The cost of coeliac disease

There were lots of things I was completely ignorant to when it came to coeliac disease. My best friend has been diagnosed with it for about 10 years now but I still had no idea about the cross-contamination side of things until Charlotte was diagnosed.

Did you know that even a crumb of normal bread can actually harm someone with coeliac disease? This isn’t just an intolerance where you might get a bit bloated, gluten actually kills part of a sufferers intestines so that it can no longer absorb vital nutrients. 

Because of this it is suggested that you should change a number of things which you may never be able to say is completely gluten free. So the literal cost of coeliac disease for us so far is…

1 toaster £25

3 baking trays £7.50

3 chopping boards £5

2 non-stick frying pans £25

4 plastic spatulas £8

3 mixing bowls £14

Officially I shouldn’t use a dishwasher which has previously washed glutenend items but unfortunately my budget doesn’t stretch to a brand new dishwasher quite yet, although I am thinking its a very good excuse to bring my ‘new kitchen’ project forward a bit!

Carefully chosen gluten free picnic courteousy of M&S

This doesn’t even take into account the fact that gluten free products are SO much more expensive to buy that the gluten filled alternatives. Bread which tastes similar to normal bread can have a mark up of at least £2 more than your average white sliced loaf. 

Luckily, in most of the UK, diagnosed sufferers can get some items on prescription, however, this is a minefield and we’re currently trying out every option available to find out what is edible and what is definitely not! 

There is talk of the prescriptions being scrapped, especially adult ones and if they’re not scrapping them, they’re making the list of things you can have shorter by the day. Thankfully Warwickshire seems to be holding on to most items for now but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. 

Obviously the biggest cost is Charlotte’s health and this is the reason I am happy to pay for all these items…now just to work on friends, family, restaurants and schools to make sure they’re as precious about her health as I am. 

Healthy kid!

What not to wear.

Those of you who follow my Facebook page (hint hint 😉) would have seen that, last week, I attempted a bit more of a chic Sunday casual ‘mummy at the playground’ look than previously. However I have also realised that I have no idea what I want to look like and how best to present myself anymore. Every now and again I have the right combination of clothes clean and ironed so I can look vaguely put together but sometimes I am down to my granny pants, saggy jumper and jeans and there’s just no way to make that look good.

I know I have an hour glass shape which Gok and Trinny and Susannah and anymore recent fashion guru’s say I am lucky to have but unless I want to wear spanx, pencil skirts and high heels all day everyday (not particularly practical for the nursery pick up) I don’t know how to venture out of the house in anything other than a t-shirt and jeans combo.

I am also fretting over the recent change in season as, since last October, I have lost some weight (yay!) which means all my autumnal wardrobe is too big and I have zero £’s and zero pence to buy anything new (boo). My favourite, fail safe dress now hangs in all the wrong places, my work trousers now have saggy bums at a time when I’m more happy to show mine off and my tops seem to have been manipulated by the washing machine gremlins so that they are all either too short, adorned with random little holes or after a six months of being packed away in the vacuum bag I am now thinking why on earth I bought/wore it in the first place! I have now done the full swap over and all the pretty, colourful summer stuff is stashed away and I am left with a paltry offering of greys, browns, khakis (I honestly don’t remember buying anything khaki!) and dreary colours to match my Seasonal Affective Disorder mood. Going to be a cheerful few months, I can tell!

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Paddle, paddle, paddle!

Last week I received one of these through the post…and it was a fat one.

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For those of you who don’t know this is a letter from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and they don’t generally like to send out letters saying “you’ve paid us too much, here have a cheque for £1000” No. They like to send scary letters. Aggressive, scary letters containing phrases like ‘suspension of payments’ and ‘if I do not comply…’.

Since I have been separated I have been entitled to a small amount of Tax Credits that are meant to help with Charlotte’s childcare. It does help but it all goes in the bigger pot and gets used up on necessities as soon as it comes in weekly. I hate the fact that I am someone who has to rely on benefits to help her through her month but I also have a job and have been paying my taxes for ten or so years now so it’s not like I’m not putting anything back into the pot. (In fact if they taxed me less I would have to take less out of the pot but that’s a futile conversation!)

