Taking a Break!

Hello, hello, hello!

This week I’m doing something that I rarely do and I’m not sure if I’ll achieve…I’m taking a break?! Not from blogging but I’ve booked a week off work to just have some downtime. I’ve only got one day planned and that’s it which feels super weird and that’s not like me.

I’m calling a nerd alert right here but I’m terrible at taking breaks. Even when I was at uni I’d fill up my holidays so that I was doing something all the time whether that was working or doing extra reading etc. I’m a definitely a workaholic and it’s both a blessing and curse. That said, I want to be strict this time and actually give myself time to chill out.

So, I’ve got a stack of books that I’m looking forward to choosing from, my comfy clothes are washed and I have a few empty notebooks that I might see if I feel like writing in. Best of all though, I have Ali at home for the week so we can actually spend some time together.

As a personal thing, I think it’s always been in my mind that I want to feel useful at all times. I want to make sure I’m trying to do my very best and getting ahead of the game. So actually switching off and not stressing and worrying about what’s going on is hard for me.

For tomorrow though, I’m out in Portsmouth taking a wander around the shops with some sea air my Mum, Sister and Grandparents…it slightly helps that there’s a Cadbury shop which is completely my weakness. Fun fact, the HMV at Gunwharf Quays is also the place where I bought Mean Girls for the first time and we all know how that obsession went.

Anyway, I guess this is a rambling post but, why not? Let’s see if I actually stick to chilling out this week!

 

Spine Update! November 2016

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Depending on how long you’ve been reading my blog/following me on Twitter you may or may not know that back in 2015 I fell off a horse and broke part of my spine (vertebrae T12 to be exact) and damaged other parts of it. It’s been a long 18 months with a lot of pain, scans, x-rays, physiotherapy, wheelchairs, crutches and walking very, very slowly. There wasn’t any part of my life that wasn’t impacted by the accident, I spent a lot of time (longer than I should have been) on maximum strength painkillers and spent almost 2 months in this wonderful contraption…

 

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I documented on here and on Twitter whenever I could what it was like living with my spinal injury. I learnt a lot from it and it gave me a bigger appreciation for not only being able to walk but life in general. That said, it is frustrating and the pain was indescribable and is still a huge part of my life today. BUT! I finally have some good news to share.

Last week I attended a clinic called Hampshire Backs to see a back specialist. I’d waited since September for this appointment and had an MRI (I was stuck in the machine for an hour!) determined that something would happen this time after seeing endless doctors, consultants and surgeons only for them to shrug their shoulders. My new consultant is brilliant, I’ve seen the scans and my break is fully healed, as is the damage to other parts of my spine, my nerves are clear of disruption and my spinal chord is good. All the majors were ok! We then went to on a physical examination, one that’s almost routine to me now, it took him a small amount of time to work out what was going on.

Due to the fact I’ve tried almost all the options that I have been able to at this point, including a year of physiotherapy, we were going to the next step. At some point next year I’m going into hospital to have a procedure, during which I’ll be asleep while a mix of steroids and anaesthetic will be placed in to the joints in the base of my spine. The hope is that this will give me relief, meaning I can build up muscle before it wears off and hopefully that will help the pain. IF this works then there will be talk of further procedures, if not…well we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I won’t lie to you, I’m terrified of going to sleep and having people stick things into my spine but I also have a new found hope. This could be the start of me not living in constant pain and worry. I’m going forward and trying to be positive about this.

Remembering the good.

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If you haven’t guessed already I love pictures like the one above. I love words and slogans and nice backgrounds. I guess it’s because sometimes I don’t have the image that says what I want to say or sometimes I don’t have the words to say how I feel. It’s because of that I use Pinterest a lot because sometimes the words I need are already there. I don’t use the quote I picked today because I think I’m this brave, strong person. I’ve always said I’ve simply got on with my life the best I can.

I’ve thought a lot about the accident in the past few days, about my spine. This isn’t because I’ve had a lot of time on my hands, more because I’ve been in pain again and there’s nothing more frustrating. When my doctors say the scans look normal and my physio says there’s not much he can do and yet I’m still in pain a lot of the time. When I’m in the awkward part where I still can’t walk too far or stand up for long periods of time and have to explain that I’m recovering from a spine injury. When I have to call venues and explain why I need a seat and they have to decide if I’m ‘disabled enough’, because I’m not officially registered as disabled but at the same time I’m still struggling so much. Don’t get me wrong I do not want another label at all, but sometimes it’s what other people want so I can get the help I need at concert venues for example.

So while I was feeling pretty down about this yesterday, I had a conversation with Ali about how I was feeling and why. He reminded me that while the accident was shitty, awful and did change a lot of my life, a lot of positives came out of it too. I was reminded of these again when I went to see Joe tonight.

