Self Care

Hello again, 

As I have been back at work now for a good few weeks I thought I’d share with you the importance of self care. 

Self care is important, especially now when the world is adjusting to trying to find a new normal. What is normal anymore? We’re all having to adjust and learn how to cope with new ways of living. One of which is masks. Now I’m not going to get into a discussion about wearing them. That is not the point. The point is we’re adjusting to so many changes and wearing masks is one of them. 

So thinking about self care we must consider looking after our skin more. When I come home, as well as washing my hands I wipe my face. Before I go to bed I put hand cream on and use face cream. Not only is it important to practice good hygiene, but we also must remember to look after our skin. This means finding a good skin care routine. If you would like to know more about this please head over to Lukes blog as he has a lot of information on skincare products. 

Besides skin care being really important right now, the thing I am trying to do is think about how I’m spending my time. I am trying to get back into listening to audiobooks. They are a nice way to relax and they help pass the time when you are washing up or dusting. 

sA blue bath bomb in the water, fizzing.The other thing I am remembering to do is have a nice bath with a bath bomb rather than normal bubble bath. It’s important to feel like you’ve had a good relax. Baths are the perfect thing for this. You can try switch off and just be. You’re not watching TV, you’re not listening to music, you’re not tidying up, you’re just being in the moment. Let’s face it, that is something we hardly ever do. It was something we had to try and do during the period of being at home during lockdown, but now we’re easing back into this new way of living we need to remember to try still have those moments where we can just sit and do nothing. Where we can just spend time sat with a cup of tea. That’s why I think baths are my perfect option. You don’t have to feel like you should be multitasking. You’re in the bath, you might as well relax. 

If you want to, I would check out Philippa Claire’s blogs, there’s some wonderful things on there around self care and managing your time to make the most of your time. 

Self care is something we need to do. It is not about being selfish, it’s about thinking ‘what do I want?’ You can’t do your job well if you are run down, you can’t look after others if you yourself are run down. Our bodies and minds need time to relax and recharge. If we take time daily to do something we enjoy, go outside, go for a walk, have a nice cup of tea, do some drawing, we can do wonders for our health. 

Now more than ever we need to do this. But we also need to ask ‘what do my friends need?’ maybe just dropping them a text asking how they are, ask them what they’ve been up to? Doing this can also help our own well-being because we then know we are not alone in how we feel. It is a difficult time for everyone and maybe your friend could cheer you up? Or you could cheer them up? 

Be kind to yourself:

Text a Friend

Make a cup of tea

Run a bath 

Put the washing outside rather than in the drier. Yes this makes me happy. 

Ask if someone would if they would like to go for a coffee, or you could sit in their garden. 

It’s all about the little things which could make you or someone else smile. 

I’m off for now. I’ll check back in later. 

Twitter: @PhilippaB                                                                                                         Instagram: @VisuallyImapiredPip 

Books So Far in 2020

Hello again, 

Today has been my day off work, so I have got a lot of stuff done around the house I needed to get done. Now that’s sorted I can sit down to write my blog. 

At the beginning of the year I wrote about how one of my goals was to read more. My brother bought me an Audible subscription which I Have deffinatley made the use of so far. I tend to go through phases of listening to lots of books, then stopping for a while. But now I am getting back into it. So here’s a list of books I’ve on my Audible bookshelf. 

 

IMG_1032

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently 

I am currently listening to this and it is an interesting read, I’m learning so much about the History of Autism and how this history has shaped the world we live in today.

I absolutely loved this book. The women discussed in this book come from so many different backgrounds and they all have a lesson to teach us. Their are modern women, women from history, women who you might not have known much about. One woman who stood out to me was Coco Chanel, a person who’s history I knew nothing about. I found myself wondering why I knew so little. I 

 

have added her to my list of women I must read about. She was not only a style icon but a woman who new what she wanted and was not going to let anyone get in her way. 

I won’t discuss anymore of the women in this book, because I would highly recommend giving it a read. People often discuss powerful men in history, but they forgot to talk about how they had influential, powerful women stood behind them such as Indira Gandhi. 

This book is currently on my shelf. 

In Search of Black History with Bonnie Greer

Currently on my shelf. 

I found this book to be quite interesting, it has allowed me to now consider why people behave the way the way do. 

This book I absolutely fell in love with, from the moment I hit play. So many things Laura James mentions I found myself agreeing with, I had never read a book I could relate to in so many ways. 

