Want to learn some quick and easy life hacks that are easy to do, low cost and saves you time? You’re in luck. We have collected 100 of these practical life hacks into this one big list that is easy to digest because they’re all images! By tweaking little things, it can make your life much easier. Enjoy!
Results of a small study of adults with autism at Johns Hopkins has added to evidence that their brains can learn to compensate for some language comprehension challenges that are a hallmark of the disorder in children.
Studies analyzing electrical activity in the brains of children with autism have shown that they have difficulty sorting out pairs of words that are unrelated—like “clock” and “frog”—from those that are related—like “baby” and “bottle”—making it hard for them to process written or spoken language. Moreover, investigators believed that for most children with autism, this struggle with language persisted throughout their lives.
Results of the new research from specialists at Johns Hopkins Medicine, published in the March issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, suggests that at least some adults with autism process unrelated words as well as adults without the disorder and their brains use distinct learning strategies to do so.
“There is often an assumption that people with autism will always have problems understanding the meaning of language,” says Emily Coderre, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “But our results suggest that adults with autism seem to use an alternative mechanism to process language that results in a different pattern in the brain.”
For the study, the researchers recruited 20 adults with autism spectrum disorder, considered mild to moderate. All participants had “normal” verbal abilities, according to standardized tests. Those with autism spectrum disorder were diagnosed by a specialist on the team based on their score on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Some participants were diagnosed early in life, and others not until adulthood. Many participants went to regular schools with special education tracks. Some participants had graduated high school, and some went through college. The research team also recruited a matching group of 20 participants without autism to serve as a comparative control group. Participants overall ranged in age from 18 to 69. Six were female, 35 were white, one was Asian, two were African-American, one was Hispanic and one was mixed race.
All participants completed a 90-minute computer task that asked them to decide whether two pictures or two words were related (e.g., baby and bottle) or unrelated (e.g., frog and clock). The task designers chose 400 pairs of tangible nouns, half of them in the form of words and the other half displayed as pictures.
One hundred of the noun pairs were related words, 100 were related pictures, 100 were unrelated words and 100 were unrelated pictures. The screen showed a picture or a word for 1 second and after a brief pause displayed the second picture or word.
While the participants completed the task, the researchers monitored their brain’s electrical activity using an electroencephalogram (EEG) that recorded activity from 256 electrodes. For their analyses, the researchers looked at the brain activity from nine small clusters of electrodes on the front left, middle and right of the head over the frontal cortex; in the left, middle and right of the top of the head over the central brain; and on the left, right and middle part of the back top of the head, where the parietal lobe is located.
When analyzing unrelated pictures or words, people with typical development have a spike on the EEG during the 200- to 800-millisecond window following the second word or photo, known as an N400 response. Researchers believe the N400 response reflects the brain’s ability to recognize that something is “off” and that two words or pictures aren’t related in a meaningful way.
When looking at related and unrelated pictures, the people with autism had the same N400 spike on the EEG readout as the people without autism.
Contrary to findings from earlier studies in children with autism, adults with autism also had the N400 spike in electrical activity on the EEG when looking at related and unrelated words. In the controls, the response occurred at 250 to 500 milliseconds in the front of the head and from approximately 400 to 800 milliseconds over the top and top rear of the head. The response in the adults with autism started later, from 400 to 800 milliseconds in both the top and top rear of the head.
From 400 to 800 milliseconds, the N400 spike was relatively evenly distributed over left and right sides of the head for the control participants, whereas in adults with autism, the spike was stronger over the right side of the head. Coderre says that these differences between the groups—an earlier onset of the N400 response for controls and a more right-sided N400 response for the adults with autism—suggest that the two groups used different strategies to think about the meaning of the words. She points out that overall, the adults with autism showed a similar N400 response to the controls, suggesting that they weren’t impaired at teasing apart the unrelated from the related words, contrary to previous studies in children with autism. “It appears that although the adults with autism in our study have brains that are ‘wired’ differently than those without autism, our findings strongly suggest this different wiring can still enable them to achieve good cognitive and language abilities, at least on this one measure,” she says.
“It is possible that some adults with mild or moderate forms of autism may have developed compensatory learning strategies that allow them to process language as well as people without autism,” says Coderre. She plans to repeat this experiment in children with mild to moderate autism to verify that the differences seen between adults and children are due to learned responses.
“If we can understand those compensatory strategies better, then teachers can use this information in language programs for children or those with more severe language deficits to help them develop these alternative strategies faster and earlier,” she adds. “I hope our study sends a hopeful message to people with autism or their parents.”
