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Monday, 15 August 2011

Just Can't Keep Up!




Once again I have to begin my post to you tonight with an apology that unfortunately I was unable to write last night’s ‘Reason to Smile’ post as I was too unwell and ‘out of it’, due to an increased amount of morphine that I had to take last night as a result of trying as always to do it all- and sadly failing miserably!
Since leaving the womb I believe it would be fair to say that I have lived my life at a million miles an hour in every respect and my lovely Mummy even jokes that as I was even too impatient and eager to get living before I even came into this world, that I got stuck during my birth, ( an image that I’d rather not dwell on for too long- yuck!!), and had to be delivered by caesarean as a consequence- so I suppose that should have been an indication enough to my family of quite what lay ahead for them and how much of a handful this tiny bundle of joy would so become!
As the second child of Jane and Doug Spurgeon, I, (along with my lovely oolder brother Michael), was blessed with a wonderfully nurturing and loving childhood.
Despite our parents both working, (my father as full-time men’s outfitter and my mother a part-time secretary and full time ‘Mum’s Taxi’ driver to facilitate our hectic lives!), we were so extremely fortunate to have the support to take on any activity that we so desired, and I did desire it all- horse riding, gymnastics, athletics, ice skating, hockey, netball, acting, singing, orienteering, flute, guitar and piano lessons and of course my beloved dancing in every form imaginable!
From an early age I felt that I had an acute awareness of just how fortunate I was to be able to experience such a variety of hobbies, on top the blessing of being taken on wonderful holidays both in this country and abroad to experience different cultures and customs and most importantly to get my taste and love for travel in all it’s forms!.
My blessed existence as a child, carried on into my teenage years when I had to begin to streamline my activities to a chosen few of athletics and dance, that was until at thirteen years old when I experienced my first taste of injury/illness affecting and focusing one’s life choices, when after a severe athletics injury my decision between my two beloved pursuits was made for me.
From that moment in my life I was set on my goal of being awarded with a scholarship to an accredited Dance college at sixteen and so make my career as a dancer and musical theatre performer.
On reflection, I can appreciate that I perhaps neglected the act of being a ‘typical’ teenager in favour of achieving my goal of  being a dancer, as all of my time post school, (in fact even my lunch breaks in school), were spent in the pursuit of becoming such. Pretty boring I’m afraid, not many tales of drugs, drink and debauchery in my closet, I was focused and fired up to become a dancer and there wasn’t anything in my naive teenage mind that could possibly stop me.
Well, determination paid off and I was awarded with a scholarship to an accredited dance college and enjoyed two fantastic years of dance school before ‘strike two’, and I was served with my second dose of illness/injury affecting my life.
After months of battling with trying to keep up with college days which started at 8.45am and finished at 7.30pm, (minus a lunch break!), with a three hour commute either side, and topped off with a weekend spent travelling from London to the Isle of Wight and back to teach dance- I unsurprisingly on reflection, began to get bugs and viruses and was unable to recover fully before the next would come along to bite me again.
Before I knew it I was very poorly indeed and being passed from consultant to consultant around London who were all trying to find out just what was wrong with me- finally I was diagnosed with untreated Glandular fever that had now developed into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ M.E...
Despite battling all that I could to continue with my life’s path, I had to say goodbye to my scholarship and dreams of making it big in the business; a blow that at eighteen years old felt like somebody was ripping out my heart.
After time and a terribly kind and patient boss, I was able to make a career as a resident choreographer and performer in a professional company as well a teacher of dance and theatre craft to children and adults.
I loved my life, but after recovering, (enough to lead my then life), from my illness I needed a new challenge. I had ALWAYS loved travel, so one summer whilst performing in and choreographing The Wizard of Oz, I was relaxing flicking through ‘Cosmo’ magazine and saw a recruitment advertisement for cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic.
That was it, despite having zero experience, (which only dawned on me with a thump as I was sat in the waiting room with the other well experienced candidates!), I nailed the interview and turned my life a complete 180 degrees within a matter of weeks and was soon jetting around the world having the absolute time of my life!
Yes, it’s true, it wasn’t always glitz and glamour, there was a fair amount of jet lag and air sickness to deal with, but the tropical beaches and phenomenal experiences in countries all over the world certainly made up for that for me I can assure you!!
After meeting my RAF pilot boyfriend, (now husband), life was pretty much as perfect as it could possibly be for me, that was all until the 29th July 2006 when whilst on a road trip with my best friends I was involved in a minor car accident.
Despite initially walking away from the collision, my jet setting life that I had loved so dearly was over completely from that point onwards.
The life that I had once lived at one hundred miles an hour had now come to an almost complete standstill and I was sadly now confined to bed without the ability to even read a book, write a letter, or even hold a conversation due to the morphine that I required, (and still do), to even bare my chronic pain.
Besides giving you a little background on myself, (this crazy lady who insists on subjecting you to all of her thoughts and feelings daily!), I choose today to discuss the differences in the level of activity in my two lives, as I am currently getting increasingly frustrated that despite having the same drive and determined personality that I have always possessed; my body just does not work to the speed that I require and simply refuses to play ball!
After being able to regain a little more mobility and ability in my daily life thanks to my diagnosis and increased morphine and medication regime, I have since been pursuing my dreams to establish a charity that will help others who have become disabled through illness or injury and who are subsequently going through the difficult emotional transition to accepting and embracing this new life.
