Whooping cough is alive and well in the UK – How to spot it

This isn’t my usual blog post but I feel the need to share this information which I hope will help someone out there. I am not a doctor but I have gained some knowledge during the course of getting my son diagnosed. He tested positive last week. It’s a notifiable disease, so a letter from Public Health followed.

Whooping cough is thought by many doctors to be very rare. This isn’t the case. 18% of immunised children with a persistent cough are found to test positive for pertussis antibodies. Without hearing the cough, it’s hard to diagnose as the chest often sounds clear and the patient is quite well, if a little tired, inbetween coughing fits. The cough goes on and on until completely out of air. You’ll either be unable to breathe or you’ll make a whooping noise as you catch your breath. It can also cause vomiting and even nosebleeds. The best thing to do is make a recording of the cough for your doctor to hear as in the early stages, tests won’t work and as for xrays..they’ll usually be clear anyway. So the sound of the cough is the best way to make a diagnosis. You’ll know it when you hear it, it’ll be unlike any other cough you’ve had.

Vaccinations do help, obviously, but after the age of 10 your immunity starts to wane. In America, boosters are given at this point but here, we don’t have that, which is one of the reasons why whooping cough is on the rise for adolescents and adults. Going undiagnosed means this extremely contagious illness can be passed to everyone, especially the most at risk groups such as babies and the elderly. Luckily, the UK has now introduced a vaccine for pregnant women. In my opinion, the next stop should be a booster at the age of 10 but whether that’ll happen, I have no idea.

The first symptoms begin with cold type symptoms. These could go on quite a while before the paroxysms start. The throat can feel like it’s coated in some slimy substance. You might feel more tired than usual. Sore throat, a bit achy, all general ‘feeling unwell’ sort of stuff. At this stage, you could be treated with antibiotics (erithromyicin, azithromycin or clarithromycin) before it’s too late. The bacteria can live in your body, in incubation, for 21 days, sometimes longer, so if you’re saying ‘Well I would’ve had it by now’ you’re taking a risk. It’s possible you’ll get it further down the line. Don’t wait for the cough to start…by then it’s too late to treat, the bacteria will have already done it’s damage. If it has been left too late, the antibiotics will at least stop you being contagious after five days. If you don’t take the antibiotics, you need to stay away from work or school for 21 days. You can get it if you’ve had it before and being immunised does not completely protect you.

So how long will it last? This depends on the individual. Some get it worse than others. However, they don’t call it the ‘100 day cough’ for nothing. It can go on for around 3 months. It eventually becomes less frequent. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

If you have any problems getting the right diagnosis and you are sure you think you or your child has whooping cough, visit the best website there is at http://www.whoopingcough.net

It’s full of useful information and has a template letter for you to show your doctor. Personally, I think this letter should go out to ALL GP’s in the UK right now. There are outbreaks every 3 or 4 years and right on cue, there is one right now. The last was in 2012 where 9711 cases were confirmed in the UK. What’s worrying is that they are the confirmed cases. Imagine how many go undiagnosed.

My story:

My son is 14. He displayed symptoms of a virus back in the beginning of March. To be fair to the nurse practitioner, he did appear to have a virus at this stage. I said he had a cough but didn’t explain what the cough was like. I was advised to use the steam method of clearing the airways and was assured he’d be alright in a week.

The next week I took him back as this cough was terrifying. He was coughing a lot more and it sounded really odd, like it was alien to him! He coughed and coughed and coughed until he was sick but because he didn’t make the whooping noise I thought it must be something else..maybe an allergy as his eyes were watering all the time. I was asked why I had come back. I left feeling really worried and did some research online.

I’d done a lot of research by this point. I knew it was whooping cough.

