What’s your Daily Mantra?

Blog, Thoughts

Thanks to a KikkiK purchase a few years ago (similar to this), I’ve constantly got a ‘mantra’ that I say to myself. A mantra is a statement or slogan repeated frequently that helps create a positive mindset. These mantras not only help create a positive mindset, but I feel like they help create a healthy mindset, too. It’s important to feel confidence in oneself and these little sayings encourage me to practice mental self-care. I replace these KikkK ‘inspiration cards’ weekly, to help me have a focus and feel like I have a purpose. For the week, I see the mantra every morning and say it to myself – well, that’s how it started anyway…

More often than not, I now make up my own mantra and have it much longer than a week. At the moment, my mantra is ‘I can do this’. Why? Well, if you have read some of my previous blogs, you’ll know that I am currently living with arthritis. It started with salmonella; something that is unpleasant, but not something I knew could cause me to get reactive arthritis. It was supposed to be a rather temporary disease but unfortunately, that’s not the case for me and I now have whats being categorised as ‘seronegative rheumatoid arthritis’. So, every day, I am saying to myself “I can do this” because every day has its struggles and I’m fighting my way through it. Some days are harder than others, but each day has its own battle and whats hard is that it looks like I’m okay to everyone else i.e. when I was lying in a hospital bed, it was obvious that I wasn’t well, but when I’m walking around (albeit still on crutches) most people think I’m doing okay. So, to set my day up with a positive mindset, I start with saying my mantra to myself.

Do you have a statement or slogan that you often say to yourself to help you keep a positive, healthy mindset?

A Quiet Reflection

Blog, Thoughts

During the first month of being ill, the pain was unbearable and the hospital visits became extremely tedious, so I’m rather grateful for the position I’m currently in. I can walk more freely with my crutches, spend at least 9 hours of the day out of bed and can put my clothes on without having to sit down (well, most of the time). It really is the small things that count!

My arthritis is still very much alive, however, and I’m having to battle the physical and emotional consequences of that daily. I’m taking an average of 18 pills per day and I’m seriously over it. The medication I’m on causes horrible side effects, where it becomes harder to function and I’m currently living every day as it comes, not knowing what part of my body will hurt next or whether or not I’ll wake up with a headache and feeling nauseous.

Becoming ill has certainly changed my life. With the surplus hours I’ve spent lying in bed, I’ve had time to reflect on my life, thinking about who and what is important to me. I’m having to live life at a slower pace as well and take things as they come. This illness has certainly tested my patience and the patience of those around me.

I recently asked to change roles at my work. It’s a decision I didn’t make lightly, but one that I think is best for my health and best for those who work with me (especially the ones who have been helping out with tasks I’m unable to perform at the moment). I am so grateful for my workplace. The organisation I work for, along with those I work with, are amazing. Everyone has been immeasurably compassionate and flexible with me, making sure I put my health first where needed, being understanding of my shortened hours and finally, my request for a role change has been accepted.

I am also so grateful for my friends. ‘Hard times will always reveal true friends’ is a saying that rings quite true at the moment. It’s funny how something like this would shed so much light on the relationships that I have, making some stronger and some not so much. I’m so grateful for having friends who check up on me, pick me up because I still can’t drive yet, make plans with me even though I’m limited in what I can do and generally show that they care about my wellbeing.

And finally, I am so grateful for my family. I wouldn’t know what to do without them! They have been so supportive, especially my mum who drives me everywhere, rubs my sore joints and cooks me delicious food. It’s hard to live with someone who is unable to function completely without help and I appreciate all the extra effort my family make to help make my life a bit easier.

My hope is that as these negative side effects are emerging, that underneath, slowly the life-changing positive side effects are working their magic too. I’ll be seeing my rheumatologist in about a month, and she’ll be able to tell me whether or not things are truly improving!

I’ll finish with this:

You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and God damn it, you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about the business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way. – Elizabeth Taylor

Easter Vacation 2018

Adventures, Blog

Having missed the Summer holidays (read why here), I felt like I needed to get away for the Easter break and luckily my friend, Kate, agreed!

