The Reboot

I’ve had kind of a rough time recently.

A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with a stomach issue that was reasonably well controlled with medication until the beginning of August when everything went a bit wrong. Then it went really wrong after we got back from Rome and it’s been getting worse ever since. Unfortunately, I’ve been told such problems are common in coeliacs. I last saw my ENT in May and I can only assume that afterwards his fingers mysteriously dropped off, rendering him unable to respond to my messages pleading for help. Poor man. In desperation (and to stop my constant whinging) my parents kindly put up the funds for me to see a private gastroenterologist, who was sure to help me.

The rushed, albeit fairly kind, lady I saw didn’t really have an answer I had hoped for. While there is an op that could (I repeat ‘could’) cure me, it would first require a manometry.

A what!??

I had never heard of such a thing! She explained they would feed a tube up my nose, down my throat, and into my stomach, while I was fully conscious. They would then leave it there and send me home to have a jolly old time eating and drinking everything that makes me feel poorly – tea, coffee, alcohol, spicy foods, chocolate. Once I was feeling spectacularly sick (and yes, able to feel the tube hanging down the back of my throat at the same time), I would return to the hospital to have the tube passed back up my throat and out of my nose. Such larks! If that sounds bad, let me tell you that experiences across the net are not favourable. Most patients report endless gagging, tolerating it only for a few minutes.

After I ran screaming from her office I decided to start looking at alternatives and settled on trying to fix my stomach through diet. Last week I removed everything from my diet but potatoes and my gluten free bread, the idea being that a super-plain diet for a time will be like pushing the ‘restart’ button on a computer. Once my stomach has rebooted, I’ll start introducing foods S-L-O-W-L-Y, each for a few days at a time, removing anything that could be linked to my symptoms. This plan was disrupted on day four, by which time I had become a bear in hibernation; grumpy, hungry, and too tired to function from the lack of nutrition. I brought back eggs, peas, porridge, Quorn, celeriac and soya yoghurt and felt thoroughly rotten again.

So now I’m back to eating relatively plainly again. The peas, Quorn, porridge and celeriac are sticking around but I’m dropping the yoghurt and eggs for a time to see if things calm down again.

With this going on, it’s been really hard to focus on anything and my studying and work is starting to suffer while I curl up on the sofa, playing about on my phone for hours on end. So here’s the plan: for the next week, I’m ditching my phone. Not completely, but after being called out by three different people for ‘always staring at that bloody thing’, I decided we need a slight parting of the ways. From tonight, I’ll be using my phone ONLY for calls and messages. To remove temptation, I’ll delete Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, IMDB, Gold, Amazon, email, BBC Weather and Fitbit. Rather than losing (what is probably) three hours a day at least just staring at my phone, I hope I’ll be more productive, more energetic and will be more inclined to give meditation and yoga another go. It’ll be like I’m 16 again, wielding my Nokia 3310 with its jelly keys while playing in the road with my friends. Except it’ll be a Sony Z5 and I’m probably too old to play in the road. But you get the idea.

Of course, I’ll still be able to access everything from my laptop in the evenings but this should be an interesting experiment in how much our current phone usage distracts us from more positive activities in everyday life.

I’ll report back next week but in the meantime, if you want to join in then please do, and it could be very interesting to look at the results next week! Could you give up your phone? Maybe you would find it too hard? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

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The Reboot

The Art of Relaxation

Recently I had an appointment with an acupuncturist. I’m not a great believer in such things but after more than a month of stomach problems I was ready to try just about anything. If licking a pig’s hairy behind be the cure for acid then find me the hiney! I sat in a bright, calming room that was delightfully absent of the airy-fairy, plinky-plonky music so beloved by alternative therapists and beauty salons, and I wondered what on Earth this woman could possibly do for me.

The first thing she did was talk to me. She asked me about my health, what I do with my time, what my relationships are like and what medication I was on. After ten minutes she summed me up, somewhat unflatteringly, as a ball of tightly-wound nervous energy that I was trying to conceal behind a facade of calm. And apparently I wasn’t doing a good job of it. At first I felt a little taken aback. I didn’t really feel that way. Did I? Then she asked me what I did to relax.

Relax!?

While I pondered this question, she issued a prescription: every day I should take some time out to do something I enjoy and find relaxing. I was distracted for a while after that with the whole needle thing so it was a day or two later before I really thought about it again. In between doing the washing, studying and prepping for my new job, I remembered I was meant to relax. But how? How?

A quick mental list of activities. I couldn’t easily go out for a walk every day. A couple of attempted sexual assaults in the area recently meant my family have all banned me from walking alone. I could get really drunk, but that’s probably not what the acupuncturist meant. Cooking and baking is great fun for me but it’s hard to feel relaxed while you’re doing the washing up. Was there nothing that relaxes me? The realisation came as a bit of a shock. Since relaxation helps reduce levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol (good in small doses but a constant stream can lead to a heap of health problems), it’s something we should all be doing plenty of, every day. Yet here I was, stressing about my inability to do it!

As of this moment, I have yet to resolve this situation and I’m sure that it’s something many of you can relate to, so I have a cunning plan! Over the next week, I will be on a quest for calm. I will be testing a bunch of relaxation techniques and in next week’s post I will report back with what I tried, as well as a success rating.

If you have any suggestions in the meantime, feel free to comment below. As long as it’s legal, I’m very open to suggestions.

Until next time, serenity seekers!

The Art of Relaxation