Sunday, 3 July 2016

Moving On...

Hello boys and girls!

This blog has moved! I am now to be found over at Please come over and visit as there is new content to be found, not least the photo collection from the Not-a-Wedding. The new site is easier to navigate and much prettier. Tell your friends ;)

Thank you for all your support.

Katie xx

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Dining Experience - On eating out and sleeping in.

I have to apologise for my lateness in posting. The Not-a-wedding last Friday was my all consuming obsession by the end. I will blog about it in excruciating detail, no doubt, but I would like to get all the photos in before I do so.

So I guess I could talk about my diet. That is what this blog is supposed to be focused on, after all. It is actually a little strange, as I have settled in to a life without fat now and it is becoming habit to think in this manner. I have told you about the changes that I have seen in myself, not least noticed on Friday past in my rather too large for me not-a-wedding dress. One guest commented that there was so much room in the bustier in order for my husband to get his hands in without undoing anything! I will admit that I am looking forward to wearing a bikini when I eventually get the chance to go to the beach...

It is the changes in my attitude that I am pondering tonight. In the run up to the big event, we have had parents et al converging on us. Family have made the trip across the sea to see us and of course they want to treat us - very much appreciated as by Wednesday I had no idea what was in the house in terms of food, what clothes were clean, when anyone had last showered. My days were taken up in entirety by clamping eyelets onto orders of service, worrying about what to serve the sangria in and whether I would get enough flowers to be impressive on the day. Parents swooping in and taking us out to dinner was a Godsend, in honesty, but provided quite a problem for me.

Normally when faced with a meal out I will be very good beforehand and after. As long as I have been good enough and don't go too far over the top, I can get away without the digestive fallout, although the tiredness will take over the next day. However, this was potentially three meals on the trot, not including the event itself on the fourth day. Luckily we have been broke in the weeks leading up so I have eaten sparsely anyway. I have not quite got my enthusiasm for food back after the lotion overdose mentioned in a previous blog, and I certainly have no enthusiasm for cooking a 'proper' cooked meal in all the chaos. I have been subsisting on presunto (a kind of ham) with dry bread, muesli and fishfingers with mash made with quark. So all in all I feel reasonably certain I can face the first meal. We trundle down to our favourite chicken piripiri place. The chicken is cooked on the grill, but then basted with hot piripiri oil. Don't start with me about leaving the oil off, I've already given my opinion of dry chicken and that hot oil is quite simply one of the most delicious things on the planet. My son has the salmon so I steal his potatoes in return for my chips. The potatoes are swimming in garlic oil so I've not really won here, but I feel like I've tried. I carefully try to extract the salad from the edges that might have missed the dressing and limit myself to six bites of chicken. It is wonderful and I am glad that I did it.

The next day brings no more problems than slightly heavy eyes and so when eating out is mentioned again I agree, but on the proviso that we can go to a restaurant that does fish. Specifically cod. The Algarve's idea of fish generally runs to the oily members of the club, and the cod is usually in a dish surrounded by Eddie and all his mates. There is one restaurant that I know which does cod grilled. So off we go there and there is no problem. This is Wednesday. I should mention at this point that I have been working nights as well. My husband has got a boat to get in the water on a deadline at work, and is going in early every day, which means that instead of him sorting the kids and me sleeping until noon, I am having to get up, sort the kids, send them to school and then go back to sleep. Thursday arrives; boat in the water day. In hubby goes early, up I get to do the kids. Back I go to bed. Hubby comes home around 1.30pm - the boat floats and he can kick back and relax. Or not, on the day before his not-a-wedding. There are a thousand things we still need to do and I wake up as he gets home. Sitting on the bed, I am trying to tell him what needs doing and I cannot get more than six words out without crying. I am short of good sleep anyway and with the two meals out on top of that, I just couldn't function. I couldn't even manage simple things like 'your shirt needs ironing' without having to stop in the middle and breathe. We went up to where the parents were staying and spent a couple of hours glueing googly eyes on paper peacocks, only for me to realise halfway through that I was supposed to be at home so a friend could pick up the cake from me. Back I went, sorted that and realised that I had forgotten the greenery for the centrepieces. It was an awful, terrible day. I was not pleasant to know.

