‘Staying in here’: What to do when a ‘rainy day’ turns into months

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So I love the out­doors, this much is obvi­ous. Whether you’re read­ing my blog for the first time, or have been hang­ing around for a while, I think it’s safe to assume with a blog called Get­ting Out There that my hap­pi­ness in life involves being outside.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, in late Novem­ber 2020 I injured my spine, her­ni­at­ing my L5/S1 disc. I’ve suf­fered this injury before, ‘slip­ping’ the same disc back in late 2017, and after eight months of excru­ci­at­ing pain and a relent­less goose chase caused by med­ical incom­pe­tence and indif­fer­ence — a whole oth­er sto­ry alto­geth­er! —  I final­ly had my back oper­at­ed on by a won­der­ful­ly skilled and very kind neu­ro­sur­geon in June 2018. Since then I’ve felt great, and have been very care­ful in not lift­ing any­thing heavy and watch­ing my pos­ture, and I’ve been tak­ing clin­i­cal pilates class­es for over a year to build up my core strength. Despite these pre­cau­tions and pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures, I’ve hurt myself again and now face a long wait to be seen by the same sur­geon, due in part to wait­ing lists caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I can’t real­ly walk, or even sit for more than 15–20 min­utes at a time, so I’m most­ly stuck in bed until at least 24 March (my con­sul­ta­tion appoint­ment with the sur­geon). Not want­i­ng to sink into the men­tal health abyss that I faced in 2018, I’ve tak­en a bit more of a proac­tive approach this time around, which leads me to the top­ic of this post: how to pass the time when stuck inside. It’s not just the sit­u­a­tion of my injury that holds rel­e­vance to this top­ic, one might also be stuck inside at the moment due to COVID-19 lock­downs, or oth­er ill­ness or sit­u­a­tions. Impor­tant to men­tion how­ev­er: this is a list of things I’ve done/am doing to pass the time in bed, whilst sore. There are a few mil­lion posts about cook­ing sour­dough in lock­down, this isn’t one of them.

Here are some of the ways I’ve passed the time. I’ll be com­ing back over the next few weeks to add to this list wher­ev­er rel­e­vant. In the mean­time, if you’ve got some great ideas/advice about activ­i­ties one can do from bed (keep it clean! ?) please leave a com­ment below.

Update Tuesday 23 February 2021:

It has been a tough few weeks since I first post­ed this arti­cle (31 Jan­u­ary). In this time I have suf­fered some adverse reac­tions to my pain med­ica­tions, which led to a forced reduc­tion in med­ica­tion lev­els and of course, in turn: increased pain. On the plus side, I’ve had my con­sul­ta­tion with the sur­geon moved for­ward a few weeks to 12 March. Also, in order to not suf­fer the long term effects of pro­longed bed rest, I have forced myself to get up dai­ly and move about in my gar­den. My men­tal health since get­ting out­doors into my gar­den has vast­ly improved!

I’ve also read some new books, watched new movies and shows, etc. Read on for more updates…

Update Tuesday 16 March 2021:

I’m now booked in for a spinal surgery tomor­row, with a 8–12 week recov­ery period.

Bingeing Netflix

Okay, I’m going to start out hon­est­ly, and admit to hav­ing binged a lot of stream­ing ser­vices, pri­mar­i­ly Net­flix. Par­tic­u­lar­ly over the Christ­mas peri­od, before I realised just how long I was going to be bedrid­den for, I rewatched the entire series runs of Deep Space Nine and Friends, and watched a few shows I had­n’t seen before, the best of which were Still Game and Dis­en­chant­ment.

Although cer­tain­ly not healthy, watch­ing some­thing enter­tain­ing helps some­times to get the mind off the pain.

Update 23 Feb:

With Still Game fin­ished, and Dis­en­chant­ment caught up to the end of its third sea­son, I revis­it­ed and final­ly fin­ished Black Sails, a pirate series that serves as a pre­quel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Trea­sure Island (which I also read again after­wards, see below). It has its ups and downs: some great swash­buck­ling action and 18th cen­tu­ry visu­als are let down at times by the mod­ern stream­ing TV trap of mak­ing a 40-hour movie; the writ­ers often get tan­gled in their own plot lines and I felt the show could have been slight­ly more episod­ic and thus ran a sea­son or two longer.

I also watched the pre­miere sea­son of Star Trek: Picard. A long time Trek fan, I’d been hold­ing off after find­ing the new Abrams movies and the first sea­son of Dis­cov­ery dis­ap­point­ing, but I real­ly loved The Next Gen­er­a­tion and found Picard’s first sea­son quite good. I par­tic­u­lar­ly liked the Romu­lan myth idea: this gave some real depth to an alien culture’s actions and prej­u­dices in a way that’s not often ade­quate­ly explored in sci­ence fic­tion, where bad guys too often do bad deeds sim­ply because they’re bad guys. A wel­come devel­op­ment in Trek!

