Monday, 28 July 2014

Aussie Miracle Hair Insurance Conditioner Review

I enjoy reviewing beauty products from time to time and I want to start sharing more of my favourite products with you guys. I don't know why I haven't been talking more about my established favourites, but I plan to start rectifying that. 

Today, I'm going to start with a review of Aussie's Miracle Hair Insurance, which is a light, leave in conditioner spray which I have been using religiously for more than a decade, and first discovered at the age of twelve. 

Miracle Hair Insurance is infused with Australian jojoba seed oil, which is designed to detangle the hair and protect it from everyday wear-and-tear, and as it says on the bottle, it's "a saviour for weak, distressed hair." 

This is one product that actually lives up to what it promises.

I don't have weak or distressed hair, but this conditioner spray has always helped to keep my hair in good condition. For most of the years I've been using the product, I've had very long hair (obviously, not now!), which needed to be looked after to keep it looking healthy, as long hair usually does. I've never had to splash out on expensive magical elixirs to get the results my hair needs; a simple leave in conditioner has always been all I've needed, no matter the length of my hair! (Seriously! All I do with my hair is shampoo and condition it, and spray this fantastic leave in conditioner in to my hair after a shower or a swim)! 

I actually remember using a Salon Selectives leave in conditioner when I was a tween, but it was later discontinued, and on my hunt for a replacement, I discovered Aussie's Miracle Hair Insurance. I was about twelve when I started using it, and I haven't looked back in seventeen years!

Why, you ask? Well, the conditioner is perfect for so many situations, and it works wonders on my hair. Here's why I love it so much:

♥ The conditioner keeps my hair looking strong, shiny, and healthy, and helps to revive it when it's not looking its best. 

♥ It detangles my hair and makes brushing any tangles out a breeze.

♥ It's ideal for spraying in to wet hair after a swim in the sea or pool, as it instantly hydrates the hair and protects it after it's been exposed to salt water and pool chemicals, while making it easy to run a brush through your hair when it's become knotted from your swim. (Have you tried brushing long hair after a swim in the sea? It's a nightmare)! I never go to the beach or pool without it! 

It's useful if you've over-slept, can't be bothered to condition your hair in the shower, or find it difficult to shower for long due to illness or injury. Just shampoo your hair in the shower, and then spray the Miracle Hair Insurance in once you're out of the water! It's been invaluable for me with my back injuries since I struggle to stand up long enough to wash my hair, and it means I can skip a step if I'm not feeling great. It's also come to the rescue so many times when I've been running late for work. 

It's basically a miracle spray, and it really does deserve the name!

It's a light spray, with a consistency just a little thicker than water, and all you need to do is spray it in to wet hair, and brush through to make sure it gets to every lock. You can then blow dry your hair or let it dry naturally, and wait for it to work its magic! Simple as that! You can also use it on dry hair, although in all the years I've been using it, I've never tried it on anything but wet hair.

It really is that easy to use, and it only takes ten seconds of your time, so no commitment is needed to fit it in to your hair care routine. It's great for busy and lazy girls alike!

The good news is, it's a purse-friendly conditioner spray, generally retailing somewhere between £4.50- £5.00 for a 250ml bottle, but you often find Aussie products on 3 for £10 offers in most supermarkets in the UK, or on 3 for 2 at Boots and Superdrug etc. I usually get a couple of months use out of one bottle, so it's fairly priced.

I personally think it's more than worth it's price tag, and I would happily buy it if it cost £4.50 or £15.00. I couldn't live without it! If I was stranded on a desert island, it's the one product I would hope to be stranded with.

Aussie also have several other conditioner sprays in the range, designed for a variety of hair types and needs, although the Miracle Hair Insurance has always been my favourite because the scent is so fresh and pleasant, without being over-baring. I love the Miracle Recharge Shine and have used the Long Luscious Hair and Miracle Recharge Colour sprays before, which all work equally brilliantly, but I always return to this one because it's my particular favourite.

It can't be bad if I've been using it for seventeen years, right?

