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.
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 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.
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