Tag Archives: Paleo Diet

Persisting Through the Humdrum of Daily CRPS Management

Dear Audy,

Hello! It’s been a while since I could write, CRPS affected hands will do that sometimes.

Since my last ketamine infusion in May, I have been devoting all of my time and energy to strengthening my body and mind. Sounds corny, yeah? Actually, no. Corn, in all if its manufactured graininess, it’s something that I’ve been avoiding.

My diet makes a huge difference to how much I suffer with CRPS and how much I just live with it. There is no perfect-for-everybody human diet and there are plenty of diseases that food can’t cure, however, eating things that make my body feel better instead of worse certainly helps me to cope with my CRPS. I feel like I have to say that before I talk about eating on account of people, in general, seem to take dietary discussion as dietary advice and dietary advice as personal attack. It’s OK, sensitive ones, what I choose to eat has nothing to do with judging you.

I follow a Paleo approach to my diet. I avoid grains, sugar and processed food. I scoff down animal fats in all their glory and throw up in my mouth a little if you offer me a diet soft drink chemical cocktail. I’m not a zealot, I just eat this way most of the time, when I can. For me, enjoying life while avoiding processed food involves a fair amount of cooking. Cooking is a physical, hand-powered thing, and consumes much of my time and energy. I don’t do it because I feel like I should eat healthy in order to hedge my bets, I do it because after a couple of crappy meals, I feel like crap. It’s that simple, really.

Cooking sounds like something that should just fit into a normal life, however there’s nothing very normal about living with CRPS. Even though I’ve had success in lowering my pain levels with ketamine infusions, I’m still dealing with a lot of hand and jaw pain. Those two areas tend to set each other off. Typing in the morning can mean not being able to cook in the afternoon. Talking too much can make my hands sore. I know, I’m like the epitome of logic, you should probably bow or something…

Anyhoo… My point is that simply trying to cook on a regular basis can mean I have to limit other activities that wear my hands out. It takes some careful mental maneuvering to keep cooking when I’d rather chase creative pursuits, however the results make it worth continuing.

When my body is fed right, it’s much happier about moving. This is a really awesome thing because bodies are made to move. I’ve been able to exercise frequently enough that I’ve actually improved my fitness for the first time in years. I have muscles in my legs. Do you have any idea how helpful it is to have muscles in your legs?! They’re awesome. I use them for standing. Standing is awesome.

My exercise regime mainly consists of riding my exercise bike, or walking and then upping the intensity a little. I ride for two 30 minute sets at whatever speed is comfortable that day. It took a couple of months of riding regularly before I had enough leg muscle to cope with walking, before that I’d just end up with screaming knees and ankles. Over the past couple of months, I’ve gone from barely being able to walk for 20mins to being able to wander through the bush for hours. The bush part is important because the fresh air and trees take care of my mind while the exercise nourishes my body.

These guys help too.

These guys help too.

I haven’t told many people this yet because I have trouble believing it happened…but…twice now…I have jogged during my walks. Jogging is practically running! I ran on my legs. I actually thought I’d never do that again in my life and now I just want to do it again, again. A long time ago, before I had CRPS, I learnt to enjoy running and was a genuine fit person. Important note: before consciously deciding to learn to enjoy it, I hated to run. As a kid, I hated tiggy more than anything. Ugh! So much running, so little strategy.

It turns out that my adult body is a whole lot smarter than my stupid kid mind. Running is awesome! I plan to do more running, however I’m allowing plenty of time for recovery between attempts. The hardest part in strengthening a CRPS afflicted body is walking that tightrope between too much and not enough.

The final challenge that I have been devoting myself to is weaning off medications. Medication can be great and I’ll still be reaching for painkillers during flare ups, however I want my system as clean as it can be the rest of the time. I need to be able to feel what’s happening in my body if I’m gonna keep improving it. Years of chronic pain treatment usually means years of swallowing pills. I’ve been on so, so many…my body needs a break. It will be interesting to feel if this makes a difference during and after the next ketamine infusion.

Dropping medications is a process. Some of them take weeks to feel and then weeks to stop feeling. I’m still a bit heady and dazed since stopping Cymbalta last week, along with being super sweaty. You can’t really understand the joys of withdrawal until you’ve changed your sweaty PJs three times in a night and then resigned yourself to trying to sleep in your gross wet spot, under a wet blanket because it’s 4am and your partner has to go to work in a few hours and there are no dry blankets. I know. Sexy was the first word that came to my mind too.

