ME Awareness 2017

Imagine one day you wake up and you can barely move from your bed. You try to lift your head but it feels too heavy, almost like you are trying to lift up a heavy rock.

Your cat is lying beside you and senses you are waking, he walks up along your body. Ow! You didn’t realise he was that heavy. His tiny paws digging into your body are so painful. As you try to pull yourself out of bed, you feel stiff, heavy and achy and your joints are sore. Your body feels like it has aged decades to your eighty’s.

As you rise you feel your head spin and your body struggle to hold its self-upright. A million thoughts start to overwhelm your head and you start to wonder why am I feeling so awful? You barely make it from the bedroom to the lounge. Your body feels like it has just run a marathon.

Maybe you’re coming down with something, like the actual flu….. Or maybe today is just an off day. But then the next day feels much the same, days then turn into weeks, then months then years.

Just like that you have gone from be a young, fit, healthy and capable human being into a weak, venerable, confused and incapable human being. You can barely leave the house, let alone look after yourself and your loved one has turned into your carer.

Your doctor and other doctors can’t explain it, won’t acknowledge it, or know about it but can’t help. Leaving you at a loss as to where and how it all went so wrong……

Wow that sounds horrible and depressing! That my friends is a small taste of what life with ME/CFS aka Myalgic Encephalomyelitis /Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is like.

Today is ME/CFS awareness day! As a yearly ritual I like to get on board and help promote awareness on our intentional day of May 12th (read previous posts for 2014, 2015 , 2016 here).

Sadly there are millions of people world wide that are currently suffering with this illness. Many sufferers are left house bound, some are even bed bound. The recovery with this illness can take years, even decades. Unfortunately there is still a lot to be learned and research to be done about ME/CFS. Some health professionals still believe it is all in the sufferers mind, as there is still a lot unknown about the illness. Crazy right!?

I suffered with this illness back in 2013 and become completely bed/house bound for years. It was a very isolating and debilitating experience to go through. Thankfully my health is in a much better place now.

For more information about ME/CFS or to find out how you can help check out the Australia ME/CFS website emerge.org.au.

I am extremely excited to be completing in City2surf this year and fundraising for ME/CFS. Funds donated are going to emerge, they are a wonderful advocate for ME/CFS sufferers. If you want to get behind me or share some love and support click here for my everyday hero page.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a wonderful day!

Much Love,
Lennae xxx

 

 

Photo credit: a.m_banks- Instagram

 

Walking with ME

Walking with a view, Woonona beach, NSW.

Walking with a view, Woonona beach, NSW.

During the early days of my illness with ME/CFS (Myalgic encephalomyelitis/ Chronic fatigue syndrome) moving proved to be very difficult, my body was weak and heavy. I’m in my third year of recovering with ME/CFS and here is how I have managed to get moving again. Please note that although I have found this to help me, it may not be ideal for you. Everyone is different and this illness affects everyone differently.

When my doctor referred me to an exercise physiologist to help with my recovery, I was confused and didn’t understand why… “how could I exercise if I could barely hold myself up?”  This being my only option from my doctor, I went and gave it a go.

At the exercise physiologist I was given a couple of exercises and was told to start walking, this sounded like pure torture. I did want to get better, which meant I was willing to give anything a go.

The exercises I did off and on, but the walking I have kept and maintained since day one.  I started off with a walk down my driveway; to the mailbox and up and down 2 small flights of stairs. That was me done! I struggled up the stairs, while breathing heavily. Gradually I started shuffling a 5 minute walk to the beach. It was literally two blocks away and took me 10 minutes to get there. I started this walk with someone each time,  I was too scared to go by myself  and scared that I would fall over and be too weak to pick myself up if I ever needed to. I would stop when I got to the beach and get a chai latte. Usually I would need to rest for around half an hour before  heading back again. When I got confident I started do this walk on my own, I remember the first time I was out on my own and I was shuffling along and an elderly man passed me, I was so disheartened. The old me would have lapped that elderly man, twice!

