GARDENING with CRPS: I’d be lost without it!

 My life before CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) was mostly
different to the one I live now, however in the year before, I started a small veggie
garden and loved every part of it. Especially that summer. My favourite memory
of that garden was made of Flat breads with fresh tomatoes, spring onions and
lemon thyme. Put under the grill with some sea salt and olive oil. YUM!! Now I
am really hungry… Anyway I didn’t realise just how crucial that first garden
would be for me. Not only did it introduce me to heirloom tomatoes but it
sparked a passion that would save me in so many ways.

Nectarine and Basil Jam from my first garden. YUM!

Nectarine and Basil Jam from my first garden.

The next summer I was facing a pretty dismal future. I had survived
a massive burn injury, my beloved horse Ernie passed on (It still hurts so much)
and just when I thought I was able to move on I had my first CRPS flare that
made sense of all the strange symptoms I was having. Suddenly this thing was

spreading through my body and I was losing control. Despite it all I just naturally kept gardening.

It hasn’t been easy. I get frustrated when I can’t do things or I
do them anyway and pay the consequences later. But then I know that each time I
go out there, that that night and the next day and maybe even the day after,
will be “off days” for me. But that’s ok because it’s better than nothing and I
would probably be I pain anyway and at least I enjoyed earning it.

Artichoke that I let flower. Amazing color

Artichoke Flowers with the most amazing colour

Emotionally, my garden is my saviour. I am not sure if I
would be here now without it. It gives my head the peace and space it needs
when I am worried or feeling helpless. It gives me hope when I am having a bad
night because in the morning I will be able to hobble around my beds and just
look at what has changed since last time. It’s my distraction from the crap. As
it is on the nights of researching how to make my garlic grow better, as I am
trying to ignore how hard and painful my super cosy bed has become. I have read
articles about how a chemical in the soil can have the same effect on you as a
typical anti-depressant. I really think that they are onto something there.
Perhaps it explains why after a few days in bed I feel depressed like something
is missing. It’s my garden and I need my fix. Over the past 3 years the amount
of gardening that I have been able to do has varied, but I am always thinking,
researching and buying seeds online. What would I do without it?

Physically it is my own kind of Physical Therapy that keeps my body
going. When I had my first flare, my left hand instantly froze and I lost use
of it for a while. It was the slight and gentle movement of picking cherry
tomatoes that slowly got it moving. I know in my heart that my body has benefited
so much from being outside and in my garden. Even just pulling weeds keeps my
arms moving and stops my muscles from wasting. My left arm might not do as much
but the important thing is that it does what it can.

Cherry Tomatoes saved my hand

My Cherry Tomatoes saved my hand in 2013

So far I have refused to get raised beds. Partly because I can’t
afford them and partly because it would feel like a setback for me. It did look
at one stage that I would be in a wheelchair and they were discussed. But for
now I really don’t feel that I need them. I am hypermobile in my hips and the
one thing I can do is bend over and reach the ground. So what was once great for
yoga now allows me to get down to my plants and I am quite comfy like that for a
while. If I need to I can sit on the ground or a stool to get to my plants and
so far I have only had a couple of issues where I have fallen and needed help
getting up. It’s the heavier work where I get frustrated. I can’t do it and I
hate waiting for help. I am learning to be patient and ask for help but I am
naturally independent and I had always been strong and able to do the hard
work. That has been hard for me to swallow

I know that I am so lucky to be able to still do what I can and I
dread the day, if it comes, where I can’t garden any more. I am not sure how I
would cope. For now, I am just enjoying being out there when I can. Being sick
has made me appreciate the small things and all. I know, what a clique. Mostly its
hanging out in the garden with my girls. Gemma (dog), Molly and Moggs (Cats),

Plus all of the cool animals and insects that have moved in since I
turned the orchard organic. Through gardening I have also met other gardeners
and built a little network of people to share knowledge and spare plants with.
I really love that I can provide food for my family and friends. Especially for
my parents at home and my Mum at her Cafe. I supply her all the herbs and greens
that she uses. After all they took me in when I got sick. This is my way of
contributing and it means the world to me.


Gemma: Top dog in my garden and she knows it!

So that’s me and my gardening with a disability. To end this post I
want to leave a quote that I think sums it all up.


“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

― Audrey Hepburn

Also posted in my other blog Grow To Heal

PAIN SCALE: Here is a good one.

I found this fantastic Pain Scale the other day and thought that I would share it with you all. I do not know where it originates from but it is too good not to share. I have in the past found it hard to find a good definition of each level of pain. For my own pain diaries that I have been asked to keep by my Doctors, I have merged many together and made do with what I had. I like that this one justifies what is minor, moderate and severe pain.


If anyone knows where this chart originates than please let me know. I like to give credit where credit is due. 🙂

OOPS!!! I forgot my CRPS anniversary.

