Wrapping up 2016 and Bringing on 2017!

Photo credit @a.m_banks- Instagram

Photo credit @a.m_banks- Instagram

Welcome to 2017….. Where on earth did 2016 go!!!

I know I’m a little late to the party, but I can’t help myself I love wrapping up a year that’s passed and looking forward to the beginnings of a year ahead! I don’t know about you guys, but a new year just brings a whole lot of exciting and endless possibilities!!!

Although I can’t say I have completely recovered from ME/CFS (Myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome) I am more functional and active than what I have been in a long time. 2016 was a good year for me, my health turned it up a notch and showed me that my days with ME/CFS are becoming more like it was all just a bad dream.

Throughout 2016 I did have a few issues with my health, but they ended up not being ME/CFS related. How good is that!
2016 showed me a normal and active life, that I am more than welcoming back. I was able to work my way up to working 15 hours a week and maintain that. I will increase the hours more at some stage, but right now I am happily enjoying this work life balance. I also enjoyed a bit of travelling, going interstate, as well as heading over to Singapore off on a cruise. I remember feeling on the cruise like I wasn’t a sick person (how amazing is that). I was also studying some of last year, however I did have to place my studies on hold. I hope to continue them at some stage, possibly in a years time. Putting my studies on hold allowed me time to complete my main goal of returning to work and also allowed me to focus more on my fitness. Which Snowy and I have been loving!

Anyway enough about 2016, we are now in 2017!!!

Whoohoo, bring it on!!!

This year one of my main goals that I will achieve, is dedicated to when I first became unwell. When I first became unwell in 2013, I could barely move. At the time all I could do was lay in bed or on the couch. I did a lot of soul searching and googling online about ME/CFS and came across mostly negative stories. This did not help my frame of mind, I needed something positive. I had no idea when I would get better or how long it would take. However I needed something to look forward to. I decided to make a vision board, it was something I hung on my wall, where I looked every day and helped when I wasn’t feeling the best (which at that stage was everyday). My vision board consisted of destinations that I wanted to visit and stuff that I wanted to be doing once I finally started to get better. The one thing that stuck out to me however was Machu Picchu. I have no idea why, it just did. I decided when I was finally well enough and able too I would go there someday. Thankfully my beautiful friends I am well enough to get my butt over to that amazing place and show ME/CFS who the boss is now!!!

To some it may not seem like a big deal, but to someone that has been suffering with a chronic illness it means having your life back. Suffering from a chronic illness is hard work, but recovering from one is even harder. Achieving your goals is rewarding, here’s to a year full of achieving your goals and setting new ones.

Have a happy 2017 my friends! I hope you all have a fantastic year ahead, sending lots of love, hugs, spoons and positive vibes your way.

Lennae xxx

Photo credit @a.m_banks- instagram

Photo credit @a.m_banks- instagram

Photo credit @a.m_banks- instagram

Photo credit @a.m_banks- instagram

Mr Spoons Adventures

Mr Spoon at Flagstaff hill park, Wollongong.

Mr Spoon at Flagstaff hill park, Wollongong (Photo credit: Instgram @a.m_banks).

Last month I was fortunate enough to be visited by the famous travelling Mr Spoon. He travelled all the way from Germany taking a couple of detours around Australia, before turning up on my door step.

You’re probably wondering who is Mr Spoon and what’s his story?  Well let me tell you!!!

Mr Spoon was created by the wonderful Theresa Laura at spoonsforhappniess.com.  She created him for the Spoonie community. His job is to help each person that receives him feel less alone while dealing with their illness and help them feel connected to a wonderful worldwide community.

Now you’re probably wondering what is a Spoonie?

A Spoonie is someone that suffers with a chronic illness, for more details read Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory.  Mr Spoon is helping raise awareness worldwide for people that suffer with a chronic illness. As you may know I have suffered with ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) for over 3 years. My health is a lot better, however I was bed ridden at one point. For some spoonies they can be house bound or even bed bound. This means basic activities can be almost impossible for some.  Knowing that Mr Spoon was travelling around to help with raising awareness, I was more than happy to help and support Mr Spoon on his travels. Anything that helps to raise awareness for any type of chronic illness is always welcomed.

Now that we have covered the important facts I would love to share my adventures with Mr Spoon with you all! Mr Spoon ended up staying with me for over a month.  Our first adventure was our road trip down the coast to Melbourne. Mr Spoon decided to hide in the back seat on the first day, but we managed to get a lot of sightseeing pictures the following day. We looked for whales in Eden, NSW, crossed over the border to Victoria, and headed for Melbourne while hugging the coast as much as possible (for more details about our road trip click here).