 

 

I am thankful I found this book. 

Sandi Toksvig is someone who you just want to hug. I love her on QI and on Bake Off. When I saw this book advertised I knew I had to listen to it because she is such an incredible woman. She fights for women’s rights and I think this book is so powerful. There are many women in history who go ignored and Sandi’s book really opened my eyes to just how much. London is one of the busiest cities in the world and to go on an adventure with her on a London bus to discover women in history was an absolute delight. 

 

 

 

A podcast I found 

Currently on my shelf. 

The Forking Trolley: An Ethical Journey to The Good Place

James M. Russell

I absolutely love The Good Place so when I saw this I just had to buy it. It really made me laugh, it discussed the lengths at which the show went to try and get everything right. So that there could be no holes in the plot line, especially because they were dealing with something as tricky as Ethics. If you are a fan of The Good Place I recommend reading this. 

 

So that’s it for this week, I just wanted to do a bit of a catch up on what I have read, what is on my shelf and what I hope to read in the future. 

The books I read tend to be history or biography. I love to learn about people and to understand events and places so I can expand my knowledge of the world and the people we share this Earth with. The more we understand one another the more we can move forward together to create a more equal and positive world for us together. 

 

Thank you for reading and if you have any book suggestions then let me know. 

I’m on Twitter: @PhilippaB

I’m on Instagram: @VisuallyImpairedPip

Beary Quiet

Hi,

For a long while I struggled with sleeping, one of the reasons was down to my room not being dark enough. So we got some black out blinds fitted. They work quite well. However there was also another issue, noise. No matter how quiet you might think it is, as soon as I lay down to shut my eyes I can hear everything. 

When I say I can hear everything, I mean everything. From that weird noise the fridge makes every so often, to a car outside. I decided I would purchase some ear plugs. Searching online I came across a company called Beary Quiet. The name made me chuckle so I decided to check out the reviews. People had left some great reviews on Amazon so I thought I’d give them a go for myself. 

IMG_1649

On Amazon this is what they have to say for themselves:

‘DESIGNED FOR HIBERNATION…

Small But Mighty

Our slow rebound foam is designed to form a expansion seal against the walls of your ear canal. Activating a 37dB (decibel) barrier to noise.

  • Enabling you to achieve REM Sleep (Rapid Eye Movement)
  • Flared bell shape increases sound absorption to bounce unwanted noise
  • Boosted Fibre Blend forms a safer structural design. Preventing any risk of the plug disintegrating in your ear when in use

Comfortable Sleep

We engineered our earplug with Soft Sonar Foam which has a premium texture verses the traditional sponge foam earplugs.

  • Key benefit being, it’s comfortable when worn and it has an improved grip within the ear canal when you sleep

Noise Reduction

Beary Quiet earplugs dampen noise around you by 37 SNR dB (sonar decibels). They won’t block noise entirely but there’s a reason behind this…

We’ve engineered our earplugs to provide a perfect harmony of reducing unwanted noise and permitting important audible alerts such as smoke alarms, home invasion and most importantly your alarm clock!’

They arrived fairly quickly and as soon as they turned up the first thing I noticed which I really liked was the packaging. It comes in a circular tube, with a picture of a bear on it. I would like to think it is recyclable, which is better for the planet. Inside the tube is a packet of 30 earplugs. You also get a little tin to keep them in during the times you’re not using them. The earplugs themselves are black and feel quite squishy. 

There are different sorts you can buy but I opted for premium foam reusable ones. You get 30 in a pack. 

I have had the earplugs since….late May this year. So I thought I’d let you know how I’ve got on with them. As I mentioned before I really struggled to fall asleep, due to many reasons, one of which was the slightest noise. 

You take them out the packet, they all come in one big plastic bag, rather than individual bags. Roll them between you finger and thumb until they are stick thin. Then place them into your ear. Hold them inplace while the foam expands and then let go. Beary Quiet says they block  out up to 37 SNR DB of noise. So obviously they don’t block out everything. I can still hear certain things, but the sounds are now nicely muffled. However, this is only when I am starting to fall asleep. Once I’m off to sleep I don’t wake up because I’ve heard a noise. I must be quite a deep sleeper when the conditions are right. I genuinely love them and I will be buying them again. They have made such a massive difference to my sleeping.

As for the reusableness… that’s a word right? meh… it is now, I think they’re living up to that. I use mine for 2 nights and then put them in the bin. I am concerned for my ears so I want to make sure they stay as clean as possible. So I don’t use them more than twice. 

