WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU OWN IT? AN HONEST ACCOUNT!

Hey #TeamOwnIt!

Welcome to the first blog in my new series of #WellnessWednesdays.

So, this is going to be an open and honest account of why I haven’t been blogging. One of the reasons as to why I decided to blog for You Own It was to hold myself accountable to you. On the surface of it all, it looks as though most of us have our s**t together, but underneath all that, it can be a very different story! In essence, I’m just one of you and that’s important for me to get across….here it goes!

IT’S ALL BEEN A BIT OF A WHIRLWIND!

When I first launched You Own It, I also ventured into a couple of more businesses. Finding my ‘feet’ and seeing what I was passionate about whilst still trying to earn a living. On top of that I was trying to balance my Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology whilst trying to organise my life as a disabled adult!

I had a lot of plates spinning. Taking on advice by various people in my industry. Felt like I was winning on some days and epically failing on others.

I wanted You Own It and the other businesses to be perfect. I wanted to ensure that I was 100% dedicated to my doctorate whilst demonstrating to others that I knew what I was doing when in fact I had no idea at all!

From looking at the You Own It website, my last blog entry was October 2017. It’s now June 2018.

In striving for perfection, I was getting nothing done and spent most of the time ‘stuck in my own head.’

HINDSIGHT

‘Hindsight’ is a wonderful word, isn’t it? Actually, it is. I’d just turned 30, took on a leap of faith to start my own businesses, had no income and everybody on Facebook who was my age was either getting married, having babies or adopting some kind of fluffy creature! I wasn’t doing any of those things and felt like a bit of a loser!

And having practiced what I been preaching for all these years, it was ok that I felt like that. All this pressure was on to be ‘successful’ and to copy what the successful people were doing and I lost my identity and focus.

NOW

Not to worry though. Myself and You Own It are in a better place than ever before.

These past 8 months have made me realise how passionate I am around raising awareness for both physical and mind challenges – we all have these challenges yet there’s not one dedicated, fun, hub for us to talk openly about what we face.

You Own It is not a clinical site. Rather a safe and supportive site for us to begin sharing our own stories. To remove taboos and to make these discussions the norm.

THE FUTURE

Over the next few months, You Own It aims to grow. We are revamping the website to make it more inclusive….so stay tuned!

THINGS TO KEEP AN EYE ON & HOW TO STAY INVOLVED

  • Join our Health & Wellness Group on Facebook where we encourage open dialogue on our own wellness challenges.
  • Diarise #MondayMatters in your diary – my Facebook live every Monday. 7pm, UK time, where we’ll be discussing hot health and wellness issues!
  • Ambassadors, we need you – we are on the lookout to recruit new ambassadors to contribute to You Own It! To be an ambassador we ask that you contribute to the website at least once a month! It’s up to you how you contribute. It could be through blogging, vlogging, songwriting, art! Whatever takes your fancy. You can have a pseudonym if you’re not comfortable with revealing your identity. We just want YOU to OWN this website. YOU OWN IT!
  • Look out for my #WellnessWednesday blogs where I’ll be blogging about my own personal challenges.

FINAL NOTE

We all screw up from time to time. We feel down and miserable. But it’s important to remember how we can grow from these situations. Your vulnerability is your strength. It’s what others can relate to and it makes you, you!

Until next time,

R x

(p.s. you can join the Health and Wellness group here)

And 2018, Here We Are

I’m now in a year that was portrayed in my childhood movies as the distance future.  We are well passed Back to the Futures hoover boards and were predicted to me living in the sky as well as other planets outside earth.  Flying cars and Terminators judgement day is well in the past and we should be fighting futuristic robots lead by John Connor.  Although I am pleased that these ideas out of Hollywood never came to fruition we are really living in an exciting time for medical robot assisted rehab.  And I am lucky enough to be not just living it every day but helping get this exciting rehabilitation technique to all the people like me fighting to live life to the max.  This is always in my mind weather building Rex devices on the product line or doing my Rexercise program.  This invention out of Auckland New Zealand is bigger than all the Hollywood movies out together for helping people reach their rehab goals.

