Don’t dismiss anything

Tiredness is a funny thing, the way that one second I can feel fine, and the next I want to crawl into my bed and never get out again. I know for me that it isn’t just a need to sleep, this kind of tiredness comes from a fatigue. Fatigue used to just be that feeling that my limbs not only couldn’t do anything, they were quite simply dead and I needed, no, had to rest. Over the years, I discovered that sleep wasn’t the answer, it helps, but it isn’t the answer. I could sleep forever, but fatigue doesn’t go until it is ready, it just builds and builds. The longer you live with it, the more it grows, somewhat like an ever rolling snowball, it picks up just the little bit more every day. I know that I have written a post before about the difference between tired and fatigued, and if I say so myself, it was a great post. So why return so soon about something that was written well and describes it fully? Well, because, that post was about that dragging fatigue that holds onto not just our bodies but almost our souls as well. This is about muscle fatigue, something quite different, but without a doubt, rolls over into the more major form.

Recently, I have been finding myself floored but unable to sleep and I don’t remember that happening for years. I still sleep perfectly at night, but it is the afternoons when I now often find myself lying there in a half world. I am on the cusp of sleeping, completely relaxed, but I am totally aware of every inch of my body. I can feel each part of me, even those that appear to be missing and all of those that have their own individual sensation.  My body is alive with areas that are numb, others tingling, some that are both and other that are causing me pain. There is nothing there though that is enough to stop me sleeping, but it just doesn’t arrive. It has nothing either to do with my thoughts or an overactive brain, mine is rarely that, but there I lie, with a completely exhausted body, that is craving to just be allowed to shut-down. In the past, I have tried using relaxation techniques against fatigue with little positive effect. Not surprising really, as fatigue, has nothing to do with anything one would call normal, it is far more than tired, far more than muscles that have just been used too much. Neither sleep nor relaxation seems to be a cure for fatigue, it is more a sticking plaster that lets you forget about it for a while.

A few years ago, if you had suggested that I should go to bed and just lie there for an hour or more. doing nothing, I would have refused point blank. My refusal would have been heartfelt, as there was nothing I would have found more difficult, or more horrific a thought, as wasting an hour, lying around being bored. Even if I had tried to, the boredom would have driven me mad in less than fifteen minutes, I would have been up again. So for me to be able to say, that I can now do this with ease and that I actually enjoy that hour of lying there doing nothing, something major has to have changed. It is the absolute truth, that nothing that has happened to me in the past year has surprised me more than this, but there it is, I can now do it. Clearly, I have made a discovery, something that has allowed me to change so dramatically, and yes it does have something to do with fatigue. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I have found a cure, but I would go as far as to say, I have found a real sticking plaster that soothes and doesn’t just distract. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t looking for something to help, I was just looking for sleep and I was working through my relaxation technique in the vain hope of finding sleep, but I found something else.

I have to admit that I have been holding back on writing this, because it does sound kind of silly, but it has helped so many times now, that I feel it’s only right to share it. I had gone to bed one afternoon and my hands were really bad, painful and heavy the typical fatigued muscle feeling. The second I was settled in bed, they started that intense tingling that is just one click away from painful. I had already earlier in the day been sat at my PC, stopping every now and then to massage them, as they felt so knotted and tight. For me, massage is something that rarely helps anything, other than spasms, but it is one of those instinctive actions that you find yourself doing, whether it works or not. When I couldn’t find sleep, and my relaxation system hadn’t worked, I found myself lying there cursing my hands. They were so alive with sensation, that I was sure they were what was blocking my sleep. I decided to work on them again, but this time, instead of just mentally relaxing my whole hand, I went finger by finger. When I reached the ones that hurt the most, I added in what I can only describe as mental massage. In my mind, I imagined gently massaging the muscle and adding rays of warmth. I could think of no reason why it would work, it was intended more as a way of keeping me from getting up, as I knew I really needed the rest, even if I wasn’t going to sleep. To my surprise, when I had completed my entire left hand, the level of complaint, honestly seemed lower, not gone, but a bit better. There was a marked difference between the two hands, that hadn’t been there before. I did the same exercise on my right hand with the same result. I had purposely done all this very slowly as I was time filling after all. When the alarm sounded, I got up and thought no more about it.

