Sometimes it feels like my life is one big rollercoaster of weaning off pain meds or having them increased for one reason or another - PAIN.  I don't usually mind that I take pain medication and am reliant upon it to live a 'normal' life - until I think about things like a Zombie Apocolypse, then I don't feel so comfortable.  How easy do you think it would be trying to smash heads (the only way to kill a zombie) when you're going through serious withdrawals?  I'd be one of the first to turn I reckon.  Its thought processes like this that drive me to reduce my medication whenever possible.  Don't get the wrong idea here, I KNOW that zombies don't exist but what about solar flares, huh?  Aliens?  

Reducing ones pain meds is not as easy as it sounds, not like deciding not to have another cheeseburger anyway!  If you're reducing narcotics then you're going to have to deal with withdrawals symptoms of some description.  If your doc is nice then it might be limited to a runny nose and twitching legs (RLS sucks).  If your doctor is an arse then asking them for a med reduction may result in being ripped off your meds and a few very uncomfortable weeks...and months.  I'm sure that patients would be more comfortable trialling a medication reduction if they weren't terrified that their doctor would then refuse to raise them back up if needed.  It's a vicious cycle that and something that most CP patients and doctors that I know struggle with.  There is only one real answer to this that I can see and it requires a willing to trust, to educate and be educated and to communicate.  If you've got a doctor that's had bad experiences with pain patients or their own narrow views then I would look for another doctor if possible...but that's just me.

Even if your meds aren't opiates, which cause a well documented physical dependence, many other pain modulators cause a dependence to the point where they cannot be stopped easily.  It's my personal experience that Endep (a tricyclic antidepressant pain modulator) and epileptic medications (such as Gabapentin or pregablin) are actually more difficult to wean off than opiates because the side effects are more drawn out.  The insomnia I experience when I stop Endep is incredible, partially because my pain is increased but that's only one small part of it.  I tend to find that there is a whole lot less support from your doctors if you announce you are weaning off one of your adjunct medication whilst still taking opiates.  I've also found that sympathy for the side effects is in short supply because these types of pain modulation are much 'safer' than opiates.  Safer from addiction but that's about it.  These medication absolutely do have a place and I couldn't live without them, though I do try as often as I can - as I've said in other blogs, they make me fat :(

Opiates, taken as prescribed, are by and large some of the safest meds in the world.  However, the stigma attached to downing them every day can make it difficult to keep doing.  There is also the uncomfortable knowledge that over the long term you have two basic choices, wean off or keep increasing the dose.  Sometimes you simply don't have a choice, your pain is simply too awful and you cannot function in a life where a functioning you is necessary.  When this is the case I have no guilt, I REFUSE to feel guilty for a medication that stops me from killing myself.  I'm sure most of you feel the same, if you are in this situation.  As soon as my pain stabilises, however, I start to wonder how much I could drop the dose and still function as a mother.  This thought nudges away at me during the good times until I institute another weaning.  Something that I have been very successful with and have down to a fine art.  Not to say that it's easy, it's never easy but it is largely controllable.

I don't know if anyone would like me to write about what I do but if so then let me know.  If you are considering lowering or weaning off your medication I advise you to talk to your doctor...hopefully you can trust them to have your best interests at heart because there are medications that are really helpful with withdrawal symptoms.  Unfortunately you usually do have to accept a greater level of pain but I find that provided I have good breakthrough medication I can make it through.  Our bodies can cope with incredibly amounts of pain and the one thing you get when you don't take opiates daily is the rush of your own endorphins...and they are incredible pain killers.  It takes time and patience to get to this point but I've done it and been glad that I did - I have also ended back on meds every time because of another herniated disc or serious surgery but I still don't regret it.  

I have a greater sense of control over my life now, even when I take meds around the clock.  I didn't feel like this in the beginning, then I felt that they ruled me rather than the other way around.  I was terrified of withdrawal and increased pain and I felt trapped.  We are all different and none of us should feel shame associated with the medication we take, whether you take it occasionally or each and every day.  What I do is not for everyone and I don't know that I would/will bother at a later age - however, at 31 years old I feel the need to remind myself that I choose to take these medications for pain, not because my body is dependent on them.  That's not an easy distinction to make and I don't judge those that don't want to try.  One day we will have access to genetically modified medications that control, or eradicate our pain without any side effects...maybe. 
Or, if I'm being honest, these are items that I WISH I couldn't live without.  I can't afford them all but they are on the Dream List.

