Stacey! You really need to cut your toenails…

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I had my first moonboot mani pedi this weekend.  I had a wedding, and while I always planned to get my poor feet, left who is swollen due to excessive hopping and body support, and right, dry and shriveled from being secluded in Velcro darkness for too long, scrubbed and trimmed, my plans were cemented when a colleague looked down at poor righty and with a disgusted look on her face, crinkled her nose and told me I was long over due to get a toenail trim.

Well actually she said it much ruder than that, and from the look on her face I thought she was going to vomit at any moment, but ill let that slide. Mind you, she also took the prime opportunity of telling me after I had successfully managed to hobble almost a kilometer down the street with her for lunch and was sweating and uncomfortable. One would think given I have been strapped into a moonboot immobile for two months she would have let my slightly long big toenail slide also, but hey, each to their own phobias.

Ok, so I should back the truck up. It’s been weeks since I have bothered to write. I know what you are all thinking, I should have loads of time on my hands to sit in front of the computer and think of slightly humorous stories about my recovery.

In truth, my days are shorter thanks to sleeping in, my nights longer thanks to not sleeping, and I am tired all the time. The voice in my head that commanded my attention for the better part of this year has been silenced. Both of them. Pitchfork holding and prodding me has taken a holiday to some dark and exotic location, and angelic me just looks at me with wide eyes and sets her mouth in a straight line no matter what I do.

Even when I fail miserably at keeping a paleo lifestyle, and worse, make excuses for why I haven’t been able to.  I try to pretend its only because people sometimes bring me meals that contain potato and defiantly sugar. Or because my non-paleo, now home husband has been doing all of the cooking and hasn’t quite mastered the against all grain mentality. Or because sometimes its too hard when I forget to take lunch to work, and the café upstairs only has a beef salad that will contain soy and most likely gluten, but its that or a burger because walking up the street is too far.

But sometimes its because I really want to eat that Tim Tam.

And the choc peanut M&Ms. And the container of strawberries. And because the Thai restaurant only has rice, not cauliflower rice and a curry isn’t the same without a base. And because, well because I just want to try a piece of that cake.

The paleo flag I was once flying with pride has been somewhat ripped and is a little disheveled due to some rough winds as I continue on the adventure that is my recovery.

I’ve given up trying to exercise. A few days here and there in gym gear and a moonboot, doing my own workouts of sit-ups, push ups, leg lifts and a few other movements did nothing to really excite me so I gave up all together.  I’m not sure if it was the boredom of exercising on my own, or the image of myself looking ridiculous with crutches and weights at once, but I soon got over it.

Just using crutches all day takes my energy away, and hopping from one place to another on my good leg has meant lefty is now well and truly double the size of righty.

Something that was well noted when I got my mani pedi.

Lefty had to be scrubbed silly and massaged with intent before the tension from standing alone for months began to soak away and the layers of dead skin finally broke away to reveal a softer, smoother foot underneath ready to be calloused and abused.

Righty sat in the footspa for 30 minutes, the longest time she had been on the ground and in water, and no sooner after I raised her in the air for a slight exfoliate, did the skin start falling away from my foot. Literally. No scrubbing, no brushing, no blade needed. She was literally wasting away.

Disgusting I know. But the poor old sod has been shielded away from sunlight and air for too long so the skin melted away like the evil green witch in the Wizard of Oz.

She turned a deeper shade of purple. Righty does that sometimes. Since finishing the self-administrating blood clotting preventative injections a few weeks back my circulation doesn’t always match up. And I’m only a week down on my new foot angle. One more purple arch to go in the boot and then I will be set flat again. My heel will touch the ground and ill be good to go.

But lets not get ahead of ourselves. I still have seven months ahead before running will be on the cards, and while the 18th of November is the date penciled in to see my good friend the surgeon again, he might only relieve me of the crutches and not the boot.

I still have a long way to go.

Which is why Righty is purple, and every few hours, despite my toe wiggling I have to massage her myself and watch with fascination as the blood moves to another part of my foot and she turns from beetroot red to casper white.

Two months down and it’s not only the colour of my foot that has changed.

My right calf is no longer there. Seemingly overnight it has been replaced with what I can only describe as an arm like version of a leg. My ankle smaller than my wrist. The calf the size if my arm – and not my bicep or my shoulder – my arm.

Here I was worried about getting tuck shop arms that would flap in the breeze, and instead it’s my leg that now jingles and jangles during my routine bio oil treatment each night.

There is effectively no muscle there. Not ‘there is a muscle I just haven’t used it’ muscle. Not ‘I have really bad calf muscles from not exercising’ muscle. But a ‘there is no muscle in there because there is really no muscle in there’ muscle. My poor old Achilles hasn’t quite stretched far enough to move my foot yet let alone to reach into my calf muscle and join it, let alone define it.

That will be another month at least.

On the bright side, at least my toes look nice.

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Be careful what you wish for

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I wanted Michelle Bridges arms and a six pack. As I have had numerous people point out over the past four weeks, you don’t need legs for that.

Maybe I should have added in killer thighs – plural – or curvy calves – again plural. But I didn’t, so I really don’t have any excuse if I don’t get them, even with my dodgy achilles.

In the weeks following my operation not a lot happened. I was picked up from the hospital, still slightly drug induced and wheeled home with a goodie bag of takeaways including Tramadol, Endone, Oxycontin and my first three weeks of Clexane injections.

I was promptly placed on couch, handed TV remotes and given permission to boss, direct and order others around whenever I needed something.

What I needed was better TV. Even with Foxtel I forgot how boring, yet strangely addictive day time TV is. 16 and pregnant, 4 Weddings and my all time favorite Geordie Shore.

For whatever reason, perhaps because my brain was still floating in clouds and my leg still ached, but whenever I tried to read I had a hard time focusing. The words would swim on the page and well constructed sentences made no sense. So I gave up and just succumbed to the junk that is reality TV.

Along with the bossing and the ordering, I also called on a few more favours.

The first day post operation my ‘almost always paleo’ friend who happens to be a pharmacist bought over the pair of crutches she had ordered and I had paid for, saving me the weekly $10 hire fee from the local chemist. Given I had a bill from almost every doctor in the Epworth, the savings was well welcomed.

Her biggest favour however, was her clinical hand there to steady my own when the time came for my first injection.

Actually her hand was the only steady one, and so instead it was she who injected the preventative blood clot drug into me, slightly pinching my stomach and using one of the alcohol swabs she had thoughtfully also bought over. This time I watched. I wasn’t naive enough to think I was going to have her come over at 6pm everyday for the next six weeks.

The needle pierced my skin and the fluid was pumped into me. It swelled around the area, between her fingers and the flesh of skin she was still pinching and even when she slowly withdrew the injection the fluid remained poised. We could both feel it, bubbling just under my flesh, until she lightly pressed over the pin prick with the swab and sent the fluid flowing through my body to help keep my blood flowing.

The first of many injections was dropped in the safe syringe canister and I popped another pain killer. When my head was too cloudy to focus, she left and I returned to my TV viewing.

My routine of waking, stumbling to coach, being fed, bought coffee, food and handed remotes, iPad and water was interrupted in the first few days by welcomed visitors. My circle of friends who were part time workers or stay at home mums were the biggest help during the day. Not only did they bring conversation that actually made sense and did not involve underage sex, but my visitors also bought well meaning care packages and lunch. And their children, who could run around and distract me from the throbbing that had remained in my leg since the surgery and who pointed at my boot with a confused look on their face and asked what my ‘ouch’ was.

Good old trusty Grandma, Gma to those who know her, was also a big help visiting twice during the first week I was home alone. The first time she came for lunch it was with chicken, salad, fresh rolls and her world famous orange cake. I was thankful and hungry, but also vividly aware her orange cake was loaded with sugar and gluten and the rolls, despite being still warm, were something I had stayed away from too long to risk.

Bollucks. The part of my brain that was less drug affected thought. How was I going to tell my 84 year old Gma that all the food she had bought had recently been crossed off my ‘yes I eat that’ list. The very same Gma that had once scolded my vegetarian sister for not eating the zucchini slice she had made because it had ‘only a little bit’ of bacon in it.

Oh thanks Grandma, but I don’t eat bread very much anymore (at all)

Oh don’t you love? Do you want only half then?

Um, maybe I’ll just have the salad and not the roll.

Ok, I’ll just put you the half, which half do you want?

I faced the same challenge with the orange cake.

I’m a little full now Grandma, I might have some later.

You didn’t each that much love, ill just put you a little piece.

The second time she came, it was with her homemade soup that not long ago was my favorite. Luckily Joel had eaten most of the remaining orange cake and what little was left I had farmed off to my sister so nothing but crumbs remained.

But how this time could I explain that her once treasured and loved chicken and corn noodle soup was now a big NO on the paleo diet.

I didn’t. I ate the soup; nobody likes a fussy disabled girl.

