Christmas is coming

Well here we are, the Christmas period. For me, it all notmally begins with putting the tree up, decorating the house, getting calendars, and of course shopping. This year is a little different, in that I’ve done none of those things. It would be fair to say I’m not feeling particularly christmassy at the moment, but I’m getting more into the spirit. Sarah has been working tirelessly (along with some help) to move us into our new bungalow, and hopefully I’ll be able to spend all of the christmas period at my new home.

Having a young daughter makes missing out on christmas very hard indeed. I look forward to it all year; seeing her take in the lights on the tree, be excited to see what’s wrapped up, pinching chocolate. But none of that for me this year; she’s still loving it by all accounts, I’m just not able to watch at the moment. But this isn’t a sob story, it’s just making me more determined to get home as soon as I can. Whether I’m home just for the day, on home leave or completely discharged, I plan on fully enjoying christmas with my fantastic little family.

For me, in a way, I’m getting the best presents of all. I’m coming back to my family, getting a new home, and potentially getting out of hospital. Winning!

That being said, at the moment my mood is most definitely low. I can’t explain it really, I guess I’m just fed up of this entire thing. People controlling my life, not knowing the next step, people guessing at what should happen with my care… oh well. Not long left I hope. Today there is another reason for me to be sad. I’m losing one of my long time inmate friends, Steve. He’s helped me stay positive and face the challenges we have in common with true grit, and I’ll really miss having him here. Sharing this journey with others, although horrible, is very comforting. Good luck to you my mate. You’re a true gent.

At least today I am up in my chair for a few hours. I ache like hell, which I would guess is down to being in bed for days, but at least I’m up. Laying on your side and eating is impossible really, so it’s great to be upright. I’m not sure what my plans for the day are, but I should probably start christmas shopping.

Up and down

This week started off really well. Tuesday saw my goal planning meeting go brilliantly, it was the first time I left feeling really positive. We discussed even potentially moving my discharge date forward! Everyone agreed I was doing well, and there were just a few more issues to iron out until I can go home. Following that, my coastguard team were in the area so I popped out to see them. That was really lovely, I miss being out on jobs with them so was great to catch up for a minute.

Since then, I’ve sort of been sliding downhill. Obviously after such a high on tuesday, I had to start coming back down to earth. Wednesday wasn’t exactly a bad day, it just certainly wasn’t as good as it could have been. I’ve said it before; these things are to be expected, but that doesn’t make the day go any faster.

Thursday was a bad day. Overnight, somehow pressure was on me in the wrong kind of way, leaving a bright red mark on my skin. After being checked by my consultant, it was decided to be on bed rest until Monday. Because of the placement of the mark (yes on my arse again for those of you wondering) I have to be completely on a side again, practically at 90 degrees. I can do 4 hours on my left, but only 2 on my right. This also doesn’t help my bad right shoulder, that aches after two minutes. I managed to get some ibuprofen gel prescribed with the help of a fantastic healthcare assistant we shall call KJ, which really helps. Cheers for that!

I really hate bed rest. It’s boring, a waste of time and most importantly it takes away my independence and freedom. I know it’s for the best, but that really doesn’t make it easier to deal with. I sound like a broken record, don’t I? I think it’s fair enough. I was meant to be starting car transfers, meaning I could get out and about much easier; but it wasn’t meant to be. Now that I’m not so acutely unwell, all of these setbacks are extremely frustrating.

I heard a quote once, life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you deal with it. I’m still learning to make that 90 percent positive.

London bridge will not fall down

Firstly, I know this post has nothing to do with the aims of this blog, but occasionally things need to be said and, as my outlet, this is where I will post.

The London bridge attack saw multiple people injured, two people murdered, and the attacker shot dead. I’m not claiming to know everything on this subject, but I’ve followed as it became news and I have deep regret that once again, one evil person has managed to make such a mark on the lives of others.

It truly is times like these that as citizens of a nation, as neighbours, and as friends we must pull together.

The police officers involved, both armed and unarmed, are heroes in my eyes. It is believed that one man involved in initially subduing the attacker and taking the knife from him was in fact an off duty officer; I respect you sir. From the video footage, it appears that 3 armed officers jumped into the struggle, removed all civilians from the danger zone, and confronted this person. At that point, one officer was forced to make a decision; risk letting this man live whilst faced with a suicide vest meaning risking his own life, his colleagues, and the public, or use his weapon. I can’t begin to imagine what this officer had running through his head, but I am glad he was there, and so well trained. This man did his job perfectly. I’m not getting into the politics and ethics of it all, but hats off to that officer.

