Saturday, February 25, 2017

'An empty desk'

 Just something I was thinking about lately...

~ Einstein ~
From Google Images

From Google Images

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

#TBT Happy Memories

A happy memory, something nice to write about. Something that brought genuine smiles to my face the other day. So I figured that definitely deserved a blog post. πŸ˜€

I have a lot going on again, health-wise - with my utterly f*kced -up shoulder; a worsening Lyme relapse; add a pinch of stress, a shake of trauma; mix together in the year from hell (not exaggerating) and simmer indefinitely at boiling point, and I feel that adequately describes my life right now - as briefly as possible. That's all for another day. 

I'm painting a picture of just how delighted I was to have something truly make me smile.  It's a stark contrast right now, and it was an important reminder that remembering the good stuff is truly important.

I do feel like I'm battling through each day, rarely emerging on top, and the longer that goes on, the more difficult it becomes to find positives.  Honestly, it's beyond frustrating - there is nothing I wouldn't do or try, right now, to make things better... and I have; I have tried everything you can imagine, and more. And worse than frustrating, is the soul-crushing feeling of admitting  (even to myself) this 'new thing'/ 'new person' / 'new whatever' - that initially held such optimistic promise and gave me a glimmer of hope, is not 'The Thing' I am looking for.  It's like treading water - kicking so hard all the time, but never actually getting anywhere.  Right now, the challenge is to keep kicking; to keep my chin above water long enough to  survive. And hopefully I can take control again soon and get back to seeing my wonderful doctors & physios in the US, who helped me make great progress before - I am sure I can work hard and make it happen again - and most importantly, get on with my life.

But, appreciating the small things just now;  I woke up a few days ago and my ex-gymnastics partner had posted a #tbt on social media that really made me smile....

Colette on base, me in the middle, Amy (always!) on top
Colette kicked it off by writing: #tbt to holding two humans up with my own two legs....

So, of course, i dug out out one of my own photos to post too.... and captioned it 'to when I could hold up two humans too... on my shoulders' - which probably won't be happening again. Definitely not any time soon. Although one day..... who knows?!  

Me on base, Colette in the middle & Amy on top.

It's a long time since I really really looked at those photos and took the time to think about what we did; how much I loved it. Comments on social media reminded me how funny I always found it when non-gymnasts learned what I did. It was just something I grew up with - it was normal,  in my world. I remember once, in training, the balance in the second photo came tumbling down and the full weight of a 10 year old landed on my head (think: approximately 1.5 times the weight of a checked bag for an international flight)... while I was in splits. There was the usual call to my parents - I'm ok, but please pick me up from A&E instead of the gym tonight - a soft neck collar from my physio for some damaged muscles/ tendons/bruised bones; and probably a couple of days off uni. None of that was a huge deal - you really couldn't learn new things without the odd fall.  But the thing I remember most about that was going into uni with a neck collar on ('normal' people react to those things way more than gymnasts - lesson 1); someone asked what happened, so I very briefly explained. The girl who asked stared back at me... "You can do the splits?!" she replied, sort of incredulously.  I remember staring back, feeling like I'd been dropped in an alternate universe. At the time, we were the only trio in Britain competing that base position with no hands (- my hands are not on the floor); all I could think was I can do the splits..... that's what you got from that?!... practically everyone I know can do the splits. .. But, of course I sort of smiled and nodded, and had umpteen similar conversations through that first year of university!

Growing up, friends knew me as a gymnast, it was so much a part of my identity. When I started uni, and conversations like that happened; I had to realise my little world was a little different sometimes. ( But doing the splits in a bar always ended with free drinks! πŸ‘πŸΈπŸ˜†)

 So I guess it was nice to slip into that world again, through those photos. It's so easy just to close my eyes and imagine I'm still there. 

