The ActivePosture Vest – My Trial and 5 Star Review

Disclosure

For some time now I have been looking for a garment that would give my ever dislocating shoulders some support and yet that I would also be able to actually put on without dislocating said shoulders!  More of this below.  The Active Posture products were recommended to me and the company gave me a posture vest to trial in exchange for a fair and honest review.

ActivePosture

 

Background from the ActivePosture website

Posture clothing: all you need to know
It can be difficult to keep an upright posture throughout the day, which is where posture clothing from ActivePosture® can help. Posture clothing activates muscle memory to help you achieve an improved, upright posture.

Posture clothing can be a comfortable and practical solution for problems induced by poor posture, or it can act as a supplement to training, exercise and physical therapy. Your posture has an influence on your physical health and overall well-being, so having aligned posture benefits us during work, training and in everyday life.

How does posture clothing work?
At ActivePosture.co.uk you can purchase clinically tested and medically approved posture clothing from leading manufacturer, AlignMed®. Our products are inspired by the concept of Kinesio-taping, which stimulates muscles, improves blood circulation and can aid in maintaining an aligned posture. Our posture clothing can be worn in everyday situations, whether it is during physical activities or when you are stationary.

Who is posture clothing suitable for?
Pretty much everyone can improve their posture from wearing posture clothing. It is also particularly beneficial to supplement physiotherapy and training, however, if you have a recent injury, we recommend consulting a physiotherapist or doctor before use.

 

 

The Product

ActivePosture offer products for both men and women in several different styles and colours.  There is a classic v necked vest top, in petrol blue, white or black for gents or blue, nude, white, black or burgundy for ladies.  A zipper fronted vest is available in both black and white for gents and ladies.  There is also an AlignMe Interactive bra available in 4 colours.

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The website gives clear instructions to measure for your posture vest and suggests that if between sizes you should opt for the smaller as the top must be snug.  At 5 feet 8 inches and taking a 34 A/B bra, I wear a UK size 12 and ordered a Medium which fits well.  I can’t comment for fit for ladies with a larger bust size, but please be aware that the vest is not fitted with cups.

My vest arrived quickly and was beautifully packaged, creating an excellent first impression for the product inside.  The vest itself is made from a mixture of nylon, spandex and polyester and beautifully constructed with Neuroband support straps throughout the lower neck, shoulder and back area.  These bands are all made from different levels of elasticity and exert different pressures on the body.  I had requested a zipper version for ease when putting the vest on and taking it off – this is because I have recurrent dislocations, arthritis and chronic pain particularly in my right shoulder.

 

My Trial Period

I have had my vest since the beginning of February and was advised by the company to gradually build up the wearing time.  The recommendation is to start wearing for an hour per day, but as I have a specific condition that means my connective tissue and joints work differently to the norm, it was suggested that I use it for 30 minutes per day.

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The vest does feel tight initially and the shoulders need to be fitting correctly – if the vest is the correct size it is possible to feel a gentle pull across the shoulder blades and muscles, and this increases if the wearer begins to round their shoulders.  There is also support around the lower back lumbar region too.

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After building up wearing time over a 2 week period, I then opened a drawer and suffered a severe (even by my standards) dislocation which left my arm hanging low, immobile and in a great deal of pain.  It took approx 2 weeks before the humerus would even pretend to stay in the socket…….and most days it continues to slip out as I cough, sneeze or just move!  During this initial fortnight my pain was too severe to wear anything snug, but I had a long planned theatre trip and made the decision to wear the vest in order to try to support my shoulder – my main reason for wishing to trial the product.

My thoughts

I found the ActivePosture product to be of a high quality and very comfortable to wear.  I have washed it several times, following the manufacturer’s instructions and it has maintained the shape and washed very well.

Please remember that my anatomy is slightly different and I am looking at the product for a different support – but I believe that for pure posture support and to run alongside physio programmes, this product works very well.  I have worn the vest whilst sitting both at a table whilst typing and also relaxing in an easy chair and was definitely able to feel the posture support that it encourages.

I am not unrealistic and did not expect the vest to hold my shoulder in socket or to prevent my dislocations.  If only it were so simple!  My physio has always said that when dealing with my shoulders he must forget all that he has been taught, and instead work with me in the opposite way to how he would treat everyone else!!   But I had been hoping that the vest would offer my joints and lower neck some support and I am delighted to report that it does.  I have not worn the vest whilst my shoulder is completely out of joint – to be honest it is difficult to wear any top – but I have been wearing it when the shoulder/s are in the normal (for me) state of constant subluxing.  My preference is without a bra underneath.  I have found that the top acts rather like a compression garment and offers my stretched muscles and ligaments gentle support, whilst I hope also encouraging the muscles to do a little work themselves. (Please note that I do regular exercises when I am able to prevent too much deconditioning).

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Not quite the models from the website, but you need to see the vest on yours truly!

I have also noticed support across the lower neck where I have several vertebra that have a tendency to “pop” in and out.  This leaves me at times with a “dowager’s hump” and I genuinely believe that the Neuroband support mechanisms in this vest have helped with better positioning and pain control.  Many of you will also be aware that I have had major surgeries on my lumbar spine over the years, and a very pleasant surprise has been that this vest also gives me support and compression around this region – gentle compression (actually sometimes full on pressure!) really helps manage my nerve damage and pain.

So what of that theatre trip?  Whilst still in an immense amount of pain and needing morphine for pain management, the vest helped me to sit through a loud and vibrating musical theatre experience.  Since then I have also worn it to cinema film showings and out to dinner – it sits neatly and snugly beneath clothes and I have increased my wearing time.  It is important to understand that the vest should be used in normal circumstances as an aid to better posture, so shouldn’t be worn all the time.  You must work your own muscles too!

 

 

Have there been any negatives?

The vest is made from synthetic materials so can become quite hot and sticky in warm conditions – however it does look like a “top” so I have stripped off on the odd occasion and still felt dressed!

The ActivePosture products are expensive at a first glance – particularly as many with chronic conditions are unable to work and like myself rely upon benefits for income.  The vest top retails at £99.95.  However I would now say that for a product that has given me both support with my joints and my pain that it is worth the expense……I can see the research and engineering that has gone into creating a quality product and I would rather forego other clothes/meals/coffees in order to own a product that will give me support on those bad days.

In fact my final endorsement has to be the fact that I have been bought some more vests by a relative (taking advantage of the current offer!) as I love it so much!

The ActivePosture vest is a 5 star product for me!

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Active Posture Pin

 

The company currently has a special reduced price for the products and are offering a volume discount – visit the shop here. (Note: this is not an affiliate post and I do not benefit from any orders made)

For information about research behind the product visit the site here.

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“I Need You to Need Me” by Pamela Jessen

I have just read a post that I could have written myself – it reminds me of a conversation that was had very recently in our house.  When one half of a couple lives with a chronic condition – be it pain, disability, depression – the “normal” expectations of a relationship change, the boundaries move as partner and lover morphs into either carer or “patient”.

Pamela writes with honesty and gives some realistic suggestions for everyone in her post on There Is Always Hope blog.

intimatecouple

I’m tackling a tough topic again today – intimacy when you live with Chronic Pain. If you remember the Cheap Trick song, it’s been on my mind lately:

I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.
I’d love you to love me.
I’m beggin’ you to beg me.
I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.
I’d love you to love me.

How do you enjoy an active and healthy love life when you’re in pain all the time. How do you appease your partner, who may not understand what it’s like to be in pain 24/7. Even when you’ve explained it a million different ways, when it comes to talking about sex, and how painful it can be, it’s not an easy conversation, no matter how long you’ve been a couple.

To read the full post please visit There Is Always Hope Now

Supporting People on Rare Disease Day – My Story shared on Despite Pain blog

Today is Rare Diseases Day and I was delighted to be asked by Elizabeth on Despite Pain blog to share my story of having Cauda Equina Syndrome, alongside Tom Seaman who has Dystonia; Jenny Jones who has Familial Adenomatous Polyposis and Short Bowel Syndrome; and Zoe (aged 12) who has Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis.

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Supporting People on Rare Disease Day – Despite Pain

It can take a lot of courage to discuss health issues with friends and family, but sometimes people put their own health in the public spotlight to help others.

Sharing Matters

When someone has a rare disease, there is often very little information and support, therefore, what these people do really matters so much to so many people. Sharing their stories matters too.

Following on from my post last week, Why We Need to Support Rare Disease Day, I’d like to support a few people who have rare diseases by sharing their stories.