After our big road trip Mr Spoon and I were happy to chill out during the rest of our time together.  Before I was due to forward him on, I decided to set him up with a bit of a photo shoot. Mr Spoon loved every moment of it, he is a bit of a model and I’m pretty sure he would win Australia’s next top model if he wanted to hang around and apply.

After a lot of beach therapy and way too many photos, Mr Spoon headed off via Australia post to see the next wonderful Spoonie.

If you would like to have Mr Spoon come visit you, feel free to contact Theresa Laura at spoonsforhappniess.com.

Thank you for visiting Mr Spoon and keep doing what you doing!

 

Lennae xxx

 

Hanging on tight to Buddha.

Hanging on tight to Buddha (Photo credit: Instgram @a.m_banks).

Looking over City Beach, Wollongong

Looking over City Beach, Wollongong (Photo credit: Instgram @a.m_banks).

Wollongong Harbour

Wollongong Harbour (Photo credit: Instgram @a.m_banks).

 

Whale watching in Eden, NSW.

Whale watching in Eden, NSW.

Mr Spoon takes on Melbourne!

Mr Spoon takes on Melbourne!

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.

Just a Casual 6 KM Walk at RUN WOLLONGONG!

Walking with a view.

Walking with a view, City beach, Wollongong.

For a long time now I have been patiently waiting for my body to cooperate and say “yep I’m ready to move it and be active again!”

I have maintained regular walking throughout my illness with ME/CFS (Myalgic encephalomyelitis/ Chronic fatigue syndrome). In the beginning it started off with only walking to the mail box, because at the time, that was all I could manage. Over time I have increased accordingly to what I could manage, slowly but surely I have made progress with this.

This brings me to where I am today….. Today I entered into the Run Wollongong running event and registered myself into the 6 km walk. Yep it was a little scary to think that I was taking on normal active life again, but also amazingly brilliant that I was at this point where it was an option and I didn’t have to worry about my illness or symptoms of getting in the way of it all.

Cameron and my Dad joined me, Cameron entered himself to run the 12 km race and Dad walked the 6 km race with me. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was out, blue skies where upon us and the temperature was warm. A lovely light breeze swept through towards the end of the race, which helped with keeping cool.

Proudly I can say that I kept a fast pace up throughout the whole course, finishing towards the front of our group. I felt completely in my element! I have always enjoyed walking and right before my illness, I had started to get into walking/ running events.  I have been longing to get back into living an active life for a while and it feels fantastic to be able to do this sort of thing again! Thanks body, thanks for working with me! Whoohoo!!!

Celebrations were called for and we made a pit spot at a healthy cafe that I had been wanting to try out. I celebrated with a Acai bowl!

Every proud moment or milestone is always worth celebrating! Do you have any proud moments or milestones that you should be celebrating? Make sure you celebrate them!

Much love

Lennae xxx

 

 

Start line fun.

Start line fun.

 

6 KM walk group photo.

6 KM walk group photo.

Free fresh fruit to re-fuel with after the race. A great idea!!!

Free fresh fruit to re-fuel with after the race. A great idea!!!

6 KM's done, Whoohoo!!!

6 KM’s done, Whoohoo!!!

Acai bowl celebrations!

Acai bowl celebrations!

 

Road Trippin

 

 

Eden Wharf, NSW.

Eden Wharf, NSW.

 

Over the  long weekend, the Mr and I decided to road trip down to Melbourne.  I was pretty excited about the roadie, though after a full on week I was also a little concerned as to how I would pull up. I wasn’t planning to take time off for the trip but long journeys can tend to wipe me out. After a good night’s sleep I still felt a bit exhausted, mentally and psychically. However after a little pep talk and the realisation that it would probably still be good for me to get away, I got myself sorted and we were good to go. We also had Mr spoon joining us (for more about Mr Spoon click here), he had arrived into my possession only a couple of days earlier from his previous road trip (he gets around).

Our journey went via the scenic route, cruising down the coast of NSW stopping in Eden for the first night (the bottom of NSW). Keeping an eye out at Eden for whales while enjoying the gorgeous views. What I love about Australia is that there are so many beautiful coastal towns, each one just as gorgeous as the next.

