Less is More, more or less.

Now that we’re well into 2020, it’s time I put up a new blog post. Y’all have already heard too much about my fractured ankle and its repair, and it is well on the way to being restored. Next month I get the long pin out and then go to a physio to help loosen it up.

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In the meantime. . . I was given the hard word by an orthopaedic surgeon I saw after getting an MRI on my lower spine (to see why I had sciatica) in November. Basically he said it was arthritis, and that it was very common to have that issue in the lower back, and 30% of the population had a similar looking issue–not all suffering the sciatic pain. He told me that if I lost some weight it would make a big difference.

Now if, like me, you have tried many diets over the years, love food, and have a love/hate relationship with ‘the latest findings on weight loss’, then you’ll enjoy the rest of this blog. If not, feel free to stop here. It’s a very complicated issue combining 1. age, 2. genetics, 3. personality, 4. emotion and other factors like wealth and will power.

I have relaxed my guard as far as the type of food I eat is concerned for some months – especially since my overseas trip in August/September, and then my recovery from my operation. Then Christmas. I’m sure you get the picture. Quite honestly, I get tired of thinking about what I should or shouldn’t eat, and make every day a celebration involving some form of ‘treat’.

The ONLY way I could see myself losing weight now is if 1) I pay money for it to happen (to keep myself honest) and 2) I was accountable to someone else and 3) They could put together a personal list of food/supplements which could be altered depending upon outcome. Understanding what I ate and then making a habit of it.

In other words: I needed a Dietician/Nutritionist.

Now I am making myself even MORE accountable, because I’m bringing an unknown amount of you in to view my progress and watch whether my efforts yield results: I’m telling you all about it! I want to do this nutrition thing because I still have so much I would like to do – travel, cycling, walking, moving freely around without pain. The fact that I might fit clothes I prefer is a happy side effect.

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(Pic above: beef and beetroot pattie in a hamburger made without buns – using cos leaves to hold it together. Delicious.)

A week and a half ago, I went and saw a slim young lass who was all fresh-faced and eager to help. She is doing her PhD in nutrition and–once I got over the hurdle of how young she was–I found her advice and suggestions absolutely do-able. I’ll be going back after three weeks to see how progress is, and tailor anything we need to.  It’s not so much that I don’t know a lot about what I should be eating–it’s hard to avoid in all the various forms of media these days. It’s the personal discussion about my own situation: fatty liver, high cholesterol, sciatica, that I was interested in hearing her thoughts on.

I have begun a programme of high vegetable, medium protein, and very low carbs. (No sugar). Since I love my vegies, and my meat or fish, I’m thrilled. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I skip breakfast altogether – and so far, I’m surprised at how easy that was to do. Breakfast is either Greek Yoghurt with some fruit and a little paleo muesli (no grain) sprinkled on top. Or paleo toast with peanut butter, or an egg. Lunch is a salad of any sort, with a good amount of protein. (No bread). Dinner is similar, with cooked vegies maybe, and meat/fish, very little potato if I do have it. Snacks are things like celery or carrot with pesto, or a matchbox amount of cheese. I end the evening with a glass of magnesium (lemon-flavoured) in soda water.  My coffee in the morning is a long black with a touch of milk (not the latte I have been used to.)

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I have three supplements including the magnesium, which should help with their anti-inflammatory, sleep inducing, blood cleansing properties.

So far, 1.5 weeks in, I’m feeling pretty good about it all and enjoying the new meal plan. I was 10kg heavier than I thought I was, and I’m not putting that weight up on this blog, but I will tell you when I lose some.

I cycle to work – 30 kms on an ebike to and from work twice a week – and am building my other exercise. Need to do more stretching.

That is my 2020 so far, and I’m feeling very positive about it. I turn 65 in October, a milestone I’m surprised to be facing (I still feel like I haven’t decided what I’m going to be when I grow up). This feels like the best start to the year, and I hope the posts to follow show what a good move it was.

I hope yours is heading in an equally good direction. Thanks for reading.

 

A reason to sing for joy

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This is the moment the last few months of the year changed for me. This was Wednesday 18 September, 2019, when I stepped across the road from the timeshare apartment in Orlando I shared with friends, to the pool for a morning swim. As I went down those steps, my left foot slipped forward taking me with it, and my right foot – on a higher step – flipped back on itself. I didn’t know it at the time but I had a complex fracture and displacement of the ankle, but I hoped it was just sprained. The following week saw me in elastic bandage and on mobile scooters when I could find them, and finally on the flight home. And then this:

A plate and screws and a long period of recovery and immobility. The last photo I took today, showing my swollen foot but my well healed ankle. In another month or two I’ll get the long screw taken out, which will give me much more flexibility.

