Monthly Archives: June 2015

Do Great Things

“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way” Napoleon Hill

I came across this quote a few months ago whilst completing my 5 minute journal (part of my Miracle Morning).

To me it seems a really valid approach to life with ME/CFS.  When you’re suffering with ME/CFS it’s hard to do anything.  Most achievements are very small.  Perhaps you’re pleased because you’ve managed to get dressed, or wash your hair.  Maybe you’re ecstatic because you had enough energy to read a story to your child.

Doing great things may be off the agenda for now, although I know people with ME/CFS who have started businesses from their beds, or campaigned for fairer treatment by doctors or the benefit system.

However, doing small things in a great way is definitely possible.

What’s a great way?

  • making sure the small things you’re doing feel right for you
  • say no to things that make you miserable and yes to things that make you happier
  • feeling grateful for everything you can do
  • listen to your body and rest when you need to
  • Have realistic expectations
  • Celebrate your small achievements with family and friends

What small things can you do in a great way?

Natural Deodorant

When I found out that my infra red sauna was helping me, and that the sauna’s main function was helping the body to detox I realised that I should do my best to reduce the toxins entering my body.

As well as eating well I started to think about what I put on my body – shower gel, shampoo, deodorant and moisturiser etc.. I don’t wear make up very often, so that wasn’t a big issue for me.

A bit of googling led me to the Wellness Mama website and a recipe for natural deodorant. I made up a batch and was surprised by how effective it was. The only odour was a bit of coconut. I was happy to have found an effective way to remain odour free without my usual spray on deodorant. Sadly after a couple of weeks I developed a rash on my armpits, and had to stop using the recipe. I read that some people react to the Bicarbonate of Soda in the mixture, so after my rash subsided I tried again with pure coconut oil. Again this was surprisingly effective, but I soon developed another rash.

Finally I tried another recommended option – magnesium oil. This worked well for me and I used it with reasonable success for several months.  As well as acting as a deodorant the magnesium oil was absorbed through the skin and helped me with other symptoms, as I explained in this post. However, it’s not 100% effective as a deodorant and with my cycle training I  wanted to experiment and see if I could find a better solution.

A newer post on the Wellness Mama website led me to the idea of detoxing my armpits. Yes, it’s a bit weird, but no more weird than a face mask. I did that a few times and then re-tried the original  natural deodorant recipe. I’ve been tolerating the natural deodorant for several months now and I’m amazed at how effective it is – I rate this recipe as more effective than conventional deodorant.

If you think detoxing is an issue for you I encourage you to try some more natural products on your skin. You too may be surprised by how effective they can be.

Eating Gluten Free on a French Exchange

Our choir singing with the French choir

Our choir singing with the French choir

Our area is twinned with a French town, and last summer a French choir visited us as part of an exchange.  This year it was our turn to visit France, and perform in a joint concert.

From a previous holiday in France I know that eating gluten free can be challenging. This trip presented more challenges than my previous self catering holiday because it was an organised group trip where I would be staying with a host family and eating meals at their home or with the group.  This meant I had no control over food purchasing and preparation.  I also needed food for the 12 hour coach journey there and back.  Previous experience of French service stations led me to believe it would be extremely difficult to find gluten free food there, so I needed to be fully self sufficient not only for the way there, but more challenging, for the way home.  I’m sure if I was fluent in French this trip would be less daunting, but my French is pretty non-existent, I don’t even have GCSE French, although I have learnt that gluten free is sans gluten and wheat is blé.

Here’s what I did to prepare for the trip

  • made sure the trip organisers knew I was gluten free
  • contacted my host family directly and discussed which food I could and could not eat. Fortunately I was staying with the same family I had hosted in our home last year, so we already knew each other, and I knew the guy spoke reasonable English.
  • Planned what food to take for my journey
  • Planned extra food for during the trip in case my host family had misunderstood, or we were at a group meal where the message had got lost.

Here’s a list of the food I took for my trip:

Journey out:

  • Banana pancakes with yoghurt and berries.  I made these the night before and they tasted fine the next day.  I packed the yogurt and berries in seperate, leak proof containers and tipped them over the pancakes when I was ready to eat them
  • Falafel and mint sauce
  • hummus and vegetable sticks
  • An apple
  • Homemade brownie (I try and keep some of these in the freezer so I can take them out when needed)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs.  I forgot to take these off the coach at our lunch stop, and I didn’t want to eat them on the coach and stink everyone out, so these went to waste, but they are a good travel food.

Journey back:

This was challenging. I needed a whole days worth of food that would taste reasonably good, satisfy me and could survive 3 days unchilled.  I searched on the internet to come up with ideas.  Here’s what I decided on:

  • 1 pack of beef jerky
  • 1 tin of chicken – I haven’t eaten tinned meat for years, but this seemed a good idea if I got hungry.  I took my penknife so I could open the tin.
  • gluten free crackers
  • dried apricots
  • roasted seeds (munchy seeds)
  • a jar of mini peppers stuffed with feta cheese

Additional food for during the weekend in case of misunderstandings with my hosts:

  • 1 pack of gluten free bread rolls
  • more gluten free crackers

What happened?