To read the rest of Despite Pain’s post and to read MY story please click here

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The lowdown on Cauda Equina Syndrome
What does cauda equina mean? Well quite literally it is the horse’s tail and the bunch of nerves exiting the base of the spinal cord resemble a tail.
Cauda equina
Cauda equina syndrome occurs when something invades the spinal space and compresses the cauda equina bundle of nerves. Most commonly this is a lumbar disc herniation (as in my case where the disc completely ruptures).
The defining symptoms for CES are
  • Sciatica (neurogenic pain) in the lower back and radiating down one/both legs
  • Bladder dysfunction usually leading to retention but occasionally to frequency, change in flow or incontinence
  • Altered perineal sensation or lack of feeling in the “undercarriage”!
  • Loss of some sexual function/sensation

For more information read:

Science Direct

British Journal of General Practice

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

I can never believe how quickly Monday Magic comes around, but what I do know is that week after week I find just how many fantastic blogs and bloggers there are in the blogosphere!

Monday Magic 25th Feb

The stand out story for me this week was that of Tony Foulds, the Sheffield pensioner who has cared for the memorial to 10 US airman who, as a child, he saw crash in his local park.  The crew of the Mi Amigo attempted to land their damaged aircraft in the Sheffield park where Tony and his friends were playing, but when the airman waved to the children to move, the youngsters merely waved back.  It remains the biggest regret of Tony’s life that as an 8 year old he thought the pilot was waving to him, not at him to move, and thus flew the craft into woods where the plane crashed.  When a BBC journalist heard that Tony’s greatest wish was to have a flag pole and a fly past on the 75th anniversary of the crash, he set about making it happen.  Relatives of the Mi Amigo crew joined thousands of local people as Tony watched the US and British airforces fly overhead – one plane for each airman.  Every time I have watched, Tony Foulds has reduced me to tears with his passion and his firm belief in caring for the memorial of the strangers he calls family. (See the full story here: https://www.facebook.com/bbcbreakfast/videos/642676716166370/)

In our household hubby went to Cambridge with my brother who had treated him for his birthday to a Prog Rock weekend….not my cup of tea, but they had a good time listening to loud music (Steve Rothery of Marillion fame) and visiting RAF Duxford.

 

So that left me in the capable hands of my lovely girl – yes, a girls’ weekend! I would love to be able to report a time of shopping and clubbing – once upon a time definitely! – but it was more like artwork (hers not mine) and a film.  The weather has been beautiful for February, so we managed to get ourselves to my parents’ house under our own steam.  Now I know that friends who know us in person are laughing now and yes, it is the same road…..but yours truly had the very tricky job of steering the new motorised chariot out of the patio doors, down the ramp, along the side entrance and out into the street.  Then the local council have seen fit to install temporary traffic lights at the roundabout that separates our end of the road from theirs, so I had an unexpected negotiation and a girl getting very worried her mum was going the wrong way in the road!  Fear not – my driving skills are improving and I was able to report to hubby that we had made it in one piece and then I used the headlight he had fitted to guide us home in the dark.  Well, ok it is a bike light and the street lights were on, but it still means that I can be seen coming!!  But to be serious, I really enjoyed the feeling of independence which I hadn’t quite expected!

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I mentioned above that I have found some fab blog posts for you and some of these are from a lovely facebook group that I belong to – Sharing, Inspiring, Promoting Bloggers.  The first on the list is giving a shout out to Rare Disease Day, later this week on 28th Feb – please have a look at the bloggers who have shared their stories in part one of Despite Pain’s series.  Yours truly will be featured in the next episode talking about cauda equina syndrome – I will share this with you later this week.  Meanwhile sit back, grab a cuppa and enjoy!

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View story at Medium.com

https://despitepain.com/2019/02/18/why-we-need-to-support-rare-disease-day/

https://wheelescapades.com/2019/02/21/12-frustrations-of-being-a-wheelchair-user/

https://ginlemonade.com/2019/02/13/house-hunting-as-a-wheelchair-user-other-stories/

https://yesterdayafter.com/2019/02/19/art-for-music-series-aurora-portrait-new-release/

https://jumpstartpositivity.com/simple-things/

https://youcanalwaysstartnow.wordpress.com/2019/02/18/dont-be-rigid-and-brittle/

https://collinscrohns.wordpress.com/2019/01/04/top-chronic-illness-books-and-blogs-of-2018/

http://angelanoelauthor.com/guest-post/published-elsewhere/out-of-my-comfort-zone-why-i-wrote-an-essay-that-scares-me-a-little/

https://anhistorianabouttown.com/six-the-musical-review/

https://myblurredworld.com/2019/02/24/online-world-accessibility/

Please like, comment and share!

