Things I Can Do to Improve My Physical Fitness

I had an intensely frustrating physical therapy appointment this morning. I told the physical therapist that, despite the semi-orthopedic shoes and the ankle-foot orthosis, I still walk with a drop foot after roughly 20 minutes of walking. She is going to bring my shoes and the AFO to the orthopedic shoemaker and the guy in charge of the AFO yet again, but I’m skeptical there’ll be a solution. I feel very frustrated that, a year to eighteen months ago, I could easily walk for an hour several times a day and now I struggle to walk for fifteen minutes. That, my staff later countered, may be related to my lack of physical fitness too. In other words, I need to build up stamina again. Now that I have nothing better to share, I am going to list ways in which I can improve my level of physical fitness.

1. Go on the elliptical for ten to fifteen minutes at a time three times a week. I used to try to go on the elliptical for 25 minutes at a time and aim for five times a week, but that’s not realistic right now. Besides, I hate that thing with a passion, so making myself go on it five times a week right away is guaranteed to fail.

2. Go for daily walks again. I have been avoiding walks because of the pain the AFO causes me as well as the hassle involved in trying to judge the weather, whether I need to wear sunscreen, etc. I really need to make daily walking a habit again, even if it’s only a ten-minute walk around the day center.

3. Throw a ball. This doesn’t necessarily strengthen my legs and it isn’t quite cardio level either, but any movement counts.

4. Weight training. I really need to get into the habit of doing weight lifting again, if only three rounds of ten a few times a week. This is arm training, since I cannot really do core training at all, but again, it will help me get to a higher physical fitness level.

5. Doing the exercises I originally did with the physical therapist for my back. I am not sure why I list these, but they can’t hurt.

Ultimately, I would really like to go to a gym at some point. The day center has a stationary bike too, but I’m not sure I can use that.

Do you have any suggestions as to ways for me to practise physical exercise?

Five Healthy Foods I Actually Love #5Things

Hi everyone. I’m late to the party, as DrTanya posts her #5Things challenge on Tuesday. However, better late than never, right? This week’s topic is favorite healthy foods. Here are mine.

1. Fruits. Almost any fruit is guaranteed to be a favorite of mine, but I especially love blueberries, strawberries, green apples and bananas. And guess what? For a sugary fruit, bananas are actually quite nutritious.

2. Bell peppers. They are one of my favorite veggies to snack on, but I also love them in stirfry meals.

3. Broccoli. And its cousin cauliflower. I love love love both.

4. Garlic. I really love this. Of course, it isn’t a food that one would eat on its own, but in a dish, it’s totally delicious!

5. Kidney beans. They are among the healthiest beans and among my favorites too.

And I could go on. Really, when I looked up lists of the healthiest foods in the world, it turned out I really love most. And just so you know, I did also try out some of the more hyped-up health foods, such as chia seeds, and I actually like those too.

What are your favorite healthy foods?

Right to Health

In his daily prompt yesterday, Scott Andrew Bailey asks us about the “right to health”. I purposefully put that between quote marks, as obviously no-one has a right to health. We all get sick and die eventually. Okay, that was my autistic brain’s literal thinking acting up again. What Scott means is the right to medical care.

Scott asks whether medical care is something the government should provide for the people or whether it’s best left to the private sector. Are there drawbacks to your choice?

The answer to that last question is, of course, yes. Any system has its drawbacks. My answer to the first question, on the other hand, is: I’d like it to be a little of both. For my Dutch readers, the answer can be short: I like my own system best, despite its drawbacks, such as the mandatory copay and the diagnosis-treatment combinations which dictate that you’ll get care based on a diagnosis, not your needs. Those were a particularly problematic thing in mental health. I believe they’ve been altered to something else this year, but I don’t know whether it’s better or worse.

For my international readers, here is a little explanation of how the Dutch system works and why it has the best of private and public healthcare combined. Basically, what is called basic health insurance is more or less public, even though it is covered through the same insurers that will cover your additional insurance should you get it and the insurance companies are private. The government decides which care is covered under basic insurance and insurers must accept every Dutch resident for this package, regardless of health status. The basic package covers visits to your GP, hospital care, most medications, specialist mental health services (ie. services for people with more severe mental health problems), etc. Things that are not covered include physical therapy, dentistry for adults over 22 I believe, contraception (even though Christian parties have been demanding it gets put into the package to prevent women needing abortions), etc. When I lived with my husband, I had mostly just the basic package (I did have some physio coverage but didn’t use that) and I didn’t have to pay a lot of extra money for things that weren’t covered.

