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Parenting After Brain Injury Part 3 (mostly trachy)

22 Dec

After some time I was able to sit in a less supported wheelchair, the rotastand which I used to help me transfer seemed to be doing my core some good. It’s funny thinking about those days now. I would be sat upright and in order to show someone how much thought and effort I had to put into sitting, I would tell them to watch what happened when I would relax and I would automatically flop to my left but over time, the amount I flopped over was becoming less. I remember in my early days of rehab this was still happening because my physiotherapist examined me in my induction to the unit. When sitting I wold flop to the left and when standing if my feet were together, I would fall to my right. It was really bizarre so I always stood with my legs quite far apart because the wider my base, the more stable I was and felt. My head was, and it still making me feel like I’m floating sometimes. I really can’t explain it but it also feels like the opposite at times.

When I was in Royal London my daughter was more used to seeing me which was lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed watching her twirl about and mingle with nurses. Her chatting was relatively less because she was in an unfamiliar setting but eventually she caught on that mama was in “huptal” and if anyone was leaving our house she’d ask them “where going?” and wanted to put her shoes on assuming they were off to see me. She still didn’t want to come near me, if she was tired and needed a nap she wouldn’t even want to be put on my hospital bed. She also managed to make my bed malfunction a couple of times by pressing every button possible in multiple combinations and/or all at once. The main problem with this was the bed would’t go low enough for me to safely transfer. We even tried turning it off and on again. Nada. Then some Healthcare Assistant (HCA) came along and she fixed it.. multiple times. They had to call her from the adjacent ward and I acted like I didn’t know what happened each time. No hablo Ingles. In fact, no hablo at all!

In the last two weeks there was all this drama over my secretions (I wasn’t swallowing saliva as one normally would) which was gathering on top of my lungs. This would cause excessive coughing which hurt my head. I knew I had secretions which needed to be removed and my signal was using my right hand, four fingers together almost touching my thumb like tongs repetitively. That was my suction signal and because I couldn’t speak I was the patient who always banged frantically on the side railing of her bed. That was my call. No buzzer needed. The doctors and physiotherapists said the tube in my neck should be smaller so I remember on maybe August 23rd a doctor who was very butch came along to change the tubing size. Again, I couldn’t speak so I gave him the thumbs up (that was my thing and if you were really nice you got two thumbs up) and mimed something just before he began. I mimed it but my sister lip read and said it aloud, ” ‘Do a good job’, she said” – I used a movie quote on him. At that moment I thought that was equally funny and stupid. He proceeded to change my tube and an oxygen mask was placed over my nose and mouth whilst they took me off my main oxygen supply. He was being supervised by a lovely older Australian Doctor. She was brilliant. There was a moment when I couldn’t breathe and although it felt like ages, Aussie doc was telling me how great I was doing and how relaxed I was so I assumed it was all good and normal. Then I threw up a little in the mask which was surrounding my mouth but that’s when I was able to breathe again so I breathed and saw the vomit bubble. Classy. The change in tubing went really well and was painless so I was pleased. Every time a nurse suctioned me they had to suction around the tubing coming out of my neck(same as before). That’s where I was coughing from, not my mouth so I’d have to cover my neck when coughing which was amusing. They would aspirate me, which meant removing mucus from my subglottis using a syringe. They would then measure and record the amount of mucus extracted. Apparently this was all I was waiting for to become zero and then I could finally be decannulated and have my trachy removed and I should be able to speak. In theory. Over the next week or two this was closely monitored and it was suggested that my oxygen flow was changed to warm oxygen to help my secretions loosen up easier so I wasn’t having such severe coughing moments. It did help. I should also mention that when I was on ITU I was ‘restrained’ to put it, bluntly.

On ITU I was naughty. I was scaring everyone and my Dad was ready to tape my hands down. So it turns outs it’s normal for people who’ve had brain surgery to be agitated and fight and tug at stuff… I was trying to pull out every tube in me. I actually remember fighting with various members of my family, trying to push them away, punching one of my sisters in the face (bonus points for it being the nose, that counts as a bullseye, surely), I remember constantly being told to behave and the number of times I was firmly told “No!” was beyond ridiculous. And I understand why now because one night I pulled out five tubes; my catheter, a cannula, trachy tube, NG tube and my head drain which was draining blood from the cerebrospinal fluid in my brain. That one was very bad and I needed an emergency CT scan to make sure I didn’t screw my brain up.  The thought of it scares my family to this day and grosses them out.  Alhamdulillaah I didn’t cause more harm.

So anyway, I had these large wool stuffed, lilac mittens that looked like boxing gloves put on me. In my dream I was feeling unwell but the mitts were irritating me. That’s when I punched my sister in the nose. Nobody knew but my right hand was tingling and I wasn’t really with it and obviously unable to speak so I did everything I could to get them off. In my dream I saw relatives sat on my bed and my parents too, it seemed like they were ignoring me so I was hitting them to get their attention to say take these things off me. I remember faking a fever and putting a hand over my forehead to say I’m ill remove them, it didn’t work. I mimed how can I sleep like this I need to put my hands under my cheek, it didn’t work. Instead my sister said I could sleep in any position because she saw me sleep every day in random positions and told me to stop lying, the mitts weren’t coming off. Apparently one nurse loosened them towards the end because she made a deal with me and I said I wouldn’t take them off. I put my hand between my knees and successfully removed a mitten, my expression was apparently comical and I looked so chuffed with myself. The stories of me highly sedated were hilarious. I actually wish I met myself back then. Eventually the mitts were removed and I did promise to behave myself otherwise the mitts were going back on. Those things traumatised me. I can’t believe nobody believed that I needed them off. My right hand was tingling. I noticed that when I left ITU and was with it, the tingling got worse, with the cold oxygen tube on my shoulder for my trachy, it felt like my hand and arm were numb, I told my family who relayed it to the nurses to pass on to the doctors and consultants during the ward rounds each morning. Massaging it helped for a while but it was spreading to my right leg. This tingling and numbness was slowly overtaking half my body and I didn’t know it. I was eventually given medication for this about two weeks later (being a mute, essentially, meant noone knew the true extent of my problems and what I was feeling. The pain was from this numbness wasn’t so bad then but it’s nuts now. I have a high pain threshold so I tend to not make a fuss of pain.  I think it reached the point when it was keeping me awake at night that I was finally given medication).  After my trachy tubing was made smaller and I was given hot flow oxygen, my numbness felt better. It was the peak of summer and there I was with a fluffy, fat blanket I requested from home. I was never cold but now I was freezing. I assumed the cold was making me numb so I just sucked it up.

