Insomnia: We are NOT friends!

Simply put, Insomnia sucks!

That statement alone could be all I write here and this post would be complete. But I feel like talking about it a bit so here goes.

For me I either have Insomnia or a I sleep non stop. I’ve had a few stints where I slept normally and it was lovely. Right now its 5am and I have been awake since 3am so really the 3 hours of sleep I’ve had is a good night for me. My longest period of no sleep was 6 days. I was a mess at the end of it. After 3 days it starts to mess with your head a bit and by 6 you feel insanity creep in and your a walking zombie.

I have read all the literature on how to get to sleep and create a sleep positive environment and for me it doesn’t work. Simply by laying there trying to sleep, I will not fall asleep. I get frustrated too easily and it just keeps me awake longer and longer. It just doesn’t work for me, because damn Insomnia keeps getting in the way. I have found that if I am going to sleep then my best chance is to distract my self and the insomnia until I get drowsy and drop off to sleep. To do this I might read a book or on my phone. Watching a movie or Netflix is great as well. These are my go to distractions because I can just drop off when I need to without my brain/insomnia realising what’s happening because its too busy relaxing to a few episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. (One of the best show’s ever!) I have to say that even writing this is relaxing me enough to make me drowsy and I mean that in a good way. I may get a little nap in before getting up. But I better stop talking about it in case good ole insomnia realises what’s going on.

I do worry about what this lack of sleep is doing to me long term. I always see articles about what lack of sleep can do to your health and I worry it gets in the road of the long life I had planned. Even now I am noticing the effect it has son the way I look. I have permanent darkness under my eyes and I am finding that I need heavier makeup to hide it when I don’t want to look haggard. I am even finding a few grey hairs creeping in and I put it down to being worn out. So it this is happening on the outside then I worry about the inside. Perhaps this is something I need to work on improving.

Anyway, Mini rant over. In short I wish that insomnia would take its self off somewhere else and I might try for a little more sleep.

Sleep well people. 🙂 Thanks for reading.

 

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Summer Survival: CRPS & The Heat. 2019!

Oh lordy, it was hot this summer. So hot that here in Adelaide records were broken. We had a day that was 48.6C (115.9F) freakin degrees. That day was so extreme that it made all following 40C (104F) days seem not so scary. It was Adelaide and any Australian capital cities hottest day recorded. Port Augusta, 300km to the west even hit 49.5C (121.8F). In short, it was crazy hot this summer. So add to that having CRPS to deal with in the heat of this summer, it wasn’t a great one for me.  My house is well insulated and was cool most days, but we did have a few nights where I moved outside and slept on a blow up mattress with my cat and my housemates bunnies so we could all cool down.

Besides the usual CRPS shittiness, anytime the heat gets near 40C my body shuts down and I am basically a vegetable until I can cool down and function again. Also, towards the end of summer and the lead up to my recent round of Ketamine infusions, I spent most of my time sleeping through some shocking fatigue. Just an hour or two of being out of bed and doing something gentle was enough to knock me out for a day and a half to recover. Its such a crappy feeling when you literally sleep through life in general and its suddenly a month later. But lucky it was only a month and I still got to enjoy the rest of summer… Of course though, my month of fatigue just had to coincided with the Adelaide fringe… FML! I did make it in on the very last nigh to celebrate my birthday and I was pumped (ketamine the day before helped) and then bummed because it was over for another year. But one night is better than none.

So here are some of the ways that I coped with summer this year.

1, A FAN. When I was awake, I spent a lot of time on my bed with a fan on me, which isn’t ideal for CRPS and my skin sensitivity. But as long as I could either cover any problem areas like my feet with  a sheet, or point the fan towards the wall near my bed to create air movement without the direct hit, then it was cool… well cooler anyway. lol.

2, A POOL. After talking about it, I was kindly girted a 10ft pool by my amazing landlord after I let people from their bank come in to value the house without warning. I was so grateful for this. On hot days I would go out and sit in the pool to cool down and read. I also put a bag of Magnesium bath salts into the water so I would get some added absorption goodness as well. I’ve talked about the benefits of magnesium a lot on this blog, so have a look here if you haven’t seen it. The cool thing about this pool is it was only $50. It comes with a filter to keep it clean as well. Really any type of pool works if you can handle it. Even a bath or cool shower works. The main thing is to stay cool. In the end, this pool was the best $50 I didn’t have to spend. The water bill on the other hand…

A badly photo shopped picture of the type of pool I have.

