Planking disaster

The planking challenge for February didn’t go according to plan, I only managed 2 attempts of planking for 20 seconds and that was a limb shaking effort!

But on a positive note, the reason why I’ve neglected the planking challenge is that I’ve been busy being active in other ways. For sometime now I have been walking part of the way home everyday, which is approximately a 25 minute walk and a couple of times over the last few weeks I have extended the walk, so very soon I should be walking all the way home. I have downloaded a pedometer on my phone and aim to do 10000 steps a day.

In addition to the walking and my weekly zumba class I have joined my local Back to Netball group. This is a nationwide initiative to get women back into playing netball in a friendly and pressure free environment. I played in the netball team in primary school, secondary school and college and absolutely loved it, but as that was at least 32 years ago so as you can imagine I don’t feel anywhere near good enough to play in a team. Just the very mention of the words “try out” fills me with dread. I’ve only been to 3 netball sessions so far but I’m really enjoying it, although I’m very out of practice and really need to work on my defending skills. Maybe before the season starts again I’ll be up to joining a team, but for the moment I’m happy just getting back into the swing of it.

I feel so blessed to be able to build up my fitness after suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, while I was ill I never thought I would have the opportunity or indeed the strength ever again to live a fulfilling life. I hope by sharing my experiences I can bring hope to sufferers of this debilitating illness and belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if it seems a very long one.

back to netball

They think it’s all over….it is now

This week saw my last study day at university, I have finished my Return to nurse practice course and I’ve passed!

I am so relieved that it’s all over and I’m immensely proud of myself for what I have achieved. I still can’t believe how well I’ve coped with going back to nursing and I’m now convinced that I’ve finally recovered from Chronic fatigue Syndrome.

We don’t get out registration numbers until March next year so I can’t work as a qualified nurse until then. But if I do get a band 5 job before then, if the management agrees, I could work as a band 4 until my registration is confirmed. There may be some band 5 jobs coming up on the unit I did my practice hours on, so watch this space!

At long last I’m off to Turkey to see Hasan and I can’t wait, I’m flying out on Monday and will probably stay until just after Christmas. I will be taking my laptop with me as I will need to keep up with Strictly Come Dancing online, so I will hopefully find something interesting to write about for the blog. Actually does anyone know what online TV website is the best for watching TV in Turkey?

At the end of our study day on Thursday our lecturer showed us this video that has been created by the Royal College of Nursing for nurse recruitment, I think it’s really well done and I thought I would share it with you all.

Carry on nursing

The month of May has been very busy for me so far. I have had 2 job interviews, the first was for the nurse bank at Weston General Hospital as a healthcare assistant at which I was successful. Alas the second one I wasn’t successful, it was for a community phlebotomist but they needed someone to work 5 mornings a week and none of the other candidates needed to job share. But it was worth going for the interview as it’s good practice for the future

Last week I went to the University of the West of England for a selection afternoon for the return to nurse practice course. We were an easy group to spot, all women around a similar age, barely there or subtle make up, smart casual clothes and looking extremely apprehensive about the next few hours. Reasons for letting our registrations lapse ranged from living/working out of the country, bringing up family and illness, although I was the only one playing the health card.

The course tutor went through all the details of the course, what we were letting ourselves into for 4 months and what we had to achieve at the end. We took in the details of the hours of practice expected, the huge book of competencies and the final assignment, but what was worrying all of us the most was the numeracy test. It looked horrific but it was only stuff that we learnt in school and calculations of medicines that we used to do on a daily basis when we worked in the past, but because of being out of practice it was scaring the living daylights out of us all! All I can say is I’ll be doing a lot of practice papers, maths was never my strongest subject.

We were all offered places on the course and despite feeling numb with fear at the thought of it, I am strangely looking forward to starting in the beginning of June. It’s an intense course particularly because I’ve done no study or work for a long time, I will really have to pace myself so I don’t overdo it and potentially make myself ill again. But I am staying positive that I can be successful in this next journey in my life.



Best foot forward

At the age of 3, like many little girls, I started ballet class in the local church hall. At that age we didn’t do much more than skipping and galloping around the room. As I got older it got more serious, new ballet school and harder lessons, we did annual exams with the Royal Academy of Arts and 2 or 3 shows a year. Everything was going well until I had to give it all up due to a knee condition. I loved ballet, it was my life for 10 years and it was devastating when it ended as I had dreams of going to the Royal Ballet School.

Over the years I have found some adult ballet classes but they usually folded due to lack of interest. Dance is the only way I like to keep fit and in desperation I started going to line dancing lessons about 15 years ago. I went religiously every week and as a a group we even went on a few weekends away dedicated to line dance fun!

During my illness I haven’t been able to do any exercise as I suffered from post exertion malaise/fatigue. If I did anything remotely energetic, the next day I would be unable to move from my bed and all my worst CFS symptoms would be amplified.

So I was thrilled the weekend before last that I was able to do 4 line dances. I went back to visit my old group for a catch up and a gossip, I didn’t know any of the dances they were doing but my friend asked for 4 dances that I knew from the past. After dancing my legs felt like lead, but the next day I didn’t feel like I wanted to die and I was able to get out of my bed and move around normally. I was very tired by the afternoon though and needed a little nap.

Encouraged by this I have been on the hunt for another adult ballet class, if I take it very slowly and sit out when I need to I’m sure I can get my ballet groove back. Darcy Bussell I won’t be, but maybe a bit fitter.

