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Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz, Celebrities from Metro

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    christmas gin
    Fancy some festive gin? (Picture: The Old Curiosity Distillery)

    Good news for both gin lovers and Great British Bake Off fans: Edinburgh-based gin brand The Old Curiosity Distillery are teaming up with 2018 finalist Ruby Bhogal to release a special Christmas gin.

    The gin is distilled with all of the classic Christmas flavours we know and love, including ginger, cinnamon and cardamom.

    Perhaps the most distinctive thing about it, though, is the fact that it changes colour: when mixed with tonic water, it transforms into a vibrant pink.

    This is something which will no doubt bamboozle and amaze any guests you have over for a Yuletide drink.

    Almost entirely sourced from the distillery’s Secret Herb Garden, the ingredients used to create the gin are all natural.

    Best of all, the bottle comes with an exclusive Gin Spiced Shortbread recipe, designed specifically by Ruby Bhogal – although whether or not you’ll feel like baking after guzzling all that alcohol is another matter.

    You can buy the Christmas gin in a range of retailers throughout the country, including Harvey Nichols, Fenwicks and Dobbies Garden Centre. It can also be purchased online.

    If gin isn’t your thing but you still want to get into the festive spirit (ignoring the fact it’s still September,) there are all sorts of alcohol related products you can buy,from whiskey to beer.

    MORE: Gin recipe video – here’s how to make your own Christmas spirit

    MORE: Had your heart broken? This pink gin is made from the ‘tears of f***boys’

    MORE: You can now buy shimmery electric blue colour-changing raspberry gin


    christmas gin featured image-1bccchristmas gin featured image-1bcc

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    Susie Bryce chose to donate her £90 wedding dress to Cherished Gowns, a charity that turns gowns into clothing for stillborn babies
    Susie Bryce chose to donate her £90 wedding dress to Cherished Gowns, a charity that turns gowns into clothing for stillborn babies (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    Having suffered three miscarriages over four years, Susie Bryce knows the immense pain of mourning a baby.

    So when she had the chance to make that trauma a little easier for other women to bear, she took it.

    After getting married to her husband Gary, 44, Susie donated her wedding dress to the charity Cherished Gowns, who transformed it into tiny outfits for the funerals of stillborn babies.

    Susie, who tied the knot in 2017, wanted to donate her gown after her own experience of miscarriage as well as seeing two family members give birth to ‘sleeping babies’.

    Susie said: ‘I can’t imagine the pain of thinking everything is all going fine and going through birth and then having a stillborn child.

    Susie and Gary Brice on their wedding day
    Susie didn’t want her wedding dress to sit in her wardrobe gathering dust (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    ‘I can’t imagine having to pick clothes out – it wouldn’t be fun or even the first thing on your mind.

    ‘You’d want them to wear something so beautiful that actually fits.

    ‘Nobody wants to bury their child but if they are, they want them in something special. It must be a Godsend to have something there. It must mean the world to them.

    ‘It’s such a beautiful idea and Cherished Gowns is an amazing charity.

    ‘Everyone said to me it was such an amazing thing to do to donate my dress.

    ‘But it wasn’t me – it’s them – I’m just so grateful the charity exists.

    ‘I didn’t want my dress to just hang there. My sister got married 15 years ago and her wedding dress is still yellowing in her cupboard, it’s such a shame because it’s a special dress.’

    The charity turned Susies dress into gowns for the funerals of stillborn babies
    The charity turned Susie’s dress into gowns for the funerals of stillborn babies (Picture: Cherished Gowns UK /Mercury Press & Media)

    Susie had always hoped to have children of her own but after her miscarriages, the longest pregnancy reaching 13 weeks, she decided to stop trying for the sake of her mental health.

    ‘I couldn’t keep putting myself through the torture of being pregnant and losing the baby every time,’ she said.

    ‘It was better for my mental health to accept it, as hard as it was and throw all my love into my nieces and nephews.

    ‘I’m blessed to be an aunt and a godmother. It’s more than a lot of other women have.

    ‘I’m just one of those women who can’t carry a child to term.’

    Susie didn’t want her £90 wedding dress to just sit in her wardrobe and gather dust. When she found out about Cherished Gowns, donating it felt like the perfect option.

    The charity was set up by Megan McKay in 2014, and now receives 2,500 donated dresses every year.

    Megan quit her day job as an accountant to create the organisation, after discovering bereaved parents were dressing their premature babies in dolls’ outfits for their funerals.

    Cherished Gowns now has 1,500 volunteers across the UK who turn donated dresses into tiny outfits, hats and booties for babies born too small to fit into clothes available in shops.

    Megan said: ‘I’ve heard some absolute horror stories about babies been wrapped in blue cleaning roll.

    ‘What we do really makes a massive difference, it means the whole world to the parents.

    ‘They say they just wanted their baby to be warm or have a hat or something special to wear.

    ‘They’ll never have a dress more special than their wedding dress. It’s about giving parents the choice.’

    Megan can make up to 18 dresses out of a donated frock and was taught to sew by her mother-in-law, Maggie, who had suffered miscarriages and stillbirths herself.

    She added: ‘We always send photos afterwards and people are usually emotional.

    ‘With anyone who has had children, it usually makes them grateful for their kids. Stillbirth affects a large number of people.

    ‘One in four women will experience a stillbirth or a miscarriage so if it isn’t you it could be your mum, best friend, sister.

    ‘We have a lot of men donating dresses that belonged to wives who passed away and they are always emotional because they know their wife would have loved it.

    ‘It’s like the dress has been on a journey.’

    MORE: Black bear photobombs couple’s wedding pictures

    MORE: Woman falls in love with DJ who played at her wedding

    MORE: Woman who had 12 miscarriages says she blamed herself after each loss


    Woman donates wedding dress to make gowns for stillborn babiesWoman donates wedding dress to make gowns for stillborn babies

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    Illustration of a labia on a dark pink and purple background
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    We often compare ourselves to other people, especially when it comes to our bodies.

    It’s an unhealthy habit that is particularly common among women, and only makes us question whether our appearance – boobs, nipples, waistline, facial structure (we could go on) – is normal and/or beautiful.

    Genitals are tricky, because people rarely choose to talk about, let alone show off, their private parts to anyone other than those they share a bed with or medical health professionals. More often than not, young girls and women in particular turn to the internet, where ‘perfect’ vaginas – where everything is smooth, glistening and neatly tucked – are on display.

    Let’s settle one thing first: there is no ‘normal’ – this standard doesn’t exist in relation to human bodies, and this includes vaginas.

    However, this can makes people question if their slightly asymmetrical labia (the vaginal lips), wrinkly or prominent inner lips are abnormal.

    To help educate men and women on the various types of labia that exist, and to help women worry less about theirs, The Hospital Group has released eight illustrations of the most common shapes.

    ‘It’s a common misconception that vaginas should look a certain way but, this is not true at all,’ said Ben Khoda, plastic surgeon and labia specialist at The Hospital Group.

    ‘Just like the way in which the size, shape or girth of men’s private parts vary, so do women’s! The most common differences in the labia are the shape and size, however the thickness and colour of them varies too.’

    Do remember that this is not an extensive list, so if you don’t see your particular labia shape, that doesn’t mean that yours isn’t just as glorious and ‘normal’ as the rest – it is.

    1. Asymmetrical or uneven lips

    An illustration of the lower half of a woman with asymmetrial and uneven labia lips
    (Picture: The Hospital Group)

    Perhaps one hangs a little, while the other is quite firmly tucked towards your vagina, but an asymmetrical vagina is nothing to be concerned about.

    Like The Hospital Group said: ‘Just like eyebrows, some labias thrive best as sisters and not twins!’

    2. Curved outer lips

    An illustration of the lower half of a woman with curved outer lips
    (Picture: The Hospital Group)

    The curved outer lips is sometimes described as a ‘flower’ (we can’t help but wonder whether this is where the phrase ‘giving away your flower’ – losing your virginity – came from).

    This labia look is quite varied; it might cover the clitoris and inner lips almost entirely, and may also expose the inner lips towards the bottom.

    3. Prominent inner lips

    An illustration of the lower half of a woman with prominent inner lips
    (Picture: The Hospital Group)

    Having prominent inner lips may cause discomfort to some women.

    Aesthetically this is a very common shape, but do speak to a medical professional if you feel any pain.

    4. Prominent outer lips

    An illustration of the lower half of a woman with prominent outer lips
    (Picture: The Hospital Group)

    Some women are on the opposite end of the spectrum, with prominent outer lips.

    They may look a bit ‘loose’ or almost as if they are hugging the inner lips.

    5. Small closed lips

    An illustration of the lower half of a woman with small closed lips
    (Picture: The Hospital Group)

    Most people imagine that this is the ‘standard’ vagina (because it hides the labia minora, also known as the inner lips).

    As these illustrations demonstrate, that’s not true. While some women do have this shape, just as many women have the others – and all are great.

    6. Long outer lips

    An illustration of the lower half of a woman with long outer lips
    (Picture: The Hospital Group)

    Some women have outer lips that are so long they can even brush against their legs (the upper part of the thigh).

    If you feel discomfort, speak to a medical professional – but if you don’t, just embrace the length.

    7. Small open lips

    An illustration of the lower half of a woman with small open lips
    (Picture: The Hospital Group)

    If you have small lips, they might not meet in the middle.

    The inner lips may be visible but they might also be tucked inside (it depends on their length in comparison to the outer lips).

    8. Visible or enlarged inner lips

    An illustration of the lower half of a woman with visible or enlarged inner lips
    (Picture: The Hospital Group)

    This particular shape can cause pain or discomfort, because it exposes the vaginal skin, which are symptoms of a medical term known as labia hypertrophy.

    However, do note that not all women with enlarged inner lips feel pain.

    Dr Khoda said: ‘You’ll be happy to know that every labia is a normal labia!

    ‘However, some women have enlarged or uneven vaginal lips which may cause them physical or emotional discomfort, which they may recognise as ‘abnormal’ compared to other women.

    ‘If the size or shape of your labia is interfering with your everyday life or even reducing the quality of activities you enjoy, it’s time to think about whether you’d like an expert to take a look.

    ‘This may be especially true if the appearance or feel of your labia has changed in recent years and you’d like your old labia back.’

