Blog, Cambridge, Nature, Walking

Walking around… Cambridge

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Cambridge Photo by Spiral White

I’m revisiting a previous post this week from before the pandemic, to Cambridge, England.

I discovered some quaint streets and alleyways on my way to Kings College.

What can I tell you about Cambridge?

It’s on the tourist map as one of the most visited places in Britain.

It’s  famous for its University Kings College, Chapel and Choir. On Christmas Eve every year a service of Nine lessons and Carols is broadcast.

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Cam River Photo by Spiral White 

The River Cam runs through Cambridge.

Students earn some extra cash by hiring out small boats called “punts”and punting visitors along the river.

On a summers day the river is a colourful mass of punts.

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The Backs, Cambridge Photo by Spiral White 

Walking into the town centre through “the backs” by the river.

A variety of Spring flowers cover the banks. First with snow drops, then daffodils and bluebells.

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As I reach the city centre Gothic architecture surrounds me.
For more information about Cambridge have a look at the Visit Britain website
Check before setting out local COVID restrictions.

Chronic illness, Diet, Exercise, Fibromyalgia, Invisible illness, Meditation, Uncategorised

I have #fibromyalgia…

Photo by Elina Krima on Pexels.com

Fibromyalgia affects around 1 in 20 people. Although most people have no idea what fibromyalgia is; let alone what it’s like to live with.

So, here’s a brief guide for anyone who doesn’t know anything about fibromyalgia.

What is fibromyalgia?

Its a long term chronic health condition characterised by pain. The pain ranges in severity on a daily basis from mild symptoms to severe pain in changing areas of the body.

The main symptoms are:

Pain throughout the whole body 

Joints and muscles feel stiff

Quality of sleep can be poor

Feeling tired and fatigued 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Extreme Sensitivity 

Cognitive problems, feeling confused, or dazed, sometimes called Fibro fog

Headaches

Depression 

Anxiety 

Painful periods in women 

The symptoms can vary from person to person.

Symptoms can get better or worse from time to time.

Factors that influence this are:

  • the amount of stress you are experiencing 
  • how much daily exercise you have
  • and changes in climate and temperature 

Further information is available on the NHS website.              

If you think you may be suffering from fibromyalgia, consult your doctor or health professional. They will run a variety of tests to get an accurate diagnosis of your condition.

There’s no cure….Yes you did read that correctly; there’s no cure, but…

I’ve lived with fibromyalgia for 15 years and found some times are really tough.

The single most upsetting factor for me has been other people’s perception of ‘living with fibromyalgia’. They almost always get it wrong. So, if you meet someone who has fibromyalgia, tread carefully. Don’t jump to conclusions about how they feel. Listen to them. After all they are living with it on a daily basis.

The positives are my symptoms are still there, but have improved greatly since I was first diagnosed.

I have been able to boost my general health through diet, exercise  and meditation .

This is a short post about symptoms, living with fibromyalgia is another story…

If you would like to read more about what helped me, follow my blog and have a look at my Fibromyalgia Self Help Pages.

Blog, Chronic illness, Fibromyalgia, Florence Nightingale, International Women’s Day, Invisible illness, Nursing

It’s #International Women’s Day today… this year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge  #IWD2021

Photo by Amina Filkins on Pexels.com

I’m focusing on Florence Nightingale who was an inspiring woman from history, despite illness and injury, who lived an exceptional life. She revolutionised nursing practices and helped to make great changes in the care of patients. Florence challenged the status quo of the time…

Florence was born on May 12, 1820, in Florence, Italy, after which she was named. She was the youngest of two children.

Florence was born into a wealthy family and was expected to get married and have children. Florence rebelled against this stereotype. She had always helped to care for sick people and started working as a nurse.

Florence was sent to nurse injured soldiers during the Crimean War. She proved to be a very dedicated nurse; visiting the injured every evening on a regular basis which started the phrase ‘the Lady with the Lamp’.

Because of her influence in nursing practices unsanitary areas were improved which increased the survival rate of patients.

Florence wrote about her nursing techniques from experience, which formed the basics for standards in nursing care adopted for the profession.