I would recommend Beary Quiet to anyone who is struggling with sleeping due to noise. It is now July and I have been using them since late May. Even if I can’t sleep because I can’t switch off, the noise reduction is very beneficial because it’s one less thing I have to contend with. Meaning if I can’t sleep, which has happened, I can just lay their and enjoy the quiet as much as possible. 

I would just like to point out that I have written this blog post reviewing these earplugs without any endorsement from the people of Beary Quiet and I hope that you maybe try them out to see for yourself. They only cost £12.99, but on Amazon where I bought them, directly from Beary Quiet, they cost £8.99. Click here if you to want to hibernate peacefully, without missing your alarm clock in the morning. 

Whilst I have you, if you have a few pennies spare would you mind donating to my Virtual Fundraising Tin for the British Heart Foundation?

If  have written a blog post about why here.

Right I’m off. 

I’m on Twitter: @PhilippaB

I’m on Instagram: @VisuallyImpairedPip

British Heart Foundation Blog Post with Beth and Philippa

Hi,

Today’s post will be a little different, I’ve teamed up with Biology Beth, a British Heart Foundation funded PhD Researcher. We’re both very passionate about the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and thought it would be a great idea to tell you why.

This blog post will be done as a collaboration, so please sit back and relax and hopefully you’ll learn some cool science things from Beth and I’m here because I bring some info around what it’s like to live with a heart condition.

Let’s get going….

Why are we doing this?

We want to raise awareness for the British Heart Foundation and discuss our passions for such an amazing charity.

This blog post came about because I wanted to do something to raise money for the British Heart Foundation during this period of uncertainty we are going through with COVID-19. I started by drawing pictures on my iPad and posting them on Instagram and Twitter. I’ve got to £125 and I’m very happy. If you would like to donate please go to my Just Giving Page and help to support the BHF.

I then talked to my friend Beth and we were discussing the impact COVID-19 is having on the charity sector and on research which affects lives.

We thought it might be a good idea, considering Beth’s PhD project is funded by the British Heart Foundation to talk about who the BHF are, what they do and why we support them.

Who are the British Heart Foundation and what do they do?

The BHF are a non profit charity, who’s singular aim is to Beat Heart Break forever. One in four of us here in the UK and one in three of us globally will die from Heart and Circulatory Disease. That’s pretty significant. The BHF is the biggest independent funder of Heart and Circulatory disease in the UK.

The British Heart Foundation says “Our research, is the promise to protect the people we love. Our parents. Our brothers. Our sisters. Our grandparents. Our closest friends”.

Key Statistics

Today in the UK:

27% of all UK deaths are caused by heart and circulatory disease.

But its important to note how far we’ve come

Today in the UK:

460 people will die from a heart attack or circulatory disease.

More than 120 people will be younger than 75.

7.4 million people are living with heart or circulatory disease.

280 hospital admissions will be due to a heart attack.

180 people will die from coronary heart disease.

13 babies will be born with a heart defect.

When reading these numbers, as  person who was born with Congenital Heart Disease, it’s very difficult because you see yourself as number on a page. But that’s another reason why I wanted to do this with Beth, because I am not just a statistic, I am the person writing these words you are reading.

If you would like to check out the latest research by the BHF check out this link: Our Research.

A red heart with stitching up the middle holding it together. There is a needle and thread sat underneath.

A heart stitched back together.

Q&A with a BHF researcher

I think while these might seem like a lot of facts and statements it’s important to remember the reasons why people chose to support the British Heart Foundation in so many ways. Which is why I asked Beth if she wanted to do this Q&A with me.

Philippa: Why do you support the BHF?

Beth: I support the BHF as it’s very close to my heart, I lost my grandad to a heart attack and whilst I was at uni my dad also suffered major heart attack. My dad’s rehabilitation involved lots of information from the BHF and aided his recovery.

Philippa: Why is it important to donate?

Beth: BHF are committed to their campaign to beat heartbreak forever. Donations help to fund major medical research and support BHF staff (those that work in the BHF shops and head office). For every £1 donated, 70p goes to funding our lifesaving work. Without medical research we can’t beat heartbreak forever so donating to the BHF is vital.

Philippa: Beth, what is a PhD?

