Monthly Archives: April 2018

That Old “Use it or Lose it” Idea

Yes, when you have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), regaining, maintaining and retaining your mobility are very important things in your life, for most of us with this illness. MS can take away your ability to walk, or walk far, and it affects your other muscular abilities too. Medical intervention can certainly assist with this, and life can go better if or when you find the best medication for your needs. But medication is only a part of remaining mobile, and physical exercise is another and very important part.

When I was first diagnosed with MS, my neurologist early on, encouraged me to walk, to keep as active as I could, and work at walking on a regular basis. He definitely said those very words to me, Use it or Lose it. At that time, I wasn’t able to walk very far, but I’ve certainly kept that thought in my mind, and I made up my own exercise programme, using Wii Fit Exercises. We already had this device, and once I was able to, I got stuck into working my way back to the high scores I’d made previously, before I was hit by MS.

 

I have definitely benefited from these exercises, even though I don’t always do them particularly often. I always know they are there, waiting for me to get myself up to my desired levels of activity. Today, for example, I switched on the Wii Fit machine, ready for at least a weigh in, and a little bit of action! The weigh in wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped, indicating I weighed exactly the same as I did last time I weighed in, a week earlier. So that convinced me to push myself a little and do a slightly longer workout.

I did a simple muscle exercise going up a level on what I’ve been doing recently, then did another exercise, a balance one, telling myself I had to get 250 points or I had to do the exercise again. This was the Ski Jump exercise, and I thought I’d get those 250 points easily, and then I’d move onto another couple of exercises and then call it a done deal. But I didn’t get those points next time, or the time after, or the time after that! I didn’t give up, I kept going, putting in one good jump and then a rubbish one, or a rubbish one and then a great one … Frustrating, but I kept on going. Eventually I got that exercise done, and gladly moved onto something different.

hula hoop for blog

I did the Hula Hoop exercise, and got a good enough score, not a highest one, but not too bad. I felt good about that, and kept on, doing exercises I often did, including the basic Steps exercise which takes ten minutes. Anyway, I was committed to exercising, so I kept going, ultimately doing thirty minutes of exercises and certainly giving my body a good workout. It didn’t make hot and sweaty, but my muscles all knew they’d been working, and that’s what I need to do, and so I’m glad I did it. I hope that the next time I switch the machine on, there might be a bit of a weight loss.

Losing weight isn’t a big motivating factor for me. My weight is within the ideal range, but at the upper limit, not the middle, where I’d prefer it to be. A healthy weight is a good thing. No, my main reason to do these exercises every now and then is to keep my body active, as I always work on keeping my mind active. Cognitive skills are important, but I consider myself to be good at keeping my brain active, writing, staying connected socially, challenging myself from time to time, and being involved with all of the things going on around me.

I feel I have the best ratio of activities for myself, and I feel I’m going well with my life!

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Mild Autumn Days

We are close to the last month of Autumn, in Australia, where I live. In my part of South Australia today we had one of the lovely mild Autumnal days which I love so much. Gentle breezes, a slight bit of rain early on, and then lovely kind sunshine to dry the clothes I’d hung out before lunchtime.

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(picture by Simon Kneebone)

Hanging out, and later bringing in, a load of washing can tire me out quite a bit sometimes, but today it was a pleasure to be out there, taking care of this task that I now often share with my husband, who is also my carer. I don’t know why it felt so easy for my today, but I know I’m very glad that it was, because who knows if that might last.

The thing about having MS (Multiple Sclerosis), is that you never really know what you’ll be capable of doing, until you’re doing it. You have good days, as I did today, and then you can have the bad days, when simply getting up and taking the full laundry basket outside is too difficult. After having had MS for eight years, I’ve learned to make the most of the good days, and rest up on the bad days.

Having things to look forward to doing, and enjoying lovely days as today was, these go toward more good days, I think. I have a writing related project that is exciting me, and will enable me to do something to help other people who are struggling in another way. It’s a creative writing project, and anything creative writing related is something that fills me with joy. Helping others, and bringing new creative writing into the world, this is blissful to me, it feels like my life’s work.

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This idea of my life’s work is a good one to think about. I know that a full-time job wouldn’t be good for me, it would be too stressful and would interfere with my sleep. I know this from past experience, and I won’t go through those stress levels again, because I hate how my body reacts to that. Weakness and worry don’t go together well, but that’s what I get from stress. This is not something that doing workshops does to me.