I’m really hoping to get better at balancing being functional with being productive, I miss writing regularly and interacting and not shying away from my inbox, however I have to keep prioritising my physical rehab for the moment. My hands and forearms are slowly learning to be flexible and how to strengthen, it’s just a very slow process when they’ve been out of action for years.

Love & Just Keep Swimming,

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  • Fighting My Way Forward & Sailing Away

    Dear Audy,

    Ever so slowly, I weave my way through more and more activities which, when lined up in a row, spell “functioning”.

    They’re the strangest feelings, the ones that come after doing things. Pleasant but partly opaque, difficult to distinguish and define. Feelings like accomplishment, value and joy seem like strangers when they return from a lengthy spell of absence. It takes practice to appreciate their light when it comes shining through the dense fog of prolonged uselessness.

    It takes determination to reflect such light, to send it sparkling outwards, trusting that it will illuminate new possibilities.

    I’m starting to see more and more things that I could potentially do…

    Dreaming about the future helps the process of building a solid launchpad in the now. A while back, I set three goals and have spent the time since then chipping away at them. My physical strength is gradually improving as I go for walks, move around regularly and rest enough in between to keep my pain levels low.

    I’ve been on a few solo trips to the grocery store, planned meals myself and cooked some exciting dishes. I’ve eaten a lot more vegetables and a lot less filler. I’ve baked delicious treats that don’t throw my digestion off course and this one time, I even baked a cake just because I felt like it. It was more exciting than it sounds…

    I once had to stop a friend showing me pictures of pretty cakes because I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that some people have enough energy/functionality to be able to cook for fun and not just necessity. It hurt, to see fun food when I was struggling to simply have meal time food available.

    Spiced Orange & Almond cake recipe from Paleo Sweets Cookbook, Vanilla Frosting recipe from Against All Grain cookbook.

    Spiced Orange & Almond cake recipe from Paleo Sweets Cookbook, Vanilla Frosting recipe from Against All Grain cookbook.

    I have been reading every day, exploring blogs and news and tucking myself in with a novel at night. I’ve been trying to note down blog ideas or general life realisations as they happen, finally accepting that my brain won’t just hold onto them for later, no matter how genius or nonsensical they are. I’m yet to achieve some sense of writing every day, but I see that achievement unlocking, not too much further down the path ahead.

    I’m starting to see the pay off for what I have already done.

    I was able to launch. Off the launchpad. The metaphorical one that I mentioned earlier. It’s constructed of hard work and dedication to health. Having built up enough strength to launch, I was able to say yes when a spontaneous opportunity for adventure arose.

    On Friday, I sailed across Port Phillip Bay with my dad in his tandem peddle powered kayak sailboat thing. It was awesome! The sail means that there’s not all that much peddling to do and each peddle counts for quite a bit thanks to the size of the flippers underneath the boat. It was fun to relax in the sun, soak in the ocean breezes and splash through waves when we headed into the wind.

    Melbourne on the horizon.

    Melbourne on the horizon.

    We were out on the water for most of the day. Afterward, I promptly conked out for over twelve hours, bumbled through some of Saturday afternoon, conked out for another twelve hours and crashed out on the couch for what remained of Sunday. I’m still feeling the tiredness in my limbs today, but I wouldn’t expect anything less.

    I do have CRPS after all. It doesn’t give days off, but it does back down a bit when I’m lucky enough to have my treatment and physical strength ducks all lined up in a row.

    A chance to expend energy and then be exhausted, rather than flaring like crazy, is exactly what I have been working for.

    My goals for strength, health and creativity aren’t finite. I will keep on working at them as long as my body allows it and then some. The stronger I am, the more I am able to control the pain of CRPS and the more that I feel like a functioning, useful person.

    I’m so grateful for the lower pain levels that the ketamine infusion have brought, it’s worth working hard in order to keep them down as long as possible.

    I will let the light in and then sparkle it out. I will follow where it leads.

    Love & Progress,

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  • Letting Go Of The Sweetest Addiction

    Dear Audy,

    Finally, it is happening. I feel like I am starting to get back on track in terms of managing my pain and taking care of myself. Little by little, I’m climbing back out of the not-coping abyss.

    Hello, Sanity, it’s nice to see you again.

    I made it out on Friday night. My body wasn’t very nice about it, but I overruled that sucker.


    This face says: “Haha, Ready, I got to you despite feeling like garbage!”

    Now is the time to be nice to my body again. This starts with stabilising my mind and mood, followed by feeding myself healthy food, improving pain management pacing and moving toward strengthening.

    It’s not an exciting process, but it’s what I must do in order to get healthy enough to actually be able to endure excitement again.

