Festive Fat Felling

It sounds far more adventurous than calling it weight watching, doesn’t it? I’m Festive Fat Felling!

Since last writing I’ve really stuck to my calorie reduced living. I’m not dieting as such; all I do is note down the calories in what I eat, try to stay around 1200 calories a day and drink plenty of water. Sometimes I’m just over and most times I’m just under. I’m still eating platefuls of delicious food and drinking my beloved gin and, most importantly, I don’t feel as if I’m dieting. For instance, tonight I’m having an Indian takeaway meal and I have plenty of calories left in the bank for a gin or two!

And I’m losing weight! So far I’ve lost 8lbs or half a stone in 13 days. I should know how much that is in kilos, but I really don’t care. I’m an imperial/metric crossover kid, still old enough to remember doing imperial maths at school and still young enough to remember being shown a 50p coin and gasping at its alien form. Some things I do in imperial measure and others in metric. It’s probably annoying but, again, I don’t care.

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I’m back at work and I have to admit that the three weeks I took off at Christmas have given me a false sense of wellbeing. When I do next to nothing I feel great. I’ve been back at work a week and I’m knackered. Not just sore, but very weary. I’m getting worn out by the constant pain and there is nothing I can do about it. I take the pills I’m prescribed and have a couple of (allowed, medically and dietary) G&Ts a night and then I try and get a night’s sleep. Those of you who have endured long term chronic pain will understand that there is no position of comfort for any length of time, whether it’s standing, sitting or lying. I’ve taken to sleeping with a pillow under my knees to try and take the pressure off my back. I can’t sleep on my left side because I still have bursitis and sleeping on my front hurts my back. So I try to move between lying on my back and lying on my right side as gently as I can. It hurts whatever I do so I rarely have a really good night’s sleep and that adds to my tiredness. Something else for me to moan about!

I’m really pleased, though, with my weight loss. I’ve said that I’ll try to lose a further 30lbs, with my goal being me being even lighter than I was when all this started. I might not achieve that and, to be honest, if I could just get back to my pre-injury weight, I’d be happy. Another stone would do that, so it’s not much to ask of myself and it would probably help with  my recovery post-surgery.

I’ve no news on that front. My doctor suggested a four month wait from referral, which takes me to April time. Whether that’s to meet the neurosurgeon and discuss options or not, I don’t know. I’ve scheduled a regular doctors appointment to keep on top of pain management and developments, which is helping me feel a little more in control.

Again, if anyone wants to befriend me on MyFitnessPal, I’m Paintergirl21. I’ve amassed a few very supportive contacts already from all over the world. We support each other’s achievements and give advice when its asked for.

And, as runners, we all know about motivation…

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My world just got bigger!

My poor husband has put up with my agonisingly slow attempts at walking for months now, walking patiently by my side and supporting me when I inevitably needed it. We’ve passed up chances to go to places and do things that last year we would have jumped at doing. We were no longer going to places where I would need to walk any further than from, say, the car to the house. Shopping had become almost impossible, often with me (especially at the end of the working day) having to sit down at regular intervals around whichever store we were in or standing, stork-like, when choosing things from shelves! My world, our world, had shrunk beyond recognition. I was doing what I had to do and sitting everything else out. We were increasingly spending more and more time apart and neither of us liked it.

I had had a taste of being pushed about in a wheelchair and I hated feeling vulnerable and out of control. So I came up with a compromise; I would buy a self-propelling wheelchair, one that the occupant pushes along by hand. I’d seen a few on ebay and had done a bit of research, but decided to ask a care expert.

On Friday afternoon hubbie came up to the my gallery in Dumfries and we walked, slowly, across to The Care Shop on Great King Street. I said pretty much what I’ve just written and was told, in no uncertain terms, how difficult it is to push yourself in a wheelchair! Dumfries is a hilly town and even to take my advertising board from my gallery on Irish Street to the High Street means me going up a fairly steep hill. Going up hills is something bursitis makes very painful for me, and trying to push myself up one wouldn’t be easy. So, after a bit of convincing, I finally ordered something I never thought I would:

I needed something that I could quickly and easily dismantle and put into the back of my car. The Colibri is shorter wheelbase than most and breaks down into five pieces. It fits perfectly into my car boot!

