Physiotherapy Has Kept Me Going (even during #lockdown)

Samantha Henthorn Author talks about her experiences of living with MS

Hello everyone!

A while ago, I promised to start talking about my experiences of living with MS. The series of posts was going to be called ‘If You Love It So Much, Why Don’t You Marry It?’ *

However, this post is a positive post about how I have managed to keep going in the 15 years since diagnosis (so I have changed the title for this one).

I have been really lucky during the lockdown because my physiotherapist has adapted and is providing sessions by Skype. You might not think these work as well, but they do! One to one sessions prevent me from moving my limbs incorrectly (which I think can stop the exercise from working and sometimes can lead to aches and pains later). My physiotherapist has brilliant observational skills and can spot a slumped shoulder or a sagging hip – even from behind the screen. Anna has worked on my core, balance and strengthening muscles that (I think) will help me keep on my feet. I can’t tell you what the exercises are – I am writing this post to tell you my experience that physiotherapy has worked for me more than anything else.

Poor motivation has been a real problem for lots of people I know during the lockdown, including me but physiotherapy has kept me going. I have got a few bits and pieces of gym equipment at home because I use the advice I have been given each month and do a bit of physio-designed exercise every morning.

positive pregnant women during exercise with fit ball in gym
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

Look there is a picture of me doing my exercises! (NOT REALLY LOL!)

I haven’t taken any photos obviously during my remote appointments with my physiotherapist, Anna because I am busy paying attention and moving my limbs…

 

SP Therapy Services, Bury | Physiotherapists - Yell SP Therapy Services in Bury town centre. If you live in the Bury area and have a neurological condition, I think SP Therapy Services can really help you.

I usually attend Hydrotherapy once a week, this has really helped, my physiotherapist put me on to this. I can’t even swim and am not confident in the water but the benefits far outweigh the… I don’t know how to describe it actually – I think I am frightened of letting go of the side and lying on my back. However, lots of people told me that I seemed much better for trying hydrotherapy. And I am actually missing it!

I used to do seated yoga for people with mobility problems that was really good. Obviously, these activities are not on at the moment because of lockdown. Better to be safe.

During the time I have had MS

Strategies to manage the condition have popped up. And, at times I have been asked why I’m not taking CBD oil (because it doesn’t treat the symptoms I have). Or, why I am not following a strict diet… I have nothing against nutrition therapy, good for you if they work. I did try the diet and I felt great for a short period. Then I had several really bad relapses including the one that made me lose my job. That is just what happened to me.

Instead of being told what I should do, I want to ask something:

Are you doing physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is the one thing that has consistently kept me going for the past fifteen years. When I started going to the physiotherapist that I still attend now, I could not bear to lift my head up straight without a sensation of hot pins and needles shooting through my neck. Because my head was permanently slumped to the side, this affected my posture. The knock-on effect of this was a nasty, achy pain just under my left collar bone. Although there is no cure for MS, I have been cured of pain in that specific part of me. But there are always little niggly things that crop up because of my condition. Blurred vision and sensitivity to light can affect my posture because I hide from the light. I am slightly weaker on one arm and one leg. I can’t stand up for long, I feel like I need to lean on something or sit down (urgently). I walk with a stick outside because I feel like I need something to lean on. I feel dizzy in wide-open spaces. Too much distance and I use a scooter. The benefits of physiotherapy are longterm. They are not a quick fix but for me, this works better than anything else.

I don’t mind putting a bit of work in to stay well because:

Before MS, I used to run ten miles per week.

I started running during my late twenties to try and improve my health. I was surprised how well I took to it, although I never saw much of a speed improvement I did feel better after a run. However, I was diagnosed with MS just before my thirtieth birthday and everything changed. I didn’t stop running immediately but I noticed that I didn’t get the ‘good feeling’ after a run anymore. Plus I fell over a few times. Cut my knee and wet myself. When I started to try and find a way to look forwards, I searched for a way that I could physically move – to make myself feel better. Physiotherapy has achieved this for me (even though I am shattered afterwards and have a lie-down!)

I have never had much stamina. I remember growing up I always felt weaker than all the other children in school. PE in the 1980s included ‘picking teams’. I was always picked last.

group of woman playing on green field during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I couldn’t catch I couldn’t throw and I wasn’t much better at running. I was a weakling!

Then, during my twenties, I had multiple periods of sick leave from work. I was a staff nurse and then a ward sister. It seemed I picked up every bug going. I cringe now at having to ring in sick. It was embarrassing and eventually, I was asked ‘Is there a problem?’ The only problem was, I think stress was playing a part in my poor health. Nursing can be a great job…

woman throwing confetti
Photo by Joshua Mcknight on Pexels.com

It can also be a physically draining job.

Now I don’t have a job, I was retired on ill-health in 2014. But I have an occupation. Number one is keeping myself as well as possible. I cannot thank my physiotherapist for all the help over all the years.