    I have been well enough to go grocery shopping for this week. Hurrah! I hadn’t had the strength to plan meals, shop, or cook for so long that I felt de-conditioned and mentally incapable, rather than just physically incapable.

    It’s such a twisted tangle, this nervous system of mine
    Physical dips lead to dips of the mind
    A cause and effect cycle, never a straight line
    Needless to say, it’s confusing at times

    One thing I’m not confused about right now is that dietary tangents have led my body astray.

    In my body, sugar is more of a drug than a food. It’s addictive, even small doses lead to cravings. It’s bad for me, sets off processes in my body that are unhealthy and can have long term effects. A little makes me want more and the craving has nothing to do with actual hunger.

    And then there’s what happens when I’ve been on a bender and stop taking it…

    Mood swings, jitters, tremors, hot and cold flushes, night sweats, fatigue, all sprinkled with that constant craving. I’ve come off a lot of medications over the years with CRPS, I’m kind of used to withdrawal.

    But, that doesn’t sound right, does it? Withdrawal doesn’t sound like what should happen when one stops eating a food. No. That’s why I try to not fuel my sugar addiction (easier said than done).

    Central sensitisation means that my body will send a lot more information about a stimulus from my senses to my brain than I need. This means that there only have to be little changes in or around me for me to physically react.

    I’m sure that sugar has always been a drug, but I’m guessing that I feel the effects much more thanks to the changes in my nervous system. It’s also easier to recognise what’s happening now, having weaned off the sweet, white powder before and knowing the difference in how I feel both on and off the sugar train.

    Sometimes, it feels like CRPS and chronic illness are like the universe forcing me to take no shortcuts in caring for myself. Gotta tick all the boxes, the consequences for not doing so can steal months from my progress.

    Last night, I cooked Orange Chicken & Garlic Zucchini Noodles, which is my favourite healthy diet kickstart. I’m off and running! (Please stay with me, Body)

    Today I am still twitchy and jittery and a little bit on edge, but I’m taking it moment by moment and I’m getting through. I managed a doctor and chemist visit with no dramas or cracking of the existential “it”. I’m about to run another errand and in between I’ve done laundry, stretching, and Feldenkrais.

    I’m doing alright, even if I do feel like a remorseful junkie.

    Love & Sweet treats NO SWEET TREATS,

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  • All These Things That I Have Done

    Dear Audy,

    Hello again. I’ve missed you. I’m sorry that you haven’t heard much from me lately, the days keep spinning by and I do things and then I don’t do other things and then I do more things and sometimes I watch two seasons of Weeds in two days. It’s OK, I’m all up to date on that now, so you can stop with all that worry that Caf hadn’t seen all seven seasons of Weeds.

    And now to tell you about the things!

