Tag Archives: chronic illness

Share Your World Week 21

26 May 16
Megan
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Only the one post this week (Share Your World) as I’ve been unwell all week. Catching a cold on top of chronic illness makes everything so much more difficult and today is the first day I’ve felt well enough to do much at all.

Yesterday there were protests around the world to raise awareness of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and the need for more research funding. I wasn’t able to go to a protest (nearest one was interstate) so I posted links to my social media accounts to promote it.

The millions missing campaign used empty shoes to represent how many of us are missing from every day activities.

Share Your World – Week 21

What is your favorite go to beverage?  Water, coffee, tea, coke, soda (non-alcoholic)

Water is my normal go to beverage. Occasionally I have bubbly water from the soda stream or a tea, but most times I just have water straight from the puratap.

Can you change a car tire?

To be honest, I don’t know. I’ve never been in a situation where I’d need to and I’ve never tried. I know the theory of how to do it though.

Are you a listener or talker?

E would say I talk a lot, but usually only with him. In general, I’m a listener.

Would you rather have no internet or no cell phone?

No cell phone. I could live without my phone as I’m home most the time so I can use the home phone but the internet is a large part of how I connect with the outside world.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

I’m grateful for being well enough to go along to the rogaine with E on the weekend. I’m also glad E liked his birthday present (even if he guessed what it was the day before his birthday)!

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In this next week I’m looking forward to feeling better! I feel a little better today and I hope that continues as the week progresses.


A week in my life with Chronic Illness

18 May 16
Megan
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6 comments

I meant to do this post last week for May 12 International Awareness Day but brain fog made me forget the date and I didn’t have the energy last week to write it anyway so here it is today… A week in my life

A little background for those of you who haven’t been following me for very long. For over 3 years now I’ve been living with chronic pain and fatigue as my daily companion. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Pelvic Congestion Syndrome.

I’ve already done a day in my life post, since then I have improved to the point that I try not to nap during the day any more.

What I do in a week

The following is what I did in the week starting Monday 9 May… It gives a good idea of what I do most weeks. The types of appointments and work I do varies week to week and the number of crash days also varies.

Monday

I wake up slowly at around 8:30 am noticing the heavy and aching feeling that’s always there. After stretching in bed and slowly getting up I measure the 0.5mL of testosterone cream and rub it into my leg and then slowly get dressed.

After getting dressed, I sit back on the bed and spend some time checking my emails and my to-do-list, and waiting for the heaviness and shakiness to settle enough to get up and make breakfast.

I’m feeling rather out of it today so I take my time doing my weekly budget review and spend some time online reading blogs. The fact that the weather is very wet and cold today doesn’t help my pain levels. I decide to hop in the bath and read until lunch time.

Being a Monday, it’s my day to do a bike ride. Before having lunch I decide to do a 10 minute easy ride on the stationary bike in the shed because it’s too wet to go out. I reheat leftovers and put the tv on while I eat lunch.

I’ve got some work I have to do today so I spend most the afternoon doing that. Again, tasks that would normally take half an hour to an hour to do are taking me over 3 hours.

Before long, it’s 5:00 pm and my brain is like mush, I put the TV back on and only get up to make a simple dinner and to do some stretches because my pelvic pain is flaring tonight.

At around 9:00 pm I get up, take my pills, have a shower and head to bed. In bed, I take some time to review my daily to-do-list and write a short list for tomorrow. Lights out by 10:00 pm.

Tuesday

I don’t wake up until 9:00 am today. Before even getting out of bed I decide to check my emails and my to-do-list because my body doesn’t want to cooperate.

Today I’m heading to my mum’s to help her with her assignment so after getting dressed and having breakfast I drive down there. Most of the day is spent helping mum. When we finish going through mum’s assignment in the afternoon, we go for a short walk and then I sit down and do my weekly blog posts before attending an online meeting for the conference I’m helping to organise.

By the time the meeting ends my sister has got home from her school placement and we head into town for dinner with E and a few friends from his office. Because E was drinking, I drive us home at the end of the night (that doesn’t happen very often).

It’s a late night out for me but I’m in bed by 10:30pm

Wednesday

Ok, so I did a bit too much Tuesday and that time of the month is starting so pain and fatigue are very high today.

It’s definitely a crash day which means I spend most the day in front of the tv not doing much. I do make myself do my 10 minute ride on the stationary bike because some movement helps with pain levels and I order a few things I need online (cat food and my calcium and magnesium supplements). I also prepare the dough for baking bread the next day.