I just sat down to my computer and realised that its the first of March and two days past my one year CRPS anniversary. Oops!!! Oh well. I did go out for dinner tonight so Ill  go back and dedicate tonight to my attempt at celebrating. lol.

I realise now that I had CRPS much earlier than Feb last year. I was injured in a burn injury the October before and put any symptoms down to healing and nerve growth. I just didnt have a flare until three and a half months after the original injury. It came as a real blow to me because I had just gotten my life back on track, started to remove my compression garments, had taken up running and gone back to work and was looking at moving to Melbourne to start over with a new perspective on life.

What a year its been. The worst I have had by a long way, but it hasn’t all been bad. I have made some fantastic friends through CRPS, become much closer to my family and friends and have a far happier outlook on life. I just don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.

Im spending next week in Adelaide so perhaps I’ll go out to celebrate the best I can. For my burn anniversary, I went to my favorite restaurant with the family and friends who had supported me. It was a fun night, as I had wanted. I didn’t see the point in dwelling on what had happened and rathered I celebrate the good that came from it and how lucky I was compared to some. I would have celebrated the other night just the same. If only I had remembered!

Reflection Of My Last post: SOMETIMES I GET ANGRY!

So I have been feeling angry about what happened to my when I was burnt a year ago. I felt like I was treated unfairly in an extreme way. I had my rant and chatted with a close friend and then i dawned one me. Its been a year!

My Burniversary was 8 days ago and I made a decision that I would not mourn it, I would celebrate it. My Dad was insulted that I would want to do this for something so horrible, but my only other option was to be sad! I went for dinner with the people who were there for me during this time and it was so much fun. I got dressed up and looked great. I even wore heels for the first time in a year because it would be seated and I love my shoes. It was the perfect night and I loved it.

So now a week later Im clearly dealing with some issues. I guess it always had to happen. I handled the past year to well. No one looses their whole world through an accident without cracking at some point. I was considering suing this morning but I really dont want to put energy into something I cant change. The past is the past and I have to move on from this.

xx 🙂

Sometimes I Get Angry!

Im mostly positive about my burn experience and it triggering CRPS, but one thing I cant let got of is my shocking initial treatment on the night I was burnt.
my experience at the hospital was disgusting. I was given Panadene forte ( Paracetamol 500mg & Codeine Phosphate 30mg) for my excruciating pain. No morphine, just a couple of useless tablets that would have taken half an hour to set in. I also had to wait an hour for the dr to arrive. by then I had collapsed from the pain and had hypothermia. He covered me in silverderm and got a lot in my eye, later found out it could send me blind. I should have been sent to a burns unit in Adelaide and instead he decided to keep me in over night and send me home to heal. I was also given not tetanus and not cleaned up. I was covered in soot, paint and burnt hair until I want home the next day, not cleaned up. I was black all over like.

Because of the pain they were giving me ice packs for my wrist. The rest of my burns were deeper and the pain had eased because the nerves were gone, but my wrist had some lesser burns that were agony until lunch the next day. I was bullied by the next nurse that came on because I was interrupting her night shift by asking for cooler ice packs. and by 1am i couldn’t take it any more and was screaming for pain relief. I was informed that they had to call and wake the dr and that it was incredibly inconvenient for them and him. I was given one endone (Oxycodone Hydrochloride 5mg) and told i wasn’t having anything until 9am and left to it. I managed a little sleep after this… but then I woke up. The Dr checked me at lunch time and had me wrapped loosely and told to see the community health nurse in 2 days. And off I went home.
I spoke to the community health nurse the next day and my dressings had fallen off and i was worried so she had me come in to see her. She was horrified. my arm was so swollen and my face was left uncovered and ugly. So she sent me back to the Dr and he was furious that I came in and that the nurse went over his head and sent me in. again I was told to go home and let it heal. The nurse had me in daily and by day 4 she had sent photos to the burns unit because it was looking horrible and i was starting to look bad. I was immediately put in the car and driven 350km to Adelaide and into the burn unit that night.
While I was in Emergency I was told of repeatedly for not going straight there and I finally broke. It wasn’t my fault. I was too sick to make decisions for myself. What did they expect? Because of this I missed out on initial care, my burns were considered a “dirty wound” and I was just sick from the infection. I had issues with proud flesh after surgery. I have scaring that I should not have had and I was blamed by medical staff in my home town for getting them into trouble with the burns unit. Oh and because of all this I had damage to a nerve in my hand and it triggered Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and have chronic pain through out my body and still cant work.

Im just angry because it wasn’t my fault and why was I put through this? I’m really pissed off. This is the part I struggle to see anything positive in. Why wasn’t I worthy of the care I needed. Why wasn’t I given pain relief? Why did I have to suffer like that? It just makes me angry!