  • I’ve got a new appreciation for my body when it’s healthy
  • I’ve gotten better at taking me time and not doing things I don’t want to do
  • I’ve learnt a lot about friendship
  • I’ve got a much better relationship with food, portion sizes and exercise
  • I met Alice, who has come to be a great friend and support to me, I would never have set foot in a gym if it wasn’t for the accident
  • My relationships gotten stronger
  • I have a new sense of understanding when it comes to physical disabilities
  • I got a job I love that I might not have applied for if I hadn’t been spending so much time online when I couldn’t move
  • I got a lot of reading done
  • As a result of the reading I finally embraced feminism and found a new passion

There’s a lot there and I think, as with anything that changes your life when you don’t expect it, there’s a lot to deal with. Sometimes I forget all the positives because I’m just having a down day, that’s all. I worried about writing tonight’s blog because I have had people in the past saying I think too much about my spine, that it takes over my life. Then I shook the thought off because of COURSE breaking your spine is going to have a huge impact on your life, it changes everything for at least the first year – two years after it happens. I no longer care about the ignorant or negative people who don’t try and understand or make throwaway comments because my spine and how I handle it is a part of my life. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Crack – a poem

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Sometimes I write poetry, this image really made me think about the past year and where I’m at now. I started writing this after a really tough gym session,where I just felt my body let me down. Anyway, this is one of my few poems, enjoy.

One second was all it took,

Flying then falling

My lungs gasping for air

You cracked and you crumbled,

making me not as high.

Once I’d dreamed of growing taller, now I’d take it with no complaints.

You made my legs useless,

my summer a sleepy haze.

A city that should have been my playground,

turned into white walls and levels of pain.

Even now as I start to reclaim,

some of those things you took.

You can still floor me with a no notice

reaching out for boxes, the only hope I have of taking away my pain.

No doubt you’ve changed my life,

for the good as well as the bad.

In ways I couldn’t have dreamt of,

before their letter came.

I don’t want to fight against you,

spend my days angry and depressed.

But some days I can’t forgive a body that fights against me.

When I’m trying every day.

But I suppose time will tell,

and all I can do is carry on.

Slowly and pick myself up from the fall.

Spine Issues

I thought I was done crying over my spine, I guess not. Today has not been a great day in terms of my spine, what started as just sadness and anger turned into almost being quickly taken into hospital to be hooked up to pain relief. I honestly thought that with the physio, gym sessions and other things I was on the mend, although I was still in pain I thought the excruciating part of it was gone but it’s very much alive in muscle spasms. While I’m on a lot of painkillers, I’m on nothing for my muscle spasms and currently my back and all around my hip is rock hard because of it.

I’ve had to pull out of a show again tonight which I hate, I hate letting anyone down and I hate not being able to perform, possibly the worst part of recovery. I’m miserable with not being able to easily play shows. I thought this part was over, I hoped this was a thing of the past. I was getting ready, about to go load up the car when simply walking around the flat I felt a sharp pain and that was it I was out. The pain was awful, Ali and I tried to wait it out, resting and then trying to walk again but I couldn’t. I was in agony, limping heavily and sobbing. I wasn’t going anywhere tonight. That started about 4 and a half hours ago, I’m still in pain but it feels more manageable now.

On Monday, I finally made the decision to leave the Horse Riding society after talking to my mental health mentor. I really wasn’t coping mentally or physically very well and the society was what was stressing me out most, I had to let the members know today and I am not ashamed to say I cried after posting:

Hello Everyone,

I’m writing this with deep sadness. As most of you will know I was in an accident earlier in the year, breaking my spine. I’ve still got nearly 2 years of recovery time and will probably never ride again. While I’ve loved being a part of the society and your president lately my mental health has deteriorated along with more struggles and nerve damage due to my injury. It is because of this my medical team have said that it would be best for me to step down as soon as possible. Thank you to everyone who rode with me, made me smile and was a friend. I will always love this society and hope that I can still be a friend. I have handed in my notice meaning we are looking for a new president asap and I leave you in the capable hands of Daniela and Amy, while Amanda will be back from leave when she can (please contact them in relation to any questions, queries, rides).

Thank you so much for everything.

Chloe

A lot of people commented saying they were sad to see me go, to say thank you and a lot of people to say that I was brave. I still don’t think I fully understand why I’m brave? Because I was honest about the reasons? Because I stepped down to look after myself? I certainly don’t feel brave. I worry I’m letting everyone down, that if anything happens to the society it will be my fault. I worry I’ll lose friends. Now it’s done though and I really need to focus on my studies and try to remember my time with happiness, not tears.

