A Strong Coffee

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

May-Thurner Syndrome

I had never heard of May-Thurner Syndrome until August this year. I was an active, reasonably fit, 45 year old Mum. So, when I couldn't walk one day, my world was turned upside down.

Just before taking the kids to a waterpark I had a slight twinge in my back. I thought nothing of it and carried on. We had such a fun time. Fast forward a few days and my back was getting worse. I believed I might have sciatica. I took it easy but kept moving.
Wednesday morning came and my husband was off to work at the office for the first time in weeks. I said I thought my back was bad and I was not sure if I could walk. He kissed me, said he would get some painkillers on the way home and I rolled over to get more sleep.Later that morning I tried to get up. I couldn’t walk properly. My left leg was really heavy. I shouted my eldest to tell him my concerns and he replied with “I’m not surprised as it’s swollen and a funny colour.”

I called the doctor and husband turned back home.I found myself with a next day appointment at a DVT clinic and on blood thinners as a precaution I wasn’t too worried as I still thought I had hurt my back and there was no reason for me to have DVT.It was at the DVT clinic that the nurse first mentioned May Thurner Syndrome. Her friend had had it and she told me not to worry. I had an ultrasound and the DVT clinic said I was ok. No clot. Just a sluggish vein at the top of my leg. But my D Dimer levels were high so I was told to come back in a week. (The D dimer level is an indicator to blood clotting.)  I was a bit annoyed. My walking was getting better and this just meant I had to cancel my trip to the spa with my sister. Which thanks to the pandemic was a year overdue.Anyway, I came off the thinners, started moving better and decided to head off to my father in laws for the weekend. I mean, it wasn’t a problem as I didn’t have DVT.We were meant to visit the sea side. I visited A and E. My leg had swelled, parts of me were blue. They poked me and said you need to go to a DVT clinic.So full circle I was back on thinners and after many phone calls and an out of hours doctors call I went back to the DVT clinic as planned.I already knew what was wrong with me. Or at least hoped. I felt the nurse on the previous visit was right when she suspected May Thurner syndrome. It had been dismissed by the ultrasound lady as I wasn’t pregnant. However, Dr Google was leading me down this route.I explained this to the ultrasound guy. “God Forbid it’s May Thurners” he replied. Then he found the clot in my thigh. “God forbid it goes all the way up here” he said going towards my belly button. His face said it all. I hobbled back to the DVT clinic trying not to cry.It was then full steam ahead. MRI within an hour. (Not the nicest procedure when you are 1 claustrophonic and 2. anxious. Breath in, breath out and hold your breath. It was a long 15 minutes of scanning.The doctor then came to see me with the news I already knew. I had May Thurner syndrome. I would have been born with it. My vein has been squashed between my vertebrae and artery in my pelvis. This had done damage to it and then caused the clot. I could stay on thinners forever or I could undergo an operation where the clot is removed and stent put in. With the latter the idea was that I may be able to come off thinners in the future and post thrombotic syndrome may be less. It wasn’t something they had much data on to show it was better. The decision needed to be made quickly as it’s only successful before the 2 week mark of clot formation.I changed my thinners and later emailed to say I would go ahead with the operation.It was then time to do a PCR and self isolate with the family until the day of the operation.The first procedure was to insert a catheter via my knee up through the clot. This would then allow thinner into the clot and dissolve it. I had to lay on my stomach while they did this and was awake. It was uncomfortable. I could hear him say that there was even clot in my calf by now. When done I needed to lay down for 24hrs attached to Flowtron boots that squeezed each calf every 15 seconds. I came out in pain. In my back. The Dr found this odd but said I could have IV paracetamol. Thankfully it did the trick. I was in the HMU and got very little sleep that night.

The next day it was time to see if the drugs had worked. There was no guarantee as I was borderline 2 weeks. Thankfully it had. Two stents were inserted to open up the damaged vein. I had loads of drugs and gas and air and was sent back to the ward to have the tiny cut squeezed for 15 minutes to help with the clotting.I am pleased to say that my leg is no longer swollen and I have no post thrombotic syndrome. I am currently on blood thinners with regular blood tests. It is hoped that I will be able to come off these in 6 months time. There is no guarantee and it may be for life. Either way, I feel lucky that I have come this far. Waking up one day and not being able to walk is scary. Not knowing if you may be in chronic pain for the rest of your life is too. It has been a warning of how life can change overnight and has made me realise that you shouldn't put things off as you never know whats round the corner. Ski trip 2023 here we come!

