Checking in

There is a thing that I do whenever I spent time on my yoga mat, and that is checking in with myself. How am I today? How is my body feeling? This is a thing many yogi’s do.

I’ve just realised there is a 2nd habitual check in that I do regularly. Every time I’m in the shower for the last several years I have always checked in with myself. How is my body feeling? How are my energy levels? I remember the old days before surgery and I could tell how painful my day would be by the number of pain free minutes in the morning. A shower is always one of the first things I do in the mornings and I used to almost always feel pain during my shower. If I ever had a whole shower without pain I knew it would be a really good day.

Tonight I was going to go to a fairly athletic yoga class, I’ve got my period and its not a nice one. Very heavy and quite painful. I had a shower before going to the yoga class and I automatically ‘checked in’ and decided that I really don’t have the energy for yoga class tonight. Instead I’ll have a shower, put my PJ’s on, finish tidying the house, watch some Netflix and do some restorative yoga before bed.

Its funny the little routines we develop. I’ve been pain free (ish) for well over 6 months now and yet I still check in with myself in the shower!

When will the story end?

I’ve been thinking about this blog and what to do with it now that I’ve fixed my hip and am theoretically living happily ever after. Do I stop writing? Or shall I continue? It’s been 18 months since surgery and the hip is doing brilliantly, it plays up maybe once a month for very short periods of time. Most of the time though my operated hip is better than my ‘good hip’.

I thought about stopping the blog but the truth is I’ve not fully recovered. I’m still very unfit and my muscles still lack tone which means that other joints still play up and I’m still in physio for my ankle, knee and shoulder. I don’t have my physical yoga practice back (asana) and, most importantly, I’m still in a process of finding myself. I’m not the 27 year old I was before my hip problems started, I am not a disabled person anymore (thank goodness)… but if I’m not the person I was before my hip problems – who am I now?

I remember putting off starting this blog for a long time because I was superstitious, I thought that if I wrote about what was going on, then my hip problems would stay with me. I think I’ve stopped writing for a similar reason.  But I have found that writing is very helpful over the years. It has been a good way to express what is going on and I hope that it has helped some of the people who are reading it too.

So after much thought I have decided to keep writing for now. My goal in the next 6-12 months is to get my healthy body back, work out who I am post hip surgery and to regain my physical yoga practice. Hopefully, with a bit of luck, hard work and determination then that will be the end of the story!

Hello “Hello Fresh”

In an attempt to streamline my life, reduce stress levels & ensure I eat well I’ve signed up for Hello Fresh. Each Sunday a box of food will be delivered to my doorstep with three recipes. Everything I need to prepare the three meals is in the box. I’m really excited about this as I’m a little bored of cooking the same food each week. I am really looking forward to trying new vegetarian recipes. 

   

    
 

Standing at the entrance of a cave

I’m in a bit of a funny place right now. For years because of the chronic pain I’ve felt like I was living life from the sidelines. I felt like the world was going on without me and I was treading water on a daily basis just to function. For a long time I was envious of people who could walk, sit, sleep and stand without thinking about it. Now that I’ve almost fully recovered from hip surgery and from CRPS, I feel like I’m at the sideline and about to rejoin the game of life. It’s a wonderful feeling but its also a little scary. Over the years I’ve lost confidence in myself and I worry more than I used to. This is understandable because I know from experience that bad stuff does happen.

All of this hip malarky happened in one second because of a silly accident at the gym, I remember that moment clearly. I got hospitalised with CRPS twice because of a perfect storm of events. I know that something as minor as going sailing and walking home can trigger the most excruciating chronic pain you can get. Pain worse than unprepared childbirth, cancer and amputation (according to the Mc Gill Pain Index). I know how to avoid another CRPS flare and I am very confident I have the skills to ensure it will never happen again. But fear of CRPS and hip pain is still with me and casts a shadow. As time passes I’m sure that shadow will fade.

I’m very excited to get back to an active life, but I’m more cautious than I used to be because I have a fear of it all happening again. But I can’t live a life in fear, I need to put this behind me and trust that everything will be OK. I’ve moved to London to get away from old associations and make a new life for myself, its not as easy as I expected but it is exciting and full of promise. I’m at the edge of the cave and there is treasure inside, it will be 100% worth facing my fears and working through what I’m feeling.

The cave

This image is from Facebook, source unknown.

Tears of sadness on the yoga mat

I’ve been getting progressively worse since leaving Mysore. Better in some ways, but worse in others. I’ve been pushing the limits and exploring my “edge” so that has resulted in more pain. But I’ve amazed myself with what I can do. I’ve walked for hours at a time, swam in the sea for 45mins several times and cycled to the market and back. These are all things I’ve not been able to do in years without a major flare up. 

