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.

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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

SUMMER: Surviving the heat with CRPS

I love summer here in Australia but now that I have CRPS the heat really kicks my ass! Today is a scorcher and I am hiding away indoors with the air-con on. This is my second summer with CRPS. Well it’s actually third, but the first one I was only having minor symptoms, hadn’t had a flare and didn’t know anything was wrong until towards the end of that summer. Last year was my first full summer and it was a hot one. I remember a full week of days above 40deg. My mum actually helped/half carried me into the water at the beach one time as I couldn’t walk or hold myself up. Luckily we can drive and park on the beach here so it wasn’t far to the water. After 20min I was good as gold. Well kind of!
We haven’t hit 40 deg yet this year, but it’s the first day of hot weather we have had and I’m right back there again. I hide away inside all day and hopefully sleep right through it and be up at night when it is cooler and after my body had been soaked in the ocean and cooled. That’s where we will be heading late this afternoon. Straight to the beach.
So I was thinking that maybe I could compile a list of things that we can do to cope with the heat. This is what I have so far.

·         Stay cool: Do whatever it takes. Sit in front of the air conditioner, have a cool bath or shower, Go to the pool or beach to soak your body, put a soaking wet cloth around your neck, make sure any car you’re in had a working air-con. Whatever it takes. Even if it’s having a fan on and a sheet over you to stop the air from upsetting your body.

·         Go to the Beach:If you’re lucky enough to live near to the beach, it is going to be your saviour during a hot summer. I tend to go later in the afternoon when the beach is quieter. The movement of the water gently massages your body while it cools you down to a level where you can cope. The magnesium fix that you get will also help with your pain and other symptoms. Plus It’s fun to go to the beach, move your body around and you get outside and get some Vit D. Always take someone with you tough, so maybe make it a bit social. It’s a great way to spend time with a loved one. It’s also a good place to work on moving any part of your body that isn’t doing so well. It’s like Hydro therapy and really helps if you’re able to cope with being in the water. Even if you just walk along the beach or stand in water an inch deep. Whatever works?

·         Stay Hydrated:This is a must. If your hot your probably sweating and loosing fluids from your body. The extra pain meds you probably need will also be messing with your body and drinking lots of water will help you cleanse your kidneys when they are working harder in the heat. Really the body can’t work without being hydrated. I carry a one litre water bottle around with me and try to fill it a couple of times. Usually in the heat I will have about 2-3 litres. But don’t overdo it. You can do a lot of harm to yourself if you over drink. Some days I feel that I need something else to satisfy my thirst and water isn’t cutting it. I try an electrolyte replacer. Usually I will use a product that is meant to be for when you’re vomiting. Or I will just get a yellow powerade. I always have yellow because I am not allergic to the crap they put into it. There are plenty of recipes for making your own healthy energy drinks. If you’re interested, here is a link to an article with recipes.

·         Move your body:Sitting around staying out of the heat can lead to us CRPS sufferers seizing up. That is not a good thing. Maybe do some physio, Pilates or use some sort of exercise equipment. You don’t have to overdo it, just move. Maybe wait until it cools down and go for a short walk. I like walking on the beach. It’s relaxing and if I walk very shallow water it soothes me feet. Even watering the garden in the early hours or in the evening is moving your body and keeps it happy. I find that if I don’t move, I hurt more.

·         Make sure you have a good supply of all of your meds:You don’t want to be caught out with no meds and have to go out to get them. The heat will punish you.

·         Find something to keep you occupied:I try to sleep a bit, but I can’t sleep all day. Maybe have some DVD’s or TV shows to watch online. Have a craft, art, make a blog, read a book. Whatever keeps you busy.

·         Ice cream: go on, you deserve it!

So that’s all I can think of at the moment. I may add to the list if I think of any others. The main one though it to stay cool. Do you have any suggestions? Let’s make this list grow so we can all benefit.
Stay cool people. xxx

The Sweetest Xmas Gift Of All

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, surrounded by loved ones and with low pain.

 My day was a quiet one. We had lunch in Robe, S.A. with family and then home in the evening where I fell asleep on the couch.  It was the perfect day for me considering how exhausted I have been. We don’t really do presents in my family, except for the little ones. I am very close to my cousin, Alison who turned 5 just before Xmas and I love spoiling her rotten, so this was as good a time as any. I did not expect to get anything from her, but she gave me the best present that I could ask for.

 She gave me my gift and was so excited she had to help me unwrap it and before I could even work out what it was, she grabbed it out of the wrapping to hold it up for me. She had done a self-portrait and under her instruction, her mum appliqued it onto a patchwork cushion. I couldn’t believe it, I loved it.

Then she informed me that when I am having a bad day, I could lay down with the cushion and be able to cuddle up to her. My heart melted instantly.

So even though I wasn’t expecting anything for Xmas, I felt like I got the best gift of all.

I hope you all felt as special over the holiday season as I have.

*I decided to make this a pink post as its Alison’s fave colour

Things NOT To Say To A CRPS Patient: and yet they do!!

Ok, I know we all get people/idiots making stupid comments about our illness despite knowing nothing about CRPS/RSD. I have had quite a few myself. The one that outraged me the most was being told to “just get over it and move on with your life” WTF??? where is the button I get to press to turn this off??? I stewed on that one for a long time. I soon realised it was only me suffering. That person had moved on with her life two seconds after saying it. I will admit that I got quite negative towards this person afterwards and ended up cutting her out of my life completely to try and get past it. I’m not sure why this one got to me the most. It wasnt the worst said to me at all. Maybe that I was hurt that she had no empathy for me when I had empathy for her having a husband dying of cancer. I had been very kind to her as I knew her husband well and was deeply saddened by his illness and death. Maybe she couldnt see past her own problems. She could be a selfish person at times… ok she could be a bit of a b****! Either way she had to go because I needed to get past the negativity.

