Archive for the The Blogs By Ricky Category

Sunday’s Small Bite: Musical Chairs By Ricky

Posted in The Blogs By Ricky, Week 09: Social Outings on February 4, 2012 by Cookie Has A.S.

Once in a while I take a 150 mile / 3 hour trip up the motorway to my home town to see my family and friends. This is generally pretty exhausting work as I ferry from one household to the next, being fed biscuits and drinking tea at every stop. It’s a hard life I know!

This time was slightly different, given two reasons. Firstly it was the first time our new addition to the family had visited my home town. So in the most part everyone came to us and formed a somewhat disorderly queue, in which they proceeded to pinch my son’s chubby cheeks, and played baby pass the parcel as they each took turns to have a “cuddle”. After the novelty had wore off everyone proceeded with the main reason we had a family get together, and that was to celebrate my parents 30th wedding anniversary.

With all the family together the chatter started to get louder, the arguments got fuelled, and the young children caused mayhem. In short it quickly became a routine family get together.

Lately my Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) hasn’t been playing nice, so the 3 hour drive didn’t make it too much happier. Having a good sit down was certainly needed. Despite the abundance of chairs at my parents house, with a family as large as mine they soon get taken up. After the buffet the musical chairs began. Here lay my conundrum, who would take the last chair? The young pained AS family member, or the pension aged osteoarthritis family member? Tough call.

What would you do? Flip a coin? Who gets the chair? Would politeness take over so you offer it away? Or would you agree on some time share option?

What would you do?


Sleep? What’s That Then? By Ricky

Posted in The Blogs By Ricky, Week 07: Sleep on August 22, 2011 by Cookie Has A.S.

Everyone at some point experiences sleepless nights. Whether it be stress from work, crying babies at 3am, or that cough/cold that just won’t let up. This is all part and parcel of being a grown up, is it not? However; true insomnia is a different ‘kettle of fish’. Depending on which stats you believe, anything from 50% – 90% of people suffering with chronic pain say they suffer with sleep problems. Often waking up feeling like they haven’t even slept at all. This is certainly something I have experienced personally.

Fragmented and disturbed sleep interferes with your normal sleep cycle. During a normal nights sleep you go through light sleep, deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. It is this deep sleep and REM sleep that makes you feel rested and refreshed in the morning. This cycle is repeated 3-5 times a night. So it stands to reason that the more of cycles that are disturbed, or the less cycles you complete, the more tired you will feel.

I think it would be fair to say that chronic pain sufferers experience this more than your average person. The obvious factors for this such as acute pain flares, chronic pain and discomfort, muscle spasms, neuropathy / nerve pain all make it near impossible to to drop off to sleep at times and increases the likelihood the the suffer may wake up once asleep. Other factors such as medications and associated health problems only compound this problem more. Of course tiredness can have the obvious effects on mood, concentration and motor abilities. Prolonged sleeplessness however, can also make pain worse. Adding to the daily challenges of chronic pain sufferers. People who have chronic pain usually suffer with chronic fatigue. In the case of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) its the repetitive inflammatory processes that happen that contribute to this. A lack of restful sleep only increases the level of fatigue in which chronic pain sufferers experience. Yet another one of the vicious cycles which seem to be prevalent in AS and all arthritic conditions.

There are many documented management strategy’s for insomnia. Just ‘google’ it and you will soon see. But I’d like to here from you. What are your experiences? How do you manage it? Medication? Exercise? Or do you have some secret technique you’d be willing to share? For those of us that experience this we know the negative side of insomnia. So I’m inviting you to share any positive experiences you may have had, and any advice you may have for people that may be experiencing this for the first time.

Hope – Just a dream? or achievable? By Ricky

Posted in The Blogs By Ricky, Week 04: Hope on August 1, 2011 by Cookie Has A.S.

Living with a chronic illness can be both mentally and physical debilitating. This we all know, and live daily. Hope is the one thing that keeps us going, especially through the tough and difficult times. Nothing in life is simple, with chronic illness not just becoming a health problem, but impacting on work, family, and our social lives. It’s no wonder why hope is the one thing that keeps us sane. As I am one of those rather irritating people that is analytical and scrupulous, I have come to wonder what hope is? Is hope just something we desire? Or is it something we can achieve? Well I have decided to break down what hope means to me:

H – Happiness

This is probably obvious, but whether we do/do not have our condition/s, all any of us want is to be happy? It would be rather inhuman to want to be unhappy after-all, no? For some of us the only way we can ever be happy is when we are not suffering. As Ankylosing Spondylitis (A.S) is not curable, I know with a confident degree of certainty that I will always suffer in some shape or form. If this was how I truly felt then hope would never be achievable for me, it would just be a dream/ideology. Thankfully I don’t fall into this group. As I write this, as much as I hurt, as down as I can get, I still am happy despite my A.S.

O – Opportunity

What is life, but one big series of opportunities? If we are ever going to achieve what we hope for (whatever it may be), we need the opportunity to do so. Some opportunities we can make for ourselves, some we can’t. For instance you can’t start a new drug treatment if you don’t visit the doctor, can you?

P – Positivity

This word I feel encompasses what hope is the most. Being positive, even if you have every reason not to be. Nothing worth having is achieved through negativity. If you have ever wondered how powerful positivity can be, then if you haven’t already done so check out my archived PMA article (once you have finished reading this one of course).

