Happy new year everyone, wow! 2022 is my 60th year; I never thought I’d make it but here I am. 😊
Every month I get loads of questions, not just about my life with AS, but all sorts of stuff. I do try and answer as many as possible but my response is often brief. I’ve picked out the top five from 2021 and added a bit more substance, so here we go.
How’s the book going?
I’ve had this question a lot recently and to be honest I’m finding it really difficult. I’ve just finished Chapter 10 (out of 32) so I’m not even a third of the way through. I had hoped to be around the halfway mark by now but over the last few weeks I’ve had a bit of a confidence crisis, believing it’s not good enough and that I’m wasting my time.
I don’t know about you but I’ve always suffered with little voices in my head telling me how rubbish I am. They’ve regularly appeared throughout my career, especially when I’ve taken on more responsibility or if someone has been unkind with their words. They’ve been more vocal recently and whilst I do tell them to bugger off they’re a bit stubborn – sometimes they listen, sometimes they don’t. Anyway, I had a good word with them over the Xmas break and I’ve started writing again so watch this space.
Do you live in Cornwall now?
No, not full time. Jamie and I have been holidaying in St Agnes on the North coast of Cornwall since the late 90’s. It was always our dream to spend more time there. We sold our house in Surrey and split the proceeds between our place here in Hampshire and a cottage in the village of St Agnes. We spend half our time here and the rest in Cornwall. We didn’t want to move lock, stock and barrel as our children and grandchildren are close by and our love of football means we can still get to the home games easily.
Hampshire’s beautiful, we love it but I don’t think we realised how different living in the country would be. Everyone wears tweed and funny hats with feathers. We regularly hear shooting and the local deer visit our garden daily to munch on our plants; they particularly like tulips. I’d never seen a Partridge before moving here, actually I thought they lived in pear trees, but apparently not, we see them in fields. Pheasants are ten a penny, moles dig up the grass and we had mice!
Now I don’t mind mice OUTSIDE! But when they’re partying in your loft at night when you’re trying to sleep they stop being cute. Anyway, there’s a very nice chap called Shane who came to our house to have a word with them. I’d never had a pest control van in the driveway before but it’s quite common round here. Shane managed to find out where the mice entered our loft from and blocked their little route. Apparently they don’t live in our loft full time, they just visit at night, what for, who knows, but that’s the country for you. Shane also had lots of stories about rats which I tried to shut my ears to, but unfortunately I’m now fully briefed on the size of the rat problem we have in London!
How much exercise do you do a day and how much do your weigh?
This was the most asked question last year. My optimal weight is 55kg (8.6 stones) but it does fluctuate. I currently weigh 56kg but I’m on a mission to lose that over the next couple of weeks. I’m incredibly strict about not letting my weight get out of control as it would be really damaging for my AS. That said, I’m a firm believer in the 80/20 rule and I never deny myself treats. Jamie and I mostly eat healthy food cooked from scratch with lots of fruit and veg but I also love a takeaway.
Looking at my stats for the last 2 years, my Fitbit tells me that I average about 12k per day walking. I also do weights 3-4 times a week, core once a week and Yoga 4-5 times a week so I’m very active. I’ve got a big appetite and eat three meals a day so I need to be active to maintain my weight. I never diet, I don’t cut out any food groups and whilst I don’t eat a lot of red meat its still part of my diet.
Do you have Botox?
Ha ha, I always get asked this, even in the pub and I never know whether it’s a complement or not as I think people look a bit weird with too much Botox, especially when they get older. I love the meme…
“remember when the plastic surgeon was a taboo subject, now you mention Botox and no one raises an eyebrow”.
I did try it about 5 years ago, it was expensive and I didn’t like it. I couldn’t frown and I thought my face looked a bit plastic. I only had a small amount too.
In my opinion there are three key ingredients to good skin care – retinol, glycolic acid and hyaluronic acid. I use all three. Hyaluronic acid helps in hydrating your skin, glycolic acid exfoliates dead skin cells and Retinoids reduce fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen.
Skin care is important to me and I’ve become pretty knowledgeable over the years. When I was young, we didn’t have the same career options as people do today. I just bumbled along and ended up in technology Sales. Whilst I loved my city career I wouldn’t have chosen it. I think I’d have been a beautician or something similar.
How do you manage pain on a daily basis?
Last question and the most important. If I’m honest, with great difficulty sometimes. I had a flair up before Xmas and had to increase my medication which I hate. It’s subsided now thank goodness.
A year after I was diagnosed with AS I ended up in A&E in the most severe pain imaginable. Those of you who know me will appreciate how desperate I was as I NEVER go to A&E, even when I ruptured the tendons in my arm. The result of this visit was a week on drugs, feeling completely spaced out. The combination included Diazepam, Tramadol and Amitriptyline and I’ve never had to take any of those drugs since.
The A&E nurse explained (“sternly”) that if I wanted to live my best life, I had to be able to deal with “flare ups” and that meant increasing my pills instantly rather than “putting up with pain” and ending up in the state I’d been on arrival in her department.
So, to answer the question, pain management is vital. Self-help is critical. I continue to exercise as much as possible which is difficult when you’re in a lot of pain. I have to use all my willpower and apply a positive mindset to do everything in my power to stay in control. Oh and yes, I take more pills! We’re all responsible for our own happiness and I’m not into feeling sorry myself. I certainly don’t want to make everyone around me miserable. I’m not saying I’m an angel and Jamie might chuckle when he reads this paragraph as its those closest to us who have the most to put up with 😊.
Thank you for reading and sharing my blog. I wish you a happy and healthy 2022 and here’s hoping it’s AMAZING.