I endeavour to ensure that there is an appropriate psychological care infrastructure in place for those who become disabled like I did, as well as for their partners or parents such as mine, who are living this evolution into this new existence with them.
I am passionate about making this happen, as well as evolving this blog website to include a forum and information centre to help those who become disabled out of the blue to access the support and help such as benefits and blue badges that are available to them. I also want to try to improve many aspects of disabled travel and disabled access that are so shockingly poor in our so-called civilised and developed country.
With the start of this website, and with it the initial launch of phase one of my big plan to achieve all of these challenges, I am amazed at how incredibly blessed I have been with meeting some truly wonderful people who have so kindly offered their services in making my mission materialise. I could not be more grateful to them and to God, (or whomever or whatever you believe may or may not influence our lives), for making such mammoth meetings take place- my only problem, that is becoming increasingly as these opportunities get bigger and better, is that my body and even my mind simply can not keep up!!
The frustration that this evokes in me is so immense I can not even describe it to you concisely and eloquently as even thinking about it makes me want to cry, shout and thump this computer all at the same time!!
It is just one more thing for one who becomes disabled after living an able bodied life to deal with; one more thing that I have personally found has been the hardest blow.
This no doubt seems a little strange to those of you who have not lived this experience yourselves; ...after all, you’ve lost your career, lifestyle, ability to drive, possible facility to be able to have children and of course the ability to walk around and even get out of bed at all some days- surely many of these must have a harsher affect than simply having to live at a slower pace of life?... I’m sure you are thinking. In actual fact however hard many of these changes in my life have been, on the whole, at five years down the line, I have been able to deal with most of these factors to a satisfactory extent and have started to stop mourning my old life and embrace my new by making the most of my love of writing and by trying my best to make a positive difference to the lives of those who become disabled like me. I feel that as of seven months ago, (when my procedures, surgeries, investigations and rehabilitation had settled down), that my life had begun again and with the pride in my heart of having picked myself up and attempted to get back on with things, I have been knocked for six with this new realisation that however positive and inspiring my desires and plans to not let my disability affect me may be, my pace of life is still ruled by my disability and the subsequent morphine that has to be taken for it, which then has it’s own restricting affect on my life also.
In my life pre car crash and subsequent disability, if my goals had so required it, I would have worked through the night to get my show choreographed or have worked extra flights to enable me to take the time off to perform as a dancer again once I had begun working for Virgin Atlantic; simply explained, I would have just knuckled down and made it happen whatever the physical price.
As I’ve discussed on my blog before, there are indeed some people who have become disabled who can still do this to a degree, (such as those who have a physical disability that doesn’t give them severe pain or complications and can so take part in extreme sports and challenges without serious repercussions), but unfortunately my disability, (although more fortunate than many in some respects), dictates me with chronic indescribable pain that requires immense amounts of morphine 24-7, 365 days a year and so restricts me from knuckling down and just getting on with it, as when the pain gets so bad I have to take extra liquid morphine on top of my daily dose, I am then physically and mentally incapable of doing anything but lay on my bed and stare into space whilst slowly becoming consumed with frustration.
As I found myself  about to jovially write, it’s ok though, I’ll get there, I shall conquer this challenge, (to top off the post with a positive statement), I re-read the start of this immense post where I wrote…
‘’…as a result of trying to do it all as always…I sadly failed miserably!’.
I therefore instead round up today’s rambling morphine influenced post, by stating that I won’t ‘beat it’, or ‘do it all’- I will instead do my best to accept that which I can not change and embrace that which I can; meaning in this instance, I will endeavour to come to terms with the fact that I can no longer push my body to the limits to just get something done or achieve a goal, and instead utilise the small windows of time and workable pain levels the best that I can, by perhaps being a little more organised.
To get the most out of this new life of mine, I have to realise that it has to be treated in a different way to that of my previous life; it has to have more realistic physical goals, and has to have more help with the emotional side of things.
I WILL achieve my goal to establish and make successful my charity to ensure better psychological support for those who become disabled and the loved ones around them, and I will do my very best to highlight the atrocious inadequacies in our travel system for people with disabilities, as well as make the lives of people with disabilities as easy as is possible through the measures I have planned- but what I am learning of late, is that I will just have to do these things over a slightly longer time frame than I would like and would have done previously.
It’s just one more thing to come to terms with in becoming disabled and being unable to live the life I used to, but I will do my best to do that also, I shall achieve it! You’ve heard it here folks, you are my witnesses- make me make this happen!

Today's Reason to Smile, is a link to the website where I found my lovely snazzy 'non clinical looking' sticks.
Take a look at the lovely patterns that are available. They've certainly made me smile since I've said goodbye to my old NHS stylie walking sticks that's for sure!! 


















1 comment:

  1. Karen, I LOVE today's post!! Not sure if I told you but I am currently producing an e-book re my experiences & (IF I can find a publisher & finances) I will be producing a good old fashioned paper-back. I feel that others NEED to know some of the pitfulls as well as the good times as my life isn't all medication & hospital appointments!! Nor is it a bed of bloody roses!! I would LOVE to link the e-book to this site if you would let me? Miss u lots & hope 2 c u VERY soon xxxxx

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