

So slightly different post from me this time…. I’m going to talk to you about endometriosis. And guys, if any of you are reading this, before you roll your eyes and think ” oh it’s just girls moaning about that time of the month” let me tell you endometriosis is NOT just period pain, it is more than the odd stomach cramp.

Anyone who thinks endometriosis is just a period is sadly mistaken. I’m self employed, every month I take 3 days off to coincide with the start of my period…. but why? Surely just man up Gemma? ( incidentally let’s stop telling everyone to “man up” it’s not helpful) well because every single month, on day one I go from being ok, to being bent double from pain – I mean think having your stomach used as a punch bag type pain,, and you’re getting there. The nausea is awful, if you eat too you’re sick, the pain extends up to my ribs and somehow creeps through your legs down to your feet.

The ache is unremitting, it literally feels like all joy has been sucked out of you, and actually if I could remove my pain receptors for those days, that would be amazing.

I was about 15 when the pain started, the school nurse though I was trying to get sent home, the doctors suggested the pill, my mum took me seriously…. it took years ( about 9 ) to get a diagnosis.

That’s not the best of it…. you often get fertility problems and the ” don’t you want more children?” Questions… My reply” yes another would be lovely but my womb is that scarred that babies don’t like it”

Other joys are Miscarriages, scans, operations, ( I mentioned pain didn’t I?) and a deep frustration that only women in similar situations can empathise with. Why frustration though? Because no one believes you that it is, or can be, that bad. Even my GP said to me at 25 that I had nothing to worry about…. and a few painful periods were part of the course- apparently having a baby would help. I mean seriously those were her words….. you can imagine how that made me feel. I’m not alone either- scores of women all over the country will tell you of similar stories. This is both sad and disheartening.

This all needs to change, attitudes around this condition needs to change. More funding is needed and above all women need to be taken seriously. This is a horrible condition and I for one am pleased it’s had some recognition this week.

Ladies if you think you may have symptoms of endometriosis please do get it checked.

Seek help, if you are struggling I’d recommend Twitter…. the communities on there really are the best. You’ve got this girls…… you are not alone.

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Back To School…..

So it’s looming, Augtember is nearly over and that first week of school is starting to wave at me- do you know what? I hate it.

I mean hands up all of you who have a heart attack at the cost of the uniform- yep me to. I’m still trying to dissuade mini me from the god awful Lilli Kelli numbers she has her eye on, in swap for the slightly less bank balance haemorrhaging Clarks pair. Good luck with that one I hear you all cry.

I also despise the morning rush, and routine, I have crippling ( slight exaggeration) insomnia so getting up after about 3 hrs sleep is never fun.. Mostly though is that we have fun over the summer, and getting back to the grind stone is difficult for us all. There’s some parents who count down the days to school going back- I’m not one of them, mind you I’ve only got the 1 munchkin, if I had more I might think differently.

Good luck to all you reception Parents, have your tissues ready- you’ll need them. Mine skipped in, didn’t look back and gave it her all, I was proud but a mess obviously. Have that glass of wine in the evening, you deserve it.

Good luck if it’s the first time entering the playground as well. My goodness that was/is a minefield. Not only do the children have to navigate their way through new friendships and meeting- so do you, but with the parents. To those of you who don’t know anyone, seize the moment and say hello. Most people are great, ignore the scurry of gossip ( there WILL be some) and make your own judgement of people.

To the allergy parents, you’ve got this to. I won’t lie reception was the worst for me, I mean I’m always by my phone but that first year I checked it all the time. But we made it with no major incidents….How?? Good planning. My advice is get your child’s care plan in place and get the school staff familiar with it. I went in on the teacher training day to explain to the staff the signs and symptoms to look out for if L is having a reaction.

She has a medical box at school ( Epi pens, antihistamines, eye spray) she also has a safe treat box as well, just so the teachers can use treat if needed ( birthdays etc) and no one is excluded. It works well.

L has grown into a few more Allergies since starting, she’s now having to avoid gluten, dairy and latex is looking more likely. I get a lot of phone calls, and early pick ups, we now flexi-school her to help but it works, and the staff are managing her allergies. Just remember communication it key.

So there you have it, my advice to you all.

Enjoy it, it’s a stage in their development, they are growing up, they are learning. Embrace it, build each other up.

You’ve all got this

Welcome to the school run years……..