The days were largely boring. I had visions of writing a witty and entertaining blog entry every day, but just like the fog that entered my brain when I tried to read, I couldn’t find the right words to write into my newly purchased journals and so the pencil stayed pointed the pages blank.

Slowly, at my brothers warning, I tried to wean myself off the pain killers. Perhaps I tried a little too early but his sms had freighted me

What drugs are you on? You better be careful, some people can get addicted to those you know. You should try not to take them.

Three years ago, my brother had broken his neck playing football and while thankfully he is fine now, he had been in a world of pain and bother back then, and had also been doped up on various blood thinners and pain killers. I was worried his warning may have come from personal experience, so excluded my daily helpers only a few days post surgery.

It was a mistake. By Tuesday I found myself in a bout of depression and pain. I had been home alone for most of the day left for once to manage my own snacks and hobble up to the kitchen every time my water bottle needed filling. TV had been bad, I was bored and feeling a little sorry for myself. And my leg was throbbing.

Epic fail.

Dad called, criticized my brother for his ‘well meaning’ warning and told me to pop a pill if I needed it.

I took two.

Nights were better.

At night friends popped over with care packages. Annie with parcels of food – all paleo food I might add – recipes she had taken the time to photocopy from the Against All Grain cookbook. Magazines, books and DVD’s. Nisha with more magazines. Megan with hand weights to help focus my frustration (and get those Michelle Bridges arms) Anna came to see me on a visit from Perth and together with Annie and Nisha, I broke my paleo diet with Thai food, wine and champagne.

But it was worth it, I felt human again.

And of course there were the flowers. A beautiful bunch from all the coaches at Crossfit Hawthorn East that arrived (conveniently) on a day when my sister was babysitting me.

A bouquet from work, cuts from Gma’s garden. Nisha, Anna and Charly all bringing a bunch when they came. My house smelled and looked beautiful, even if I didn’t

And then the first week was over.

The second week I went back to work. Well I went back working, from home. I had decided again to stop taking pain killers and for the most part the days were fine. But long. I had underestimated how much longer everything would take when dong it on one leg, by oneself, still slightly fragile from the surgery and post op week.

Getting dressed – unable to take my moonboot off until the stitches came out – meant that my wardrobe was limited. Very limited. As in I often stayed in my pajamas all day or managed to stretch a pair of trucksuit pants over the boot and hoped I had no visitors.

Making a coffee. Travel mug strategically placed on the edge of the kitchen bench. Down the two stairs I go on the crutches, leg held in air. Mug placed carefully in bag then gently lowered onto right crutch or over shoulder and slowly, very slowly, maneuver over to the couch or into the study. By the time I got there, the coffee was cold.

Showers. All of a sudden I was a child again and couldn’t perform this simple task on my own so resorted to (as hideous as it sounds) bathing only every second day. Garbage bag over moonboot, stool in base of shower. Leg stretched out of shower door and resting on another chair so it didn’t get wet and stayed elevated. All of this had to of course have a helper to lower me on stool and get me out of the shower when the time came.

Food. It was almost too hard. Breakfast was provided to me by well meaning husband (who now refers to me as the English patient) before leaving for work, but lunch and snacks were left up to me. It meant I got up only when I was starving and not for snacks, although my appetite still had not come back from the operation. At least I managed to FINALLY give up my nut addiction.

I was exhausted.

Just getting around on my own sapped my energy, and my brain trying to focus on working that first week was tough. I took regular lunch breaks, plopping myself in front of the TV on the couch for an hour while eating whatever it was I had managed to make and carry on my own.  I answered emails and dialed into meetings said a silent thanks that I didn’t have to make any massive decisions.

On Friday of that second week I glanced at myself in the mirror after negotiating the shower and was a little horrified by what I saw.

Dark bags circled my eyes, unwashed, greasy hair that hadn’t been brushed in a day or so. Pale face, very pale face from sitting indoors for weeks. Track marks and bruises some purple, some black and blue spotted my stomach from the daily injections.  And I had lost weight. The muscle tone I had tried so hard to achieve had faded into the background and left my stomach, arms and back with a thin layer of flesh. It wasn’t fat, it was just skin. For some reason despite the lack of exercise I had lost both size and weight.

Defiantly no sign of Michelle Bridges arms and a six pack. I looked hideous.

Morphine Madness

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Sometime later, after my gluten free hospital roast lamb and vegetables – that of course also included potatoes, and when my stream of visitors eventually subsided, the pain started to crawl its way into my body.

Julie had just left for the night, saying her goodbyes ironically through the locked toilet door after I had managed to negotiate the bed lowering mechanism, lift myself into the strategically parked wheelchair and using my one good foot push/pull myself to the disabled loos.

I thought about trying to sleep through the pain, but I remembered Julie saying a night nurse should be in around seven for my next round of drugs and it was now almost half past. And besides, I was craving a coffee and a gluten free snack.

I used the buzzer. The one that looks at you with a warning almost daring you to press it. Everyone will tell you it’s there to be used, to be pressed, especially for those that can’t walk. But really its not. It’s a in an emergency button and if you press it when it’s not an emergency… well let’s just say you get crossed off the night nurse’s Christmas card list.

I pressed it.

And heard the sound of the buzzer, its whining every second, from my bed. The girl who I was rooming with heard it too, as I imagine many other patients did also.

I automatically felt guilty, but my pain was creeping its way up from my toes to the throbbing where I imagine my incision was made. The only thing worse was the craving for coffee.

Eventually Miss Night Nurse (I never got her name) came.

I plastered an almost too wide smile on my pale face and greeted her with all the enthusiasm I could muster

Hi! (fake smile and high pitched voice)

I was just wondering, I think I am due for a pain killer?

Ok, well we are just doing handover, just checking. I will have a look and get back to you when we can.

Oh (no longer smiling) Ok (voice level and pitch dropped significantly) well can I also have a coffee and some water please?

You want coffee, water ok, give me a minute let me finish handover.

The buzzing stopped and she was gone.

I was still thirsty, hungry and in pain.

But I waited.

And waited.

Eventually she came ‘rushing’ back with a few pills and a glass of water.

I have some panadol, and your medicine, and some water.

Oh thanks so much! Fake smile was back on my face a moment before I snatched the pills greedily from the table and dropped them down my parched throat with a swig of the water.

And now I’ll get your coffee.

Do you have any snacks? I asked timidly.

You want snacks? Ok yes we have some.

Umm…. Anything dairy and gluten free? I almost apologized, although not sure why.

I should have just taken the allergic option that would have had me wearing a red warning beacon around my wrist of my ‘gluten intolerance’ but given it would have changed the medication I was supplied thought I best be a little more flexible.

I’ll see what we have.

At least I didn’t have to wait long. Night Nurse was back in a flash with my coffee, long black, luke warm, no sugar.

And she had snacks.

An array of snacks.  It was as though she had taken one of everything she could find from the kitchen in order to satisfy the fussy patient in ward 15. But there, buried among the cheese, the savoy’s, the sugar filled nougat, there were even gluten free options.

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But nothing paleo.

At least the blue pills had managed to warn off some of the pain and I even managed to doze off half way through The Footy Show.

A few hours later however I woke due to the now violent throbbing in my leg.

The ward was quiet; lights were out, curtains drawn. It was almost 11pm. Across the bed from me I could hear the muffled whispering of my roommate and her boyfriend but of course there was no nurse in sight.

Thinking perhaps I had just slept funny, and maybe a roll to the loo would help the discomfort, I again managed to negotiate the wheelchair solo.  But an empty bladder did nothing for the aching in my achilles.

I was going to have to buzz again.

Now just in case you think I am a light touch, a sissy or just fond of the pills let me give you some background.

I have a high pain threshold. I know this, and have had it confirmed by other professional medics. And yes I might brag about it a little, but compared to a friend who once said Yoga hurt while she was down dogging (not my friend Nisha just to clarify) I know I have a much higher tolerance than some.

Proof point number one –

The only time I have ever had to have a filling I was more scared of the injection that was meant to numb the pain than the filling itself. So much so the dentist said he would start and slip it in without me knowing. I went through the process eyes shut and mouth held open.  Every now and then he would ask me how the pain was and I awkwardly nodded my head – there was none. A slight discomfort, nothing really pleasant, but no pain.  When eventually the procedure was over and I could close my mouth enough to swallow and then talk, I asked when he had given me the injection.

I didn’t. The dentist replied. You have a high pain threshold, so thought you could have the filling without having the injection to numb you mouth.

Proof point number two –

Numerous previous injuries have seen me sprain (never break) arms, wrists, ankles and feet but instead of hopping off the netball court or soccer field I would play the game out only to discover my foot was so swollen my shoe wouldn’t come off until it was iced or that my little finger was actually broken not just jarred.

