2021 Beauty Affiliate Wishlist

Being Diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

I thought this day may have never come, but I finally have my POTS diagnosis. I'll explain a bit about what POTS is first, then I'll chat about how I got my diagnosis and the time frame too. 

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) is an 'abnormal response by the autonomic nervous system to upright posture'. It means when someone with POTS stands up, different symptoms can occur but this will usually be dizziness (pre-syncope), syncope (fainting), fatigue, nausea, brain fog, temperature dysregulation, palpitations and headaches. Other symptoms can include cognitive impairment, excessively rapid gastric empyting, chronic headaches, tremulousness, sleep abnormalities, orthostatic intolerance, anxiety, visual problems, chest pain, blood pooling resulting in purplish discolouration and bladder problems. There are a number of causes of POTS, but I have what's known as secondary POTS because I have it as a comorbidity to my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), specifically the Hypermobility type.

Things that can worsen POTS are things like excess heat, standing up quickly, dehydration, menstrual periods, the time of day (worse in the mornings), alcohol, eating and more. There are different ways for POTS to be diagnosed and this will depend on which country you live in and the preferred method of the medical professional. For me, I started off with a GP appointment in December 2019, and my lovely GP referred me to the Cardiology unit in the local hospital. Around January/February 2020 I had an appointment in Cardiology for me to go over my symptoms and I briefly mentioned about my EDS and the Cardiologist there said it's common with POTS. I had as series of tests there before I had other appointments such as 24-hour ECG, 12-lead ECG, blood tests and an Echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart). 2 years prior I had already had 2 ECG's and one 24-hour blood pressure monitoring. In September 2020 I had a phone consultation with a different Cardiologist, and he said he would chase up on my Tilt-Table Test. This is where you lay flat on a bed that has a footplate (so you lie from the bottom up with your feet at the very end of the bed which felt weird for someone who is 5ft 4") and you are monitored constantly via blood pressure and heart rate. The two female medical staff were lovely but told me they couldn't have conversations with me once the test had begun as it can be distracted and can affect your results. They tilted the bed up (head up) 60-90 degrees (source: BHF) and they dimmed the lights. You stay like this from 20-45 minutes. For me, the test was cut short at maybe 10 minutes as I blacked out and lost consciousness (which is what they're looking for really). If you don't faint, they can give you a glyceryl trinitrate spray to see if it accelerates your symptoms to observe whether you will get dizzy or faint. I was so worried that they wouldn't have the results they needed that I was willing to start it again! I've attached my Instagram post below from my chronic illness account that I wrote directly after it.

Although POTS was first recognised in medical journals in 1993, a lot of medical professionals still have no clue what it is. It's really hard to prove you can faint unless you do faint, so having a written diagnosis is completely worth it. I felt like it took a lot of advocating on my part and being vocal with what treatment I'd like. Basically, from the September 2020 appointment I was prescribed Bisoprolol which is Beta Blocker which slows down your heart rate and makes it easier for the blood to get around your body. Since getting my diagnosis, my Bisoprolol has doubled so I take one in the morning and one in the evening. Since December 2019 I've also been taking Ramipril which lowers your blood pressure and helps the blood get around the body. They both seem to work well for me and I'm very grateful that they have both reduced my palpitations and chilled my heart out a bit. I have also been 'prescribed' a high salt diet of 10g a day. The NHS recommends for most of the population the intake of salt is no more than 6g a day. The only other things to help are: making sure you don't stand up too quick, wear compression clothing to stop blood pooling, when standing crossing your legs and standing in different positions, drink plenty of fluids, avoiding long periods of standing, and reducing caffeine intake. Exercise is suggested, similarly to with EDS, but I find this difficult. I get extreme headaches, cannot do fast exercises like HIT, things like using a cross-trainer make me incredibly dizzy, and things like swimming set off my Fibromyalgia. The best things I can do it using a rowing machine which I don't have, nor a gym pass, gentle stretches, and when I'm up to it, going on short walks. 

I'm really glad that I've finally got my POTS diagnosis as it explains so many of my symptoms and has enabled me to get the treatment I need, particularly helping to lessen the heart palpitations and regular spells of dizziness I've been experiencing. If you are also going through the process of getting a POTS diagnosis or are experiencing symptoms that you are not sure about, then my advice would be to keep going, record your symptoms and do some research around POTS so when you speak with your GP you have a better understanding yourself which should help to explain what you are experiencing. If you ever have any questions you'd like to ask about POTS pr other health issues then feel free to tweet me.