After receiving the go ahead to weight bare again from my surgical team I was anxious to get back up and look at my physiotherapy from a standing position again.  This all went very well and although I was only standing and walking around for and maximum of ten minutes at a time with no Rexercise stances it was enough to put a smile on my face and I felt complete in my rehab again, it doesn’t seem like much but the mental satisfaction was almost overwhelming after the injury I had just been through.  Some more x-rays followed up a week of weight bearing and everything was intact and bone was calcified back together, throttle down and back to life again.  3 months post femur reconstruction and its nothing but a memory and story.  I know this fast recovery is due to been in a fit and healthy state.  Always be ready for war, you don’t know what battle tomorrow will be so prepare prepare prepare…

Now back to full function I am more determined to go further with my health and fitness.  I have started to look into my breathing to help with my endurance training.  Endurance is something I have struggled with since my spinal cord injury.  Cardio training is very difficult without function of my lower limbs.  It requires a lot of strength training to get my upper limbs to a point that they have enough endurance to get my heart pumping before they hit the fatigued state and I can no longer move them.  I have now reached that point and my arms have the power in them to get my heart pumping and get myself puffing for air, I feel like this is really good for me.  I do this in a few different forms because every time I move my arms in a different way I find it changes how long my arms last or how quickly they get fatigued.  So, I shadow box as well as banging on a speed ball. I use a stationary hand cycle and now have the endurance to go out and push up hills in wheelchair.  I have never being more focused on my cardio and endurance and am wanting to push it further and further every day.  After all endurance is closely related to longevity and I want to be he for longer than I ever have before, I also know I can be if I work for it every day.

I am also finding that with my added endurance I am more able to handle the heat of summer which has always made me uncomfortable.  But with my cardio training and getting out there and getting after it I can now handle getting a sweat up and a little raised body temperature and not feeling like I am going to pass out.  The big change in all this is learning to breathe properly again, belly breathing.  My every day preparation involves breathing.  Just breathing seems so simple and natural but when I looked deep into it we all forget how to breathe.  It is the cornerstone of our health and fitness yet always overlooked. So breathe, just breathe as deep and fully as you can with every breath.

Keeping Going in Recovery: 5 Daily Messages

A year into my first sustained attempt at recovery, I now realise that part of what made me keep putting off the recovery that I knew I wanted and needed to begin was the feeling that it had to be one continuous smooth journey. One day I had to wake up and make the decision to get well and I must never waver in my resolve or have even a moment of self-doubt in my ability to beat Ana.

Anorexia for me has been all about a feeling of failure. A feeling of failure in several areas of my life was part of what made me get ill, and judging myself harshly has always been a problem for me – something I think I have in common with many other anorexia sufferers.

Deciding that I would never again let the illness enter even a tiny part of my brain, and then finding that sometimes it still did meant that I was taking this success/failure mentality into my recovery. The self-critical voice of the anorexic used to scream at me that I’d failed yet again when I realised that something I was doing wasn’t working.

Some of the medics didn’t help either as they also spoke in terms of success and failure, with the phrase ‘not meeting the expectation’ being used on several occasions. ‘The expectation’ became a new, though never fully defined, yardstick by which to assess my recovery.

But just recently, I finally acknowledged that recovery isn’t about success or failure in an either/or sense. It also isn’t about anybody else’s judgment of my success. It’s only about my success in achieving the physical and mental health I need to get the full life I dream of. And even beginning recovery after ten years is a personal success in itself.

Nowadays, recovery for me is just about doing whatever I can to get well, and trying to enjoy each step on this journey as I start to feel both physically and mentally stronger. It’s about making the conscious choice every day not to relapse and not to simply maintain the status quo either.

So here are my five daily messages to myself daily. I hope they will help others who are going through something similar.

  1. Even if I’m doing better both physically and mentally, there’s still a long way to go, so I mustn’t give up now even though I’m no longer being monitored so closely. And I mustn’t use let Ana use this lack of monitoring to move back towards the front of my head.
  2. It’s important to trust my instincts about the people, comments, situations, and media content that will damage my recovery or be unhelpful. I can switch off or walk away and find something positive to do or think about. I feel stronger and more committed to my recovery every time I do this.
  3. I can hold on to and build on my dreams. I think it’s important to have a goal and it can be anything. I don’t judge myself for my goals or let anyone else judge me for them. They can be as ‘worthy’ or not as I like – I have both. My goals are to use my experiences to help others struggling with eating disorders and other mental health issues. But on a less ‘worthy’ note, I also want to be strong enough to learn the dances I love to watch on Strictly Come Dancing! 🙂
  4. As an adult anorexia sufferer, and someone who has been ill for the majority of my adult life, I mustn’t tell myself it’s too late to change the habits and thought patterns. I can turn my age to my advantage, using my life experience and honed instincts to help my recovery. I can be proud of recovering by drawing on my own strength.
  5. I’m not fully better until I can live the full life I want; until I have the energy, positivity, and the knowledge deep down that I am ready to do all the things I want to do, rather only some of them.