Coderre says that one limitation of her study is that they used single words for their analysis, simplifying it, whereas others in previous studies used full sentences in their study design, which may have affected the results. She also points out that they asked participants to think about whether the two words were related or not, which may have prompted them to use more explicit compensatory strategies. In future studies, she plans to repeat this experiment using an “implicit” task, in which participants aren’t told to think about the relationship between the words, allowing her to verify whether these results were due to learned compensatory strategies in adults with autism.
About 3.5 million people in the U.S. have autism, according to the National Institutes of Health, and about a quarter of those are nonverbal. Those with speech have difficulty with complex language processing, like understanding meaning, emotional states in the voice or metaphors.
At age 23, after several years of experience with high anxiety, major depression, trichotillomania, disordered eating and a long list of issues I didn’t yet understand, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). This may seem like the cherry on top of an already difficult situation – especially considering the stigma associated with personality disorders. In reality, I was overwhelmed with much needed validation and relief. I finally had an explanation and I wasn’t alone. Once I stepped out into the real world, however, I felt silenced.
When I was able to share my diagnosis out loud, I noticed an entirely different response than when I previously shared my experiences with depression and anxiety. The term “personality disorder” itself often seems to be enough to scare people away from the entire conversation. It became clear early on a lot of people don’t want to hear about it, much less learn about BPD in order to advocate and support those who are affected. I assume this comes from a place of fear and intimidation, largely due to the lack of public knowledge and the destructive images and ideas we’ve learned to associate with personality disorders.
People with BPD or other personality disorders are assumed to be violent, abusive or helpless. However, many people with BPD actually tend to be notably empathetic, passionate, loyal and perceptive. We also just happen to experience extreme and often overwhelming emotions, mood swings, impulses, fear of abandonment and identity instability. Additionally, these symptoms tend to arise without a moment’s notice, hitting us like a tidal wave. Sometimes BPD looks like panic attacks, emotional meltdowns, self-harm, dissociation, impulsive decision-making and euphoric highs – all in one day. Other days, we live and exist just like anybody else. The unpredictability of BPD means we never really know what each day will bring.
While mental health awareness and advocacy do seem to be on the rise, the stigma surrounding mental illness is still strong. I’ve noticed an increase in people willing to seek help and disclose information about their mental health, particularly with anxiety – the most common mental illness in the United States – and depression. While this is to be celebrated and anxiety and depression are serious mental health concerns, mental health care and awareness cannot end there.
There have been countless times that friends and peers – even people who consider themselves advocates and allies to people living with mental health issues – have dismissed or invalidated my mental illness the moment I show symptoms. The same people who take to social media to preach respect and compassion for those battling depression are – in my own experience – often the same people who choose to remain ignorant to other, more stigmatized mental illnesses. Not only is this problematic for obvious reasons, but it can be incredibly isolating for people who don’t fall in those more widely understood categories of mental illness.
In reality, borderline personality disorder is not all that uncommon. BPD affects between two and six percent of the population (mostly young women) and is believed to be more common than both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Although a lot of information about BPD is still unknown, there are many popular misconceptions about and even therapists known to turn away patients affected by BPD. The fact is people living with BPD, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder (DID) and other highly stigmatized mental illnesses should have access to the treatment and health care they need to live stable, happy lives. We can each either choose to remain ignorant to the prevalence and reality of the broad spectrum of health or we can recognize people all around us are battling these monsters – even if we can’t see it – and acknowledge they deserve to be heard, validated and loved.
“You’re too much.”
“You go zero to 60 in .2 seconds.”
“Stop being sensitive!”
“You must like chaos.”
I consistently replay these quotes in my head. The people who spoke them have come in and out of my life.
I feel emotions far more than the average person. Although on the surface that may not sound entirely life-altering, it’s crippling.
I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder.
I live every day on the surface. Every emotion is ready to be set off—no matter what. When I’m happy, I’m euphoric. When I’m angry, I’m a monster. When I’m sad, I’m depressed. I have no in between. I’m either green, or red. I have no yellow.
Putting my disorder into words is impossible. My mind is a maze, and it makes me sick to even think of it.
All I want is to be close to people. I want a relationship where I can share, love, be safe, but I become “too intense” and “too much” for anybody to handle. So, ultimately, I’m left with nobody. It’s a terrible cycle.
I suffer every day. I suffer with feeling overwhelmed all the time.
I find it difficult to communicate. What I feel in my heart and my head doesn’t translate. I can love you with my mind, body and soul while my words are the exact opposite.