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

 

New Beginnings from the Storm – A Chronic Voice Link Up

This is written using the prompts given by Sheryl for February link up at A Chronic Voice

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New Beginnings from the Storm

The storm within my body brews

Changing the outlook daily

Swirling, drifting, creeping

One step forward, three steps back

Adjusting to the physical.

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What of my mind though?

How does the mental deal with the physical?

The physical is tiring

But the mental is exhausting,

Crushing the buds of hoping underfoot.

Some hope slumbers beneath the pain storm

As the first weak spring rays break out

Warming both my body and mind

Helping those surviving buds

To thrive and blossom.4k-wallpaper-baby-s-breath-backlit-1312449.jpg

Become something positive and hopeful

Harnessing my body and mind,

The physical and mental,

Into befriending both myself

And others living just like me.

Our virtual world of chronic storms

Brings the warmth and sunshine

Of support and care,

The awakening of new beginnings

New friendships, new hope.

 

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A Rare Chronic Illness, A Book Review and a Love Letter – “Leo and the Lightning Dragons” #LoveBooksGroupTours

This is a special post today and it feels fitting that it falls on Valentine’s Day.  It combines a very rare chronic illness alongside a review for a book that I hope you will agree is a labour of love.

Have you heard of Ohtahara Syndrome? No, me neither.  It is a very rare form of epilepsy and seizures  usually start before the age of 3 months, often in the first days after birth.  In fact after birth and the first signs of seizures, some mothers realise that their baby has been having seizures whilst still in the uterus.  This form of epilepsy does not respond well to traditionally used seizure medications and treatment is very difficult.  Many babies will be floppy, have difficulty feeding and suffer repeated daily seizures.  The prognosis is poor. (Epilepsy.org.uk)

Leo White is a little boy who has Ohtahara syndrome and suffers many seizures daily that are as yet uncontrolled. When I was asked to review this book that his mother has written for him, I was delighted to be able to.

Many thanks to Leo and his family, the publishers and Love Books Group Tours for giving me the opportunity to read and review such a special book.

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Leo and the Lightning Dragons

Leo is a knight, probably the bravest knight, and he fights dragons.  But the dragons that Leo fights are not normal everyday dragons, they are huge, lightning dragons inside his head.  Everyone around Leo tries to help, but they can’t tell when the dragons might strike or for how long.  The people of the kingdom and Leo’s parents all think this is so unfair and they try all sorts of special actions to help destroy the dragons, but Leo doesn’t seem to be strong enough to shake them off.  But one day Leo becomes very angry and decides to fight as hard as he can, making him the bravest knight in the land.

This is a wonderful children’s book written with love and personal experience, and is beautifully illustrated by Gilli B.  I am an adult who is able to understand the analogies cleverly used by Leo’s mother to describe the seizures that her little boy fights on a daily basis.  The lightning dragons inside his head depict so well epileptic seizures, and I can feel the frustration that the potions from witches, the music from minstrels and the special food from the wizard can do nothing to help – so often medics are unable to find suitable treatments for chronic illnesses whether this be medication, complimentary therapies or special diets.

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But what of the child reading this book?  It is perfect to become a favourite bedtime story for the early years, with its pictures of knights, dragons, witches, wizards, kings and queens.

But it is also perfect for an adult to introduce to a healthy child the idea that some people have different battles and these are against things inside their own bodies.  This need not be done in a scary way and indeed it isn’t in the book, as Leo the knight shows just how someone can battle with their own demons….or dragons in this case.

Leo’s mum also suggests ways at the end of the book to make this a “sensory” story and really bring to life the battles – wonderful and inclusive for all young children, including those with additional needs.  What child wouldn’t love using foil to make crackling, lightning sounds, slime to be witches potion or blowing bubbles from the cauldron? And we are told not to forget the cuddles!  Find more ideas on the website.

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Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

The royalties for the book are being donated to the Childrens Hospices Across Scotland, who continue to support Leo and his family and many others like them.

Leo’s mum says “Every day, my husband and I are amazed by Leo’s sheer determination and refusal to give up and we could not be more proud of our boy, the bravest knight we’ve ever seen.”

