Monday, 23 February 2009

Butterfly Walk

The 10th May is World Lupus Day when organisations from across the world unite to try and increase public awareness.

The truth is, if other people - from employers and politicians to friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, people on the bus, doctors and nurses and let's not forget 'Bob your Uncle' and 'Fanny your Aunt' - had even just a tiny bit more of a clue what lupus is and how it can affect people, things would be so much easier for 'loopies' far and wide. It may also be diagnosed more effectively. So all in all, it is my belief that promoting awareness can only be a great thing.
Sadly, World Lupus Day is not top of every one's priorities, and unfortunately this it year coincides with an important date on my Yoga Foundation Course, so I am unable to attend.

So, this is a little plea calling on anyone reading this to help the St Thomas' Lupus Trust by joining them for the 5k walk (or run if you are so inclined). For details:

The best bit is that you get to dress as a butterfly! This would be the highlight for me because I reckon the 'butterfly look' has a LOT of potential ... the picture at the top illustrates the sassy butterfly look I would most definitely be sporting if I were there ... who could argue with those metallic leggings!?

Thanks to anyone who does this.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Shabba Remedy

If I’m honest, I found the idea of ‘pet therapy’ rather creepy because for some inexplicable reason it made me think of the well meaning, but slightly malodorous and decidedly odd ‘cat ladies’ who used to live up my street when I was a kid, who shared their home with upward of 10 local stray cats. I say no more!

So it was with pleasant surprise that pets (dogs in particular) were mentioned in our research by more than one very normal and lovely seeming ‘loopy’, as being hugely helpful in making things better for them. Whilst I acknowledged this anecdotally and it was highlighted in our report, I have to confess it was not something that I gave any serious consideration to in relation to myself.

Whilst I love dogs and grew up with them as a permanent and much loved part of my childhood, Tony and I decided that we wouldn’t want one of our own before we had children. This is because we both see a dog as an integral part of childhood, so in our minds, dogs and kids kind of come together. Like children, pets come with their ‘drawbacks’; not least mess, fur, expense and responsibility. And let’s be honest, they impede on the much valued freedom of a pre-kids couple. So we have always had the attitude, let’s wait for kids to be on the agenda before we get a pet: a kind of ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ mentality.

It was therefore mainly out of love for my parents that I agreed to house and care for Shabba, my mum’s precious Labrador, while she and Dad were away on holiday. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Shabba but he has always been a dog with significant ‘issues’ and not a pet for the faint hearted! If you have read Marley and Me by John Grogan you will get the idea (if you haven’t, you should!), although thankfully he has chilled-out somewhat in his old age. So, whilst I was more than happy to help, I thought it was going to be a bit of a hassle.

The funny thing is Shabba has now been with us here for a week, and not only am I really enjoying having him to stay, I have to confess I have really noticed the benefits of his presence on my health and mood.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been having a bit of an ‘amber’ patch (hence I haven’t blogged recently) – I’m not completely ill (red), but not exactly well either – I guess many of you ‘loopies’ will know what I mean - but Shabba’s constant cheerfulness and general agreeableness has really helped lift me! Obviously gentle exercise is also something proven to improve lupus symptoms, so having Shabba to stay has also meant I have been getting out in the fresh air and getting some exercise, at a time when I would have been inclined to ‘hole up’ and stay in. Dare I say it, all this sounds like therapy ... pet therapy at that!?

In search of explanation I found this which seems to make a lot of sense:

It seems even the established medical profession see something in it. If I manage to persuade my husband to let me get a dog of my own (unlikely: he is as stubborn as me) maybe I’ll see if I can have it added to my prescription!


I am also glad to say that if I was ‘prescribed’ a dog, a good friend of mine has promised to let me know if I show signs of turning into a weird, eccentric, ‘pet lady' whose dog is patently a child substitute (signs of this include cooking meals for pets or dressing them in any kind of clothing – and bows in their hair are definitely out, even jewelled collars are borderline in my book!) to ‘nip it in the bud’ ...

