These things happen

These things happen

It’s strange because last time I was here I was writing about having been unwell and here I am again writing about things not being ok.

This time though it is a completely freak accident, one that would perhaps have been hard to avoid other than to have not been doing what I was doing of course. So what was I doing?

I was helping move a bookcase, a large pine one and yes it did need to be moved as the room it was in needed to be emptied out. I should probably explain here that this is a bookcase that I have helped move before without anything happening so I had no qualms about doing so again this time. I did though have the going backwards end and it was the going backwards that proved to be the problem. I stepped back, probably a little awkwardly and that was all it took – I now have a hairline stress fracture on the top of my foot, in a place where neither a boot nor strapping is of any use. The only thing is to rest it and try hard not to make it worse.

I wouldn’t mind but over the various lockdowns I have discovered the joys of getting fitter than I have ever been before through walking, QiGong and Zumba both online and on Zoom. I now of course can do none of these….or can I?

It seems I can up to a point. I can walk, in firm soled, supportive shoes (for me this is trainers) for a maximum of 30 mins before resting and I have been lent a pair of crutches by a friend which helps me move around without using my injured foot for weight bearing too much.

To be honest I’m finding the shoe bit really hard. As a child I would go out of the house wearing shoes, take them off and drop them in my bag when I got down the road and out of sight then pop them on again when I was almost home. As an adult I have always spent almost all the time barefoot at home and when I could get away with it, at work. I hate walking on a beach with shoes on with a passion and never usually have them on around the house or garden, so the wearing shoes bit is one of the hardest things for me and one I am failing at miserably.

As far as exercise goes today I discovered a seated cardio workout with weights that was cardio enough to record both fat burning and cardio minutes on my Fitbit and there are many more of these on YouTube thankfully. I also found a seated version of one of my current favourite QiGong practices, 8 Pieces of Brocade. None of these are the exercise I have become used to but I’ll survive. It’s only Zumba I haven’t worked out yet but give it time.

So do these things happen or could this have been avoided?

If I am honest I have been getting messages from my guides for a little while, about balancing the focus on my physical and mental bodies with my spiritual, which to be fair I have been neglecting quite a bit. OBOD Ovate work has been left to one side plus with retiring from seeing clients and training students I suppose I have paid less attention to my energy and shamanic ‘work’, but some of this is just my giving it space to find it’s place in my life after retiring. Honest.

I am a week and a half into a six week period of ‘taking it easy’ to let the hairline stress fracture heal. Maybe during this time I will find that balance as well as the place for my spiritual work to sit alongside the rest of my more active life. But am I willing to sit things out and not exercise? The answer to this is a firm and resounding NO! I just need to be creative for the next few weeks and see how it all fits together so nothing else needs to ‘happen’. This may involve a few more conversations with my guides, possibly a bit of shamanic journeying for guidance or insight, maybe some dowsing, who knows how it will pan out. What I am sure of is that there is always a way to make to all work if I put my mind as well as my intention to it and try.

My Experience of Bell’s Palsy – 7

As I said in an early post, at the beginning I knew nothing at all about Bell’s Palsy and it was hard at the start to find useful information. I gained a lot from reading a blog about someone’s experience so that is really why I decide to blog about what it had been like for me.

What I did learn, online mainly, is that it can strike at any age and that around 0.02% of the population worldwide contract Bell’s Palsy every year. Strangely very little seems to be known about what causes it. It is thought though that it might be caused by a virus, be post viral, a result of lyme disease, stress, hypertension, heart attacks, a million and one other things, or caused by nothing at all.  It is said to be best described as an event, a trauma to the nerve and recovery depends on how bad the initial trauma is.

This trauma takes place as a result of inflammation in the CN7 nerve (seventh cranial nerve) or its nerve sheath. This nerve runs behind the ear, connects to and controls the facial muscles. When this nerve is inflamed, or compressed by the sheath it can no longer control the facial muscles, hence facial paralysis on the affected side.

The inflammation is why high dose steroids are prescribed and the connection to a virus or post virus infection is why they also give high dose antivirals. One thing I also learnt was that the sooner these are taken the more chance there is of some recovery and that within 72hrs is the optimum time. I started taking both within 24hrs.

