Progress…

So, in the past couple of weeks I have been making some good progress in training. I have also added another 2 events to the calendar. The Cardiff summer half marathon on the 3rd of July and The Rehabilitation Triathlon for amputee veterans in Plymouth on 23rd June. Both great events, and right in between the others. This brings the official total to 7 events, although there will be a number of virtual ones as well. On theat subject, I managed to complete the niagra falls conquer challenge yesterday, 113km in 29 days. I was very happy with this, as I’ve had to have almost 2 weeks off from training with various flares.

Out an about training.

So, I have had some questions about the gloves which I wear for wheeling. I purchase work gloves from ebay, which retail from £2-7 per pair depending on the thickness. The orange ones in the photo below are warm lined and waterproof, which is brilliant for the winter. The red ones come in various types, and you can bulk buy. They are great for warmer weather, and when it is very warm, I lop off the fingers and hey presto, perfect summer wheeling gloves which virtually eliminate blisters. They are all gripped with a form of latex which is perfect for wheeling.

As for post workout nutrition, I use a sports drink to replace lost electrolytes. Very important if you want to avoid cramp, or other more potential serious health problems caused by an imbalance of electrolytes. I use High 5 as it is gluten and sugar free. Food wise, I’m a bit of a sucker for midget gems, so normally have 50g of them, and some form of protein and carbs, such as a protein bar.

As mentioned, I have now finished my 4th challenge with #theconquerchallenges. They are great fun to do, and really keep that motivation up. I have also now included handcycling, swimming and weights at the gym to my weekly program. I do have a day off a week, and sometimes more when my body dictates it so. Probably the most annoying part of CRPS (next to the pain) is the how unpredictable it is. Also Fibromyalgia follows the same trend = completely unpredictable. Although I have found a couple of triggers, which are so important to identify. I have discovered that cigarette smoke, and pungent hair spray, as well as post menstrual hormone changes are a big trigger for me. These three put me out of training for a week at a time. With CRPS, my biggest trigger is sugar and stress. Also anything touching my leg. So I have to almost wrap myself in cotton wool, and behave, just so I can train. I have had to give up alot of other pursuits to complete this year’s challenges, but it will be worth it, and I’m hoping Blesma will reap the benefits of my labour.

Yesterdays wheel (above), & medals so far 😊

It’s 6 weeks before my first event. My lovely wife will be doing the first 2 with me (running), which will be wonderful. It will be the first time we have both started on the same start line, and her first ever events. I am so happy to be able to share this with her. So, off to do some more training today. Wish me luck!

…inspite of CRPS & fibromyalgia…

So, what’s this all about? Well, as you may know by now, I have CRPS and Fibromyalgia. As you may also know, I’m training to do a series of events this year using my normal everyday wheelchair, including the London marathon. I get lots of questions around the subject of how I manage to do all of the training for this and keep on with my other stuff. Some of you may know that I’m trying to be a writer, and am now going through the 4th rewrite of my novel, following an amazing manuscript assessment from Jericho writers. I am also a part time wildlife artist, with work in a few galleries. So, spinning a few plates!

Some of my artwork 😍

So how do you keep going when illness, and pain is constantly slamming doors in your face, telling you to stop right there, and sit down? I wish I had an easy fix to tell you. I am very stubborn. I get more stressed by self perceived failure, than pain and suffering. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? I suspect I’m not the only person who feels this way. I suspect most people are the same. The fear of failure is such a powerful force. Don’t her me wrong, I am forced on a fairly regular basis to stop. I literally have no choice sometimes. When crps flares come along, believe me, anyone with it will agree, you can’t do anything else, other than roll about in a trance like state of agonising pain. So you kind of, have to stop then. Also, when the fibromyalgia decided to rear its ugly head, and bring a barrage of lovely symptoms, which I can only describe as, exhaustion to a level of virtual catatonia, extreme flu, and migranes… all at once. When this comes, again you have to stop. I’ve found that the only way to get through is to listen to your body on a daily basis, and do what you can, when you can.

