Gluten. Gluten everywhere.

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I haven’t been writing here much recently because, honestly, not much has been going on in my life! The job is going well, my love life is non-existent, the puppy is now a year old and has calmed down considerably… things are constant.

One thing that has changed, however, is me seeking a diagnosis for what I like to call my ‘uncooperative tummy’. For years I have had ‘tummy issues'; without delving into detail, I am sure you can imagine what this consists of! Earlier this year, I was getting a bit fed up of my stomach bloating up by 2 inches every evening (yep, I measured!) and the constant gnawing pain in my gut. So I did what every 20-something hypochondriac does and googled that shit. Wheat came out as the top cause of tummy issues, so I cut it out. To no avail. What I had done was replace wheat with rye bread, so after a few weeks of trying this approach, I did some more research and cut out gluten. Now this wasn’t an easy decision, as I had recently discovered I quite like the taste of ale, but ale doesn’t like me. So fast forward a month or so and lo and behold, the stomach aches had vanished. The bloat was still there, but not quite as drastic. I hadn’t had a tummy ache in weeks. I was onto something!

Then I did what I always do, and became obsessed. Just cutting out gluten wasn’t good enough for me, oh no! I have PCOS and had read that the best diet for those of us with a stubborn metabolism is the ketogenic diet. I did this for about 6 weeks, and I lost a few pounds and all was dandy. Who doesn’t like living on eggs and steak and butter? Well I’ll tell you; me. As delicious as this diet is, another medical problem I have to add to my myriad of medical problems is LPR. LPR (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux) is acid reflux where you don’t get heartburn, but instead get an insanely burny throat and post nasal drip. It’s not great, especially since I like to sing! Since April I’ve been on Lansoprazole twice a day which seems to keep it bay. Or rather it did, until I upped my fat intake for the ketogenic diet. So to make the burny feeling go away, I slowly eased myself out of keto; kept my diet low carb but lowered my fat intake too.

Now around this time it was my birthday, and I work in an office. There were cakes. There were lunches out. There was BEER. My diet went out the window. And slowly the bloat returned. The stomach aches made a reappearance. Other things I won’t mention started to happen again. I was not a happy bunny. So I manned up, and visited the doctor.

My doctor was convinced I had IBS. I was a ‘textbook case’. But because of the NICE guidelines, I was tested for lots of other things. Which wasn’t fun, because I have a blood phobia. But I was determined to get to the bottom of it! Fast forward to two weeks later, and I’m sat in my doctor’s office as she says that I tested negative for coeliac, thyroid problems, inflammation (which could indicate chron’s), anaemia, and my immune system response was as it should be. There was nothing wrong with me that they could test for, so thanks to my symptoms and my results on a gluten-free diet, I was diagnosed with IBS with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. Woooo. Don’t you just love that catch-all diagnosis of IBS?!

In a way, I’m a bit skeptical for testing negative for Coeliac Disease as I didn’t actually eat gluten for the 8 weeks prior to the test; I ate it for maybe three? But I felt so shit eating it that I just couldn’t wait to get it over and done with. There’s a lot of research coming out about NCGS; some link it to FODMAPS, which I don’t think is my problem as when I was doing keto I ate a LOT of garlic and cauliflower. Others believe that gluten intolerance is a spectrum, with NCGS at one end and coeliac at the other. Some don’t believe NCGS is a real thing, but all the major charities and research centres recognise it, including Coeliac UK, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, Celiac Disease Foundation and  the University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center. Whatever it is, I know that I need to avoid it. To celebrate my not being coeliac, mom and I went out for dinner and I had a burger. Since then I have had constant stomach issues, and this was 5 days ago. (My mom also had the burger and was fine, so no, no boar burger food poisoning!) Feeling like this is so not worth the taste of bread, as delicious as bread is!

So in light of this diagnosis and my new way of eating, I think I will try and keep this blog updated a bit more. I’m lucky that I’m not coeliac, but the treatment is still the same, and in a way I feel like my body must be telling me something when you look at the way it reacts. I’m not doing this to be trendy; nothing is more embarrassing than asking a bored waitress the ingredients of everything on the menu. And I really like Guinness’ West Indies Porter! That I can’t drink that ever again (unless I want to feel like shit for a week) is punishment enough. I admit it could be another component of grain, as I don’t think I can tolerate oats either (currently testing this one out), but I still have to avoid the same stuff so does it really matter?

Wish me luck!

The Genographic Project

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with my ancestry. Where I come from, who my ancestors were, what connections to other countries we have.

What I do know isn’t very interesting. My dad’s mom was from Dublin, but she was brought up by nuns and we know little of her family. Esther Mary O’Connor; what a perfect Irish name. Her mother’s maiden name was Taaffe, and aside from the street she was born on (I have a copy of her birth certificate), we know nothing else about that side of the family. There are rumours that her brothers were involved with the IRA (what fun!), but it’s all just speculation. My dad just never thought to ask the questions that come to me, and she died in the ’80s, when I was a baby.

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Working 8.45 to 5

look-at-all-this-work-i-have-not-done-yet-funny-memeSince a large part of this blog was written whilst I was unemployed, and thus followed me through the nightmare of signing on, I thought it best to keep you all informed on what I’m doing and maybe even offer some tips to those still unfortunately unemployed.

As of yesterday, I got a full-time, permanent job! It’s at the company I was on a temp contract for. A week before that contract ended, I interviewed for a Merchandising Assistant job and I walked into it the day after my old contract ended. If I believed in fate, this is it.

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On Prisons and Books.

So. The ‘prison book ban’. It’s not actually a ban, but it’s still a pretty stupid rule, and I fancied writing about it.

What the ‘prison book ban’ actually is, is a ban on all parcels for inmates who aren’t brand new. Brand new inmates are allowed one care package, I believe, and that’s it.

Apparently, it’s because Chris Grayling has introduced a new sliding scale of privileges, and he believes prisoners being able to receive parcels from outside would undermine this new system. (Previously, new inmates would start out halfway up the privileges ladder, and would move around according to behaviour. Now, like all Tory policies, everyone starts at the bottom.)

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Back to the Grindstone

So, my current job’s contract is up in just under five weeks. This is a little terrifying, but this time round I have savings, which means no prospect of the Jobcentre; that definitely reduces the terror a bit!

Seven months on after I landed this job, has the job market changed? Well – no. In fact, I’d say it’s gotten worse. I am now seeing more adverts for ‘interns’ and ‘apprentices’, because apparently expecting to be paid for your work is socialist commie nonsense!

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Enter: the Whirling Dervish

I’ve got a new puppy.

My beloved Polly was put to sleep a few days after my birthday in October 2013, at the age of 14. Needless to say, I’ve had better birthday weeks. Polly was a brilliant dog. We got her the summer holidays before I started high school, so she saw me through the tumultuous teenage years, my emo stage in college, going to and then leaving university, finally getting my degree, and my first proper job. When anybody, animal or human or teddy bear, accompanies you through so many life-changing events, watching them go is heartbreaking. But when she did go, I knew immediately that I wanted another dog. Continue reading

The Daily Mail Lies.

This is just a quick post to ask as many people as possible to read this post. It completely tears the story about Romanians and Bulgarians coming here in droves apart. Please, read and share. The second most read newspaper in this country should not be allowed to print lies. Lies and propaganda, that is all it is. No wonder my beloved country is becoming more insular and hateful than ever.

Nikki x