Monday, 25 February 2013

Going For A Walk

How simple can that be? I went for a walk this morning. It was freezing cold, literally, about one degree Celsius. My gloves have holes in them (for a knitter that is kind of embarrassing, I should be knitting my own replacements, not waiting until I find them in a shop!) My two pairs of leggings under my jeans kept me cosy, my various tops and jumpers, hat, scarf and cosy coat kept me warm. But how do I walk?
I began walking again last year. With limited distance goals, after just doing laps of the garden, I began going about one hundred and fifty paces, then back again. Which took me about two houses down the road. As the weeks went by I increased the distance, not going two days in a row, and only going when I felt well enough during the day. If I felt dizzy, nauseas or tired I stayed home. By the end of the summer, about six months down the road, I could go round the block two or three times during a good week.
Today I donned my warm layers and headed out, with a rucksack! It was a first time experiment to see if I could manage it and it seemed to work alright. It contained pretty much nothing, but I could carry it. Yeah! I've had things in my pockets before, but never a load on my back. Shopping was my downfall when I tried to walk again four years ago. I failed miserably by taking my purse out with me and thinking I could fill up the fridge with bargains by carrying bag loads home from the local shop. As I said it was a failure. It was one of the things that turned my return to walking into a return to the wheelchair yet again. I am still using the wheelchair, when I'm going a further distance, when I've been using my legs for other things during the day, such as standing in the kitchen or a standing yoga lesson or when I've walked the previous day and am feeling it! It's all about moderation and giving myself time to prepare for any advances.
As far as the process of walking step by step goes, I have a new focus. This came from a walking meditation I learnt last summer. Breathing slowly and feeling each pace. Walking before meant getting somewhere without falling over. It now means finding a view to enjoy, while I decide on my destination. I admire the highest point on the horizon, forget about where I'm going and just enjoy the journey.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Making It Easier

I have read a blog post this morning from The Optimum Health Clinic.  It describes the different ways we can approach Discipline in our lives, to help us towards recovery. (See link)
I know I have been all three of the kinds they describe over the last 25 years. I have gone all out and filled my days with lists and rules, managed a timetable, kept charts and diaries for what I do, eat and how much I sleep every day, trying to find clues and answers as to what is going wrong and how I can change. That was me in the early days of this illness. Back then with so little practical help from outside, it seemed the best way to try and understand it for myself. It didn't work. I tried to give myself regular timetables. Forced activity and rest times only ended up giving me what I didn't need when I didn't need it.
I have also been an 'all or nothing' recoverer. In these times, unlike suggested in the blog I have listened to my body on different days. If I wake up feeling great, I go out, enjoy the freedom, party, exercise, socialise. And you know what happens then, I feel awful for the next few days, take it as my illness just being a bit relentless and take another cue from the  next morning. Which might suggest lying in bed, asking someone else to make my breakfast, falling asleep in the afternoon. All or nothing has been very close at hand sometimes.
Then, with so much experience and so little progress over the years I have also become one of the ‘I have no self-discipline at all, I can’t make myself do anything ever’ recoverers. This is a difficult one to put into practice as it needs a lot of self-doubt. But when an illness pushes you backwards and backwards, after you've tried so hard to keep going, there is sometimes barely any other route. I would have this approach in between all the others, whenever I felt lousy, it wasn't just the illness anymore, it was my fault, I couldn't follow a timetable, or rules, neither was I self-disciplined enough to get out there and do what I had to do.
So I have had an interesting relationship with discipline over the years!
Making it easier has been for me, finding a way of combining all three. On good days I don't go full out and wear myself to the bone, neither do I follow rules and timetables, I have a few options that I know I can do during the day, I also have a long-term goal setting list, which I can pick from when I'm feeling well enough. So good days give me opportunities to pick from these options and find an easy compromise. On bad days I know I cannot blame the illness, neither can I blame myself. It is usually, very predictable circumstances that have led me to a bad day. For the last ten days it has been my cold and sore throat. An external device, having nothing to do with the ME, just unlucky. Yes I am more debilitated by it than others might be, but I am more debilitated by everyday life than others, so that's hardly surprising. I learn to enjoy my bad days, give myself treats- like favourite films, new DVD box sets, or downloads from LoveFilm! I also let the food slip a bit, and eat a few organic pizzas and puddings with ice creams.
Learning to smile through good days and bad has become my discipline, letting a few tears come if need be, finding strength when I have only enough energy to lie on the sofa during the day and do a legs-up-the-wall yoga pose before bed is my discipline. Don't believe you have to follow rules or scripted health plans to be disciplined, be your very good self!