Still exercising?

I haven’t been doing my exercise since I’ve come back from travelling.

But it is not for motivation or for want of physical activity.

Australia is burning.

It’s not even summer yet and we have out of control bushfires and catastrophic fire conditions.

Sydney is in a basin in which smoke settles.

My suburb is in the northern suburbs of Sydney, quite close to the bush that is the end of greater Sydney. So we often get smoke haze even if smoke hasn’t settled in the Sydney basin.

Morning. Sunrise. The smoke makes it a scene from a post apocalypse film.

I think I started with a minor head cold.

The smoke haze added the double whammy.

On the train to the city for a work meeting just over a week ago, I was coughing like I had the Black Death. Kindly, a fellow passenger offered me his water bottle. Saved me. Thought I wasn’t going to stop coughing. Thought I was never going to breathe. Thought I’d have a heart attack.

Then I had a similar attack four nights later. Mr S gave me his asthma puffer. Two puffs of Ventolin and then a puff of a preventer. It calmed me down.

Actually I’ve had over two weeks of disturbed sleep due to coughing in total.

After a week of the coughing I went to the doctor. No infection. Just irritated lungs; all the nerves are firing.

Doctor prescribed the magic of codeine and a Ventolin!

I feel fine. And then the magic wears off. I’ve cancelled going to the theatre. Can’t guarantee that I won’t be the patron who disturbs everyone with a deep, spluttering cough.

I did one session with Olga, the Russian PT, heavily doses up on codeine and Ventolin. She sent me home the week before I went to the doctor. “Not exercising with no voice. It will go to your chest.” Well, it did but without any help from exercise!

Thank heavens I’m escaping to the northern hemisphere for a bit over summer. I don’t think we will have clean air for a long while.

Looking across the street. The grey sky is smoke.

Self care day

My sister’s work is highly emotional. It would take a toll. And it involves travelling. Her employer gives the workers a self-care day after every case concludes.

That got me thinking.

I don’t normally blog about my work. But here sort of goes.

I work in a high pressure, highly relational, job with constant decision-making and no down time in the working day. There’s one client who has unreasonable and unachievable expectations. She is often aggressive and rude and shouty and down right mean. And my employer gives me no back up.

Last week I had a bad night’s sleep, woke with a disturbed stomach and dreaded going to work. I am sure my blood pressure was up. I was tense and my back and neck were like rock. I knew I had to give news to that client that would probably see her respond like a rabid dog, adding to her probable Human Rights Commission claim that I can see happening in a few years.

Fuck it!

In that same week, I had several reports of suicide ideation or attempts that I had to deal with and support other staff through, including calling an ambulance and debriefs and return plans. And one family where a mother did actually commit suicide and I have to support her kids. And I had to make a report to Family Services. And deal with a faulty nationwide computer glitch that affected mandatory standardised testing. And find staff.

Those incidents didn’t actually disturb my equilibrium. That may surprise some readers but dealing with crises and taking logical steps to move forward is something I take in my stride.

Solving the unsolvable, while being politically correct, with little, actually no, support from my employer, when I think we are doing an amazing job and few could do better in the context we are in, which has been acknowledged by experts but not my employer who just ducks and weaves. And to be abused by this one woman. Repeatedly. Now that pisses me off. And affects my health. One day I might tell the story of why I didn’t blog last year.

I take very few days off for illness. Not unless I am really really ill in a physically obvious way.

But my mental health and my bodily wellbeing is important.

So I took a self care day. Some may say it is a sickie, the days Aussies allegedly take when they are not sick.

But it isn’t.

I needed to still my mind. And every time I feel sick from this woman, I will take a day and be honest, as so many of my colleagues are not, and report it as stress.

People in my position hate being seen as weak. And being stressed is seen as weak.

Well, fuck it. Then I’m weak.

Hobblin’ along

After my skiing injury, I couldn't walk for two days. On the third, I had to walk as I had to get to the bus to take us off the mountain.

That involved negotiating several sets of stairs and a snow covered set of gardens steps without a handrail, crossing a ski run, walking through a queue for lift tickets and down the road, slippery with water, ice and snow. I managed to hobble with my dead leg bent and a ski pole taking on the role of a walking stick.

Then there was a seven hour trip in the car.

Since then I've:

  • had an MRI. (Why didn't anyone warn me they are noisy? Very noisy. And they go for ages. I was lying there for 30 minutes, not knowing if I could move at all. If I moved my arm, would it wreck the whole thing? Cost: $320, no rebate, nothing, not from Medicare, not from private health insurance.)
  • had a CT scan. (Quick, not noisy, free as billed billed)
  • had massage with lymphatic drainage
  • been told off by the orthopaedic specialist's receptionist

R: (in sharp voice, made sharper by her South African accent) Have you been to a physiotherapist?

Me: No.

R: Why not? Hasn't your doctor told you to brace it?

Me: I don't know. No. Because she thought I should see a specialist.

R: Why are you going for a CT scan?

Me: Because my doctor said the specialist would probably want it.

R: But you've already had an MRI?