Number two is writing… I write this blog and I write books. I am an independent author with eight titles available on Amazon. If you want to find out a bit more about that then sign up for my mailing list: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/d0q2h7 or follow this blog!

Thank you for reading this post on my experience of living with MS, I think next time I talk about MS I will talk about why I use a walking stick. Happy reading and stay safe, Samantha xx

*The reason for the title ‘If You Love It So Much, Why don’t You Marry It?’ is I am not keen on being asked questions about MS when I am socialising. It does my head in. You wouldn’t ask someone who’s got asthma if they are still taking their inhalers, would you? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care who knows I’ve got MS and I don’t mind being asked how I am, as you would ask anyone.  BUT stupid questions about ‘How does my scooter fit in my car?’ and ‘Are you on benefits?’ I find intrusive and are not helpful!

 

I wrote these books

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Scan_20170731What we did during lockdown (1)

If You Love It So Much, Then Why Don’t You Just Marry It?

Hello Everyone!

For a while now, my gorgeous grown-up daughter and my life-saving physiotherapist have encouraged me to write about my experience of Multiple Sclerosis. I ALWAYS do what my physiotherapist tells me to (more about physio in a later post). And I usually do what my daughter says.

As I don’t know if my daughter is OK with me mentioning her (and I can’t be bothered messaging her at work) here is a photo of Gorgeous Daughter and me. (Her face is a bit blurry because she is laughing at something I said). 20190131_195034

I’m not entirely sure where to begin and have given these posts a great deal of thought. I was diagnosed with MS in 2005 just before my 30th birthday. When I think about it, I had symptoms prior to that, as far back 1989 when I was 14 years old.

During this time, yes, I have learnt a lot about Multiple Sclerosis. But I have also learnt a lot about people. You won’t hear me moan about, or mention that I have MS on social media. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to sometimes. It just means that the best way, the only way I have of dealing with MS, is to largely pretend I don’t have it. The things that people say, and sometimes how they have acted has done my head in (more than MS sometimes). And so, unfortunately – here is my starting point.

Sometimes, I think… if you love talking about MS so much, then why don’t you just marry it? (I am doing a massive eye roll now, and I know some of you are with me).

I use social media a lot because I write books I think you know what’s coming next… COVID-19 Coronavirus. Social media has proper done my head in today. Apart from the blamey posts about consumerism (made me feel like crap and I don’t buy owt anyway). And the countless toilet roll stories, I have also seen a few ‘low immune system’ posts. It is scary, scary times. I know we all have something to say, so do I…

NO ONE IS SPECIAL we are in this together. TODAY, 16th of March 2020, there is NO current advice for me and my MS diagnosis to stay indoors (the advice is the same as the next person unless you are on certain medications – see link above).

Sunday is Mother’s Day in the UK, and bless my 85-year-old dad he has messaged me asking if I’ll still be able to go to the meal he booked for my mum (because he’s such a sweet person). I said yes, as long as my sister doesn’t blow on her food ‘to cool it down’.

Now, if you are looking for some advice about Coronavirus and MS, then I’m sorry I’ve wasted your time. You’d be better off looking at the UK Gov. website HERE or, the MS society

More blog posts about living with MS (including one I have been asked to write for the physiotherapy service I use) coming as soon as I write them.

I would be interested to know if anyone thinks I should message my sister, to ask her not to blow on her food at the family meal on Sunday (she won’t read this blog).

Live your life, stay safe, stay well. Keep calm and carry on.

Sam xx

Samantha Henthorn is the author of the Curmudgeon Avenue series and other books.

978-1717745552 Curmudgeon Avenue Book TWoEdna and Genevieve (1)Add a heading (2)

On Achieving a Distinction in The Creative Writing Module of My Degree.

Hello everyone, and thank you for joining me on my monthly ‘writerly ramblings’ blog post., (yes I made that word up!)

Yesterday, I was thrilled to bits to receive an overall score of 82% in the creative writing module of my degree. I have no words, I have regained my self-worth.

Achievable, I would say because I am studying with the Open University. The teaching and support is first class. I don’t need to leave my house. I only work when I feel up to it, (I have to pace myself ALL the time because of fatigue). I can turn the computer off if I get a headache, or if my eyes start hurting, and so on. I won’t go on about MS, you won’t meet two people who have the condition with the same symptoms, and impetuously worded conversations around it can become rather tiresome.*

When I was forced to give up nursing six years ago due to having MS, I went through a very difficult time. This is part of my (non-fiction) story.  When I started writing ‘full-time’ an ex-colleague commented ‘If you can do that, why can’t you still work?’ Not the case, and not the point either, it was not my decision to leave work, and it was not my fault that I have this chronic condition.

You can see why I am nervous about celebrating my good news, but the point I am trying to make is, this is me now. There is hope, it is possible to dig yourself out of a hole, and if you happen to be reading this post because you have searched ‘writing inspiration’ then I am saying to you ‘JUST GO FOR IT’. Writing will give you SO MUCH.

