Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Oh paranoid humans. Thousands of years ago, some people who were way too fond of pyramid-style architecture decided that rather than pointlessly writing in dates thousands of years from now… they’d stop. And go eat a toblerone instead. Now, all these years later – the paranoid world as we know it, now thinks that this day, of no particular importance, will be the end of the world. The rapture. The end of days. It has a lot of names, not all of which have been made into slightly disturbing Arnold Schwarzenegger flicks. Point is, on the 21st December 2012 – the world is going to end. Well, at least some people believe it will end. Me? Well, I think if it was going to end, we would have seen some sort of sign by now. Locusts. River’s running red. We’d have a Tory government and the global economy would continue to plummet… oh wait…

But I haven’t come here to argue the in’s and out’s of an event that may or may not even happen. Instead I thought I would be useful. If some big, cataclysmic event occurs, I am here to help. More specifically, I am here to help you survive.

I know what you’re thinking. How could I possibly be able to help you survive a nuclear holocaust, or a zombie army… or maybe even everybody on the planet suddenly turning into Liverpool supporters (“Oh dear God… NO!”)? You’re right – I can’t. I am pretty sure no one can. But, what I can do, is give you help, advice and tips that may help keep you alive if you do in fact survive this world altering event.

Quick thinking

Now, this may sound pretty lame. But I am guessing that stupidity, hesitation and down right YOLOness will get you killed in this new world faster than you can say ‘Nicki Minaj’. Be smart and trust your instincts. Before any of us were skyping our friends and online shopping, we were animals. Remember that. Ever see a dog get the willies? Or a cat stare at some unknown object for no reason? That’s because animals are much more in tune with their senses. Hunting and sensing danger comes naturally to them. And it will for us again, if the situation calls for it. Listen to your gut, because as well as telling you that you haven’t eaten anything but a protein bar for three days, it will save your life.

Be careful who you trust

Undoubtedly, no matter what the catastrophe, if society falls – so does the socially acceptable code of morals. Be careful of other people, especially strangers. The world as you know it is over – therefore there are no laws any more. All people have to guide them is their conscience, and that can get pretty wacky when people are trying to feed themselves. The animalistic nature I mentioned before? Yeah, well it cuts both ways. People will get violent and dangerous fast. And eventually that will become as normal as your current morning Starbucks. Also, the psycho’s that seem so rare now? Well they won’t be so rare anymore. The vicious ones are undoubtedly the ones who are more likely to survive a post-apocalyptic world because they will do just about anything to anyone to survive.  Even more than that, they will likely want some degree of power over people. They don’t have any rules any more. Therefore in their eyes anything goes.  Avoid these kinds of people at all costs.

Fly under the radar

This sounds pretty obvious, but unless you actively go out of your way to hide yourself everyday, you could get a little lax. If no one notices you, you won’t get murdered. It is that simple. If you have to, move at night to avoid detection. And don’t start fights you know you can’t win.

Move on

This one is a lot easier said than done. But it is likely you will lose a loved one in the ‘event’. It is important that you come to terms with not only that, but the collapse of society quickly. No one will come and rescue you. Be realistic. The sooner you realise that the stronger you will be emotionally. Save your hope for anyone who has been left behind with you, and for the coming new world.

Don’t abuse substances

I mentioned a few posts ago about how ridiculous it is that people in movies have sex in a crisis and inevitably die. The same concept exists here. Drugs are not a good idea once the world ends. Yes, it may seem like you need that stiff drink more than ever, but it could get you killed. You’re living in a world that needs you to be alert as much as humanly possible. Drinking, taking drugs, or even smoking, could avert your attention. Smoking – I hear you ask? Well, inevitably you will have to give it up eventually. Withdrawal from nicotine can cause severe irritability, difficulty focusing, headaches and drowsiness – to name a few symptoms. In order to survive, you need to be at the top of your game.

Don’t eat mushrooms

“I don’t feel bad at all for giving you bloody diarrhoea and respiratory failure!!”

Not as broad as the others, but important none the less. Mushrooms are often seen as a good food to gather. In fact, this couldn’t be more wrong. Low in protein – therefore often not worth the effort – never eat a mushroom unless you are 100% certain of its type. There are so few edible types, that it is far more likely you will end up poisoning yourself. Put your efforts into gathering food you know to be safe.

