I think the most unexpected thing about prolonged bedrest is the toll it takes on your mental health. I spend a good 70% of the day on my own, my husband and father in law go to work and my mother in law is busy downstairs. She is an octogenarian with a bad hip and so has her own issues with the stairs and physically can’t be coming up and down very often. So a lot of the early weeks were spent learning how to deal with the sudden loneliness and enforced confinement.
The pain is also intense. My EDS started to effect my hips so quickly that it feels like I blinked and suddenly lost the ability to walk unaided. The pain across my hips and pelvis varies due to a variety of factors; how much I have done through the day, whether or not I’ve been outside to the hospital, if I’ve had to encounter stairs at any point, the heat, how much sleep I managed to get the previous night etc. There is a constant baseline of pain that sometimes spikes to white hot flashes of pain that take my breath away. Constant pain also takes a toll on your mental health, so I’ve had to learn how to deal with this also. It feels like I’m being tortured, but I don’t know what the information is they’re trying to get out of me. Believe me I’d give it up if I could.
Lack of sleep is also a factor. In the beginning I found it hard to get any sleep at all. It got so bad that I started seeing things. Have you ever had those dreams that bleed through into real life? I would lie in bed at night and watch the curtains sword fighting. Or Queen singing Bohemian Rhapsody at me from my ceiling. (I’ve never done drugs, is this what they’re like?) So learning how to sleep through the pain was also a top priority.
Things That Helped:
Technology: Skype is a godsend. Being able to chat and see someone at the same time was invaluable. My mum and I would Skype and I would just lie there trying to cope and would watch my mum cooking. It was soothing and really helped with he loneliness. Whatsapp too, being able to be in contact with friends, at my own speed was so important.
Structure: Long, seemingly endless nights that bled into long seemingly endless days was all set to send me into a full blow existential crisis. I needed structure. This arrived in the form of enforced snacking. I am dealing with Gestational Diabetes with this pregnancy and am finding it very difficult to keep my blood sugar up, so have been having to eat six times a day. This meant I could split my day up in to small chunks. I could create a sort of schedule to help me get through the day. If you’d like to hear more about this let me know because I think I may create an entire post on this.
Preparation: It may seem self evident, but gather everything you might possibly need throughout the day. First thing in the morning. That way as the day goes on and it got more difficult to move I knew I had everything I needed within reach. This includes any medication, books, laptop, phone, water bottle etc
Sustenance: Speaking of water bottles, this is essential, again I may do a whole post on this point but make sure you get a really robust water bottle, and if you’re spending a lot of time lying down like I am a water bottle that can be drunk upside down is a godsend. Also make sure you have some snacks squirrelled away, nuts, trail mixes, small bags of popcorn are all brilliant for this.
Meditations: Ok stop rolling your eyes, I was hesitant too. But I looked into hypnobirthing in preparation for labour and listening to the mediation tracks at night really helped me to finally, FINALLY, fall asleep at night. I’m still only getting a few hours but the difference this has made to my mental health is incredible. Sleep is so important. They also help with any points during the day that I start to feel panicky. Just tuning out and focusing on my breathing for twenty minutes can help bring me back into a better headspace.
Windows: This is an odd one. But my bedroom has net curtains. (Not my choice, personally I’ve never been a fan.) Like full on nailed to the window frame net curtains. This intensified the claustrophobia. Nothing makes you feel more trapped like not being able to see the sky. One day I snapped and pulled them from the window. It was either that or I was going through the window. Now I can spend ages just staring at the trees and watching the birds. It has made such a difference to my headspace.
I hope you found some of these tips helpful. Let me know if you’d like me to expand on anything! Ten weeks and counting…
But I have been on bedrest for just over 10 weeks now. I can’t blog about food when I am not cooking. I have so many ideas for this blog, restaurant reviews, cook book reviews, recipes, ingredient deep dives etc. Basically like every other food blog on the internet.
But right now I am stuck in bed. I go out maybe once a week for hospital appointments, other than that I can’t go down the stairs. So I can’t create for you and I am so sorry.
So for a while this blog may just become me trying to survive the rest of my bedrest. I promise not to whine. (Well, I promise not to whine too much…)
What do you say, want to stick around to see if I come out of this pregnancy with my sanity intact?
I have always prided myself on not being a particularly fussy person. Finishing your food was law in my house when I was growing up, and mum made sure we always ate our vegetables. Seriously, she came up with some pretty nefarious means to convince us that vegetables were the best things on the plate. One of her tricks would be to blend as many vegetables as she could find in the fridge into a tomato sauce and then spoon it over pasta, in the bath later that night she took great delight in listing every single vegetable that was in the pasta sauce we had so delightedly scoffed down and then use it as proof that secretly we liked all of these ingredients we would turn our noses up at. And don’t even get me started on the whole fairy/sprout fiasco. (Definitely a story for another day.)
Gradually though my options for food decreased. After suddenly making the connection between the fluffy animals running around on a farm and the meat on my plate I gave up meat at aged 8, which my mother dutifully took on the chin, at least she knew that this way I would have to eat my vegetables.
