Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Anything is possible

Dear world,

So I’m here down under (as we Brits call it). I’ve been here exactly a week now and my god time has flown by so quickly. Feels like I’ve been here all my life and very quickly I have settled into Beaconsfield (a south eastern suburb of Melbourne). Part of that is down to the generous hospitality of Katie and Jono as well as my instant love of Melbourne returning as soon as I landed. Although when I did land I genuinely had to check we had arrived in Melbourne and not in Manchester as I could have been forgiven for thinking it was Manchester due to the torrential rain I arrived to. But luckily whilst it was raining it was still relatively warm, something that Manchester is rarely.

What a busy first week I have had. Katie not allowing me time to suffer from jet lag, booked me up with lots of new exciting adventures. First of all driving what felt like back to the UK to get to Warrnambool, a south western suburb of Melbourne where we spent the weekend. Catching up with some friends I already knew and met some new faces that I didn’t. It was the first part of our Come Dine with Me extravaganza. Trotters and Uska did the first night and wow did they go all out. Can tell they had their eyes on the prize – a wooden spoon! Ha joking! I met my CDWM cooking partner Juzzy for the first time and he turned out to be a terrible influence on me, making me down shots. Since having PH my drinking has taken a back seat (ok well maybe not the day of the brunch in Dubai – blame my mum for that one) but I haven’t touched shots since sometime in 2013. Well you can imagine the state I was in…….oh wait you will have seen the photos! Juzzy and I did our night on the Saturday night and thanks to Juzzy we were both suffering a lot on Saturday whilst we prepared our food for the evening. The food was a highlight shame our conversation was a non-starter and by 11pm I was so deliriously exhausted, jet lagged, emotional and hungover I announced to the table they were all to leave! Luckily they took it in good spirits and overall whilst our entertainment was pretty poor we had an enjoyable evening, well I did!   


Perfect timing, Jono had booked Katie and I into a spa hotel in Lorne, which is on the Great Ocean Road for her birthday present and a 2 day relaxing spa break was exactly what the doctor ordered, with the best body massage I have ever had. We did a few walks and a few drives along the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay. I do love the state of Victoria; it’s so green, unlike the rest of Australia. I think that’s why I like it so much, it reminds me of home just wish the weather in Melbourne could be like in the UK.  Now back at Katie and Jono’s I’m getting myself into some kind of routine – hopefully not too strict as I do like to be spontaneous and impulsive every so often.

You will know the story of when I was diagnosed and not being allowed to start what I had hoped was my new life in Oz back in 2013. I was led to believe that I would never make it back to Oz as my doctors were just too concerned the flight would be too much for me to manage. Plus in case I got worse whilst I was over here and couldn’t fly back. Well I’m delighted to prove the medical profession wrong and I didn’t even need oxygen! I am here! I came across a sign the other day which said “the greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do!” For the first year or so of my illness I think I allowed my PH to dictate me, which is unusual for me, as I can be known to  be quite stubborn when I want to be! I guess maybe it was the fear of the unknown or how scared I was for my future and what that meant. I’m not sure when it instantly switched for me but since having Beth my personal trainer I finally feel slowly I have regained the control.  We know there is no cure, well apart from transplant (although I wouldn’t really call it a cure as whilst it cures you of PH the chances of you developing other diseases is very high, and there is a high chance of rejection, together it doesn’t necessarily make it the golden ticket everyone assumes it will be), but it being such a high risk process has started to make it something I’m not sure I’m willing to explore right now. Hopefully I will have a few other options first to explore than going straight into transplant. Currently I am reacting well to the medication and I would class myself as stable which is great news. But my main worry as the doctors remind me is the medication will stop working at some point, could be this year, could be in 10 years who knows but I am trying to find a way to slow this down. Now I am no medical profession, don’t think they would have allowed me into medical school with a C in Double Science GCSE, but I look at other chronic illnesses that have no cure and I know from a close connection that we can’t just always rely on the medical profession and medication. Take cancer and Multiple Sclerosis for example. I know quite a few people who have had cancer, who have pulled through it due to changing their diets, including fitness into their regime and engaging in meditation. I’m not saying that because they started to have green veg and did a bit of jumping on the spot for 10 mins that this alone cured their cancer, but I am becoming more conscious of how we feed and look after our bodies can directly impact negative or positive outcomes to them.  

So my plan to try and slow PH down is by fitness and diet. I’ve always had a good balanced diet, I was diagnosed coeliac in 2012 and this made me even more aware of what goes into food. I make all my food from scratch and with the influence of Deliciously Ella and Lean 15 I have started to have a really balanced and healthy diet. Now I know anyone reading this that has PH will be thinking how can she do fitness with PH, but starting off slowly and putting in what will feel like hard work eventually leads to it becoming possible with more ease. I spent pretty much the first 6 months in a chair, taking forever to walk up a flight of stairs and getting up out of bed would sometimes be impossible. Now I can do 30-40mins fitness a day, I’ve walked 4 miles in one day and apart from suffering with blisters (rookie mistake wearing flips flops) I am starting to live a “normal life”. I would always say check with your PH consultants; they know you better than anyone and what the state of your heart and lungs are, but even if you managed 5 minutes exercise a day whilst sitting in a chair that has to be better than nothing at all. It’s taken me the past 18 months to get to the point I am currently so it’s by no mean a quick fix and you have to be determined and passionate to do it, but I can honestly say this has to be the reason I feel so much more energized. So why not just add in one new exercise thing a day, whether its arm or ankle circles or some gentle marching on the spot for a few minutes, it will all help. I am now the happiest when I’m in my gym clothes and know that this is helping me gain a better quality of life.

For anyone who knew me as a child growing up to now, so pretty much my entire life, you would never have classed me as a fitness fanatic! I once went with my friends Dave and Dan to the uni gym. I say once as I made it only once the entire 3 years I was there! Well after 5 minutes of fast walking on the treadmill I got shooting pains up my entire arm, Dan joked and said I was having a stroke, and maybe in my defence it was an early sign of PH, who knows, but my point is I used to be so unfit and now I am the fittest I have been in my whole life. Ironic that it has taken me to have PH to get so fit! So if I can do it I believe anyone can.

Lecture over you will be pleased to know!

So what are my plans for the next few months I’m sure you are desperate to know. Well I’m looking forward to my first AFL game (it’s a well-known Aussie game that is taken very seriously over here – think a bit like rugby mixed with Gaelic football, I’ve got to brush up on the rules before the game…can’t wait!) and that is on Anzac Day played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, again another first. We also have part 2 of CDWM so looking forward to more raucous and no doubt drunken behaviour. I am also looking forward to ticking off another bucket list point, which is to drive abroad. I have travelled so much in my life but never driven abroad and I know it’s probably not the most exciting of points but at least this way I can travel around a bit. I’m hoping to catch up with some old friends and no doubt with my impulsive character and my new found love of having fun I will be off gallivanting far and wide as much as I can over the next few months.

My first blog was named Fate and I said everything happens for a reason. At the end of January my whole world was turned upside down and at the time I thought it was the worst thing that could have ever happened, but now a few months later, I can honestly say this was the best decision I ever made and I’m now so excited for my future and whatever that brings and with whoever I end up sharing it with. 

Lots of Love,

Gem xx