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5 tips for Travelling with an Invisible Illness

Hi guys,

As some of you may know, I have a medical condition called a Prolactinoma, which is a pituitary-related illness affecting different parts of my body. As the pituitary gland is in the brain, most of my symptoms involve headaches, blurred vision and dizziness, all relating to the head/brain area, but it does affect other parts of my body too. Despite sometimes getting overwhelmed and upset by my condition, I mostly have a positive outlook on it, and I sure as hell haven’t let it stop me travelling! Of course, travelling with any illness or condition is difficult, because there’s so much more to think about, however, having an invisible illness brings a whole host of other challenges as you are not easily recognisable as being ill. If you look on my Instagram page you’d think I’m just a smiley happy kinda girl who spends her life being positive and adventurous, which I am to a certain extent, but there are times when I can barely open my eyes because my headaches are so bad, and there are times when I feel I can’t even get out of bed, let alone get up and face the world. Having said that, I strongly believe that having an invisible illness shouldn’t stop you from travelling and having adventures though, so here are five tips for travelling with an invisible illness…

Make sure you’re covered

Insurance is a vital part of travel, but even more so when you have a pre-existing medical condition. Thankfully, it doesn’t mean you won’t get cover, it just might require a little more research into which cover will be best for you. Never scrimp out on travel insurance, especially not with an illness or condition. The best case scenario is that you won’t need it, but if you do, at least you know you’re covered and won’t be left with a huge bill at the end. Did you know, for example, that one week in hospital in the USA can cost over $30,000? Make sure you’re open and honest with your insurer about any illness so you’re fully covered. You may pay a little more in premiums, but it’s better than spending that kinda money on a hospital visit. This is something I was really serious about when I booked my whirlwind tour of the USA and I was able to find insurance no problem, you’ve just got to be transparent and honest!

 

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October is National Pituitary Awareness Month. As a proud ambassador for the wonderful @pituitaryfoundation I thought now would be the right time to write a bit of a personal blog post and to tell you about what it's really like to live with an invisible illness day in day out. My invisible illness is called a prolactinoma, a benign brain tumor which has had a massive impact on my life for the past 7 years. To look at me you may not think that anything is wrong with me, but that's the problem with an invisible illness, it's always there even when you can't see it. ✨Link in bio – please give it a read ✨ #pituitary #pituitaryawareness #prolactinoma #pituitarypatient #pituitaryawarenessmonth

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Pack everything you’ll need 

In this situation, it’s okay to over-pack. Make sure you have all the medications and equipment you might need, even if they’re not things you have to use every day, as it will be much easier than having to try and find them in a different country. Seriously, we take our 25p Ibuprofen and Paracetamol for granted here in the UK, and it costs a lot more when you’re abroad! I didn’t know this, but you’re actually allowed to pack your medication in your hand luggage which is great if you’ve got a long flight and don’t want to wait til you land to take your meds, plus they’re less likely to get lost if you’re carrying them in your hand luggage. I’d also suggest to pack anything that will make you feel more comfortable, whether that be hand warmers or your own pillow, as the easier you can make things for yourself when travelling, the more fun you’ll have and the less stressed you’ll be.

 

 

Schedule in days of rest

Try not to overdo it with the itinerary. As much as we all feel like we want to see and do everything all at once, it’s simply not practical, even without an invisible illness. Choose the things you’re desperate to tick off and see everything else as a bonus. Make sure you schedule in days to rest to avoid burning out as this is just as important as sightseeing. I’m not sure who I’m trying to kid though as I am the WORST person for this! I very much live by a YOLO motto when I’m travelling and try to tick off as much as I can in a short time, which is obviously fun and exciting, but sometimes I do need to remember to reign it in and calm down a little. Sometimes I forget I even have an illness, which is great on the one hand as I can be more care-free, but on the other hand I know I’ve got to be careful and I have to slow it down sometimes to ensure I don’t over do it, so having rest days is really important when you’re travelling.