3, NETFLX. After not being interested in getting Netflix despite my housemates insistence that I get it because its the best, blah blah blah…. I went in halves with an account with my sister. I’m so glad I did because I was running out of things to watch and I did expect to spend so much time stuck in bed this summer. So even though its not keeping me cool, it’s keeping me from going insane.

4, COLD WATER. If your like me with your CRPS, holding a hot bowl of food or a mug of coffee, you over heat from touching the hot surface. Its so annoying. Well for me, its the same effect with cold water to cool me down. So there are two things I have done this summer that have really helped. I keep chilled water in my fridge and fill my water bottle up with it so I can use it to cool my body down, just by holding it. The other is having a wet face washer or hand towel. by hanging it around my neck or wiping it over my skin, I can use it to keep me cool. I did this on the really hot days and it did help a lot. Its great if you put it in the freezer for a few minutes to get a bit of extra cool happening.

5, PLACES WITH AIR CON. Leaving the house on a hot day really isn’t ideal. But if you have to then do it right. Places like shopping centres, cinemas and museums are always cool options on a hot day. So why not turn a potential crappy day into a good one where you can have an adventure as well. I did this a bit during summer on the rare good days. Mostly it was going to shopping centres and then hanging out as long as I could. I went to the cinema a few times as well. The supermarket over the road from me is always so cool, it actually shocks my body and can be a bit too much for my nerves to cope with. Getting to places was an issue for me as well. I don’t have a car and often walk as much as I can. I do use public transport but its not free so if I have the time and ability, I normally walk to add in some exercise. But, in the heat its worth the cost of a trip to have the air con as well.  If I plan the trip for between 9am and 3pm then the ticket is only 90c for me. I can catch the bus across the road from me, and go to Semaphore for the afternoon. Its a longish trip but the cinema is really cheap ($9) and cool. Plus if I want I can wander the shops, get an ice cream and put my feet in the ocean. Great for days when your able to be adventurous. The dangerous part is the plant shop I walk past (as if I don’t go in. lol.) on my way to the train. Its my favourite plant place in Adelaide. 🙂 Plus they have Parrots, chickens, and an Alpaca hanging out there. Awesome!

So here is how I got through this hot hot summer. It wasn’t pretty, but I survived!

How do you get through the hot days?

 

 

 

ILLNESS IN FILM: The Punk Singer

Lying awake, It’s currently 4.15am and I’m stuffing about on YouTube. I just remembered a film I saw a while back during a shitty day where I was stuck watching TV to distract myself from my pain and generally feeling like crap. At first the awesome music draws me in, but then the film takes a turn that really connects with me.

The Punk Singer is a film about Kathleen Hanna, a singer from bands such as Bikini Kill and Le Tigre.  Not only is she a great musician, but also a pioneer of the feminist punk Riot Grrrl movement. (1) She also suffers from Lyme disease that triggered by bacteria spread by tick bite.

Lyme disease manifests as a multi-systemic illness that can result in symptoms affecting random parts of the body including the muscles, joints, organs, brain, gastro-intestinal and neurological systems. (2)

Kathleen’s struggle with chronic illness is honestly documented in the later part of this film. For me, it really represented a true depiction of what I feel living with chronic illness in general. Unlike the Lady Gaga film, that probably unfairly left a lot of people feeling kinda betrayed by the way her Fibromyalgia was shown. This film is honest and raw. There is no glossing over how shitty she feels and the lengths she goes to, to find treatment. It’s brave and real and that’s why I thought I would share it on this site.

Also the music is awesome and has some great musicians in it. Unfortunately I can’t get the whole film so here is the trailer…

Here is a clip from the film that focuses on Kathleen dealing with her condition. The sound is really low but beggars cant be choosers and all that…

I hope you are able to find this film in its entirety. Its a great film and I hope you enjoy it.

I hope you are feeling well, pain free and all that. xx

 

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_Hanna seen 24/08/18

(2), http://www.lymedisease.org.au/about-lyme-disease-2/ seen 24/08/18

CRPS SOUNDTRACK: Hurt

HURT

by Nine Inch Nails and also covered amazingly haunting by Johnny Cash

Ive always known the original Nine Inch Nails (NIN) original of this song and never really paid the lyrics much attention. Now looking at it from the point of view of a person with Chronic pain, I see this song in a whole new light. There are two main thoughts of what this song is about. One is that it is about recovering from Drug addiction and the other is conceptual and about the character of the songs Album, The Downward Spiral, who has attempted suicide and is contemplating his lack of legacy.