I started to walk around 2 – 4 times a week, this become the highlight of my day and even week.  I would look forward to it, it became good for my physical health and mental health. If I could manage a small walk on my struggle day’s, then that was something and something is better than nothing. There were days where I didn’t want to do it though deep down I knew that if I got out into the fresh air I would feel better for it and I always did.

I remember one occasion I was having a bad day, I was feeling down and had no motivation to face my walk. I was mentally struggling and it was late in the afternoon. I thought to myself I need to do this walk today, I got myself together and slowly made my way down to the beach. When I finally got there, I ordered my chai latte, sat down and looked out over the ocean. I was rewarded with the beautiful sight of whales splashing around in the distance. I was so happy and proud that I had made it down, it was such an amazing reward.

After almost a year of this, things got easier and we moved into a different area.  We lived close to some shops that were under a 5 minute walk. I would walk up there, run an errand or two, have a chai latte and sit down then walk back when I was ready. Gradually I didn’t need to sit down and rest, I would find that I would be walking around for 20 – 30 minutes easily.

That’s when I took on a new challenge of walking Snow. We only had her for a few months, after a bit of walking practice around the backyard.  I started to feel comfortable walking her. We started our walks and got into a habit of walking 2 – 3 times a week, walking around a few streets in the area that would take me around 20 – 30 minutes depending on how I was.

When I returned back to work I had to make sure not to push things. Usually when I went for a walk it would be on my days off and the walk would range from 20 – 30 minutes. I took her on longer walks when we would go to the beach, they were always at a strolling pace. Beach walks were good to add in as the terrain is a bit harder to walk on. This helped build strength, we would bring Snow along to the beach and I started off by walking a quarter of the way and then back. Every-time I would go, I would assess how I felt and then turn around and walk back. Eventually after doing this for just over 24 months I made it to the end and back comfortably.

I have managed to build up a solid pace from the shuffle that I use to do back in my earlier days.  I now can complete regular walks weekly ranging from 2 – 5 times a week. I always assess how I am each day and during the week, if it feels like too much then that’s ok, I limit what I do.

I recently completed my first walking event since illness, it was 6 km’s and I completed it in 54 minutes (click here for details). My goal is to complete CITY2SURF I did it back in 2012 and loved it, due to illness I haven’t been able to do it since. It’s 14 km’s, fingers crossed next year is my year for it!!!

I believe walking can help on so many levels, do you enjoy walking or find helpful at all? Have you noticed any progress over time with your walking? I would love to hear all about it!

Lennae xxx

Walking and resting,

Walking and resting.

Snowy and I at the 3k Million Paws walk 2015.

Snow and I at the 3k Million Paws walk 2015.

We love walks when this is the view, East Corrimal, NSW.

We love walks when this is the view, East Corrimal, NSW.

Snowy in her element.

Snow in her element.

Walk selfies at the park.

Walk selfies at the park.

New day, new year, new GOALS!

Credit @abanksy1 Instagram

Credit @abanksy1 Instagram



New day, new year, new beginnings.

At the end of every year we look back and reflect on what we have and haven’t achieved and what we have and haven’t done. We then go ahead and set more or less the same goals, plus a few more and bigger ones.

I’m allowed to dream, but sometimes I find I set myself up to fail with all this goal setting!

Since I’ve been living with my Chronic fatigue, I’ve learned to do things differently with my hopes and dreams. I’ve always had high expectations of myself and it can be extremely frustrating when I want something so bad, but can’t get there due to circumstances out of my control. That’s why I feel that it’s important to re-assess where you’re at regularly. Your circumstances are always changing, it’s important to factor them all in.

I want to share with you all a few of my tips that I have found to be quite useful;

Write your goals down.
All of them…… Big goals, small goals, short- term, mid- term and long- term goals. Write them all down, tell the world and get them out there. Writing your goals down gives a sense of organisation, we want to make this happen! These goals are going to be my b****!!!