So in week 3, I took my son back again and said I am sure I know what this is. The doctor seemed unconvinced but said yes, it ‘probably was’. It helped that I had recorded the sound of the cough. I have to say, all the doctors myself and my family have seen, have been very unconvinced that whooping cough is a possibility and a real threat to everyone. I know they’re human just like us, they’re not walking medical encyclopaedias but I really believe that doctors do not know how to spot the signs and do not know what to do if people have been exposed to it.

My son had a blood test (had to wait quite a while for this to come through then a further two weeks for the results) and it tested positive for pertussis antibodies. Finally! A confirmed diagnosis! I have to admit I was glad I’d stuck to my guns on this one as it would’ve gone undetected for sure.

Now by this time it was way too late for my son to have any medication but an inhaler is helping him.

Unfortunately because of the time it’s taken to be diagnosed, my mother, husband, father (who also has asbestosis) all have it. I requested clarithromycin for myself and my daughter and luckily the doctor agreed albeit rather begrudgingly. I think she would’ve rather waited to the blood test results but I didn’t want to take the risk as you’ve got to kill that bacteria while it’s in incubation and I didn’t know how long the results would take to come in.

I am very worried about my father especially. My mum seems to be doing ok. She got the antibiotics after I badgered her about it but I think it was too late as she still has the cough. My husband is pretty bad, seems to be getting worse. He also took the antibiotics too late to stop the bacteria but at least it stopped him being contagious. Other family members who have been in contact with my son, are having difficulty getting the recommended antibiotics and this is where I believe all doctors need to read up on this subject and realise that it is a real illness, alive and prevalent right NOW.

I am starting a campaign for Dr  Doug Jenkinson’s template to be given to all GP’s in the UK to spread awareness.

Any questions or comments feel free to leave here on the blog.


My #PILOTMUM, art from my 4 year old!

I love children’s artwork. Sometimes it’s painfully truthful, sometimes it’s downright odd. I love how children draw stick legs coming directly from an abnormally large rugby ball shaped head!

This is me!
This is me!

This is my daughter’s interpretation of me. Surrounded by an ornamental gilt frame (very glamorous) I have pink string like hair, Picasso inspired eyes and an unfortunate green splodge near my mouth. The most important thing is that I’m smiling and look a lot more thin that I do in real life. I must be on my way to a party (note the triangular party hat) which is rare as I haven’t been to a party for years and years.

Joking aside, I think it’s so lovely how children express themselves through art, it’s fantastic for building their imagination and cognitive skills. I keep every little piece of artwork she’s done and will for years to come.


My Spring 2015 look

I just wanted to share how much I’m loving the Spring trends that are starting to emerge in the high street. The nautical stripes, the ever chic monochrome and of course the pretty pastels. Florals are still big news as they were last Spring/Summer and I’ve been bringing mine out already in the anticipation of Sunnier weather.

So for the last couple of weeks I’ve been slowly building up my wardrobe, which is always fun.

Here are my favourite buys:


http://www.hm.com/gb/product/28743?article=28743-I&cm_vc=SEARCH – Perfect with bright courts and skinny jeans

This looks amazing with the lilac coat featured here. It’s from New Look and just £14.99



And these shoes will instantly make you happy! From River Island, they’re £35



The featured image here of the lilac ‘Vanessa’ blazer jacket is £30 from Missguided. It’s soft and not so thin that you have to wait until Summer just to put it on. It’s also a really good length, looking lovely over a dress. I’ve been wearing mine all the time, especially with a grey swing dress, or dogtooth skirt and black top. It’s my favourite item of clothing at the moment 😀

“I’ve got bad habits, I don’t clean out me rabbits”

The title was taken from the great Ronnie Barker’s ‘hit’ song, I’ve got bad habits. Seriously though, who doesn’t have bad habits? Whether it’s that you’re constantly late for everything or a secret smoker, or you have a little bit too much wine on a work night. The excuse often heard is ‘well, I always do it, that’s just me’! is an easy way of dismissing it and not having to worry about what these bad habits can actually do to you in the long run.