I will not name the attacker and give him what he wanted. I will think of the families of those affected, and I will think of the bravery of everyone, both police and civilian, involved in ending this person’s attack.

RIP Jack Merritt. You did not deserve to die. I am thinking of you, and your family.

RIP to the lady murdered in this senseless attack. I do not know your name, but I am thinking of you all the same.

Thank you to all involved. You are the definition of ‘hero’. I am sorry you were forced to become that.

Goal Planning

As part of the rehabilitation plan on this unit, every few weeks each patient has a goal planning meeting. This consists of a discharge planning nurse, liaison nurse, consultant, psychologist, social worker, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, plus me and my family. I think that’s everyone at least. So, in this meeting there are multiple points discussed; progress made so far, main goals and aims, and expectations/ questions.

In my previous goal planning meetings, I have set goals and made plans, and some I have met whilst others have fallen by the wayside. For instance, previously I was aiming to go home around this time (end of November). Whilst that would have been fantastic, the infections and time on bed rest I’ve had meant that I missed therapy, and therefore that was impossible. Obviously that’s not an easy pill to swallow (hospital pun intended) but on the plus side, I do now get extra time in therapy; I want to get as much as I can before I go.

Getting to the point of this post, in my previous goal planning meetings I have always walked away (pun intended) feeling as though the goals are unrealistic and I will never achieve what is expected of me. Now, for some reason, I feel much more confident. I am often told by certain therapists that I am too hard on myself and, whilst this may be true I’m not going to change. It’s my way of pushing myself further.

I have my next planning meeting coming up this week. I’m a little bit nervous if I’m honest; I expect that this will be the decider of whether or not I’m allowed home for Christmas. I’m not going to dwell on it though, as one thing that I have learnt is that I no longer have control, and I’m just along for the ride. Que cera cera, or something like that.

In conjunction with the meeting, I’m setting myself a number of personal goals to meet. I want to be able to transfer into cars soon, I want to regularly publish on here, and I want to start a podcast. I feel that having goals and reviewing them on the regular helps me stay focused. What goals do you have? How do you ensure you meet them? Drop me a line and let me know!

What a wonderful world

At the moment, I’m finding it incredibly difficult to be in hospital. Not for any one particular reason, but anyone who knows me will agree that I’m easily bored and have no patience. Ironic that, being the patient and all. Anyway, I’m struggling, and there is no shame in that I think. Sarah is being incredible as always, and spending time with her and Amelia is by far my favourite thing to do. The same goes for seeing my family and friends; even just for a while, I can be distracted and forget that I am stuck in here.

It’s really difficult to word right; whilst I am free to leave and under no obligation to stay, this is by far the best place for me to be. I’m still enjoying my physio and OT sessions, the therapists are absolutely brilliant and pushing me past the limits even they thought I couldn’t breach. Unfortunately, it’s the rest of the time that’s the problem. I’m not saying that I’m as bad as I was during my HDU time or when I had the infections, but hey ho. I suppose the point of this is to share that I am okay with finding it difficult, and therefore everyone else can be too. Woo, words of wisdom right there. Have that for free!

Yesterday I went to see Frozen 2. Obviously that was for Amelia’s sake, but I’m not gonna lie it was great. I was less interested in the film, but more so in having that precious family time that I’ve missed for the last four months (almost). It was brilliant just to be a normal family for once, albeit one that takes the lift instead of the escalator. And sits in the place reserved for wheelchairs. And blah blah blah…

I’m definitely learning to appreciate what matters in life. The people, the moments, the memories; Is this what being an adult is about? Less of the wanting fancy things (although I do like the odd treat) and more about just being in the moment. I’m terrible for not taking enough photographs (Sorry Sarah!) But all of those memories are engraved in my brain.

Overall, I’d like to just point out again that it’s okay not to be okay, especially when you get the help you need. I have all the help I need around me, and for that I am eternally grateful. I just can’t wait to go home.

On a very final note, the podcast might happen, keep watching this space. Or listening. Or don’t. I dont know.

