Conversations with myself: I’m too sexy for my legs . . .

Lymphedema

This week saw the start of Lymphedema treatment on my legs which is a combination of Lymph Drainage Massage followed by Lymph decompression by strapping the legs with bandages – in my case, up to the knees.

What is Lymphedema? It is the swelling of a body part, mostly an extremity like an arm or a leg (in my case, both legs) caused by the abnormal accumulation of lymph fluid. It can also occur in the face, neck, abdomen and lungs. Although it is a chronic and progressive condition, it can usually be controlled by a combination of Lymph Drainage massage and compression bandages and then later managed by way of wearing compression stockings.

The condition most often causes a feeling of heaviness, cosmetic deformity, slight discomfort, repeated episodes of infection and, in rare cases, malignant degeneration. Severe cases are associated with thickening of the skin, hardening of the limb, leakage of lymph and massive swelling. It is a fairly common condition affecting roughly one percent of the population.

Primary Lymphedema – those that occur without any obvious cause. They may be present at birth, occur later in life or develop after the age of 35. Some cases are familiar and can also be congenital. Primary Lymphedema is more common in women and occurs more often in the lower extremities.

Secondary Lymphedema – caused by injury, scarring or excision of the Lymph nodes. This usually occurs as a result of previous radiation and/or surgery of the Lymph nodes in the neck, axilla, pelvis or groin. Occasionally, secondary Lymphedemas are caused by trauma to or chronic infections of the Lymph system.

I was not too anxious or stressed about the treatment because I’ve had Lymph Drainage massage before, I just was not sure how I was going to feel about having both my legs bandaged.

The massage itself and the strapping is painless, however, once you’ve been strapped for a while, you start feeling the pressure of the bandages which can cause a bit of discomfort. The massage and strapping takes approximately two hours and is usually done daily until the condition can be managed by way of compression stockings.

The strapping does not immobilise you, so you are able to move about doing your daily chores, exercise etc. I was able to go back to work immediately afterwards, I just could not get any shoes on my feet so had to drive without shoes and walk around without shoes for the whole day. Being in the middle of Winter here where I live, that was a bit of a challenge, but I managed.

I am scheduled for another session next week which will be my last pre-op session.

Once I have recovered from my surgery for my incisional hernia, I will start my Lymphedema treatment proper which means going in to the therapist daily for massage and strapping until my condition can be managed by way of compression stockings.

Advertisements

Conversations with myself: Understanding Criminal Thinking

Brain

This past week I spent two days at a workshop hosted by National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO) on the subject of Criminal Behaviour Foundations: Understanding Criminal Thinking.

I found this workshop very interesting and informative because I learnt that criminal behaviour, just like any other behaviour, does not exist in a vacuum. In order to deal appropriately with crime perpetrators, one has to understand the individual in relation to him/herself, the community and the world in which we live.

Some of the key learning for me was:
• How the values, beliefs and attitudes of perpetrators influence their behaviour negatively because of their negative world view and their negative view of themselves.
• The most commonly cited macro-level factors that contribute towards crime are: population structure, rapid migration from rural to urban areas, high levels of unemployment, inadequate education, insufficient welfare services, weak areas within the criminal justice system, large scale illegal immigration, availability of firearms, porous borders which makes crime syndicates, trafficking and smuggling a viable option and inequality and poverty.
• The development of behavioural problems early in life and critical thinking errors in later life also contribute to a life of crime. The eight most common static and dynamic risk factors for youth and adult crime are: history of anti-social behaviour, anti-social personality pattern, anti-social cognition (thinking patterns), anti-social associates/friends, family and/or marital problems, school and/or work problems, leisure and/or recreation choices and substance abuse.
• Brain development – what really stood out for me is that the brain does not fully mature until between the ages of 18 and 25 years of age which means that classifying a person as an adult at age 18 is actually technically incorrect because research has shown that the brain actually only completes development (matures) by age 25 – this includes impulse control, planning, reasoning, thinking before acting, the regulation of emotion, abstract thinking, resistance to peer influence and the ability to delay gratification. Whether a person is mature enough to be classified as an adult therefore needs to be decided on an individual basis.
• Schemas (the way we view the world) – we learnt that there are 5 schemas and there are 18 early maladaptive schemas grouped within 5 domains i.e. disconnection/rejection, impaired autonomy/performance, other directedness, over-vigilance/inhibition and impaired limits.
• The link between emotion and cognition and criminals do not necessarily lack empathy towards their victims but that there is a selective application of empathy.
• There are 8 criminal thinking styles or patterns which support or reinforce four behavioural styles i.e. problem avoidance, interpersonal hostility, self-assertion deception and denial or harm (to others).
We also watched a DVD of an interview of a child abuse survivor called Beth. The interview was done when she was aged about 6 years and she vividly remembers everything that was done to her by her father when she was only 1 year old. It was really heart-wrenching to watch her and how she could recall everything without showing any emotion whatsoever.

Here is the link to the interview we watched: http://youtu.be/ME2wmFunCjU

Do yourself a favour and get the movie/DVD called Child of Rage and see for yourself the events that led up to this interview.

We also watched an interview of a young man accused of murder and this was also moving because of the total lack of emotion when he recalled the events leading up to the murder.

There was just so much information shared at this workshop over the two days that it will probably take a while for everything to sink into this little pea brain of mine.