Recovery might not be smooth, but I can keep building my path in front of me and taking the next step.

Getting Kenshin

Getting Kenshin

There’s a quote that’s been a big part of my life since I was a teenager:

“Fate is in heaven the armour is on the breast success is with the legs. Go to the battlefield fully confident of victory and you will come home with no wounds whatsoever. Engage in combat fully determined to die and you will survive. Wish to survive in the battle and you will surely meet death. When you leave the house have no thought of returning. If you have any thought of returning you will not return. You may not be in the wrong to think that the world is subject to change but the warrior must not entertain this way of thinking for his fate is always determined”

Weighing in at one hundred and eight words it has been a source of inspiration for me since I first discovered it on the Samurai Archives website as a passionate yet sloppy student in year 9 and has stuck with me ever since in one form or another. It now serves as a quote that propels me forward at work and sometimes at home.  But I’ve had trouble understanding it in the past.

I applied it when I was a new student at university and collapsed (almost entirely) just after my first term. Too foreboding, too aggressive and too tight a mind-set to live up to meant that I fell short trying to live independently in my first efforts. However despite being scared about bloody minded the quote was and how ruthless you have to beit was useful for focusing in exams of reminding me to hold to that instant to focus totally and do everything that I could to succeed.

And I was also interested by UesugiKenshin the 16th century Japanese Samurai that made the quote himself,who was a renowned Samurai yet also a“would be spoiler” rather than someone who actually carved out significant achievements.

I went to Japan in May last year for around two weeks with my family as part of a self-guided tour from Inside Japan.

I didn’t manage to go to Nagoya and see Kenshins former fortress. However I did go toKyoto, the old capital of Japan and got a guided tour on my second day there seeing some interesting sights in Japans old capital.

For example seeing the Budo (or martial arts school) with all of their fighters in their white gi and different coloured belts denoting their experience practicing together. The school and see martial arts of varying experience with their different belts. All in the same white gi.

There was also a shop that we visited calledTozan Jo. With practice staffs and Samurai Armour which I’m photographed with.With all of the different staffs and practice swords lined up on racks in the wall. All interesting sights.

In the back of the shop though there’s a statue in the far corner which I didn’t expect to see. A statue of Buddha with a sword slaying a dragon.

For a moment I felt uneasy thinking it was about the battle against external enemies. But actually I got it wrong. Kazuko our guide explained that it was about fighting the demons within. Now for me that isn’t autism but it was something that made me think about the demons within myself.

There are Western parallels to Kenshins quote. Murphys law is whatever will be will be or to use a sporting one The Patriot Way of “Do your Job”. Speaking of sporting parallels Pete Carrolls refrain“always compete” in his useful book “Win Forever” come close. But as I found competing for me is not enough. It’s about fighting and navigating through a battlefield, of work and life.

Which is forme the sheer intensity that Kenshins quote and the complexthat it inspires stands out. As it reminds me when I go out to work or to take my next steps etc., I’m in a situation to do battle.

The quote sat next to my desk in my former office at eye level. So I’m aware of it at all times when I’m working to remind myself of the attitude that I need to adopt whatever the world throws at me. And it’s also at home too. In fact maybe I should put it where I’m perched in my new office.

It’s an intense world that we live in. And it’s a world that’s in interesting times that can paralyse even the best of people. Which is why we need Kenshins quote.

However I do disagree with him in a sense.

I think we can determine our fate over the long run but not in the instant, that we have a part to play in shaping our own fate. We do our jobs so that in the end fate can change whether it’s a certain political situation or our own personal lives. Call it part of an equation if you like of the day to day fights and the long strategic haul.But there’s a time to hold to the instant and to have the right frame of mind in that instant.

