Here I am going to take you through my journey so far in the world of Arthritis, and how something negative can be turned into a positive!
It has been almost 6 years now since the start of my symptoms for Arthritis. It took a good 2 years for the doctors & consultants to diagnose it and understand why my legs just did not work properly. Firstly, ‘bursitis’ then ‘degeneration of the facet joints in my lower spine’ then categorically severe Osteoarthritis in my right hip! It made me feel old, while still in my 40’s. In 2016 when I met my hubster to be, I was still undiagnosed, and whilst he was at the time in training to climb mount Everest, I was in training to keep my balance while trying to put my underwear on (I nicked a similar post of this from Facebook 😉)
My husband, due to his own medical reasons, did not fulfil his dream to climb the mountain, but that’s another story.
I had countless GP & consultant appointments, and I was referred to the physio more than three times. My legs were having none of it, I kept trying to tell the physio that my legs will not stretch that way. Joking aside, it just made my symptoms worse, if I had overdone it one day, I would spend the night in agony with leg pain and restless legs. Not funny really. The doctors prescribed me anti-inflammatories (did not help one bit), pain killers which made me feel dizzy and sick, and I even tried a very strong pain killer, oh boy was that a mistake! The first time I took this was while Jason & I were in our ‘courting’ stage, and he was cooking me and the boys a roast, the first time he had cooked for me. Well within half an hour of taking the dose of strong pain killers, I was holding onto the furniture for dear life as it felt the room was spinning! I spent the rest of the day throwing up, I think I counted about 8 times, so tried to sleep it off while Jason was lovingly cooking us a feast. When he shouted out that dinner was on the table I cagily went downstairs sat at the table while the boys looked at me and wondered why I was so green, and promptly fled back upstairs saying I cannot eat that and threw up again. Poor Jason.
So there ended my use of meds, I decided to go ‘cold turkey’, gave myself a good stiff talking to as to why I was not putting my skills to good use, getting my cauldron out and mixing up a concoction of aromatherapy oils.
The best blend I found worked for me was quite a simple blend of ginger and lemon oils.I would make up a blend of ginger and lemon essential oils with either grapeseed or sweet almond oil and I would massage it onto my hip. Ginger is a great anti-inflammatory oil and good for muscular and joint pain.
Lemon oil is a great detoxifying oil and helped to take those toxins away from the area. Lemon oil is also an uplifting & cooling oil so in those times when the pain and restriction of movement got me down, the Lemon oil would give me a boost. Ginger oil is also warming to the emotions and helped in times when I felt down.
They say that happiness comes with at a price, I had met my husband to be, yet my body was just not playing ball. Jason was ever so supportive, and I often laugh at him becoming my carer 😉
Not only did I mix this blend of aromatherapy oils, but I went one better than this, and I started buying fresh root ginger and fresh lemons, and Jason would crush the ginger up into a pulp then we would add the fresh squeezed lemon and he would massage the pulp mixture into my legs and hips, a bit mushy but it helped so much. I would also strain the remaining lemon and ginger juice and drink it too. Very refreshing and warming. I also took supplements, Turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties and Boswellia (which is essence of Frankincense) for its help in cartilage rebuilding.
It was inevitable at my consultant appointment that my right hip had gone beyond help, and I needed to go under the knife, yikes!
Very scary moment to realise I was to have a major operation, that took a good year for the doctor to consent to as I was classed as ‘too young’ to have the op, but after a second opinion, a doctor saw that I needed to get my quality of life back now not in several years’ time. They confirmed that my right hip joint had worn down to bone on bone in three places, no wonder it hurt to move, and to top that, I had bone cysts too. Do not do things by halves do I?
Autumn of 2018, I was finally referred to hospital for a hip replacement, after being turned down for referral by the doctors on several occasions. The wait for surgery at Exeter was 12 months! 12 months of more pain and my movements becoming more and more limited. So, Jason self-referred me to a small private hospital who also took NHS patients, what an amazing service! He applied for me in December 2018, I attended a pre-op appointment at the end of January 2019, and my operation took place in March 2019!
Wow what a day that was! I had to arrive at the hospital by 9AM and Jason left me at the door, I was taken to a hospital bay where I cannot explain how hard that 4 hours wait to go down to theatre felt like! I had every emotion under the sun and thank god I was able to have my belongings with me whilst waiting so I could give Jason a minute-by-minute update by text of how I was feeling. Poor guy was an emotional wreck too trying to reassure me.
Apparently, I was not an easy patient for the op. I like to keep people on their toes. When the anaesthetist came to introduce herself while I was waiting, she informed me I would be ‘sedated’ through the operation! Wait! What? What about a general anaesthetic? No, she said, we sedate you as the recovery will be quicker for you. But what If I come round during the surgery? It is possible she said, but do not worry we just put you back under again! OMG that was it! Out came the phone again, and I text Jason to give him the update! I think he had given up trying to put my mind at rest by that point, bless him. After more waiting and the surgeon popping his head round to say hello, and it will not be much longer, and ‘can I draw an arrow on your leg, so we make sure we operate on the correct hip!!! I was finally taken down to theatre. The anaesthetist monitored me and said, oh dear, your heart rate is through the roof, (no shit) let us get you all relaxed, shall we? Her assistant started making conversation with me to preoccupy me while they injected me in the spine. He asked what my favourite drink, is, so I answered, ‘Gin and I think I need one now if that’s ok’ The anaesthetic was starting to kick in at this point, so my words were starting slur as if I had been on the gin 😉.
Apparently, my op took 2 ½ hours, which is approximately an hour more than normal (at a future post op appointment, the surgeon said they had trouble banging that spike into my bone!!! Nice!!)
