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Posts Tagged ‘#physicalhealth’

Migraine

September 8, 2016 44 comments

When I reblogged my post You Go To School And You Learn to Read And Write last week I noticed that it mentioned my having a migraine, and it seems appropriate to follow that up with this. Those of you who weren’t reading or following my blog in the early days will probably be unaware that I used to do a series of posts that I called Dates To Note – if you’re interested they can be found in the menu above. These ran through 2013 into 2014 but I decided that they had run their course and, apart from one or maybe two reblogs – and a spoof –  there haven’t been any more since then. I have, however, decided to do a new one-off to recognise that this week (4th to the 10th September) is Migraine Awareness Week. I first posted about this in 2013 and recycled that post a year later, but felt it was about time to do something new.

Unfortunately, I know how she feels

Unfortunately, I know how she feels

I’m sure many of you have experience of migraine, either yourself or in someone close to you. I was first diagnosed when I was 15 – to save you the maths, that was around 48 years ago. Since then I’ve had several migraines a year apart from one blissful period in my 20s when I went three years without one, and foolishly hoped I was somehow ‘cured.’ Not so. And the older I got, the more migraines I had and the longer they seemed to last! Five or six a year wasn’t uncommon, and they lingered for up to three days instead of just the one when they first started.

I hope you follow the link above, which takes you to the Migraine Trust’s website. The Migraine Trust organises this week as a means of educating people about migraine, and their website has a lot of helpful information and links. One of the things they encourage you to do is to keep a diary of your migraines and share it with your doctor. I did this when I was first diagnosed with depression, as I seemed to be getting headaches and migraines all the time, and it was very helpful to see what pattern – if any – there was. In particular, the site might help those who say they have a migraine when it is actually a bad headache: believe me, there is a difference and you’ll know it if you’re a fellow sufferer! When I was running the Dates To Note series I always gave a link to the NHS website as this is a very good source of information, and their coverage of migraine is as good as ever.

My diary showed that there was absolutely no pattern to my migraines, which often seemed to occur with no prior warning. Most of mine started the moment I woke up: there was no build up to them throughout the day, as some people experience. That made it difficult to assess, but we managed to find a tenuous link to late night tea and coffee, or eating, before some of my migraines. I cut these out on doctor’s advice, but was never convinced that this made any difference. Like most migraine sufferers I just shut myself away in a darkened room until it felt safe to open the curtains again. Medical science has yet to agree on a set of defined causes for the illness: whilst one of the causes is believed to be emotional factors, such as stress, mine have always been noticeably different from regular headaches, which tend to fall into the category of ‘tension headaches.’ Migraines are believed to be a result of chemical changes in the body affecting the genes, and the genetic effect can mean that they are passed through the generations within a family. My Mum used to suffer badly with migraine and it has always been believed that I inherited this from her.

So how can you explain the fact that I have had far fewer migraines since I retired? I now live a life which, as far as I can possibly make it, is free from stress and tension. And the frequency of migraines has dropped noticeably – go figure! Does this mean that what I have believed for nearly 50 years was wrong? Even if that is the case, I can’t really see how I could have changed my working life to remove stress factors, which were part and parcel of any job I had. But I do find it interesting that a reduction in the number and length of migraines since I retired may somehow be related to that major lifestyle change. Next week, it will be three years since I retired, and I can only recall three or four migraines in that time – when I would probably have endured something like 20 in a similar period whilst working. I’m intending to mark my anniversary with a post or two, but wanted to kick off the celebration of my third post-work birthday a little early to tie in with Migraine Awareness Week. It just seemed a good fit, somehow.

See you soon.

 

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It’s Been A While

April 28, 2016 21 comments

Some people occasionally take a blogging break, to recharge their batteries and to enable them to come back with renewed vigour and interest. As this is my first post in nearly four weeks it may seem that I have done that too. But usually when people take that break they tell us in advance, so that we know what they are doing. I didn’t, for the obvious reason that I hadn’t planned to be away so long. Perhaps an explanation is due?

At the beginning of April, I went to spend a few days with my father and stepmother. I had intended to put together my next post while I was with them, so that I could publish it when I came home. But……I fell ill while I was with them, and all plans and good intentions went out of the window. That post – a companion piece to something I wrote last month – is still not complete, so it will have to wait for another day. It hasn’t been the greatest of months, to be honest! The doctors are a little mystified as to what has been wrong with me. I have an underlying condition, lymphoedema, which means I have to be a little careful what I get up to, but on top of this I have an infection, cellulitis. The difficult part for them to work out is whether it is that infection that is making me ill, or whether I have another infection that caused it. A kind of medical chicken and egg question, if you like. Tests have been done, many antibiotics have been consumed, but it is still there! The side effects for me have included extreme tiredness, which has meant that I have been falling asleep at unexpected times of day. Maybe I shouldn’t watch so much cricket! I have also been required to rest a lot, which has given me a lot of time for thinking. But for some reason I just haven’t felt like revisiting either my own blog or those I follow. So, if you’ve noticed my absence from your ‘likes’ and comments, I apologise!

