Tag: arthritis

My Holiday with Stan – in Beautiful Albufeira

I have wanted to travel more for a long time.  Most of my ‘holidays’ for the past 20 years have been about visiting family and friends and exploring Ireland prior to our big move.

Now, don’t get me wrong I am not complaining.  I love my regular trips back to South Africa (of course stopping off in Dubai as often as I can), but I longed for a holiday that was simply that.  A trip where my choices included exploring, resting and simply being present –in a beautiful place.

This January I escaped the cold and wet in Ireland and travelled to Albufeira in the Algarve along the stunning Portuguese coast.  It was a package deal from Love Holidays and I can honestly say that it was money well spent.

So who is Stan?

Well you might be thinking he is a real life man, but he isn’t.  Stan is my walking stick.  I had to start using a stick last year after having a terrible fall which resulted in concussion as well as some other complications.  I actually fell twice.  It seemed that I didn’t understand concussion and went out a couple of days later and simply crumpled like a crisp packet on the pavement.

I suffer from quite severe arthritis which affects my hands, knees and feet.  This is complicated by other auto-immune diseases that affect my fatigue levels and my balance.  Hence the addition of Stan to my life.  Stan is sexy, or so my Mom tells me.  I have chosen a beautiful paisley design and tried to inject some personality into my stick.

Onwards to Albufeira

We flew from Dublin, and chose to drive up from Galway early in the morning and park at the long-term parking.  Note to self – book this in advance it is much cheaper!   I most often fly using the passenger assist option.  As I had a companion (as well as Stan), I tried the regular way and managed fine.  I think it helped that the airports were not that busy.   Soon we were on the Aer Lingus plane drinking a cup of Barry’s tea and chatting away about all the adventures to be had in the Algarve.

Our transfer was easy enough to find and soon we were whizzing through orange groves on the way to Albufeira.  The sky was bright blue which was a stark contrast to the Irish grey we had left behind.

I was not expecting a luxury hotel, that isn’t what we booked.  What I was looking for was clean and comfortable.  At the Eirasol apartments we got exactly that.  A really friendly welcome and a sparkling clean apartment which was so well located, but more about that later.

Pain and Portugal

I am in pain most of the time.  My arthritis means that life is a game where you get different pills and potions and try them to relieve the pain.  I had heard that the weather could make a difference, but I was sceptical.  Very hot weather makes my joints swell.

The Portuguese winter was just right.  Like Goldilocks I felt that I had found a temperature that worked for me.  Within 12 hours I could feel a difference and within 24 I realised that I hadn’t taken a pain-killer for a whole day!

Simply having lower pain levels gave me more energy and also made me feel brave enough to get out and do things.

The simple things – travel on a budget

Our trip was a budget trip.  We didn’t have the funds for expensive tours or lots of eating out, but we were determined to enjoy ourselves.

The beach was a top priority so we set out to find our way to the see walking though cobbled streets (with Stan to ensure that there was no chance of falling).  The beach when we found it was sublime.  Blue sky, a long stretch of golden sand as far as the eye could see and turquoise glistening sea with frothy white waves.  As I was a bit tired from the walk, we simply sat and gazed.  Eventually the call of the sand and sea was enough and we started walking.

Dodging in and out of the surf, with my dress hitched up into my knickers we ambled along.  Picking up shells to admire, we chatted with other fellow beach walkers.  If you told me when we set off that I would be able to walk from our starting point to the old town I would have laughed.  I did though, I plodded along and was very grateful to Stan for his help.

Albufeira is very hilly, but the clever people who have developed this town have taken everything into account.  There are escalators that take you up or down to the beach!  How cool is that?

After our long walk we treated ourselves to and ice-cold beer at the seafront.  We then wandered through the old town before taking the escalators up the hill and taking a tuk tuk ride back to the apartment.  I felt giddy speeding down hills with my hair tangled behind me.

Taking time to be present and enjoy the special moments in Albufeira

Every day was special.  I like the idea of the open-topped buses as I think it is a great way of getting to know a place.  Our tour was two hours long, but definitely gave us a sense of what we wanted to see for the rest of the week.

This included some great foody moments, a visit to the local market, shopping in the old town, breakfast on ‘the strip’, and of course many more walks along the beach.  We found a fabulous restaurant where the young man kissing me below promised that if we sat down we would be happy!  His natural exuberance was contagious.

The apartment we had chosen was really conveniently located and in easy walking distance to bus stops (great service at a great price).  The beaches and the local supermarket – Pingo Doce, where you could get everything and at really good prices were an easy walk.  Self-catering certainly helped on the budget side.  It was also fun as we explored new foods and figured out that butter was the block with a cow on it – not the other one!

