Saturday, 30 April 2011

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

The day is I was diagnosed this was the ultimate question running through my head. I had interviewed patients with MS for a few articles so I did know a little about what it meant for me. But in-depth knowledge alluded me. So, I turned to the internet.

And these were the sites I found useful then ... and a few I have found since.

First off, the MS Society site -
This site has a wealth of knowledge that is probably unrivalled. It's also getting re-launched next month as part of MS Awareness Week so keep an eye for a new design and even more information than ever before. I'm also going to featured on here in a series of videos talking about my experiences, filmed on the day I went into labour (more about these in a future post!).

Second up, the community site that was set up to bring together those with MS. aims to give younger patients with MS a voice and a chance to talk to others. So if you want some first-hand stories about what MS means then this is the place to go.

Other sites that are full of information include and

Finally, a site that brings together a huge amount of MS bloggers.
This is what I really wanted that first day - real people talking about real issues. If you really want to know what Multiple Sclerosis is then settle yourself down for a few hours and get reading here!

Friday, 29 April 2011

A touch of self-promotion

Oh dear, the challenge for day three is to get readers to tell others that my blog exists. Which means a rally of self-promotion - and, yes I'm confident, but not really very good at putting myself out there so ferociously.

I follow some very lovely people on twitter and I am always astounded at how they promote their blogs with such ease. And I don't think they're overly in-your-face either. But I have this sense that I will come across as pushy.

The issue with this is mainly because I never started the blog to be widely read - and those that have read from the start will know this - but as time has gone on I have had this sense that what I write may help others with Multiple Sclerosis, their friends and family perhaps, and if at all, maybe raise awareness about an illness that affects so many but isn't the most well known.

So, for one day only (for now anyway!) I'll ask you all nicely - if you like what I write, spread the word. Maybe give the blog a quick link on Facebook or leave a comment that gets people talking. You can also find me on twitter - @catdoran - and if you would like to link me on there too then an extra thank you comes your way!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

My top tips for the first time mum

In the run up to having Charlotte I read a few books and the odd website, to get some idea of what to expect of pregnancy, labour and the associated paraphernalia surrounding the event.

Some was worth reading, others not. Now, a few of my friends are currently expecting and they've asked me some advice based on my experiences. So here they are, my top tips to prepare you for becoming a mum for the first time!

1. Fill your freezer while waiting for the baby to make an appearance.
All the books tell you this one but I scoffed slightly at the idea. After all, lots of guests would be calling with dinner pre-cooked for us. Yes? No! You do get lots of visitors but generally they just want to coo at the baby, not feed the mum. I did a few portions of lasagne, some soups and pies - and they were all utilised in the first few weeks.

2. Expect lots of visitors.
Following on nicely from tip number one! Visitors are an expected part of having a baby so get your cupboards packed with tea, coffee, sugar and biscuits. Just make sure to ask them to make it themselves. And don't be scared about asking them to hang out a load of washing, wash the dishes or peel your potatoes for dinner - after all, if they're friends and family they'll be happy to help.

3. Expect your body to feel as though a bus has run over it.
Thankfully I can safely follow this comment up with - it will be back to normal pretty soon. BUT, don't expect miracles. You've just had a baby.

4. Your hormones will be all over the place
I expected the baby blues but honestly, it was a reality check to see how quickly I went from happy-go-lucky to floods of tears. I wish someone had told me beforehand just how much your emotions take over. So, just go with it, ask your partner to be patient and eventually they'll settle down. I should pop a quick disclaimer here regarding post-natal depression. I'm no doctor but it's a very real illness so if those emotions aren't settling down by week six or so then it will do no harm to have a chat with your GP.

5. Your life will never be the same again.
I hated people telling me this when I was pregnant because I'm not stupid, of course everything was going to change. But they were right. However, while it has changed it certainly isn't over, in fact it's the best time of your life. Enjoy it!

Fat? At three?

As the new mum to a gorgeous baby girl I was horrified this week to read that over half of all three to six year old girls think they are fat. Fat? At three? I don't think I even knew was fat was when I was ten never mind three. And I didn't grow up that many years ago.

In fact, I was a child in the eighties with my teenage years played out across the nineties. And yes, I do remember worrying about my weight, but only when I got to sixteen and discovered boys. Looking back it's scandalous that I even thought I was 'fat' then. A mere size eight I was in fact probably too thin!

So to think that our little ones are now developing body issues at such a young age scares the life out of me. Being a child is all about having fun, and NOT worrying about anything at all, never mind weight.

Part of me hates to say it but I believe that school policy regarding snacks is somewhat to blame. I say part of me because I am a huge advocate of healthy eating and definitely believe in the old adage everything in moderation. However, I've heard my friends with children talk about how strict the schools now are about break time snacks and I wonder if it's their over-zealous approach that has kids paranoid.