    MORE: Vagina is not a dirty word – so say it

    MORE: A 28 day menstrual cycle isn’t actually the standard

    MORE: What is a ‘blind vagina’?


    vagina-3373vagina-3373

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    Who wears sneakers like a pineapple under the sea? Get these Spongebob themed sneakers now
    Aye Aye Kyrie (Picture: j23app/Twitter/Nike)

    The Spongebob x Nike collaboration have already seen some pretty outstanding sneakers come our way.

    First, there were the Kyrie 5s inspired by the square panted fellow himself, and then similar styles modelled on characters like Mr Krabs, Patrick Star, and Squidward.

    The next drop may just be the coolest yet, though, and will let you wear trainers that look like a pineapple under the sea.

    The extremely detailed creps have a criss-crossed upper, with lace covers that look like pineapple leaves and show Nickelodeon branding.

    As for the iconic Nike tick, it’s styled to look like a window in Spongebob’s famous house down in the ocean.

    The backs of the shoes show a wheel design, with a terrazzo print on the rubber bottom to add to the overall beachy effect.

    Who wears sneakers like a pineapple under the sea? Get these Spongebob themed sneakers now
    There’s the porous lad himself (Picture: j23app/Twitter/Nike)

    Even the inner soles are super cool, with Spongebob’s face poking out (ready to be stood on, we guess).

    Sneakerheads initially speculated that this drop would be on 1 October, but a similarly named product has appeared on the FootLocker app with a release date of 24 October.

    You’ll need to save up, as these come in at $130 (£105, but with no word yet on a UK official price), but what better way to celebrate 20 years of that optimistic yellow guy?

    Who wears sneakers like a pineapple under the sea? Get these Spongebob themed sneakers now
    Swooshes are the windows to the sea (Picture: j23app/Twitter/Nike)

    The collection itself comes from NBA basketballer Kyrie Irving’s love for the cartoon, which is clearly apparent in the level of detail he’s gone to for each product.

    Users on sneaker forums appeared to adore the earlier drops, as well as getting hyped for it this time round.

    In the words of Spongebob, ‘with a little imagination, you can be anything you want’. Even a pineapple under the sea.

    MORE: Eight illustrations that demonstrate there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ labia

    MORE: Woman who had three miscarriages donates wedding dress to make funeral gowns for stillborn babies


    Who wears sneakers like a pineapple under the sea? Get these Spongebob themed sneakers nowWho wears sneakers like a pineapple under the sea? Get these Spongebob themed sneakers now

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    Split image of sister-in-law and bride both wearing white lace dresses, and on the other side a photo of a similar dress to the sister-in-law's one from a retailer
    The bride’s sister-in-law decided to wear white to the wedding (Picture: Reddit)

    Most brides know that there are no guarantees that people will follow the dress code for their big day, but a guest wearing white is usually a non-negotiable rule.

    Unfortunately, guests can be fickle – as one bride found out when her sister-in-law turned up in a white, lace dress that looked distinctly like a wedding dress, despite having been informed that this would not be appropriate.

    To make matters worse, weeks before the event, the bride had glanced at her mother-in-law’s phone and spotted a photo of the dress that the sister-in-law was intending to wear.

    She asked to be sent the photo to examine the dress further, but they refused (and it’s no wonder why).

    The bride was understandably furious and shared her feelings, along with a a photo of a similar dress to a Reddit Wedding Shaming forum.

    She titled it: ‘My sil [sister-in-law] is wearing this to my wedding… (almost identical dress from the internet. She wouldn’t send me the pic. Saw it on my mil [mother-in-law’s] phone.’

    The outfit in question was a white tight-fitted, off-the-shoulder, knee-length dress made from a lace material.

    Some people were shocked, while others questioned why the mother-in-law hadn’t spoken up.

    A dress from an online retailer that looked very similar to the sister-in-law's choice
    The bride shared a photo on Reddit of a white lace dress that looked very similar to the outfit her sister-in-law was planning to wear (Picture: Reddit)

    ‘What does your MIL think about this?,’ wrote one person.

    ‘And is SIL usually a bitch or is she making an exception for your wedding?.’

    Someone else offered constructive advice: ‘You need to put your foot down NOW or you’ll be walked on your whole marriage.’

    Three weeks after the Reddit post was shared, the bride added an update – and it wasn’t a happy one.

    It turns out the sister-in-law did not heed the warning, and wore her white lace dress to the wedding after all.

    She wrote: ‘Remember the sister-in-law wearing white lace to a wedding. Here is the pic.’

    The bride and the sister-in-law pose together at the wedding, both in white lace dresses
    People recommended that the bride drop a glass of red wine on the sister-in-law’s dress (Picture: Reddit)

    Suffice to say, people were not impressed.

    ‘Omg, I would have purposefully spilled a glass of red wine on her,’ said someone.

    Several people tried to offer comfort by suggesting that albeit being white, the sister-in-law’s dress wasn’t very pretty.

    ‘What was more enraging? Seeing your new sil in white at your wedding…our finding out later that she stole all your grandmas doilies to make it?,’ said one person.

    ‘If it helps, she really does not look good in that dress at all.

    ‘So not only does she look like a clown, she looks like a badly dressed clown.’

    Fellow brides also commented by sharing their own family wedding drama.

    ‘My half sister was mad she wasn’t in the bridal party (she’s psycho and I wasn’t dealing with that more than necessary), so she tried to get a dress the same color as my bridal party and my mother tried to defend her that she looked really nice in the dress!,’ said one.

    ‘I said you can buy it and wear it if you want, but don’t come to my wedding.’

    One woman also shared a lesson she had learnt from a similar scenario.

    ‘My ex aunt wore all white to my moms weddings too,’ she wrote.

    ‘Learning from that, I would literally kick them out of my wedding until they change no matter the relation.

    ‘I might even keep a backup outfit like a wrap skirt or something that could be put on top and fit a lot of people if someone shows up like that.’

    The lesson here? Don’t wear white.

    And yes, that includes ivory, eggshell, off-white and all other similar shades.

    While you’re at it, stay away from black as well (or at least ask the bride first).

    MORE: Woman who had three miscarriages donates wedding dress to make funeral gowns for stillborn babies

    MORE: All the details on Princess Beatrice’s engagement ring

    MORE: Bride shamed for turning dress into wedding playsuit that ‘gives her a wedgie’


    Bride slams 'vain' sister-in-law after she turns up to her wedding in a WHITE lace gownBride slams 'vain' sister-in-law after she turns up to her wedding in a WHITE lace gown

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    When Marisa spotted a small bump on her labia, she assumed she just had an ingrown hair
    When Marisa spotted a small bump on her labia, she assumed she just had an ingrown hair (Picture: MDWfeatures / @marisastrupp)

    When Marisa Strupp, 29, found a small bump on her inner labia in March 2018, she assumed it was just an ingrown hair.

    Due to the sensitive location of the bump, Marisa, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, wanted to get it removed. She went to her doctor and dermatologist, who suggested there was nothing to worry about because the skin around the bump was healthy, but recommended going to a gynaecologist.

    In August 2018, the project manager had the bump removed by her gynaecologist and sent for testing.

    One month later, Marisa was told she actually had a rare type of cancer; stage two vulvar melanoma.

    Marisa had to undergo three hours of surgery to remove both the tumour and four central nodes. The cancer had spread, which pushed her to a stage three diagnosis.

    Following surgery Marisa was referred for immunotherapy treatment, Opdivo, which was 12 treatments over the space of a year.

     Marisa in treatment
    The project manager was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, and had to undergo surgery and immunotherapy (Picture: MDWfeatures / @marisastrupp)

    Immunotherapy was a gruelling experience. Marisa experienced awful side effects, including extreme fatigue, migraines, hot flashes, and rashes.

    Now, after completing this treatment, Marisa has to wait for her scan results. If everything comes back clear, she will still need to go for a checkup every four to six months.

    ‘I thought it was just a little ingrown hair and since they didn’t give me anything to worry about, I took my time to get it removed,’ Marisa said.

    ‘I wasn’t worried at the time and was very busy with work, it took me time to see my gynaecologist to take care of it.

    ‘When I received the diagnosis I was horrified, scared and paralysed with fear. Never in my life did I hear about vulvar melanoma.’

    According to Cancer Research UK, 1,300 people are diagnosed with vulvar cancer in the UK each year, but typically these are women over the age of 75.

    Having vulvar cancer in your twenties is rare, and as a result Marisa struggled to find support. She began sharing her journey on Instagram to connect with other people going through the same thing.

    ‘I was looking for women my age that have my specific cancer,’ she explained.

    Marisa and her boyfriend Stojan after she finished treatment
    Her boyfriend Stojan was a source of support (Picture: MDWfeatures / @marisastrupp)

    ‘That became a very lonesome and impossible task, especially as I first came home from surgery. I was stuck in a chair and searching for anyone to connect with.

    ‘I figured if others, like me were looking for people like me, they’d take to IG. And I’ve talked to and spoken to people all around the world (Germany, Argentina, England) and in the US.

    ‘Not everyone has my specific melanoma, some have melanoma (skin) or some are starting their immunotherapy and want to know what it’s like.

    ‘Or maybe they just want someone to connect with so they know when they explain their side effects, you can understand.’

    Marisa wants to share her story to help others through the struggle of diagnosis and treatment.

    She says: ‘I’ve always been a fun, happy and cheery person, ever since I was little. It’s just who I am and not being that way takes away the core of who I am.

    ‘Cancer took so much away from me and I won’t let it take me down and change me.

    ‘I’m not a cancer victim, I’m defeating it. I will say that doesn’t mean I didn’t have days I’d just sit and cry. I still have those days.

    ‘I hate what it’s taken from me, I hate how it’s made me feel and just feels horrible. But I remember I am stronger than it.

    ‘You are not alone. Lean on your family, friends and loved ones. You will have stormy days, but the sun will shine the next day.

    ‘It’s okay to be scared and cry. Just know there are others out there like you that are there to support, love and help you.’

    Do you have a powerful story to share? Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk

    MORE: ‘I caught a flesh-eating parasite in the Amazon jungle – doctors told me it could eat away my face’

    MORE: Get yourself Vans with boobs and nipples for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

    MORE: What does PrettyLittleThing’s cancer and birth defect warning mean?