I know how lucky I have been with this and how unusual it is to have had nearly complete recovery within a few weeks. Everything I read said that any recovery can begin to take place from two weeks to three to six months after the initial paralysis but can continue for nine months or even years. I read posts online from people who had had complete recovery, partial recovery and no recovery at all. There seems to be no pattern to the recovery nor any one thing that made a difference.

So what may have helped me?

  • That I was lucky enough to have a Dr who responded quickly, got me to hospital quickly and that I began taking medication early.
  • That I had access to so many amazing distance Reiki and Shamanic healers. I knew I had this support and was being taken care of so could just relax.
  • That I knew what to take in terms of the Australian Bush Flower Essences Waratah and Crowea to help my body to release the trauma and shock so it could begin to heal.
  • That I knew how to work with nerve damage and a singing bowl and had someone who could help me as I couldn’t reach to do it myself.
  • That I did just stop. I gave myself permission to rest, to do nothing, initially for a month, in the knowledge that I could extend this complete rest if needed.
  • That I was somehow able to stay positive, not to worry or stress about what was happening.
  • That I treated myself to bluetooth headphones so it was easier to relax listening to audiobooks without all the wires. Doing something nice for me felt good.
  •  That I treated myself to something to look forward to by way of some dumbbells and new resistance bands. While I knew I couldn’t exercise in any way, not even a short walk I also told myself there would be a time when I could and whenever this was these were there for me.
  • Having good friends nearby who, at the beginning, both dropped off cakes, scones, chocolate, soup, vouchers for a take away for my husband and myself, along with bunches of flowers and who contacted me regularly to see how I was doing and if we needed anything.
  • Having a brilliant husband who took over everything, so all I had to do was rest up.
  • Walking bare foot in the garden, grounding myself in my body also felt as if it was both doing me good and was important all the time I was unwell.
  • And finally recognising that I was unwell, that this was me being sick and that it wasn’t something I could work through or shake off was definitely a huge factor in my healing.

I can’t say to anyone who goes through this do this or do that, it works. All I can say is what I feel helped me. At the first visit to my Dr I asked him about facial massage and exercises. His answer was that he really didn’t know. If my paralysis had continued I would have looked into these and also into seeing my cranio osteopath but for me neither were necessary. I read online about someone who found reflexology very helpful which of course could be another alternative. Another thing that was recommended to me was a TENS machine for pain relief but having looked into it ‘just in case’ it appears a more beneficial machine could be a TENS/EMS machine as the EMS function helps tone muscle groups and provides massage.

There were two websites that I did find useful early on when trying to understand a little of what was happening to me. These are The Bell’s Palsy website  and Southampton Universities site both carry comprehensive information and also useful links to information.

There are no photos accompanying any of my posts about Bell’s Palsy mainly because I was never inclined to take any. There was no reason for this, no thought behind it, although having come out the other side I realise I am glad that I do not have any. I remember quite clearly how my jaw felt that first night as well as how it looked and do not need to be reminded. Some sites recommend taking nine photos each day to assess the situation, and to see any improvements and for some this might be useful but I was simply never drawn to do so. Hence there are no photos.

One thing I was completely unprepared for was that there would be a point many weeks after I was back to normal where it would all catch up with me and that there would be a period where I felt stressed and overwhelmed, both mentally and physically. Presumably despite everything I had done to support myself, this was the shock of everything that had happened catching up with me. The other thing I hadn’t anticipated was how long it would take to get my energy back, how long I would feel physically tired for. It was over three months after the initial event that I began to feel someway back to ‘normal’ energy wise. Better energy levels and being able to get back into exercising and walking of course really helped dissipate any remaining stress, as did a birthday weekend away walking, relaxing and being totally spoilt. 🙂

My Experience of Bell’s Palsy – 6

Four weeks after the event saw me completely off the steroids and with a little over two weeks of antivirals to go. Finishing the steroids made a huge difference to my sleep and for the first time since the event my tiredness felt normal. I began to sleep for longer and occasionally found myself dozing off in the chair whilst listening to an audio book. I was still resting as much as possible to give myself as much chance to heal as I could and friends were still sending distance healing to me.