I’m not trying to start drama and I’m not an attention seeker. When I “overact” it is not easy for me to recover.
I hurt. I hurt others. I’m depleted at the end of the day.
I am constantly afraid of the idea of being alone; abandonment is hell. I latch onto people and let go before they are able to let go of me.
Many believe that I am mean, narcissistic, a manipulator.
My moods change consistently and I have zero control over my emotions. I feel everything 24/7.
I was told there are two Monicas. The “Monica I love” and “the disorder.” The “real Monica” is nurturing, empathetic, passionate, enthusiastic, loving and happy.
Once that Monica is gone, you’re left with “the disorder,” which causes manipulative behavior, lying, distorting reality and pessimism.
How is it possible to have these contradicting traits locked into one human?
I’m going to open up my heart. I’m going to become vulnerable. I am going to be raw. There have been nights I didn’t want to be alive. There have been spirits of what I’d like to call “insanity.” I’ve had moments where I ran into the street while the one I love chased me—and I was hoping and praying a car would take me out of my misery.
Out of the pure pain of thinking the one I love would leave, I’d bang my head against a wall as hard as I could, hoping I’d be knocked out.
“I HATE YOU! I LOVE YOU! DON’T LEAVE ME!” Should be tattooed on my forehead.
I tried overdosing three times October, two years ago. I’d had enough. I was bullied out of college and couldn’t handle the pain. I couldn’t handle being abandoned again.
I wanted to die.
I wanted people to care about me. No matter what it took. I wanted people to hurt and realize their wrong-doings. I wanted to punish the ones who didn’t understand. I wanted them to hurt as much as I did every single day.
When I’m down, I’m at rock bottom.
When I hurt, everyone needs to hurt.
I’ve read articles upon articles on how to deal with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s nothing uplifting to be heard. I read constantly how people like me drain the ones around us. We drain the energy out of the ones we love. We leave them with nothing.
One article even stated, “Run as fast as you can.”
I’m here to tell you that although I’m difficult, I am worth it.
You may not understand me 100 percent of the time. (You may not even understand me five percent of the time, but I am still human.) I feel emotions to the extreme. I long to feel accepted and cherished.
Do not be afraid of me.
We as BPD sufferers are the “difficult ones,” but we aren’t impossible.
Living with a mental illness can be challenging. Over the years, through all the ups and downs, I have learned to tune into myself and listen to what I need. I have found that I can manage my symptoms much better with careful planning and a deep sense of self-awareness. As I have learned my triggers, I have learned to create a lifestyle and environment that helps stabilize me. In addition, I have learned how to avoid and set boundaries for situations that cause chaos and wreak havoc in my life. I try to make it a point to ask myself these five questions at various points throughout my day to help keep me on track and protect myself from a breakdown.
1. What am I grateful for today?
I try to start every day in gratitude. I like to do this first thing in the morning before I even get out of bed. This is especially important during depressive episodes. It helps to balance my natural negativity and give me something to keep me grounded.
2. What do I need today?
Every day is different and I never know how I’m going to feel when I wake up. I have found it’s so important to reflect on what I need to do on any given day. Is it rest? Is it an adventure? Is it time to get work done? Time alone? A conversation with a friend? Time to create? This question is especially important as I go into the day so I can figure out my expectations for the day and communicate those to my loved ones.
3. If I can only get one thing done today, what is it?
I find I get depressed on days I feel I didn’t accomplish anything. So, I like to check in with myself and see what I want to get done on any given day. Maybe it’s just, “I want to take a shower today” or “I want to write a chapter for my book” or “I want to get a specific thing done for work.” If I don’t check in with myself and have that conversation, I am more likely to get disappointed with myself at the end of the day and feel like a failure or get depressed or anxious.
4. What can I take off my plate today, so I can get the most important thing done?
I have come to learn those busy days that are packed full of things to do do not work well for me. They tend to cause stress and irritability and that triggers episodes of anxiety, depression, anger, mania and the like. There is always something I can take out of the day but if I don’t stop, look at my schedule and see what I can move and shift, I will get caught in chaos, which is never good for me. I have learned to set boundaries and have learned to be OK with changing appointments around or saying no to something I know will end up causing problems for me later on.
