You have all heard about my lounge-room spaceship AKA a Bellicon Rebounder. You have heard that I credit it with slowly but surely improving the quality of my life and my health. The Bellicon isn't your average rebounder but then I have to say that Chronic Pain patients aren't your average buyer - I can't bounce on a spring rebounder for the same reasons I can't pound the pavements anymore, I have a cervical fusion and have had repeated thoracic surgeries. All were ultimately successful in that I'm upright and I no longer want to do unhealthy things to myself to escape the inescapable pain. However, I do have inescapable nerve pain, with each and every breathe. It's a torture that I'd only wish on those telephone sales people that call every night when your child is most feral. I also get the assorted aches and pains from broken bones and manipulated joints. I used to still be able to push out a 10km run when my pain was exquisite and it was approaching witching hour, the alternative was not to bother waking up the next day. My last thoracic surgery with it's huge risk (20% paraplegia) finally cured me of self destruction of this type and I hadn't experienced a proper runners high since 2010...before my rebounder.Enter my beautiful, conservative Bellicon. I have to say conservative because the most popular bungee cord and mat ring colours are hot pink & black or orange & black. I chose grey and black. Of course I did, Pete would have been checking the credit card bill a lot earlier if hot pink had rocked up - and the resulting need for CPR when he did see the bill was tedious and painful. So yes, the Bellicon is not inexpensive. It is an investment. It's quite honestly the best investment I've made for my body, my green juicer being the worst. Ugh, another story. I started bouncing on it after a quick look at the guides and Youtube vids but like most other people I thought, who needs directions? They are just for those other people, the ones who need a common sense injection (or according to Pete, regularly produce oestrogen). In the case of my Bellicon I couldn't have been more wrong.Enter Sylvia from Qibounding. To any of my US readers thinking of buying a Bellicon, Sylvia is the lady to contact. She knows it all and she is honestly passionate about helping you be the healthiest and happiest you can be. This is not just a business transaction for her, I know this because she hasn't received a cent from me (kind of expensive to mail a Bellicon from the US) yet she has been instrumental in helping me get the best from my floating...bouncing. Sylvia invited me to take part in one of her Online Workshops as an introduction to using my Bellicon. As you can imagine I wasn't going to pass this up. The course started on the Feb 8 and the information will be available for us to view until the 31 March. I try not to be one of those people that makes an initial judgement but I did think that rebounding would be easy and it is 'easy to do' but it's easiest on your body when you actually know what you're doing. For example, avoiding pronation is key - sounds simple, huh? Try telling my pronating ex runners feet that still turn out from ballet. Keeping in the right posture will help your body to remain balanced as it grows stronger - and grow stronger it will, even if you only ever bounce in one direction with no fancy stuff added. Every muscle works with every bounce, your pelvic floor, the muscles supporting your eyeballs...think of something obscure, your Bellicon works it. Safely! I like to squeeze my waist (yes, it takes a bit of squeezing unfortunately) when I'm bouncing and I love that my core is rock hard. When you invest in something like a Bellicon, isn't it only sensible to learn to use it to the nth degree? I don't want to waste a second of my bouncing time and considering I can't let the child catch me because then she wants to bounce, I don't have a lot of time to waste. Peter would also have it on Tasmania's version of Craigslist in 10 seconds flat if he thought I wasn't using it. Have I told you the man doesn't like wasting money?!The other thing I thought would be easy is the course. It's an introduction...I usually sleep through those. Not with Sylvia, you won't. The course is divided into 12 daily sessions and each and everyone is unmissable. Sylvia teaches you the different types of bouncing, how to set up your rebounding sessions and how to get the most out of it. However, she doesn't stop here; we learn about the lymphatic system and the best type of bouncing for working our lymphatic, same for osteoporosis prevention, spine health, brain plasticity, core, leg and arm strength, stress reduction...the list goes on! The exercises I learnt in these sessions are things that I am implementing in my daily rebounding - even when I only have 2 minutes before Pete serves dinner, it still makes me feel better. It has also changed my body composition. I have only lost 1kg so far but apparently it looks like more. My muscle tone and strength have also improved and anyone with chronic pain (and oestrogen deficiency) will tell you how difficult this is. There are still exercises that I cannot complete because I can't get the technique quite right so it twinges my back a bit, another reason I'm so grateful that the classes are available for over a month after the sessions finish. My sleep has improved dramatically and is good even on the days when I don't do some relaxation bouncing before getting ready for bed. The improvement in my sleep is massive for me, I could kiss Sylvia silly for this gift. I also wake up better, more alert, and if I'm not then I know that 3 minutes bouncing will have me feeling bright and ready to face the day. My pain has been up and down and I do have to be careful not to overdo it but I can now comfortably bounce for half an hour a day, broken up where necessary. It's kind of hard to stay off it though so I do find I bounce whenever I think of it or I'm not feeling alert or need to relax. It's the perfect compliment to a glass of wine but I've yet to find a way to do both and still save the carpet - I'll keep working on it though :) Sylvia runs a community during the workshop and answers all our questions within hours - not sure when she sleeps though because Aussie time is not US time. If you have a problem that no one else is having, no worries, Sylvia has the answer. I was really happy to see 2 other Aussie's and other internationals, this is not just for US citizens who Sylvia sells rebounders to. This is for everyone who wants to get the most out of their rebounder. I honestly haven't found any negatives with the workshop at all, except maybe that we won't have access to the session forever but like the workshops, we progress too. You can find out more about Sylvia's workshops here and I will update you at the end of March when I have mastered the workshop. I might even have the confidence to include some before and after photos. Not sure if you really want to see those though...