In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed the various milestones as they have occurred. I’m so thrilled to be mobile again, especially before summer holidays begin, and before the Christmas family and friend celebrations. In the last fews days I’ve taken my first long bike rides again, with my sister, and I cannot describe the pleasure of having the wind through my hair and the exercise of peddling to a new adventure before me.

Today we went for a coffee to Morningside and back:

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Next year, I’ll be able to cycle to work and back once more. Oh Joy!

I’ve spent far more days than I wanted to, trapped in my home.

The milestones:

1)That moment when you realise you can get down the stairs and lift the knee scooter down to get to the shops! (5 November)

2) When you go back in to work for the first time (15 Nov):

3) When you take the moon boot off and try on a shoe. Then drive a short distance for the first time: (26 Nov)

4) Discovering the local bus that goes from the end of the street to Henderson mall. That opened up some possibilities including movies (23 Nov):

5) When you try cycling to see if your ankle can handle the action, and it CAN! (11 Dec):

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6) When you can participate nearly fully in the end -of-year functions at home and work:

7) Being able to drive to the garden centre, collect plants, and then re-pot the front porch and put fairy lights on the front tree at last!

8) And finally, take some good long bike rides in which you cannot even feel a twinge in your ankle any longer. The best present of all! (19 and 21 Dec):

It has felt like quite a journey, and a long tedious one at times, but it is nearly over. Have a very Merry Christmas one and all!

 

 

 

Nearing the end of the LONG healing process

Yes, it’s six weeks today since I had the operation that put a plate and numerous pins in to my right ankle. To say that I am a little tired of not driving, not walking, not going anywhere, is an immense understatement. However, I have pulled deeply upon my laziness gene, which likes an excuse to lie around reading, watching endless episodes of favourite series on Prime Video, and listening to an extensive series of audiobooks. Even so, I am reaching the end of that tether.

It has not all been cerebral. I have been quietly editing my finished manuscript of the second romance novel with the help of my good friend. I have worked from home for AUT University on some days, and will continue that for a couple more. I have put more designs up on Redbubble for Christmas.

It has not been a negative experience at all, really.

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I have learned a few things I kind of knew, but have seen in action because of this rehab process:

  1. What terrific friends and family I have. My sister has gone beyond the bounds to ensure I am okay, and to take me on regular jaunts to get out of the house. I am privileged to have one of the best sisters in the world. And good friends have all gone out of their way to visit, to bring things, in some cases to make my bed and vacuum! Some work mates came and visited in hospital. Even my flatmate, whose house it is, has patiently dealt with any number of apparatuses that block passages, and get in the way. (He has singlehandedly done the housework since this happened.)
  2. I have deep sympathy for anyone who does not have the use of both their legs. It takes being reduced to wheels or crutches yourself to have a true understanding of what the footpath is like, how accessible a building is, where and how available are the restrooms.
  3. I will NEVER take for granted my ability to step outside and walk somewhere – anywhere. I will NEVER take for granted my ebike and all the adventures I still hope to have on it. I will NEVER take for granted the car that is waiting in the carport, in which I take regular trips to wherever I want to go.
  4. I realise I only need an eighth of the clothing I currently own. It is all gathered in a pile at the foot of the bed for easy reach (LOL). I must get rid of the rest.
  5. How easy it is to shop online. There’s an amazing number of ways to get goods and services delivered to your door.
  6. Hospitals are not places you can ever sleep in, full of people struggling to deal with pain and a lack of sleep, and nurses with great senses of humour, patience and the ability to go for hours without food.
  7. I now know where all the conventional cabs have gone since Uber took over transporting people. Taxis are all working for ACC, and I am starting to get to know the drivers.

I’m sure there’s much more. Suffice it to say, I have been ‘absent’ from my usual life for nearly four months now. Two months on a wildly exciting holiday in the UK, USA and Canada, and two months within the four walls of this house, on an exciting holiday of the imagination. I feel I have become reacquainted with my right foot and ankle and am on intimate terms with all my toes down there. Never have we been closer. Every little twinge has my interest, every swelling my full attention. I’m hoping our renewed relationship will stand me in good stead (sic) tomorrow when they check my progress and tell me I can start putting weight on that limb again. Watch this space.

Time to go and watch the next episode of The Expanse.

 

The exciting end to my great adventure

I write this final post from my hospital bed at North shore hospital. Not that the holiday was so traumatic it made a cot case of me, but that I – might – have played too hard in my final week.