5. Where can I find time for rest today?
I tend to forget to recharge and I let myself get burnt out, and a burnt out me is not a pretty sight. I have tried to make it a point to focus on self-care and find time and space for rest. I believe that healing comes in the quiet. If we don’t stop and let ourselves rest and replenish we can never really heal or flourish. Along with my illness, I juggle motherhood, marriage and a career. There are always a million excuses for why I can’t rest or don’t have time to stop, but for the sake of my health, I know I have to. Sometimes rest is just a cup of tea in the afternoon. Or maybe it’s a yoga class, dinner with a friend or a bath. On the good days, it’s an afternoon at my favorite tea shop, alone or sitting on a blanket in the park and writing. There are so many ways to find and create rest during the day but if I don’t stop and seek it, I won’t find it.
These questions can be helpful, regardless of what you are dealing with. They have especially come in handy for me as I have dealt with grief and loss, and they have given me a rhythm for my day. If you find yourself struggling through your days, stop and add these questions to your daily routine. They have consistently helped me to gain insight and stay ahead of emotional episodes and breakdowns. Hopefully, they too will help ground you and guide you through your life journey.
mum diagnosed with a rare incurable disease has embarked on a career as a plus size model.
Stephanie Harding, 30, of Southport, says she refuses to let her diagnosis control her life as she battles dislocations including rolling her ankles daily.
She took part in her first professional shoot on Thursday after winning a competition to model a curvy range for a local Merseyside store, Sparkles Boutique.
Mum-of-two Stephanie suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), an incurable hereditary disorder which affects the connective tissues in the body, the Southport Visitor reports.
At present, there are few EDS specialists in the UK, and Stephanie wasn’t even diagnosed until last year, despite showing symptoms since birth.
She said: “I was constantly tired and/or in pain, I knew something wasn’t right. You know your own body, don’t you?
“But whenever I’d go to the GP, they’d blame my weight or depression. I was made to feel silly and like a hypochondriac.”
EDS, which affects around one in 5,000 people, weakens the tissue that holds the body together.
It causes hypermobility and frequent dislocations of the joints, stretchy skin, problems with internal organs and constant pain.
Stephanie says she suffers dislocations every day as well as “fragile skin” but does not experience the stretchy skin element of the condition.
“My ankles constantly roll daily and I have a permanent hip injury because of it,” she said.
Stephanie, who says she loses entire days of her life due to being “wiped out with pain”, finally saw a specialist in London last year.
She continued: “He made me feel like he believed me, like he understood.
“He told me about EDS and it was like he could read me.
“I know GPs can’t know everything but there are so many people with rare conditions, and they shouldn’t be dismissed.”
Stephanie said she was going to set up a blog combining her love of fashion and beauty with raising awareness for EDS and other “invisible illnesses”, as well as taking part in more fashion photoshoots.
She added: “I loved the photoshoot. It was a massive confidence boost and [local photographer Craig Wilko] was great.
“A year ago I’d never have imagined doing something like this, but there comes a time when you have to stop caring what other people think and just do what you want.”
Evolution is a tricky thing, but it’s generally something that’s pretty hard to deny.
According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, people who are in control of their sleeping habits are showing a degree of intelligence.
Authors Kanazawa and Perina suggest that the ‘snooze’ button is an invention which has shaken our evolutionary ‘wake up with the sun’ nature to the core. Essentially, being able to adapt to this new way of sleeping (the ‘five more minutes’ phenomena) means you’re more intelligent.
Rather than waking up with your alarm like a mindless robot, you’re more in tune with your body and likely to act on what it needs.
Whether that’s a few more minutes curled up in a warm blanket, or following your career goals, it’s an evolutionary change that will make you more likely to prosper.
It also shows that you are more creative and independent.
These findings were linked to a study out of Southampton University, where 1229 men and women were surveyed. It was found that night owls, i.e. those who went to bed late and let themselves sleep in in the morning had more income and a more comfortable lifestyle.
Essentially, sleep is good and you need to listen to what your body wants!
We men sometimes get a bad rap. The stereotypical “man” doesn’t do any of the following. However, the only men who are actually like this are created by writers as sitcom fodder (hopefully). In truth, when a man finds the person he knows he’ll be spending the rest of his life with, he’ll certainly work his hardest to keep them by his side at all times. If you have a man that adheres to the following, you know he’s a keeper for life.
1. He’s fully committed to you and your relationship together.
Being there throughout the good times is easy. It’s when the going gets tough that it’s important that you both stick together. Real men don’t run out after a little fight, and they don’t take it out on their significant others when they’re in a bad mood. They understand how important their relationship is, and won’t let anything at all get in the way of persevering.
