Tuesday 30 May 2017

Heightened Senses

Last night I settled down to watch my normal TV viewing - Britain's Got Talent, followed by Doctor in the House on BBC1. I love any medical, people type programmes but unknowingly, tonight's episode was about eating, food and weight - of particular interest, a girl who had a limited diet of 7 foods, which made me sit up and listen! She was diagnosed with 'Avoidant & Restrictive Food Intake Disorder' or ARFID and on further investigation today, also commonly known as 'Selective Eating Disorder' or SED. This is it, this is what I would now say my Sam has, as a result of his 'Heightened Senses' from birth.

This Doctor - Dr Chatterjee spends time with the families, more than the usual 10 minute appointment given, to delve into the route cause for a particular condition. It was an emotional watch for me because I have always placed a massive amount of blame at my door for Sam's eating habits and have loads of  'Mum Guilt' at what I could have done differently but it really wasn't my fault! I've felt so pressured by those around me to 'sort him', 'it's easy', 'he's just fussy', 'he'll grow out of it'. I would have paid those who made faces out of his food to get him to eat, coaxed and bribed him, a £1000 if they could have 'sorted him!' at the time. Well he hasn't grown out of it, Sam is now 14, his diet is still very restricted, he wants to eat 'normally' but he just can't and the programme really hit home about the fear he must have, when new foods are pushed in front of him to try - perfectly illustrated by a adult encouraged to eat a bowl of insects.

I then came across this video this morning and it perfectly describes Sam and what he must feel.

He has always had issues with food and all his senses from birth. He would projectile vomit up his milk, he never weaned, when a normal baby would posset up a mouthful of food, Sam would empty the contents of his stomach. As we were living in a boarding school, I was conscious of those around us at meal times, so to eliminate the inevitable sickness that followed any new food, I gave him 'carby safe foods' when around other people, foods he seemed to cope with.

When he was two he had delayed speech and we were referred to a speech therapist. By the time we had our appointment his speech was fine but I mentioned his eating and senses issues and was advised to 'paint his lips with flavours' and 'put him in a paddling pool with cheerios'!!! Because he was always a good weight and healthy, nothing more was done, we just 'managed' his condition the best we could. On further investigation, years on, I found the condition 'Heightened Senses' more commonly known in America and this best described all his difficulties.

He had his food issues and couldn't 'do' textures, it was best described as 'an orchestra playing in his mouth'. I would make him a packed lunch and at parties and other mothers would comment 'was he a fussy eater then?' I couldn't communicate what he was going through but when a child is sick on a chocolate finger because they can't cope with the chocolate and biscuit texture combined, I wouldn't describe this as fussy! It took him 3 years to eat cake because he couldn't cope with the way it crumbled in his mouth.

He would be sick due to certain strong smells - seaweed at the beach. I remember him retching in the car park at Ilfracombe and saying 'I can't like that smell'.  He couldn't cope with loud noises and would 'headbutt' me at music groups, until the noise stopped. He didn't like to touch certain things and couldn't control his body temperature. If he got too hot, he'd be sick! At the cinema he have to take his socks and shoes off and be near the door in case he got too hot.

Over the years his condition has improved. He still has issues and is still super sensitive, hates the heat (makes holidaying abroad interesting!) but he's learnt how to deal with it. The main issue still is his eating and as he grows older, he wants to be more like his friends. Simple things like eating chewing gum or having a fizzy drink, eating sweets - he's never done and we joke about if he will ever drink a beer, things people just take for granted. We have worked on him being able to eat garlic bread, so he can go out for a pizza with friends and in just the last few weeks, he can now eat chicken - it's taken us 3+ years to get to that point.

 I write this, not for sympathy but if one person reads this and thinks 'oh my god, that's my child' it will have helped someone. I was surprised at the number that commented and private messaged me on Instagram last night, when I posted a comment about the programme. For me, the programme was just clarity, the feeling that we're not alone, that it's not our fault and now I have a named 'condition', I have a new source to research and help Sam as best I can. I think hypnosis could be the way forward but he's not keen (yet!)

