We work hard at school, get jobs and have children. We always look on the bright side of life and rarely spend time planning for the unthinkable scenarios or that was certainly my mentality. I was driven and my career was something I was proud of.
At 23 I became a mother and was already a main board director of a UK Call Centre. I juggled executive life and a baby with the help of a full time nanny. Little did I know that six weeks after my second child Florence was born that life would never be the same.
Apart from falling down the stairs at 12 weeks pregnant on the morning Princess Diana died my pregnancy was a dream. At just six weeks old Florence suffered a major apnoea attack. She was blue and not breathing and I had no idea what to do or what was happening. The ambulance crew on arrival suggested it was a brain related infection and struggled to get her to breath.
Many episodes followed and in fact at her baptism she had to be resuscitated on the dinning room table. Flo was diagnosed with gastro-oesophageal reflux, which was causing these life-threatening attacks so doctors decided the only option was surgery. The surgery means anything that goes into her stomach cannot come out again and so she chokes every time she tries to be sick.
I thought that this period would be the end of it, but it was just the beginning. Flo's muscle development was slow; she was prone to infections and failed to thrive. Going to school proved a challenge too. One day she had an episode leaving her unable to speak, her mouth dropped and she began retching and gagging because she couldn't be sick it was just like she was having a stroke. When she woke up the next day in hospital it was as if nothing had happened.
Flo had frequent attacks where she would loose her vision and start retching and numb all down one side. The attacks would wipe her out for a week or two. She became very anxious and didn't want to leave the house or let me leave.
No full diagnosis even eight years on despite vast testing and a cocktail of un licensed drugs for her age. Some doctors say it's a complex form of Hemiplegic migraine some think its porphyria, a type of liver disease. Testing continues.
I had to give up my career and become fulltime mother not easy for a workaholic. Flo was excluded from school, which was devastating and has been home tutored since 8. It wasn't quite what I had planned in my book of life!
My eldest Emily now 21 who had been my rock throughout at 17 was diagnosed with Addison's disease, a condition that causes acute fatigue, weight loss and palpitations. It hit me like a tone of bricks. You cannot legislate for such bad fortune. I was traumatized. Emily had a few tricky years post diagnosis until drugs got things control to regulate her adrenal and pituitary glands but her condition is largely under control thanks to medication. She is in the last weeks of studying for a law degree at Durham University and I am so proud of her getting through it all when many would have given up.
You have to try and make a positive out of a bad situation so along came Herbie Hound. Flo in particular loves animals and was so upset after their Jack Russell Belle died so I decided to get a new puppy soon after which we called Herbie. He has a big personality and was my inspiration to create stories and animations called the Hilarious Adventures of Herbie Hound for children aged three to five and share him with the world.
My stories aim to be fun and to help children to learn. Herbie, for instance, speaks a bit of French since he is a French breed of pup with a British upbringing. The main message is that everyone is special. I think we need to be more positive about ourselves and others. " We are all special " is our mission statement. Each book and animation has an interactive aspect with bite size learning throughout. Superstar Pets were commissioned to turn my stories into animation. They have previously worked on animations for BBC Children in Need, Simon Cowell and Michael Ball among others so I knew they were up for the job!
A sense of adventure, fun, and positivity yet with a calming and interactive element is what bloggers are quoting. The books are very engaging and parents and children can both join in. Herbie Hound goes to school launched a week ago in London with the endorsement of Atomic Kitten - Natasha Hamilton a mum herself to four. Some of the profits from the series will go to the Dog's Trust and Birmingham Children's Hospital who ultimately saved Flo's life.
The 2nd Herbie Hound Adventure, "goes to the Farm" will be out at the end of May. The series is being reviewed by the BBC and has been submitted to Milkshake too.
You can buy the animations and books on line www.herbiehound.co.uk follow the links on our sales page.
We have big plans for Herbie Hound including a Charity Celebrity Christmas single and episode. As well as toys, games and much more. Please get behind this project and help spread some specialness around the world.