To sleep perchance to dream

For anyone sleep is very important for well being, but in illness good therapeutic sleep is essential for recovery. The most common symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome,(CFS), are fatigue and sleepiness especially during the day. But despite seeming to sleep a lot , a sufferer of CFS does not get therapeutic sleep and can suffer from insomnia.

During my illness I have found the fatigue and sleep problems very distressing. When I was able, I did a lot of research into ways of improving sleep at night and manage my fatigue and sleepiness during the day. Also quite a few years before I became ill I did a short course at Bristol University on sleep and dreams as I needed the information for an assignment for a nursing course, and I also found the subject fascinating.

Using my own experiences and the knowledge I have gained through this research, I am attempting to write an ebook on managing sleep problems associated with CFS and dream interpretation. I’m not sure if it’s a symptom of CFS or not but I have had some pretty wacky dreams. I have a couple of books on dream analysis and am forever trying to find the meaning in the  sometimes weird dreams I have. Although they are not as weird as my friend Deb who lives next door, she has some real humdingers!

There are 2 dreams that I have had on a regular basis over a number of years and more frequently in the last 6 months or so. Firstly I dream about being pregnant, during the dream I feel pregnant and all that goes with it. I usually wake up just as I’m going into labour and when I wake up I feel very disappointed when I discover I’m not pregnant. The other dream usually involves me looking for a toilet to use and I can’t seem to find a nice private one to use and end up in a grotty communal loo with no doors.

According to my books the toilet dream means I’m uncertain about my future and the outcome to a particular situation. The pregnancy dream suggests a fairly protracted waiting period for something or completion of a project.

When we sleep our subconscious mind tries to make sense of what we have been doing and thinking consciously during the day. So my strange dreams are reflecting what is going on in my life at the moment, trying to get back to work and normal life and being impatient about it.

Heal Thyself

This week I had my appointment with my Homeopathic consultant. I have been seeing her for about 5 years to try and control my symptoms.

Homeopathy dates back to Hippocrates, 460 – 377 BC, but used in it’s current form for the last 200 years. The term associated with it is “treating like with like” which means taking a substance that in large doses causes symptoms and using it in small doses to treat those symptoms. Homeopaths use a holistic approach to treat using remedies that can be fluid, tablet or powder based derived from chemical, animal, plant or mineral sources. Homeopathy has had mixed reviews from the conventional medical profession, recently stating that it had little or no effect on well being.

While being assessed by a homeopath expect to be questioned about past childhood experiences, past medical conditions, dreams, feelings, fears, personality, ambitions, strengths and weaknesses. If pain is a problem be prepared to describe that pain in great detail and how it makes you feel. All of this helps the homeopath to work out what makes you tick, how you respond to life and illness, what your character is like and what drives you, then prescribe the most appropriate remedy. This treatment requires frequent follow ups to keep tweaking the doses and remedies.

I suffered from many symptoms associated with CFS, but the most persistent and the ones that troubled me the most were severe head and eye pain, fatigue, muscle pain and cognitive problems such as forgetfulness, poor concentration, forgetting words, getting words wrong and mixed up and forgetting what I was saying halfway through a sentence.

After 5 years of intense questioning, soul searching, dream recording and remedy testing I think we’ve finally cracked it. I think it’s been a combination of factors that has helped me recover from my illness and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I started feeling much better when my last remedy was changed to a new one. I don’t care what the Lancet says about homeopathy not working, I believe it worked for me  and I would recommend it to anyone struggling with this cruel condition.

But one piece of advice start recording your dreams!

The secret is out

Yesterday was a very good day. I paid a visit to my old workplace to see my ex manager to talk about setting up a placement to support me during the return to nurse practice course.We had a lovely chat and subject to her discussing it further with HR, I’m in!!

While I was there I managed to have a gossip with staff I knew from when I worked there 6 years ago, but there were a lot of new faces.

It felt really good being back there, for the first time in a long time I felt like my life is going somewhere instead of being in limbo.

When I first became ill and had to give up my career I naively thought I would automatically get my pension due to ill health. That was not the case because under NHS rules I needed to prove permanent incapacity. In my deepest despair and depression I thought I would never recover and would be ill forever. So I appealed twice against the decision and failed twice. I was in this mind set for so long that I would never get better because any energy I had, (which wasn’t much!), was put into trying to find a Dr to confirm I was permanently incapacitated, so that I could get the money I’d spent so long saving up. I believed and subconsciously told myself that I would always have this awful debilitating illness.

Eventually, last year I decided to give up on trying to appeal, I only had one left and after all it’s only 15 years until I’m 60, not too long to wait!!

Also last year a friend lent me 2 books that would change my life, “The Secret” and “The Power”. The theme of these books is using positive thinking and love to get what you want in all aspects of your life.

I think the best advice I got from the section on health was not to own my illness or give attention to it. I decided then not to talk about myself suffering from CFS. If I talked about it at all I would detach myself from it, describing the symptoms in a clinical way and not say that I suffer from them. When anyone asks how I am I don’t talk about my illness and say I’m well and mean it.

Here are a couple of extracts from the book on illness, ” disease is held in the mind by thought, by observation of the illness and by the attention given to the illness. If you are feeling unwell don’t talk about it unless you want more of it. If you listen to people talking about their illness you add energy to your illness. Instead change the conversation to good times and give powerful thoughts to seeing those people in health.”  ” Focusing on perfect health is something we can all do within ourselves despite what is maybe happening on the outside”.

I truly believe that this was the turning point in my recovery. The mind is a very powerful tool and has a massive effect on our well being and health. I’m not saying that illness is all in the mind, but how we perceive it in our minds determines how we cope with the illness.

I am so grateful to my friend Mary for lending me those books, they were a life saver.