 

 

Be honest about your needs

If you’re travelling with other people, don’t try to hide your illness; the more honest you can be, the better. This is the same for staff in hotels or in the airport – they can’t help you if they don’t know what you need. An invisible illness is hard to spot, so you’ll have to tell them if there’s something you need to request in order to make your trip easier or more comfortable. Doing this beforehand via email may make it easier, especially if you don’t feel comfortable approaching someone and telling them, but I’ve found that most people in this world are happy to help you, especially if you need a little more assistance than most. I have been honest about my illness since I was first diagnosed 7 years ago, which makes talking about it in public a little less daunting, but I can imagine it is still a huge thing to do for people who have never been as vocal about their conditions before.

 

 

 

Do whatever you need to do

The important thing is that you have a good time, so if that means you have to enjoy the scenery from inside the car because some aspect of your illness means you’re unable to get out, then that’s okay. I know it can be frustrating not doing all the things you set out to do, or not being able to keep up with your friends, but trust your body and allow yourself to listen to your gut instinct as that will tell you how well or unwell you might feel in certain situations. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you can handle – no one knows your body as well as you do. Some people might be well-meaning and try and encourage you to do more than you want to/are able to, and this can lead to exhaustion, or it might make you feel worse. Don’t be afraid to stick to your guns – if they’re real friends they will totally understand what you’re going through.

So I suppose what I’m trying to say is: don’t let your illness stop you from having amazing adventures! In fact, if anything, you deserve to have more fun – being unwell certainly isn’t easy, and we definitely need to learn to pat ourselves on the back every now and then. If you follow these tips, travelling with an invisible illness will hopefully become easier. Plus, once you start, you won’t want to stop! Have you got any other tips for travelling with an invisible illness? I have done it for the past 7 years and with each trip I become more content and confident in myself, and more at ease with my condition. Please let me know if, like me, you’re suffering with an invisible illness too?! I would love to hear your comments.

Love Jess x

NB. This was a collaborative post with Dale White Media.

 

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Thoughts from a Pituitary Patient: What It Feels Like To Live With an Invisible Illness

Hi everyone,

I’m sure you might have noticed that my content over the past few months has been really travel focussed, which is obviously a good thing given that I’m running a travel blog(!!), but I wanted to do something a little different today. I haven’t done any personal posts for a while, and, although I love writing about my trips, I’m conscious that churning out travel guides and hotel reviews will make my blog seem less informal and less ‘me’, so I wanted to inject a bit of personality into this post and put myself at the forefront of it. If you know me personally, or you’ve been following my blog/social media channels online, you’ll know that as well as being a travel blogger I am also a proud ambassador for The Pituitary Foundation, a small UK based charity which supports patients, and their families, who are suffering with a variety of pituitary related conditions including Cushings Disease, Diabetes Insipidus and Prolactinoma’s. I have the latter condition, which is basically a benign tumor on the pituitary gland in the brain, and was diagnosed 7 years ago as a young 18 year old girl. I first told you about my condition in this post 2 years ago, and have since shared my story with The Daily Mail and even wrote something for Contiki Holidays last summer about how to travel with an invisible illness, but it just so happens that October marks National Pituitary Awareness Month, so I thought now was the right time to give you another little insight in to my world, and what it’s really like to be a Prolactinoma sufferer on a daily basis…

 