Then at 23 I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition that affected my digestive system, and overnight I also had to give up dairy, gluten, alcohol, and caffeine. (At the time I think caffeine was the most devastating, being as I was, halfway through my MA thesis.) This dietary shift happened to be completely in vogue however, and as annoying as I’m sure my parents (and my in-laws) found it, I was lucky enough to start this diet right on the cusp of the wellness revolution. Soon I was smoothie making and spiralizing with the best of them and tofu had never looked so good. My meat loving husband looking wearily on from the sidelines…
Five years later and I had pretty much got this lifestyle down. My Indian in-laws, although constantly confused at my refusal to eat chicken take great delight in preparing 501 different types of daal, and my mother in law in particular finds tofu fascinating. I had got into a good rhythm food wise, and if you’d like to hear more about how to survive on this type of diet let me know and I’ll do a whole post on it very soon.
However, pregnancy thew me another curve ball in the name of Gestational Diabetes. Suddenly fruit and carbohydrates were also off the table. The smoothies I’m addicted to went out of the window. I watched the brown rice pasta I love so much recede into the distance. Still, none of this would be so bad if I was able to prepare my own food, but stuck as I am in my bed, unable to get up I am unable to prepare my own food. My wonderful husband is incredibly nervous when it comes to cooking and my parents-in-law are despairing at the thought of yet more bizarre dietary stipulations, (after meat, carbs are their biggest staple).
I need suggestions! What are some quick, easy to prepare meals that cut out meat, dairy, gluten, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and carbohydrates? The sugar is a big one, sugar is sneaky, even a banana will send my blood sugar skyrocketing so fruit is off the menu. I’m triple checking every label, sugar gets into everything! (I’m looking at you, salad dressing). We have found some success with pre packaged veggie stir fry, and my husband has now grown in such confidence that he now adds peanut butter and tamari to it, delicious! And dressed up pre-packaged salads are good too. (Simple, I cannot stress this enough, is key. The man is terrified of cooking). But I’m open to anything else! Has anyone else been through this?
7 months pregnant, and quite frankly hating it. After a traumatic miscarriage, months of trying, and many rounds of acupuncture I should be thrilled. I’ve made it all the way to seven months! Something I never thought would happen! But a pregnancy plagued by four months of hyperemesis, several hospitalisations, and sepsis, had finally beaten me with a case of PGP so severe I had been confined to my bedroom.
Before I got pregnant I had images of what the “pregnant me” would look like, the most prevalent being me atop a stepladder, putting up wallpaper, wearing dungarees and a headband, hair thrown up in a messy bun, laughing as my belly swayed atop the ladder. Instead I am writing this in bed in my pyjamas at 1pm. My hair is a nightmare of snarls. Crutches are balanced precariously on the wall beside me to help me to the bathroom. I am more likely to suddenly find I have been named Queen of Genovia than I am to climb a ladder. My lofty aspirations have been, by necessity, boxed up and put into storage with the rest of our belongings, and myself, my husband, and our cat, are now living with my parents-in-law, as we wait on our baby to make her entrance into the world.
There are several advantages to this, the first being my sudden bedridden state. My poor husband doesn’t have to worry about leaving me in the house alone any more, with no-one but the cat for company if I collapse on my way to find food. (A semi-regular occurrence if left unattended). The second and most wonderful advantage (from my perspective) is that his parents are incredible, wonderful cooks.
They emigrated to England from Mumbai in the sixties, unfailingly generous, sweet, kind, and wickedly funny. They seem not to mind the giant cuckoo who has landed in their carefully tended nest, demanding food and drink and looking after whilst growing steadily larger by the day. They have also fully embraced the wealth of dietary requirements I reluctantly brought to their doorstep. Which for two people whose diet consists mainly of meat curries and naan, must have been quite a challenge.
Still, they delight in one upping each other, and compete to make me more elaborate lunches each day. With my husband out of the way at work, they feel free to let their creativity run riot, and they bring the most incredible creations up to me. Always accompanied with ketchup. No matter what the meal is. I am an English Girl, therefore I must want ketchup.
The only issue at the moment is my pain. With our baby girl growing ever bigger, and my stomach apparently shrinking, it has become more difficult to digest even the simplest of meals. If I need to do something exhausting, such as say, climb the stairs, or have a shower, I am liable to bring up my last meal as I try to deal with the pain shooting across my hips.
In an attempt to mitigate this, my husband and I have been experimenting with smaller, more frequent meals. A stipulation which my in-laws seem to take as a personal challenge.
When lunchtime rolled around my father-in-law asked me what I wanted, (I find this a challenging question, not knowing, for example, what we actually have in the house). In the end it was a moot point, he decided to surprise me with take out from his favourite Sri Lankan restaurant. (He is currently refusing to divulge the name and/or location but if I get it out of him I’ll update you.
A few hours later I was presented with this spread. Suddenly all my willpower for smaller meals went out the window. The daal was bursting with flavour and I could eat a whole bowl of it just on its own. The potatoes were hot and spicy and a great contrast to the smoothness of the daal. The poppadoms were hot and freshly fried by my father in law and the rice, if a bit unnecessary, was perfectly cooked. However the star of the meal had to be the butternut squash curry. Smooth and almost buttery. Sweet and savoury. It slipped down like honey and I couldn’t get enough. In the end I abandoned most of the rest of the food and just devoured the daal and butternut, I didn’t need anything else, it was perfect.
I will get the name of that restaurant for you, I know it is in London somewhere, and guessing from my father-in-law’s whereabouts that day I suspect it may be in Lewisham, but stay tuned…