This is a lovely book that brought tears to my eyes, but will bring hours of fun to so many children.  On Valentine’s Day what could be better than this beautiful love letter from parents to their brave little boy – a true knight!

5 Stars for both the story and the illustrations

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Buy here:

Amazon:

Waterstones

Find on Twitter:

@FledglingPress

@leolightdragons 

Website: http://www.leoandthelightningdragons.com/

About the Book and Author

Leo and Mum

“Gill wrote the story before Leo’s first birthday. It was a difficult time and Leo was having huge numbers of seizures every day. Feeling that Leo deserved a happier story, one in which his strength and bravery was rewarded, Gill wrote one for him.

She approached Gilli B, a Fife based artist, after seeing her artwork online and loving her whimsical and quirky style. Although she was only originally commissioned to do a few illustrations, she actually loved the story so much she asked to illustrate the whole thing and Leo got his own ’book’ for his birthday!

The following year, Gill had packed his book for a visit to the CHAS Hospice Rachel House and came back one day to find that the nursing staff had read it and written the most amazing comments inside.

Bolstered by their enthusiasm, Gill approached Edinburgh author Peter Burnett for some advice on how to get the book published. He took the book to Clare Cain at Fledgling Press, who fortunately loved the book. Fledgling Press do not normally publish children’s books but made an exception in this case, to help raise awareness of Ohtahara Syndrome and CHAS – Children’s Hospices Across Scotland.”

Taken from the website

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

How often do you have those weeks when life seems to have sped by and yet you’re not sure what you have done in that time?  I made a birthday cake with a robin theme – birds that is…..not Batman or Bristol City football club (me to hubby: “why on earth would I make a 7 year old little girl a Bristol City football club cake? She’s not a football fan and lives nowhere near Bristol” – he supported them as a child and still does!).  img_0349We went out for a family Chinese for hubby’s birthday as my brother and nephew were here – this birthday rolls on and on. I started another blog post – wrote the majority of it in fact, but never quite got it finished (one for later this week) – and I cancelled plans a couple of times. Oh….and I had several sleepless nights.

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It never fails to amaze me just what sleep deprivation can do and when that insomnia is down to pain the resulting fatigue and drain is even worse.  Now I look back at the many sets of night shifts and then a period working continuous nights when the kids were young and wonder how I did it….much like any other shift worker.  The constant tiredness must be akin to constant jet leg, but without any promise of far off sunny climes!  I did get phone calls from school on more than one occasion back in the day when I had slept through my alarm and failed to pick my kids up from school.  It is one thing dropping off at 8.30am in your PJs and boots, but quite another thing picking up inn your dressing gown at 3.30pm!

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My own blog may have failed to spring any new writing over the week, but I have managed to read some great posts that did make the light of day.  I have found some great new and very different bloggers on a couple of meet and greets (Danny’s Dream Big Dream Often and Esme’s Senior Salon) as well as some familiar faces.  So sit back, enjoy some you time and get stuck into some fabulous reads.

https://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-going-offline-for-10-days-healed-my-anxiety/

https://michelemorin.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/standing-on-the-edge-of-inside/

http://www.christafairbrother.com/my-word-for-the-year-courage/

https://pinkfortitude.com/random-acts-of-kindness/

https://italiangoodness.net/learning-how-to-cook-italian-food/perfect-risotto/

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https://treesmendus.com/4-unexpected-tips-for-living-longer-with-chronic-disease-i-want-trees-please/

https://amykinsblog.wordpress.com/2019/01/20/dust-of-snow/

https://lifeattheintersection.com/2019/01/21/what-can-white-people-do-to-support-racial-justice/

https://everydayaspie.wordpress.com/2019/01/21/a-stranger-in-my-home/

https://spiritualdragonfly.wordpress.com/2019/01/19/growth-%F0%9F%8C%B1/

Please like, comment and share!

Have a great week,

Claire x

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

We are already half way through January and in the PainPals house this means that a significant birthday has been celebrated by the hubby.  I couldn’t say anything in my last post as I had booked a surprise weekend away and he reads these blog posts!

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For those of you who know me or live with a chronic health condition yourself, you will know that planning any sort of trip away is tricky.  The variability and unpredictability of symptoms and general wellbeing can make it difficult on a day to day basis – so it felt like a risk to book a trip away and I wasn’t confident enough to look too far afield.  We haven’t taken a holiday abroad since before I was disabled from work, and an annual holiday is a thing of the past for many reasons.  So it was with some trepidation that I plotted with the family and arranged a couple of nights away in a haunted 15th century inn on the coast in East Sussex.