 

10407210_10153613102758206_918236493107446324_nHappier times at the society

I still have a long way to go with my spine and tonight’s reminded me of that. I’m so lucky to have so many amazing people around me caring for me and helping me carry on going forward when times are hard. I don’t know what the future holds in terms of recovery, I’ve been told around 2 years for successful recovery but I’m not holding on to that as a solid date, after all when it first happened I was told I had a 6 week recovery, laughable now. Almost 7 months down and who knows how many to go but I will keep going, I’ll just need a little help along the way.

This is my body

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I’ve been thinking about my body a lot lately. Over the last 7 months I’ve seen it change and adapt so that it can heal, I’ve felt it slow down and been crippled by pain, I’ve seen it expand in the mirror. To say that I’ve been upset about it would be an understatement, combined it wrecked my confidence. How could I be seen with my stunning friends when my skin was marked by the way it had to stretch? How could I pretend to not see when guys would look at them and look past me being the chubby one. It made me angry because I never used to care so why did I now?

Tomorrow I start the gym for my physio sessions, which is a huge part of my recovery. It’s taken 7 long months of small stretches and exercises, acupuncture and pain. While watching Caitlin Moran last night (this is the video that inspired me) I had a realisation. While she stood up and showed her stomach off to the huge crowd and just went this is me I had a feeling burst inside me. She doesn’t give a shit, so why should I? Why should I get teary because I put on weight while my body was you know putting one of the most important bones in my body back together.

So here is the scary bit…this is my belly, something that caused me a lot of upset over the years…

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There you go, that’s it my tum after a lot of healing. I don’t know, looking at it why I get so freaked out and angry at myself. I look at these pictures and think to myself I really like my curves and it’s just what it is. I’m not going into that gym to boast on Instagram and Twitter about how healthy I am, about my fabulous weight loss (if that happens). I’m going to the gym to continue to fix my body after trauma, to build muscle back where it’s gone. If I lose some fat, that’s fine but I’ve decided that it’s no longer my aim.

I don’t want to get into that dangerous territory where I start getting controlling over what I eat again. I know how dangerous that can be especially when you’re already trying to get through depression because you start hating and taking out your sadness on your body. Been there, done that.

I’m fully aware that this post might get some negative responses, that I’m fat, I’m ugly. Whatever. If this makes one person feel better about their body, male or female, then I’m pleased I wrote this. I’m going to try my hardest not to let my body let me down yes I’m bigger than I was and covered in stretch makes but you know what putting a spine back together makes my body pretty cool.

This is my body and I’m proud of it, fuck what anyone else thinks and I hope you can feel that way too.

Road Trips with the girls

Off in the sunshine today to see the beautiful Eleanor while she’s resting up after her surgery last weekend. The surgery all went well and she’s healing nicely despite having a pretty bad knee injury. Up early (ish), cup of tea down and bundle Dani, Amy and Alissa into my car just after rush hour so we can get down to Kent as quickly as possible.

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It has been SO sunny here in Kingston, unfortunately I missed a chunk of it when I traded the sun for the clouds of Durham and Newcastle, luckily it followed us to Kent. Cruising through Kingston and the M25 we had to change the journey but eventually pulled into Eleanor’s cute little village. It’s been such a long time since I’ve been in a proper village, there are a few that surround Basingstoke but I never go to them when I’m home, I’ve never needed to. We drove through all these little country lanes and fields. I had this little smile on my face as soon as we got to those views, just like I did while I was in the car up to Durham at the weekend. I don’t think you can really appreciate how beautiful this country is until you take a long drive/ train journey through it.

Once we finally got there, I can’t explain how good it was to see El again. I’ve missed all the girls so much since we finished lectures but with El, obviously I’ve been worried too because surgery is damn scary. El’s was a relatively simple surgery but what can I say I’m a worrier. We were able to catch up before eating an incredible lunch Eleanor’s mum had made for us. Oh my god it was so good, I’ve really been spoilt with all this good food for the past week (and I get more when I head home this weekend *dies*) potatoes and pasta were my picks out of the load of food laid out for us and then homemade cheesecake for pudding.

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The five of us in El’s garden

l-r, Amy, Me, El, Dani and Alissa 

With all of us back together it was back to our usual banter and a lot of laughs, I’d missed it. It’s different than the laughs I have with the boys, I like having the mix of both.

I guess I need times like this week, to get away to different places and be left to appreciate things. When you distance yourself from the things that are stressing you out, like my assignments, physically walk away from them it can bring that glow of happiness back that I really needed. Back to reality tomorrow, but it was nice to have a break 🙂