Monday, 20 January 2014

An Epithany . . .

Many of you following this blog will know I have struggled with my health in recent years.  In recent weeks I have felt just like the rocks in the photo above - besieged and about to go under.  I have been very fearful of the future, mentally listing all the things I cannot do now, and how this was going to be shaping our plans for moving, because I could no longer garden and even simple housework was almost beyond me because any lifting, bending, arm movement brought out the pleurisy pain.

I am currently on a course of steroids along with continuing antibiotics to try and help rid me of my chest infection/pleurisy, which suddenly took a turn for the worse last week . . .  the timing of which suddenly hit me with the greatest clarity when I was awake in the middle of the night (the steroids stop me sleeping).  It suddenly worsened when our son went to Australia, and we had no way of keeping in touch with him because the phone line was down.  We wouldn't even know if he had arrived safely.  Result - my stress levels suddenly went into overdrive and my body's ability to fight the infection was greatly weakened.

In fact, I went down with the infection initially (3 years ago) the same WEEK as our eldest daughter imparted some extremely stressful news, and it has continued on with peaks and troughs (which, had I noted it all down at the time, probably echo almost exactly the pattern of stresses and worries which have haunted me ever since.  The broad pattern is definitely connected with worries - and since the menopause, I can worry for Wales, usually about things I have no control over or might even never happen. 

I was waiting through most of October and all of November for the result of an ECG test, which I know worried me immensly at the time, especially as one Doctor announced that I would "definitely need a Pacemaker fitted".  In the event, I didn't, as my ECG showed my heart pattern was fine and my slow heart rate normal FOR ME - probably because I have always been a very active person.  But that really raised my stress levels, and it takes a good while for them to drop again, so a little extra worry on top really overloaded anxiety levels.

What I couldn't understand was why, if I took just half an Actifed tablet (I have always used them as Antihistamines, and they are the only thing that worked for me when I had bad allergy symptoms, as they work on the histamine receptors in my body as opposed to just my nose), my breathing was suddenly much MUCH better and my lungs felt totally relaxed.  The Actifed have a combination of drugs which both relax and stimulate, briefly speaking, though drowsiness can be a problem if I take a whole one.  Note the use of the word RELAX(ed). . .  I've not been able to go out for walks recently, and the notion of not being able to do much walking in the future has dragged me down.  All that long list of things I COULDN'T DO.

Anyway, I have taken half an Actifed this morning.  My lungs feel clear.  I am deliberately noting when my body tenses and relaxing myself.  I am going to start meditating every day (I found a wonderful site recently and will return to it as it really helped me).  I am going to walk regularly again, infection or no infection, as I know it will help me relax.  I am going to watch comedies on tv and laugh and relax.  I will keep eating well, and make sure I don't overdo things, and I am going to see my Doctor tomorrow to discuss the plan forward, but I am going to GET WELL.

Sorry - this isn't the recipe for the Cranberry and Orange Plait loaf, but that will get posted later . . .  Thanks for listening.


  1. I hope your doctor is really supportive about this forward planning and that your positive thinking will result in much improved health. Your mental attitude makes a huge difference and it's certain that stress can make you really physically ill. I think that having made the connections will help you as well and a few days of sunshine wouldn't do any harm either. Keep thinking positive thoughts - positive thinking definitely seems to attract positive actions and results. Take care.

  2. Well done you. Your weakness is in your lungs and so stress will bring on symptoms-mine is in my stomach and it can get quite bad. I am taking yoga classes with include meditation as I need to relax and learn to rest a little more.
    There is a great website called Meditation Oasis for lots of great ideas. My friend is using the walking meditation and thinks it's brilliant.

