You might be happy, but are you WELL?

Personally, yes, I am well. Ok, so I have a chronic illness, that periodically makes my life a misery, but even in those times, and in-between those times, I am – mostly – well and happy and content.

I am perfectly happy with how I look, despite The Media yelling at me all the time that how I look is somehow wrong. (There is no wrong way to have a body. Just saying.)

I enjoy my food, and I am comfortable in that joy. In fact, I relish that joy of cooking and eating.

Wellness for me is not the elimination of everything you hold dear with no sound medical reason, because someone else has tagged it ‘unclean’. That doesn’t lead to wellness, it leads to fear, and paranoia, self denial and almost self flagellation. It also seems to lead to an awful lot of expense. The wellness and clean eating trend seems to mean a totally clean wallet, mainly. The Medjool date sellers and Sainsbury’s must be in heaven.

I am very well aware of how my body works, and what it needs to nourish itself.

Now. Read that again. “I am very well aware of how my body works, and what it needs to nourish itself.”

MY body, not yours. Or anyone else’s. What works for me (and I do NOT mean what makes me lose weight, in case anyone asks) may very well not work for anyone else at all on this planet.

We are legion, and because we are legion, there are as many body types, and health types as there are teeming billions on this tiny blue pearl of ours coasting through space.

Wellness, to me, doesn’t mean restriction to the point of madness. It certainly doesn’t mean designating a foodstuff ‘evil’ just because YOU have a reaction to it.

For example, if I take tetracycline antibiotic, it kills my white blood cells. We learned this through a nearly fatal experience when I was 6 or 7, but I am certainly not going to go around telling everyone I meet that they should never take it and that it will kill them. There is not, and never will be, a one size fits all when it comes to food and eating, and nor should there be. We are not living in Airstrip One. Yet.

Thane Prince made a very good comment the other night at our cookbook club, in that the current fads are now decrying what used to be our ‘wellness’ foods back in the day.

Good, wholemeal homemade bread has now become evil incarnate. It’s a great shame. One of the most simple, basic foods there has ever been, a food which has sustained millions, banished by people who think the world needs to be spoken to like they all have an illness or an allergy.  I am not in favour of the Chorleywood technique, as that has caused its own problems, despite it being a very useful tool when it was needed but the pure pleasure in eating well made bread, with cool butter, is one that should not be ignored.

Bread – 4 or so ingredients, butter 2 ingredients. Together they bring joy. (I am, however, extremely glad that a gluten free bakery in London has managed to provide my GF friends with the same joy. Restriction through necessity is not fun.)

Bread

Projecting your own food fears and obsessions out into the world can be dangerous, but it is also highly profitable. Our £60 BILLION diet industry is proof of that. It plays on our fears, and our insecurities. Ruby Tandoh has a rather brilliant post here on the subject. I am extremely glad that she is using her media position to speak out.

Life will be better IF we are more slim, just that bit more slim, and then a bit more.

WHEN you lose the weight, you can do [swimming/cycling/play with your kids]

This is all just another Cambridge Diet, or F Plan, or Slim Fast or Grapefruit Diet or Lighter Life in another guise.

Cycle, play with your kids, swim, walk, dance when nobody’s looking, dance when somebody IS looking. It’s YOUR body. Nobody else owns it.

I wish that people were able to genuinely love themselves for who and what they are.

Life doesn’t begin when you lose weight. It’s only you that is stopping yourself from doing all those fabulous things. Yes, I did lose a lot of weight a long time ago, through severe restriction. NOTHING CHANGED. I was still me, and what I discovered was that am not a bad thing to be.

I’ll go on the beach, or by the pool, in a swimsuit and hang the critics. Why? Because it’s my body, and it’s my life, and people do not dictate to me.

You are under no obligation to look at me. But you can if you want.

Run with the Moon
Sent to me by my friend Becca, as it reminded her of me. I am deeply honoured.

Baby steps, child.

