Mount Maunganui
Mount Maunganui, NZ

I said this last January:

“This year my attention will be on getting my body back into some sort of conditioning – it won’t be about the numbers on the scale, more about how my clothes fit. And I’d like them to fit… I’m down to a four outfit rotation.

I don’t usually go in for ‘one-word mantras’ for years. There are so many wonderful words in our language, why limit ourselves to just one? However, in 2016, I feel like it might be a good idea. That word is FIGHT. For health, opportunity, better choices, other people and loved ones.

There are other things to add here. I want to read better. By that I mean instead of taking a book to bed to read and falling asleep less than five minutes later, therefore defeating the purpose, I can sit up and read on the couch under the lovely bronze arc floor lamp we bought on sale last week. This will (hopefully!) keep me more alert.”

Enough time has passed to go into a few more specifics I wasn’t then comfortable talking about.

I was on medication for recurrent tooth and jaw pain. The origin of this pain was uncertain and I opted to have an MRI to rule out nastier causes like trigeminal neuralgia. This – thankfully – came back clear, which meant we were back to the conclusion it was most probably being caused by TMJ/fibromyalgia. I don’t like taking medication, so the fact that I tried both Lyrica and Endep will point to how desperate I was starting to feel.

These drugs have an array of potentially difficult side effects. This doesn’t mean that everyone will experience them. Call me unlucky, I guess, but I did: Lyrica caused weight gain and terrible migraines; the Endep helped briefly, but the brain fog and dry mouth soon kicked in. As did more weight. I was supposed to take all my rings off for the MRI, but my wedding ring was too tight. I only just got off my engagement ring, and it’s remained off for the past year because I can’t twist it back over my knuckle. They’re all going to need resizing.

Oh yeah, and the jaw started hurting again anyway.

By the time we were preparing to visit New Zealand, I’d had enough. I decided to go cold turkey and leave the medication here in Australia. If my jaw improved while we were on holiday then that would be pretty conclusive evidence showing that the pain was partially, if not mostly, stress-induced.

And lo! It was much better upon return. It’s remained stable. There are good days and bad. I studied trigger point charts online. Now I know where I need to massage my neck when the pain starts and that’s helped a lot.

So, while writing that post last January, I was in the middle of the mess. My year theme for ‘FIGHT’ was to remind myself that I wanted to get better, to take care of myself because even though I am in the care of well-intentioned medical providers, the best they’d been able to do was prescribe things that weren’t working.

Exercise helps, too. This is why I’ve found wearing my FitBit again so beneficial. I might not get 10K steps per day every day, but seeing the band strapped to my wrist is a visual reminder that I really should try.

Skin check reminder! Panadol on standby for them the anaesthetic wears off.
Site of BCC

Also, to bookend the year, I had a basal cell carcinoma removed at the start and had a suspect breast lump biopsied last month (it wasn’t bad). To sum up: I don’t think I’ve appreciated the health I do enjoy more than I am right now. Also – please wear sunscreen. Last week I drove to a hospital and got naked, stood in front of a camera and made robotic poses so all of my remaining moles could be photographed for future comparison. It wasn’t very pleasant.


Moving on, did I read better? No. And this saddens me. For example, if you read my last post, you might’ve noticed that I didn’t include a favourite poem. I was writing a lot of poetry last year, and I tend not to read and write in the same medium at the same time. Still, that excuse does feel a little light.

‘FIGHT’ helped me through some work difficulties. It also negated some self-doubt which crept in when I was about to launch my crowdfunding campaign. It might not be my main word for the year, but I’ll keep it tucked away in a handy place. As I said last week, I think my word for this year will be ‘APPLICATION’. Personally speaking, that will manifest mostly in trying to tick off Living List goals and I’m going to be circling back with more intent to those 1001 books and movies challenges. They’ve fallen away in attention in recent years, but I still think about them.

We will be doing another international trip. (Yippee!) Where? Okay, a tiny clue: to a place that’s on the Living List. Otherwise, we’ll be sticking close to home. It’s going to be busy.


What are your personal or travel goals for the year?

karen andrews

Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity