The power of plants 🌿

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Ivy Photo by Nick

This week I’m discovering why my favourite indoor plants can improve the quality of air I breathe indoors.

With improved insulation materials making our homes more energy efficient. The gases from synthetic materials and other pollutants are sealed inside our house with us.

Indoor air pollution is a major problem; as we spend a large proportion of our time indoors. Particularly those of us who suffer from illnesses like fibromyalgia.

The likelihood of developing air pollutant related illness can increase. Statistics show there has been an increase in the cases of allergies, asthma, chemical hypersensitivity and cancer due to this.

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It was NASA researchers, during the 80s who discovered that plants can purify and refresh the air in sealed compartments. During their research into life support systems for missions into space. Their findings provided the evidence that plants removed volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in a series of tests.

By introducing plants into the home the air quality is refreshed; plants act as natural air purifiers. Being in amongst nature or bringing it indoors has the added benefit of reducing stress levels.

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If you work mostly indoors or in an office; buying some plants and keeping them in your environment can, in the long term improve mental and physical health.

Some of the best plants to choose are those that have a high transpiration rate; meaning they carry a larger amount of water from the roots to the leaves. They are more efficient at improving our indoor air quality.

I have chosen some easy to grow varieties for beginners:

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Peace Lily Photo by Nick

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)

One of my favourites is peace lily, it’s a foliage plant and it looks attractive with it’s white flowers (spathes).

Peace lily requires semi-shade but not direct sunlight.

It’s easy to grow and look after; although not a good choice if you have pets or young children as it is extremely toxic.

Feeding is required in summer and remove dead leaves and flowers to promote new growth.

Water in summer keeping the compost moist and less watering required in winter. Misting the leaves occasionally will help to improve humidity. Keep out of cold draughts.

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Spider Plant Photo by Nick

Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

A spider plant is easy and quick to grow and look after.

It prefers a partially sunny and shady spot, and it’s ok with dry air.

Water regularly letting the soil dry before rewatering again.

In winter less watering is required and feeding with house plant food in the summer.  Occasional misting in summer if it’s very hot. Dead leaves and unwanted runners can be pruned.

The spider plant produces runners on which mini plants form; these are great for propagating into new plants.

Wait until they have grown to a reasonable size and then cut off the runner. Plant on in a small pot with compost.

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Common Ivy Photo by Nick

Common Ivy (Hedera helix)

Ivy looks very attractive with its trailing foliage.  Many ivy varieties exist; including variegated versions.

Ivy is a climbing plant with aerial roots which can be trained to grow on trellis and other structures outdoors as well as indoors.

Ivy is easy to grow and care for plant.

Ivy prefers a shaded site and can be grown in full shade. Keep out of direct sunlight in summer.

Water regularly keeping compost moist and feed in summer. Regular misting in winter and summer in hot dry conditions indoors.

Dead leaves and unwanted growth can be pruned to keep it looking healthy.

Have I included any of your favourites here?  If you have any suggestions please let me know.

Living an exceptional life with Fibromyalgia

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Following on from a recent post highlighting inspiring people who despite illness and injury, have lived exceptional lives.

I’m focusing on Florence Nightingale mentioned in my page about me I want to explore a bit more about her life and link to fibromyalgia. 

Florence was quoted as saying

“There is no part of my life, upon which I can look back without pain”

Florence was born on May 12, 1820, in Florence, Italy, after which she was named. She was the youngest of two children.

Florence was born into a wealthy family and was expected to get married and have a children. Florence rebelled against this stereotype. She had always helped to care for sick people and started working as a nurse.

Florence was sent to nurse injured soldiers during the Crimean War. She proved to be a very dedicated nurse; visiting the injured every evening on a regular basis which started the phrase ‘the Lady with the Lamp’.

Because of her influence in nursing practices unsanitary areas were improved which increased the survival rate of patients.

Florence wrote about her nursing techniques from experience, which formed the basics for standards in nursing care adopted for the profession.

During 1860 St Thomas’ Hospital and the Nightingale School for Nursing was opened.

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Florence and fibromyalgia

Florence suffered from an invisible illness after she returned from nursing solders in the Crimea War.

Her symptoms are reminiscent of fibromyalgia; which was not a recognised condition at the time. Florence spent prolonged periods in bed, due to her illness. This was probably triggered by excessive stress carrying out her duties nursing in terrible conditions.

In recent years soldiers from the Gulf  War have gone on to develop fibromyalgia after they returned from war. The unbearable stress they were exposed to at that time triggering fibromyalgia.

Florence died on August 13, 1910; she received the Order of Merit in 1907 for her contribution to modern nursing practices. Florence was an amazing woman who cared for others and put others health before her own.

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Easter 🐥 Greetings

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Magnolia Photo by Nick

In this Easter week I wish you peace, happiness and relaxation.

I thought I would post some photos from my walks in parks nearby.  Everything seems to be coming alive at this time of year.

The flowers and trees look so beautiful, it would be great to share them.

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White Narcissi Photo by Nick
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Park Photo by Nick
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Bluebells Photo by Nick
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Genista Photo by Nick

I’ve added a short poem based on the seasons of the apple tree.