Current training for the London marathon 💪

Take today for example. Yesterday, pictured above I was out training… Went to bed last night at a respectable 9:30pm. Then was awake at 3am in pain. I had to get up, and smother myself in bean bags, take my alloted amount of Oramorph, and wait for it to go back to its usual level. So I sat on the sofa, with a decaff coffee, watching Britain’s most evil killers (very interesting viewing at 3am!!). I sat and waited and waited. Eventually at 6am I was able to get a bit of sleep, but was up at 6:30am, as my body told my my usual medication was due! (Amazing how it likes to do that!). So my plan today of wheeling a 10k, and getting on with my character revision for my novel, has gone out of the window. Spending most of the day attached to the sofa, trying my best not to waste the time, when I need to be the most active and allert.

Not looking too good at 3am… oh new hair BTW!

So the answer I have, is to listen to your body and not push it. If it’s telling you to stop, often you have no choice in the matter, so do… Don’t fight it, just take it as it is… Everything is a marathon, not a sprint, so use the off days as best you can, and try not to let them get you down. It is difficult. I struggle with them, but I’m learning all the time, the same as everyone else with these conditions.

London marathon here we come…

https://blesma.enthuse.com/pf/lexi-chambers-799fb

Above is hopefully the link to my fundraising page for Blesma. So, you may have read on pervious posts that I plan to complete a series of events this year to raise money for Blesma. As you also may have read, this charity is very close to my heart. They have helped me and my family so much since my amputation. So I feel it is only right to try to give back. Last week I received the wonderful news that I have been accepted to complete the London marathon as part of #team blesma. I am so honoured to have been selected. I am hoping to raise at least £2000 for them. I have set a fundraising page to include all the events I plan on completing this year. I will be completing 2 half marathons, 2 marathons and a Triathlon. On top of this I will be completing a number of virtual events. All of this will be completed using my normal everyday wheelchair, my Quickie Argon 2. I have heard that I will be the first woman to complete a marathon using a normal wheelchair like this. I know lots of women have completed a magnitude of distances using a sport chair, but not their day one. Maybe I’m the only person crazy enough to try! Ha ha!

Here she is… The chair which I will be self propelling all those miles…

I have set up a Facebook page, titled the same, and shared my page amongst my 400 Facebook friends, yet so far only received 1 donation, and I can’t thank that lovely chap enough. I am hoping my page may be shared far and wide so that I can raise as much as I can for such a wonderful charity for limbless veterans.

I will be keeping everyone updated along the way of this journey. My CRPS and Fibromyalgia are going to definitely present a challenge, but I am extremely motivated and have longed to complete a marathon and Triathlon for years. It was whilst training for these events over 8 years ago that my feet began to hurt, which led to my 1st surgery, which led to my CRPS, which 8 surgeries later, led to my amputation, which brings us back to my having crps again! So, if you can’t run it…wheel it!

Bring on the London Marathon…

https://blesma.enthuse.com/pf/lexi-chambers-799fb?utm_campaign=website&utm_source=EnthuseSendGrid&utm_medium=Email

So the above link is for my fundraising page. This year I will be raising as much as I possibly can for the wonderful charity, Blesma. Most of you may know that they have helped me a great deal since my amputation almost 3 years ago. They have been there through some of the toughest times, and helped with my independence, sporting activities, my change of career and been a huge advocate for me when no one else would listen. I owe them so much. So I have planned 2 years of challenges. This year begins in May with a Triathlon, and a week later my first half marathon using my wheelchair. I then plan on completing the Bideford half marathon, The Goodwood marathon and I’ve just been accepted to be part of Blesmas team to complete the London marathon. In between these I will also be completing a series of virtual events. My hope is to raise the agreed amount in order to be selected for the London marathon, which is £2000, but I really hope to raise at least £5000. I will be completing all events using my normal, everyday wheelchair.

Out wheeling. Getting some training in.

