The Holy Grail of Dealing With Cystitis

27 April 2017


Picture the scene: I’m about 7 or 8 years old, whimpering my way to the school office because yet again I can’t pee and yet again I feel like I’m about to burst, and as I reach the window hatch and catch the receptionist’s attention, I manage to mumur: “my minny hurts, I’m constipated.” Cue a confused expression and prolonged gaze from the receptionist, before she beckoned me through to the glorious reception waiting room whilst she phoned my Mum. Of course, what I meant by constipation, I would later learn was cystitis.

Here’s the scientific bit: cystitis is a urinary tract infection (often referred to as a UTI). As defined by NHS.uk, urinary tract infections are “common infections that can affect the bladder, the kidneys and the tubes connected to them”, most frequently the urethra, which is the tube that frees the pee from your body. Women suffer more frequently with UTIs because their urethra is shorter and closer to their butt, which means it’s easier for bacteria to get right on in there and settle into an infection. Common symptoms of a UTI are: the unbearable urge to pee but not actually passing any urine; a burning, stinging pain when urine does pass which can often feel like shards of glass being pushed out; cloudy, strongly-coloured pee which may contain blood and general, all-round shittiness because every ounce of you is aware of the pain downstairs.

Cystitis has plagued my life since primary school. I’ve had doctors conducting internal exams on my 7 year old vageen, an ultrasound, blood tests and innumerable doctor’s appointments, so at this point, it’s fair to say I’m well versed in dealing with cystitis once it strikes. Unfortunately there isn’t much in the medical department that can be done to prevent frequent cystitis, but there are some measures you can take to lessen the risk. As a self-proclaimed cystitis representative, I’m here today to run you through the dos and don’ts of caring for your UTI-prone vagina, and more importantly, tips for dealing with cystitis once you already have it.

FYI - This post has been illustrated by the babe that is Lauren Johnstone. Shop her fabulousness here.


THE MYTHS


Cranberry Juice & Cranberry Capsules


CRANBERRY JUICE DOES NOT GET RID OF THE INFECTION ONCE IT IS ALREADY THERE. Phew, okay, just had to get that off my chest. If cystitis regularly comes to visit in urethra-town, you’ll be accustomed to hearing the same ill-informed advice time and time again, and often that comes in the form of “oh, you should drink some cranberry juice, I've heard that helps.” Once you have cystitis, there is shit all that cranberry juice can do to shift it, and whilst cranberry capsules and the juice itself have historically been linked to helping prevent the onset of UTIs, there’s very little solid evidence that proves it’s any good for that either. From my own experience, cranberry juice is pretty much useless and is just a dose of unwanted sugar in a time where water would work wonders.

Uncleanliness is the cause


You could have the cleanest vagina in the world and still catch a UTI. Cystitis has nothing to do with how clean you are - rather, it seems, it’s more to do with your genetics (does your Momma get it?), how much you're shagging (honeymoon cystitis is a legit thing) and just how short and close to your butt your urethra is. A lot of girls can go on a shagathon and never feel a twinge, whereas I can have one afternoon roll-around and suffer for three days straight. Lucky, eh?


 

PREVENTION 

 

Empty your bladder before and after sex



This is the absolute classic of all cystitis prevention tips. If you really want to do your best to avoid a bout of the old familiar, then make sure you are peeing before and after sex. Admittedly, this does disrupt the moment somewhat - there’s nothing like being caught up in a steamy snog and having to interrupt to say, “ooh, wait, let me just pop to the toilet”. If you’re rolling around with the boyfriend then he’d be a dick to not understand, but if you’re hooking up with someone new and wanting to retain an air of mystery, just ask if you can go and “freshen up”, then run the tap whilst you pee to your heart’s delight. Swill a bit of mouth wash round and he’ll just think you’ve been brushing your teeth instead of desperately evading a UTI. After sex, U. GOT. TO. PEE. Girl, you ain’t sleeping, u peeing, and if you can have a shower, even better. It’s crucial to flush out any bacteria that could be potentially setting up shop, and the only way to do this properly is to urinate (sorry, a swipe with a baby wipe won’t cut it!).


Have your partner wash downstairs before you get down to it



UTIs are caused by bacteria hanging around where they shouldn’t be, so it makes sense to ask your partner to have a quick wash downstairs to make sure everything is as clean as possible. This doesn’t have to be a 25 minute full-body scrub - honestly, just a dick-dip in the sink will do.


DO. NOT. DOUBLE. DIP.