  3. People often underestimate the incredible impact stress can have on our bodies. I'm glad you've found some answers as it feels good to be proactive against anything holding us back. I know this from experience :D

    Huge hugs to

  4. Hello! So sorry I haven't been in touch recently. I've been having a similar epiphany regarding stress and its effects on my health; less debilitating than yours but regarding control of sugar levels and other STUFF. I've been trying to breath more which sounds ridiculous but reading up on it, I realise I don't do so deeply enough or often enough. It sounds like you are finding similar things that a doctor cannot diagnose. I think, for me, Fletcher's Tourettes and my Mum's neediness have been my triggers but really interesting to hear that the menopause affected you regarding stress. Keep meditating - something I've never managed to do....I kept getting distracted but perhaps I should try again. I send big, big, stress busting thoughts over the Bristol Channel to you and think you're amazing to have worked all this out yourself. It sometimes seems to be the best way! Lots of love Em xx

  5. PS - love your new banner picture!

  6. Thank you all. Em my dear, I am so sorry to hear that your worries about Fletcher's Tourettes and your mum have taken such a toll. I think all the walking you do must help a little bit, but when you balance it against fighting to get action over Fletcher's illness, it is a hard balancing aact. BIG HUGS to you, and I hope we will get down to the moor this summer again and meet up with you once more. Part of my stresses are down to the fact I know in my heart of hearts that Devon isn't the best place for us to relocate to, in all sorts of ways. I had set my heart on it so much, it is my last chance to get to Devon, where I feel I belong, but I must relinquish it and grow where I am planted.

    I will give the link to the best meditation sites for you - the one I used the other day nearly had me asleep at the computer!

    Yarrow - how right you are. We have a neighbour who is a healer and he is going to try and sort out some of my problems when I'm off the steroids. I think that will help me.

    Seagull Suzie - thank you for the note about the Oasis Meditation site. I shall visit there later on and report back. I know meditation helps, so will take that path and see just how much it does.

    Rowan - how right you are - I hope I can get the Doctor on side too. I have had such negativity from some of the other Doctors and it is hard to plough the lonely furrow of getting well when people are telling you you won't! I have improved my mental attitude today, and am going to take control of another aspect of my health (apart from the diet and the immune boost) and plan to get well despite the negativity in the past.

  7. I really do hope that all the measures you are taking help improve your health. Stress is the most awful thing for setting off illnesses and making symptoms worse. I think meditation and walking are brilliant ideas for helping. I keep telling myself I will get back into yoga and meditation but sadly never seem to find the time but both are great for stress relief. Thinking of you and sending positive vibes and hugs your way.

  8. I think you may well have now got to the root of the problem - I hope it helps. You need a sympathetic doctor and also some real, solid relaxation exerecises. I do hope things improve - and talk about it all you like - that probably helps too.

  9. Sorry to hear that your ill health is continuing. I was diagnosed with fibromylagia a couple of years ago and as self defence i tried to eliminate all unnecessary stress (and stressful people) out of my life. Your confidence takes a hammering too when you realise that you might have to cut back on hobbies (like you with your love of gardening and the thought you might not be able to do as much).
    You are doing all the right things, changing your diet, taking exercise when you can and eliminating stress.
    Hope it all works out for you

  10. I'm in a similar situation, trying to live with nerve damage to my leg. One of the things I was told was that I would have to grieve for the mobility I had and accept my new reality, before I could be positive about the future.
    You always strike me as a determined lady, I think you will get well, because you have personalised the plan you have for a return to health and set your mind to it.

  11. You WILL get there in the end my dear. You are sounding so much more positive now that you have thought this through.xx

  12. BB, your lungs are weak and so absorb the stress; mine is my Tummy like SeagullSuzie's and boy-howdy, when it decides to get bad, it frequently requires Emergency Dept interventions. I hate it and yet life's stressors are ubiquitous and unavoidable. How we deal seems to have an affect and still ...

    I hold good thoughts for your recovery and hope to the high hills that the doctor is on your side.