However, Friday dawned much clearer for me. I had had the night off and managed nine hours of uninterrupted sleep. I fully intended to fall well off the wagon at the event's dinner that night. I don't remember if I managed breakfast, but I think I got a quick sarnie in for lunch. The most amazing thing is that I did not eat a single piece of cake at the do. We had cake kebabs, fondly referred to as not-a-cake, with rice krispie squares, chocolate brownie, vanilla sponge and marshmallows. I held off until the very end and then scoffed as many marshmallows as I could fit in off the end of each leftover kebab. I also did not touch the sangria and when it came to dessert, I had one mouthful and actually didn't want any more. I polished off the entirety of the lamb stew, but hey, we all knew that was going to happen. At dinner I had one, maybe one and a half glasses of wine, mixed with lemonade to make it last longer. I was a flippin' saint.

The icing on the cake though, the cherry on the top, the piece de resistance, came just yesterday. We have a hon - sorry - not-a-honeymoon fund and my hubby has his eye on a cruise. This is something we have wanted to do for a while and it is, under normal circumstances, totally out of our price range. In all honesty, it's still a little out of our price range, but we can do it, just, if we are really careful. Hubby has spent quite a bit of time talking me into this idea, as I can think of so many other things to spend the money on, but eventually I get quite excited about it. Then, suddenly, I realise. I can't spend a week eating out. The ship will have to be emailed and we will have to work out a menu. This is going to be a nightmare. Hubby has already thought of this (which in itself is a neon light showing how all our attitudes have changed) and has already emailed! I am happy, but still adamant that he must not make the booking until he hears back. 

I have come too far, worked too hard to throw it all away. I actually want to stay eating right. The pros are obviously outweighing the cons. I have not been shy in telling you all about how awful this is, how hungry I am, how tired I am, things I lack and problems I have. Today is a day to step back and say, well, you know what? Even taking into account all these things, it is worth it. The confidence I have that I look good in what I'm wearing, not worrying about the pregnant comments I used to get. I actually wore a short top the other day. Being able to go out in the park and not suffer from hayfever. Right now, it is bleeping awful. I am ravenous and there is nothing in the house I can eat. Even knowing this, I am not tempted to eat the cheddar cheese in the fridge or the croissants in the cupboard. I think that I've finally beaten it. Freddie might not be much good, but all his workmates are teaming together to cover up his errors and make good on his shortcomings. As a team, my body has decided that this is how it is and we're going to get on with it. Hopefully now everything has calmed down I can get the next recipe out for you.

There are bad days and there are good days. But overall, it's a good life.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

If You Ever Fall In Love...

Today I was browsing my Facebook feed and came across this little gem:

Now many of you know that I am married with kids and we are celebrating a 20 year old relationship this year, 15 of those years married. We are having a wedding blessing. We originally married in a registry office, with minimum fuss and frill. I am a Christian and my husband is a non-believer. We couldn't afford the big party then, and we promised ourselves the 'do' in years to come. Well, it took 15 of them, but we are finally in a place where we can let our hair down. We have chosen a church blessing, and when we were told that this counts as a wedding, not a renewal of vows, as we never married in church, it seemed like a good opportunity to go all out. So I am in the midst of menu choices, dress fittings, meetings with photographers and music rehearsals. I am browsing the internet for original garter ideas when this quote catches my eye. I stop and read it, and my first thought is not the requisite 'awwwwww'. I can't help thinking what a load of BS it is. This, this is the kind of stuff that's wrong with society today.

I love my husband. And my husband loves me. How can I tell? Well, those of you who know him may well indeed wonder as we are, to the outside observer, chalk and cheese. He does not care what my favourite colour is. He knows how I like my coffee, but then so does the girl down my local cafe. He makes me laugh, sure, but at any cost? And I just cannot imagine him doing anything so soppy as listening to my heart beat. Unless I made him, to check for arrhythmia, for example. He will kiss me in public after maybe three beers. Proud of me? I am not his trained dog.