By now I had around 90/95% of movement back in my face, mouth and eye. What was left to resolve was small, fine muscle movement mainly around my upper lip and above my eye, that probably only I was aware of. My eye was still dryer than usual but I found was using the eye drops less during the day although I was still using the Vitamin A drops and an eye mask at night to protect my eye whilst I slept. I also continued to wear prescription sunglasses during the day even though I was not aware of any sensitivity to light. Wrap around sunglasses were always on when I was in the garden or sat anywhere there was breeze. It really was protect my eye at all costs.

Due to the fact that I was still on antivirals which continued to make me tired and a little forgetful, I was still not driving. I may have been ok to drive if I had needed to or in emergency but it really was not worth the risk so I refrained.

I was still getting crawling sensations around my face, especially up inside my nose, across my cheekbone and into my ear plus on some days, especially when the weather was damp, there was a dull aching in my face but lucky there was no real pain at all so it was just something I was aware of.

The thing I found most interesting about these four weeks was that at no point was I bored or looking for something to do. This was completely unlike me. There were times when I found myself thinking of things that I could be doing but it was never ‘I could do this now’ only ever ‘I could do this one day’. I seemed content to rest, to relax and to keep everything for some point in the future. Looking back I can see how much all of this helped me as my body had nothing it needed to be doing other than to heal itself.

At five weeks I had almost all movement back in my face, eye and mouth, At six weeks I had all movement back and the eye Dr in the hospital, when I went for my follow up review, checked twice which eye it was that had been the problem, spent a few minutes trying to open my eyes while I tried to keep them both closed and then pronounced I had all my muscle movement back. Great to have confirmation and to be given the all clear.

After resting for six weeks what was left to do was begin to rebuild my stamina, strength and, thanks to the meds, my immune system. I had though learnt the importance of not pushing myself, of being gentle and not expecting too much too soon so I approached this with the ‘however long to takes’ mentality that had got me this far.

My Experience of Bell’s Palsy – 4

My second visit to my Dr was two weeks after the initial event. By now I had about 80% of the movement back in my mouth, could close my eye and blink all of which were huge milestones. My Dr, happy with the progress began the task of running down my steroids slowly so my body could cope with the withdrawal. This was not pleasant as every morning my body felt wired until the lower dose kicked in, but was necessary as stopping steroids can actually be dangerous.

Since around five days after the event I had been having tiny ‘sparks’ in my face, around my mouth at first and then up my cheek and below my eye. By the second week my face was aching pretty much all the time as the nerve re-connected with muscles and my face gradually adjusted. My pain threshold is high and so I was never in actual pain but my skin was crawling 24/7 as things reawakened, around my mouth, in my cheek, inside my nose, back into my ear, below my eye, above my eye lid,  on one occasion a sharp transient headache vertically down my forehead on the affected side and on another a sharp pain through the back of both sides of my jaw.

Up until sixteen days after the event I had been cutting all my food into small bites but on day sixteen I discovered I could actually bite into a small peach and a small plum without needing to cut them up.

These various milestones, along with the crawling sensations in my face which told me something was happening, really helped keep me positive through all of this. I was determined not to put myself under any pressure or stress and so each day my thoughts were ‘If this is as good as it gets I can live with it’. This allowed me to get myself out of the way of my body’s own healing process and just allow it to do what it was capable of without my mind interfering.

My Experience of Bell’s Palsy – 3

After the ED discharged me, my Dr picked me up once more and an appointment was made to see him a week after the initial event. My main concern by that time was the debilitating tiredness I was feeling but was told that this was exactly how I should be feeling as what I needed was total rest. Not just rest for a few days but for a whole month so my body could repair and heal. My body, he explained was fighting the virus, the meds and trying to put things right. After hearing that I understood and so just gave in to it all. The steroids were to continue as long as there was improvement and I was prescribed a months supply of antivirals.