  • I bought an iPad. So, that explains a significant amount of the time I have not spent blogging. I was playing Lego Harry Potter and choosing the prettiest RSS reader (it’s Perfect RSS, if you know of a prettier one, please be kind and share).
  • I have been procrastinating about dealing with the necessary paperwork for being me. BORING.
  • I have been dealing with some sudden rising and (thankfully) quickly departing flares. The last few weeks have been more riddled with them than the months before that. It’s OK, nothing that I can’t handle, however the handling part does take up more time and effort when there is an increase in the amount to be handled. Funny that.
  • I have been learning to extend, in a Feldenkrais sort of way. For most of my treatment, I have been teaching my body to move forward. Now, it is free enough that I am capable of starting to teach it to move backwards, a direction that it simply has not known for years. It’s harder to work on this when I am dealing with flares as I find the ATM (Awareness Through Movement) tracks that I know by heart are like little safe zones for my nervous system. It has learnt to feel comfortable through these movements and I can use them to lower my pain, whereas doing a new track involves more learning and a little bit less relief.
  • I have been looking after myself and the doggies whilst my prince was off on a mission. Taking care of us solo is a big job for me and cuts into my energy supply extensively.
  • I had my first treatment with Scenar. I’ll explain more about this later, once I have a chance to really evaluate how it has effected me. It definitely effected me, which is a good thing. I have had some rather odd sensations in the following days. I’m heading in for a second treatment tomorrow and rather curious to see how I respond this time!
  • I have been developing a survey for Chronic Pain Australia that will be the launching point for a series on the (coming soon) CPA blog. More on this later…
  • I have gotten a bit boring in the food department, I might need to spice things back up with some new recipes! I have continued making cookies from nuts regularly, they are too delicious to stop. I can’t publish the recipes because that would be plagiarism, but you can buy the same ebook I did here, or wait until I’m bored with these recipes and start to make up my own, which I will be able to publish!
  • That said, I did roast a surprise chicken, which was the opposite of boring. This was a first for me on two fronts. Firstly, it’s the first time anybody has ever given me a chicken so that my flarey self wouldn’t have to go shopping, thank you ever so much Emmie. Secondly, I had never cooked a whole chicken before, ever. It went fabulously and was delicious, thanks also to Mr Oliver and his awesome recipes.
  • I have gotten skinnier. It’s quite fun, this whole Paleo thing. I love the fact that I keep losing weight even though I’m really not capable of more exercise than a short, brisk walk a few times a week. It feels like my body is just slowly righting itself now that I am putting in the right fuel. I don’t actually know how much weight I’ve lost because I don’t own human scales and I am too lazy to recharge my Wii batteries. I’m only mildly interested in discovering this number, which I’ve taken as a sign that the weight loss really has been secondary to just getting healthy. If I were fooling myself with proud teenage girl lies and going Paleo was all an elaborate plan to get Leonardo DiCaprio’s attention, then I would be caring a lot more about the numbers. Which is good to know, because it’s pretty easy to unconsciously fool myself about motivation. The mind is a sly fox.
  • I have been buying clothes, because of the see above. Shrinking out of clothes is as confusing as bursting out of them, but with less self hatred. I have a really strange sense of my size and I’m still regularly surprised that things I thought would fit me don’t fit me anymore. Some of the things in my wardrobe were unworn because they were too small to begin with. Now, they are too big. Of course, I still have clothes sized 8-14, because the heavens forbid that the size on women’s clothing actually mean anything. The 8s are a new addition, I’m quite happy with those regardless of their insignificance.
  • I have thought about a lot of blog posts that I haven’t written. I’m trying to improve this practice. I just keep working at the pace of my days and activity levels and pain management and sparse commitments and slowly, ever so slowly, I get better at things and fit more in. I used to do very little and time to blog was easy to find, I actually think it’s wonderful that I’ve been able to progress past those times. I might not write as much right now, but I do more and what on Earth was I going to keep writing about if I never did anything?
  • That’s about it, really. A few social outings here and there, always with preparation and recovery time built in. I’m currently recovering from Lisa Mitchell’s Heavenly Sounds tour, which I attended in Melbourne last night. SUCH BEAUTY. It was wonderful. Church acoustics are stunning, much more impressive than a bar gig. Also, there were one page programs and a signed gift of the Spiritus single for everybody, plus one special prize winning note for a lucky attendee. Having attended countless gigs where the only souvenirs were overpriced, ugly, merchandise company efforts, I was very impressed with the spirit of this gesture. If Australia has a sweetheart, then Lisa Mitchell is it.

    See how pretty!!

    My plans for the weeks ahead are just to continue. I’ll keep pushing forward and see just how far I can go… and, at some point, I’ll be back to write about it. Stay tuned, Audy! Oh, and you are wanting to stay tuned to Facebook also, please be sure to add Rellacafa to one of your lists so that you receive the updates. Facebook now expects people to pay to have their updates seen by Likers & Friends, but you can personally manage your subscriptions by customising lists (less work than it sounds, I just have a list for all my pages and receive most updates).

    Have you been doing exciting things while I was gone, Audy? I’d love to hear about them!

    Love & Adventures,

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  • Friday Favourites: May 4th 2012

    Dear Audy,

    Here I am! Here, on Friday! Getting back on track with all things blogging! It feels good to be starting to feel like my old self again. The self who thinks and writes about stuff other than food and herself. It’s ever so nice to think about other things sometimes.

    I am starting to get better at the monotonous daily tasks that it takes to look after myself. Cooking doesn’t feel like such an event every day, it’s starting to feel more normal. I am currently working on getting some more structure into my days. I need to fit in basic needs (like food and sleep), pain management and creative productivity. When I have those three things working in harmony, life gets easier.

    Here I am winning at baking Paleo chocolate cookies. No sugar, no grains, no dairy, but all yum! I can’t link to this recipe, it’s from this ebook.

    This week, I have been able to spend some time working on projects for Chronic Pain Australia. I am very excited about some of the things that are happening over there. National Pain Week is in July and there’s lots going on this year. Check out the official page if you would like further details! You can also stay up to date with the events by following CPA on Facebook and Twitter.

    I have done a better job at keeping my emotions in check after writing this post earlier in the week and realising that there was no need to be getting upset about things. Occasionally, I stray a little too far away from the bottom line that I established back in December.