And by double dip, I mean go anywhere near the butt area and then return to the vagina if you want any hope of a happy, cystitis-free life. Many cases of cystitis are actually caused by bacteria from the butt, so as a side-note, another tip is to always wipe front-to-back (if you’re a contortionist and you can bend your arm that way, that is - I literally never do this but it is good advice). Nonetheless, you don’t want any of the nasties from back there finding their way into your urethra or bladder, so if you’re considering some action in the butt area, save this for last.


Stock up on pH balancing feminine washes



Make sure you avoid using anything heavily perfumed downstairs and opt for pH balancing feminine care instead. FemFresh is my personal favourite brand, and they have lots of different options available, from cranberry-infused washes (pointless but I appreciate the nod to us cystitis sufferers), to shaving gels and even rescue creams that are all safe to use on your vageen. I keep my bathroom stocked up with these washes and use them every time I shower, but it might be worth just grabbing a bottle if you feel like you’re due a cystitis session or you’re in for a shagathon anytime soon. They cost about £2-£3 quid and they last quite a while, so they’re well worth picking up.



WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE CYSTITIS



So the likelihood is that you’ve come to this article already suffering with cystitis, and you’re sitting on the toilet or curled up in bed, wondering what in holy hell you can do to save yourself from this misery.

The truth is - and don’t hate me for it - unless you have antibiotics on your person right now, there’s pretty much fuck all at your disposal. The cranberry sachets help to ease the pain so don’t overlook these by any means, and drink as much water as you can possibly stomach (avoid caffeine and alcohol at all costs), but unfortunately it’s more of a waiting game.

It’s shit, I know, but entertain yourself with distractions (hey, this blog has some pretty fancy content…) and book yourself in at the doctors ASAP. Make sure to ask for a 7 day course of antibiotics - you only need three, but getting 7 will mean you always have some for emergency flare ups and you don’t have to pay a prescription fee twice.

Now, if you’re suffering, here are some things to distract you:


  • - Download an old school game and go to town. The Sims 4 and Rollercoaster Tycoon are relatively cheap, or you can go for Theme Hospital (https://www.gog.com/game/theme_hospital) which is only a fiver! And yes, you can play all of them on Macs too. Apps for your phone are also handy great because the games are easy to play and quick to get into - no waiting around for a long installation. Go crazy.
  • - Paint your nails. Who has the time to do this normally? If you’re sitting on the toilet, you might as well make use of your free hands. Plus it’s so fucking boring that you might find it lulls you that one step closer to sleep.
  • - Watch something short and lighthearted. 5 minutes feels like forever when you’re suffering with cystitis, so for me, trying to get stuck into to an hour long, slow burning drama on Netflix is a no-go. Instead, I’ll pop on something like Bobs Burgers, Rick and Morty or South Park, all of which are super short episodes and all funny as fuck. Dealing with your distraction in 20 minute chunks will make the whole ordeal feels like less of a lifetime stretch in prison.
  • - Indulge in some retail therapy from the comfort of your bed - or, er, your toilet. Most things I try to do whilst I’m suffering with cystitis feel pointless, boring and annoying. No I don’t want to read a fucking book and no I don’t want to “try and sleep” because trust me, I’d be doing that already. One thing that never gets boring, however, is shopping. Whilst retail therapy can’t soothe your symptoms, it’s certainly something that you can get stuck into and distract yourself.
  • - Have a bath or a shower. There's much debate surrounding the bath v. shower benefits when you're suffering with cystitis. No matter the arguments, I prefer a bath and always have. Avoid any perfumey bubble baths/oils and stick to good old water. The temperature helps to soothe the pain and laying down helps me to relax. Regardless of which one you choose, the truth is that if you can manage to squeeze out a little bit of wee, you can go in both. 



The Ultimate Little Summer Dress Guide For All Budgets

22 April 2017




Following on from my recent post about how I’m finally embracing wearing a dress after resisting the “feminine” for so long, I’ve gone slightly dress mad. You know when you say you hate a certain food even though you’ve never actually tried it (come on, we’ve all been there, and if you haven’t said you hate gherkins in your lifetime then you’re lying), and then one day you take a bite and it’s like GOOD LORD I have been transformed…? Well, I feel like this has happened to me, just with dresses (stay with me guys, I promise I’m not losing my mind *panicked laugh*).

When it comes to comfort dressing, a little flippy number is probably the last thing that comes to mind. And we all have the same concerns - yes, the dress looks great on the 5’10 ASOS model, but how is it actually going to look on me? Will my old friend, the belly pouch come to visit? Will I leave the house feeling sassy AF before I realise that the dress is 100% see through and my black and white granny pants are now on show for the world to see (obviously this hasn’t happened to me IRL *cough*).