Slight improvements

Well, what do I say. I’m finally out of isolation, which means I have been able to rejoin my therapy and, more importantly, have a few trips out to the Toby Carvery. Woohoo! Solitary confinement, as I have come to know it, is not easy. It really does take a toll on mental health, which in turn slows down physical recovery. It is very hard hearing this little world I’m in go on around me, whilst I am stuck in my room. But oh well, I’m back now.

Being out of my room also brings the joy of being back in my wheelchair, albeit for only a few hours each day. I slowly had to work it back up; I started with 30 minutes, then an hour, then two… Currently I’m at 6 hours, which is good enough for now. I’m also focusing a lot more on transfers using a Slide Board (or transfer board) which is very physically demanding but fantastic for me. Hopefully I will soon be able to transfer In and out of cars, and so can go home or out and about without paying for taxis.

These last few weeks have been incredibly hard, I’ll be honest. Thankfully I’ve had plenty of distractions, but the mind can be a nasty place when it wants. I’ve missed out on a lot of things, not just physio and other rehab but I’ve not been to see my new home, not seen my friends, I’ve not even wanted to write. But here we are, out the other side.

In other news, I’ve had an MRI; hopefully this will tell the cause of the tingling sensation in my arms so we can sort it out. I’m getting stronger by the day, and although it’s not painful it’s rather annoying to get pins and needles every time I look down!

I’m also thinking of starting a podcast, talking about spinal injuries as a whole, my experiences and Injury, but other stuff too. If anyone has any idea or even thinks it’s a good idea, please drop me a message!

One final note is that all through this experience, people have been there for me that I didn’t even think of, and others that I thought would be have not. I’m extremely lucky to have such a fantastic, broad range of friends, and those that have stuck by me truly are fantastic.

A note of thanks

Being in hospital is not easy. I always knew it would be difficult, but I never realised just quite how bad it could be. I also never realised that one of the biggest things that helps get me through is company, friends, support messages etc.

Since I have been in here, I have received many messages of support; cards, texts, facebook messages, comments on my posts, people coming to see me… I could go on but you get the picture. This all means so much to me, every word is a boost that I use to help me focus on getting home. I’m not going to name many names here, as I don’t feel that’s right, but there are a few special mentions that I want to take time to acknowledge properly.

Firstly, my family. Obviously Sarah and my daughter Amelia have been absolutely key to me getting this far, and I genuinely wouldn’t be here without them. My mum and her husband Jon, my dad and his wife Sharon, my brothers and sisters, cousins, aunties and uncles; everyone has done everything they can to show support and help me as best they can, and I can never thank you all enough.

Next, my friends. Well, not just my friends, but Sarah’s friends, my mum’s friends, everyone who has helped me and more importantly my family stay sane and try to stick to a relatively normal life. People chatting to Sarah has been invaluable; from her nursing friends we have chatted to in corridors to people checking in via text; thank you. My friends for coming in, setting up my guitar and having poker nights with me; you rock. My friends I have made in the Coastguard, coming in and bringing me Milka and other treats, and using their positive thoughts to help me heal; I dont know where to begin to thank you all. My friends from college; texting to check I’m alright and popping through to have a chat, friends and old colleagues coming to see me despite working in this place as well, I’m just extremely lucky to have such thoughtful people in my life. Also, that milk tray went down a treat; Jodie, you’re a star!

This gushing thanks is obviously quite unlike me, but I feel as though I need to at least start to say the words. I have obviously missed a lot of people off, and I can only apologise; I love all of you and I promise it’s not on purpose. I can’t wait to be able to thank everyone in person, but until then I hope this post makes it clear; the gratitude I have for everyone and everything people have done is never ending. One day, I aim to repay the favour or pay it forward in some way. I’m not sure how, but I will.

Today, 9th November, is another big reason for this post. My Sister Ciara, my mum, my old schoolteachers and many more are out on a sponsored walk as I write. I’m absolutely overwhelmed by it all; these incredible people are giving up their own time to help me! I genuinely dont know what to say, so I won’t say much or I’ll ramble. I think a simple thank you is the best I can muster at the moment, so thank you all. Mrs Makin, Mrs Luke, Mr Redshaw, everyone else; I may have been a pain in school but at least you all see I’m not so bad now 😂 I hope the rain stays off, and I’ll be in to see you all at some point hopefully soon.

One final thank you is to everyone taking the time to read these ramblings; it means a huge amount to me that you’re all so interested in my life and progress. Thank you.