Now, unfortunately I have exhausted my usual friends for donations. Well, let’s be honest here, hardly any of my friends have actually donated at all. I think people are a bit strapped because of covid. So I am asking for people to please just share my page. If you can, donate a small amount. Even £1 is helpful. Anything is helpful. It all adds up. This charity is much smaller than the other charities for veterans like me, but they do just as much. They deserve so much, and give so much. I will keep everyone updated with my progress. I am still doing my virtual challenges along the way. I’m currently half way through my kilamanjaro. Then will come more. I even plan on slotting in a couple of virtual marathons during the year! I will let you know nearer the time when these are.

We finished our 90 sit ups a day for January challenge.

So, as you can see above, we finished our 90 sit ups a day for blesma challenge. It was actually great fun. Tricky doing proper military situps with one leg, but I managed it with the help of a belt to strap my legs together. My left hip flexor is now very strong!!

My wife will be completing the Triathlon and two half marathons with me, also for Blesma. She will be running hers. We hope that this year my body will allow me to complete these challenges. I never know what CRPS is going to do, from one day to the next, or the Fibromyalgia. They like to rear their ugly heads at the most inappropriate times. So we’re keeping all fingers and remaining toes crossed.

Mount Everest, here we come…

Virtually of course! I wouldn’t get too excited! But, for a very long time, since I first discovered climbing when I was at secondary school, I’ve wanted to climb mount everest. Now, as you may guess, this is quite a feet (no pun intended) when you only have one! So unless I can wear a prosthetic long enough, this dream will remain so. Also, the wife! She will not let me go! She is terrified, that with our terrible luck in life, that I will never come back! I have to say that with our luck, it is a real concern. But we have agreed that if I ever can, then we will go back to Kathmandu one day, and do the Everest Basecamp treck. There I get to see her, the big one, up close. Just wonderful! So what does this all have to do with now? Well, I discovered the Challenge medals. Virtual distances where you can run, cycle, or in my case, wheel a certain distance, to get to a certain place. They have Mount Everest on their list. So that was it…straight away, I signed up. One week in and I’m 55% there. I set myself 3 weeks to compete the 64km, but should hopefully do it in 2.

The journey so far…

So, why these? I needed some inspiration to keep getting out there. Anyone with CRPS and fibromyalgia will tell you, that the cold weather is not your friend. It sets off both conditions. So going outside, deliberately to wheel for an hour or more is quite mentally and physically taxing. So I needed some inspiration to get me out that door. I have found it. For some reason, as soon as I have a task to complete, my brain can’t cope if I don’t do it! So there we go… or off I go! It has been rather challenging. I haven’t had one dry day as yet. It hasn’t been terrential rain, but wet on the ground and sporadic rain. But the weather would be worse at Everest, so I keep going.

I would encourage anyone to set themselves goals such as these with crps or fibromyalgia. It has been clinically proven, that exercise helps with both conditions. I certainly feel better. I find it hard to go out, but when I’ve finished, I am alot happier (mentally). The physical side can be difficult. I’ve been having alot of flares of my crps lately, which is very draining, but I try to carry on.

I missed my wife’s Christmas party due to a crps flare!
My wheeling route…

With views like the one above, on a nice autumn day, it is so wonderful. So, hopefully by Friday, I will have completed my challenge, and then it’s decision time, as to which one I do next. Most people know that I’m hoping to wheel from lands end to John O’groates at some point. Hopefully 2023, if all goes well. I will be doing this for blesma. But I could always do the distance in training as well? Huum???

Fibro it is then!

Yep, as the title suggests, I have now been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia as well! I must admit, that although I knew it was a possibility, when the words fell from the lips of my Gp, it hit like a baseball bat to the face! I went home, sat, and cried! Now I don’t normally cry much. The only things which draw me to tears are the extreme pain of a crps flare, thinking about the death of my beloved cat, Winkeypoo, and seeing any sence of animal cruelty. But this, for some reason floored me. To have another incurable pain condition? I mean, what did I do in a previous life? Am I Jack the ripper incarnate? I’m starting to think so!