Preparation is key

It is likely you never know what will happen next, and therefore it is important to prepare. You will know when the seasons will change. Prepare yourself for them. It’s all well and good avoiding the violent people left behind, but if you are not well prepared for the climate, you could die of exposure long before you run into trouble. If winter is coming, prepare by finding somewhere suitable to spend it. Store food supplies and warm clothing (think layers), and get ready to wait it out. All it takes is one bad snowstorm and one bad winter – be ready.

Find a group

I know this may seem to contradict some of the other tips – but your everyday survival will be strengthened in numbers. Once you can find those people you trust, it will make every day activities like finding food and water, much easier.

Find a knife

…And I don’t mean for protection. A sturdy knife will become essential in the day to day – whether that be hunting, building a shelter or making a fire. A good knife is essential.

Make a survival kit

If you are serious about the world ending, then prepare beforehand. Think about all the things that are truly essential to your survival. Things to make a fire (flint, matches, tinder), first aid supplies and water sterilizing tablets are the first thing that should come to mind. Food isn’t that important in the immediate, but will be necessary later. So if you have space, think about items that could help you get food – like a fishing rod. Obviously it is likely you will be in an urban environment. In that case, stock piling non-perishable food might be a good idea. Also, some supplies for a make-shift shelter are a good idea so that you always have somewhere warm and dry to spend the night regardless of what happens. Carrying these things around with you (aside from the food, of course) will minimise the risk of you not being prepared for anything.

Learn to defend yourself

…Yet there are some people that we know will be okay. Maggie? Wanna be buddies?

Seems kind of obvious, I know. But sometimes no matter how careful you are, and how under the radar you fly – things happen that you cannot stop. If the world does end on Friday – well I guess it’s too late to go out and learn kick boxing, or karate. But there are still a few simple ways that you can try to protect yourself. Firstly – fight dirty. This is your life we’re talking about. There is no fighting dirty in this new world. There are no rules – remember? If your attacker is a man, go for the groin. Hell – if they’re a woman – this still hurts, but is less effective. Eye gauging – although it may be repulsive to think about, it could save your life. Once you have successfully immobilised the attacker – don’t hang about. Run the hell away. This isn’t about being tough. This is about survival. The initial blow is there to allow you to retreat. If possible use improvised weapons to fend off the attack. Like I said, there is no such thing as fighting dirty when its your life. Unfortunately, if you’re female, this section is extra important. The chances of sexual assault will increase. Therefore it is important to be ever the more self aware. Remember, however, your number one priority is to survive. If fighting back severely jeopardises that – be smart, and don’t.

Remember who you are

You will change. This huge traumatic event has happened – of course you will. But it is important to remember the person you were. In a world were black and white will be so blurred, you will need to remember the way the previous you approached things. Likely – if you were any kind of stand up person before – this will be a good gage at making sure you are doing the right thing. The last thing you want is for you to slowly turn into one of the crazy one’s without even realising you were.

Live every day as though its your last

…And no I don’t mean YOLO. It will be the small things that will become important. Do you have a meal in your belly and a warm fire to cosy up to? People you trust around you? Then it has been a good day. Learn to appreciate them.

Evaluate where you would be safest

In movies, often when something like this happens, people travel to some place they think they will be safe. It is a good idea to have in your head before hand possible safe places, each at furthering distance. For instance, if there was a zombie attack (hypothetically… I do know zombies don’t exist!) I would try and find an island to inhabit. Given I live in Britain, it would be one on a lake. But the nearest one is miles from me, so I would have to come up with back ups closer, and then closer again, to home. So, it is important to evaluate your threats (depending on the disaster), and find somewhere suitably safe.

…Yet if you’re a paranoid millionaire, you probably already have this covered.

Get fit

Fitness may not be fun, but it is essential in your survival. It will improve your overall health, efficiency, hunting and gathering, defence and mood. Do your best to keep active, as stamina will become very important.

Don’t go for weapons

Weapons are way down on your list of priorities. Unless there is a zombie apocalypse  you need other supplies way more. The people who head for the weapons are likely the one you would end up needing them against. Therefore, to at least prolong the chance of a confrontation, put finding  a weapon way down in your priorities. If you have one to hand – great. But if not, wait until you are at least partially settled. The food and water and much more important at this stage.