We booked into an Airbnb that is located just outside of Hamilton and planned to have a relaxing weekend. What we didn’t plan for was the four and a half hour drive it took to get to the Airbnb, which would usually take only an hour and a half without Easter traffic. Nevertheless, we didn’t let the traffic get to us and luckily Kate bought some delicious snacks for the drive there!

We arrived at our Airbnb and I was delighted to see that the pictures provided didn’t do the garden justice – it was an absolutely beautiful vegetable garden with a great long-distance view, which looked breathtaking at sunset (and perhaps sunrise too, but ya’ll crazy if you think I’d get up that early).

On Saturday we decided to visit the Hamilton Gardens. I had seen lots of pictures of the Gardens online before, but don’t recall ever going there as an adult. Knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to walk around too much, as I’m still on crutches, I was worried that the Gardens might be too big. Fortunately for me, a slow pace made the gardens bearable – although I made sure to take plenty of breaks along the way and was pretty shattered by the end.

 

After the gardens, we picked up a few extra groceries and headed back to our Airbnb. It’s so lovely to have the time to just chill out and relax, play on your phone etc. and not have to worry about work or chores!

On Saturday we (and by we, I mean Kate) drove us out to Raglan! We were blessed with a super sunny day and after making a pit stop at a local market, we decided to get some fish and chips for lunch. It was so awesome watching everyone interact so peacefully with each other – swimmers, waterskiers, people on kayaks, people on boats! After our tasty lunch, we headed towards Wairēinga/Bridal Veil Falls. I had researched the day before about things we could do, taking into consideration that I can’t walk very far and stumbled upon this awesome ‘accessible track’, meaning that the walk is assisted wheelchair and pushchair accessible and relatively flat enough for those like myself on crutches! Although it was a long walk for me, it only took around 10 or so minutes to get to the top of the waterfall.

The two viewing platforms at the top of the falls provide spectacular views of the falls and surrounding countryside. From here, the track descends steeply down stairs to a midway viewpoint.The track continues down more stairs to the bottom view bridge and information shelter where there is a magnificent view directly across the pool and up at the falls. – DOC

If you’d like to check out this walk, or others near Raglan, click here to view the Pirongia and Raglan tracks brochure.

 


We then spent the afternoon resting (after I may or may not have napped on the way home). It was great exploring the Airbnb garden, as we got to see some chickens (who enjoyed following us around), got to pick some passionfruit from their vine and some lemons from their tree and had a chance to take some photos of the caterpillars and butterflies that were around! I loved the variety they had in their garden, as well; pumpkin, butternut, capsicum, rosemary, basil, tomatoes, passionfruit, lemons, limes, grapefruit… the list goes on!

 

The drive home on Monday was delightfully fast-paced, clocking up to only an hour and a half – the usual time it takes to get to from my house to Hamilton!

It was super nice to spend the weekend away with my friend at such an awesome Airbnb. What did you do for Easter? Have any plans coming up for another holiday? Let me know!

My Arthritis: An Update

Arthritis Updates, Blog

You may have noticed that I did not refer to this post as “Reactive Arthritis” like my previous post, rather “My Arthritis”. That’s because I have apparently surpassed the healing period for Reactive Arthritis and my arthritis has now transformed. Although the rheumatologist has informed me that I don’t fit perfectly into one specific type of arthritis, she said that I am most closely aligned to seronegative rheumatoid arthritis. If you are interested in finding out more about rheumatoid arthritis, take a look at this Arthritis NZ brochure.

When I went to see the rheumatologist, she was able to do an ultrasound on my joints and we not only confirmed that the inflammation is in my knees and ankles but we also saw that it was in elbows, which I was completely unaware of. The inflammation was also in my ankle tendons, rather than the joint, which was interesting to find out as well.

As a result of my consult with the rheumatologist I’m now on a new treatment plan (unfortunately much larger than I would have liked) called Triple Therapy. This seems to be the standard attack on rheumatoid arthritis and it’s hopeful that it will start helping me. The unfortunate side is that it takes three months to kick in, so I’m also still taking steroids as well. The steroids have certainly added a dramatic amount of fluid weight gain to my body, especially around my face. It’s hard to deal with, but I’m pushing through it knowing that once I’m off the steroids it will eventually go away.