Anyway, on a more serious note, all this just goes to show that it is worth considering everything, and that anything is worth a try - even if it is not something that you would naturally think is for you. You never know, it could work out better than you think.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Solving Energy Crises

As the environment is such a topical contemporary issue at the forefront of social thinking today, it permeates the media and politics everywhere. Now, I’d never describe myself as an environmentalist and I am certainly no ‘eco warrior’ (although all due respect to those who are!) but it would be impossible to be oblivious to the fact that the world is facing an energy crisis and that finding ways of saving energy and finding new ‘alternative’ energy sources is a necessary modern preoccupation.

This got me thinking. On a personal level, energy (or lack of) is something that I have always been preoccupied with too. I think it’d be fair to say that most ‘loopies’ have issues with low energy as it is one of the more universal symptoms of lupus that can even be problematic when all other symptoms are under control. Doctors find it difficult to treat and ‘loopies’ find it hard to live with. I find it hard to explain to others because when you say you feel ‘tired’ it just doesn’t cut it and sounds a bit lame. In reality, the word ‘tired’ just isn’t right and that’s not only because it’s a gross understatement, but because it doesn’t accurately depict the unhealthy feeling I am trying to convey. I don’t think there is a word for it or if there is I don’t know it, but I guess if I was being more accurate, I’d describe it more like heavy waves of feeling inexplicably ‘drained’ or as being peculiarly ‘bled dry’, ‘dissipated’, ‘consumed’, ‘siphoned’, ‘sucked’, ‘spent’ or ‘depleted’, or all of the above! Perhaps ‘loopies’ could say it’s like suddenly ‘all their get up and go, has got up and gone’. But all this would be a bit too much to go into.

But I diverge. The point is: managing this personal ‘energy crisis’ is important to living well with lupus, as doing so effectively enables us to get on with life more as we would wish, and I have found that it has been helpful to use the two approaches being applied to the global crisis – energy saving and finding alternative energy sources – to think about ways to approach my own.

On these lines, here are a few examples and tips that I’ve discovered help me manage my energy, but there are many more:

Energy Saving

As energy is limited, spend it wisely …

  • View energy like money in a bank – you only have so much so decide carefully how you are going to spend it
  • Rest is like credit so remember to use it to ‘pay back’ what you take out – a big overdraft leads to trouble

  • If you think it is worth it, a strategic ‘blow out’ is OK every so often – it’s good for the soul!
Other helpful energy savers I use include:
  • Shopping and banking online
  • Getting domestic help when necessary (sometimes paid and sometimes from kind family and friends)
  • Learning to say ‘no’ when things are getting too much (in the nicest possible way!)
  • Resting well – find the right place and designate the time, and make sure others respect it. The quality of rest counts.

Alternative Energy Sources

  • Yoga
  • Original Source Mint Shower Gel:

  • OK, caffeine in moderation, but they said in the war ‘tea revives you’ and I am a great believer! I live by ‘a nice cup of tea’.
  • If I am feeling whacked and have to suddenly pull myself together, I find brushing my teeth is a good instant ‘quick fix’ boost
  • Eating breakfast. It is not called the most important meal of the day for nothing! No excuses: make time! If you do it every day you will wake up hungry looking forward to it. Makes a real difference to energy levels throughout day. Anything with oats is especially good. Using the environmental analogy this can be seen as a highly sustainable energy source

And finally, remember that as well as saving and boosting physical energy, boosting emotional energy helps you get by. For me, this could be nattering to a friend on the phone or making something nice for a loved one (yogurt cake and flapjacks are my specialities). Equally, avoiding people who drain you emotionally is a good idea – energy is too precious to waste on negative people.

I’m never sure if anyone reads any of this (!), but if you are I'd really appreciate any more ideas for ‘energy savers’ or ‘alternative energy sources’ so please feel free to leave any in comments!