However, with summer well on the way and I’m sure, many a BBQ, Garden Party and Wedding about to pop up in your diary, there couldn’t be a better time to bite the bullet. With so many swishy numbers taking up residence on my clothes rail, the last-minute panic of “WHAT DOES ONE EVEN WEAR FOR A SMART CASUAL SUMMER EVENT” has been - at least for now - put to bed.

Coming out of my comfort zone for these legless lovelies has also meant that I’ve been experimenting with colour more. If I dabbled in the realm of prints last year the primary colour was still always black, whereas now you’re hard pushed to find my not wearing red. Yellow has also become a surprise contender, along with midi and maxi lengths that I felt previously would have drowned me. This is a beautiful dress renaissance in all its glory, and you know what? I’m taking you with me.

To give you a helping hand I’ve pulled together a tonne of little summer dresses for three different budgets - under £20, under £30 and under £50, so if you do a little bit of shopping, it won’t break the bank!

Dress Pictured - SilkFred*
Shoes - ASOS
Sunglasses - RayBan*

Under £20





Under £30





Under £50




Perfect Partner Accessories 









Decorating our not-yet home with Scandinavian posters from Desenio

18 April 2017


I know what you’re thinking - what in God’s name is a not-yet home? Well, we don't get the keys to our new place until the 28th but of course, I’ve been picking up pieces in the meantime. So far Keiran and I have managed to acquire most of the main furniture bits like sofas, a bed, a mattress, a coffee table etc. etc., but until all of the big ticket items have been ticked off the list, decorative pieces have taken a backseat.

Welllll, mostly. I haven’t been able to help myself from bagging a few baskets here and there, and you all know I’m partial to a mug or two (or three, or four…). When it comes to wall art, I’m also really picky. As much as I love my friends and family I’m definitely not one for having personal pictures on display, but then I also love the aesthetic of lots of mismatching frames in different colours and sizes, filling up a wall with images and ideas.

That’s where Desenio come in. If, like me, you do a fair bit of blog and Google searching for unique homeward pieces, then you’ve probably already heard of these guys. If not, then let me fill you in. Desenio are your one stop shop for all things wall art. Rather than picking up expensive prints from Etsy and then having to source a frame to fit yourself, Desenio stock a huge range of super affordable prints in all shapes and sizes, with all of the corresponding picture frames to boot. Whether you’re looking for something abstract, inspirational or something to simply fill a gap and set the mood, then these guys have got you covered. As they say themselves on their website: “much of our art is design by Swedish illustrators and designers. Our business concept is to help our customers create beautiful and inspiring homes in a simple and affordable way.” Now that’s definitely something I can get on board with.






Rather unintentionally, I opted for a series of mismatched prints that all seem to relate to geography. A few of them hold personal meaning, and a few just look lovely. The Highland Cow Poster, for example, reminds me of my grandparents. They visit Scotland every year and have done for as long as I can remember, and some of my fondest childhood memories are of my Grandad parking up somewhere picturesque and my Nan pulling out a stash of homemade sandwiches. That’s why as soon as I saw the cow poster, it went straight into my basket.

Next up was the large London Poster. I travel to London most weeks for work and it’s always been a place of wonder to me. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, it’s my favourite city in the world. Paris, Budapest, Berlin - they all hold their charm, but they’re not quite London.

The smaller Lotus Flower Print was another sentimental choice for me - or rather, I chose it more for Keiran. Himself and his best friend are in the process of launching their own denim house, designing and creating jeans and fusing this with their love for anime and Japanese culture. The lotus flower has popped up time and time again throughout their journey so far, so I thought it would be nice to have something personal alluding to that up on the walls of our first home.





And then there’s the Shadow Poster, the Winter Mountains Print and the Desert Print. None of these hold particular meaning to me, but I thought the tones mixed really well with the rest of my choices and I like the escapism made possible through the location shots. With all of the prints I’ve mixed and matched in sizes and frame colour, opting for a combination of black and gold that should work quite well throughout the house. I haven’t yet decided which pieces are going where, but I’m thinking the cow shot already has a home in the living room. I picked up a cow-print stool recently, so in a morbid way, it makes sense.

And the important stuff! Desenio are offering you lovely lot 25% off all posters (apart from the handpicked section, sorry!) from 18th April - 20th April using the code ‘chloeplumstead25’. Catchy, huh? Let me know what you think of my choices, and if you pick some prints up yourself, do let me know in the comments down below or come and find me over on Twitter or Instagram.

