Totally Tubular (Dumbarse) Tuesday!

I just found this draft from last winter and decided to finish it off and share it.
As you’ll see… you’re not alone with the Silly Brain stuff, but more importantly this post is about change being the only certainty with these conditions and crucially.. change can go either way.

So Keep On Keeping On is definitely the way to go. Sometimes we can be surprised by some good changes. 😀

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Last winter:

I started the day like a boss dumbarse.

It seemed okay at first: Magic Dude got up for work at Stupid o’Clock and I actually went back to sleep. Sleep! Awesome!

When I awoke I was lying there thinking I should get up when there was a knock at the door. I made it downstairs and stared bleary-eyed and incomprehensibly at the woman on the doorstep. She’d come to read the electric meter. Fair enough. I then went to look at the time… Ohgoodgrief it’s 10am – 30 minutes to get ready and leave for Tai Chi, eeeeek!

Yes, it’s Totally Tubular Tuesday! Which means that I have two physio’s today, but that they’re cool physio’s that I’m super pleased to get to do – Tai Chi and adaptive Kung Fu.

So I managed to throw clothes on and and shove my contact lenses in. Ruuuuush!

Then I Iooked at the time again.

It was 9am.

Dumbarse!

So I carried on getting ready at a more leisurely pace. Today is the only dry day for a while so I had to hang some washing out. This is the worst day I could possibly have to do it on as I have both physio’s taken up with my classes, so it means that hanging washing is extra activity which is baaad news for the pain levels. And as it’s winter here the pain levels are already dreadful as the cold takes hold.

But I did it. Hurrah! Washing hung outside. Breakfast eaten. Multiple tablets and supplements taken. Fluids imbibed. I even wrote christmas cards for my Tai Chi and Kung Fu classmates.

I got to Tai Chi on time. Or so I thought. I walked in and everyone had started already. I hate being late for anything. I can’t do the Chi Gung any more as this med’ doesn’t stabilise my ANS as well so I get too faint to Tai Chi if I do the Chi Gung. So I plonked myself down and did some stretches through the standing still bit, then I joined in for some Chi Gung arm movements whilst sitting down to reduce faintyness.

Then we all performed the Yang style 24 form together with the official music. I was trying to include the corrections I’ve been learning but my brain is always off after a bit of Chi Gung so it’s guaranteed to be sub-standard the first time!

Then I hurriedly swigged some weak tea from my flask and poured it down my tee-shirt. In front of my teacher. Awesome.

The rest of the lesson was dedicated to brushing up the Sun style 73 performance. Apparently I have claw hands today. *sigh* Blummin’ dystonia! My teacher was showing me how to smooth out one particular move. The correction is reeeaaally straight forward. I know it is. And yet I found that without the move beforehand I could not work out how to do even the basics of the move we were working on. That’s not too unusual for me, but then I found myself watching her show me the move several times in a row and I realised that I did not recognise the move at aaaall. I had no knowledge of what she was doing. I knew I did really, somewhere in my brain, but it’s the first time I’ve not been able to access something like that even when it’s happening in front of me. It was not an enjoyable CRPS Brain moment. 😦

you're always on way way to someplace more

But you know what? This is just part of that thing called Shit That Happens. So all I can do is acknowledge the brain anomaly and move on. No need to dwell on these things as it will make me sad. Move on. I’ll know the move another day.

So I practiced what I could so that I got some activity for my body during my allocated physio’/Do-Stuff time.

Then I got my christmas cards out and found that I’d brought some of the Tai Chi cards and some of the Kung Fu cards to the Tai Chi class. Ugh! Stoopid brain. It probably looked like I’d forgotten to write cards for some people. *sigh* Hopefully they know me better than that, though. 🙂

Then… gosh I’m so classy…I choked on my lemon barley water and coughed a lot, bringing my ‘happy christmas’ convos to an abrupt end. Waving goodbye to people I got outside and proceeded to do the whole whooping cough thing whilst bringing up scrummy mucus into my mouth. Yum.

This is all fairly typical for a Tuesday, I really struggle with the two classes in one day, but they are both important to me and I do them during my allocated physio’ time so they are not extra. (And usually there wouldn’t be washing to hang up).

So, off home for 6 hours of attempted recuperation with fluids, hot water bottle, cushions to prop me up, blanket etc, then on go the compression stockings again and back to the martial arts gym. Double checking the christmas cards before I left.