Because if you come into certain situations like work determined only to survive then you will fail through being too conservative, which is not what’s being asked of you. You’ll tread water and not go into each day with nothing to lose.

Because the quote means do what you have to do. On any given day at any given moment, whatever the world throws at you. And for me that’s an approach that I have to take both in work and sometimes outside in life in order to be the best I can be. Because if you freeze or are afraid of losing then you will lose. And that’s something that’s happened to me a number of times. So you go in determined to do battle and you will come homesatisfied.

I had an excellent time in Japan and it was nice seeing how understated the country actually was compared to the tourist images and magazines that I had read. Who knows assuming the place doesn’t turn into an ultra-nationalist dictatorship under Shinzo Abe (I’ve watched the snap election and am keeping an eye out on developments Abe Sama!) maybe I’ll be able to go back and see Kenshins birth place someday. As that would be fun and a cathartic experience like my own first trip was.

So Kenshinsama, Echigo no Ryu, domoo arigato for providing a critical lesson that has been handed down the ages. A lesson of resilience and of confidence. Always do what you need to do and holding to the instant.

It is a one that I will carry with me and pass on.

 

-Written with much thanks to Inside Japan Tours and Samurai Archives

Rest, recovery…and getting back at it

I had a better time this month following my broken femur and reconstruction surgery.  Most importantly I have owned my injury and in a better mindset to get things done and get back at it.  I could get up and back at it and was enjoying a lot more time moving around and doing things around my house.  I jumped in a little too keen and only days after getting the permission to get out and about I scalloped my big to on my aluminium door frame.  Not to be disgruntled I self-dressed the heavily bleeding wound and carried on with my day.  A simple staph infection anywhere on my body was still capable of infecting my recovering thigh and femur even a month post-surgery.  I was well informed and knew I had to look after my body and wounds like my toe over cautiously.  I self-managed my toe dressing and it healed well quickly.  I was on light duties so was not doing anything too strenuous until I was giving my pigdogs a run in the paddock one morning.  I have 2 pigdogs for hunting and I have a completely fenced of paddock for them to run around in when I let them out for exercise.  I built the paddock last summer.  It is entirely netting fencing with the idea being that they cannot get out of there and up to no good when my back is turned.  I also have a house dog, mainly for security and pest control which hangs around and sleeps inside.  She is very antisocial and fights with a lot of other dogs.  So, I knew when I saw one of my hunting dogs jump the full height fence towards my house dog there was going to be trouble.  They went for each other straight away, I managed to get them apart but only by chocking out my dog with her chocker chain to make her release her jaw on my hunting dog.  Most people think of pigdogs as big angry dogs that will attack anything, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  They are working dogs highly trained to chase and catch wild boar and nothing else, rarely do I have problems with them fighting as they hunt in a pack.  It was my pet dog actually causing the problems here.  But I got her off and held her down.  As I did this my hunting dog thought I was getting hurt and jumped back in to help me.  This pulled my out of my wheelchair and onto the ground where I wrestled around with them until they dragged me to the fence, they jumped through and kept fighting on the other side where I couldn’t get to them.  After yelling at my house dog till I was blue in the face and my hunting dog was limp in her jaw she finally gave up and headed back to me with her tail between her legs.  I lifted myself back into the wheelchair and locked her in a kennel to assess the damage to my valuable hunting dog.  She seemed ok but had what looked like a broken leg.  She has since healed up ok with only a slight limp remaining.  My leg was pretty sore for a couple of days after that so I put it up and rested it some more until the swelling went down again.

The next Tuesday I was excited as I had planned to return to work and then my physio routine.  I had quiet day at work and it all went ok.  After work at my physio session and after getting assessed for what to do with my leg in my physio routine.  This didn’t go as planned as I was told to stay on the side of caution and take another couples of weeks to get further on my leg recovery before anything else.   I was very downhearted as I felt like I was good to go, I did know my leg was still fragile because of some pain and swelling that I was doing the best to ignore. This was not helping myself, so with that and all the threats of causing long term damaged circling in my thoughts I stepped backward and continued to rest.  After two more failed attempts at getting back to work and am happy to report that now after 2 months recovery I am back to my job full time and deep back into my physio programme. I still have to wait another couple of weeks to weight bare and start up my Rexercise programme.  It’s a struggle and has felt like a spinal cord injury all over again not being able to jump in my Rex and walk around but I have a lot of that in my future so am patiently waiting for my Rex time to start again early next year.