Proof point number three –

Two days after getting all four of my wisdom teeth chiseled out of me (I say chiseled as they were so crocked they had to be broken in my mouth and piece by piece removed to save my normal teeth) I had reduced my pain killers by half – although was still in somewhat of a delusional state given I thought I could once again eat foods that did not have a consistency of baby slush.

I tried my old uni favorite the 2-minute chicken noodles (I shudder at the processed thought now). I had not tried these bad boys for years, and forgotten the effect the preservatives had on my stomach. The noodles themselves went down without too much hassle; it was a few hours later when my bowel tried to digest them that the trouble occurred. And by trouble I mean the pain of my digestive system screaming at me for feeding it such fowl food. The run to the toilet and the combination of the pain killers and the poor food choice left me reeling in pain – so much so I should have taken more drugs right then and there. But I didn’t and instead when the pain got so much my body cracked it and I fainted (still on the loo).

Actually maybe that goes against my theory…

Either way, by now I was in excruciating pain.

So I buzzed that ‘don’t buzz me’ warning beacon again.

It had been a few hours since my blue pill, and by now the anesthetic would have well and truly worn off, so there was no way I was over reacting – right?

Well Night Nurse seemed to think I was.

For when I told her that I was in a lot of pain and could she give me something she nodded, made some comment my brain couldn’t comprehend in the situation and left.

Half an hour later she still had not returned and I was about to bite my own leg off if it meant the pain would stop.

I could still hear the girl in the ward opposite, she too was calling out for more relief.  She too had buzzed. She too had a quick visit from Night Nurse and asked for something. And she too was still waiting. But unlike me, she had support. Her boyfriend was still by her side, refusing to leave until the medication came.

It was only when Night Nurse came to kick her other half out did he demand some relief and he was not leaving until it came.

Naively I thought his stance would be something I could piggy back on. That when Night Nurse bought his girlfriend (who had something removed from her back that had left a hole big enough her mum had to learn how to pack it before discharge) her pills, I would get mine.

I was wrong.

The two measly almost see threw curtains that separated us and the ten feet of white hospital tiles was like an ocean and I was forgotten.

It had almost been an hour.

I buzzed again.

I had no choice. I honestly can say I had never experienced such pain as I was in currently.

Never in my life.

Not one to compare mild pain to labour, I had the terrifying thought that if childbirth was worse than this I was never signing up for it.

I think I went a little delusional.

Thank goodness, the nurse who answered my buzzing this time around was not my slow shuffle night nurse by Miss Matron.

My polite demeanor was gone, I was in agony.

My pain is really bad… I could hardly formulate a sentence

Out of 10? Miss Matron asked all business like

9 (I left 10 for childbirth).

Ok ill bring you something straight away.

I tried to breathe through it – wasn’t that what they told you do to? I tried the breathing I had recently learned in Yoga but it was too loud in the ward and it sounded odd, like maybe I was in labour so I stopped and sheets gripped so tightly my knuckles turned white, prayed to anything that would listen Miss Matron wouldn’t be too long.

She wasn’t.

The sheets came back with a flourish, a light was switched on and both Miss Matron and Night Nurse were at my side in a second.

Miss Matron – Stacey given your pain is almost at a 10 we have a shot of morphine for you

My fear of needles momentarily forgotten Miss Matron held my shoulders down while Night Nurse primed the injection. It wasn’t until they had pulled up my nightie and swabbed my stomach with an antiseptic that I realized I had been squirming in pain and was moving too violently for the needle and that’s why I was being held.

I wish it was Miss Matron who did the deed but it was Night Nurse who gave me the morphine hit.

It may take a few minutes she said snapping off her gloves. So take these too

More pills. I swallowed them without water and then washed them down for good measure. Hoping I would be in a phase of fog soon and the pain would be gone.

Miss Matron filled up my water and smiled at me with concern.

Buzz if you need anything else that should help you sleep.

It did, but only a few hours.

The injection had left a small bruise on my stomach and a red pin mark, and it had also left me foggy enough that the pain which had returned (enough to wake me) was almost bearable.

Just suck it up Stacey my inner red horned pitchfork holding self said.

It’s probably not that bad. Miss Hole in her back is sleeping.

I’m not sure if she was, but at least she was quiet.

This time I took my inner self’s advice and ignored the buzzer.  Mastered the wheelchair again on my own and drifted in and out of a painful sleep for the rest of the night.

At least I was going home tomorrow.

Drips & Drugs, Pills & Paleo, Bed pans & Bed pains

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My surgery was largely uneventful. This was a good thing. I waited as expected for four hours in the day procedure area of the Epworth Eastern hospital, ready to eat my arm off after fasting since the night before, and as luck would have it was only called in once I had successfully hobbled my way to the disabled loos and back.

Standard issue hospital gown, mootboot finally off even if only for a moment. Nurse painted my leg red with a cleaner and antiseptic, and also to highlight in surgery which leg it was that needed attention. My assistant surgeon introduced himself and gave me a few pointers on what they were doing and how. The anesthetist came to explain the post op pain killers he would prescribe, made some bad jokes and left. Dr Hau popped in long enough to draw an arrow in black marker on my leg and a smiley face on my right big toe and then I was wheeled into the surgery area.

No gas, just an injection or two, the methodical count down and before I knew it I was asleep in la la land.

I was told during the surgery I was turned over, face down and Bonds undies on display while they worked on my leg. Incision at the back of my ankle, about seven centimeters which would leave the scar Joel was so worried about. My mop ends were successfully attached with no major issues or surprises. I was sawn up and the entire thing took about 30 minutes.

I woke to find my moonboot back on and groggy from the remains of the anesthetic.

No real pain – that would come later. Nurses fussing over me. I remember asking if they had called Joel yet to tell him I was ok, since his mum had died not 10 months earlier during a routine biopsy, he had a fear of anyone going under anesthetic.

For the next few hours nurses came and went administering me with antibiotics through the intravenous needle in my left hand and providing various pills for me to swallow that were designed to prevent the onslaught of pain I knew was coming.

I felt largely, ok. Thirsty, and a little hungry once the harder drugs were flushed out of my system. I managed to keep down water so the drip in my arm was taken out, the bung left only for the antibiotics I would need to prevent infection, one of the most common risks associated with an achilles surgery.

When I felt strong enough to eat the Nurse, Juile, bought me my gluten free lunch option. Sandwiches.

She left the still cold from the fridge white bread ham and salad triangles on my hospital tray table along with two more blue pills and a glass of water. I eyed off the sandwiches with disgust. Even before my gluten free days I hated premade sandwiches, and had an intense phobia of them which started when I was a child and used to hide standard school lunch of vegemite sandwiches in the bottom of my schoolbag instead of eating them. Where they remained until my Mum eventually smelt them out.

I popped the pills with another swig of water and tried to work up enough courage to tackle the ‘food’ in front of me. I was pretty hungry.  I still hadn’t eaten since dinner last night and it was well past lunch time. Ok so they weren’t paleo. I knew the substitute flour would be corn based or something and the ham would be mass purchased and produced, not free range, and I spied what I thought was margarine not butter, which I have never eaten, but really, my options were limited. Very limited. As in, I had nothing else.

The only food place in the hospital was a Hudsons coffee, which would also serve premade sandwiches, and while I had a smoothie or two in waiting I had made the night before the operation and were in the nurses refrigerator, I first needed something I could chew.

I took a bite and like a catholic girl on her wedding night tried to think of something else.

Half way through the first non paleo triangle, the blue pills kicked in and I had trouble thinking at all. My vision went blurry, my hand seemed to move a tad slower than I wanted it to and my sandwich had no taste at all. When I moved my head it took a while for my vision to catch up, and a warm feeling was creeping all down my body.

When Julie returned I slowly, deliberately, as by this time I was quite dizzy asked her about the pills.

Are they meant to space you out?

Yes they are morphine based, so they might have a strange effect.

Ok, good, so it wasn’t just the sandwich that was sending me into a fog of delusion.

In my field of hazy fog I finished the sandwich and when it eventually lifted, I finished my hide the greens smoothie too.

Much later, when the blue pills had almost warn off, I had been administered a second round of antibiotics, my smoothie was gone and a jug of water had also been put away, I needed to use the bathroom.

It was my first pee post surgery – almost five hours ago.

I buzzed nurse Juile. I hadn’t been out of bed since my surgery either so wasn’t sure if I was even allowed, but knew either way I would need some help.

I was humiliated when she returned with the bed pan.

In addition to my premade sandwich phobia is my dislike for use of public toilets and my inability to squat to pee. Ever.

Now at the risk of providing too much information, let me offer some background to my unusual toilet behaviors.

If a toilet door does not have a lock, I request a friend or sister to wait out the front for fear of someone walking in. The first toilet I use in a block at work, is the toilet that becomes, when possible, my one toilet for the rest of the day. I won’t go camping unless there are public loos and when travelling around Asia and Europe I managed to bypass all drop holes to find a toilet with a seat and functioning flush button, even if it meant I was in the end running for one. Literally running for one.