Me: Oh, isn't it normally done? I think my doctor wanted to rule out something that the MRI picked up. [Started reading from report.]

R: No point reading to me, I'm not a doctor.

  • seen a physiotherapist. (Thank heavens for private health insurance.)

And I've been turned into Robogirl.

Turns out the ligament I damaged with a high grade tear, they don't operate on. It has blood supply so it heals. High grade tear takes 8 to 12 weeks. I've given them 8. I have France to visit.

I won't get into the specialist for a while so I can't say what he will say.

An alcohol free week

I have been alcohol free for the past week. 

Why, you ask?

Well, I have got into a habit of drinking. Like any habit, it became something I did without much thought. And repetition made it more frequent and increased the number of drinks. The glass or two of bubbles would go down very quickly. 

So although my blood pressure and blood tests are all good, I thought it might be good to give my body a rest. Not to mention saving money by not buying any sparkling wine. 

So why now? I mean who stops drinking on Sunday 26 November? The first of the month is a more normal date. And to go dry over Christmas and summer holidays, are you sane?

Indeed, when I told Mr S I was going 30 days of not drinking, his first comment was, “but what about Christmas Day?” My response: I’ve had plenty of Christmas Days with alcohol, I can have one without. 

But that doesn’t explain why I started last Sunday. 

I visited my local library and on the new books shelf was this book:

So I thought what the heck, let’s do it Lucinda. I do love a book that plots out your actions and tells you what to do each day. 

It hasn’t been hard at all. Although I bought several boxes of bubbles the week before, I just decided I wouldn’t drink. And although work is stressful, I just decided I wouldn’t drink. And although I’ve been out to dinner and to a comedy show (Bill Bailey, he of Black Books), I just didn’t drink. 

Now giving up tea. That’d be hard, if not impossible. 

Tomorrow, lessons from my first week. 

Not quite 

I said I would write 50 posts in 50 days as a celebration of 50. I got up to 34 posts in a row but have missed the last two days due to busyness and work and illness. 

Yes, I came down with something else. Laryngitis. I hadn’t really recovered from the last chest infection. Funny, because despite the rough and fading voice and the cough, I feel fine. 

Still not quite well. 

And not quite 50 posts. But this can be rectified. 

I will upload a few posts today. 

Lest you worry about my throat (Mum!) I went back to the doctor to see if it was the chest thing back and if I needed antibiotics. No. And no. Rest my voice. 

But my cheeky doctor talked me into getting a flu vaccination. Oh she’s good. I’ve avoided these for years. Not quite brave enough. 

Optimistically getting better or soldier on

I am still poorly. 

I’ve been soldiering on because I have so much to do. Who could take several weeks’ sick leave? I would feel a fraud because I don’t actually feel that sick anymore. Well not continuously. 

Four weeks of coughing and spluttering, my work colleagues have been gently, and then not so gently, nagging me to get to a real doctor. (As opposed to medical centre I went to a few weeks ago.) And get there now!

Strangely, while my cough is worse, I was feeling much better. So in the busyness of my work day would forget to phone the doctor until a coughing fit hit me. Rince and repeat. 

Anyway I did phone last week and my brilliant doctor no longer works full time. So it was six days until I could get in. The receptionist said if it was urgent they could fit me in on Friday afternoon. But I didn’t think it warranted that. And I know how my doctor often runs way behind schedule so I could be sitting there for hours and then would face the peak of the horrendous traffic home. My home is on the road north out of Sydney and Fridays are the worst. Surely I wasn’t bad enough to put up with that and to be squeezed in the doctor’s already overbooked schedule? Except the cough just wouldn’t budge. A deep, explosive cough. 

So, when I finally got in my doctor asked if the medical centre took samples to test. Mmm. Nothing so thorough. Just a quick listen and a script. 

Double mmm. She thinks I might have whooping cough. At this stage tests might come back negative. And the original antibiotics would have been useless for my infection. 

So after a lot of testing including that hard breathing one which I always fail even when well (small lung capacity), I walk out with new antibiotics that are more useful for general chest infections and cough syrup with codeine so I finally get some sleep and a medical certificate for another three days off work. 

Imagine the joy with which my work colleagues greeted the news. Yes, they weren’t happy. 

And yes, I returned to work. I had to get stuff done before I took the next two days off. But don’t worry. I am not contagious even if it was whooping cough. Too far in. (Would already have spread germs. Oh dear!.)

Strange if it is whooping cough, because I had a booster last year. 

Anyhoo, cough syrup with codeine is the best. Like a mild sedative. I slept soundly with vastly reduced coughing. Defintiely couldn’t return to work while under its influence. 

A fellow at work asked if I was a man. “Isn’t it men who normally avoid going to the doctor,” he commented. 

OK, OK. Point taken. But it is just I thought I was getting better. And I didn’t want to waste the doctor’s, and my, time. What if when I finally went in, I was healthy? Don’t want to be accused of being a hypochondriac. (Which I am so I don’t need to give further evidence towards that diagnosis.)

A couple of other colleagues asked why I didn’t follow the advice I give to all at work. Which is look after your health – it is more important than work; we will cope without you; and we’d rather you don’t spread your germs. 

