Having a chronic health problem throws up all sorts of issues, the worst being Chronic Fatigue. It is difficult to describe this feeling, but I think it is best explained as feeling like you are wearing a lead body suit. It is not going to go away by having an early night and a good sleep and having a duvet day also isn't going to solve the problem.
Trying to manage such health conditions I believe requires a holistic approach to recovery. Whilst 21st Century medicine is amazing, it is only going to take you so far, and I think I have achieved as much as I can by drugs alone. Diet, exercise and stress levels all play a very important part.
So, exercise - it is really hard to know when to get out and do something and when to rest. I have pushed myself in the past with disastrous consequences - symptom flares and months of pain and exhaustion, and so it is difficult and scary to know when to take on some sort of exercise and when it is better to rest. There is no doubt that it is beneficial both in physical and mental wellbeing and that I need to get more active. I wonder sometimes if I hide behind my poor health and use it as an excuse to sit down with the latest Netflix release, a side of me I don't really recognise. I used to be a 'can do' person, and was very physically active, but fear of the repurcussions on my health have crippled me in terms of confidence and drive.
This weekend I had arranged to meet some friends for a lovely winter walk. I woke up with a terrible headache and my fear of not being able to comfortably keep up with my friends resulted in me cancelling my plans. My theory was it was time to rest, but what if my inactivity is contributing to these chronic headaches (I have been getting a lot in recent months)....the answer came thanks to my dog - she was desperate to get out and her sitting by the front door meant I was forced to leave the house and take her for a walk.
We didn't go too far - just 2 miles, but it was along the canal (I love walking by water), Georgie was off the lead, there appeared to be lots of peemail from the amount of sniffing going on, she was happy and that made me smile. When I got home I felt more relaxed, my headache was much improved and as a result I achieved more that day than I thought I would have done when I woke up that morning. So in answer to the title of this blog post, exercise was the answer.
Only taking regular exercise and monitoring my recovery time is going to boost my confidence in taking exercise. I have abandoned those huge and long term fitness goals which is also the key (I think). I dream of one day running a marathon, but at the moment, that goal is far too big and too far in the future, and so I am focussing on 1 month at a time.....so if I can walk 25 miles and swim 3k in January I will be happy. If it doesn't happen, then instead of just throwing in the towel, I will go a bit lower for February.....
It is going to take a long time to sort out these issues, but I need to achieve remission and so self car is very important. I need to have a couple of surgeries which can't be done whilst I am unstable and I would love to Scuba Dive and do more travelling, but there are large parts of the world I cannot travel to as there are some vaccines out of bounds for me. What better reason for good health than enabling you to live your best life