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Today is National Rare Disease Day, so what better way to share my news about a new challenge I have set myself this year… last year I turned my town orange, the year before I ran a 5 mile fun run, and this year I'm going all out and CLIMBING A BLOODY MOUNTAIN!! 🏔 For those of you who don't know, I've been living with a condition called a prolactinoma for the past seven years. Put simply, a prolactinoma is a small tumor on the pituitary gland in the brain and it's something which affects me every day. Although I'm on life long medication, I still need to have tests, scans and consultations regularly throughout the year. After becoming an ambassador for The Pituitary Foundation last summer I'm trying to raise as much money and awareness as possible for a wonderful charity who have supported me every step of the way during my diagnosis. I'll be climbing Mount Snowdon in June with my wonderful friends and family in the shape of my mum, dad & my lovely friends Tiff and Flo (if shes better as she's currently poorly!!) and can't wait to take on my biggest challenge yet! I'm trying to raise as much as I can, so please donate if you are able to – no matter how big or small, every little helps! 💰 In order to kick start the fundraising I will donate 50p for every like that this status receives over the next 24 hours… go go go! Please help me raise some cash for an incredible charity who are fairly unknown in this country. Please read my story on my JustGiving page (link in comments) and donate whatever you can! Thank youuuuu! Lots of love, Jess and the Snowdon team 😘💖 xxx #pituitaryfoundation #pituitaryawareness #charity #fundraising #mountsnowdon #uk #charityevent #ambassador #justgiving #prolactinoma

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My Diagnosis

Back in 2011, when I was just 18 years old, I started to notice major changes in my body. I was tired all the time, had horrendous headaches every day, blurred vision and constant nausea, so I knew something wasn’t quite right. Weirdly, I started lactating from my breasts and I’d come home from sixth form with cotton wool pads stuffed down my bra because I was worried I’d have patches showing through my top. Up until that point I wasn’t overly worried, but when the lactation started that’s when I knew I had to see a doctor. Was I pregnant? Was I going through some strange hormonal condition? I had no idea and, at first, neither did the doctors! I had MRI scans, heart scans, blood tests, hormone tests and every kind of investigation you could think of. After endless tests, prods and scans I was passed between the hospital, GP surgery and MRI departments until I was finally diagnosed with my condition. At 18, I was told I had a tumor in my brain. The medical term is a Prolactinoma, which is a small (benign) growth on the pituitary gland in the brain. That doesn’t sound so scary when you break it down, but when you’re 18 years old the only words you hear are ‘brain’ and ‘tumor’ and hearing those words together in the same sentence truly scared the life out of me. I was immediately put on long term medication (Cabergoline) and told that I most likely would be on them for the rest of my life.

 

My Daily Symptoms

 

The following months were a blur, but I do remember my symptoms starting to disappear as the medication slowly worked its magic on my body. The headaches became less frequent, the blurred vision eased a little and the lactation pretty much stopped completely. Fast forward seven years and, whilst I still get headaches on a daily basis and still suffer with nausea, most of my original symptoms have now disappeared. The medication lowers the level of the prolactin hormone in my body and helps to keep it under control. Whilst the medication does reduce the size of the tumor and improves my day to day wellbeing, there are inevitably some side effects which do impact me daily. The tablets cause horrendous mood swings; some days I’m so low I can barely get out of bed and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry, other days I’m loving life and am as high as a kite! It’s ridiculous, it’s stressful and sometimes it’s really embarrassing. I would say 70% of the time I’m happy and I’m pretty content with life, but I do suffer with terribly low moods and there are genuinely days where I’m just on auto pilot and I’m merely existing, not living, and that’s really upsetting when you’re a bubbly, outgoing person like me who tries to live life to the full every day.

 

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So this morning while everyone was tucked up in their beds I woke up at 3.30am, took 3 ski lifts to a height of 3300 meters, and attempted to watch the sun rise from the top of one of the highest mountains in #Switzerland! Sadly the sky was too cloudy to see the sun come up, but what an amazing experience to be surrounded by so much snow! Whilst I was halfway up I began feeling really poorly and started suffering from one of my #pituitary related headaches, but this one was so bad I could barely open my eyes. After we started our descent and had breakfast in an igloo at 2900m I started to cry. I cried because I was in so much pain and I didn't know what to do to make it stop. And then I realised that I could either let it get me down and ruin my Swiss experience, or I could wrap up warm, push past the pain and try to make the most of every second of my journey. With the help of my wonderful new blogger friends I chose the latter option. Sometimes being poorly is unavoidable, but today I made the best out of a bad situation and still managed to have an incredible bucket list experience. Travelling forever leaves me speechless, and it'll always teach me to enjoy each moment, live each day and remember every second. 💖 #InLoveWithNendaz