I shower both in the morning and the night to help with pain. In bed by 9:00 pm.

Thursday

I’m awake at 9:00 am. Fatigue is slightly lower today and I do have a doctors appointment I need to go to. The day starts with a shower and breakfast. I also throw the bread in the oven to bake.

Before heading to my doctors appointment I throw on a load of washing. I drive to town and visit my doctor to get a script I forgot to ask for in my check up the week before. After that I buy lunch and eat with E in his office before I drive home and hang out the washing.

The rest of the day is spent resting in front of the tv, until I shower and head to bed again at around 10:00 pm.

Friday

Up at 8:30 am today and I do feel slightly better today. Dad’s over for lunch today so that takes up most my day.

I do manage to send an email out inviting people to a meeting next week for the conference organising stuff and to do a short ride on the stationary bike and a short walk with my sister who is over for dinner.

In bed by 10:15 pm.

Saturday

After getting up at 9:00 am I head down to mum’s and spend most the day out with my sister op-shopping. I know that I’m doing too much today but I’m enjoying a day out with T while I can.

some of the books I picked up on our op-shopping tour.

some of the books I picked up on our op-shopping tour.

In the evening, E makes dinner because I don’t have any energy left and I’m in bed by 9:30 pm.

Sunday

Up at 9:00 am today and throw on a load of washing straight after breakfast. I then sit down and rest for a while before baking a cake. The whole morning is broken down between baking, washing, and doing low energy activities like reading blogs.

I reheat left overs for lunch and then read some of the children’s books I bought yesterday until E’s family comes over for afternoon tea.

I also spend some time prepping for baking bread on Monday and putting together some lego.

I have a bath in the evening after dinner as I’m feeling very achey and end up in bed late at 11:00 pm mainly because I relax too long in the bath.

That was my week last week.

As you can see, my days vary a lot. This was a fairly busy week for me as there were a few days in there where I wasn’t able to have any rest breaks throughout the day at all. That isn’t typical but the rest of it is. I try to find a way to balance work, social, exercise and rest each week.

What does your week look like?

Treatment for Low Testosterone in Women…

29 Mar 16
Megan
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6 comments

I have low Testosterone levels… It’s not something you normally hear about in women.

Before I get started on today’s post, I hope everyone has had a wonderful Easter weekend.

We spent it in the bush camping helping friends set a rogaine for later this year. Most days I hung around the campsite, with a short walk with T during the day while the others were on long hikes setting check points. I did join them on Sunday when half the points were only short walks from the car, this was another big day like the rogaine the previous weekend but I did make sure that I rested a lot as well by staying at the car and meditating while the others went on longer walks.

Over the weekend I had a lot of time to think and reflect on how things have been going lately.

I’m still working on finding balance in my life but have realised that having a set routine doesn’t work for me. Instead pacing, and continually reassessing and adjusting to create balance over a longer time period instead of trying to balance activity within any given day.

I’m feeling very positive about my progress. As I mentioned last week, I’ve had a few full on days lately (think double my daily average step count without many rest breaks) but haven’t had any major crashes. I have had a few single crash days but have been back to ‘bad’ by the next day.

I’m attributing at least part of this improvement to the nortriptyline I started taking about a month ago, and I’m hopeful that the testosterone cream I started on the weekend will improve things further.

I’ve started the testosterone because my free (available) testosterone levels in my blood stream were almost non-existent. This could explain several of my symptoms including the fatigue, sleep issues and an increased risk of bone loss (I’ve been diagnosed with Osteopenia – the step before Osteoporosis and the doctors haven’t found a reason for the continued bone loss after stopping the Depo Provera over a year ago). It can also cause low libido.

There are side effects I have to be aware of including increased hair growth in the area I apply the cream, lowering of my voice, and acne. Because the side effects can take a while to appear and too much testosterone can have even greater impacts on my health, I need to have a follow up blood test in 3 weeks to check whether the dosage is correct and see if my blood levels of free testosterone are back in the mid-high normal range. The benefits of the testosterone cream (in particular increased energy) should also become visible in the next 2-3 weeks.

Have you ever had your hormone levels tested?

If you’re female, have you ever tried hormonal replacement (in particular testosterone)?

Pacing: How to add new activities

15 Mar 16
Megan
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Over the weekend, in between the many social events we had on, we picked up a secondhand electric bike for me to use. This means I can now add riding into my exercise regime, but it also means I need to be aware of how I’m coping and adjust my activity levels to fit this in.