Beth: A PhD (doctorate of philosophy) is a postgraduate doctoral degree, which is awarded to students who complete an original thesis that offers a significant new contribution of knowledge to their field. In the UK, a PhD project is typically 3-4 years full time and 5-7 years part-time. A PhD project is quite a commitment and it’s definitely not easy, but it’s also not as bad as people say, or at least it isn’t in my experience.

Philippa: What is your BHF funded research project?

Beth: My project is in the field of platelet biology in the context of cardiovascular disease. Platelets are important cells in the blood that contribute to clot formation in incidences or vascular injury. During cardiovascular disease we get unwanted platelet activation resulting in clot formation that can lead to events like hearts attacks or stroke. My project is looking at how platelet inhibitory pathways can alter platelet function in cardiovascular disease.

Philippa: What are your research goals?

Beth: My research goals are to finish my PhD in which my funding runs out December 2021 but I have until Dec 2022 to submit my thesis. I’d love to continue the research in the lab I’m currently in, I enjoy the research and I really like the people in my group. My supervisor has given me a lot of support and training to gear me up for a post-doctoral position. Following post-doc positions I’d like to write my own research grants to continue the work to hopefully one day run my own research group (a girl can dream, right?).

Philippa: What happens when you apply for a research grant?

Beth: I’ve never applied for a research grant myself as I’m only a student but I do know that research grants take a long time to write. The funding bodies such as the BHF have certain criteria for what they will fund and they will only fund research that will have the greatest impact. When you submit your application, it goes through rigorous rounds of review which can take a while and you may have to resubmit based on grant reviewers comments. A lot of grants can be rejected on the first round, so it can take 2 rounds before a grant is accepted. Once the grant is accepted it will have a specified start date and end date, with progress reviews throughout the course of the grant. This is to make sure you’re on track with the research and that there is appropriate output from the work i.e. publications etc.

Philippa: Why is heart disease such a big problem?

Beth: 7.4 million people in the UK live with heart or circulatory disease and 1 in 4 people die from heart or circulatory disease. That’s why BHF are targeting the world’s biggest killers – meaning that their work in funding research is vital in order to save lives and reduce those numbers.

Heart disease can lead to heart attacks, angina and strokes which if serious enough can result in death. These cardiac events can be a high burden on the NHS, research for better, more targeted treatments with fewer side effects along with preventative measures could help to reduce those numbers.

There are many risk factors such as smoking, stress, alcohol, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity, being overweight or obese, diabetes, family history of heart disease, age, sex and ethnic background. Also, having a heart or circulatory disease can mean that you are at higher risk of other diseases such as viruses, diabetes and vascular dementia (among others).

Philippa: Maybe something people think is surely when you’ve had a heart attack, that’s it right, there is nothing that can be done?

Beth: In most cases if you’ve suffered a heart attack you’re likely to have a stent fitted (which is where they use a meshwork to open up the blocked artery to gain blood flow back into the affected artery). After having a stent you’re likely to be a cocktail of medication to aid the hearts repair which are typically a combination of anti-platelet drugs to avoid unwanted platelet activation. Most people tend to make a full recovery after having a stent fitted, along with appropriate medication and cardiac rehab most people that have suffered heart attacks can go on to lead a relatively normal life.

Philippa: What’s the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest?

Beth: A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not opened quickly that part of the heart can begin to die. The longer without treatment the worse it can be. Symptoms can be slow before the heart attack. The heart continues to beat (unlike cardiac arrest). Whereas, cardiac arrest occurs suddenly and without warning. Triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart which causes an irregular heart beat. The pumping action is disrupted and cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Typically a person will lose consciousness and have no pulse. Cardiac arrest CAN happen after a heart attack, heart attacks increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

Q&A with a Heart patient

You’ve had a Q&A with a BHF Researcher, but how about a Q&A with a heart patient? Beth has some questions for myself.

Beth: What other implications does having a heart condition have on your life?

Philippa: I think this is an interesting question, obviously every heart patient is different. I myself was, well, fortunate, I don’t know if that’s the right word, to have my surgery at one week old. From then on its been finding out one problem after another…

I think this has meant I’ve had my fair share if not more of hospital appointments. There are things I have to be careful with more so than others. I think one thing which people may not consider is the emotional impact of a heart condition. Obviously you get one heart, once it’s damaged, that’s kind of it. There are things we can do, like in my case, holes can be repaired, a lot of wonderful things be done. But repairing something is about dealing with working with what you’ve got… The damage of a heart attack for example, cannot be reversed…. I think it just feels quite stressful and upsetting….