A perfect holiday

If I could describe a perfect holiday for me it would have to be great weather, good company, yummy food and lots of rest, not in any particular order.  In Albufeira I certainly had that.

Although I was a bit embarrassed at taking my walking stick Stan, I realised that many people have sticks.  Truthfully Stan allowed me to do so much more, to walk with confidence.  I am simply content as I am, a 53-year-old fabulous woman who walks with a stick!

Thank you for reading about my trip.  Lots more travel to come on the blog this year.

Kerry xx

What would it feel like to be content?  My word of the year for 2018

What is contentment?  Is it that elusive feeling on simply being myself?

If in doubt consult the dictionary about your Word of the Year

I love the dictionary – in years gone by I always had a battered, dog-eared copy at my desk and although use the computer these days, I miss the habit of leafing through wafer thin pages to find a word I was looking for and then getting lost finding other new words to add to my vocabulary.

When I looked up the definition of content – it really resonated with how I feel right now, but more importantly how I want to feel in the next year.

Content as an adjective is described as being in a state of peaceful happiness. Synonyms included contented, satisfied, pleased.  Pretty good so far.

Content as a verb means to satisfy (someone) – “nothing would content her apart from going off to Barcelona”.  I kind of like that one too, although I may alter that to the Algarve, Tuscany or elsewhere.

The synonyms for the verb content are soothe, pacify, placate, appease, please, mollify, make happy, satisfy, still, quieten, silence.  There are some positive words here, but some have little red flags.  One thing that always happens when you choose a word is unexpected consequences. After reading these verbs, I will be quite wary.  I have learnt over the years that it is important to be content yourself before trying to placate others.

Content as a noun is simply a state of satisfaction, and that is really what I am after.  I am grateful and satisfied with what beautiful abundance that I have in my life.

Why I choose a Word of the Year every year.

Choosing a word of the year is something that has become so integral to my life.  I am so grateful for the moment many years ago that I said to myself, “Kerry, things must change”.  I chose the word balance and started the change that has given me the life I have today.

2018 will be a year in which I relax into myself and let myself be content.  I will remind myself that  I am ok just as I am and that I can take joy in being satisfied.

Three magnets for your Word of the Year

Part of the process that I have developed while following the Word of the Year programme,  which I now share with others is that I try to identify three areas in my life as ‘ magnets’ for ensuring that my word works towards my overall vision for my life.

For my year of content I have identified these three areas in no particular order.

  • To be content with what I have – especially in relation to food. When I feel content with what I have eaten I will stop, relish the taste and know that being content is enough.
  • To learn that I am ok as I am. I don’t need to push myself beyond my limitations.  Suffering from arthritis and fibromyalgia amongst other things means that pain is my constant companion and that I get very tired.  I have always been the person that pushes myself beyond, believing that there is something left in the reservoir.  I learnt the hard way last year that isn’t always the case.  Giving myself a serious concussion as well as other injuries was a big wake up call.
  • I will be open to new opportunities and then choose to be content with what life offers me. If we open our eyes, ears and hearts to what the world has to offer and simply accept, we stand a far greater chance of happiness than if we are continually looking for something better.

I am ready to embark on a wonderful year of contentment.

If you would like to know more about the Word of the Year programme I run (which is free!) join our group on Facebook.  You can also look into how choosing a single word for each year has changed my life by reading some of the other posts I have written.

http://fabuliciousfifty.com/my-word-of-the-year-idea-balance/

http://fabuliciousfifty.com/new-year-new-way/

http://fabuliciousfifty.com/writing-my-first-book-and-how-words-changed-my-life/

 

Thank you once again for reading my ramblings, and would love to hear your feedback.

I wish you a happy and contented new year.

 

Kerry xx

 

 

 

Where have I been? A little life update

Why I neglected my blog

I love my blog, but between one thing and another, I have found myself neglecting www.fabuliciousfifty.com.  Here is a little life update.

At first I felt guilty and then I felt upset.  I then sat down to figure out why I wasn’t blogging. And gave myself a free pass for a few weeks while I got a few things in order.

A little bit about my work life

Followers of my blog will know that I had to give up full-time work a while ago.  I don’t mind saying that I found this hard.  Hard not to be doing what I was passionate about, and hard to complete a working day when it was required.

I am delighted to say that I have re-organised my life, retrained and am now combining my years of experience with new skills.

