Treadmill Tales #1 and #2 

Two days down,  two days under my belt.

See yesterday’s post ‘Treadmill Tales: The Return’ for my plan of action. 

If you’re here for UBER stats you might be disappointed, I’m recovering from serious illness and have ongoing chronic conditions which mean I’ve got to start out really S-L-O-W-L-Y. 

Yesterday’s ‘five’ felt like it went on for longer than that (!) but I still felt the thrill of being on the treadmill and remembered how good it felt to run. I swallowed my frustration and walked as planned. I wasn’t paying huge attention but think my pace was 2.5 miles per hour.

I got on the treadmill just after 7 this evening, to my surprise really after a long, productive and active day. The ‘five’ flew by, I enjoyed it and felt I could’ve gone on for longer.my speed was 3.1 miles and I covered a wee quarter of a mile! 

Now I’ve had dinner and finally ‘flopped’ … all I want to do is sleep! 

Heart x 

Entering the ogre’s lair …

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling my GP an ogre, he’s surely a nice enough chap, but after the events of last year, going to see him again was about as scary as standing before a ravenous ogre with a particular taste for ‘Hearts’ about my size and shape.

The only available appointment was at 10am. Any appointment before 11 always presents additional challenges because my morning routine is lengthy due to the requirements of my Bile Acid Malabsorption and also issues around sedation, pain and mobility that are particularly problematic when I wake. I made it past those, and past anxiety around getting out for the first time in four months – too complex to detail.

‘Debriefing’ afterwards, my advocacy worker, who accompanied me, commented that there was marked difference in my GP’s response to my discussion of my mental health and of my physical health. He said nothing in response to the former. She said his expression could’ve said … well, what do you want me to do about it? By contrast, presented with physical symptoms he leapt into action, examined my abdomen, listened to my chest and took my blood pressure … twice. He ordered tests, including an E.C.G. and prescribed several medications, and appeared thorough.

Discussing a gastric issue, I described my symptoms and said that I’m aware that my weight gain may have caused them or at least be a contributing factor. He agreed, said that I was right and that it would help if I could do something about that. I didn’t pick him up on it, and perhaps I should have done. I did feel disappointed, if not a little angry, given that I have an eating disorder and that I asked for help – clearly and directly – so many times last year and yet I received none. I understand that he cannot ‘magic resources out of thin air’ where services have been reduced or cut, but I really would appreciate an acknowledgement both of much I am trying to help myself, and that I haven’t been offered any help or support. My weight and related issues will be being discussed when we next meet and I hope then to have the confidence to say that.

I’ve blogged and tweeted recently about my ‘flaring’ skin. A first episode occurred around five or six weeks ago when I woke to find my eyes puffy and my skin reddened and itchy. I suspected eczema but noted that the usual emollients gave me a burning sensation. It was annoying and didn’t look great but it wasn’t horrendous and it cleared up after a few days. A couple of weeks later I had another episode but this time the skin around my eyes was more swollen than puffy and I suspected an allergic reaction, but I couldn’t pinpoint what might have caused one. On Wednesday last week I woke again to a red face and swollen skin around my eyes. Like me, my GP suspected eczema or an allergy and he prescribed hydrocortisone cream.

In the hours after my appointment, my face became increasingly red and a little more swollen, by the evening it was burning which felt very unpleasant and was difficult to manage. The following day I awoke and gasped in shock when I looked in the mirror and saw that my whole face was swollen. I could barely open my right eye and the left was also affected. The areas where I’d felt the intense burning sensation – mostly around my mouth and under my eyes – now felt very tight and had become extremely dry. I was able to speak to my GP on the phone later that morning and he opted to additionally prescribe an anti-histamine and a specialist moisturising lotion. All of the new medications were delivered on Friday evening by the delightful ‘Pharmacy Bob’, who was concerned about me, with my bright red, ballooned visage. The swelling slowly reduced over the weekend and the redness decreased somewhat, then my face began to peel, everywhere but for the top half of my forehead and the sides of my face, and continues to do so. I have been liberally applying moisturiser and, thankfully, today when I had to go out to an appointment with one of the practice nurses, it looks better than it did.

