What I Learnt Having a Son with Epilepsy

Purple-Day-picture

On Tuesday 26th March 2019 it was Purple Day! For those of you who are unaware of what ‘Purple Day’ is, it is the international day for epilepsy. It is a day where people around the world come together to raise awareness of the condition and make a difference to those affected by epilepsy.

Finding out you have epilepsy is scary at any age. Finding out our son had epilepsy just after his third birthday was terrifying. We were in the middle of moving house, lots of upheavals, messed up routines and living in limbo. It was like any other day, I was off to work (I worked shifts at the time) and I sat and watched as he ate a biscuit. He suddenly started coughing, almost choking. There was something odd about it as he went blue in the lips, they were smacking, starry-eyed and dripped excessively. Before it had really started, it was over and he cried and seemed dazed. I gave him a cuddle and we all assumed he choked on the biscuit. I went off to work and left him to his evening but on arriving at work. I had five missed calls from my terrified husband. He’d had the same gazed expression, choking appearance, blue lips etc every 15 minutes since I had left. He was tired so suggested they do his usual routine, put him to bed and hopefully he’d be okay. An hour later and another 10 missed calls, it was apparent that something was wrong. He’d been doing it while asleep. I was a 30-minute drive from home so shaking like a leaf I approached my Manager. I explained the situation and called 111 from the car (I have a hands free kit connected to my car). They were speedy and dispatched an ambulance.

When I arrived home, I met the ambulance crew who had just arrived and were assessing him. He was still having episodes every 15 minutes and seemed confused and dazed. My husband was a bundle of nerves. Off to the hospital we went for medication and observation. It was confirmed it was epilepsy, highly likely linked to his brain damage and cerebral palsy and so began our epilepsy journey.

We have never been seizure free and every six-eight weeks we usually have an episode. I thought I would take the time to share what we have learnt over the last five and a half years.

1. Seizures – No seizure is the same, no episode is the same and you will continuously wait or expect the next one and sleep seizures really are a thing!

The media has always lead us to believe that seizures are the ‘drop’ ones where you drop to the floor, shake and go unconscious, we quickly realised that there are:

1. Focal/Partial Seizures – Can remain conscious and aware.

2. Absent Seizures (Petit Mal) – Can appear to be staring or doing normal things.

3. Convulsive Seizures (Tonic-Clonic) – Usually the person will loss full conscious and will drop, jerk and have no awareness and will awake dazed and confused.

4. Drop Seizures (Atonic) – There is awareness of attack, just abruptly hitting the floor.

5. Clonic Seizures – Part of the body has jerky movements

6. Tonic Seizures – Infrequent and usually associated with other conditions, they involve facial muscles the upper body, usually involving loss of bladder/bowel control.

7. Myoclonic Seizures – Jerky movements, that can affect any part of the body.

At some point or another, Thomas has had the misfortune to have experienced five out of the seven types.

2. Medication – There is no magic cure, five years on and although they are under control, he still is prone to ‘clusters’ and I mean a day of ‘clusters’. His record his 19 in a day! We have rescue medication for this.

3. Triggers – It would have been easier, had a trigger been obvious. Apart from stress and citric fruits like fresh oranges. Nothing was ever confirmed but to some people triggers include flashing lights, stress, lack of sleep, certain food, drinking alcohol and changes in the weather.

4. Dealing with anxiety as a family – You can never prepare yourself for the news that your child has a life-changing condition. When I first found out I ‘googled’ and wished I hadn’t. There was so much information, too much information that it was hard to understand how we would live like this. Different medications meant different side effects, then there is the controversy surrounding medication and development delay; unfortunately, we didn’t have a choice.

It was hard, in those calling ambulances, trying to remain calm for our six-year-old daughter and trying to get Thomas the help he needed it. After the few hospital trips, I realised that it was unnecessary stress for Thomas as he was kept in overnight for observation and never understood why he couldn’t leave.

It does get more comfortable, but at the back of my mind is. ‘Will it is today.’ Having never lived it, it’s hard for others to understand the strain it puts a family under. Always watching, waiting for the next one.

