This year at Luck’s Yard Clinic we would like to carry on writing good news stories and blogs about health and wellbeing to inspire all our patients. Being healthy in every way is at the heart of what we do at Luck’s Yard, and between all the therapists we have such a wealth of experience that we just have to share more good tips and advice to you all during 2018.
My health journey
It is important to be truthful and not just share a glossy sheen on social media of who we are and what we do, and I would like to share with you my own health challenges that I faced last year and what I did to overcome them.
My wish is to help those who have come up with similar challenges in their lives, to get some positive ideas of what they can do and that we all can take beneficial steps forward in our lives when it comes to health and wellbeing. We are all capable of improving our health and I hope this article will inspire those who read it to tweak and nudge theirs in a positive way.
The Thursday before Easter last year I was sitting after dinner and watching a film with my family. Suddenly my heart started beating faster and deeper and it also gave me a deep pressure in my chest.
Being 51 I did not expect this to happen at this stage, so it really scared me. I live a healthy life, and exercise regularly, get fresh air and eat a really good diet cooked from fresh produce most days.
The heart palpitations didn’t stop as I went to bed, and the following morning my general condition had just plummeted and I found it hard to walk. When I went to the swimming pool some days later I found I could scarcely swim six lengths before I felt my heart would explode in my chest.
I also took part in an outdoor fitness activity for teens that week, and found I could not run after them without getting a pain in my chest.
Needless to say I organised to see my GP and have further tests. But tests involve waiting times and in the meantime I went back to Sweden to celebrate at a friend’s party. During the party I also found I could not dance! This was shocking to me as dancing is one of my fitness activities and I love it.
The following day a friend said ‘enough is enough’ and drove me to the local A&E in Stockholm and made sure I got to the cardiovascular clinic. After six hours there I found out that my ECG was fine and as were my blood values. This was such a huge relief, but I still had no explanation for my symptoms.
A few months later I followed through with several more ECG tests and ultrasound of the heart.
When my (first) cardiologist saw me four months later he said my heart was fine, but when he saw that I run a busy chiropractic clinic he told me my symptoms made sense to him. This was an incredibly reassuring to me as I have cardiovascular disease in my family and I intend to keep running my clinic, treating my patients and being an active mother for a long time to come!
Where did I start?
Finding out why felt like a good start, so I did some serious soul searching to try to understand what I had done to make my heart create such violent symptoms.
A patient of ours at Luck’s Yard once said to the cause of back pain, ‘it is not what you have done, but what you have been doing’, and this is so true. I had been building my clinic for the past ten years while raising two young children and looking after my house. I had also worked really hard in the community doing talks in schools as well as being part of the team that initiated our local venture – the Surrey Teen Summit. This involved running ten workshops over a period of 18 months on top of our normal jobs!
I had also co-created two apps with exercises for our patients, and been really active on social media sharing what we do and trying to inspire others. And for two years I had coached other chiropractors and osteopaths in their jobs…….
It all made sense, and I believe that part of what I was suffering from was what has been called ‘adrenal fatigue’ (see Pippa’s blog: https://www.lucksyardclinic.com/hpa-axis-adrenal-fatigue-whats-going-on/). My body was exhausted. It did not come from being fed up, or stressed from not liking my job, or feeling unhappy, I had just done too much for too long. And I had loved all of it, so if was strange to me as I genuinely love every part of my job and community life. But this started to make sense so something had to be done.
What did I do?
Cut out caffeine:
The first thing I did was to cut out all caffeine. I only had one or two cups of coffee a day, and the odd tea, but it clearly did not agree with me. Caffeine is a stimulant and I realise I had been relying on this to even get me up in the morning – according to Pippa, a classic sign of ‘adrenal fatigue’. I was trying to kick start my morning and hide my tiredness with stimulants. I also realised it was only a habit and it proved much easier to stop it than I had ever thought I could. I needed to listen to the messages from my body of how I felt each day.
Meditation as ‘medication’:
The second thing I did was to start meditating immediately. I downloaded the Headspace App and have now meditated regularly five days out of seven days for eight months, and intend to do this for the rest of my life. It doesn’t feel like a chore but a part of my inner leveller, and helps me to be more resilient in my day and life. I can really tell when I don’t meditate that I have less tolerance towards things that occur around me. Reading all the incredible physiological and neuro-research that has been done around ‘mindfulness’, I know this is something that I just have to do for the rest of my life too. I do this every morning in my bed before I get up. Again, it does not feel like a chore and I feel so good when I get going and it gives me head space just for me. I know I will never be perfect at it, but that is not the point.
