Posts filed under ‘Health’

Void poem

I wrote a poem about how it feels to have no energy. This is not how I feel all the time, but when I say I have energy level issues, I hope this goes some way to explaining that I don’t just mean I get a bit tired. It’s a bit depressing, sorry. I may have said before that I don’t like writing about my condition and prefer to keep upbeat, but I wrote this today, based on how I felt a few days ago and I thought I’d share it.


I lie on the bed
Weighed down by a leaden duvet
Glued to the mattress
Immobile, but not resting.

Limbs too heavy to lift
As if they are rooted
Or melding with the surface
Like rotting logs

Heavy, saturated, soggy
Disintegrating fibres
Too weak to hold together,
Dissolving mush.

My frantic brain
Scurries around
Like a mouse hiding in a skull
Desperately seeking answers.

Did I do too much?
Am I stressed?
Did I eat the wrong thing?
Why am I like this?

Or worse, the mouse too
Lies stiff on its side
A twitching foot
The only sign of life.

(c) Annette Jones (you have my permission to share as long as I am acknowledged as author)

Normal service will resume in the next post, which will probably be about Victorian knitting! I hope this doesn’t put you off my blog πŸ™‚ I don’t want to come across as whiny, but some of my readers have health issues too and sometimes it is good to know you’re not alone.


January 23, 2014 at 10:54 PM 8 comments

Progress on Getting Things Done

Well, keeping up the blog slipped a little 😦

Still, I’m writing it now!

Other progress has been good though so I’m not going to feel guilty πŸ˜€ I can tick off one of the things from my list as completely finished, which is the needle felted penguins, which I promptly handed over without managing to take a photo of them finished – typical. I shall try and remember to get one and share it at some point.

The before picture - they are now three complete penguins with little wings as well.

The before picture – they are now all complete, with little wings as well.

The Victorian crochet is stuck, which is the point at which I usually give up and start something else. If I continue and finish the pattern they will be too long, so I need to try fixing it together and trying it on my foot properly, not just pulling it into shape, which I haven’t got round to. Not a hard job, but requires more thought than simply following the pattern. I will get to it though!

But the best progress, though not yet finished, is to the HBP, which I have decided is to be the primary focus of this month. (For my new followers this was begun last January and stands for Home Beautification Project, a more creative and fun sounding name for tidying, cleaning and sorting out the house!) I took advantage of the husband being away for the weekend visiting his mother to completely empty my bathroom and clean it thoroughly.

I had to do it while he was away as you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and he can’t stand walking on the eggshells! By which I mean he hates the mess and I clogged up most of his upstairs space with my crap, which I had to try and clear before his return.

So as soon as he was off I began the work. It was hard because I was feeling a bit tired, having been woken by next-door Β sawing at 8am when I’d not fallen asleep until around one (I like my 8 hours!) but I pressed on. Over the course of two days I cleared the floor, swept it, washed it (using my feet to push the cloth around which I can’t say was easy but I doubt I could have finished the job any other way with my arthritis, and Dvorak helped with his Slavonic dances!) vacuumed cobwebs off the ceiling, dusted the windowsill and all the glass bits which were on there, cleared the stuff out of the bath and around it, cleaned the stupid cat litter thing for training cats to use the toilet instead of normal cat litter (Pebble never got on with it, though I did try!) so I can give it away (if anyone local wants it drop me a line and it’s yours, otherwise it’s going to a charity shop!)

Of course I was utterly knackered by all that and had to have frequent rests. I was fortunate to have a couple of days where my joints were not too bad. I had been concerned that working so hard on the Friday would mean I might swell up and be in too much pain to continue but God answered my prayers and I was able to carry on! My muscles ached but that was a nice change πŸ™‚ However, I can’t say the same about Sunday as it did catch up tome then, especially washing the floor I think. I was not only very tired but quite painful so I was not able to finish putting everything back. Still, he was so pleased with what I had done that he is graciously putting up with the mess until I feel better enough to finish, which I have sadly not managed yet. That is the price I pay, it often takes longer to recover than to do the tiring thing, even when I can manage it at all.

My nice clean bathroom :) (yes there is less than loveliness lurking behind the door, I'll show that area another time when it is finished!)

My nice clean bathroom πŸ™‚ (yes there is less than loveliness lurking behind the door, I’ll show that area another time when it is finished!)

But the bathroom is so much nicer now. I have been making grand plans to change the storage in there so it works better and never gets so out of control. I have a bad tendency to pile up my clothes in there and it makes a huge awful mess. I shall post again on the changes once they are made, as my plans are not likely to be of interest.

