Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Something a little bit different

Hi everybody (in the voice of Dr Nick Riviera)!

I'm going to do this blog in a different way to normal. I forget how many people who read this are unfamiliar with my situation, my life & the way I speak. So I'm going to do some explaining & add some facts/info as well as talking about what I've done in training.

Hypermobility can affect lots of people, but it only becomes a syndrome if you suffer side affects/consequences because of it. So when you say to someone who has HMS "oh I've got that! I don't see why you're taking painkillers/seeing a Physio/in a wheelchair as I find it really cool to show people my tricks at parties", you clearly don't have the syndrome form. My mum has hypermobility in her elbows & her mum had it in her thumbs. My mum suffers no ill effect from it, therefore it's not a syndrome. It's just a cool/gross party trick.

I am from South East London and speak as such. I forget that people don't understand some of the things I say sometimes so please ask if it makes no sense to you! I recently had someone ask me to translate bits of my last blog into American for them - I was happy to oblige ;)

I sometimes moan about my personal trainers trying to kill me. It's all said in jest & that's just how I generally am with people. They aren't random trainers that are charging me the earth to try & injure me. They are not crappy fitness instructors that have done a 2 day online course for a qualification that isn't worth shit. They are important people in my life that are taking time out of their own schedules to help me get better. I'll list them below:

Terry Hollands - my husband & full time strongman. He was a judo champion when he was younger, has played professional rugby for teams in both New Zealand & England and is now a professional strongman. The most successful British competitor since the 90's, he mainly does international competitions rather than local lower level ones. He's competed at worlds strongest man 7 times (placed 3rd last time, made the final 6 times) & will be there for an 8th time next month. He's studied all aspects of strength training, nutrition & much more to aid his sport. He's also about to gain a qualification in personal training. He's been helping me out of bed and looking after me throughout this whole saga with my HMS so knows the pain I'm going through. He's the sole reason I'm training & if it wasn't for him I'd still be bedridden most of the time.

Jay Hughes - my good friend, former bodybuilder (placing 3rd at Junior Mr Universe) and one of the top British strongmen having competed at Britain's strongest man, amateur Arnold (Schwarzenegger) Classic & most recently at Europe's strongest man plus many more. He has an excellent knowledge of all aspects of training having come from such an eclectic sporting background. His knowledge of nutrition is extremely useful, particularly for someone such as myself who doesn't want to gain any weight.

Emmy Louise - my good friend and owner of Bulks Power & Strength Gym. She's done something not many have achieved; opened a strength & fitness gym that is clean, friendly & has tonnes of equipment whatever your goal may be. She has competed in strongwoman briefly and has now turned her hand to powerlifting. She has great knowledge of all aspects of gym training & even has her own supplement range. When Terry's busy, she takes the time to train with me even though she's often already done a heavy session a few hours before!

Clayton Nicholson - my good friend, former Muay Thai fighter who is now competing in strongman; he also does full time personal training at Bulks. He knows a lot of about stretching & flexibility which is extremely useful in my case.

So that's all my little (and not so little) helpers :) they all know their stuff and aren't trying to kill/injure me. They have my best interests at heart and when I moan about them, it's just messing about. Everything I've done has been trial and error; everyone is different and it's a case of finding what's right for you and your body.

By writing this blog I've met a lot of nice people; fellow sufferers, people who genuinely want to help and of course it wouldn't be complete without the people who have no clue about anything but think they're experts regardless. I am content that lifting weights is helping my condition. It's low impact, is helping to stabilise my bendy joints due to the strengthening of my muscles and is also giving my whole body a good stretch. I can now touch my toes 8 times out of 10 instead of 0 times in 15 years! I welcome advice & ideas from fellow sufferers/qualified therapists. I don't welcome criticism & ignorance. My husband knows what he's doing, he knows my limits and knows my situation. So the next person to tell me that lifting weights is the wrong thing to do (because they know better of course) shall be told to fuck right off :)

Another thing to point out is that HMS/EDS also comes with some other nasty issues. For years I've had kidney infections & UTI's as well as digestive problems. From doing research online, I've discovered that these can be linked to my condition. I'm hoping to get referred to a specialist once I change to a better doctor who isn't a complete fucking moron. All the investigations I've previously had have led to more confusion, so hopefully I'll have some answers to share soon.

Since my last blog, I've been to the gym 3 times and am considering adding some Pilates type exercises to my days away from the gym. Again it's low impact & will help strengthen my joints & aid with my recovery from lifting. My chest, shoulders and triceps day went well; I improved on all exercises, the weights went up or stayed the same but did extra reps. So I won't bore you with details. It was the usual bench press, shoulder pressing type thing that I normally do, but mixed up a bit to keep it interesting.

Leg day was a bit of a weird one. I arrived at the gym late as I'd had a really late night/early morning at work & was knackered. Emmy trained with me (bless her, she'd already done loads already) and we did loads of squats with medicine balls, leg extensions, calf stretches and straight leg deadlifts with 20kg & 30kg. A short session, but it was enough; we were going to watch a strongman competition afterwards which is knackering just to stand there watching! Legs felt fucked, so I feel it was plenty.

