Tag Archives: relaxation

97/365 – Baths and myasthenia gravis

For me, happiness is a hot bath accompanied by a good book, candles and relaxing music. Maybe even a glass of wine or bottle of beer if the time of day is right and the planets are in alignment. I would be content to spend a part of every evening in this way – in fact I’d go as far as to say I would be delighted to spend my evenings this way even if I did start to resemble a prune. However, about a year ago, my mum told me a horrible story about a friend of a friend with myasthenia that has deeply affected me.

This friend of a friend had been feeling fine when he decided to jump in his tub to relax. But once he was settled in the hot water, his muscles went limp without any warning. Thankfully he had someone at home to help him out of the scary predicament otherwise the situation could have been dangerous. Lethal. As she shared this tale, I couldn’t help thinking about all the long, sweltering baths I had taken without a soul around. 

I find it a horrible story because it has transformed a form of relaxation I loved into something sinister. Obviously I had read the warnings about being careful around extreme temperatures. But until I heard this story, I didn’t understand the possible impact.

I don’t have a bath in my current flat which was really difficult initially and still annoys me. This week, the upstairs neighbours have been away and I’ve been able to use their bath. In my excitement about being able to do something that I have been deprived of, I had a long bath on my own. It was only towards the end of the bath, as I started to feel hot and bothered, that the possibility of my muscles going limp struck me. What would I do? My voice would echo throughout the four empty floors if I shouted for help. Would the muscles’ strength come back eventually or would I need to wait for someone to find me? As you can imagine I didn’t hang around to much longer.

Although I was totally fine, Elaine was not amused when she got home. Probably about as unamused as I am about a favourite past time being tainted by my MG. 

60/365 РMassage and myasthenia gravis 

When I woke up this morning, I decided it was a ‘spoil Laurna day’. Although I had been treated to celebrating my birthday in Copenhagen, I didn’t get a chance to treat myself. And, since finishing off my prosecco and cake in the cafe around the corner from our hotel, everything has been quite manic. Call me whatever you like, but with my first wage from my new job I decided a treat was in order. The only criteria was that it had to be totally self indulgent. I looked at shoes and jewellery in Copenhagen, but none were quite right. When I got an email this morning about an available massage in my work’s beauty salon – I realised fate had stepped in (and was willing to charge a very reasonable price ).

Getting a massage is a real treat for me – in fact today was my first professional massage in London. When I lived in Aberdeen, I used to get regular massages and they really helped with the continual build up of knots in my back and shoulders from exercise. But when I moved down south, I had very little money to spare and fell out of the habit. 

Benefits of massage 

What benefits does massage have for people with myasthenia gravis? Results that are proven – none. No matter how many times I read that a good massage can heal the body, it’s not going to stop my rogue immune system attacking itself. 

However, there’s no doubt that massage relieves stress, even if only temporarily, and stress is a key trigger for increasing MG symptoms. I’ve been feeling tense over the past fortnight, and think along with the break from my gluten and dairy free diet and increase of alcohol in Copenhagen, it has played a part in making my ptosis worse and my legs and arms feeling shaky during and after exercising. In short, stress is bad but massage is good. 

A chance to be still

Alongside alleviating muscle tightness and stress, it’s also a great opportunity to let yourself be still. I felt very calm during my time in Copenhagen, but the daily commute and heavy workload at present have threatened to make the feeling of stillness quickly forgotten. After getting eight hours of sleep last night and attending a yoga class at lunch, I was still feeling semi-relaxed by the time I entered the beauty parlour this evening. However, the 30 minute back, neck and shoulders massage by Andrea Edmead has left me feeling completely calm all over again.

While the lasting benefits of a massage versus the luxury of the expense could be debated all day long, if that 30 minutes leaves you feeling more relaxed for hours afterwards, never mind days, then it’s worth putting the time and money aside. While I got a ¬£25 bargain tonight, with regular  Groupon deals there’s no reason why getting a massage needs to break the bank. 

While spoil Laurna day may have drawn to a close for another year, my back was, unsuprisingly, not in a good state today. The tension has eased a little but I can still feel the knots burning in my back. So I’ve decided that it won’t hurt (much) to have a treat Laurna day every month.

36/365 – What a difference a sleep makes

This morning I knew from the moment I woke up that it was going to be a good day. My eyes didn’t reluctantly creak open, as they had for the rest of this week, my vision was perfectly clear on first glance at the world and my body felt like it needed to spring out of bed. The magical ingredient – eight hours sleep after a week of broken nights.

After yesterday’s 5.30am alarm, run to the tube station in the snow, due to bus strikes, full day of training, walk back to Nottingham city centre from the university and then walk home in the freezing cold, again due to bus strikes, I was feeling weak and shaky by the time I made it through my front door. After a quick catch up with Elaine, I fought the urge to stick on an episode of something or read a few pages and retreated to bed. I must have been passed out within 10 seconds of switching the lights off as I woke as I’d been in hibernation all winter this morning with no recollection of even saying goodnight.

The early night has made me focused, sociable and energetic today – I even managed my first session in my work’s gym at lunch with the toughest treadmill workout I’ve had since my operation in September.

