Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Plague and Pestilence

Well not quite!
I have a good old winter sore throat and down in the doldrums yuckiness. You may remember that I wrote in the Autumn about being pleased to have a virus, (heavy cold, good sign or bad) knowing that I could rely on my immune system better to rid it from my body. So now I am astonished again. I have all the symptoms, not just a bit of a runny nose. The average adult in the UK gets 5-6 colds or other viruses every year so once every couple of months is about right. I'm doing OK especially considering the number of times I have left the house in the vicinity of coughing, hacking, children and shopping centres!

For the first time in a while I've experienced insomnia this weekend. It is a problem a lot of ME patients battle with constantly. Except when I was first ill, I never had this problem continually, only if, like now, something else came along to interrupt my sleep. I took steps every day as I knew it might become an issue again if I let it take hold. The steps included and early evening meal. I still eat at about 5.30pm with a small snack, an apple, or a fruit yoghurt for example between 8pm and 9pm. Then I encourage my body to relax with no real activity after 9 pm. I will watch TV after this time as my tolerance for this has changed in the last year. I used to be wary of what I was watching- it had to be relaxing or mildly relaxing, like a cookery show or TV comedy or period drama.
Finally helping me sleep would be an audio book or as is now, my husband reading to me. I can read myself to sleep now sometimes too.
The biggest thing I learnt years ago was to not let myself sleep during the day. I would allow myself two hours in the afternoon at the most and make sure I woke up by 5pm. I still do that now and it prevents me from not sleeping at night, as the total hours sleep during the day ends up being around 12-14 hours. The other option during the day is to choose a Yoga Nidra meditation (Yoga Nidra and Introduction to Yoga Nidra?) or self hypnosis as these can recharge the body as much as sleep. Taking the body into deep relaxation helps me recover much faster.
As it still feels that my bones are actually aching with this yuckiness, whatever it is, my wrists have had enough typing, so I'll leave it there. Hope you're feeling well!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Winter Yoga

Those of you who know me personally will realise how important yoga has been to my growth so far in the last year. I cannot emphasise enough how much it has helped me. My yoga has changed in the last four may remember I was doing a yoga class everyday, loving every minute. There was aching sometimes and also some days when I was wishing I hadn't. But the fundamental yoga practices are already locked in my brain. I find myself recognising them in my day-to-day life now, without thinking.
Breath is such an important point. I come back to my breath, notice it, meditate on it, so many times every day I would lose count if I tried to keep a tally. If I find myself tensing up or worrying, if my body is uncomfortable or in pain, I come back to my breath so automatically it is a great comfort. It gives me the consciousness to realise any discomfort and release the tension. That release is a cleansing of my body, mind and spirit.
Mountain pose, dancer, down-facing dog, cat, so many poses come into my life. I may not be attending a full class, but I just get down on the floor and release like that too.
Chinese medicine recognises winter as a time to slow down, to regenerate, to rest and heal. I was freaked out by what my body started doing in the Autumn as the nights started drawing in. I stopped doing a yoga class every morning, I was sleeping for an extra two hours most days and I was more tired during the day. Nothing but concern hit my mind "what is happening?", "am I going backwards?", "have all my efforts failed". I knew it wasn't SAD, Seasonal Affected Disorder, as I actually felt quite high in spirit, happy and content. But someone pointed out this phenomenon to me and it seemed so natural and true. By body might be more tired, working more slowly, but my mind is learning lessons every day, I feel stronger, more healthy inside than I have in a long time. My digestion, my lungs (I can actually walk outside in the cold, without stopping to catch my breath every few paces), my desire to socialise, to try and help in the home more; its all signs of improvement and I'm grateful for them.
A fantastic book I have, The Chocolate Cake Sutra, by Geri Larkin offers an autobiographical tale showing how the yogic lifestyle can become part of everyday life, no matter what worries or hurdles may come your way. I feel like a true yogi (or yogini!) knowing I can live this winter to the best of my ability and be happy in that. I breathe, move, live with my sutras. With breath, meditation, poses, gratefulness, trust, and belief. I am getting better and yoga has helped me find that path.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

New Year, New Me

This isnt so much a resolution blog post, just a gathering of thoughts. So don't expect any diets or revolutionary new treatments ( I refuse to have mud baths three times a week!!!- my sense of humour will keep me going though!)
2012 has been an amazing year for me. Just remembering the state of my body, the things I couldn't do this time last year is all I need to spur me on to achieve the similar bounds in 2013.
I would like to be able to walk every day if I choose to, or have to. I would like to walk and carry something at the same time. I struggle with the obligatory handbag I carry at the moment if I am in town. Most of the time I have it wedged under my armpit so I notice the weight least. When I go for a therapeutic walk I just have my keys and phone- I'm unlikely to do a weekly shop or need a paracetamol or teabag while I'm sitting watching the ducks by the river!
I also dream about managing some gardening on a larger scale, this year I put some potatoes in two pots, tided the patio a couple of times and you may remember I also cleared the landscaping bark from the gravel! The tasks in our garden have to be divided up, we have so many flowerbeds and so much grass and scrub. I know we are lucky and it was one of the reasons we chose this bungalow to be ours but I have a gardener's mind...once I get started there's very little stopping me and my ideas keep flowing. Maybe I will make this a goal for this year, to choose one gardening job at a time and manage it in small bursts. A friend of mine knows an ME patient who managed his recovery by building a shed. He promised himself he would go out and build on the days when he was able and work for 5 minutes or 2 hours, the days would dictate, not a strict timetable (not the way most bosses would prefer it, but I don't think my garden will complain that much!).
I also hope 2013 brings me the opportunity to visit my friends.The last time I did this was 2007 and it was a disaster. Sleeping on the sofa bed, travelling on the train, too much noise and activity, too many people in one house during the weekend for my body to cope with and I came home to have seizures during the next week. I have started this dream already. This week, for five days I am staying with a friend while her parents are on holiday. As she also has ME we are great company for each other. The understanding of "not today", and "can I have some peace and quiet for an hour?" is perfect. Over the next 12 months we have already agreed to repeat this experiment, as it has obviously worked and I will try and visit at least one other person too. It has been slightly gut-retching as it has been the first night my husband and I have slept in separate beds, in separate houses. Almost eight years of marriage and we have been inseparable! (I quite like it actually- having a whole double bed to myself!)

So 2013 involves walking, carrying, gardening and visiting... oh and playing the piano. I'm desperate to do that again, to play with full abandon; I used to play for hours at a time, just loving every moment. As with walking and gardening I probably need to let myself go occasionally, then draw in the stays most days and find some discipline! Happy New Year!