Both of my parent's are naturopaths so there is no way I could escape natural medicine even if I wanted to. Thankfully neither of them have ever recommended a coffee enema because I doubt our relationship could ever recover - sorry, sorry a friend mentioned coffee enema's last night and I just had to share. Both my parents are very conservative (my bottom is grateful) and keep the use of herbal treatments etc to a minimum because as Mum says, what really is the difference between herbs and drugs?
Unfortunately most of us who suffer from a chronic condition that requires both medical care and natural therapies will, at some time, experience a breakdown of trust. It is almost always on the medical side with a doctor that can't cope with the fact that you take large doses of fish oil rather than take daily anti-inflammatories, however I also know of naturopath's that have been unwilling to work with patients that continue to use drug medications. In my opinion this is incredibly short sighted, where is the 'wholistic' in that, huh? An it's my way or the highway discussion is not likely to leave you feeling very comfortable and if you are in the position where you can't just change physicians then you are likely to keep the list of natural products that you take to yourself - and if they are herbs, or even fish oil in some cases, then this isn't ideal. Even potassium can be dangerous to those taking ACE inhibitors (blood pressure meds) and many magnesium complexes for muscle soreness and recovery contain potassium in them. As a side note, I would be completely nuts without potassium phosphate, it keeps me sane and balanced.
Ok, ok, balanced might be an exaggeration!
It has taken me a long time to really put my faith in natural medicine and trust that it's not just in my head - and considering what goes through my head I wouldn't be surprised to find a thought induced tumour one day. I have recovered from all of my surgeries extremely well, even the one they stuffed up. My liver surgery was supposed to leave me out of action for around a year, after the first 8 weeks I discovered that I was more than just a walking ghost and by 3 months things were pretty much normal.
In 2010 I had my last thoracic surgery...fingers crossed it was my last. A week after I came home I developed a high temp and the wound started to suppurate. The private hospital sent me home telling me it was a minor skin infection but the next night I was admitted to the Royal in isolation with C Diff and staph - and you think the thought of a coffee enema is gross? C Diff is a whole new ball game! Ouchie bottom. Anyway, I spend 2 weeks in hospital on IV antibiotics and having my wound debrided. Finally, just before I went nuts and killed my roommate with a plastic bread knife (this is why public hospitals have plastic cutlery), I was sent home with a condom in a baby's bottle (honestly, that's what the device is) to continue IV antibiotics for the next 4 weeks via a PICC line. The antibiotics made me pretty sick, I had problems with my white blood cells and contracted type A influenza twice, that said, it beat sharing a room with a lovely but deaf and incredibly loud lady as I had for my final week - so it turns out there were good things about C Diff after all...isolation. I returned each week for blood test and monitoring. The results of my blood work deteriorated a bit each week and they changed the drugs to save my liver. My Mum was very hesitant to treat me during this time and just gave my body what it needed to support itself. On my second trip to hospital I was told that it wouldn't end with the IV antibiotics, I would have to take oral antibiotics for another 6 weeks and then I might still have to have the metal-wear in my back removed. I had a 20% chance of paralysis for my last thoracic surgery and this grows with each operation, I wasn't thrilled.