Afraid to fall in love? You should be! Love hurts, and if it doesn't, you are doing it wrong. I love my son and my daughter. My daughter is much easier to dislike than my son, but my son is harder to love than my daughter. He is, in fact, very like his father, and does not 'do' emotion. No hugs, no kisses goodnight. Loving him is like sailing on smooth seas. Nothing happens. My daughter, on the other hand, is a never-ending storm looking for an ecosystem to devastate. Lighting ready to strike. I spend a goodly amount of time screaming at her and being mentally and physically abused by her. But when the sun comes out we bathe in a metaphorical love light. Love is warming, it's glorious, it's impossible to look at directly and if you don't protect yourself, it will have a go at killing you. My husband does not want to hurt me, but sometimes he does. Sometimes there are things that need saying or doing that will hurt.

He most definitely does not think I'm perfect. Which is a good flipping job, as I would just let him if he did. I need encouragement and honesty to grow as a person. After 20 years, I am still growing into this relationship. He is not perfect. He leaves empty tins on the kitchen side, he doesn't check if the kids have cleaned their teeth and he cannot say 'I love you' unless drunk or held in an arm lock.

The only part of this quote I agree with is the last line. The day you look at your sleeping partner and wish they weren't there, that is the day to worry. I might wish that he wasn't snoring in that manner, or that he hadn't stolen all the covers. I might even wish he had less of a beer belly, or notice a few grey hairs, but I cannot remember a single moment, in the 19 years, 7 months, 29 days and 15 or so hours since we met, that I have not wanted him there where I can find him whenever I need him. And I need him always. Without him I could not raise our children. I could not believe in myself enough without his constant silent support to achieve the things that I do. I would not make rational decisions and I would not be happy. He is not a talker. He is not demonstrative. There have been times when I have questioned his love. Arguing with him is like throwing stones down a well; your shouts get swallowed up in his bottomless depths of anti-noise. You're not even sure if he heard you. If he disagrees with you, he does not argue his point, he just carries on as if you never spoke. Infuriating? You bet! But I know he loves me, simply because he is still there, every morning, when I wake up.

Photograph: ChloƩ Ophelia:

We have weathered two children, family splits, getting into debt, not knowing how we are going to manage until the next paycheck. Moving house, moving country, changing careers. We have stood by each other when one of us makes a rash decision and walks out of a job (we've both done it!) with nothing else to go to. We still sit on the sofa together, in whatever part that is not covered in child, mess or animal that can fit both of us in. We kiss each day when one of us goes to work. Simply put, neither one of us could imagine daily life without the other. Love is work. Love is hard work. It does not come naturally; it does not heal all ills. Just like anything in this life, you get out what you put in. There will be ups and downs. But what it takes is honesty, commitment, vulnerability and not least, an ability to laugh at yourself. This blessing is more important to us than the marriage was. We were simply legalizing a commitment already made in private then. Now, we are celebrating 20 years of history; celebrating our children; celebrating our achievements and celebrating with the people that we have built our life with. As I walk down the aisle I will be collecting flowers from my guests to make a ‘truly unique' bouquet. That bouquet is my life with my love. A mishmash of events, ideas, emotions, different colours, different styles. Some of those flowers require careful handling and some will grow in cracks in pavements. It will be big, colourful, overflowing and glorious, just like our life.

My husband doesn't know my favourite colours, but he has shown me how to look at all the colours in a different light. He doesn't make me coffee, but he will make me a Long Island ice tea if I ask him to. He doesn't stare into my eyes, but he took the dodgy poem I wrote for a reading and rewrote it properly, then made me cry when he read it out loud to me. He doesn't kiss me in public, but he holds my hand when I have a decision to make. He makes me terrified of love and addicted to it at the same time. He hurts me when he doesn't notice something new, or ask how it went when something important happens and he will give you a list if you ask him for my flaws. But he will look after the kids if I go out without him, no questions asked. He will always leave the lamp on for me when I'm working nights. He checks the oil in the car. He will cook dinner if I ask him to. I am convinced that he loves me and I don't need him to tell me. I may be one of the lucky ones, but I can tell you that if I had waited around on that well meaning quote's instructions, I would still be waiting. And I don't think I'd be very happy about it.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Chicken Laranja

People ask me, what do I eat?? So I thought I would share a couple of my favourite recipes. One at a time though, always leave them wanting more.....