These things make my pain bearable.  They make living in pain easier and more comfortable.  I cannot change my pain, cannot remove it from my life, but I can alter my environment and in turn my mental and emotional outlook.  Spending the day in bed sucks, it's boring and the worst part is that if I'm spending the day in bed then I sure as hell have a lot of pain...if I didn't I wouldn't be in bed!  Makes me want to slap those people that tell me how lucky I am upside the face to be honest.  You think I wouldn't prefer to be with my child?  Walking and lunching with my beautiful family?  Exactly, it's a silly thing to say.  It also has nothing to do with what I'm writing here but it's something we all face at one time or another and it does make us feel guilty and unworthy, which I'm sure wasn't the intent when commenting on how lucky I am to spend the day in bed, by myself.  Ever had a hangover?  A real, thumping, nauseating, Tequila slammer hangover?  This is what these days feel like.

Some of us with pain are able to comfortably spend the day on the couch and I can tell you am insanely jealous of them.  I am not able to do this so it's the bed or well, I guess it's the coffin.  Sorry, bizarre brain fail.  We do not have television in our bedroom either so there are no tv related objects...if you cannot survive the day without Housewives of NYC then you may want to quit reading here (have I told you how much I love these shows?).

Mum, Indira and I
Today is my birthday, at 7:46pm I will be 31 years old.  Long gone are the months of excitement leading up to my birthday...remember those?  Even when I was 21 it was still exciting.  Still a reason to go out and celebrate.  Somewhere though the gloss starts to come away and birthday's instil a different feeling, it's a speedy kind of vibe and somehow it's not just about you anymore.   

It wasn't until I became a mother that birthday's really took on a new meaning, a much deeper meaning.  It's a bittersweet feeling when you think about your child's Birth Day and likely to bring tears to your eyes, tears of happiness tinged with sadness that you will never get that day back.  I will never look at the wrinkly little bundle again and wonder how the hell that was stuck in there..and what about my saggy tummy, will that ever recover?!  I wonder if my mother felt like this on 31 March 1983?  Surely she wasn't worrying about something so trivial and self-centred as her body when she had just given birth to me.  Right?  Sure.  Whatever she was thinking I can now relate to without feeling embarrassed.  Those happy tears she has when we break open a bottle of bubbly at 7:30pm?  I get that now.  That slightly deranged expression she has when she talks about my first cry...and how she knew it was me, even in a nursery full of babies...I GET THAT NOW.  I feel bad that I ever took the piss out of her for being tearful or that I felt embarrassed that she still worried about me when I was 20 years old and used to ring me when I was clubbing.

I haven't written a birth story for Indira yet.  Perhaps I never will, though finally the desire is getting stronger.  I would like her to understand what I was feeling that day and more importantly, the days after.  It was such an atypical pregnancy and then the birth was practically an anti-climax (shoot me dead for saying that...but it's true).  She was so small, just a tiny, pipsqueak of a thing that I couldn't hold.  Indira was a living child, my responsibility but she wasn't my baby yet.  Even though everything was back-to-front I doubt I am the only mother who has felt this way.  My mother didn't feel this way, I know this because she tells me so and I believe her because her pregnancy was a drama in every way and her experience was totally different.

I was my mother's eight pregnancy and her last.  I am an only child.  Two of Mum's miscarriages were stillbirths, stillbirths that didn't die immediately, being born at 7 months.  How she, and Dad, had the courage to try again I'll never know, I sure as hell wouldn't have.  Two strikes and you're out, kid.  Who am I fooling, perhaps the desire to have a child only gets stronger and all those crazy hormones drive you forward to reproduce again, and again.  Mum spent a lot of her pregnancy in hospital after she nearly lost me too and it sounds like a dreamy time, lost from reality.  Mum was be safe and warm in hospital and my Dad, a brilliant cook, would bring in dinner and a bottle of wine every evening (for him, not her...although I don't doubt she had a couple here and there).  Mum was released from hospital for the day on Ash Wednesday.

She can remember standing in front of our pool, the smoke like a bank in front of her.  So many people lost their lives that day, lost loved ones, lost possessions.  Mum was 32 weeks pregnant and carrying a baby that she knew (finally) would survive.  Such a happy day, to have made it to 32 weeks at the age of 41 with a high risk pregnancy but at the same time that Australia was mourning.  Birthday's are bittersweet.  Life is so cruel in it's balance.  Rarely does something truly wonderful happen without something sad accompanying it.  Perhaps this isn't such a bad thing because it makes you appreciate every special moment and it's human nature to forget how lucky we are.