If you have struggled with this or have a child going through this, you have my sympathies and understanding. I hope improvements can be made and I hope I can help Sam, get the help he needs to overcome this condition, that has been with him since birth. Relaxed social eating, something we assume everyone enjoys, is Sam's worst nightmare. Normalising his condition was a huge breakthrough for us, as a family. We no longer make a fuss if he doesn't eat something, we are led by him as to what foods he might like to try. Social occasions/family meals are still difficult for him, as he thinks people watch and judge him but I no longer feel it's my fault and go with the flow.

Sorry it's been a long post and is probably of no interest to the vast majority of you but as I said, if it can help one person, then it'll have been worth writing. Plus it's a good outpouring for me! I'm off to do some more research, as I hope I can find some way to further help Sam, deal with this condition.

Saturday 27 May 2017

Working week!

I've pretty much worked all this week invigilating - it reminded me of one of the plus side's self employment had - choosing when to work when the sun was shining! It's been frustrating being inside, knowing it's gloriously sunny outside. Oh well, something to get used to again but on the flip side, I get to enjoy this whole Bank Holiday weekend, without having to promote a sale or pack orders or deal with enquiries for the first time in years. 

The weather has been glorious and it's been a joy to still have the doors open wide to the outside, at 8pm in the evening. We did however have the most incredible storm last night - thunder and lightning continuously over us, for a good hour or more at 3am. Sam somehow slept through the whole thing, goodness knows how!!

Yesterday afternoon, I treated Sophie to a surprise trip to Bath. She's been studying so hard for her exams and is working all this weekend and next. The 5 available days in half term are busy and full of more revision, so I whisked her to Bath for a little retail therapy and......

A reminder of our fabulous trip to Sorrento, Italy last summer x

A glorious afternoon of sunshine, shopping, people watching and gelato x 

Monday 22 May 2017

Two Year Anniversary

 Today is my 2 year Slimming World 'Target' Anniversary.

On the 22nd of May 2015, I reached my Target weight of 9 stone and felt over the moon. With the stress of moving house etc, I continued to lose weight and lowered my target weight to 8st10lbs. Incredible things followed after appearing in the local paper, which was then shared in the National Media.

My target weight wasn't sustainable in the long term and in the May of 2016, I changed my target back to 9 stone. I started running and found a love for something I'd previously hated and had never tried - running my first 5k for Cancer UK.

Struggling to keep in this 7pound bubble, in the September of 2016 I changed my target weight to a more realistic 9st3lbs and that's where I've stayed. I know it was only 3 pound difference but each pound makes a big difference to maintaining.

Being at target is hard because you know it's forever. I'm so determined to keep the weight off this time, that putting the weight back on isn't an option. Finding your 'perfect, happy weight' is key. I feel I am at the right weight for me now. I can wear size 8 jeans and size 12 tops. I am fit and healthy and eat the most delicious food on a daily basis, whilst maintaining my weight loss. 

I am genuinely the happiest I've ever been in my own skin and it's all down to my Slimming World group, fab consultant and the inspiring Instagram community. I still go to group to be inspired, take home fab tips and meal ideas and basically for motivation you just can't get anywhere else. I've not got to group as much as I'd like recently, due to work but I think that staying to group whilst losing the weight and subsequently since being at Target, has kept the weight off today.

I woke to this view this morning when I got up to go to the loo at 4:55am
Life is good, life is for living and I am determined the rest of my life will be at a healthy weight and it's all thanks to Slimming World.

Friday 19 May 2017

Exam pressure.

So as you know I've been doing some exam invigilation and somehow I've managed to become a 'scribe'! I was asked, said I'd never done it before but would give it a go and now seem to be permanently the boys scribe. It's like doing the exam yourself and my poor hand hasn't written so much in years! Poor Sophie has been revising for weeks and faced her first AS exams this week, in Economics, Geography and Maths - the dreaded Physics is next week!

At least the weather hasn't been great whilst stuck inside, although a little more sunshine would be most welcome now - it is mid May!

Yesterday I did supply teaching in Reception and had some extra visitors in the classroom. I used to love doing the life cycles topic when I taught full time.

The peonies I treated myself to have not disappointed - big and blousey, with a fragrant perfume.

So the weekend is nearly upon us and I'm hoping for lots of sunshine, so I can sit out and enjoy the garden. Sophie has the weekend off work to revise and I have no plans, so let's hope the weather is kind to us all.