Cut out extra work:
I stopped coaching. This was really hard, but also liberating. I decided I can always come back to it, but that I’ll have to let something else go in my life to make space for it. I watch more Netflix…J
Initially I took nutritional advice from our nutritional therapist Pippa Mitchell and took a bunch of supplements each day to calm my nervous system down but also help it to reboot. This will be different for each individual, but they were a life safer and I felt so much better and am sure they were responsible for giving me my zest back. First I had to get to baseline, and then be patient while I built up my strength.
Jumping for joy:
I bought a rebounder. For those who follow me on social media you have seen how much I love this wonderful, small and simple device. I started out with jumping for ten minutes and now do 30-40 minutes. I try to do to it outside as much as possible, so I can also get the beauty of nature and mindfulness from being outside, but if it is too cold it can easily go inside! I have now added my ‘Tabata’ exercise to this, which is where you do full intensity for 20 seconds and then rest for ten seconds. You only do this for 4 minutes but the Japanese science for this is compelling and it is supposed to be as effective as one hour or normal exercise. Dr Michael Mosely follows this and has talked about it at great length (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-171772510). Again, having been on my rebounder I feel more grounded and also more resilient for what goes on around me. I just love it! Follow me on Social media when I do my #mamasmurf routine with my daughter.
Exercise with others:
Finding another group exercise that I love was important and so I made sure I kept up my yoga. Yoga is part of my life in every way and prioritising that I get my yoga fix was another essential in my life.
Dance for laughter:
I firmly believe that too many of us live our lives bound by too many things that we ‘should’ and ‘ought’ to do, and that we don’t prioritise our own happiness and fitness because we feel we should be good parents, or work harder or look after others. But I do believe that the idea of ‘putting the oxygen mask on yourself in an airplane’ makes such sense – if you cannot make yourself healthy, fit, grounded, fulfilled and happy, nobody else will. So, I needed to find a dance class that made me happy. I had found a NIA class earlier in the year and made the commitment to do this once a week as much as I could. NIA combines dance, martial arts and mindfulness
I even changed my work hours so I could continue to do this. I just love NIA and my friends who I dance with.
Sing for your life:
Similarly to NIA I also love singing, and the health benefits of singing are so many, both for the physical changes when we sing, but also the joy of singing in a group. So I had to continue doing this. I have belonged to the Music Works Choir for a long time, and this was important to keep doing for both mental happiness and physical happiness. And for the brain benefit and memory work of learning lyrics of course.
Hydrate the body from the inside:
For years I have tried taking omega oils for health but failed miserably as they generally repeat on me and also make me feel sick. And they smell of fish…!!! But in September I found a product from Norway which did not smell, and one which I could take. This companies includes a home test to see where your omega three levels are before you start taking the supplement. I was sure I would be in the green zone, but was shocked to see I was in the red zone (ie having very low levels of omega three in my system). I have now taken the oil in my diet for three months and feel great with them. I feel younger and more nimble and my skin has improved as well as my hair. I look forward to seeing the follow up test in two months’ time.
Acceptance and patience:
One of the first things I had to do was to accept that I had got myself in this situation all by myself…. and that I was the only one who could get myself out of it too.
The other was the realisation that it had not happened over night, and it would equally take some time for my body to heal from the inside out. So being patient with my own recovery was crucial.
We discuss this idea with our patients all the time at Luck’s Yard, and this time I had to use my own medicine to accept that healing does not always happen overnight.
Tips for others:
Whatever body issue you have suffered with, be it physical, emotional or mental, be kind to yourself. Find people around you who can support you on your journey and help keep you on your path. You need to find your own individual health strategy too, as we all have different needs.
Find a walking or training partner and or a personal trainer so you feel more committed. And accept that we are all imperfect in some way and having off days is normal and part of the course. Start with one step and then keep it going. Make it a daily routine and be proud of your own achievements.
Make sure you find solutions and activities that make you happy, and that you like to do. And try to make these changes into lifelong habits, not just something that you do for a while.
Avoid fads and make a long-term commitment to yourself!
Write down why you need to make your changes, and for whom, and put your health statement on the wall.
For me I wanted to be a healthy mother in my 50’s, someone who my children would be proud of, and I wanted to be healthy and strong for a good, good while longer. My role model is my mother who in her mid 70’s is still sharp as a nail, and exercises several times a week, travels the world and still works. I’d also like to be a yoga teacher in my 60’s. This may sound crazy to some but my belief that it is not, especially if I take the time not to look after myself.
But mostly remember, your life is precious, you are precious, and do the very best you can to nurture your body. And then you could be a role model for others and help them to make positive health impact on their lives.
And finally …… the Luck’s Yard Team would all be so happy to help and encourage you in this endeavour.
Best in health
Tone Tellefsen Hughes DC, BSC, FCC (paeds)