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.

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 25

Thursday. Another day another WOD and MOD and another Oh My! moment. Slight back ache again which I am finding more frustrating than painful, so to ease some of the pressure I headed to my first ever Yoga class at Kula.

Ok so it might not have been my first. I think I went once or twice way back in my very early 20’s when UDL’s and Strongbows were still the drink of choice. Although I generally revisit the UDL’s during my annual trip to the red center Alice Springs for the National Transport Hall of Fame reunion. It’s that or the ‘good quality’ wine, oh the perks of my job. But again, I digress and all that’s in the pre-primal past now.

Yoga.

I was a little nervous. I’m not that flexible. Even though a friend once described me as someone who looks bendy, I’m not. My hips are crazy tight and my gluteus lacking in strength, which in turn affects my back and causes it to seize a little when I try to push it too much.  Which is how I got myself into the backache situation to begin with.

I have been promising myself a yoga visit for months and never gone. Even when friends went – after my recommendation I might add – I still didn’t make it. Even the complimentary class we get for being CFHE members could not entice me, although I think that was more to do with the fact that despite booking out my time as busy – private appointment – I still kept getting meeting requests during the time.

Not today. I think I actually declined said meeting request and proposed a new time. Don’t’ judge me. I’m at my desk at 7:30am every morning and if I leave before 6 it’s a bonus, so today, for once, clock off was at 4pm.

I put on sweaty and smelly workout clothes from this morning and headed over for my first ever light session.

When I entered the studio, borrowed matt in hand, barefoot and open minded, I had a sudden flashback to me trying aerobics at one stage in my life. I think I lasted two classes. I got over it every time the lycra clad energizer bunny at the front would yell out another call such as the grapevine and everyone in the class would turn perfectly in sync. Everyone except me who would crash into strangers, hop on toes, or just miss the movement completely.

You’ll get it. The nice strangers with the thicker sneakers would smile at me. But I never did. Or maybe I never stuck with it long enough. All that jumping around, bouncing and knee hopping just made me feel like I was a new client of a dance studio who was failing miserably at an audition.  Don’t get me wrong, I can dance, there is a cracking video of me Gangnam styling like Psy himself at a friends wedding, but I dance to my own rhythm and could never find the rhythm of aerobics.

So when I settled into a position on my back, I hoped like crazy I was not going to be the only one who didn’t put my legs in places I was meant to when Kacey called out the next pose.

I had nothing to worry about.

The light yoga class provided a perfect introduction to yoga. And the Yin practice of really just falling into the stretches and holding them rather than pushing yourself or pulling legs over heads, and hands through opposite shoulders (thank goodness) meant I could stretch my not so bendy hips and back in my own time and not have to worry about knowing the next movement.

After my left over slow cooked ribs and salad I then went to practice my new obsession of late – googeling paleo friendly recipes.

Smoothies were my subjects of choice today. After having my own version of coconut iced coffee (ended up blending ingredients and adding a banana, leaving out vanilla and freezing it) I felt MUCH fuller and ate far LESS nuts that I had for the rest of the week. I also realised this was my problem, I had cut out smoothies for a few days, mostly because I kept forgetting to take it to work, but also because I have run out of Kale, and that is why I was getting hungry!! (light bulb Oh My! moment).

Anyway, I was googeling and came across the eatdrinkpaleo website where I got distracted reading The Benefits of Paleo page and then came across this –

Say goodbye to Hangry 

Hangry is a combination of hungry+angry, which is a common symptom for many people suffering from acute or chronic hyperglycemia. This also happens when the blood sugar drops and the person gets a rapid onset of hunger accompanied by irritability, fatigue, disorientation, and a foggy mind. Meals consisting of protein and fat are very satiating. The energy your body gets from fat, protein and some glucose from low GI carbs is released slowly and evenly throughout the day. As a result, the blood sugar levels stay stable and you rarely experience energy drops; hunger develops gradually without the crazy mood swings.

Now those of you who know me have just had your own light bulb / Oh My! moment. This was me!!!!

How many times have I heard ‘oh oh, Stacey is Hungry’ and ‘don’t stand in the way of Stacey and lunchtime’ and the ‘we all know what happens when Stacey doesn’t eat’ and ‘you get so angry when you don’t eat’ and ‘we were talking bout the word Hangry the other day and automatically we all though of you’…

I’m not kidding either.

Now I’m not saying I have hyperglycemia, but I defiantly suffered from Hangry.

I’m known to take in food to meetings that last more than an hour just in case my stomach rumbles and I need to eat something. Hangry is no good in a corporate environment if one wants to get ahead.

I shocked a new employee one day when she was driving us to a function and I was that hungry I took the food out of her child’s mouth. Well not literally, but she was a Mum with a muesli bar in her bag in case her child needed it, and I had run out of mine and was in such an irritable state she gave me hers just to shut me up. Hangry is no good if you need to onside new employees and make a good impression. 

I’m always first in line to the buffet station, and generally pacing if food has not appeared at a work event during the time it said it was meant to. I literally turn into a psychotic bitch who is more than angry and can only be silenced with food. Hangry is no good when you are pushing customers out of the way and jabbing them in the side with your fork so you can get the last potato.

Well Hangry can go and get f*ck*d!

Since my primal challenge, my own Mr Hyde, Hangry hasn’t appeared for a while yet and if he does its not a muesli bar or snickers that will send him away. And it wont be nuts either!