It wasn’t until the Johnny cash version came out just before his death that I really fell in love with this song in a big way. Cash’s version is so haunting and full of pain. It has the power to bring you to tears and make your heart ache. NIN front man, Trent Reznor has said of Mr Cash’s version of his song “I pop the video in, and wow… Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps… Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore… ” This version is often thought of as a Cash Original. In fact I for a long time did not realise it was the same song. Its. Just. That. Damn. Good!

[Verse 1]
I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

[Chorus]
What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

[Verse 2]
I wear this crown of shit
Upon my liar’s chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stain of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here

[Chorus]
What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

[Outro]
If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way…

I hope you are feeling pain free today. Thanks.

Resources:

https://genius.com/Nine-inch-nails-hurt-lyrics: Seen 22/12/2017

ADELAIDE CRPS EVENT: My Speech.

If you read my last post, you will know that I, along side 3 other CRPS sufferers, gave a talk on our experiences living with the condition, during Adelaide’s first Colour The World Orange event on Nov 6, 2017. It was a great event ad by doing this we were able to give the Drs, Researchers and students some insight into living with CPRS.

I decided to participate partly because I felt I needed a challenge because part of having this condition is that it has chipped away at my self-esteem and I felt I needed to push myself somehow to gain some back. I agreed without allowing myself to think about the fact that I would be standing in front of people who knew a lot more about the condition than I do. Add to that my speech became a big issue in the week leading up to the event. Damn you CRPS!!!!!!!

In the end I was so glad I was there and gave my speech. I started out so nervous that I stumbled through the first paragraph and then after that I was fine. After I felt I could do anything, but really what I wanted to do was do it over so I could do a better job of it. lol.

So here is my speech..

Hello, My name is Sarah and I have suffered from CRPS for around 5 years. My CRPS was triggered by a burn incident that left me with second degree burns to my left arm, hand, shoulder and the left side of my face. I was at my parent’s place where my Dad had a fire burning for doing a pre-summer clean up. I didn’t realise that a can of spray paint had accidentally been put into a box of documents that I had the bright idea of throwing onto a fire to get rid of. Unfortunately the care I received at our local Hospital was far from adequate and It was four days before I was sent to the burn unit at the old RAH and by then infection had set in and I was in a bad way.

Despite signs that something was wrong,  it was 4 months before my first pain flare, Suddenly my left hand and arm were swollen, stiffening and loosing movement. I had electric like pain shooting up my arm and down my fingers, as well as a crushing pain in my joints and bones. It was during this time that I started researching online and discovered CRPS as a rare complication of burns. I was diagnosed with CRPS the day before my 30th B’day after I took my findings to my GP.

After my diagnosis the condition took off quickly and within 5 months it had spread into both my legs, and soon after to most of my body from the neck down. My list of other symptoms is pretty long ranging and changes from day to day. These include insomnia, fatigue, forgetfulness, and speech, vision, hearing and motor issues.

Finding other sufferers online and in person locally here in South Australia has also helped me with support and advice that has been invaluable. Alone this is a very isolating condition. Through joining Facebook groups for CRPS, I was able to meet other sufferers in person here in Adelaide and we now have our own group with over 50 statewide sufferers. That’s CRPS South Australia if anyone is interested.

Another turning point was coming under the care of the Royal Adelaide’s Pain Unit. At that point, I was losing strength in my legs, my flares left me bed ridden and I was a general mess. At the pain unit, I soon started having Ketamine infusions for 3 days every 3 months and although the first time the relief was delayed and short lasting, it did quieten down my other symptoms. A friend with CRPS had advised me that it might be this way and to not feel disheartened if change wasn’t immediate. By my third round was having lasting effects and slowly with each infusion I have gotten more control over my condition. Aside from Ketamine, I treat my condition with Lyrica and Tramadol on a daily basis.  

I have also found that gentle daily exercise helps keep my pain and symptoms in check. I walk, use a stationary bike and do a mix of small weights, yoga and Pilates. This year I also started riding a bike, something I previously couldn’t do.

I am also a big fan of adding Magnesium to my bath about once a week. I find it relaxes my muscles and helps calms my pain to a level I can deal with, especially when I have over exerted myself.

There are things that I have found hard about having this condition. Initially it was hard explaining my situation and seeing the look of doubt or confusion in people I care about, Sadly I also found myself with only a few friends left.

Now after 5 years of CRPS, for me the fatigue that comes with my CRPS is the most debilitating part. I am now working a few hours a week, and to do that I need to plan my week around the rest I need before and after each work day.