So what does this mean for me now? I have to keep taking the medication – currently, an average of 18 tablets a day (including a couple that my mum is giving me, like turmeric tablets) and in three months time I will see my rheumatologist again for an update. Unfortunately, the Triple Therapy drugs have some nasty side effects, so I have to keep a close eye on them as well and there is also a chance that the disease may spread to my back. I purchased a small notebook to help me keep track of anything unusual because three months is a long time to remember small details!

Due to some of the drugs’ side effects, I also have to get a blood test every month to make sure that everything is okay. It’s a lot to take on, but I’m trying to focus my energy on more positive things like going to social events and reading fun books. It can be hard some days, especially when I’m in pain, but it’s important for me to keep my head high and continue to live life as normally as I can.

If you have any questions about what I’m going through or would like to share your own story – flick me an email, I’d love to hear from you!

It’s time to step back

Arthritis Updates, Blog, Thoughts

I have been part of a small team that organises events once every couple of months for young people (talking about topics such as money, gender equality, mental health etc.) for a few years now. I was in charge of taking photos of the events and generally having a creative touch when needed – like occasionally helping out with table ‘conversation starters’. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending my time being a part of the core team that run these events, but its time to step down from the role.

It’s not something I randomly decided – I thought about it for quite a while, but with the news that my health is not going so well, it made me decide that it was time to let go of that responsibility in my life so I can focus on my health.

I’ve always been a person who struggles to say ‘no’ to things. I often take on too much responsibility and it’s not until something goes wrong (like I double book myself) that I step back to see how much I have on my shoulders. Taking a journey of self-awareness means that I am stepping back before things become a problem. I acknowledge that saying ‘yes’ is something that I often do before really thinking about what it means for my life and I am trying to change that behaviour. So, I am taking the first step by stepping down from my role with this group, as a way to care for myself – by freeing up some of my spare time and concentrating on things like learning more about healthy foods that I can eat and reading more books in nature.

Do you take on too much? Think about it next time you say ‘yes’ to something!

Reactive Arthritis: Dealing with Disappointment

Arthritis Updates, Blog

I have to say, the feeling of disappointment is not something that I come across often. I often feel frustrated and annoyed in situations that don’t turn out how I would like them to, but disappoint is another story altogether.

Why am I disappointed? Because as you may have read earlier here and here, I was supposed to have a rheumatologist appointment yesterday. I was called a couple of hours before the appointment to say that the rheumatologist had called in sick and we had to reschedule. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but my heart honestly dropped. I was so disappointed. I had been waiting over a month for this appointment, which included taking extra medication to cover me until then. I had also been waiting to hear what I am supposed to do in terms of physio, the expected timeline of this arthritis, how they think I’m progressing and to get a new treatment plan. The direction and course of my life is currently depending on this rhumatolgist, so to hear that my much-anticipated appointment was cancelled, was shattering.

Having the appointment cancelled meant that I also had to call up my doctors and get another prescription, as I had run out of medication on Monday morning. This turned out to be quite a hassle and of course cost me extra money!

Luckily, the next available appointment was Friday (could have been worse). It is, unfortunately, the most difficult day for me to take time off in regards to work, but after chatting with my manager, she said it was fine for me to take the time off. Later that day, however, (same day as the cancellation and rescheduling) I get a notification that the Friday appointment is now also cancelled and they’ll have to get back to me with another time. I feel for the rheumatologist lady (as she must be pretty sick to take the whole week off), but again, my heart drops. How long am I going to have to wait? What happens with the medication that I’m on? Do I keep taking it? Am I walking properly with my crutches? Should I be doing more exercises to help with the healing? The questions could go on forever.

They got in contact with me today and the new appointment is March 1st – too far away for me to stay on the medication that I’m currently on. That means that I not only have to wait another two and a half weeks to see the rheumatologist (to hear her pivotal decisions about my life), but I also have to visit my doctor again (more money!!) to get more medication and potentially change medication until my new appointment.