I had also been suffering thrush for the past 4 weeks and the wonderful news that there was at least another 8 weeks to enjoy finally forced me into action. I took colloidal silver, golden seal and Active Elements 7.1 tablet every day at the highest doses that were safe. I couldn't take any of the other herbs that might help because of my liver and the antibiotics so this is what I did for the next week. BTW this is not a recommendation by any means, just an explanation of what I did. Anyway, I went back the next week with no signs of staph. They removed the PICC line and put me on oral antibiotics which I stopped after 48 hours because I felt so unwell. Again, I do not recommend this! I kept going back for my checks and the staph was never seen again. The infectious diseases team were so proud of themselves. I finally started paying attention to what my mother was telling me.
One thing there is no replacement for in natural medicine is strong pain relief. Both my parents would agree with this. I do take fish oils and curcumin and I certainly notice that they help reduce my pain levels. I also take various anti-inflammatory minerals and also minerals for general health, bone strength and anxiety. Medicine provides my strong pain relief and when needed valium and other medications. I see medicine as my acute care and natural medicine as my preventative and stabilising care. It's what works for me.
My small family is at the mercy of my mother and Indira has certainly benefited from it. She crunches up her minerals every day (so does the dog) and her reliance on her allergy medication has decreased significantly - now it's used as it should be and as I mentioned above, as life saving, acute care. Peter takes his minerals too and his eczema and asthma have improved dramatically. He no longer has a problem with cat dander and his skin is pretty stable unless he goes on a bender and drinks 4 beers - or 12. Four is what he remembers.
I am not saying that this is the only way or that you should do this too...this is our way and it works for us. I don't believe that medicine has all the answers, not yet anyway. Therapies and treatments change too often and too dramatically for me to place my full trust in the system. I also believe that I have a responsibility to keep my body as strong and healthy as possible so that I limit the amount of medication and surgical intervention I need. Food is absolutely the first thing to look at but I don't think anyone believes we can get all our nutrients from our food - Australia has the geologically oldest and most depleted soil in the world. Natural medicine is just another thing that adds structure to my life. It keeps my mother happy and believe me, that is worth any number of foul tasting concoctions ;)
Indira brings so much joy into our lives. There isn't a thing about her that I would change...except to wrap her in cotton wool and stash her in a warm cupboard for the rest of her life. The fear I feel regarding something happening to her has grown exponentially over the past few months. This really surprised me because I kind of figured that your protective Mumma Bear instincts are locked into place just after birth. This is not so and I wonder how far these feelings will develop before I implode at the sight of a strange man at the park one afternoon...or bite the head off one of the daycarers for not giving her a sticker for doing a wee on the potty.
Life's a bitch and then you die, right? It certainly seems that way when you have a chronic condition that has an effect on every aspect of your life. Life, Fate or whatever might hand you this pain or illness but it usually doesn't stop there. There is always plenty of general stress to deal with - and it's that much harder when you have pain or anxiety or depression. You're starting behind the 8 ball and it's that much harder to keep your head and not run for cover when the shit starts flying. I have developed multiple ways of dealing with additional stress since my accident and you'll be happy to know that they no longer include throwing plates...or golf clubs.
Pete and I own a small flat in one of the less expensive suburbs. I say that WE own it but of course, like everything else - The Bank owns our property. We invested in the unit when I was offloaded from Workers Comp and told that I wouldn't and shouldn't ever work again. I received less than 3 years of pay that was then chewed into by Medicare and all the other bills I had no way of paying before we parted ways. I don't have any regrets, even though it would have been much better for me to hang out as long as I could. However, just like any unhealthy relationship, you can't grow and move on until you get that man outta your life. In Tasmania Workers Comp is pretty terrible anyway, you are only covered for 9 years with a proportion of your salary and medical expenses for 10 years. The salary proportion is 80% which sounds ok, unless you are like me and had packaged your salary down with a car, computer, phone, health and life insurance. Then it's not so good at all because you don't get any compensation for the 'packaged' benefits.
Hmmm. Now I have to decide if I'm going to talk about Workers Comp (I'm starting to feel angry) or the fun we had at our rental on the weekend. Considering I always write an essay I might be able to get both in, if my neck holds up (I've got a demon sitting on my shoulder with a razor blade - I've considered stabbing at him with a bread knife but I worry that might be considered irrational behaviour).
I was a pretty good Workers Comp employee (or whatever you call the ants they stamp on). I loved my job and had no intention of not working. I also had no idea about the extent of my injuries and Workers Comp had no intention of spending money to find out. It wasn't only their fault - the night of my accident I was in shock and after being driven home from the scene by a fellow worker I proceeded act rather strangely. First though, I have to tell you about the woman that drove me home, gorgeous, fit creature she is. I had just had a high speed accident where I had lost control of my car and narrowly missed a truck that was just a little bit bigger than me - at like 100 tons (I'm guessing here but it was a bloody big truck). I was feeling a bit shaken and very out of it, no pain though. Catherine picked me up and drove back down the stretch of highway that almost claimed my life.