    Woman\'s \'ingrown hair\' was actually a melanomaWoman\'s \'ingrown hair\' was actually a melanoma

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    Som Dona Hotel Spanish hotel is the first in the world to only allow women in
    Can you see any men? (Picture: Som Dona Hotel)

    Women-only spaces can provide somewhere safe for women to relax free of the potential of male judgement or harassment. If they have cocktails and a pool, that’s even better.

    A new Mallorcan hotel has opened to provide just that, and operates a completely no men allowed policy.

    The Som Dona Hotel on the Balearic Island is for women over the age of 14, and claims to the first of its kind in Spain.

    Located in Porto Cristo on the Manacor coast, close to the Caves of Drach, the Som Dona touts itself as ‘a new space for women who are looking to disconnect from the stress of daily life that offers personalised care tailored to their needs.’

    Not only are men not allowed to stay at the hotel, they’re also banned from visiting, which is bad news for any guests hoping to bring home a gentlemen caller.

    Som Dona Hotel Spanish hotel is the first in the world to only allow women in
    The trip is designed for women (Picture: Som Dona Hotel)

    Some of the staff are men, though, inkeeping with Spain’s regulations on discrimination in employment. Bosses do say, however, that they aim to recruit women (particularly in ‘traditionally masculine jobs’) where possible.

    Aside from the people, the creators have tried to make the property as woman-friendly as possible.

    Som Dona Hotel Spanish hotel is the first in the world to only allow women in
    Food and wine pairings are tailored (Picture: Som Dona Hotel)

    That includes decent hairdryers and straighteners in the rooms, along with anti-steam mirrors and plenty of hangers for everything from jewellery to delicates.

    Other amenities include makeup remover wipes, a spa with treatments geared toward women, and women-focused fitness classes.

    Som Dona Hotel Spanish hotel is the first in the world to only allow women in
    Bali beds look out to the views (Picture: Som Dona Hotel)

    Of course we know the comments on this are about to be a dumpster fire, but can’t we all admit it does sound nice not to go to a hotel that only has 2-in-1 shampoo/shower gel and a disposable razor in the bathroom?

    It’s also tailored for solo female travellers, who have been a growing market now for some time, but often have safety concerns.

    If this venue does sound like heaven for you – and providing you aren’t a man – prices at the Som Dona start from €72.50 (£64) per night, on a room only basis.

    MORE: Woman’s ‘ingrown hair’ on her labia was actually melanoma

    MORE: Bride shames sister-in-law for wearing a white lace dress to her wedding


    Som Dona HotelSom Dona Hotel

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    Anna*, 26, prepares a meal of fish fingers, oven chips, and baked beans.

    She’s had variations of this dinner every evening for the last week. Sometimes the fish fingers are replaced with chicken nuggets, the chips are swapped for potato waffles, or the beans are traded for carrots, in an attempt to get some additional vegetables into her diet.

    Anna is a picky eater. It’s simpler to list the foods she does eat, rather than the ones she doesn’t. She lives on a diet mostly comprised of fish fingers, breaded cod, chicken nuggets, carrots, peas, baked beans, potatoes, mild cheddar sandwiches on white bread, and chocolate.

    ‘I’ve always been like this,’ she says. ‘I don’t really go out for meals or have people round for dinner because I’m embarrassed of what I eat.

    ‘I can’t stomach anything else. I’ve tried so many things but I feel so anxious I throw up.’

    This month she decided to go to the doctor and ask about supplements, after reading about a man who lost his sight thanks to a diet of chips, chocolate, and crisps.

    We’re all aware of the importance of healthy eating. We know we’re supposed to have at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, that eating too much salt and saturated fats is bad for us, and that we need to make sure we’re getting enough protein to look after our bodies.

    We know this, but it’s the sort of knowledge that slips to the back of our minds. The fatphobia present in our culture often means that unless your weight indicates excess, your diet doesn’t ring alarm bells, and we’re often told to work on our diets for the purpose of weight loss and improving our appearance rather than to reduce the risk of longterm health issues.

    One health issue few of us consider is scurvy.

    Scurvy is a severe vitamin C deficiency with a bit of an image problem. Say scurvy and you’ll get reactions related to pirates and sailors.

    But scurvy didn’t die out in the 18th Century. It’s alive, kicking, and on the rise. Experts think our beige diets might be to blame.

    The numbers are small, but they have been increasing. In 2016 the Health and Social Care Information Centre issued a report that between 2009 and 2014, admissions related to scurvy had increased by 27%, while NHS data shows that hospital admissions for scurvy rose from 82 to 167 between 2010 and 2018.

    While NHS data only shows 12 hospital admissions for scurvy for 2018/2019, there have been 5,108 admissions for deficiencies of other nutritional elements.

    It’s not that we’re all in terrible danger of developing scurvy. It remains quite a rare illness, as the majority of people manage to get enough vitamin C in their diet.

    But the reality is that scurvy is a possibility, and it’s one anyone who’s a picky eater needs to be aware of.

    Lisa Borg, a nutritional therapist at Pulse Light Clinic, says we all need to think more critically about our diets.

    man holding burger
    Have you ever pondered how much vitamin C you’re getting in your diet? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    She tells us: ‘Scurvy, a preventable condition caused by Vitamin C deficiency and associated with seamen who spent long periods without access to fresh foods, is now on the increase in the UK. This is clearly due to poor dietary intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.

    ‘Picky diets can lead to nutritional deficiency and poor health. The stable rule of thumb is the diet which contains the widest variety of foods has the best potential to provide all the nourishment your body needs.

    ‘Equally, the diet which contains the least variety of foods has the greatest potential to cause disease.’

    Sierra, a 20-year-old university student, was diagnosed with scurvy when she was 15.

    She doesn’t consider herself a picky eater, but avoided the majority of vegetables throughout her teens. She went to the doctor after she began to feel incredibly tired, her gums loosened around her teeth, and she began to bruise more easily than normal, and was shocked to be diagnosed with scurvy.

    ‘I was very surprised,’ Sierra tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Aside from the fact that I’d only heard of people at sea being affected, I’m from the Southern US, where I can’t escape fresh fruit if I tried, so it really threw me for a loop.’

    Sierra was prescribed vitamin C supplements for a year, and now has to carefully monitor her levels of nutrients to make sure she doesn’t become ill again.

    Not all scurvy cases are due to a poor diet.

    Hannah*, 28, a biologist, was diagnosed with scurvy back in 2016, at the same time as she discovered she had coeliac disease.

    Like Sierra, she had the typical symptoms of scurvy but never considered it as a possibility.

    Symptoms of scurvy:

    • Feeling very tired and weak all the time
    • Severe joint or leg pain
    • Swollen or bleeding gums, or gums that feel loose around the teeth
    • Having skin that bruises easily
    • Red or blue spots on the skin, usually on legs

    ‘I had a lot of gut symptoms, I was tired all the time, my gums did bleed a bit but I thought I was just brushing too hard,’ Hannah tells us.

    ‘I was so sick. I didn’t think things were that bad until they were, you know? It was gradual until it wasn’t. I figured it was the stress of grad school.’

    Hannah went to the doctor after losing a lot of weight without explanation. She was told that her intestines had essentially shut down, causing multiple deficiencies – including in vitamin C.

    As a result, Hannah’s doctor recommended she get checked for coeliac disease. She was eventually diagnosed with the condition, which explained why her body wasn’t absorbing any nutrients.

    ‘The doctor was surprised because I was eating a pretty balanced diet,’ says Hannah. ‘He said it was usually grad students with a really poor diet, not undiagnosed coeliac, that got scurvy in grad school. I think he was trying to be reassuring.

    ‘The scurvy was a wake-up call. The treatment was immediate gluten-free diet and then basically maximising the nutritive value of my diet. I drank a lot of those bottled protein shakes.

    ‘I recall laughing at it because who the heck gets scurvy these days? I think I made pirate jokes when I told my family.’

    The idea that scurvy is just an old-fashioned pirates disease is dangerous because it means people could be ignoring the symptoms and failing to consider the risk of the illness when making food choices.

    More education is needed so people know that having a restricted diet or intolerances may require consultation with a doctor to ensure good health.

    Sonami is a 35-year-old psychology research assistant who’s currently dealing with the picky eating of her son, who’s two-and-a-half years old.

    ‘Ryan became a fussy eater about six months ago,’ Sonami tells us. ‘He used to eat everything before but since he has started talking he has become more and more fussy.

    ‘He refuses to eat a lot of things, for example, sandwiches, tomato-based sauce such as in pasta, and vegetables except for sweetcorn and peas.’

    Sonami worries that her son’s diet isn’t varied enough, but has never considered the risk of scurvy.

    She provides her son with special vitamins and, thankfully, his diet hasn’t caused any issues as of yet. But like many parents, Sonami isn’t being provided with any additional support or medical advice on how to ensure her child doesn’t become deficient in vitamins when he simply refuses to eat certain foods.

    A lack of awareness of the risks of a restricted diet and picky eating means that unhealthy habits can go unchecked for years.

    Edward Greening, a 35-year-old English teacher living in St Petersburg, has been a picky eater since he was three.

    Despite his restricted diet, when asked if he’s ever worried about scurvy Edward responds: ‘No, because I’m not a 16th Century sailor.’

    Luckily for Edward, his food preferences allow him to eat vegetables, and he’s been told that his daily glass of orange juice will keep him perfectly healthy.

    ‘I eat potatoes, bread, cereal, peas, avocado, lettuce, carrots, cod, apples, white grapes, chocolate, biscuits, cake, red Leicester cheese and lobster,’ says Edward.

    ‘My reluctance to eat different foods definitely feels like a psychological problem. There are some foods, like curry, that I couldn’t imagine eating for a million pounds.

    ‘Slowly but surely I’ve added a few more items to [the list of foods I eat]. Some came about through dares from friends, others from me thinking I needed more vegetables in my diet.

    ‘So long as I can take time to prepare and rewire my brain to accept what I’m about to do, I am willing to try something new – I’m a great believer in cognitive behavioural therapy.’

    Edward used to take vitamin supplements but stopped because he didn’t feel any different. He no longer worries about how his eating habits might affect his health.

    ‘I take the view that I’ve lived this long without any issues, so it’s probably fine,’ he says.

    The good news about scurvy is that – in theory – it’s relatively easy to both treat and prevent – you just need to get enough vitamin C in your diet, either through varied food choices or taking supplements.

    illustration of a cheese sandwich
    Those with beige diets need to be able to get guidance without judgement (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    It’s important for all of us – picky eaters and beige food fans in particular – to be aware of the very real risks our repetitive diets can pose and to take the possibility of vitamin deficiencies seriously.