Thats kind of one of the reason I got involved with the BHF… I heard about these Zebra Fish which can repair their own hearts, and researchers wanted to look into that…. Science is incredible… but we need to understand something before we can do anything else and I think when I heard about these zebra fish I had a sense of hope, that maybe one day…. we could repair a broken heart… I think there’s a lot of emotion around this question for me, because ever since I was born, I’ve dealt with many problems and who knows if they are all linked?

Beth: Do you take any tablets?

Philippa: I take two kinds of tablets, I used to be on one kind, then two, then back down to one…then my toes went purple, so I’m back on two. They can be quite expensive, about £18 or so a month for two boxes, for one month. I’m paying about £216 a year for tablets. Roughly since I was 13 let’s say that’s about £3240 I’ve spent over 15 years, to stay alive. However, there is an option that if you are on tablets for life you can get 3 months for the price of one (which is what I do) but that’s still expensive. I’m paying for a problem no one created, it just happened. It’s life, I manage with it, although that’s not to say it’s easy. It’s hard and stressful, but you manage it.

Beth: As a heart patient what does ongoing treatment look like?

Philippa: Due to the nature of my many health issues I have various different appointments, I have high blood pressure caused by a malfunctioning kidney so I’m on review for that. When it comes to my Heart health I go for an appointment once every 2/3 years. You might not think it’s much, but because of all the other health complications I have this is just another appointment to have to cope with.

When I’m at the hospital I have an ECG and I have an ultrasound, which is rather cool because you get to hear your heart beat. I don’t always get to see it because of the side I’m laying on. I then have an MRI scan booked because ultrasounds are limited in what they can show and the Drs want to get as full a picture as they can.  (I have had number of these for a variety of health problems, such as my kidneys) I normally go the BRI for this and again, the people there doing my MRI are amazing, they are caring and help me to feel as comfortable as possible.

I go to the LGI for my heart appointments because that’s where there is a specialist Heart Unit. It’s pretty much an all day job as we have to travel there and back. The staff at the LGI are amazing. The heart unit is wonderful and there’s another charity called The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund which works closely with the unit to support families and those in hospital to be as comfortable as possible. Dr Waterson, one of the surgeons who did my surgery is responsible for setting up the charity. One of the lovely things they do for the children is when you’re in hospital and you’re having your surgery they give you a bear with a heart on, called Katy. My Bear, which I still have is called Rosie. They also give each child a medal for being heart hero’s, which they truly are.

The BHF and Coronavirus

The British Heart Foundation are creating a wealth of information around Coronavirus and how you can stay safe. There was an article posted on the BHF Twitter account about going into hospital during this time. This is is important as hospitals are starting to get patients back in to be able to have the surgery they need.

Coronavirus has had a massive impact on minority backgrounds such as the Black and South Asian Community. There are a number of causing factors and it has been highlighted in an article by the BHF. While the purpose of this blog post is to raise awareness of the need to donate and fundraise for the BHF, we did not want to ignore the higher death rate from Covid-19 and we wanted to ensure that the information is made available in this blog post for those who suffer from Heart and Circulatory Disease, as this is the purpose of this particular blog post. This information can be found here.

More from Beth

If you want to hear more about what it’s like to be a BHF PhD researcher go check out Beth at:

Blog: www.bethology.co.uk

Twitter: @beth_webb29
Instagram: @_bethology

More from me

Twitter: @PhilippaB

Instagram: @VisuallyImpairedPip

Thank you for reading our blog post around the need to keep fundraising and the importance of the BHF in todays world. I am very grateful to Beth for giving her time to help me write this. It would not have worked without her.

If you would like to donate to the BHF please go to my Just Giving page to donate.

Please remember that Heart Disease is the biggest killer globally and that one day, together we can Beat Heart Break Forever.

“In 1961, more than half of all deaths in the UK were attributed to heart and circulatory diseases (320,000 deaths).”

“Since the BHF was established the annual number of CHD deaths in the UK has fallen by more than half”.

Additional Links:

Visually Impaired Art with drawings for The British Heart Foundation

www.bethology.co.uk

https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/who-we-are

BHF Statistics Factsheet – UK 

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/publications/research/our-research-almost-60-years-of-lifesaving-breakthroughs

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/news/coronavirus-and-your-health/going-into-hospital-during-coronavirus 

Welcome Page