I was also recently told by a Dr that I am too young to be addicted to pain meds. My reply was that I am also too young to be in this much pain. FFS!!!

Today I came around this list of Things NOT To Say To A CRPS Patient. It was quite interesting. Its from a site called The Black and its RSD Links. A page that I am going to do some further reading on. Here below are a few of the things that are said to us. The majority of this list is things said by Dr’s. Im kind of horrified by this. Enjoy.

1. But you look fine.
2. Try not to dwell on it all the time.
3. It’s not a death sentence.
4. It’s not like it’s cancer.
5. Lose some weight.
6. Get more exercise.
7. It’s all in your head.
8. It’s probably the all the pills you’re taking that are making you sick and tired.
9. I’ve seen worse cases of CRPS/RSD.
10. You forget a lot. Try to pay better attention to things.
11. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.
12. Are you sure it’s not gout?
13. I knew someone who had something like that and s/he’s fine now!
14. It can’t possibly hurt as much as you make it seem.
15. Why are you on disability? Isn’t it your arm that’s sore?
16. I had a friend that had that. You need to eat a gluten free diet.
17. You’re going to become an addict.
18. CRPS doesn’t spread.
19. Does something like this run in your family?
20. RSD never spread the way you just told me.
21. An spinal block can’t give you RSD.
22. Why you have surgery in your back when RSD is in your lower limb?
23. Did you get all that for a simple ankle twisting? Gosh, you’re weak!!

To make this post a bit more fun, what would be your come back to the stupidity of some of these remarks??? Lets maybe keep it clean and witty. 🙂

Hope your all pain free. xx

 

Can I Still LOVE Winter?

Can I still love winter? I hope so. CRPS is so hard on the body in nice weather; hot weather was harsh and coped by hiding inside where it was cool and going to the beach in the evening and soaking my body back to a comfortable temperature. Now my second winter with CRPS is here and I’m not holding up to well.
Last year I just thought it was the natural progression of CRPS. The disease seemed to spiral downhill so fast. I was struggling to walk, I thought I was going to end up in a wheel chair, My neurological symptoms were worsening, I couldn’t hold a knife and fork and there were days on end where I suffered at home in misery. But then I had my first Ketamine infusion and then another and things got better. Looking back around the same time winter broke and along came spring.
So it wasn’t all just my body getting taken over by CRPS, it was also winter. Yay!!!! Something to look forwards to each year… Not.
So here I am at the beginning of winter and my body is not happy. It will be interesting to see how I hold up. The only difference this year is that I have more of a hold on how to cope. I love winter so much. I live on the South Australian coast in a beautiful part of the country and I love how fierce the ocean is during winter. I love rainy winter days where I snuggle up on the couch drinking tea and watching movies. I’m sure I will get a few of those days this year.
I’m determined to still love winter and to make the most of my time even though I might be in hell pain wise. I’m studying at the moment and hoping to start my Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine) and I’m determined to blog more. At the moment there are days where I’m scared of what’s to come but I’m trying to make the most of things. It wasn’t all bad last winter after all.
So that’s where I’m at, at the moment. I’m ok though. I’m not looking for sympathy; I think others deserve it more. I would love to hear how all of you cope with winter?
Hope your all pain free xx

FULL MOONS and PAIN

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Something that I noticed early on in my life with CRPS and Chronic pain was that my pain and other sufferer’s pain would always rise during a full moon. I’ve always found that a Full Moon effected my moods and sleep so why not pain? After all how do you also explain our pain being greater at night than during the day? Isn’t it equally plausible that the moon cycle could effect us in a similar way?  I did a little research and found that I might have been on to something.  I read how people with arthritis often experienced more pain around a full moon and that epileptic’s had more seizures.

I am in an Aussie and Kiwi Facebook group that chats on a daily basis and it was due to us all being sick with pain flares and my noticing it was always a Full Moon that all of us were online complaining of a shocking flare. So for the next few months I didn’t allow myself to know when the next full moon was unless we were all syncing our flares again. After all its only natural for women to sync up. Lol. Sure enough there was a pattern and over time even the non-believers in the group now whinge about Full moons. Especially one person in particular, who bullied me for my theory and is now the first to announce the arrival of a full moon as if it was him all along who brought it to the group. Oh well!

TODAY 14th MAY 2014 IS A FULL MOON HERE IN AUSTRALIA

Basically it’s all to do with Ions in the air that are either positively or negatively charged. During a Full Moon the air is positively charged and this causes a hormonal reaction in our bodies.

“Ions are floating in the air around us all of the time and have either negative or positive charges. Changes in their concentrations or in the ratio of positively to negatively charged molecules can have remarkable effects on plants and animals. It is known in science that ion depletion is the source of a wide range of human health problems, both mental and physical.

These air ions are important to you because if they have a high proportion of negative ions in the clusters you will feel lively, uplifted and enthusiastic. Too many positive ions in the clusters will have you feeling depressed, lethargic and full of aches, pains and complaints.”

Read the full article at www.quantumenergywerks.com

So what do you think?

I hope the Full Moon is kind to you. xx