I went to doctors last week to chase up my MRI scan. It’s been requested, but the waiting list is about 3 months long. It could be another month before I even get the scan, despite my doctor offering to chase it up. In the meantime I didn’t intend to carry on the way I have been. I can’t walk any distance without discomfort. I find that by the end of the day I am sore and unable to even stand for longer than a minute. I’m just about managing to get through a work day and school days have been tougher because I spend too many times getting in and out of the car with the peripatetic role I have. Cooking a meal, or standing for a shower are virtually impossible by the evening.

So I’m actually embracing my new found independence. I don’t much like the tuts I get from people who think I’m getting in their way, when in reality I spend a great deal of time and effort ensuring that I don’t get in anyone’s way, or being ignored by people who don’t acknowledge anyone smaller than their waist-height! I went around the supermarket yesterday, accompanied by my hubbie, actually focusing on what we needed to buy, rather than wanting to grab as much as I could as fast as I could, so that I could get out and back to the car and a seat! I went to the pub and didn’t have to stop on the way down and sit on the wall before restarting the painful journey ( we live a quarter of a mile from the pub!)

I spent a day without pain etched on my face.

I still struggled when cooking the tea; I still stood like a stork, in an effort to take weight off my left leg and leaned heavily on the worktop, but I had accomplished two other things which I had previously dreaded.

And I don’t even care if people are now calling me ‘Madge’ and offering to top up my spray tan. In the words of Madge…

madge

Just joking!

And talking of funny things, here’s a taste of Madge on Benidorm if you’ve got three minutes to spare!

 

 

Still Crazy

Yesterday I spent the day with my husband, crossing something off our Couple’s Bucket List – travelling on the beautiful Carlisle to Settle railway. It was a lovely day and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. I had little contact with social media and so it wasn’t until we got home that I saw that it had also been a momentous day for about 40,000 runners as they took part in the Great North Run.

I’d vowed, after the first one I did, not to do the GNR again. I loved the race and did my best half marathon time so far doing it, but I hated the crowds and the getting there and the getting home. And the cost!

But yesterday, after seeing all those smiling folk clutching medals, my mind went straight back to 2012. It was my first half marathon race ever and I felt totally out of my depth. I was so nervous! This morning I decided to pay homage and wear my 2012 T-shirt, but I soon realised that since not being able to run lately my T-shirt is slightly too snug for comfort.

Great North Run, 2012
Great North Run, 2012

On the hip front, well I’m not further forward. I’m still taking my pills and I’m still able to walk further than I was in mid-August. I’ve even started cycling, albeit on a stationary bike, and can manage 10k at a time with no apparent adverse effects. When I started my left leg appeared much weaker than my right, so I’m gradually building that strength back up. I finish each session with 5-10 minutes of yoga stretches. I’m not cured. There are times when I walk too far and my hip screams its disapproval at me, bringing me to a painful full stop.

I haven’t heard from the doctor or the hospital. Getting a doctor’s appointment is really difficult and even phone appointments have to be booked a week ahead. So I haven’t tried. I know I should and I know I should be pushing this forward, but I’m getting tired of being poked and prodded and hummed and aahhhed over. I just want a nice, quick fix so I can get back to where I was, a runner running half marathons.

In the meantime I guess I’ll stick to my bike in the shed. And be grateful that I can, at least, cycle on the spot.

Total Coincidence?

I feel as if I should be crossing fingers, touching wood and throwing salt over my shoulder whilst turning round three times with my eyes closed. I think I’ve cracked it. I think I’m finally on the mend.

Not because of anything the physio or the chiropractor or the doctor has done because, frankly, nothing they have done to relieve my hip bursitis has helped. I went to see the physio on Friday past with the intention of telling her pointedly that enough was enough, I was reduced to using a stick (and latterly a wheelchair) to get around and I needed something sorted. She agreed and said that she’d have to write to my doctor recommending a referral to the Orthapaedic department at the hospital (she couldn’t refer me directly, my doctor had to – how crazy is that?!)

I was that fed up that I went to a local health shop called Jan De Vries, a Scottish based firm with a not so Scottish sounding name! I explained my many woes to the assistant who recommended £40 worth of pills and potions. And I bought them all, such was my desperation.