Chicken Laranja

This is such a lovely dish, it is creamy and filling, both of which are hard to achieve in the fatless world. I'm not keen on chicken breast, which is extremely unfortunate for me, given my condition, but the biggest problem I have is how dry it can be, and sometimes bland. This dish successfully tackles both those issues and is a favourite among my 'normal' friends and family too.

The fat content per serving is 3.5g, carbs 4.6g of which sugars2.5g, protein 10.3g.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

600g chicken breast, cubed.
6 tablespoons ruby port.
600ml orange juice.
2 leeks, chopped.
4 teaspoons corn flour.
6 rounded tablespoons quark cheese.
Salt & pepper.



First, you want to pan fry the chicken. Here in LPLDland I use a metal pan with no non-stick coating, so I can scrape to my heart's content to get stuck food off. I don't use any oil or butter, but keep lemon juice handy if meat is getting stuck on. A good trick is to hold the pan under running water for a few seconds, then shake off the excess. Put it on to heat up and throw the meat in just as the water starts to evaporate off. There's enough in there to avoid sticking and not enough to take away the browning effect. If you're cooking for someone else, do it in butter. Please. If they deserve your cooking, they deserve butter fried chicken. There goes my Pavlov reaction....

So, fry until browned all over, stirring to avoid sticking. Then pour in the port. The original recipe said brandy, which probably makes much more sense to you foodies out there, but out here in the Algarve I have uncommon trouble finding it, so I tried something that is plentiful! I really like it with the port as it gives the chicken a red tinge, makes it look a bit more exotic ;).

Next, pour in the orange juice, mix it up a bit and add the leek. Bring it all to the boil, cover and simmer for 5ish minutes.

In a separate couple of containers, blend the corn flour with as little water as you can, then add it to the quark, mixing well until you have a smooth consistency. It is worth mentioning at this point that you can also use fromage frais, yoghurt or if you're treating someone else, cream! I find the low, low fat quark from Lidl is a great consistency and is the lowest fat option.

Put your chicken onto a medium to high flame and get your whisk out. The key to low fat sauces is not getting it too hot too quickly. The quark, or whichever low fat option you are trying, has a tendency to go grainy if it's not carefully mixed in. So pour it in slowly, whisking as you go. I will get a second pan and tip the sauce from the chicken into it leaving the solids behind in order to have maximum whisking capability, and then pour the new sauce back into the chicken. Don't let it boil until you are sure it is as smooth as you can make it.

Then that's it! I leave it in the pan on low while I cook the pasta, rice, potatoes or my personal favourite, gnocchi, to serve with it. I always serve this dish with a hottish citrus salsa, which is mega easy, but combats the sweetness of the sauce with a tangy zip. Here's how to make it:


4 oranges.
2 green or pink apples.
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic paste.
2 tablespoons mint sauce.
Juice of 1 lemon, maybe a bit more.
Whichever hot concoction floats your boat.
Salt & pepper.



Peel your oranges, getting as much pith off as possible. Chop 'em up small and throw them in a bowl. Chop us your apple, after coring it and optionally peeling it. I use Pink Ladies, and I like to keep the peel on as it adds extra crunch, but it's your meal, you do your thing. Throw it in.

Add the garlic. I use garlic paste, it is wonderful stuff, but if you can't get it then I would go with a small clove, chopped up as small as you can do. Then add the mint sauce. I use a nice thick readymade one that comes from Iceland, or possibly Waitrose, our English shop sells both. If you are using fresh mint, or from a jar (I don't know the difference, but my mum used to mix it with vinegar and sugar when I was a kid) then experiment to find your optimum mintiness.

Add the lemon juice. All of these additives are done on a 'guide only' basis. I use enough lemon juice to water down the mint and garlic to spread evenly. You are aiming for being able to taste the mint and the garlic with a bias toward the mint, but you also want to taste the orange and apple! The amounts given should be more or less there, but you will want to taste test and tweak as necessary.

Don't forget to season. For hotidity, I use a lovely mix of chilli seeds, salt and bits and bobs that I found premixed in a mill. You can use chilli seeds, ground chilli, hot sauce such as Tabasco, whichever you are comfortable with. Or not, if you don't want to. I find that it needs a little bit of zap to counterbalance the chicken.

Let me know what you think!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

You Are What You Eat - On fashion statements and fatty acids

So now that whole trip is out of the way, what are we going to talk about?