    Nothing actually needs to upset me. I need to challenge these feelings, the thoughts that led to them and the inherent beliefs that I hold that led to these thoughts. The power to feel happy or sad about any situation is entirely my own.

    Without further ado and introspection, here are some links to blog posts that have helped me to stay focused and inspired this week:

    So much harder than I ever could have thought…
    on Battling With CRPS

    An insightful look into how CRPS can make doing things so much more difficult than they would be without it. Sometimes we really enjoy things, however, and we pay the physical price of participation. Sometimes, we try to enjoy things and it doesn’t quite work out and then we have to pay the price of the attempt. Life can be so challenging! Really hope that you recover and feel better soon, Jane.

    What My Back Injury Taught Me
    on Going Down Swinging

    Maria has cultivated an amazing ability to learn from her experiences, however painful they might be. Her resilience is inspirational, go and have a read.

    Tern To The Present
    on Life, CRPS & Everything

    Awareness is a wonderful and powerful thing. This personal story is a great example of how emotional things can get mixed up in our brains sometimes, but if we put in some effort, we can alter our happiness by altering our perceptions.

    Does the internet rewire your brain?
    On BBC Neurohacks

    An interesting read on how technology and the world around us effect our brains. I like to read about how our brains are changing all the time on account of I am working as hard as I can to get mine to change in ways that have life cause me less pain.

    Happiness That Doesn’t Depend On What Happens
    on Sarah Wilson

    A great read on learning to adjust what we perceive to be the triggers of happiness.

    I hope that you enjoy following those links and find something there to inspire you too!

    Do you know what happens now? The weekend. Yay! I have been pushing myself a little bit harder from Monday to Friday in terms of the three areas of my life that I mentioned I am attempting to improve. This means that Saturday and Sunday are a weekend again. I had missed them! All of the days start to feel the same without work or study to break them up. Not anymore, I’m taking back my days off and mmmm, they taste good.

    Enjoy your S-days, Audy! Are you planning any adventures?

    Love & Spontaneous Dance Moves,

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  • Bright Spots Up Ahead

    Dear Audy,

    My, how time passes quickly when we’re busy learning to love our kitchens! Well, probably not “we”, but that’s what I’ve spent most of my active time doing lately. Living with chronic pain makes for a lot less active time than one gets in a regular body and my devotion to improving my Paleo cooking skills had practically taken over my life. I’m getting better at things, stronger and faster, and I will learn to pace back in more time for creative and relaxing Caf time.

    I’ve begun to feel creative in the kitchen, so that’s quite the bonus. Apparently you need to know how to cook things before your brain gives you ideas about how to improve recipes. I didn’t know this, I previously just thought cooking was born in boringtown. Oh, Past Caf, you had some funny ideas about so many things…

    This is me shrugging at me.

    Maintaining my motivation for looking after myself has taken a little toll on me. Nothing I can’t afford, but it’s definitely bringing issues into my awareness that I need to work on.

    This week, I found myself singing “Going Through The Motions” from the Buffy musical episode, Once More With Feeling. You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that I know all the words and have also been known to drunkenly perform Anya’s Bunnies rockout verse from “I’ve Got a Theory”, on command. Nope, none of that should be anything other than expected. Oh, and I have a giant, framed print of the Once More With Feeling poster. Obviously.

    But to get back to the point, my musical subconscious was sending me clues that I just might be coming to some sort of breaking point that would require a shift in attitude and management. I wasn’t really just going through any motions, I was learning them. Practising them. Getting in control of the motions that are needed to continue healing and better managing my pain and life in general.

    Taking this control accidentally got in the way of me monitoring and looking after my emotions, that’s all.

    I mean, I didn’t go to a heavenly dimension and then get cast back into a cold, painful existence. I really didn’t have a good reason to not be enjoying the activities I could fit into each day. Quite the opposite, I should be celebrating that I’m able to do them at all! I can cook! Me! I can shop, all by myself! I can freaking walk!!

    I spent years unable to do these things. Years believing that I would never get any better or be able to have independence. I’ve worked damn hard to get to the point I’m at, I really don’t know why I allowed the sniggering voice of boredom to get in the way of me remembering that.

    Sometimes it’s hard to accept the slow pace that I proceed at, I need to take some time out, refresh my motivation with some inspiration and then knuckle down and keep going.

    Because I am getting somewhere. Maybe not to the social engagements that I’m lamenting missing out on, but somewhere. Somewhere that will lead to even more wheres. Less painful, healthier wheres. I am trying to focus on being happy that I see them, up ahead in the blurry future, like bright spots that have come out of hiding.