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How I’m Affected

 

Sadly the medication affects my life in other ways, and one of the biggest worries it gives me is that I may not be able to have children or conceive naturally if I stay on the tablets. If I come off them though, my tumor will most likely grow and I’d be back to square one. This is something that plays on my mind daily, despite being nowhere near ready to settle down and have a family, all I’ve ever really wanted to do in life is be a mum, and it breaks my heart to think that this dream might never come true for me. As well as living with my condition, I also suffer with recurring cysts on my ovaries and found out at a recent ultrasound scan that I have a tilted womb – it’s totally back to front – great! So even if I can have kids, I think I’d have a pretty horrendous pregnancy/birth/life for those 9 months! Obviously I try to push this to the back of my mind as I am not ready to start a family yet, but I’m 25 and the reality now is that I do think about this every single day. On a day to day basis though, I just take things one day at a time and deal with the headaches/nausea/mood swings first before allowing myself to be overwhelmed with thinking about the future, and what that means for me and my condition.

 

My Fundraising

For the past 4 years I have taken part in a series of events to raise money for The Pituitary Foundation, and in doing so I have met sooo many people who suffer with the same or similar conditions to me, and who are in some way impacted by problems the pituitary gland can cause. In 2015 I ran the Big Fun Run in Milton Keynes and raised over £350 for the charity. In 2017 I was honoured to become an official charity ambassador and turned my local town orange for The Pituitary Foundation’s Go Orange Day, raising over £100 as well as capturing press coverage in 2 local newspapers. This year I took on my biggest challenge yet as I climbed Mount Snowdon and helped to raise a whopping £25,000 for the Foundation which is absolutely phenomenal and such an incredible achievement for the entire team – we got press coverage for this event too! To put it into perspective, £18,000 covers the yearly wages of an endocrinology nurse to be available at the end of the phone and to offer support for patients – without this money from fundraising, support simply cannot be offered to patients in need. Next year, I’m joining the Snowdon team again, but this time we’ll take on Ben Nevis and this will undoubtedly be the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I am more than ready for the challenge so BRING IT ON! I absolutely love raising money and awareness for The Pituitary Foundation, and for my little known condition, and will continue to be an ambassador for this fantastic charity for as long as they’ll have me!

 

 

 

My Outlook

 

My life nowadays consists of 3 monthly blood tests, 9 monthly eye tests, and annual check-ups at the hospital with my consultant to see if I am responding to the meds or if the tumor is growing. Things have pretty much remained the same for the past few years, but as I get older and my body continues to change, and as I inevitably discuss potential options for having children, I think I’ve still got a long road ahead and will continue to battle this condition for the rest of my life. If I want to come off the meds and want to consider surgery as a different option, this is something I can discuss with my consultant, but it involves evasive brain surgery (through my nose and up into my brain) which is something I am absolutely terrified of as it has dangerous implications and I will try to avoid at all costs! To look at me you may not ever think that anything was wrong with me, but that’s the trouble with living with an invisible illness – you can never see it, but it’s always there. My consultant and the endocrinology team at the Oxford Churchill Hospital (OCDEM Ward) are fantastic and I wouldn’t have got through the past 7 years without them! As well as that, the team at The Pituitary Foundation have been a constant source of help and comfort throughout my diagnosis and ongoing struggle, and I couldn’t have been more thankful for their support over the past 7 years. Not many people know about the charity, or the conditions that can affect pituitary glands, so I’m extremely proud to be an ambassador for them and will continue to raise awareness and money for them for as long as I can!