Day one back at work.

I awoke full of a nervous energy, as tired and sleep-ridden as my brain still was, just wanting to get out of the house and on my way. The sun was shining, frost covered everything, and my feet wanted out.

7 days inside being ill was both a blessing, and a curse. A blessing because I love my house, and its comfortable clutter, the piles of books, the small but neatly packed kitchen, the occasional tumbleweeds of cat fluff dancing around in the corners until I chase them down with the hoover or the purple duster.

A curse because when I’m at home I want to cook, and I had no energy to even think about food, let alone create anything, so there was an underlying niggle that my kitchen was being somehow wasted.

I survived, the kitchen did not pine away into a pitiful shell of its former self, and I made it to work on time, trudging up from Temple station, stopping only to cast a longing look at the silver frosted ribbon that was the Thames this morning. I hate leaving the river behind.

Thames

The usual foray into Pret for some porridge was achieved, despite oddly curmudgeonly shoppers for a Friday, and then there I was, back in the office.

I felt like I’d been away for a decade. That unfamiliar familiar feeling when you come back from holiday and everything but nothing has changed, plus the slight uncertainty, started long ago at infants’ school, that you might get in trouble for playing hookey, not actually being ill.

Everyone was lovely. The result of everyone being lovely was that I felt like the tightly coiled spring of my worry had been released, and so I immediately became both exhausted, and manic.

It wore off. I managed to achieve Things. I didn’t kill annoying colleague, not even a bit. I did, however, ignore his phone calls. When you have told someone not to call you, but to email, as you have lost your voice, and they insist on calling you four times, you just have to ignore them, and get your desk mate to answer your phone.

I left on time, I came home, surviving the journey by burying myself in my Kindle, as it has dragons in it.

The kitchen awaited.

Two dinners – and lots of washing up – later, and I feel better. Still full of cold, and with a cough waiting in the wings like a malevolent understudy, but I did it.

Let’s see what the weekend brings.

 

Holy wobbly walking conundrums Batman!

This week has been an extremely odd one.

Someone very close to me is under an almost unimaginable amount of stress, and there’s absolutely nothing that I can do about it. The first part of the week was spent being pretty much numb, having found out about said stress, and the source of it.

Once I’d started to feel again, a cold hit. You know, that infinitesimal difference in the way your nose feels, or the tiniest itch in the back of the throat that you might almost miss but which heralds that sagging of spirit as you realise exactly what is about to descend on you.

In fact, I had no idea what was about to descend on me.

Monday night I took my Vitamin C and zinc, I used First Defence spray.

Tuesday night I was a teensy bit sniffly, but that was it.

Wednesday – nothing.

Thursday – sniffles in the morning.

Thursday afternoon….BANG. The echo of sinuses clanging shut could be heard from afar. How I managed to sit through a technical meeting I do not know, but I did. I left work late as I had a lot to do, and more or less crawled home, feeling extremely grateful that I had Friday off. Thank goodness I did have Friday off.

My throat was so full of aches that I couldn’t swallow. Not the usual burning rasp that screams for ice cream and jelly, no. This was a full on, deep seated throb that prevented me from swallowing the painkillers that I knew I had to get down me. The irony of needing to swallow soluble aspirin because of tonsil pain, when you can’t swallow, so need to take soluble aspirin is not lost on me. I rejoiced when I found a nearly full packet of AsproClear in the cupboard. Added a dash of blackcurrant squash, and there we were.

Fast forward to 2am.

I am in my dressing gown – essentially a large purple velvet marquee that has persuaded itself into the shape of a dressing gown – sat in my armchair, wrapped in a furry blanket because I couldn’t sleep at all due to my sinuses still being a  closed off area. Even after liberal application of all the painkillers I have (carefully mixed, never fear) my throat still refuses to acknowledge this it is a passageway, and has put up a CLOSED sign.