    Dr Clare Morrison, GP and Medical advisor at Medexpress, says: ‘There is a tendency for fussy eaters to stick to a ‘beige diet’, containing nothing but bread, chips, cakes, chicken nuggets, and cereal, for example.

    ‘This diet, lacking in colourful fresh plant-based ingredients such as fruit, veg and salad, will fail to provide enough essential micronutrients.

    ‘Taken to extremes, such a diet could lead to scurvy, which is caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. It causes spontaneous bleeding, fatigue, anaemia and aching limbs. We need around 40mg of vitamin C everyday. It can’t be stored by the body, so needs to be eaten regularly.

    ‘Fortunately, scurvy is quite rare, but it can be seen in those with extremely poor or restrictive diets. I did once diagnose it in a butcher, who ate nothing but meat.’

    Clare says that scurvy is just one issue to be on the lookout for. Beige diets pose a whole load of other risks to our longterm health.

    She tells us: ‘A failure to eat sufficient, fresh, plant-based foods, not only puts one at risk of scurvy. There may also be a deficiency of other micronutrients, and fibre, leading to poor health, impaired immunity, constipation, and even cancer.

    ‘Beige diets also tend to be too high in refined carbohydrates, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, and arterial disease.’

    Lisa Borg doesn’t suggest those with food phobias force themselves to eat foods that cause them anxiety, but that if someone knows they’re missing out on one source of nutrition, they must fill those gaps.

    ‘If you don’t like broccoli and exclude it, while you are missing out on a potent source of nutrition, so long as you include a variety of other green vegetables you’ll be fine,’ she explains. ‘There are approximately 150 different species of fruits and vegetables and tomatoes alone have some 4,000 varieties.’

    Her advice is simple – expand your diet as much as you can and add some colour to your plate.

    How to get more vitamin C in your diet:

    A healthy diet should include fresh fruit and vegetables to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.

    Adults need 40mg of vitamin C a day. This nutrient can’t be stored in the body so we need it in our daily diet or as a daily supplement.

    Some foods that contain high levels of vitamin C are citrus fruits, strawberries, pineapple, sprouts, broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, chilli peppers, artichokes, bell peppers, kale, Brussels sprouts, bok choi, watercress, cabbage, peas, swiss chard, parsley, tomatoes, turnips, berries, kiwi, and pineapple.

    That’s quite the list, so it’s likely you’ll find at least one thing on there that you enjoy.

    If not, talk to your GP about supplements.

    For those who are picky eaters, ensuring a healthy, varied diet is rarely as simple as just eating more carrots.

    The picky eaters we spoke to all report intense anxiety trying foods that aren’t on their ‘safe’ lists, alongside embarrassment about the way they eat.

    That embarrassment could prevent picky eaters and those with food phobias from getting the help they need.

    Alongside greater public understanding of the very real risk of scurvy and other dietary deficiencies, we also need to remove the shame around the emotional components of eating, so that anyone concerned about their nutrition feels comfortable asking for medical advice.

    Those who exist on beige diets are rarely doing so out of active choice. Just as obesity isn’t down to a ‘lack of willpower’, being unable to consume all the nutrients you need cannot be dismissed as laziness or childish preferences.

    Access – particularly in terms of finances and knowledge of preparing healthy food – is a major factor, along with the serious anxiety and mental distress than can go alongside a refusal to eat certain foods.

    Greater understanding without judgement is essential in ensuring that everyone has a diet that keeps them in good health.

    We shouldn’t be dealing with scurvy in 2019.

    *Names have been changed.

    Do you struggle with food phobias or picky eating? Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk

    MORE: As a man with an eating disorder, Christopher Eccleston makes me feel seen

    MORE: The dangers of taking MDMA when you’re on antidepressants

    MORE: People tell us how taking antidepressants has affected their sex life


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    Jonathan Van Ness
    I vividly remember the day that my doctor told me that I had tested HIV positive, over 13 years ago (Picture: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

    While promoting his memoir Over The Top, Jonathan Van Ness publicly disclosed his HIV status.

    A move that meant the disease instantly become the hot topic of conversation. Especially since former Wales international Gareth Thomas announced his HIV status the week before.

    I vividly remember the day that my doctor told me that I had tested HIV positive, over 13 years ago.

    The immediate sense of terror, regret, and – most of all – shame that washed over me was completely overwhelming.

    At that point HIV was something that was not discussed much publicly at all and most still had no idea that it was treatable and no longer a death sentence.

    The drugs were certainly not as advanced as they are today but I was told from the onset that my status would not have any impact on my life expectancy, so I should surround myself with people that love me and to treat myself right.

    I wasn’t aware of how important those words would be.

    I am so proud of Jonathan Van Ness for putting something so deeply personal out into the world but in some ways I am envious of the fact that celebrities get to ‘come out’ just once, after which everyone knows.

    When I came out as gay, I found I could make it obvious by living as openly as I could and dropping hints about my friends, my partners and the bars I would frequent. It became part of my identity in a way I never felt I had to explain to anyone.

    However, being open about my status is something I have to relive over and over again.

    I have been defined by my illness and people are quick to make extreme assumptions about my life, my character, as well as how I must have contracted the disease

    It’s been 13 years since I was diagnosed and while the disease hasn’t impacted me in any negative way – I’m fortunate enough to have had access to medications from the very beginning, and very quickly tested undetectable – it’s a conversation I’ve had to revisit.

    I’m very lucky that I was living in San Francisco when I was diagnosed, surrounded by friends that had knowledge of the disease, but I was still shocked at the way that those even within my community turned on me.

    I could no longer be ‘Joey’, but instead was seen as ‘The guy with HIV’. I couldn’t have predicted how the stigma and shame of the disease would impact the relationships that I already had. I still have moments now when I am taken back 13 years, completely terrified that I will be rejected by someone.

    You find when establishing relationships that you are constantly needing to educate people who say foolish things. I’ve had many situations where people have completely freaked out on me over my status.

    One instance I remember all too well was telling someone after we kissed, at which point he threw me into a wall because I was going to give him my ‘filth’.

    Today I’m extremely content in who I am, though I still sometimes struggle with the complexities over when to discuss my status. First date? First hook-up? The first ‘I love you?’.

    It would of course be easier to just not discuss my status at all. Undetectable equals untransmittable, so I don’t owe it to anyone to discuss my private matters.

    I have been defined by my illness and people are quick to make extreme assumptions about my life, my character, as well as how I must have contracted the disease.

    Gareth Thomas
    Former Wales international Gareth Thomas recently announced his HIV status (Photo: Getty)

    People assume I must have been irresponsible, must have slept around, must have been addicted to drugs. None of these things are true but my truth no longer matters to some, because all they see is my illness.

    However, I feel that it’s important for me to be open because putting a face behind HIV helps with erasing the stigma.

    I know that most of the people that I interact with will at the very least be open to learning more, even if it changes the way that they view me. This disease was not something that I deserved and I don’t need to forgive myself because I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not something to be ashamed about.

    It’s been a long journey, but I’ve certainly come a long way.

    Thankfully, the world is making progress, too. Many people are much more educated on HIV and over the years I’ve found that most of the harsh comments or cruel words simply come from ignorance, not hate.

    Jonathan and the guys from Queer Eye have done an incredible job of making those who might not encounter LGBTQ people in their daily life become more aware of the issues and interests in our community.

    Jonathan is already educating people on his illness, spreading a message that they are living their fullest life.

    For anyone coming to terms with their status, whether it is new or something you’ve been dealing with for some time, it is up to you to decide to handle how you – and if – to tell other people. Those who are positive have every right to keep that to themselves as long as they are being responsible.

    If you want to speak out and help educate, then I applaud you for your courage. But whatever you decide, it will be the absolute right approach.

    Ideally we would live in a world where no one would have to ‘come out’ about having HIV because there would already be a strong understanding of what this disease means.

    Then we can finally get to a place where being HIV positive is not treated any differently from someone with another illness, which is with compassion and understanding.


    Today - Season 68Today - Season 68

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    Split image depicting the before and after of the staircase, which was redone with an interior hack
    Before and after photos of Helen’s staircase (Picture: Extreme Couponing and Bargains/Facebook)

    Staircases don’t tend to get a lot of attention in homes.

    They’re seen as a practical feature, rather than a part of your house and so are neglected and rarely decorated extensively, because why spend lots of money on a staircase, when you could buy a new sofa or save it towards that kitchen island you’ve always wanted?

    Good interior doesn’t need to be expensive, especially if you’re willing to take matters into your own hands, like Helen Barnes – the DIY aficionado recently redid her entire staircase with just £50.

    After transforming the boring set of steps into a beautiful walkway to the floor above, she shared before and after photos of the staircase in the private Facebook group Extreme Couponing and Bargains, and people loved the interior hack.

    ‘Renovated the stairs for around £50 and absolutely love them still!,’ she wrote.

    But how did she do it?

    She started off by stripping the dark carpet, replacing it with smaller, half-moon shaped carpet cut-outs from eBay.

    Helen wrote: ‘For all those that are asking we laminated at the top and bottom of the stairs.’

    The laminate and the paint – Johnstone’s Moonlight Sky Matt – was purchased from her local B&Q store.

    Once the base was finished, she went on to decorate with a several paintings and some shelves with white boxes, bought at B&M and Dunelm.

    For the finishing touches, she added a vase filled with black flowers and a black candle (though it’s unclear if she already owned these items and merely moved them to the staircase).

    At the top of the stairs, she fitted a large silver clock from B&Q to the wall.

    Helen has received high praise for her savvy bargain hunting skills, as well as the beautiful job she’s done with the staircase.

    Many people commented to say that it was ‘amazing’ and ‘gorgeous’.

    ‘Wow! What a cracking job!! Well done,’ wrote one person.

    Someone else added: ‘I love the that tapestry hanging on the before pictures!! Amazing transformation though.

    ‘Wish I could be that creative.’

    Another wrote: ‘Woah what a transformation. It’s gorgeous really well done.’

    ‘It looks like a different house, it’s gorgeous,’ said someone else.

    If you have a staircase that needs sprucing up and you’ve got £50 to spare, why not give it a go yourself?