Have you used Aussie Miracle Hair Insurance yet? Do you use any of the other conditioner sprays in the collection?

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Serendipity Sunday

Hi guys!

I'm back, as promised, with this week's Sunday favourites post "Serendipity Sunday".

This tattoo is so beautiful.

I love this shade of purple as a hair colour.

These Spring Brush Embroidery Cookies are so pretty.

From now on, this is how all small presents need to be presented!

I want to make this DIY gemstone garland.

I love this strawberry nail art tutorial.

These DIY fruit macarons look amazing!

This watermelon manicure is gorgeous.

I love Sara's entire rainbow-coloured fruits ensemble. Her shoes are to die for!

Kate turned her MRI scans in to artwork, and I now wish I had copies of my scans so I could do the same!

I love this quote. Remember to live in the moment and not just through your phone!

These tights have NARWHALS on them!! Narwhals!! Best. Tights. Ever. (But no source).

Hands up, who collected Puppy in My Pockets in the nineties? I was obsessed with them! I had hundreds of those little puppies! If you who don't remember, they were little puppy figurines made from plastic and they came in almost every dog breed, each with its own name. There were Kitty in My Pockets, too, but I didn't have so many of those.

I love these ladies' tattoos. There hair and make up are pretty awesome, too.

Sasha's honey bee heart tattoo design is amazing.

This is adorable.

The latest craze for bearded hipsters is sharing selfies of their beards decorated in pretty flowers on Instagram. There are some magnificently decorated beards in the mix (click through to see more of them). The guy with the long hair is so pretty!

This photo is so beautiful.

These next three photos are a little creepy...

In Paris' Catacombs, there are generations of Parisians stored in sub-terrainian quarries, which were designed as a solution to the over-crowding of their cemeteries in the 18th century.

In the Czech Republic there's a small 14th chapel beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints in Sedlec called Sedlec Ossurary which is decorated with 40,000 human remains from the 18th century!

And in Poland's Skull Chapel, Kaplica Czaszek, in Czermna, some 3,000 human bodies and a further 20,000 bone fragments lie below the chapel in a crypt.

I can't help looking at those last three photos thinking 'those "decorations" used to be people'. 

And after the last three creepy photos, I thought I'd better end the photos with a cute one. Here, have all the pandas!

And Some Other Things You Might Enjoy...

 The Militant Baker wrote an enlightening post on depression entitled Your Depression is NOT Your Fault.

 Kaylah's office space is so fascinating. She has the most interesting things. 

 I loved reading the 5 things you should never say to a fat girl by Betty Pamper. 

 The Temporary Secretary shared her best photo editing apps for Instagram.

 I love this cute floral crown DIY from

 The 10 inspiring Cancer-survivor transformations is such an inspiring post.

 10 cats that got famous for their awesome fur markings. The cat with the eyebrows is adorable!

 I loved reading these 11 amazing thank you notes from famous people

 20 things everyone should know how to do by the time they're 25. I've nailed most of them by now, but I doubt I'll ever be able to ask for a raise without feeling like a cheeky cow!

 The 25 things you DON'T need to do before you die  is one of the best lists on the net. If you click just one of these links today, make it this one. Everybody should read this list!

 26 problems only anxious people will understand. I can relate to a few of them.

 41 things no British child can ever forget from Primary school. Sitting on the benches in class six during assembly... paper-clipping lined paper under plain paper to write in straight lines... and the teacher who told us the story of a kid who died from leaning back on their chair... Yep, all accurate!

♥ The 50 cutest things that happened this year is well worth a look if you love cute animals and / or babies.

 We all know magazines are notorious for air-brushing celebrities and models, but I was still shocked by the lengths one magazine went to photoshop Mariah Carey. This is what Mariah Carey looks like before and after photoshop.

 The poor little squirrel that got stuck in a man-hole cover. How did it still look happy with it's head trapped in a hole??

and finally,

 What I would tell my eighteen year old self makes for an interesting read.

Have a great day!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

A Little Update

Hi guys,

I just wanted to check in to apologize for the lack of posts here at the moment; quality and otherwise. It's been an over-whelming few weeks for me, and the stress and pain combined with a stifling heatwave and writer's block have all made blogging difficult.

