"There's a myth that anyone who has a liver problem has brought it on themselves" This quote is from a Crohn's disease patient living with a blocked portal vein hoping for a liver transplant (Independent 31st Oct 2010)

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Feed your family

A well known supermarket has been running TV ads claiming that by shopping with them you can feed your family for £50 a week. My earnings have taken a hit, and my bank balance is struggling to fund the grocery bill, so I took up the challenge.

Their definition of a 'family' is probably 4, but as some student finance guides allow a budget of £35 a week for one impoverished student, I stuck to the £50 for the 3 of us.

Colourful menu pictures in the leaflet showed tasty dishes with pasta and rice. But a large proportion of menus had potato wedges homemade from 'Basics' potatoes. The £50 shopping list had 5 kilos of potatoes on it. This 'family' must be eating a lot of chips! It also had 3 mega sized loaves of sliced cheap bread - presumably for sandwiches/toast. Also 5 large bags of frozen veggies. Our freezer wouldnt take all this on top of what is already in it, and anyway I dont think cheap doughy bread is very healthy.

Once you've been diagnosed with cancer, the quality of the food you buy suddenly becomes more important. You become drawn (if you hadnt been buying it already) toward organic, free range, 'free from' products.
So that ruled out the Basics fruit and veg. And the battery farmed value chicken and eggs. And the fish that wasnt sustainably farmed or caught.
Things were going awry before I even put one item in my trolley!
So I substituted quite a few things, (oh, the list excluded milk, tea and coffee??) and cheated by using local butcher bought things that were already in the freezer. And cheated by using spinach, lettuce, strawberries and raspberries that are now lush in the garden.

I made it with an overspend of £12 (having excluded the food treats J took to a friends house one day).
What did we eat for our £50. Cereals or toast for breakfast (homemade marmalade - another cheat, oops!). Sandwich or salad meals for lunch - made with bakers bread and some salads from the garden. And pasta/bolognese/rice/curry (free range chicken)/burger/stir fry type evening meals with organic veg and fruit crumble or yogurt puddings.

What did I learn? That you can do a budget shop at a top range Supermarket. But that personally I wouldnt want to eat half of the budget range due to bulking with additives or the product not being grown/fed in a chemical additive free way.

Next challenge - see what J and I can buy and cook on the hob for one week of student 'quick' healthy easy meals for £35.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Latest results

Under my hepatologist's new careplan I'm having blood taken every month. Liver function, red and white blood cell count, clotting speed and a check on my immune system.

I'm not on any medication. I take a herbal liver supplement called Milk Thistle, Vitamin D3, a multi-vitamin and mineral tablet and some extra calcium and magnesium for 'dem bones. I eat no red meat, avoid saturated fats and vegetable oils and have cut right back on salt.

My 3rd and most recent lot of blood tests under this new monitoring regime are looking good.

The tests that monitor inflammation in my body have dropped further and are in the normal range. My liver tests are 'normal', which for me just means 'stable' as we know from the tissue biopsy that the liver isn't 'normal'.

The only thing way out of range is the tests monitoring my immune system, which show its still operating at twice the business it should be, trying to clear an imaginary disease. It needs a rest!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Profile update

Have updated my profile pic to this one. The old one was taken after cancer diagnosis but pre-surgery. This one was taken by my brother, after everything (!) in June 2011.

Friday, 3 June 2011


All quiet on the health front at the moment. Am into the routine of monthly blood tests now. Had May's done, June's are booked at the doctor's for next week, I have the paperwork ready for July, and then August sees me back having them done at Salford.

These blood tests will check my clotting, my levels of inflammation in my body, how well my liver is dealing with toxins and fluid balance, and how much it's managing to store in the way of vitamins and minerals to keep me healthy. We know at the moment that I'm low in Vitamin D, iron, calcium and sodium.

I've been added as a member of the Admin team on the hepatitis support forum mentioned earlier. A good excuse to be 'busy' while sitting down in front of the PC! There have been a few members with scary moments recently - one with liver failure, one with gastric bleeding, and one where ascitic fluid build up in the abdomen got infected. All examples of why liver disease needs close monitoring and decisive action from the medics if things start to go awry.

Had a lovely day on Wednesday when I met family for a day out here:

With an old fashioned steam carousel

Work has got busy. My hours have doubled for a couple of weeks, as they need cover for sickness and holidays within the care packages I'm part of. Should ease off again eventually.