You can decide to get additional coverage for things like dental care, physical therapy, alternative medicine, etc. However, insurers can refuse you for those. They usually don’t for the cheaper packages, but then again getting these hardly outweighs the cost of paying for care out-of-pocket.

Basic health insurance currently costs about €133 a month if you want to have free choice of healthcare providers (I do). You can opt for a cheaper policy where the insurer has contracts with only certain providers and you have to pay 30% of treatment costs if you go to an uncontracted provider. Like I said, there’s a mandatory copay of €385 a year on your healthcare. GP visits do not count towards this.

Like I said, I think our system has the best of both public and private worlds. Before the current system was put in place, low to medium income people were covered under the sick fund, which was similar to the UK’s NHS, including its problems of extreme waiting lists and bureaucracy. People with higher incomes would need to get private insurance, but I don’t think it was much better for them, in the sense that those with private insurance would be treated favorably. That’s a good thing.

A note about those who cannot afford to pay for health insurance at all: as a general rule, basic insurance is mandatory and there are several ways in which the government aids low-income people, but ultimately if a person doesn’t pay at all, insurers have the ability to stop insuring them. In that case, hospitals can refuse care, but not in acutely life-threatening circumstances such as when someone has a heart attack. In that sense, you have a right not to die on the health system, but not an ultimate right to medical care.

July 2021 Health and Wellness Update

Today, I’m not feeling too inspired to write. However, I said last month that I wanted to make health and wellness updates a monthly occurrence. Here goes.

Last month, I was worried about my kidney function. My nurse practitioner was since able to reassure me it was within the acceptable range. I since have stopped using the Water Reminder app, as it was being a bit of a nuisance having to fill out my fluid intake each time. However, I still make sure to drink plenty of water.

The fact that my kidney function is acceptable means I have been able to start the topiramate too. Thankfully, like I’ve said, I don’t experience any side effects.

I also found out last month that I don’t have a UTI. The doctor still isn’t sure what is causing my bladder pain. I for a while took the max dose of paracetamol plus naproxen twice daily. Thankfully, I have since been able to get the naproxen back to an as-needed prescription.

As of last Tuesday, my magnesium, which I’ve been taking for constipation for a few months now, has been upped. I myself thought I suffered with diarrhea, but my GP was able to see that it was a result of constipation really. I am really hoping this will work.

To be honest, with respect to lifestyle, I’m not too satisfied with how I’ve been doing over the past month. I am still struggling to make healthier breakfast and lunch choices. This week, I started having crackers for lunch, which I like far better than slices of bread. However, we didn’t have those until Wednesday and yesterday, we already had a special grill lunch.

I did make sure to eat some fruit at lunchtime each day as well as some slices of cucumber. Overall, combined with my relatively healthy choices from the meal delivery service menu, I did meet my five servings of fruit and veg each day.

I got weighed in again yesterday and, sadly, had gained 400 grams compared to last month. I am still within the acceptable to me weight range, but I do need to make sure I really watch my diet more carefully over the next month.

Exercise-wise, I’m not doing as well as I’d like to. I would really like to make it to 10K steps more regularly again. I do know the weather hasn’t been great, but I still have the elliptical and can dance in my room. I would also really like to make weight training a part of my routine again. That might take some more time though, as, well, I want so many things.

Overall, I feel okay about the things I can’t control, like the fact that my kidney function is within the acceptable range after all. However, I could really do better on things I can control, such as eating a healthier diet and exercising more.

Mid-Year Reflections

Hi all. How can it be the middle of July already? It’s amazing how time flies. This week, one of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop writing prompts is to look back at your new year’s resolutions for 2021. As I do each year, this year I called them hopes rather than resolutions as a way of lessening the pressure. As I look back though, I seem to be doing pretty well.

My first hope was to eat a somewhat healthier diet. Indeed, I am making sure to eat enough fruit and veg each day, unlike apparently during the last few months of 2020. I however still struggle to make healthier breakfast and lunch choices.

In the exercise department, I’ve not been as inventive as I’d hoped. I blame COVID, as, even though gyms reopened to the public a while back, I haven’t felt comfortable to go.

With respect to getting stable mentally, this is a work in progress. I’ve only actually noticed some seemingly significant improvement over the past month or so, after first falling deep into crisis in mid-June. I cannot say for sure the one-on-one support is helping me get mentally stable, but I do know for sure that I certainly don’t want to go back to the situation before the extra care hours were approved.

Faith-wise, I am still on my journey with God. I pray everyday, read the Bible everyday and am learning to put Jesus first. I am however still struggling. I really want to get baptized, but have no idea where to start, as I don’t currently even go to a physical church. More importantly though, I am still regularly tempted to think that, since God is in charge, I shouldn’t even bother with wanting to be saved.