So they sent me a letter saying they think they have my payments wrong. Now, I’ve told them all the correct info, I gave them all my incoming figures, I haven’t lied anywhere but I’m petrified. If, for some reason they take these away from me or reduce the payments drastically I will be – to use a well known phrase – up shit creek without a paddle. The bank of mum and dad are paying for my solicitors fees which I desperately want to pay back at some point, my mortgage and nursery fees pretty much leave me with no way near enough to cover bills, petrol, food and any sort of extras that are needed. Tight, to say the very least! The tax credits and the payments (however minimal) from my ex’s child maintenance help me to just about keep my head above water so the fact this may change has scared me to death.

My ex had lots of problems with debt and when we split I vowed I would be good with my money as I hadn’t had the chance to control it before but no matter how good you are if you don’t have enough, you don’t have enough.

I’m maybe seeing the worst in HMRC and after collecting my hundreds of bits of evidence they have asked for they may say that actually they owe ME money but I’m not holding out much hope.

Who needs anything more than beans on toast for tea five nights a week anyway?

The only way is up..?

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Well, these last two weeks have been the hardest in a very very long time. Every time I think I’m just about coping I get another kick and, to be honest (as I should be in my blog) my optimism and ‘Joie de Vivre’ which I pride myself on, is slowly sliding away. So far it has involved the ex contesting the divorce for no reason I can understand, a male ‘best friend’ managing to hurt me in so many different ways all at once, a flat tyre, a speeding ticket, work generally and a letter from work telling me they’ve over paid me nearly £400 and that they would be taking it out of my October pay (that’s nearly a third of my take home pay!) Just to top it all off I’ve gone off wine and can’t seem to bear drinking a drop. I know!! Nightmare!!

I won’t bore you with the details but I’m pretty sure I’m at one of my lowest points in a long time – my heart is severely battered, my anger is bubbling very close to the surface all the time and my bank account is empty – more than empty actually as I’m well and truly in my overdraft. I can only presume I was a mass murderer in a previous life and am now paying for my sins. I feel like a teenager but, unlike my 15 year old self, I can’t just crawl under the covers for a few days and cry my eyes out. I have a daughter, a dog, a job, a house and my sanity that needs to keep going and be looked after. I know I’ll recover, I am resilient and I know there must be some good days soon but I wish I could just press pause and get my shit together. I can’t let my daughter see me angry at her dad or crying because I am lonely and have been let down, so I need to breathe, adjust, pour a strong G&T and move on to the next challenge that will no doubt be facing me.

Someone warned me that the first year in a separation would be the worst but two weeks into the second year and I’m not sure I believe them yet. People also have been saying that all this crap must mean I’m due for something really good and I really want to believe this!! Win
the Lottery, a Knight in shining armour, a new job? Come on fate…I’m waiting!!

Single Parent Pessimist

Working 9-5…

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I am a civil servant. As much as that pains the very core of me to say, I work for the government. I have no idea how I ended up here, as at 14 I definitely wanted to be an interior designer, but here I am. I am now a sensible, grown up mum who has to think about paying the bills.

I hate my job.

I have been ‘restructured’ more times than I can count in the past five years and I am so tired of it. I thought my luck was in when I came back from maternity leave and was offered a role in the marketing and communications team. I loved it, organising large events, travelling, flexible working, working from home when able, meeting lots of new lovely people, including someone I would now class as a closest friend. I felt like I wasn’t just a mummy again, that I was actually excited to get up and go to work especially considering the state of home life at that point and then, yet another restructure happened and I was forced into an ‘office job’, a 9-5, chained to my desk, office job.

I heard lots of “Well, at least it’s paying the bills” at the time and so I just got on with it, not wanting to whine about being a newly, single mum AND having a crap job. Let’s just focus on the biggest issues, hey? I thought.

But eight months has passed and I can feel morale and motivation ebbing away. I don’t want to feel like this for a large portion of my week anymore. So…it’s time to start looking for a new job. In those few minutes I have to myself of an evening, I am currently scouting the web to find me my perfect job…something that stirs my creative side, something that is flexible or works with my part time hours I now have to do in order to pick up and drop of Charlotte at nursery, something that stimulates my brain, something where I can meet fun/ interesting people, something that pays enough to keep the roof over our head and all the stuff that goes under it….unfortunately, I’m not sure it exists.

I am still trying to come up with that one idea that will earn me millions so if you have any ideas going spare please feel free to pass them over to me!

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