I feel so grateful to be here, I really didn't think I would be.  Gratitude is such a serious word, but it's appropriate.  I feel gratitude for all the wonderful loves in my life, loves that I never imagined nor really feel that I deserve.  Somewhere along the way I let go of a lifetime of insecurity to fall in love with Peter, to trust him with my heart.  We have bumbled along, from one drama to the next and although he drives me stark raving mad, I do not imagine my life without him.  We now have a child.  Indira.  All through my pregnancy I worried because other peoples kids drove me crazy and I just didn't feel it, the excitement just wasn't there.  To talk to Pete and I you would have thought we were waiting for a new couch we had ordered.  We didn't make plans or talk to our developing child.  We were completely out of our depth.  How little we knew!

Enter Indira and within a very short time my one goal was to be the best mother that I could be.  My birthdays are not about me anymore, we celebrate them for Indira.  Indira's expression this morning was priceless, she was horrified that Mummy was having a Birthday.  Pete's birthday was last Wednesday and that was hard enough for a 21/2 year old but this was pure torture for Indi who insists that it's HER birthday.   So, I have not had a cuddle, haven't had a 'happy birthday, Mummy' and I probably won't get one.  But that's ok because like everything that has changed, so has this.  It's not about me anymore, it's about Indira and our family.  I can understand and appreciate my own mother so much more on days like today.  My birthday is truly special now only to my mother and the new 'day' in my life is Independence Day, Indira's Birthday...and that's exactly how it should be.
As you've probably noticed I've been doing a bit of research into diet and pain.  On the homefront I've also been dealing with a child who has presented with a number of intollerances/allergies, resulting in hives and/or anaphylaxis.  Nothing sparks fear in a mother's heart like watching their child gasp for breath just as nothing soothes like watching them run around like demented chickens 30 minutes later (post meds).  In honesty it is Indira's issues that have renewed my interest in nutrition and the beneficial and damaging aspects of food.  Indira's response has been found to be mostly autoimmune now but that's a scary story for another day.

A few weeks ago a saw an allergy specialist on my mission to help my child.  He sparked my curiosity regarding food by explaining the immune responses that we have to food and how the gut creates inflammation.  All inflammation is a lifesaving response - even in the case of anaphylaxis which may accidently result in death for the poor host.  My Mum's side of the family has a very high prevalence of Coeliac disease.  In fact my mother and I are almost the only ones that tested negative once my cousin was discovered to have bowel cancer caused by Coeliac disease.  Apparently our family incidence of Coeliac is one of the highest in Australia.  This is why at 18 I was immensely relieved to discover, after blood and villi tests, that I was most certainly NOT coeliac...and thank goodness because I was 18 years old, out 3 nights a week and the only way I survived to the next day was by soaking the alcohol up with La Bella pizza at 2am - don't judge, I was a very serious, unpopular child and starting University opened up a whole, new, exciting and intoxicating world for me.

Dr Cooling explained to me that unfortunately a negative test when you are young doesn't mean you are in the clear and with my long list of gut issues I should explore my intolerances - not the reason for the appointment but the man is good at his job.  He recommended the Low FODMAP diet to me which reduces the known poorly absorbed sugars in foods to control gastrointestinal symptoms.  This diet was created by the Monash University and is now a gold standard internationally in treating IBS.  These sugars can be difficult to break down in the gut resulting in fermentation by the bacteria in the gut - this leads to gas and all the nasty other effects seen in IBS patients.  The FODMAP diet is followed for 4 - 6 weeks and then you can reintroduce foods carefully to see how you respond.  The sugars specifically looked at are:
  • Fructose - found in honey and certain foods (low fructose fruits are ok)
  • Lactose
  • Sugar polyols, sorbitol and mannitol - found in some vegetables, as artificial sweeteners and even some fibre supplements
  • Fructans - fructo-ogliosaccharides (FOS) - wheat, rye, onions, garlic :(
  • Galacto-ogliosaccharides (GOS) chickpeas and other legumes

I decided to forgo more Coeliac testing because I didn't want to see this as a possibility - I'd give up lactose before gluten and everyone knows that I'm a latte addict.  Pete wasn't much impressed but the Doc also pointed out that many intollerances are hereditary and Indira is much too young to be put on any sort of restrictive diet without known cause.  Good Father guilt hits hard and he agreed to support me - I say 'support me' because he dumped the diet faster than you can say 'loyal partner' the other day when ice cream showed it had a stronger hold over him than I do.  He'll keep.  Anyway, it really isn't that hard once you get passed the fact that you can't have onions and garlic - I put onions and garlic in almost every meal as it's base so this horrified and challenged me.  You can however throw the onion and garlic in and then remove them later, problem solved.