The concept of Pacing is one of the key mechanisms I have in place for managing my chronic illnesses. It’s basically a technique of managing activity levels to maintain a balance of rest and activity that keeps you below your current threshold for exertion.

To date, my pacing has been focused quite strongly on my step count and time spent doing daily activities related to work, social life, and household chores. I have found a balance of mental and physical activity which has allowed me to avoid many potential crashes or increases in pain and fatigue levels.

Since starting the Nortriptyline, I’ve found that I’ve been able to do more physically without increasing my symptoms or crashing for multiple days at a time. My brain is slightly more foggy than it’s been in the past but not as bad as it was on the Cymbalta which caused multiple side effects that impacted my ability to work and participate in activities I wanted to do.

Some of the things I’m considering as I once again adjust my lifestyle to add in and modify my activity levels are:

  • What are my long term goals and priorities? As you’d be aware, my current focus is strongly on getting to the point where we can start a family. I’m mostly happy with my current levels of mental activity (work, reading, etc) but want to increase my physical capability and my social life. Many of the social activities I miss participating in had some physical aspect to them; things like participating in rogaine events with my husband and going for walks and rides together. To do these things I need to focus on my health more and increasing my ability to get around independently without relying on the car all the time.
  • What is my current baseline for each activity? The major thing about pacing is that it takes into account your current abilities and can lead to increases OR decreases in activity level over time. The first step in pacing is to set a baseline and aim for 10-20% lower than that as your initial target. When adding in new activities it is important to make room for them, so you would lower your targets for other activities to have the energy to do the new one.
  • What am I already doing and what can I adjust? Earlier this month I made the decision to drop all my volunteer work for at least the month of March. This has opened up space for me to consider new activities and adjust my other activities to better suit my current needs. To add in riding I’m also stopping any increases in step count and instead focussing on maintaining my current average, my yoga has dropped back to just basic stretches throughout the day, and I’m not taking on any additional work for at least the rest of this financial year.

Once you’ve considered your options and worked out if it’s feasible (and the best use of your limited energy) to add in the new activity, it’s time to create a plan. The plan should always be focused on your energy levels and how you’re coping. This is not a graded exercise program where you increase activity levels and do them at set intervals and in set amounts independent of how you’re feeling!

My plan for adding Bike Riding into my Pacing…

I had my first ride yesterday morning to test the waters. I rode my bike a total of just over 1 km (just around the deadend streets around my house). At the end of the ride I was very sore and quite exhausted but I was already improving by the end of the day and I haven’t had a major decrease in energy levels today (I normally get PEM the day after I overdo anything that lasts for 24-48 hours). To me this indicates that this is a good starting level.

Based on the outcomes of my test ride, my current plan is to do the same short ride every 2-3 days for 2-4 weeks. If this doesn’t lead to any PEM or major crashes, I will then increase the distance by no more than 10% and maintain that level for a further 2-4 weeks. This cycle will be continued until I reach a point that does cause PEM or a major crash, at which point I’ll decrease by 10% and maintain for at least a month before trying any further increases.

At the beginning of April I see my exercise physio and I’ll go through this plan with her. There may be adjustments based on her input.

A quick No Buy Challenge Update: We’ve reached week 15 and the 3/4 mark of the challenge. In the past week I’ve purchased my electric bike (on the approved purchases list) and a duplo set for when our friend’s children come to visit (also approved – not for me and something that has been considered for the last 2 years).

Share Your World Week 10 and a Napping Day

10 Mar 16
Megan
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Hi All,

Before I get into Share Your World for this week I wanted to share an interesting day that’s coming up soon. Now, there seems to be some confusion about which day it actually is but sometime in the next week it’s National Napping Day. I’m unclear about whether this is an American day or some other country but I’ve seen it advertised as being either tomorrow (11 March) or Monday (14 March). (Update: National Napping Day is 14 March)

I recently found out from Casper, mattress makers from the US, about National Napping day and they had this interesting infographic to share:

Casper_napping101_LRG

I don’t normally share things from specific companies but I thought this was a simple description about the benefits of napping, something a lot of us with chronic illness do. The fact that Casper contacted me had no direct influence on my desire to share information about this day and I’m not endorsing the company’s products (in fact I’ve never seen them), I’m just utilising the effort they’ve already used creating this infographic. This is not a sponsored post in any way.

Now on with the post…

Share Your World – Week 10

What would you ask for if a genie granted you three wishes?

First of all, I’d wish to be free from the chronic pain and fatigue that I live with. Without that I’d be able to do most of the things I currently want to do but can’t.