Hubby had no idea!  We all managed to keep it a surprise and let nothing slip, only letting on the night before we left.  I had seen a review on the Mermaid Inn, Rye on Kerry’s blog Kerry’s Life and Loves and fell in love with the history and photographs of this historic hotel and town.  “How on earth will you manage on the cobbles and all those hills?” asked my mum, alongside a nagging little voice saying the same in the back of my head, but the bloodyminded side of me was determined to enjoy just a couple of days.  Sometimes it is so important to throw caution to the wind and let the chronic illness take a back seat, whilst “normal” life takes over! The inn is everything that Kerry promised – steeped in history, former residents include Elizabeth I, Shakespeare and Elizabeth the Queen Mother to name but a few, and the beams, low doorways and open fires are all other worldly.  The maze of tunnels beneath and around the inn were thought to have been used by smugglers and it is rumoured that several inhabitants are of the ghostly variety!  No strange happenings on our watch….

Hubby was in for another surprise as we were shown to our room – he was not going to be allowed to forget his special age with the enormous helium balloons that the young engineer had arranged.  With the low beamed ceilings they took up nearly the whole room….did I mention that he had also arranged for a bottle of champagne to be chilling?!

 

 

We had a wonderful meal in the restaurant and the staff were all friendly and accommodating – even if they did wonder why this woman who was struggling to walk had booked to stay in really old building with steep stairs and no lifts!!  I managed though….even walking for some of the day in Rye on Saturday.  A word of warning – Rye with its cobbles and hills really is not wheelchair friendly!

 

I still find it frustrating that I couldn’t manage a whole day out and we spent Saturday afternoon watching a film in our room, but pacing is the name of the game.  This allowed me to go out for dinner Saturday night – to a lovely new restaurant called The Devil in Rye, which overlooked the gardens and walls of the ancient monastery – and then we spent the rest of the evening listening to jazz in a neighbouring Champagne & Jazz bar.  So grown up, nearly sophisticated and great fun.

 

It is a shame that I then slept for long periods on Sunday and all this morning, but sometimes it is worth using up all those spoons in one go.  So Monday Magic is teetering into Tuesday as I catch up from my slumbers……but I have found some blogs for you (even one about Elizabeth I) and hope that you will sit back and enjoy!

https://www.radiantnubeginnings.com/smile/

https://helensjourneysite.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/wellbeing/

https://despitepain.com/2019/01/11/how-to-help-doctors-listen-and-understand-better/

https://invisiblyme.com/2019/01/10/12-life-changing-reads-2019/

https://playdatesparties.com/how-to-get-motivated-to-clean-when-overwhelmed-by-mess/

https://www.eclecticevelyn.com/include-yourself-in-your-schedule/

https://notesfromtheuk.com/2019/01/11/professional-hazards-of-being-a-virgin-queen/

https://christiehawkes.com/forgiveness-starting-2019-with-a-clean-slate/

https://wehavekids.com/parenting/Encouraging-Children-to-be-Independent

https://www.momfever.com/2019/01/a-positive-way-to-look-at-january.html

Please follow, like and share these bloggers! By the way we somehow managed to wedge the balloons in the back of the car, around the wheelchair, and they are now adorning the lounge!

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

My Guest Post “Claire’s Story” on Young, Sick & Invisible

To start the new year I am honoured to have had my health story featured on the blog “Young, Sick and Invisible”.  I do know, painpals, that I don’t strictly fall into the group “young”, but Bethany who writes the blog does and is a pretty inspirational young lady, so please have a look at some of her posts and her regular guest blogger post.

