The A Word: Easing Lockdown – Week 2

The weather has been amazing this week in London and the South of England; I love the Spring and Summer so much. We’re in the 2nd week of easing the lockdown and we’re definitely making progress as a Country.  Jamie and I are very sociable people and our calendar is always full at this time of year so it will be nice to see some of it reappear, especially seeing our family.  I’ll certainly miss our annual holiday to France with a group of our friends which was scheduled for July, but we’ll make up for it next year.  On a positive note, Summer in England is wonderful so hopefully we can spend some time in Cornwall when its safe to do so.

One element of the lockdown that I find somewhat concerning is the number of companies who are contemplating allowing their employees to work from home permanently.   I understand the pro’s for working from home, especially for people with a family where work/life balance is very important and those who feel their commuting years are done.  However, we shouldn’t forget the importance of social interaction in the workplace.  Spending 8 hours of your day with little to no human interaction surely must make you feel isolated?    OK, so you can look at and speak to colleagues on your screen, but it’s not the same. 

In the office you’re surrounded by people with different thought processes than you, different humour, and it’s easier to be innovative and come up with brilliant ideas! Through teamwork and bouncing ideas off colleagues I was undoubtedly more successful, possibly because their ideas were much better than mine but, aside from that, we had so much fun.

I have superb memories from my City life and still have a laugh when I go there now.  I’ve met some wonderful people and have lots of stories to share with our grandchildren, perhaps for when they are a bit older 😊.   By working full time from home, you’ll miss out on these friendships, which in the end make work life much more enjoyable!  I commuted on the 7.09am from Leatherhead and returned mostly on the 6.24pm from London Waterloo, a regular 12-hour day, sometimes more.  Whilst I wouldn’t advocate this as the “norm”, splitting time between home working and being in the office seems a much better solution to me.

I’ve no idea why young people starting out in their career without family commitments would want to be at home all day.  I appreciate it’s not always fun in the workplace, but it teaches you some valuable life lessons which I don’t believe you’ll learn from talking to team members on a screen.  Being able to communicate well and deal with confrontation are important skills which disappear with lack of social interaction.  In the workplace you’re exposed to people outside your own comfort zone and I’ve had some right old “barneys” in my time 😊, all resolved over a glass of wine or two.

Moving on, I write my blog to raise awareness of autoimmune diseases.  I have Ankylosing Spondylitis, an inflammatory disease that causes the bones in my spine to fuse. This fusing makes the spine less flexible and can result in a hunched-forward posture, a good example would be the “hunchback of Notre dame”.  If ribs are affected, it can be difficult to breathe deeply.  It also affects some of my other joints too.

Living with AS is often challenging, but I do find the warmer weather helps.  I’m not sure why as there’s no medical reason, but I guess the warmth increases blood flow which helps ease pain.  When you’re living with chronic pain every day, exercise often seem impossible, but leading a sedentary lifestyle really aggravates my symptoms and this week I want to talk about the benefits of stretching.

When I was first diagnosed, some of my bones had already fused so high impact exercise was discouraged. Having AS means I’m at greater risk of having thinner bones (osteoporosis). During high impact exercise and contact sport you are at risk of hard knocks and blows that may also cause a bone to break. Also, with bone fusion in the spine I could also be at risk of breaking one of the bones in my vertebrae which I definitely don’t want to risk.

Low-impact activities are much easier on my joints so people with AS are encouraged to do walking, yoga, Pilates, weight training and swimming. I do add in cardio when at the gym, but only rowing or the cross trainer.

I find stretching helps me enormously.  Before lockdown I’d forgotten how important stretching was.  We would go to the gym 4  days a week so by the time I’d done legs, arms, core and cardio, I didn’t have a day left for stretching.  However, with more time on my hands I have reintroduced it and it’s really making a difference. 

Stretching is not just effective for my AS, but for other autoimmune conditions, such as arthritis and reactive arthritis. It definitely helps to reduce my lower back pain and if I’m struggling with my mobility, it really improves after stretching.   It’s also a safe option for people who want to try physical activity but don’t know where to start.  As well as easing pain stretching improves posture, tackles muscle imbalances, make it easier to breathe, and enhances overall quality of life so even if you don’t suffer with autoimmune disease its good practice.

Finally, I follow a wonderful account on Twitter – A.A Milne.  For those who read my blog from afar, A. A Milne (Alan Alexander Milne ) was an English author who created a fictional teddy bear called Winnie-the-Pooh.  The Pooh stories have been translated into many languages and I know they’re popular in America as Winnie-the-Pooh was mentioned in “Mad Men” a series we’re watching on Netflix.

A.A. Milne named the character Winnie-the-Pooh after a teddy bear owned by his son, Christopher Robin Milne, on whom the character Christopher Robin was based.  Other characters in the book include Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, and Tigger. This Twitter account celebrates words written or inspired by this great Author and every day it makes me smile, including this wonderful short extract below.

Piglet gave Pooh a nudge, and Pooh, who felt more and more that he was somewhere else, got up slowly and began to look for himself.

“Pooh,” said Piglet reproachfully, “haven’t you been listening?”

“I listened, but I had a small piece of fluff in my ear”.

I get lots of fluff in my ears these days, especially when listening to the media 😊.

Keep safe and #StayAlert, until next time xxxx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: