Tag: vitality

Going Strong

Although I go for appointments every month I only see Danny once every three, and today was my day to see him. The last couple of times I’ve been to see him I’ve been feeling pretty fed up, but today it was nice to be able to go in with a smile on my face. 

I vowed not to get too hung up on my lymphocytes (white blood cell count) because it’s normal for it to fluctuate month on month. There are also theories about the slower it building up, the more effective the treatment. I didn’t want to get obsessive about that and wanted to do my best to remain calm and to just let Danny let me know if there was anything to worry about. I did however give in today. After a bit of a cold that I recovered better from than the rest of the family over Christmas, I was a little concerned and it made me want to check in.

My white blood cell count is at 0.6. For the average person, that’s rubbish, but for me, that’s good. The idea is that they get back up to 1 (which is the low end of a normal person) in time for the second round of treatment this year. So six months on and I’m just over halfway there which is a good sign. I’m glad I gave in and asked!

I’m feeling good so far this year I don’t tend to prescribe to the whole “this is my year” vibe, but I actually feel like this year could be. Who knew?! Certain aspects of my life feel a little odd at the moment but they’re definitely not dulling my sparkle, which is all I can ask. All in all, there’s no January blues to be seen here, and I’m feeling really uplifted.

I’ve started my new shifts at work now too. Today’s my second Wednesday off since going on them but it’s way too difficult to tell if they’re working for me yet. Surprisingly though, working until 6 is not as grim as first anticipated. Last Thursday and Friday it would be fair to say that I was just as bloody knackered as usual, but after 18 days off over Christmas it’s no real surprise. So I’m not calling it a failure yet!

For anyone who isn’t a friend of mine on Facebook, you might not know that I have been studying an HR qualification – Advanced Employment Law. The assignment was due around about the time that I went blind in my left eye, so I ended up deferring it. That was 18 months ago. The CIPD (who I studied with) have been great and continued to let me defer it, but in October I decided that after roughly 15 months, I needed to just knuckle down and get it done. I found out on Friday that I’d passed it which I’m over the moon about. It’s a stress off the list and it’s another string to add to the bow. Prior to being diagnosed I was really keen to pursue a career in HR case management. It’s still not a complete write off, but I guess my desire to further and develop my career is not a priority at the moment. I’m really just happy doing a good job in my current role in Learning and Development. MS had made me realise that a career isn’t the be all and end all. And at only 32, there’s nothing stopping me picking it back up again when I feel called to do so. 

I feel as though I’ve spent my life developing myself academically, and right now I’m enjoying developing myself in terms of who I am and how I am. I’m enjoying pursuing mindfulness and meditation. Exploring my spirituality. On Saturday, I’m doing my Second Degree Reiki which will make me a Reiki Practitioner and that’s really exciting too.

When people ask me how I am, I often say plodding along. But right now, it’s fair to say I’m skipping! 

Project You.

The self-love movement saved me in a year that I felt completely let down by my body. It gave me a distraction, but also helped me to identify what I’m grateful for and appreciate the little things in life. In spite of my body not quite doing what I wanted it to, I could forgive it and fall in love with it.

Personal growth and development has become a huge part of my life, but what I seem to find is that to do this socially (i.e. with other people) it can be really costly. I don’t think it should be a luxury that only some can afford. So it inspired me to set-up my own Facebook group. Because it should be accessible to all.

It’s an idea I have had cooking for a while, but following a conversation with some friends I have made through the self-love movement, now seems like as good a time as any.

So, “Project You. A year to mindfulness, self-love and fulfilment” launches on 2nd January but is already open for members. If you fancy joining, or just want some more info just click here.

The plan is to add new content weekly. It won’t be a massive amount of work – I want it to fit into people’s everyday lives.

But for now, watch this space!

More days like that please.

I’m really conscious that I’ve not posted for almost a week, and not since my meltdown.

