I’m a doer, not a ‘have done-er’, if that makes sense. When confronted with a problem or a difficulty, I look for something I can do to resolve it.
This 100 day challenge is my personal, individual response to the medical issues I’m dealing with at the moment. It may have absolutely no benefit (though I can’t imagine it will do any harm), but it assuages my need to exercise some control over the circumstances I find myself in.
Until recently my exercise has come mainly in the form of walking. Since I began using a fitbit early in 2017 I’ve mainly achieved my goal of walking at least 12,000 steps each day. I simply walk most places in my everyday life. I’ve become familiar with the number of steps walked in my most regular walks – to town and back; a round trip to the local shops; a walk up to the Farm and back. On days when we ‘go out for a walk’ I regularly clock up more like 20,000-25,000.
This, I now think, is more than is good for my leg (and particularly my ankle, foot and toes, which tend to swell and become red and uncomfortable with such long distances). So I’m experimenting to find out what I can easily manage, and when to stop.
To compensate for walking less, I’ve at long last got back on my bike and resumed cycling. I’ve also started swimming again. And (of course! why did I doubt it?) I’m loving both.
I’ve been trying to lose weight since this time last year and had been (slowly, slowly) succeeding. I’m not a large person, and am generally fairly slim (at 5’1″, I wear size 10 clothing), but nonetheless I felt that excess weight was gradually accumulating and I wanted to nip it in the bud. It was going well, but this year instead of coming off, the weight has been piling on. Not loads, but I now weigh several kilos more than I did when I began losing weight, and I’m not happy with that. (Though I should add that my clothes feel more or less the same as they always have, apart from tightness around the affected areas, so the chances are that much of that extra weight is down to fluid build up with the lymphoedema).
Nonetheless, I want to lose the extra 5K I’ve been carrying around too long (er, since I was pregnant with youngest son. He’ll be 30 in April).
A couple of weeks ago I tripped on a pavement and fell (literally) flat on my face and my wrist. I was lucky that I came out of it with nothing more serious than a colourful black eye that gradually developed as the week wore on and a sore arm.
It struck me that my bone density must be far better than I feared, because others I know have had multiple bone fractures after just such falls. This is something I’m keen to preserve, so I have resolved to resume weight training, something I used to do regularly but had let lapse over the past few years.
I have arm weights at home, and have started using them again daily. I won’t use the leg weights until I have advice about whether or not this is ok – I don’t want to blunder into making things worse than they already are.
Lymphoedema leg care
Achieving improvements / preventing deterioration in my bad leg will require:
- consistently wearing my pressure garment once I receive it (should be soon, I hope)
- lymphatic drainage massage to help reduce the swelling. I am having regular specialist (MLD) massages, which are wonderful, and which are also teaching me how I can help myself (and Malcolm can help me). (Sadly not available to me locally on the NHS, though seems effective; it is available locally on the NHS but only for post-cancer lymphoedema)
- scrupulously careful skin care – daily washing, careful drying, daily moisturising
- careful attention to any cuts, bites or abrasions on my affected leg, and avoidance of any chance of infection. I have a course of just-in-case antibiotics to take away with me (just in case…) – twice now I have developed cellulitis while away on holiday
I need to change my hitherto rather cavalier attitude to gardening and working on my allotment. It will be long trousers all the time, with high socks as well, to protect my leg from scratches, bites and stings. I need to be particularly careful when working with the piles of muck I use – infection in a scratch could become serious.
I’ve also found that I need to change the way I garden (lots of crouching, which makes my foot and ankle swell). Luckily a friend, who herself has knee problems and is a physio, has shown me a gardening stool she uses that looks like it will be just the job – I will be able to garden low down with my leg outstretched. I am now much more consistent in wearing gardening gloves (I rarely have done in the past). I will also need to experiment with how long I can work on the allotment – I’m guessing shorter more frequent bursts will be the order of the day.
All of the above should improve my general health.
I’m still struggling with very poor sleep – sometimes it’s just about ok, sometimes not. I suspect that will just be an ongoing issue, and it’s something I have already made sensible adjustments to accomodate.
After a seriously nasty bout of flu this winter that knocked me out for the best part of a month, and after reading about the importance of the gut microbiome, I’m interested in the part fermented foods can play in improving health generally. I’ve successfully (and sometimes spectacularly unsuccessfully!) made fermented cabbage (sauerkraut), which at its best is delicious. I plan to do more of that.
More recently, oldest son and daughter-out-law gave me some milk kefir grains they’ve had from her mother. I’ve been making and drinking it for over a month now, and the tart, fresh taste has really grown on me (or do I mean, grown in me??). More of that in some other post.
100 day challenge
I know I’m great at starting things enthusiastically and then gradually tailing off. This has to be different – I need to stick with it. So I’m taking the advice I would give a friend in the same situation, and treating all this as I would a doctor’s prescription. I’ve committed to myself that I will follow my challenge for 100 days, so that much of it becomes an embedded habit of life. Oh, and I seem to have committed to you too.
Next time I’ll tell you what the challenge is, and how its going. Today is Day 10. Which means 10% of the challenge already done. So far, so good.