They are constantly being told that crisps and sweets are bad for you, that it's unhealthy to be overweight and it is only a matter of time before the constant bombardment starts to take its toll. Growing up we were never denied anything, my mum cooked us good home-cooked meals every night and she always said, 'once the treats are gone, they're gone' - ie. if we wanted them all on day one then don't be asking for more on day two when there was none left!

Personally I can safely say that I spent my university years worrying about my weight more than at any other time in my life - and it's when I put most on - I blame the drink! Now, one baby down, I am more happy with my shape than ever before - and that's despite the stretch marks and the toll pregnancy and labour has inevitably had on me. I can only hope that my precious daughter follows my relatively positive outlook as regards her weight because 'fat' at three just isn't sitting well with me at all!

30 day blogging challenge

I think I may be mad but I've signed up to take part in a 30 day blogging challenge. The idea is simple - I get sent a topic to blog about every day for 30 days and hey presto, I write.

Now that may seem like an easy task but I'm already guessing I may run behind schedule - especially with Charlotte taking up so much of my time at the minute. BUT, I really love writing on here and I'm hoping it will broaden my horizons about what I actually talk about.

So, wish me luck .... here goes!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Linking up with other MS-ers

As something a touch more light-hearted than the last few posts I'm posting a little 'meme' I was asked to complete for the MS support site They are re-launching their website in coming months and I am delighted to be asked to feature as part of their 'blogs we love' list.

The site was only set up a few years ago by a MS patient who wanted to create a place for younger MS patients to 'meet' one another. It's a brilliant resource, especially for those just diagnosed, and I sincerely hope that some of my experiences could maybe help someone else.

Anyway, the 'meme' goes as follows - and it took me quite a while to complete. Maybe if you get a chance you could do the same and post your answers below ... I would love to see what you come up with :)

I don't know:
how... to whistle and it bugs the hell out of me!

what... is around the corner but I'm willing to give anything and anyone a chance

why... I was 'chosen' to have MS but it's not something that defines me, it's just a part of me I have to manage

who... I would choose as my all time favourite author, there are too many to choose from

where... the walk of life is taking me but it has been an interesting journey so far

if... I could be me without my husband by my side - it's corny but he honestly makes me complete

anything... about politics so I leave that side of newspaper reporting to my colleagues that do

But I DO know this: Life is a breeze if you surround yourself with lovely people and remember to smile (a lot!)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Low blow

Tonight marks the end of week four on Rebif and it has been a tough week. That's hard for me to admit because I approach everything MS related as positively as I possibly can. However even I have to admit sometimes that the clouds turn black now and again.

I'm not sure if it was the Rebif hitting me or a weekend of solid sun that did it but I woke up on Monday feeling as though a bus had hit me in my sleep. Besides feeling a 'bit low' every single ounce of me ached and walking was like wading through mud. But I have a 22 week old baby and lying down under a black cloud is simply not an option.

And you know, that's a good thing. I gave myself a talking too, got under a hot shower and got going regardless.

That all said it was the start of a week I'm glad to be putting behind me - physically, mentally and emotionally. I had a chat with my MS nurse yesterday and she said it's pretty normal to have a 'down' day now and again, even when you're well. But it's not a state of mind I'm used to.

With a body in pain it's hard to keep your mind intact too but I think the enormity of what I'm actually going through has only just hit me. This process isn't a stop-gap, it's not going to end tomorrow, it's for the rest of my life. And that's the hurdle, realising it's FOREVER.

I've always known it was but the physical act of injecting myself makes the knowing very real.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Lift off

The first two weeks on Rebif are now over and the verdict is in. Started on a smaller dose than expected - just 8.8mcg every day - but the aim is still to be up at 44mcg by the start of week four.

The first day was weird because they suggest you take no painkillers at all so I could assess the side effects properly. So basically I sat around all day waiting for something to happen. Every twinge made me question my own body and it eventually transpired that the only obvious side effect was a persisent ache in my bones - like the kind you get when you have a proper flu.

So the plan from here on in is to take a few painkillers about an hour after the injection so it kicks in before the aches.

The actual injection itself isn't so bad. It does take a wee touch longer than I expected. The needle goes in and you have to hold the machine on the skin while the drug is administered before the needle is then retracted again. But it's nothing I can't get used to.

I've read some other MS patients' thoughts and there is a train of thought that you will find a site that you least prefer. Already I find myself not liking the stomach area but you have to rotate so I've been employing the help of my husband and getting on with it.

Today marks the start of week three and a huge increase up to 22mcg every injection so I'm hoping my body plays ball and the side effects don't get worse.