Secondly I’d wish for my family and friends to be in a position that they feel comfortable spending time on things most important to them. This would mean more time for meaningful catch ups for all of us.

Finally, I’d wish the Genie free (as long as (s)he seemed to be a good Genie like in Aladdin).

What experiences are most meaningful to you?

At this point in time the mosts meaningful experiences to me are the small ones when I get to do something meaningful with someone I love. Meeting the newest addition to our family (our closest friends just had their second child who we got to meet last night at just 3 days old) was amazing. Watching the thunder and lightning from under our new pergola with E during the week. Having a deep and meaningful conversation with E, or my mum, or one of my closest friends.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’ve always wanted to be a mum!

Apart from that I went through phases of wanting to be a music star (performing in musicals), a vet, and a zoo keeper.

Complete this sentence:  The best day of my life was…. 

This is a hard one, as there are quite a few to choose from and obviously my life isn’t over so there is likely to be many more amazing days to come…

I’d have to say that one of the best days of my life so far was the day I married E.

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It was such an amazing and relaxed day filled with the love and support of our family and friends. I spent time planning and creating each aspect of the day so that it aligned with our values. A beautiful ceremony in E’s Amma and Uppa’s backyard with flowers from friend’s properties followed by a picnic lunch in a local park with baskets and blankets and glasses used on the day as favours for the guests. All the decorations I made myself and the cakes were made by me, Amma and one of my friends. Tea and coffee was served in Royal Vale sets owned by Amma and E’s mum.

Even over 4 years later, people who attended are still commenting on how much they enjoyed the day!

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

In the last week I’m grateful for improving health that has allowed me to participate in several social outings and run a workshop for one of my projects. I’m grateful for E allowing me to broach the topic of family planning again and being honest about his feelings, helping me understand why we’ve been struggling to talk about this up until now.

This week I’m looking forward to celebrating my mother-in-laws birthday and continuing to work towards my goals of improved health.

Family Planning with Chronic Illness

08 Mar 16
Megan
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A Quick No Buy Challenge Update then on to Family Planning: Although I was tempted by some of the clearance sales in town (hello fluffy warm down jacket) I did not make any purchases this week that weren’t experience related and shared with those that are important to me. I had lunch with my sister while she was in town (over from Hong Kong for a wedding) and E and I spent a wonderful morning out at the zoo for a behind the scenes tour and breakfast on Sunday.

And now for the post… (Apologies this is quite a long one for me!)

Those of you who know me in real life, and those who have been following my blog for quite a while, know that the ONE thing I really REALLY want from my life is to be a mum.

Unfortunately, around the time E and I were finally having serious discussions about potentially starting a family in the next year or two I had my first major crash.

Almost 3 years later and we’re just beginning to start having serious discussions again, but this time my health is the major road block.

Starting these conversations have been difficult this time around. E has not really wanted to talk about it because he feels like he has to be the bad guy saying No when he knows it’s something that I really want. He has wanted to wait until I was physically capable before we had the hard conversations but I think I’ve now made him realise that not talking about it has been hurting me more than having honest conversations.

Being a scientist at heart he really needs us to have logical and rational conversations about how this will all work and he struggles when I get overly emotional during the conversations.

So… where have we got to?

We have agreed that I need to set some goals to get to a point where I feel confident that I can physically cope with the pregnancy and the uncertainties that come with raising a child.

The goals I have set myself are as follows:

I believe that I would be physically capable of handling the stresses and uncertainties of pregnancy and raising a child if I can achieve the following and maintain it for at least 2-3 months with no major crashes/flare ups:

  1. An average step count of around 7,000
  2. The following average breakdown of activities
    • Less than 30% Rest/Mindless Activity – on average around 25% (meditation, naps, audiobooks, tv, Facebook, and travel when E is driving)
    • 10-25% Mental Activity (work, blogging, reading articles, etc)
    • around 50% Physical/Social Activity (exercise, housework, outings, etc)

To determine how I’m tracking for these goals I track my daily activity using a time tracking app on my phone and my steps using Garmin Connect and my watch.

As an example of where I am at the moment, my breakdown for February was:

  • Average steps 5,404
  • 39% Rest/Mindless
  • 15% Mental
  • 24% Physical
  • 20% Social

I also break each category (mental, physical, and social into high and low activity). Overall my February breakdown for this was:

  • 39% Rest/Mindless (as above)
  • 26% high activity (exercise of any kind, work, budget review, large groups of people or stressful situations, cooking complex meals, baking, gardening, etc)
  • 32% low activity (reading, writing in my journal, one on one or small group activities, showering and dressing, reheating leftovers/simple meals, etc)

*Note percentages may not add up to 100%. I am using the percentages provided by the app and I don’t believe it rounds decimals correctly to whole numbers.