Now, when you spend all day in your car you do have a tendency to get pretty casual, especially in a place like Tasmania with lots of lonely highways. We all have different ideas of what's 'casual' and what's freaking crazy. Typing appointment notes on your laptop at 110km/hr, yeah, that's pretty stupid...I never did that. We were pretty much always on the phone where there was reception, via bluetooth people, I'm not that silly. Driving long distances in high heels? That's just normal. Takes far too long to change your shoes and I did love my heels...I still love high heels but now it's wedges or flats. Another tick in the loss column.
Anyway, Catherine picks me up and I feel like I'm watching the drive home from out of space. I idly glance across at her footwell and see that her trigger foot is resting against the drivers door with her spike heel dug into the hole where the two different lots of carpet meet. Of course she doesn't have to accelerate, no worries there, that's what computers are for. Unfortunately they don't break for you and there is no way that Catherine could break in time to miss a car, truck or even a slow moving cow. I remember staring at that foot thinking that I should be scared but I was just too damn tired and please, could we stop to get a bottle of wine?
I was delivered safely home...and as far as I know Catherine continues to dodge certain death every day. Just another sign that when your number is up - your number is UP. My beautiful flatmate was waiting for me when I got home and she remains my best friend to this day. We decided to go for a short stroll before having a yummy dinner and a glass or two of wine to celebrate the fact that I outlived my Ford Falcon - I hated that car and at a smelly 88000km it was due to be traded soon. A short stroll translates to a 5km power walk for these two type A personalities and I certainly wasn't feeling any pain. I remember laughing, feeling very lucky and then talking trash about our current man trouble...like I had completely dodged that bullet with only my name on it. We went home, had dinner and then had to make two stops to the bottle shop (we walked, just for the record) because one bottle of wine didn't even start to make me feel better. I remember sleeping on the floor outside Trish's room that night, everything spinning, starting to feel some really uncomfortable pain in my back (a fractured vertebra will do that, to say nothing of herniated discs and whiplash)...I knew then that I hadn't escaped unscathed but I just didn't have the energy to do anything about it. The first signs of PTSD probably.
Workers Comp pretty much took over my life, which was ok because I thought we were working toward the same goal. Unfortunately, for various reasons, I didn't have a repeat appointment with my neurosurgeon after seeing him in emergency - it was only chance that I ignored Workers Comp when they said I didn't need to see him again, something the physio that ruined my T8 nerve and set me up for permanent damage assured them of. No. Neurosurgeon. Needed. That bitch was wrong and she ruined my life with her arrogance. Sorry, I'll stop there. It's a long story that is still ongoing and I tend to get a touch crabby.
This is why I wanted to talk about Workers Comp. Often it does seem like you're on the same page but it is important to remember that you have different motivations and it's what drives these motivations that is ultimately critical. Workers Comp is driven by the dollar, every treatment and decision has to fit the financial decisions made when you first rocked up on their radar. Your motivations, on the other hand, are almost always emotion - and then become financial when you can no longer pay your mortgage, as happened to me. You often end up paying for treatments you need because it's not part of their review and this adds to the debt, the stress.
All in all I didn't actually find the workers comp people that bad, it was their 'affiliate' relationships that totally sucked and should be reviewed independently. The damage they do to people is definitely criminal. One management company will send every patient to the same physio, psychologist, freaking dog handler or whatever, no matter what their diagnosis is - all because of their mutual (financial) relationship. I was sent to an arrogant cow of a physio who knew F all about thoracic injuries, she even looked at my scans which she had no idea how to read, and made dangerous, stupid and unforgivable (can you tell?!) decisions about what was and wasn't safe for my thoracic, including that she was the only person needed to look after my back from here on in. NO NEUROSURGEON NEEDED. She performed multiple active thoracic rotations on my spine at more than a few appointments. At first I was ok until I got home and then the night would be pure hell; vomitting, unable to even roll over in bed without setting it off all over again. Within a few appointments I was throwing up before I even left the carpark. Anyone with a thoracic injury will tell you that vomitting, sneezing and coughing are all horrifically painful.