E – Expectation

Expectation is “the act or state of looking forward or anticipating”. To me expectation is a basic form of hope. Like hope, expectations can be realistic or unrealistic, achievable or unachievable, and in essence they both mean “what we want”.

So if we take a Positive Expectation that is going to make us Happier, which we can achieve through the Opportunities we have, what do we get? P.E.H.O!!! Which can also mean H.O.P.E.  ;o)

Is hope just a dream? Is it heck!!

Go make it happen!

Regret By Ricky

Posted in The Blogs By Ricky, Week 03: Regret on July 25, 2011 by Cookie Has A.S.

This is my weekly Masquerade of Words blog topic.

This is a topic that has been particularly difficult for me to write on. Thankfully it isn’t because I have lots to regret, in fact it’s the complete opposite. Living with a chronic illness can often make it very easy to regret. The things that we haven’t done are the easiest things to regret. Especially as with the nature of chronic illness, the things we haven’t yet done turn into the things that we cannot no longer do. So looking back and thinking “why didn’t I do that when I had the chance?” can be understandable right? But then you didn’t know you was going to get ill did you? So you can’t blame yourself for it can you?

Other things we can regret are the things we did, but probably shouldn’t have. Especially the kind of things that make your pain / symptoms worse. Like that round of golf you played when you knew you shouldn’t have. Or that river in the welsh hills that you threw yourself down (hitting every rock on the way) when you went canyoning on a stag do. These are the kind of things which you can look back at and regret. I don’t though. These experiences don’t happen every week, so why not enjoy them? Yes you may feel worse than you would have after, but it’s a balancing game between comfort, and quality of life is it not?

Regret can stop us from doing these things that make life an experience, not a chore. Regret can make you think “what if”. I can’t change what’s happened already, the past is the past. Thinking about it, I don’t think I’d want to either. If things were different in the past I wouldn’t be where I am now, which is a good place. Happily Married, and soon to celebrate our first anniversary. We are also expecting our first child (a boy)!! Now what’s more exciting, or makes you happier than that? Without what I have or haven’t done in the past, then I wouldn’t be here. I struggle daily with my pain /symptoms, but right now the positives in my life outweigh the negatives. I wouldn’t dare ask for any more.

For me personally, regret isn’t something I waste too much time with. Life is a roller coaster of highs and lows, so enjoy the ride, and don’t look down ;). I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from a much cleverer man than me:

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell.

How Do You Plee? Guilty Or Not Guilty? By Ricky

Posted in The Blogs By Ricky, Week 02: Guilt on July 18, 2011 by Cookie Has A.S.

For the 1 in 200 men, and the 1 in 500 women that suffer with Ankylosing Spondylitis(AS) in the UK, guilt is something that plagues us as much as pain does at times. Take my day for instance, guilt, self pity and loathing was the common theme throughout. For the sake of this post lets just stick to the guilt, don’t want to spoil you too much.

To start off I am going through a rough time at the moment, which unfortunately has meant I haven’t been to work all week. Now I’m not claiming I enjoy my work so much that I wish I was there, but nor do I hate my work and glad I wasn’t. I work with a small team of people, so when I’m not there the extra workload for my colleagues is greater. I hate this! We often talk about AS being an invisible illness, and how people sometimes don’t understand that yes we are ill even though we don’t look it. For me this works both ways. The days I can’t walk as my pain stops me from weight baring, there is no guilt. However on the days like today, when I can walk, I can carry out “normal” day to day functions there is most definitely guilt. Deep down I know I couldn’t fulfil my work responsibilities safely, but the combination of my need to be in control, stubbornness and caring nature just accumulate to amplify my guilt.

Now reading that you may say I am justified for feeling guilty, or you my be of the opinion that I shouldn’t feel guilty as it’s something out my immediate control. Whichever your view, does guilt always have to be substantiated? Is it not part of human nature to be this way. Guilt is part of our complex system of emotions that make us unique. I’m sure you’ll tell me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t each one of our emotions serve the biological function of self preservation? Emotions like anger, fear, love and contempt are pretty straight forward in there role in self preservation. But what of guilt? What function does this fulfil? Apart from making us feel pretty shitty, and increasing our already elevated stress levels.

There are several other things that made me feel guilty today. Although, as open as I am they are too personal to share. What I will say is, isn’t it amazing how several little feelings of guilt add up to more than the sum of their parts? Or is that just something I experience?

So can guilt be turned into a positive? I’m intrigued to know your thoughts.

Ricky White

Posted in Meet The MOWer's, The Blogs By Ricky on June 21, 2011 by Cookie Has A.S.

I hope you enjoy my posts, and if you learn something in the process that’s always a nice bonus.

In the beginning of 2007 I began to suffer with back pain and Sacroiliac Joint pain. This is often treatable and curable. However occasionally this is not always the case and just the start of something more serious. Unfortunately the latter was true for me, and in April 2010 I was finally diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). This is a type of Inflammatory Arthritis which is a chronic and life changing condition. Like most sufferers I often battle through the day trying to manage my pain and symptoms.

Ankylosing Spondylitis like all chronic conditions becomes your life, but this doesn’t mean you life has to become your condition. This blog is a way of not only spreading awareness of the condition, but as a way of showing the world (and myself) the lengths we go to to manage our condition, and how we can enjoy doing so in the process.