I've tried to write so many times, only to find a lack of inspiration or motivation stopping me from typing. I actually have twenty-three posts in my drafts right now, and I'm not inspired to write any of them. I think I'll probably delete most of them and start again; there's no point forcing something that I'm clearly not motivated to write. Normal service should hopefully resume soon.

I have found the motivation to give my blog a little face lift, though. I've been trying to work out what to do with it for months, designing images with a lot of trial and error, but never liking the result when I put it all together. Now I'm doing it as I go along, I finally seem to be getting somewhere; although it's still a work in progress. I've added more pages and subjects to the right hand side bar, as you might have noticed, but I still have pages to edit / finish, and about 600 posts still to go back through and relabel correctly. It might take a few weeks, but hopefully when I'm done Polka Spots and Freckle Dots will be better organised and easier to navigate. 

Aside from the blog, as some of you will know, two and a half weeks ago, I began my journey in to private health care. I had three appointments in the space of one week- efficiency I'm just not used to after so little support from the NHS.

Last Wednesday, I got the results of my X-Rays and MRI scans. I didn't expect to learn anything I didn't already know- I'd had an MRI on the NHS in 2011 which (eventually) diagnosed my multiple disc injuries, so I wasn't expecting any new developments. 

Let's just say I was in for a surprise!

My Doctor began by showing me the X-Rays, and I could instantly see my spine was not exactly that of a healthy person. My discs were still all in various states of degeneration; the herniations were still herniated; they had not miraculously healed in the last three years... but I'd expected that.

What I didn't expect to see was that my spine was slightly- but visibly- curved in places, and that there was a little shadow near the base of my spine. Even to my untrained eye, I knew that was not how a spine should look.

The Doctor explained that near the bottom of my spine, there was a little bone on the side of one of my vertebrae that shouldn't be where it was, and there was a good chance it was causing a lot of my pain. It looked like a little butterfly beside another piece of bone. 

I was too overwhelmed by the new developments to remember to ask questions, so right now I'm not sure if the bone is out of place, or just not meant to be there at all, but I suspect the latter by what I could see on the scan.

He told me the curves to my spine could be a result of all the pain I'm in. Three years of relentless pain has obviously had some affect on my posture, but I never thought that it could physically affect my spine! 

I'm left wondering for now, and I'm curious as to what caused both of these 'new' issues. Whether they were caused by injury, I was born with them, or whether they're the result of a condition.. or something else entirely. I have a lot of questions to ask next time.

All I could do was listen to what he was telling me, respond with "okay..." and stare at the images on his computer as I tried to process it all. I wasn't frightened or upset by the news; I just couldn't believe there were more problems I didn't know about. The NHS hadn't picked up on them, or if they had, they didn't tell me.

The good news is, he told me he didn't see anything that told him to wheel me off to surgery there and then. That was a relief; the last thing I want is to go down that road, if I can help it. 

Instead, he discussed a few options with me and instead of telling me what to do, he asked for my opinions and asked what I'd like to do. We talked about physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, which I've already had; spinal injections, which cost a shocking £1500- each!; and CT scans- deep joy, another scan!

I asked him what he recommended, but also told him physiotherapy isn't working one little bit.

We came up with a plan...

The next step will take me to London for a CT scan. Early next week. I'm not quite sure why I'm going all the way to London for the scan, since it's a couple of hours drive from where I live, but he wants to get a more in-depth look at my insides to see what's going on. He also needs to find out where he should stab me with spinal injections for best results, as I'll be having three of them after the scan. I hope they don't hurt as much as being injected in the toe (with anaesthetic, not drugs!) did. After that, I think I'll be having intense hydrotherapy, since physiotherapy has never made the slightest bit of difference. I've had a few hydrotherapy sessions before, but not enough or often enough to find out if it could've made a difference. 

So, yeah, there's a lot going on, and things are moving in the right direction. There's no guarantees anything will work, but I have nothing to lose at this point. Hopefully the CT scan will tell me more about what's going on, so I can find out what the future holds, and what might help to get me back on my feet.