So to confirm, I’m ok. Just about. Ironically after my hysteria of the pain never leaving me, I’ve not had bad “night time leg pain” since. I think the temperature dropping has done me the absolute world of good. I just feel more comfortable. Not all the aches and pains are gone and my ankle is giving me a quite a bit of hassle today but for the most part, I’m ok 

On late Friday afternoon I ventured down to London to attend Mel Wells’ Self Love Summit which was quite frankly the best thing I’ve done in a while. I’m experiencing a spiritual awakening of sorts and all the signs for me to attend were there. I was offered a free ticket the week prior, the Hilton Hotel opposite the venue was 41,000 points on their loyalty scheme (I had 41,086 in my account) and the money I’d claimed through my healthcare plan for staying in hospital covered the cost of the train ticket TO THE PENNY! Add to that, during a Reiki healing therapy session a couple of weeks ago, my therapist told me I just needed a lot of love. I kind of dismissed this at the time. I’m happy in my relationship and I’m happy with my friendships. I only considered at a later date that maybe it was a bit of self-love that I needed! 

The day itself was incredible, and rather than writing it all up myself, if you’re interested in knowing a bit more about these events I’d like to share the blogs of a couple of absolutely wonderful women I’ve been writing to (I mean Snail Mail!) for some time, and have now had the pleasure of meeting! 

I was staying in the same hotel as Laura on the night before the Summit so had the chance to get to know her, and it was so brilliant. She’s an awesome girl and I really feel that this is the start of a beautiful friendship. Read more here.

Becky also has a blog, which is raw and honest. And quite hard hitting. She is incredible. Her blog is truly worth a read as she tells her story and she does it so well. She is the bravest soul I’ve ever met. She’s gone off piste with her blog though for her latest post, and wrote about the Summit which you can find here.

My only key addition to this, is that for the first time since being diagnosed with MS, I didn’t think about the fact that I had it once. More days like that please.
N.B in case you listen to what my dear friend Clare says, no it’s not a Cult 😂 Just a bunch of women trying to find the best version of themselves, whilst also empowering one another. 

“The Fear”

Ok. Confession time.

I’ve gone from being a 3 or 4 time a week gym goer to not going at all for two months.

Wanna guess why?

Nope. Not because I have MS.

Want another guess?

I’m shattered? Yeah well that’s true but it’s only a small part of the reason.

How about, I’ve been too bloody scared!

I’ve been a member of a budget gym for nearly four years but very recently, I cancelled. Sam hasn’t been personal training there for nearly a year (at a rough guess) and despite it’s recent facelift, the place is tired. It lacks a buzz. Although I don’t do many classes anymore, preferring to train on my own, the timetable has gone pretty naff too. If you like spin and boot camp, fill yer boots. Anything else and you’ll be disappointed.

So this year, through our employee benefit scheme, I moved gyms. Incidentallty, this is one that Sam teaches a couple of classes at, and she’s been selling the place to me for months!

I’ve been a member for 17 whole days and today I took the plunge and went.

The point is, why has it taken me 17 days though? I’ve been so excited about joining there, I should have been banging down the door at opening time on April Fool’s Day!

I got “The Fear”. And then I started thinking too much about “The Fear” and ended up in tears after thinking all the irrational things last Wednesday.

It all started whilst I was writing the “My Big Why” blog post. I came to the realisation that I’m probably still as mobile as I am from the work I’ve been doing in the gym for the last four years. I never saw myself as physically strong, but in the time I’ve trained with Sam, I’ve lifted weights I never imagined possible.

Then I started thinking how I needed to get back to the gym. I’ve been in a lot of pain over the last month. By a lot, I mean quantity of pain rather than level of pain. I’ve been getting stiffness and pain in my left knee, sometimes extending to cramp in my thigh. I’ve been feeling a LOT MORE spaced out than I usually do.

It can’t be a relapse, because these symptoms aren’t exactly new. They’re just more pronounced at the moment. Just because I’ve been told I have MS, it doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly in excruciating amounts of pain. Nothing’s actually changed.

Except it has. I stopped training.