 

I hope this honest and personal post gives you a little insight as to what it feels like to be part of my world. It’s not all doom and gloom, I promise! I have good days and bad days, I take each day as it comes, and I always try to remain positive despite sometimes feeling like my world is caving in around me. I’ve learnt to live with my condition, and cope with it in the best way possible, whilst always putting things into perspective and reminding myself that people are suffering with far worse conditions on a daily basis. I’m stuck with this condition for life, but I’m sure as hell not gonna let it hold me back! I’ve worked hard since the age of 16, bought my first car, ran my own business, owned a successful travel blog and travelled to 25 countries, with many more on my bucket list! I’ve helicoptered over the Grand Canyon, celebrated Independence Day in New York, done extreme water sports in Menorca, climbed Mount Verbier in Switzerland and ticked sooo many physical achievements off my ever expanding bucket list. I will not be defined by my illness, and I will not let it hold me back! A huuuuge thank you again to the fantastic team at The Pituitary Foundation – I am honoured to be an ambassador for your incredible charity, and I hope I can continue to work alongside you for years to come. I also want to thank my amazing family and friends who continue to support me in every way possible, especially my amazing mum who is my absolute rock and the only person who can pick me up when I’m down – sometimes she literally has to pick me up off the floor when I’m crying and tell me that it’s all going to be okay. Sometimes I don’t believe her, but I know things will work out in the end, and if this post helps even one person suffering with this condition too, then it will have all been worth it.

Love Jess x

 

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🏃‍♀️WE DID IT! 🏃‍♀️ What an amazing day!!! 33000 steps, 4000 calories burnt, 18 kilometres walked and 7 hours long! One of the best things I've ever done, and definitely the hardest thing I've ever done, both physically and mentally. 🏔 Didn't think I would make it up to the top at one point but these amazing people got me through!! Couldn't have wished for a better group of people to climb #Snowdon with, and am hoping we've almost smashed our fundraising target! You can still donate if you want to 😘 Collectively our group have raised over £22000 so far for @pituitaryfoundation which is INCREDIBLE!! My illness gets me down sometimes, but when events like this bring people together I wouldn't change it for the world 🌍 https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jessica-bucks-team

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March Newsletter

 

 

 

Hi everyone,

I realise we are now almost two weeks in to April, and that March is well and truly OVER, but I haven’t yet had time to eat/sleep/breathe since I returned from my little European escape to Bratislava and Vienna which is why this post is seriously overdue! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I’ve been a very busy bee lately, and if you don’t (why don’t you? Go follow go follow!) here’s my March round up in a bit more detail so you can see exactly what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks!

I popped down to London for a work event

 

Dinner with a view 😍🍴 #London #visitlondon #nationalportraitgallery

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Right at the start of the month I was invited to take part in a team-day in London with one of my clients who I work with as part of my freelance business. We met for breakfast at Café in the Crypt in St Martin in the Fields and then headed to The National Portrait Gallery to gaze at some of the wonderful artwork on display. After a little wander we popped up to the gallery’s exclusive restaurant and had a fantastic lunch with brilliant rooftop views over the iconic London skyline. Before it was time to catch my train back to Oxford I went for a little stroll past Trafalgar Square, down towards The Mall and Buckingham Palace and spent a lovely sunny afternoon playing tourist for the day!

I had my annual hospital check up

 

My hospital check ups are a big part of my life, not because I let my illness define me, but because I am constantly monitored and I want to see how I’m progressing, or deteriorating, and with each year that passes it’s sort of another milestone that I’ve reached. This year marked my sixth annual check up, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I was first diagnosed with my prolactinoma! I’m really pleased to say that I’ve been responding well to another year of the same medication (I stopped then re-started it last summer) and it seems as though the tumor is still shrinking – yay!

I still need more tests doing on my eyes so I have been referred back to the hospital in August for another mini check up, but my next full check up will be in another 12 months time, so March 2018. The Pituitary Foundation, the wonderful charity who have supported me with my diagnosis for the past six years, actually published my story on their website this month and it was really well received – have a read if you can spare five minutes out of your day, as hopefully it will help you to understand why I get so poorly and often can’t travel as much as I want to!

I’ve fully embraced Spring

 

 

 

I just love sunshine.  I love the warmth of the air, I love the blue of the sky, I love the feeling that summer is just around the corner, and that’s probably why I love spring so much! We’ve been really lucky to have had a few bright sunny days over here in the UK lately and it makes me appreciate where I live even more when I can get out for long dog walks in the countryside and spend some quality time in the great outdoors!