Things were a lot better with the warm oxygen, however, during a physiotherapy session, I was sat up and threw up a whole load of mucus, not out my mouth but it was gushing from my neck, to the point that one of my physiotherapists swore, I guess it took him by surprise and there was only so much he could catch but he was really cool about it and noticed pretty early on that I had a really irritated cough that would always get bad when I moved or sat upright. I’m so grateful he spotted this and was on the ball because I just remember being concerned about my arm being numb. He immediately paged a specific consulting team and raised his concerns with them, they came down and I was nil by mouth (or as I like to say, nil by nose seeing as nothing was entering my mouth that evenining until after my procedure the following morning)the new tube was  too long so was irritating me and my cough was getting worse and when I thought about it he was right. I had my two physiotherapists, occupational therapist and speech and language therapist around me when I threw up from my neck. Very classy. I wrote a note to them saying i had a phobia of vomit, I really do. This led to a discussion about morning sickness. I didn’t have any so that was an incredible blessing for me. I also wasn’t intolerant to any foods which was even better but being pregnant for the rest of one’s life isn’t an ideal or possible cure for food intolerances.

so going back to my trachy tube being changed, a dr from another hospital (turns out it was my local) was there and he and my dude PT did that trachy change. I would just like to say that despite it being a smaller tube, when the dr inserted it into my neck again it was so incredibly painful and quite traumatising. Thankfully my PT was there, talking me through and comforting me the entire time, telling me how well I was doing and how brave I was. He knew how to do the change but wanted to be shown once more before doing it on a patient. Later down the line when there was discussion about weaning me off the oxygen and making me breathe completely on my own again, I was worried they’d change my tubing again but it turns out it was just a straightforward removal of the tubing and I should be good to fly solo from then, hopefully.

Throughout these weeks, seeing my daughter gave me so much joy and pleasure to just observe her. I didn’t realise then but she was a cruicial part to my recovery. I didn’t know the extent of my problems back then or that I needed rehabiitation care. Somewhere in my mind I assumed I would stay at The Royal London with all those same patients and soon I’d be walking and talking like my old self, dressed in my own clothes and then I’d go home and that was it. I was so wrong and so naive I’m willing to blame the meds and not my lack of intelligence.

During this time I was so happy, I also had a permanent goofy smile on my face after surgery (my facial expressions are normal now, thank God), my recovery and outlook seemed good to all and I was happy being surrounded by my family and daughter, especially on Eid day. Every day back then was a good day. I did wonder if I was indenial because surely it wasn’t normal to hear you were so ill you almost died a few times and be that happy. I even wrote , “I don’t know why I’m smiling so much consideing I almost died” to which my sister replied, “It’s because you’re grateful.”
And I was, I still am. Emotional times. Pass the tissue box. Until next time, people… Peace!

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My Stroke Story

17 Dec

So here goes, my stroke story and all the questions answered about what happened that day and the days that followed. The only time I’ve had to talk about it was with medical students, doctors, therapists and patients in rehab and then of course with my friends. The dates I didn’t know until my family had told me…

Late on July 31st 2017 I had a migraine and I decided to sleep it off with a nap. My then, 15 month old daughter should have been asleep by then, and I guess, I’m incredibly grateful she was still awake. Apparently my head was hurting so bad  I asked my eldest sister to deal with her (I was thankfully at  my parents’ home) because I didn’t have it in me. After waking up from my nap, I chilled and watched the food network ( I don’t remember this) and then took my daughter up to bed. Tucked her in and got myself ready for bed (at this point it was gone midnight and we were now on August 1st). I suddenly felt my migraine come back with a vengeance, it was showing no mercy and I just couldn’t cope. Something was wrong, I knew it. No migraine cool strip, painkiller or cup of tea was going to touch this pain. I knew I needed help. I went straight down to my parents’ bedroom and started banging on the door “Help me, help me!” I pleaded. They opened the door, I told them I had a really bad migraine and they had to call an ambulance immediately. They were both abruptly awoken from sleep and naturally moving slowly (it feels a lot slower when you feel like you’re dying of pain!) They lay me down on their bed (good move), the lights went on and I yelled something along the lines of “Why would you do that??!” I was clearly photosensitive by now. As I lay on the bed I kept telling my parents to call an ambulance and I was getting frustrated that it felt like things were going so slowly and my pain and symptoms were progressing too fast. My neck was stiff and my shoulders hurt, I felt like I was going to throw up, I lost patience with the pain and waiting for someone to call the ambulance. I grabbed the bedside phone and diallled 999 myself. “Ambulance!” I demanded and then gave my name and address (I think) I then handed the phone back to my Dad because I couldn’t speak anymore. Without much notice, out the vomit came, some in the bin and loads all over the bed and floor. I apologised for making a mess and felt a warm trickle of blood on the surface of my brain. I knew it was blood but nothing else clicked. and that was my last memory. My parents and family have filled me in on the unclear bits. Apparently I was muttering a prayer which my Mum could just about make out. It was the du’aa for forgiveness and one which all Muslims should recite every morning and evening. I also apparently asked my parents for forgiveness and then I passed out. My Dad had to follow the emergency service’s instructions to give me CPR (Go Dad! Super proud of you!!) I was only taking one breath for every six I should have been taking.  I can only think I must have thought I was dying but all I remember thinking was my baby girl is upstairs and someone should go to her (I was expecting her to come out the bedroom and follow me as she normally would if I left her) I also remember putting her into my bed in case she woke during the night and needed me. I figured if I was ill it would be made easier for me. My next memory was being asked by two physiotherapists to sit on the edge of the bed.