    I plan to spend more time reading this week, more time writing and more time keeping my mind a positive and pleasant place. When I’m not cooking, of course. I’m also planning on sharing a post with some recipes and notes from my kitchen adventures so that you can see some of the yummy things that I’ve been up to.

    Honestly, reading over this post, I feel quite ridiculous about some of the grumps I have been indulging lately. Quite ridiculous, indeed. Why should I care about what I can’t fit into my day instead of what I can? Life isn’t gloomy, it is grand! And filled with Paleo cookies. Double grand.

    Have you read the latest issue of Frankie yet? The one with added me? It’s been so very exciting to be featured and to have the opportunity to spread awareness about what life is like for people with chronic pain. A big thank you to the readers, old and new, who have sent me lovely messages. Your words are huge comfort!

    Until next time, dear Audy, be clever cats in fancy hats and don’t let pesky thoughts bring you down when there are happier thoughts just waiting to squeeze into your crowded minds.

    Love & Hope this realisation sticks this time,

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  • Boredom, You Sly Fox

    Dear Audy,

    I’ve been weird lately. I haven’t had anything interesting to say, or exciting ideas to play with. I haven’t even been able to focus on the ideas that are already projects in my creative realm. I have been very boring indeed. A little bit too boring.

    I burst into tears this morning. They just bubbled up out of nowhere and I found myself trying to calm my breathing without even understanding where the sobs were coming from. I was sore and I was tired, but those are things that I am most of the time. Without a bigger issue to back them up, they rarely make me cry these days.

    Waking sadness can be hard to shake off. I thought that I was doing okay, I managed to get myself ready for a doctors appointment. I managed to actually get myself to the doctors appointment. However, I did struggle to make it through the appointment without getting teary. It wasn’t even a challenging appointment, just a regular check-in for a script update with a very lovely doctor.

    It was weird. I’ve been weird lately. I took my weird self home and tried to figure out how I had slipped into a little melancholy ditch.

    I have put a lot of effort into learning to understand my mind, my emotions, my core beliefs and the ways in which all of these parts of me interact with my chronic pain. Sometimes, I think I’m so busy trying to let go of negative thoughts that it takes me a while to notice they’re trying to tell me something that I do need to know. Something I need to learn in order to foster growth in my ability to cope.

    There are occasions when anxiety has a purpose. I’ve been so busy trying to conquer it by not allowing anxious thoughts any credibility that it hadn’t occurred to me that I might also be bypassing some valid concerns. By that, I just mean things that can be acted on and fixed. Things that need to be realised and dealt with.

    I have been weird lately, but I think I’m starting to get it figured out.

    I have been changing. I’ve been working hard at pacing and pain management, as well as cooking and cleaning, which in many ways add up to rehabilitation. Thus, if I look at it differently, I’ve been working hard at getting healthy. Being able to improve my functioning despite my CRPS is the biggest goal I have and I should be proud of how much effort I’ve been putting this.

    I’m weird because I am bored. Pain rehab and household chores are slow, tedious things and they’re all I’ve been doing. I haven’t had the strength to extend my efforts past these basic tasks.

    I’ve missed keeping up with the world, with friends and news and internet memes. I’ve missed writing and communicating, I’ve missed joking around. I’ve missed thinking about interesting things, rather than just coaxing my brain into doing what’s best for my body. It has to be done, but by golly, it’s boring.

    It’s easy to lose sight of the positives amongst all of this missing business. Whilst I haven’t been doing that fun stuff, I have been learning and cooking (a lot). I’ve learnt to make stock, beef stew and mexican beef stew, spicy chicken balls and zucchini noodles, egg slice with bacon and veges to serve as pre-made breakfasts, and most deliciously, paleo pancakes from coconut flour and almond meal. I’ve almost learnt to enjoy the cooking and have just about nailed leaving the kitchen clean afterward (a huge step for me).

    I’ve strengthened my motivation to actively manage my pain. I spend less time harnessing my will to fight and more time actually doing things. Through increasing Feldenkrais sessions, I’ve starting feeling connections through my spine and pelvis that I’d never been able to sense before and this is helping me to move in ways that are less likely to set off pain flares. My lower half has been responding so well to these sessions that my body is finally allowing changes to start happening through my shoulders and upper back.

    It can be easy to lose sight of my overall progress when I’m saddened by boredom. Sometimes it feels as though I am progressing so slowly that I will never get anywhere. It’s important for me to stop when this happens and remind myself of where I was and how far I have already come. I will continue to get better at this whole living life thing, as long as I don’t get distracted by the negative thoughts that aren’t of the helpful variety.