Learning French

With our long-planned bike tour­ing trip from Aus­tria to France now post­poned for a few years by the ‘rona, I now have the time to learn some Français before going. I down­loaded an online app called Duolin­go, which is avail­able both as a web brows­er app and a smart­phone app (iOS, Android, etc.). Whilst it has some lim­i­ta­tions, I cer­tain­ly plan to expand my learn­ing beyond Duolin­go once I’m up and about again. The men­tal health ben­e­fits of learn­ing French through the app has been two-fold — not only am I active­ly engag­ing my brain and learn­ing some­thing new, but it’s a pos­i­tive way to burn some time. In just my first three days of usage I spent six hours and 27 min­utes on Duolingo!

J’apprends à par­ler français! Je va trés bien.

Update 23 Feb:

I’m still plug­ging away at my French, every day spent in an hour or two of study. I’ve also tak­en up Tan­dem, a mes­sag­ing app where cul­tur­al lan­guage exchange is facil­i­tat­ed with native speak­ers. Despite some dif­fi­cul­ties with estab­lish­ing real and last­ing con­tacts — many seem to treat it like an inter­na­tion­al Tin­der, and it thus has its draw­backs — in this way I’ve ‘met’ a few French pen pals, most notably and inter­est­ing­ly a kind and love­ly lady in Switzer­land named Melis­sa, and a great young bloke in the south of Paris named Raphaël­i­to, who just has a grand name, I think. Using lan­guage in real con­ver­sa­tions has been a huge boost to my study and both Melis­sa and Raphaël­i­to are great conversationalists.

Working on my blog

One of the best aspects of being a lover of the out­doors who’s also a rabid geek is that I derive as much enjoy­ment out of main­tain­ing this blog as I do from the activities/things I’m blog­ging about. Now that I’m forced into bed, I have plen­ty of time for site main­te­nance. Over the past few weeks I’ve cleanup some posts, worked on some bet­ter typog­ra­phy and appear­ance issues, updat­ed plu­g­ins and wrote some cus­tomi­sa­tions in my own plu­g­in. I’ve also been work­ing on some upcom­ing blog post ideas and con­cepts for when I do get back on my bike and on the rivers.

Updating my professional resumé

Now that I’ve fin­ished my degree (late Decem­ber 2020) I’ve been updat­ing my resumé to reflect my new edu­ca­tion achieve­ments, as well as tak­ing this time to refresh the over­all lay­out and appear­ance of the print­ed ver­sion. Like this blog — my online resumé is actu­al­ly a sub­do­main of this site — I’ve tak­en the time to work out some site bugs and bet­ter HTML markup etc. as well as line up some plu­g­in mod­i­fi­ca­tions and port­fo­lio fea­tures into the pipeline for the future.

Reading a book

This one seems so obvi­ous that I was shocked when I realised just how long it had been since I’d read a good book dur­ing the day. As a young laid-back teenag­er I’d love to just curl up on the bed all day with a book and get lost in its pages. As a busy father, work­ing, study­ing and look­ing after my chil­dren has tak­en up most of my day­light hours in recent years and my read­ing has been lim­it­ed to an hour or so before sleep in the evenings.

I’ve picked up a copy of Dark Emu by Bruce Pas­coe. I’ve read so much about it and its impact, am look­ing for­ward to it!

Update 23 Feb:

I’ve almost fin­ished Dark Emu and am work­ing on a full review, as it relates so close­ly to how I enjoy Aus­tralian coun­try, and I hon­est­ly feel myself changed by this book. A fan­tas­tic, must-read book, full review in com­ing weeks!

I also revis­it­ed Robert Louis Steven­son’s Trea­sure Island after watch­ing a pre­quel TV show called Black Sails, which made for a fun and dif­fer­ent take on the clas­sic nov­el when read­ing with the mod­ern series’ sug­gest­ed addi­tions to the canon in mind. It also remind­ed me of my youth, read­ing Trea­sure Island and oth­er pirate nov­els and dream­ing of sea adven­tures. It may just be coin­ci­dence that I enlist­ed in the Navy!

On clas­sic nov­els, I’ve also start­ed read­ing Les Mis­érables by Vic­tor Hugo for the first time. I picked up a beau­ti­ful edi­tion, a “Barnes and Noble Leather-bound Clas­sic” hard­cov­er bind­ing which is a joy to read in and of itself.

Creating a WordPress plugin

Maybe it’s just bore­dom, but I had an idea for a Word­Press plu­g­in around the top­ic of men­tal health, that I’m inves­ti­gat­ing and devel­op­ing the frame­work for at the moment. I haven’t attempt­ed a pub­­licly-dis­­trib­ut­ed plu­g­in before so it will be an inter­est­ing lit­tle project. More to come on this soon, hopefully…

Water droplets on glass win­dow image by Thom Milkovic

Other posts about my spinal injury and recovery

Category: Musings, Spinal Injury & Recovery
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