I now see perpetrators of crime in a new light. Where it was easy to judge them before and write them off as the scum of the earth, I now look at them and say “why?” and “what went wrong?”

Don’t forget – you can also find me at: http://www.womendemanddignity.wordpress.com

Conversations with myself: Going back to my roots

Preacher_Animated

Phew! What a week this has been. Initially, my post for this week was going to be about “listening”. Why? Well, I once again experienced the frustration of not being heard – you know, when people hear what you say but don’t actually “listen”?

Moving on . . .

I’ve changed my mind about the listening/not listening issue because right now I am going through a mixture of emotions so I thought I would tell you about that and the reasons for it instead.

I think I have mentioned before (once or maybe more than once) that I am currently part of a pilot project by Disabled People of South Africa (DPSA) where they are training a group of disabled women to be Facilitators to do workshops in their communities specifically targeting disabled women to empower them about their basic human rights and their rights as people.

We, the trainees, are evaluated through having to submit a Portfolio of Evidence which is made up of a combination of written assignments as well as practical assignments. We are currently in the last leg of our training which ends in March 2014 and for this last leg of our journey, we are expected to facilitate a minimum of three workshops with a minimum of ten people each and we are meant to invite our trainer and our mentor to attend these events which will all form part of our final evaluation. An alternative to this is that we get invited to speak at three events/functions/meetings – again with a minimum of ten people in attendance.

In preparation for my assignment, I e-mailed a few people, posted messages on various social media sites making myself available to speak at events (free of charge) and also asking people if they would be interested in attending one of my workshops. I also placed an advert in the form of a letter in the “Letters Page” of our local community newspaper and, guess what? I received my first invitation to speak at a Women’s Day event being hosted by one of our local churches and they are expecting an average of 300 people to attend this event. My entire assignment done all in one go.

Going back to the title of this blog “going back to my roots” – the reason for this is because the church which invited me to speak is an Anglican church. I was raised in the Anglican church, hence the reason for me starting off saying that I’m going through a whole range of emotions right now and “going back to my roots”.

I am absolutely terrified of having to present to a group of 300 people. With an event of this size, I am sure that this is not just going to be one congregation but will be a mixture of congregations from various churches in the area. This is the part that is causing the mixture of emotions.
You see, my dad’s family are mostly members of the Anglican Church and attend churches in the areas bordering where I live. I have not had contact with any of my dad’s family for more than ten years now and have absolutely no desire to have any dealings with them at this stage, however, I now have to prepare myself for the possibility that more than one of them may be present at this event where I will be speaking.

How do I feel about this? I really cannot say. I can say, for sure, that I’m not excited about the prospect of bumping in to one or more of them but at the same time I know that if it does happen, I will be strong enough to deal with it. Hakkuna Matata (no worries)!

Don’t forget – I said earlier, that I am terrified of speaking to a crowd of 300 people and in addition to this, I still have to be prepared for the fact that there may be some present watching my every move – waiting for me to fail – to report back to the rest of the family. I will also have my Mentor and Trainer present, assessing my presentation skills, but hey, no pressure!

This invitation has also stirred up other emotions inside me – it has reminded me of being baptised and confirmed in the Anglican Church and all the years in between. Even though I have left the Anglican Church, I am now part of a church which broke away from the traditional Anglican church and have a different style of worship but whose roots are still very much based on the Anglican faith. As a result, I still feel a strong connection to the faith and its traditions.

I hope all this makes sense and that you can understand why I say I’m filled with all sorts of emotions right now and why I said I’m “going back to my roots”.
Well, putting the emotions aside, I’m looking forward to preparing for my moment in the spotlight. I will try to keep the anxiety and stress levels in check and not let it get too out of hand – during the preparations and on the day of the event.

Who knows – I might just be able to pull this one off without anyone suspecting that I’m just a ball of nerves, absolutely terrified of making a complete fool of myself.

Don’t forget you can also follow me on: http://www.womendemanddignity.wordpress.com

Conversations with myself: What will I be remembered for?

Lilies__Bible

What does the life canvas you are creating reflect?

What kind of memories are you creating?

What memories or footprints do you want to leave behind? What will you be known/remembered for?

Are you creating good memories? What will people say about you when you are no longer around?

What have you done to make a difference? Have you made a difference in the life of your family, your colleagues, your friends?

I wonder what people would say about me? Would they say “she was pretty”, “intelligent”, “funny”, “smart”? Would they say “she really made a difference in the
lives of others”, “she was selfless”, “she lived for others”.

What memories will I leave behind? What does my canvas say?

Conversations with myself: Who am I?

Announcing_2

As part of my training as Facilitator, I need to arrange a workshop or speak at an event or meeting and my topic of choice is Gender Roles and Gender Stereotypes. My idea is to link this to identity and how gender roles and gender stereotypes influence our identity.

Questions I am considering are:
• As a female – who am I?
• How do we feel about ourselves (the roles that we play/society’s expectations of us)?
• What is the difference between sex and gender? Is there a difference?
• How do others perceive me?
• What is it like to be me? Who am I?
• What assumptions do people make about me that are true/not true?
• What stereotypes do I play into, on purpose or not?

What do you think? Would you want to attend my workshop?

Do you know anyone who would be interested in attending such a workshop?

I could even turn this topic into a talk/presentation for your social/church/networking group meeting.

What do you think?

Contact me at: nataliejohnson041@gmail.com