    MORE: Transform your old furniture with these easy upcycling hacks

    MORE: Woman’s £3 hairclip hack transforms her dress from ‘droopy’ to a perfect fit

    MORE: Mum reveals upgrade hack that lets you turn economy seats into a giant bed for long haul flights


    Thrifty mum reveals how she transformed her dull carpeted staircase into an elegant flight of steps for just ?50 with materials from eBay and B&QThrifty mum reveals how she transformed her dull carpeted staircase into an elegant flight of steps for just ?50 with materials from eBay and B&Q

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    The Holland & Barrett Advent Calendar on a festive background and with the products in front
    (Picture: Holland & Barrett)

    October is just a few days away, so it won’t be long before Christmas decorations appear in store windows.

    The annual advent calendar shop has already begun, with beauty retailers including Cult Beauty, lookfantastic and Glossybox launching theirs and next up is Holland & Barrett, which boasts a calendar filled with natural goodies.

    Dubbed 25 Days of Natural Beauty, the calendar contains everything your skin is yearning for, such as the Sukin Mini Facial Scrub, Beauty Kitchen’s Seahorse Plankton Miracle Mask and Dr Organic’s Manuka Honey Rescue Cream (which smells divine).

    There are also some well-being products to help you get a good night’s sleep, like the brand’s own lavender eye mask.

    Other gems include the Ecodenta Coconut Toothpaste, Fruu Lip Balm and a muslin cloth.

    Everything inside the Holland & Barrett advent calendar

    • Fruu Lip Balm 4.5g
    • Weleda Skin Food Light 30ml
    • Dr Organic Mini Aloe Micellar Water 75ml
    • Holland and Barrett Vitamin C & Hyaluronic Acid Serum 30ml
    • Holland and Barrett Jade Roller
    • Sukin Mini Facial Scrub 50ml
    • Miaroma Festive Blend 10ml
    • Beauty Kitchen Seahorse Plankton Miracle Mask 6ml
    • Trilogy Hydrating Mist Toner 20ml
    • Holland and Barrett Lavender Sleep Mask
    • Dr Organic Mini Rose Body Wash 75ml
    • Faith In Nature Lavender Hand Soap 100g
    • Naturtint Mini Hair Spray 50ml
    • Salt Of The Earth Roll On Unscented Deodorant 75ml
    • Miaroma Sweet Orange Essential Oil 10ml
    • Natura Siberica Hand Cream 30ml
    • Elifixer Push Up Buttocks Sculpting Gel 40ml
    • Dr Organic Manuka Honey Rescue Cream 50ml
    • Ecodenta Coconut Toothpaste 100ml
    • Holland and Barrett Muslin Cloth

    The calendar is worth £146 and features 25 windows, and is quite fairly priced at £35.

    You could also get an extra treat when you purchase it, as three shoppers are in with the chance to win a trip to the Dead Sea Magik Spa.

    The prize is worth £300 and you’d get to bring someone with you, too.

    The 25 Days of Natural Beauty calendar was released online on 22 September and is only available online at present.

    MORE: The best drinks advent calendars for 2019 – where to get them, what’s inside, and how much they cost

    MORE: Nivea launches two advent calendars for Christmas so you can pamper your skin

    MORE: Cult Beauty launches its first-ever advent calendar


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    Split image of the Fifty Shades of Grey inspired-flat in Brighton, which shows the master bedroom and another room with a chaise longue, and two mannequins dressed in latex
    There are plenty of surfaces to play on (Picture: London Maple LTD)

    Planning a sexy weekend with your significant other (or casual lover – no judgement here) but don’t fancy a traditional hotel or country escape?

    You can now book a charming seaside flat in Brighton, inspired the book trilogy and movie franchise, Fifty Shades of Grey.

    The flat, which is described as ‘bright, spacious and kinky’, is located in Cumberland Court and has a view of the beach.

    It’s not quite Christian’s red room, but the kinky getaway does includes decorations such as latex-covered mannequins, erotic art and a mirror on the ceiling of the master bedroom.

    ‘The modern two-bedroom flat is in a prime location close to the seaside, and it’s very light and airy,’ said letting agent Julia Maria.

    ‘It’s one of Brighton’s real gems. But it’s not your typical property.’

    The master bedroom seen at an angle
    The master bedroom has a mirror in the ceiling (Picture: London Maple LTD)
    Two mannequins, one dressed in latex, the other in a school girl's skirt
    The decorations are definitely kinky (Picture: London Maple LTD)
    The kitchen in the Brighton property
    Fancy some dinner before the spanking begins? (Picture: London Maple LTD)

    There are plenty of surfaces to play on, such as a circular bed – surrounded by framed photographs of half-naked women – as well as a custom-built chaise longue from Germany.

    In the master bedroom, you will find another bed, with curved ceiling mirrors which add an extra level of sauciness to your stay.

    Other rooms include a fully-equipped kitchen, as well as a laundry room, in case things get messy.

    You will have to shell out an unusually large amount of money per night at £300 or more, but that’s likely because of the eccentric extras.

    Since the property has two beds, there’s always the possibility to bring more than one person with you – perhaps another couple – and split the cost.

    However, hosting a sex party or an evening of group sex isn’t allowed, and guests need to be over 21 years old to rent the property.

    Julia said: ‘It’s for couples – no more than four people.’

    Spoil sports.

    The property – dubbed Fred’s flat with a sea view’ – is currently available to rent with Maple estate agency.

    MORE: Three-bedroom house in Birmingham goes on sale at auction with a starting price of £1

    MORE: You could live in this epic, eight-bedroom former chapel

    MORE: This Kansas ‘megamansion’ has underground scuba tunnels


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    Chloe & Rhys getting engaged
    A couple who met in a support group for Crohn’s disease are now engaged (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    When you have a chronic illness, it can be hard to find someone who understands what you’re going through.

    Chloe Meade and Rhys Thomas won’t have that problem. They both have inflammatory bowel disease and met through a support group for their condition.

    Chloe, 25, and Rhys, 30, met on the #GetYourBellyOut Facebook group in 2015.

    They quickly struck up a friendship online, but didn’t meet in person until an unplanned encounter in a hospital in Cardiff. They bumped into each other in 2017, when Chloe happened to be having an iron infusion at the same time and in the same place as Rhys was having auto-immune injections.

    Two weeks later, they were a couple. Two years later, on 21 September, Rhys proposed on a rooftop while the couple were on a trip to Amsterdam.

    The pair say they’re glad to have Crohn’s disease because it brought them together.

    Pharmacy assistant dispenser Chloe, from Magor, South Wales, said: ‘Never, ever did I think an inflammatory bowel disease group would lead to me finding my soulmate.

    Before she met Rhys, Chloe had emergency surgery that saved her life
    Before she met Rhys, Chloe had emergency surgery that saved her life (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    ‘I’m grateful everyday to have Crohn’s, it’s brought terrible pain to my life but also brought me the greatest things in life, my fiancé, great friends and strength I never knew I had.’

    Translation company director Rhys, from Neath, Swansea, added: ‘Even though Crohn’s has massively impacted our lives, in a way we’re glad that we both have it because it has brought us together.

    ‘It was a huge coincidence that Chloe and I bumped into each other in the hospital that one time.

    ‘Chloe was sat in the treatment room and we caught eyes and we started chatting when we realised we were friends on Facebook.

    ‘With both of us suffering from Crohn’s disease we’ve been able to understand and support each other from the very beginning and it has only made our relationship stronger.

    ‘We’ve been through a lot over the last few years, in particular with Chloe having life-changing surgery last year, but everything has just come together for us recently – I can’t wait for the wedding.

    ‘I think meeting on a Facebook group shows that social media isn’t all bad – it’s the best thing that’s happened to both of us.’

    Chloe & Rhys getting engaged and showing ring
    Rhys popped the question on holiday in Amsterdam (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    Chloe was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2005 at 11 years old and in January 2015, before she met Rhys, she suffered an infected abscess and needed emergency surgery in order to save her life.

    She battled an infection in her abdomen just after the operation and needed a drain fitted into her stomach, meaning she was tube fed for three weeks.

    Chloe then had nine-hour surgery in July 2018 to remove a section of her large bowel, along with her rectum and gallbladder, and was given a stoma bag.

    Rhys was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2008 at 19 years old. He now has the same consultant as Chloe and they are both on the same treatment plan.

    The couple became friends on Facebook in 2015 after occasionally chatting about Crohn’s disease and Rhys had asked her for some advice about medication.

    They didn’t meet in person until they bumped into each other in hospital. From there they started chatting even more and things became romantic.

    One month after that chance meeting, Chloe was at a wedding when she had to be rushed back to hospital. When she was discharged, Rhys picked her up from the hospital and took her home.

    When a week later Chloe was readmitted to hospital, Rhys visited her every day. They were a couple by the time she was discharged.

    Rhys said: ‘While she was in hospital, I brought her chocolates and chatted to her because I wanted to be there for her.

    ‘I also took her on our first proper ‘date’ to the KFC near the hospital before she got discharged.’

    Two months after becoming official the couple moved in together, and in December 2018 they bought a flat in Cardiff.

    Rhys spent months planning the proposal for their holiday to Amsterdam.

    Chloe said: ‘The moment Rhys and I got engaged was very surreal, it’s kind of a blur.

    ‘I heard our song, The Calling’s Wherever You Will Go, play as I walked up the stairs of the roof terrace and thought “it’s happening, he’s actually going to propose!”

    ‘Of course I said yes instantly, it was just perfect, he’d thought of every last detail to make it perfect for me, I couldn’t have wished for more.’

    The couple are now planning for their wedding to take place in June 2021.

    Do you have an amazing story of your proposal or how you and your partner met? Get in touch with us at MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

    MORE: Bride shames sister-in-law for wearing a white lace dress to her wedding

    MORE: Woman who had three miscarriages donates wedding dress to make funeral gowns for stillborn babies

    MORE: Influencer couple who had a seven-day long proposal mocked for engagement ring


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    Hoffman’s two-toed sloths reside in the forests of Central and South America, where they live slow-paced lives.

    Unfortunately, due to their incredible cuteness and docile nature, many people steal them from their homes to sell them off at pets, which can have dire consequences for the animals.

    They don’t adapt well to human life – many are treated badly and abandoned – as well as attacked by dogs, hit by cars or electrocuted by power lines.