When I arrived home from Tai Chi I found that the washing had been rained on and was now sopping wet again. All in-keeping with the theme of the day I guess!

And yes I still went to my adaptive kung fu lesson. I made it through despite nearly passing out whilst standing still and holding a target up for someone else to practice kicks past. Standing still is blood-pooling-tastic eh?!

It may look like I'm doing nothing but

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Today:

Now that my teacher is back from the Tai Chi World Cup in Taiwan and has finished winning gold and silver medals for a while she has got stuck into running a new class which started today. And yes, I was there for the first of the new class which is all about strength and conditioning.

As any pain patients know – pacing is the key to a lower pain baseline, and as any hypermobile patients know – pacing is jolly useful but strengthening muscles to help reduce the bendiness is pretty awesomely handy.

So that’s what I’m working on: strength and conditioning the parts of my body that I a) need to improve for Tai Chi tournament purposes, b) which will reduce various hypermobility issues and c) which is all done within my daily paced physio’ time so that I can do so without exacerbating my pain baseline.

spoons

I wrote a while ago about how the med’ I’m taking to help stabilise my Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) issues somehow remained pretty crap until this Spring despite starting it in the Autumn before. I don’t know why that is but I certainly wasn’t complaining when I could not only join in with the Qi Gung in class again but I could even shut my eyes without immediately keeling over. Wow! What an improvement! The dystonia reduced in severity too. It’s always worth talking to your doc’ about any tweaks or alternatives because tiny changes in med’s can result in substantial improvements in our uber-sensitive bodies.

This year I’ve worked at the Tai Chi and covered some of the lessons as substitute teacher that I would usually attend as a student as part of my physio’ anyway. (A physio’ spent teaching gives me a different insight into my Tai Chi and is a whole other learning curve. And definitely a challenge)! I’ve also worked at the adaptive Kung Fu, trying to adapt as little as possible as it’s within my daily physio’ remit but there’s always odd little aspects that I need to be careful about (e.g. when my heart goes dysrhythmic, when I get faint and working round issues such as my degenerative hip joints).

But as you can see from my draft above that I wrote last Winter… I am doing better than I was last year in some rather important aspects.

set backs and come backs

Admittedly my proprioception still goes awol and my teacher has seen me pour drink down my top many times. Even as recently as Thursday in fact! Ah well. I still have all the same issues with my health, and many are worse because that’s just the way it is, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t make improvements in important ways. And it certainly shows that my determination to keep at the physio’ pacing keeps paying off endlessly.

So finding my draft from last Winter and re-reading it was a pretty good experience for me. If you journal you’re probably telling me through your computer screen that I should try journalling more often eh?! 🙂

My determined physio-ing and my med’s tweak have helped me to build up to working on stabilising the most hypermobile areas in my body. It would be awesome to experience less subluxation of my shoulders and sacrum, and if I can do the strength and conditioning exercises as a tougher physio’ each week then my ANS should be more relaxed about the lesser activity the rest of the week. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping based on my past experience.

I’ll keep on keeping on anyway. Winter is not quite setting in here yet, the changes in weather are wreaking havoc with us Painies, and when Winter finally sets in our pain levels will rocket even more. So I need to be on top of my physio’ schedule to make it through to Spring with as few setbacks as possible. I don’t know where I’m headed so it’s all about doing the best I can for my health. I guess I’ll just follow whatever path turns up under my feet. And if I go backwards that’s all par for the course, it’s just setting me up for another comeback, right?

Feeling determined!

look at how far you've come, rather than how far there is to go

x

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Festive physio’ stole all my spoons!

I’ve spent some of my physio’ activity time decorating tree #1….

Xmas tree 1, 2013

Aaand tree #2 aka Treebeard (who has surprisingly made friends with Emo Spiderman)….

Xmas tree 2 (Treebeard), 2013

Of course, after using up available activity time other things tend to pile up a bit….

Tea bag pile

Tee hee

Merry December peeps, may you be cosy and smiley 🙂

x

(Spoon ref’)

Kung Fu achievement!

Well I managed to post more of the written ‘challenge’ posts in a row than I have done before… 9 days in a row! Win! (Although some days it was just a piccy, so maybe that’s why)!