2. He doesn’t avoid problems.
Like I said, a real man doesn’t run out when things get rough. And he also doesn’t bottle up his feelings until he explodes, either. If something is bothering him within the relationship, he brings it up carefully and respectfully. He is comfortable talking through the issues he’s been having, and will make a genuine effort to fix any underlying issue that’s been plaguing the relationship. He understands that even major problems don’t define the relationship; it’s how you both work through them that does.
3. He pays attention to the little things.
If he lived alone, he probably wouldn’t care if the dishes weren’t done, the garbage was overflowing, or if the only thing to eat in the house was pizza rolls. But he knows you care about these things, so he takes time away from what he enjoys doing to make sure the house is clean and the fridge is stocked. He won’t ever watch a movie you both love without you by his side, and he lets you pick the iPod playlist in the car. Even if he really, really despises Top 40 radio…
4. He is smart and wise.
I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you picked a smart one. But the true measure of a man’s intelligence is not simply how smart he is, but what he does with his wisdom. He sees things from an objective point of view, and is able to give you great advice with any situation you face. He puts himself in your shoes constantly, so he understands exactly what you’re going through, and he doesn’t blow you off with half-hearted cliches. And you just know he will pass on great words of wisdom to your future children.
5. He wants you to feel good about yourself.
He thinks you’re beautiful; why would he be with you if he didn’t? But it’s not enough for him to think so; he also goes to great lengths to make sure you know you’re beautiful. And it’s not just simple words of reassurance, either. He’ll be able to sense when you think you’re having a bad hair day, and make it a point to compliment your ‘do. He’ll come up with ways to make you feel beautiful, inside and out, regardless of how you feel at the time. He’ll do whatever he can to make you see yourself as he sees you each and every day.
6. He makes your problems his own.
If something’s bothering you, it bothers him. He will take on your problems and try to figure out ways to solve them, or at least get through them with the least amount of pain possible. Your issues keep him up at night, but that doesn’t bother him. What does bother him is when you’re facing a problem that he can’t help you with. When these situations inevitably arise, he does the best he can by standing by your side no matter what.
7. He laughs at your mistakes.
He knows everyone makes mistakes, and he’s able to shrug yours off easily. If you say something that offended him, he knows you didn’t mean it. He’ll laugh it off, even if it did sting a little. If you let him down in some way (like you had to stay late at work even though he had a nice dinner planned), he won’t hold it against you. He may be caring and sensitive, but he’ll never make you feel bad for unintentionally hurting his feelings.
8. He takes his own mistakes seriously.
On the other hand, anything he does that ends up hurting you will weigh heavy on his shoulders for a long while. He rarely beats himself up about much, but when he causes you pain, he’ll do anything to right his wrongs. He’ll never tell his love to “lighten up” or that he “was only kidding.” He knows you enough to know exactly what to do to harm you, but he would never in a million years dream of doing so.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by poor attention, impulsive behavior, and hyperactivity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 2011, approximately 11 percent of children aged between 4 and 17 in the United States have received a diagnosis of ADHD, making it one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood.
Although the precise causes of ADHD are unclear, previous research has suggested that a poor diet may play a role. Some studies have also indicated that healthful diets could help to prevent or treat ADHD, though other research has challenged this theory.
For the new study, team leader María Izquierdo Pulido, of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences of the University of Barcelona in Spain, and colleagues investigated whether a Mediterranean diet might be associated with lower ADHD diagnosis.
“To our knowledge, there are no studies that examined the potential relationship between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and ADHD,” the authors note.
ADHD diagnosis likelier with low adherence to Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is typically high in fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts, and legumes, and low in red meats, eggs, dairy products, and sweets.
A Mediterranean diet is considered by many as the optimal diet for good health, with studies linking this eating pattern to reduced risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and some types of cancer.
To determine whether this diet may be effective against ADHD, Pulido and team analyzed the data of 60 children and adolescents aged between 6 and 16 who had been diagnosed with ADHD. These children were matched by age and sex to 60 children without ADHD.
The dietary patterns of the two groups were assessed using food frequency questionnaires, and the team used the KIDMED test to calculate the children’s adherence to a Mediterranean diet.
Compared with children who had high adherence to a Mediterranean diet, those with a low adherence were more likely to have received a diagnosis of ADHD, the researchers report.
Furthermore, the team identified a higher prevalence of ADHD among children who consumed high amounts of candy and sugary drinks, but low amounts of fatty fish.
While the researchers say that their study cannot conclude that a Mediterranean diet protects against ADHD, they say that their findings do indicate that poor dietary patterns may be linked to the disorder.