I discovered over the following days that I could do small things that lasted around 10 minutes, any longer and I was totally wrecked and so I allowed myself one small thing a day and then only if I wanted to. Everything else either waited or got left out, there was nothing I needed to do except heal. I put myself under no pressure to do anything whatsoever. Anything that needed me to follow instructions, use a knife or heat was done under supervision. Needless to say I went nowhere near driving my car at all, I certainly would not have been safe to try and drive.

Very gradually over the next week my jaw began to move more normally and eating became slightly easier. At the same time my speech became harder to understand when I spoke at normal speed and some days I could feel my lips and teeth getting stuck on some letter formations and sounds. When I remembered, I tried to slow down when speaking. The real highlights though were realising I no longer needed the lid on the keep cup and then the fact I could drink out of a normal cup once again without ending up wearing the contents. Food still often ended up around my mouth as opposed to in it, but less and less as the days progressed. For some reason the hardest thing to eat proved to be ice cream. One happy day I even managed to eat fish and chips. Ok so I broke everything into small pieces but I still ate it.

I am not someone who gets sick, nor am I the kind of person who willingly does nothing yet here I was able to give myself up to the need to rest 100%. Usually I would have tried to push through, to accelerate the healing process, to deny my body what it needed above all else, which was the time to be still and to carry out the phenomenal healing that all of our bodies are capable of. This is something I do not believe I have ever done before but resting, being still and watching the smallest of changes take place gave me the incentive I needed to continue to do so. It helped of course that I had read in several places that trying to get the muscles working before they were ready and the nerve had healed could be counterproductive. I certainly wasn’t about to inflict any further damage upon myself.

There was also the additional benefit of being sick during a pandemic as even if I had wanted to work I wouldn’t have been able to as all therapy work, like most other sectors was closed down. I had no excuse not to rest, I wasn’t letting anyone down and nothing mattered except my own healing.

My Experience of Bell’s Palsy – 2

The steroids and antivirals given me by the hospital made me debilitatingly tired and I could do nothing at all, however small, without needing to sit and rest. Unable to read I dug out some headphones and listened to audiobooks. I say listened to but in reality they played away while I dozed in the chair. It is quite a weird feeling being totally wiped out and wired all at the same time but that is the effect the medication had on me.

I couldn’t drink out of a cup at all without dribbling it down me but luckily a friend had given me a keep cup with a soft travel lid and this proved perfect. Eating was a nightmare. Everything had to be cut up in tiny pieces and ideally soft. I could swallow and chew but because my jaw didn’t move properly I could neither chew nor swallow easily. Moving food around my mouth was tricky and eating anything took about four times longer than usual. My sense of taste was unimpaired, which I now understand isn’t always the case, but I had no interest in food at all. I did know though that I needed to eat to keep my strength up so somehow managed to get through anything that was put in front of me however long to took.

For the first few days my eye was very sensitive and so I fashioned an eye patch from an airline mask and wore this under my prescription sunglasses. I also found some wrap round sunglasses which I wore whenever I didn’t have my glasses on. I was mindful of any air movement and the need to protect my eye at all costs. After about three days, when I had the smallest of movement back in my eye and it became uncomfortable to wear it, the eye patch went but the glasses in some form or other remained at all times. At night I slept with my eye taped closed as advised by the eye Dr and wore another airline eye mask.

At the start of the pandemic I had set up a WhatsApp group for some of my past and present Reiki Masters so that we could support each other if needed. Little did I know at the time it would be me needing support. The day I had been rushed into hospital I had been due to work via Skype with one of my Reiki Master students and three days later had been due to meet one of my Reiki Master friends for a socially distanced coffee. Once these two knew what had happened they began sending me Reiki and a request was made via WhatsApp for the others to send.  Another friend asked to send me healing and once I gave permission began doing distance shamanic healing. I knew then that I was being well supported and could just relax.