Regularly review your goals.
To track your progress you need to regularly review your goals. Do you need to re-assess any of them at all? You may need to re-evaluate your goals, are you being realistic? Or are you exceeding your exceptions. Its ok you will get there, it may take more time. Only time can tell.

Try new ways to achieve your goals. Some goals need a time-frame while others do not. Try different tactics and try looking at your goals a little differently. Think outside the square. Be realistic and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Focus on one goal at a time. It can get a little overwhelming if you try and attempt all you goals at once. Focus and prioritise your energy on one thing at a time. It will all fall into place with patience and persistence.

Create a vision board of your goals. If you’re a visual person cutting out pictures and making a board can help you visualise your goals. Keep your board somewhere where you can see it daily. Or put pictures up around your home, preferably rooms you use regularly. The pictures become small daily reminders of your goals.

Enjoy the journey. The Journey is where you put in all your energy and hard work, enjoy it. Achieving your goal will bring you a sense fulfillment and achievement, however the journey you have traveled always brings a sense of pride and relief when reflecting on what has been achieved.

Remember, tomorrow brings a new day to try and start again. It’s not easy, but you can always start again. “Try and fail, but don’t fail to try”.

Happy new year my beautiful readers, I thank you all for all your love and support! I wish you all an amazing 2016!

Much love

Lennae xxx

Credit @abanksy1 Instagram

Credit @abanksy1 Instagram

Taking time for self- care!

Photo credit Adam Banks

Photo credit Adam Banks

A few weeks ago I hit a little bump in the road, immediately I hit the brakes and thought crap…..bodies throwing a tantrum! Reality was I was just having a down week, like everyone has once in a while.

I started feeling overwhelmed with my daily routine. I decided it was a good idea to re-shuffle my priorities and make self-care my number one goal. That meant finishing up my studies early for the end of year, chilling out on the exercise routine, pacing my working hours and not running around as much trying to keep up with my ongoing list of errands.

I wanted to prioritise and work on doing things that I love and enjoy. Things that I have put off in order to be busy, rather than for enjoyment. I wanted to take a little time out and enjoy catching up with friends over coffee, having skype dates with overseas friends, attending yoga classes, getting pampered, hitting the kitchen to make some delicious raw treats and just a bit of all round self-care.

It’s important to give ourselves a bit of self-love and care and make it a priority. Often we put ourselves last, instead of first. It becomes easy to do with the busy lifestyles that we live, crazy routines we keep and the hype that is set by society.

If you need a little help in the self-care area, here are a few of my top tips that I try to practice for a bit of self-care;

Turning off technology! And yes that means NO SOCIAL MEDIA! The noise, the distractions and chaos, it all overloads onto our screens and gets thrown into our faces. It can get a bit too much at times, sometimes it’s good to switch it all off and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Sit outside and enjoy the serenity, lay down and take some long and deep breaths. Breathe in…… Breathe out….. You will be surprised at how refreshing it feels. The mind goes clear and the sky is actually quite beautiful when you stop and look at it for a while.

Stretch that body out, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Stretching is so good for the body and it’s good to stretch all those kinks out. I personally love yoga, I find it eases the mind and teaches you to breathe and focus your energy on the present moment.

Go and get pampered; hair, nails, body, whatever you want! Massage is my favourite, all those knots and trigger points need a good work out from time to time. Getting pampered is always nice and makes you feel good and refreshed.

Focus on one thing at a time. I like to think I’m talented and can multi-task, sometimes taking on too many tasks can get a little overwhelming. If you have a lot going on, try focusing one thing at a time. It can end up being a lot quicker than doing all your activities all at once.

Catch up with a friend over coffee, ditching your to do list to meet up with a friend can make you feel a lot happier. The list of things won’t get done, but the time spent in company with a good friend is priceless.

Nourish yourself with healthy food, you will feel the goodness straight away! Get creative and make your own healthy treats, the bonus is you know what’s in them! 😉

Go for a walk, enjoy the fresh air and inhale that sweet goodness.