5. Plans

We’ve learnt that epilepsy has no consideration for family events, days out, Christmas, birthdays. When one is coming, it will come and plans change. We’ve driven to theme parks only to have a seizure in the car on the way. I’ve had days out plans and had to cancel them. I do not mean to sound selfish, really it’s just about the circumstances that ‘normal’ life gets put on hold for 24 hours.


Epilepsy First Aid

1. Keep calm.

2. Protect the child from further injury

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3. Do not restrain the person.

4. Do not insert anything in the mouth.

5. Roll the child on his/her side after the seizure subsides.

6. If a seizure lasts longer than five minutes or repeats without full recovery, seek medical assistance immediately.

7. Talk gently to the person after the seizure.

For young children and their families, it can be terrifying. Today, seven more children will be told they have epilepsy, it will change their lives forever. This Purple Day, the money you raise will help more children and their families come to terms with epilepsy, know they are not alone and give them the confidence to deal with their diagnosis.

Having a son with epilepsy changed our lives. I wish that we’d been offered counselling, support dealing with anxiety, help as a family, I wish that someone had sat us down and said ‘I’ve been there, let’s have a coffee?’ Sadly, all too often like us you are given a leaflet and told to ‘google’ support groups.

Was this the same for you? Do you wish you’d received more support? Do you think things should change? Perhaps you are still struggling with your epilepsy or your children?

Do something amazing and raise money for children affected by epilepsy

Thanks for Reading…

Trip Planning 2019

Trip Planning*All opinions are my own, I have not been sponsored, paid or gifted any items in respect of my views and opinions.*

As a family, the one thing we budget for is our annual summer holiday ‘stay-cation’. I made a decision that after having our son that we would have a ‘proper’ holiday and not three nights in a Premier Inn on the side of the A38 (Not that there’s anything wrong with a Premier Inn, love them in fact). Becoming a family of four in 2010, it changed the dynamic of our road trips, hotel stays and general days out. We needed more room, more belongings and more time to explore, suddenly we didn’t have the option to rush around.

Thinking forward to 2019, I have compiled a list of a few family trips I would like this year. If they are booked, I will include who we booked with!

1. Perran Sands, Perranporth, Cornwall – Haven (Granted awarded from Family Fund)

2. Disneyland Paris – Magic Breaks

3. Beach trip – My family live by the sea, so always an excuse for a visit!

4. Theme Park – Considering Alton Towers or Drayton Manor – neither of our last two trips were successful!

1. Perran Sands – Perranporth, Cornwall

Perran SandsAfter much research and having stayed with smaller parks, I wanted somewhere in the North of Cornwall. Near the beach and with excellent facilities. I think ‘Haven’ came up in one of the searches and I found ‘Perran Sands’. It had recently undergone a renovation and had on-site perks that other places didn’t. This year will be our eighth visit. We are however mixing it up this year and our usual ‘summer holiday’ will be in the Spring Bank Holiday half term.

We are still staying at Perran Sands and booked it through Haven and for the last few years we have been awarded a holiday voucher from ‘Family Fund‘. Thomas was diagnosed with a long term/life-limiting disability around the age of three and since he started school we fund some of our annual summer holidays with the help of the grant, like so many families if we didn’t receive it, we just wouldn’t be able to go. I will talk more about Family Fund, but I wanted to dedicate a whole post to them, the grant, the booking process etc.

For the first time this year, we have booked an adapted caravan for seven nights, in a prestige class. We usually pay more for platinum with decking but last year we couldn’t use it and as we wanted two breaks this year, we opted for the cheaper class. There isn’t a lot of difference, I’m just a little bit of a travel snob!

We have always been quite lucky with our caravan choices and on booking made requests that have pretty much been granted but last year we had a few issues (by no fault of Haven) and felt safer knowing that what to expect.

If I’m honest, my husband is the big Cornwall fan. Like most places. We’ve had some good times, some bad but we made the most of it. However, the reason it is earlier than usual is that I have been saving my pennies for ‘Disneyland Paris’ and I cannot wait!