Thursday, 14 October 2021

[Ad] Mechanics Gravity Loops And Turns Review

Mechanics Gravity Loops And Turns

With Christmas around the corner, I am always looking for something that my boys will enjoy. Now that they are getting older, there is less that interests them toy wise. It tends to be expensive gadgets and computer games. My youngest, however, who is nearly 10, still enjoys some toy sets so I agreed to review he Mechanics Gravity Loops and Turns set from Geomag to see if he would be interested in this range of STEM toys.I also agreed to this review as I am a science teacher and I like playing with magnets. As soon as the kit arrived I asked my youngest if he liked the look of it and would like to build it. Much to my disappointment he said yes, and I was left to watch him make up the set.

Pieces included in Mechanics Gravity Loops And Turns

When it comes to science and STEM sets I find that they are really variable. This however, is one I would really recommend and my soon to be 10 year old loves it. It look him a while to work out how the pieces fitted together and I did need to help him a little. However, I was soon told that I was no longer needed and only called back when he had something “really exciting” to show me. This set is aged at 8+ which I think is about right.

Making up the Mechanics Gravity Loops And Turns set

What attracted me to the set was the fact that it had a magnetic cannon and a 360 degree loop. As it turns out it is these two features that my son enjoys too. The instruction booklet explains how to make different features in the set. Most pieces click together easily, although my son has managed to break one of the blue pieces.

As it is an interactive set, I have made this short video so that you can see how it all works together.

The set can be used by itself and also in conjunction with other sets in the series such as the vertical motor.

From an environmental point of view, I am pleased to write that the set is made from 74% recycled plastic.

If you are looking for something different to buy your tween this Christmas, then I think this set is a good introduction to the GEOMAG STEM sets and we have really enjoyed it.

We were given this set in return for an honest review.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Trying A New Craft: Fused Glass Kits

I have always been a bit of a crafty person and my latest love is fused glass. It all started with a beautiful birthday gift from my parents.

I loved it so much that I thought I would look up the seller, and then saw these “make your own sun catchers”

You can choose not to have the hook added which I did so that it could be a coaster instead.

I started with the garden suncatcher from Berry Winter designs. It turns out that this is an easier kit. You are sent everything you need to make a sun catcher. Basically all you need to do is glue the pieces into place. Then package it back up and send it back to be fired. A few days later and this arrived.

I was so pleased with it, I decided to buy another one with some left over birthday money. This one is a harder kit in my opinion. Mainly as the pieces are smaller and in requires more waiting time for bits to dry. Not great for someone like me who is impatient!

And here is the finished design. (It looks different as unfortunately Royal Main smashed up my first attempt, but Berry sorted this out for me and I had a second go.)

Having looked through Etsy, I think my next fused glass project will be some Christmas decorations. Yes I know I am a little early but now school is back, Christmas will be with us before we know it!

Have you tried fused glass? What crafts do you enjoy?

Friday, 6 August 2021

Go Boat Kingston Review (Gifted)

If you are stuck for ideas on things to do on your staycation, then a trip on a Go Boat in Kingston or London is a great family day out.

With our summer staycation in full swing, yesterday we took an hours drive to Kingston upon Thames to have a self drive boat ride courtesy of Go Boat.

We booked the three hour trip as we wanted to make sure we had enough time to travel to Hampton court and back. (It is around 60 minutes there and you could do it in 2 hours.)

Booking in was simple. The desk is by Kingston bridge, so we parked at the Bentalls centre and walked there. We had to fill in some waiver details and then Rosie showed us where we needed to be positioned on the river as we headed to Hampton court and back. Generally you have to drive on the right but sometimes at the islands this changed. Having the board with pictures on really helped.

We then had a quick “how to use the boat” talk before we headed off. Luckily, steering the boat wasn’t too hard. The only confusing thing was that if you wanted to go right you turned left and vice versa. Yes, we may have gone in circles a few times at the start. However, it wasn't hard to get the hang of, but you can't take let your concentration lapse as it is really easy to go off course and rowers can come from nowhere. The Go Boats only travel at 4 miles an hour and you give way to everything else on the river. 

The boys were all able to have a go under our supervision and I was really Impressed by them. They generally grasped the controls better than me!

Go boats all have a picnic table so we made sure to bring one along to enjoy on our journey.

On the way I found a few houses I would like to buy.

We had a lovely time on the boat and I would certainly recommend it as a staycation activity. They also have boats in London, so you can boat down Regent's canal and see Little Venice.

Have you tried self drive boating? Did you enjoy it?

You can check out Go Boat on their website and if you follow them on Facebook there are often some midweek offers you can take advantage of.

We were provided with the trip in return for an honest review. 

Finishing Primary

I now only have one left at primary. How did that happen? It seems like only yesterday that I was juggling children in nursery and primary school. As of September I will have two off on their own at secondary. 

For middle man, his end to primary has been an odd one. All the things that they spend their junior school waiting for were cancelled. No residential, no end of year play (that would have been hard for my favourite actor) but at least there were no exams either. 