So then I started thinking about “The Fear” and that I need to get back to the gym and that’s the thing keeping me physically strong and mobile. Then I got REALLY upset and I couldn’t get past ending up in a wheelchair but I still had “The Fear” so how was I ever supposed to stay strong?!

(Are you following? I’m exceptionally confused myself now, and also getting mad at how ridiculous and irrational I was being!)

Anyway, “The Fear” was replaced by another fear. Fear of becoming immobile (we’ll call this “The Real Fear”).

Because “The Real Fear” had set in, it was time to get over myself and drag myself to the gym. For one reason or another, I had booked this afternoon as annual leave. My original plan fell through, but I decided to keep this afternoon booked off so that I could go to the gym whilst it’s quiet.

So today, I “announced myself” at the gym. All it involved was giving them a number that I’d had emailed to me. Well that was easy enough. I gave her the details, and she let me through the door and promised me that a welcome pack would be waiting by the time I was finished. She directed me to the changing rooms, but apart from that, I was on my own!

Gaaaahhh! This bit was my “Worst Fear”. Wandering around aimlessly like someone who didn’t have a clue. All my usual words of encouragement to others who are first time gym goers went out the window! I ended up tentatively taking two steps into the free weights area and then running a mile, quite literally on to a treadmill instead.

I hate running (that’s how big “The Fear” had set in again), but all the same I ended up doing 25 minutes of HIIT sprints. Urgh. What did I do that for?! It’s enough to put anyone off!

The main thing is, Day 1 is out the way and I feel good. I’m extremely happy that I successfully didn’t fall over my own feet (which is likely to happen at snails pace on a normal surface, never mind on a treadmill), and my legs felt the strongest that they’ve felt in ages. I’d felt really sceptical about them to be honest as I’ve been feeling so weak in that area over the last couple of months.

Today was a huge win and hopefully it’s the start of me getting my mojo for the gym back, if only for two or three days a week.

Next stop, Zumba with Clare and Lou. I bloody hate Zumba and I last time I did it, I fell over my own feet (of course I did!) so this ought to be good.

My Big “Why”

I have been obsessively on a diet for as long as I can remember. I wouldn’t say I have an eating disorder but I’ve certainly had an unhealthy approach to food at times.

Last September I decided to put an end to that after reading “The Goddess Revolution” by Mel Wells. I highly recommend it to anyone that’s struggled on diets or has a love hate relationship with food. It’s a fantastic read and helps you to see how you can change your attitude towards food . You ditch the diet mindset and focus on intuitive eating. Trouble is, as I’ve not been banning pizza and chocolate, I’ve intuitively just eaten a lot of that stuff.

Not great!

Luckily, I’ve only put on about half a stone as a result. But it’s time to heal that.

Mel works on you finding your “BIG WHY”. Why do you want to heal? It’s got to be big and something that you emotionally connect with. It’s got to be big enough to make you want to stop and truly look after you by eating good, nourishing soul foods. And no, I want a sexy summer bod, ain’t enough!!!

For some people, it’s so that they can get a body that will give their unborn child the best start. For others, it’s so that they can lead a happier life filled with vitality and adventure – where they truly love and respect their body and don’t let it hold them back.

For me it’s something else. For me, my “why” is so that I’m strong enough to fight this battle I’ve got. My strength that I’ve built in the gym in the last four years is something I will eternally be grateful for – I seriously question if I’d still be as mobile as I am if I hadn’t built my strength as much as I have done.

This realisation is the immediate kick up the arse I need to get back to training and eating well.

In the spirit of this, I’ve spent the last hour prepping Buddha bowls and I’m off to a new gym tomorrow!

My Buddha Bowl! Wild rice, sweetcorn, edamame beans, roasted broccoli, squash and peppers, carrot and crunchy chickpeas. Topped with a nice cajun chimichurri dressing 😍

Unfortunately, the 10K that I really wanted to run for Wigan MS Therapy Centre this year, isn’t going to happen – there’s no way with going in for treatment I’d be able to be fit enough in time.