As you can see, I’ve improved a fair bit since my crash in November (my average step count was down to 2,000-3,000)

The next step is to have discussions around the difficult questions like:

  • What will happen if I’m having a crash?
  • How will I cope with the day to day activities of looking after a newborn/toddler/older child?
  • What kind of support do I need for this to be possible?
  • Not only CAN I have a child but SHOULD I? Is it fair to the child?

What I’d like to do is get your input. If you have had children of your own while dealing with chronic illness like Fibromyalgia or ME/CFS, how did you cope?

Even if you don’t have a chronic illness, do you have any tips for minimising the impact of flares?

Here are my thoughts so far:

What will happen if I’m having a crash?

Flares and crashes are part of the parcel with many chronic illnesses so it’s important to have some sort of system in place for dealing with them. The first 5 years will be the most difficult to cope with as the child will be too young to actually understand what’s wrong when mummy needs to go lie down and isn’t able to do all the things they want to do.

Depending on the severity and duration of a crash/flare up there are several things that I can do to make sure I’m not neglecting my child during this time…

  1. Be realistic about what is really essential to be a ‘good parent’. A young child doesn’t necessary understand what is going on but they are aware of if their parents are there for them or not. Realistically, the occasional day of ‘low energy activities’ is not going to be detrimental to my child’s health and mental well being as long as I’m with it enough to be there with them.
  2. Have stand by ‘Low Energy Activities’ available. This could mean a day in bed reading stories, watching tv/movies, or listening to music. It could mean allowing my child to have free play time while I observe from the couch.
  3. Have family support available on call if needed. At this point in time we are very lucky to have a large network of family support with reasonably flexible schedules. E’s Amma and Uppa, his parents, and my Gran are retired, my mum works part time, and my dad has a fairly flexible schedule. Obviously, they still have things that they do regularly and tend to fill up their schedules with other activities but between them all I’m fairly confident I could find someone at short notice who could help me out.
  4. Do my best to minimise the chances of a crash/flare up occurring. Obviously prevention is better than treatment, so having systems in place to minimise the likelihood of a flare is important. The ideas I’ve come up with (or found while researching this topic) are:
    • With a new born, rest when ever the baby sleeps. During the first 4-8 weeks focus only on what is necessary – feeding, cleaning and resting with the baby. If possible, have support come in to do other tasks like cleaning, cooking, etc. (We already have a cleaner coming in once a fortnight, and – because I’m keen to use cloth for health and environmental reasons – I’d consider a nappy service for at least the first while).
    • As the child grows, continue to pace your activities. Consider having regular days/times where the child is in someone else’s care (family, child care) so that you can still have regular rest breaks.
    • Consider using a combination of breast and bottle feeding so that others can assist. This would be particularly useful for night feeds so that I can still get reasonable sleep. The impact of sleep deprivation on my health is one of our primary concerns at the moment.

How will I cope with the day to day activities of raising a…

Newborn?

From what I’ve read, the newborn stage (apart from the sleep deprivation) is relatively simple to cope with. As your baby is not yet mobile it is easy to do low energy activities with them. Most of your time would be spent just feeding, cleaning (nappy changes, etc) and cuddling your new little bundle.

As stated above, I’d consider having support services in place for cleaning, etc.

The verdict on breastfeeding vs bottle feeding for those with chronic illness is still out. Breastfeeding is simpler in that you don’t need to worry about sterilising bottles, making sure the formula is at the correct temperature, or just using up your energy in making up the formula. However, it uses much more energy to breastfeed and can leave you physically more tired (something that a person with chronic fatigue doesn’t really need) and you can’t share the task of feeding the baby.

Personally I’d still like to breastfeed, at least for the first few weeks if possible, but would be open to pumping and supplementing with formula so that E and others could help with feeds after the first few weeks.

To make breastfeeding (especially at night) as easy as possible in the beginning I would like my child to sleep next to me. However, due to my pain levels I tend to toss and turn at night and E is a very heavy sleeper so I wouldn’t want my child in the bed with us. I’d look at getting something like the arm’s reach co-sleeper which converts from a co-sleeper bassinet to a free-standing bassinet to a ‘read to me’ love seat. I’m interested in getting items that will have longevity in terms of usefulness and style.