I started taking them the following Saturday morning, having been brought back from a family wedding in a wheelchair, unable to make the walk from the venue to our house less than a mile away. I has spent the evening painfully moving from room to room and finally managed one dance when I was well and truly full of gin and then had to stand against the wall until my husband could help me back to my seat! I was in a lot of pain. Being wheeled about wasn’t pleasant; I felt helpless and out of control. I felt vulnerable for the first time in a long time.

However, on Sunday, day two, we attended a car show and I managed to walk around the entire field, having noticed that my walk across to the toilet block was pain-free.

On Monday, day three, I walked unaided around Aldi and Lidl and spent the afternoon in the garden, actually gardening!

Today, Tuesday, day four, I attended an all day course and was able to forgo my stick and walk at the same speed as everyone else during lunchtime. I’m a little bit sore after gardening yesterday, but nothing…NOTHING in comparison to how I was just a few days ago.

I am astonished.

So, what are my magic potions? Well, for a start they are all plant-based and totally natural. Not a man-made or animal based drug amongst them. Most items can be found in your garden or vegetable patch.

First of all, this is a joint and muscle complex containing anti-inflammatories and blood cleansing items such as fennel seed and celery seed.

I take two, twice a day.

They are gluten free and totally vegan.

Then, to further help the inflammation, I rub Arnica gel onto my hip and down the outside of my thigh to my knee two-three times a day.

I have to remember that Arnica is toxic and wash my hands thoroughly though!

The gel is pleasant, easily absorbed and hasn’t stained my clothes.

Lastly, to rebuild the damage the bursitis has done, I am taking Glucosamine.

Typically glucosamine is sourced as a bi-product of the meat and fish industry and so, as a vegetarian, I’ve never been able or wanted to have any. These are, however, vegan (not just vegetarian) plant-sourced glucosamine tablets. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring amino sugar. It can be easily harvested from the exo-skeletons of shellfish, but also from corn and wheat husks. This one is wheat free, so I have corn to thank!

I take one of these a day as they are high strength tablets.

And that’s it. I feel so much better than I did this time last week. There is still some swelling on my hip, but it is reducing quickly and the pain I felt when walking is significantly less. I am no longer relying on a stick. I do have to watch that I don’t overdo things, so when I might have come home tonight, feeling great, and gone out into the garden to do some more – I’ve sat down and watched TV. The upshot is that having just made dinner I’ve done so standing on two legs, whereas the day before I stood like a crane on one leg, balancing my left foot on my right thigh.

It may be total coincidence. I may have been due to get better this week, but to have gone from wheelchair to pain-free walking within four days of my new “drug” regime is a bit too much of a coincidence for me. I’ve researched each element since starting to take them and there is evidence to support their use. I’m just remaining quietly and happily confident!

Hello Kinesiology Tape, I think I love you!

It’s been an age since I last blogged. With little progress to talk about, I couldn’t see the point of boring you and depressing myself! Up until last week I was still struggling about town with a stick, despite a day of reprieve after which I foolishly raised my hopes. I’m really hoping that now my new found enthusiasm for a few pieces of pink tape are realised.

A while back I bought a pack of kinesiology tape from Lidl. I hadn’t even opened the pack until a few days ago and was delighted to find that my £9.99 had been well spent with the pack containing three rolls of tape, a DVD, an instruction manual and some decent scissors. I took the DVD and watched it, a tad concerned at first with the choices of Scandinavian languages – what had I bought?

The DVD showed you how easy it was to apply the tape and where to apply it for different muscle injuries and weaknesses. None really applied to me, although I was intrigued by the use over the Sartorius muscle which crosses the thigh. This is where a lot of my pain has been.

I Googled, as you do, and discovered this video:

So I cut the tape and applied it in this fashion.

Within a day I found that I was relying less on my stick. I added a twist across from my hip, down my thigh to the other side of my knee, following the line of the Sartorius, and this has helped to stabilise things further and I’m now walking without pain, save for an ache to the left of my lower leg. I’m thinking of taping that as well, just to see if it helps.

The swelling on my hip has reduced considerably and I can bear my weight on it for the first time in months. Not for long, but longer than I could last week even!