But until I sort that out, I can’t sort the rest, so poor old husband has to put up with half the mess (I did put half of it back).

Oh bum! I am such an idiot 😦 I should know better than to write while I try to keep an eye on an ebay auction. I was going to put a bid on something and totally forgot until five minutes after it ended. That’s not even the first one I missed today! It went for Β£1.04 – how frustrating! Well, I’m not going to miss the next one – it’s a parasol and I already put a bid on. I have moved my windows around so I can see the little red timer counting down! In 23m 23s I shall know if I got it πŸ™‚ but I might have to increase my bid at snipe time so I must not forget it. It’s a red stripy one.

My new parasol! I can’t believe nobody else wanted that for 99p + a fiver postage!

My writing is also making good progress. I have been reading loads about the craft of novel writing and I suddenly came to a realisation a few days ago about one of my half begun novels that I had the wrong main character. This other character had a much more interesting story, but for the way I wanted it to work out I knew she would not co-operate as easily as the one I made up just to do what I wanted. Of course that was not going to work! So that story has been brewing away in my head ever since and today I sat down and wrote the first scene, 1700 words in an hour and twenty minutes. It felt marvellous!

An hour or so before I wrote it I was sitting in bed stroking the cat and visualising the scene all through, seeing it through her eyes (the character’s, not the cat’s!) which really helped getting written so fast and fluidly.

Well, that’s more than long enough for a post I think. Pebble is now sitting on my lap, which makes it a tad awkward to type πŸ™‚ and I just won the parasol for rock bottom! Yay πŸ˜€

March 12, 2013 at 8:57 PM 5 comments

Waiting to get Well

I often feel as if I spend my whole life waiting to get well from something or other.

Not the arthritis, I know that won’t go away for waiting, although I sometimes have to wait out a flare up. Not just the anxiety either, although waiting has been more successful there, as it is less bad than it was.

I just seem to be very run down at the moment. I am on my third cold of the winter and although that might be the average, I usually have fewer, one of the benefits of not getting out much and not having children. I do seem to catch them from my husband though, who gets out a bit more than me…

I suppose it is inevitable that I will be feeling run down. Having a long term medical problem like arthritis is hardly a recipe for general health and well being. I just deleted a boring rant about how hard it can be to exercise, I doubt anyone wants to read it and I don’t actually even want to write about it! Also mood is so vital to health and recovering from anxiety combined with having to give up a long term ambition like my PhD is not helping.

But sitting in bed moping and whining is not going to solve the problem!

Not all things come to those who wait.

OK so I shall never be what one might call healthy, but I do try to not be the most unhealthy I can be. I tried giving up and I got fat which was even worse. It was hard to shift that back down to somewhere between slightly overweight and the wobbly side of average. But once I had managed that, no more weight seems to have come off, even with my experiments into semi-fasting (which I got fed up with, although I usually skip lunch these days).

I had wanted to focus on writing the novel once my PhD was not going to happen. I have been working on it, but I have this nasty habit of convoluting my plots to the point where they can seem too complicated to ever get straight, plus they always need research which can be a lot of fun but can also throw curve balls. (Ingibiorg, I’m talking about you!)

Why did I think that a treasure hunt whose trail was laid in the 12th century and was partially followed in the 19th before my modern characters have a go at it would be a suitable first novel? I have three plots to keep straight as well as setting the clues!

So now I am wondering whether it would be sensible to take a month out from having the novel as my main focus and make my health the primary target in February? I can only have one at a time as my energy is so limited (if you have never read the spoons article it is a very clear explanation of the kind of choices people with very little energy have to make) and improving my health would benefit every area of my life. It’s just less fun than playing with pretend people πŸ™‚

I’m sitting here feeling glad I decided to wash my hair and write a blog post about this rather than go for a walk though as it is totally chucking it down with rain! (For once the forecast was worth checking before going out) After all, it’s not February yet.

I would need to increase my exercise as much as I can physically manage (which is not a lot, but probably a bit more than now) for example starting to go swimming again. I would also need to try to improve my diet, which is not terrible but could be better. I can still think about the novel plot and do some research, but if I have a choice between going out or lying in bed writing on the laptop, I would go out.

But just thinking and writing about this is making me feel tired… hibernating seems quite an attractive option…

What do you think? Should I take a month to spend all my available energy on trying to improve my health? Or am I just making excuses and I should knuckle down and write the darn novel? πŸ™‚

January 30, 2013 at 4:01 PM 4 comments


Sorry to be misleading, this post has nothing to do with aardvarks. I always struggle with what to call a post and felt a bit random. I would prefer to write the post then think of a title, but I feel I ought to give it a name so it has a file name when it gets autosaved. I know that doesn’t matter, but these little details that nobody cares about, somehow I do care about them. I might be happier if I learned not to. Who knows?

