I’ve had my first day back at work after my long Christmas holidays and, I can tell you, it was hard work. Not that I had a great number of patients to see (because I’d allowed myself time to catch up on admin to get myself prepared for the weeks ahead), but the need to be ‘on’ for a full day completely took it out of me. I worried that I wouldn’t have the energy to complete my 20 minutes of meditation (see here for my #MeditationChallenge). I’m pleased to say I did manage it, but then I was straight to bed as soon as the kids were safely tucked up in theirs.
Christmas has really taken it out of me – it has been so lovely seeing my sister and her family (and I dread them heading back to Australia later this week) but catching up often involves late nights and late nights + MS = not a good combination! On the plus side, our kitchen is finally done and I loooove it! It is worth all the upheaval we had before Christmas, as it is now organised so much more effectively for me – I’m doing less walking around and we finally have a place for everything. I’m hoping that the new kitchen can be a hub where I am proud to invite others to sit around, enjoying a nice meal or drink – so I can still have a social life but in the comfort of my own home when I feel like I have the energy!
Because I had a good couple of weeks off work, I also used the time for a bit of pampering. My Mum, sister, daughter and I had a ‘girls’ day’, where we did each other’s nails and then enjoyed afternoon tea at a local hotel (my 7 year old was in heaven! And they did a vegan one for me). I tried a sheet mask for the first time (helllooo Michael Myers – hop over to my Instagram if you want to have a laugh) and had my hair done.
Now, this is just a random musing, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about since last Friday when I went for my hair appointment: just how much I appreciate and look forward to taking the time out to get my hair done. That sounds a bit decadent, and even perhaps ‘airheaded’ of me, but it isn’t just because my pesky greys are dealt with that I really love my appointments, it is so much more than that.
As someone living with a progressive chronic illness, it takes a lot of energy and effort to leave the house; just having a shower takes it out of me, let alone having to organise my scooter to leave the house and then go to the bank machine to make sure I have money (don’t get me started on why they don’t accept card payments). But that two hour appointment, once every six weeks, is something that is so precious to me. It is the chance to:
- Feel ‘normal’ for two hours – I’m out of the house and doing things that ‘normal women’ do
- Treat myself to someone else washing and drying my hair for me – it sounds like a little thing, but I have arms that don’t always work well, so sitting and relaxing whilst someone does all the hard work feels so decadent
- Have a good chinwag with my next-door neighbour – because she happens to be my hairdresser! It’s difficult for me to do the typical ‘conversation over the garden fence’ thing, because I can’t stand outside for long periods of time, so this is the next best thing
- Make me feel pretty – this is a big thing for me. I really feel like there’s a direct correlation between how much my MS progresses and how much my body confidence I have i.e it gets lower all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of what my body can still do, but the fact is that I can’t get it to look exactly how I’d like it to look. This is because of a lack of ability to exercise in the way that I would like to (long gone are the Body Combat and Body Pump classes that I used to do) and a lack of energy, and perhaps motivation, to continue with the ‘upkeep’ that I used to do. When I come out of the hairdresser, I have swingy, shiny hair, with no evidence of greys. It’s like a magic wand has been waved and I’m back to the ‘old Jen’ who feels confident about herself.
It is not always easy to get the hairdresser; where I live there are narrow pavements and little steps up into shops, which makes it so hard for people with mobility disabilities. The past couple times, I’ve had real problems with my scooter suddenly stopping on my way there, which makes me reluctant to use it. However, I’ve decided that, next time I go, I’ll just drive my car and park it on a double yellow (using my disability blue badge) so that I don’t have to worry about whether I’m actually going to get there or not.
Anyway, having the time over Christmas to do the ‘little things’ like my nails and sheet mask and hair has made me realise just how important these things are to me; a little bit of luxury that helps me to forget about my MS just for a small amount of time. If that makes me vain so be it!
Is there anything that you do, that helps you feel like the ‘old you’ before chronic illness reared its ugly head? I should add that there’s lots of things I can do to help forget about my MS (date nights with my husband, having drinks with old friends and having fun times with my kids, for example) but, going to the hairdresser and other little beauty treats are the things that I do purely for me. I would love to hear if you do anything similar. Here’s to 2018 and more beauty treatments!