 Happy shopping loves x

P.S. Shout out to my bae Hannah Gale for letting me borrow her home for these shots. 

P.P.S. This post was sponsored by Desenio.

7 Things You’ll Only Understand If You’re a Short Person

17 April 2017




At the grand old age of 23, I stand at approximately 4’11. Basically, I’m one of those kids that people said “you just wait, she’ll shoot up”, and didn’t. I grew outwards, sure, but upwards? Forget about it. 

Being short as a kid is great. People think you’re innocent so you get away with murder, people think you’re weak so you never had to do any sports - heck, even at 17 you can get away with buying children’s tickets to everything and saving yourself a pretty penny. As you get older, however, you come to learn that there are certain annoyances saved for short people, and short people only. These are the 7 things you’ll only understand if too are a short person.





1. Everyone assuming you’re forever a teenager... A couple of weeks ago I jumped into a taxi back to mine from Keiran’s fairly early in the morning, setting off to get ready for work before heading into the office. As I sat, minding my own business in the back of the car, the taxi driver starts chatting to me about the usual: the weather, how busy he is, how bad the roads are. Then he turns to me and says, “so, you off to school then?”. OFF. TO. SCHOOL. I am 7 years too old to be a high school student, but he still thought I was about the right age. Le sigh. 

2. ...and as a consequence, everybody thinking it's okay to guess your age. If you’re short and your age is, in some people’s minds, obscure, then the exact number suddenly becomes the topic for open estimation. I stood at the IKEA checkout today, chatting to the girl about moving out and she says: “You look young to move out. Young in a good way though. What are you, 19, 20?” This happens all the time. I often get people - who know my age - saying things like “you don’t even look 23, you look like 18. Doesn’t she look 18? How old do you think Chloe looks?” If you’re short, suddenly people forget that it’s actually kinda rude to ask someone’s age, let alone guess it. 

3. Random guys picking you up on a night out. You know how on a night out, guys sometimes forget that personal boundaries exist? Well, step into the world of a short person. Not only is your arse up for a good grabbing, you’re also now a prime candidate to be picked up and carried off against your will, because, well, you’re small, right? What some boys think is a hilarious way of chatting you up is actually just the most annoying and invasive thing ever. Unless I know you - well - this is never going to go down well. 

Top - ASOS (sold out, similar here)
Hat - ASOS (sold out, similar here)

4. Never-ending height jokes. “Oh, you’re going to Thorpe Park? Better make sure you’re tall enough to ride the rides.” 

“Chloe, if you ever have children, how will anybody know who is the child and who is the mother?” 

“I guess you must struggle with storage space because you can never make use of a top shelf.” 

And the list goes on, and on, and on. Hey, I put my hands up, I love a good height joke every now and then - the more imaginative, the better. But honestly, I’ve heard every pun under the sun to do with reaching stuff, so if you’re going to come at me with some short person witty remarks, think up some original material. I’m going to be listening to these for the rest of my life, so at least make them good. 

5. The inevitability of always getting ID’d. Someone asking me if I have my ID on me is a better joke than any of the above. For a short person, not having your ID on you is a guarantee that you won’t get served alcohol - even if I tried to buy cigarettes now, I’d still get ID’d. I’ve got my proof of age out and ready to hand over before I’ve even stepped into the bloody doors of Tesco, and if I’m heading to a bar or club, I check, check and then check again before jumping in the cab. If you’re a long-limbed lovely or regular weighted gal and you forget your ID, you have height on your side: you know that there’s still a chance you'll get away with not having your licence. When you’re 4’11 and have the face of an adult baby, hell would freeze over before anyone thought I was of age. My ID is stuck to me like an extra appendage. And hey, at least if I die, the emergency services will know who I am pretty damn quickly. 

6. People asking you if you can give birth naturally. The weirdest one of all, but it happens. When you’re of a “regular” height, people look at you and think, “yeah, she could carry a baby and pop it out, no problems”. When you’re short - especially if you’re very short - this suddenly gets thrown into question. Will the weight of a baby cause her to topple over due to the imbalance in weight? Won’t a baby just burst out? Can she even give birth naturally? My womb and it’s capabilities have been the topic of discussion one too many times, that’s for sure. 

7. People stating the fricken’ obvious. “Omg you’re so short!” “You’re so tiny!” “How little are you?!” And the award for the most obvious statements goes toooooo…







Photography by Hannah Gale
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