Now, I wasn’t alarmed waking up in hospital because I could hear things throughout and I was having some very bizarre dreams. By the time I reached this point I had three brain surgeries (including open brain surgery or a craniotomy). The  first procedure was on August 1st, a drain was inserted into my head to drain the blood from the cerebrofluid. Around this point I was put into a medically induced coma, intubated and all the rest of it. I was also unable to breathe independantly  due to a partially collapsed lung. I needed to be aspirated due to swallowing/choking on some vomit and it entering my lungs. I was in a coma for approximately 4/5 days and on life support before being slowly weaned off 100% oxygen. On August 8th, an embolisation was done but it failed (the weirdest thing about this was I knew because I heard the doctors say this and I relayed the message to my family (who were already informed by this point but couldn’t understand how I knew. I do remember writing “they screwed up” and that a doctor told me??) this procedure actually made me bleed more Finally, on August 9th I had the craniotomy just behind my left ear. The scar is huge but thankfully hidden by my hair! I didn’t know I had a stroke until my physiotherapist on the neurophysio ward told me. This was probably around August 20th – 25th I’m guessing. He didn’t sugar coat it either but then again I assume he thought I knew already. He just told me that the part of the brain where my stroke happened was responsible for movement and balance. Yes you science nerds have guessed it. It was on my cerebellum. I didn’t freak out hearing this because what I felt on my brain before passing out now made sense. My parents were naturally trying to protect me so down played it when I asked them. I say asked but I was actually writing everything at this point because I had a tracheostomy and thus had a tube coming out of my neck and I was hooked up to some oxygen this was finally removed on September 6th which was the day I could talk and eat again (I also had an ENT doctor or two examine me via my nose and neck using a fibre optic camera to try and figure out why I hadn’t been able to make any sounds since I was on ITU. My speech and language therapist discovered this and I eventually discoverd – by hearing the first ENT Dr who examined me, ask for a second opinion from the registrar because he thought my left vocal cords were paralysed – and they were. It turns out it was possible for me to speak because my right vocal cords were compensating. They told me about the AVM (arterivenous malformation) and how it was basically a tangle of veins and arteries on the surface of my brain which ruptured. I then asked for one of my sisters to come and explain it all to me. In fact, almost 5 months on and I’m still asking my family about what happened in the time that I was unconscious. It turns out AVMs are congential (you’re born with this rare condition) and it’s not hereditary (I asked how I can be sure my daughter doesn’t have it and if I could and should have her screened). For now, madam is doing just fine, thank God and I may give screening a thought when she’s older. My AVM was the primary issue which led to a secondary subarachnoid hemorrhage (the actual stroke). My sister also told me they found two other bleeds on my brain which didn’t surprise me and now I can talk I can explain why – I felt them a few days prior to the main event.

I should also admit that when I was finally with it, I thought a year and a half had gone by and genuinely thought I was 30 years old. I only figured out the date and year by reading the date on the cannulas put into my forearm.  After I was decanulated (trachy tube out and able to speak, breathe and eat on my own and also catheter and nasogastric tube out the next day), I was shafted to my local hospital for a week where I waited to go to a specialised rehabilitation unit. I was in rehab for 3 months from September 13 to December 11th. I was finally able to walk unaided on Friday 20th October and my wheelchair was officially taken away! Although I practised walking with a frame and walking stick in PT sessions, I skipped these two stages in reality, I also impressed my physio by stretching my quadricepts whilst standing, apparently it was like a rehab patient first for him. If you haven’t noticed, I’m approaching my 2 month walkiversary (it’s a thing since 2 seconds ago).

My remaining stroke symptoms:
-Left 4th nerve palsy/ diplopia – temporarily corrected using prisms on my glasses – likely i’ll need surgery soon
-Cognitive fatigue (I didn’t know it was a thing until my rehab physio told me after
I turned up to my session tired immediately after a psychotherapist session which consisted of loads of mental tests)
-I’ve started to lose bits of my short term memory over the last 3 weeks
-I’ve got chunks of my memory missing in the couple of weeeks leading up to the stroke
-Numbness all on my right side with pins and needles and tingling
-Loss of sensastion and temperatures on my whole right side
-numb tongue (was 100% but slowly getting better currently last 1/4 numbness left
-Loss of some motor ability in my left arm/hand
-I walk funny
-Sometimes my left leg joins in and does silly things
-Peripheral nerve pain since the end of August (right side)
-A tracheostomy site which is overgranulated and not healing as fast as it should
-Some loss of hearing in right ear

