Whether you are celebrating Easter, starting the school holidays with your children or simply enjoying a long weekend off work, no matter what you’re doing or who you’re spending your time with, I hope you enjoy a peaceful and blessed Easter.
This weekend sees another small step forward in our household as we continue to find our new normal of living with coronavirus: Mike has been invited to have his first COVID-19 vaccination. We can only assume that our local GP practice is ahead of the national rollout as he definitely hasn’t hit 50 (yet!), but as soon as the text pinged on to his phone, he clicked the link and booked his appointment.
I’ve also been on the hunt for more information about when G might be able to have her first vaccination and was delighted to find out that as she is a registered Young Carer, she falls into priority group 6 and will be able to have hers as soon as there’s a Pfizer delivery in our local area. I’ve confirmed that her name is on the waiting list with our GP and we’ve now got everything crossed that a batch arrives sooner rather than later.
That just leaves young master M without his and after a conversation with his gastro consultant at our local hospital and have found out that it will be a bit of a wait until he’s eligible for his jab. There’s a bit of a question mark about whether he will hit the criteria once he’s 16, but given that’s still a year away and we know that a lot can happen in 12 months, it’s a case of waiting and seeing what that time brings.
All in all, a small step, but definitely a good one!
12 months since we closed our Head Office and I started working from home full-time.
12 months of only travelling within our local vicinity and limited personal contact with family and friends.
12 months of more home-schooling than I ever thought I’d have to manage.
12 months of exploring on foot the beauty of our neighbourhood and surrounding area.
12 months of building family memories that I never imagined and which are more precious than I could have believed.
12 months of upheaval.
12 months unlike any other, but hopefully now a brighter future and finally a positive way forward.
The last in the family to celebrate a birthday in lockdown, M somehow managed to miss it last year by the skin of his teeth and at one point we wondered if he might escape it again this, but it wasn’t to be. He is delighted though that despite his fears that today might be the first day back at school for a while, instead he won’t return until Wednesday and so he really does get to celebrate his day at home in the way he was hoping.
A lot has changed for M in the last 12 months – he has probably enjoyed one of the healthiest years of his life as his diet continues to expand steadily and his growth spurts have taken him to towering over his big sister and slowly creeping up on me. It’s a joy to be celebrating his 15th birthday at home with him today in a way that is very much his teenage approach to life – sleep, PS4 time with friends, doughnuts and food, lots and lots of food!
Happy 15th birthday M – we love you always, even all your teenage quirks! xxx
I’m definitely one for stretching out celebrations as long as possible, hence the Christmas lights are still up inside and outside of the house as well as the Valentine’s cards and my birthday cards from last week, and with M’s 15th birthday fast looming this is definitely a busy time of year for celebrating, but I’m thrilled to be able to add another celebration into the mix this week – and that’s that I’m finally having my first COVID vaccine tomorrow.
I’ve been incredibly lucky in that our local GP practice has kept their website and social media accounts updated with their plans for the vaccination rollout and so I’ve known for a couple of weeks that they had chosen to leapfrog Group 5 as those individuals could book appointments online at one of the mass vaccination centres and instead were going to focus on working their way through the 3,000+ of us in Group 6. I was rather hoping for an extra-special birthday present and whilst I didn’t receive the vaccine itself, I did get a text inviting me to book my appointment for this week.
After 50 weeks of spending very little time with anyone outside of our immediate household and not venturing much further that the 8 miles or so to my office on the odd occasion, it is extremely encouraging and exciting to finally be going forward with a positive step towards being able to widen up my circle. Of course, we will continue to follow the guidance given about wearing masks and social distancing, but it does feel we’re going in the right direction at long last. G and M return to school next week which naturally comes with its own concerns, but I’ve been clear that I expect them to continue with the precautions we put in place back in September and both have also said they will masks as needed whilst there.
I don’t know how my body will react to the vaccine, especially knowing that my T1D is likely to bring some additional tricks to the party given just about anything can impact it and not always in the ways you’d expect it to. Keep an eye on my Facebook and Twitter feeds over the next few days as I will be attempting to give regular updates following my jab, assuming that there’s much of anything to say other than that it’s done!
This week I’ve managed to book a couple of those annual leave days off work and am celebrating a milestone anniversary from the comfort of my sofa, rather than at my desk. It doesn’t seem possible that today marks 35 years of living with what I previously described as my one constant companion in life, my Type 1 diabetes.
The last 35 years have unquestionably had their ups and downs as far my T1D is concerned. Amongst the ups was my move to using diabetes technology just before I marked 30 years with T1D, when I first tried out the Freestyle Libre and these days I can still be found with this small device attached to my arm. When I started with it, I made the financial decision to have 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off, but soon realised that I appreciated the ease of it more than expected and quickly determined that it was worth the investment of wearing it permanently. Five years on and I’ve finally had my sensors approved by the NHS and am able to get them through my monthly prescriptions, alongside my blood glucose testing strips, needles and insulin.