2. Disneyland Paris

It seems like a lifetime ago that I actually booked our trip to Disneyland Paris! We’ve been twice previously, once as a couple in 2004, as a family in 2015 and again this year. I booked it through Magic Breaks back in the beginning of 2018 and were due to go in April this year but due to some family circumstances we had to move it to August (I was gutted). We will however get there! The photograph below was from our last trip! Unfortunately, my son was a little overwhelmed and cried. Poor Woody pretended to cry along too before this photograph was taken!

Meeting WoodyNow the booking!!!

We have booked a three-night stay on site at Hotel Cheyenne, our little boy is obsessed with Toy Story and Woody so we couldn’t not book into the Woody/Cowboy themed hotel. Our original booking, I booked for half-board plus to try out the dining plan but on moving dates, we got free half board essential dining which is still perfect and saved a bit of money too! We also get the extra magic hours which we’ve never used before, so that will be exciting.

As I booked the trip so far in advance the Eurostar wasn’t taking bookings. When they opened the dates, I left it a few months not realising and now they are more expensive but then having moved our trip our daughter moves up an age bracket and becomes a Youth so it’s all relative. But next time I will book the moment they appear!

I am going to write two separate planning posts, one on our trip to Cornwall and then the Disneyland Paris trip. We have a lot to consider with a disabled son, especially with packing, travel and days out. I will also be adding packing posts and reviews! Please follow my blog or twitter for updates!

Anyone else planning any 2019 trips? Maybe you have some tips of your own to share! What are some of your favourite places to visit in the UK?

Thanks for Reading…

 

 

 

Career Focus – Top 10 Tips for Attending a Job Interview

Instagram Interview Tips (1)It’s 2019 and with the prospect of my life after university and the added pressure of being over 25 and a mature person, I felt it was the time to offer some tips towards the interview process.

So you’ve got the perfect CV, your covering letter is tailored and makes you sound like the ideal candidate and within two or three days you have a phone call offering you that all-important interview but the thought of it ties your stomach in knots, never fear we’ve all been there and whether it’s your first interview or your 25th, I’m going to offer you a few essential tips to help you (hopefully) sale through the interview and land that job!

1. Dress appropriately

A lot has changed since my first interview. From being at school, then college and beyond I was told continuously ‘dress to impress’ and for many years wore a smart suit with smart shoes and felt uncomfortable. That’s not to say not to, but consider the position. I’ve seen interviewees at Tesco’s dressed in suits and ties, looking extremely uncomfortable. That’s not to say that Tesco won’t appreciate the effort you’ve made, but a smart pair of trousers and shirt would probably be okay.

We are now in a technological age where office attire is a little more relaxed. I used to embrace dress down Friday’s and enjoyed wearing jeans to the office but more recently I worked in an office where they all wore jeans and converses and there was me wearing smart casual. I’m not saying wear jeans and converses (believe me, don’t) but consider a little of your personality.

2. Research

Don’t ever underestimate the power of research. I’m going to be honest, I’ve been to interviews fully equipped with background information on companies and never been asked one question about what I know and then I’ve been to interviews and been asked questions that I could never have answered. Look at their social media pages, whats one of the last things they’ve posted, or shared? Do they have social media pages? I was recently at an interview and asked what I thought of the companies website! I wasn’t prepared but I had researched the company and managed to draw on some of the things I remembered.

Obviously don’t go and research things that aren’t relevant to the position, so it if its technical look at technical things if it is marketing you know what I mean. I impressed an interviewer once because I commented on something I’d read in the media about the company, he nodded and was happy to chat about what it meant for the business and employees. I’m not saying go and write pages of notes on the company structure and their annual turnover but perhaps find something that can really keep the interviewer interested.

3. Preparation

You’ve bagged the interview of your dreams so preparation is critical. Check if the interview requires you to supply a passport, national insurance number or a list of references. Some do at the interview stage so best check any emails you receive. Make sure you know where you have to be, how you will get there and what time you will arrive. Is it going to be a walk, a car journey or are you relying on public transport?

Keep a folder of relevant documents including a copy of your recent CV. You’ll be surprised how many interviews I’ve been to and the interviewer has a CV that was on my Linkedin profile six months earlier.