With creative writng workshop kind of work, I feel alive, invigorated and thrilled to be doing something I know that I can do, and do well. I’ve done this work in a variety of different places, with people of varying degrees of literacy levels, and it always comes up with some truly special writing from at least some of the attendees. I hope for this, and also healing, for the attendees at my next project!

It’s Autumn time, and my life is going fine!

 

When Good Outweighs Bad

When you can sit down and look at your life, and see that yes, there are indeed far more good things in your life, than there are bad, this is surely when you have a good life. I mean, yes, I have a chronic illness, that has the potential to take away my ability to walk, and be involved in the broader world, that is true. But it is also not a thing affecting me at the moment, and I can honestly say I have a good life, with many more good things than bad.

That chronic illness, multiple sclerosis (MS), is under control for me, thanks to the medication I am taking for it. This medication, Gilenya, doesn’t have such good results for all who use it, but it does for me, and I am grateful about that. And this idea of feeling gratitude, and looking at all of the things in your life your are grateful for, this has become a popular idea for people to rise above the bad and find the good in their lives.

When you look at your life, sometimes it might feel like a mess, with too many bad things to ever be able to uncover anything good. If this is the way you feel, still try. Go outside, see the sky, a tree, a flower, a bird. See Nature doing its work, and feel gratitude for all of the wonderful things that Nature does. Does Nature care? Maybe not, but the wonderful things will go on happening anyway.

When you start looking at the good things to be grateful for (and I recommend you do this often), then you will find it easier and easier to find the good things in your life, and the bad things will fall away to the background, or maybe even disappear completely. This is how the good can outweigh the bad. Good things can help you to continue on with things you have started, while focusing on the bad things may convince you to give up even trying to get them done.

Good things make it easier for you to smile, and if you smile, that makes it easier for other people to like you, and for you to like yourself. More people liking you means more people will be willing to help you if you need help with anything. More people who like you means more friends, and more friends means more fun!

“But more friends means more people demanding things from me,” you might think. But when you are your own best friend, you can value yourself properly, and learn how to say no if anyone asks too much from you, or you can’t go or do what they want, or even if you simply don’t want to do something. Best friends don’t force their friends to do things like that, so being your own best friend, well that’s a very good thing!

 

Living a Good Life

Is living a good life the answer to it all? And if it is, what is ‘a good life’ anyway? Two good questions and I can only hope I have the answers. I can’t answer for everyone, just for myself, and I can honestly say I feel I am certainly living a good life. I’ll talk about why, and others can decide for themselves whether my life is a good life.

First up is this thing that I have, that many might say vcould prevent the living of a good life. I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Bang – surely that prevents the possibility of a good life? No actually. MS if it is hitting a person hard, can causing them to lose their mobility, so they are stuck in a wheelchair, that would make the good life much harder to attain.

But having a medication that works well for you, that makes it much easier to find that good life. Having finances and relationships under control are important too, as are eating a nutritionally good diet, and getting some exercise. Having things to look forward to in life, that’s another important thing, and feeling that you are important in the world, either because you have a job that satisfies you and that you do well, or because your family love you and feel you are important in their lives.

If you can have these things with no stress, that is an excellent thing in life. I feel that living a stress-free life is perhaps the most important thing there is in life. When things are going well, and you feel untroubled, your body can function well, especially if you are doing the exercise and eating well with it.

I do a mindfulness nedication from time to time, taking moments to be at one with Nature, breathing in the good, and breathing out the bad, mindfully being at peace with the sky, the trees, with myself. Breathing in slowly, and out slowly, just for a few minutes, when I think of it, it all adds up to a stress-free time, which further leads to more stress-free time, and so onto a stress-free life.

I feel I am important to my family, my close friends, and my wider circle of acquaintances, and of course I’m important to my sweetest friend, our dog Missy! IMAG0272She has a chronic illness of her own, Canine Dry Eye, which needs treatment morning and night. This is my most important role in her life, and I certainly feel important because I can do this for her, putting drops into her troubled eyes. Missy recently had medical treatment, and needs more soon, having a cared for pet brings these things, as they age. Missy will get the help she needs, for as long as we are able to provide it, and if it becomes too difficult, we honestly know we’ve done our best for her.

Pets can bring much joy into our lives, and certainly having dogs in my life for the past thirty years has been a wonderful thing. My illness has been with me for the past ten years, but the dogs have been with me for much longer, and so my good life is certainly helped by having the wonderful dogs I’ve shared my life with.

Other people have other ways to live a good life, I’d love to hear about it, leave a comment here!