As for the downs, well, I’ve talked before about the loss of sight in my left eye following botched treatment for diabetic retinopathy many moons ago as well as the fear I faced when told that I urgently needed treatment in my right eye too in more recent times. Following a second opinion at that time I managed to avoid the treatment, but five years and many phone appointments with my consultant later, it was agreed that I needed some pre-emptive laser surgery to hopefully head off any further complications at the pass and so had it just before Christmas. It wasn’t the ideal time given the risks of heading into hospital during a pandemic, but the precautions taken were excellent and all went well. It did leave me with very blurred vision and sore eyes over the Christmas and New Year period, but I think I rocked the “sunglasses in December” look in style.
I don’t know what the next 1, 5 or even 35 years will bring in relation to my T1D, but I know it will no doubt continue the roller-coaster ride that I’ve been surfing since I was 9. The one thing I do know is that today there will be cake and bubbles and presents and a special dinner to celebrate – although that might be more to do with the fact that I’m also celebrating my birthday today and not just my diaversary!
I don’t know about you, but a definite sense of COVID and lockdown fatigue has hit our household and G and M were more than ready for their February half-tern break this week. For M, spending close to 6 hours daily in live online lessons has been surprisingly tiring and the loss of his walks to, from and around school have definitely impacted on his sleep patterns as he is mentally, but not always physically exhausted by the end of the day.
As Mike and I have both been working from home this week as normal, G and M have had their days to themselves. Before the week even began, I suggested that keeping up with some schoolwork would be a good idea and so each morning has been filled with homework, tutor sessions and, in G’s case, making sure that all her A-level notes are legible and neatly written up from her occasionally messy notes. They’ve been out for daily walks, had great fun making their recordings for their end-of-term virtual Stagecoach performance and even took over the kitchen on Shrove Tuesday to whip up a batch of delicious M-friendly pancakes for us all to enjoy.
However, our evenings this week have been dedicated to family time and what better way to spend that time than in some friendly rivalry around a board game. To avoid squabbles as much as possible, G and M have taken it in turns to pick the evening’s game and we’ve had a real mix so far this week. From honing our art talents in “Telestrations” – we soon discovered who the weak links in the family are – to developing our deduction skills in “Cluedo“, all via a musical interlude on the kazoo in “Play that Tune”, there have been a lot of giggles to be heard. We’ve revisited some long-standing family favourites as well as playing those bought at Christmas, although the Reindeer Hoopla has yet to make an out-of-season reappearance!
Like so much of the last 48 weeks, this half-term might not have been quite as we would have liked or planned, but we’ve had a lot of fun together, perhaps even more so now that the children are older and can be challenged a bit more in our games. I’d be hard pressed to pick a personal favourite from our table filled to the brim, but would highly recommend “Telestrations”, a game we can’t wait to play with my Mum once we’re able to visit her once again. The topic of which game is picked for that evening’s entertainment has been a key part of our dinner table conversation and it’s been fascinating to see which games each child chooses.
What’s your recommendation? Any family favourites that are always picked, or something new to you that you think we might also like to try to?
It’s always exciting to find some new goodies for G and M to enjoy, but I honestly had low expectations that 2020 or even 2021 would manage to produce something safe, delicious and easy to find, so you can imagine my delight that the last 6 months have actually produced 3 new desserts for either 1 or both of them to enjoy. The best bit has been that 2 of these are readily available in our local supermarkets, which means we’ve been able to get them through our regular online grocery deliveries – a definite bonus when you think of the year we’ve had.
Gu Freefrom Cheesecakes – I remember when Gu first hit our shelves very many years ago and just how indulgent their desserts were, so you can imagine my delight when I came across these freefrom offerings during one of my online shops. Available at several of the supermarket chains from what I’ve discovered, there are a number of delicious flavours to try with salted caramel and chocolate and vanilla being the firm favourites in our household. These do contain some soya protein, but M has been able to enjoy the odd one here and there with an increase to some of his meds before he takes a mouthful.
Wicked Kitchen Chocolate & Orange Sundae – The discovery of this one is thanks to the rather wonderful Twitter allergy community and has been a great find for M. It’s top-14 free – although it does contain a small amount of alcohol – and has proved to be an absolutely delicious way to round off a weekend meal. G was less keen on the flavour, but M has more than happily polished off the ones I bought for her to try. This is part of a new product chain for Tesco and having looked to see what else is available, I’m looking forward to finding out if their mint chocolate chip ice-cream can be delivered as part of our regular shop.