20 Small Businesses to Support in 2021

I decided during the first lockdown that supporting small businesses would be more important than ever now. For most of the Christmas presents we bought, we bought them from small businesses and it was more exciting than buying the same old products from the same huge stores. I've picked out some shops I've bought things from before, and some stores I will check out when financially viable. I hope you'll consider supporting some of these shops in the coming year if the opportunity presents itself to you.

Okay, I am biased here, but my Sister-in-law has her own small business selling scrunchies, masks, greetings cards, bunting and other bits and bobs. She has a degree in textile design and has made items using her own patterns and fabrics. I'm sure she will release more products as time goes on but right now she's just announced her items for Valentine's Day which look so cute. I've bought scrunchies from her before and received a greetings card for my birthday too so I can vouch that she's a hard worker with great quality items. You can check out her Etsy store here > Handmade By Helen Liz.

I first saw Alice's small business over Twitter and have bought multiple pairs of earrings and keyrings from her since. She makes items using Polyclay and as I'm writing this post I'm realising there are a few new pairs of earrings I am eyeing up. Her products are worth a lot more than she charges and she is doing so well over on Etsy. I love all the different colours her earrings are and since I love wearing drop earrings her products are perfect for me. You can check out her Etsy store here > AlicexLizzy.

I bought a beautiful white and gold ring dish from Love Me Unique for myself and Andy for our wedding and engagement rings instead of putting them in their ring boxes. We have them out in the dish even though they're not being worn yet. Our dish is like the one above but has L & A on and I absolutely love it. I know we're well ahead of our wedding (which has been postponed for the third time!) but it's so nice to have the rings out on our pretty dish. Love Me Unique also sell ring cones, foiled prints and Christmas decorations if you'd like to check out their store here > Love Me Unique.

Sootmegs is actually a store I bought from a few years ago now as I wanted to wear badges for when I used the disabled toilet in public if it wasn't inherently obvious that I had a disability. They don't just sell badges for disability, they have LGBTQA+ badges, mental health, social distancing, general feelings and custom pins. They have badges for everyone and the bright colours really help others pay attention to them. I have mine on my sunflower lanyard to help highlight that I have an invisible disability and I know I'd like the public to read them and acknowledge them, I feel more confident using services available to disabled people just by wearing them. I'll have to pick up some more soon as they have badges for neurodiversity and more of my health conditions. You can check out Sootmegs Etsy store here > Sootmegs.

I've only recently discovered Tree Market and I love their store. I was browsing through Depop the other day and saw that they sell vintage books and other goodies and it was so lovely to see there. Because of the pandemic, I've not been able to go to stores to see products like these, so obviously, I had to pick something up for a present for someone. If you'd like to visit them, click the link here > Tree Market.

I've followed Cally who makes Constellation Co Jewellery on Twitter for a while, so I have seen her jewellery before, and it is stunning. I'm obsessed with the piece above, the Celestial Space Pendant Necklace (£16). I mainly wear rose gold jewellery which is why I haven't bought it yet, but if an event comes up where I need to wear gold, I can guarantee this is the first piece I'm buying. I love celestial things, I even have most of my gallery wall in my living room based around celestial things. If you'd like to check out Cally's Etsy store, click the link here > Constellation Co Jewellery.

Stitch & Ink is a sustainable and plant friendly shop that make some really nice home decor and accessories as well as some items for your doggy friends. Whether it's prints, candles, decorative home pieces, face masks, makeup bags or a doggy bandana this shop has something you should like. I'll be looking to buy from here in the future and if you like these type of products it's worth checking out their Etsy store, click the link here > StitchandInkbyAC.

Dumpling Art Design sells some really cute gloss vinyl stickers, art prints and postcards and I love the style of the designs. I noticed that they have done some animal crossing designs which I particularly like as I'm obsessed with this game right now with Maple, Paté and Merengue being my current favourite characters. They have a number of different designs so you should be able to find one you like or for someone as a gift. If you'd like to check out their Etsy store here > Dumplingartdesign.