As part of this ‘new me’ I now have my own dedicated website built for me by the talented Sinead from Mini Media.  Have a look at www.kerrymanning.net, where you can read all about how I keep myself busy when I am not blogging or crafting.

You will notice that there is a section on speaking. It is a wonderful privilege to stand up in front of people and share my story and my philosophy of life.

You will also find some links to podcasts and other exciting collaborations.

Writing my book

I have also been working away at my book  I am so excited that I have now reached the milestone of 20 thousand words.  Quite a bit more to go, and it is only a first draft, but it feels good to put words on paper (in a digital version).  This is a very personal book, and it isn’t easy to write.  It is coming along and I believe that I will make my goal of finishing before the end of 2017.

I am the manager of my own health

My health continues to be a soundtrack in my life.  I wish it wasn’t so, but it is.  Perhaps I was hoping for a magic pill which would take all the pain away.

The result was quite the opposite and I felt down and despondent when I was simply told I was getting worse and the arthritis was spreading.  No magic bullet, no cure and only painkillers on offer.

My normal positivity deserted me for a little while.  Thankfully it returned and I realised that the only person who could help me was me.  I have the freedom to try different treatments, experiment with mindfulness, creativity and pacing.

It isn’t easy, and I think this contributed to me not writing much for a while.  I have no choice really but to accept that this is my journey and it is up to me how I travel.

There will always be days when I dig deep and find the energy to throw myself into exciting things with abandon.  And, yes these will be followed by days when rest will be a requirement, as will medication.

I am determined to live life to the fullest.  Why shouldn’t I?

Being Creative

Being creative is, for me as essential as my favourite liquid, tea.  I strongly believe that when you are being creative you are in a state of flow, and it is when you are in this beautiful place you fill yourself up.  So many of us are always giving and sharing and we need to fill our own cup in order to continue.

With this in mind I have been very busy with my creative endeavours.  I have been teaching my class in Spiddal every month.  This is so enjoyable, both the creativity of coming up with the projects and the special time spend sharing laughs with other creative souls.

Another highlight over the past weeks has been teaching An Grianan – the Irish Country Woman’s Association adult education centre.  What a beautiful place, I can’t wait to go back again.

I have also just completed a big batch of handmade cards for the lovely Filippa of Harvest Breeze in Westport.  Her gift shop is a true treasure trove for all the senses.  If you are in Westport, please do pop in.

A new look to my blog

I am back blogging so expect posts to become regular again.  I am also working on a little blog make-over with a little more structure to highlight the areas I love blogging about.

This is a sincere thank you for your support and for reading my blog.

Kerry xx

 

Infused fruit water and a post Easter cleanse

Fruit waterToday I am drinking a jug, or two of infused fruit water.

I had a lovely Easter Weekend, but I can honestly say that I ate too much.  Too much chocolate (is that such a thing?).  Too much dinner, and even for me too much to drink.

It is ok to treat yourself once in a while, but I do tend to pay the price with increased pain in my fibromyalgia spots, headaches and a general feeling of blah!  Not to mention bloating.

Today I am steadily working my way through 2 litres of infused fruit water.  My recipe uses a lemon (unwaxed), a good few slices of pineapple (great for arthritis and joint pain), a quarter cucumber (great for flushing out toxins) and a good few handfuls of mint.

There are loads of different recipes – I tend to play with how I am feeling and what I have in my fridge.  Have a look on Pinterest for some other ideas.

It is really easy simply chop and then top up the jug with filtered water if possible.   Try and let it infuse for at least an hour or even overnight.  I top up the jug and aim to drink two jugs – around 8 glasses throughout the day.

It is a good idea to do this on a day when you can stay close to home because you will be running (if you know what I mean?).

The one thing I can promise you is that you will feel better for it.  Your skin will glow a little and you might even loose a kilo!

Another reason for my regular return to fruit water is the medication I take.  Although we need medication for some things, it is a bit toxic and there is no harm in flushing your system now and again.

Fruit water was one of the first blog posts on my little blog and something I return to on a regular basis.

The day is almost done and I am already feeling better.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you take up a fruit water challenge.

Kerry x

Pain is my Frenemy

 

Pain

Pain is my constant companion.  It is always with me and after all this time we have become quite well acquainted with each other.

I cannot think of a 24-hour period in the last few years where I have not been in pain.  Some days it is merely a twinge and a twitch, but most days it is a nagging constant.  It gnaws at me grinding me down until I am weary.

I sometimes wonder if there are tiny teeny creatures inside of my bones eating away and snagging my nerve endings until I have to stop and simply sit waiting for medication to kick in.