So, using this as evidence, I’m going to try to not under or over sleep this weekend. It will be interesting to see how my body responds to it. For now though, happy Friday evening to you all!

14/365 – Some relaxation tips

So at the moment I’m doing a bit more relaxation than normal as I’m waiting for my new job to start.

But even now, the first time in my adult life that I have time to kill, I still don’t find relaxing easy. There’s always something on my to do list and I find it difficult to be still.

So, after months of trying to do mindfulness exercises and breathing techniques, I’ve come to the conclusion that relaxation should be defined as whatever leaves you feeling still and content. Quiet in the heart and mind. Mindfulness didn’t work for me, but here are a few tips that I’ve found useful.

A) Schedule ‘you’ time in your diary

As busy as life may be, you will notice a difference both emotionally and mentally if you can make space in your schedule for alone time. In this precious daily/weekly slot, try to do something that will make you feel calm. It could be going to a quiet place to read, going to the cinema, or even going for a gentle walk with no destination.

Some other ideas: Painting, drawing, watching a series on Netflix, writing a letter, writing a diary, making something crafty, trying gentle yoga/Pilates exercises, taking a warm bath, listening to music, getting a massage/facial, going for a gentle walk, strolling around an art gallery/museum…etc etc

Don’t be afraid to try all of the above, and anything else that comes to mind, until you find what works for you.

I find reading while in the bath, writing, watching Netflix/going to the cinema and yoga are the best options for me.

The trick with yoga is to find a class that isn’t too demanding – when it comes to relaxation, Hatha is better than Ashtanga (power) or Bikram. Once you’ve learned a few moves, you can do these at home to help you relax. Yoga classes will teach you the importance of controlling your breath and also some relaxation techniques. One of my favourites is focusing on relaxing each muscle individually starting from your head down or feet up. While doing this, you will feel like your body melts into the floor.

Recently, I’ve also found pampering works wonders for me – as seen with today’s picture of me in a face mask.

B) You don’t have to do it alone

While alone time is good for rebalancing, relaxation is completely personal and it might not be what you need. Spending time with people who make you laugh is great as laughter reduces cortisol – your stress hormone. Or spending time with someone at a comedy gig/watching a comedy film can help you relax (just don’t sit in the front row)

Alternatively, speaking to someone who you trust can also help you relax. Whether it’s just a yap about everything and nothing, or something more serious like your MG symptoms flaring up, talking to friends or family can be incredibly relaxing. Just choose carefully – there are people more capable of producing calming vibes and others who are better to be around when you need a kick up the bum.

If you don’t have someone you feel comfortable talking to and relaxing with, Myaware has a range of support groups across the country. Feeling like you’re understood can be the most relaxing experience of all. If there’s nothing in your area, check out the Myaware Young Generation page on Facebook.

C) Where and how you relax is important

1) If you plan to relax at home, make the space as comfortable as possible. If not, you’ll find distractions to stop you from doing whatever it is that makes you feel chilled.

2) Pick an outfit that you WILL relax in at home

I know this sounds a bit Daily Mail but trust me. When you put those comfy clothes on that you relate to successful relaxation, you know it’s business time (not in the Flight of the Concords way…but, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, that is an excellent form of relaxation ;))

I have my very own chic ensemble (pictured below) straight from a designer boutique in Paris.

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That’s all for now – I’ve got some relaxation to do. Please share your relaxation tips below and I’ll add them in.

13/365 – Learning to relax

Of all the lifestyle changes I’ve made since being diagnosed with MG, scheduling in time for relaxation was the biggest culture shock.

My work has always kept me busy, and often on my feet, and I’ve also preferred my free time to be jam packed full of fun. Whether it was training or a game for a sports teams, other exercise, volunteering, evening classes, or socialising, in the past I could go for weeks without spending an evening at home relaxing. Often when I was home, I’d be entertaining which I’ve never found particularly chilled.

Simply put, my body wouldn’t allow me to continue that way post myasthenia. It has a rather unpleasant way of communicating it’s displeasure when it comes to my periods of hyper activity now – it brings my symptoms back with a bang. Since the thymectomy my body has become more predictable and sometimes I find out too late that I need to get some rest. But I am getting better at reading the early signs and, most importantly, listening to them.

I didn’t fully accept relaxation as a key part of my schedule until early last year when I moved in with my partner. This is because I think to be able to relax, you have to feel completely comfortable where you live and I hadn’t had that for years. No longer just a hotel, home is somewhere I look forward to arriving at and often now I actually need a push to go out.

I never thought I’d say it but I’m glad I’ve made the change. While I still find time to do most of those things I mentioned above, it’s at a much less frantic pace so I get to enjoy them more thoroughly.

Today’s photo is me this morning taking 15 minutes to do the cold teabag trick on the black bags underneath my eyes. Unfortunately, the drug that suppresses my immune system makes my skin thinner and nowhere does it show more clearly than the suitcases I’m carrying on my face. I’ll write more tomorrow on relaxation techniques which I find work for me.

…and you’ll be glad to know my eyes are still looking bright and full today

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