So what is Fibromyalgia, for those of you how are unaware of this bundle of fun. According to NHS.uk ‘Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread pain and extreme tiredness.’ It is that, but there are a few more symptoms to keep one on their toes! For me, I started to realise there was a problem when I was spending time with my friend. She smokes when drinking, so when we meet up, both her and her partner would be opposite me smoking away, and following this I was ending up with a chronic migrane and then at least 5 days of feeling like I had the worst flu ever. I couldn’t move off the sofa. The migrane was relentless and I felt in pain all over. I thought the first time that I had the flu! Then after the 4th time of the same thing happening, I realised it was the smoke that was making this happen! Now I had a bigger problem, how could I tell my good friend that her smoking was making me sick? Well, the answer to that is that I still haven’t (chicken, I know! I will soon!). So needless to say, I knew there was a problem. It was when a friend suggested it that I began reading around it, and saw that smoke can be a trigger for a Fibromyalgia flare up! Hurrah I felt! There’s my answer! But then came the dread! I didn’t want it to be true. But I had to find out. So I spoke to my GP who organised blood tests and a Fibromyalgia test. Well, following all this there was no doubt!

So, what now you may ask? Well…nothing! The treatments are all the same as the ones I have for crps, which don’t really work! I can’t take half the medications necessary to help with some of the issues due to be allergic to them, so it’s a case of learning and self management! As I’ve already been waiting over 2 years for an appointment with exeter pain team, I won’t even bother them with this…its clear that they have no interest in helping me at all. I’m lucky that I have a good GP. He is wonderful.

So for now, I will carry on as before. I’ve managed to complete my 11k for Blesma, and have a 5k on the 2nd of December, where we all dress as santa and run, or wheel in my case around the streets of Exeter, so that should be fun.

My article in Blesma magazine

Oh, this happened! I had a two double page spread written about me in the blesma magazine. I was so humbled by what they wrote. It was so lovely and kind. I’m so glad that I could be part of getting TMR surgery notariety. I am still recovering from my surgery, but seeing some positive results. I can wear my leg for a few minutes now. I know I will never be able to wear it all of the time, but at least 20% will be lovely.

So for now, I am hoping that this new part to my life will not overtake the wishes I have. I believe that we can overcome most things. It is never easy, and this illness has knocked me for six, but there are things I want put of my life, and I will have to make some adjustments, but hopefully desire will prevail! (Fingers crossed!!).

What’s been happening….

Hi there. Well, what a month or so? And where to begin? My road to recovery has not been smooth. I have been suffering with daily flares of pain. Its a battle that my leg fights with itself. The nerve pain sets off the crps, and vice versa. I try not to let the pain get in the way of my everyday life, but it has had to. This isn’t to say that I haven’t been able to do some things… I take advantage of every good moment… So, the good bits. Firstly I’ve finally finished my novel. It’s a victorian thriller/romance. I have been working on this for 2 years. It is currently with some lovely friends who are reading it for me to see if there’s anything I need changing. Then the all important task of hoping an agent will like it and take me on? I have started the second one. It is part of a trilogy.

The copies ready to go out to readers. Fortunately for me, most people wanted digital versions! 🙂

I have also been busy training, as much as I can for the Blesma 11k, which is on the 14th of November. It is a virtual 11k. Next year I’ve just signed up to 2 half marathons, and a triathlon. I’m hoping also to be part of the London marathon 🙏. I will find out after Christmas weather I’m part of the blesma team. Training has been hard. I am having to squeeze it in whenever I’m able. Which isn’t as often as I’d like. But anything is better than nothing!