I think it will have to be my bra.

Or actually, for a more bittersweet tang; my wonderbum jeans. I got a pair of jeans just last March. They were considerably more than I would usually pay for such an item, but they are beautiful. They are high waisted, with gems and silver embroidery. I can wear short tops with them and best of all, the seat area has some sort of magic construction that pushes its contents up and in, reminiscent of the famous Wonderbra in the... well, higher up areas. I love my jeans. Unfortunately, the result of intense dieting over the last few months has somewhat changed the effectiveness of said jeans. I no longer appear to have enough derriere to fill the 'cups' and I now have the lower half of them filled with delightfully squished together glutinous maximi, and the top half is empty and as a result sports a shelf running from hip to hip. I'm thinking of sticking a lace ruffle on it and bringing back bustles.

This alternately makes me sad and joyful. Probably, honestly, more sad than joyful. I was not out to lose weight in the first place, and they were expensive jeans! Whilst I'm not denying that snapping my bra into the next smallest set of hooks is satisfying, I am in mourning for a few favourite items of clothing that I am going to have to admit are too large for me before long. Of course, Murphy's Law states that it was only in the last big charity bag clear out that I finally gave up on various items I had been keeping for when I started exercising and would be able to get into again.

On a happier note, my skin has cleared up. The magic triglyceride lotion has done wonders, but I seem to have a lower tolerance for fat in food once again so I conclude that I should probably stop using it. I will walk the fine line for a while, only using it when I feel a rough patch, and see if that can keep my skin silky smooth and the rest of me out of the bathroom. Here's hoping! I am planning on wearing an actual two piece bikini this summer and it's no good being all skinny and shapely if you look like Godzilla rolled in the poison ivy!

Also, for the first time in years, I don't seem to be getting hay fever. This has to be celebrated quietly, as the husband, the parents and the dog all suffer, but I am secretly ecstatic about it. I never got it as a kid, and it slowly got worse and worse over the years and has now gone. A direct parallel can be drawn with how I dieted as a kid, moved further and further away from it as an adult and have now fallen hard, um... well, on to the wagon.

So to conclude. You ARE what you eat. And also what you don't. Obviously, I am a special case, but I can't stress enough to everyone reading that the effects of your diet go way, way further than you can imagine.

How does one simple element of food affect your body?

When healthy fats are eaten along with carbohydrate containing foods, the fat actually slows the digestion of carbohydrates. This means it may improve insulin sensitivity and minimize some of the sugar crashes that can be experienced after eating simple carbs like white bread or pasta.

Dietary fat helps the body regulate its core temperature. Insufficient intake of proper fats is a possible cause of cold hands and feet.

Certain omega-3 fatty acids:
~ May be highly effective in preventing and managing depression.
~ Cause a marked improvement in the symptoms of blepharitis and other dry eye conditions.
~ May decrease symptoms of morning stiffness and tender or swollen joints, along with helping increase blood flow during exercise.
~ May help combat sensory overload, such as irritation, being overwhelmed and excitability in crowded environments, or even how well you cope with sudden loud noises.
~ Slow prostate tumor and cancer cell growth, too. Colon, breast, and prostate cancers have all been correlated with low intakes of essential fatty acids.

In previous posts we have also looked at the skin cells, the brain cells, the energy issue, but it doesn't end there: Tagging along in Eddie's shadow are four fat soluble vitamins; A, D, E and K.

Vitamin A helps your immune system to work as it should against infections, helping vision in dim light and keeping skin and the linings of some parts of the body, such as the nose, healthy.

Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones and teeth healthy (This one is not a major issue for me as I live in the sunny Algarve and can just soak it up. We won't mention skin cancer here.).

Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, which protects cell membranes. This helps to maintain healthy skin, eyes and strengthens the immune system.

Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting, which means it helps wounds to heal properly (When I was a kid and on the original diet, I bled like a stuck pig. I would bruise very easily, clot with difficulty and suffered from nose bleeds on a daily basis.). There's some evidence that vitamin K is also needed to help keep bones healthy.