So when Julie returned with the bed pan and instructions that I was not yet to get out of bed, I almost thought about holding on.

But I was still hazy on drugs, full of medications, antibiotics, smoothie and water, and only had one foot I could jig or tap my bladder pressure away, so really had no choice.

My first problem was stage fright.

For 33 years I had managed to never be put in such a position where this method of peeing was required, and now, dispute the intense pressure on my bladder which was calling out for a release, my mind was having trouble letting go.

Julie came back to see how I was doing, but I shook my head so she disappeared again.

Like with the sandwich, I shut my eyes and thought of something else, and a few minutes later, perhaps because by this stage my bladder was bursting and I had no other choice, my release came.

This isn’t so bad. I remember thinking, almost settling into it.

Just like a loo, only portable.

The relief on my bladder as the pressure began to ease was instantaneous, and I relaxed into the bed pan. Maybe I relaxed a little too much, or maybe it was just the amount of fluids I had consumed during the day, but I had trouble shutting off.

A memory from a drunken night out when I had held my bladder from one pub to the next, before running into the loo and peeing so much the person in the cubical next to me called out to congratulate me on my long stream came back to me, and as it did a sudden moment of panic and fear.

What if the bedpan was not deep enough.

Bollucks.

Now if you are not a fan of toilet humor, toilet stories or other low brow attempts at making a funny, or if you have an angelic image of yours truly you would like to preserve, stop reading now.

Things do get worse.

I thought about not posting this, not writing it to begin with but life is often messy, and I figure I am only embarrassing myself, and life writing is about writing about life – good bad or otherwise.

So here goes.

By the time Julie came back I was sitting in a bed pan of my own pee.

I had well and truly outdone myself this time round.

Stomach muscles engaged I was resting lightly on the brown paper bowl in fear I would fall too deeply into the pool of my own urine and tip it everywhere.

I need not have feared, that happened anyway.

For when poor Julie came to take away the pan and empty it, it was so full she couldn’t prevent it from tipping and sloshing and spilling drops – well more than drops – of urine onto my hospital gown and sheets. And yes, I had been sitting in it.

I was mortified.

Julie drew the curtains around my bed, blocking out the family visiting the only other patient in the six bed ward, but they had seen enough anyway. They had seen Julie come in with the bed pan, only for her to return later with a bucket of hot water, soap and a set of new bed sheets.

Like a child once again in nappies I was stripped, bathed, and changed into my own pajamas. The bed was stripped and new sheets put on me. Julie remained professional the entire time, as I lay there red faced, dignity gone as she washed my back and butt, and wondered if this is how the elderly felt when they too were unable to bath themselves.

This is why I only use toilets. I thought as Julie finished up, smile on her face and told me not to worry, it happens all the time.

As the curtains were opened and the family opposite glanced my way, I wished for two more of the blue pills that would space me out so I could forget this moment ever happened.

An hour or so later, when I needed to relieve myself again, Julie returned smile on face, wheelchair in front of her, and said she had checked with the orthopedic surgeon, I could get out of bed.

Thank god.

Learning the Rough Way

I spent the next two days pre operation at work. Some thought I was crazy, coming into work before having an operation. Why wouldn’t I just take the days off? I would like to say it was the allegiance and dedication I felt to the job, and perhaps there was a little of that. I probably wanted a little bit of sympathy also from my colleagues. In truth though, the main reason I went back to work on Tuesday and Wednesday was to keep sane.

I was already worried about the boredom I would find at home waiting for me on the couch; between the remote control and the mound of cushions I would need to support me for the next few weeks.

I was grasping onto the remains of normality for at least the next two days. I needed people. I needed routine. I needed to keep busy.

The Monday after we left Dr Hau, me with a fake smile plastered on myself to try and pretend I wasn’t shocked or surprised at the length of recovery he had outlined for me, I called in a bigger favor from Laura.

Time to fit me with a cam walker, or what I affectionately (not) refer to as a moonboot.

Laura paid me a home visit that night and expertly fitted me with the shoe, showed me how to use it and left me with a few compression socks and bandages to use in future. Helpful tips on how to shower with one on (cover with garbage bag and use electrical tape) on sleeping (pillowcase to keep your sheets clean) and promises that eventually I would get used to it.

Her visit saved me not only a trip to the hospital the following day to get one fitted, but also saved me some much needed cash. At this point, after paying $100 for the Dr visit, $90 for the ultrasound and $98 for the Xray’s – all before operation and post operation care – I was starting to wonder why I had private health insurance in the first place and with election time looming, was almost half interested in the ‘policies’ our ‘level headed’ governments were trying to sell.

Her visit also meant I was free on Tuesday and could go to work and given it would be the last two days in a few weeks I could, I actually really wanted to.

Plus I knew what was coming. Weeks of alone time, getting bed sores and most likely putting on a few kilos and loosing the 15% body fat I at worked so hard at achieving.

I couldn’t drive. The moonboot had seen to that – for at least three months.  So not only was I couch bound, but housebound too. I had to rely on others for everything – something I’m not really good at.

Good old Dr Hau with his remarkable bedside manner had been very stern about the first two weeks post operation and their significant in helping me to repair. Leg raised, elevated to prevent swelling that could then rip at the stitches or pull at the recently attached tendon. No moving unless I had to. And by had to, it meant unless I had to go to the toilet.

Just sit on the couch, Dr Hau had said. Like this was easy.

I’m sure for some it would be, but I have never been a couch sitter for lengthy periods, unless I have lost myself in a novel or with my notebook and have successfully managed to lock out the outside world.

Just sit on the couch.

So no crossfit in the morning, no yoga at night.

Just sit on the couch.

So no cooking dinner or preparing meals.

Just sit on the couch.

So no driving, no grocery shopping, no walking the dogs.

Just sit on the couch.

So no working, no visiting friends, no brunch on Sunday mornings, no drinks Friday night.

Just sit on the couch.

So no dusting, no vacuuming, no mopping or sweeping or cleaning.

Just sit on the couch.

I was worried.

I may have a slight obsessive compulsive nature when it came to housework and if I spot dust on my dark chocolate brown coffee table can’t relax until I remove it. Couch time was only after dinner had been cooked and dishes had been washed and dogs had been fed and the next day smoothies had been made.

My day used to start at 5:15am and end at 11pm. That was going to be a lot of couch time.

At some point during a fit of self pity I reached out to Jarryd Roughead via twitter.

I never expected him to respond, although I hoped he did. After all he had done this same injury and had come back to play some of his best footy. He was in the lead for the Coleman medal, surely if someone could spark some sort of fight in me it was him. It was a simple message, and he responded not half an hour later.

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I’m not ashamed to say, this made my day.

It pepped me up when I needed it. It also reconfirmed to me what I heard from the surgeon, the doctor and everyone else who knew me well. I needed to stop, relax, and not try to rush this or do too much. I needed to literally, once my leg had been cut open and my tendon mop ends reattached, do nothing.

So that Tuesday and Wednesday, before my operation date, I went to work. I worked hard, not leaving until late on Wednesday night. I tried to handover what I could, tidy up other things and ensure my team had what they needed. I hobbled to the disabled loos on my own with my hired crutches and yet to be named moonboot and managed to master the art of carrying my drink bottle in a bag over my shoulder every time it needed filling.

I smiled and joked and laughed and told the story of my popping achilles about 20 times over and never once minded, because I knew I would miss this, this normality, when I was alone on the couch for two weeks.

And I may have, when the cab had dropped me home and I was alone for an hour before Joel came back from his day trip to Sydney, stumbled around the house trying to dust what I could, putting away clothes where I could and trying to arrange the study in some sort of order. Because this was also normality, and while everyone hates housework, I knew I would miss this also.

One small step for mankind, one giant ‘hanumanasana’ leap for me

75 Minute Intermediate Class (Focus on Hanumanasana) p2

Friday.

I can’t remember a Friday when I have not had a glass of wine – oh yes I can, during the Primal Junction challenge – but before then I cant remember one I haven’t had a drink much less exercised.

Tonight is my first strong flow. Where the ultimate goal is to reach full splits.

As soon as Kristiarne told us this as we checked in for the class, Nisha and I exchanged a worried glance and raised eyebrows.

It’s the journey, Kristairne reassured us. Don’t worry.

As Nisha said, that’s going to be a long journey for us.

For me, who has only just learnt to touch my toes, whose hips still ache and knees inwardly bend at odd angles, it’s going to be a tough one.

Apparently the journey involves us using two blocks for support, which was fine until the class got so full we had to surrender one of our already claimed blocks to the later comers, or those who were not quick enough to snatch two.

I gave mine to Haydn. Probably a mistake in hindsight given his increased flexibility to begin with and his previous gymnastic experience.

His handstand walking at crossfit today made my attempt at kicking my legs overhead, much less walking, well, laughable. Plus he can sumo squat more than double his weight, so not sure why he needs a block to hold him up.