On the leisurely side of things, I’m doing pretty amazing if I can say so myself. I have kept up a pretty good blogging routine and actually love jewelry-making and bath and body product making again. I am glad I didn’t resolve to be able to do these activities independently, as that’d be an unrealistic goal.

The only area I’m not that satisfied with myself about, is my reading. I did a separate post on bookish resolutions for 2021. I guess I should have called those hopes too, as to be honest, I haven’t really met a single of my goals as of yet.

How did you do on your new year’s resolutions so far?

Mama’s Losin’ It

A Perfect Health Day

I can’t remember when or why I bought the book 1000 Journal Prompts That Will Transform Your Health by Sophia Ley, but today, I felt myself drawn to it. In it, one of the prompts asks us to describe a perfect health day. Here goes.

I get up at 8:30AM. I start my day with prayer. This may not be a direct physical health habit, but it certainly helps me get in the right mindset for focusing my day on what’s right. I then get showered if it’s a day I do this or else I get a quick wash.

After I get dressed, I eat breakfast. I eat yogurt with a little crunchy muesli. This may not be the healthiest food choice physically, but it is something I definitely love and don’t really feel I want to give up on. I also eat some fruit.

After breakfast, I take a little break for writing in my journal and Bible reading. Then I go on the elliptical for 20 minutes. I’m assuming it’s a weekday. If it isn’t, I can go for my first walk instead, as my one-on-one will be there. In that case, I’ll go on the elliptical during the afternoon.

When my day activities staff arrives at 10:15AM, I have coffee. I don’t have a cookie with my morning coffee.

Then I go for a walk of about 25 to 30 minutes. After this, I usually will have some time left to do some of my crafting before my staff goes to help prepare lunch.

For lunch, I have two crackers or slices of bread with peanut butter or jelly. Again, these aren’t the healthiest food choices I can imagine, but way healthier than my current choices of lunch food on most days. I also have some slices of cucumber or some cherry tomatoes and a serving of fruit. I will have another serving of fruit in the evening.

After lunch, I will spend some time doing weight training and resistance band exercises. Then, when my staff returns from their lunch break, I’ll go for another 25-minute walk. Then I’ll have another cup of coffee, again with no biscuit.

I will spend the rest of the afternoon on my hobbies, such as blogging or reading. In the evening, I will go on two more walks with my one-on-one. In total, I will reach my goal of 10K steps.

I will have my evening meal from the meal delivery service as usual. For dessert, I will have a small serving of fruit yogurt.

In the evening, I will drink green tea rather than coffee. Throughout the day, I will also make sure I drink at least two liters of water. This means I will have a glass of water after each walk and with each meal, as well as with each medication round. I will obviously take my medications as prescribed. When it’s a perfect health day, I hope I won’t need my painkillers anymore, but that seems to be beyond my control.

I will brush my teeth twice a day, morning and evening. At 9:30PM, I will start to unwind for bed. I will say a prayer. Then, I will diffuse a relaxing essential oil blend and start a soothing sound track on Spotify. I will go to bed at around 10PM. I will probably fall asleep within half an hour and have a good quality of sleep.

Looking over this, some of these things seem relatively easy to include into my day. Some are harder. Of course, I didn’t take into account the possibility of a severely rainy day when I can hardly go for walks. I’ll have to think of alternative ways of getting active then.

June 2021 Health and Wellness Update

I am feeling kind of worried about my health lately. To get myself a more realistic picture of how I’m doing, I thought I’d do a health and wellness check-in. I am hoping I can make this a monthly habit.

Firstly, the reason I am worried is one abnormal result on the annual bloodwork I had done last week. I get an annual blood test for fasting glucose, cholesterol and other indicators of metabolic syndrome. This is because I take psychiatric medications that can influence this. Last year, my mental health agency ordered it, but this year, my care facility’s physician did. This means I could see my results in the patient portal for my GP surgery that same evening.

The good news is my fasting glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides were all within the normal range. The one thing that wasn’t, is an estimate of kidney function. It should be above 90 and was 81. Because it is an estimate, one abnormal blood test doesn’t say anything. I may need to be retested in a few months.

I looked up what to do about decreased kidney function, hoping to find that if I drank plenty of water, I could get it back to normal. I’m still not sure that’s the case. I mean, I try to drink at least two liters of fluid each day, but can’t figure out whether that should be enough. Other than that, I do try to watch my salt intake more closely. That’s pretty hard, of course – harder than drinking more water.

