A More Personal Post – About Me

I was halfway through outlining a different post (What it’s like to housesit in Suffolk – still to come, I hope), when my chronic pain condition decided to activate an unwanted flare up. I decided to wait to finish my post and did some pain management self care. Then, I thought: I’ve been introducing you to other housesitters and what led them to housesitting, so I might as well share my own housesitting origin story. So:

Meet me, the Christine half of Tails and Stays

About 4 years ago, I started having unexplained lower back pain, followed by unexplained pain and swelling in my left Achilles heel. At this point, I was approaching 50 years old. My General Practitioner in New Zealand tried to help by sending me to x-rays and physical therapists. Nothing was really helping.

So I started doing my own research. I pretty much came to the conclusion that I had psoriatic arthritis of some description. While I don’t have the skin condition Psoriasis myself, there is a history of it in my family. So I trooped back to the general practitioner with my notes and research. She agreed with me enough to send me to a specialist in rheumatology.

Getting a diagnosis

My rheumatologist set about getting a whole bunch of blood tests to rule out a whole bunch of other stuff. There’s a lot to rule out!

After a whole bunch of tests, it’s confirmed. I have an unusual form of psoriatic arthritis. Basically, my immune system gets bored and decides to attack my tendons or ligaments at random spots in my body. This means that, randomly, I’ll experience extreme pain somewhere in my body. A great majority of the time, I am ok. I get tired more easily than most, and my days of long hikes are most likely over.

Occasionally, I get flares. This means that rather than having extreme pain once every one or two weeks, they cluster for a while. This is highly annoying for someone who used to be extremely active.

Treatment for chronic pain

There are treatment options for me – none of which are foolproof. And I have explored a lot of those options. I spent a few weeks at New Zealand’s amazing pain management program in Rotorua.

The pain management program is free for all types of chronic pain sufferers in New Zealand. They teach you about pain medication, meditation, physical therapy, hydro therapy, occupational therapy. And they give you seriously important psychological group therapy sessions.

The result is that I now manage my pain through all sorts of ways. I have pain days that I rank from 1-5. The 1 is a great day, the 5 is a really really bad day. On really, really bad days, I take every medication under the sun and still can pretty much only sit in the couch. Don’t worry, those days are very rare. The point is that I manage my pain.

So where does that tie in with housesitting?

Deciding to become housesitters

When I was diagnosed, and for a long while afterwards, I thought I could push on as usual. I was running a bed and breakfast. It soon became very clear that that was a silly thing for me to continue doing. John, the other half of Tails and Stays, is a consulting engineer, so he can work from anywhere, really.

So, long story short, we sold our house and bed and breakfast in New Zealand and went on this housesitting adventure. I watch a lot of tv when I’m tired, and I was watching A New Life in the Sun. An American couple talked about housesitting until they found a location they wanted to stay in. I thought, wait! Housesitting is a thing? If you want to know more about what housesitting is, check out other posts in our blog or TrustedHousesitters.

The Perfect Travel and Life Solution

Housesitting has proved so amazing for me.

I’m lucky that I have a wonderful partner that I partner with. On bad days, I have a partner who can do the more physically demanding parts of the job. John can walk the dogs on days when I cannot. I mean, 90% of days, I come on walks! But there are days when I cannot.

The beauty of this lifestyle is that most of the time, the pets and gardens I look after are amazing occupational therapy. Occupational therapy, in essence, is occupying yourself with tasks you enjoy to assist in pain management. Caring for pets is an amazing form of occupational therapy.

Travel is also an amazing way to distract yourself and a great way to feel you’re moving forward with life.

I hope to one day be able to contribute to our relationship by making a dollar or two through this blog. It would make me feel like I’m contributing financially to our adventure, which would give me an increased sense of self-worth.

Anyway, if you are still here, thank you for listening.

Me with a dog

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2 responses to “A More Personal Post – About Me”

  1. Hi Christine,

    Have you ever read A Course in Miracles? Could be a helpful guide to check out. It is a practical mind training manual which can guide you through your experience now.

    You guys really get around with those house sits! Awesome way to enjoy so much of the world. Having a partner helps heaps; the team approach works so well in caring for pets and for tending to house-caring duties.


    • Hi Ryan,
      Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll definitely check it out. Mind training and meditation are some of the best therapies to help deal with chronic pain.
      Thanks for the comment!
      ~ Christine

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