I spent Mothers Day at Wembley with my dad (sorry mum!)

 

 

This was a totally spontaneous, unplanned day trip that just so happened to fall on Mothers Day, ooops! My dad had been given a couple of free tickets to watch England’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley Stadium so we thought it would be rude not to make use of them! The sun was shining, the fans were out in force and it was a beautiful day for the beautiful game! It had been a good 12 years or so since my dad and I had last gone to Wembley together so, as we walked down the famous Wembley Way, we took a little trip down memory lane and reminisced about the last time we were there. We had a really lovely day out and I can’t wait to go back to Wembley again in the not too distant future!

I took a trip to Cotswold Wildlife Park (for the 1000th time)

 

What a beautiful day for a wander round #cotswoldwildlifepark in the sunshine ☀️☀️ #Cotswolds #oxfordshire #happysaturday

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I live literally 5 minutes from the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, located just past the pretty town of Burford (where I went to school!) so I have been coming to this place since I was a newborn baby! Me and my sisters always try and visit when we can, even though one of them works there at the weekends! We chose a really lovely day (luckily) and spent all afternoon wandering around the park and gardens seeing the animals, taking our westie dog with us and enjoying ice cream in the sunshine. CWP is a fantastic place for a family day out and I never tire of it despite visiting every year since I was born!

I spent 2 days exploring Bratislava…

 

🌅🏰 We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill 🌅🏰

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March also saw me take some adventures a little further afield, and I was so ready for another city break by the time the end of the month came around! Me and Lucy had planned our mini Europe trip to Slovakia and Austria so flew to Bratislava for two nights to start off our adventure. Our only full day in the capital was spent walking over 16km, hiking up to the beautiful castle on the hill, climbing towers for spectacular panoramic views across the city, and learning all about the history of the city with a walking tour from Visit Bratislava, who we worked with during our trip. I’ll be writing up a full guide to Bratislava in the coming days, but I really really loved my time there and I can’t wait to show you all my pretty photos!

… and then hopped on a train to Vienna for two nights!

 

Ohhhhhh Viennaaaaaaa 🎼🎼

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As part of our mini Europe tour we jumped on a train from Bratislava to Vienna for two nights and spent some time exploring everything the Austrian capital had to offer. We arrived early in the city and had enough time to visit the famous palaces, opera houses, churches and the beautiful St Stephen’s Cathedral. We also wandered through some of the many green parks and spent an afternoon at one of the oldest amusement parks in the world! Working with the Vienna Tourist Board, we fitted in as much as we could during our short stay before heading back to Bratislava again to fly home. A city guide to Vienna will be published on the blog soon so keep an eye out for that, but Lucy and I had the BEST time on our mini Europe adventure!

So there we have it, my March has been crazy busy but I wouldn’t have had it any other way! I’ve already spent the first two weeks of April running around like a headless chicken, going on a spa day, taking my little dog for long walks in the countryside, and working every hour god sends to try and get more money for my upcoming travels! The rest of April is filled up too and my next trip will be London for three nights at the end of the month for Traverse 17 and I am SO EXCITED! How did your March go? Leave me a comment below – I hope you’ve been enjoying the warm sunny weather we’ve been having here in the UK…long may it continue!

