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

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a little lol!

Not only do I suffer from CRPS but dare I say it, I’m a vegetarian. There I said it please dont think any less of me. lol. Anyway I was just thinking back an a funny thought occurred to me recently that is to do with both CRPS and my choice of diet. There are many people out there who have misconceived ideas of how my not eating flesh effects their life and throw idiotic, generic and un-thought of remarks my way as if I have never heard them before.  Anyway my pet hate is this one, probably because I hear it the most.

Annoying Person: How about all of the vegetables that you are murdering, what about their suffering and pain?

Me: Well actually vegetables do not feel pain because research has shown that they do not have a central nervous system and therefore can not feel pain.

Now normally Annoying Person would be stumped on this one but all of a sudden I find myself thinking “THOSE LUCKY BASTARDS!” lol I wish i didn’t need a central nervous system! But then some Vegetarian would probably feel justified in eating me!

Juicing to keep me healthy

With all the medication and pain killers that we need to survive CRPS, I worry that there is a negative effect on out bodies and what it will do to us long term. One thing I like to do is make yummy, healthy juices that give me a burst of vitamins and help cleanse out any toxins. I wouldn’t say that I am an avid juicer. I tend to juice a lot then not for a while, but I do know that after a few days of it I feel fantastic.

I love growing my own food and its awesome when my juices come from my garden. Today I picked lots of spinach, celery, pea shoots, leaves off of my broccoli and cauliflower plants, parsley and beetroot leaves to make a super healthy juice packed full of greens and all the goodness that come from them. But of course I sweetened the deal a little with some apple and carrots. I love the way fresh juice fills your tummy up and keeps you full for a long time.

Fresh from the garden and my helper, Gemma

Of course I use the pulp from the juicer for compost. Its part of my sustainable philosophy to gardening and eventually what I take from the garden will go back to the soil. Plus with the energy I have from juicing I will have more energy for pottering around and caring for my plants. If only it gave me the strength to dig some new patches this weekend. I think I will need to enlist some help!

Have a great weekend everyone. xx