I do worry that I might not be able to tolerate the topiramate though, because if I remember correctly, that medication is eliminated through the kidneys. I’m not sure though and will leave this to the doctors to decide.

Like I said though, all my other results were within the normal range. My fasting blood glucose was 4.3. It should be between 4 and 6 and was 4.2 the last time, but I’m not drawing conclusions about it increasing as of yet.

Today, I did send off a urine sample for checking for a UTI, because I’ve been having lower abdominal pain. It came back alright. My staff will likely call for an appointment for me to see the doctor, as the pain is still pretty intense.

As for some good news though, I stepped onto the scale this morning and am back at my average weight for the past six months or so. My weight usually goes up or down a few pounds. I’m now 72.1kg, which means 2kg to lose for a BMI under 30. I am unlikely to reach that goal, but it’s okay.

As my husband reminded me when I told him about the abnormal blood result, small steps go a long way. I am already trying to cut back on my snacking on the weekend. I also make sure to eat enough veg and fruit. I mean, the meal delivery company isn’t great on putting veg in its pasta and rice dishes, which I eat most days. However, I make sure to eat some cucumber, tomatoes or raw bell pepper with each lunch. For the upcoming month, I’ve also selected some potato dishes from the meal menu, since they usually are richer in veg.

My husband also pointed out that I get enough physical activity. I could go on the elliptical more often, but my walking is pretty good already.

I did feel a little depressed when my husband told me that it’s obvious that I’m not as healthy as the average woman in her thirties. Then again, he reminded me that I turned the tide on my weight gain in 2018 and am healthier in some ways than I was before. Besides, a century ago I wouldn’t have lived past infancy. That put things into perspective.

Grateful for My Health

Hi everyone, how are you? Today, I want to write, but didn’t know at first what to write about. For this reason, I looked at the eBook Journaling with Lisa Shea, which is really a collection of eleven of her eBooks on journaling. In the one about gratitude, one of the prompts asks us what we’re most grateful for with respect to our health.

I often worry that I’m deteriorating. In truth, I may or may not be, but I have the health I have now. Here are some things I am grateful for about my health.

1. My mobility. I know, I know, I want it to be better. I wish I could walk with the stamina and speed that my husband can. Then again, he’s much taller and skinnier than I am and doesn’t have a physical disability. Considering this, I am so grateful I am able to walk over 10K steps most days. When I wrote a post on my old blog several years ago about what optimal health would mean to me, this was one of the things I listed.

2. My energy level. Generally, difficult as I may find it to see, this has improved much over the past several years. Ten years ago, I struggled greatly to even write one blog post a week. I also slept on average ten to twelve hours a night, sometimes more. Now, I rest for about an hour in the afternoon sometimes, but not always. I also don’t need the long nights I apparently needed some years ago.

3. My sleep. I said above that I need less sleep now than I needed some years ago. Part of the reason may be an improved sleep quality. Though my sleep is still disrupted a lot, it’s much less so than it used to be. I used to snore horribly. Either my husband got used to it or I snore a little less now. I think it’s the latter, as I rarely wake up gasping for air now.

4. My mood. I still experience meltdowns and emotional outbursts almost on a daily basis. However, it’s been months since I’ve been depressed. In general, I feel my mood is pretty good overall.

5. My skin health. Many people experience dry skin in the colder months and it isn’t helped by the need to wash your hands like all the time. I, indeed, do have dry and eczema-prone skin sometimes, but haven’t had a flare up of this since last summer. My hands feel remarkably smooth compared to others’.

6. My heart health. It could definitely be better, but it could also be a lot worse. My resting heartrate is within the normal range and so is my resting blood pressure. As regular readers may know, I had a scare related to possible hypertension last October. The doctor reassured me that it’s okay now.

Of course, there are still areas in which I could improve my health, but overall, I’m pretty content.

What are you grateful about with respect to your health?

My Random Musings
loopyloulaura

Also joining in with Grace and Gratitude. This linky really inspired me to write about gratitude.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (February 13, 2021)

Hi and welcome to another #WeekendCoffeeShare post. I just had my soft drink of Dubbelfrisss and some Pringles for today. However, I can make you a cup of Senseo coffee if you’d like. I can also make you tea. A staff brought me some green tea without additional flavoring earlier this week, which I’m so grateful for. I love this kind of tea! Anyway, let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that it’s still pretty white outside here. The below picture was taken on Thursday, but not much of the snow has gone yet. That should change tomorrow, as temps are supposed to rise above zero.