If you think you’re always late for things, then you probably will be, it’s as though you’re expecting it to happen before it’s even happened.  If you have a bit too much wine you think, well, I got through it before feeling rough the next day so I can do it again, right?

Why do this to yourself! Ok it’s easier said than done but I speak from experience here. I gave up drinking. I wasn’t a heavy drinker but it was becoming a little too regular for my liking and I hated how it made me feel in the morning. I’m naturally a morning person and as I saw this side of me dwindling away I realised how much I actually didn’t enjoy drinking at all. The day I gave up I felt happy. I was actually on holiday and decided I’d rather wake up early and take a walk on the beach before breakfast. It felt amazing! No tiredness, no groggy sick feeling. The next day I felt even more energetic. I didn’t need to find things to fill in the space. I felt in control and had more money.

4 years later and I don’t miss it one bit. Even the smell of the stuff makes me feel unwell. It’s not like I’m scared of the stuff.. I did try a little champagne at my friend’s baby’s Christening last week. It made me feel AWFUL! I had to go to bed for an hour to recover. Amazing how much it can affect you after so long without it in your system.

I still have habits of course..there’s no getting rid of all of them. This is just an example of one I was able to kick!

and remember..as Benjamin Franklin once said :

“It’s easier to prevent bad habits than to break them” 

This post is my entry into the Bobatoo.co.uk ‘Bad Habits’ blog competition – find out more here: http://www.bobatoo.co.uk/blog/bobatoo-bad-habits-blog-competition/


The weird and wonderful locations for a good sleep

Since having my daughter, sleep is a distant memory. I used to only be able to get to sleep in my own bed, nowhere else. These days I could sleep anywhere, all I’d have to do is shut my eyes and I’d be out like a light.

When I was little, I used to enjoy hiding around our lovely big family home in Gloucestershire. Amongst the trees at the bottom of the garden in a make shift tent, under the dining table (which was hardly ever used so no one really disturbed me there!) In the big cupboard in the utility room..(the whirring of the washing machine was just too soothing to resist!) and the irresistible cupboard under the stairs. I used to take snacks and games in there with my Dad’s torch and have a great little time on my own in that cupboard! I have no idea why I enjoyed this so much, I think I was just tired out from my adventures and it was all part of the fun! I often wonder how long my parents spent trying to find me. When I think of what I got up to as a child, compared to how my teenage son spends his time on his computer and his phone all the time. It’s a shame today’s children won’t have those kind of memories. I do try to get him to join in with the world, but there’s just zero interest there and he wants to talk to his friends online instead….

As I grew older I’m glad to say my habit of sleeping in strange places went away. I now sleep in my own bed and nowhere else (ok, sometimes the sofa if my husband snores too loud!)

Ideally, the perfect place for me to have a quiet uninterrupted sleep or ‘the sleep of my dreams’ would be in a hammock, in the Caribbean overlooking a beautiful white sand beach with crystal blue sea. As my children would be a bit lost with me in a hammock, I’d take with me the gorgeous wooden bed I’ve spotted on the Wren living website. I haven’t thought about the technicalities of getting it on the plane – it’s all make believe so we’d probably just teleport there with the bed and stay there forever.

Head over to the LittleStuff website on http://www.littlestuff.co.uk for more sleep stories and a chance to win £300 to spend at http://www.WrenLiving.com – if I won I’d be buying a gorgeous new bed! The wooden bed I’ve chosen would perfectly suit the ‘Scandinavian ski lodge’ theme I’ve gone for, with rich reds and tartan fabric. So cosy in the winter especially!

Good luck with the competition! As for me, this is my entry in to the #SleepHappy competition over on Littlestuff 🙂



Outfit Of The Day (Well..the outfit of my dreams)


My newsfeeds are full of outfits and ‘on sale now!’ temptations and as a woman who LOVES fashion ( especially accessories ) I have developed some excellent self control skills.