To conclude…

Finally, I just want to point something out – Don’t be afraid of death. It is the only certainty we have in life, and eventually mankind’s time will end. Dying in the cataclysmic event probably wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Being left behind? Well, that would be much worse. Surviving in a world with no structure, law or society, well needless to say it would be far from easy. If the world does end and you’re one of the lucky ones who goes, without so much as a whimper – count your chickens! If you survive and are left behind, well – good luck. You’re most definitely going to need it!

‘Cos the guys on the Walking Dead look like they’re having a riot… NOT!

…And I hope these tips did more than just terrify you about the impending apocalypse. Oh and remember, if you are worried about Friday – just remind yourself that you’re listening to a bunch of people who died thousands of years ago, and whose past times include painful body modifications and ritual human sacrifice.

Coeliac disease. It’s a bitch. It really is. If I wasn’t so busy right now eating gluten free mince pies and sipping my lactofree cup of tea, I’d be right over there to kick Coeliac disease’s ass. That’s right, you heard me CD!

If I was a superhero I’d have this emblazoned on my chest. Is that sad? Oh damn it…

Don’t get me wrong, there are worse things to have. A mild autoimmune disease where you can’t eat wheat, barley and rye is definitely not the worst thing in the world. But its one of those conditions that has one of the worst adverse effects – it’s so God damn annoying. You can’t take a pill and expect it to go away. Its wired into your system. Like whether you can roll your tongue or not. That shit’s in your genes. You can’t forget about it, because you inevitably need to eat a minimum of three times a day. And you can’t just be a bit naughty and indulge yourself for a little while… No, your intestines don’t allow for that.

So, I got thinking about all the crazy ass symptoms – medical and otherwise that make me so certain I have Coeliac disease. I’m not talking about a positive antigen test, I’m talking about the everyday things that I myself notice. Check it out, and see if you share anything similar or whether I’m just in fact crazy…

5) Nightmares about food. 

I’m not messing. I wish I was. I have had actual full on nightmares where I have casually eaten a piece of garlic bread. Afterwards the whole things turned into the final scene of Braveheart  with lots of screams of “Nooooooooo!”, manly tears and the odd bad Scottish accent. It ain’t pretty. The average person is having nightmares about zombies. I’m having traumatic recurring dreams about lasagne.

In the dream I have less hair than Mel Gibson. And bizarrely I don’t look as good in a kilt…

4) Dreams about food. 

Oh it cuts both ways my friend. When I’m not having doughy gremlin type REM sleep, I’m having fantasies about pork pies, pizza and pistachio covered Baklava. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up, dribble all over my pillow, sweat glistening my brow, my heart pounding in my chest… all because my boyfriend picked up the phone and ordered a Domino’s. Yes, when others have sex dreams… I have food dreams.

3) Nervous twitching when someone is  handing out food.

If you have Coeliac disease, you will be well aware of this one. It doesn’t matter where you are; a party, work, supermarket – when the nice lady is slowly coming your way, handing out ‘samples’ of food to people – the twitching starts. I don’t know what it is, but there is a level of panic inside that makes you go from death con five to one faster than you can say sausage roll. Why? Well I guess its a mixture of the fact that you see the woman slowly approaching like a wheat-riddled zombie army, and you have to decide how to act. Do I just say ‘No thanks.’? If I do will they be offended? Do I tell the truth? If I do that, people either fuss or look at me like I’m one of those crazy people who believe carrots have feelings. And then there is the scenario that is out of my control – the person realises my condition, and after holding the plate of sweet smelling goodness under my nose for fifteen seconds, realises and then utters – “Oh sorry, I forgot.” That bitch.

2) Imaginary celebratory high fives when you discover a new food.

I don’t like custard creams. I never really have. In fact, I hate custard so it’s no surprise. But that doesn’t stop me gorging down a whole packet of gluten free custard creams like they’re going out of fashion. It as though, I feel obliged because some company has gone to the effort of making this thing gluten free – solely for me – and so I must buy it. It isn’t enough that the friggin’ packet costs me three pounds. No, I must show my gratitude. I find myself eating things I never ate before just because they are gluten free. It’s absurd. I feel like a heroine addict, desperate to get my wheat-substitute methadone. So if its new, and its got the gluten free sign on it, I’m happy – and I’m eating it. Regardless of whether that said food is in fact kangaroo testicles.

1) Stalking.

Is it me? Or does John Hinckley look remarkably like a more conservative Elton John?