So, finishing my year with work and with training and my health and fitness state of mind still intact is a win, a huge win.  Thanks again to all my support through work and physio and my home and family life.  It’s all closely connected and I am the never missing link. Mum and Dad and other family and community support, Rex Bionics staff and clients, my physio world, High performance N.Z and All my other friends and motivators.  You all got me here.  Happy and safe holidays.  Get out there, get after it and get livin and doin every day.

The Exercise That Broke Me

One event and one exercise has consumed my time this month. We tried something new in a Rexercise session where we strapped my FES machine to my legs while I was in Rex. This enabled us to be able to electronically stimulate the right muscles in my legs with a FES clicker as I was performing sit to stands from the static squat Rexercise. This worked extremely well. We then moved things around and provided FES to my legs while I was walking around in REX, it took a lot of coordination to be operating the REX joystick and activating the FES clicker. We managed to get it all sorted and running smoothly. We were not stimulating the moving leg but the weight baring leg to try and get it to help support my instead of REX holding me up solo. We were having a casual conversation about how your muscles are so strong that if you over stimulate them they have the potential to snap you bones, this was a high-level coincidence with what was going to happen to my later that night.

On the drive home after that physio session on my legs there was all sorts of burning and tight muscle sensations going on. When I got home I jumped straight onto my floor exercise mat and thought it would be a good idea to work on my core and do some stretches. One of my back stretches is getting onto my knees and leaning down and forward with my arms out in front. As I was getting into position for this with one leg under me a was pulling the other leg out and around to try and get it under me too. Now this is not the usual way I would get into a kneeling position, I was being lazy and karma was about to get at me for that. When I had the leg half way around my weight fell the wrong way onto my thigh and I heard a bang like to planks of wood been hit together. A shock went right through my body and intense pain went for my knee shooting to the sole of my foot. Thinking I had dislocated my knee somehow, I started crawling to my wheelchair. When I got to my wheelchair I tried to pick up leg and I felt like jelly bone with a grinding bone feeling deep in my thigh. I called on my phone for some assistance from the house and my partner Bianca quickly arrive at the shed. She asked if I wanted her to call an ambulance and I quickly replied, “Hell Yes”. From that point, she knew we were in trouble as I normally I would never want an ambulance called unless I was on deaths door, but the pain was getting too much to even be able to move at all by this point. The ambulance arrived in an hour and just at the point of me nearly passing out for pain, another thing that is rare from me as I normal have an extremely high tolerance for pain. The paramedics gave me pain relief then assessed me and I was loaded up heading to hospital with a suspected dislocated hip. On the trip to the hospital I kept telling the paramedics it was something up with my knee and my hip felt fine, I can never trust pain though because it can sometimes get signals from the wrong place.

Once we arrived at A and E some x-rays were done and it turns out my pain messages were right this time. My hip was fine but my femur was broken into 2 pieces just above my knee. The orthopedic surgeons were called in to make a plan for repairing the fracture. They informed me that normally, (meaning with able body patients) they would do a surgery that involved putting a rod up the middle of the femur and screwing it in place. Because I was a spinal patient and don’t walk we could just plate it. The doctors then got a full on angry rant from me that I do walk and I must be able to load bare on my leg again. I told them about my job at Rex Bionics and what REX dose. As they went away to discuss the job ahead I saw Me and my REX on google images appear on the computer monitors in their office. They were doing some research and quickly came back to me and said that they can see REX is really important to me and would perform a function surgery so I can still use REX and live out my goal of walking independently in the future. My leg was put in traction and I was book in for surgery the next day.

Surgery day was a long day as I was 3rd on the list and didn’t get to go in until 2pm for a 2-hour procedure. The operation ended up taking 3 hours with a few extra precautions taken with my soft bones and strapping them up right to heal. I woke up with my leg bandaged from my hip to my ankle to keep it out straight and keep pressure of the wound that was stitched from my lower knee to my hip. Normally they would out cast on but with the risk of pressure sores under the cast and my not been able to feel much that option was opted out. I spent another 2 days in hospital on painkillers then was back home resting.