Anyway, leaving the non-existent aardvarks behind (is that even possible?) the reason I am posting today is to provide the promised update about the fasting. I know, it’s only a week since my last post, what’s come over me? πŸ™‚

Not that it’s going all that great. I’m still managing to do it, but I weighed myself this morning and was peeved to discover I had only lost a measly half pound since last week 😦 Now I know I’m not doing it to lose weight, but that is the only measurable bit of data I can collect on whether it’s working or not. I’ve also just not felt any different on fast days this week. I have to just chalk that down to the vagaries of my condition, I have bad weeks and less bad weeks. But it’s a little disheartening.

So am I giving up? Oh no! I’m fasting today as well! Just in case I was wrong about it being OK if the fast days are not consecutive. I fasted yesterday so let’s see how it goes. I have no idea whether it will be harder than a single fast day. The husband was not keen for me to try it, not least because he misses eating with me for dinner, so I’ve had to agree to sit with him while he eats and I don’t. Hmmm, that’ll be fun…

I’ve also had a different breakfast today. Instead of the oats and dates I had yesterday I had a chicken breast and a bit over 5cm of cucumber. The chicken breast reckons it’s 160 calories, but I don’t eat the skin and scrape off any congealed fat too (it’s a pre-packaged cold one, not ideal I know, but I have to accept that). I just looked it up and the site I used reckoned that would be 123 calories. Cucumber should be negligible. The site gave a measure per cup, who eats cucumber in a cup? The official portion size is 5cm, so why can’t they give that? Anyway it was only 8 calories, so pretty negligible.

I had been also disappointed to discover I had been wrong to discount the calories in skimmed milk. It’s 35 per 100ml and I must use at least that on my oats and in each coffee, so I had been getting 100 over what I thought! 😦 Still, today I will definitely be closer to 400 calories.

That coffee is a nuisance, but I don’t want to do without my coffee. Not least in case I’m addicted, I don’t want headaches. I only have 3 a day so I might not be addicted, but now is not the time to try that out as well. So I just have to take on the chin the fact that it’s about 80 calories per mug. And no, I am not prepared to drink it black and sugarless, ick.

If I try to eat sensibly on the feed days too, not having cake just because I can, then maybe I’ll have something better to report next week.

Well, that’s it for now. I could write about other things, but I don’t feel like it any more.

August 22, 2012 at 11:34 AM Leave a comment

Desperate times and desperate measures.

Well, maybe that sounds overly dramatic, but drama is good, right? Anyway, it might not have slipped your notice that I have failed to post for a while. I’ve not been feeling too great. Nothing major or life threatening, just relentless lack of energy, the plague of a boil, general under the weather-ness, etc etc.

I decided I needed to do something about it. I am supposed to be going back to my PhD (or possibly MPhil) at the beginning of October, but although the actual anxiety has lessened – praise the Lord! I am still in no fit state, especially since I will be in at the deep end and need to hit the ground running. You see part of the problem right there. Running in water is not very productive, especially at the deep end!

I have also not lost any more weight. In fact I suspect it has been creeping back up. Not helped by not being able to exercise when unwell, and by eating takeout half the week because the husband doesn’t want to cook every day after work, which is fair enough, but I haven’t been able to do any either.

The irony of watching people exerting themselves in the pursuit of Olympic gold while vegetating on the couch all day has not been lost on me either. A couple of times I even ate chocolate as I watched them.

But I also managed to catch another televisual treat during the Olympic fortnight, which convinced me to try the aforementioned desperate measure:

My UK readers should be able to see that on catch up, hopefully it is still at least a readable article from other countries.

Basically I am trying intermittent fasting. For two days a week I only have 400 calories. It’s usually 500 for women and 600 for men, but it is based on being a quarter of what you should eat and I try and aim for more like 1500 due to being so inactive.

I’ve had 3 hungry days so far. It’s nothing like as bad as I had expected. The first day I was a bit hungry in the afternoon and quite hungry all evening, but the other two days I was only a little bit hungry some of the time and not too bad for most of it. Also, far from fainting as the husband expected, I have actually felt more alert and energetic (for me) on the hungry days. My hungry days are Tuesdays and Fridays, but I shall move them around if I need to.

The main reason I wanted to try this is because it is supposed to reset something in the body from cell division to cell repair. I so need my body to repair itself! That is my main hope from this. I hate arthritis. But also it is supposed to make new brain cells grow, which has to be a good thing for going back to the thesis! Also it is good against cholesterol and is a good way to lose weight. If he can lose a stone in 5 weeks then even if that’s all it does it will have helped. Less weight on my knees might help me exercise a bit more.