So if you have a problem, be it with your skin, your digestion, your mental state, your recurring pain; check out your diet. Go to the doctor, get a blood test, do the intolerance tests. But it might be something that doesn’t show up. Our diets are so far removed from the natural world; so much is added to even basic foods. We are, us healthy dieting, carrot eating, hemp wearing, daisy chain making, a bunch of hippies, obviously. We want you to spend inordinate amounts of money on biologically organically handpicked (let's throw in Fair Trade, why not?) traditional tribal blueberry seed oil and we love to chain ourselves to trees and wave hand drawn recycled protest signs outside McDonalds.

Are we? Anyone that knows me knows exactly how much I would be prepared to spend on wonder foods, and it's probably not what the price tag asks. I have never chained myself to anything and I will publicly declare my love for Burger King's French fries. But I have been persuaded that there is something in this.

On that note, I'm off to plan my son's anti acne diet.....

Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Trip, final part! On neuroscience and just not knowing.

By now I have covered most of the gist of the meeting. I have left out the emotional back stories (they are for their owners to tell and honestly a lot of them are much more full on than mine!) and I haven't covered the more remote aspects, the 'what-ifs', such as the need for more counseling available to mothers with young children diagnosed, or what we would actually want to have available in the way of drugs, if the possibility arose. The interesting thing was that none of us would have it taken away. Cured. Rid of. We were all interested in symptom alleviation, of course, even when we stick religiously to our diets symptoms still creep in. I, however, was not the only one to say that if I didn't have this lurking in my system I would be the size of a house. I am grateful to my LPLD. Stockholm syndrome? Maybe, but there are worse ways with dealing with a lifelong dietary prison guard. I was asked by the company hosting the meeting to write a letter to my LPLD and I couldn't do it. I have never given it enough fuel to become a character in my life. It is part of me, like my uneven front tooth or my fat knees. I can't write to my knees. I have been asked again to write this letter, though, and I think I have found a way round it.

I would like you all to meet Eddie and Freddie. They're shy, so they have asked for no pictures, but I will talk them round. Eddie is one of my favourite people. He is a fat molecule. He loves me. He calls to me across rooms and from supermarket shelves, from under hot lamps in cafe counters and from restaurant menus. He doesn't mind rejection, he's like a dog. He keeps coming back. And he's a friendly little thing; you will find him in all sorts of guises in the vast majority of food. Sometimes he's roughing it in his leather jacket in a hamburger, sometimes he has his best suit on and is using his pseudonyms, Omega 3, Essential Fatty Acid, or just simply Good Fat, sipping champagne and looking like someone Daddy would approve of in a mackerel or a bottle of Extra Virgin olive oil.

And, boy, do I love Eddie. I love Eddie in ice cream, smooth and suave. I love Eddie in garlic butter, spicy and strong, ruining me for other people until I can clean my teeth. The problem, however, that I have with Eddie, is Freddie.

Freddie is a poor old thing. He is not quite right. He is an enzyme. It's not his fault, poor guy, it's Gene's. Gene is the one with the instructions on how to make a Freddie and they are, hoo boy, wrong. Wrong. Freddie's job is to convert Eddie into little mini Eddies that can travel around my body and do all the marvelous things that Eddie can do. Freddie is just so bad at his job that Eddie rarely, if ever, gets what he needs. So he rides around in my blood, turning it thick and goopy, settling around my organs and lining them like the cars of caring parents lining the school at 3.30pm on a rainy day. Nothing can get in or out and if something does it is likely to get run over by a passing red blood cell grimly squeezing through blind in its attempt to deliver oxygen to starving cells. He overloads my pancreas, causing it unknown stress that will probably lead to a breakdown in not too many years. He can even squeeze himself up to my skin and sit in little blisters of fat, sunbathing whilst he waits for a let up in the traffic that means he can get out, out, out. An evacuation bus will eventually come and on he will pile, Eddie after Eddie, ready for exit. He doesn't like the ride, and when he finally escapes he is noisesome and smelly and in need of a bath. Freddie is eternally apologetic for all of this and tries his best, the love, he just is not up to the task.

Freddie and Eddie get revenge on Gene! (Sorry, I just could not resist.)

