Monthly Archives: May 2011

Let’s Get Physical…

Ah Body Talk, ain’t it grand…

I am going to start at last week, because last week I had one of the Best Moments of my Life 🙂 One of those life defining moments when you know-just  know with total certainty that you’ve become the person you wanted to be. And I had this moment on a Treadmill.

A TREADMILL.

If you’d told me 6 years ago I could even have constructed a sentence like that I would have mocked you to your very face. Because I had one very solid belief back then-that if in face there was a place called Hell, it basically consisted of a room with a Treadmill saying “Property of Carrie Armstrong” on it. I would be forced to run on it continuously most likely whilst drinking dandelion & Burdock (what is that stuff, seriously) and whilst listening to Talk Radio (how weird is the job if a DJ though, sitting in a small room talking to yourself, it’s more of a personality disorder than a career per se…)

I hated running, the way most people hate Simon Cowell. It seemed like a pointless waste of time, very hard work, and I was really quite terrible at it. It didn’t help that my gorgeous best mate was a long distance runner and actually made it look good (she still does-damn her…).

During the years of being in the bed and the wheelchair I missed many things-and hand on heart running was never one of them. I did miss exercising though. So when I got Well enough surely I jumped at the chance to make like a gym bunny the first chance I got.

Nope.

I avoided the gym for years. All exercise actually. My body was a thing I no longer recognised. It looked nothing like the body I’d had pre-illness. In some ways it looked better (cos let’s face it when you stop drinking 10 pints of a beer a night somethings gotta improve) but in other ways it was just one big reminder of what I’d been through. My legs scared me. The muscles were none existent. I really felt I looked like an old lady, or one of those uncooked chickens (oh yes, truly I felt all kinds of hot and attractive.) Really I so badly wanted body confidence-because I didn’t hate my body. Far from it. I’d finally learned to love it and say nice things to it (now before you laugh at me, have a think about all the horrible things you think about your body-and say about it to others-imagine if we talked to our friends like that!) I appreciated the strength of my body and everything it had overcome-but no way did I want to look at it-or show it to other people. No sir. Too many painful memories right there. But perhaps the biggest reason of all-

I was afraid.

Terrified to push myself too far incase it turned out I really was made of glass and would fall apart all over again. Far better surely to just appreciate my less than average body for the miracle of it being able to function again.

That’s no life.

So I bit the bullet and got my chicken-like ass down to the gym. I was so scared I cried the whole time. The. Whole. Time. I went back again the next day with sunglasses on so nobody would see me crying-unfortunately it just prompted comments like “why’s that crying girl got sunglasses on…she just keeps walking into all the equipment”.

Oh yes, good, good times….

I wasn’t ready, so I just left it alone. I actually left it alone for 9 months. Then one day last week I woke up and the first thought in my head was “I really want to go to the Gym” so I did! It felt really different this time. I made a beeline straight for the Treadmill (sans sunglasses) and ran for twenty minutes! And I loved it! I can’t describe to you the pure, undiluted Joy that I experienced. I have never felt so powerful in my entire life. It was a combination of revelling in what my body could do, but combined with the knowledge that I really was a totally transformed person. Because the pre-illness Carrie would have hated it, the ill Carrie couldn’t have done it. So this new Carrie had evolved in the past 9 months without me even noticing!

I will never be finished on this Journey. My work will never be done. I will never get to the point where I finish changing and growing. I get that now. Everyday since my treadmill victory I’ve done some form of exercise and loved it. I’m learning to accept the body I have now, as I know it’s the only way I’ll progress to the body and confidence I want. It’s not about punishing myself. It’s about finding new things I love, that excite me. It’s about my world getting even Bigger still.

So the biggest lesson I learned from this is that everything falls into place when I’m emotionally and physically ready, I hadn’t thought about exercise for months. I never beat myself up about it. I just put the thought down and concentrated on what I knew I could manage and work on in my right now. It just turns out that behind-the-scenes I was preparing myself and didn’t even know it.

So wherever you are in your Journey to Wellness right now as you read this. Don’t force yourself into anything. And if it feels like an effort then you are forcing yourself. If it makes you scared or makes you cry then why do it I say. You have nothing to prove to anyone. We already know how brave you are-you made it this far after all.  You are making progress right now that you can’t even see. When you are ready you will definitely know. And it will be Easy. And it will feel like Joy.

Carrie x

 

Medical Disclaimer:

I’m not a doctor. The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. If you have specific needs, please see a professional health care provider. Thank you.