Usually in the evenings, I find my hands incredibly painful, especially since I have been in my wheelchair. That evening, yes, they were still painful, but there was an improvement, I didn’t link it at all, until a couple of days later, when the whole thing was repeated, as it has been multiple times since. I decided to test it out on not just painful muscles caused by use, but highly fatigued ones, it works with them too. I have analysed and worked through the whole thing and now, I don’t bother with the imagined heat anymore, that I think was just silly. What I have done, is to have come up with what I think the reason is, and the system that makes it work. I use my relaxations system frequently, so I can now use it with speed and efficiency, for going to sleep. By slowing it all down and really concentrating on making sure that every muscle, rather than just whole limbs, are as relaxed as they can be, not just enough, but totally, is what is reducing the pain. I am more than aware that the technique I use, is used widely, and I am sure that many who use it, like me, has become skilled at relaxing at speed. I suggest strongly, that you slow it down as like me, you might actually be missing a benefit that is there waiting. It is a long way from a cure for fatigued muscles, or that dragging fatigue that goes much deeper, but it is a help, a really good amount of help that makes it worth well. So much so, that I now go for my nap, not caring if I sleep or not, as that hour and a half, is of benefit either way.

I am so convinced of it’s benefits that if I find myself aware of aching muscles during the day, that is now my first stop, rather than just putting up with it. It isn’t a miracle cure, but it does make life just that bit more comfortable and that to me is worth the time I lose. In the past couple of months, all I seem to have done is to slow down everything that I do, to take more rest, relax more and generally, take life at a smoother slower pace. Every time I have tried this in the past, it just hasn’t worked, I guess that I just wasn’t ready for it to, well it does now. It appears, that no matter what it is, just because something hasn’t worked before, isn’t a reason to say it doesn’t work at all. I would strongly suggest that even if you have tried any relaxation techniques in the past and dismissed them, try them again and even again, you might be surprised by what you discover.

Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 30/10/2013 – Avoiding depression

I have always been someone who likes to live life with challenges, to have lists of things to achieve and to work on, not for money, praise or anything else, other than self-pride. I have lost count the number of times in my life people has asked me….

You got’a laugh

Teressa phoned last night, it’s always good to hear from my daughter, but what she told me, didn’t really sink in until much later. She too is on her way to see a doctor today, with regards to a mole. Oddly, I suppose, because I told her about mine first, I didn’t realise she was calling possibly looking for a bit of reassurance from her Mum. Even odder, I think I gave it to her without realising at the time. Despite the fact that we have spent the majority of her life with millions of miles between us, we have always had a really good relationship. I would say that we have a great combination off all the things that make people belong together. We are so alike in personality, both caring, both sarcastic and both quick witted, not just in the comical sense, but in what is really going on around us, and we both share a raft of interests. So after giving her my good news about my mole, when she mentioned hers, I didn’t even consider that she might really be worried about it. I did what I always do and what she does too, made light of it, talked about it, but also quickly turned it into a joke and something of no real importance. Her one is in her armpit, and when she said that she didn’t think it was going to turn out anything serious because, she “didn’t walk around throwing my arms in the air, so the sun could get to my armpits.” I just answered, “Well, I don’t know Teressa, you do do some pretty odd things” we both just laughed, her, far louder than me. We talked for about half an hour and ended our call with her still laughing after one of our usual put the world right in comedy chats. I may not have picked up on her fear, but I still did the right thing, I made her feel good.

I know better than many, that people reaction to health varies wildly. But I don’t care what anyone says, even if your doctor has just given you a death sentence, laughter, is almost always the best reply to what life has dealt out. I have never been able to get my head around this attitude, that the scary things in life have to be spoken about in whispers. Whisper it, shout it or laugh about it, it won’t change what is happening, but it could just change how you feel about it. I have told the story of my reaction to my diagnosis often enough, but I have also read and heard first hand the reactions of many, many very different people. From what I have seen, those who then go on to handle their health the best, are the ones who have quickly and I do mean within days, taken an upbeat reaction to it. For me, it was a natural reaction, not one that I had to think about, or even make a conscious thought through reaction to. Life had taught me that wallowing is a negative reaction and only pulls you even further down. I personally, though, hate those people who tell you, “You have to stay positive”, yes, you do, but unless you know how to do that, it is as useless a thing to say, as “They will find a cure soon”, to a cancer sufferer, with six months to live.