As I mentioned above, my passion for sustainability and my own experience with disposable items near my nether regions (I’m allergic to disposable pads, etc) mean I’m keen to use cloth nappies on my child. I have done a lot of research on this topic and feel that it is doable even with limited energy and physical capabilities. With a young child you will already be increasing your washing requirements to keep their clothes clean, it doesn’t add that much to throw in a load of nappies every 2 days or so. It’s even easier if you use a nappy service that collects the dirty nappies once a week and washes and returns them.

Crawler/Toddler?

This in when I think things will start to get interesting. At this point in time I believe I’d be considering putting my child into some form of care (family members or child care) 1-2 days/half days a week so that I had some ability of pacing and having some more intensive rest.

I’d also consider going to spend days at other people’s houses (or have people over to visit) so that I have some support during the day.

Older Child?

As my child gets older I’d explain to them in age appropriate ways how my illness impacts our life and why I need rest periods.

Well, I’m starting to run out of steam and I have gone on for quite a while so I’ll leave it here for now (stay tuned for more as I continue to consider our options)…

Read More…

There are plenty of articles out there on this topic but here are just a few

Parents and Chronic Illness

10 Tips for Parents living with Chronic Disease

Caring for Your Child During a Chronic Illness Flare Up

Do you have any tips or advice you could share that would help us through this decision process?

Are there any other questions we should be asking ourselves?

 

Share Your World – Week 7

18 Feb 16
Megan
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Jumping straight in today so here we go…

Share Your World – Week 7

What are you a “natural” at doing? 

I’m a natural at engaging with babies/younger children. When they’re really young, I can usually get them to settle in my arms. Older, they seem to be attracted to me and want me to participate in their adventures. I’m enjoying spending more time with my friends children these days and I really can’t wait until we’re ready to try for our own.

Would you prefer a one floor house or multiple levels?

Definitely one floor. Our current house has only one step down across the middle of the house but even that means I can’t just put Mr Vacuum on to run around the whole house… He just focuses on the bottom floor (kitchen, family room) most the time.

Mr Vacuum resting after cleaning the floor :-)

Mr Vacuum resting after cleaning the floor 🙂

I wouldn’t want to drag washing up and down stairs and everything is just so much easier on one level.

What was your favorite subject in school?

My favourite subject at school was music. I participated in school musicals and other events. It was a great break from the more serious maths, english and science I focused on all the way through to the end of year 12.

At university, I focused on subjects related to the environment and sustainability.

Complete this sentence: If only the rain.. came regularly year round. It would save me so much energy if the rain came regularly enough that I didn’t have to worry about watering 🙂

What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with my friends and their children.

In the next week I’m looking forward to catching up on some much needed work (supposing this relief from extreme fog stays – I can focus enough to do a little work again now).

Zero Waste Purchases: No Buy Challenge Update Week 11

16 Feb 16
Megan
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I did some shopping this week…

There, I got that off my chest. I didn’t break my rules for the 20 week no buy challenge, but I did buy things I wouldn’t normally buy (they were on my to-buy list a long time.

If you’re a regular reader you’d be aware that I’ve yet again been trialling new drugs and suffering from very frustrating side effects that are impacting on my quality of life.

In particular, the brain fog (which I had got to manageable levels) has been so bad I’ve pretty much been unable to do any work for the last few weeks apart from attending meetings (listening but not contributing as much as I usually would) and writing here on the blog.

Yesterday, when I came onto the computer to do some work (I didn’t manage to actually do any work in the end)* I got completely distracted. Don’t ask me what distracted me because I honestly don’t know but somehow I ended up looking at sustainable living/baby related sites.

Our kitchen has several plastic and glass (pyrex) storage containers but as part of my journey towards zero waste I’ve been wanting to get my hands on some leak proof stainless steel containers for getting meat from the butcher. I also wanted to get my own spork to go into my zero waste eating out kit instead of transporting a cutlery set (i.e. cut my kit back to a spork, straw and napkin, along with my sandwich wrap, jar of snacks and stainless steel drink bottle for longer trips out and about.

My original zero waste eat out kit... spoon, chopsticks, straw and napkin. I want to replace the normal sized spoon and chopsticks with a reasonable sized spork (a more flexible tool with less to carry around)

My original zero waste eat out kit… spoon, chopsticks, straw and napkin. I want to replace the normal sized spoon and chopsticks with a reasonable sized spork (a more flexible tool with less to carry around)

On one of the sites I ended up on I found a good special on both of these items so jumped in and bought myself 2 stainless steel containers (with BPA free lids that seal and a removable divider inside) and a bamboo spork.