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A little light reading…

I think we are going to be talking a lot about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome around here. A lot of people with Chronic Long-term illness are diagnosed with this. In the UK alone thousands of people are Housebound right now due to it. A lot of people that get in touch with me have CFS and Fibromyalgia. I want your story to be heard too.

One thing I am really keen on is getting as many solutions as possible in one place so people can reference them. I don’t understand the need for censoring information due to an author’s own personal belief system. I don’t think there’s any place for hidden agenda’s when it comes to the Journey of Wellness. Just because a person may be housebound does not mean they are a baby. We are still adults, capable of discerning judgement.

So when I read Alex Barton’s  Recovery from CFS: 50 Personal Stories, I was over the moon. Here was a lady who really got it. Every story was totally different from the one before. There was no connection between treatments and it was all put together without any agenda. She wasn’t trying to flog me anything (always a welcome bonus). Also the entire book is really well laid out, totally taking into account that people at certain stages on the Journey to Wellness may not have the concentration skills they used to. It’s all very easy to take in, is written by real people who have been where you are and really understand. You aren’t blinded by jargon, and none of the treatments offered cost ridiculous amounts of money. All in all Job Well Done Lass sez I…

If you don’t have the funds to purchase your own copy, why not ask someone to order it in at the library and collect it for you. Just think-50 new ways to tackle CFS-and you could try them all! If you do decide to to test anyo fo them out then get in touch as I’d love to feature your personal progress on here 🙂

Good Luck!

Carrie x

 

Medical Disclaimer:

I’m not a doctor. The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. If you have specific needs, please see a professional health care provider. Thank you.

Teeth

Toothy-pegs, nashers-whatever you call them, it’s time we had a little chat about them don’t you think…

I know it’s not glamorous, or even remotely attractive but I think it’s a necessary one, so we’ll get this out of the way quickly and then talk about something lovely like pretty dresses and shoes next time I promise…

What a lot of people may not realise until they find themselves there is that when you are bedbound for a significant amount of time two things can happen to your body. One is that you aren’t using your muscles so you they start to weaken and waste away-we’ll talk about that in more detail another time though. The second and more relevant right now is that your appetite decreases massively. Illness itself is usually enough to stop people eating, but when you can’t actually do anything to burn off what you do manage to eat then your appetite basically disappears. The combination of massive muscle loss and a significant drop in weight means that your bone density decreases an awful lot. And when that happens it’s going to have a knock-on effect on your teeth. Mine suffered massively from my big weight loss and it was a huge source of shame for me.

I loved my teeth. They were a really lovely shape and I’d always looked after them, but illness destroyed them. I was so embarrassed by this that I would not go to the dentist. I didn’t want anyone to know how awful they’d become. I managed to avoid it for 18 months after being Well enough to go back to work.

Then one day I realised that every time I saw them I was being reminded of the years of Illness. I was so paranoid about them I couldn’t even smile properly…and how could I call myself a Free Person if I couldn’t even do that…so I took a deep breath and went to see my dentist…

It was hard, it was upsetting. I had a major distrust of doctors by then and I didn’t want to voluntarily put myself in the hands of one. He was very nice to me-assured me I was not a disgrace and he’d seen much worse on a daily basis. But he also said I’d left it too long and I had to go see a Dental Surgeon…I think you can imagine the joy this filled me with…

It turns out the Dental Surgeon he sent me to is an absolute sweetheart of a man. What really reassured me was that he was adamant it was not my fault-I really needed to hear that-and that it could all be fixed given time. It’s been a long process but I’m so pleased and relieved I finally confronted my fear and embarrassment-I only wish I’d done it way sooner. (It turned out I was in nowhere near as bad a shape as I’d originally assumed. The only work needed doing was to the back ones-it was a significant amount-but nothing like those programmes where they rebuild people’s whole mouths for the sake of a makeover-so a lot of my fears were totally unfounded, and I’m sure yours will be too…)

What really made the difference was that he let me talk through it all with him first. Why I was in this situation. The Catch 22 I felt about not wanting to go through the procedure without sedation-but how scared I was of being out of control of my body (this was a massive fear I think we’ll talk about this fully another time). Make sure you are being seen by someone who gets it. The Dental Surgeon I see understood straight away and did everything he could to reassure me along the way. I love him (and apparently tell him this many, many times whilst under sedation…I even offer to set him up with various mates of mine…don’t think his wife is massively chuffed with me…)

If you are reading this and are in this situation I want to reassure you that:

  • It’s not your fault. 
  • Dentists can tell the difference from teeth trouble due to Bone Mass Loss and general neglect.
  • Tell them your story. If you are nervous there are things they can do to help you. I find massive amounts of sedation works a treat 🙂
  • It is so worth it. You will feel so different after getting it all sorted out. The relief itself is indescribable.
  • It’s something else you can tick off the list of your Journey to Wellness.
You can do it. I know you can. Go make your first appointment today. You will feel wonderful and powerful for having done so. I’m proud of you already,
Carrie x

Medical Disclaimer:

I’m not a doctor. The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. If you have specific needs, please see a professional health care provider. Thank you.