With every notification or phone call, I have felt disappointment. It has been hard for me to deal with, as my emotions have overwhelmed me. Having had time to process what has happened and now that I have booked in to see my doctor, I am trying to overcome the disappointment and keep myself focused on the future. Luckily, my best friend and I just booked three days away together over Easter and that gives me someone positive to look forward to! I am struggling at the moment, but becoming self-aware involves figuring out my emotions and right now, I know that planning ahead for something positive is the best thing for me to do. So, with that in mind, I need to plan three days worth of meals so we can do one supermarket shop and then relax for the whole Easter weekend. Got any ideas? Flick a message my way.

For those that are interested, the blog image is a picture of my newly purchased book, Self-Care for the Real World, I’d totally recommend checking it out!

Tackling My Eating Habits

Blog, Thoughts

What does being healthy mean to me? That’s a question that I’ve often asked myself over the years.

As part of my self-care and awareness journey, I am wanting to become healthier.

What does that mean exactly? Well, although I may not be 100% certain what that means, I am certain that I want to be healthier in my mind, my body and my soul.

The aspect of my life that I am currently trying to tackle is my eating habits.

Previous attempts (and there have been many) of me trying to change my eating habits have always failed. Why? Because I wasn’t doing it for myself. I was always doing it for other people and my emotions controlled how much value I placed in their opinions.

Over the past couple of years, as I have tried to manage my emotions and become aware of what makes me tick, I have learnt that my emotions play a large roll in the way that I eat. My PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) also plays a part. So does my social life. There are many aspects of my life that combine together to form the eating habits that I have.

I am now at a point where I understand myself enough to try and make a slow, steady and realistic lifestyle change.

I acknowledge that things need to change, but I know from previous attempts that there is no magic trick that will change the way that I am overnight. I also acknowledge that I enjoy cooking, I enjoy going out with friends for food and I also have a sweet tooth. I don’t want to deny myself things that I enjoy – but I can, however, cut back. I am wanting to make an actual lifestyle change, so it’s something I can maintain and that I actually enjoy.

I will be posting pictures of some of the meals that I make, create and/or eat on my Instagram if you would like to keep up to date with how I’m going.

Are there any small tips that have helped you change your eating lifestyle? If so, let me know!

New Year, New Me?

Blog, Thoughts

At the start of every new year, you often stumble upon the statement new year, new me. I’m not too sure how intensely people unpack this statement, but from my own experiences, it often has a shallow meaning behind it.

As a society, we place a lot of emphasis on the beginning of the year, as though it’s the only time we have to enable change in our lives. In reality, January 1st is just another day, and there is no reason why we have to wait until then to make changes in ourselves or our lives, other than using the upcoming date as an excuse.

A few people I follow on social media have decided to ‘opt out’ of the new year, new me statement this year, by saying “New year, new me? Yeah right”, so it got me thinking.

This blog, this journey and my life, in general, is all about becoming self-aware, empowering myself and others and generally trying to be better. It’s about acknowledging that we all have faults and things we don’t like about ourselves, we are all different, and we all have things we want to improve on in our life. The statement new year, new me challenges me, as it indicates that the old me was no good and the new me will be amazing. I don’t think we should have that mindset because although we are forever changing beings and will always have things to work on, we are all amazing.

I think it’s important that we learn to love ourselves as we are – something we can do while simultaneously trying to better ourselves. No one is perfect, but we can aim to achieve a better and healthier lifestyle for ourselves. Everyone is different, and therefore every person has their own definition of what it means to be happy and healthy – think, what does it mean for you? Rather than thinking new year, new me backed with unrealistic resolutions or meaningless goals, think about some lifestyle changes you can make. These could be anything, big or small.

Do you need to buy a coffee every morning? Should you wake up and meditate for 15 minutes before work? Could you tell your loved ones you appreciate them more often? Always wanted to pick up a new hobby like dancing or playing an instrument? Could you save an extra few dollars per pay?

It’s your life – make changes that you know will be realistic, beneficial and empowering. Happy new year!