Allergy Testing

How much is that doggy in the window?

It only hit home when a friend said to me: “You know it’s not normal to be like this every morning?” I call it my ‘morning sickness’ but often it happens throughout the whole day and night.

I sniffle. And sneeze. And my eyes are so often itchy, runny and red. The back of my throat will itch like crazy and there’s nothing I can do about it. Occasionally I will cough or have a sore throat, but all this came on so gradually and over so many years that I didn’t realise how badly it was affecting me – I was getting used to it and even when it got worse, I didn’t take much notice.

In the UK I have never visited a doctor to get a sick note. However, in Germany, if we can’t work we have to go to our doctor immediately and get the paperwork, otherwise we don’t get paid. I told the doctor that my allergies were getting worse and she was shocked that I would wake up daily with these issues. She sent me straight to the allergy doctor – something I had always wanted to do, but in the UK you have to pay for it (last time I researched it was around £200) and with a referral, you get it for free in Germany.

I was looked after so well!! I told them about my lungs – as a child I had bad asthma and bronchitus but it all calmed down and now I only have exercise asthma – basically I get shortness of breath when I run in the cold or similar, but almost never have to take my inhaler. I was placed in a glass box similar to a telephone box and was made to breathe quickly and slowly and hard and softly as they measured my lung strength. Apparently my lungs are wonderful – YEY!

Next they checked my oxygen levels from my ear – super weird – here’s a funny photo of me post-check.

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Then came the exciting stuff – the lady drew 12 numbers on my arm and made tiny cuts on my skin.

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Next she put a blob of the allergen onto the open cuts in my skin and told me not to itch. The second the liquid hit number 9, my arm was on fire. I wanted to scratch so badly it actually hurt and I could think of literally nothing else. I had to wait ten irritatingly itchy minutes, but it was actually quite interesting seeing the little bubbles come up on my skin.photo 4

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I was tested against all kinds of things, but dust mites and animals came out the worst. Turns out I don’t have hayfever – news to me! Then I went back to see the doctor. It was one of those super stressy seconds when the doctor leans over his desk, looks into my eyes and asks: “Have you heard of Hyposensibilisierung gegen Milben?” It’s that moment where you think ‘uh oh – what’s wrong with me?’ but luckily the doctor explained it all to me.

Basically, I’m super allergic to dustmites and their poo (ahem) and he said it was so bad that he could offer me immunotherapy – I could get injections a few times a week for around three months and then come back every now and then and I would not suffer from my allergies for around five years. I don’t like the sound of that and although I’m still considering it, I think it’s pretty unlikely that will be happening anytime soon. I got a mass-load of drugs and we now clean our room like loons! The doctor even said that my health insurance would cover part of the cost of special allergy-repellent bed sheets and duvet – Germany is amazing!

Then he asked whether I had a pet. When I said no, he was pleased and told me it would have to stay that way. When I said I wanted a pug desperately, he said no – instead his advice was to get a tortoise. Apparently they are very entertaining and you can put a candle on it’s back and watch it wander around your house. Errr… his words not mine…

Let’s just say I still want a pug.

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Four hours in Brussels

Mussels in Brussels…

I’ve been to Brussels many times now, often with work for EU coverage, but occasionally also for a fun trip to see a friend who lives there. We normally use it as a stepping stone – stay one night and move on to Brugge or Holland.

On a recent trip back to Liverpool, the cheapest flight we found was via Brussels. There was a connection at the airport in two hours, or four hours. We thought it was crazy to be in the land of delicious chocolate and not try at least to get some, so we challenged ourselves to do all the exciting things in Brussels in just four hours – we were literally running for our flight at the end and didn’t get any waffles, but we were pretty full by then anyway.

If you only have a short stop-over in Brussels, here’s how you do it:

You must eat mussels in Brussels – there is a street jam-packed with restaurants (Rue des Bouchers), they’re all similarly priced and taste the same (to me anyway). We went to Le Petit Bruxelles – even thought it was pretty empty it took forever to serve our food. I enjoyed the mussels and Jason loved his steak. After seeing the reviews for it, I would probably recommend trying somewhere else, but it did the job!

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From there it’s a five minute walk to the Grand Place, a huge market square with cobbled stones and beautiful buildings.

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Then you walk down to the Manneken Pis (Peeing Boy) – he’s famous enough for me to have known about him before I ever went to Belgium, but disappointingly small in real life.

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Then you pop into one of the many many many chocolate stores and get some nibbles for the journey home. Don’t forget a hot chocolate too – they are divine in Belgium!!