I'm looking forward to visiting London again next week, even if it is for a hospital visit. It's been three years since my last visit and I've missed those days out- I used to go several times a year to shop, sight-see, catch a musical, go to a gig, or visit an attraction. My Dad's driving me up, so hopefully I'll be able to persuade him to take a scenic route or visit something during the three hours between the dye injection and the actual scans. I can't even remember the last time I spent a whole day out with my Dad, just the two of us. 

The day is going to be a long one, and will involve more hours out of bed than I've managed in three years, so I'm preparing myself for a lot of pain and exhaustion, but I'm actually a little excited for the trip. Crazy, I know! I guess that's what happens when the most exciting part of your life is managing a trip to the supermarket. Haha!

Anyway, I'm sorry for so many personal posts recently, and I'm sorry for the lack of quality content. I'll do my best to get back in to the swing of things this week, starting with my Sunday favourites post tomorrow. 

I'm also sorry for leaving your comments and emails unanswered for so long, and I'll be setting some time aside to reply to all of them over the next few days. I have read them and I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who left me messages of support for my MRI scan; they meant a lot to me! You guys are all so lovely and your words have not gone unnoticed!

I'm a useless blogger, and I need to give myself a kick up the backside!

If you've made it through all of this, thanks for reading! And thanks for listening.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

What an MRI Scan is Really Like

A couple of Saturdays ago, I had an MRI scan, just three days after I met with a private Doctor for the first time. We rang the hospital to arrange an appointment that same day, and had an appointment confirmed a day later! I honestly can't believe how fast and efficient the process was.

It was my first MRI scan through private health care, but my third scan so far in my adult life, so I thought I'd write about what an MRI scan is like for anybody who might be unsure of what to expect from their upcoming scan. I know how nerve-racking the wait can be, especially when you don't know exactly what to expect.

My appointment was at a private hospital in Cheltenham, first thing on a Saturday morning, and I was asked to arrive twenty-minutes early. I had to register my details with a receptionist (just the usual contact information, date of birth, and so on), and was asked to pay before the scan. The MRI scan was only £228 at this hospital, and I was surprised by how inexpensive it was. Before I did my research, I thought MRIs would cost thousands, but they seem to cost anywhere between £350-£1000 (or more) in the UK, depending on the hospital and region. I don't know why they vary so much, but I certainly didn't expect mine to be so inexpensive. Apparently it was a third of the cost of an MRI at the hospital I'd been referred from!

After I paid, I took a seat in the waiting room, and was soon called by a nurse, who took me through to an interview room.

Before you can have an MRI, a nurse or radiologist will run through a lot of routine questions with you to make sure it's safe for you to have a scan. It's basically the same process whether you have the scan on the NHS, or at a private hospital. 

You're likely to be asked for details about the medical issues which have led to your scan; like where your pain is, do you get pins and needles, and how long you've had it

You will almost certainly be asked:

- If there's a chance you might be pregnant.
- If you're breast feeding.
- If you have diabetes.
- If you have a heart condition.
- If you have asthma or breathing difficulties.
- If you have had surgery recently.
- If you have any metal in your body (metal plates, shrapnel etc).
- If you have piercings or tattoos.

And on and on they go. They're very thorough with their questions. Obviously, I'm not medically trained, so I don't know what the dangers are with certain medical conditions, but they will run through all of that with you.

I'm fortunate not to have any other health issues than the ones relating to my injuries, and answered "no" to almost everything on the check list. I do have tattoos, though, but I've never experienced any problems from them during a scan. Most tattoos done in this day and age aren't an issue, but some older tattoos contain lead paints which may not be safe to be scanned. I was told if I felt my tattoos tingling or burning while I was in the machine I needed to let them know immediately. (They were absolutely fine).

All piercings have to be removed, along with all jewellery, keys, coins, and clothing containing metals. This obviously includes under-wired bras, clothing with zips, metal hair accessories, and glasses. 