Dozing one day I slipped gently into a shamanic journey which provided both healing in non-ordinary reality and a place I could go to rest and recover. I rested in this place every night when I went to bed, safe in the knowledge of all the support I was receiving from my guides and allies

Having worked as an energy therapist and shamanic practitioner up until the start of this  year there are more than a few things I have in my toolkit that I can still draw upon. In the kitchen cupboard I always keep two Australian Bush Flower Essences; Waratah and Crowea. Waratah is described as being for the ‘black night of the soul’ and is brilliant for depression and stress. I was not depressed but knew that I had had a huge shock. The body cannot begin to heal until the shock and trauma have left it so it was important to do something quickly to help this happen. I had also been warned to mentally prepare for the fact that 30% are left with some symptoms and 30% have no recovery.  This meant that I was aware of the need to mind my mental health and so I took a double dose of Waratah for the first few days. Crowea is a rebalancing essence and I knew the shock had thrown everything out of balance and so again I took Crowea for a few days checking in with a quick bit of dowsing to see how much, how often and for how long.

In my work over the years I have, on many occasions, used a singing bowl to help clients with nerve damage. As Bells Palsy stems from inflammation in the CN7 nerve or its sheath my husband worked around my head with the singing bowl for me, allowing it to breaking up any blockages it found and reconnecting the energy. Sometimes the singing bowl works hard and fast, at other times like this it works oh so gently. It always knows what it needs to do as long as whoever is working with it gets themselves out of its way and allows it to work.

I also used the tiniest amount of Better You Magnesium Skin body lotion twice a day around the muscles on the affected side of my face. I had no reason for doing this other than the knowledge that our muscles need magnesium to repair and so trusted it would do no harm. I have very sensitive skin and would usually avoid using anything like this on my face but needs must and my skin coped perfectly.

Prior to the onset of Bell’s Palsy I had been taking Zinc  B12. Knowing both Zinc and B12 can help with nerve damage I continued taking these.

Nothing major or immediate happened but over a week, very gradually the numbness around my mouth began to wear off and my jaw became easier. My eye became easier to close a little and although there was still a lot I couldn’t do, there was some slight progress which again helped me cope mentally with all that was happening.

My Experience of Bell’s Palsy – 1

I’ve been thinking long and hard about whether or not to post about my experience of Bell’s Palsy but having been through it and come out the other side I have decided to do so in the hope that it may help anyone else going through it themselves.  There are seven posts and I will be adding one each day now.

It all started very unexpectedly really, although looking back my eye had been sore for a couple of days and my sinuses had been niggly which was setting my teeth on edge. This was nothing new though as I get hay fever which at times sets off my sinuses, ear and teeth and so have had this all happen before. Then late evening, shortly before heading to bed, I noticed my jaw didn’t seem to be moving properly. I have a friend who dislocated her jaw once and so all I remember thinking was that I hoped I hadn’t done something similar. No pain so I went to bed.

The next morning when cleaning my teeth I realised my jaw wasn’t right and that I couldn’t open my mouth properly so spent a few minutes pulling faces in the mirror. Dressed and downstairs I realised my mouth now felt as if I’d had an injection like at the dentist and was quite numb. After this it all happened very quickly. The right side of my face then started to feel numb and I discovered I couldn’t close my eye unless I closed both of them.

My Drs, during the Covid19 pandemic, had set up a consultation form for non urgent tele or video appointments. Was this urgent? I really didn’t know. So I emailed them listing all that had happened and saying I didn’t know if it was urgent. I then sat down with my coffee and promptly dribbled it down me. This definitely wasn’t ok so I rang the surgery.

There was no hesitation, they were making a home visit and shortly afterwards my Dr and one of the practice nurses arrived in the rapid response car with blue lights going having called an ambulance while on the way.

Within minutes I had an IV line in, bloods and blood pressure taken, had pulled lots of faces showing what I could and couldn’t do and my speech had begun to slur. The prognosis was either a stroke or Bell’s Palsy but whatever it was I needed a CT scan hence the ambulance.

It turns out that being taken to hospital during the Covid19 pandemic is actually a good thing. ED was quieter than it would have normally been, no-one was waiting on trolleys and as soon as I was out the ambulance I was in a cubical and being swept up by the stroke team.

What followed were a lot more tests, a CT scan, fortunately clear, and the decision that it was Bell’s Palsy not a stoke. I saw the eye doctor, was given eye drops, a Vitamin A cream for night, tape to keep my eye closed at night, advice on how to protect it from cornea damage and a follow up appointment in case I needed it. The ED Drs gave me more tests for coherence and cognisance and five hours after I’d arrived I was discharged back to my own Dr with a heavy dose of steroids and antivirals.