My hand is starting to hurt and I’m getting tired so I’m gonna leave it here for now. Thanks for reading and well done for surviving that long. The stroke is mostly why I’m aiming to be the paleo woman I was a few years ago. Being in a bed and immobile for most of the time, combined with foods can make a person… out of shape and I need the strength, energy and fitness to be able to look after my baby girl, bake and maybe go back to teaching. I can’t remember if I stated it on my previous blogs but I’m a cake baker and decorator, I launched my own home business back in October 2011 – before I went paleo. Here’s a cake I made for my therapists, doctors and nurses at my rehab unit 2  weeks before I was discharged:

rehab cake collage

In case you hadn’t guessed the name of my  business is Crumblicious Delights. I specialise in wedding cakes so I gave the cake a wedding theme and included my date of admission to discharge in rehab on the bottom tier in Roman numerals and the name of the unit on the top tier RNRU (Regional Neurological Rehabilitation Unit). I know I’m paleo and bake unpaleo things but they’re not usually for me and remember I started baking before I went paleo. I have just set up an instagram account specifically for this blog, litera;ly just now @paleostrokesurvivor and Twitter is back up @GFSalafi

All praise is due to God I’m not paralysed at all and I’m alive! God is good! ❤

I cannot tolerate…

24 Dec

I’m doing that really important thing today calling “sorting out your life before you screw it up so badly you end up being mental all over again”
Long title but I think you get the point. Back in September I ate all sorts of junk to have this human MOT test done to see what I was intolerant to, what the problems were with my body, to check out my hormones and yadda, yadda, yadda. I found out I was intolerant to loads things. Due to my busy life style and can’t be botheredism I kinda fell over, my face met the floor and it was downhill since then. Not like the good ol’ days(!) so it’s all good. I can fix it if I fooooooocuuuuusssss…

The list totals up to about 50 things but obviously a few categories include several things so it means most, if not all staples are out the window.

So, my intolerance list in no particular order:

  1. Fructose – that’s fruit sugar in case you didn’t know
  2. Cheese – I eat the raw kind if I find it and it doesn’t smell or taste like feet (note: that doesn’t mean I’ve tasted feet before)
  3. Cow’s milk – I totally drink raw milk though!
  4. Gluten – This is summarised as the next three items of food
  5. Wheat
  6. Barley
  7. Rye
  8. Quinoa
  9. Spelt – I think?!
  10. Oats – apparently I should be able to stomach (nwithhout pun intended) some.  I’m happy without.
  11. Seafood – prawns
  12. Rapeseed oil
  13. black pepper, apparently.
  14. Nutmeg – we Muslims can’t consume it anyway
  15. Pork – So haraam even the test’s telling me to avoid it.
  16. E211 – aka sodium benzoate aka benzoic acid sodium salt
  17. E214 – aka Ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate
  18. E215 – aka Sodium ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate
  19. E216 – aka Propyl p-hydroxybenzoate
  20. E217 – aka Sodium propyl p-hydroxybenzoate
  21. E218 – aka Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate
  22. E219 – aka Sodium methyl p-hydroxybenzoate
  23. E220 – aka Sulphur dioxide a common preservative used in almost everything processed. Lovely.
  24. E621 – aka Monosodium Glutamate aka MSG which needs to be illegal and banned from the Earth.
  25. Yeast – all kinds as far as I’m aware but specifically brewer’s yeast.
  26. Soya – again, needs to be banned from Earth
  27. Brazil nuts – adjusted my raw fudge recipe for this. Still yummy though!
  28. Cashews
  29. Peanuts – really? Mind you, they are legumes which brings me on to…
  30. Legumes! – all of them, this includes…
  31. Lentils – all of them obviously
  32. Grapefruit – was never a fan
  33. Kiwi – a known allergy in my family.
  34. Hops
  35. Malt – as above really. No malteasers
  36. Corn – aka maize, refined maize starch and all those similar things. Includes popcorn
  37. Goat’s milk
  38. Rice – white, brown, ground, flour
  39. Allspice
  40. Tomatoes
  41. Flaxseeds/Linseeds
  42. Nori – aka Seaweek. Need to find out if that includes kelp noodles which did give me stomach aches… oops?
  43. Chia seeds
  44. Kelp
  45. Semolina -I was totally intoxicated after consuming halwa, an Indian dessert so that was obvious
  46. Agave – agave syrup is apparently bad for us anyway… more on that some other time
  47. Millet
  48. Hemp flour(?) but apparently I’m ok with hemp seeds so abstaining from all to be safe!
  49. Stupid people – Never tried eating one before so that’s good (the human MOT didn’t show this, I may have added that in myself

May Allaah have mercy on me and make this next stage in my life easy for me, aameen!

Seal Ramadhaan with Istighfaar!

6 Aug

Abu Hakeem أبو حكيم بلال

Bismillahi Wal Hamdullillah Was Salātu Was Salāmu ‘alaa Rasūlillahi

Ammā Ba’d:

With this the final day of the blessed month of Ramadhān, no doubt it grieves us to see it end with such quickness. And it the likes of this rapid movement of time that we witness that brings to mind the like of the statement of the Sahābi Al Jalīl Abdullah Ibn Mas’ūd – Radhiyallahu ‘Anhu who said:

I have not grieved over anything the way I grieve over a day that the sun sets, my determined period shortens, and I have not increased in my actions

But keep in mind constantly that the affairs are by ones final actions (as occurs in an authentic hadeeth), so let the end of this month of Ramadhān be with Istighfār (seeking forgiveness) from Allah and Taubah (repentance).

For certainly Istighfār is the seal of righteous actions.

Allah the most…

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‘Laa Haula wa laa quwwata illaa Billah!’

25 Jul

Abu Hakeem أبو حكيم بلال

Bismillahi wal Hamdullillah was Salaatu Was Salaamu ‘Alaa Rasoolillahi

Ammaa Ba’d:

Upon the authority of Abu Hurairah – Radhiyallahu ‘Anhu – who said: “The Messenger of Allah – Sallallahu Alaihi wa Salam said to me: “Say ‘Laa Haula Wa Laa Quwwataa Illaa Billaah’ (There is no might or power except with Allah) in abundance, for indeed it is from the treasures of Jannah

(Collected by Bukhaari (6952) and At Tirmidhi (3601) upon the authority of Abu Musaa Al Ash’aree -Radhiyallahu Anhu)

Meaning this is a treasure that will be preserved and rewarded to the servant in Jannah if he says it!