    This won’t go on forever. I need this focused practice to help me keep my pain management techniques in place as I try to extend the scope of my activities once more. Small activities at home are the foundation of my life and when the foundation isn’t strong, everything falls down.

    I don’t think that I broke today because I have been managing things badly, I think that I broke because it’s time to start managing more. It’s time to change again, time to try and build the first layer onto this foundation of healthy food and pacing. It’s time to start adding creative and productive things back into the mix.

    I’m not sure exactly how this will work. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure where this blog post was going. I started to write because I knew there was something I wasn’t seeing, I knew that I didn’t need to feel sad if I could just figure out what the issue was.

    Boredom isn’t complicated, but I guess sometimes it needs to be acknowledged or it starts to say mean things like “you useless cripple!” and the insults can be hard to shake off.

    I don’t think that I’ll wake up and cry again tomorrow. I think that I’ll wake up and start working on killing the boredom without killing all of my progress.

    I’m glad I sat down and started to write today, it’s already helping.

    Love & Pondering Realisations,

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  • Friday Favourites: March 30th 2012

    Dear Audy,

    For those of you following along with my cooking adventures this week, I can happily report that my hearty beef stew was delicious! I was following a fairly basic recipe, this being my first attempt at such a dish, however I wanted to add a little something to make it personal and that was chilli. Mmmm, spicy. Then my prince came home and added a little lime zest to the mix, something that I wouldn’t have thought of, but it took the stew from yummy to amazing.

    Cooking from scratch is a lot of work, but I definitely think that it’s worth it. My tummy is feeling a lot better today after giving me grief for a couple of weeks. I’m actually looking forward to cooking more pots full of magic mushy food with the rest of my home-made beef stock. Yeah, I don’t really recognise myself either…


    And now for the weekly collection of blog posts that have inspired me this week. Enjoy! I hope that you are able to find something here that makes you smile or think.

    Don’t Be Sorry
    on Kisses From The Fight

    This post is moving and beautiful. Most of the things that Jess writes are. Go on over, read her blog and subscribe so that you don’t miss out on the wisdom that threads through everything that she posts.

    Help Stop The Misinformation About Chronic Pain
    on Shauna’s Life In Pain…And Other Fun Things

    Education is a hugely important part of learning to cope with absolutely anything. If we already knew everything, already knew the best ways to cope with everything, then nothing would ever be a challenge. Living with chronic pain is most definitely a challenge and it’s only by educating ourselves that we can start to see ways to keep moving forward.

    It’s certainly easier to cope when the people around us take the time to learn a little too. Supporting someone is fairly difficult if you don’t really understand what is going on for them. Time spent learning is never wasted, just something to think about the next time you are doing nothing and might want to gain a deeper understanding about the life of a chronically ill friend.

    New Glasses, Renewed Perspective
    on Life, CRPS & Everything

    It can be hard to deal with declining health issues when living with chronic illness. It can even be hard to notice them. Last year I discovered that I need reading glasses and having them has made a lot of difference whenever I need to focus in one direction for a while. My case is nowhere near as severe as the one described in this story, however I could still relate and enjoy the positivity that comes through in this blog about acceptance and change.

    Can Meat Make You Happy?
    on That Paleo Guy

    I found this post very interesting, especially in light of the fact that much of the health advice offered in the blogosphere is of the vegan persuasion. I don’t have anything against vegans, it’s just not the right lifestyle for me. Before adopting Paleo principles in my diet I often felt like I would never be eating healthily unless I cut out all animal products. This idea was just the result of not having exposed myself to enough modern information about food and the human body. I’ve read a lot in the last six months and now feel perfectly comfortable with pursuing a Paleo, rather than a vegan lifestyle (still, kudos to vegans, I admire the strength it takes to make severe changes and choices for one’s health, not sharing the same viewpoint doesn’t mean that I respect their motivations any less).

    I had kind of figured that the mental health benefits that many report when taking on a Paleo diet were really the result of eating much, much less sugar. This assumption has arisen from my own experiences with cutting sugar from my diet and then observing how my body and mind react if I do happen to treat myself on occasion. The impact is pretty intense. A few times I have felt like a rabid junkie, strung out and desperate for a fix after only one sugary snack.

    That’s the effect of a drug, not a food.

    With that in mind it was interesting to read about a possible connection between eating red meat and better mental health. This isn’t really a conclusive study, however it’s interesting reading for anybody looking to change their diet to improve their health.