My hosts went above and beyond to cater for me with gluten free food. Breakfast and picnic lunches were eaten with our host families, who did a great job.  They had bought plenty of gluten free bread.  Bread is a staple at every meal in France, and although I don’t usually eat much bread at home it was easier to just go with the flow and accept what was offered.  I must admit that by day 3 the bread was stale, but at least I had plenty to eat.  Additionally my hosts made 3 different gluten free cakes.  Given we were only there for less than 2.5 days this was incredible.  I am hoping to get the recipe for at least one of them because it was one of the best gluten free cakes I’ve ever eaten.

On the Saturday evening the entire group of French and English exchangers ate at restaurant. The restaurant knew that there was a gluten free person (and several other food allergies) in the group.  However, despite me asking one of the French people on our table to talk to the waiter and tell him I was gluten free, I had a bread roll at my place and when the starter arrived it had a crisp bread with it.  I tried to ask the waiter if it was gluten free, and  he told me it was, but I had already decided not to risk it when another waiter came swooping in and took it away.  After that I could tell my food was gluten free as it differed in small aspects to others on the table.  The food, setting and company were all fantastic and I had a great evening.

On the Sunday evening we got together with the French and English choirs for a “pot luck” supper catered by our French hosts.  This was my worst nightmare.  If I’m going to an event like this I generally eat before I go because most of the dishes at a UK pot luck contain gluten and if I hog my gluten free contribution I look mean.  My host had made a small plate of gluten free appetizers, and a gluten free cake.  The problem was that as we arrived all the starters got put on one table, a quick scan and I knew the only one I could eat was the plate my host had bought, so I hovered near it and scooped some up before it got shared around.  I may have looked greedy, but I did explain to the English people nearby what I was doing and why.   I was pleasantly surprised by the main course.  There were plenty of naturally gluten free salads and meats that I could eat – far more than you would generally find at an English buffet. For dessert my host made sure I got a slice of her cake before it got passed around.  I didn’t have to dig into the secret stash of crackers and jerky I’d put into my handbag, and another great time was had by all.

The journey home:  My lovely French hosts made me a packed lunch with sandwiches and fruit.  By the time I unwrapped the sandwiches the bread was very stale, but I ate the ham and fruit.  I also ate plenty of my supplies of food, but I didn’t get desperate enough for the tinned chicken.  I’ll be hiding that in a family meal soon.

Over all I had planned for the worst, so even if I had been served lots of food with gluten in I could have coped, but the reality was fantastic.  I’m so glad I went on this trip, although I won’t be volunteering for another 12 hour coach trip in a hurry.


There’s been lots happening recently, so I thought I’d cover several topics in one post.  The hiatus in posts has been partly due to being busy and partly due to our broadband and phone connection being down for a week.  There were cheers in our house this morning when the kids realised the internet was back!

C2C Training

Last week the whole family cycled  for two days, with a night in a youth hostel.  We had a great time and managed to cycle 5o hilly miles in two days.  We are all much more confident now about doing the C2C challenge.

I’ve been out cycling up and down some local hills this morning.  I’m not sure how far I went, but I cycled for about 90 minutes and made it to the top of all the hills without having to get off and push.  The hills on the C2C will be bigger, but hopefully with some more training I’ll make it up them too.

French Exchange

The local choir I sing with recently took part in an exchange with a French choir.  I plan to write a post about how I coped food wise on this trip, but for now I’ll just say it was a fantastic experience and I felt fit and healthy the whole time.  We had a packed schedule and lots of travelling (by coach), so everyone was exhausted by the time we got home, but there was no sign of ME/CFS, and I kept up with the everyone else.

Blood Tests

My nutritionist cousin suggested I get some blood tests done whilst I feel good, so that if I relapse I will have a healthy baseline to compare results to.  I was surprised to find that the results showed I was anaemic.  I started on iron pills and within a week I felt much more energetic.  I mentioned in my May 12th post that I sometimes needed to rest in the day.  I now realise that was down to the anaemia.  Now I’m taking the supplements I feel great.  My doctor is investigating why I’m prone to low iron levels (several previous blood tests showed I had low ferratine stores, and I have been on iron tablets a few times).  It’s so great to have a problem that can be diagnosed and treated.  I hope one day that there is proper diagnosis and treatment for ME/CFS.

If it wasn’t for my cousin I would not have requested these blood tests, and because I was so grateful to feel so much better than I had in the past I hadn’t thought to raise the small amount of remaining fatigue with my GP.  Please learn from this and request regular blood tests and mention changes in symptoms to your GP.

Adrenal Fatigue

I’ve updated my page about Adrenal Fatigue.  If you’re interested you can find it here.  I wrote a very short piece about adrenal fatigue when I first created the blog.  The update is still brief, but hopefully gives a bit more useful information.  If you’ve got questions then mention it in the comments section I’ll do my best to answer.