At this point I knew next to nothing about Bell’s Palsy.

Practicing Self Care

Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

This year has been a bit of a shock all round what with lockdown, social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, daily figures……….I could go on but you all know how it is and the effect it has on our mental health and in some cases on our physical health. Many of the avenues we would have used to practice self care have been closed off to us and where those have now reopened, or are in the process of doing so we may not wish to take the risk, however small of accessing them.

In the past when I needed to give myself some self care it would have quite likely taken the form of getting a hands on Reiki treatment as well as booking myself in for a massage, reflexology or something similar. Earlier this year though I had a health scare which occurred during lockdown so nothing like this was available to me which was difficult at a time when I was not well enough to fall back on my own resources.

One of the things that was gentle enough for me at the time was the free weekly guided meditation sessions via Zoom with Dzochen Beara. The other form of self care I used was to reach out to friends who could do distance healing with Reiki and Shamanic healing. Once I was feeling up to it I also began to join in a weekly Reiki self healing and found the group energy helped support me there.

Listening to my body, what it would allow me to do at any time, what it needed me to do come to that, focusing inward rather than outward and really paying attention to both my physical and mental health have been a really powerful form of self care. I used to always be reminding clients and students to do this and although it is something I have always tried to do I am not sure I have ever done so to this extent.

My self care so far has included, in no particular order:

  • walking barefoot in the garden
  • stepping outside to take in the fresh air
  • opening all the windows for fresh air
  • listening to audio books when I couldn’t read
  • reading ebooks once I could read again
  • allowing myself to sleep as often during the day as I needed to
  • going for very short walks that gradually increased in length over time
  • walking on the beach
  • listening to music
  • attempting not to get caught up in the news too much
  • painting or drawing for no reason
  • simply sitting and being still and not feeling I should be doing something
  • using Reiki to support me at all times
  • beginning to move my body again through gentle exercise – Feldenkrais, Somatic Yoga at first and now light resistance work
  • giving myself permission to do whatever was needed
  • recognising when I wasn’t ok
  • letting others help me
  • not reaching out to help others when I wasn’t really ok to do so
  • putting my own health before everything else

I am sure there are other things I have been doing as well but underpinning everything has simply been listening to what I really needed and still need rather than letting my mind try and dictate to me. Self care at its most fundamental.

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 11

Stay+safe+rainbow+printable

(image is a free download to colour in from hello@deborahpanesar.com)

 

I suppose it is telling me something that I am only getting round to starting this on Friday this week.

As I write this we await to hear officially, the changes about to come with our shift into Phase 2 of lockdown on Monday. This will likely mean being allowed to travel 20km for non essential purposes and all small non-essential shops being allowed to open. Over 70’s and others who have been cocooning will be able to have visitors for short periods, under strict conditions such as social distancing and everyone wearing gloves and masks and the rest of us can meet friends in groups of up to 6 indoors for a short time with the same precautions as when visiting cocooners. There will also be more people allowed to attend funerals than the current 10 people, but only immediate family still. Some elements of Phase 3 are likely to be brought forward such as larger stores with entrances onto streets can re-open and some children’s playgrounds, if they can be supervised and disinfected regularly, may also reopen. Marts are also re-opening so farmers can sell livestock. Shopping centres are still to remain closed as are restaurants and cafes for all but take-aways, pubs, hairdressers and barbers.

Small changes but a little normality beginning to return.

The slogan is changing from ‘Stay Home’ to ‘Stay Local’, so I’d have to change the blog title anyway but I do feel it has served its purpose now.

Actually we have just heard the distance we can travel for non essential journeys has been extended not to 20km as expected but to anywhere in our own county. Co. Cork is huge so I am not sure that feels like a good or safe move at the moment. It does though allow tourism to move towards re-opening at the end of this month so will possibly help the economy. On top of this we have just heard that instead of 5 phases in the easing out of lockdown we now only have 4 as things are being shifted around. This means one more phase at the end of June and one in July if everything goes alright. One thing that doesn’t change in the current crisis is how fast things change, how often we need to readjust our thinking and how important it is to bend and go with the flow.

