Going Backwards

I can’t even seem to get off the ground any more with healthy changes. There was a time when I could stick to something for weeks or even months. Now I fail after less than a day or two.

Maybe I have tried and failed so many times that I have used up all my staying power and I am destined to eat crap and feel awful for the rest of my days.

I have consumed a ton of sugary stuff today and feel not only yukky for doing so, but I have all the guilt and self-judgement for not being able to control myself. Again.

It really is ridiculous, how I can want to do one thing, but then do the complete opposite just for a few moments of pleasure. I’ve said it before but I do wonder if my sweet addicion is so desperate and dire because there is so little sweetness in my life. This, of course, is a conditioned, subjective view that I am ashamed of. I have plenty of wonderful things in my life and I know I am very lucky. I feel horribly guilty about feeling that life isn’t full of sweetness.

But daily life IS tough. We have no family or close friends nearby, and I have been parenting 24/7 for seven years with barely a break and only one night off (during which I was celebrating my 40th birthday, but simultaneously miscarrying, so not quite as carefree as we would have liked. Not to mention the anxiety I carried of leaving the children alone when it is something we had never done – and haven’t since). On top of being on call to three small people round the clock, every day of the year, I have had to pull myself though a birth that almost killed me (I lost 2.8 litres of blood with my first), a miscarriage that almost killed me (I haemorrhaged for hours after the sac got lodged in the neck of my womb, and I ended up with a three day hospital stay and blood transfusion), the death of two grandparents, and several long-term psychotic episodes from an immediate family member.

Through all of this I have had to manage on broken sleep, whilst dealing with tantrums, fights, bickering, illness, and what the fuck to cook everybody every single day NO MATTER WHAT. It’s no surprise I am a shell of my former self – and I wasn’t exactly a sturdy specimen to start.

People must notice how haggard and worn down I am. The greying hair that I rarely bother to brush (or even wash). The creases on my face from falling asleep crushed into the pillow that take hours to fade. The sagging jawline, the growing pot belly, the limp from my arthritis, the frightening rate of wrinkles, the tired, dull, emptiness in my eyes.

But no one ever says anything. Maybe they are too polite? My parents must be able to see me aging so rapidly, they must notice I always wear the same sloppy grey and blue outfits, they must notice the tired, grey pallor. They have never said anything. Neither have my friends. But then, would I say something if it was me?

Hey friend, I’ve noticed how tired you are. How you drag your body around as if it’s a burden. You’re looking older these days and your personal hygeine has gotten quite slack. Is everything okay?

Nope. I definitley wouldn’t say anything.

My son said to me today,

Mummy, do you go out and have lots of fun when baby F is at nursery and we are at school?

I laughed so much.

No, sweetie, I don’t. Do you know what I do? I sit at my desk and I work very, very hard until I pick you all up. Sometimes I even forget to have lunch! But I like the sound of your suggestion. Do you think I should just go and have lots of fun instead? 

And I thought about how much less tired and stressed and miserable I might be if I could steal the time to do that and remember any of the things that I did for fun.

You should text Mrs X (current client), and tell her you’re closed. You should do that on Monday.

Maybe no one else has noticed my decline, but my children have. And they want me to fix it.

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Chronic Pain – Where I Am Now

It’s kind of hard for me to believe that I am where I am. The joint pain I suffer has been niggling on and off for several years, but now it is constant. It is my biggest health issue and it saddens and frightens me that it is as bad as it is.

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in Oct 2016. I have hallux rigidus in my right toe, which means I can’t bend it properly anymore because of several osteophytes (little bony protusions that grow and reduce joint mobility so the inflammed joint gets some protection).

My left big toe is slowly getting worse – I am afraid of what this means.

I already walk with a mild limp and roll my foot outwards to avoid bending the toe joint. I can’t walk long distances and running is out of the question. The consultant recommended an orthotic, but my vanity has kept it away (for now).

My treatment options are cortisone injections and then a cheilectomy (osteophyte removal), and finally complete bone fusion.

What is scarier is that the pain is now in my thumbs, wrists, elbows, knees, hips and spine. Those joints all click and crack when just a few years ago they were silent. I can’t open jars, fixing seatbelts hurt my hands and when I bend down it sometimes feels like the shooting pain in my knee will bring me to the ground.