Make sure what you wear is ironed, clean and in a place that isn’t likely to get lost or dirty and don’t forget about the shoes! We all do it.

4. Arrive on time

I’m not going to lie. I’ve arrived at interviews, flustered, tired and puffing. It’s not exactly professional. If you know it is going to take an hour by car, allow for at least an hour and a half. If you are using public transport allow longer. I made the mistake of allowing two hours door to door. Missed my train because the station screens were down and no one could find out which platform it was leaving from. I arrived for my interview with two minutes to spare, looking flustered and like I’d run a marathon. Allowing 10 to 15 minutes is common. I like to look around, check out my surroundings (nearest Costa) and make sure that I feel calm and ready.

5. Prepare Questions

On more than one occasion I’ve been to an interview and failed to ask any questions, this was mainly due to being ill prepared. I’ve learnt my lesson. I know prepare at least three and I use my research to help. I have included some examples:

Ask about the future of the company, do they have any major plans? If you’ve seen on their social media something that takes your interest, don’t be afraid to ask about it! It will show that you have taken an interest. As someone keen to develop my career, I like to ask a question about employee development and opportunities available. It shows that you are thinking about the future. Not all employers do department tours, especially if you are one of 10 interviews that week so ask them about your working environment, it can help you get a feel for the role if you know that its open plan or a more enclosed office. You can always tie it in with a ‘day in the life’ question.

6. Make a good impression!

Believe it or not, this actually works both ways! Greet everyone you meet with a smile, including the receptionist. Greet your interviewer with a smile and a confident handshake and don’t forget to stand up straight. If when you enter the room, there is another person, do the same!

I have been to some interviews where the HR manager couldn’t have been less interested and either didn’t offer their hand or does an awful floppy shake. I would offer my hand anyway! Keep eye contact, looking from one to the other or the person who asked the question. Smile a lot! Watch what you do with your hands, moving them around too much can make you seem unprofessional. Don’t forget to show your enthusiasm!

7. Enthusiasm!

We’ve all been there! You get that all important interview and you can’t seem to shake the nerves, remember if you show your enthusiasm, you’d be surprised how your nerves subside. Try and say focused, upbeat and concise but show how much you love ‘cars’ or ‘children’.

8. It’s about you as much as it is them!

I had an interview with a great company, with an excellent reputation. I arrived early was kept waiting for 15 minutes but loved the view and the surroundings. The interviewer was sick and from the moment the interview began she made me feel uncomfortable. She was brash, hard-faced and to the point and allowed no time for me to really show her what I could do. She made me feel uncomfortable and flustered and answered poorly. I wasn’t shocked to discover that they didn’t hire me! Employers forget some times that we are also interviewing them. If we feel uncomfortable or out of place during the interview we are not inclined to say yes. I have declined a few opportunities in my time. Some okay, some pretty bad and some because it just didn’t feel right. I was made to feel like I couldn’t say no, that on accepting the interview that meant that I was obliged to take the job that just didn’t feel right. Go with your instincts. If it feels like the commute will be too hard, the job isn’t what you want, or you didn’t connect with your manager, then consider whether a week into the position you won’t want to run for the hills.

9. You become a salesperson…sell yourself!

I’m going to admit, it’s hard to sell yourself. You get asked the question ‘Tell me one thing that you do well?’ I often ramble off something that has nothing to do with the position. Try and make it relevant!

As job seekers, CV’s are the first time perspective employers really get to meet us. A proper and well-written CV stands between you and the paper shredder! Don’t shy away from mentioning an achievement. You raised £2k for charity doing a bike ride, say it! That’s a fantastic achievement. You’d be surprised to know that even the most qualified of an applicant can get turned down because the winning candidate was better at responding in interviews. They proved that they would be a great fit within the company.

10. Follow-Up

There is a lot of misconception concerning ‘after’ the interview. If you have an email address or social media contact send a quick note to thank the interviewer for their time, this gives them the opportunity to A) Remember you and B) That they can give you a response via email.

All too often, you travel to an interview, take time off work and then you hear nothing! Not even a ‘thank you’ for attending. If you have contact details, give them a quite call or email and ask.