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So if you feel like reading a bit more about my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and chronic pain – and to see some very glamorous pictures – have a look here where I answer the following:

1. Who are you? Name. Engaged/ Married Any children/grandchildren? Give as much or as little information as you feel comfortable with.
2. What Chronic illness/illness’s is it you have ..? With a brief description on what it is/what they are
3. What did you love doing before you was diagnosed ..?
4. Are you still able to work (explain briefly what you do and if you’ve have to lower hours because of the illness/illness’s)
5. When did you first develop the chronic illness/illness’s (or think they started – what were the beginning signs)
6. Was the diagnosis easy or not ..? – also explain how you was diagnosed and any struggle you had
7. Did you search the internet looking for help ..?
8. Where do you flare ..? – describe a flare
9. Try and describe the pain (maybe even using a metaphor like (Raynauds is like being sunk deep into ice numerous times a day)
10. How long do you flare and how do they affect you ..?
11. How do you manage/cope with the flares ..?
12. What are your main triggers ..?
13. What medicines/supplements do you take ..? (Briefly explain ones you have tried but don’t/do help)
14. What is your biggest tip for those who suffer from the same illness/illness’s as you ..?
15. How has your illness/illness’s impacted your life ..? (Positively and negatively)
16. What has it stopped you doing ..?
17. How has it impacted on your friendships/relationships ..? (If it hasn’t then don’t worry about this question)
18. How do you stay positive ..? – what has your illness/illness’s allowed you to do or become (positive) for example have you become more understanding ..? You might have stopped work but learnt to spread awareness ..?
19. What is your hope for the future ..?

Guest Post: ‘Claire’s Story.’

January 1, 2019

Claire S.

Hi all, I’m Claire Saul, married to Duncan, 3 children aged 22 (boy),19 (boy), 16 (girl)

I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) chronic pain & nerve root damage, migraine, gut motility problems, Raynauds

The EDS is a genetic condition of the Connective tissue – my body produces faulty collagen – so it can affect any part of the body that contains connective tissue.  Normal connective tissue is like elastic, EDS connective tissue is more like chewing gum. I have regular dislocations, particularly my hips and shoulders – I started dislocating aged about 8.

POTS is condition that affects the circulation on changes in movement, temperature.  When I stand up my blood pressure drops, meaning my heart has to beat quicker and harder to get blood round the body – but the circulation to the brain is reduced, causing me to pass out!  This can happen when I stand up, get out of the shower or when the weather is hot/sunny. My hands and feet turn purple as blood pools in them.

Before I was diagnosed I loved my job as a palliative care nurse, I loved socialising  & hosting dinner parties – dancing and going to yoga classes! I am not able to work – I was a palliative care nurse, but due to the chronic back and leg pain was medically retired due to disability.

EDS is genetic so I had signs from an early age – “knocked knees”, flat feet, dislocations, poor coordination, pain, headaches (prob early migraines) all before age 10, then during my teens dislocations increased, def migraines, fatigue, circulation probs (now realise POTS), Raynauds and “growing pains” IBS. Aged 21 a disc ruptured in my back and went into cauda equina (foot drop, severe pain, bowels and bladder not functioning) – had first back surgery. Chronic back problems – started here with nerve root damage

My shoulder pain was increasing and preventing me from doing some normal activities, so my GP referred me to the Hypermobility clinic at UCLH (Prof Graham’s clinic).  I was lucky that then a secondary referral from a GP was accepted – it has changed now and the patient has to be referred from another hospital consultant (tertiary).

The actual diagnosis was easy as I fulfilled so many criteria and my mum had gone with me so was able to give family history.  Although she isn’t formerly diagnosed, we can see that both she and my grandma when she was alive have symptoms.  I was given a diagnosis very quickly,  but no support or follow up – was told that my management needed to be local.

But the time it took to join the dots of various illnesses was not easy. I was finally diagnosed aged 42

To read the rest of my answers to Bethany’s questions visit Young, Sick & Invisible here!

Thank you so much to Bethany for having me as a guest blogger!

 

Old Year, New Year and being a Versatile Blogger

A few weeks back I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by the wonderful Nikki, the Brainless Blogger.

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I met her on the “chronic illness” circuit – have a look at her site The Brainless Blogger here – but she also writes fantasy fiction and you can find some of her work under her pen name Lil Hamilton.  I think you will agree her own Versatile Blogger award is very well deserved.  Thank you, Nikki, so much for nominating me!

THE RULES:

1. If you are nominated, congratulations – you have been awarded the Versatile blogger award! 

2. Thank the person who gave you the award and include a link to their blog.

3. Select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. 

4. Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.

 5. Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself. 

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At the beginning of the New Year many bloggers reflect on the year that has just gone before and think ahead to set goals and/or resolutions for the year to come.  I thought that I would try to do something slightly different and incorporate my seven Versatile blogger answers with my New Year post!  So here goes…….