At night my hips feel locked and I have to shift around in bed until they settle, raising my knees to my chest and back again until I free the joint.

My spine feels like a tower of pumice stones that are on the verge of crumbling away.

Joint pain aside, I have the usual middle-aged mother’s complaints. Exhaustion, inability to sleep properly, irritability and a fair dose of anxiety and probably mild depression (over the state of my health, ageing appearance, and the state of the house mainly).

My body is soft and weak, and I am scared of physical exertion because for the first time in my life I can sense the underlying fragility of my structure.

A fall, a twist, could leave me broken.

Isn’t that how you’re supposed to feel when you are nearing the end of your life? Afraid of breaking?

Not at 42, surely.

I have also been suffering recurrent bouts of fever, chills and joint pain. I’ve had five episodes in the last 9 or 10 months. I deteriorate rapidly, going from absolutely fine to shivering and exhausted within around 4 hours. I am then bedridden for 36 hours, completely unable to do anything. I can’t eat and I shake uncontrollably. I recover in a day or two. The fever breaks, and my appetite returns. The exhaustion never really goes away. The last two episodes seemed to be triggered by physical exertion (a night without sleep at the hospital with my daugter and a full day of cleaning and gardening). I think I run at such a deficit of energy and my reserves are so spent that my body just goes into crisis mode to get the sleep it so desperately needs.

My weight is a few kilos over normal, so I’m not battling obesity. My blood test three months ago said everything was more or less okay (low vitamin D and low leucocytes). My skin and my jawline is increasingly sagging, my hair is greying, I have baby liver spots forming on the backs of my hands, a permanent rash on my legs, cracked heels and callouses on my feet.

But I am, as far as the medical profession believes, absolutely fine. With a bit of early onset arthritis.

But I am not absolutely fine. I am at the point where I am finding it hard to cope with my three children, and with the daily requirements of looking after them and the house (spare me the lecture on being an older mother – that is a whole other story for another day). The constant joint pain, shooting pains, exhaustion and slow-thinking I seem to suffer from are bringing me down.

I don’t believe that the body is meant to fall apart in middle age. So this is my quest to work out what I’m doing wrong and reverse it.

Day 1


It’s kind of funny that my first post should be on April Fool’s Day, but hopefully this is no joke.

I’ve decided to get secretly fit and healthy, and to secretly blog about it. And not just a bit fit, I mean super-powered fit and healthy. Strong enough to do an endurance or obstacle event. Olympian fit.

I’m a 42 year old, arthritic, frail, aching, fever-prone, insomniac with three children aged 7, 5 and 1.

Today I stood in the queue at Sainsbury’s, waiting for the woman in front of me to pay (she was a slow mover, we were there a while), idly mulling over the headlines on the front of a magazine displayed at the end of the checkout.

“Beat Bloating”

I’d read that.

“Fight Arthritis”

Crikey, an article about my worst health problem. Magazine content is definitely getting more relevant these days.

“Cheat the Signs of Ageing”

Hmm. I might have to buy it.

“Getting Forgetful?”

Wait. What? What kind of magazine is this anyway?

I scan the top and see that it’s “Healthy Living from Women’s Weekly”. Wasn’t Women’s Weekly a publication for older ladies?

There’s a flash of colour in the top corner containing text that proclaims:

“The health magazine for 40+ women.”

OMG.

I actually thought I was looking at a copy of Cosmo, or Elle or some other fashionable magazine for young women. But how could it have been? I mean, would Cosmo EVER carry an article on arthritis?

And that’s when it hit me.

The reason that magazine looked so interesting was because I fell perfectly into the demographic. I was 40+, suffering from bloating, arthritis and wondering how I could cheat the signs of ageing.

But mental decline??

It was a shock, really, to suddenly find myself in this domain. Like I’d been moved to a new department at work without anyone telling me it had happened. A department for people who are declining. For people whose bodies are breaking down. For people who are getting ready to die.

I looked at my perky, feisty, rosy-cheeked 1 year old daughter. The checkout man probably thought I was her granny.

I grabbed a copy of the magazine and shoved it next to my shopping.

This is the beginning.