Then my brain started to waft in and out of existence like some sort of a quantum hiccup? Or something. Er. Anyway.. it probably didn’t help that on the 5th of November I pushed myself a bit harder in my King Fu physio’ class for my grading. Yep. That’d do it!

As I’ve said before (when posting about starting Kung Fu and gaining my white sash) I attend a class focused on technique, so there’s no press-ups or doing laps round the gym or weightlifting or any of that other stuff that would induce exorbitant pain levels and kick in first with a good strong near-syncope response! We learn techniques and we practice them slowly because we have to get them right. If we tried to do them fast we’d end up with a sloppy technique so it’s a totally different animal to the way the kickboxing, muay thai and MMA (mixed martial arts) are also taught there. In fact it is much more like the Tai Chi that I also study at the same gym. There is a large amount of overlap between Tai Chi and Kung Fu in the style of moves and their applications so I find that each one has insight to give to the other, which is pretty cool.

Anyway, there I was on the 5th at the gym demonstrating different moves that I had learnt, both on my own and in slow-mo ‘sparring’. (I don’t do sparring exactly, I suspect I look more like a crazy slow-mo flapping starfish heading towards my opponent / bemused classmate)!

Here’s a pic’ someone took on their mobile phone of me doing some basic punch exercises at the end (my body was trying to keel over by this point so I’m concentrating very hard)…

KF Grading for yellow sashI passed the grading and now have the honour of wearing a yellow sash…

KF yellow sash

Wow!

As regular readers know, I don’t cap my potential. I’d rather enjoy the present and keep working to see where it might take me. I basically aim ridiculously high on purpose, and I strongly value each achievement that I manage along the way however far I manage to get.

I am lucky to have a teacher who is used to thinking adaptively from teaching Tai Chi to people with various health conditions, so she’ll help me find ways through wherever possible. There are no free passes and I wouldn’t like it if there were, but thinking adaptively around my health works.

I spoke to a fellow patient who used to teach martial arts (and who is wonderfully encouraging to me with my attempts at learning in this field despite the health issues – thank-you, you know who you are 😀 xx) and was ever so pleased to hear about adaptive teaching at her club where one wheelchair user was working up through the belt system. I know of others who have also followed right through to black belt despite only the use of one arm, and such like. There are many different styles of martial arts that have developed over the centuries which tend to suit different types of body sizes, strengths etc. It makes sense for someone like me to learn a defensive style which uses technique over strength, even if I was healthy I would choose from the defensive arts because it would work better with my frame and strength anyway.

To me, developing alternate aspects to allow for health / physical limitations is as sensible as choosing the right martial art for our body. In fact it is positively encouraged in Tai Chi – Eastern views of Tai Chi is that it is for anyone of any ability, and any good martial arts teacher will be willing to adapt for their students where required. I have spent lessons practicing my arm movements whilst sitting on a chair and I have spent lessons practicing only footwork when I couldn’t twist my painy lower back.

I incorporate the classes into my paced physio’ time, so that’s how I fit it into the pain management. The big problems for me are the autonomic sillies.. if I get slightly out of breath (pretty easy as I’ve not been able to exercise other than physio’ for so many years) then my heart goes far faster than it needs to, I get fainty and sometimes the palpitations and/or dysrhythmia kicks in. So I need to learn to go even slower when these start happening.

I’ve found that the palpitations and dysrhythmia are getting less common at the moment (they got worse on my current meds and the side effects aren’t improving so currently I’m gonna go with my ANS adjusting to the regular classes) (fingers crossed anyway)!

And that’s my exciting news! 🙂

Oh yes, and I’ve got a mini-tournament in Tai Chi at the gym on Sunday where I will be performing the Sun Style 73 form in front of others for the first time. It’ll be my practice at being in ‘tournament mode’ for next April because we’re learning more about how my health reacts each time I do it which means I can plan better each time. Fingers crossed that I don’t make too many mistakes!

Big hugs from me, I hope that you are all having as smooth-running a day as possible,

x

Something I didn’t think I could do…

For the photo challenge today…

I wasn’t entirely sure if I’d make it through my studies without the health getting impossible, but if I didn’t think that there was a chance of success then I wouldn’t have embarked upon that final module. So I have to think of something that I genuinely thought that I couldn’t do, which is nigh on impossible for me because I am one of those people who doesn’t believe in capping potential… who knows what we can achieve in the future? The last thing I’m gonna do is assume that I can never do things because then I’ll never try, and that’ll make it true whether it could have happened or not. So there is nothing that I think I can never do. Instead I work within my current health restrictions doing what I can and I enjoy the ride.