 My old gym partner and I had a conversation about it, reflecting on that time and thinking about how in sync we were ALL the time - how we all took it for granted, but it really is quite incredible when you really think about it.... and there was always such a natural feeling to it - we didn't have to work hard at being in sync (we had to work damn hard at everything else!!); we were just in tune with each other. I think with all those years to reflect, it is a pretty amazing thing! (But really, being able to do the splits  STILL impresses people more! πŸ˜‚.... trying to maintain my core strength & leg strength is important... therefore exercise = stretching. I could do splits with a sling* on my arm! *Not the crazy, giant post-surgical one.... I could hardly move anything at that point - couldn't even put on socks! However, arm supported & I can (sort of*) still do the splits now! πŸ‘πŸ’ͺ*'sort of' - as in: if you're a gymnast, my hips are twisted, my back knee is twisted and I'm really not sitting up straight, or comfortably; if you're not a gymnast, I can totally still do the splits! πŸ˜‰ ) 

We trained together ALL the time, but we just loved it. We both talked about how much looking at the old photos really made us smile. They are absolutely fantastic memories to have - and to share.

 We worked together so many hours every week, completely trusting each other - really with our lives (the risk of serious injury is high!! See the photos?! ⬆ - and, like I said, they did come tumbling down occasionally! Everyone's  did!!), but in among all that, I don't have a single memory of fighting, or falling out - we just loved what we did.

Given my blog is generally medical, and this x-ray might be the coolest thing ever, this seems a good place for it! (From Pinterest)

Most of this blog documents my 'journey' 'out of the Lyme light'  -  (and in, out, in, out, slip downstairs, have surgeries, somersault in my car... turn it all about....)  that wasn't exactly my intention - obviously!  - my intention was to spread awareness of Lyme in the UK (again, uodates there require a whole load of other posts....); but it unintentionally became my personal blog as well as an awareness blog - about way more than Lyme Disease. It is very much about what's going on in my life right now... and I can't wait until I have something more exciting and interesting (in a GOOD way!) to write about. 

But for right now, in this moment, it's nice to have something else to think about and write about; and to remember what was genuinely one of the happiest moments in my life - I loved competing. We loved competing. I do feel lucky that I can look back on these photos and conjure up so many happy memories - they spark so many gymnastics-related memories, and they all make me smile. 

Not 25 years yet (!) But I'm sure we'll still feel the same in that far, far distant future :-)

And it DEFINITELY came into play, I guess...

Along with this - yes, gymnastics 100% taught me ALL of these things; it's also a good reminder that these are most definitely transferable skills.

And when my dad complains I am being stubborn (I get it from both sides, it really shouldn't surprise him), I tell him that's how I've SURVIVED!!

And honestly, now I really don't know if I'll ever be able to handstand again or not... I'm pretty sure I won't ever stop hoping & then hopefully trying - at some point, because being upside down always feels best! However, I definitely want one of these tops... because: once a gymnast, always a gymnast!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Pain relief arsenal...

So far, I feel this year can be summed up by the fact that this photo is pretty much my current "what would you take to a desert island?" answer.  

Pain relief arsenal.
It's not magic, but it currently makes pain barely tolerable & it (accidentally!) matches...

I had a few violent 'pain attacks' lately and - sticking with my personal resolution to be more honest - I really feel pain is winning right now. So, here are the weapons in my pain arsenal - most of them go everywhere I go right now.  Find your pain, pick your poison. I present....

My Pain Arsenal:

  1. Tablet organiser case (guess I'm missing the hot pink version!) with a mini 8-compartment tub in it for sorting daily pain meds (no Lyme meds or supplements - this is just the pain box :-/ ). Right now I have 40-50 tablets I take every day in that - types of painkillers; multiple muscle relaxants & anti-spasmodic meds; a couple of different anti-nauseas (I respond to severe pain with nausea..... sometimes I throw up. And that hurts like hell. So I have some serious anti-emetics in there); plus some 'extra-just-in-case' tablets for when Really Bad Things happen (I'll write a 'Really Bad Things' post... maybe a few... little snapshots of my whole 'honesty and pain' thing.... that will be something happy and cheerful to look forward to...)

    N.B. *
    I really should put emojis on my laptop!* Is it really bad I miss them when I type on here?! ( *facepalm*... *ha ha*... ;-) ...)

          From the photo: going anti-clockwise here...

  2. Radian B, my favourite version of deep heat/ icy-hot/ ralgex/ etc. because it also has the perfect amount of capsaicin in it: 0.01%. More than this will make you forget your pain entirely, because you feel like your body is covered in FIRE; 0.01% is just enough to beat all the other heat rubs out there. It puts heat into the muscles; also helps with pain by slightly scrambling the nerve signals sent to the brain. I really love the smell of muscle rubs.... they smell like my Dad used to smell when he came home from work when I was very young (when he'd see a physio after a game); they also smell like gymnastics - the scent of my childhood: muscle rubs for sports injuries!