It’s Coeliac Awareness Week

Yes it’s that time of the year again and Coeliac awareness week is up on us once again. It is running from 13th- 19th May. This year it is focusing on diagnosis.

Coeliac UK is the national charity that helps to raise awareness of this autoimmune condition. It is a great place to start for those who are newly diagnosed, and for those of you who think you might have Coeliac disease.

I thought at this point I would tell you about my story to diagnosis. I was roughly fifteen when I started getting symptoms that were problematic, such as bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, mouth ulcers and tiredness. Initially after a few GP visits I was told IBS was the most likely cause- due to exam stress from my GCSEs that were the big exams that I was starting to study for- this didn’t seem right to me as I’m not a stressed person, and certainly wasn’t worried about exams etc. Nevertheless I took the advice, changed diet and lifestyle and tried the prescription of anti- spasmodic medicines. Guess what- it didn’t really work, and back to the doctor I trundled.

IBS was still being branded about, until I happened to mention that both my Nan and aunt had Coeliac disease. I was then sent off for a blood test. Sure enough these came back as positive. I was expecting to be sent for a biopsy but after being referred to the hospital, a further blood test and positive genetic test confirmed the diagnosis of Coeliac disease.

I felt relieved and overwhelmed straight after diagnosis, but after my first dietitian appointment, and armed with lots of information of what I could and couldn’t eat I ventured into the supermarket to embark the first chore of Coeliac disease ( and allergies) – label reading.

I won’t lie you will spend A LOT of time label reading, the only thing I can say is that over the years the “Free From” aisles have expanded hugely so the choice offered is getting better and better. You still need to be careful of the dreaded “may contain” warnings ignore them and you can get caught out. – Walkers crisps were my enemy the one day in case your were wondering.

What I can say is that within a week of switching to a gluten free diet I felt so much better. It really is that dramatic. My only side effect of my Coeliac disease is that I’m also one of the 1 in 10,000 that also suffers from Dermatitis Herpetiformis, an intensely ( and I mean intensely) itchy skin condition linked to Coeliac disease.

It is the absolute worst, my first flare up was at university after a pasta mix-up. 2 days later I felt unwell and itchy, by day 4 the rash had appeared, if I could have torn my skin off I seriously would have. It is awful. My GP was flummoxed at first, as he hadn’t seen many cases of it. I was sent for a skin biopsy and the results confirmed it.

Thankfully I don’t get too many flare ups, but nevertheless when I do I tend to go to ground. The appearance of the rash and how rotten I feel puts pay to wanting to go out.

BUT it’s not bad at all having Coeliac- I could have a lot worse. I’ve made some great friends over the years. My top tip is to start at Coeliac UK for advice, and then the Coeliac and allergy community on Twitter and Facebook is brilliant. It’s live a great, big friendly free from hive- there’s always someone that can help answer your questions.

I hope this has helped some of you- Just remember, although it’s daunting being newly diagnosed, you are never alone.

My Free From Guide To Stratford upon Avon

My lovely hometown, which admittedly is most famous for William Shakespeare and The RSC Theatre, is also packed with eateries and tea rooms. Some of them are absolutely fantastic at catering for dietary needs, so I thought I’d share my top places to go.

My first place is Bensons Restaurant is Henley street ( almost opposite Shakespeare’s Birthplace). Their gluten free options really are fantastic, you can get things like a breakfast with bottomless tea for around £5 all gluten free, right through to lunches and afternoon teas. They also have a separate dairy free menu, and really do understand the cross contamination risks and take many precautions ( hooray I shout).

Loxleys Restaurant and Wine Bar in Sheep Street is my next choice, and no not because of the wine element ( although they do have a great choice) but because they have really good gluten free options. The dinners or pre- theatre menus are delicious, AND they can manage to provide gluten free sausages on their breakfasts, plus is a really quirky and luxuriously decorated restaurant that is worth a visit when you are next in the vicinity.

if you have a sweet tooth you’d be mad to miss Hoorays gelato parlour. They have gluten free waffle cones, plenty of gluten, dairy and a few nut free options and some delicious vegan offerings that are worth a visit on a hot day.

In Bridge Street there is Huffkins Bakery, they do a mean peanut butter brownie that is gluten free ( and eaten well out of the way of mini me)

So here’s my top places for starters, I will be updating the post when I find other free from dining delights.