I enjoy the ride because living in the present is joyous. Okay yes, so there’s pain and crawling along the floor with my head spinning and such like, but there are also cups of tea, hot water bottles, sunsets that I can see through the window and much more. Why worry about my future? That’s not going to help me right now. Don’t get me wrong do I plan for my future, I just don’t allow myself to worry about it. I could worry about my health deteriorating, but even if I knew for sure worrying would only make the present feel worse. The thing with CRPS is that it is changeable. Change is built into the very fabric of how the condition works. And change can go either way: so some of my symptoms might improve. My pain management is in a whole different world to where it was years ago. My pain and my condition continues, but the way the pain and I dance around one another is more patterned than it used to be, we have a kind of truce. Neither of us is backing down, but there’s an ‘agreement’ of sorts! It allows me to plan for some activities and events that I could not have done in the past. I will pay for it in pain levels, but I plan for that too.

So who knows what we can accomplish in the future? And if that’s the case, why not start now? Losing old patterns of living, active abilities, friends who can’t handle the changes… well, after getting over the initial crapola that creates we then start to think things like… “What is really important to me?”, “What can I do for me that gives my life smiles and personal value?”, “What can I try that might help distract myself from the pain a little bit?”. And that’s when we discover a new feel to life and start creating our own new pattern. Some of us rediscover lost skills or hobbies and some of us discover new ones.

So when asked for a picture of something I did not think I could do, I just don’t think that way. For me it’s about something I did that I never knew I would do, with the emphasis on the not knowing it was in my future rather than not believing it was.

When we start creating our own new way of living within our current (but potentially changeable) conditions of living, it is a process of exploration and discovery. When I started new things (like this blog) I always said that I don’t know where it will take me but it will be interesting following the path and finding out. And the blog has taken me down paths I didn’t know were in my future. (You can see the blog for yourself though, so I guess a piccy of that would be a let down)!

When I was at a physical low a couple of years ago, I had to stop doing my twice weekly physio’ sessions at the gym because the Dysautonomia had become a real problem with trying not to pass out and/or throw up whenever I tried to exercise, and I felt really down about it. I handled it well for the first few months even though I knew I’d have a lot of ground to regain, but after two years it was a real concern that I could not get the physio’ that my legs required to keep to the delicate balance of activity and rest that affects pain levels. To my regular readers – please excuse me for mentioning my beloved Tai Chi again (;-) !) but for those who don’t know… Tai Chi is what I started doing in a slow-mo attempt to get my body doing some different activity twice a week. What I hoped was that it would help me get back to the gym and what I found was that I really enjoyed learning it so I knew that when I got back to the gym I was not going to give up the Tai Chi. That was it, though, the extent of my expectations! I just wanted to learn more Tai Chi and improve over the years. I knew that it would be a very handy health tool for my crinkly years if I could keep it up for the rest of my life, so that was the plan.

Instead, as regular readers will know, it took me down a whooooole different path!

Tai Chi Chinese New Year 2013

I still cannot get back to the gym, but the Tai Chi (thanks to my awesome teacher who saw and nurtured my potential, encouraging me every step of the way) led me to perform at a Chinese new year celebration wearing Professor Li‘s purple silks (passed down from him to student, to student’s student, then loaned to me 🙂 ). ‘Thanks’ to my CRPS journey I’m now pretty good at living in the moment which helps to keep the stress levels down (which helps calm the Dys’ symptoms). From my teacher’s point of view I demonstrated that I performed well under pressure, whereas from my point of view there was no real pressure from an audience coz the bigger problem was keeping my symptoms under some semblance of control! So really I demonstrated that I know how best to work around my condition to get a few minutes of apparently able-bodied performance! Because of this, my teacher took me to my first national tournament (ladies beginners class) where I shocked myself completely by winning gold. Then she took me to a different national tournament a couple of months later (this time a bigger classification group as all men and women were competing against each other) and I amazed myself by winning another gold. It opened my eyes to potential that I didn’t know I had. It’s been the most unbelievable year in the most literal sense because I still have trouble believing that all this really just happened to me!