My zero waste purchases

My zero waste purchases

I also bought my supplements online for the first time (calcium and folate), so now I’m waiting excitedly for my packages to arrive!

I’ve also started a list of things that I will need to consider buying in the near future. Because my wardrobe is now so minimal and I wear my favourite things most days, I’ve reached the point where things are starting to wear out.

Some of these things won’t be replaced, like the 2 dresses that reached the “I can see my undies through them” point in the last few weeks, because I have already decided I had more than I actually needed of these items.

I’m now down to 7 dresses. I wear dresses almost every day, all year round. Seven is probably still more than I need but as things wear out I consider whether I need to replace it or if something else I already own fills the same niche. I’m getting closer to the magical 33 Items recommended by Courtney Carver from Be More with Less in her Project 333 (I’m down to 36 items, excluding underwear, shoes, and accessories – scarves, jewellery, hats, etc).

Other things will need to be replaced, like undies. I bought 4 new pairs of undies from the local shops in July last year (bonds brand). These are already reaching the point where they’re starting to go see-through or holey. They’re also not very comfortable to wear anymore, riding up or falling down regularly.

My other 3 pairs of undies I bought online in March (2 months earlier) and they’re still going strong with no sign of being even close to worn out. They’re extremely comfy and actually function as pads (just add inserts) by themselves if you want them to. Last time I bought 3 pairs of the charcoal grey colour.

I want to keep some colour in my collection so I’m considering replacing the most uncomfortable ones I’ve got with more of the Maia Hipster Lunapanties but in other colours (one pair each of aquamarine, festival pink, and royal stripe).

The more uncomfortable ones are still ok at the moment, and the ones I want are reasonably expensive for underwear, so I’m going to hold off as long as I can (hopefully until the end of the challenge in 9 weeks).

I’m also going to need to replace my sandals at the end of summer. The inner lining tore the other week and although we have attempted to fix it the patch is already tearing as well so they’ll need to be replaced. I have worn them pretty much every hot day since October 2014 so I guess they’ve done their stint (probably equivalent to almost a year of daily wear).

I’m considering Birkenstock sandals like this or this because they’re meant to be long lasting, and sustainably and ethically made.

How do you decide when it’s time to let go of your favourite items?

*I have managed to do some work today which is great! I’ve been really stressed about how bad my ability to get things done has been, especially given I have commitments to meet.

10 great things and a half way update…

09 Feb 16
Megan
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I had a wonderfully full weekend and got to catch up with several friends I hadn’t seen in a while and I’m doing well with the No Buy Challenge.

It was fairly hot here over the weekend which (although impacting on energy levels) made for great weather for a trip to the beach and time spent outside.

Mid-way No Buy Challenge Update – Week 10

On Saturday E and I had a wonderful afternoon tea with Rach and her husband as a mid-way catch up for our 20 week No Buy Challenge (Yes, we’re already 10 weeks in!). We took the time to reflect on how the first half of the challenge had gone, my small discretions and temptations early on and Rach’s temptation that she managed to avoid in week 6.

We also considered the future, discussing whether this is something that would be ongoing for us or if we’d repeat the challenge in the future. For me the challenge has been relatively easy (I really don’t do that much shopping) where as it’s much more of a change for Rach. I’d probably continue (but more as a being mindful and intentional about things I buy then saying NO to all buying) and Rach straight out said no to continuing but would consider doing it again when they’re back from their trip (the reason she’s doing it this time).

10 Great Things about Me

Last week, while reading other blogs (something I try to do daily now) I came across a wonderful post on Chronic Rants that discussed how those of us with chronic illnesses can tend to focus on the negative impacts of our illnesses on our lives which impacts on our self esteem. She recommended that we should make a list of 10 great things about ourselves to counter the lowering of our self esteem…

Here’s mine:

  1. I’m optimistic. I always (or almost always) see the positive side of things and don’t let the negatives overwhelm me too much.
  2. I always have time for friends and family. Even if it’s just to listen to them and support them that way. This weekend was full of time for my friends. Afternoon tea with Rach on Saturday, lunch with another friend Sunday down the beach, and helping other friends with getting their house ready for rewiring in the evening (I sat and chat with V who’s expecting their second child in just over 4 weeks while E helped her husband with sealing everything they didn’t want dust to get into).
  3. I adapt well. Life has thrown me quite a few curve balls (chronic illness being a major one) and I’ve able to adapt my lifestyle so that it hasn’t impacted too badly on my mental health.
  4. I’m passionate.
  5. I live by my values. Over the years I’ve learnt to identify what’s important to me and (partially thanks to being able to slow my life due to my chronic illnesses) I do my best to prioritise these values, my family and friends, living sustainably and looking after my health being the most prominent of these.
  6. I love to learn.
  7. I love to help others.
  8. My friends and family love and support me in everything I do.
  9. I’m (mainly) a positive person.
  10. I’m unique!