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If you can fit in a waffle, then I’m impressed, otherwise rush back to the airport – this city can be done in just four hours and it’s on to the next place :)

PS: We found some cool things at the airport I just had to share with you… no runny cheese in hand-luggage allowed and if you need to charge your phone just jump on one of these bikes and make your own electricity!

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Five Places I want to return to!

Take me home…

I found this really fun blog post idea at www.booked.net – Top Destinations to Go There. Basically, I had to think of five destinations I would like to return to. ONLY FIVE? I have so many favourite places in the world and so many more to discover. It was a hard choice, but here is what I came up with:

Paris, France

It annoys me immensely that the best Ramen in the whole world is in Paris, but there you go. I would go back in an instant to eat Ramen at Naritake. I want you all to know that I have eaten SO MUCH RAMEN in my life (five years in Japan make me an expert) and this is by far the best I have ever eaten. Jason agrees too, so it must be true. Also memories of us climbing up the Eiffel Tower with a beret and a baguette whilst wearing a pin-stripe t-shirt still make me giggle. A wonderful city for food and wine :)

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

Jason broke the baguette at the top of the Eiffel Tower - doh!

Jason broke the baguette at the top of the Eiffel Tower – doh!

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Terengganu, Malaysia

Not all of you will know that my father was actually born and brought up in Malaysia. He loves to take us there. We went to see his old home and school and it was so lovely to see where he grew up in Kuala Lumpur. Then it’s beach time, often in Terengganu on the east-coast where you can stay in posh hotels for a small price. The fruit is fresh from the trees and melts in your mouth and the beaches are sandy and empty. The only thing you have to worry about is where that lizard in the bedroom went…1914136_518080762073_3558671_n 1914136_518080881833_4249394_n

Oki Islands, Japan

The Oki Islands are a group of islands in the Japan Sea. We visited this summer and they are by far the most untouched and rural place I have been to in Japan. We got the ferry over and were then dropped off at the top of Matengai Cliff, which we slowly hiked down. The views were stunning, we walked by horses and cows (luckily they didn’t want to attack us) and we didn’t meet a single other person the whole time – it’s very much off the beaten track, but I would love to visit again one day.
DSC_0032-002 DSC_0060-002 DSC_0005-002Bruges, Belgium

One of our favourite trips ever. Bruges is stunning, we took a boat tour, wandered the cobbled streets and rented a bike and actually cycled along the completely flat roads all the way into Holland along the canals. The mussels in Brussels were great, the pancakes in Holland too, but the chocolate in Bruges was the best of it all – you people need to visit this lovely city!

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Amsterdam, The Netherlands

This city has something special – so many bicycles, lovely canals and on King’s Day the entire country goes orange – it’s something really wild and fun to experience! I love the feel to the city and how multicultural the people are. I would love to live in Holland one day… who knows, maybe it’s next on the list of places to move to!

So many bicycles!

So many bicycles!

King's Day

King’s Day

The tulips are just stunning!

The tulips are just stunning!

I hope my blogging friends will also make a post like this! I’d love to read your versions Charlotte, Confuzzledom, Shannon, Janet and Eating Wiesbaden :)

There are so many more places I want to go back to one day – Israel has the friendliest people I have ever met, Mexico the most fun, Ghana the smiliest and England, well, I love England – best country in the world!! I have also found I love Germany, but I know there are many places I’m still waiting to discover…

Where would you like to return to one day and why?

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PicMonkey

Photoshop me baby!

I have been browsing the internet a little bit to find something that makes photos a little more interesting for you all and makes our blog look pretty. I’ve been working on my photography, but if I’m totally honest, the camera is so heavy and I don’t want it to get nicked and and and… so many excuses. When I look at the photos from our camera, I’m shocked at how beautiful they are.

So last night I found this really cool (and totally free) website called PicMonkey. It’s so easy to use, even I figured it out with Jason’s help – haha. You put your photo up and make it more beautiful. The top photo is the original – it’s a pic I took in Japan and one of my favourites. With just a few clicks I made it all jazzy – have a try yourself :)

Original Photo

Original Photo

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Friday Links

Twistin’ the night away…

60 Habits You Formed In Japan That Will Never Work In Your Country. 

My friend’s rock video! It was set in my little town when we both lived there and was nice to re-watch and see all the old sights and the people :)

Kitchen Surfing – you order a chef to cook for you and your friends at your home – amazing idea – hint hint…

Tattoos with a difference!

This week a lovely friend of mine had a bike accident and is all black and blue – she is lucky she was wearing a helmet! Hopefully this will help cyclists stay safe!

So many allergies :(

Confused about what to do in your life next?

OMG Flyboarding - I must try this!

Need a job?

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