    The Toucan Rescue Ranch ner San Isidro in Costa Rica is dedicated to rehabilitating sloths – so far, they have released more than 100 sloths back into the wild since 2007 (both two- and three-fingered ones), but it’s no easy feat, as some are badly injured and require a lot of care.

    In the video, Leslie Howle, co-founder of the ranch, can be heard describing the lengthy process of rehabilitating a female sloth that had been brutalised by someone who wanted her as a pet.

    ‘To get her as a pet, people pulled down hard on her hind legs to separate her from her mother, and they broke all her hip muscles, to get her down so she could become someone’s pet,’ said Leslie.

    ‘And so she suffered a lot of pain and also couldn’t move. We had to give her a high dose of anti-inflammatories and vitamins to regenerate the muscles, and we also gave her physical therapy like massages, and we would take her out to the grass to walk every day until she made her recovery.

    ‘It was a process of six or eight months, but it worked, and now she’s recovered.’

    Sloths being fed goat milk at the Toucan Rescue Ranch in Costa Rica
    Several sloths tragically died when fed cow’s milk, but the rescue ranch has now changed to goat’s milk, which goes down a treat (Picture: AP)
    Close-up or two sloths being fed goat milk at the Toucan Rescue Ranch in Costa Rica
    Human contact is kept to a minimum, so the sloths don’t get attached (Picture: AP)

    Ana María Villada Rosales is the resident veterinarian at the rescue ranch.

    She helps teach baby sloths the skills they need to survive in the wild, such as climbing down from the trees to poo on the ground – which is where sloths defecate in the wild.

    This is useful for moths, who lay eggs in the dung, which produces an algae that is thought to be nutritious for sloths and also helps them camouflage themselves.

    ‘In the case of babies, the moment we receive them we do a medical exam,’ Ana María can be heard saying in the video.

    ‘Once this test is done, we examine them because they usually come from free life or they are orphans so they bring some diseases.

    ‘Then they are de-wormed, they are rehabilitated until they are in better health, and then they are placed in a group with other juveniles so that they become familiar with those who are going to be released and so that they are not alone because at this age they are usually always with their mother.

    ‘In this way, being with another sloth, they do not have this anxiety or stress caused by loneliness. Part of rehabilitation work with the babies is to teach them to defecate on the floor every day, and that’s what is happening back here.’

    A sloth enjoying the grass at Toucan Rescue Ranch in Costa Rica
    The sloths are taught how to behave in the wild so they can eventually be released in the jungle (Picture: AP)
    Two sloths hugging at Toucan Rescue Ranch in Costa Rica
    A little hug session between two rescue sloths (Picture: AP)

    The sloths are well-taken-care-of; they’re given plenty of snacks and opportunities to snooze (one of their favourite pastimes) – but before the ranch was set up, there was little to no information on how best to rehabilitate the animals.

    For instance, several sloths tragically died because they were fed cow’s milk, a discovery which led the volunteers to swap out this liquid for goat’s milk – which is safe and goes down a treat.

    This sloth sanctuary has been created to benefit the sloths, which means human contact is kept to a minimum, in order for them to avoid attachment and to teach the sloths how to survive on their own.

    The animals are also encouraged to climb trees, feed on leaves and find good napping spots.

    More often than not, the animals rescued by the Toucan Ranch have suffered at the hands of humans.

    Daniel Quintanilla Mendoza, the environmental education coordinator at the ranch, said: ‘Many of the cases we receive are the fault of human beings.

    ‘It’s clear that natural selection influences many factors and it’s also true that humans shouldn’t interfere or not so much, but from my point of view, if we are the ones that are affecting these species, then it’s our duty to play a part, rescue them and help them as much as possible.

    ‘For example, animals that get hit by vehicles, or that get electrocuted – in those situations, what’s happened is down to us, it is our fault, and at that time we must intervene.

    ‘As human beings we cannot leave an animal who has been electrocuted, in these circumstances just because of natural selection.

    ‘Obviously there could be other cases, we would have to look into them, but the three (main) reasons why we get them here, the majority are cases where humans have had something to do with it, and in these cases we have to act.’

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    MORE: ‘I’ve created a monster’: labradoodle inventor speaks of his regret


    Meet the people who rehabilitate injured slothsMeet the people who rehabilitate injured sloths

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    China begins work to identify mysterious 'gel' found on dark side of the moon Picture: dr_leon_advogato https://www.instagram.com/dr_leon_advogato/?fbclid=IwAR3grA1bh86ObFCwOCk8omvvnL2d9VOyLtcVd5sObTeCwl3jgXvT16eu_FA https://www.facebook.com/groups/2400545690011701/permalink/2621181751281426/
    Congrats to Leon on his new position (Picture: dr_leon_advogato)

    Send congratulatory catnip to Leon the cat, for he has received a promotion that’s worthy of celebration.

    Leon may not have been qualified for the job. He may not have passed exams or attained any official education.

    Thus he’s an icon for getting high up on the career ladder in an untraditional way. We can all learn from him.

    Leon was a homeless kitten with nowhere to go. When it began to rain in Brazil’s federal district, he ducked inside the Order of Attorneys of Brazil building for shelter.

    When he wasn’t chucked out, Leon used the office as a regular base when the weather became rubbish – but this didn’t win him many fans, as people began to file official complaints about the uninvited cat hanging around the reception desk.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BuRiZL2Hpw5/

    The board of attorneys came up with a simple solution: they gave Leon an official job so he had a reason to be in the reception area whenever he fancies.

    While at first Leon was hired as a receptionist, tasked with greeting visitors, he quickly climbed up the ranks and got promoted. He’s now a lawyer as well as a bit of an Instagram celeb.

    Dr Jeanette Laredo posted the good news on the THIS CAT IS E M P L O Y E D Facebook group, where it was shared more than 11,000 times.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bu3xP04FxpF/

    She wrote: ‘After a heavy rain, this little guy here seeking shelter from the storm went inside the OAB building ( Brazilian equivalent of ABA, American Bar Association) and decided to stay…

    ‘Unfortunately some people started to file some complaints about the fact that at the reception desk there was a stray cat hanging around and trying to make friends with the newcomers.

    ‘In order to avoid some new complaints the board gave the solution: Hire the cat as an employee… so, now it’s official this little fellow is responsible for welcoming the newcomers (whether they like it or not).

    ‘Edit: THIS CAT GOT A PROMOTION!!’

    China begins work to identify mysterious 'gel' found on dark side of the moon Picture: dr_leon_advogato https://www.instagram.com/dr_leon_advogato/?fbclid=IwAR3grA1bh86ObFCwOCk8omvvnL2d9VOyLtcVd5sObTeCwl3jgXvT16eu_FA https://www.facebook.com/groups/2400545690011701/permalink/2621181751281426/
    Yes, we would trust this cat with a legal issue (Picture: dr_leon_advogato)

    A representative for Leon said that the initial complaints about Leon were about his size, as people worried they might step on the tiny kitten.

    They also say Leon may soon have his own office.

    The representative told BoredPanda: ‘[They said] that there was no space for him because it is a serious institution. So the President [of the OAB] determined the hiring and gave him an employee badge.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bvpn3_AJYHK/

    ‘We are finalizing the documents to launch an animal rights institute. It’s called Instituto Dr. Leon. Unfortunately, we cannot house all [the animals], so we will fund the NGOs in town. We will be an example for Brazil [to follow].

    ‘Today, he is very dear to everyone. Even those didn’t like him got used to his presence and have fun with him. His favorite place is President Auriney’s sofa; he loves to play with his toys.’

    You say playing with toys, Leon says ‘conducting important business’. Potato, potato.

    MORE: Beagle is surrogate mum to two kittens and even breastfeeds them

    MORE: Extraordinary puppy born with six legs finds loving new home

    MORE: French bulldog puppy has nose job to save her life


    Cat gets a job Picture: Dr. Leon, O Advogato https://www.facebook.com/groups/2400545690011701/permalink/2621181751281426/ https://www.instagram.com/dr_leon_advogato/?fbclid=IwAR3grA1bh86ObFCwOCk8omvvnL2d9VOyLtcVd5sObTeCwl3jgXvT16eu_FA METROGRABCat gets a job Picture: Dr. Leon, O Advogato https://www.facebook.com/groups/2400545690011701/permalink/2621181751281426/ https://www.instagram.com/dr_leon_advogato/?fbclid=IwAR3grA1bh86ObFCwOCk8omvvnL2d9VOyLtcVd5sObTeCwl3jgXvT16eu_FA METROGRAB

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    Horoscope series for Platform
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Most people have empathy, but not everyone is an empath.

    An empath is somebody who is especially attuned to everything around them, whether that’s the feelings of others or the general aura of the room or place.

    Empaths are also considered to be uniquely attuned to nature and to have a specific ability to pick up signals from animals, plants, and the world around them.

    Some empaths even claim to have the ability to feel the physical pain of others, or to be able to understand people’s intentions regardless of what they’re saying.

    It may seem farfetched, but for those of us out there who are extremely receptive to outside influences, it rings true. It can also be a double-edged source, as it’s no secret that not everybody and everything produces good vibes.

    To help you understand if you’re an empath, check out our handy quiz. Simply answer the options that match closely with you.

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    MORE: Couple who met in a support group for Crohn’s disease then bumped into each other at hospital are now engaged

    MORE: Holland & Barrett launches advent calendar filled with natural goodies worth £146

     


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    mint leaves DIY spray to get rid of spiders
    Spiders hate the scent of mint (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

    Now the weather’s going to sh*t and it’s raining loads, you’re probably noticing far more creepy-crawlies scuttling around your house.

    Not all of us are skilled in the art of spider catching, whether with a special tool or the classic glass and a piece of paper method, so prevention might be the best approach.

    Handily, you don’t need to do anything too extreme to keep spiders far away.

    One woman has very kindly shared her super cheap DIY spray for deterring spiders and other bugs.

    Sylvia Crawford posted in the Extreme Couponing and Bargains UK Facebook group to share her method, which involves mixing leftover mint leaves with antibacterial spray.

    Sylvia wrote: ‘Had leftover packet of mint and small amount of cleaner left.

    mix mint leaves with antibacterial spray to deter spiders
    Easy-peasy (Picture: Extreme Couponing and Bargains UK/Facebook)

    ‘Chopped mint and added to anti-bac cleaner and filled with water. Sprayed under window sill outside and around the door. I watched the spiders run as I sprayed.