I challenge you to make your own list of 10 Great Things about You. It does wonders for your self esteem.

Share Your World – Week 5

04 Feb 16
Megan
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The questions this week have been very thought provoking and I’ve struggled with a few of them but here we go… Let’s Share Your World!

If you had a shelf for your three most special possessions (not including photos, electronic devices and things stored on them, people or animals), what would you put on it?

I don’t really focus much on ‘stuff’ and ‘possessions’ any more so I’ve struggled to think of 3 things that would go on the shelf.

I would definitely include my childhood teddy. He’s been through everything with me and he’s not going anywhere…

2014-12-16 18.55.58

The second thing I’d put on it is the old cigar box that currently holds my yearly letters to E. Starting from our wedding day I’ve written a letter to him each year as part of his anniversary gift.

The third thing I’d add would be my special jewellery… My engagement ring (was my great grandmothers) and wedding ring, my heart necklace (6-month dating anniversary gift from E) and my crystal necklace (also a family heirloom).

If you had a box labelled ‘happiness’, what would you put in it?

NOTHING, or a note that just says ‘Be Present’. I would use it as a reminder that happiness comes from within, not from external sources.

What do you want more of in your life?

I’m very happy (or as happy as I can be) with my life at the moment but I’d be happy if I was able to have more family time and less pain/health issues.

Daily Life List: What do you do on an average day? Make a list of your usual activities you do each day.

An average day… I was planning to do a day in my life style post like my friend Joy and Toni Bernhard anyway so I guess I’ll describe it here.

Wake Up time… Generally between 8 and 9 am (although the last few days I’ve woken earlier then fallen back to sleep). At this time I take a moment to scan my body and see what parts are hurting the most and the least (there’s never no pain so it’s more an assessment of how well the day is going to start).

While still lying in bed I do at least a 5 minute meditation before stretching and slowly sitting up. Most days I’ll take a shower (sitting on the floor to avoid falling over or making pains worse) and get dressed.

Breakfast is the next task to address. I make a cup of tea and see how much energy I have. Most days I just have a piece of fruit or something premade that’s easy to eat. When I have the energy I’ll make a cooked breakfast with veggies and eggs.

While the kettles boiling (and breakfast is cooking) I’ll do a short sun salutation. Just 5 minutes is enough to stretch out my muscles but it also wears me out again.

After eating breakfast it’s time for another rest so I’ll sit on the couch drinking my tea. I may browse Facebook on my phone.

After 10-15 minutes rest, I’ll read through some blogs for up to 30 minutes (usually closer to 15 minutes) then push the button that sends the robot vacuum on a round of the kitchen/family room and laundry.

I’ll clean the litter trays and then assess how I’m feeling.

If it’s a good day I’ll do an hour or two of work (writing blogs, working on consulting jobs) or spend some time cleaning up around the house with regular short rest breaks in between. If it’s a bad day I’ll put the tv on or listen to an audio book.

At around 11:30 I’ll start thinking about lunch. Generally this will either be left overs or a sweet potato which I throw in the oven with salt, pepper and oil and leave to bake for an hour.

After lunch I have a nap before either doing a bit more work/housework or putting the tv/audiobook back on.

Around 5 I start considering dinner. I slowly make dinner taking lots of rests and by the time E is home (generally between 6 and 7pm) dinner is ready to eat.

We eat and watch tv until around 9-9:30 when I take my medicines, floss and brush my teeth, shower and bed.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful that I’m able to live a slow life. Over the weekend E and I were able to slow down and just relax. I spent a whole morning listening to audiobooks while E was on the computer and doing things around the house, we visited family and we went for a slow walk in the local national park.

This week I’m looking forward to continue living slowly. Taking the time to enjoy the simple things like the warmth of the sun and the sound of the rain. I’m also looking forward to afternoon tea with Rach as a special mid-challenge catch up as part of our 20 week no-buy challenge.