For now however – I’m just going to do me, without a diet plan and without setting myself stupid goals that I obsess over and then feel crap for because I’ve failed at them. They make me unhappy and they do not nourish my soul, never mind my body!

Here’s to strength and vitality!

Five Minutes in the Morning

A few months ago I was in Sainsbury’s and picked up a book. It’s called “Five Minutes in the Morning – A Focus Journal”.

It’s usually priced at £10 but I was chuffed that it was only £4 (oh the joy of the January sale!)

The idea is, you take five minutes in the morning (duh!) to take stock of the day. Check in with yourself and how you’re feeling. Set some intentions for the day.

I’ve not used it really – it’s such a beautiful book, that I didn’t really want to write in it. I do like “workbook” style things though. I like having something to do.

Now even though this is designed for in the morning, I think I can get so much from this at any time of day.

So this evening I completed the first activity.

An exercise to start writing.

I was tasked with spending five minutes just writing about how I would introduce myself to somebody, and here’s what I wrote:

Hi, I’m Joanna, but most people call me Jo. Except Dave. He calls me Joey. Dave is my other half and he very much completes me. We’ve been together for five years and have a little boxer doggy called Poppy who’s three.

In my spare time I enjoy reading and writing (I have a blog), and going to the gym. I’m a bit of a fadder, but that just means that I never get too bored!

In my spare time, I work for a big energy company in learning and development. I’ve done it for 13 years and genuinely love it!

I’m originally from Essex, but moved to Wigan 8 years ago, which is the best thing I’ve ever done.

I love letters and I currently have six pen pals, and the list is growing.”

I reflected on what I’d written. I feel it’s a fair insight into me but I’m also shocked by what I’d missed out. My love for gin, herbal tea and coffee is missing. Happily, I don’t let my recent diagnosis define me; I felt no need to mention that in my introduction.

After my first experience with this book, I’m definitely going to start using it more. If you’re interested, I managed to get another couple of them on Amazon for £4 – they’re easy to get your hands on. I gifted one to Kate as she shares a love for writing and I got the feeling she’d enjoy using a similar kind of book.

I think it’ll be really nice to dip in and out of occasionally, and give me a little pre-blog warm up or inspiration!

Have a go at this activity yourself – I’d love to read your five minute introductions.

Limbo.

This week has been pretty rubbish.

Actually, emotionally, I’ve been having a couple of really really naff weeks. A few blogs back, I wrote about the fact that I’m currently going through diagnosis for MS. My position hasn’t changed; I’m still going through diagnosis.

This place that they call “Limbo” isn’t really doing much for me right now. I’m not one to really dwell on stuff though. Don’t get me wrong, I have an emotional reaction to something, but it’s usually over pretty quickly and then I just get on with it. But I can’t do that at the moment. I can’t get on and “deal with it” because I don’t know what it is I’m dealing with.

As a result, I’ve found myself in the last couple of weeks being quite short tempered, emotive. Actually, I don’t even feel like me.

On Tuesday I had a full scale meltdown. Sobbed my eyes out, the lot. Because I can’t “problem solve” the energy I’d usually put into that, has nowhere to go.

So many people have told me how strong I’m being, considering what I am going through. Because people have told me that, I’ve found myself wanting to live up to that standard and not allowing myself to cry (which is crazy really because if there’s one thing I am, it’s a crier!)

I definitely feel better for allowing myself to feel my emotions but I can’t help but have this air of sadness hang over me. It feels alien to me. As a general rule, I have a naturally happy disposition.

At the advice of a colleague, I’ve contacted our employee assistance programme at work. I need someone to talk to. I’ve used it before and it’s brilliant. She correctly pointed out, I need to talk to someone before it gets worse.

Having taken a couple of positive actions (I also called my Neurologist’s secretary for an update) I feel a bit better. I feel less like I’m allowing this to “just” happen to me.

Thankfully, I’ve got an amazing bunch of people around me, from family, friends and work colleagues, to friends I’ve only met online.

You can’t ever underestimate the value of having people that really care about you around.