During 1860 St Thomas’ Hospital and the Nightingale School for Nursing was opened.

blue and silver stetoscope
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Florence and fibromyalgia

Florence suffered from an invisible illness after she returned from nursing solders in the Crimea War.

Her symptoms are reminiscent of fibromyalgia; which was not a recognised condition at the time. Florence spent prolonged periods in bed, due to her illness. This was probably triggered by excessive stress carrying out her duties nursing in terrible conditions.

In recent years soldiers from the Gulf  War have gone on to develop fibromyalgia after they returned from war. The unbearable stress they were exposed to at that time triggering fibromyalgia.

Florence died on August 13, 1910; she received the Order of Merit in 1907 for her contribution to modern nursing practices. Florence was an amazing woman who cared for others and put others health before her own.

Florence was quoted as saying

There is no part of my life, upon which I can look back without pain”

Chronic illness, Fibromyalgia, Invisible illness, Sleep, Uncategorised, Yoga Nidra

Trouble with #sleeping?…

two white and brown puppies
Photo by sergio souza on Pexels.com

A few simple changes can make a difference to your quality of sleep. I know this very well from first hand experience, having suffered from poor unrefreshing sleep for years.

After weeks of not sleeping the body’s functions become impaired making it extremely difficult to function in a normal way. (Whatever normal is for a fibromyalgia sufferer). 

“If you’re thinking, I don’t have fibromyalgia, it’s still worth giving these suggestions a try.”

“Insomnia, fatigue and pain are all part of life if you live with fibromyalgia.” The symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as fatigue and pain are all made worse with poor quality sleep.

Over time I’ve found some solutions that have helped me get a better nights sleep. Obviously, there’s no one size fits all with these suggestions. That said, it’s still worth giving them a go. Just being aware what might work is useful.

On occasions I still find I have some problems sleeping but I can solve these more effectively than previously.

Common problems experienced range from:

  • getting to sleep
  • staying asleep until morning
  • waking during the night
  • getting back to sleep after waking up

Have a look at the following suggestions for improving your sleep

  • Go for regular exercise every morning, for example a walk 

  • Check your bedroom temperature and lighting are beneficial for sleep 

  • Adjust your bed and pillows to make it as comfy as possible 

  • Invest in a electric blanket to warm the bed before you get in and help relax muscles 

  • Avoid smoking, over eating or drinking caffeine directly before bedtime 

My top tips for getting to sleep

  • Help your mind wind down for the day
  • Get into a regular sleep routine for adjusting your Circadian rhythm, try to get up at the same time every day
  • Turn off all devices that emit blue light an hour before bedtime
  • Read a relaxing book or listen to gentle music
  • Try a meditation, like yoga nidra or one for helping you to get to sleep 
  • Use ear plugs and a eye mask to block unwanted noise and light
  • Get into a comfortable sleep position and then try a relaxation routine 

Whilst you are asleep make sure your room doesn’t have anything that will wake you like a mobile phone.

A pet that sleeps in your bedroom and disturbs you in the night, should be encouraged to sleep elsewhere.

If you wake in the night and cannot get back to sleep get up and find something that makes you drowsy like reading or a yoga nidra sleep meditation.

If you find by morning you have not had enough sleep go back to bed and sleep for a while longer. If you catch up with a couple of hours sleep every night you will see the difference after a few months.

I recently read several articles which mentioned vitamin D (sunlight) exposure daily in the morning shortly after rising can help and mindfulness meditation both improved the quality of sleep in fibromyalgia sufferers. 

I believe this to be true because I usually get up and do a daily walk every morning and this regulates my circadian rhythm over the next 24 hours. It’s more important to get up at the same time every day than the time I go to sleep. 

I’ve found improvements in my concentration and ability to switch off at night after practicing regular Meditation on a daily basis. Explore meditation apps for sessions covering mindfulness and sleep. Have a look at my Fibromyalgia Self Help pages on  Meditation and  Exercise

If you have insomnia and it’s not necessarily fibromyalgia related, get it checked out by your doctor or health professional. If they prescribe sleeping pills it would be advisable to be referred to see a specialist sleep consultant.

Have a look at the  NHS sleep self assessment  to determine how good your sleep is.  From this link you will find some helpful information about sleep.