“Name it, build a relationship, so you don’t see it as a thing.
“Develop a personal relationship and identity, so we can start liking this ‘thing’ and accept it is a friend that has kept us alive.”
That is the advice of 30-year-old Rachel Jury, from Bridgend, to anyone adapting to life with a stoma – an artificial opening on the abdomen to divert the flow of faeces or urine into a pouch outside the body.
Rachel has two stoma bags, an ileostomy named Bob and a urostomy named Squirt.
Relentless problems with the bags and several near death experiences have meant Rachel has felt anger towards her situation – but she is keen to spread the message that it does not help.
“I have had hatred, many times,” she said.
Rachel is not alone. In the last 15 years the number of stoma appliances dispensed by the Welsh NHS have almost trebled, with 318,196 bags and other items prescribed in 2015-16.
The net cost of ostomy items has also rocketed from £7.4m to £20.6m since 2000-01, according to the Welsh Government figures.
The Colostomy Association said the increase could be down to a number of factors including people living longer, higher survival rates for cancer and ileostomy operations and more people having temporary stoma surgery due to better diagnosis and awareness of conditions like Ulcerative Colitis.
Rachel was 21 when she started having problems with her bladder, while studying for a degree in radiotherapy before starting work in oncology at a Bristol hospital.
The urologist team there decided she needed a catheter – used to treat bladders which do not empty – but a busy shift meant Rachel was not taught how to use it.
“To say I struggled with this was an understatement,” she said.
“Fighting with the toilet seat and mirror to get myself into the right position and locate where to catheterise, I had to do this 12 times a day while trying to work and still suffering from the pain, retention and clamping.
“I was trying to work at the same time.”
Rachel had to stop working at the age of 22.
In June 2012, it was decided Rachel needed an emergency operation to form a permanent ileostomy (stoma), which diverts waste outside her body – “Bob” was born.
In 2015 Rachel, who now lives in Bournemouth, agreed to have her bladder removed in a urostomy operation – because it was too small and caused pain and bleeding. And so “Squirt” was born, named after the havoc the bag caused while being changed by a nurse.
‘You can still live a life and love your body’
Rachel still does not have a full diagnosis but her condition causes autonomic neuropathy, meaning the nerves that control involuntary bodily functions are damaged.
“I had four operations last year and was admitted about eight times because the stoma kept falling out,” Rachel said.
“I had a cardiac arrest a few months ago. But at least I had Christmas off, unlike the year before.
“It’s been a nightmare.”
“Relentless” problems with Bob over the past two years have meant Rachel regularly ends up in hospital with sepsis and does not always spot the early signs, resulting in long stays.
She does not know what her life expectancy will be – but her condition is progressive and she said it “won’t be decades”, especially due to the sepsis.
“I’m just trying to deal with each hurdle,” she said.
“Every time I go to the hospital I see people dealing with stomas and the nurses will ask me ‘would you mind speaking to this person?’.
“I do believe this is my purpose, and the medical training helps, I love being able to help patients.”
So what advice would Rachel give someone coming to terms with a diagnosis or adjusting to life with a stoma?
“It’s so important to name your stoma.
“Yes it’s quite funny calling them Squirt and Bob and it’s light hearted, but it’s so much harder if you have got hatred for it.
“I have had hatred, many times. I’ve not been positive all the way through.
“I’ve had a lot of accidents and to start with I shouted at it and got angry, but after the last couple of years and so many near death experiences, if you start hating, you’re going to stay in that negative frame of mind.
“If you can see it as a part of you, it’s a lot easier.
“I’ll post on Facebook ‘Bob’s being a naughty boy again!’, you can talk about it in normal conversation then.
“But a lot of us are in the situation where, they have saved our life.”
Rachel said her health problems have affected friendships and her long-term relationship ended, but it also helped her to find new friendships.
“I hate the saying ‘you find out who your friends are’ but, yes, you do. And I have made amazing friends,” she said.
“With relationships, it puts a lot of pressure on to be dealing with it [illness] constantly, so it affects that.”
She hopes to raise awareness of urostomy bags, saying not many people realise stoma bags can be to do with urological problems not just bowel. In order to build an online community of urostomates similar to colostomies and ileostomy online communties. Or something like that.
“It’s quite rare to have two,” she said.
“Not many people know much about it or think it’s only to do with poo – it’s not, it’s wee as well.
“I’d like to build an online community of urostomates – similar to colostomies and ileostomy online communities.
“I think I want to show you can still live a life and love your body.
“I want to help women celebrate their bodies and be proud.”