 

Apple Tree Seasons 

 

In Spring, pink apple blossom grow delicate buds

New life springs forth

 

In Summer, fully grown blooms take shape as apples

Warm,strong sunlight help them form

 

In Autumn, rosy red, sweet tasting apples

Ready to pick from the tree

 

In Winter, a bare tree stands out amongst

White snow, goodness going back to the roots

Poem by Nick

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Keeping Active with Fibromyalgia

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Now that Spring is here and we are beginning to have lighter evenings. It’s a good time to consider reviewing your fitness and exercise regime if you have one.

After I was was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2004, I found that exercise helped me a lot as I struggled to find things I could do. When you have Fibromyalgia it is a daunting prospect, keeping fit. Particularly starting out for the first time, with a new exercise.

It’s really important to keep as healthy as possible, as your level of stamina fluctuates so much.

I have made a list of everything that has helped me that you could try.

Walking

I found walking to be the most accessible and best for my circumstances.  Walking can help to boost your energy levels and enjoy nature.

If you suffer from low mood, walking on a regular basis is a good non medical therapy, to help feel more positive.

If you are on a low-income, it’s no problem to try out as there is no sign up charges.

If you are new to walking it is best to start with 5 to 10 minutes at first and gradually increase this as your body gets used to the exercise.

You will need to try out a pattern that suits you.

When you first start you may need to get some comfortable shoes and wrap up well with thermal layers on cold days.

Have a look at my post on walking  for more tips.

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Hydrotherapy

I found gentle exercise in a warm water pool can help. The water supports your body and has less impact on muscles and joints.

Research has shown that lying in warm water helps the body to relax and lowers pain perception.

A therapist that specialises in hydrotherapy or a qualified physiotherapist that has a good understanding of fibromyalgia, can help you to work out some exercises.

Your local sports centre or gym may have these facilities and let you have a couple of trial sessions.

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Pilates

Pilates strengthens the body as a whole, the main aim is to improve core strength. Regular sessions can help to reduce the risk of injury by increasing flexibility.

I  developed my own tailored exercise routine, by trying out different exercises, from visits to a physiotherapy practitioner.

If you go for physio ask the practitioner for advice and help about what exercises are best for you.

I practice these regularly once a day, for about ten minutes in total. Although, I had to work up to doing this amount gradually at first.

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Sitting Exercises

If you have limited mobility, sitting exercises could be a better option than other ways of exercise.

The NHS website has sitting exercises along with flexibility exercises that might be worth trying.

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The NHS live well  website has a lot of really useful tips to get you active.

I hope this short post has given you some new ideas on exercise for Fibromyalgia. My goal is as always to help others with Fibromyalgia and similar invisible illness.

I’m interested in hearing from any fellow sufferers of Fibromyalgia, particularly if you would like to share your experiences on my blog.

Inspiring people with illnesses and injuries

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In Britain we need to hear about an inspiring leader, at the moment, who despite personal injuries and constant illness overcame these and became a national hero.

I have fibromyalgia. What gets me through bad pain days?

After reading a Facebook post, asking fibromyalgia sufferers to swap ideas about what helps on bad pain days.

I immediately thought… chocolate. 

Then I thought…

Banish the bad if possible, like excessive stress.

My symptoms get worse on stressful days, as most people do when under pressure.

An invisible illness like fibromyalgia can mean it’s difficult to explain how we are feeling to others; especially people close to us.

It’s not like having a cold or broken leg, which over time recover. The pain and other symptoms are always there in some guise and will never go.

Its good to remind myself occasionally of the good things l can enjoy.

Perhaps making a list…

1 Chocolate!

2 Reading a gripping book

3 Writing a post

4 Chatting to friends 

5 Watching a good film

6 Walking

7 Inspiring people…..

Thinking more about this got me imagining what it might of been like for someone many years ago, who fell ill or was injured. Perhaps a famous person in history who has shown great courage and achievements, despite suffering from numerous illnesses, debilitating wounds and depression.

Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson; a British Navy admiral, may not immediately come to mind.

Nelson is a celebrated hero in Britain for his great victories in the Napoleonic Wars and at the Battle of Trafalgar.

He was born on 29 September, 1758 at Burnham Thorpe in Norfolk. Accounts of him from the time describe a slightly built, sensitive child. Perhaps not obviously someone who would become a great courageous hero. Although early biographies describe Nelson as a brave and honourable boy. His mother died when he was just 9 which upset him for years to come. He joined the navy at the age of 12.

In his lifetime Nelson contracted malaria and survived. He was hit by musket ball distroying his arm and had it amputated. Nelson was reportedly giving orders again, after half an hour of the amputation. In 1798, Nelson lost his sight in one eye during the Battle of the Nile.

Sailing on his most famous ship called Victory, in 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar. Nelson invented a new strategy for steering his fleet of ships. The Spanish and French fleets were trying to invade Britain. The British fleet won the Battle with Nelsons leadership but Nelson was hit by a musket ball and fatally injured. He died after hearing that his fleet had won the battle. A state funeral took place at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on January 9th, 1806.

A memorial to Nelson, named Nelsons Column stands to this day in London in the middle of Trafalgar Square.

Its inspiring to read about Nelson and visualise living on board ship back then. I visited the Nelson Museum  in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk and discovered more about him and the illnesses and injuries Nelson suffered. The most incredible thing, I thought was his heroic achievements in spite of these. 

How did he do it? 

He fought and won battles; showed incredible courage and determination to succeed. Throughout all this he described himself in a selfless way, writing in a letter;

‘I got a little hurt this morning’. Nelson had been hit in the face when a shell exploded and was blinded in the right eye.

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