But since returning to Thailand my sleep routine has changed, I’m not eating as well, I’ve been spending more time on the computer and in front of the TV. Bangkok is noisier, brighter and more stressful than Mysore. I’ve been playing with a 3yr old, lifting her and carrying her at times. This brings me joy but it’s physically challenging. I’ve also noticed my stress levels have been increasing as I worry about money, moving to a new country and finding a job. I am also avoiding the yoga mat.

It’s pretty easy to work out why some of my old symptoms are coming back. My joints hurt, the central sensitisation is worse and my feet are burning. Luckily I know what I need to do to resolve the situation and address the downwards spiral. The first step is address the sleep hygiene, have a massage (sort out over tight  muscles) and face the music on my yoga mat. 

The yoga mat is a funny place, before the chronic pain it used to be a place of retreat, relaxation, fun, community and physical challenge. I always loved it as it was a diversion from my busy life and a space to unwind. Now it’s a place where I check in with myself, and feel the effects of my lifestyle and whatever is going on with my health. There’s no running away from the pain on my yoga mat and this is the direct opposite to my old favourite pain management tool of distracting myself from pain. No wonder I’ve been avoiding my yoga mat! 

As much as I don’t like to feel the pain, yoga usually does make things better even if it hurts a lot to get started and it’s difficult to keep going. But I’m not enjoying yoga these days as it’s painful and lonely. Even when I was practicing in a class environment in Mysore, I was the girl in the corner doing something completely different to everyone else. I’ve not done a yoga class in years and I can’t wait to go back to classes to feel part of a yoga community again.

Today after a short yoga practice (aborted because pain levels were too high), I did a Yoga Nidra for 30min to calm my nervous system and reduce the central sensitisation. Suddenly I started to cry, I felt overwhelmed by sadness as I realised I’ve come to a point where I need to accept that managing pain is still a big part of my life. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s forcing me to live a much healthier, more mindful and balanced life. Many people live a life in chronic pain, I’m not alone in this. But it’s up to me to decide how I handle the situation moving forward. I could choose to go down the path of endless medical appointments, treatments and sitting on the sideline because I can’t do things. Or, I can live my life like a “normal person” and intergrate wellness and preventive measures into my lifestyle to avoid getting so bad I get sucked into doctors appointments and needed treatments to get better. 

I’m a big believer of “everything happens for a reason” – perhaps pain is the best way my body knows of how to push me into a healthy lifestyle! 

 

Significant progress

I’ve just spent a week on holiday at the beach with family. Its been great to work on my tan before heading back to work, and I’ve been pushing the limits with my hip. I’m now 8months post op and I am doing really well, I’m 100% sure the operation was a success and I’m much much better than I was 8 months after my first surgery.

I feel like I’ve turned a big corner in the last month.  Little things I’ve noticed in the last 2 weeks are:

  • Travelling from India to Thailand was a breeze this time. It was a long journey that required a lot of sitting and it was almost pain free. I was also very happy to be able to stand in the line for immigration with no issue.
  • I was able to run for the plane (oops) and I can walk with a 15-20kg backpack on.
  • I’m able to walk for several hours at at time now. Including walking on the beach and in the jungle.
  • I can swim in the sea for 45min-1hr at a time (lots of snorkelling), swim 20-30 lengths of freestyle and do some very slow/gentle breaststroke.
  • I can lift my 3yr old niece and play with her without too much discomfort.
  • I’m walking fluidly with ZERO limp.

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Expectations, a recipe for disappointment

Latest update from India. It’s been a rough couple of weeks. I’m feeling a bit disappointed, for some reason I thought if I stayed here long enough I’d get a piece of my “old life” back. I think this was a mistake, there is no going back and I’ll never be the person I was before CRPS & my hip problems. I’m a lot healthier though, I’m sleeping better and I can walk. Surely that’s enough? I can’t believe that being able to walk is an accomplishment after 4 months of yoga therapy. But I’m feeling I can leave my crutches behind and that’s a HUGE deal! Something to be very happy and proud of, so why do I feel sad? 

I guess I’m on the slow and steady path, my instinct is telling me to get back in the pool as my body is actually quite sore and I’m not enjoying the yoga anymore. I feel sad to leave Mysore as I don’t know if I’ll come back, things are different here – but everything changes and evolves, this is life. One door closes and another opens. I don’t feel I fit in with all these super-yogis, I look at them doing the crazy stuff I used to do and wonder… what’s the point? Why do I want this? Prana Vashya is a beautiful practice, but it’s been out of reach for a long time… I think it’s time to just let it go.