I admit I could be a carbohydrate addict. I could quite happily live on fresh breads, home-made pasta, buttered potatoes and sticky rice but especially soft bagels, warm cakes and chewy cookies. I have been weaned off excessive carb consumption by nutritional education and my tight jeans!
“There’s no place like home” repeats Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, tapping her little sparkly red shoes . Here I am in Oz and I’m so aware that home is where I want to be. When it’s raining on a cold Sunday afternoon home is where the hearth is warm and the kettle boils ready for tea. When your feet ache from shopping all day home beckons with the opportunity to rest up on a long sofa. After a wonderful evening with friends my bed invites me to languish cozily under the covers but it’s important to get out.
We are all homing pigeons, each of us stack up memories that revolve around our homes and families. We can be ourselves in the privacy of our own homes. Our kitchens reflect our tastes, our decor reflects our personalities and our lifestyle is reflected in all our interior choices. Homes are unique, intimate and wholly our own space. We can hide from the world, we can rejuvenate, we can rest and recuperate, we can prepare ourselves and gird ourselves for our next challenge.
We all know that good food is important …..lots of green vegetables, salads and fresh fruit. I met an aged tortoise that reminded me of that fact recently at Singapore Zoo but there is another important factor to human longevity – exercise!
Taking care of ourselves is imperative and when healthy choices are incorporated into our everyday routines then well-being blooms.
Emily attends therapy sessions at Walk On in Lidcombe, aquatic-physiotherapy whenever possible and scheduled time in her standing frame amongst other exercises. These activities constitute an important aspect of her health and fitness routine. As her carer I must prioritize my health with similar vigor as being unfit would compromise my ability to give care. Essentially we all need to be robust with added vigor to meet the challenges of our active everyday roles. Continue reading
I had time to read this week about how to cope in a crisis. One helpful book quoted insight-fully that focusing on the traumatic cause of disabling injury can prolong mental suffering. Focusing on what I can do to improve the situation keeps me moving forward towards an adapted future. Preoccupation with the genesis of a disability can be at the cost of my own post trauma reformation, growth and development. It is better to concentrate on the healing process, recovery, rehabilitation and facilitate new aspirations and goals. Continue reading
I was up at dawn and cycling energetically with my chum; up hills, down slopes and around bends. My Strava (iphone app that plots course and speed) was on and we were loving the fresh bright morning. We arrived, puce and sweaty, at our local cafe for our regular coffee fix where we were greeted by a blackboard notice telling us “Never give up!”
I love lists, I make lists for Monday, I write lists for Woolworths, I mark on my hand, to remind me with a single letter, of something I would otherwise forget for another week. But did I miss the memo telling social media that all articles have to devise their contents into an ultimate list of ten? I wish life could be addressed with a list, a top ten easy steps to everything or ten bullet points for life! Now I am enlightened into the magic significance of ten I am trying to tackle all things in sub ten. I can’t lay off listing but I can attempt shorter lists; brief, succinct notelets to myself, it’s a challenge but I set about it with my healthy diet for SCI and carer piece below.
I was reading about making every calorie count which is important in a SCI diet as fewer calories are needed during a regular day. Eating healthy ingredients maximizes benefits within the daily allowances. I was reading avidly about ingredients that would enrich a diet without overdosing on calories. In one article it declared the benefits of antioxidants which help lower the risk of stroke according to research published in the journal Neurology but the article didn’t give any actual antioxidant examples. I delved further and looked up antioxidants in food; Google gave me a list of ten which included: Purple, Red, and Blue Grapes, Blueberries, Red Berries, Nuts, Dark Green Veggies, Sweet Potatoes and Orange Vegetables, Tea, Whole Grains, Beans, Fish. A pattern was beginning to emerge along with lists always coming in ten, the super-foods, antioxidants and healthy choices overlapped.
I have compiled my own list although mine only runs to six, as I endeavour to rebel against the number ten. The foods below are an amalgamation included in many of the lists beneficial to us all in our diets.
- Tomatoes – high in important antioxidants such as vitamin C and Vitamin A
- Salmon – packed with omega – 3 fatty acids
- Oats – our daily intake can slash the risk of heart related conditions and stroke by at least 15 – 20% reports a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- Berries – higher intake of berries can reduce the risk of heart disease by a third – Nurses’ Health Study in the US
- Yogurt – according to a study in the Nutrition Research journal yogurt eaters, who eat at least one serving a week, have healthier diets and are less likely to be nutrient deficient.
- Broccoli – high In vitamin C and K . As an anti inflammatory compound it has been found to slow down the wear and tear of joint cartilage so lesson the symptoms of arthritis. Men who eat broccoli a few times a week run a lower risk of developing prostate cancer according to a study in the journal Plos One.