Treat yourself, it doesn’t have to be on an expensive pair of shoes. It could be on a nice new body wash or hand cream. Whatever it may be it’s always nice to have a little treat for yourself.

Boost your confidence and push yourself. Why don’t you try something that you have been wanting to do for a while. It doesn’t have to be something big, it can be something small. It just has to be something new and different, I can tell you right now it will be worth it!

Self mantras. If you keep telling yourself something over and over you will start to believe it. Make sure it’s positive!!!

Most importantly put your self-first!

I hope you have enjoyed my tips and find them of some use. What activities do you like to practice when you’re taking time to yourself for self-care? I would love to hear your ideas, you can never have too many self- care practices.

Much love,

Lennae xxx

Some of my self-care essentials.

Some of my self-care essentials.

Get active with ME!

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I like to keep active when I can, however living with ME/CFS can limit my activities. The key is all about balancing what you can, when you can!

I think its important to keep active, that may mean changing or limiting your exercise activity to what is suited best for your body and it’s needs. Small movement is better than no movement, our body needs movement to get the blood pumping. There are so many different ways you can incorporate exercise into your day, so here’s a little insight of what I do to get active.

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that my pooch Snow Bear likes her walkies! Especially at the beach!

Snow Bear and I like to go for a couple of 30 minute walks a week. If I have the spare energy we might push it a bit longer or even fit in another walk. But we always make sure we hit the beach for a walk, the sea air is so refreshing and does wonders for the soul.

Stretching and yoga is also a huge part of my exercise routine. I make sure I keep this up everyday, the amount of time I spend stretching depends on how my body feels. My stretching time usually ranges from 5 – 30 minutes, incorporating light stretches, restorative yoga and more challenging poses when my energy levels are high. I occasionally attend yoga classes when possible, but mostly my stretching routine is done in my own backyard.

I enjoy my exercise activities, it may not seem like a lot but it can definitely be challenging for me at times. It suits my current lifestyle whilst still pushing and motivating me.

You should always look good and feel comfortable while you’re getting active. If you like the look of my Cheeta Recovery compression tights you can invest in a pair by clicking here. They are great quality and very affordable. Cheeta Recovery cater for men and women, as well as all shapes and sizes. Make sure you use my discount code LWCR05, to get $5 off your purchase. I can assure you they a worth the investment, nothing beats comfortable exercise wear.

What type of activities do you do to keep active?

Namaste

Lennae xxx

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Taking a Holistic Approach

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I want to share my approach to recovery, I like to think I have had more of a holistic approach to help with my recovery with ME/CFS. With so much mystery surrounding ME/CFS it’s hard to know what the best way to recovery is. Everybody that has suffered from this illness is different and recovery times vary. Often what works for some does not always work for others.

I decided to try a holistic approach because it can benefit anybody, you don’t have to be suffering from a chronic illness to want to improve your health. If you’re not happy with your health, take action, only you can do something about it!

I am a completely open minded person and for some reason I knew that my next step to recovery was to see a naturopath. If you’re not up to speed on what a naturopath does they use alternative treatments to medicine, such as herbs, mineral and vitamin supplements. They also offer lifestyle and diet advice.

I started seeing one a month after my health went downhill. She was amazing, I honestly felt like she had suffered from my illness herself. She completely understood and could relate to everything I was going through. During my visits I would get herbs, vitamins and mineral supplements that I still take to this day. The herbs help with energy, anxiety, sleeping, nausea and other symptoms. From time to time my herb mixture has changed to suit what my body needs at the time. My naturopath also gives me nutritional advice and helps with my diet. She is a qualified yoga instructor and has often given me new stretches to try and has encouraged me to attended classes when I can.

Food and diet have also had a gradual change, but all for the better. I do not stick to any particular diet, my body is always changing and it is always needing different foods. I have done a food intolerance test and have learnt that there are even good foods that can cause harm. With the help from my naturopath I have learnt a lot about food and healing, it’s amazing what food can do if you learn to use it as medicine.