And there I stayed for most of Friday, and all of Saturday apart from the bit where I went to bed because I was so cold, and passed out for 4 hours. After that, it was the armchair and the blanket again. I didn’t dare go up to my own bed, as the amount of fidgeting, and getting up and down, and nose blowing would have just woken my poor husband up, and that’s not fair.

Saturday night I experienced the joy of what seems to have been a 24 hour eye infection, and woke early on Sunday morning with my left eye glued shut.

I think it was at this point that I just gave in and cried.

The ridiculous thing is, I have a chronic illness. I was diagnosed with MS back in 1996, and so I am used to various bits of my body not working, or working in an entirely unpredictable manner, or being stabbed by random aches and pains and grumbles because my electric signals got lost around Mornington Crescent so the rest of me ended up in Nid for a few days.

I should be completely used to this malfunctioning palaver, and the fatigue. It’s what I do.

But I’m not used to it. I haven’t had a cold, if that’s what it is, this bad in a decade. Usually I get a light cold, but then the MS kicks off and starts pushing and shoving, spoiling for a particularly uncoordinated fight.

The MS tried to make an effort, with a few numb patches of skin here and there, but then I have a feeling that it ran away when it saw what was looming.

I have made an executive decision not to go to work tomorrow. I know I’ve lots to do but I have no idea if I’ll sleep tonight. I think I’ve had about 10 hours since Thursday. Plus The Cough has started. An irritating, dry, catches you when you try to breathe thing that I didn’t invite in, but which has taken up a noisy residence on my chest.

After an extremely long, very hot shower this afternoon, I did feel vaguely more human. The sinuses have relented a tad, the eye has more or less cleared up, and I think my tonsils are in retreat. At the very least they have agreed to parlay so long as I douse them with rum cough medicine every few hours.

Ooh, rum. There’s an idea. Honey and lemon with added spiced rum might be allowed. Or there’s some of that apricot brandy left over from Christmas. I could do with a few Cypriot lemons right now…

IMG_3713 copy

 

Dammit Marjory! Pass me the spoons.

There is a theory that has been out there in the internet for a long time. It’s a very useful theory. So useful, in fact, that when many of us heard it for the first time, it was with a huge sigh of relief – and not a few tears –  that we finally had a simple way to communicate what we felt. What we lived with. How that affected us.

The explanation of that is here: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

In recent years, the meaning of being lacking in spoons, or of your spoons running low, has been co-opted by able bodied people. This happens, of course. A phrase is overheard, and it sounds good, so eventually the meaning behind it is lost, if indeed it was ever known, and then forgotten altogether.

I think it’s about time I resurrected what it actually means, because too many of my able-bodied friends have inadvertently used it now, and it smarts when I see it..

If an able-bodied person is a bit tired, or they’ve had a long day of Doing All The Things, or even a week of OMGEVERYTHING, they can then go to bed early for a couple of nights, or have a few days and nights of rest, and they will be back up to speed. I know this, because I used to be like that.

But the me of today? I can still go to bed early (as in 8pm early) for a week, but these days, I still feel the same as I did before, sometimes even worse. When that lovely thing of going back to bed for a few hours results in chronic back pain, or being dizzy for  few days, then you learn to get up when you wake up. No matter how early that is, or how little sleep you’ve had.

Having a chronic illness is an unpredictable animal. Nothing is certain, nothing is plottable.

You book things, of course you do, but you cannot in any way guarantee that you will be able to go. Many times, we don’t go. And we will continue to not be able to go, for the rest of our lives.

Along with that comes guilt and, in a lot of cases, great loneliness at being the one left behind again, even though both we, and our friends, have had no choice in the matter whatsoever.

We don’t want pity, (really, we don’t) just understanding.

So please, when you are tempted to use that phrase, remember where it came from.

It is not yours to use.

And I would hate for anyone to get what I have, so that they can use it with impunity.

It may be ‘just a phrase’, but it’s ours.

Spoons