Rehab Update: Goal Tracker, Gymnastics, Capsaicin and University

Hello again and Happy New Year!!

Sorry for the lack of posting lately! This will be the first of my post-rehab updates having completed the 3 week pain management course at RNOH Stanmore. If you haven’t read about my adventured there then please check the posts starting with ‘The Rehab Saga’.

I left hospital with five goals…

1. To get up each day by 9am and do some gentle stretching.

2. To do my physio exercises 5 times a week.

3. To go swimming between 12 times before my 3 month review.

4. To cook a meal from scratch once a week (I must pace myself while doing it)

5. To use stress management techniques during stressful situations 25% of the time.

I must admit, to start with I struggled and I really slacked on my exercises and my general activity levels, I was pretty upset with myself and spend a few days wanting nothing more than to go back to hospital! I couldn’t get back into good routines… After Xmas I gave myself a good mental kicking and a pep talk and got back on the rehab wagon. I was determined to keep myself motivated. I downloaded diary apps, kept notes to myself but didn’t really feel like the new methods suited me. I then came across a handy little app called ‘Goal Tracker’ Its basically a modified calendar, you input your goals and how often you’re supposed to achieve them (daily, weekly, monthly etc) then simply tick each time you achieve a goal. You can also leave squares blank or put a cross in the box. I am leaving boxes blank if I don’t attempt a goal and putting a cross in if I tried and had a negative outcome, this can be that I didn’t achieve a goal (despite my best intentions) or that I fell during physio or had a flare up. The app shows a weeks worth of goals at a time and then you can select each goal individually to look back further.

This might not seem like a big thing but its a very simple, quick reminder of what I need to achieve and each time I add a tick I feel like I accomplished something, this in turn helps keep me motivated, the app also serves as a reminder when I’m slacking on any particular goal. It also means at my 3 month review I can show my physio and OT how often I managing each of my goals.

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(please ignore the fact that I haven’t filled in today yet! I have done some stuff honest!)

One of my big achievements was to go back to gymnastics this week. I hadn’t been since before rehab and before then I was struggling. Since I’d not trained in weeks and I’ve changed the way I use my body I took it easy! very easy! I was pleasantly surprised with myself! I did the warm-up with the group as usual and then moved onto some basic floor work. I started with handstands and cartwheels and survived really well! My shoulder stability is much better than it has been for years and my core is much stronger, I could hold a handstand for a few seconds without fear of falling! I must say since starting work with my Stanmore physio I have changed a lot about the way I use my body, I have changed the muscles I use for simple tasks like walking, sitting and standing so its only natural I change the way I exercise too. Before Stanmore I had to consciously engage every muscle I needed and continually concentrate on holding myself up, after a lot of hard work I’m now finding that some of my muscles fire automatically. I can step forwards and my legs do what they are supposed to without being told. (some of the time anyway!) I struggled initially with gymnastics, especially balances, it was like having to re-learn each individual skill, my ‘muscle memory’ was rendered obsolete since I’m now using different muscles for the same task!

Today, as I predicted, I’m in a lot of pain and I’m very tired. For me (and for a lot of hypermobile people) simply existing requires a lot more energy than for a ‘normal’ person, walking and talking at the same time is a monumental logistical undertaking requiring lots of thinking and prep work as well as constant checks for posture, energy levels, pain, trip hazards (including your own feet), navigating door frames and more! I have to be constantly aware of what my body is doing and the variations in my environment, I must be prepared for any joint to give out at any point or for my blood pressure to drop or my pulse to sky rocket….   is it any wonder that fatigue is such a big issue!   Add in exercise and the impact on my body and mind increases, there is a delicate balance between maintaining or improving physical fitness and pushing yourself too hard, I have a nasty habit of pushing too hard. I’m working on it, honest!

One of the things I said I’d update on was my use of Capsaicin, In one of our pain talks we covered the use of capsaicin (the hot stuff in chilli) as pain relief, usually in creams or patches. I took capsaicin to help with weight loss a few years ago and found that my pain decreased, at the time I put this down to me losing weight and getting fitter but after the pain talk I wasn’t so sure. After leaving hospital I went back on the Capsaicin capsules (Holland and Barrett) and I do think its helped with my pain, maybe its a placebo effect but either way I’m feeling better. I still have pain don’t get me wrong but my baseline chronic pain is a bit lower. I have been having issues with reflux but I’m not sure if that’s random or actually as a result of the capsaicin? I guess time will tell!

My final news is that after 10 months of hard work I will be going back to university next week. I have seen Occupational Health and I’ve got the all clear!

Anyway I think that’s everything updated for now, take care folks

Ciao for now!

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