Feeling a bit nutty and seedy

And what is THIS deliciousness I hear you ask. THIS is my own home made brand of paleo crackers, much cheaper than the supermarket bought ones and so easy to make. It’s all just seeds (including chia seeds which are the binding agent) and water, slowly baked in an oven. Put a bit of cheese on these, or avocado, and Bob’s your Uncle.
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Today is the last day of my days at home working on my own projects before I head in to the university tomorrow to take up the reins of my two-day job there. I love this combined work/life balance, and enjoy the many activities I find to do on Mon-Wed, as well as the busy work as an admin for postgraduate students at the end of the week. Right now, it’s very lively at work. The Coronavirus has played some havoc not only at my workplace but even locally where I live. We have one case of it, well documented and followed, at hospital, but it has been enough to cause a surge of frantic shopping around parts of Auckland. We have a strategy in place at the university in case we need to work from home, but that’s not on the books right now. Many of my own students are international, and have paid large sums and left home countries, to come and study here. I feel for any who are struggling to make it here in the middle of their research, and who are unable to get back because they left during the end-of-year holidays.
Last Friday, my ankle screw was removed, and I am now in the final stages of 10 days of recovery and then I’ll be exercising fully on it. It looks a LOT better than it did five months ago. (The pink is wearing off).

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Meanwhile, in my small house in the suburbs, I have been slowly getting smaller (Yay! Down 11.7kgs now since early January). I have occasional surges of sugar cravings but have averted them. Yesterday I made use of a gift voucher to try one of the ‘Hello Fresh’ food boxes and when it arrived I eagerly searched the contents and made plans for my dinner for the rest of the week. I’ll be taking out the carb content in the meals, but judging by last night’s Jerk Chicken, it will be a very pleasant tasty change from my usual. I bought the three meals for two people, and plan to have left overs every other night – so six night’s dinner is sorted!

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Now, in the light of all the desperation and trauma happening in the world right now, I’m going to remind you to pull back a little and see the small hopeful signs of life and beauty around you. I have to do it for myself regularly. That cunning balance between staying informed and alert, and not becoming depressed or anxious. Here are the small things that I’m heartened by:

It’s almost feijoa time, and our trees are budding with lots of fruit:
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The rain has finally started appearing – we need much more of it – but this week has been overcast with stray showers. Water is so essential to our wellbeing, right? I’m going to go and get another glass of it now.

When I check our local facebook page, I still see all those friendly posts offering free items, or putting food in the free food shelves, and lost items being found. I am so glad of the generosity of strangers in my own community.

I’m ready for our winter. I’ll have to face cycling to work in the dark and the rain, but at least I can still cycle! And OUR winter, means that the northern hemisphere will finally start to see the sun- it’s definitely their turn.
Until next time. . .  enjoy your week, relax, breathe, and be kind.

Unscrewed at last and raring to go

In recovery room

Last Friday the final bolt came out of ankle. A five minute keyhole operation which was under general anaesthetic. In and out same day and in two weeks when stitches out I’ll be almost literally up and running! What a feeling.

I washed the pink stuff off!

Watch this space – looking forward to more active posts soon.

The endless summer

We had a little rain last Saturday, and celebrated it. Although we’re in a bit of a drought here in Auckland, it’s nothing to be compared with other parts of the country (the far north has been months without rain), or indeed, the extreme weather in other parts of the world (flooding in Aussie and UK, bush fires in Aussie). Our patches of brown grass show some glimmers of green now.

To me, it feels like I’ve been in summer for over six months. I left in August last year for the northern hemisphere and stayed two months basking in the sunshine of UK, USA and Canada. . . even sweltering on record highs in places like Stratford-Upon-Avon. Then I came home and was housebound because of ankle injury, so hardly noticed the cooler weather. Our summer has been long and dry, not too hot fortunately, and still goes on.

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February is ‘bike to work’ month, with prizes to be won for clocking up the kilometres on two wheels. I only work two days a week at the Uni, so my totals don’t look so good, but still, I haven’t taken the bus this year. Morning after morning of delicious sunrises, with the sun getting closer and closer to the horizon. On Friday, it didn’t breach the horizon line at all. Ah, winter is coming.

This coming Friday, I get the screw taken out of my ankle – the one holding the two long bones together in this:

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I’m hoping that frees me up to get some physio and increase my exercise which is sorely needed. Right now, I’m still in some pain in the lower back if I do much walking, although I hesitantly add, the last few days I’ve been feeling almost ‘springy’. Could it be the NEARLY TEN KILOS I’ve dropped since I started losing weight early in January. Yep, I’m down 9.6kgs (21 lbs). My pants feel as if they might drop off me if I bounce too much – a great feeling but not such a good sight for any unwitting passersby.

Still relentlessly pursuing a much healthier eating regime and have not felt deprived or like I couldn’t keep this up forever. Every now and then I’ve had an ice-cream, or some birthday cake, chocolate, or pop corn. But that’s the key – not every day. I go to a cafe and choose this sort of deliciousness rather than a doughnut.

Cafelunch

MmmmmMMmmmmm.

Time to move on and get some chores done. I’m loving the beginning of ‘Outlander’ season, and tonight will be clustered with my sister watching episode 2. A few functions coming up which all involve barbecues, the main eating method for all New Zealanders in the summertime. Our Roman Feast in March will centre around the grill and some tasty platters everyone will bring, and this weekend, I’ll be at my nephews for a family get together.

Long may the summer continue, and the cicadas sing. I’ll finish with the headdress I made for the coming toga party.