We then headed down to Victoria hugging the coast as much as possible enjoying the beautiful national parks along the way, I love a good national park. We stopped off at a couple of spots along the way and enjoyed a nice walk and then ended the day in Yanakie, which borders Wilson’s Promontory National Park. The next day involved exploring Wilson’s Promontory National Park and enjoying another lovely walk. We also got to drive on the most southern road on mainland Australia. After a bit of National park exploring, we headed to Melbourne, cruising through rural Victoria and ending my part of the trip in Melbourne. Rural Victoria, the Gippsland region reminded me a lot like where i’m from in New Zealand, loads of sheep, cows, farmland and  lush green grass.  All up a total distance of driving  was just over 1100 km (not by me of course)!

Some delicious food was eaten and I think those country Victorians definitely give Melbournians a good run for their money when it comes to good food. I sensed there was a bit of competition in that area.

After spending a lovely night in Melbourne and conquering the square glass floor up the Eurka tower (it’s one way to test my fear of heights), I flew home the next day and managed everything just fine. It’s moment’s like this, that remind me that only not too long ago I wouldn’t have been able manage any of this, mentally, emotionally or physically!

Wowee it feels good to be living life and enjoying the simple things! Bring on life!

Sending lots of love and positive vibes to you all, do you have a road trip planned anytime soon? I’d love to hear about it!

Much love,

 

 

Lennae xxx

Mr Spoon whale watching in Eden.

Mr Spoon whale watching in Eden.

Rotary look out, Eden.

Rotary look out, Eden.

Cape Conran, Victoria.

Cape Conran, Victoria.

Cape Conran, Victoria.

Cape Conran, Victoria.

Birdies at Tidal River, Wilson's Promontory National Park.

Birdies at Tidal River, Wilson’s Promontory National Park, Victoria.

Over looking Bass Strait, Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria

Over looking Bass Strait, Wilson’s Promontory National Park, Victoria.

South bank, Melbourne.

South bank, Melbourne.

 

ME Awareness, Symptoms with ME

Photo credit: Photos_by_ambanks-  Instagram

Photo credit: Photos_by_ambanks- Instagram

It’s ME/CFS (Myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic fatigue syndrome) awareness day. As a yearly ritual I wanted to get on board and help raise awareness about the illness (see previous years posts here ME Awareness 2015 & ME Awareness 2014). As most of my readers know I have been living with this illness for the past few years. It is a debilitating illness that still needs a lot of research. The cause of the illness is still unknown. There is also no treatment plan for this illness and some sufferers take many years to recover. Unfortunately some sufferers do not recover.

I’ve decided to write about some of the crazy symptoms, that I have experienced with ME/CFS. I hope this helps you understand that this illness is more than one symptom and is never straight forward for any sufferer. In fact most sufferers experience a number of different symptoms and each persons experience with the illness is different.

Are you ready, here we go………

Food intolerance/ Sensitive stomach/ Digestive issues 

When your stomach decides to pack a tantrum and tell you that it does not like eating the food you like any more. What? How? Signalling back to you with stomach cramps, nausea, bloating, aches and pains or just sending it straight out! Nasty business this, I personally had it that bad that I went and had a food intolerance test done. Turns out I learnt I had a mild intolerance to two foods I causally ate, but not the rest!!! What the hell!!!

Anxiety

Oh yes that horrible feeling when your heart starts beating rapidly, you feel a hot and cold sweat breaking out and your mind races into a crazy panic state. Your breath feels shallow and is this even real or am I dreaming?  I mean where the hell did this come from!!! Fear of things that never consumed my mind before, I mean why are these thoughts clogging up my brain!!! Where has this all come from? Oh Hi Anxiety, you can go now!

Brain fog

When your brain feels like it has a thick layer of fog over it. Yep sounds strange but it is a real thing. Causes confusion, self-doubt, lack of focus or concentration and makes you do and say strange things. Strange things that your dog would appreciate, like being fed twice for breakfast. Or when you start repeating yourself and asking the same things over and over, because you don’t remember asking them just a minute ago. Oh dear!!!

Muscle aches and joint pain

Yep that’s right! When your body feels like you just ran a marathon, but all you did was walk 20 steps.  Muscle and joint pain from moving too much, as well as from not moving enough!  What!?  I know it blows my mind too, but it is a real thing. If you try and push yourself a little with any type of extra activity, it can result in extreme muscle or joint pain and then it’s back to bed for days. Making you feel like you physically got hit by a bus. If you don’t move your body enough your body ceases up and becomes stiff resulting in muscle and joint pain. Even the weather can influence this symptom. Aches and pains in the cooler weather as well as in the humid weather.