If I had all the money in the world, I would spend it in a day, on pretty things. Statement necklaces, shoes in metallic tones, skinny jeans, lulu guiness bags and bright jackets. I love yellow at the moment as it’s the colour of happiness.

So this is the outfit I’m day dreaming about at the moment and check out the gorgeous watch from The Watch Hut, who can be found here: http://www.thewatchhut.co.uk. They can also be found in Covent Garden, London and also a concession in Selfridges London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Here’s the watch. Naturally, it’s Vivienne Westwood, in a gorgeous silver to match the shoes I’ve chosen 🙂


Now I’m off to daydream some more! Let me know what you think of my fashion choices!

A Dream Holiday To Lake Garda!

It’s strange how all we want to do when the British weather finally improves is go abroad isn’t it? Those warm mornings, eating alfresco, they just make me want to get on a plane and enjoy what other countries can offer instead! Typically you’ll return to drizzly cold weather but full of wonderful memories and hopefully feeling much more relaxed. We’ve had nothing but bad luck going away and this prize would make a nice change. 

The answer to my prayers came in the form of this feature on http://www.tots100.co.uk and can be found here: http://www.tots100.co.uk/2014/05/28/win-a-trip-with-al-fresco-holidays-and-tots100-during-the-world-cup/

So, This is my entry to the Al Fresco Holidays and Tots100 World Cup challenge!

Since having our daughter three years ago the most we’ve managed is a weekend break to Budapest over the Winter and although it was cultural and interesting, it wasn’t a real family holiday, which is what we as a family are longing for. We missed our flights by 4 minutes and weren’t allowed on. We had no choice but to put it on a credit card and get the next flight as my husband’s family were all there already, waiting for us to celebrate HIS 40th birthday! 

Before this getaway, we had our honeymoon in 2010. 

How I wish I’d chosen Lake Garda! I’d never booked a holiday before and as my husband said he wanted to experience Italy, I booked a villa in Sardinia. We arrived in the middle of the night, still trying to get used to driving on the other side of the road. We drove around for hours trying to find this villa and many times we pulled over, turned around and tried again along the same road. We finally found it and just zonked out straight away. Only when the morning came did we realise that they little ‘lay by’ in the road was actually the edge of a very steep, very tall mountain with the sea beneath it. I still shudder when I think what could’ve happened! This was the first of many surprises. The place was deserted. It was Easter and everyone had shut shop. The nearest shop was actually a half hour drive away. We spent most evenings playing cards with the portable radio on to try and bring some life to the room. It approached the end of the honeymoon when the radio told us that there’d been a volcano eruption in Iceland. There were no flights home. We were stranded for nearly a month. Again, the ol’ credit card came in handy while we travelled from pillar to post trying to find some way home and staying in miserable B&B’s in the middle of nowhere.

Nine months later our daughter was born. So I guess something good came from it! (Well, we were pretty bored of playing cards after a while!)

I did pick up on the warmth of the Italian people though. I loved the way they took so much pride in their culture. All the little trattoria’s that cooked fresh Italian food, the way everyone got together in the evening in the local square to have a chat and a drink, the fashion, the shops and the music..I fell in love with the place. I remember one evening, thinking I was witnessing what I thought was a terrible family argument and telling my husband we should leave the restaurant and give them some space, when he told me that no, they were actually just talking! haha! I guess maybe they’re just more passionate!

I’d love to go back under more relaxed circumstances with the children this time and really enjoy all the facilities that the resort has to offer. Our son is 14 and football mad so he’d be in football heaven while the World Cup was on. I can imagine the atmosphere would be electric. Even though I’m not a football fan I think I’d get in to it too while I was there as the excitement would be all around us. Our daughter would love the pool more than anything else as she’s really keen on ‘swimming’ – she thinks she can swim but we have to remind her that she can’t yet but maybe this is the place she will learn!

Let’s hope we have some luck this time with the competition and if you’re interested in a stress free holiday, visit http://www.alfresco-holidays.com/