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A week in Northland in a tent

I got back two days ago from seven days camping at Kai Iwi Lakes, about 3 hours north of Auckland. My sister came and set up beside me, as has become our custom, and we were thrilled to encounter really good weather for most of it. (Sadly, northland is suffering a drought right now, so I hope they get rain soon.)

This time camping was going to be a bit of a challenge. I am not long recovered from my ankle surgery, and most days I also feel the effects of lower back pain (sciatica), so I was not looking forward to packing up the equipment and then setting up the tent. Sure enough, by that evening I was hobbling and had taken a few doses of paracetamol, which does help a bit. ALSO, as you will have read in previous posts, I’ve started a process of losing weight and improving health by following a carb-free (almost), intermittent-fasting, regime. My nutritionist gave me a link to a local company who make freeze-dried food that is nutritious and so I purchased about four meals and two breakfasts.

The road north was busy, but I stopped at a health food cafe for a kombucha. Nice view:
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40 mins later I pulled in to our relatively deserted campsite and Helen and I helped each other set up tents. This smaller campsite has flush toilets up the hill, and no other amenities. Shops are 35 mins away driving, so we didn’t plan on buying out. I had a chillybin and a smaller one inside that, which managed to keep meat cold for a few days. My meals were delicious from Sunday night through to Wednesday night, and all pretty much on target for my meal plans:

I skipped breakfast Tuesday and Thursday, and we had no treats except for a small ice cream on the last weekend, purchased from the caravan at the neighbouring campsite. By Thursday, the ants had found the inner contents of my chilly bin, and there were only mouldering vegetables in there anyway. I moved to using the paleo bread (which doesn’t mould), peanut butter, and the dried meals.

Exercise-wise, I really am not back to the fitness I had a year ago at the same place. Then, we walked around a portion of the lake and back. Now, I did little beyond swim, but I did that 6 times a day, sometimes 7. It was great to sink into cool clean fresh water and feel all the weight on ankle and back disappear. I lived in my swimming costumes for the entire time, apart from at night when the weather cooled.

Kai Iwi lakes are inverted fresh water sandhills, going down to a depth of ten stories. They are remarkably beautiful and cannot be beaten for their swimming possibilities. No tides to worry about, not large toothy fish lurking in the depths, pretty much a HUGE swimming pool that doesn’t need chlorine. The further side of the biggest lake hosts families and boaties who want to get out and use water toys, like jet skis and power boats. There are showers there, and a small caravan selling food, so it’s a draw. We prefer the relative quiet of the smaller campsite.

It’s easy to snap a glorious sunset or sunrise, and get caught up watching the bird life.

and the water! Leaping off the top of the submerged white sandhill into a bottomless depth of azure and blue – ah, I shall have to hold that image for another year.

Soon enough, the insects start to intrude. Ants found the inside of the tent, flies loved my front foyer, and black beetles fell out of the umbrella on the mornings I opened it. Not much to worry about, really.
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It’s taken a couple of days to unpack, wash clothes, get rid of rubbish, wash my car, and finally feel like I’m on target to go to work on Thursday. I was very pleased to find that I’ve lost a total of 8.4 kgs since I started my food plan, and hadn’t gained over the camping trip.
Ahead of us now is usual city life: schools and universities are back, students will throng the halls and streets of my workplace, the roads will be busy, the weather will get cooler and wetter. I will carry the images and impressions of last week in my mind and heart for a long while yet.
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Three Weeks into the New Regime

Today I revisited the dietician and we assessed how the food plan had been working. It was all very positive. Beyond the fact that I’ve been feeling very good and finding the inflammation supplements working to ease the sciatica pain I feel, I have also lost nearly 6 kgs! That’s a win/win by my books.

Here’s a glimpse of the range and type of vegetable-rich, carb-low meals I have prepared for myself in the last few weeks:

When I go to work there is always a lot of food around – usually of the type that I am trying hard to avoid. So far so good. Cubbyholes full of chocolate, staffroom tables always covered in snacks, meetings that come with morning tea included, a barrage of fast food places nearby. I’ve been able to avoid these because I can now truly claim to be on a health and fitness regime.

The three mornings a week that I fast, and don’t eat until lunchtime have worked out much easier to do than I would have believed. I give myself more time before getting out of bed, and it feels like a treat. Once I’m up and going, I get busy and distracted, and don’t notice the missing meal. A black coffee with a little cream makes a big difference when I get to work.

I’m not as active as I once was, pre-ankle operation. As mentioned earlier my sciatica is arthritis-based, and the weight I carry makes it rare that I get to the end of the day without feeling a clenched fist of pain there in my lower back. Swimming is great because I’m active without feeling the weight, and I’ve enjoyed a few summer swims around the corner at Pt Chev beach:

And cycling to work two days a week (29 kms round trip) and some extraneous fun cycles, work well too, because the weight is on the bike not my lower back. I love cycling to work in the early hours of the morning, completely apart from the building traffic on the motorway:

So I’m sticking with the plan. In a week’s time, Helen and I head off for our usual camping trip up North, and six swims a day at the lakes. It will be harder to find fresh food but my dietician has sent me a link to some great dried pouches of food which are still high in nutrition content and not just flavoured rice or pasta.

Apart from the personal improvement plan, I’m working on building positive relationships with new workmates at work, and enjoying a change of environment in the University, where I now have a desk in three places.

Stay positive, avoid negativity, do what you can to help, keep a balance between spirit, soul and body – in that order. Simple maxims. Until next time. . .  thanks for reading.

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!