The other good side is that, not only does it not require any expensive equipment or weird foodstuffs or eating nasty tasting cack, it should save money as I don’t eat two lunches and two dinners every week! Moreover, apparently on the feeding days I can eat whatever I want! Cake, ice cream, fish and chips, all guilt free! πŸ˜€

It seems to be a very flexible system, as little research has been done on what works or doesn’t, nobody really knows whether there are any other rules than those. They did compare people who ate healthy on their feed days to people who ate anything and that’s how they know that you can eat anything and still get the benefits.

I was so glad it is not total fasting, because I have to have food with my meds twice a day or I risk stomach ulcers. And I am not going to try and do without my anti-inflammatories. So I can have oats with skimmed milk and strawberries and half a teaspoon of sugar for breakfast, a banana at 10pm and two coffees. The latter is the only drawback because I only like coffee with sugar in, and no less than one and a half teaspoons which is 50 calories per mug 😦

I usually have 3 coffees a day, so 2 is not a massive hardship. And it’s so worth it if it works! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Oh, I forgot to weigh myself at the start, which is annoying, but on Saturday, after two hungry days, I was 11 stone 4 pounds, this morning after 3 hungry days I was 11 stone and one and a half pounds! Two and a half pounds off just through one fast day – if it keeps going at that rate, I will lose a stone in a month! Cool πŸ˜€

I am also trying to gradually retrain my brain for when it goes back to the thesis. I need to get used to doing a lot of academic reading, not just novels, so I have been reading a chapter a day from an academic book last week and am trying for two a day this week, gradually building up and also increasing in relevance.

And I need to build up my writing discipline too. I have been free-writing on my laptop and have decided that the blog is the logical second step. I hesitate to set a goal as I might beat myself up for failing which is not helpful at this stage. But I planned to start with this post, which I have done! Yay πŸ™‚ and then I shall try another one. In fact, I intend to do some about runology and stavechurches, not just waffle about my boring life. I’ve already written most of one about Anglo-Saxon runes, I just need to sort the pictures for it. Finishing is my hardest part. But I shall try to get that done soon.

OK, this is now over 1000 words, so I’d better stop for now! What do you think – am I mad to try fasting? Have you tried it? Is it just a fad?

August 15, 2012 at 4:51 PM 11 comments

Making bread

First, sorry its been so long. Just to get that out of the way. Insert excuse of your choice. Also, no promises about increasing regularity of posts, it may happen, it may not πŸ™‚

Second, I made bread! In a machine of course, due to feeble arthritic hands, but still exciting for me. I made the first loaf on Saturday but there are no photos because it didn’t exist for long enough! As soon as it had cooled down enough to cut, Tim and I devoured it πŸ˜€ yum.

I was very pleasantly surprised the first one came out so well, because I had been warned that it might take a few goes to get it perfect. To me, it was perfect! But Tim found it too heavy. Which is not to say it was heavy at all (it really wasn’t), he just likes his bread so fluffy it’s hardly there. He actually seems to prefer plastic bread to real bread 😦 So yesterday I made another loaf, this time letting it rise for 20 minutes longer. I opened it up and there it was:

My second ever loaf of bread, sitting happily in the bread machine πŸ™‚

It did indeed rise more than the first one, despite looking a bit small as it was kneading. This is the light crust setting, at least we both agree about preferring pale crusts πŸ™‚ This is what it looked like cooling on the tray:

My second ever loaf of bread!

I was very happy with it, especially as I made a mistake on this second one! The first went exactly right, I followed the instructions carefully to the letter, but this one I had evidently got a bit over confident from the first success. I didn’t check my way through the instructions and ended up forgetting to put the blade in! For anyone who has never used a bread maker, that would mean it just didn’t work at all. It would make noises but not mix the ingredients and then heat up a mess of water with flour on top and I dread to think how horrendous a mess it would make…

I didn’t panic though! I fixed it and hoped for the best and it worked – phew! In fact, the hardest part about making bread this way (apart from making sure you don’t forget something vital) is getting that blade out of the loaf.

The stirring blade stuck in the bottom of the bread. (It’s supposed to do this!)

I expect I’ll get better at removing it, but remember the bread is still hot at this point. As this is my second loaf, notice the bread is on its side. This I learned the hard way, the first one I put upside down and squashed the top flat.