    No More Silence: Mental Illness Should Be Talked About
    on ABC Ramp Up

    I think that there are a lot of similarities between how people respond to a person with mental illness and how people respond to a person with an invisible chronic illness. For a long time, it was believed that chronic pain without a physical cause that could be seen and found was actually a mental illness, rather than a physical one. We know better these days, but there are still plenty of working practitioners out there who haven’t stayed up to date on the topic.

    Much like chronic pain, we can’t always see when somebody has a mental illness. It takes a little bit more effort to understand that entire diseases can exist outside our visual perception. Many people who suffer from chronic pain also suffer from depression and anxiety. These states of being don’t cause one another but they are deeply intertwined and either one has the ability to greatly influence the other.

    “There is nothing to hide. There is no need for shame. It is not a case of being brave. It is merely a matter of facing, tackling and talking about mental illness as you would any other disease. If as a society we could manage to achieve that we would be living in a far better place.”
    – Glenn Mitchell, ABC Ramp Up

    And now it’s time to relax into the weekend. I don’t have any plans, which is actually a relief after having to cancel on everything last week. I do have a few dreams about getting my house clean and buying some plants to start my thus far neglected garden. Pain management will come first though, I need to keep looking after myself so that I can regain my confidence and ability to get back out into the world.

    Do you have any plans this weekend? Tell me all about them! I love to live vicariously through the adventures of others.

    Love & Beefy Leftovers,

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  • Fighting The Funk With Food

    Dear Audy,

    I feel like my life is missing a bit of sparkle at the moment, but that’s okay, things can’t shine all the time right? Even precious gems become dull with age if they’re left alone and forgotten in their tarnished gold casings.

    Feeling unwell over the past week and a bit has meant that I’ve spent a lot of time at home alone. It is nothing unusual, living with chronic pain requires a lot of downtime, however when her body demands this time away from things that are fun, Caf loses a bit of shine just like dormant jewellery in a satin box.

    All pain management and no play makes Caf a dull girl.

    I’m pretty sure the bug that kept me imprisoned over the weekend has passed, however my nervous system is still requiring me to jump through hoops in order to stop it doing loop de loops. Mostly this involves staying aware of my breathing because pain tends to lock up my rib cage which leads to extra discomfort in all the ways and places.

    I need lots of baths in Epsom salts, lengthy yet very low impact sessions of Feldenkrais, plenty of focused breathing and stretches after everything. All of this can take up so much time that I feel like the physical routine of my day is no less demanding than if I were training for the Olympics (probably javelin because who doesn’t want to throw spears?).

    All pain management and no play makes Caf a dull girl.

    This week I am attempting to regain some health points by cramming more delicious nutrients into my diet. I am still eating a Paleo diet, with the occasional treat here or there. When I have been unwell in whatever way for a few consecutive weeks my meals become quite simple, just meat and vegetables mixed up into a few rotating dishes. I don’t usually feel like being a recipe adventurer when just getting food on my plate is a massive struggle.

    But it’s time for a change, because all pain management and no play makes Caf a dull girl.

    Yesterday I cooked a gigantic pot of beef stock. It was the first time that this has ever happened in the history of me. I never thought that I’d ever be the sort of person who does this. But then again, I never knew that there where health benefits to doing so. Now I do, and so I am. It went pretty well. Turns out that it’s pretty hard to stuff up making stock, hurrah!

    Meat, bones and veg roasting before going in the simmering pot.

    Today I shall use some of it to make a hearty beef stew. It’s actually called that, although I’ve never really understood why you would want to put hearty in front of such a dish. The literal part of me is just hoping it’s not a human heart.

    Cooking isn’t as difficult as I used to think. Not knowing how to do something and that thing being difficult are not actually the same situation. Who knew?

    Hopefully learning to cook some new dishes, using ingredients different than my daily staples, will help me get this body up and running once more with a little bit of regularity. I am so very tired of feeling tired. Time to stop just oiling the machine and try a different fuel source.

    Eating paleo has really highlighted how much diet affects every part of my daily function. From the brain fog to the chronic pain. Time to start using this awareness to help with my healing. Just like taking the plunge of acceptance that I should be using dictation software to write, eating to heal is another example of finally taking my own advice.

    Sometimes we just need to know something for awhile before it really sinks in. Or maybe we just need time to figure out that magical place where knowledge and practicality combine. Learning is a weird old thing.

    This is probably the first time that I have really decided to focus on food as a way of getting out of a funk. Go, progress! I’ll let you know if it helps.

    How do you get back on track, when symptoms and setbacks seem to keep piling on top of one another?

    Love & Simmering,

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