OK, OK. Another point taken. I do tend to soldier on a bit too much. That horrid Germanic work ethic. 

So here I am. At home. Resting and restoring my body. 

And you? Do you tend to soldier on? Or think you’re getting better despite evidence and comments by others to the contrary. Or do you take a sickie at the first sign of illness?

I wonder how they cope in Japan because you never see someone coughing in public. 



Back in April I bought a heap of beauty products. One I was asked about was Lid-Care.

Mercester had never heard of it. And until a friend gave me a handful of sachets to try, neither had I.

In January I had a horrible skin reaction around my eyes. I looked horrid – puffy, inflamed, red, flakey eye-lids. My eyes stung. They were itchy. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t put make-up on because it hurt. Besides the pain and suffering, I was embarrassed.

What does everyone look at? Your face, your eyes. I was a mess. I looked like a disease-ridden, scabby, scaly, tenement-dwelling, ugly beast.

Nothing seemed to help, though a lotion for eczema did sooth the sting. Slowly the red and flakey skin largely healed. But not totally.

Enter my friend. Lid-care comes in a box with individual sachets. Each sachet contains a little wipe. The manufacturer recommends one sachet for each eye – every day. That would soon add up; though, if it worked, I’d be happy to pay. My friend recommend one sachet for both eyes, using one side of the wipe for one eye and the other side for the other eye.

They worked. Soothing, cleansing, no reoccurrence.

Dr Google diagnosed blepharitis. [OK, I diagnosed that. I had gone to a pharmacy in NZ and the pharmacist just diagnosed, “Oh, looks bad.”]

Now I use them several times a week. [OK, when I remember and give myself time of an evening.] I remove my make-up first and then wipe my lids with Lid-care, getting right along the eye lash line. Sometimes the frugal me rips a wipe in half and makes one last two nights. But that’s when I don’t have much make-up. Finally, I rinse my eye-lids with water and pat dry.

I strongly recommend this product; it’s a keeper for me. Keeps the eyes clean and free of grime.

Cost? I paid about $8 for a packet of 20. Given I am only using them occasionally, I’m fine with that.

Will walking help me lose weight?


If you’re like me, you’ve been walking regularly and for a fair amount of time but have not lost much weight.

OK, I seem to have stopped that slow, creeping weight gain. And my legs are more toned. But I have not lost the weight I wanted to lose; I still have 4 or 5 kilos to go.

Well, I have found the answer. Andrew Cate in his book Walk Off Weight quotes a study from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ninety-four per cent of people who exercise mainly by walking do not walk frequently enough or fast enough to gain real health benefits. As Cate states, “it’s not walking that’s the problem, but how it’s done.”

In a nutshell, I have to push myself more. Walk faster, walk up hills. God forbid, maybe even do some jogging! It’s not about doing more ks or longer walks, but about raising the heart rate. May have to start using the heart rate monitor I got for Christmas?

OK, I know I will also have to address what I eat and I will do that this year.

The next few posts will be info from Andrew Cate’s book.

Today’s decluttered item = no actual object. I am on holidays. Let’s just say I am decluttering my mind of all the workaday worries and household chores-that-need-doing; breathing in the fresh air; daydreaming; and admiring the view.


Longer walk

So, did my long walk today. Just got back!

It is 5.24km. (0.9km longer than my short walk.) Took me 55min.

Slightly slower pace than yesterday. My back is playing up and was hurting before my walk. In fact I started walking looking like a lame or disabled person. Had to swing my left leg forward. Could have easily said I was too sore to walk but my masseuse and chiropractor both said walking will help with my mobility and relieve my back. So after about one and a half kilometres my back was more mobile and stopped hurting.

Also we had people over for a BBQ for lunch and I imbibed a few glasses of bubbles so started my walk a little tipsy as well as with a sore back.

But I did it. And now, thanks to my Garmin, I know how long the walk is.

Good-o. Time to drink my litre of water!

3 months!

Three months in. Wow! I started this journey on 12 August. I have been quite good with the exercise bit; walking most weeks four times a week (think I have only missed this twice but even then I have walked at least twice and have walked extra long walks on weekends to make up); doing my Pilates once a week and doing weights twice a week.

I feel stronger and can definitely walk faster and longer.

I have to admit my diet hasn’t been that good. I have changed breakfast on week days. It is porridge with low fat milk. But on weekends I have white bread or English fruit muffins. I have tried to modify food choices a bit but still know I eat foods with no nutritional benefits, like savoury and sweet biscuits. The weight loss has slowed stopped, so it is probably time to seriously address my diet.

Still I am happy with the changes to my body. I am no longer putting on that slow, creeping weight gain.

Here’s the updated figures:

Chest: 97 to 96cm to 95cm to 95cm
Waist: 87 to 83cm to 81 1/2 cm
Hips: 98 to 96cm to 96cm to 96cm (Can’t seem to shift anything here.)
Thighs: 57 1/2 to 57cm to 56cm
Weight: 67 to 65 1/2kg to 65kg to 65kg