I had the joy of hanging out at a luxury timeshare apartment with two friends in Orlando. We went to Universal Studios on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday I went down to the resort pool for a swim and slipped on the steps leading in to the water. It really really hurt for a while but I convinced myself – because I could move my toes – it was likely a sprain. I was so close to returning that I waited until coming home before checking. I went to Disney world Animal Kingdom the next day and rode a mobile scooter.

We went to Jacksonville the following day and for the last four I limped and wore an elastic bandage.

I dragged suitcases into Orlando airport, walked to the terminal and flew economy to San Francisco. Fortunately I got wheelchaired from domestic to international terminal there. Good old Air New Zealand took pity on me and upgraded me to business class (when the tray table was broken on one seat). I didn’t care: I got to lie down for 12 hours!!

Last Friday my sis picked me up from airport and delivered me to White Cross medical centre to xray the ankle. Imagine my surprise when I was told it was a complex fracture and I needed to go to North Shore hospital (orthopaedic specialists). I’m still here three days later – my carry on bag in the cupboard and my sleeping mask and ear plugs still useful.

According to a nurse friend: You may need an op… The fibula is comminuted and you have talar shift of the tibia on the talus

I am scheduled tentatively for operation on Tuesday. In the meantime I am forced to read and watch episodes on Amazon Prime with headphones. What a hardship!

Lost count of days – still in Orlando

I’ve just managed to twist my ankle slipping down the stairs into the pool – and so I guess I’ll be moving more slowly over the next day or so. My body will thank me for it I’m sure. It has continued to put in the hard yards – yesterday another full day at Universal Studios in the Islands of Adventure area. Much better (in my opinion) than the Studio park. Harry Potter attractions span both parks and in the 106° F heat yesterday we passed many children earnestly pushing through the sweltering heat in the amazing displays and rides dressed in black floor-length capes and clutching wands. Marcie went on the HP ride through the castle and I watched on. Just like the airlines, it seems that the ‘average size’ is catered for rather than all sizes – yes, I sure could lose weight, but I think of all the tall sturdily built teens who must also be turned away.

Ne’er mind eh?

Loved the rides that incorporated 3D effects and sensaround – King Kong, Spiderman, Men in Black. Even The Cat in the Hat was fun. The older rides are all made to fit all sizes thank goodness.

Anyway, today, our rest day, I went down to try out the pool when the water is actually cooler than the air, as any self-respecting Kiwi would. Stepping down the slippery steps one foot slid forward and the other was forced back upon itself as I plunged headlong into the water. Heaven knows what would have happened had it happened as I stepped out of pool. I stayed in the water for a while and kept up some movement in it and am now on deck with an ice pack. There’s still a week of meeting up with folks, exploring, and holidaying to go!

Until next post. . .

Down in the deep south, Orlando and Universal Studios

I’ve grabbed a brief moment between dealing to the aches and pains of a body that’s been dragged around Universal Studios today and the desperate longing for bed.

A large part of me – the small enthusiastic girlchild within – cannot understand why 1) my body cannot keep up 2) is outside the perimeter for some of the best rides ( read ALL Harry Potter ones) and 3) hurts so much after dragging around and around the theme park in 105° heat and humidity.

It has not deterred me from trying though and today, Marcie and I went and did around eight rides/show/attractions in the Studios lot.

Tomorrow we plan another similar at the Islands of Adventure one. At least there are two water rides as part of it.

Back in the apartment I ran the spa bath and let the little jets of water pound my aches and pains and clean all the sweat away.

I wish I could add photos – check Facebook for them.

I’m staying with Marcie and her Mum in a glorious timeshare apartment so roomy it’s bigger than the house at home. True. We’ll be here til Friday enjoying the unexpected luxury of the apartment and the fun places nearby.

Last full day in Nova Scotia – Wolfville

Wolfville is a cute University town in the northern coastline right on the Bay of Fundy. Now why would i mention that quirky name? Because, dear reader, the Bay of Fundy is the place of ‘the HIGHEST TIDES on EARTH’!! No kidding! Twice a day water sucks out of this enormous bay – 9 to 16 billion tonnes of water – more than the combined flow of all the rivers on earth.

I had to go and see it for myself! Nancy was just as keen. We drove to Hantsport to one of the viewing spots but timed the initial trip too late to see the high tide. Second trip more successful for the low tide exposed an immense land of sucking mud, reefs and the odd pool of water. I hope to see full tide tomorrow AND ride a bike along the dyke.

Watch this space.