Health wise, I have been diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes, an underactive thyroid and high cholesterol since my crps diagnosis.

Mentally the condition has been a struggle with periods of anxiety and depression, I have mourned over the life I have lost and struggled with losing my independence. For a long time I wondered if there was point to life with this horrible condition, especially if it stopped me from living a meaningful life. But in a lot of ways I have also been very lucky.  

Despite the negatives of having this condition, there are positives. Including the fact that I have responded so well to the treatments I have tried, the friendships I have made through this condition and the progress I have made in the past 5 years.

I have benefited from a positive living environment at my parents’ house, in the country where It is quiet; I have my cat and my dog for company and my two horses who get me out of the house each day. I have a veggie garden to potter about in on good days. Plus I am close to the beach.

Having a positive attitude is also essential for getting through this condition

I try to treat the 3 days of my Ketamine infusions as a little holiday from my CRPS where I can rest and catch up on my sleep, as well as being looked after by the wonderful staff at the pain unit. I have also had the opportunity to speak to student doctors touring the ward about my CRPS

Having a team of Doctors, specialists and practitioners who support me is essential to my care and initially that wasn’t easy. I now drive 100km to a GP because I wasn’t the help I needed in my home town because they did not understand the condition. That is why I feel events like tonight are so important.

Thank you all for listening to my story and for educating yourself about CRPS. Good night.

MERRY XMAS: All I want for xmas is for my pain to go away!!!! 

MERRY XMAS EVERYONE. 

If only Santa could make our pain go away…

But this year I had a good day anyway. Plus Im feeling optimistic about the year ahead so ill settle with that this year. Plus good wine and cheese. What more could a girl want. I hope you also had a wonderful day with lots of love, family and a body that was kind to you. 

I found this online and thought is summed up my day this year. 

Its currently Boxing day here in Australia and ive stayed home to rest while everyone is at the Boxing day sales. I spent the days leading up to yesterday shopping for food and cooking salads and pavlovas for two seperate feasts. My body has been hell to be in the entire time but I enjoyed the challenge. This also meant that i had lots of food to eat. Being a vegetarian in a family of meat lovers has normally left me safe from over eatting. But when i ook lots of food I like well lets just say i weighed myself and i put on 1.5kg from eatting all day. It was good though. 

Happy Ney Year and fingers crossed 2018 is a big year for all of us. Xxx

Color The World Orange: ADELAIDE: Nov 6, 2017

November 6th 2017 was the 3rd COLOUR THE WORLD ORANGE day across the globe, Adelaide celebrated by lighting Adelaide Oval, the Torrens Footbridge, the Riverbank Precinct and  the Rundle Lantern in orange for the first time. According to the CTWO website Adelaide joined “Forty-nine buildings, bridges and landmarks in four countries, including Niagara Falls and the fountains in Trafalgar Square in London”

23319249_10157247793073018_860448386360371811_n

Adelaide Oval and Torrens Footbridge lit in Orange for the first time.

As well as the lighting up of iconic Adelaide landmarks, Adelaide also hosted the first information event of its kind in Australia with the aim of creating awareness within the medical and research fields. The event was titled…

CRPS Mechanisms & Management:

What’s in fashion now? 

This event was a great opportunity for Members of the medical field to learn what it is like for those of us with CRPS and this was recognised by the organisers. Members of the CRPS South Australia Facebook group were invited to participate in the night by giving a 5 minute talk on what it is like to live with CPRS. I was happy to be one of the five who took on this challenge (It was a big challenge for me). Although only four of us were able to be there in the end, (that’s CRPS for you) we all explored different areas of living with the condition, but there were a lot of similarities.

Of course there were also talks by the Professionals. Prof Lorimer Moseley spoke of the new findings in CRPS research, Dr Velleria Bellan who was the instigator of the event(thank you) spoke of her research in Untangling visual and proprioceptive contributions to hand localisation over time. Also Dr Meredith Craigie spoke of her experience of being both a parent of a child with CRPS and also practising in pain medication and treating CRPS patients such as myself.

Overall the night was a huge success with over 200 people from both research and medical fields, Students and also other sufferers from the CRPS South Australia group. Possibly the best bit of the night was the food and wine supplied and also a GELATO CART!!! Yep that’s right, the event was supplied with a Gelato Cart with all orange colored gelato. YUM!!

A big thank you to the organisers and sponsors of this fantastic event and I look forwards to next years event.