As far as its meaning is concerned then ‘Laa Haula’  meaning ‘Laa Tahweel’ which is to change from one affair to another. That is there is no ability to change and turn from disobediance and sin except with Allah. As for ‘Laa Quwwata’ then it literally means no power or…

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Gluten strikes again!

7 Apr

Riddle time: guess who was recently glutened, had stomach aches, became a bit of a grump, then eventually started healing and finally had a proper meal only to be glutened again?

Oh yes, me. The first time I was careless so I guess I deserved it. However, today was a genuine mistake and a mix up really. So, what happens now? I honestly don’t know. I can either have another crazy week but starve myself food wise as such as possible to avoid stomach aches, I can eat and whine and moan like a baby or I can do whatever I want and laugh.

I pick option 3. I’m doing what I want and I’ll get through it with laughter. Seriously, it beats crying and worrying (not that that’s what I’ve been doing).

I’m making a promise to myself right now that no matter what happens from now until next Sunday I will smile, laugh, hold my head up high and just get through the days. I need to be braver, stronger and more able to deal with this better as the chances are it may happen again. Afterall, I live with gluten consuming humans who I cook for and we share the same kitchen so the chances of being protected from gluten for as long as I live are slim.

I have to admit, earlier when I established I had been glutened a huge part of me became incredibly pesimistic. Basically I heard of something happening in a few days time and I think I was looking forward to it but now I’m like ‘oh no!’. Some of you are probably thinking this is a psychological symptom. That is, since hearing I’d been glutened I’ve gone into panic mode and started stressing. I agree with you to some extent but that does not mean my gluten symptoms are also in my head… as in made up because we know gluten affects me mentally. So yeah, this thing coming up…. I really am starting to feel negative, there’s a knot in my stomach similar to when you have an exam and feel like you’re gonna hurl but I know I was okay before this so I know I need to fight it.

This week will be really interesting but I WILL get through it because I am a Muslim. I have Islaam. I have books like the Qur’aan and Sunnah I can read, books about general topics. I’m old enough, wise enough and mature enouh to be able to control my mood and actions, I can beat this and I will beat this… InshaaAllaah!!

May Allaah give me the strength, energy, courage, sincerity, good intentions and patience to get through this. May He guide me and enable me to at least maintain my eemaan and make me get through this and a stronger and better person, aameen ya Rabb!

Gluten is to self-harm as water is to a fish

2 Apr

I believe the title sums it up but for anyone who may be perplexed then what I mean is a fish resides in water in order to survive, without it, it suffocates and dies. Similarly, self-harm resides in gluten, without it, the self-harm will suffocate and cease to exist.

That’s not to say self-harm is only caused by gluten, rather it is one cause of destruction. Before anyone imagines that the consumption of a baguette or sandwich causes a person to slash their wrists, I’d like to clarify that the self-harm about to be mentioned is on a mental or spiritual level.

As you are already aware, gluten, grains and soya products cause me problems and I should avoid them at all costs. When I did a clean eating program with a coach and weekly ‘check-ins’ which lasted three months shortly after discovering I was allergic/sensitive/whatever you wanna call it to gluten I learnt to eat clean. Good clean food. No checimals, no junk, no rubbish, no E numbers, nothing processed or out of a packet. Just raw food that naturally decomposes and goes mouldy after a few days!  Anyway, yes I slipped up every now and then and found it hard as I was re-training my brain and body but eventually eating clean became second nature to me. It really was a no brainer and I was coming up with new foodie concoctions of my own.

So after the three months were over I was adequately trained to carry on with a decent life with good food. I should state it was a paleo program I followed because I needed to be grain free and since then I learnt about raw milk in the Sunnah and started drinking that and discovered it really was a cure for me. So I moved away from this paleo thing and I eat in a way which fits in with my religion more importantly and whatever foods my body can tolerate.

I discovered, eventually, that potatoes don’t harm me so now I eat them and life’s all good and various other changes have been made. Now, along the way I got a little over excited and was slowly introducing new ‘treats’ in order to avoid insane cravings and reaching for chocolate bars or awful sweets and so on. I know I’ve fallen ill several times but I put this down to my new job and generally, I shrugged off any sickness I felt.

This is where my heart breaks and I feel like giving myself a huge slap… I’m an idiot. All these foods I have been eating do contain minor traces of gluten even though some food say gluten free or nothing is listed under the allergy advice. Basically, gluten has been lurking in thickening agents. I know things like gravy and other popular foods use cornflour to thicken foods. I just happened to pop onto facebook last night to visit a gluten group and after scrolling through old posts by members I saw alerts left, right and centre about hidden gluten. How could I be so stupid? How could I be so careless? I did one google search and there was plenty of material out there confirming what people were saying. All I did was ONE search. Why didn’t I do it before? Where did my common sense go?!

It gets worse. I’ve had stomach aches and slight discomfort in my belly for the last couple of weeks at least. Pain is something relatively insignificant to me, I have a high pain threshold so I just ignore pain and hope it goes away. It usually does. This didn’t. It came back again, and again, and again and I continued to ignore it. What  is wrong with me?! I know pain means something is wrong. Over the years I would wake up with stomach aches and would be worried I’d end up in hospital one day (I have an interesting fear of hospitals – don’t worry, I’m so over it now). I noticed after going strictly paleo that I no longer have stomach aches in the morning and as previously mentioned in another post, a nurse thinks it may have been the start of coeliac for me and Allaah knows best. But seriously, how could I be so stupid? Stomach aches and I ignore them ’cause I’m a tough gal..!