My biggest fear while on all this bed rest again was losing all my strength gains from all my hard work at the gym. So I adapted TheraBand to my bed in the hospital and at home and developed some sets using my body and free arms for resistance. I also kept using my hand weights while parked up and recovering. The Stitches came out a week later and I began moving around in my wheelchair again. But, me being me, I started to feel to good so I spent a couple of days lying under my car working on it and done some odd jobs around the house. The day after my knee blew up like a balloon and was full of fluid and a bit of the pain was back. I asked some advice from my physio and was bluntly told to pull my head in, rest means rest which isn’t odd little jobs and working on my car is it pork up, out that leg up and recover before I damage myself more.

So, the next two days were laid out watching movies and only getting up when I had to eat and go to the bathroom etc. I have since been up and moving around a bit more but mostly resting my recovering leg. I am trying to listen to my body more and more but often get I wrong and do things to quickly when I feel good, there is a fine line between doing good and doing damage with active movement on my body and I’m still trying to find that line. I know I will always be on the wrong side of it as I always push things to the limits, that’s just who I am and is never going to change. So, I have realized to need to take in a bit more of the professional advice I from my support group I have around me, also not easy as I always think I know best. Thanks to all the amazing people around me from physios to REX professionals to family and friends, your all stars in my eyes and make the hard time manageable. I am now looking upwards and onwards to get back at the world and back up walking and training again with my Rexercise programme.

Have you got #FOMO? Here are 3 ways to break our addiction…The AAG Formula

Hi everybody! I hope you’re well!

So as it’s #Shocktober, I thought it’d be interesting to write my blog about fears! FOMO in fact – Fear of Missing Out!

FOMO is an interesting phenomenon and we can all experience it. Especially those who’ve grown up with the advancements in technology.

Everyday we are bombarded with texts, calls, Facebook messages. The minute our phone pings, we have to check it. See what that message that was or what that Facebook notification was!

And although the phrase ‘FOMO’ has originally stemmed from technology, it can actually be applied to a whole range of situations. For instance, that party that all your friends are going to, that course that sounds really good, that event or gig etc!

Research has described FOMO as …‘‘the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you’’. 

And this is not a good thing. We check social media constantly! We feel like we’re being kept out of the loop. 

The sad reality is that research demonstrates that FOMO actually stems from unhappiness. And when we’re unhappy we tend to check things like Facebook to see how everybody else is doing. Research shows that we check our social media first thing when we wake up, during meal times and last thing before bed!

But isn’t this a symptom of modern life?  Hmm, rather an addiction! 

When we’re unhappy, we turn to social media and it actually makes us feel worse, but we are kept in a very negative cycle!

The thing is guys, often things like Facebook are an illusion. People cherry pick what they put on about their lives and everything seems perfect. But are they really happy? We know they probably aren’t but we still compare. And comparison can make us feel slightly depressed. Social comparison is extremely destructive to our wellbeing.

But when someone puts something up! Some of us will feel compelled to write awesome things too. And it feeds into this whole cycle! This cycle can bring you up and then put you right down again – it needs to stop! 

WE NEED TO CALM DOWN PEOPLE AND BREAK THIS CYCLE! 

So here’s my AAG formula for 3 ways to manage FOMO:

 1. ACCEPT: you’ll always miss out on something in life. But rather than focussing on scarcity, learn to love what you’re doing in the present moment. Really capture that experience for what it is and enjoy it.

2ATTENTION: Focusing on the outside won’t make you happy but focusing on the inside does. Cliche but true.  Here’s an extract from Nobel-Prize winner Daniel Kahneman. He explains the importance of attention in his book, Happiness by Design: Change What You Do, Not How You Think:

“Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention. What you attend to drives your behavior and it determines your happiness. Attention is the glue that holds your life together… The scarcity of attentional resources means that you must consider how you can make and facilitate better decisions about what to pay attention to and in what ways. If you are not as happy as you could be, then you must be misallocating your attention… So changing behavior and enhancing happiness is as much about withdrawing attention from the negative as it is about attending to the positive.”

So, limit your use of social media and be in a state of flow. This will increase your attention, make you more focussed and will help you to enjoy the present moment more. 