Back & biceps was yesterday with Terry. Deadlifting went really well; he was monitoring my form very closely to make sure I wasn't hurting myself. He was very pleased with the progress I've made as I did a PB of 50kg for 3, then 2 after doing all my warm up lifts (30kg for 5, 35kg for 5, 45kg for 5) followed by a set of 10 at 30kg. I trialled a support belt for the first time. It doesn't add anything to the lift, it just helps to keep my back in the right position and protects me from further injury. I'd definitely recommend getting one if you ever do deadlifting. This was my most successful session to date; I tried hard and got the job done and all while keeping a good form.

I did all my usual exercises (lat pull downs, bent over rows, face pulls etc) and with good form, Terry was very pleased with my progress. At the end he wanted me to do planks which I fucking hate, but they're important for my core work. I did regular planks on the exercise ball - how hard is that shit?!!! I think Terry & Jay just wanted to have a good old laugh at me looking like a spaz. It was criminal, trying to stop myself falling off was really bloody hard; particularly because I was laughing so much. I also did some side planks on the bench, they also sucked.

I realise how lucky I am to have such a great supportive group of friends who happen to be experts in strength training; I know how difficult it must be for someone to go into the gym for the first time when they've got a condition like this that makes you feel useless and weak. So in that respect, I am super lucky that I've got company to bring along and guide me through a routine. The worst thing you can do is be trained by a dickhead who hasn't got a fucking clue what they're doing though; it's probably more damaging than just sitting on your arse. I've seen able bodied people doing ridiculous things in the gym, some of whom work as 'fitness instructors' too. So be wary of who you enlist to help you! There are cunts masquerading as saints! Check credentials!

I've added some pictures as is customary for me; the first ever pictures of me deadlifting and me with the wonderful team behind my success. Without them, I'd be crippled in bed and miserable still.

Later dudes/dudettes, feel free to ask anything if you don't understand my weirdness ;)


  1. Good luck, you have a dream team! I went to Bulks once and Emmy was super helpful!

    I've learned something new as I didn't know that hypermobility could lead to side effects like these.

    Interested to know what you are doing on the nutrition front too.

  2. Ehlers-Danlos Support UK is a registered charity supporting people who suffer from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). EDS UK is here to support people who have EDS, educate those who need to learn more, and raise funds to enable further research and development. The Forums and community offered for less than £20 a year provide support for people who know what its really like to live with the condition:

    Hopefully you are already getting treatment for your EDS, despite the NHS being largely unaware of the condition in the various forms and how best to treat the many impacts. If not then going private to see Dr Rodney Graham for a definitive diagnosis could be a great place to start:

    1. I would love to see an expert, but unfortunately my arsehole of a GP has refused to refer me. I think they believe that it's just a joke condition that needs no special attention. I pray that one day someone will take me seriously and help me get the treatment I need.

  3. You could give Lara a call at the EDS Support group: 0208 736 5604 Its a great little charity that was created to help people just like you, she is super friendly to new people and has EDS herself. She was daft enough to run a marathon despite her own health condition just to raise awareness of EDS:

    1 year ago my fiance was in in your exact situation with a number of 'unrelated' issues to which no one was willing/able to understand the underlying cause and help manage more effectively. She had determined by herself she had EDS after many years of suffering - but without that written down in a letter from a Consultant such as Professor Graham it is very easy for a GP to refuse to write a referral to see everyone else an EDS patient needs to see in the early phases.

    My fiance's EDS diagnosis letter has opened a lot of doors to other Consultant referrals via her GP / NHS even thought initially she had to pay to see Prof Grahame as the GP route was getting her nowhere! Sadly issues like this come up a lot when you talk to other EDSers :-( ~£400 very well spent & jump the waiting list

    It can come as a major relief for EDSers to know after many years of being told they are not sick that they are being taken seriously / have been right all along and can finally start to build a team of people that can help manage the condition for the long-term :-)

  4. Just been inspired to start blogging after reading this!

    I've got hyper mobility as well, and I know how GP's are, useless and stuck up for the most part, reluctant to help, they just throw useless medication at you!

    Awesome to read about your life and the people supporting you, I found your views on PT's who have no idea pretty classic as well, the amount of 'qualified' trainers and doctors who are just clueless and unfit in England is INSANE, good job I know how to train and have trained with a lot of really genuine, knowledgeable people a bit like you have really.

    I'm pretty sure I have a urine infection or some sort of issue along with hypermobility, as I get shoooting pains, hotness and strains, But going to the doctors feels like too much of a battle to bother with, I'd rather train and hope it improves (as it seems to be doing) than get fucked about by patronising GP's.

    Both my knees jar from time to time and I have had real issues with my left shoulder after straining it it's never been the same :L