But I can top it that little bit more. I’ve been tired, wanting to rest and sleep in. Again, thought it was because I was getting ill from my new job, maybe I was overworked etc plus it’s now the holidays and clearly the best place to be is in bed!! I mean that’s fine right? Yes… if you’re eemaan isn’t at a stand still and you know you’re slacking when it comes to the Deen or religion. This is what hurts me, my carelessness and stupidity were responsible for my laziness. I keep banging on about how I need to use my free time wisely, targets I have, things I want to do, ways I want to progress and so on and I KNOW for a fact that all of this is only possible if I treat my body right.

Right now whatever I eat, no matter what it is, my stomach hurts. I can ignore it and I do but it’s a reminder of my foolishness. I’ve said it before, that whether or not you have coeliac, gluten sensitivity, IBS, Crohn’s, diabetes or whatever you NEED a good clean diet. Even if you’re not sick or have no allergies, we have all been given blessings which we neglect; good health and free time. Gluten is harmful to me and no doubt many of you but you simply do not know or you CHOOSE to ignore what you do know. Why? Because we give into temptations and our desires. I have had too many conversations to count with so many people who agree that gluten must be bad for us all after they themselves have read and seen the evidencs supporting it. Yet they turn to me and say “wow, I admire you, I could never do that because I love bread and pasta too much.” Desires! You love it yes but you can survive without it! You will be healthier without it. InshaaAllaah you will live longer without it. You can worship Allaah more and better without it! I know because this is what my life is like now, Allaahu Akbar.

When your eemaan dips so far that you can’t see a way back, may Allaah protect you from this aameen, you won’t know if you’ll be guided back to a better life. You won’t know if you’ll ever have khushoo again, you won’t know if you’ll have the opportunity to pray again, you don’t know if you’ll have a chance to repent, if you’ll see another Ramadhaan, if you’ll perform Hajj and so on.

Perhaps I was neglectful prior to those several years when Allaah tested me but I can say I would do anything to not return to those dark and wasteful days. Perhaps that was what I needed in order to fix up and teach me a lesson. Yes, alhamdulillaah it worked for me and I’m grateful for being tested in the way that I was. I don’t say any of this to boast or show-off, indeed I have nothing to boast or show-off about because I’m full of flaws and the very reason for me writing this post is because I was foolish and neglectful after having knowledge of foods that harm me. I say it so it can make you think about your life. Where you are now, where you want to be and your ultimate goal for the Hereafter.

Don’t wait for something so extreme to happen to you before you sort you life out because you don’t know when your time on Earth is up and the deadline for increasing in good deeds is over.

This is advice to myself first. Apparently wise people learn from another person’s mistakes. So take note.

Forgive me if I sound harsh, rude or opinionated, I only intend good to be taken from this. May Allaah help us all and grant us good eternal dwelling. May He grant us an increase in knowledge and the understanding of the Sunnah and the path of the Sunnah, aameen.

Why Soy is Not Healthy

23 Feb

The following is one of the many beneficial blog posts I’ve found recently that for me, have busted the myth about soy being good for us. I have a problem with some grains, particularly rice and recently I thought some of my problems were due to potatoes. However, I do know I’ve consumed some soya products so I’m wondering if I’m falsely accusing potatoes. Anyhoo, this is taken from Wellness Mama:

I’ve gotten several emails lately, asking about various forms of soy and if it can be healthy or not.

If you don’t feel like reading the rest of this post, the answer can be summarized in one sentence: Soy is not healthy, it can cause health problems and it’s widespread use is destructive to the planet… don’t eat it! 

Want to know why? Read on…

Soy is a legume, and as such, has the same harmful components that other beans do, but there is more. Some other harmful properties of soybeans are:

In addition to being harmful to our bodies, soy production is harmful to the planet and to livestock who eat it as well. Almost all soybeans grown today are genetically modified and “Round-up ready.” They contain a gene that allows them to be directly sprayed with pesticides without dying. There is some evidence that this gene can mutate and create a pesticide-like toxin in the body.

This mutation means that soybeans can be (and are) sprayed with large amounts of pesticides and herbicides during their cultivation. In addition, soybeans strip the soil of many nutrients, leaving soil depleted. (On a personal note, I live in an area where soybeans are grown, and have witnessed first hand how much the soybeans are sprayed during their growth and how harmful these chemicals are to other plants and vegetation)

Animals who are fed soy can suffer many of the same health consequences as people who consume too much soy, and these harmful properties are then passed on in their meat.

What about Asian Countries Where Soy is Consumed In Large Amounts?

I often get this question when I talk about the negative properties in soy. It is assumed that people in Asian countries consume a lot of soy, and since they are thin, soy must be healthy.

It is important to note that people in these countries do not consume as much soy as we assume they do. In fact, in most places, soy based foods are served as a condiment, not a main course and not as a replacement for animal protein. In addition, these foods are fermented or traditionally prepared, which minimizes the harmful factors.

In many countries, soy based foods are consumed with seaweed containing foods or traditionally made broths, which both have high nutrient concentration and can help mitigate the harmful effects of the soy.

An Inferior Protein Source

Besides the lectin and phytic acid in soybeans, they aren’t the complete protein source they are touted to be. Like all beans, they lack the amino acids Methionine and Cystine. While they are often promoted for being able to provide Vitamin B-12 to those eating a vegetarian diet, the Vitamin B-12 in soybeans can not be used by the body and actually cause the body to need more B-12.