Like any sane person, it wasn't long before I refused to go and was branded obstructive, difficult and driven. If it hadn't been so clear that I wanted to work, and was working more than I should, they would have thrown the freaking book at me. Bring it on! That's how I feel now...back then I was terrified of them. I went to my neurosurgeon's appointment by chance and discovered that the vomiting, the breathing pain etc that had started since the physic were now perhaps permanent gifts of her treatment. His opinion was that I was NEVER to see a physio again (and really, most of them are pretty good) and he has managed my back almost exclusively ever since. He operated on my thoracic the second time and cried when I came through well and not a paraplegic despite the 20% chance. He remains the most humble man I know. I am very lucky to have him.
Wow, this has gone from being a post about rental properties and petrol bombings to one about Workers Comp. Bet the petrol bombing bit got your attention too, you should have seen my face! But my neck is killing me and I can only type so long one handed. If you are involved in a Workers Comp situation, please protect yourself, question every decision. Hire a lawyer if you can afford it, if you can't then read everything you can. Most importantly, if it feels wrong, if it hurts too much, then it probably is wrong. Trust your instincts because we have only one body. I apologise for getting off track and hope my anger toward the physio I saw doesn't put you off too much. She did literally change the course of my life. No matter how many times I said it hurt, told her about being ill and it hurting to breathe, she insisted that my symptoms were psychological - and being in the midst of PTSD, who was I to argue? She was arrogant. She was wrong. What she did should be criminal. Please don't let it happen to you.
Go Wonder Girl! My new favourite photo of Indira on her trampoline.
Wow, it feels like forever since I've had a chance to write. Pain, life, family...all have conspired against me. Usually I do a fair bit of tapping away on my phone when my pain keeps me awake at night but I haven't even had the energy for that. Instead of doing something when I can't sleep, I stare at the ceiling and think too much. I really do think that thinking is overrated. Tell me that when you have time you don't worry? You see, lying in bed doing nothing is destructive. I did manage to mentally remodel our kitchen 3 times and have a wonderful idea for how we could fit a pool onto our block. Sounds constructive...and I'm sure it will be when Pete buys our winning lottery ticket. (and then runs away with our hot neighbour. See, this thinking stuff, it's overrated).
My current favourite breakfast - Apple Berry Crumble
One of my unspoken New Year's Resolutions was to clean up my eating. NY resolution is a little bit misleading, it's more like my every other day resolution - usually after polishing off a block of chocolate or carton of ice cream. For breakfast.
The year started out so well too. Pete bought me a cold pressed juicer for Christmas, the Optimum 400 by Froothie. It was 50% off as part of their release special. I'm beginning to wonder if it was actually half price for other reasons! Whenever I tried feeding it green veggies like Kale and celery, the more fibrous veggies, it got clogged and last time it took an incredible amount of swearing and manhandling on Pete's part to get the hopper off the top. I was hiding under the table at the time, it wasn't looking good for Pete or the juicer, Pete doesn't take kindly to spending money on things that break...or that you have to break in order to open. He can laugh about it now that his blood pressure is a bit lower - and he wasn't the one cleaning green juice, that looks scarily like mould, off the ceiling. Customer service were lovely, especially when they found out I was actually following the directions and promised to get right onto it. Nearly 3 weeks ago. Since then I haven't had celery once and I can't say I'm missing it...I'm sure my body is though, or my psyche or some other silent part of myself. I'm pretty sure that Froothie have put me in the too hard basket but as soon I have ramped myself up for a telephone confrontation I will call again - have I told you I'm terrified of phone arguments? My voice shakes everytime and it gets to the point that I can't talk at all. Score one for the other side.
Anyway, with the easy option of drinking my fruits and veggies no longer available, I slipped back into my usual tired, thoughtless eating habits. No good for me and no good for Indira. Breakfast and I have never gotten along, who's really hungry in the morning anyway? Usually I feed the kid her current fav, vegemite on toast while I have a cup of tea. Then come 10am I'm (still) sleepy, grumpy and need a fix. Out comes the chocolate or, if we have it, ice cream. If neither are available then it's fruit toast or some nasty cereal option. Or pizza. I love eating pizza for breakfast. Yum. Anyway, there are no energy boosting ingredients in any of those foods (chocolate makes us happy though, right?) and it's not healthy for Indira to eat toast everyday. Just for the record, I do NOT share my chocolate or ice cream breakfast feasts with the child and even she turns her nose up at pizza for breakfast. Wait till she's 18 and stumbling home after a big night!
...not that my child will drink. Or go out. Or stumble anywhere, ever.
You have to love the internet for research. I wanted to find something that I could eat for breakfast that I actually enjoy or I know I won't bother eating it. So, I know I love desert. Who doesn't love desert? I figured that my favourite desert was probably out of the question if I didn't want child protection taking my baby away from me - I love a good affogato so long as the coffee is good quality, the ice cream made with real cream and the liquor is Frangelico (Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Sambuca are good too, I'm not fussy about that part now that I think about it). Point is, not acceptable as a breakfast option, unless you haven't been to bed yet...you heathen, you! Huh!