The school, however, tried their best to make it as normal as possible. Instead of a residential they had a sleepover at school, with a BBQ and water fight. They managed a waterside trip and had pizzas for getting through the year rather than for working hard at exams. 

Middle man has taken it all in his stride and hasn’t moaned once. He is excited for secondary and can’t wait to join the drama club. I never managed to sign him up to LAMDA classes as the slots went live when I was teaching and had gone in 20 minutes. Maybe next time! He is currently doing a transition at his new school and then for a well earned rest until September. I hope that things will be more normal than the last year or so. 

Do you have children leaving primary? How do you feel about it.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

[Review] Love Yourself Keto Meals Delivered

I was reading an article yesterday which said that on average in the UK, adults had put on 3 kg over the pandemic. I was pleased that I didn’t fit into this, as I have lost 12 kg mainly thanks to the first lockdown. I went to a wedding in Feb 2020 and wanted to lose a couple of pounds and that’s when my friend told me about the keto diet. I continued with this over the pandemic and am now in a healthy BMI category.

Love Yourself Keto Meal Plan - 1 day

Keto is a strict way of eating which cuts out sugar and all your usual carbohydrates (flour, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes) and instead is high fat. I was a bit dubious at first but it works. Whilst I am more low carb now, I was keen to try the keto meals delivered by Love Yourself to see if they gave me more ideas for food.

The idea is simple, you order the number of days that you want and your food comes each day for the following day. If you want to try a new way of life or are too busy to prepare and cook meal then the love yourself meal plans could be for you.

I tried a couple of days of the low carb diet but it wasn’t really for me. There was a lot of meat and I felt overly full. The keto meal plan, however, was more up my street. If you haven’t tried keto before then you may find it strange as some of the flavours are unusual as almond and coconut flours are often used.

Here is a screen shot of the menu for the week I was given. I was delivered my Monday meal at 6.40pm on Sunday evening and my Tuesday meal was delivered just before 10pm on Monday.

I kind of knew I wouldn’t like the breakfast muffins that I had on Monday as I made the decision quite early on with keto that it was probably best to stay away from most cakes and bakes. They generally have an eggy taste with hints of almonds or coconut depending on what’s been used. These were no different.

The plant protein smoothie was lovely. Again, if it’s your first time at keto you may find the flavours odd but it was really nice.

Lunch was pork and cauliflower cheese with  omelette for tea. Whilst they may not make the best photos, the food tasted good, which is far more important.

Each portion tells you how to heat in the microwave (usually only a couple of minutes) and the containers are biodegradable so just need putting in your general rubbish.

Tuesdays food was another good mix. The Breakfast was too big for me so I saved half to eat on Wednesday.

The chocolate and vanilla praline was delicious and the kind of keto treat I am happy to eat. The salad for tea was fine but the lunch of chicken and pumpkin seeds was delicious.

All the ingredients are listed on the containers and it is an excellent way of trying a new way of eating. If lack of time has stopped you from trying keto then Love Yourself is a great way of solving this issue.

You can find more information on Love Yourself on their website.

Have you tried a keto diet? How did you find it?

I was given 4 days of Love Yourself meals in return for this honest review

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Cards Against Maturity Review (Gifted)

Cards Against Maturity is the way to get the teens and tweens off the tech and enjoying some family fun.

With the summer holidays fast approaching, I have gone into a blind panic over how we will spend the 6 weeks off. All we currently have booked is a day at Alton Towers and I was thinking of using some Tesco vouchers to buy a pizza express meal.

I can absolutely guarantee that my boys will be playing lots of computer games. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. I have fond memories of spending my summer holidays watching lunchtime and evening showings of Home and Away and Neighbours. But, I also have fond memories of spending time with my parents.

Whilst I feel that a holiday abroad is off the cards for us this year, no matter what Boris and co suggest, I do want to make evenings a bit more family oriented.

This is where Cards Against Maturity comes in. I need some family games that I’m happy to play (as well as the kids) and that don’t go on for hours and hours.

Cards against Maturity is the perfect option for older children this summer. It is simple to play and can take as long or as little time as you like.

The rules are simple. Each player has 10 answer cards. The person with the hardiest knuckles begins.....

No, that is not me!

A question card is read out and each player lays their funniest answer.

The player that has the most funny answers wins. You could set this at 3,5 or 10 depending on how long you want to play - result!

We enjoyed playing the game and the only downside was that some of the answers are aimed at an American audience. I had no idea who Jon Cena even was.

If you are looking for a game to play with older tweens and teens this summer on your staycation the. You can purchase cards against mature from Smyths Toys Superstores.

What have you got planned this summer? Are their any games that you would recommend for tweens and teens?

We were sent a copy of cards against maturity in return for a review but opinions are my own.