As I often say about grains a beans: there are no nutrients in these foods that can’t be found in higher amounts in meats, vegetables and healthy fats, so stick to those and avoid the lectins and phytic acid!

A Note on Fermented Soy

If you are going to consume soy, it is least harmful in its fermented state. Foods like Tempeh and Miso have some health promoting properties and many of the harmful anti-nutrients are fermented out. These are fine in moderation. Just look for ones that have been traditionally fermented. (I, the Gluten Free Salafi have not investigated fermented products. a) I don’t have time and b) I’m not too bothered. For me it’s easier to just refrain from all stuff although I have had soya containing products lately hence by I think I’ve wrongly accused potatoes of being my problem. I’m sorry dear spuds, really I am!)

Soy is Everywhere!

If you stay away from tofu and soymilk, you might still be consuming much more soy than you think!

Practically all processed foods contain some form of soy. Even some canned tuna contains a soy protein as part of the broth! (Hey woah, GFS here and if I buy tinned tuna it’s in spring water only. Or at least that’s what the tin says only to me tinned tuna tastes like metal, Gack). Check the foods you buy for these ingredients: Soy lecithin, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, texturized vegetable protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein or any other phrase containing the word “soy.”

Foods containing any of these ingredients contain soy and all the harmful components that go along with it!

What are your thoughts? Do you consume soy? Have you in the past? Tell me below! (Wellness Mama wants to know but if you wanna comment here then feel free, I’m not fussed and it would be interesting to see what readers thought. Alternatively you can email me or drop me a message if you have my personal details).

A Week of Raw Milk and Honey in Pictures

14 Jan

Well, almost a week… I didn’t take pictures of absolutely everything I made and even then I think I started off with baby steps. I didn’t want to overdo it so decided to try some of my favourite things with raw milk/cream and had them a couple of times.

I’ve mentioned how we thought I had some kind of dairy intolerance after eating cheese on my paleo pizza as I had dry skin and this happened a few times and I was getting some rashes. A full week of drinking raw milk and eating cream and alhamdulillaah, everything seems to be quite good so far and I genuinely believe it is because raw milk is a cure as mentioned in the Sunnah and a drink mentioned in the Qur’aan. It is a cure and I firmly believe that. I don’t believe it’s a placebo affect thing. My skin has looked nicer, brighter, clearer and felt a bit smoother. Almost “plump” like but without added weight gain if that makes any sense?! This was also something I checked for. Some people are afraid of raw milk or cream and full fat because they think it’ll make them fat. I definately haven’t gained any weight this week but I think I may have lost a little. I have been eating well, I assure you. I’ll probably edit this tomorrow to confirm the weight issue again for any skeptics out there.

Overall, I feel really well maashaaAllaah and I do believe it’s because I’m living my life more according to the Sunnah now. With my increased eemaan and tawakkul in Allaah and the desire to become better through the means that Allaah has revealed to us in various ways, there is a cure and a healing for us all no matter what our health may be like.

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Raw milk, raw cream and raw butter from Hook and Son

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Raw and unpasteurised honey from the New Zealand Honey Company (purchased from Asda) I used to use raw acacia blossom honey which I purchased over the internet on a few occasions but that was heated slightly and apparently this hasn’t been so I figured this would be better. Acacia was easy going on the palate… this however is an acquired taste, for me anyway but I am getting used to it

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Hot chocolate made using raw milk and then I mixed in a little raw cream for added indulgence. It was pleasing and different to having it topped with whipped cream or marshmallows

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One of my favourite fruity snacks and how I like to enjoy bananas and strawberries. Slice the fruits, drizzle with honey, sprinkle on dark choc chips, ground almonds (or chopped hazelnuts) and a sprinkling of (mixed) seeds. Awesomeness and so simple! I’ve tried this with Sidr honey, Raw Acacia and the one pictured above. All good.

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The infamous chocolate waffles made with raw milk instead of coconut milk. Made such a difference I think. That or I just hadn’t had them in ages so forgot how good they were. Topped with raw honey, raw cream and bananas and strawberries. Yummers!
Btw, I also added raw butter to my waffle iron instead of a spray of oil, worked just as well, if not better! Made no real difference to the taste though. It was unsalted butter anyway

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Purple Rawberry Smoothie I think I should call this. Just under a pint of raw milk blitzed with half a banana (they can be overpowerign in flavour so never use a whole one for a small amount) and strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. I had blueberries too but forgot to add them, oops! Very yummy maashaaAllaah. Though it kinda ‘splits’ after a bit, not sure if this a characteristic of raw milk or what. Drink it up real quick!

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Flourless Chocolate Cake (pr brownie to me), recipe was posted earlier today with loads of pictures. Very rich so you can’t have a lot in one go but as a rare treat it is worth it! I got 14 portions out of this and have frozen the rest.

I made about three different hot chocolates. The one above, one with cinammon and honey and another with peppermint. I also made tea with raw milk and honey (and some sugar but I have reduced the amount I have) and that was better than the regular tea I remember.

InshaaAllaah I’m going to make more smoothies, maybe go back to my banana, turmeric and cinammon ones I was having back before I started blogging. They were also very good and I was having them daily. However, since raw milk is really expensive I won’t be indulging that much! I prefer it to coconut milk, that’s for sure. Afterall, what can be better than something that Allaah has created for us?

Post about Raw milk coming soon… inshaaAllaah tomorrow!

Hayakumullaah!

