Gluten sensitivity and the injustice.

I realized recently that I’m sensitive to gluten. I feel like part of me should be relieved as I thought I was just putting on weight i was never going to shift.  I couldn’t understand why my stomach was constantly bloated. I honestly looked like i was carrying. The uncoolest food baby ever – literally.

I went to my doctor and explained my symptoms. I was given a blood test for coeliac disease. That came back negative. Four months later, no change, so back I went. They tried to convince me it was my IBS morphing into a new strain and it was linked to my emotional well-being. I knew i was stressed with work and there was added pressure, but I know my body! I was given tablets for the bloating and sent on my merry way,with a “Come back in eight weeks if there’s no change”

Off I went with my pills….a month later, still exactly the same. Upon doing research I realised there was such a thing as gluten sensitivity. Sounded much to me the same as coeliac disease. Perhaps it’s less painful and dehabilitaing cousin. Armed with the mantra “You have to have help yourself before anyone else will help you”, I put myself on an exclusion diet. No pasta, no rice, no bread…nothing bloody fun. I lived off quinoa and salad (bloody lucky it was the middle of the summer) for a month to see if I found a difference.

Low and behold, after my diet my swelling had gone down lots and my stomach looked like a normal, non pregnant, exercise doing stomach.

So, armed with my new knowledge, off I went back to the doctor to prove it was a gluten thing, just not serious gluten thing. I was given a pat on the back for doing my research and told to keep it up, or buy them yourself because we still won’t help you with gluten free products. I left the surgery very disappointed. I can’t eat salad during the winter…im a growing bloody woman, not a rabbit. I know it isn’t my right to have these foods and it wasn’t a serious disease as such, but it was making me feel miserable,affecting my quality of life, and I felt like no one cared. I knew I couldn’t afford to pay £2.50 for what is essentially 10 slices of bread! 

I continued to be upset by my findings, but soon realised that being gluten sensitive wasn’t the end of the world, just the beginning of a whole new change for me. I was about to embark on a journey of new foods…albeit, New, expensive ones!

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Swimming Lessons

Recently I decided to have swimming lessons. I say recently, I made the decision back in January this year (it was part of my New Year’s Resolution), but I’ve only got round to actually booking the course now.

The main reason behind this was from my visit to Thailand last year. I did a day trip on a tour boat around the Southern Islands, which involved snorkeling. Let’s just say it really didn’t go well! Even with a life jacket on, I nearly succumbed to that salty sea water. Needless to say, after around 10 mins of panic attack trying to get back on the boat, all my snorkeling gear came off and I didn’t go back in the water.
Because I still want to travel around a bit and this will usually mean being in water a fair bit, I thought gaining more confidence in the water can’t possibly be a bad thing. PLUS, black people (massive generalisation, but most black people I’ve known) don’t swim well, at all.

I booked myself onto a beginners swimming course. I figured this more suitable than the intermediate course as I’m not even confident with anything other than breaststroke. It’s mostly the water in my face thing that I have issues with….(I had an accident in a pond in nursery, I’m pretty sure most of my fears stem from that).

I was very nervous the first week, as I didn’t know what to expect. I got talking to one girl and realised I needn’t be worried. She was repeating the course after having little success in her previous beginners course.  At that point I wondered if maybe I should be ok with the intermediate, but figured I’d stay with it and let the teacher decide.

Week 1: Water safety and kicking
This first lesson concentrated on getting in and out of the pool safely, the kicking motion and how to go from a swimming to standing position in the water.  This was done on both our fronts and backs.  We also learnt how to float, whilst still grasping the edge of the pool for safety.  I felt very confident at this point, as I could do this quite well, and the water was only up to my waist. No sweat!

Unfortunately, I missed the second lesson; week two, as I was bleeding so heavily, I’d have turned the pool into the red Sea. Not cool and majorly embarrassing for me.  I was disappointed that I couldn’t even watch the session.  The staff said I wasn’t allowed poolside.

Week 3: Breaststroke. Arms. Legs. Technique and a length
My second lesson; week three involved more movement in the pool.  I felt like I arrived at my third lesson with a jolt, having missed the previous one.  We concentrated on the arms and legs for breaststroke.  First we did the arms, then the legs and then coordinated the two together. I was told by the teacher a few times that I was “very good.”

Honestly, I felt struggled a bit with this.  I know i said I could do it before, but I’m now very aware I wasn’t using the proper technique!  I may be more at home with front crawl – who’d have thought it.
We were then asked to swim a length using breaststroke and that length felt like the longest time ever! I kept forgetting how to do it properly, ha. Towards the end of the lesson, we practiced treading water.  I’m fairly confident that if it had to do this on my own, in the sea.. I’d die long before I was rescued!

Week 4: Body positioning and head underwater
The penultimate lesson; week four, we had a completely different teacher.  This changed everything as he had different teaching methods. He also said we hadn’t spent much time swimming and he wanted to see if we actually could.  He’d been lifeguarding during the previous lessons, so he had some idea of how well we were doing.
He told us his intentions straight away and I immediately panicked.  I knew I wanted to try putting my head underwater, that’s why I bought my goggles. I just thought I’d be trying it on my own terms… But no!
I spent much of the lesson with my face in the water,  both on my front and on my back. I swam a fair few widths like this, doing a sort of front crawl/doggy paddle.  I must admit, I feel a lot more confident about putting my head in the water of my own accord. I just need to learn how to breathe, without panicking, but I realise this will come with time and more practice.

We’ve been told that next week we’ll find out whether or not we’re good enough to advance to the intermediate class, or if we have to repeat beginners. I’ll be crossing fingers and toes! I wonder what else the final week will bring and who’ll be teaching us!

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