Love Jess x

 

I'm just gonna keep posting pics from my #Bratislava trip cos I was there this time last week and I LOVE IT SO MUCH 🏰😍 @visitbratislava

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Travelling with an illness… Happy rare disease day!

rarediseaseday

Hello everyone,

This is slightly personal and I wasn’t sure if I should post this at first but, after realizing that today was a special day, I couldn’t help but put this blog post together. 29th February is Rare Disease Day, an annual event which provides the rare disease community across the world the opportunity to increase awareness of rare diseases and highlight them as a public health priority to government departments. I actually have quite a rare condition which does impact my life, particularly as an avid traveller! Here’s my story…

When I was 18 I started to become poorly. I was being sick, weirdly leaking from my breasts, having severe headaches and generally feeling very tired, faint and dizzy. It took all of my energy to just do even the smallest of tasks. After endless tests, prods and trips to the doctors an MRI scan on my brain showed a small growth and I was finally diagnosed with a microprolactinoma. Put simply, a microprolactinoma is a benign, pea sized tumor on the pituitary gland in the brain which causes an imbalance of the hormone prolactin in the body. At first I was completely terrified, hearing the words ‘brain’ and ‘tumor’ in the same sentence was overwhelming and I was upset, confused and scared. I had no idea what a microprolactinoma was, and a Google search was filled with forums of other women, and even men, discussing how the condition had impacted upon their lives.

The thing that jumped out at me most was the subject of fertility, and the problems that a prolactinoma can cause. In many cases the hormones produced by a prolactinoma make it difficult for women to conceive, and this is something I really struggled to comprehend. Anyone that knows me will know how much I love children and that the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do in life is be a mum. The thought that I may never achieve what I’ve always dreamt about is completely crushing, but I know there are other options available and many women have gone on to have children despite suffering with a prolactinoma.

Nowadays my life consists of regular doctors appointments, 3monthly blood tests, 6 monthly hospital appointments with my consultant, occasional MRI scans and 9monthly appointments at the eye hospital to check the tumor isn’t pressing on the back of my optic nerves. It’s been almost 5 years since I was diagnosed. At first I was told I’d be on tablets for life, but earlier on this year I came off them for the first time since 2011 as my consultant wanted to see how my body would react without relying on the tablets. I was feeling really healthy and doctors were pleased with my progress.

Unfortunately, just before Christmas last year I started becoming unwell again and symptoms from my initial diagnosis were coming back. My headaches were getting worse and I was feeling similar to the way I felt right at the start of my illness. In November I was advised to go back on my medication after blood tests confirmed my prolactin levels had increased significantly. I’ve been on the tablets since then and my next check up is mid March so hopefully there will be a slight improvement and I’ll start feeling better soon!

 

Back in October I ran a fun run for The Pituitary Foundation, a charity who have been incredibly supportive of my condition over the past 5 years. I managed to raise over £300 for the charity and you can donate to my JustGiving page at any time – better late than never! You can also donate directly to Pituitary’s Rare Disease Day as well.

I suppose what I’m really trying to say is, even if you have an illness or a medical condition, DON’T let it limit your life! Make the most of every single day we have on this beautiful planet and, if you travel a lot like me you can still live your life to the full and do whatever the hell you want (within reason!) Although my symptoms affect me daily and my appointments limit me to the amount of time I can spend out of the country, I know that things could be so much worse and am just thankful that I am being well looked after by the fantastic doctors and consultants at Oxford University Hospitals.

If, like me, you live with a health condition and travel often I’d recommend the following tips on travelling safely:

– don’t over exert yourself or feel like you have to keep up with people, take it easy and take each day as it comes

– remember to take your medication, different routines often bring forgetfulness!

– don’t suffer in silence.. tell someone! Even if you don’t want to go into detail about your illness just inform someone so they can keep an eye on you

– don’t get fed up with your illness, remember that there are millions of people suffering across the world, most probably worse off than you if you’re still able to travel! Keep your chin up and carry on as normal

I also have another condition, a recurring cyst on my ovary which causes me pain every few weeks, but that is a WHOLE other story! So I’ll leave you with this parting line… Happy Rare Disease Day people – get out there and grab life with both hands… you’ll regret it if you don’t!

Love Jess x

 

 

October Newsletter: Autumn Has Arrived!