That’s the thing about potential, it lurks sneakily just off to one side and it has no visible limits, It’s the exciting unknown, and the key is to travel the path enjoying each new achievement along the way because wherever those limits may be.. a) limits can be tested and we can improve, and b) aaaall achievements along the way are to be celebrated.

x

CRPS Awareness Month

Yes, I’m back! (Kinda)! After having to come off my meds in preparation for the two days of hospital tests in London, (blog posts on this to follow when my brain returns to me 😉 ), and what with all the travelling, the tests, more travelling, pain flare as a result, worse symptoms whilst off the meds, and now the side effects whilst going back on the meds…. well… it’s been interesting!

Thank-you for your posts and comments in the meantime, I have been reading them and replying whenever I have been able to do so. You are amazing, xx

The worsening Dys’ symptoms, (especially the near-fainting and nausea), meant that I was unable to keep up with my physio’ sessions which I would usually use to keep my pain at lower levels, (as much as is possible, anyway). And of course the lack of physio’ had the knock-on effect of an even greater pain flare. But, as you know, I am a stubborn old boot!

So, after five days of no proper physio’ I decided that I’d ask Magic Dude to drive me somewhere in the hope that we could find some gorgeous Autumn trees, (or Fall trees to those of you not living in quaint Britain 😉 ). With the added twist of me deciding that I would wear bright orange! This is because November is RSD / CRPS Awareness Month in the USA, and it tends to get shared around the world via our informal online network of patients. One wonderfully positive friend even convinced all of her colleagues to wear orange at her workplace, and she was bowled over by how enthusiastic and supportive they all were. Fabulous stuff. 🙂

So as some of us were nattering online about getting dressed up in orange and taking pictures… off I went, in my orange coat and an orangey dress, in a search of an orangey, (or at least Autumnal looking) tree!

I had my hood up some of the time as the sun was glorious and making me squint a lot! Magic Dude took this pic’, but the way the hood hangs it kinda looks like I’m a distant cousin (non-evil, of course) of the Dementors! (Harry Potter ref’, sorry 😉 )

It really does make a difference having an awareness month. It’s hard for friends to hear about our conditions all year round. It’s exhausting for us living with the condition, but it’s also wearing for our friends in a different way because they feel so helpless when hearing how we struggle because there’s not really much they can do to assist. (Unless they are near enough to come round to make us a cuppa and have a lovely chat of course)!

This time last year I was not yet blogging, but I posted loads of information on my personal Facebook page during November. Quick and easy stuff for the most part: informative profile pic’s (like the McGill Pain Scale, or a diagram of how CRPS ‘works’, and so on), with daily snippets of info’ about my life with CRPS and the odd weblink to more information. Some of my friends were wonderfully supportive and even changed their own profile pic’s to spread the word. A couple of friends even went away and read up on the condition themselves.

The best thing of all is that many of my friends now know that taking extra vitamin C after operations and injuries can reduce their chances of getting CRPS.

And the bestest thing of all is finding that one of my long term friends, (who I haven’t physically seen for years, but you know how that doesn’t matter when it’s a ‘proper’ friendship 😉 ), has stocked up on vitamin C for his recovery period after an operation. Wow! To think that this information can help others avoid the complex condition I have ended up with is so truly fabulous. 😀

(By the way, the operation consent form he was asked to sign did note ‘RSD’ (old name for CRPS) as a risk factor but, as he rightly pointed out, it did not give any information on a) what that is or b) how to minimise the potential risks. Fingers crossed the strong research will eventually be reflected in information given to patients for their own well-being, but meanwhile… keep spreading the word, xx)

And my search for an Autumn tree did result in finding one that I could actually stand up underneath…..

What a glorious day it was, I must make sure that I have a Blue physio’ walk sometime before Dysautonomia Awareness month in October next year! 😉

x

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Olympic torch relay comes to an end

Today the Olympic torch finishes up its journey with the lighting of the cauldron in the main stadium. Many worthy people have carried it on its journey, some of whom I have mentioned along the way. Some fellow patients slipped under the radar on this blog as their conditions were not mentioned online. But whatever the reasons for a torchbearer being nominated, it is always glorious to see such wonderful examples of our fellow humans doing good, and shining some light upon the world. (In the case of the torch, I guess that’s quite literally shining light, too)! They lift our hearts and make the world a more beautiful place.