  3. TENS unit: 'transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation' (sounds like another torture device, right?!) Actually, at certain times, this thing really is like magic. There are some pains that it doesn't do great with - specific nerve pains can feel like they are just buzzing more; but for some otherwise-untouchable pain, the TENS unit works wonders. It sends little electrical impulses between the electrode pads that can be stuck on the skin, carefully positioned to target specific pain areas. It has different settings- buzzing, tapping, contracting, cycling through them (my 'surprise setting') - and can be set at different levels of intensity. Essentially it 'scrambles' the sensations sensory nerves send back to the brain, scrambling the pain signals by confusing' them with other sensations.

  4. Pink spiky physio ball of torture (not a dog toy). Rub painfully between your aching shoulder blade and a wall to improve circulation, blood flow, break up scar tissue, etc. For more 'fun', have someone else (who can actually reach your back better anyway) rub it to 'desensitise' high pain areas and super sensitive skin, and to break up tightness in muscles.  Generally - roll it anywhere it hurts to improve blood flow and use it to torture yourself in the hope i does some good!

  5. Pink spiky foam roller - this was deceptively packaged........ it is not in the slightest bit 'squishy' - I thought the bumps would be good for clicking the subluxating ribs back into my spine - and it is good for that. But bloody hell, a regular foam roller doesn't hurt! However, it's good for the crazy popping ribs, the assisted movement exercises & adds some unplanned desensitisation stuff just by lying on it!  Which, with increasing pain, I have to admit is a good thing - although sort of in the way broccoli is a good thing when you're 8 - you really don't like it, but 1. it's good for you, and 2. dessert's only an option if you eat it!

    Pain relief arsenal.
    It's not magic, but it currently makes pain barely tolerable & it (accidentally!) matches...

  6. Prescription pain cream - a wonderful combo of topical local anaesthetic, muscle relaxant and anti-spasmodic medication.  Made better by mixing with Radian B (& missing from the photo is a genius find - a very soft-bristled, long-handled back brush that I can use to apply the creams and rub them in thoroughly - if the pain cream is properly rubbed in, it's supposed to penetrate up to 5mm into/ below the skin & be absorbed better.  It's pretty hard to do that, so if you're reading this and use a pain cream, a soft bristled brush may be your favourite new thing for a while!

  7.  ICE pack -  they are all resting on top of a giant ICE pack here, wrapped in the grey pillowcase. A perfect metaphor -  ICE is absolutely the foundation of it all.... still!  Sometimes ICE is absolutely still my favourite thing!  There was a time ICE brought; the only respite from the pain; and I do miss that damn ICE  machine, mainly because it's hard to ICE a shoulder - it's a funny, awkward shape and that shoulder pack hit all the right spots perfectly!  ICE  sometimes really is still the best pain relief, especially when my shoulder is irritated and inflamed and and numbing/ reducing swelling is the BEST thing that works - especially with frequently random irritation and swelling which can be pretty horrid if it presses on nerves (um, or more accurately just goes from its normal gentle press to a full blown, limb-numbing nerve squeeze).

  8. Hot water bottles (not pictured; but I have 3) - I'm probably holding one against my ribs in attempt to keep the muscles relaxed enough to breathe properly (because that's always good!)...... my right rib cage no longer expands properly, making breathing difficult at times. I think it should improve, but stretching right now causes further spasming; my attempts are pretty pathetic - I need the passive stretching from hands-on physiotherapy while my muscles can 'relax'.

    *I think the tight rib muscles got a lot worse after my car accident.... which I'm not sure I've mentioned on here....?  I guess that's another one to add to my list of 'Update how UNBELIEVABLE my last 18 months have been'.
    And I mean unbelievable in the sense that I am quite sure if I just sat down and rattled off everything that has happened to me in the past 18 months (/ 26 months / 6 and a half years / twelve years - really, take your pick! ) to someone who does not know me/ has never met me before, they 100% would NOT believe me.

Pinterest even had a perfect graph to represent exactly how every day feels
- and it matches too!
Seriously though, it really does get beyond frustrating.
So many things I wish I could do that just don't happen just now.