Hi, I’m Robyn Dunphy, the founder of Limberation – Limber Up to Live Life.
As quite a bit has happened since I wrote this page originally, I have updated it, today (January 28, 2023). Yes, the photo needs updating too – I’ll get around to it, I promise!
I no longer offer physical training consulting services. Please see my Announcement for further details. I am available for speaking or similar engagements.
I have now clocked up eight years as a chronic illness patient. I am certainly not a newbie and I’ve learnt a lot in those eight years. Lived experience, as they say.
I am a retired accountant and IT professional. Like many of my peers, I had been desk-bound for years and as I got older I let my activity levels drop. In 2014 I entered the Global Corporate Challenge in an effort to kick start a return to being fit and fabulous.
Although I did win all the awards available in the GCC through sheer stubbornness, that year I battled pain, lethargy, disrupted sleep and brain fog. I found myself on crutches at one point, so to get my steps count every day I swam – a lot! Ultimately diagnosed with auto-immune conditions (yes, plural), my fight to stay mobile and manage pain started. Hyperactive thyroid and rheumatoid arthritis (subsequently the arthritis diagnosis was changed to psoriatic arthritis) together with some gastrointestinal issues meant three specialists, many blood tests and even a nuclear scan or two. The number of specialists in “Team Robyn” has fluctuated over the years! At one stage I was seeing ten specialists.
In total, my conditions are:
- psoriatic arthritis – confirmed November 2018
- osteoarthritis, MRI August 2018
- hyperactive thyroid, multi-nodular goitre, Graves disease (autoimmune) – replaced by hypoactive five years after radioactive iodine treatment
- hypoactive thyroid
- diverticular disease (most of us have some degree of this, by the way)
- sliding hernia
- bulging disc, lumbar spine
- herniated disc, lumber spine
- arthropathy and hypertrophy of various facet joints lumbar spine
- scoliosis lumber spine
- psoriasis – biopsy November 2018 – note there were several other diagnoses before the 2018 biopsies
- nocturnal AV block
My rheumatologist told me to get exercise. I did better than that, I studied personal training for twelve months. Sitting is not good for me: accountants and IT people do tend to sit a fair bit! I saw this as an opportunity to learn how I could help myself and others; at the same time I could move into a career where I didn’t have to sit all day. A win-win situation!
Determining what worked for my condition and stage of condition progression has given me a unique insight into fighting back and taking control.
As a patient, I have participated in the Pain Education Program at the Barbara Walker Centre for Pain Management. This has added to my knowledge of chronic pain management.
My pain and stiffness weren’t solved overnight, but I learnt when I moved, I was virtually pain free. Finding the right condition medication was part of the equation too. That also wasn’t solved overnight. In fact, it still isn’t solved as I write today. I am in the process of starting on medication number seven. That’s not including the corticosteroids and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs many of us take spasmodically. Please note there are MANY patients who have been on a medication successfully for years – that just hasn’t happened for me yet. I’ve had medications not work at all, I’ve experienced adverse reactions to others, and yet others have simply stopped working for me.
While all the medications changes have been going on, it is Movement As Medicine that has seen me through. I have absolutely no doubt at all that had I not kept exercising, I would not be as well as I am today.
In 2020 I had a total knee replacement and in 2021 I had bilateral foot surgery. There is talk of replacing my ankles and the other knee will need to be replaced at some point. I’ve participated in a drug trial, had fancy heart stress tests (all good) and undertaken a sleep study (I do not have sleep apnea or snore – the things you learn!).
I will turn 68 this year. I walk four kilometres a day, my daily step count target is 7,500 (10,000 is a marketing myth, by the way), I do weight/resistance training three times a week. Assuming a flare doesn’t interrupt my plans as it did recently. Life with this condition is not always smooth sailing, but I’m doing well.
If you have a health condition that is helped by movement and exercise, I understand from first hand experience how hard it can be to take those first few steps. I’ve been there. I don’t do it alone: I have a physiotherapist and used to do clinical Pilates as well as my own strength workouts and other fitness activities such as my walking and swimming. I also have an exercise physiologist when needed. As well as the physical allied health support, I have the most wonderful team of medical professionals.
Always work in conjunction with your medical practitioners, specialists and allied health professionals.
I hold Certificates III and IV in Fitness. There is no formal qualification for the personal experience of living with chronic conditions, but if there was, I would have earnt it.
My other qualifications are a Bachelor of Business Administration (conferred with Distinction) and I am a CPA (Retired).