A picture of me in the snow

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m happy to report feeling much better than I was earlier in the week. Like I said yesterday, I had some worrying health symptoms on Monday and Tuesday that were probably attributable to constipation (and possibly some stress too). Like I mentioned, the doctor prescribed me magnesium tablets. I’m feeling much better now. Not yet completely normal, but almost so.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I got a wonderful stuffed bear from my husband as an early Valentine’s Day present today. I gave him an airdry clay heart I’d made.

My husband paid me a quick visit at the care facility on his way back from buying a trailer for his car. The trailer is truly huge for one that’s behind a regular VW car!

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my support coordinator told me that I thankfully no longer need to tell the staff several days in advance when my husband is going to pick me up. The reason they so far required this, is my one-on-one support. However, my coordinator and the manager agreed that it’s possible for them to schedule the staffing regardless. This is a huge relief, as especially with COVID and all, it’s hard to plan ahead.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that today, my one-on-one support staff took me to a farm with my care agency where we could see the horses, goats and rabbits. Unfortunately, they were eating, so they didn’t show me much attention. I didn’t take my phone with me, so no pictures. That will have to come next time.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you I’ve done a lot of reading and book hoarding lately. I will have to do another reading wrap-up soon. Let me say for now that I’m totally inspired to read more SciFi. I totally love the escapism!

That being said, I’d also like to moan (probably for the third or fourth time) about the fact that Amazon doesn’t accept payment methods other than credit cards for their digital products. This is really annoying, as I don’t own a credit card. I really wish I could benefit from their Kindle deals, but apparently Amazon doesn’t want me buying anything there. Okay, I could still buy physical products, but what’s the point? We have Bol.com for that, and I want Kindle books! *Whines.* Okay, I can still get the free ones, but well.

What’s going on in your life?

Gratitude List (February 12, 2021) #TToT

Hi all! It’s freezing cold out here, with temperatures dropping to -18°C tonight or so the weather forecast said. I don’t like winter one bit. Even so, I have so much to be grateful for right now. Let me share. As usual, I’m linking up with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. I am so very grateful to be alive. Last Monday night, I started to feel sick and, among other things, experienced chest pain which was unusually severe for me. I can get chest pains when having a panic attack, but this didn’t feel like it. I immediately worried about my heart, since even though I’m far too young especially for a woman to experience a heart attack, I’m still obese. I felt too scared to press the call button though. Thankfully though, I was able to go to sleep and actually woke up the next morning!

2. I am grateful for my supportive staff, who helped me through my time of feeling out of sorts.

3. I am grateful for a very understanding GP. My staff scheduled a doctor’s appt on Tuesday afternoon because I still wasn’t feeling well. The GP was reassuring without being dismissive.

4. I am grateful for magnesium. The doctor thought, as had I when in my rational mind, that despite the Metamucil, I was still constipated. She switched me to magnesium tablets to be taken twice a day. They are chewable tablets, but thankfully my staff were able to grind them and give them to me in some custard. I’m not sure the magnesium is working yet, but it at least doesn’t make things worse.

5. I am grateful the roads and cycling routes are now snow-free. We had a lot of snow on Sunday and Monday, so there was no point in shoving it. Thankfully though, it stopped snowing by Monday evening.

6. I am grateful I was able to go for some walks today thanks to the snow-free cycling routes. The pavements were still largely covered in snow, but thankfully I live in a quiet neighborhood, so we could walk on the street too.

7. I am grateful for large stroopwafels. These are a kind of waffles filled with butterscotch cream or honey. We usually have the mini ones at the facility and I’m the only one who eats them, because they are a choking hazard to the other residents. Today, we had the large ones.

8. I am grateful for pajamas. A staff, the same one who often brings me stuff (I may’ve mentioned her before), brought me pajamas she no longer wore. I am so grateful, as with these deep freezing temperatures, I’d like to keep warm at night.

9. Speaking of the cold, I’m grateful for central heating that actually works. We had a power outage on Tuesday and this meant the heating was off for the rest of the day and most of Wednesday. I’m so glad it’s back on!

10. I am grateful my husband got through the hectic week at work. He’s a truck driver, so his job was very hard during the snowstorm. I’m so glad I was able to support him and am so grateful he made it home safe each evening.

Really, I could probably go on. I am grateful for cellular Internet (because our WiFi was out during the power outage too). I am grateful for sleep. I am grateful for food. I am grateful today in the European way of writing the date, it’s a palindrome (just had to say that). I am grateful for Day One, my journaling app. I am grateful for the YouVersion Bible app. I am grateful for Jesus. All these could make it onto my gratitude list. Really, I am truly blessed!

What are you grateful for?