3. GRATITUDE: Our minds are programmed to focus on the negatives. However, gratitude is the antidote to this. In fact, gratitude is arguably the king of happiness. Research demonstrates that those who practice gratitude are less to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, or neurotic. It’s correlated with an objectively better life:

Social comparisons make you feel you have less. Contemplating what you are lucky to already possess makes you abundant.

SO TURN YOUR NOTIFICATIONS OFF! Put your phone down and get rid of your FOMO for good!

Until next time,

R

Work, Diet and FES

We have been very busy at Rex Bionics the past month, developing some new designs and features for the future of Rexercise. It is very important and close to our hearts here at Rex Bionics to stay on the cutting edge of Exoskeleton technology and delivering the best design and innovation results to neurological rehabilitation to help our customers achieve their goals and over all better quality of life. I have the extra pleasure of finding new ways to excel in my own rehab by working closely with the amazing team Connect Nero Physiotherapy. Together we are always finding new ways to challenge my body and mostly my Nero effected injury. I can definitely see that with new technology advances and scientific research along with a lot of hard work that one day my Spinal Cord Injury will be a thing of my past, just another story to tell around a camp fire of how I overcome a problem and knocked over the walls fencing me into a restricted lifestyle.

I also had the pleasure of traveling over to Sydney, Australia this month to show Rexercise to just a few of the amazing Nero Rehab centres available in Australia. There is currently clinician training going on in two of those facilities that are going to employ Rex and Rexercise into their Nero Rehab programmes. I really enjoyed getting away from the wet winter we have had here in N.Z and enjoy the dry warm winter Sydney has been having.

I have also stepped up my own Rehab through trying to fit in two training sessions a day into my daily programme, not every day but at least 4 days a week and one session on “off” the days. My self-satisfaction with sticking to my programme has been ok but I have been falling behind on my Functional Electrical StimulationFES (FES) programme. I have been struggling to find the motivation to do this as I currently have no movement in my lower extremities while using FES. I also know that the Nero recovery rate for this procedure is slow. If I was to stick to a 3x a week schedule I will start to see some results in about 4 months, although this is slow and a long wait the results will be amazing. So, I have been working hard on getting my headspace around looking forward to the results rather than looking at the quick fix results. Unfortunately, Nero Rehab is working hard for slow results so I just must keep on keeping on waiting for the FES rewards that are coming in my future. Anything worth having is worth working hard for so when prescribed an FES programme 3x a week I am going to do it at least 4x a week and more when time permits.

I’m also ramping up my ketogenic diet which seems to be the best dietary programme to suit my digestive system, training programme and lifestyle. I have come to the realisation that diets are hard to stick to because we always try a diet schedule off paper, no two indigestion systems are the same just like no two Nero conditions are the same and no to people are the. So, the best method is to find a good dietary baseline then mould and adapt to meet your personal needs. Most importantly make it fit your lifestyle, you don’t want your diet to be hard to menu or you will go hungry when you can’t find the right foods and binge later through hunger. I don’t think a diet should ever be set in black and white so I will continue to educate myself every day and adjust my diet to meet my current lifestyle and needs.

Welcome to #Shocktober! Get out of your comfort zone this month!

Hello and a huge welcome to October!! In honour of October and its association to Halloween, we’re honouring this and calling this month as #Shocktober!

This month we’ll be covering a range of issues to do with fear! Such as phobias and other fearful things. But we also want to make things fun so stay tuned for what we have in store.

So we all have fears. Some may be big, some may small. But today I want to challenge you to do something very minor which will hopefully raise your confidence.

Do you know that I used to be very shy! Yes, hard to believe. I even found talking to shop assistants difficult and speaking in the phone – I used to hate it! I suppose I had some sort of fear.

But I knew I had a lot to say and one day I just did it. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and started speaking to shop assistants and making sure I spoke to people on the phone. And you know what? Things got better and better.

And by practicing this little thing over and over again, guess what happened? I ended up becoming a national representative for disabled students all over the UK! I finally got my voice heard.

So my challenge for you is to do one thing this week that scares you. It has to get you out of your comfort zone! You never know where it may lead.

Until next time,

R

The Text…

Hi there SUPERSTAR! I hope you’ve all had a great week!