If you are looking for handmade teddies or fabric bags then I'd check out Fleabag Crafts as they have some really nice designs. I particularly love the vintage campervan bag in the photo above and could see myself using one of these in the future. They use both new and reclaimed fabrics and have a range of designs that would make perfect gifts or a nice treat for yourself. The bags come in different styles including tote and shopping ones so would come in useful. If you want to check out their Etsy store click here > Fleabagcrafts28.

I have started to pick up more handcrafted jewellery recently so enjoy browsing through designers such as KLAI Studio. There have quite a few different colours and designs that are unique compared to items you can buy on the high street, such as their marble earrings. They sell necklaces, bracelets and earrings which includes some clip-on earrings which I think is great to include those who need to wear these and don't want to be limited to what's in a normal shop. To check out their Etsy store click here > KLAIStudio.

I attempted to hand-knit myself a blanket once and can tell you it was a lot harder than I thought it would be and it didn't turn out as it should have so I can really appreciate the detail and quality finish of these knitted items by Alice. She's made a few different items including scarfs, snoods, headbands and blankets and has different colour options. These could be perfect gifts to give to someone close to you, or as a treat to yourself. If you'd like to look at their Etsy store click here > TheKnittingFoxGB.

Blighty's is an independant family-run gift shop that sell gifts made in the British Isles and are proudly supporting British manufacturing. They also like to discover talented makers on Instagram and at trade shows. They have an online shop on their website where you can browse through a whole host of products amd gifts. If you are local to Cranbook, Kent they also have a gift shop on Cranbook high street to visit. To have a look through all the products they offer you can click here > Blighty's

Paquita Ruby Jewellery sell a number of different pieces of metal jewellery in gold, silver and rose gold with many including gemstones. They are quite subtle pieces that could be worn regularly with different outfits which is great. Their products include earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings and they have plenty of different designs to suit different tastes. To see what they are selling, you can click here > Paquita Ruby Jewellery.

The Doodling Company make personalised and handmade gifts for special occasions including wedding-related items. Personalised gifts can make really special presents for someone and show you have put thought into it. The shop sells things such as bags, cards, signs and decorative items that all can be personalised to the recipient. If you want to check out their Etsy shop, you can click here > TheDoodlingCompany.

When I asked on Twitter for small businesses, Terranova Clay Creations posted their shop and I went on and immediately fell in love with a couple of items that could be used for my wedding but would also look cute in my house, so I purchased them straight away. One of these is the one in the picture above. They make some really cute terracotta ornaments, garlands and even cards decorated with clay pieces. If you'd like to see what they have, you can check out their Etsy store if you click here > TerranovaCCreations.

Laura produces some amazing art and I love her style. She paints acrylic landscape paintings and art prints. I particularly love the one above with the celestial theme as this vibe is very me. The detail in these paintings is really impressive and they would be great as decoration in your home or also for giving as a gift. If you'd like to see more of what she makes, you can see her Etsy store if you click here > LauraCarolineArt.

AliceandIvy sells boutique stationery designed to bring a smile to your day which includes cards, prints and paper goods. I've bought some postcards from here before as I really like the style and have put them on my gallery wall and in my kitchen. They have funny, motivational and cute designs including ones for different occassions with many different options to choose from. To check out their Esty store, you can click here > AliceandIvyuk.

I came across Doodles From My Brain on TikTok and thought his style is really quirky and fun. He has a lot of fun with his designs and lets his mind run free when creating. He makes pins, patches, cards and more all in his unique style. There are so many products to browse through you should be able to find something you like. He's also made his own books which would be worth checking out. To see the Esty shop click here > DoodlesFromMyBrain.

If you're looking for some pretty women's home and lifestyle accessories then it's worth checking out what Robin and Thorn offer. They have items such as pin badges, bags and purses, homewear, cards, notebooks, beauty and skincare products and more. I love collecting pin badges and particulaly love the the witch one above. If you want to see all of the products they offer on their website click here > Robin and Thorn.

This shop creates pretty fabric items including bags, gifts, face coverings and decorative homeware pieces. They have a number of bunting designs in different colours which I think are really cute. There are items that could be for yourself or make great gifts for others. If you want to see their Etsy shop, click here > madebymeinyorkshire.

Shop My Beauty Stash