Nova Scotia so far

Not everyone is lucky enough to catch the same hurricane twice, but I did! After Orlando I went to Canada and by the time my friend Nancy and I got to Nova Scotia, we were in time to welcome Dorian again.

He hit some parts of NS badly and as we drove around on Sunday morning trying to find some area that still had power we saw signs of his passing everywhere. That second night at Beaver Bank our hostess was on pot, grew it out back, and left us to light candles and cope when the power went out in the night. It made for an interesting night, with the wind whistling around and the lake whipped up.

We found a fish and chip shop open and enjoyed some really good takeout.

Next morning we got away early and searched for breakfast, finding it in a family restaurant in Sackville, one of the pockets that still had power. Great wait for a table but a good breakfast eventually.

The rest of the day we drove around NS and ended up at Digby – power out – at a tiny roadside lobster shack running on generator. It was 1.5 hours before our little lobster rolls were ready, such was the wait. On the road bisecting the country towards the south we encountered many trees still down across the lanes, and with some relief arrived in Lunenburg unscathed.

I love this fishing village! Brightly coloured homes, jaunty shops, numerous fish restaurants with decks overlooking the sea – we enjoyed it all over the last two days. Our B&B was upstairs in a house and was its own apartment – overlooking some forest from which deer occasionally strayed.

Today Nancy drove around the coast below Halifax to Peggy’s Cove which is a village and lighthouse built on rock. En route we stopped at a Lebanese restaurant and were entertained and fed by the sole chef, manager, maitre de, shop keeper whose exaggeration and tall tales knew no bounds. The over-priced chicken wraps we got were good ($13!!) and it made for an experience for sure.

We are on the third floor of this stately house on main street of Wolfville, in our own apartment. Once more the beds are pretty hard but I think we’re so tired it won’t matter.

Hope I see a sea otter or moose before I leave!

Day 32: Orlando

7.30am update: From my hotel room it seems like any other windy cyclone – but obviously Dorian is a long way off coast. My flight has been changed twice, and right now is due to fly out at 6pm to get to Toronto by 11ish. I miss my ongoing flight. That’s assuming Orlando airport opens today. Watch this space.

Day 32 – Orlando

Having a quiet time of it riding out hurricane Dorian here in Florida. One entire channel devoted to watching the slow track of the storm – breakfast this morning, dinner in restaurant last night, tv screens keep up the momentum in case you forget.

Best thing: my room is the most spacious I’ve been in, the plane seemed fairly empty and I have NEVER gone through customs so fast, not even in NZ. I think I was 7th through, they took one look at passport, smiled and asked where I was going, wished me well and I was out of there – huh!!??

It has given me a day to linger in a time warp between where I need to be (Canada) and where I was (UK). And to consider the vast cultural differences most obvious – (and I love the UK!). My bed is one of two vast kingsize beds with soft mattress toppers and four pillows each. There is a fridge, microwave, coffee machine and pods, spacious bathroom. Restaurants within walking distance (not usual to have sidewalks). I’ve just left the Gatwick hotel which – to be fair – was not as good as the one in the terminal I stayed at last time. This time at Gatwick my bed was so narrow the pillow slid off a couple times, I had to crawl over toilet to squeeze into shower, but there was a kettle and tea bags.

I feel like just stepping out on American soil I can flex my limbs and stand up straight. There must still be bruises on my head from the low lintels and ceiling rafters that I didn’t see coming in UK. I’ve climbed up more narrow steep staircases than I can count, often with my bags, and crossed my fingers as I’ve sat on tiny toilets in awkward spaces. BUT – and it’s a big but – (yes! My butt too – don’t go there!) – we LOVE Britain because it has kept our history alive. My history – only the last few generations of my family were in the southern hemisphere – and the history of many Aussies, Americans and Kiwis is tied up in the UK, and I can return to that land and picture exactly how much of it looked for hundreds of years, give or take a house or two. The museums!! The literature! The castles and churches! I could go on and on. The little inconvenience of a lost pillow or having to constantly give way on tiny one-lane roads is nothing compared to the abounding joy of experiencing a land so steeped in wonders.

Now I am enjoying the lavish excesses of a generous and immense country, and grateful for them, and forgoing my love of a good cup of tea, but I am still fondly remembering the marvellous trip along the country lanes of England and Scotland. So many warm, funny and lovely people have welcomed me in my travels. Thank you so much!

I am spread lavishly on my bed gnawing at a bagel and with one eye watching the news and with the other the view from my 6th floor window. It’s a bit like the waiting room between worlds. I’m coming back here in 10 days to ‘do’ the adventure parks and go up to Jacksonville. God bless America!