    ‘They hate mint right enough. Some people use essential oils but I just thought I would use up what I had.’

    Sylvia says she spent 50p on fresh mint leaves from Asda and 77p on Waitrose’s Essential antibacterial action spray, taking the grand total of this remedy to £1.27.

    But you could make it even cheaper with a bargain cleaning spray and using the leftover bits of mint you’re using for a recipe. If you’re one of those domestic types with your own mint plant, just snip off a few leaves for free.

    The trick works because spiders (and mice, FYI) hate the strong and overwhelming scent of mint.

    That’s why you’ll often see people recommending dotting peppermint oil around your house to repel insects. For both insects and mice, strong minty smells can be very unpleasant, making them want to steer clear.

    If you don’t fancy mixing up your own fresh mint solution, you can also pick up a bottle of peppermint oil and spray that around your home, or dip cotton wool balls in the stuff and leave them around the home. You can also try peppermint tea bags, although these aren’t as potent so may not be quite as effective.

    If you want to get really strict on spiders while also adding some greenery to your surroundings, invest in mint plants and pop them near every window to put spiders off running in.

    You can also use fresh mint leaves to make tummy-soothing teas, so you’ll have a nice bonus to all your spider-ridding techniques.

    Got a household tip you want to share with the world? Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk

    MORE: How often should you be cleaning your mattress and how do you do it?

    MORE: Quiz: How to tell if you’re an empath

    MORE: Meet the people who rehabilitate injured sloths at a rescue ranch in Costa Rica


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    Welcome to You Don’t Look Sick, our weekly series about what it’s like to live with an invisible illness or hidden disability.

    Charlotte Twinley, 21, from Arundel, West Sussex, has hypermobile Ehlers Danlos syndrome (hEDS) and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).

    HEDS is an inherited connective tissue disorder that is caused by defects in a protein called collagen. The condition can affect different parts of the body and for Charlotte, it causes problems with her joints as they often partially dislocate and with her digestive system.

    She has an ileostomy bag fitted in June last year to bypass the parts of her digestive system that are the worst affected. This means that waste is collected in a bag attached to her stomach.

    POTS causes an abnormal increase in heart rate after standing or sitting up, which can lead to dizziness and fainting.

    Charlotte was diagnosed with both conditions at the age of 15, after she started to notice joint pain, followed by severe stomach pain a few months later.

    Charlotte Twinley of Arundel, West Sussex, who has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.
    Charlotte Twinley (Picture: Ciaran Mccrickard/Metro.co.uk)

    A keen hockey player, Charlotte woke up one morning unable to move her legs but after tests and scans, doctors couldn’t find a cause. She was given crutches and gradually started to walk again.

    A few months later, she woke up with stabbing pain in her stomach but again doctors couldn’t find the answer and she says one told her she had to ‘get over it and put up with it.’

    Eventually, she was referred by her GP to consultant gastroenterologist at her local hospital who noticed that she had hypermobility as her joints are more flexible. He had recently attended a medical conference that discussed the relationship between hypermobility and digestive issues.

    Charlotte was sent to another specialist in London who diagnosed her with EDS. Because of the collagen defects, Charlotte’s digestive system works much more slowly than a normal system.

    She explains: ‘Because I’m hypermobile, all the connective tissue in my body can stretch too much and as connective tissue is around the whole body, this can affect everything from my joints to my digestive system.

    ‘Over the years, my colon and rectum became weaker due to lack of muscular support and stretchier, meaning that it was more difficult for them to move waste through my body and I started to get several different prolapses, making the problem even worse.’

    Charlotte was given medication and laxatives and advised to try different diets to try to help her digestive system work more efficiently.

    Charlotte in hospital after her ileostomy
    Charlotte in hospital after her ileostomy (Picture: Charlotte Twinley)

    Beyond the physical problems her condition caused, it also had a huge impact on her mental health.

    She explains: ‘It didn’t really hit me until a couple of years after being diagnosed that I would have to live with this for the rest of my life, as there is no cure for EDS.

    ‘I remember that it was very overwhelming and I was constantly going up to London to see various consultants and physiotherapists.

    ‘I was also incredibly embarrassed to tell people about how this was affecting me, as it’s essentially all about how I was constipated!

    ‘So, I never said much – all my friends knew is that I had stomach pains that affected how I ate and that my joints would get hurt easily during sport as I would often come to school wearing various bandages after playing hockey/netball/athletics (some of which I had to give up, a very hard thing for me to do).

    ‘This made life, along with my GCSEs, very difficult for me, affecting my mental health.’

    Charlotte now campaigns for body positivity
    Charlotte now campaigns for body positivity (Picture: Charlotte Twinley)

    She struggled with depression and started to self-harm as she struggled with the idea of being different from her friends.

    The issues with her health also led to her struggling with how she felt about her body and she suffered from body dysmorphia, constantly putting herself down.

    She started to restrict her diet even more and she developed anorexia. When she entered sixth form, she was drastically underweight and seriously ill.

    Over five months, with the help of her parents, she worked with a therapist to help her gain weight. She went back to school just before her AS Level exams and went on to finish her final year before heading to university.

    Wanting to take part in everything and have a normal Freshers week, Charlotte went out as much as she could but her health soon caught up with her.

    Her digestive problems got much worse and soon she was only able to eat liquid food. She tried taking more laxatives and slowly introducing solid food again, which worked for a short time until one day in June 2017, she was unable to eat at all.

    Charlotte jumping with her ileostomy bag
    For years Charlotte struggled with body dysmorphia but she is now much more comfortable with her body (Picture: Charlotte Twinley)

    For just over a year, she lived on nutritional supplement drinks, as it was the only thing her digestive system could process without causing extreme pain.

    Eventually, after five months of this, she went to see a colorectal surgeon and after reading stories of other people with EDS, she asked if she could have an operation to create the stoma (opening in her stomach) where an ileostomy bag could be fitted, which would mean the most problematic areas – the colon and rectum – would be bypassed.

    She says: ‘This option was the only one that gave me hope as my quality of life was awful; I was on a liquid diet, took loads of laxatives and became incontinent because of them.

    ‘In the mornings, I would become incontinent and had to spend half of the day in the bathroom but, if I didn’t take all of this, I would never go to the toilet and I would be in extreme pain.

    ‘I could only leave the house in the afternoons, making my social life very difficult to keep up with and any jobs/education hard to commit to.’

    The surgeon said no because her case was so complicated but Charlotte went to another doctor for a second opinion, who agreed to the operation.

    In June 2018, after a year of living on nutritional supplement drinks, Charlotte had the operation, and it completely transformed her life.

    Charlotte at a protest at London Fashion Week
    Charlotte at a protest at London Fashion Week (Picture: Charlotte Twinley)

    She says: ‘ I slowly began to eat solid food after having to wean myself onto them like a baby – my stomach was not used to solid food after a whole year of a liquid diet.

    ‘Now, just over one year later, I am able to eat almost anything I want, as long as I chew thoroughly. I change my stoma bag every 3-4 days, which doesn’t take me too long – 10 minutes at the very most.

    ‘I can now leave the house in the mornings, without being glued to the bathroom.’

    Now, Charlotte feels much more comfortable with her body, has a new boyfriend and is taking part in modelling campaigns around body image.

    She says: ‘I look in the mirror and I don’t cry anymore. It’s ironic how a bag of poo attached to my stomach could change my whole perspective on how I feel about myself.’

    Although the ileostomy has improved her digestive issues, EDS still has a big impact on her life.

    She explains: ‘I still get a lot of joint problems with hEDS, as the joints aren’t as stable due to them being hypermobile.

    Charlotte on holiday
    Charlotte on holiday (Picture: Charlotte Twinley)

    ‘This especially affects my ankles, knees and hips and is worse when I go upstairs.

    ‘I’m currently looking at getting a walking stick/support of some sort to help with this.

    ‘Sometimes, when the fatigue kicks in, I do have to have some ‘time out’ to recover as, with EDS, you do have to pace yourself otherwise you make yourself ill – I’ve had to learn that the hard way!

    ‘My skin is more delicate and so healing can take a long time; I’m still healing from my ileostomy operation as the skin around my stoma is still quite sore.

    ‘With this, I just have to be patient, as there’s usually not a lot I can do to help speed the process up.’

    Throughout everything, one of the things Charlotte has struggled with is how people perceive her as despite the pain she is in, she looks well on the outside.

    She has used disabled toilets for example, following her ileostomy operation, but one incident shortly after the surgery has made her reluctant unless it is an emergency.

    She explains: ‘A week after my operation, while I was in a supermarket with my mum, I urgently needed to use a disabled toilet to empty my bag and all the other ‘normal’ toilets were occupied so I used my Radar Key to open the disabled toilet.

    Charlotte campaigning at Victoria's Secret
    Charlotte campaigning at Victoria’s Secret (Picture: Charlotte Twinley)

    ‘While I was in there, someone tried to get in and then there was a knock on the door. I was just about done at this point so I wasn’t in there for more than one minute after I heard the knocking.

    ‘When I came out, there was a man and his wife (who was in a wheelchair) glaring at me.

    ‘Despite the sign on the door saying ‘Not all disabilities are visible’, the man started yelling at me saying that I ‘had no right to use these toilets’ as they’re just for people in wheelchairs.

    ‘Bearing in mind I had just had surgery, I hadn’t even thought of what to say in this situation so I just stammered a little before walking away, hearing them ‘tut’ to each other behind my back.

    ‘It took me ages until I had the confidence to use a disabled toilet again – even now, I still struggle and still feel very self-conscious when I use one (particularly when there’s a very long queue for the ladies, and I feel all eyes on me as I slip into the disabled toilet).

    ‘Despite some of these ‘Not all disabilities are visible’ signs that are appearing on disabled toilet doors, I do feel as if people take no notice of them.’

    Charlotte with a stick she uses to help with joint pain
    Although her digestive issues have improved, Charlotte still struggles with joint pain (Picture: Ciaran Mccrickard/Metro.co.uk)

    Charlotte is now much more open about her conditions and has modelled with her ileostomy bag on show.

    She writes a blog and posts on Instagram, promoting body positivity and talking about mental health, as she

    wants to help others struggling to come to terms with their own physical and mental health issues to understand that it’s ok to be different.