My next favourite dessert is fruit crumble, I love, love, love fruit crumbles. I figured that I could work with this one even if I did have to swap the ice cream for yoghurt. Sacrifices must be made for the health of our children! I read 101 different recipes and then came up with my own because there is something about following an actual recipe that just doesn't gel with me at all, and it's just too annoying when something doesn't turn out right and you only have yourself to blame.
The photo above is the result of my labours and served with vanilla yoghurt (no added sugar) it is really very good, good enough that Indira and Pete ate it all and now I have to make more for the rest of the week. Thanks for nothing, guys! For those of you interested, the recipe is below. One of my lovely readers, Denise, has asked a couple of times for Australian cooking recipes (try not to snigger, Australians!) and I figure I'd better serve something up, even if there is no such thing as traditional Australian cooking - apart from the BBQ, which requires only 2 main ingredients. Beer, meat.
Whatever you've got really. Preferably organic but I totally understand if the budget won't stretch to it, ours often won't unfortunately. I used:
1 Punnet Blueberries
1/4 punnet frozen Rasberries (what I had)
(lightly stew apples and pears for 5 minutes or so and throw in a baking pan, add berries)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup crushed almonds
1/8 cup flaxseed meal
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon natural vanilla essence
2 - 3 tablespoons coconut sugar/nectar (GI 35 so much better than sugar for breakfast)
11/2 tablespoons coconut oil
Mix all ingredients together, preferably with your hands to massage the coconut oil through.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until browned on top ( I have to give a large range because our oven is so temperamental that you never know if something will bake or freeze).
This is seriously yummy and won't make you fee guilty 5 minutes later. Also it should fill you through to lunch-time. This is my main requirement because I don't have time to snack and I don't want Indira to take up the habit...unless it's an apple. I'm also very happy that Indira loves it and has forsaken her vegemite toast. I don't have a problem with toast generally but there are more wholesome options for every day eating...and you have no idea how hard it is to get this kid to eat green things, so I have to bulk up where I can.
The only easy friend
Some of you may remember a post I wrote a while back. It is here if you are interested. Basically it is about being judged and how much that scares and hurts me in equal proportions. Having pain and losing my way of life has taught me a hell of a lot about empathy and compassion and my previously judgemental ways have taken a tight turn...in a better direction...most of the time, I'm far from perfect. However, I try not to judge, I try to be open and accept others, for there are good and interesting things about all of us. I also made an executive decision to 'lose' toxic friendships.
The day I was handed something that surpasses everything
Long time no blog post! I can't believe that nearly a week has passed, it feels like a few days. I ended up with the family sickness and along with life's other goodies, it took all my time and energy holding our household together.
A week ago I felt utterly overwhelmed by my sick child, partner, my own back pain and the multitude of bills and outside responsibilities that tend to descend on you at once. I swear that you have no chance of being bitten by a tiger snake in the Australian bush, unless, of course, you a fighting with your partner, carrying a child on your back and being chased by the mortgage man...if that's the case, well, I hope you've written your will. That's life. Shit only ever comes in a storm. However, if you can weather the storm, holding on by your fingernails, the sun will come out and something wonderful will happen...because that's life too. Life rewards you when you least expect it.
I've been struggling, again, with that horrible affliction that most of us pain people suffer from at times. Guilt. I hate being sick, I actively dread it. Not because of the feeling horrible or the having to give more time up to bed but because I don't feel that I deserve it. I feel that I should push myself the whole time, that I need to keep rest time to an minimum and I should still do as many household chores as I can, even if I have to crawl to do it - which was how I finished unstacking the dishwasher last Friday.
Why torture myself this way? Surely everyone is allowed to take time out when they don't feel well? Of course they are! I never said I was rational about this, or anything else. I don't feel this way because of Pete...nothing frustrates him more than 'my martyr bit'. I torture myself the whole time I am incapacitated by something other than pain, much more so than I when I am incapacitated by my back. I feel guilty that when I get sick I need even more time out, even more support, I need Pete to work even harder to support me - even though I know that he's exhausted and doesn't have much more to give. What a mess it is to get involved with someone who has chronic pain. I don't even have the words to explain it.
