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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Merry Christmas and a PAIN FREE New Year

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Merry Christmas to all of you amazing CRPS sufferers and supporters. I hope that you have a pain free day and are able to enjoy your day with family and loved ones.

I know that the lead up to the big day can be quite stressful for us and that stress often leads to more pain.  So please consider taking it easy and pacing yourself so that you can enjoy yourself.

I’m kind of expecting to be in pain after not taking my own advice. OOPS!!!! I did also try to rip my little toe off with a door. It hurt like hell and was the better of my two CRPS feet. But, I will make the most of the day anyway and spend my day sitting with family and enjoy spending time with them, watching the kids open their presents eating more than I should and drinking my elder flower cordial and sparkling mineral water.

Have a wonderful Christmas. xxx

P.S. This is my fave Xmas song.

Wham: Last Christmas

 

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

TWO OUTTA THREE AIN’T BAD! Three pain conditions suck worse than yours!

“Got pain? These three pain conditions suck worse than yours.” paindatabase.com

Ha! Dont you love it when these lists pop up. Designed to make the average person feel better about them self. Sure if you have aches and pains, migraines or any other type of pain reading about these horrific conditions would make you feel better. Unless you suffer from two out of three of the condition in the list your reading, as I do! While I am used to seeing the standard lists with CRPS, my other condition rarely rates a mention, but here it is. and when you cover most of a list like this one, where do you go from there to make yourself feel better? Most of the time I think “at least it wont kill me!”

Here is how the article started but you can also read it in full here

Oh humans. We vile creatures, who feel better when others are doing comparatively worse. Rest assured, reading about these three painful conditions will not make you feel permanently better. But it might give you a bit of temporary perspective. 

no 1, Cluster Headaches: Check! yep I have these mean and nasty things that make me want to cut my face off. They come around every 6 months and make my life hell for anywhere from a day to a week. They are mean and I should probably do some posts about them on here. I have just had a bout in the last few days which is why I had been looking on line for info and came across this article. I woke up three days ago thinking that I had a tooth ache and then realised it was on all of my teeth on the right side. In no time at all it had spread into my ear, my eye, down my check and into my throat, all on the right side and all beyond intense. Lucky i also had a Doctors appointment on the first day so I could finally have it looked at. Yet the past three days have been a walk in the park compared to some of the attacks I have had. Lucky me!

No 2, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, I dont really need to introduce this one. Most of us know it all too well. I did learn one thing though, That TV show House, The lead character had CRPS apparently. The article said to watch seasons 1-4. Ill pass on that. Perhaps that could go on my new “it could be worse” list. lol, Not my cup of tea really.

“CRPS is a strange condition because it can range from fairly mild to absolutely debilitating. I learned about it after watching House MD, in an episode where Dr. House got shot and forced himself into a coma using a hallucinogenic drug called ketamine. He miraculously wakes up pain-free for the first time in years. “

I will admit though that while “normal” people would look at this list and feel so much better about their own pain, I look at it and feel justified for getting annoyed at those annoying people who post on Facebook how hard they have it when they have it so much easier yet dont realise how much they have. Their health, freedom, ability to work, socialise, meet men, etc.  I guess ignorance is bliss and I may have also been that person once.  Thinking about it, if I could push a button and make all of this go away, Im not sure I would. My pain has changed me for the better as well as the bad and I’m clearly going through this to get to where I need to be. Really though, How tough am I??? 🙂

And I just gotta do it, ever since I wrote the tittle this has been in my head. 🙂 Enjoy!

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.

PainScale

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

MEOW: My cat is the best medicine

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Ok, sure her purring and weight isn’t ideal on a bad day where even my clothing can hurt my poor body, But I love my little girl and the comfort that she gives me is worth that extra bit of discomfort. I’m in pain anyway!  On a not so bad day, I feel blessed that I am “worthy” of her cuddles. Yeah, any one with a cat knows what I mean by that! On nights when I’m flaring Molly will come to bed with me or climb my window screen until I hobble out of bed to let her in. She has taken to sleeping next to me rather than on me since I’ve developed CRPS. On a bad day she sticks by me and has taken to leading me to the couch and waiting for me to sit before lightly climbing on. She seems to know before I do that I need to rest. Although, I do think she loves having me there to nurse her all night long.

IN THE MEDIA: Chronic Pain, 7.30 South Australia

“It is a common condition, patients suffer from it, doctors treat it but Medicare doesn’t acknowledge it. It’s chronic pain. But what causes it and why do traditional drugs seem to have little effect?”

pain 730

This is the introduction to a news story that was shown on our state edition of the Current Affairs program 7.40. Its really exciting that this show has done a few stories on Chronic Pain already this year and although not exactly about CRPS, It still relates back to the treatments and the health system that I and many other Australians rely on.

I posted about the first story here. Australia’s Pain Epidemic

This story by Mike Sexton and shown on 7.30 South Australia, on Fri, 21 Feb, 2014.  Duration: 6min 13sec. It starts as stated above and then leads into some horrifying, yet unsurprising statistics that Medicare (Australia) has found that up to 5% of patients in Gp’s clinics are seeking relief from Chronic Pain. It again mentioned that most Australian’s suffering from Chronic Pain wait 2-3 years for a placement in a pain treatment facility. This leads to Gp’s prescribing more and more opioid pain Medications and leads to dependency. Clearly there is a cycle here that must be broken.  I’m hoping that the Website will post a manuscript to this story as it has done in the past so that I can post it.

One exciting thing bit of information that I learnt from the story is of a local research project happening right here in South Australia at the Bionomics Facilities in Hindmarsh, is a focus on Ion channels and their role in Chronic Pain. The story went on to report of an investment of 170 million dollars (Aust)  being made into this study by Merck & Co. That is pretty exciting really. I went onto the Bionomics Website and found the following:

“Bionomics has entered into a collaboration with Merck & Co. to develop a novel oral treatment for chronic pain. Chronic pain is a severely debilitating condition with a large unmet medical need. Current analgesic medications which include anti-epileptics, anti-arrhythmics, opioids, NSAID’s and anti-depressants, are either ineffective, associated with a range of dose limiting side effects or have the potential for abuse and addiction. Our novel treatment which is expected to deliver greater efficacy and safety than existing pain medications is directed towards an undisclosed target that has been strongly linked to chronic pain in humans.”

www.bionomics.com.au/research-development/pipeline/cns-central-nervous-system

Well Im off to investigate further and see what else I can learn about this trial and even if I can participate in any way. 🙂