    She says: ‘In general, more awareness needs to be demonstrated – not necessarily to understand each and every invisible illness as there are just too many of them.

    ‘But more awareness of the need to be considerate and not to judge others when they use a Priority Seat on public transport when they’re not on crutches, when someone not in a wheelchair uses a disabled toilet or when someone needs to have a sick day when they seemed ‘fine’ yesterday.

    ‘The more people speak about this, the more we will all be heard.’

    ‘It’s impossible for anyone to actually understand what it feels like to have a chronic illness, but empathy would be nice and you can’t expect adults to be empathetic if they don’t learn about it when they’re young.

    ‘What’s more worrying is that lack of understanding often results in a lot of insensitive unsolicited advice. It’s the one thing that still bothers me and I like to think I have a pretty thick skin.

    ‘It’s amazing how many people have quite strong opinions on what could ‘cure’ me. I know it comes from a good place, but no, yoga, turmeric or CBD oil are not going to magically cure my chronic illness. Believe me, I’ve had a few decades to try everything.’

    How to get involved with You Don't Look Sick

    You Don’t Look Sick is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that discusses invisible illness and disabilities.

    If you have an invisible illness or disability and fancy taking part, please email youdontlooksick@metro.co.uk.

    You’ll need to be happy to share pictures that show how your condition affects you, and have some time to have some pictures taken.

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘Stop telling me yoga, turmeric or CBD oil are going to magically cure my chronic illness’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘Don’t ask me if I am better yet. Ménière’s is a long term illness, not a cold’

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    the bathroom before
    The bathroom before (Picture: @itsabec / CATERS NEWS)

    A mum has shared how she spent three months transforming her bath into a Roman inspired mosaic tub.

    She did all the work herself so she only had to invest money on the materials, making the total spent £390.

    Rebecca Andrews, 39, a graphic designer, spent every evening after work creating the bath of her dreams.

    She used tiles, stone pebbles, glass pebbles, and colourful stones intended for use in aquariums.

    It took a lot of hard work, but the end result makes it all worth it.

    Rebecca started the mosaic on 26 May and finished 16 September, after spending many nights mosaicking until the early hours of the morning when she couldn’t sleep.

    the bathroom before
    Rebecca did all the work on her own, taking nine months to complete the transformation (Picture: @itsabec / CATERS NEWS)

    The mum had always dreams of having an oasis of calm in the bathroom, inspired by Roman baths, so made the transformation her project.

    She said: ‘I will pretty much undertake anything to make my creative visions come to life.

    ‘The standing joke in my household is that if you sit still long enough, you will get painted.

    ‘This is my first ever mosaic project, some people think I am crazy that I undertook something so large, but it is typical of me to simply jump straight in and learn along the way.

    Rebecca during the bathroom transformation
    The total cost for materials was £390 (Picture: @itsabec / CATERS NEWS)

    ‘I’ve always been drawn to the romantic notion of the ancient Roman baths and the relaxing rituals associated.

    ‘I also admire the beautifully intricate Moroccan mosaics and the sense of timeless style and sophistication they exude.

    ‘Admittedly, I clearly put my unique spin on it with a more organic and flowing style emerging.

    ‘The hours, days and months all blended together when I was renovating the bathroom which took nine months to complete.

    ‘I’d hate to think of the total hours spent, but I could work it out based on an area no bigger than 30cm wide in diameter could take up to 1 hour to complete.

    ‘With three sides and a very large base, it would have been beneficial to not have such a big spa-bath.

    the bathroom afterwards
    The gorgeous end result (Picture: @itsabec / CATERS NEWS)

    ‘I’d enter a trance and would lose all track of time until my youngest Oscar, three, would pop his head into the bathroom and tell me he is hungry ask me to make him a sandwich.

    ‘He was my little ‘helper’ and often come in and ‘help’ me by throwing rocks and pebbles up into the air and watch them fall down like confetti or he would sprinkle them around like they were 100’s and 1000’s.

    ‘Or worse, he’d climb out of the bath and accidentally step right in the middle of the new section I had just created so I would have to start all over again.’

    The process of creating the look she wanted took some trial and error.

    At first Rebecca thought she could just use pebbles from the garden, but they turned out to be too dull in colour and uncomfortable to sit or stand on.

    PIC BY @itsabec / CATERS NEWS - (PICTURED the bathroom afterwards) A creative mum has dedicated three months of her time to transform her bath into a roman inspired mosaic bathtub. Rebecca Andrews, 39, who is a graphic designer, spent every evening after work and weekends to create the bath of her dreams. She used tiles and a mixture of natural stone pebbles, glass pebbles and brightly coloured stones intended for use in aquariums. The mum-of-two spent ?390 [$710] on the materials and feels lucky that she managed to save on labour costs having done all the work herself. SEE CATERS COPY
    Nice, right? (Picture: @itsabec / CATERS NEWS)
    She came up with the idea of using colourful aquarium pebbles when she was looking at the fish in a pet store with her sons.

    ‘The bath is very comfortable and sitting on the pebbles feels very therapeutic and grounding, it is very much like a stone massage,’ Rebecca says.

    ‘I was shocked to hear Jack and my partner Peter Martin, 40, a professional golfer, liked the result as they are rather conservative in their personal aesthetic.

    ‘My friends and family are especially dumbfounded as to how I’ve managed to run a business, raise two kids with my partner so frequently working away, as well as renovate the bathroom all by myself.

    ‘What can I say – I am a sucker for all things creative.’

    Anyone else inspired to take on a big DIY project this weekend?

    Do you have an amazing renovation you’d like to share? Get in touch with MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk

    MORE: People are loving this cheap DIY trick to keep spiders out of the house

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘My doctor told me to get over my chronic illness’


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    Illustration of a woman looking despondent on a pink background
    How do you express the grief you feel at losing a baby you never even held? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘You’d lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on’. This family catchphrase was often tossed at me when I carelessly lost another set of keys, a phone, a new jacket.

    For some reason it came to me as I lay on a Spanish hospital bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. The doctor said, ‘there is nothing inside’ then ‘it has gone’ and despite their faltering English, I knew I had lost something else that was precious.

    In the doctor’s defence, it’s hard enough to break the devastating news that you’ve lost your baby in your first language.

    This was my second miscarriage. In the time it takes other couples to meet their precious bundle, I lost both my babies.

    Maybe I’d have been a careless mother and this was nature’s way of stopping that from happening? I wrongly thought at the time.

    Obviously, with a clear head I know this is ridiculous – as silly as many of the other things I tried to convince myself of in my guilt ridden state. ‘If I hadn’t gone to Spain, I could have seen the doctor when I started spotting. Then my baby would be OK.’ Also not true.

    Any medical expert will tell you, once a miscarriage has started, there is no intervention that could keep your baby alive. But you could tell me this and any other logical response and in the depths of my grief I would have glared stubbornly at you (on the inside anyway, on the outside I would have nodded mutely).

    You drag yourself back into work while you’re still bleeding. You smile and nod, when colleagues ask if you’re feeling better

    That’s if we even had the conversation. Because in reality, miscarriages are so often suffered in silence.

    How do you express the grief you feel at losing a baby you never even held? Many couples never glimpse a photo, with the majority of losses happening before the 12 week scan.

    There’s a hush around early pregnancy, keeping it secret until that all-important scan confirms ‘it’s real’. Well, like many couples will know, it was real for me from the beginning.

    I started loving that life inside me the moment I knew they were there. I lovingly looked after them, chose what I ate for them, painted dreams for them. And in part, it’s that future you’re grieving for.

    But you drag yourself back into work while you’re still bleeding. You smile and nod when colleagues ask if you’re feeling better. How can you possibly say, ‘not so much, I’m currently in the midst of losing my baby.’

    Coping with infertility at work
    As losing a baby is such a hidden grief, none of my colleagues would have known the pain this brought me (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    On my return to the office just a couple of days after I returned from Spain, I was greeted by baby-shower balloons and confetti on my new desk after a send-off for the colleague whose maternity I’m covering. As losing a baby is such a hidden grief, none of my colleagues would have known the pain this brought me.

    And so, you feign excitement as another friend announces their pregnancy, or proudly posts peekaboo snaps on Instagram, oblivious to your secret sorrow. Because nobody wants to hear about the sadness that pregnancy can bring – only the joy of scan reveals, baby-showers and bump selfies.

    In that silent loneliness, those nagging doubts and fears bubble up. After you blame yourself for not being able to do the one basic function of a woman, then come the doubts about your relationship. Maybe we just aren’t a strong enough couple, we’re not meant to have a baby together.

    The strain of trying for a baby can be stressful for any couple, even those who haven’t suffered a loss. The constant testing and waiting for the ‘magic three-day window’, the arguments and frustration when someone’s work trip ruins another month, the bitter disappointment that erupts during ‘that’ time of the month.

    But if you have known the pain of loss, this strain intensifies. Both so longing for your healthy baby after the tragedy of loss but fearing it will never happen for you.

    Even the excitement when those two lines show up on the Clear Blue swiftly switches to anxiety and dread that your nightmare is waiting around the corner again.

    And for one per cent of couples, that nightmare keeps coming back. Statistically, I’m not classed as a recurrent mis-carrier – that is reserved for those who have suffered three or more losses.

    But what you learn after your first loss is that any future pregnancies will forever be marred by this grief. Instead of searching for baby name inspiration, or buggy reviews, I find myself asking Google ‘what’s the probability of having a third miscarriage?’

    If we were able to reach out to one another and share our fears and sadness these struggles might feel less isolating. I often blamed my history of mental health problems for not letting me ‘get over’ my loss quick enough – or for crying too much, feeling too sad, too jealous, too angry.

    It wasn’t until I read others’ stories from amazing groups like the Miscarriage Association that I realised, I was simply experiencing the natural grief of loss.

    I hope, by sharing my story, it helps others feel less alone.

    More support

    The Miscarriage Association offer information and support to anyone affected by miscarriage, ectopic or molar pregnancy. They can be contacted on 01924 200799 or info@miscarriageassociation.org.uk

    MORE: This is what really happens when you suffer a miscarriage

    MORE: Husband is looking to create ‘Calendar Girls’ of women who had miscarriages for wife who’s suffered seven times

    MORE: Photographer creates beautiful tribute to newborn baby’s twin brother who died in the womb


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