I’m taking you back – to January 2017.
I’d been allowed ‘home’ to celebrate the new year with my (now) husband – waving short-term goodbyes to the rehab ward from a wheelchair. My life had irreversibly changed.
It’s hard to explain what it feels like when your brain doesn’t know that you still have a left leg – to be unable to move it and require two people to lift you in and out of bed, or to a chair. I couldn’t text and was forever knocking things off my hospital tray-table (which I then couldn’t retrieve!!).
I painstakingly practised picking up satsumas with my left hand over and over again – it worked.
The staff were kind, caring and completely professional, but during the night ‘healthcare assistant’ duties were mostly carried out by men. Perhaps it was the time of year – over Christmas, and during a period of staffing issues or, just luck as to who was assigned to where. Either way, I was acutely aware of the fact that I was (physically) powerless. And for the first time in my adult life, I felt vulnerable.
I was vulnerable – I needed help – in the early hours – to use a bed-pan, and once I’d gained a bit of strength – to help me get on and off a really lovely wheelie commode-chair.
At your absolute weakest, you need all of your strength – to look forward, and trust that nothing is insurmountable. I was clear about one thing – I couldn’t change the situation – it was completely out of my control, but I was in charge of my feelings.
As ‘Dear Deidre’ as it sounds, I looked for the good stuff in each day. Things that made me smile – like jam sponge pudding and custard, my nails being painted, and wearing the big shiny necklaces I requested be brought in (if the descriptions weren’t quite clear enough, he freestyled and I’d get a lucky-dip variation on a theme!!).
After all, what was the alternative?
I cracked on with it, quickly gleaning that the real work happens – not during physio sessions – but later: on your hospital bed, and at home. Overnight, while you sleep.
Time, effort, repetition, consistency. That’s it.
It gets boring after a while. Especially, when chemotherapy and seizures have a habit of working their magic on otherwise ambitious plans.
Before undergoing brain surgery, I walked to and from work – enjoyed running, swimming and kept generally fit.
I’ve been back on my feet for (what feels like) a long time now, but I’m not yet doing big distances and rely on aids, including an orthotic support (and walking sticks).
My rehabilitation continues and so does my progress (a bit more slowly now). Due to its location, my brain tumour is likely to affect my mobility further if it grows. So you’ll understand why I want to make the most of it.
Doing new types of activity helps to reinvigorate and in the last week, I have smashed some serious goals… for the first time in forever, I rode a bike, and it *really* was AMAZING!
I tasted freedom, and fresh air on my face and once I’d been given a good push to get me started there really was no stopping me.
I’ve been day-dreaming of entering races and mentally planning how I’d zip around town on my own set of slick (three) wheels.
For two quid I’d won the make-your-Monday-better lottery.
A sense of achievement. You really can’t beat it.
The Wonderful Simply Cycling
Established in 2004, Simply Cycling is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to offer cycling to disabled people regardless of their ability. Their sessions are run several times a week from Wythenshawe Park, Longford Park and Boggart Hole Clough, in Manchester.
The staff were lovely, and I want to give a special shout-out to Craig who walked around with me on my first lap of the track – in case I got stuck or needed or rest and didn’t roll his eyes when I asked him to take some pics.
Oh and by the way – they have ‘standard’ bikes too. Maybe see you there sometime!