It's best to leave your jewellery at home and go to the scan in clothes that don't contain any metals, otherwise you'll have to take it all off and change in to a hospital gown. I went to the scan wearing leggings, a comfortable dress without zips, and ballet pumps that  I could quickly slip on and off. I only had to remove my bra, shoes, and glasses for the scan. You want your outfit to be as convenient as possible, and comfortable to wear. There's no use going to your scan in tight, fitted clothes that will just be uncomfortable while you're lying down; you won't be able to move to readjust anything until the scan is over.

After the nurse had gone through her check list with me, she sent me to change, and I was directed to another waiting room to wait until I was called through. This waiting room was outside a row of changing rooms, and also had lockers where patients can store their belongings during their scans. 

After a little while, I was called by the radiologist, who double-checked all the questions with me, and then took me through to the MRI room where I would have my scan.

It was a large room with white walls, and no windows, except for one which led in to the room where the MRI scan would be controlled.

In the centre of the otherwise stark room, was an enormous circular-shaped machine, with a gap in the centre- a bit like a giant macaron with the filling removed- and a rectangular bed connected to it at the front- similar to this one below, but larger.

The lady took me over to the scanner and ran through exactly what would happen, and then asked if I had any questions. I didn't, but I made sure to tell her I was claustrophobic, and although I thought I'd be okay, there was a chance I'd panic during the scan, like last time.

I was then asked to remove my shoes and glasses, and lie down on the bed. I never lie flat on my back, and it's funny that I'd forgotten how uncomfortable it can be. She made me a little more comfortable by placing a pillow under my head, a wedge-shaped mattress under my legs, and rolled up towels under my arms.

She then placed a plastic cage over my torso which would take some images of the area being scanned. I was allowed to put my arms inside or outside of the cage, so I kept them on the outside, which seemed like the less claustrophobic option. I was also advised to rest my head to one side, which I did, so that  I wouldn't have to look at the ceiling just inches from my face and panic about being trapped.

She placed a squeezable alarm in my hand that I could squeeze to alert her if something was wrong or I needed to stop, and popped a pair of heavy headphones over my ears. The headphones are needed to protect your ears from all the noise the machine makes during the scans (it's pretty deafening), but also so the radiologist can communicate with you through them and visa versa. I was asked if I'd like to listen to the radio "to give me something else to think about", and was given a choice of radio stations, although I actually couldn't hear it during the scans because the machine was so loud. I presume she forgot to turn up the volume. Some hospitals will let you bring your own music on CD to listen to, so pop a CD in your bag, just in case.

Once all of that was executed, the radiologist slowly directed the bed in to the machine, so that my entire body was in the centre of the giant circular-shaped part (feet first). My head only had to go a couple of inches in to the machine, but I presume placement of your body depends on which part of your body is being scanned. She checked I was okay- I was a little panicked- and then she left the room to begin the scans.

A moment later, she spoke to me through the intercom to tell me the first scan would begin and that it would take a couple of minutes. Then the deafening drone of the scanner erupted to life. An MRI scan is incredibly loud, even with a pair of headphones over your ears. The machine blasts out a repetitive sequence of noise, like a growling siren, and it's so loud the vibrations tend to pulse through your body, the way music does at a rock concert when you're close to the stage or a speaker. The noise isn't excruciating to the ear, but it can feel a bit overwhelming after a while. The best thing to do is distract yourself as best you can. Concentrate on what you can see outside of the machine; day dream about the good times; think about something you're looking forward to, and remember to breathe!

I had a few scans to lie through this time, ranging from a couple of minutes to what felt like fifteen, and the radiologist calmly told me when each scan was about to begin, and when each one had ended.

During a scan, you have to lie as still as you possibly can because the slightest movement can blur the images. It might seem like an easy task, but it can be difficult when your heart is racing and your breathing is heavy because you're panicked. I always find my nerves start twitching involuntarily during these scans, too. I had to redo one of the long scans because I started panicking because my mouth was so dry I couldn't swallow; and as much as I tried to calm myself I got a bit freaked out and couldn't stay completely still. I could've kicked myself for making a claustrophobic experience even longer.