One fellow patient who slipped under my radar was Nicola Blythe, who carried the torch in Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland on the 3rd June. (Yes, Nicola, you do not escape a mention, tee hee 😉 ) A lovely friend of Nicola’s told me of her inspirational qualities which led her to be nominated to be part of the Olympic proceedings. Volunteering as a co-ordinator to enable disabled individuals of all ages to get sailing, Nicola is a crucial and hard-working member of the team. So much so that the nomination came from the Honourary Secretary of Belfast Lough Sailability, which made me grin even more. Fantastic stuff from a fellow CRPS patient who first and foremost is themselves rather than a condition, and who also chooses to help others have some fabulous experiences. 😀

After all that relay jogging around the UK we await the opening ceremony with mixed excitement and intrigue. After all… countryside animals, fake rain clouds (in case it doesn’t actually rain), pseudo music festivals and a hoard of NHS nurses does sound rather intriguing!

Huge cheer to all of the torchbearers, I am glad that you got to participate and create some amazing memories. And also much love and big hugs to all of those out there who were not able to get involved, but who are shining lights in the world where ever you happen to be, xx

Amazing CRPS patient carries Olympic torch today

One thing that many of us CRPS patients find hard is when we meet or hear about someone much younger than us having to live with the disease. I have spoken to a few teenagers with CRPS online and, oh-my, they are astounding! The positivity and energy they bring to living their lives despite the disease is admirable beyond description. Many of us talk about things we’ve done and inevitably end the story with “…but that was before I had CRPS, of course.” So to think of having even less time before the condition became a part of our daily lives, less time before we had to find out how strong we really could be. Our hearts go out to all of our fellow patients, but something extra goes ‘twang’ in our hearts for our young fellow patients.

George Coppen is one of the people selected to carry the Olympic torch further on its journey around the UK today. He is a shining example of the strength and determination that teenagers amaze us with. He achieves fantastic involvement in life and sports despite the CRPS pain in his legs.

Rather than give in to the pain, George is an inspiration in his involvement in sports, getting involved in any way he can. He referees the occasional basketball game, competes year after year in the World Dwarf Games, having also competed in the National Games held by the Dwarf Sports Association UK (DSAuk) since he was pre-school age, and he is pretty darn good at… wheelchair slaloming. Yep, you read that right! I had trouble even functioning in a wheelchair (pathetic girl-arms was my excuse) and I never even had the courage to try ickle wheelies in it, so … slaloms?… Crikey!

Hats off to George 🙂

He also encourages others, which is what makes me grin all the more. That’s one remarkable young man, for sure.

So today, look out for him in Derby if you’re nearby, and cheer him on from afar if you’re not. Coz there’s a fellow patient out there, carrying the torch despite the pains it will cause him. I hope he has a fab’ day and that gets to grin every time he remembers it. He deserves to be a part of this year’s Olympic events, and I’m sure you’ll join me in cheering him on from here, too. 😀

X

Olympic torchbearing for Dysautonomia

As the Olympics draw ever closer, so the torchbearers are making their way around the country as we build up to the big event. Torchbearers have been nominated by others, often for their work raising money for charity, raising awareness, helping others and sometimes fighting conditions of their own.

Yesterday, Hannah Cassidy was one of the Olympic torchbearers in Wallasey, Merseyside. Hannah has spent the last couple of years raising money for her nephew, George, who is nearly two years old.  He has been hospitalised for most of his life and only got to go home recently.The doctors now suspect that George has Dysautonomia and that it is affecting his central nervous system. Not only has Hannah raised money to help her nephew, but she would also like to raise money for Great Ormond Street hospital as a thank-you for saving the life of young George. I hope she enjoyed her very well-deserved part of the relay team yesterday 🙂

When I searched for torchbearers with dysautonomia and autonomic dysfunction before the relay began, Hannah Cassidy was the only person I found in my search. But, not unlike dysautonomia itself, she was a less rare type of relayer than it first seemed…

Lucy Fellows has Postural OrthostaticTachycardia Syndrome (POTS, a form of dysautonomia) and also carried the torch on the 24th May in Ludlow, Shropshire. I saw her brilliant torchbearing on a You Tube link that a fellow dys’ patient had posted, and I cheered her on as I sat stranded on the sofa after my physio’. It must have taken a lot out of her to jog and walk as far as she did with the POTsy symptoms of near-fainting, nausea and more. Very admirable work there, Lucy, well done hon’, you were being cheered on by fellow dysautonomia patients around the world.