I have some concerns about the cause of this skin issue related to my other diagnoses, but I’ll blog about that once I have the results of the tests that the GP has ordered.

I asked my GP if I might return to using my treadmill as I want to do, promising that I would not try to run before I could walk. I am MUCH heavier than I was when I took up running in 2014. I have no idea what I will be able to achieve this time around. Building up to being able to do a brisk walk will at least help me to lose weight, it may be that I will not be able to run until I’ve done so. I wondered if I might be advisable to wait until the tests have been carried out, but the GP said that he’s happy for me to start before that, so long as I’m careful.

 

Treadmill Tales: The Return

Tales from my treadmill were once a regular feature on this blog. I charted my journey from ‘last person on Earth to consider taking up running’ to the person who not only purchased REAL running shoes from a PROPER specialist store but also purchased and proudly displayed this sign.

I got to  the stage where I could not only run for a bus, I could run a mile on my treadmill and did so five or six days a week. I could also run up the stairs to my second floor flat when I moved in here a little under three years ago.

I have a treadmill (running machine) at home. I used to have an exercise bike but switched to a treadmill when I found my bike too uncomfortable to use after my Fibromyalgia diagnosis. Long time readers of my blog may remember my deciding that, in my early forties and having just left my marriage, I wanted to take up running … and teach myself to knit … as you do.

I’m not at all ‘sporty’. I love walking and used to do it semi seriously, walking in Snowdonia and the Lake District among other places, anywhere from three to 12 miles a time. With Fibromyalgia, exercise can be a difficult undertaking; pacing is vital and any activity must be built up slowly in small increments. If you remember my drive and Tigger instincts, you’ll know that this does not come naturally to me. I’m ambitious and I’m competitive too, especially with myself. I started off walking for a few minutes at a time built up through longer and faster walks to a slow jog and then a moderate jog, until finally I could moderately jog a slow-ish mile, and did so five or six times a week.

For much of the first half of this year I couldn’t walk up the stairs to my flat, let alone run up them. With an eating disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression and severe isolation and loneliness having led to serious weight gain and a complete loss of fitness and stamina, I now face an uphill climb. It is daunting. I am being very positive and very Tigger about it, but this blog is the place where I can tell it like it is and I need to acknowledge that I am concerned in spite of my enthusiasm and determination. I know what it took to lose five stones (a hangover from my first ‘run in’ with Binge Eating Disorder), and I had some support then. Now it’s just me and I am much less well physically now than I was then.

So anyway, here’s the plan – starting today:

  • Walking at a gentle pace for FIVE MINUTES each day for the next FIVE DAYS
  • Day off
  • Walking at a gentle pace for FIVE MINUTES for ONE DAY
  • Walking at a gentle pace for SIX MINUTES for ONE DAY
  • Walking at a gentle pace for SEVEN MINUTES for ONE DAY
  • and so on … increasing by one minute each day
  • Take a day off every SIXTH day
  • and after reaching 10 minutes, continuing to increase the time spent walking by a minute each day but also beginning to increase the pace, slowly, each day thereafter.

This is undoubtedly a slower approach that I would like. I’d love to leap in and although beginning with walking would love to start pushing myself harder, and quickly. I don’t much like making concessions to my chronic illnesses but although driven, I’m not daft … at least not now after more than a decade spent battling the blessed things. I may adjust the above plan, as I go, but I promise to only ever do it sensibly 🙂 .

I’ll make a brief daily treadmill progress report post because I find that accountability helps to keep me motivated and also because a fellow blogger and I are both getting back to using our treadmills and hope to encourage each other. (Hello ‘manyofus’!)

Thanks for reading – as ever comments welcome.