Each of us feel pain in a different way, and nobody can really know how you feel.

A frenemy (it is a real word), is a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry.  A combination of a friend and enemy.

Pain has become my frenemy because I cannot avoid it – it is closer to me than my partner, family and friends and although I don’t like it I have to learn to live with it.

The primary source of my pain is Arthritis in my hands.  In addition I was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia which is also sometimes called the chronic pain disease.  Add Pernicious Anaemia a blood disorder that leads to neuropathic pain and you have a good cocktail.

This post is not about my pain, but rather my relationship with it.  It is part of my life now, and so I need to make a friend of it (or frenemy).

I am determined that my life will continue to be full despite my friendly enemy.

These are a few of the techniques I am using to deal with it.

 

  1. Distraction

I find that this is probably one of the best sources of pain relief.  The pain doesn’t go away, but as I absorb myself in other activities my mind begins to wander and I am able to deal with it better.

  1. Discipline

I am not always very disciplined but I have found that when I stick to a routine as far as using my splints, taking medication and rest, pain is easier to get along with

  1. Pain medication

Unless I am in a very bad way, I tend to take pain meds when I need them.  I am conscious of my overall health and try to limit what I do take.  Once again however, keeping pain at bay is all about being regular with medications and other pain management aids such as topical pain relief in the form of sprays, gels, Versatis plasters and more.

  1. Sleep

I used to be one of those people who boasted about getting on well with only 6 hours sleep a night.  A wise physiotherapist reminded me that the body heals while it sleeps.  I can honestly say that despite waking in the night in pain, the longer I sleep the better it is.

  1. Pacing

My pain is primarily in my hands and arms which makes things a little awkward.  What I have figured out is that I can do about 40 minutes with my hands without too much pain.  Then I rest – and return to my task a little later.  This has not only taught me patience but it also means that I get things done despite the pain.

My journey with my frenemy pain is exactly that – a journey of getting to know pain and to understand it.  To work with it and not against it.

Each person’s pain is specific to them.  If you have any tips of techniques on pain management I would love to hear about them.

A while ago I was interviewed on CRCFM a local radio station – some of what we discussed is very relevant to this post.  You can have a listen here.

Thanks for reading.

 

Kerry x

 

 

Talking about blogging, and more on the Radio

Kerry Manning talks to Angela Faull on the Chatroom on CRCfm 102.9 by Crcfm on Mixcloud

 

I was delighted to talk to the lovely Angela Faull on CRCfm – the local community radio station in Castlebar.

I really love blogging and sharing ideas and this was a fantastic opportunity to have a chat.  I honestly forgot it was going out live on the radio until it was over.

We started talking about blogging but, Angela is a skilled interviewer and I landed up talking about some subjects like depression and pain, that I normally shy away from. We also talked about friendship and how I learned the joy of walking.

I would love it if you would have a listen, and would appreciate any feedback.

Thanks for listening.

Kerry xx

Treating my hands to a bit of Revive

icarevive

 

I love magazines, I guess I have a bit of an addiction to them.  As you can imagine I was delighted to receive a copy of the first ICA magazine, and after setting myself up with a cup of tea I sat down for a good read.

Tucked in the back was an advert for Revive, a Galway based company who are developing some fabulous health supplements.  I knew about the ‘green’ Revive (Revive Active) as my sister had been raving about it.  I had also had a little sample in my ITWBN goody bag!  But here was a blue one – and one especially for joints.

My hands are a constant struggle for me since being diagnosed with arthritis.  They simply hurt all the time, and I am struggling with flexibility.  Because I am me, I am doing everything I can to keep going, including injecting with methotrexate which is a bit hectic to say the least.

I am delighted to say that I have added the Revive joint formula to my anti- arthritis arsenal.  The supplement that comes in a sachet and is mixed with water doesn’t taste like chocolate, but it isn’t bad at all.  It has all the building block ingredients that are supposed to reduce pain and increase mobility.  With any luck it is also going to repair cartilage, and reduce inflammation ( a biggie for me).

My new breakfast addition from ReviveI have been taking it for over two weeks now.  Last night a friend was over and asked me how my hands were.  I had to stop for a minute to think.  They hadn’t been hurting all day!    Could be a coincidence, but I will take whatever pain-free days are available.

This is a long-term solution and I will be updating everyone on the blog regularly.  Revive uses the slogan the science of nature.  I can do that!  I am delighted that I am not adding any more baddies into my blood stream, and feeling better to boot!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your feedback.

Kerry xx

 

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