If you think about it, the people who are raved about as being great nurses and doctors, are usually, yes, good at their jobs, but they also radiate a positive aura. They smile, they joke and they are the ones who patients sit up in their beds and beam when they see them walking towards them. What makes them great, is the fact that they make people feel good, not better medically, but better mentally. I honestly believe, that even if your not a naturally positive person, or you haven’t learnt it values through trauma, you can learn it from those around you. Surround someone in misery, and they will become miserable, surround them in happiness and they will equally become happy. Even if you are a miserable git, like it or not, if you want to survive your chronic illness for as long as possible and with as good a life throughout as possible, you have to surround yourself with happiness and laughter. Sorry if you cringe at the very idea, but it is the only way. On the good side for you misery guts, is it doesn’t have to come from people, it can come from your environment and how you spend your time. It’s about having a positive impact on your life, not anyone else’s, as happiness is personal, if it’s good for you, then it’s good for your health.

Just as much as I recommend, that everyone checks their posture multiple times throughout the day and release any tension within their muscles that they find. I equally recommend that you check your mood as well. Good posture and removed tensions, can without a doubt, reduce overall pain levels. If you don’t believe me try it. it works. So does mood checking. It doesn’t take long and it isn’t difficult, it’s as simple as just asking yourself “am I happy?” I don’t mean in the regard to life, although I do recommend doing that every six months to a year, and do so seriously. I have had to change my life totally several times because of an “NO” answer to that one. This though is a much gentler and more immediate question. “Am I happy at this minute”. Your brain will answer more honestly than you expect, mine has even thrown tears at me, when I thought things were fine. We all have our own way of giving ourselves a boost, from a piece of chocolate, a few exercises to get the blood flowing, or even a cigarette and a few minutes just to gather your thoughts. If you work on checking and lifting your mood throughout the day before it slides down into a spiral, you can improve your whole day. Like everything else, the more you practise this, the better things get and it becomes an almost automatic thing to do because you are more self-aware. Although it might sound odd at first, it also plays a role in those pain levels, but it’s logical when you really think about it. It is a fact, the exact same pain never feels as bad when you are mentally up, as it does when you’re in the pits.

No matter what we do, we can’t be happy and smiling all the time. Life has it’s ups and downs, that is just the way it is. But we can make a huge difference ourselves, and it’s well worth the effort. If you thought that the day you gave up work because of your health, that the work was over, you’re wrong. Remove the normal routine and structure to life, and the work just gets harder. We can’t rely now on the people around us to notice if we are a little down, they aren’t around us any longer. Neither are they there to make us laugh occasionally, or to fetch us a coffee to give us a boost, we have to do it all ourselves. We might be alone, but the fact is we have to be every single one of those people, who we no longer see. How we do that, takes an array of tricks. Most we have to learn for ourselves, as being individual, what makes life right for us, might not be what is right for another. Some though are basic. We all need to have goals and we all need to achieve, and we need to do it daily, something else, that work supplied that is now gone. Hobbies help, but as I found, my health made all mine impossible. Goals though can be as simple as having a bath or plucking your eyebrows, whatever is needed, or will help to make you happy. Finish that book, clean your jewellery, polish your shoes, write a book, it’s up to you. Outside the medical solutions to our health, nearly all of it comes down to just one thing, being happy. Even those exercises to help reduce your pain, ultimately that is about happiness, as less pain always makes anyone happier.

Call it happiness, or being positive, what all of it is doing is letting us live with the most horrendous thing that can happen to anyone, being told that our health is in the midst of destroying everything, we have ever known, or had planned for the future. The world will never be the same again, fact, accept it, and build yourself a new life. This is our chance to build a life that will take us to our last breath, so it has to work and we have to be happy. It cost none of us anything to try and make the most out of what we have. Ask yourself, do you want a life of misery and pain, or, do you want a life of happiness? I don’t think it should be a question that anyone should even have to ask. It is also a fact, that all of us have the tools to do so, we all have a brain, it just needs training.

Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 20/10/2013 – Drifting through happiness

There is something wonderful about a Sunday morning, especially when it is cold and there is a feeling of winter in the air. I have always loved that feeling when you keep the curtains closed and the fire is lit adding….