Anyway, I gave it to him. Odds are it won’t be the fact I am down to only one block that stops me from doing the splits. I have a better chance of splitting something.

I’m in the first row tonight. Nisha has dragged me here kicking and screaming so we can review our posture closer to the mirror. I’m not sure I like it. It’s too close. Especially if the destination is full splits, or as we are told ‘hanumanasana’ (hah-new-mahn-AHS-anna). 

Before attempting this peek pose we were told a story of a monkey-faced king, Rama, of India whose wife, Sita, was abducted by an evil demon king of Sri Lanka, Ravana. Like any good war story a battle followed and according to Wikipedia Rama’s brother was severely injured and his life could only be saved by a magical herb that only grew, alas, on the Himalayas and was an impossible journey given the time required to bring the herb back to save Rama’s brother, Laksamana.  

Enter the story’s hero, Hunuman, who was devoted to Rama and so took it upon himself to take the leap from India to the Himalayas, where unsure what herb to pick, he instead strapped the entire mountain on his back.

“It was the greatest leap ever taken. The speed of Hanuman’s jump pulled blossoms and flowers into the air after him and they fell like little stars on the waving treetops. The animals on the beach had never seen such a thing; they cheered Hanuman, then the air burned from his passage, and red clouds flamed over the sky . . .” (Ramayana, retold by William Buck).

Of course he made it back in time, saved Laksamana, rescued Rama and everyone lived happily ever after.

After I went through the motions, I am sure Laksamana, Rama and Sita were well glad they had someone with Hanuman’s flexibility, leg length and strength on their side instead of my own..

No block was required, because well, there was just no way I was getting anywhere close to leaping over my mat much less over a country or two.

I took a sneaky glance at Hadyn and noticed he was in full splits.

Without his block.

I really wanted to go home and have a glass of wine.

Saturday

I have never spent so much time in front of a mirror as I have since starting yoga.

It’s a bit confronting.

Not so much during the practice, but the time I spend in the room before is defiantly. I find myself staring at my own arms, wondering if they are any closer to Michelle Bridges.

Tonight, when I take a break from the scribble on my page and look up, catching a glance of my seated position, I almost think they do. But then I realize I have taken my glasses off and am probably looking at somebody else.

If anything my arms look a little too wide.

I’m prepping for the triple-header today.

My hips are a little cranky after last nights failed leap attempt. Fair to say the journey to find full splits might be over before it has really begun for me.

Laksamana must have had really long legs.

I’m also still recovering from my eating mishap yesterday when I ransacked cake and forgot my sugar free self.  Maybe that is why my arms look too wide.

Today sees a few familiar faces, a few new ones. I’m back in my regular, almost comforting place waiting for Nisha who I know will want to change to be closer to the front, but with or without glasses I know my arms are not like Michelle Bridges just yet, and after my embarrassing attempt at  ‘hanumanasana’ it’s safer in my corner.

After today’s triple-header I should be back on track to success.

Thank god.

If I continue the daily ritual, with a Thursday double and either a double or triple next Saturday then I should be far enough in front for the final weekend when I will also be away, and actually pass the challenge.

Knowing I would be starving by 11:30 I ate yoghurt with my paleo Primal Junction muesli, and washed it down with a long black before I came.

Not sure it was the best idea to have dairy before yoga, but I’ve been craving it lately and didn’t have time to cook eggs.

I also made a smoothie, spinach, banana, berry and chia seeds, although again I failed by putting it in the freezer and it’s not yet ready to drink.

I’m a little tired, maybe ill have a nap in meditation….

Sunday

I’m back baby! Back on track!!

I’m pretty chuffed with myself for making it back from so far behind.

I might even be ahead!!!

Mind you, I’m paying for it.

My legs are sore, my hips ache, I have a bruise on my butt that I think is from crossfit and hurts every time I rock and roll my way up to seated position, and my shoulders burn through my vinyasa flow.

And I’m exhausted.

It’s my 10th class for the week.

10 classes in 7 days.

Of course there was a Yin through in, and mediation yesterday, but either way that is a lot of airtime, dedication, flexing, stretching and sweating I have left on the mat this week.

So much so I have caught up. Am not a follower but back with the pack, a real challenger.

Thank goodness, if I was putting my hips through this for nothing I would be well pissed.

The mat placement etiquette seems to have been lost a little today. I thought about trying a different position but it’s a little bit creative, not straight lines, all higgledy piggledy and I couldn’t quite find the right area for Nisha and I to set up somewhere new.

Nisha is hung over. She is getting ready to sweat out all the bad boy toxins she consumed last night.

Me, I had one glass of red wine and it was enough to send me to sleep.  I didn’t even make my eyelids stay open for the last ten minutes of Carlton versus Essendon.

See, exhausted.

My body hurts and my entire being was cursing when the alarm went off this morning.

It’s Sunday! Rest Day!! Are you mad woman!!?? Shut that thing off!!!??

 

Sorry scary Stacey, you will have to stop poking me with your pitchfork because I am getting up.

My thought process before class today.

I really had to sumo slam the negative Stacey down, the one who was responsible for me eating cake. She had Friday, she was not having Sunday too!

It’s been a tough week.

Nisha felt like this week one. I am sure others did also. Tired, struggling, a little overwhelmed because maybe this entire challenge thing was taken bit too easily, with a little bit too much self confidence.

Week 1 challengers were all feeling like that while I was away for work, drinking wine, eating steak and sleeping in.

But now it’s my turn.

Maybe some others are feeling like me this week.  Maybe not, maybe everyone else is great as they are already well on their way in week two, and they prepared themselves.

Today Nisha said she defiantly felt stronger than she did before starting the challenge – which is great. She looks stronger, and I know she can touch her toes now. Her leap to the Himalayas was longer than mine, and she thought I was the flexible one.

I just feel like I have lost more sweat than my body weight, and are more tired than I normally am.  My arms are no closer to Michelle Bridges and my thighs area still causing me grief. So much grief I need to visit Lulu this week for some more suitable clothing.

Cleary I am also complaining more than I normally would. Or perhaps I always complain a lot and have not realised it…

Hopefully it’s not just me, that other challenger goers are having a mid mental breakdown too.  That other challengers are surprised at how much they hurt, how much they sweat, how stiff they can be and how tired at the end of a day.

On the positive – I am also surprised at much I like yoga.

How important it is for me to keep my fingers pointed at the roof, that my legs are in the right position. How hard I try to keep my elbows in during forward plank before going through my flow routine. How happy I was when Kacey mentioned I had good alignment in my vinyasa flow.

So while I am complaining (a fair bit) I am enjoying this challenge and my introduction to yoga. If I wasn’t I would have thrown in the mat by now and just moved on. Eaten more cake and not thought about it again.

But I really do like it, which means I really do want to succeed at this challenge.

So back to the mat ill go tomorrow. And the next day, and the day after that…

It’s one small step for mankind, one giant ‘hanumanasana’ leap for those of us in the challenge.

It’s not back fat, I just can’t do my dress up. And I thought Yoga was easy…

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Monday

I’m back at yoga. It’s only Monday, the first Monday I have been, so not sure why I’m saying ‘back’.

My little yellow blocks of achievement haven’t progressed any further down the aisle.  I’m still showing 50 shades of white.

It’s early. Very early. For a 6pm class I left work at 5, quickly changed and came straight here, even though it’s a two minute drive. I remember Kacey saying classes could get busy and I have an embarrassing fear of coming so late I can’t find a place to squeeze in my mat.

I’m paranoid that instead I will hover, recently purchased, fresh still curling at the edges mat in hand, squinting through the dim lights because I forgot my glasses, trying to find a spot to sweat amongst everyone else.

I have always hated being late.

Even so, I was so early I sat in the car for 15 minutes and waited until I saw a few others with yoga mat in hand entering before coming in.  As much as I hate to be late, I also hate being the first one to arrive.

Like a creature of habit I put my mat down in the same place I have practiced the last two days I’ve been here.  Simone, a fellow challenger was taking her usual daily instagram so I left her in peace and instead ventured out back to the main room and took another woeful look of the scoreboard.

It’s so woeful that the moment new people start to arrive I venture back in the room, notebad and pencil in hand and lie on my purple sanctuary, trying not to think of how many make up classes I still have and how few days I have to do it in.  

I’m nervous again.

Not sure why, but I am. Maybe because I don’t have Nisha with me, she did the morning class. Maybe because I am so worried about not filling in my chart and I have always been bad at math and have not worked out how many double, triples and singles I will need to do yet. I think I need to pee again, even though I just did. It’s a nervous pee.

My hips and arms slightly ache from crossfit this morning, and holding my grey-led is slightly painful. The room is so quiet everyone can hear the scratch of my pencil. So much so, I’m conscious of it and move, causing both my knees to crack and send the sound vibrating through the room.