I think everyone is a little stunned by the changes to Phase 2 and the relaxing of a lot of the lockdown. I know some small shops and even larger stores that have been caught off guard by being told they can reopen on Monday and who are actually deferring their reopening for some days to get ready properly. It does feel a lot all at once but I am sure we will all survive. No-one says we have to go shopping, drive around the county or rush to book holidays here or abroad after all.

So what has my last week been like apart from this? Much like the others really and I actually expect that to be the same in the weeks ahead even with the new changes to our lockdown. As I said I will continue to choose not to travelling far, use public transport or physically visit shops unnecessarily. I will also continue to meet friends outdoors on the grounds that I don’t want anyone in my house at the moment so wouldn’t expect to be in someone else’s either.

Plans are afoot here to pedestrianise streets in a number of our small towns to give people more space to socially distance, to allow cafes and restaurants to have outdoor seating for take-aways and generally to make it all a bit more comfortable. This would be brilliant but whether any of this happens remains to be seen although funds have been made available to support it so maybe it will.

The amazing weather we had been having has now disappeared with cooler weather and strong winds arriving. It has been incredible being able to eat and have drinks outdoors in the garden most days so I hope summer returns soon. I am much more suited to a mediterranean climate than an Irish one 🙂

It has also been great having the time and space to be outside in the garden, tidying and making some much needed improvements. I have really enjoyed being closer to nature and observing the changes in trees, plants and wildlife, both in the garden and when walking. This is something I always mean to do and which as an OBOD Ovate student I really should be doing, but life usually gets in the way somehow. Last evening I was down in the part of our garden that is given over to wildlife, everything is allowed to do it’s own thing, it is not ‘gardened’ ever and so is a space I watch from afar rather than step in to very often. Yesterday though I stood down in the space and realised that we had inadvertently allowed nature to create a grove of Pine, Apple, Plum, Ash and Hawthorn, all without us doing anything. This is brilliant for me as I now have a grove to work in as well as a stone circle. I intend to hold onto this closeness to nature long after lockdown ends.

We also braved Lidl this week as my husband needed a few things that they had in as specials. Our Lidl is an older store and aisles are narrow so it is harder to move and socially distance than in our newer Aldi. Neither of us felt very comfortable so I think this will be our one and only trip there for the foreseeable future, unless they should get some dumbbells in (which I still need) of course. While we were out I nipped into SuperValu supermarket as it is the only place I can get Ramen and Soba noodles for some reason. This felt ok so it is nice to know that I can shop there for things I can’t get in my shopping delivery. Nice to have some choice without feeling unsafe.

I have just been asked to take part in the trial, track and contact trace app for the virus here so of course have said yes. I needed to answer lots of questions online and now have to access the app and record my symptoms or lack of them daily. This is all anonymous and all data is deleted after the trial but it will at least help get it to a state where it can be unrolled for community tracing. It feels a vital part of our moving forward and living with the virus.

This will be my last blog post in this vein, so this is me signing out. I’ll post when there are any big changes or when I feel the need and am sure I will be blogging about other aspects of my journey in the future, so I will see you all again at some point. Stay safe x

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 10

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 10

IMG_0707

I am not sure how much longer I will keep writing the ‘diary’ now. I began as it felt important to keep a record of these times, what was happening, what I was going through etc for myself so I would never forget what it was like. I seem though to have reached the point where nothing much is changing week by week. I am still staying at home, still keeping within the 5km when exercising and still getting our food shopping delivered.

We are now in the second week of Phase 1 of our easing of lockdown. If all goes well and our R number stays low then further easing will take place on June 8th including the distance for non essential travel being extended to 20km. A good amount of a 20km radius from us will be in the sea, so again I don’t envisage a lot changing here although for others it may as they will be able to reach the beach for the first time in weeks. This is lovely for them but will of course will make it busier and potentially less safe for those of us who live here so it’s not all good.

