Wild Women: Caroline, living with sciatica
Caroline is one of life’s grafters. Starting the day in her bakery at 2.30am, she couldn’t afford to be laid low by the onset of sciatica. Here’s her story.
1. Tell us a little about yourself Caroline. Are you Edinburgh born and bred?
No, I was born in Canada on Vancouver Island then we came back to Ireland (my Daddy's Irish and my Mummy's English) before moving to Scotland. We’ve lived in Edinburgh since I was 13 and I am now 47.
2. We’re intrigued to learn more about your journey into baking.
I’m a self taught baker, my mum is an amazing cook. After uni I worked in the arts, then finance but always baked. I started freelance baking for lots of cafés so I was working all day doing fund management reports then baking all night. I managed that for about two months before I nearly collapsed. One of the cafés I was baking for offered me a full time job, from there I went to Paris to work, then Greece, Stockholm, Oslo and finally back home to do a bread making course.
In 2013 I opened my own place Archipelago Bakery. I ran that for just over a year by myself - had a couple of breakdowns on the way due to exhaustion - then I opened up in my current location and started to employ people to help me. I now have 15 members of staff.
We specialise in organic sourdough and yeasted loaves. Everything we do is made from scratch with a lot of alternative, vegan and free-from goods. We make all our own spanakopita, vegan sausage rolls, samosas etc. All our jams, ice creams, hot chocolate and granola are made by me. I never stop thinking about work!
3. Now let’s talk about your health. Your job is physically demanding so you need to keep fit and active…
I keep very fit and always have. I do lots of walking, hiking, swimming, yoga, cycling and just started to lift weights for my bones.
4. You mentioned you had a really tough summer with the onset of joint pain and sciatica. Talk us through it.
I don't want to talk about the sciatica to tell you the truth. It's too traumatic. It knocked me for six. I wasn't able to move without crying and yet I did as that's the sort of person I am (total Alpha type!) But I was in pain from June to October and still am but nothing compared to the summer when I couldn't walk without crying. I couldn't sleep for months either.
I bought Wild Nutrition’s Bone Growth Complex [now called Bone and Muscle Support] and let’s just say it will now be a daily supplement for me for the rest of my life.
5. Do you think these symptoms coincided with the onset of peri/menopause?
The pain is not to do with menopause or perimenopause but more likely to do with the stress I have put my body under and this was its way of telling me! I have also fallen on my left side a number of times over the past ten years and so that hasn't helped my bones. I have pushed my body a lot since age 20, and more than your average person, so my body is now feeling that. I am not perimenopausal or menopausal despite my age. I don't think I will get the menopause to be honest with you as I haven't had periods since the age of 21.
6. What does wellbeing mean to you Caroline? Would you say it goes beyond physical wellness?
Wellbeing is physical and mental. You can be physically fit but if you aren't mentally fit and strong then it doesn't matter how fit your body is. Likewise if your body isn't fit and healthy and with good bacteria then your mind won't function properly. For me, wellbeing means lots of vegetables and pulses, lots of water, no meat, good fats, decent sleep (I don't sleep very well) and cold showers. And fresh air and exercise every day. Plus interaction with other people, loneliness is also a killer. I spend too much time working and lack time to see friends and family and my work has always taken priority. Not sure if this is wise actually.
7. We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2023. Any significant events or goals on your radar?
I will have run my business for 10 years in 2023. To be honest just getting to the end of each day is a milestone for me!
8. How did you hear about Wild Nutrition?
I think I found Wild Nutrition on Instagram. I was looking for something to help my bones and was desperate. Anything to get rid of my pain!