The dichotomy occurs because I can't help it that I'm sick either and I need rest to get better - and in my saner moments I recognise that one of the reasons I am sick is because I usually take on the nighttime burden if Indira is unwell, as she was for a couple of weeks. I don't sleep much with pain so I feel that I might as well be up with Indira. I know that my family want me to be well, they want me to rest BUT I can't get past feeling that I'm building up a debt, a debt with large interest payments and therefore I can't afford to rest.
I'll never be able to pay my pain debt, the time that Pete has taken from work, or golf, or tennis. I've provided somewhat more in other ways but I know that, in the long run, the true energy debt is not my own because I am rarely pain free long enough to run up a debt. When something happens that causes me to add to this debt from other areas, I can feel myself become defensive...I'm slapping on my mental armour and bolstering myself up to do more, to push harder to be the partner/mother/lover that I think I should be.
And you know what? I hate it. I RESENT IT! I'm in pain through no fault of my own and I truly do almost everything I can to be more able. The problem is that my resentment shows up when I'm sick and trying so damn hard to unstack the fucking dishwasher...and there goes one of Pete's bowls, one of the few things from 'before me'. Instantly the focus of my resentment becomes Pete...and it has nothing to do with Pete. He doesn't expect me to do all this stuff, to organise and create serenity wherever I am. I expect this. and I RESENT IT. Why I drive myself to do and be never ceases to drive me up the wall but it is what it is.
Earlier I spoke of positives. I know, I don't sound very positive right now and honestly, I haven't found a positive to this guilt. However, in feeling better I realise how lucky I am to have a partner, a good man, how lucky I am to have a healthy child that screams into the night and kicks the dog (another story!). I feel resentful at times but I wouldn't have anything without them. Weird, isn't it? I even feel vaguely affectionate towards the dishwasher - how much harder would my life be without it? There'd be a whole lot more broken plates...and it wouldn't be an accident! I hate washing up, it hurts sooo much. I feel blessed because I have the luxury to feel resentful, does that make any sort of mixed up sense? There are so many people with pain out there that have it so much harder. Therefore I am blessed...and when I'm well enough to feel it, well enough to recognise that my standards are not Peter's standards, I know I am blessed. Utterly blessed.
If you have any tips for dealing with the guilt or the constant fight against being a burden to those you love, I'm all ears.
As is obvious I still haven't had an opportunity to take a photo of my own rebounder - or me on it. Considering the level of 'bounce' a rebounder provides, you may have to be satisfied with a photo of the actual contraption. I say contraption but it is ultimately a prime example of German simplicity and practicality. Any German readers? I am not afraid to admit my open appreciation of German creation - whether it be cars that I can't afford or rebounders that I also can't afford. The Bellicon really is the Mercedes of rebounders. Anyone get the joke? HA! Yeah, so not funny. As some of you know Peter and Indira have both been sick and guess what? Now that it's all over for them and I am no longer the sole captain of this ship, I've picked it up. Murphy's law. I feel like one of Scootie's bleached poops that she hides around the yard. Have I ever mentioned that Scooter doesn't poop in her own backyard if it can possibly be avoided? She has two runs a day to help her avoid soiling her home and Peter and I have spotted many a late night in our jammies walking our bright white poodle back and forth down at the 'Poop Stop'. It makes for interesting conversations with the neighbours...and I have absolutely no idea why I write this tripe. Back to the rebounder. With sick family, general pain and the stress of being the one who thinks she has to hold it together, I haven't had a great deal of time to use my new toy. Indira loves it. Have I said that INDIRA LOVES MY REBOUNDER? Yup, she sure does but considering how close she's come to Traumatic Brain Injury I suggest you keep them away from 2 year olds or have a minimum of a two person guard. Perhaps consider buying one of those massive backyard tramps with a really high net...that's what we will do as soon as we can see the bottom of our can of debt. My Bellicon arrived right in the middle of all our stress and disorganisation but I still took the time to get to know it carefully. It really does work almost every muscle in your body - though I couldn't get my finger behind my eye ball so I'm not sure about those muscles, but if NASA say it's true, it must be true. Cate, from Rebound For Life, strongly recommended that I take it easy to start with and just 'health bounce'. Health Bouncing is where you bounce down with your feet and don't aim to get airborne. It's guaranteed to make you smile and becomes meditative after 5 minutes or so. I'm pretty sure I was meant to advance at 10 minutes a few times a day but taking advice has never been my strong suit. I will make clear that I didn't experience any additional pain from the 'health bouncing' at all. I also burnt an average of 300 calories per half hour, which is a fair amount for a 58kg (ok! 60kg), short female. I will admit that it's very hard to only bounce for 5-10 minutes, you automatically want to bounce for longer - unless you have a sick 2 year old screaming 'MUMMY!'