Ooops.

My pants are too big and not the standard lulu lemon edition everyone else has. They make me feel more like a novice. Especially when I only notice they are too big when I feel the top of my undies poking out from the back band and hope I haven’t shown the girl behind me too much of my butt as I bend over my tattered notebook.

Sorry about that if I have.

I need new pants because I am well on my way to crossfit legs. Eg thunder thighs and a small waist.

As the room starts to fill, it gets warmer. I’m already in this morning’s sweaty clothes, which were yesterday’s sweaty clothes, and I’m really hoping I don’t stink this beautiful room out…

Tuesday

Honestly, I thought this entire challenge would be one piece of paleo cake and no biggy.

I mean if I quit sugar and gluten and grain and soy and legumes and god forbid stopped drinking for 36 days then surely this would be a breeze.

Ding dong – wrong again.

How overly self confident I have found myself – a realization the last two challenges have clearly shown me through a rare moment of self awareness.

A bit of stretching, a few deep breaths. Nothing I, a lady with lats and too thick thighs couldn’t handle.

Right?

Wrong!

I’m still sore from yesterday.

I don’t know if it was the snatch or the pull ups at crossfit or the hot yoga from the night before or the ring dips and skin the cat from this morning, but my arms are not quite working the way they are meant to.

I couldn’t do my dress up today.

The bottom zip I finally managed to squeeze up after sucking in, but no amount of stretching or pulling could get my tight right arm into a position where it could effectively button the top of my dress.

And I thought yoga was meant to make you more flexible.

It’s not back fat, I keep trying to tell myself, I just can’t do my dress up.

The only other time I can remember having visible back fat was in my wedding dress. When they make it so tight you need a ruler to push down your flesh into the fold of the dress between your shoulders.

One slight incorrect move and you have a second butt crack in your back.

Then you look back on your wedding photos and realize you are never going to be that size again in your life because you starved yourself for months to fit into a dress you would never wear again.

Oh the society we live in!

(Personally my dress was off the special rack, I ate everything I wanted to and am smaller now so look at those photos and am grateful my back fat is hidden).

But I digress. Back in the work change rooms I gave up trying to reach the button on my dress,  kept my hair down, my jacket on and snuck upstairs to find fellow crossfiter, brain child of ‘confessions of ladies with lats’ and understander of thick thighs, who in sympathy did the button up for me.

And then tonight, another clothing error – I think I have my pants on back to front.

I’m not quite sure. 

This no tag thing lulu has got going on really confuses me at times.

Just like the warrior pose does that I seem to only push into a second after everyone else is steady. My feet slip and slide on my mat, my new, purple, still curling at the edges mat, and as sweat drips off me I struggle to dig my feed into the ground.

I sweat more in yoga that I do in crossfit. Who would have thought?

And now I’m the strange glasses wearing, sweaty feet, pants on backwards large armed and thick thighs girl on the new mat in the corner of a yoga room with a notebook.

If my friends could see me now.

Wednesday

There is a team of us tonight. I’m not longer a loner. Nisha has switched to nights to break it up and two friends from work have also joined. I’m worried their girlish giggles and poses will make me laugh and I have strategically placed my mat right in front of theirs.

It’s hot tonight. Not outside, I mean in the class. I’m slightly worried because l have my long leggings and my sweating has only increased of late, if I was sliding in flow, tonight I will be sprawling.

And there are 28 of us in the room.

I did pack shorts to wear and went to put them on but my recent change in body structure and shape and size has caused them to no longer fit. Too big around the waist, a little too firm on my thighs.

I don’t need falling down shorts as I down my dog in the face of colleagues behind me, so I’ve taken my chances with the long leggings.

My mat is upside down. I’ve only just realized but not entirely sure it matters either. At least my pants are on the right way today.

 I think.

Thursday.

I ran out of work like a crazed maniac to make it here in time.

It was a struggle, I almost didn’t.

Firstly I put on my pants only to discover a very very VPL so had to ransack the spare emergency supply of sports clothing I leave in my locker at work to find new briefs. Only after I had successfully changed this wardrobe malfunction did I notice the singlet I once ran in quite comfortably now struggled over my back and shoulders and given it was going to be hot yoga tonight and it was quite thick, was just not suitable.

Maybe it shrunk in the wash, although given my recent failures at doing back buttons up, I think something more sinister is at play.

Back to the locker for a new top. Rummaging through the bag I find a gem I forgot I even had – loose fitting singlet much lighter weight. Score!

Finally dressed and ready for my two hour make up session, Yin then Hot, I realize on route to the car I had no water bottle with me after skipping crossfit this morning in preparation for a double up session tonight.

Bullocks.

I broke almost all safety regulations as I sprinted back to the car, up three flights of stairs and burst back through the office door. A few startled looks from pricing and my previous marketing colleagues before I jogged through office pods and desks to find my own and grab waiting water bottle, much to the surprise, strange looks and random commentary of my team.

Now if anyone from work is reading this, please replace ‘sprinted/ran/jogged’ with ‘walked briskly’, delete ‘burst’ and insert ‘gently opened’ and rest assured the handrail was held during all three flights of stairs.

Eventually I made it, flustered, only ten minutes early, trying to finish a last minute phone call (not while driving, while stationary in car out front) to my husband regarding his recent high cholesterol diagnosis and arguing with him over the doctor’s advice to quit butter and eggs and eat margarine.

Back me up here Lizzy, Bec & Primal Junction – please!

My overzealous behavior to get into the room even caused a too quick scan of my Kula tag while Kacey was registering a keen new participant and almost resulted in a computer malfunction.

Opps, sorry about that Kacey.

Slow down Stacey – this is Yin for goodness sakes. A yoga class, not a race!

That’s a voice in my head speaking. But my panting and racing mind from the to do list still on the work table has drowned her out. 

At least today she has left her pitchfork and horns at home, but she does have that scorn on her face and the librarian look my mother sometimes gets just before launching into a lecture.

It can’t be good.

First observation of my second light class – much more men get involved.

Second observation – I’m still on struggle street with challenge classes given there are three others who have all come in for the double header tonight and all three have more colorful representation that I do on that graph.

So thunder thighs, back fat, nervious novice and I thought Yoga was easy….

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Nourish, Navigate & Nurture – 30 Day Yoga & Meditation Challenge Week 1

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Starting a 30-day yoga challenge when I have almost zero yoga experience, and then going away for a week, is not the smartest thing I have ever done.

I have done worse.

Like the time I dropped my mobile phone down the wall behind a toilet in a bar and had to get a male bartender with a very large hook to help me retrieve it (in my defense I thought there was a shelf, not an empty cavity).

Or the time I tried to roll-start my old car by myself down a driveway and never quite got it started before hitting the main road (I kept jumper leads in the boot after that).

And most recently changing my internet and phone plans to iinet for what I believed was a cheaper deal than Telstra, but missing the not so fine print that shows the deal excludes telephone calls….

Anyway.

Not the smartest thing, especially given my previous yoga experience consisted of a handful (literally) of classes and I am not really someone that can bend and flex and put feet and legs in strange places.

But I knew that I would be away that first week when I signed up, so I can’t plead ignorance.

I joined the 30-day challenge for a few reasons;

  1. because I had just finished the 30 day Primal Junction food challenge, with success, and was on a bit of a challenge high
  2. because my hips are in desperate need of some mobility and I thought yoga could help me which would then in turn help everyone else who sees me at CFHE and constantly hears the poor coaches screaming “Stacey open your hips!”
  3. because I am slightly bored and thought why not.

My first ever class at Kula Yoga was on Day 25 of my Primal Junction Paleo Challenge and apart from the one other I did in preparation before the challenge that was basically it.

As I pointed out not the smartest thing.

So August 10th I headed over to Kula bright and early for what would be the first of many many yoga classes over the next 30 days.  I was excited and a little nervous, but open-minded even if my hips were still closed. Overall, I was very much looking forward to it. And I had a friend doing it with me, someone who I could whine to, draw support from and do classes with.

I made it to two classes in that first week.

Both on that first Saturday and one that was actually the meditation following on directly from the class.

So really, I did one. One on the first day. One in seven days.

I was off to a great start.

I do really need to point out, that it was not due to laziness I missed Kula Yoga that entire first week of the challenge, but because I was on the other side of the country from Sunday to Friday.

Sure, I could have maybe made the 10:30am on Sunday class (probably should have) or gone to the Friday night 6:00pm class given I flew home during the day, but it was Collingwood v Hawthorn that night, and football always comes first.

I had to regroup, so on Saturday a full week since the challenge started when I finally got back to the studio I tried really hard not to get scared when I looked at the challenge tracking sheet pinned up on the wall.

Insert scared, horrified, wide eyed, opened mouthed and red face here. 

