Ok Universe, I heard you!
I'm on the border, literally, of Western Australia and South Australia, on the infamous Nullarbor Highway. I can see the quarantine state line from the front door (and yes, they will check your esky), not that I look out the front door all that often. I work six days per week and spend my workday entirely in the kitchen. After work I go for a walk or hang by the pool if it's a nice day, or retreat into welcome solitude in my cosy little room if it's not. Though admittedly, to my delight we have clear blue skies quite often.
On my first day off, I drove to the beach at Eucla 12 km away, because if I'm going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, at least there's a beach! After the insular environment of my work week it feels strange and unfamiliar to get behind the wheel and drive on the highway. The beach is beautifully rugged and stunning but I've been advised not to swim unless I want to get eaten by a Great White Shark. I am grateful there is a beach at all, swimming or not. I made the mistake of looking up the local weather here in wintertime. It looks pretty grim. Very cold and windy. Not exactly beach weather. So I started looking around for other roadhouse jobs, thinking, 'I haven't lost my license just yet, so what's the harm in looking around?'. Maybe I'll find a place with warmer weather. And I did, a couple of places actually, mainly in the very centre of the country very very far from the beach.
But then, I realised how much I've loved working in the kitchen. Not only that, I have the same shift everyday, 5:30am to 1:30pm. Routine is great, especially since I usually have trouble with sleep. I don't normally like getting up before 7 but it's easy now that I'm used to it. I'm cooking breakfasts, which I love, and when it's not busy I can make cakes and get creative with salads. I feel at home in the kitchen and it's never stressful. If I left here just because of the weather, I might get stuck being an allrounder or a housekeeper which are likely to be painfully boring or else physically demanding jobs. And if I can count on past experience, I know that the grass is never greener on the other side.
Just as I was coming to the realisation that I'd better just be smart and stay put, while I'm doing a job that I enjoy, I started to develop some pretty serious pain in my wrists, and this is not the first time I've had issues with my scrawny weak wrists. 'Oh no. No no no no no no no!!! This can't be happening! I NEED this job! I love this job! Try not to panic. Try not to panic. Try not to panic. Try not to panic'. Ahh Universe, here you are again showing me the way. Aren't you clever? Turning this around to make me realise how I much I actually want to be here =) It's amazing how perceptive can shift with gratitude...
So I've potentially damaged my wrists to prove that I'm a hard worker and valuable employee, and then decided I might try to find something else? Pfffft, ok Universe, I get it! I'm grateful for this job! It is, in fact, the answer to my prayers that I've been wishing for; for over six months, I've been trying to find a away to avoid bankruptcy and actually have a life that I enjoy without enslavement to bank balance prison. And finally a dear friend of mine gave me the idea to work in a roadhouse where I'd have no bills and nowhere to spend my money and I could pay off my debt in one year instead of six. No more bank stealing my life. Hallelujah!
I decided right away that I would not let this physical setback become a problem. And if it did become I problem, I know that every problem has a solution. At first, I instinctively wanted to try to hide my pain from the manager, afraid she might let me go, thinking that I couldn't do my job. But I'm here to evolve aren't I? I need to start taking control of my life with meaningful action, rather than letting life happen to me and then complaining that I'm not happy because of my limitations. Side note: I suspect the pain had been a result of me madly cleaning every surface and hidden crevice of the kitchen until I could see my reflection (and oh my, did this place need to be cleaned! It seems that it's quite common in these rural roadhouses for chefs to do a runner in the middle of the night and leave the the rest of the staff hanging. So they haven't had a steady chef who gave a damn for a few months. The chef that was here when I started, left on my fourth day - I tried not to take it personally). Of course, I did end up telling the manager (my step-mom taught me "honesty is the best policy") and she got a little worried that she might need to replace me, but I told her, “don't you worry about a thing, I'm a healer, that's what I do, and I'm gonna fix this”. She laughed, like, “yeah right, ok... let's see”.
I looked up some stretches and exercises for wrist RSI and started changing the way I did certain things in the kitchen (took a break from the mad cleaning), and rested my arm in a sling after work. I also did lots of daily massage to the forearm and worked the tissues in and around the wrists and hands to break up the fascia. Luckily and conveniently the pain was mainly in my non-dominant hand and I was able to do this without damaging the other wrist. After two days I'd seen minor improvement, and did some more research. From what I gather, RSI is largely misunderstood as inflammation, but it's actually a tightening of the connective tissues and tendons. They become restricted and rub together, causing pain and when they don't have enough time to rest, they continue to get tighter and more painful. So if it's not inflammation, my turmeric tablets and ice water soaks aren't going to help...hmmm... what do bones and joints need? Collagen - Lightbulb moment! I need bone broth stat! I asked the manager if we had any soup bones and she replied, “we have trotters”. OMG pig foot soup my favourite – NOT. Dear lord! Luckily upon searching the freezer room I found some chicken frames. Much much muuuuch better I think. I started drinking the broth that night and by morning noticed a slight improvement. I had two more cups that day, and everyday since. The pain began on Sunday, the broth began on Tuesday, and by Friday I was back to normal functioning pain free wrists. It's a miracle! I am so overjoyed by this experience. Food IS medicine!
I suspect that being vegan for six years has compromised the health of my joints. I also have gout and the telltale signs of arthritis are beginning to manifest in my 32 year old body. I've ordered some high quality collagen supplements online and will continue drinking the broth and doing the wrist and elbow strengthening exercises. It's so easy to stop doing these things once you've healed, like I did when I initially had RSI at age 21. But I know that getting older means you don't bounce back the way you used to when you were young. Prevention is the best medicine. I just love how life keeps coming to back to yoga; routine, discipline, willpower, PMA (positive mental attitude), proaction vs. reaction.
Recipe for bone broth:
Place ½-1kg bones in a large soup pot and cover to the top with water. Bring to the boil and scoop off any scum or bubbles that form on the top. Reduce heat, and let simmer for three or four hours, topping up water if needed, and strain the bones and particles from the liquid. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for two weeks. I recommend using free range organic if you can, because factory farmed, not only is horrendous for the animals and environment, but is full of antibiotics and added hormones. If you do use factory farmed, skim the fat as this is where all the nasty stuff resides. Otherwise drink the fat because it's good for you! Or save it to use for cooking with. I drink a cup of broth in the morning after a glass of water and before I eat anything or drink coffee. I find it great for digestion this way, and it really gets things moving ;-) If you find the flavour too strong for morning, water it down, or drink any other time of day as you like.
Variations: try adding herbs, spices or veggies for more flavour, my personal favourite is lemongrass for a Thai twist.