Snake Oil

I’m not one for Speaking Against Treatments for Chronic Illness. I don’t find it helpful to speak in Negatives at all these days if I’m honest. The way I see it is that One Person’s Cure is Another Person’s Snake Oil. I personally have seen people make massive progress trying things that did not work for me in the slightest. I find that amazing, and just further proof that there is so much about the Human Body and Mind that cannot be explained.

I will say this though. I tried a lot of different things on my own Journey to Wellness. A. Lot. Bloody Loads. And whilst I will never discourage anyone from trying to step into their Own Power and be Their Own Cure, let me leave you with a few things to (gently) bear in mind:

  • Be slightly wary of those that offer you 100% chance of Wellness. (I’m a self-confessed Polly-Anna but even I resent this one-only because it is usually followed by…)
  • If the aforementioned patented 100% absolutely totally guaranteed Treatment did (shock horror) fail to work in your case, it is down to you and your inability to follow the treatment properly, or you are too sick, or you did not say a special prayer as you did it. This cr*p really gets to me-like you aren’t feeling bad enough already…
  • When the treatment comes with the Caveat that if you do not start it RIGHT NOW THIS VERY SECOND and dismiss every other treatment IMMEDIATELY then a)Your head will fall off. b) Your hamster will die. c) You will be sick FOREVER. I mean, seriously. You are sick not stupid. If you stayed alive long enough to read up on this treatment it’s safe to assume you will live to see the day out without it. No one ever got better through fear.
  • When it costs BLOODY LOADS. No treatment that costs Thousands of £’s is total kosher in my opinion. I have found the most effective of treatments are devised by those who have been there themselves. These people want you to get well. They don’t want to make lots of money off vulnerable people. Do your homework. If you can’t and you don’t have the energy to research at length on-line then ask someone you trust to do it for you.
That’ll do for now I reckon. I hope it’s helped.
Carrie x

Medical Disclaimer:

I’m not a doctor. The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. If you have specific needs, please see a professional health care provider. Thank you.

Introducing the Majestic Bag of Tricks…

Growing up in the Mid-Eighties it was the height of sophistication to have a Magician perform at your Birthday Party. Looking back it seems like every weekend  involved going to someone’s house and witnessing some poor bugger with the dubious title of “Uncle Maurice” or “The Majestic Norman” suffering the ignominy of a bunch of hyped up 5 year olds off their faces on E-Numbers causing mayhem during the Punch and Judy show by trying to climb into the box and join him…or stealing the puppets of his magic hands…(though not at my party which was cut short due to my Mum poisoning everyone with rancid butter in my Fairy Princess Castle Cake…I was ill-received in the World of Primary 2 for a while there I can tell you…and Mystic Derek never appeared at a party for me again.)

My favourite parts of the show were always when the Magician pulled a rabbit from a hat…or made a bunch of flowers appear from thin air. I could never work out if it had really appeared from nowhere-or if it had been there the whole time and I just couldn’t see it.

The Bag of Tricks section on this blog is going to contain everything I’ve ever heard of that’s helped people feel or get better from chronic illness…whether the improvement is physical, emotional, spiritual, it doesn’t matter it’s going on here. Because I believe that each of us can always find improvement in our situation, no matter which stage on the Journey to Wellness we find ourselves…if you have any suggestions yourself I’d love to hear them! Because while I may not be a magician (or, thankfully a rancid cake-maker), I might just be able to point out an answer that’s been there the whole time without you noticing…only if you promise not to nick my Punch & Judy puppets though…

Carrie x

 

Medical Disclaimer:

I’m not a doctor. The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. If you have specific needs, please see a professional health care provider. Thank you.

Transformation vs Recovery

It never Ends.

That’s the conclusion I have come to lately.

I thought it would-the journey that is. I thought at some point a ribbon would appear for me to break through like at the end of a race. Or I’d wake up one day and it would feel like New Year’s Day and I’d know for sure that a new chapter had begun.

But it never happened.