. The second night I was in a bit of a state by the time Indira went to bed. By 4pm I am always in at least double the amount of pain as in the morning. Before Indira came along I was always in bed from 4-6pm to make sure Pete and I could spend some time together. This isn't possible anymore so I just grin and suffer. On good days. On bad days I seethe as every little sign of mess and disorganisation, otherwise known as WORK, drive me a little more mental. During bad times I've been known to take Lovan (fluoxetine) for a few weeks to stop this happening...and it does work. Unfortunately if I took enough pain relief to dull the pain I wouldn't be able to care for Indira. We do everything we can for her not to know how much I struggle at this time but there's only so much you can hide from children. Anyway, because Peter had been sick, he'd misplaced his brain for 3 days and hadn't done a single thing around the house. This was not good news for my mood. I could feel myself snap the moment we closed Indira's door. It's a miracle of motherhood that you can just keep on going while you have to. I went down stairs, put my head phones in and started bouncing. To begin with I was just trying out various bounces etc while I waited to see if Pete would come and apologise. Pretty silly of me considering he didn't even realise he'd done anything wrong. Note to self - Do Not Expect Peter To Be Psychic. Music is one of my great loves and the right tune is more effective than morphine, better than the finest champagne. Maybe. I was listening to some pretty fierce dance stuff because that's what I needed and that's when I discovered something that made me cry. I CAN DANCE ON THE REBOUNDER! I danced to Drinking From The Bottle, Calvin Harris, then Can't Hold Us by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and of course, (because I was starting to feel good again) Moves like Jagger by Maroon 5. I danced and danced and loved every minute of it. Before I knew it 35 minutes had passed and I'd burnt 535 calories. What can I say? I'm results oriented. Even in a bad mood, I'm still going to strap on a heart rate monitor....and I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only chick that dances in her living room only if she knows she's going to get something out of it. Cynical, huh. Cate was right. I had overdone it a bit. I was a bit stiff through my thoracic but not in any worrying way, just letting me know it was there. My legs were also pretty sore too - I could really see my quads and hamstrings and let me tell you, it's been a while! Rebounding is a much bigger workout than running. I would suggest that this has something to do with the Bellicon being bungee cords rather than springs. You have to work, without realising it, to propel yourself upward and forward...and sideways :) Just like a kid! I'd imagine the spring rebounders would be a bit easier but more jarring. I know Pete's was, I couldn't bounce on it. So, I was in a freaking great mood. Yes, I was sore but it was exertion soreness, gotta love that. I was comfortably exercise high and tired. All the things that I used to love about running. I should also mention that it's true, rebounding is great for the poop centre. That day it took 35 minutes. The next day it took 25 minutes. How cool is that? Do not tell me that I am the only CP patient that suffers from chronic constipation - I would roll around on the floor laughing...if it didn't hurt so much. I spend lots of dollars each year on comfortable pooping. Around $300, if everything goes smoothly. That means that perhaps my Bellicon wasn't so outrageously expensive after all. I am currently using Extra Strong cords on my rebounder because they are rated for Pete's weight as the heaviest user. The Strong (rather than Ex strong) cords are actually better for me and seeing as Cate threw some into the deal because of all our delivery issues, I am going to try them out as soon as I get 5 healthy minutes. I think this will be even easier on my back because the bounce will be softer. My impression is that for chronic pain it is important to use the softest bands for your weight class because this will be the most gentle ride...as well as the most challenging for your cardiovascular system and best lymphatic work out. Even though my bouncing has been a bit sporadic with sick family members, the 10 minutes of health bouncing I am doing here and there have burnt a solid 1kg or 2.3lb. I was really surprised because I've been fueling myself with a lot of chocolate to get through the last weeks. On the 8th Feb I start a Qibounding workshop which gets a lot of kudos on the net. I am looking forward to working with Sylvia and learning how to get the most out of my rebounder. I am getting really enthusiastic because this works, it boosts your heart rate whilst not taxing your body. I strongly urge you to clean out the garage, ask the neighbours, have a look on Craigslist - there is even proven benefit from sitting on a rebounder whilst someone else bounces you, it still works your lymphatic system. Did you know that we have more lymph fluid than blood and the only way it works is by exercise? If you don't move, neither does it - and it's the garbage disposal of your body. I'm going to stop here because I'm too unwell to know if I'm talking to much, which I think I am.
I am looking forward to finally getting more time on my rebounder but perhaps it's actually a good thing for me that I'm having to start with mostly short bounces. Did you see that? I just flipped a negative into a positive :)