Although this one did rise more than the first, it is really awkward how you have to do it. The machine bleeps 4 times before the final ‘it’s ready come and get it’ bleeps. The first is to add extra ingredients like fruit so they don’t get pulverised by the kneading. I have no idea what the second is for, I couldn’t find a clue in the destructions! The third is the one I needed to press to give it an extra ten mins of rising time, then again for another ten. The final one is to give it extra baking time.

But it doesn’t tell you when this bleep will happen so I had to lurk and rush from the lounge to the kitchen. Of course I tried it at the second set of bleeps, which didn’t work and made me cross. I was relieved to figure out that had been the wrong bleeps! But I had to lurk for over an hour and we don’t have a one of those kitchens you sit in. To us the kitchen is a room for tasks, not for lingering, we do that in the lounge. But hey ho, now I’ve done it it would be easier next time. Except I think his next loaf will be the French style and see if he prefers that.

Now I’ve managed basic white bread, and fluffier white bread which hopefully will last a few days, I want to try making some more unusual bread. But what to try first? I fancy seedy bread, banana bread, apricot and spice bread, rye bread, cheese and herb bread, spelt bread…

I have enough white flour for one more loaf before I have to go buy more. When I go I can get rye flour and spelt flour and wholemeal as well as more white. Hehe, I shall be buying myself a bunch of flours! πŸ˜‰

I think I’ll try seedy white bread, if I have enough seeds left Otherwise I shall have to stock up on those too.

The only problem now is calories! Home made bread might be healthier than plastic bread, but it has at least as many calories, if not more, and because it’s so delicious I want to eat lots more of it…

June 18, 2012 at 11:04 AM 5 comments

Creeping portion size

My weight loss has slowed down to imperceptible (or possibly sneaking slightly the wrong way, I’m not really sure as I make it a deliberate policy to not weigh myself often. Husband helps greatly with this policy by his habit of keeping the so-called bathroom scales in his garage to weigh his work parcels on).

I’m not wondering why. When I realised it had reached a happy amount, I started to allow myself a few more cakes. When I was being strict I would get maybe one cake a month, if that, and then only if someone forced me to eat it. You know how they do that – by making delicious cake and offering me some! Or occasionally by making delicious cake and selling me some… but we won’t go there! But I stopped trying to refuse once I was happy I had lost a stone or two, after all, if it began to creep up at least I know now that I am capable of losing it πŸ™‚

But there seems to have been another, more insidious factor. Portion size creep.

Now this usually goes the other way. I’m certain that after 8 mints have shrunk. It’s not just that they seemed bigger because I was smaller when I was child, I’m sure of it! They should really take advantage of that childhood memory thing, to go off on a tangent. I bet they’d make a mint (hahaha πŸ˜‰ very punny) if they sold giant ones that made adults feel like a child again πŸ™‚

Another thing which has shrunk, to my annoyance, is the cheese slice in McDs. As a child we very occasionally went there and I would always have filet of fish without tartar sauce. As an adult I didn’t go much either, until I got married. Husband enjoys a big mac, so he always nags me to go there, despite that it is not my favourite place. I don’t mind the food, but I’d rather eat it in nicer surroundings. Our local one is never warm enough, except maybe in a heat wave, plus the food is also never warm enough, which is really poor. But that’s not my point. My point is that the cheese slice used to be the same size as the fish square.

Now it is barely half that! It’s so annoying and a really pointless way to save money! I’d rather pay a few pence more for a decent sized bit of cheese! Also, while I’m on their cheese – why can they not get it central? I’m not OCD or anything, but when you have so little cheese to go with the fish, if half of it is hanging out of the bun it just doesn’t work! And because it has melted on it is stuck to both the bread and the fish and really hard to reposition 😑

But the portion creep in question is actually my own gradual increase in porridge portion size!

When I switched to oats as my breakfast of choice, I would weigh them, and the fruit, to make sure I didn’t get too many calories and I couldn’t guess amounts. But after a while I got used to how those amounts looked so I would save time by just serving it up by eye.

Only my eyes seem to grow πŸ™‚

I am not bad at estimating. But it is the occasional day when you’re feeling a bit down, or a bit hungry, or you know it might be a while before lunch, or you want some comfort, so you have an extra big bowl, just this once. Then it happens again. And if that happens too many times close together, the regular size starts to look a bit mean. So the slightly bigger size becomes the new normal size. And then of course, when you want a slightly bigger size that is slightly larger again and the cycle goes round until you realise that your porridge bowl is about twice as full as it ought to be!

So I cut back down to a much smaller portion and you know what? It’s not stingy, it is sufficient! I’m just a greedy guts who loves porridge too much πŸ˜€

July 7, 2011 at 10:48 AM 2 comments

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