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Hi everyone,

So firstly I wanted to apologise for the huuuuuge delay in writing this up and my lack of blog posts since September! I’ve been super busy since I returned from my recent holiday away to Budapest that I’ve barely had time to think! Now that the nights are getting darker and the days are getting colder, it feels as if autumn is well and truly here and its given me chance to get myself a little more organised. I thought I’d better give you all an overview of what’s been happening lately so my new blog feature, a monthly newsletter, should explain it nicely! Here goes…

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Budapest was a brilliant place to visit for my 5th European city break in the past 2 years; its full of culture, character and charm and provided the perfect getaway for me and my sister. We spent three nights and four days in the city which gave us plenty of time to see the sights, explore the little side streets and indulge in some Hungarian history. I’ll be writing up my Budapest adventure as soon as possible, so watch this space!…

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The day after I returned from my holiday I whizzed straight off to Northampton to see one of my best friends get married. She held her reception at the beautiful Dodford Manor, a converted countryside barn which was simply stunning. Everyone had a brilliant time, and the bride and groom looked totally gorgeous! Congrats Mr & Mrs Nicholson, and thank you for letting me be a part of your special day! <3

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Last weekend I headed into London for the day to review some of the best restaurants and bars in trendy Westminster. I hadn’t been to the capital since June so I was dying to go back and this gave me the perfect excuse to visit! As many of my regular readers know, I’ve been contributing for global online magazine The Culture Trip since the summer and was delighted to be asked to take part in their new Neighbourhood project. The task involves taking an area of London and posting about the best bars, restaurants, brunches and things to see and do in said area. I chose to take on Westminster, Covent Garden and Canary Wharf and couldn’t wait to get to work!

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As part of my research I set up meetings with bar and restaurant managers for a few of my chosen establishments and had the pleasure of being toured around the buildings, interviewing the managers and even being treated to a few free drinks… the perks of being a travel blogger! I’m currently busy typing up my posts for The Culture Trip, all of which are due to be completed by mid December so my works are pretty much all scheduled in between now and Christmas.. it’ll be here before we know it…scary stuff! In between interviewing lovely managers, blagging free drinks and being toured around some beautiful places I managed to squeeze in some sightseeing with my close friend and we even had time to enjoy a scrummy ice cream or two at the AMAZING Haagen Daas Ice Cream Parlour in Leicester Square. I’ll social share my Culture Trip posts once they’re live and will write up my interviews as soon as I can!

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This weekend has been a little more chilled, thankfully, so I’ve had chance to spend some quality time with my family as we strolled around one of our favourite local haunts, beautiful Blenheim Palace in nearby Woodstock. Our westie, Cassie, absolutely adores running around the grounds and we wandered around the lake with her whilst staring at the grand architecture of the Palace itself. View one of my previous blog posts to find out a little more about the birthplace of one of Britain’s most loved characters, Sir Winston Churchill.

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My final piece of news in this month’s newsletter is that I’ve been asked to write a series of Destination Guides for the brilliant ABN Save Travel Group. Travel writer Breanna Wilson has been working with me closely to edit and publish my guides and it’s been great to get another piece of my work published on a more global scale. Like The Culture Trip, ABN Save have asked me to write weekly articles on some of the hottest city break destinations. As most of you lovely readers will know, my blog focuses on European city breaks and so I’m delighted to be able to share some of my knowledge and handy tips with a much wider audience. My first post for ABN Save was published last week, click here to read my Paris Destination Guide. Next up is Barcelona and Reykjavik so I’ll be social sharing those in due course.

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As a side note, I’m also running The Big 5K Fun Run in aid of The Pituitary Foundation so I’ll be in Milton Keynes for that next Sunday. I’m running for The Pituitary Foundation as they have been a charity that have supported me since my prolactinoma diagnosis 5 years ago. Please visit my JustGiving page to read my story and help me raise lots of money and awareness for this fantastic charity. Thank you in advance to anyone that can find it in their heart to donate! <3

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That pretty much completes my first newsletter for this month, I told you I’ve been busy! I’ll be writing like crazy over the next few weeks and I have a few more little trips planned between now and the end of the year so, as always, I’ll remember to keep you posted! My next write up will be my beautiful Budapest trip… enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Love Jess x

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