  13. I am sorry to hear that your still having many of the same problems.
    I too have found stress really plays havoc with my health problems.
    Please write anytime lets us all know how your are doing. I think just being positive helps.

    cheers, parsnip

  14. It's massively stressful (and exhausting) to battle thru feeling badly on a long term and frequent basis as you have, as you do. Then there is the pressure of the fact that it is so incredibly difficult to 'convince' the system (aka physicians) to listen to what is (and is not) happening within your own physical being - tho who would know better than you? Next is/are the hormone changes (oh what fun - not) and the difficult acceptance of the way things change with age on many levels - physical and emotional. Add to that list the worries over your 'chicks' (proud tho you should be and are, worries persist for a mum!) The daily stress of malfunctioning internets, phones, costs, weather stops in to bother the mind as well. Toss into the pile the relocation move you hope to make to the location you love (and the blocks encountered) as another layer that wears you down at best, stresses at worst, and drains your strength and efforts towards healing . It's, I think, amazing you cope and handle and press on as calmly, effeciently and as kindly as you do ....

    For what help it may be, I agree some form of meditation or simply a regular set aside time daily that involves something you truly enjoy helps more than I'd have thought till I began such (and trust me when I say you must stick to it unless the house is afire, lol for it to work well). Bio-feedback, acupuncture, acupressure, healers, are all worthy of giving a listen to or a try also. I think western medicine misses the concept of attending to 'the whole person' in treatment especially for stress.

    Sorry to ramble on so long-
    Stay strong and determined!

    Hugs, Issy

  15. Dear Jennie, I think everyone has said all that there is to say on your illness and the positive attitude you are taking towards it. But I will offer one thing and that is smell;) treat yourself to some lavender or joss sticks even to perfume the air. We are bereft at this time of the year from the scent of flowers but they do have a calming influence.
    Lots of love Thelma xxx

  16. Sorry am late on parade again BB but my best wishes also. Rescue remedy and lavender are my life lines aswell as a CBT course have helped me tremendously. There's a link here which might have something of interest

  17. Thank you SO much for all your helpful and supportive comments.

    R/Robin - I have to be in the mood for meditation. I started a session two days ago but lack of sleep made me so emotional I just kept crying, so had to abandon it.

    Pat - The realization has made me much more positive, and I hope now I have figured what is making me worse, I can at least try and change it. I think my Doctor was a bit . . . ambivalent . . . but he gave me a sheet with anxiety course details, so that's something.

    Sharie - I am sorry you have FM - a couple of friends have developed it recently and it has such a HUGE impact on their lives and stops them doing things. You are right about the loss of confidence - I am fortunate that my husband quickly got a grasp of this and has kept me gently active, and I know I SHALL be back to those hills again soon.

    Kath - I didn't know you have been suffering with mobility problems due to the nerve damage. What a very valid point - grieving for the loss of ability in one direction or another. I am determined, but sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming, when medication doesn't work (and you are expecting it to!)

    DW - thank you. I feel a bit more in control now. I will phone you this week for a natter.

    Lynda - we all have our weak points - tummies, lungs, etc - with my husband it''s his head. I have worked out how just half of one of my old-fashioned antihistamines is the best relaxant of all (had to take one in the night when I was still awake at 3 a.m.)

    parsnip - it helps so much knowing I can share this with my friends. I will never meet most of you, but it is so comforting knowing that complete strangers care enough to write.

    Issy - you have a total handle on everything which has brought me to my knees in recent years. I got through the menopause relatively easily - but with the loss of hormones came an ability to worry for Wales! I find it so hard to switch off. I totally agree about healing the whole person. Doctors just want to stop the symptoms, and not find out about the deeper picture, or get to the real root of why all this is happening. The "pill culture".

    Thelma - I've done one better and have a little indoor garden on my kitchen draining board. Several bowls of fragrant Hyacinths, a tiny pot of wee daffodils and a couple of Cyclamens. They please the eye and the nose. Lavender for the bath is a good idea - very relaxing.

    Aril - rescue remedy didn't work for me - I used to take Passiflora capsules to stop panic attacks when I was taking University exams. Will go to your link now. Thank you.