Archive for ‘Health and Wellness’

September 28, 2017

#539 – #RABlogWeek: Day 4 – Hobbies

 

BeachEve

A hobby is defined as an activity done in one’s leisure time for pleasure. Most of my hobbies have been active ones. Racquetball, alpine and nordic skiing, cycling, travel, rambling and roaming, camping, wind-surfing and of course, swimming.

When I lived in smaller cities in Ontario and Manitoba, I used to get in the car and see where the road would take me.

Some hobbies were short-lived. I took up knitting and drawing while I recuperated from my surgeries.  Other hobbies morphed into work. In my teens and twenties I life-guarded and taught swimming. An interest in languages led to a B.Ed. and a job spanning 3 provinces teaching FSL (French as a 2nd Language) and ESL (English as a 2nd Language).

As the years progress and I tally more years with RA than without, a number of activities I love have fallen away.

During the last 10 years, or so, you’ll have noticed that I rarely invite you for dinner. If I do, it’s usually a pot-luck. The house has probably not had the white glove treatment, although it’s not terrible-horrible.

I do have some constants that have kept me in shape and entertained me for most of my life  – swimming, walking and reading. Lately, I’ve taken to watching old movies and foreign films. Over the course of the winter, I think we watched every Academy Award winner for Best Picture. Live music is a favourite, too. Being on, in or near water will always feature in my life.

Since being diagnosed, I have always focused on living the best possible life that I can. My disease is a part of me. I cannot change that, so instead I focus on how to live fully alongside it.  I have learned to adapt my hobbies to my abilities and my abilities to my hobbies.

If I spend my time thinking about RA and its manifestations and ramifications, I feel worse. When I cultivate my hobbies and interests I find that it brings about a shift in the wind, which provides a breath of fresh air that prevents me from having a suffocating sense of futility and “Why-me?” Yes, sometimes those winds of change are the gale force of a hurricane and all you can do is hang on until the storm passes. And it does.

Hobbies add breadth and depth to your life. They serve as an invaluable distraction from life with RA. They move you out of yourself into the community and give you something to share with others.

Life changes in living arrangements, friends, family, work and health can bring about changes in hobbies. The friend you used to go to ___________ with may have moved away. Your finances may force you into quitting that expensive, but well-loved activity. Family commitments may mean you no longer have time for __________. Health concerns may mean you can no longer do things like skiing, windsurfing and cycling.

Rather than giving up, you find a new group of friends. Discover a more budget-friendly hobby. See about getting help for your family commitments. When it comes to health, RA in particular, you cast out to see what other hobbies can catch your interest. The possibilities are as vast as the Seven Seas. Make it a good day to go fishing and see which hobbies you can reel in and enjoy.

 

 

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September 8, 2017

#535 – Your Input, Please

I’m working on an article for HealthCentral about Breaking Rules with Chronic Illness. My topic will explore how your rules for living change when you have a chronic illness, or have they?

Lene Andersen explains:

As a society, we have a norm, an average, and this determines how we react to each other. For instance, if you are having a meeting with your boss, showing up in ripped jeans and a cropped shirt is not likely to enhance your promotion chances. Adults are expected to work, couples are expected to marry and live in the same home, and we are all expected to say please and thank you. Not following those rules can bring censure by others and possibly societal stigmatization.

When you have a chronic illness, you find out that there are a whole lot of unspoken rules regarding health that you didn’t know about. Which makes sense — when you’re a healthy, able-bodied person, you’re not navigating those implicit commands of the chronic illness world we live in. Throughout September, we will be exploring what it’s like to be a rule breaker, the consequences we face, and how to cope.

I’d love to hear your comments about the rules you have now that you have a chronic illness, versus those pre-diagnosis:

  • Do you have rules?
  • Do other people have rules or expectations of you?
  • How have either of them changed since your diagnosis?
  • What happens if you break a rule? How do you feel?
  • How has this impacted you, your loved ones, your colleagues, etc.?

Please feel free to email me to add your input.

Please share this post if you know someone who might like to comment. Thank you in advance for passing it along.

August 24, 2017

#532 – What to Do at the Beach When You Have RA #4

BeachZone

Put away your phone. Put down your book. Stop chatting.

For the next few minutes get into the zone. Let yourself be transported by the grace of nature into a place that resonates with the beat of your heart.

To do:

  1. Go to your favourite beach.
  2. Get comfy, either on the sand, a chair, the dock or a log.
  3. Pause.
  4. Exhale slowly to the count of 5 or 6.
  5. Inhale slowly to the count of 5 or 6.
  6. Establish a nice smooth rhythm which you will continue for Steps 7 to 10.
  7. Gently shift your attention to your hearing. Notice the symphony of sounds such as the water lapping along the shore, the wind whistling in your ears, the birds singing, etc.
  8. Next, pay attention to what you see. Nature has provided a living landscape for you to enjoy. Notice the colours, the light, the patterns, etc.
  9. Finally, notice your breath. How do you feel? Is there any tightness anywhere? What does the sand feel like under your feet? How does it feel when the sun kisses your skin? Perhaps your feet are being massaged by the water at the shore – what does that feel like? Has your mind quieted down? Do you feel more peaceful?
  10. Repeat often.

 

 

 

 

July 2, 2017

#527 – Take Regular Doses of Humour Medicine

Laughter is medicine. Chronic pain can break your funny bone, so it’s important to get a regular dose of humour medicine where and when you can.

Patch Adams, the real one upon whom the movie Patch Adams was based, recognized the value of humour in treating patients, or in his terms, “people”.

 

 

While I don’t have coulrophobia (fear of clowns), I certainly don’t like them. Apologies to Patch and Gary. That’s one type of medicine you’d have to hold me down for, which could very well lead me to develop coulrophobia if that happened!

According to neuroscientist Sophie Scott, on the Ted Talk, Why We Laugh, laughter is always meaningful. Here’s some fascinating insight on laughter:

 

 

For the record, the pool stunt did not make me laugh. I could feel that pain. It’s simply not my type of humour.

 

Open wide – and laugh

YouTube is my go-to place when I need a quick fix of humour medicine.

Here are a few that have me laughing:

 

 

 

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