Heart x

 

 

 

 

Peace and Loneliness

I’ve been seeking peace of mind for some thirteen years, since my abuse came to light and I finally broke.  I hoped to find it with my husband, but the marriage brought more fear and sadness. There was also laughter, sharing and wonderful cuddles ( I shall miss those) but the shadow of that fear and sadness loomed large above two people who in order to be themselves could not be together.

Peace of mind to me means living free from threat and fear; it’s a sense of safety, security and wellbeing.

I’ve yet to find that but in the new life I’ve made in the three years I’ve spent living in my adopted city home, I have experienced happiness, joy and contentment. Above all I’ve found me and quite frankly that’s really something to shout about. The freedom, the contentment that feeling comfortable within yourself can bring is immeasurably marvellous; it makes my heart sing.

I have always been able to picture the real me or my true self, my authentic self, if you prefer. The abuse I experienced could not obliterate that image but it did severely compromise my ability to be me.

In the last two years I’ve lost a lot of weight –  much of that piled on some years ago in the aftermath of my initial breakdown – and it’s meant shedding a physical and psychological burden. I was trapped inside somewhere, by losing weight I’m breaking out. I no longer cringe when I catch sight of myself, in fact I often beam! Photographs are still difficult because of issues with my teeth – which I hope to soon address – and my ongoing alopecia. My hair loss is permanent, I am teaching myself to just ‘rock it’! At last I have the confidence to wear clothes that I love and finally begin to develop the sense of style I could always picture. Shapeless cover-ups are long gone. I’m experimenting with make-up – not to hide but to enhance and most of all for FUN. Last week, for the first time, I had my eyebrows waxed and I loved it! I did it because I wanted to do it; I felt pampered. I grew up being schooled to ignore my own needs and to believe that self-care was a bad thing – self indulgent, selfish, an unnecessary frivolity.

It took a lot of hard work to recover from an anxiety disorder and agoraphobia and until very recently I still found it difficult to go into small shops. I live in an area with a fabulous old fashioned style high street filled with independent shops – an artisan bakery, a greengrocer, a cheesemonger, a health food store among them. I was too fearful to enter them because their small nature, their intimacy, felt too exposing and left me with nowhere to hide. I felt I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t worthy of being there. NOT ANYMORE!! I stride out with a funky basket on my arm (bought some years ago and saved for just such a moment that I was determined would come) and away I go. Now in my forties, I’m beginning to live.

 ****

Yesterday was difficult. I felt acutely lonely. Those feelings began on Friday evening and I felt bad about being so affected on a day when I’d had a considerable amount of meaningful contact. I rarely get so much and usually would ensure it sustained me for days.

There was an appointment at the GP surgery with a nurse with whom I have connected. During my mammoth weight loss programme she offered, unprompted, to accompany me to a local pool to fulfill a dream to swim again after a gap of many years; to ‘hold my hand’. Her compassion and willingness to engage quite took my breath away. My burgeoning self confidence received a bonus boost. I haven’t yet taken her up on the offer, although I did buy a swimming costume last year, but I hope to do so later this year. I still have a lot to do and limited spoons with which to do it and have had to accept that I can’t do everything at once. She was pleased to see me yesterday and recognised me although we have only met twice, the last time some months ago. It’s a simple thing but being recognised, feeling a connection, means so much. I’d lived so very long in isolation having lost all links due to illness and the abuse. I have no family, having had to cut myself off from what was left of it because I was being abused. Friends had distanced themselves then disappeared, some outraged that I’d had a ‘breakdown’ believing mental illness to be not an illness but a weakness or character flaw. Others were suspicious, appearing to think I had ‘gone a bit weird’ claiming abuse that couldn’t possibly be, so dazzled were they by the polished veneer expertly laid over our family to hide the soiled lives beneath. For years it blinded me too. Perhaps others just didn’t know how to deal with me. I distanced myself from the few who remained fearing further rejection or ridicule.