Getting out and about for Blesma

Next, I am happy to say that one of my biggest insecurities will hopefully be a thing of the past…In 8 months anyway! I have signed up to invisalign, which is basically like fancy braces. I have to wear a clear shield over my teeth so that they can be straitened over time. They aren’t that comfy and I’m sure I’m speaking differently (although my wife kindly says I’m not!). I have to keep them in for 23 hours a day. Only removing them to eat. It’s great if your a snacker like me, because you have to clean your teeth and the covers every time you eat anything, so snacking is no more! So there’s lots of positives, the main one will be having confidence to smile. Apparently I also have a big over items, which I never knew about. This will also be corrected. I have included a photo of them, and in said photo it shows my teeth (those of a nervous disposition, please skip the next photo). I promised at the start of this that I’d be brutally honest! So here we go…

See… wonkey doesn’t cover it!

Next, I have had a bit of another health issue. My Doctor and I both think I may have Fibromyalgia as well as the crps. Why do we think this? Well, I have most of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, but then alot of these double with the crps. So I’m undergoing investigations into weather I do or don’t have it. I’m hoping to be proven wrong 🙏 . But if it is proved, then there’s not much I can do about it, just try to keep plodding along, and not let another thing get in the way of life (as much as I can, anyway!)

I have to mention my amazing wife, who did a 15000 ft skydive last weekend. I foolishly bought it for her for her birthday. Then spent the month in between then and the jump, terrified that something would go wrong, and I may loose her. She is my heart and soul. We have been happily married for 13 years, and together for 15. She is my world, my very best friend. Life without her would be unbearable. So having your world fling herself out of an aeroplane was terrifying. But she was desperate to do one. She did a jump when she was a teenager and loved it, and asked me for years to do another. I finally gave in. I’m happy to report that all went well. I think I nearly had a heart attack 😳, but she was a trooper. Smiled all the way through, and now of course, wants to do another one!

My amazing wife! 👏

Lastly, I have now got a leg again! Yes you read right, I have a leg! The brilliant prosthetist at Bristol mobility centre has made me a leg that I can wear. I can only put her on for a few minutes at a time, but that’s better than nothing. I can’t wear her on bad days, which are more often than not at the moment, but I’m assured by my surgeon that this may get better. So when I can I pop my ‘flo’ on. My leg is named after ‘flo jo’ the sprinter. I still have a hope that one day I may be able to walk, and even run. I will always keep trying. Never give up despite the odds. So here is my leg.

Lovely flo ❤

So, that’s it for now. My 11k will be on Sunday. Can’t wait! Lots more fun to come.

Flare ups…

If you have CRPS, this term is something which you will be all too familiar with. For those who are not so familiar, it is where your ordinary pain level escalates to the unbearable! For me, using the ordinary pain scale of 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst ever, I live at a permanent 7-8/10. When I have a flare this escalates to 10++. Now, you may wonder how you can get worse than 10, the worst ever. Well, this is simple. Just when you think you’ve reached the worse pain you’ve ever had, crps has a way of letting you know that you were wrong, and there is always more to be suffered!

So that is what a flare up is. Now the worst part of it for me is the fact that it dictates what I can and can’t do. When it’s bad, I can’t do anything. I basically roll about crying, and try my best to do my mindfulness. When it’s a semi flare, so basically a 9 or 10 on occasion. It fluctuates between the 2, this is the most annoying. I get these alot. I’m having one right now. Today I was hoping to go for a wheel, write more of my book and had a few chores to do. But instead all I’m capable of is laying on the sofa, with stumpey covered in heat packs. I feel totally useless, and hate the fact that it is dictating what I am aloud to do today! There is no way I can write my book, as it is so important that I get it right. It is set in the victorian era, and so requires alot of research, which is something that is rather difficult when you are such a high level of pain.

I hate this condition dictating my life. Because I am recovering from the TMR surgery, I am having more flares than usual. While the nerves are finding somewhere to go, and causing a ton of pain in the process, they set off the crps. I was told this before the surgery, and was told it could last for 6-12 months…Well I’m now on month 3…I’m so hoping for the 6 minimum, but with my luck, it will likely be the 12. I’m not feeling sorry for myself, just speaking of reality.

Reality!!