I feel that we should all be given feedback, but it doesn’t always happen.

My Personal Favourites:

A). You didn’t tick all the boxes (what am I meant to learn from that).

B). We went with someone who we felt suited the position more (And that helps me how)

C). We wanted someone who we could train and who had little experience (You wanted to pay £4.00 an hour)

D). We appreciate you attending the interview, we felt that you were a fantastic candidate and if anything should come up in the future we would certainly consider you; however we felt we wanted someone with more experience (How exactly do I get experience?)

E). It was a pleasure to meet you the other day, your enthusiasm really was refreshing! But after careful consideration we will not be offering you the position, we just felt that the job required someone with more administration experience. (I have over 10 years of administration experience!) Was by far my favourite!

I am hoping that if more people ask for feedback, it will eventually become the norm.

So there you have it! My top 10 tips when attending a job interview! Do you have stories to share? Want to add anything that you’ve learnt?

Thanks for Reading…

My So Called Life – My Monthly Battle

My Monthly Battle

It’s tough being a woman! It’s also tough being a man but at least they can choose if they want to shave every day and it is socially acceptable if they decide not to.

I’m not often one for discussing things so personal as periods/AF/time of the month/menstrual cycles but for the last four years, I’ve realised that I am not alone! I was surprised by how many women could sympathise or experienced the hell that some of us experience.

I was 13 and a half (April 1996), it was during my PE lesson (would you believe) when the period gods shined down on me and greeted me with what would for most of my teenage years control my life! I was first greeted with the sudden realisation that everyone would ‘know’ that suddenly I would have this neon sigh above my head that pointed down and said ‘on her period’, then came the panic of ‘oh my god, can they see I’m wearing a towel!’ This pretty much continues for a couple of years, prompting regular trips to the loo. Then once a few more girls joined the ‘club’ boys became aware and if you left the classroom to sneak to the toilet ‘god forbid taking your bag’ it was across the class. ‘On her period’, there’s the neon sign again! As girls, I don’t remember sitting around with my friends drinking tea discussing periods, in fact, I was the earliest of my friends.

Years, pass. You get on with the monthly groan of ‘oh, here we go again, please I don’t want children anyway!’ (Maybe just me) and suddenly you also realise that you are allergic to towels, tampons and in fact most sanitary wear! PMS hit me pretty hard, I’d get hot flushes, faint, feel sick, emotional, angry, get the shakes and that was on top of period pain, heavy bleeding and stomach upsets. It was pretty consistent. By 18, I’d had enough and approached a Doctor for help. There were no reason for the heavy periods, I was just unlucky and told having a baby would regulate my cycle and reduce the issues (that wasn’t going to happen at 18, so I went on the pill). Which I took for five years, then came two kids and up until four years ago I was pretty good, then it all went crazy and it was like being 18 (and my god, I don’t want to relive those times). I approached my GP, who sent me for tests, nothing solid so sent on my way.

Currently, my monthly cycles consist of pain that feels like I am in early labour, my ovaries are trying to escape from my body and this is accompanied by heavy bleeding. More tests, and all appears well but every month I feel like locking myself away for six days. I know I’m not the only woman to handle this but it feels like it is our own personal struggle.

So, I’ve been thinking about ‘self-care’ how I make myself feel better when my body is turning against me! Here are some of my tips…

1. Pain Relief

Sometimes despite my best efforts, deep breathing and yoga positions are not going to ease the pain so I reach for the pain relief.

a) Paracetamol – Basic and not effective for me anymore.

b) Ibuprofen – I know not everyone can take it due to various allergies and reasons but it’s probably one of the most effective.

I highly recommend ‘Feminax’ you can buy them in all good supermarkets or pharmacies, as well as Amazon. They are on the expensive side. It was my GP that actually recommended I try them as it covered more than just the pain.

Moving forward and am now on prescription painkillers as they help with the pain and the flow.

2. Hot Water Bottle

One of my fave Amazon purchases this year has been my Hotties Microhottie Microwavable Hot Water Bottle in purple fleece. I bought it from Amazon and although coming in at £11.49, it was worth the expense. You place the pad inside a microwave for two minutes and it’s so cosy.