An Open MRI is supposed to be ideal for people with claustrophobia, because as the name would suggest, it's not as enclosed as the more familiar MRIs which are done in a very narrow tunnel. I didn't find it as terrifyingly claustrophobic as my last scan, but it was still a bit too claustrophobic to me. I was lying on a bed in the centre of a circle at least eight feet in diameter, perhaps even ten, with the ceiling just a few inches above my head. Both ends of the scanner are open most of the way along, as are parts of the sides... but the gaps only seem about a foot or so high when you're lying inside it, which was still too enclosed to pacify my claustrophobia. There was an open gap to the  right of my head, so I did my best to concentrate on the wall beyond it. If I can see I can easily escape from an enclosed situation, I can usually calm myself down long enough to get through it. This time my mouth was so bone dry I literally couldn't swallow my fear, which I think freaked me out more than being trapped. I often get like that when I don't have full control over my own mobility.

If you're claustrophobic or have a larger build, I would definitely recommend having an open MRI over a closed MRI. There is much more space around you, and you will probably find it much less traumatic than the closed MRI. I've had two closed MRIs in my adult life, and trust me when I say it's not a pleasant experience. The procedure is still the same, but the bed goes in to a very narrow tunnel, and unless you are super skinny, your arms and shoulders will touch the sides, and your head will be a couple of inches from the top of the tube.  It's a horrible experience if you struggle with enclosed spaces. If you don't, you will probably find an MRI scan to be a piece of cake; the scans really aren't anything to fear... the worst part is not knowing what the scans might diagnose when you don't know what's wrong.

I actually had a panic attack during an enclosed MRI a couple of years ago. It only took a few seconds in the tunnel for me to freak out. I had to get out of the machine, which pissed off one of the technicians. He was an absolute twat, though. The other technician turned me around so I went back in feet first (which meant my head didn't have to travel far in to the tube), and I did my best to concentrate on the little bit of ceiling I could see to distract myself. It was not a nice experience. I didn't know about open MRIs until after that scan, but if I'd known earlier I would have made sure to ask for one instead.

Apparently there are also MRI scanners which scan you standing up, but I can't imagine how anybody could stand completely still for long enough to be scanned.

My scans were supposed to be about fifteen minutes long, but in the end I was in the machine for about half an hour. (The length of the scans can vary depending on what needs to be scanned. During my first MRI, it took about an hour).

Once it was over, the radiologist came back in to the room and brought the bed back out of the scanner. I was so glad to get out of the machine! I made sure to apologise for panicking and giving her more work, but she was very kind and patient with me.

I was free to go and get redressed, and then had to sit in the main waiting area while my MRI scans were being uploaded on to a disc, which was ready within fifteen minutes. I was asked to pass the disc on to my Doctor on my next appointment.

The radiologist will send a written report of the results to your Doctor, but some hospitals will give you a disc of the scans to give to your Doctor, too. Others will pass the images on directly.

You'll then need to make an appointment with the Doctor who is treating you to get your results; you'll need to ask your Doctor or the radiologist about when you should book the appointment. The length of time you'll have to wait for your results will vary from place to place.

I was told my results would be ready within five working days, which they were. In just three, actually. I had my results last Wednesday, just eight days after my first consultation with my new Doctor! (On the NHS, I had to wait two months!)

Thankfully (I guess?) my scans revealed a couple more problems with my spine I didn't know of, so spending money on these scans hasn't been a waste of time. I'm not going to talk about the results now, but I will write a personal post with a little update about the latest happenings soon.

I hope this post has answered any questions you might have about what an MRI scan is really like from a patient's point of view, and given you an idea of what to expect from the appointment. An MRI scan is nothing to be afraid of and the whole experience is worth it when you finally get some answers.

If you have any questions, please don't be afraid to leave me a comment below, although I must add I'm not medically trained at all, and can't legally give you any medical advice. I can only speak from my personal experiences of MRI scans as a patient. If you have any medical questions or concerns regarding your upcoming MRI scan, please contact your Doctor.

Thanks for reading.

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