Some non essential retailers and businesses are likely to be allowed reopen but at the moment I can think of nothing I would like to do less than go shopping for anything that isn’t essential. I certainly can’t imagine choosing to go browsing in clothes shops for example. Just the thought of handling things that others have handled and trying on things that others have tried on, leaves me cold. I was reading in one of the Uk papers about clothes and shoes having to be quarantined if they were tried on or returned and not being able to touch things in shops, if that’s the same here maybe the future of shopping looks nothing like the past. I can’t imagine the little clothes shop in our nearest town, run by a lovely Italian who imports beautiful clothes, being able to survive if it is.

I’m wondering if this is to be the new norm? The feeling of not wanting to do things that previously were the norm for example. Or as the virus has less hold on us will things change again and will we become less cautious? Only time will tell I suppose.

There were no deaths from the virus here on Monday but there are still new cases every day. Lower than they were but still there. The problem is we know county by county the number of new cases but Co. Cork where I live is a big county and includes Cork City. Early on we were told where clusters of infection were but now we never get this information so have no idea whether it is safe to relax our guard slightly or not. It does make things harder than they could be but on the other hand it does stop us being complacent.

This all sounds a bit doom and gloom so I apologise for that. I think I just needed to take the time to reflect a little on where things are at the moment.

Having started this blog post by saying nothing is changing I have since discovered that is not true at all. I could have gone back and rewritten everything but then it wouldn’t have been a true reflection of where I am in any way. So I have left it as it was.

As part of Phase 1 we are allowed to meet up outdoors in groups of up to four people as long as we stay socially distanced and of course stay outside. So, one day this week we went to  lunch in the garden of some friends ,which was really lovely and the first time we have seen anyone, other than in passing by when out walking, for weeks now. I also met a friend for a socially distanced take away coffee. Perched on a wall near the coffee shop we spent a happy half hour catching up. We had been talking throughout on WhatsApp but there is nothing like a catch up in person to make things seem more normal. We had another invitation to call to friends who have bought a new table and chairs so they could have outdoors catchups. We couldn’t go as the shopping delivery was due but it’s there for another time and of course we can also have return visits. This is all a huge change and even though it is not normal in any way we are really lucky to be able to do it and to be blessed with amazing weather so we can comfortably be outside. Long may it last.

Being at home more means I am spending more time noticing changes in the garden, one of which is that we now have a tiny baby bunny. It turned up early in the week and was right down by the conservatory door, all alone. It has entertained us nibbling anything and everything it has come across, things that are growing and leaves on the ground from where we had the hedges trimmed. It’s clearly not fussy. We saw it the other day, half way down the garden with an adult rabbit so it is safe and being looked after.

I have also been amazed at the number of different shades of Aquilegia there are this year, maybe they are like it every year but I am too busy to notice. We have purple and white, pink and white, pale pink, deep maroon, dark pink, plain purple, lilac, white and purple and I am sure some I have missed. They are nearly gone over now but the foxgloves are on their way. Between the two they do kind of take over the garden, dwarfing some of our pots but I would hate them not to be there so am happy to put up with the overgrown areas for the weeks they are in flower and let then seed so we have some next year before tidying up. Were have tried transplanting then to the world area but they aren’t having it at all 🙂 IMG_0723

The other plus of being home and not being able to work is that I have managed to get back to my Ovate training with the OBOD. Looking back I can see I began this 5 years ago and I am at best half way through. The saying that it is the journey not the destination couldn’t be more appropriate than it is here.

Of course one of the highlights this week was the space launch of Crew Dragon which we watched live on television before standing out in the garden to see if we could see it pass over. I saw a flash of light about 8.40pm which would have been right and then at 10.10 we watched the space station fly overhead but sadly didn’t see the Crew Dragon again. Nice to simply know it was there flying high above us though.

And finally to finish on a note of positivity, many of the restaurants and cafes here are opening at weekends to provide take away meals. One such cafe ‘Cracked’, in our nearest town is celebrating opening six months ago. Their food is lovely and we are all delighted to see them still in business having opened and then had to close due to the virus. To celebrate their six months they had an Facebook draw for a picnic box for 4 people and I won it. I never win anything so I am delighted. On the grounds we have seen enough people this week it will feed the two of us for the whole weekend 🙂