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.

 

Mint & Blueberry Smoothie

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A refreshing cooler for those days where you simply need to be refreshed!

Ingredients

1 Cup of Frozen Blueberries
1 Banana
1/2 Cup of Mint leaves
1 Cup of Coconut water

Optional
Coconut Chips

Peel and cut banana into small pieces. Add all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour smoothie into a glass, garnish smoothie with a handful of coconut chips & a few mint leaves. Enjoy!

Serves 1 , time required 5 minutes.

 

Singapore Cruising Adventure

Sunset on the Malacca Sea.

Sunset on the Malacca Strait.

Hello beautiful souls, long time no hear!

Apologies for the lack of posts, I’ve been off and on with the online world over the past few months. All has been going well, I actually returned from my cruising holiday over a month ago (I know, so slack that I haven’t posted about this already).

I really want to share this experience with you all. This was a huge milestone for me, filled with a lot of surprises and happy memories to go with it. It’s amazing how well you can cope when you are out of your daily routine and comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong there were a few curves balls, but its part of the experience and how you deal with it at the time. You can either fight it or roll with it.

A good friend of mine turned 30 this year and it was decided that we would along with another friend, do a 7 day cruise from Singapore. Our cruise set sail through the Malacca Strait up into the Andnaman Sea, stopping off in Langkawi (Malaysia) Phuket, Krabi (Thailand) and Sabang (Indonesia). With also spending a bit of time in Singapore, either side of the cruise. All up I would be away for a whole 14 days and I would also be flying to Singapore and back. That’s an 8 hour flight one way!
I must confess, this trip sounded scary to me, but deep within I knew it was achievable for me. I had a bit of anxiety about this trip in the beginning, as my health had been playing up when I made the booking. But I was committed to seeing this through, especially for myself. Thankfully the health issues I was experiencing were not ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) related and towards the time of the cruise, I was ready and embracing this trip with open arms.

I won’t bore you with all the details…… but here’s a little summary of how I got on. I’ll leave the rest up to the holiday snaps, they speak for themselves!

The first few days were spent enjoying & exploring Singapore. Naturally I wasn’t able to see everything, but you never can see it all in just a couple of days. After spending a lot of our days walking around shopping, eating and exploring my legs were about to fall off. I had pushed things to the limit and if all the payback I was getting was from my legs, I’ll take it! Gardens by the bay are a must, we visited them at night, but I would definitely go back to see them during the day.

Next was time to board the cruise, by then I was needing a good rest. It’s hard work being a tourist! Thankfully the first day on the cruise was just a sailing at sea day. I was able to bounce back well.  I enjoyed the luxuries on the boat and had everything right at my fingertips. A few party nights here and there with a sneaky drink or two in between. Dancing the night away like I was a care free 18 year old again, that’s what it’s all about. Yep the old body pulled up well.
Day trips weren’t too hard, I opted for the easy options and that seemed to work out well. I was extremely surprised with how well I managed it all. I guess when you’re on holiday, you don’t have to worry about day to day things or anything else for that matter. The biggest worry is what to eat, there was so much food to choose from!

The last few nights of our trip were spent winding down in Bugis, Singapore. Enjoying the local sights and exploring the area, including visiting the Meomi cat cafe. Conveniently located across from our hotel.

This nears the end of my Singapore cruise adventure, I had a wonderful time and have proved to myself that my ME/CFS days are now more like a distant memory. Bring on the next adventure, I hear South America calling!!!

I’ll love and leave you with a few of my holiday snaps, enjoy!
Do you have any holidays planned? I would love to hear about them!!!

Much love

Lennae xxx

Sunrise view from our apartment in Singapore.

Sunrise view from our apartment in Singapore.

Playing tourist, heading down to gardens by the bay.

Playing tourist, heading down to gardens by the bay, Singapore.

Gardens by bay, Singapore.

Gardens by bay, Singapore.

Breakfast at the Meomi cat cafe, Singapore.

Breakfast at the Meomi cat cafe, Singapore.

Pacific Eden, in Sabang, Indonesia.

Pacific Eden, in Sabang, Indonesia.

Langkawi, Malaysia.

Langkawi, Malaysia.

Krabi, Thailand

Krabi, Thailand

Enjoying the beautiful sunset.

Enjoying the beautiful sunset.

Walking the plank.

Walking the plank.

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