First up, let me tell you, I have felt better than I have felt gut wise in a very long time.  I've had one case of bloating when I cheated.  My constipation issues are less, although I think that's mostly my rebounder.  I haven't had to climb into my dressing gown once to hide my bloated stomach so it also does wonders for your sex life too.  The diet basically calms your gut and allows inflammation to heal.  Great stuff - and you can still drink coffee and wine :)

So, yesterday I decided to test gluten (Fructans) because this is what I'm missing most and my cooking needs garlic!  I had scones.  Scones?  Yup, it was what was calling my name.  I had one scone and I felt so unwell I was sure it had to be in my head, but then it got worse so I decided it must be gastro.  Let me explain.  I suddenly became really hot all over, not unlike when I had anaphylaxis to be honest, and then my stomach cramped up.  I had an hour of the most horrible gastro symptoms you can imagine and ended up in bed pretty sure that was what I had (or that evil eyed baker had poisoned me).  I slept for an hour and woke up much better, just bloated and with higher than usual pain levels - that could have been the vomiting and diarrhoea though.  In the past 24 hours I've had blood and mucous in my stools as well.  Bet you really wanted to know that ;)  Totally not fun and the idea that I had to do this more than once scared me - this is to make sure you really are intolerant to a food and to try to determine what levels of that food are acceptable, eg. most people that lactose intolerant can have up to 1/3 cup milk without problems.

I couldn't get ahold of my allergy doctor today so I rang an immunologist friend who explained to me that I am very intolerant to gluten and possibly even allergic based on my response.  His recommendation was to avoid all gluten but if I ever do eat it regularly again for 2 weeks to retest for Coeliac.  I can retest for onions and garlic because these are other Fructans that I do not want to quit on.  He also explained that the reason you have such definitive results when you test these foods (trust me, you will KNOW if you shouldn't be eating this food) is because these are the foods that are high in FODMAPs also create prebiotics in our gut so when we eat a 'bad' food our gut response is stronger without the calming effect of the prebiotics.  That's why the FODMAP diet, even though it makes you feel great, shouldn't be a lifestyle choice.

My pain today is shocking.  This post has taken nearly 12 hours to put together, that's how horrible I feel.  The FODMAP diet looks mainly at foods that upset your gut but any foods that cause inflammation are likely to affect other areas of your body too - if only because your energy is being wasted dealing with foods your body cannot digest.  I am amazed that one scone, one ugly, little scone can make me feel so bad.  I now have full sympathy for my irritating gluten-free cousins and friends.  I now fully understand how it would be utterly devastating to have uncontrollable diarrhoea at a restaurant because they weren't careful enough, it happened to me in the space of about 15 minutes.

Linda asked on Facebook about sugars, not FOMAPs but the general daily sugars that we are faced with.  I have been trying to avoid them for a long time because I know they don't agree with me and make my pain worse.  I have had good results avoiding all table sugar, lollies (which make me feral anyway), confectionary chocolate and sweet cakes etc.  I do still eat good quality dark chocolate...far too much of it in fact and it doesn't make me feel bad.  I eat honey in small amounts (not on this diet though) but I buy honey with proven activity and usually on the comb.  I find I still have to be careful with things like maple syrup but the lower GI sugars like coconut sugar are great.  Agave syrup is a tough one.  If it's proven to be made properly and really is low GI natural Agave then it's fine but it's not an easy thing to be sure of so I tend to avoid it.  Generally I find that if a sugar is low GI then it shouldn't cause an inflammatory response.  I think we would all benefit from cutting out sugar for the most part, pain or no pain, there is nothing healthy about it and I'm quite convinced it's just plain dangerous.

And before I sound like a zealot I'll sign off :)
There's a diet for just about everything these days.  Have you got cellulite, weight to lose or too much facial hair?  I'm pretty sure there is a diet out there for you.  Whether or not there is any evidence behind them is just silly, why would you want evidence before embarking on a journey of self-deprevation and torture?!  Goodness gracious, there's a diet for paranoia too you know, just drink lemon juice spiked with cayenne pepper (not vodka unfortunately) and within a week you should be skinny, too calorie deprived to think let alone be paranoid...and you'll probably have a sore bottom from all the chilli.  Yay!  Where do I sign up?