  1. I have a chronic genetic condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which means that rather than producing connective tissue that is elastic, mine is more akin to chewing gum.  It can affect any body part that has collagen/connective tissue.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t dislocate one joint or another, or experience a pain free day but my first major problem came aged 21 resulting in major back surgery, nerve root damage and chronic pain.  Whilst a consultant picked up that I had a “syndrome” when I worked in his theatre as a student nurse, ironically it wasn’t until 20 years later that I was formally diagnosed at my old training hospital, University College London!
  2. I was a nurse in a former life.  It still hurts to say “was” rather than “am” – one of my greatest sadnesses to come with chronic health and disability has been losing my career and registration.  My passion was “head and neck” cancer nursing and later Palliative care – I was privileged to work in both specialities for many years.  2018 marked 30 years since the start of my nurse training and I was so fortunate to be well enough to spend a weekend with some friends from my nursing set, to visit the hospital and a few of our old haunts! img_1650
  3. I am a book worm! Remember the days before mobile phones using a torch under the bed covers to read? I was one of those kids! I still prefer proper books really, but will admit to reading nearly everything on my Kindle as easier for dodgy joints – but I remain a bit OCD with my books as I can’t stand for anyone to crease the spine let alone fold down a page corner! These days I write the odd review, belong to  book clubs and will read just about anything.  I go into 2019 pleased that I made my personal 2018 reading challenge (on goodreads) and hopeful that I can continue reading and reviewing.
  4. I am a mum to 3 young adults aged 22, 19 and 16.  This last year I have felt the most pride as a mum and also the most stress and angst as a mum to date – these kids don’t come with a manual and it definitely doesn’t get easier as they get older.  I guess my parents would agree!!  Let’s hope that the next 12 months are less of a rollercoaster….
  5. I love dogs.  All shapes, sizes and colours.  I am currently broody for a pup but our old (16 years) collie cross Samson is not in agreement with his mum.  He is my constant companion – a completely batty boy with special needs who we rescued aged 6 – and has seen me through the years since I was forced to retire.  He is completely in tune with my bad days and is very protective of me.  We also have a surrogate boy, the beautiful viszla Chester, who we have looked after for friends a couple of times a week since he was 6 months (Sam goes to Grandma on those days!) – we love him to bits.  Being at home, sometimes for long stretches, I couldn’t imagine being without a furry friend at my side!

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    My old boy Samson
  6. I make celebration cakes. Not professionally, but for friends and family.  I have always made birthday cakes for my kids, but when I had to stop working I started to play about with some more ideas and experiment with icing.  The strangest request was from a friend wanting a “Tesco” carrier bag for her husband!!  The icing is becoming more and more difficult though as my joints deteriorate – rolling out a sheet is nigh on impossible with a dislocated shoulder, so I’m trying to teach hubby!  Fingers crossed that I will be able to make a few masterpieces (ha, ha, ha) in 2019.
  7. My guilty pleasure is binge watching box sets – Netflix and Prime have become my best friends in recent years and I blame my daughter for the binge watching!  These days it is much harder to join in with family activities, so it is great to be able to spend time on the sofa with my lovely girl…..some favourites for us in 2018 were the finale of Sense 8, the German series “Dark” and “You are Wanted”, “Travelers” and “Anne with and E”.  We are both looking forward for the next season of Dark to be released in March!250px-darknetflixposter

There you have it – seven things about me, with a bit of looking back and looking forward thrown in.  Maybe I should have said that I don’t make resolutions – I’ve never been able to stick to them beyond the first week of January so years ago I just thought why set myself up to fail?!  I am happy if I can go into the new year with some positivity and hope!

Tagged Bloggers who are versatile and interesting – great if you take part, no problem if you don’t.  You are all still versatile!

Lorna at Gin & Lemonade

Orla at Fancy Paper Blog

Anindya at My Daily Journal

Debbie at Debs World

Josy at A Walk and A Lark

Jo at A Journey Through the Fog

Rhiann at My Brain Lesion and Me

Sam at My Medical Musings

Lainie at Trend-Able

Sue at Sizzling Towards Sixty

Kerry at Kerry, Life and Loves

Pamela at There is Always Hope Blog

Jen at Tripping through Treacle

Liberty at Liberty on the Lighter Side

Arv at Jaipur Thru My Lens

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I could have tagged so many blogging friends here – some are other chronic illness bloggers, others I have met in groups or follow.

Enjoy and have a very Happy New Year!