Anyway, my worst fear happened, and I woke up while still in the operating theatre!! What the??????
The anaesthetist popped her head round so I could see her and said its ok they are just gluing you back up. I must admit I was away with the fairies and think I managed a cheesy grin back to her. Everyone sounded like they were talking in foreign too, it was a bizarre experience. Then I was whipped out to the recovery room and was there for quite a while as they were waiting for staff to help so someone could take me up to the ward. When I did get to the ward, my poor hubster was white as a sheet and so relieved to see me. Apparently, he had been bugging the receptionist staff trying to find out why it had taken so long.
All was well, and it felt like I only had the top half of my body, while the anaesthetic was still wearing off. Then a night of crappy sleep, meds not working, and bed pans!! Say no more! When the nurse asked us on the ward in the morning, who would like another bed pan or who would like to try and walk to the toilet! I would say I jumped out of bed, but it was more like edging an inch at a time, sliding off the bed and that was it I was stood up.
My feet felt like sponges, but I made that bad boy short walk to the toilet, with a Zimmer frame! Yes, a Zimmer frame! The hubster took great delight in videoing me walking with the Zimmer frame when he came to visit in the afternoon!
Apparently, morphine is not a good match for me, as I could not keep any food down. So, they gave me anti-sickness tablets too. My mission, to go home on Sunday (two days after my op) was to prove I could keep my food down. I told the nurse I would hold that in till it was seeping out my nose if it meant I could go home!
The long winding road home from the hospital was very interesting as the anti-sickness tablets had worn off and I spent the journey with my head in a Tesco carrier bag.My boys, their girlfriends and my parents were there to greet me when I got home with cakes, chocolates, and flowers. So nice to see them, I did have to explain that I’d let my wooziness wear off before I tried their home-made cakes.
Moving on, my six-week recovery at home went well, even if I was stubborn and independent, I even made it into work for a day on crutches to assess some students, so I did not let them down and have to move their assessment day! My hubster confiscated my laptop from me for the first week so I could rest, but my sweet cheesy smile made him give in and by Friday & I had my laptop back in my hands again. He stayed home with me for the first week and then I was left to my own devices after that, where I worked out how to make a cuppa and get it to the living room without spilling it, and my eldest son would walk in the room and if I were out of my chair, he would sternly ask me ‘what are you doing?’ Haha.
After about 5 weeks, I had a hair brain idea that we should all go on a family day out to Dartmoor Zoo. I managed to walk round the entire zoo on crutches! I was not going to let my op prevent me from getting back to normal life. We also moved business premises, well my hubster did, and I ‘supervised’ from my crutches.
I also made a blend in a roller bottle of mandarin, neroli and frankincense mixed with sweet almond and wheatgerm oil to help with healing my scar. Pretty impressed with how neat my scar actually is. My war wound 😊
Anyway, out of this negative time of my life, there were plenty of positives! The hospital staff were amazing. Big thanks to all the staff and the NHS service, we are so lucky.
But my biggest positive, was that having 6 weeks out of work gave me the time to finish writing my first book ‘The Essential Oils Guide’ and publishing it on Amazon.
Its now February 2021, and I am now awaiting another hip operation, left hip this time, but due to the pandemic, there is going to be a longer wait, but I am also working on my 2nd book which I hope to finish in the next few months. I truly will be the bionic woman then, with hips made of steel! Well titanium anyway.
For those suffering from Arthritis, do not give up, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and keep pushing for medical attention if you feel you need it. Do not fear the operation, even though I have given my account, joking aside, and in all honesty, it is not as bad as it seems. I am now waiting my second op and actually feel quite calm in knowing what to expect, and I think it was worse the first time as I did not know what to expect and each part seemed scarier than it actually was. Get to know the signs your body is giving you, if you feel energised then get active, if you feel pain, then rest! Not all meds are good for everyone with the side effects they can give, so get the doctor to help find the ones best for you. Use alternative therapies to help, like aromatherapy, and supplements, but as a qualified therapist I must tell you not to replace that of medical advice for complementary therapies, the clue is in the name, these therapies should be complementary to you, your life, and your condition. Until my left side started deteriorating, my mobility improved so much, I lost over a stone in weight and that helped too, as it was less pressure on those poor hips. I could walk a lot further and up hills too! I cannot wait to have my second op out the way so I can start to enjoy the little things in life again without the pain. Be kind to yourself and know your limits! I have so many adventures to plan with my hubster, as well as with my boysies (as I call them) and their girlfriends!
There are plenty of aromatherapy oils to help with arthritis, joint pain, pain management and your mental state too, here are just a few:
Black Pepper – Strengthens the mind and the nerves, helps with muscular aches and pains, as well as tired & stiff limbs.
Clove – Uplifts you when you feel weak and lethargic. Pain relieving
Coriander – Warming and good for muscle spasms. Helps with fatigue, tension and uplifting the spirits.
Juniper – Strengthens the nerves and helps in challenging situations. Helps with uric acid build up and helps to strengthen the limbs. Helpful for painful, stiff muscles and joints.
Pine – Helps when feeling weak, fatigued, or if you have mental debility, as well as good for circulation, and in relieving pain & muscle stiffness.
Always check the oils are suitable for you before use and always follow the safe procedures when using them. Also, remember, not all oils work for everyone, so sometimes it is a case of finding the right blend that works for you! One size does not fit all, and that is the beauty of these oils.
Thank you for reading, and to find out more about me, please go to my website – www.karenashtonauthor.co.uk
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Hope to see you soon 😊
P.S. You can listen to this story and others on my Podcast series – www.karenashtonauthor.co.uk/podcast