Huge hug and a big grin to both of these fabulous ladies, x

Olympic Torchbearers Relay, 2012

Today the Olympic torch started it’s journey from Lands End in Cornwall on the most South West tip of the UK. Many torchbearers will take their turn at carrying it a little further on it’s journey all around the country. All have been nominated for reasons of strength either in their own illness, or in selfless giving to a cause or community.

Here are three of the people bearing the torch today…

Kenneth Johnson will carry the torch through St Austell. He has raised lots of money for a project on MS after one of his children’s teachers had to give up work as a result of the condition.

Sophia Cowburn will be carrying the torch through Liskeard. At the young age of 18 she has not only had to cope with her twin brother’s suicide as a result of depression, but she has started a charity and been doing lots of fundraising as a result. All whilst studying for a degree and holding down two jobs, as well. She has been described as ‘a truly inspirational teenager’, and deservedly so.

Carrying the torch through Plymouth is Chris Theobold, who not only has ME, but is also a carer for his wife and a volunteer for the Association for Young People with ME.

All three torchbearers include a focus on sports either for fundraising or health reasons. I hope that everyone enjoys their experience today, and a big cheer to all those fabulously strong inspirational people that we each know all around the world.

x

World Tai Chi and QiGong Day

Every year the last Saturday in April is World Tai Chi and QiGong Day. I’ve been a Tai Chi student for just over a year, now, and I have every intention of continuing to learn for as long as I can. I’m not a stereotypical creaky grey-haired person, or a stereotypical young and fit martial-arty type. I’m blending the stereotypes as a young(ish) creaky person and cheering on any person of any age and any ability to give Tai Chi a whirl if they feel the urge!

Like so many people, I have turned to Tai Chi because my health won’t permit other types of exercise. And, like so many other Tai Chi-ers….. I wish I’d started learning it when I was younger!

Yes, Tai Chi is undeniably good for the older body. As we get older our bodies get a bit cranky and need our exercise to be in more appropriate forms and intensity. Tai Chi fits the bill, and research backs it up inexorably.

However, it is also a martial art, (have you seen Jet Li’s Tai Chi Master? 🙂 ), and can be taken to levels beyond what you are aware of from general urban myth. My tutor combines it with Wushu, (that beautiful but exhausting form of martial arts you see spinning through the Eastern martial arts movies), to create beautiful and yet physically demanding forms. If she wore aaaaall her medals at once she’d probably be hidden from view, she’s that good! Tai Chi can be taken as far as you want to take it and, in my opinion, the further you take it the more interesting it gets!

But for us beginners, there is the standard form of 24 moves which we can learn. It is the form practiced throughout the world, but even as a beginner you don’t have to just stop there. You can if you want, of course. The point is that you learn as much as you want to and practice Tai Chi in the way that it makes you most happy. (And it does make us Tai Chi-ers happy)! But the 24 is not the be all and end all. I’m learning the Yang style 88 form at the moment, and loving it, (despite the crazily fast heart-rate and having to sit down half the time coz my blood pressure keeps trying to go for the fainty option). After the 88… I look forward to learning the 42 which includes moves from the various styles of Tai Chi, so I’ll be learning different ways of moving and varying the speed from a Tai-Chi-slow to a fighting-fast and back again. (There’s videos of the 24 form and 42 form on one of my earlier posts here). But I don’t expect to leave the previous forms behind. They all have their place and take different lengths of time to perform, and they all create greater understanding of the art whilst offering new directions to potter off in and learn more.

I love it…..can you tell?  😉

A rare non-wobbling moment caught on camera! (The kicks don’t have to be high ones, by the way, x)

As some of you will already know, I have been trawling the research journals for papers investigating the effects of Tai Chi on health. I wrote about it in my Tai Chi Glee post way back in February. I haven’t forgotten it, but my health, the writing challenge, my health, the lack of adequate tech’ and, er, the main problematic theme: my health, made it really slow going. So I’ve written a bit when I can, researched a bit when I can, and slowly got there over time. And as today is World Tai Chi and QiGong Day, it seemed the most appropriate day to upload it to the blog.

So here it is….the link to my info’ page about the Health Benefits of Tai Chi….just click here.

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