Saturday 13 May 2017

Another week....

....goes by!

I know I often say it but where does the time go? Another week flies by and you look back and think what did I achieve! I've sat out in the garden whenever the sunshine has made an appearance, less frequent than I would like. I did look at this photo, taken from where I sit and did think, just how well the new extension blends in now, looks like it's always been there!

I went running on Monday - felt good at the time to be back out there but boy did my legs ache for days after. Not been back out since but might give it another go tomorrow.

I've been busy exam invigilating and supply teaching all day yesterday in Reception. I'm an exam 'Scribe' on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week - no idea what that will entail but I hope the boy doesn't want me to write too much!! Then I'm in Reception again at the end of the week, so I'm keeping busy, ready for a relaxing weekend.

Sunday 7 May 2017


So yesterday morning I set off early, heading down to Cornwall. Typically as I arrived at the 'Welcome to Cornwall' sign, so did the rain, so it was a soggy visit.

I had time to spare so went straight to St Ives. No visit to Cornwall is complete without a visit to my favourite spot, even on a quick day trip.

I timed it perfectly as the doors opened to my favourite place 'The Hub'.
No breakfast being served, just coffee and cake - still most welcome.

I then had a quick walk around the harbour, in the rain, still beautiful and quiet! 
I guess I don't often visit out of full season.

I walked past my little cake shop - trying to be good!

But did buy pasties from here - the best pasties in St Ives! You can't visit Cornwall without buying a pasty and again, timed to perfection as the first batch were being taken out of the oven. Perk of coming now, when it's quieter, no queue!

Sadly for Sam, the Fudge Box was closed - this is the best fudge in St Ives. 
I'll just have to come down again, won't I?

Always love this shop and I popped in to a few of my favourite gift shops too.

Lovely not to be rushed, knowing the boys weren't waiting for me outside.

I parked in the train station car park, so a lovely walk back to the car.

I then drove the along the coast from Hayle to Hells Mouth Cafe, rang Mum and Dad to say I was here and sat with a coffee and waited  for them to arrive.

The whole reason for my visit was to surprise my Granny. We just don't get to go to Cornwall as much as we used to, now Jeff and the children are so busy. I last saw her just before Christmas and when you are 93, soon to be 94, time is precious. So with Jeff working, Sam meeting friends, Sophie working, I decided to get in the car and go and surprise her!

Freshly caught crab sandwiches for lunch were a welcome bonus. I then took her for a spin in the mini, drove to Portreath to look at her old house up on the cliff top, or rather look at where her bungalow used to be!! It is no more, it's been completely re-developed, a huge house in comparison to where her little bungalow once stood. We then went back to hers for a couple of hours, before I headed back home. It's a good 5+ hours there and back but completely doable in a day and it was lovely to see her face as she entered the cafe and saw me standing there.

Pasties for tea when I got home - perfect end to a lovely day.
Next time I'll book some sunshine x

Monday 1 May 2017

Hello May!

I love a new month, a clean page, a fresh start, a new set of goals.
For me personally, it's to find out what I now want to do. I've supply teaching booked in and I've signed up for some exam invigilation, so will be kept busy whilst I decide. 

I still always set myself some Slimming World goals, just to keep the focus there.
Quite simply 'stay in target' this month and hope to 'get to the bottom end', ready for the Summer and any excesses that might be enjoyed over half term.

I am actually quite proud of myself. It will be two years ago in May, that I reached my target weight and other than a few pounds, I've pretty much stayed in target and kept the weight off for two years. That is the longest ever, that I have lost weight and subsequently kept it off. It's not easy but I still go to group for support, accountability and motivation and it seems to have done the trick.

And I still eat very well!
Keeping the weight off is easier with Slimming World because you can actually eat really good, healthy, delicious food and not feel you are deprived or missing out. Hopefully this time next year, I'll be writing the same thing again x

Hope you are having an enjoyable Bank Holiday weekend, Jeff's working, Sophie's revising, Sam's on his computer and I was sat enjoying the sunshine until it clouded over, so I'm now researching holidays for 2018! No chance of a holiday this year but next year could be our last family holiday if Sophie goes off to Uni, so I'm seeing what's affordable and suitable to keep everyone happy, before I ask everyone else what they think.