I don’t mean stalking in the John Hinckley sort  of sense of course. But there is something quite perverse that I find myself doing from time to time. I gravitate towards the wheat filled food like its a table of Jodie Foster memorabilia. I find myself staring at it, thinking – “Ohhh… bourbon’s. Nice.” And then I escalate. I find myself gravitating next to the person eating that said bourbon. Its like I’m insanely and pitifully living vicariously through anyone eating a God damn biscuit. Then the staring comes. More thoughts: “Ohhhh… I bet that bourbon tastes real good. Oh it’s been so long…!”  And then there’s a look… a disturbed uncomfortable jostling away from me as people realise I’m ogling them like they’re playboy bunnies and I’m Hugh Hefner. Needless to say – people either a) think I’m a lot weirder than I actually am or b) realise totally and utterly how weird I am.

Either way… I’m doomed.

The title – yeah you can decide who is who…

Picture this. It is Christmas 2010. There is a big chill. Snow covers the ground, the little town of Maghull, Liverpool, England, is covered in 2 ft of snow/sludge. The roads are undriveable. Yet the Christmas spirit oozes through the air as neighbours and strangers help dig car after car out of their icy prisons. And there is me, sitting in one of those cars, thinking about how this weather is making me feel so much more god damn anxious. Going the supermarket already made me feel like I was about to go over the top in world war II. Now we’ve added this dangerous weather to the equation (that plus the utter lack of gritting put in place by Sefton council, honestly it was dreadful. Britain needs to learn a few lessons from places like Alaska…). It was too much. My heart would palpitate in my chest. My nails were bitten down to the bone. And there was always this impending sense of doom like something bad was always going to happen, and there was nothing good in my life. Now I’m not one to complain about my own problems. I will complain the shit out of the pretty meaningless stuff – as you’ve probably seen. But when it came to this, I didn’t like to make people aware of it. At first I didn’t even know it was anxiety. All I knew is I felt like I was dying every time I went out of the house. I would feel sick – like genuinely sick as though I’m gonna hurt all over on of my friends cars. My whole body would shake and even if I was wrapped up warm in that winter chill, I still felt like I was naked in the snow. But then things started to get worse. People were noticing that I wasn’t okay. And when it came to Uni, my final year of uni I might add, I had this daunting and unthinkable task ahead of me – lab. The thought of doing something I despised so much to begin with, every day and in an environment that made me feel so inadequate, and so stupid all the time – well, I wasn’t thrilled at the idea to say the least. But I went. I didn’t have a choice. And a day would come, I’d have all these feelings, but I would make it through. Then another would come, and I would again battle on. Every day felt like that – a battle. One that I was losing. Then I did something stupid. I went for a coffee at lunch time. I didn’t realise how much of an effect caffeine has on your system – especially when you are in my state. The result? Well I really did lose the battle. I near on collapsed in lab, in front of strangers, doctors, students and my dissertation supervisor. It was horrible. Excruciatingly embarrassing. And it was the last thing I wanted to happen. But it did.

Those doctors I mentioned (who were in lab trying to do a year of pharmacology) took me away, told me to tell them all my symptoms. I did. Then they said that I should go the hospital and it was just down the road and we will run some tests and figure out what was wrong. Well, I didn’t want to go. But the prospect of figuring this out once and for all – well that was too good to pass up. So I went. Two hours later I’m in the hospital waiting area. The doctors who sent me have abandoned me. And the drunk man who is speaking in what I can only describe as aramaic, won’t leave me alone. The nurses have already tried to get me to go home. “Your not an emergency… leave.” Believe me, I wanted to. But when two doctors tell you to go to ED, you go. So for that reason I ignored Nurse McSnotty and stuck it. Nine hours I was in that hospital. Nine hours. I got home at 9 o’clock. And what had I achieved? Well nothing. The doctor who finally saw me took some blood, and gave me an ECG because I had an irregular heart beat. But after all of that, he basically said – “There is nothing wrong with you. Your fine.” Fine. I wasn’t fine. You only had to look at me to see that. People who are fine don’t collapse in lab. People who are fine don’t feel like tearing their hair out every time they go the supermarket. I knew I wasn’t fine.