Colours, stars, shapes, shading of all different types to show what classes what challengers had gone to. Everyone was different in how they chose to represent their status, but there was one thing that was obviously clear as I gazed at that board, borrowed mat in hand. Almost everyone was well and truly on track and almost everyone had more marks than me.

Ouch.

I was loosing, and I hate loosing.

And with the current lack of marks (two yellow blocks) next to my name, I was failing. And I hate failing.

Ok so I know I am not really loosing – given most other challenges would have no idea I thought this was a competition – because its not!

But I am failing. OUCH.

So like an F grade student in Math who must get a D average to pass, I was in for some extra tutorial time. A lot of extra time. Given it was day eight and I had only two little marks that showed I was trying.

I knew when I signed up for the challenge the first week would see me making up classes left right and center, and at the time thought it was no big deal.  But gazing at that board made me have second thoughts.

Which were made worse when my fellow challenger friend told me how tired she had been feeling and that it was a lot more work than she originally thought….

The only thing that helped pep me up as I squeezed my mat into the room ready for the first of a three-hour yoga marathon I was about to embark on, was my ruthless and too fierce competitive nature.

Let’s be honest, I thought to myself, there is no way I am going to fail this challenge.

Again, not the smartest thought process.

Because even after those three hours on Saturday (flow, meditation and hot) and another hour on Sunday (flow) I am still only six little markers in yellow highlighter next to my name.

Only six. When I should have nine. At least nine, probably more. When some people have up to 15 (!!!) already.

I guess now is not the best time to point out ill also be away the last weekend of the challenge….

So my 30 day challenge, of doing 30 classes in 30 days – effectively one a day, is really 30 classes in, in, in 21 days…

Really not the smartest thought process.

Stay with me though people, one week down and yes I might be a tad behind, but I’m sure I can make up for the lost time and lost classes. Although not sure it will really help with my lost mind…

The Primal Challenge Day 30 – The Finale

Day 30. The final day. I’ve been putting off writing this post for as long as I can. Probably because it is officially the end of the challenge, and I’m not sure I want it to be.

My procrastination has led me to tackle my own version of chewy mocha power balls (no berries, a few extra dates) and a double serving of frosty fruit smash. I then ate half of it and put the rest in the freezer – I’m still worried about Friday’s skin fold test.

I wanted to make the paleo banana bread recipe, but my sister in law did and ate four pieces of it in one day, so I’m a little scared. You know my track record with other backed paleo goods. And nuts.

Lizzy told me today post WOD she felt posting the MODs each night was therapeutic, and she would miss it. I guess I feel the same way about my blog posts.

I started the idea for my first post when the voice in my head that often talks to me seemed to make a little bit of sense. You know that voice that often tells you what you should and shouldn’t do? Well mine often says it in a more colourful way, and sometimes rather than just saying yes or no, entire paragraphs of often useless drivel and one sided conversation ends up swimming in my head.

The beginning of the 30 day challenge  – something so new to me given I had never tried to cut out any food before, let alone multiple food groups – seemed to ignite that voice in my head and send her on a sugar fuelled drive, so much so I had to get it out.

Just as Lizzy did with her MODs, I found the writing therapeutic, and it was a simple way to reignite a very rusty passion and habit for writing.   I never expected others to like it, or to follow or to share it, or to comment. Or that on day 28 a random Crossfit Rookie News website would pick it up (where were you day 1?!).

So I know I don’t want that to be over.

But most of all, I don’t really want the 30 day challenge to be over, because I’m slightly scared of what I will do when it is.

There is still that bottle of wine (or three) in the fridge. Right next to the ciders and the beer and the mixers ready for the gin and vodka. I never normally drink during the week (when I am at home – if I am travelling, out to dinner or just out for drinks of course this rule does not apply) but there is part of me that is worried I might bust out a vodka on the rocks the moment I’m able to.

A few ears still remain of the Easter bunny that was eventually cracked open on Sunday night. I almost want to eat them now in case my husband gets to them first. I have the fear of missing out – a stupid fear – like there are no more Chocolate Easter Bunnies in the world. Like normal rabbits, they seem to be quite effective at multiplying and running around in other peoples gardens when not wanted.

And a few Tim Tams – the original, not those that have tried to catch up with crazy modern times and added more sugar to the already existing overflowing amount. There are a few of them left too.

The wheel of double Brie cheese is almost calling my name from here.

I don’t think I really want to eat these things (well maybe only a little) but once the word ‘challenge’ is removed from this entire clean eating gig, then my mental barrier which has been effectively blocking these nasties from me will be lifted, and maybe then I’ll return to my human self, loosing all superhero self control I had during the last 30 days.

I think that might be scarier than the primal fear I first felt.

So, reflection time. What exactly have a I learned/experienced/felt during these 30 days I hear you ask? Yes I literally hear you ask. Almost every day someone asks me if feel better, have I noticed a difference, has it been worth it.

So here it all is – sugar sweet, sweat and tears…

Lightbulb moments –

#1

I was VERY naïve when it came to some foods and healthy eating. As a 30 something who was actively exercising, and had friends who thought I was already on a very strict eating plan, I was in some way shape or form kidding myself.

Sugar is sugar, regardless if it is in chocolate cake or muesli bars. The entire time I was saying no thanks as others ate over stimulated Picnic bars (my ultimate favorite) or pieces of cake – and silently judging them for it – I was doing the same thing with my Carmen’s muesli, muesli bars, fruit, packaged soup and other no longer –never were – healthy foods.

Here Miss Sugar is no longer center stage. She has been reduced to a mere understudy in her now dirty and ripped tutu and doesn’t seem so attractive anymore.

#2

Sugar is EVERYWHERE.  I mean EVERYWHERE.  Hidden in much of what I had in my pantry and used every night for dinner, and then wondered why neither of us could loose any weight.  In case you think I am exaggerating, here is a list of where Miss Sugar hides, loitering in the curtains waiting for the main star to break her leg so she can take over….

  • Masterfoods dried herbs, including Lemon Pepper, Garlic Pepper Seasoning, Chicken Seasoning, Roast Vegetable Seasoning to name a few.
  • Tomato sauce – all brands
  • Fish sauce – most brands
  • Moist coconut flakes – yeah this little sucker almost had me!
  • All supermarket stocks
  • Premade pasta jars – a regular in my household before this
  • Most pre-packed nut mixes
  • Most ‘mixed fruit’ packages also include extra sugar – why I don’t know.
  • Most things that are ‘flavoured’ are not really natural and the ‘flavour’ is in fact sugar.
  • Most ‘light’ or ‘lite’ options
  • Salad dressings and mustards
  • Some herbs in jars (eg ground ‘fresh’ ginger)
  • Most things in jars eg curry powder, paste etc
  • Tinned foods – especially soup (did I mention this was my lunch most days prior to day 1?)

#3

Dinner can consist of food, real food, and still be satisfying without rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, quinoa, potato as a side option.

This one was hard to accept, because most of the above is – or was – a staple and favourite of mine.

#4

Corn is a grain. Yep I know, seems obvious – but I am blonde remember.

#5

Just because you are going through a learning journey relatively late in life, does not mean others are – so don’t presume their ignorance is as low as yours and preach to them if you want to have friends in the future.

#6

Eggs and smoothies keep you much fuller than sugar muesli and fat free milk for breakfast and you can never have too much bacon.

#7

Expect headaches, maybe a few stomach cramps or joint pains. Maybe that crazy voice in your head will scream at you so violently you want to poke out your own eyeballs with a spoon and swallow them with your hide the greens smoothie, or maybe you will just feel like shit for the first few days. It’s normal, deal with it.

#8

Don’t eat kale stems if you want a normal digestive experience the following day….

#10

Red wine jus – the only sugar coming from the red wine and balsamic vinegar – does not classify as a challenge fail. Paleo gingerbread – verdict is still out.

#11

You might like to ask permission to eat eggs at your desk in the morning before you warm them up in the microwave. Especially if in a communal office.

#12

Some supermarket eggs might look happy but they are not so watch out. Just because they have a smile printed on them, does not mean they are free range or organic, so check the packet carefully. Along with the coconut milk. There are many sneaky tricks talented marketers (like me) do to convince us the food we are buying is good for us, when really it is just crap.

#13

Paleo is not a dirty word – although the spellchecker seems to think it is (red line has been driving me crazy last 30 days).  It is a choice, not a diet, but a lifestyle for sometimes, often, almost always or every now and then. It’s a personal choice, and one that should be respected.

#14

It’s really not that hard. You can just say no. You look on the back of the pack, on the side of the jar, wherever the ingredient list is hidden and check what’s in it. Then you make your choice, and move on.

Hardest parts?

You probably want me to say laying off the booze.

For those that know me, you probably expect me to say laying off the booze (someone did ask for my advice on where to stay somewhere the other day as I would know all the local watering holes….) but really, I don’t think that was it.

Nor was it the often ridiculed, eye rolling, back handed comments and full face slaps I got during the 30 days from people like the pre primal me. Full of spite, bitterness, often a little resentful and mostly just very naïve and unaware.