It’s massive progress. I feel as if I’m actually starting to heal…at last!

I’m not looking forward to removing the tape, but it is hypo-allergenic so at least I won’t be left with a welt!

My physio has backed right off, hoping this thing will heal itself, and my chiropractor is focusing on lower back pain (probably caused by me hunching over a walking stick like a 90 year old!) so I don’t feel as if I’m treading on toes here. And, if I’m totally honest, I don’t care.

 

 

The Morning After

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It’s the morning after my steroid injection. My husband keeps asking how I am and if it hurts and I keep on saying “I don’t know.” I’ve felt so lousy for so long that it became a norm and so now I’m getting used to life after bursitis.

The procedure itself was a doddle. I wish I’d pushed for it months ago, instead of going along with treatments that were never going to work because the bursa was too inflamed to respond. Instead I struggled along, icing my hip at every opportunity and, even, in the end, having to walk with the aid of my grandmother’s walking stick. I was old before my time.

It was done by a physiotherapist. She explained everything twice, once before the procedure and again afterwards (just in case the words had slid off my over-anxious brain). I don’t need to avoid gory details, because it wasn’t at all gory. I lay on my good side with my back facing the physio. The area was still very swollen, so she knew where to go! She felt for the worse spot, guided by my ‘ouches’, marked it with some sort of punch (just a nip on the skin), injected a local anaesthetic and left the needle in place whilst attaching the steroid tube. I was told I’d feel a little pressure, which I hardly did, and that was it. The whole thing took less than 30 seconds and I felt just the local needle and that was just a scratch. Amazing.

Having had it, I wouldn’t hesitate to go for it again. It was nothing, absolutely nothing, especially in comparison to what I’ve endured for five months.

I waited at the hospital for half an hour, advised to do so in case of an adverse reaction to the injection and then was chauffered home by my very worried looking husband who hates needles. I’ve been told to stay off my feet as much as possible for 48 hours to allow the steroid to settle in the area and not get dispersed. The local anaesthetic wore off around six hours after the fact, so I took a couple of ibuprofen and half a bottle of wine, all for medicinal purposes and slept like a baby last night!

This morning I have no pain and no apparent side effects, but I’m very aware that without either I might be tempted to do too much. I have already been warned to sit down and watch “Star Trek and Gotham and whatever other rubbish you have saved.” So I will.

After that I have to take it easy for ten days; no housework, no ironing, no long walks, no standing for too long, definitely no exercise! I have a physio appointment for two weeks time. I’ll be reassessed and will be able, if everything is alright, to start my strengthening exercises again. It may be a wee while yet before I can try a treadmill run.

But I will!

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Technological Advances

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Today I had my appointment at the podiatrist. Located in small cupboard in A&E, the orthotics department was manned by a very pleasant Geordie named Tony and a friendly administrator whose name I can’t remember, but it’s on the letter, apparently.

Tony carefully read through my notes and noted that the physios had measured a 15mm difference in my leg length. I was prepared for half an hour of prodding and assessment using state of the art equipment. Instead Tony asked me to place my left foot on a small piece of plywood with “3mm” marked on it in felt tip. Looking at my shoulders Tony shook his head and replaced the 3mm ply with a 5mm. That still wasn’t right, so we carried on this process until he got to a 9mm piece of wood. “That’s it,” he said “That’s the most I’ve got.” I had depleted Tony’s woodpile.

Tony reached into a chocablock cupboard and fished out a set of cork inserts. Placing one insert in my left trainer he promptly placed the shoe on my foot and tied my laces. That’s personal service. I bet you don’t get that in London. He even put the other shoe on for me!

So, here I am, slightly taller than the last time I wrote. 9mm taller, to be exact. I’m to give this a shot for a couple of weeks and report back with any problems. If I need a higher lift it’ll mean sending my shoes away and getting lifts inserting externally. I honestly don’t think I have a nice enough pair of shoes I can do that with!

My appointment to get my cortisone injection has also been made. I’m spending every spare moment applying icepacks to my swollen hip and that is helping calm the swelling down. Hopefully by the time my appointment comes round the swelling will be minimal and hopefully I can go ahead with the injection. Words I never thought I’d be typing!