I think this primal challenge and paleo diet has freed me from the curse of Hangry and I feel like a Biggest Looser contestant who just climbed the mountain with all their excess weight in a backpack they can now shrug off.

The trick now, with five days to go, is to keep it off….

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  • Hangry (neenster83.wordpress.com)

The Primal Challenge Day 6

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Last night was the first time I really craved something sweet. And like the buzzing of a mosquito hiding in a dark hot summers room, once I noticed it was there it annoyed the shit out of me.

Dinner was fine. Left over lamb cutlets and salad. My mineral waster was fine. Everything was fine. But come 8pm I had an itch that was in desperate need of scratching. No matter what I had said previously about sugar and how it held nothing for me, that I barely ate it, could easily go without, the realization that I was in fact addicted to it in someway shape or form, came crashing down with a hard reality

I tried to keep busy.

Two loads of washing, paying bills, fixing the modem that Telstra has somehow blocked so my new iinet account cant work on it – yeah thanks – don’t think that fight is over, watching the football.

Nothing worked.

By 8:30 I was googeling paleo friendly dessert.

Oh and the tasty things that came up!

Dark chocolate cake, almond meal cheesecake, cookies, rum balls, even mousse.

All of these delicious delicacies only made my itch larger and fuelled an already blazing fire, for while these wonderful clean eating desserts were paleo friendly, not one was entirely clean enough for the Primal Challenge. Dark chocolate, maple syrup, they all called for something on the banned substance list.

I was almost a shaking, drooling mess by the time I found the pancake recipe.

Almond meal pancakes. And I had all the ingredients. I found my trusty pancake mixing bowl, tried to ignore the standard recipe printed inside and its call out for ½ cup white sugar, and mixed my paleo, sugar free pancakes consisting of almond meal, eggs, water and coconut, with a fever paced flurry and hint of madness.

The pan barely had a chance to heat before I was pouring in the first round blob of goodness.

As I watched the sides bubble and darken, ready to be flipped, I wanted nothing more than to flip the half cooked savior into my salivating mouth.

Instead I showed restraint and made myself cook all six of the darlings before even tasting one.

Then they were on a plate (or at least two of them) and I was ready to dig in.

They were a little dry.

And dense.

And the texture was not great, mostly due to the overexcited amount of coconut I used.

To be frank, they didn’t cut it and I was disappointed and my craving was still there.

And then I remembered the honey sitting only feet away from me, hiding snug in the pantry door.

All natural, nothing artificial added honey.

Could this be the one time my inner cave man found their honeycomb after months of searching?

I took the squeeze bottle out of the pantry door and smelt it. I even turned the lid and squeezed it a little to watch the liquid gold push up to the top of the bottle.

I knew this was not right. This was not ok. But still I wanted it so bad. And I can’t even remember the last time I ate honey.

Before I could dwell on it any longer I hid the honey back in the pantry and sprinted the ten steps to where my ipad was and quickly typed an SOS to primal junction.

Hi friends, can you please confirm if honey is in or out for the challenge?

I was so desperate I wrote it twice.

And then the news I had dreaded came back to me…

Hey Stace, for the challenge it’s out – we’re trying to get rid of the sugar addiction and your brain doesn’t register the different types, be it natural or refined – it’s all sugar! So you’re still really feeding that addiction. Try and avoid it if you can…sorry

I think I knew it already.

So with a sigh and a shake of my head, I went back to my dry almond meal sugarless pancakes. I forced down two with the help of a few frozen berries (if that’s not ok then shoot me now) and put the rest in the fridge for Saturday’s breakfast.

I’ll admit. I was not in a good way. I went to bed unsatisfied and didn’t even see the end of the footy.

Saturday was a new day. Boxing with a friend who since meeting Kacey at the Primal Junction clean eating seminar has taken up yoga at Kula, and then vegie shopping at Richmond market. Fantastic!

Boxing was tough. Tougher than the week before when I was fuelled by a white wine and Thai food hangover. Today my legs felt sluggish and heavy and by the end of the session even holding up the pads was hard work.

I remembered the week before where I was almost sprinting between the circuit to now where every step felt like I was walking up Mount Everest with a 40k pack on my back, and hoped this was just another phase in my body recovering and preparing to be the mean, lean fighting machine I had promised myself it would be come.

Post boxing I dragged myself to the market. I stocked up on kale, celery, cauliflower, parsnips, pumpkin, avocados (I think I got 10 in total from at least three different stalls just to keep the competition alive) lemons and lettuce. I only stopped shopping because my bag was so heavy and my arms so tired I couldn’t carry anymore.

Despite my failed pancake effort the night prior, I dragged them out of the fridge again and glared at them with determination. You will be tasty!

Two poached free-range eggs, four pieces of organic Cannings bacon, half an avocado later and they were!

Delicious!

So delicious I forgave them for last nights effort and promised I would give them another crack further down the 30-day line.

So delicious I had to cook up another serve for my father in law who came over just as I was finishing them.

So delicious I have already run out of eggs and bacon.

So delicious I pepped myself up, forgot about my withdrawal symptoms night before and vowed the rest of Saturday would be a new Day 6 day!

But again, let’s curb that enthusiasm. It’s lunchtime Saturday, and a big football game still to come.  I’m trying not to think about it, because frankly, it could just be my tipping point.

Oh Day 6 how will you end!?

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