Now, I’m sure most of you know my story but for those who don’t, I’ll give you an overview. I was born with Cerebral Palsy. It’s a neurological condition and it can affect people in different ways. In my case, it’s affected all four of my limbs. This means that I have weak muscle tone and use an electric wheelchair to mobilise.

The main impact I suppose in my life is the reliance of having to use Professional and Personal Assistants (PAs). I need my PAs on a day to day basis. They assist me with all personal tasks – washing, getting dressed, tidying, preparing food etc. They also assist with the professional side of my life too – admin, making calls etc. And notice that I’ve not used the word ‘carer.’ Some people aren’t bothered about semantics, but I am. My PAs don’t ‘care’ for me as I don’t need caring for. They assist me to live the life that I choose to live and with that, they require a lot of skill set.

I’ve been an employer since the age of 15. I’m now 30. I’ve had over 100 PAs during this time. I’m quite well known in the ‘disability world’ for speaking openly about the challenges that having a PA can bring.

Not everybody can be a PA. And those who require a PA will have very individual needs. And the dynamics are complex. Boundaries can get blurred. There’s constant role reversal, one minute you’re having to do an appraisal, the next you’re relying on them to help you go to the toilet! And when the relationship works, it’s the best thing. If it doesn’t, things can get sour.

You get your bog standard ‘how to be a good employer’ training (although that’s only been a recent thing). But there needs to be more than that. Often disabled individuals are put into the position of being an employer. They try to get their heads around the legality of it all, whilst balancing their day to day living. Being an employer can at times be hard work. It’s hard even when you have THE BEST PA team, due to the admin associated with it – rotas, timesheets, dealing with holiday and sickness etc. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and people need support with this rather than black and white protocol.

However, after 15 years, being an employer doesn’t stress me out as much as it used to. It’s been a long long journey but I’m finally getting there. I’m more confident in recruiting the right kind of people, I’m better at managing them as well as my own emotions.

In fact, I realised this the other day. As somebody who uses PAs, you dread ‘the text…’ This is the text to say somebody can’t come to work. It fills you with dread and panic. This isn’t just any job, I rely on PAs to get me out of bed in the morning. I got that text. Not on the day of the shift but a week before. And non of my other PAs, in my team, could cover!

Now a year ago this would have sent my mind racing. I would have started to think a lot about the future. How come my other PAs can’t cover? Is having my own team too unreliable? What about when I’m working more, I can’t have this happening? What about when I get married and have babies – who will help me because I won’t be able to help them!?

Seriously- I used to stress so much. But because I’ve worked on myself over the past year, I handled this so well. I took a ‘step back’ and put things in perspective.

My PA Team are actually really good. We get on quite well and we are very respectful of each other. We are all good friends, and I know this is controversial to some, because of boundaries, but I know it wouldn’t work as well for me if we weren’t. Because we are good friends, I know that they feel ‘terrible for having to let me down.’ So when they are absent or can’t work, it’s for a genuine reason. Sometimes everybody’s life can get in the way! So, I can’t ‘blame’ them as there’s nothing to blame them for. This situation is so rare it happens probably 1% of the time.

Secondly, I had 7 days to sort this out. So there were a few options before going into complete meltdown! After asking whether the other team members could cover, I text an old PA of mine – but she was away. Then I text another old PA, and she could assist in the morning! Boom! Happy days. It got sorted!

Truth be, I’ve never been stuck completely. Everything has always sorted itself out. There’s always that fear though and that’s normal. Our brains, genes and past experiences are the things that produce anxiety! And that’s ok. But I’ve learnt that managing my stress levels has to start from within. Yes – it boils down to practicing ‘self care’ again!

Somebody asked me yesterday – ‘are you happy?’ I replied, ‘Yes, the happiest I’ve ever been.’ They then asked, ‘do you worry that it’s just a blip and things will go back to where they were before?’ I replied, ‘I don’t believe it’s a blip, but what I do know is that I have to work on creating ‘happiness’ each and every day through ‘self care,’ the moment I stop, the moment I know things can get hard again.’

So if you’re a disabled employer, I hope this blog has helped. If you’re not an employer but feeling a lack of control, then I hope this blog has also helped.

Life can be s**t. It can be miserable and hard. But it’s also full of colour and happiness. Start from within and I guarantee you’ll start seeing the world differently.

Until next time,

R