So, I went back home to Maghull. Got an appointment with my doctors surgery. “Sorry, your doctor’s away at the moment, you will have to see the stand in doctor.” Great. He’s about 70 and doesn’t know me from adam. But I go. He immediately keeps saying how he thinks I’m pregnant. I actually laugh in his face. Then he says my family history is too relevant to ignore, so he sends me for another blood test (That by the way, was one of the worst experiences of my life. Picture two ‘nurses’ on both arms poking needle after needle into my arm because I have ‘bad vains’.) Blood test comes back. All clear. “Your fine.” I’M NOT FINE! And so I wait. Hopefully it was just a phase, I’ll be okay. It’s not long until I’m back into the same routine. Battling through every day. My mums getting worried. So she spends £300 sending me to learn transcedental meditation because she is sure the problem is anxiety. I’m starting to agree with her. So I go. It’s weird. I’d tell you how weird but I’ve signed a legally binding contract not to. Overlooking that though, it does work. At least for a while. My anxiety gets a little bit better the more I meditate. Finally I think this is over. It’s not.

Then the small little symptoms I had with the anxiety become the big problems. I feel sick all the time. My stomach feels like it’s a balloon with an elephant sitting on it all the time. My stomachs upset all the time. At first I thought it was a bug. But it didn’t go away. And then being so sick, made me anxious again. I was terrified of getting poorly every time I left the house. This can’t be happening to me. I can’t concentrate. My final exams are coming, and everything I try to learn goes through one year and out the other. My reptilian brain is in overdrive because of the anxiety and the shear panic that I’m gonna fail. Which in itself means I can’t take in any information. Then the pains kicked in. Excruciating stomach pains.  I can’t go on like this. Somewhere between exams and revision, I get the doctors – once again. This time it was different. He was genuinely puzzled. He called me a medical  mystery. I indicated that I thought it might be endometriosis as it runs in my family. He said he was going to run a wide ranged of tests to narrow things down. He sends me for another blood test. Then he sends me for a scan of my womb. That comes back fine. And then, finally, when the exams are over, Uni is done – I get a phone call.

“Hello is that Hannah?”
“Its your doctor here. Hannah I’ve realised what is wrong with you. You have Coeliac disease.”
“I have what…?”

I’d never even heard of it. Three years of pharmacology, fourteen years of ER (what a show…) and twenty one years on this earth. Blank. Well it turns out it affects 1 percent of the population. Which, given there are over 6 billion people on the planet that is about the same as the population of Britain suffering from it.  A wave of relief washes over me. It wasn’t in my head – is the first thing I think. The lecture my mum gave me just days before about how much I need to ‘get over this’ and ‘sort my life out’ then comes to mind (I made sure to tell her off for that one). And then I learn about it. I’m allergic to wheat, barley and rye. Hmm… how many foods can that be in really? Yeah – a lot. I realise I can’t eat pizza… Nooooo. KFC? Gone. Every day there’s a new food I realise I can’t eat. Bread. BREAD! I’m gutted. I’m also told not to eat lactose until  my intestine heals – apparently there’s big sores up and down it. My anxiety? Yeah turns out that is a massive symptom of Coeliac. It takes time for me to digest it all. Its July. 6 of the worst months of my life – and I finally know what’s wrong.

I immediately go on the gluten free diet. I feel better pretty much the next day. Its only then I realise how sick I was. So so sick. How I managed things the way they were – I don’t know. I really don’t know.

Its now September. Almost two months after my diagnosis. How do I feel? Well not great. I still get sick. Quite a lot. Sometimes gluten sneaks its way into my diet. You can imagine the result. And now I’ve been told they want to send me for an endoscopy. To check I’m healing and that there is nothing else going on. Because apparently I shouldn’t still be being poorly. Someone mentions IBS. I’m literally praying I don’t have IBS too. The anxiety? My biggest foe. Well it comes and goes. Honestly the meditation helps. But it could be years until I’ve tackled that properly. It’s just a big learning curve. All of it. What I can and can’t eat. Where I can eat (pretty much no where trust me, gluten free restaurants are in their minority). And just the general learning to live with it. Checking labels. How to tell people – because inevitably you have to – without them thinking your on a food fad or some sort of freak. I’ve had hiccups. I will definitely have more, but as far as I’m concerned it will get under control. And at the moment, I’m coping. Its not a battle, its not great but I’m getting through.

So if your a Coeliac, I salute you. Its tough. If you’ve just been diagnosed, well, like me your on a learning curve. But they tell me – it gets better. I’m just waiting for that day.