Writing for me is not just a case of my legs don’t work like they used to so now I have to do something different. I write because I love it. I love reading, I love escaping into a different world and I love that I can write and escape into another world too. And I am studying writing because my husband (correctly) suggested ‘why don’t you learn your trade?’

I write because it feels like this is what I should be doing.

Getting a good result has been an added bonus, I have learnt so much during this module which will hopefully feature in further blog posts – in particular, that ‘writing what you know, doesn’t mean writing what you know (about)’. That blew my mind, and I was very pleased to learn it. I don’t think J K Rowling knew about how to be an eleven-year-old wizard, and Stephen King did not know how to be a menstrual teenager but they still wrote about what they could see, smell, taste, imagine etc – this is what you know – AS A HUMAN.

On reflection, I have learnt that I am ‘safe’ in my writing style, this is what I’ll be working on next – although I cannot promise any sex scenes in my series Curmudgeon Avenue!

I must also add to why I am able to ‘achieve’; I am in a good place, I have an amazing, supportive husband not only in what he says but he makes life easy for me. Doing the shopping, the garden, walking the dog, anything. My daughter is the funniest person I know and, she has grown up! She has a fab job and lives with her lovely boyfriend. (in other words, I don’t have small children to look after!)

Edna and Genevieve cover_000Featured Image -- 1533This is the Curmudgeon Avenue series

 

Happy reading and writing everybody! Samantha xx

PS, the picture is from WordPress’ free photo library, I have a while to go before I graduate. 🙂

It’s the Most Tiring Time of the Year!

The rush up to Christmas can, for some be the most draining and stressful time of the year.  This is not a ‘grinch’ post, I am a big believer that complaining is draining. Moaning about feeling tired does not make you any less tired (or any more popular!) Be kind to yourself at this time of year.

During the last few years, I have realised that it is OK to make life easier for yourself. In the past, I said yes to every party at this time of year even though I often did not have the energy, or the money to join in. Reason I said yes? Because I didn’t want to feel guilty for not going. This did me no favours, because by the time Christmas day arrived, I had completely run out of energy, for the people that I was meant to be spending time with, my family. Worse still, this period of ‘overdoing things’ would be followed by a period of illness, which eventually led to me losing my career (if you don’t know, I’ve got MS). But you know what I’ve realised?

FRIENDS ARE FOR LIFE, NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS 

Most folk know it is OK to keep in touch during the year, not just during the rushing period just before Christmas. ‘SHOULD’ and ‘NEED’ (you should pop in, I need to see you’ Do not be afraid of these words, people are just being friendly, however, do not get trapped by guilt if you don’t have the energy to join in, and need to say no; give yourself a break.

IF PEOPLE KNOW YOU WELL ENOUGH TO BE A GOOD FRIEND OF YOURS, THEY WILL UNDERSTAND.

Get the balance right. Better to see well you than ill you – it’s OK to pace yourself. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it when my daughter was growing up and before I had to give up nursing. I was a single parent working full time, I think there was a lot of ‘powering on through’. I was younger and things were different with my MS. If I was in that situation now, then I would have no choice but to prioritise the necessary. A story my physiotherapist told me about someone who is joining in on that ‘Elf on the shelf’ business… it was making this person ill due to overstretching their energy reserves. Stop that now! Things like that are only fun if you are actually enjoying them.

A NOTE ON THE BIG DAY

When the Christmas dinner has been cleared away, you’ve eaten double your body weight in turkey with all the trimmings plus pudding(s), drank loads, and enjoyed some quality time with your nearest and dearest, Don’t forget to look after yourself . Please don’t martyr yourself here with I should and I need to (those words again). Just do the necessary, give yourself a break, put you’re feet up, treat yourself it is Christmas after all. Unless you want to carry on being a stress head, (no one will thank you though). You may be thinking ‘it’s alright for you’ . No it isn’t; but I have learnt that stress is toxic, this is no good for me, I have chosen to take control.  

SLEEP AND ONWARDS

It’s Christmas… there are more social events. More than likely, if you do drink alcohol, you will have been drinking more than usual. You may have been able to get to sleep easier, but you will not have been able to stay asleep. Not the deep refreshing sleep that we all need to keep ourselves less vulnerable to moods, stress and illness. Enjoy yourself but like I said, it’s only fun if  you’re actually enjoying it. Give yourself a break!

If you can’t get to sleep, I would recommend good old fashioned reading a book to help you drop off, (one of my books should do it!) Not a gripping thriller that will keep you awake until 2AM though. Other genres are available to help you escape and switch off,  as are other relaxation methods.

Onwards; you might be thinking of January and going on a health kick binge (I know I always do). I have recently started reading a book called the Healing Point by James Lilley. It’s easy to read and all the bases of health are covered. Great to read a book about health when you’re trying to be healthy; puts you in the mood!

This is probably going to be my last blog post of 2018 – it’s been a blast!

All the best to you at this time of year, Samantha xx