Extreme sensitivity

A really weird symptom that can cause extreme sensitivity to all types of things like noise, people and their energy, smells, sunlight, cleaning products, cosmetics, skin care products. How this works is when you may feel like you are having a reaction to it. You might feel instant fatigue, feel itchy or heavy. Smells may irritate you, you can’t even be in the same room with someone if they’re wearing perfume. Even cosmetics or skin care can feel heavy and irritate the skin.

 

I could go on with the list of crazy symptoms, here’s a few more just so you get the idea; fever, memory loss, heart palpitations, muscle weakness, dizziness, headaches/ migraines, insomnia. They all come and go with this illness, but there is honestly too many to list and everybody that suffers with this illness suffers very differently.

I hope this has helped you learn a bit more about ME/CFS and has given you a little more insight of  some of the symptom struggles sufferers go through.

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

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

Much Love,
Lennae xxx

Photo credit: Photos_by_ambanks-  Instagram

Photo credit: Photos_by_ambanks- Instagram

Cruising Holiday

Credit Pixabay

Credit Pixabay

As I’m getting better with my illness (ME/CFS) I’m starting to feel more confident and adventurous. Last year the husband and I went on a NZ adventure which was a huge success. I’m now more than ready to push the boundaries a little, plus I need to test the waters and see how I’ll pull up for my big 30th trip next year (I have huge trip goals)!

One of my beautiful friends is turning 30 soon, she decided that she wanted to go away and I was more than happy to tag along and celebrate with her. After a number of conversations across the ditch with her, we came up with the idea of going on a cruise!

I have always heard people rave on about cruises, my thoughts however have been that they are mostly for old people, or the thought of being stuck on a boat out at sea would be boring. I guess it’s one of those things that you shouldn’t knock until you’ve tried it.

Having chronic fatigue has made me think that a cruising holiday will be quite ideal for me and my holiday goers. I have done some research and educated myself on cruises and I want to share with you all why they could potentially be a great way to holiday! Especially for my fellow friends out there, that suffer with an illness that restricts you from doing things.

  • You have everything available to you on board, it’s like a mini village on a boat, but moving and at sea.
  • This means you can basically do what you like on board. If you want to have a nice meal and get dressed up you can, or if want to lounge by the pool all day you can. If you’re not feeling up to the day trips or don’t feel like doing much while on your cruise that’s fine.
  • If you’re having a rough time, no problem chill out, do what you need to do. No need to worry about your cruising party, there’s plenty to do and plenty of new friendly faces to meet.
  • A medical team is always on board and are there to help if you require it.
  • Food, there are so many options available, did I see a smoothie health bar somewhere!?
  • The best thing about a cruise is that you’re not missing out, your still holidaying and getting away, sometimes just a change of scenery is all you need.

As I haven’t actually cruised yet or cruised before, I got talking to the lovely Sophie from the Cruise Agency. She informed me of a lot of exciting healthy and relaxing options that are available while on a cruising holiday.

Here’s what I can look forward to on board;

  • First and most importantly there’s a day spa on board. Take your pick from massages, hot stone, facials, body wraps, scrubs, spray tans, you name it.
  • If you have a love for alternative medicine/ natural therapy you can find acupuncture or reflexology on board.
  • Experience and enjoy the many different relaxation rituals available at the Thermal Suite, with heated beds, showers and a collection of exotic steam vapours throughout. Or try Rasul, an Arabian cleansing ritual of chakra muds and aromatherapy.
  • Exercise classes are on board as well as yoga, pilates and a gym! If you need to keep at your  daily exercise routine there are plenty of options to choose from. I know I love to keep my daily steps up on my fitbit and I’m a huge fan of yoga!
  • Healthy food options and dietary needs can be catered for. The food options are endless with a selection of cafes and restaurants on board.
  • Library, if you enjoy a good book and looking for a relaxing quiet place to read you have options.
  • Crafting, scrap-booking and board gaming, are quiet enjoyable activities to relax too.

Wish me luck on my cruising experience, I’ll be sure to share it all with you once I’ve had my cruise in a few month’s time. It could not come any sooner!

If you’re interested in cruising head over to the Cruise Agency website and chat with the lovely Sophie, she will point you in the right direction.

Much love,

Lennae xxx

Credit Pixabay

Credit Pixabay