So it is Freddie, in his distress, and Eddie in his exuberant rollercoaster ride through his life and mine, that I would be writing to. And I feel sorry for Fred. If he worked as he should, then sure, I would have a less destructive relationship with Eddie, but really, Eddie is not the sort of chap one invites to one's cousin's christening. Fred is doing me a favour. Of course there are complications, the tiredness, the brain fog, the skin problems, and the deficiency in fat soluble vitamins. The social issues. But I have all my limbs and all my friends and what do I have to complain about?

Since I have been on this diet proper I have learned about cells. Brain cells (grey matter) are largely composed of fat. The synapses that transmit the chemical impulses that power our thoughts and emotions are sheathed in fatty acids. A low fat diet such as mine impairs brain function. I am intelligent, don't get me wrong, but on a day to day basis I struggle with forgetfulness. I cannot remember stuff. Important stuff as much as simple stuff. I'm sure that I've spoken about this before, but the impact that it has had on my life through the long years is profound. I couldn't remember to take my birth control. I can't remember to make sure the kids have a shower often enough. I can't do prolonged discipline on the kids such as grounding for a week because I will forget they are grounded. If someone calls to ask me to pick them up at a specified time I have to make sure that I don't let them off the phone until I have written it down because by the time we have finished the call I will have forgotten. Thank goodness for this meeting, because all my life I have felt guilty about forgetting the important things. I have felt like a failure. Now I understand why. This doesn't change anything, of course, except the way that I see myself and my attitude towards the problem. Nothing much!

Now I am not a doctor, but as I understand it the very membrane that makes up our cells is largely compiled of fat. (I use the word fat to mean everything under the umbrella, fatty acids, lipids etc). I will be the first to admit that my cells seem fine. I do not appear to be falling apart, and I only mention this in relation to skin cells. Since I have been on this diet (and another quick recap - I have only been seriously on this diet for the first time in years for the last few months) I have noticed a problem with my skin. It was explained to me in terms of the fatty element of the cell membrane maybe giving me problems retaining moisture in my skin. This could be entirely possible, but the newest research seems to point to the fatty elements that make up the outer layer of the skin actually having a 'first responder' role in dealing with infections. They keep those bad germs and pathogens at bay whilst they wait for the white blood cells to arrive. Skin deficient in these epidermal lipids is prone to, in particular, atopic eczema. Which I have had in spades these last few months. I have finally found a cream that claims to replenish the lipid layer. The ingredient it uses is triglycerides. I am of two minds, my whole aim in life is to keep triglycerides down, surely lathering them onto every inch of my body is not going to be helpful in this respect, but since using it, in a matter of days, my redness and itchiness has virtually disappeared. So, I shall just have to keep an eye on the triglyceride count in my blood!

Well, that's that then. I flew home, totally knackered but with a new intent. What Eddie and Freddie need is a marketing campaign. Most of the really horrible symptoms, some of which I have not even mentioned, occur through mismanagement or misdiagnosis. When we go to a doctor, we usually have to explain our problem to them. Hence this blog. We universally agreed that having this disease is 1000% times better than not knowing we have it. Not knowing the symptoms. So share the hell out of this post and all my others. If it finds one person that recognises themselves in my writing or on the LPLD Alliance website, NORD website, RDUK website or the RareConnect forums then it is worth it.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Because you should love your work...

Hello, dear internet and people therein.

This is a bit different to the norm. Today I would like to tell you about my Job.

I have recently started a new Job. I like it. This may not sound much, but let me fill you in on a bit of background. Since I started working at 16 I have had an impressive number of jobs. My CV runs to pages. This is mostly because I have been in retail of one sort or another, or other customer facing roles. I have worked in a betting shop, a food kiosk inside a factory, for a financial software company, hotel, waterslide park, golf promotions, real estate, construction, bakery, catalogue distribution, retail clothing, bookstore, computer sales, printers, video rental store, mobile snack distribution to offices, nail technician, chinese restaurant, regular restaurant, motorway services, Post Office and freelance artist. I have worked in roles from stock girl to store manager, volunteer to business owner.

This type of job is generally underpaid and overworked. The 'Company' often takes advantage of staff who don't know their rights and often don't care as they will be somewhere else in six months. It is hard to get recognition for work well done and easy to get noticed when mistakes are made. In almost all of these jobs, I have moved on of my own choice, for various reasons.