The preparation was fine, I am an organised person by trade, and even though I love them, the potatoes didn’t even get me in the end.

Hardest part – worrying about not fitting in. By not taking that chip, or sitting on your hands so you don’t eat another olive because they are the only thing you can eat so you have had about 30 already, or not having that wine ‘just to be social’. Perhaps this is my own insecurities leaking through, but not being ‘normal’ or not ‘fitting in’ or being an ‘inconvenience’ and therefore making people unhappy was the hardest part for me, personally.

Oh, and the nuts. Of course, the nuts. That was pretty hard.

Best parts?

Well I have done a PB in both deadlifts and back squats – well above my own body weight – and I’ve improved in many other things too. Although still cant get a handstand….

I have a much bigger and better appreciation for real food. I no longer buy supermarket meat. Yes I used to. I tried to say it was a cost saving method, (please don’t judge me) and now get my vegetables from a market. My eggs are always smiling, where, ill be honest, before they were not.

Many, many new recipes to try at home for dinner and beyond.

My ranting, posting, blogging and talking to others has had an impact somewhere, even if only a few people. But I know of some who have actively made changes and just like I used to get happy feeding them poison, now I get happy by steering them away from it (don’t fear team, I will still bake for you).

Skin fold test aside (Friday people, Friday!) I’m sure there has been a difference in my body even if only on the inside.

The best part?

I did it.

Game set match.

I side kicked that stupid tutu wearing ballerina Miss Sugar and her toe dancing seduction to the no gluten and grain ground with little more than a few eggs. Well a lot more really, but I’m running out of stupid analogies and need to wrap this up.

The point is, the 30-day challenge is over and I’m a little melancholy because I enjoyed discovering more about real food, and I enjoyed writing about it and discovering more about myself.

So a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped or read my ‘boring blog’ along the way – too many to mention – but in particular Bec & Lizzy from Primal Junction, and those who encouraged, supported, and shared the 30 day journey with me, even those not participating formally in the challenge but ate clean ‘almost always’, ‘sometimes’, ‘every now and then’ or ‘most of the time’ (just lay off the banana bread for a bit Heidi) 😉

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The Primal Challenge Day 29

I have a confession to make.  Its day 29 and I feel like it is only right, with only one more day until this is officially finished, I need to get something off my chest.

It was over a week ago, and I would like to say it has been playing on my mind. That I have not been able to sleep from the guilt, that I regretted my actions. But in truth, I have been sleeping fine, (excluding the night I was poisoned) and there is no regret (excluding my nut habit).

It was at the girls Christmas party. Day 21. Remember the failed pudding, celebrity heads, the ‘your boring’ remarks and the self righteous ‘I didn’t even find it that hard’ comment.

I didn’t. Not at all.

Because, after the main meal, there was dessert. Fantastic dessert (not my failed pudding that is still hanging in the laundry, hoping it will self cleanse itself into something worth eating) but a range of homemade and store bought sugary goodness.

Ohhh dessert….. Rightly or wrongly, I indulged.

Yes that’s right. When it was all lined up on the table, the fudge, the chocolate, the gingerbread, the cheesecake, the fruit, and the nuts …. I ate something. And it wasn’t just the fruit.

I ate…..

No gluten….

No dairy……

Paleo gingerbread.

My beautiful and very talented ‘most often’ paleo friend with a passion for baking, researched, adapted and ultimately succeeded in bringing the moist, light, and I’ve never loved it so much in my life before, gingerbread before me.

Here friends is the recipe –

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 c. blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. maple extract
  • 3 c. almond flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Knowing I was not yet able to tackle molasses she replaced it with coconut nectar and took out the extracts and used a vanilla bean instead.

Amazing….

I ate two pieces. Or it might have been three. Either way it was too many and when I broke off half of another of the delight I begged her to put the rest away before I ate the lot. Thank god she did.

I can still taste the goodness of it now… well no I can’t, but I wish I could.

It literally was the answer to all my clean eating prayers.

Except of course on Sunday I went to Google and found that coconut nectar is still sugar and sugar is still not part of the 30 day challenge…. and so it wasn’t all that clean eating at all.

Fail.

I wrote about it on that Sunday. After I had shut down Google and stomped around the house in disgust and thought about how I could justify the coconut nectar. I even made a trip to the organic shop and purchased some (along with coconut flour, coconut sugar, organic vanilla essence, organic cacao powder and a range of – you guessed it – nuts) to see if by some miracle it had a low sugar content.

I tried to justify it to myself by saying it was like fruit. A banana was 55% sugar, and they are ok (in moderation) so why not coconut nectar?

I tried to justify it to myself by saying I had been clean on everything else in a borderline obsessive-compulsive way, that surely this one slip up (or three, it was three pieces) was ok?

But I couldn’t justify it.

I felt ashamed, and angry and a bit too full of self-pity.  Which is why I deleted my first attempt at a blog post on Sunday that talked about my subsequent failure. I didn’t want to admit it, because I still had over a week to go and if I had already failed then what would stop me from opening the flood gates and letting all the sugar wielding nastiness back in?

Angelic clean Stacey was on the ground and red wearing horned Stacey was holding her down with a pitchfork while she drowned me in fine white sugar.

So, if I’m honest, I failed the challenge. One way or another I fed my sugar addiction and I failed. On day 21.

But I picked myself up.

Even if I was not yet ready to admit it. And I got back on that clean eating bus, brushed off the sugar particles still stuck to my shoulders and went about the rest of the nine days as if they were the first.

I’ve tried almost every MOD Primal Junction has offered, and even some of my own or some from others with a slight twist.

I cleaned my pantry on the weekend and threw out and donated a range of ‘not clean’ jars of sauces and spices.

My pantry at work is (almost) empty of sugar full muesli bars and snacks – although a few of my colleagues are full of them.

I’ve spent hours researching food options and trying to find my own primal and paleo baked recipes to feed my habit of feeding others in a more clean eating way.

I’ve made my clean muesli and kept it in a jar ready for when I can introduce some good full fat Greek yoghurt back into my diet.

My freezer is full of frozen banana’s, my homemade stock- both chicken and beef –  pumpkin soup and some Cannings meat (wanted to get that last discounted order in).

My fridge is full of kale and organic eggs and broccoli and 3 C’s salad and speck paleo bacon and empty of ‘light’ yoghurt and milk (although there is still that double cream full fat brie cheese wrapped up on the top shelf).

My breakfast is either zucchini slice, frittata or bacon & egg muffins and is the envy of the office.

Today I even took home all my nuts from work, not one remains in my filing cabinet. I made another trail mix using more seeds and coconut flakes along with the berries and the nuts. And then I put it all in a tall glass jar, keeping only a small (very small) green container out that I can take to work tomorrow  – my last ditch attempt at curbing my nut snacking.

I’ve even tried to stay off the fruit for the last few days, only having it in smoothies and nothing else.

Although, I did fail on that tonight too when I found a ‘one mug paleo cake’ recipe.  Ingredient list below, I excluded any additional sweeteners or mixes that the website says you can use SURELY that is ok?

  • 1 small ripe banana
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons almond butter (or any nut butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons cacao powder

Side note – quite nice, but a little dense. Can be bitter, and not as good as a oven baked cake. Suggest a few drops of water to keep it moist or less cacao powder based on the size of your banana. But overall a good quick option if you need something extra to keep your mind off the passionfruit gluten free but still full of sugar cake your husband is eating next to you on the couch. 

I have influenced others at work who are also making their own muesli and protein balls. Even a ‘crossfit cult’ believer has been converted. My sister in law lives clean most of the time, and shared a great paleo banana bread recipe with me and a few good chicken curries. I’m taking my husband to paleo places for breakfast (although he still ensures there is bread) and cooking us the same meals at night with no complaints.

I sorted through my wardrobe on Friday and had three bags of clothes I needed to donate, or sell or thrown out. While some were based on fashion changes (what WAS I thinking??) others no longer fit. I had to pack away 10 pairs of pants I had only just purchased at the start of the year as they were too big (couldn’t quite bring myself to throw them out yet just in case).

While most of the weight loss is thanks to an increased exercise regime when I found crossfit (I was already exercising five days a week before I moved to the sport, which gives you some indication of the intensity) it will be interesting to see if any of it is thanks to the Primal Junction, Primal Challenge.

I’ve done all of this in 29 days.

You realize I am still trying to justify the paleo gingerbread?

Either way, it’s an accomplishment.

Like a child in the lead up to Christmas I’m counting down.

Two more sleeps.

I’m not sure why I’m counting down, maybe just to say I’ve done it, that I succeeded (lets look past the red wine jus, the paleo gingerbread and the gravy poison sauce shall we?). Maybe to see if there really has been a difference. Or maybe just because I really would like a glass of wine to celebrate.

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