I appreciate these one-dimensional lists of healthy foods and but life is a complex blend of interactions so although we must all be more aware of our food choices we have to consider our lifestyle to really address health.
It’s the connection between what we eat and our lifestyle that really interests me. I started reading wellness practices at wellnesspractices.com. I read several subjects which were pertinent for Emily and me. I reckon we all gain if we practice living well whether we are able-bodied or wheelchair users. The basic messages were:
- Eat fresh food
- Avoid heavily processed and refined foods
- Eat food high in antioxidants – bright coloured fruits and veg, grains and beans
- Avoid fried foods
- Wash fruit and veg thoroughly before using them
- Avoid heating food in microwaves in plastic containers
- Exercise regularly
- Drink plenty of water
- Surround yourself with clean air
- Keep use of over the counter medicines to a minimum.
- Use non polluting products in the home, phosphate free.
- Use solar sources of energy
- Use personal hygiene products that are free from artificial chemicals
- Support the environment – don’t use plastic bags, support environment friendly industry.
- Reduce stress – manage mental and environmental stress in your life
Wow that’s quite a list, fifteen, but reducing toxins improves body functions and reduces the stress on our kidneys ,liver, lungs and digestive systems. The reason this list extends is because it also tackles environmental issues; basically lifestyle choices combined with healthy food choices. I’m not doing well on succinct , short or brief yet!
So more reading ensured I was educated widely on the subject but reading more and more doesn’t expand this topic much. It comes down to a simple logic; eat fresh and modestly, be aware of your carbon footprint in all your choices. That’s two points so I can rest easy now as succinct, brief and healthy in under ten points.
Our SCIA Walk On therapist asked me to read and review – Eat Well, Live Well with Spinal Cord Injury and other Neurological Conditions written by Joanne Smith and Kylie James. The book is dedicated to Cooper Pulini who attends Walk-On next to Emily.
I was walking behind Emily yesterday and realised our Occupational Therapist at Royal Rehab based at Ryde who designed a wheelchair accessory for Emily in 2012 was remarkable! Her design is still going strong in 2014 and there’s no necessity to reinvent or adapt her original. As it’s said “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but with time things do evolve and change is inevitable as time passes.
I was loitering in the University of Sydney Disability Services Office while Emily enrolled for semester two studies. The University produce various Counselling and Psychological Service information sheets for the students and the one entitled Tackling Change Head On caught my eye as I am trying to address major changes in my life; becoming a primary carer.
I thought I’d look at this sheet and modify its message for carers. Change can be awkward to address and experience with setbacks inevitable.The key to overcoming setbacks is; identifying exactly what I want to achieve, being clear about why it is important to me, and then figuring out what is getting in the way of taking the action that matches where I want my life to go.
- What is my aim? What are the changes I want to live my life by? What actions will I need to take to change. I thought about these questions. My aim is to be as healthy, social and energetic as I can be within my caring role. I aim to facilitate Emily’s independence by gently reinforcing her confidence, ability and supporting her lifestyle choices. I want to be a redundant carer.
- What gets in the way? The information sheet instructed me to: Write down all of my excuses, cross off the ones that are ridiculous and find a solution to those that are genuine. My most used excuse is: Emily can’t manage without me! The truth is that Emily is gaining in confidence and ability everyday and if I don’t detach myself she will never experience independent living. She won’t gain any insights into how to manage alone or insights into the issues that need to be addressed in order for her to cope more efficiently alone. It takes courage to leave Emily and it’s a challenge for me to ‘let go’. I have to accept that Emily might falter alone but that mustn’t get in the way of having a go. I use “I can’t leave Emily” as an excuse although I so firmly believe my own sentiments that I struggle to see it as an excuse. On reflection I have to be honest and ask myself if Emily really needs me around as attentively? I could leave her more often with no detrimental affect and probably more resilience would be gained by us both. The human tendency to avoid discomfort hinders our ability to achieve change. I have to embrace a degree of discomfort, guilt and anxiety when leaving Emily alone to learn.
- Keep it up. I experience positive reinforcement of my changing behaviour; it is such a delight to establish Emily’s independent that I am motivated to leave her.
- Summed up:
I need to be clear about what changes I want and where I want to head
I need to take do-able regular steps
I need to acknowledge excuses and overcome any that pop up in my way
I must remember to learn from any wobbles and setbacks that happen but keep going.
Change can only happen with resolve, determination and focus. I am resolved to manage the changing demands within my role as carer. I also want to enjoy this life journey with Emily as our goals are intertwined; each of us wants a fully active, interesting and purposeful life – that’s achievable with hard work and a coffee on our way!