The Busy Parents Guide To Allergies- Book Review and Competition

We’ve all been there, your child has a range of symptoms, you go to the GP. Tests are carried out and all of a sudden your child is diagnosed with a food allergy or allergies.

Mini me’s first reaction was unfortunately anaphylactic due to a tiny bit of peanut butter, so in the space of about 30 minutes we dramatically discovered her allergy. And your life changes, right there, in that moment.

There’s the thing, it’s scary, and can be overwhelming and you’ll spend many an hour reading food labels, and have so so many questions. That is where this new book by Zoe T Williams could help you.


Zoe is an allergy blogger, who’s youngest child has allergies to oats, legumes, milk soya and eggs. She set up her blog and piers recipes and helpful advice. Leading on from this she has written this book and kindly sent me a copy to have a read through.

You can find Zoe’s blog Here

So having read this book I can honestly say it’s superb for all those parents who want some of those endless questions answered. It takes you from birth to university, and thoroughly covers all aspects of Allergies. I like how it’s easy to read, and set out in a way that doesn’t overload you.

Zoe has also included some really useful templates that are clear and easy to follow. I particularly like this one

This is a checklist for going on holiday- and when it’s your first one post diagnosis it can be a bit nerve wrecking.

I also like the very comprehensive section on challenge ladders- because hopefully you will encounter these at some point as your child can grow out of some allergies.

Anyway don’t just take my word for it, you can purchase Zoe’s book for yourself HERE ( Not an affiliate link)

The other great news is you can try and win yourself a copy of this great book. Zoe will kindly be sending the winner a copy after the competition ends next week.

you can enter the competition Here

Hello 2019

Good bye 2018, and for the most parts good riddance. Although not as horrid as 2015 ( my annus horribilis if you will) there are some parts of last year that I’m glad to be leaving behind us.

That said it’s not been all bad- I’ve also learnt to ride the ups and downs and go with the flow more. We also made some great memories as a family, and things like this little blog have continued to grow which amazes and excites me all at the same time.

Also we have made another year without having to use an epi pen on mini me. It came close ( cheers mr insect) but never the less a year without an anaphylactic shock is always a positive, especially as we’ve all had the epi- pen shortage issues as well, I was like a bloodhound at one point trying to track one down.

Other positives are we had a great family holiday, fabulous days out and plenty of fun in the glorious summer heat wave.

My little blog- this little blog that I started a few months after L’s first reaction, has grown, and continues to grow with followers which amazes and humbles me at the same time. Thank you to you all.

This year I’d like to obviously carry one with my usual content of recipes, advice and the odd review but I’d like to share with you all a bit more about our lives, how we manage Type 1 diabetes, Coeliac disease and food allergies, a bit about what we all get up to, and why ( for my own sanity) I think I’m going to start a bullet journal. Well try to anyway.

So there we go, thank you for sticking with me- now let’s see what 2019 has to offer.

Over and out for now xx

We’ve done it….

It’s over, we got there. What am I banging on about I hear you shout? Mini me has completed her first year in school. Listening to the waves coming in, on our well deserved break, it has got me reminiscing over the past year.

A whole year done, which millions of other children across the country have also completed, but for those with allergies, illnesses or difficulties it’s a little bit more relief.

It’s not all been plain sailing. L has seemingly grown into a dairy allergy and we are avoiding gluten due to ongoing problems with her tummy. She also has been in and out of doctors appointments due to severe hay fever ( I’ve never seen facial swelling quite so bad in someone before) and has had a nasty reaction to a sting- epi pens at the ready. But, and here’s the huge BUT….

This amazing little girl has taken it all in her stride, had a great ( mostly) year and a glowing report to boot. We couldn’t be prouder.

If your little one is starting school for the first time this September then the advice I’d would give to all you is this

1. Be prepared, have a care plan in place and make sure the school understand it and you are happy with it. We have a meds box including epi pens, antihistamine and care plan which is kept in the building during term times.

2. Ensure staff have had training in anaphylaxis and epi pen administration. This is the same of inhalers or other medications needed. Cross contamination risks are also important to go over.

3. We have a box of safe treats kept at school.

4. At the start of term we sent a letter out explaining L’s allergies and why she couldn’t eat certain foods. Just asking to be mindful of washing hands, brushing teeth before school if eating nut products. This helped a lot.

5. Try not to worry- it’s hard I know but persevere it does get easier

6. Talk about your concerns- there’s always someone who can help.

There we are, no go have a great summer holiday and let’s be grabbing year one by the horns hey?

Happy New Year

Well hello 2018. Whilst I’m not one for gushing posts I’d love to take the opportunity to wish all my friends, family, bloggers and followers a very Happy New Year.

I’m humbled to think my follower numbers and view are increasing, something I hope continues throughout the new year. We now have dairy free to contend with, so you and expect more recipes and reviews etc to incorporate this. As always if I can offer any advice regarding allergies and diet then feel free to send me a message. You are never alone, there’s always someone who will listen.

2017 proved challenging for us in some places. Health wise family members have suffered. Mini me started school- this is a milestone for all parents, but navigating food allergies in the mix as well requires lots of planning. We now flexi- school ( expect more posts on this) this means part home education and part school. I’ll add allergies were not the reason for this decision, and so far it’s proving to be the right choice. We are looking forward to our new challenges in 2018 and ready to face it full on.

All that’s left to say is I hope the hangovers recover soon, and bring it on 2018, we are ready for you.

Days Out With Allergies- Drayton Manor Theme Park

My Daughter is Thomas mad, I mean obsessed with Thomas. We had a disaster of a holiday, resulting in a broken narrow boat and being stranded by a lock ( thanks Hoseasons) so to make up for said disaster we had our first trip to Drayton Manor Park.

Munchkin spent the first hour in a mixture of excitement and amazement, and I have to admit it brought back nostalgia from school trips and summer holidays in my teenage years. Thomas Land is fantastic, lots of rides all perfect for little ones, plenty of photo opportunities and trains, lots of trains.

Personal highlights are the Troublesome Trucks, and Winston’s Car ride. We loved it so much we booked an over night stay a few weeks later in the hotel for the much anticipated 4th Birthday.

Fast forward to this point, the check in was smooth and very easy. For £30 extra we were offered the themed Thomas bedroom. We said yes- they are amazing from Thomas bunk beds, stunning painted walls, track carpets and breakfast with The Fat Controller the next morning I’d really recommend a stop over if you can ( this is not a sponsored post it REALLY is that great).

This leads me on to eating in the hotel and park. In every outlet there is full allergen menus, many you do t need to ask its all displayed on the walls. This is from The Burger Kutchen, an actual burger that’s both gluten and nut free. Thumbs up all round ( delicious it was to).

The Grill in is another excellent choice. Both chef and magnet sign to say your food is safe to eat. They even did a extra safe special treat for mini me on her birthday. We were so touched and could not sing their praises higher.

I really recommend you go for a day ( or two) to Drayton Manor it’s great fun for all, with or with out allergies.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. It’s all my own views and I was really impressed.

Round Up of My Favourite New Free From Products

Well hello to you all and welcome to my first post of National Free From Week. This week you can expect a recipe ( or two). A review and maybe a competition- so keep your peepers peeled.

Anyway I thought I’d start with sharing my favourite new products. It seems ( rather like autumn tv) that the run up to Christmas brings all things new and exciting and this includes those in the Free From world to. And yes, yes I know I’ve mentioned the C word but those of you with children will be hearing about it already- unless it’s just mine that is obsessed with all things festive?

First up is this in Tesco

Actual Chocolate gateau, for £3 that’s dairy free and delicious to, really what’s not to love? I can hear the cheers and whoops all around from here.

Whilst we are on the subject of Tesco I should add Schar have introduced actual waffles, no good for us due to Lupin flour in the ingredients but exciting none the less. There are also an Almond Bakewell, Fruit slice and Brownie from Mr Kipling on the shelves this week in your local store. Other highlights are a celebration cake kit from Delicious Alchemy and gluten free San Miguel ( yes really).

In Sainsbury’s not only are they extending their Gary ( dairy free cheese) range, Christmas has also come early. Last year the Christmas pudding was my favourite and is gluten, nut and dairy free so naturally I might have purchased one- I’m not bonkers honest, they just sell very quickly.

Lastly my favourite news is that Baileys have launched their Dairy free, gluten free version of the classic drink. I’m yet to find it, I believe that Wholefoods are stockists, but I cannot wait to give this a try.

So there we have a brief round up of my new favourites. Have you spotted anything that tickles your tastebuds? Let me know in the comments below.