Chiropractor and massage have also played a role. Being a migraine sufferer I have visited a chiropractor for years. My neck and migraine pain seem to have a link. I have kept my visits up whilst suffering from this illness. Not moving your body much can result in pain and muscle tightness. This is where my chiropractor would come in. A chiropractor would basically click in all parts of the body that have moved out of place. It takes the tension away and gives instant pain relief. I would also get a massage for my muscles, this however would just be a relaxing massage from a local beautician. I found my body was able to handle that type of massage better than other massage.

My last holistic approach is stretching and yoga. I’m no yogi master but from the beginning of my illness I was introduced to a light exercise plan with stretches. I have always been hot and cold with my exercises but the stretching has been a daily ritual since day one. The stretching helps stretch out my tight and knotted muscles, which have ceased up from needing to rest so much. Gradually my stretching routine has increased to include yoga poses. All I can say is that every-time I have my daily stretching session I always feel refreshed. Some days I am unable to stretch for as long as others, but I think that any little bit of movement that gets the blood flow moving helps.

These tools have played a huge part in my recovery. Have you tried any holistic health treatments or any alternative health practices? I would love to hear about your thoughts!

Lennae xxx

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Studying with ME/CFS

Hello beautiful people! I apologize for being a bit absent lately. I have been extremely busy being a student. I thought I might share with you all how studying is going for me so far.

As some of you know I am studying a diploma in Nutritional Medicine. I am currently half way through the first semester and have started my first set of exams and assessments for each subject, it’s a bit scary. For the term I’m studying four subjects, which isn’t too bad considering some days I may not be well enough to study. I got a shock when I realised two of the subjects I had to study where “Biochemistry” and “Anatomy & physiology”! Ah science and I do not go well! Of course I had panic attack, but I’m up for the challenge!

Three weeks in and I was struggling to get a routine going. I’m not proud but there were tantrums thrown. My brain was not handling the information overload from biochemistry and anatomy & physiology, who knew you needed to know all of this information. I called my special assistance adviser at the college. I was allocated a go too person for extra support if I need it because of my illness. I told her I was struggling with those subjects. She assured me not to worry, she teaches those subjects herself and the majority of students struggle with these subjects. I felt reassured after our chat.

The past few weeks have been challenging, but it is also challenge for other students as well. Being an online student we have weekly forums, this is how the students and teachers communicate. I have posted on the forums with questions about things I’m not sure about or if I’m not quite understanding parts. Other students have commented explaining they feel the same way, which is good to know that I’m not the only one.

I have now managed to get a bit of a routine going and have come up with some tips that will definitely help anybody else who is studying with an illness.

Work at a desk. My first week of study was on the couch, my back seized up and it was off to the chiropractor to get clicked. A good desk and chair will definitely help.

30 Minute stretch breaks. Every 30 minutes I get up and stretch. I found stretches online that people do when they are sitting at a desk all day. It’s a good idea to get movement and to get out of your chair. It’s also a good break if you have a short attention span.

Routine. Find a routine that works for you.

Ask for help.
If you are having trouble understanding something ask someone for help. It can be anyone, a loved one, family member, a friend, your teacher, or a fellow student. They may know your answer or are willing to help you find the answer.

Spread your study out. I was trying to cram my study all in, I struggled to take in all the information and was left feeling exhausted. I quickly realised I have all week to spread it out and do what I can, when I can.

Plan. Plan your study out, mark down all the important dates that you have assignments and exams due. It helps especially if you need time to prepare for them.

You can do it! Yes you can! Keep trying and don’t give into self-doubt.

It is too early to say how I’m going with this term, I will have a good idea once I have completed the mid-term exams and assessments. I sat my first exam over the weekend and passed! WHOOOHOOO! I’m extremely proud of this result. I have found it challenging trying to balance studying as well as my daily routine on top of ME/CFS. This positive result was just what I needed!

Are you thinking about studying? or are currently studying? What are some of your study tips that help you? I would love to hear about them.

Bye for now

Lennae xxx

My text books

My text books