In one role, the tills were left open for any member of staff to access at any time, and yet they were assigned to specific members. In the four weeks that I was in that job, my till was £50 or so down maybe 60% of the time. As it had always been like this and the nature of the job ensured total confusion most of the time and no way of keeping track of who does what when, I assumed that this was just how it was. I was therefore shocked and devastated when I turned up for work one day to find someone from head office there to interview me. I was in tears by the end of the interview, which resulted in me being suspended with no pay, pending investigation. They did all but accuse me out loud of stealing the money.
This was not helped by the fact that I had given my last store manager's name as a reference. Now, according to that company's policy, all references should go through head office, but as a till girl, I hadn't known that. I had left that job due to the new manager being as bent as a toilet's plumbing. I had elected to get out before grief befell me as it had most of my colleagues in the weeks following his appointment. Unfortunately, I gave his name, as I had left without blemish, to the new company. He had gone to town on me, culminating in telling them that had I not left, I would have been under investigation. Of course, my fate was sealed right then and there.

Mostly it's not been that bad. I have usually left due to a change in circumstance; moving house, having a child, or simply finding a better offer. I have made friends and have been sad to leave more often than I've run out of the door. I loved the waterslide park the most and I hated my two day stint in dodgy telephone sales where I couldn't give out my real name and had to pretend I was in Zurich.
But anyway, back to my Job. A lot of you know that I am a nail technician. This is not my new Job. My new Job is as a Virtual Receptionist.

Sounds posh, hey? I have actually done this job before, I did it for a year a couple of years ago. The company was fairly young then, full of bounce and learning new tricks. I gave it up in the end, very reluctantly, and after trying very hard to stay on there with reduced hours, because I had kind of fallen into the nail thing. The nail thing took off in a big way and I was extremely busy. I got, in fact, too busy. My son spent an inordinate amount of time sitting outside the house waiting for me to come home (He could have gone to the library, or hung out with his friends, but no, he had to sit outside the house, apparently). They got palmed off on friends and family or dragged with me to clients' houses. The constant travel wore me down. So I cut down my workload and became part time. I had time for the kids again, but of course the disposable income disappeared. I had a few health issues and everything suffered. So I decided to once again take up my virtual mantle and hit the internet running.

Now I work for a company called Norango and I love it. There's not too many people there so we can all stay friendly and keep up with eachother's news. The company itself is easy to get along with. If you have a problem, you can take it to someone who will sort it out. If they have a problem, they will speak to you quietly and discretely and with a can-do attitude. The people are all so friendly and I have learnt a few life skills in my time here that have helped me immensely in my personal life. Not least, I have received the support and encouragement necessary to promote myself as a small business and to increase my belief in myself to the point where I volunteered to be my church's warden.

So that's the company. They're all loves. And the job is great. It's almost two jobs depending on what hours you do. We answer the phone/internet for various companies and direct the callers to their best option. We cover everything from PA work to engineer callout lines, helpdesks, accident reporting and confidential staff helplines. We also field online orders, queries and problems. I would say that we never know who we are answering the phone to, but the system in place gives us all the information that we need on screen with greetings and everything. If you can't for any reason find the info you need, there is full backup right there with you on skype. You are constantly plugged into the main chat room, job specific chatrooms, shift runners and management. You are not alone! Of course, your work is monitored very closely, more closely than any other job that I have had, but as I have already said, praise is swift and problems dealt with. 

I love the variety. I have a working knowledge of how a shower is put together and how a thermostatic tap works. I can do basic diagnosis of wifi server problems. I know the common problems of air traffic monitoring systems. I can tell you the usual heights of dining chairs and I know more than I ever wanted to about blocked drains. I have a good working relationship with travel agents, engineers, people in training, finance, education and aviation. I speak to people from around the world and I need the time in New York and Denver on display on my screen. In my work I am helping people with everything from screws loose to reporting abuse. My handling of a call might affect commercial dock trading, staff paychecks, refugee travel. Or I could simply be a set of ears to listen and a friendly voice to assure you that something will be done. I am making a difference, and I'm doing it from the comfort of my own home, doing the hours that I want to do. Norango and I are both flexible and might need help at a moment's notice and I know that we are there for each other. I am glad to be back and I won't be leaving again any time soon!