Back to Friday and I arrived at a lunch date with a friend, buoyed by my encounter with lovely nurse and it too was lovely – another connection and growing friendship. Our conversation was lively and varied. Talking about my situation and the realities of Operation Fight Back (my endeavour to recover from a recent set back and continue my lengthy ‘rebuilding programme’, in the wake of my marriage ending three months ago) was, is, helpful. Without an outlet, pressure builds to dangerous levels. However, talking and sharing as oppose to silently getting on with it, brought my isolation into sharp focus. My friend talked about being ‘adopted’ by older friends following the deaths of her parents. I’ve long dreamed of that happening to me – that may sound a bit drippy! I’ve had little experience of relationships with a parent figure that wasn’t toxic. I feel the absence of healthy versions of those relationships. I don’t have someone to look up to, to turn to, to seek advice from, or feel loves, cherishes, knows and accepts me. That’s how it is, I live with it, I seek to keep developing myself and my life … then who knows what might happen? Still, sometimes that loss, that absence, that pain, punches me on the nose … really hard. Watching Sport Relief  that evening I was undone. It featured a report about a 92 year old gentleman’s sense of loneliness following the loss of his much beloved wife to Alzheimer’s Disease. I felt for him so much but when the television  presenter spoke of the terrible problem of loneliness among the elderly, I wanted to shout at the telly you don’t have to be elderly to experience terrible loneliness. 

I ran yesterday (stats at the end of this post) morning but that and the bare basics were all I could manage. I felt low and I was hurting. Texts from two friends later in the day offered welcome respite. I hung on and today dawned more brightly.  The *?!*?’* is back in its box.

Treadmill stats for Saturday:

12mins 20 – all run = 0.73 distance and 67.1 cals

Operation Fight Back: Day 18 – Part Two and Day 19

The last couple of days have been … well … momentous is probably the word for it! There are several reasons for that, here’s more about two of them.

Yesterday I had my first job interview in a loooong time … and I survived 🙂 . It’s a post in mental health, just four days a month or thereabouts and an opportunity that I will grab with both hands if I’m offered it. My fingers are crossed.

Today I had my second appointment, in as many weeks, with my new GP (she is actually about to go on maternity leave so another change is on the cards). It was possibly the most satisfying – that’s perhaps not quite the word for it but I’m struggling to find another just now – appointment I’ve ever had. I’ve had chronic physical health problems for 15 years now. I’ve received diagnoses along the way but they have mostly either been vague or just plain inaccurate. Still problems remained, much was unexplained, and the impact on my quality of life was profound. I am an admirer of Christine Miserandino Donato author of the rather magnificent Spoon Theory . It’s an engaging read and explains well the realities of living with chronic illnesses like Christine’s and my own.

In the last three years despite being told that my suspected conditions are not progressive, I have gone on to develop many more symptoms including hair loss, further pain, dizziness, vertigo (having the sensation of motion although I am still) and skin problems. I have long thought it possible that I have an underlying autoimmune disorder. GP today agreed, ordered a battery of tests and referred me for an appointment with a specialist. I was quite honestly flabbergasted … I didn’t even have to beg!

I am not delighted to have to undergo tests and attend further appointments; I don’t want to be ill. The fact remains that I am experiencing illness which severely compromises my quality of life. I hope that at last real answers are on the horizon and I’ll no longer be left to live with it without knowing what is happening to me or having any idea of the prognosis. It’s also nigh on impossible to get any kind of financial support without concrete diagnosis (even then it’s far from easy).

It’s well documented (here’s an example) how physical health can be overlooked or sidelined in people who are experiencing mental illness. Indeed, during the worst of my major depression I lost count how many times I heard ‘oh that’ll be down to your depression/anxiety’; after recounting symptoms. Those symptoms were actually due to bile acid malabsorption, not related to depression or anxiety, and it was reading this article back in 2010 that finally ended a decade of crippling symptoms that had left me barely able to leave my home.

***

Yesterday’s treadmill stats: (no run today due to very early start for appointment at surgery. I actually felt a bit bereft at not being able to run; that’s not something I ever thought you’d hear me say!)
13mins 19 = a run of 11mins 19 (my longest yet) – 0.78 distance (furthest yet) and 70.9cals (highest yet)