So what can be done in these situations? It is so easy to let them drag you into the pits of despair, and believe me, I’ve been there all to often. Every time, I wonder when it will end, and worry of them beginning. There’s nothing more annoying than having to tell a friend who wants to see you, for the 20th time, that your going to have to cancel! I have lost so many friends because of my flares. But what I realised was they were not very good friends to begin with, or they would still be around, and be understanding! Still doesn’t stop it hurting at the time! So now, I try to accept the situation. I lay on the sofa, and try as best as I can to relax, and wait for the flare to end. Then on the days when I can, I try my damndest to use them as fully as I can. I make sure I exercise, weather it be swimming, handcycling, wheeling or going to the gym. I write as much as I can, and I try to do some household stuff. I feel useless if I don’t. I love a tidy and clean house!

So basically what I’m trying to say is, don’t beet yourself up for not making appointments or meetings with friends. If they don’t understand, they are not true friends! Remember if your having a flare, you need to rest. So take the advantage to catch up on a box set or watch some movies. Try as best as you can to be kind to yourself. They are part of the condition, and although they are the worst part, it doesn’t mean they have to take over who you are. You are strong, and you know they will end.

I hope your having a good pain day 😁

Slowly does it…

Exactly as it says, slowly does it! I am finally getting back out there. I have managed three wheeling sessions, two handcycles, and three swims with gym, in 4 weeks. Not as good as I had hoped, bit also better than nothing! The post surgery TMR pain is now in full swing. At least I hope that is what I am experiencing, and there is nothing worse around the corner. All I can say is, omg… When my lovely surgeon told me to expect 6-12 months of he’ll, she wasn’t kidding. It’s like targeted crps flares. Basically like I’m being stabbed by a red hot poker. It can go on for minutes, but more often than not, it seems to be days. The worst part is that nothing helps. The boiling hot heat packs help with the crps flares, but they don’t seem to help with this new pain. So I have to wait until it goes! Pretty annoying. But, hopefully it will be over within the alloted time period? Fingers crossed for the lesser 🤞.

A successful wheel…

So, also, I’ve been privileged to take part in an article for Blesma magazine on TMR surgery. They have followed me through my surgery, and after. Should be fun to read. Not sure when it will be out, hopefully in the next one.

I must say, I will be glad when things are looking up a bit more. Although I know better times should be coming, I’m getting a little inpatient. There is so much of life I wish to experience, and so much of it depends on pain levels, and the predictability of flare ups. It is rather annoying, having to cancel things all the time. Having to cancel dates with friends, general appointments, and I’m yet to start at the track because I had a flare before my first session last week, which was so upsetting. 😢. I can’t wait to start. Maybe even compete one day? Who knows?

The sofa blues…

Oh how I miss wheeling, and handcycling… yes, as you may have guessed, I’m still not up to par. I’m currently awaiting more blood results which will hopefully tell me why I feel so awful! I’m extremely lethargic, to the point of wanting to sleep all the time. Nausea and lack of appetite kind of go hand in hand, and just feeling generally weak and feeble! So, what do you do when you can’t do what you want? Well if your anything like me, you get frustrated and annoyed with your body. It won’t buck up and get better in the timescale you want. The swimming pool is calling, and my body isn’t listening! I’d like to say that I’m a good patient, but I don’t think that I am. I want to feel better now…and don’t like having to wait for my body to behave! But that is what I have to do. So I’m sat watching the paralympics, wishing to be that good! (Maybe one day!). But it won’t happen from a static position on my sofa!! So for now, when I can I’m writing, and doing a bit of drawing, but finding myself falling asleep doing that! It was my 13th wedding anniversary on the 22nd. I managed to be out with my lovely wife for a couple of hours, but then had to go home. I could eat a tiny bit of my meal, but had to leave most of it. I felt like such a party pooper! But when things are like this, it reminds you to give it your all when you do feel well, and to embrace every moment.

So for now, it’s back to convalescing on the sofa, and hoping to feel better soon. Then watch out David Lloyd, for a will be in the pool as much as I can be. My mum would have said, ‘these things are sent to try us!’ And I completely agree. But still wish they wouldn’t!!