I can kind of categorise stages of my journey. Give them words like Bed, Chair, Walking, Working etc. I could also do that at the time I achieved all of these milestones. But what really threw me. What kept knocking me back time and time again was the concept that one day I’d get to the point where I would feel like my old self again. Or, failing that, I would get to the point where it was all finally over. that I could dust my hands off and say “yup all done-next please”.

I’m still waiting for both of these things to happen.

I think what I was actually looking for was a Recovery. That I’d find my old self hidden beneath the layers of this whole experience. Or that my old self was hidden in a safe somewhere inside of me and I just had to find the right lock combination to set it free. I felt I had never really achieved any thing of real worth because the old me just never showed up again.

I basically missed the point for years. I actually missed the entire point up until last week. And that point is this.

It’s Never Over. It Never Ends. There is no such thing as Recovery.

It’s actually way better than that. It’s not about Recovering yourself at all. It’s about Transforming into a new version of you. It has to be. Nobody can go backwards (not without the aid of an incredibly modified Dolorian and a Flux-Capacitor anyway). Everyone changes, it’s just that illness has a way of accelerating the process. I think when we talk about Recovery we are really just using it as a Big Stick to beat ourselves up with. It’s just another way of keeping ourselves small. Because to me Transformation is like a constant New Year’s Day feeling. I’m never going to be the old version of me. I was never actually that version of me for very long anyway. I was constantly changing, even before illness. I just never paid any attention to it.

There’s a lot I want to talk about on this subject. It covers a lot of the Trouble Area’s in going from Ill to Well. But I think this is enough for now. Just know that if you’re reading this and you are frustrated and scared and you want the Old You back, then you don’t need to be. Because something way better than that is around the corner I promise

Carrie x

 

Medical Disclaimer:

I’m not a doctor. The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. If you have specific needs, please see a professional health care provider. Thank you.

Boy Meets Girl…

Relationships can be confusing at the best of times-even on an even playing field. So when you throw into the mix on of the pair of you suddenly needing round-the-clock care from the other, well let’s be honest it’s far from ideal to say the least.

I can’t tell you what to do, I would never dream of doing that. You are a grown-up. Just because you spend your time on a Bed or a Chair right now, or you aren’t feeling your best doesn’t mean you don’t get to make decisions in your own life.

It is a massively complicated situation to be in. The dynamics of a relationship totally change because you totally change. Many people navigate from Wellness to illness to Wellness again and come through it stronger. Many do not. No one is to blame for this. It’s no one’s fault.

There’s no way I’m going to manage to get through every step of this Journey in this post. So I’m going to outline for you where I am now. Namely Single. Very, very, single. I wa a serial monogamist for 9 years. This was one heck of an adjustment to make.

If I could go back and tell myself anything in relation to illness and relationships that would have helped the last few years be less of a walk a very Dark Place it would be the following:

  • Make sure you are with your partner for the right reasons. Staying with someone because you rely on them to help you physically and emotionally rather than because you love them is not a great place to start. At some point it will end and you will not have the buffer of them to protect you from the world, and this is terrifying even when you are well.
  • True self-esteem does not come from being physically well or able. You are lovable and worthy no matter what is happening to you physically. You deserve Love. It is your right. You can still give Love so why wouldn’t you be able to receive it. Real self-esteem knows no bodily condition. It comes from within.
  • You have not failed. You aren’t a burden. Give the people who truly love you a chance to do so.
  • It will get better-with or without your partner. I know it may be difficult to even see where Better is from where you are right now. But it will. It’s my promise to you.
  • This too shall pass.
Carrie x

Medical Disclaimer:

I’m not a doctor. The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. If you have specific needs, please see a professional health care provider. Thank you.

The Basics

The Basics

I used to be your average 25 year old. Then I was housebound for a few years. Then I was in a wheelchair. Then I got out of the wheelchair. Then the real work started.

I think that just about covers it….

If you’re reading this then perhaps you are at one of these stages yourself. I’m here to tell you now what I tell people every day. If I got through this you can too. I’m not a special case. There’s nothing extraordinary about me. I’m very average. I just wanted my average life back. But what I got was so much more. And I want that for you too.

I’ll be writing about different stages of this journey. The past experiences, the tips I picked up along the way to help me through. The stuff that worked for me but perhaps not for others. The things that worked for others but not for me. I want it all on here.

And it won’t just be my story. I hope others will contribute theirs. I hope things get very crowded around here. I’d love your company.

Carrie x

Medical Disclaimer:

 

I’m not a doctor. The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. If you have specific needs, please see a professional health care provider. Thank you.