Eat fat, lose weight, stay slim

6 Jan

Remember that post, “You are what you eat…“? I eat fat. Therefore I’m fa… oh wait, I’m not. Well, like everyone I have some fat for insulation but it’s a good amount which has a purpose and it is not excessive so it causes harm to the body or health problems, alhamdulillaah, all praise is to Allaah. We all need some fat on us, don’t forget that, it’s just a case of not being obese and unhealthy so when losing weight, dont be the sort of person who obsesses about a little extra weight. This is one serious misconception (that fat is bad) that people need to get out of their heads. In fact, since turning paleo I’ve been eating more fat and losing weight. No, I’m not on the Atkins diet, I don’t believe in such nonsense and the paleo diet is not like that at all. Atkins is all about deep fried food, processed oils and so on. Whereas paleo is about consuming the fat that naturally occurs and can be made without processing it excessively or adding chemicals and so on.

These days I cook separately for myself at home now seeing as everyone eats a gluten and grain filled diet. I cook with ghee (clarified butter – not the kind you buy from an Asian shop or the from the ‘World foods aisle’ in a supermarket) and butter mostly which only comes from grass fed cows and occasionally I use a very light spray of extra virgin olive oil and even I cook with coconut oil (coconut oil is a solid at room temperature, not a liquid and it’s not any old cheap brand, I buy Pukka organic coconut oil – so expensive hence why I still only own one jar, plus it’s an acqiured taste). If I’m cooking meat I simply reduce the amount of fat I add to the meal or omit it completely, depending on how fatty the meat is.

I usually have someone watch me cook if we’re standing about and chatting and even though I cook with these fats regular folk label as being “bad”, everyone tells me I look healthier and happier (and I feel it too!) So what’s going on? Why aren’t I a morbidly obese person, rolling about, feeling lazy, tired with achey joints, muscles and so on? How am I eating more fat and getting slimmer and healthier?

I have done no exercise since August, I kid you not. I wasn’t very active for the entire year before that in fact yet I have lost all that excess weight I gained and am now back down to my dress size and weight when I was in college. There is a wide range of non-gut problems I had and I’ve not mentioned them on the blog but it’s amazing how all these problems had no real or known cause and then suddenly they all vanished when I cut out gluten! Well, I say no gut problems but I guess if gluten was affecting my weight then I guess maybe there were some… coeliac is such a weird disease because the symptoms vary so much.

Going back to my original point of why I’m not unhealthy yet I’m eating fat, it’s simple. I’m eating real food, fats which are good for us, fats which the body can use properly and they don’t just get stored as fat in all those troublesome areas such as the tummy. Yes, I’m eating more saturated fats and everything out there tells us it’s bad for us, it causes high cholesterol and so on but for so many people it’s cause the opposite effect and it’s made them much healthier – only when they change their diet permanently and start eating real food.

Weight gain and weight loss isn’t (entirely) about how much we move and how much we eat. It’s more to do with what we eat. I know because I’m an example. I didn’t exercise on purpose when I went GF and paleo, firstly because it was Ramadhaan and it was Summer and secondly because if my problems were diet related then a change in diet should fix it, right? I was also eating more food by the time I went GF so it showed me that portion sizes were not an issue either. That said, I wasn’t eating massive portions of food, just a little more spread out across the day. I would wake up and eat breakfast earlier and aim for an earlier dinner so my body could rest and digest my food for at least 2-3 hours before going to bed.

If anything, the food that makes us fat is all these nasty complex foods made with dozens of ingredients, most of which we wouldn’t be able to recognise if they were put in front of us and others which we can’t even pronounce! We’re living in an age where people are obsessed with fad diets, noone understands or even attempts to educate themselves about why they’re getting fat, why they have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart and lung diseases. All we know is this: we’re getting fat and we we want to lose weight so we select the “quick fix”. This “fix” isn’t even a fix, in fact, it’s probably doing you more harm than good.

When people want to lose weight they think they need to eat less fat or less sugar so they choose “low fat” and “no added sugar” alternatives. Have you even read the labels to low fat and low sugar foods?? No? Well I suggest you do. Processed foods have to taste good somehow and whether you’ll admit to it or not, we all know fat tastes good. Taste a bit of grass-fed butter (Anchor or KerryGold) and try telling me it doesn’t taste nice. So, when food claims to be “low fat” it just means they’ve added a whole bunch of other nasties in it to make up for the lack of taste and these nasties are in the form of chemicals. Same goes for “no added sugar” foods.

Anyway, back in September when I went to visit the Doctors about my GF and new diet plans I was told to consume gluten for all three meals for ten days running and then they’d test me for coeliac and gluten sensitivity. I’ve heard since then that gluten remains in your body for at least a further six months or so. Hence me eating more gluten to be diagnosed is a big fat lie plus in my case it would be considered as self-harm which Islaam is totally against.
So I thought, why don’t I get this blood test done now and at the same time have my cholesterol checked seeing as I eat more fat on this paleo diet. My cholesterol levels were okay the last time I checked which was probably around two years ago, can’t remember the specific number but it was fine.

I genuinely believe a paleo diet is the way to go (I’ll post proof during the upcoming days, Islaamic and otherwise) but so many people frown upon this eating fat thing. I’d like to (nervously) prove those skeptics wrong by using my own blood results. That means tomorrow I’m off to have a blood test! I’m not sure how long I’ll have to wait for the results as I dunno if coeliac/gluten-sensitivity testing takes longer than other tests. Honestly, I’d be gutted if I had high cholesterol levels or something because then that’d mean I was wrong even though I am better in every other aspect, it’s making me a lot more nervous now! But I do have faith in this because I know I eat right so there’s generally nothing for me to be concerned about really.

Plus it’d be a good time to have cholesterol checked seeing as I’m going to start having dairy/milk daily from Tuesday inshaaAllaah, God Willing. – I went a little over the top and ordered a whole bunch of raw milk, butter and cream. All will be explained and I know it’s very unpaleo but my religion comes first. Please keep an eye out for posts regarding Raw milk and the prophetic medicine etc.