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President’s Monthly Musings – August 2022 – Quality of Life

We are currently on a weeks break in Evans Head In Northern NSW, one of our favourite places to bring our caravan, and we all need to find a place, could be next door or down the street, to give us a break, even if only for 15 minutes.  The campsite we use  has everything we need and is right next to the beach and with new roads it is a 2 hour trip from home

It is so important to do what you can to improve physical and mental health and this place is a little slice of heaven so it feels impossible to be miserable here

Patrick my husband has always loved the water, preferably the sea but a river or a lake will do.  He has always been a super active man, serving in the British Army for 9 years, competing in marathons, just a few seconds off cracking the 3 hour marathon back in the day.  Then came his Martial Arts period where he achieved a Black Belt in Jujitsu.  Then to challenge himself further, he took up triathlon competing and then competed in the longest day Iron Man challenge of swimming 2.4 miles, 112 mile bike ride followed by a 26.22 mile run.   Not without drama and the devastation of a fall from his bike which stuck his railing in a high gear for most of the ride.  Damn the rain, but he didn’t give up, upset that he didn’t get the time he wanted, but came in under 13 hours.  Imagine the sheer determination that must have taken

When we arrived in Australia in 2002 he was looking forward to competing in the local Gold Coast triathlon scene….but then he was diagnosed with a stuffed hip….so running was out of the question, so he turned to surfing.  Two hip replacements later and the busyness of life, career and family, surfing stood the test of time.  Any time Patrick can get into the water he is a happy man

And then came a whole load of medical conditions that it seems unfair one person has to carry, psoriatic arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, carpel tunnel in both wrists and bilateral Trigeminal Neuralgia.  Of course diagnosis was difficult due to the complexities of other conditions, and  all through these difficult years, Patrick has found his happy place in the water.  Whether he is in pain or not, he gets up and surfs most week days (weekends are too crowded), and if the surf is bad he joins me on my morning walk up the hill, and has recently discovered wake boarding

I was walking the beach today while he surfed, the expanse of sand practically empty of people, a few gulls and the odd person walking their dog.  I was listening to the sea , waves crashing,  sand sucking, water lapping around my ankles, and I sighed deeply, just letting the moment transport me into happy thoughts

It got me thinking about how our brains fight against us to present us with unhelpful thoughts or remind us of our hard time or our failures.  I have recently been doing some research on Psychology and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to provide training aids for our Support Group Leaders, and that process has shown me the power of positive thought or happy memories.  It is so hard to be positive when you are succumbing to chronic pain every day, but it may be easier to focus on better times or things that make you happy

We sat with a glass of wine yesterday and recounted some of our high spots things we have done, laughed about our silliness and just revelled in remembering those times.  It was fun and took our minds off the pain and things that have to get done.

Recently when I dropped into our sons house (we live on the same property so that can be a daily occurrence), I noticed he had a rotating file of pictures of himself and his family doing fun things – laughing – living accompanied by the music he is into right now.  I said “wow that’s cool I love that”, and he said “yes it reminds me of how far we have come, and the great times we have had, it makes me happy”, “I keep moving onto the next project and don’t take time to just enjoy the past so this makes me appreciate life”.   Thankfully he is in good health – although he laughingly threatens his Dad not to have passed all the bad genes to him

I don’t suffer chronic pain, but as a family it confronts us everyday, I just wish I had a magic wand…..

So the power of music, pictures, memories all have been linked to positive and happy thoughts which help you cope and improve mental health.  Time to bring out the music you love,  print out some happy pictures and put them on the fridge, or get your tech savvy youngsters to set up your digital photos to scroll your TV.  Take time out to remember happy memories and go to places that just make your heart sing

The sound of the ocean – just makes us happy nothing else matters