Monday, 31 March 2014

Peer (or should that be ‘beer’?) Pressure

I have always told my children that they should never give in to peer pressure.

“Don’t be a sheep, think for yourselves, do what you know is right for you,” I say, the platitudes tumbling from my lips.

“Never be drawn into doing something you don’t want to just to appear cool or because other people ask you to.”

You know how it goes…

So, it was with great delight that my daughter, Beth, recently had occasion to recite it all back to me.

If you read my previous post, you will be aware that my family are now following a FODMAP diet (Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols – it never gets any easier to explain!), so alcohol is broadly off limits although I do still enjoy the occasional(!) glass of red wine.

This makes social evenings a bit of a challenge, particularly, as some of my friends really like a drink (you know who you are!). Faced with the possibility of a girls’ night out recently, I pondered my options; don’t go, go and deal with the consequences or maybe limit myself to one or two (glasses, not bottles).

“Go out, have a good night… but stay off the booze,” says Beth.

“But… the girls… they won’t… I can’t…”

“You can! It’s simple, no wine.”

“They’re my friends…”

“The they will understand. It’s one night.”

It was hard.

“Come on, one drink won’t hurt… are you sick?… lemonade and what? Ice, no vodka!”

I survived. In fact, it was rather funny being the only one sober (but that’s a whole other story).

I woke up the next day without a headache, no hangover, no bloating, no sick feeling, no upset stomach…

“I’m proud of you mum,” said Beth, as if she were suddenly the parent.

But, here’s the thing; I am well aware that I can say ‘no’. However, when it comes to having a few drinks with my friends, I’m not sure that I always want to. I am capable of making my own choices.

Hopefully, as they get older, so are my children.

Maybe, the time has come to stop lecturing them about what they should and shouldn’t do and trust them more to make their own informed decisions. After all, my husband and I have brought them up to make their choices wisely.

Now where did I put that corkscrew?  

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Fodmap - Lilly's Story

Over the years, my family has been blighted with stomach problems. 

In the interest of helping others, over the next few weeks, I will share with you our journey back to health.

This is Lilly’s story:

My eldest daughter, Lilly, started having severe stomach pains and blood in her stools at the age of 10. After a lengthy period of diagnosis and several prescriptions for laxatives to cure her ‘constipation’, she had an endoscopy at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). I received an emergency telephone call one evening after dinner to say that Lilly needed to start taking steroids immediately. She was diagnosed with auto-immune atrophic gastritis. 

I remember sitting in front of my doctor the next day in tears as he told me there was no other option if I didn’t want my daughter to face the possibility of having a colostomy bag, live failure, cancer… you name it… in later life.

“What about diet?” I asked. “Could she be reacting to certain foods?”

“It’s possible, but she still needs the drugs.”

Lilly started the steroids and over a very short period of time gained two stone in weight. Her beautiful face was disfigured and she became withdrawn and unhappy.

There followed an extremely difficult time during which Lilly was put on a drug called azathioprine and once this kicked in she was allowed to come off the steroids. It took a year for her to lose weight and even longer to regain her confidence.  

I took matters into my own hands, over the next few months, we tried gluten free, diary free, preservative free and every other diet I could find. Some things helped for a while but, by now, her symptoms were being masked by the azathioprine so it was difficult to know what worked and what didn’t.

Several trips to GOSH and many more tests later, Lilly remained on the azathioprine. Six years later, I found a sympathetic consultant who agreed to try and wean Lilly, who was by now a young woman, off the drug. It took another year for that to happen.

She was well for a while but two years later, some of her symptoms returned and we found ourselves back in casualty.

“Do you think she might be constipated?” a nurse asked, as Lilly rolled around in agony.

Here we go again, I thought,

The medical profession shrugged their shoulders and prescribed paracetamol, which was as much use for her condition as it is for childbirth.

Lilly was referred back to the hospital and the round of tests began all over again.

“No, steroids mum,” Lilly insisted, “I’d rather die.”

“No steroids, not this time,” I promised.

Then on a bleak January morning, as I sat opposite yet another consultant with my daughter ready, as always, to fight her corner, he said the word that would change the lives of not only Lilly, but the whole family; Fodmap.

“Fod what?” we asked in unison.

“Fodmap (Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols). It’s a very specific diet and it has helped a lot of people like Lilly with persistent stomach problems. Rather than prescribe any more drugs, I’d like her to try it.’

And that’s exactly what we did…

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Mum in the Middle is Back

Not that I have actually been anywhere these past weeks and months.

No, I have been right here busily getting on with all the things that we mums do, it’s just that somewhere along the way, I stopped writing about it all.

However, recent events have drawn me back to the keyboard to share my experiences, so here I am again. To give you a quick update on my life over the past year:

I turned 50

My eldest daughter failed her exams and dropped out of college

Lots and lots and lots of serious conversations about life choices

I found my first grey hair

My mother had a fall and broke her hip

Lots and lots and lots of hospital visits

Consumed lots and lots and lots of wine

I started a writing group at the WI

My eldest daughter dropped back in to college on a different course

Several more grey hairs appeared – finally reached for the dye

My mother went home but can’t cope on her own

Lots and lots and lots of tears

Both of my daughters had stomach problems

Lots and lots and lots more hospital visits

Consumed lots and lots and lots of cake

My writing group published a book in aid of charity

Lots and lots and lots of hard work

The family changed to a FODmap diet

Wine and cake had to stop!

So, as you can see, there is a lot to write about.

Join me as I try to keep all the balls in the air and strive for a saner life!