CRAVE: The Kitchen Sink – If we even needed a reason to love the #FFFA21, this would be it and was a great addition to G’s judging table. Unfortunately not at all safe for M as it contains both cornflakes and soya, but it has received the thumbs up from G. This chocolate bar is only available from their online shop at the moment, but if you’re looking for a dairy-free alternative which is a bit different, then I’d definitely recommend this. There are a couple of other flavours available, but we’ve yet to try those out.
I always forget how much I dislike this time of year until it rolls around once again and I regularly wonder what I could do to make it easier. The seemingly unending length of January combined with the cold, wet, grey days can make it a challenging time and this year, more than ever, that seems to be true as we continue in lockdown until at least mid-February at best.
At work it’s one of the busiest times of our financial year, what with the regular monthly processing and monthly management accounts to prepare as well as budget-planning and the prospect of the year-end and audit fast looming too. I’m also trying to squeeze into my diary the remaining days of annual leave I’m supposed to take in our current holiday year, which is a real mixed blessing. Like so many, I can see the signs of some COVID-fatigue amongst my colleagues, especially as we work within the care sector, but it can be difficult to take those days when you can’t go anywhere and feel that your workload is heavy. I’ve been encouraging my team to use their annual leave to take a break from the day-to-day, something I will be taking advantage of myself over the coming weeks.
Of course, planning for work made me think about our plans for the year ahead and what we could reasonably organise without too much fear of interruption. As the COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out across the UK, the opportunities to spend time once again with family and friends start to open up. My Mum had her vaccination at the start of this week, my Aunt is having hers this weekend and I’m hoping that mine will happen March or April time given I sit in priority group 6. Of course, Mike and G will have to wait considerably longer for theirs as neither is viewed as high risk and oM isn’t even eligible for it until he turns 16, which is well over a year away.
So, we have been beginning to think about our options for a holiday later this year and whilst I’d love to go to one of our much-loved previous destinations such as Florida or Greece for some much-longed-for sun, I suspect that a UK-based holiday to simply get away from it all will be what we end up with. With successful family trips to both Cornwall and Scotland under our belts in years past, we’ve been tempted to think about visiting either one again, but are also considering venturing elsewhere for something new. I’m still adverse to taking too many risks, so it needs to be somewhere with great self-catering facilities, that’s hopefully not too busy and with plenty of outside space to explore well away from too many other people. We have really become very spoilt in the last 12 months enjoying the beautiful countryside that surrounds us in splendid isolation, so I’m longing for a destination that will tick all those boxes whilst also getting us away from the same 4 walls we now know intimately after so long.
What are your plans for this year? Any favourite destinations to recommend within the UK? Nowhere is too far for us to consider and I just love going to places that others have enjoyed,
This time last year I was in London taking part in what is unquestionably one of my most favourite events of the year, judging a couple of categories for the Free From Food Awards (#FFFA). The first lockdown changed the way that the awards ceremony itself took place, with a rather wonderful evening spent celebrating the best of what had been tasted online instead of the usually glamorous night out at the Royal College of Physicians near Regents Park.
I’ve missed the opportunity to escape home for a day or two and reconnect with friends from the allergy community, or indeed make new ones as well as the chance to uncover some potential new big hits for G and M this year. The way the 2021 FFFA will be judged is currently being reviewed in light of yet another lockdown, and may end up going virtual, though the logistics of that will be somewhat more difficult as we usually judge blind with the products only being revealed once all votes are in. Of course we’ve all got our fingers crossed that reducing numbers, the vaccination roll-out and lifting of lockdown might mean we can all get together once again, but only time will tell if that’s what will actually happen albeit potentially a little later than normal this year.
When I started judging 6 years ago, M was on his highly restricted diet of just a handful of safe foods and I was delighted to discover the amazing Borough 22 doughnuts, which are still one of our all-time favourite allergy-friendly foods ever. Over the years I’ve managed to find more and more safe options as M’s repertoire of foods has steadily increased, sometimes at a faster pace than any of us expected, and this year is no exception. M can now eat far more normally than it sometimes seemed possible, although he still follows a strict MEWS-free diet with some other known problem foods also excluded.
This improvement to his dietary options has been much celebrated at home, so it was perfect timing when the email from the FFFA team dropped into my inbox asking if both children would like to be involved as judges of the FFFA’s “Child & Teens” category for their first time ever. Unsurprisingly both leapt at the chance and have embraced this new mantle of responsibility with great aplomb. The products have been slowly trickling into the household over the past couple of weeks and its been wonderful to see G and M getting as much joy from the judging experience as I have over the years. There have been one or two big hits (watch this space for future updates) and one or two absolute “NO”s, although those have mainly been the result of individual taste and general fussiness rather than anything really wrong with the product. Their feedback has been honest and all they really want to know is whether they’ll be able to take part as judges again in the future!