Too much thinking can be bad for you, and a number of celebrity deaths in the past few weeks have started me down the road of considering our mortality. I’m not old – I’m 62 – but I’ve never been older than I am today, and oh boy have I been feeling that! Am I at an age when I should expect my body to start letting me down? I think not, but then again I don’t expect that either Victoria Wood or David Gest did, either, and they were both only 62 when they left us. And as for Prince, 57 is ridiculously young to die, whatever lifestyle you’ve enjoyed. Clearly, though, the fact that it is taking me so long to get over whatever is making me ill could well be related to the ageing process, and the natural truth that as we age our bodies can take longer to repair themselves. In my own case, there are longevity genes in my lineage: my mum lived to 87 and my dad is now 88 and still going very strong, so I’m not worried that anything serious is about to happen to me. But I am inconvenienced and frustrated by being ill for so long. Having said that, however, I was told yesterday by my doctor that cellulitis can take up to 3-6 months to get over, so this could be a long haul!

I’ve decided that I’m going to make more of an effort with blogs – yours and mine – from now on, as long as I can stay awake long enough! And I can see a theme of how we change through the stages of life as a possible strand for further development. It won’t be another 27 days till you see me again, I promise! I’d be interested in your thoughts on this issue, too, so do please leave a comment. Whatever age you are, are you noticing changes in how you think, what you can or want to do?

I’ll leave it at that for today. I have a bit of catch up blog reading to do! See you again soon.

Goals

January 5, 2016 13 comments
Help!!

Help!!

Many of the bloggers I follow have been posting about their aims for 2016, as New Year resolutions are all the rage at the moment. It must be something to do with the time of year – I’m quick on the uptake like that! I have absolutely nothing against anyone for whom this works, but thought I’d add my two penn’orth to the mix as they definitely aren’t for me! So, you heard it here first: I am NOT making any resolutions, or setting any goals, or planning any targets, or creating a wish list, or drawing up a bucket list. I hope that’s clear! I am not even going to accept the invitation from Goodreads to sign up for their 2016 Reading Challenge. What? Would I seriously be a better person by this time next year if I set myself a target to ‘read more books,’ as they suggest? Perhaps I should think about reading the collected works of Tolstoy – the time spent doing that would probably prevent me from eating at all this year, which would help enormously with another resolution I won’t be setting myself. I know I need to lose weight, so why should the fact that it is now January mean I have to take that any more seriously than I did before?

Not wanting to be ageist about this, but I suspect that I am from a generation for whom setting personal goals was much less important. Yes of course we grew up with hopes and ambitions, but we didn’t need a bunch of self-appointed ‘gurus’ telling us how we could be better people and, incidentally, becoming richer in the process than we could ever hope to be: “buy my book, it will change your life!” they scream. No it won’t, but it will improve their bank balance. It never ceases to amaze me that they can shift their wares by the truckload, when as far as I can see all they do is regurgitate the same old stuff with a new title and a changed set of headings and pictures. Maybe I should set myself a goal to read at least one self-help book this year? Or maybe not. If you are a fan of these books, do please tell me why you read them and what you get out of them, as I must really be missing something! And if you are an author, don’t bother, as I know what you get out of them: our money. Before anyone points it out I know that self-help books are generally recognised to have started as long ago as Samuel Smiles’ book of that name, published in 1859, and that I should perhaps have read Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People (1936) before writing this. So they aren’t a new phenomenon, but I think their influence is greater now than it has ever been before. Discuss! And while you’re thinking about that, just bear in mind that this culture has contributed to such current phenomena as the annual intake of gibbering idiots on the Apprentice, spouting ever more ludicrously nonsensical rubbish in the hope of impressing Lord Barrowboy and Lady Porn. (UK version, other versions exist in other places. Hard luck!)

But I digress. The point of this piece was not to have a go at the self-help industry. It’s too easy a target anyway. What I set out to do was to tell you why resolutions, targets and goals are not for me. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, I am in a life situation which I know is a huge advantage to me in this respect: I am retired, I live on my own and have no particular day to day commitments or obligations which impact on my time and how I choose to use it. This may seem like a luxury to many of you as you juggle all the balls of everyday life, but to me it is a luxury that I have earned. I was a hardworking paid employee for 38 years, contributed to a pension from the very outset, and am now enjoying the benefits of that. If I wake up one morning and think of doing something, there is nothing to stop me. So why should I restrict my own freedom by setting a framework of goals and targets to which I’d have to refer: “is it alright if I spend the day going to an art gallery, please Mr Timetable?” Don’t get me wrong – I don’t spend my days lazing around doing nothing. Well, not every day, anyway. I’ve always wanted to play a musical instrument and am now taking the first faltering steps towards that. I’m starting to write more and expect that you’ll see this as the year goes on. I love computers and technology and have enrolled in a course to learn how to create apps. And I still have the whole of Series 12 of NCIS to catch up on and Series 13 starts on Friday! But my point is that I choose whether or when to do any of these, or anything else, and I don’t feel the need to set myself targets to achieve. Que sera, sera.

And N is for No!

And N is for No!

The second reason is the one which is really important to me: my health. One of the reasons that I am now free of anti-depressants after four years is that in retirement I have managed to almost totally remove stress from my life. Whereas before I would worry about work deadlines, about how projects would work out and whether we would achieve our goals, now I no longer have to. It seems to me to be utterly pointless to subject myself to that in my personal life, so why would I? There is a huge body of professional literature about the link between stress and both mental and physical illnesses, so to be able to live virtually free of it is something I cherish and value highly. And before you judge me as being smug and self-satisfied, just think how long and hard I’ve worked to be in this situation, and how much damage has been caused to my health and personal life along the way. Then you might begin to get the idea as to why I never want to set myself another goal or target for the rest of my life.

I’ll happily continue reading about the goals you set yourselves and your progress towards them. But my pages are a goal-free zone!

Happy, Healthy, Industrious and Prosperous New Year to you all!

 

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