Seriously though, there are 'Diets' that are beneficial.  They are usually the diets that form a way of life rather than a test of will power and misery.  The Mediterranean Diet is one that has a verifiable ton of evidence behind it and is actually very enjoyable.  Elimination diets have a place in the short term for helping to improve quality of life in the long term.  The type of diet I'm talking about here is a diet based on anti-inflammatory foods to reduce the pain we suffer daily.  Can food be medicine?  Can some foods even make our pain worse?  

Wow, feels like a while since I've had a chance to write.  Increased pain and a public holiday have played havoc with my life.  I know I sound like the grinch but now that I don't work, public holidays drive me up the wall and around the bend.  They upset the fragile balance of my tenuously organised life...and that's just not good for anyone.  I'll admit it, I don't like change and I don't like surprises.  Gosh, doesn't that make me sound like a barrel of laughs?  For a long time I would have said that I was impulsive, that I absolutely thrived on shifting ground - a mortgage or family?  Come on!  That's for other people, right?

Not so much these days.  It was Pete that made me realise that I really am stuck in the mud, head first.  We were chatting in the kitchen and I was having a go at him because it had been 318 days since the last bunch of flowers and 112 days since our last surprise date.  Something about my line of accusation amused Pete - which is the sole reason Pete and I survive, he finds my frustrations amusing (Me?  Not so much).  Pete proceeded to tell me that I HATE surprises and that each and every time he does something without my prior knowledge I get in a stressed out grump.

No?!  Really?!  I was so floored.  What do you mean I don't like to do things on impulse?  Impulse is sexy and um, aren't I the strong, adaptable woman that I see in my own head?  It appears not.  He's right too, I don't like change - except the changes that I initiate myself.  A couple of weeks ago (on ANOTHER stupid long weekend) Trish and Dean came by with the delectable Archer.  Dean had a story to tell about dropping to the supermarket and doing something nice for Trish - buying some yummy looking ice creams that they wouldn't normally buy.  Duh!  I had a full on mental head slap moment because, without even having to look at Trish I knew he'd committed a serious crime and instigated a craving for a Magnum.  The only thing that would have been worse is Trish expecting a certain type of ice cream and receiving another - you'd get a better response serving up some arsenic...that Trish could then slip in Dean's coffee.  Sounds high maintenance, huh?  But it's not because if you just buy what you always buy then you'll get nothing but praise - and if you must have something different then guarantee a win by buying both options.  We aren't unreasonable, we are open to new ice-cream in the knowledge that 'old favourite' is languishing in the freezer in case the new one tastes like deep fried flounder.

Sounds so silly, doesn't it?  I'm sure we aren't all like this, in fact I'm pretty damn sure that MOST people aren't.  However, for some of us CONTROL FREAKS, change is really intimidating.  I know I got worse after my accident but I think that being anxious by nature, I've always had a tendency to want to know exactly what's happening - and more importantly, what WILL happen.  Unfortunately life just isn't like that.  I've asked Pete many times if he'd like me to work on it but he's ok with it, that's me and he knows what to expect.  It just means there won't be any surprise holiday's, that we can't afford, in the future - and honestly, can you imagine anything worse?  It's the middle of winter, you have legs that are whiter than paper and hairier than your standard poodle (plus that extra couple of kg of central heating).  How relaxing is that?  Hubby rocks up and says 'pack your bags, honey, we're heading to the Caribbean in 2 hours'.  Ok, that DOES sound pretty good but I need a week, just one week to get organised and then I'll be your strong, adaptable woman but the better version with smooth, tanned legs....and a bikini wax.

This is yet another one of those posts that I don't know why I wrote.  To all those other women out there that dread change, dread being expected to be impulsive, I feel your pain.  In fact, if you have pain then I doubt that impulsive is possible very often - unless it's well planned in advance...and I think that might ruin the 'impulsive' bit.  Oh well.  Should we aspire to be that sexy woman that says 'Let's go, baby, it'll all be here when we get back' ?  I'm not sure but it certainly doesn't have a bearing on whether you're a good person who treats your partner well. 

Any your ability to exasperate your other half with your refusal to budge means funny stories for them to tell their's another thread that actually holds us together.
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.