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Thursday, 15 September 2011

A Big Splash!

I'm so sorry to you all for my lack of post yesterday. In contrast to my usual vague- though I assure you always sincere apology; the reason that I was unable to write to you yesterday, was that the day turned out to be a hugely physically significant and consequently painful one for me; thus rendering me imprisoned to my bed and in a morphine induced comer before the sun had even set!
The 15th September 2011 turned out to be a momentous day- the day that I returned to any form of physical form of therapy, since it was enforced upon me to cease such actions nine months ago.
Following my preliminary diagnosis of Arachnoiditis, ( a degenerative neurological disorder which causes chronic pain throughout the nervous system), in January of this year- all of my physical therapy was stopped by my neurology consultant, who enlightened me as to why I always ending up being confined to my bed in incomprehensible chronic pain after every attempt of mine to push myself through the pain and knuckle down with my physiotherapy. The boring science bit of why this happens, is that the Arachnoid membrane which encircles the spinal cord, inflames following any movement, thus resulting in my utterly debilitating neurological pain throughout my back, legs and sometimes arms taking hold of me at even walking a few steps on my sticks around my flat or simply moving position in bed.
As always, I haven't stuck to the rules and the professionally trained dancer and athlete in me, always pushes myself, however much anyone (however well informed), may tell me to do otherwise.
Yesterday, fueled by adrenaline and anxiety, I turned up to my local leisure centre to use the pool, to move around, to do a few of my old hydrotherapy exercises and to generally enjoy the immense freedom that being in water brings to someone with a disability like myself.
Despite the anticipated access hiccups in actually getting through the leisure centre and into the pool, a couple of the staff's kindness and enthusiasm made up for the ineptitude of others and eventually I made it through to the pool area, relatively physically and emotionally unscathed!
As the young, (yet unfortunately not Baywatch 'fit'!), lifeguard, wound the antiquated hoist system to lower me into the pool, on a broken plastic chair; the excitement in me bubbled to the brim in my chest and outweighed any discomfort that I may have felt from the chill of the water or the pinching cracks in the plastic chair, as it gradually submerged me into the chilly depths below.
Clinging onto the edge of the pool like a timid child, I was greeted by the indignant looks of those who I kindly asked to move aside so that I may travel along the side of the pool by holding onto the edge. The frowns and quizzical looks that greeted me were perhaps unsurprising, as to those who didn't see the pantomime that was the lifeguards getting me into the water, (which I imagine considering the palaver that it involved- the number was few, if any!)- I was simply a grown woman, strangely asking people to move out of the way so that I may get past. Without a neon sign upon my head reading, 'DISABLED', or without the unspoken statement that is my wheelchair- I suppose that stripped bare from these indicators, it is understandable that these people wouldn't presume to think that I was disabled,
Finally in position in an appropriate depth for my therapy, I proceeded to work through the lighter set of exercises that I was given by my wonderful hydrotherapy team at Bath hospital.
After working through these movements, I fought the urge to swim, ( for me an odd style, which consists of a bizarre form of breathe stroke with my head kept straight in the water as much as possible to keep my spine in a straight line, whilst relying predominantly on my arms and not my legs to move awkwardly through the water).
Those of you who know me and who have got to know me over the last few months that I have laid my soul bare upon the pages of this blog, will probably know what is coming next- I did  it. I tentatively let go of the side and picked my way through the sea of sugar-hyped school children and swam- albeit an extremely loosely used term in this instance I assure you!
Well, if you guessed what happened there; I imagine that you can also guess what came after the swim! Just about making it home before I got to the point of screaming to the whole of SW London about the pain that I was in, I fell onto my bed and began to wonder whether I'd done the right thing in defying the experts advice.
Twenty four hours on and I'm still wondering.
The pain has now escalated and I have been  incapable of doing much at all today and whether that subsides by tomorrow is anyone's guess right now; but I did it and for somebody who has to set and achieve goals in order to feel worthwhile to myself-that is just so amazingly important.
Why do I need to set such goals- because that is how I have always been. That is the me pre-accident/disability, and that is an extremely hard character trait to stamp out! Trust me, I've had five years of trying to do so!
Well, for today getting in the water after nine or ten months of not being able to do so, is the thing that is making me smile, even though it may be the thing that tomorrow is the thing that will make me cry- that is the nature of the beast of the disability that I live with.
I hope that your disability is playing ball and not hindering your life too much today. Stay strong and cling on to those moments such as being in the water to keep you going.
Until tomorrow- I promise!

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