Before this I had tried Cura Heat Period Pain which I also purchased from through Amazon. Now, I loved this because they are discrete and I walk around forgetting that it was there but I found that the heat was on the outside and didn’t really have much effect on my own pain, that’s not to say that they wouldn’t work for other ladies. Just not for me.

3. Hot Bath

abigail-lynn-517203-unsplashWe all know what a warm bath can do to help us unwind, light a few candles, throw in a Lush bath bomb (my personal faves are The Big Sleep and Big Blue) find a mindfulness app on your phone or maybe your fave chill out tunes and shut out the outside world for a while. There is also something soothing about floating away for a while.

4. Duvet/Blanket with Netflix

Now, I love a good duvet day. There really is nothing better than curling up in bed with a Netflix series on, a cup of tea and shutting out the world. If only every day was a duvet day!

5. Pamper

I’m a mum of two and my youngest is disabled so you can imagine how much time I get to pamper myself but occasionally I like to apply a face mask, paint my nails and if I’m really in the mood a deep cleansing hair treatment. I am currently using the TRESemmè Keratin Smooth Deep Treatment Masque which I received as a Christmas gift. I have never tried any other versions but if anyone has any of their own recommendations please let me know.

So there you have my five top tips on self-care when your body seems to want to turn against you. Please let me know what you do to soften ‘that time of the month’. Maybe you do something completely random?

Thanks for Reading…

*All opinions are my own, I have not been sponsored, paid or gifted any items in respect of my views and opinions.*

Be an Intern but…

Career Focus - Be an InternThis is the start of my monthly Career Focused posts. Please check them out.

I have been lucky enough to intern at a few great companies, who understood that I needed to eat. I have however also interned at a couple that taught me nothing, that for the short time I was there, I learnt how to photocopy, file and my personal favourite tidy cupboards. Now please don’t for a second think I’m ungrateful for the experience but I had university friends sitting in on meetings, having proper mentors who explained as much as he/she could. I learnt no more than when I went in.

Maybe I was unlucky but I was thinking about as an Intern what we should get out of the experience. Here are a few tips if you find yourself in a similar situation.

1. Ask Questions – You are there to figure out if it’s the job or the industry you want. Don’t be shy ask questions.

2. Do everything with a smile and an enthusiastic manner – People are more open if you smile and seem happy to be there.

3. Offer – Ask around if anyone needs help, support, I did a beer run once! It shows keenness and you learn things along the way.

4. Hit deadlines – If you are given a deadline try to keep to it. If you struggle, be honest. I was too embarrassed and muddled along to find the someone else did it anyway.

5. People are busy, if you see a way to help offer – we all come from different backgrounds. Experiencing different things can be a great benefit.

6. Talk to people – have a chat while making a coffee. See someone walking out for lunch, strike up a conversation. Contacts are key these days and you could just talk to that one person who remembers you.

7. Don’t be afraid to say you are struggling – as mentioned I suddenly lost my confident self and struggled to hit a deadline. I was more embarrassed when I handed it over to find someone else had done it. (Facepalm)

8. Be on time and don’t be in a rush to leave – not much to say really that isn’t obvious.

9. Socialise on a personal level – I was kindly invited out a couple of times but declined and I later felt that I should have gone, spoke to people on a personal level and not just professional. I’d go for it now but you live and learn.

10. Make contacts – Add people to LinkedIn. These could be for reference purposes or future job opportunities but probably not facebook.

Finally…

Just a few things I’ve learnt. Internships really are an amazing thing on a cv. It shows that you not only have the degree but also the industry experience but unfortunately, there are still companies who don’t pay, pay peanuts or count it as work experience and think they don’t have to pay! Please consider these things. I had a mixture of expenses, paid and work experience. One month, by all means, consider your options, one year with only expenses or my personal favourite ‘commission-based’. Things are changing as I’ve seen minimum wage mentioned recently.

Has anyone got anything to share, horror stories or an amazing experience? Please drop me a comment, I would love to hear them.

Thank you for Reading…