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.

Starting December right!

It’s been a pretty positive start to the week and now the month, just what I needed! There’s been some really shitty parts to this year, especially in the last few months so I’m determined to send 2015 off in a positive year and look forward to 2016…even if I am a little bit terrified of it! I wasn’t feeling particularly great about today, I was anxious about my gym class because of the pain I’ve been having but it turns out I didn’t need to be. That said I was already in a good mood from last night after having a long and lovely Skype conversation with Eleanor, it’s hard with her being all the way in New Zealand but we’re making it work.

Of course today is December 1st (I know, how is it December already?!?) so it’s advent calender time but since I haven’t been back home in a while I had no advent calendar this morning…the first time since I was 1. Luckily Mum text me a picture this morning of a maltesers advent calendar all for me, yay! I also picked up Star Wars ones for me and Ali too because IT’S FINALLY STAR WARS MONTH AND MY TICKETS ARE BOOKED, AHHHHHH.

As always I trekked to the hospital for 9am *sob* for my morning gym recovery class. I’d had a rough week last week so I was lucky I could talk to Mum before going and try and get in a good mindset before going in, got mistaken for a student nurse (I wish!) and got told that ‘surely I still have time to grow’ after I complained I was so tiny… the people in the class thought I was in my teens. Of course the real reason I was nervous was pain but I tackled all the machines, including a new one, and I kicked butt! There is no better feeling for me at the moment than coming home covered in sweat and knowing I’ve worked hard to get better, even if I do pay for it later. Oh and because my physio instructor for the gym is amazing I got given a sticker because I worked so hard…being the youngest has its perks!

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Another really amazing thing is that as I’ve mentioned before I’ve struggled with the fact I’ve put on weight because of the accident and recovery, as well as the implications of my medication. As I wrote before I won’t mention numbers on here but I can confirm my healthier eating habits and gradually building up movement is working I’m finally losing the weight I gained!! I’m really proud of myself for doing something healthy and my strength in will power!

I ended a good day with a great evening at The Fighting Cocks with Ali, Charlotte, Rhys and later Joe. I got to play in the quiz, laugh a lot, get drawn on and just get out of the house with no expectation to get drunk which was really nice. It also helps that whenever me and Charlotte hang out we can’t stop laughing.

I’m stupidly excited about this start to December and I hope more than anything it carries on!

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.

 

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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.

I’m a teeny bit competitive

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I am a competitive person. I have been for a long time and since being at uni it’s definitely increased. Partly my need to achieve and be the best is to shut up my anxiety and depression who like the tell me that I’m shit but it’s got to this competitive stage, even though I’d never be mean about it. The person I’m the absolute worst to is myself, I am super competitive with me!

Today I was in my 2nd gym class and I’ve started taking into account the little exercise I can do as well as keeping track of what I’m eating and trying to control my portion sizes as well as make better choices. With that in mind and the fact that I already had physio yesterday I did something a little silly, I pushed myself too much. I was getting so happy to see the numbers going up and just the thought of being able to fit into some of my favourite clothes just spurred me on a little too much.

I’m pretty sore right now but I’ve learnt my lesson and I won’t over do it again. I’ve been very strict with myself about numbers, I don’t need anything else negative in my life or anything I could control in a bad way so I banned scales. I don’t have any in my flat apart from kitchen ones on purpose because I know that I would just constantly weigh myself, compare myself and get stupidly anxious over it and then cry and be unhappy, no matter how thin I was.

So in a way I’m doing this blind, there’s no number here. I have a rough idea of what I weighed a while ago and after the end of my sessions I will try on my dress and possibly look when I’m at my parents house but there will be NO obsessive checking because I got absorbed with weight as a teenager. That’s the lovely part of being a teenager, puppy fat, bullying, being told to go to weight watchers, all lovely stuff. The best thing about this recovery is there’s no pressure, just support. I chose to take the class, I’m choosing what I eat and what portion size I want and when I want a day off and a take away.

So maybe I need to work on being a little less competitive for all of this to work and stop being so hard on myself. After all this is recovery, not the Olympics and hopefully it will do wonders for my stress levels too!

The Gym: Let’s do this.

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This morning I crawled out of bed after being awake for most of the night. I was tired, nervous and excited. After 7 months of not being allowed to push myself, of having to watch for signs that my legs were giving up and tense doctors appointments I got to go into a supervised gym class with a physio instructor. I wrote about my body  and its changes this week as well, which had such an incredible response from all over the world. I knew I had to write about this too but I was so nervous. I really didn’t want to have to stop after a few exercises or for my leg to go completely numb so that I fall over.

I turned up in my matching gym clothes and was the youngest one there, mostly OAPs, one man who I’d say was in his 30s with a leg injury and a woman in her 30s who came in later. To say I was self conscious was an understatement and when we started warm up I started to panic, it was painful and I couldn’t keep up very easily.  As we moved on to the machines I needed a little bit of help going through my routine.

For now it consists of 2-3 minutes on each machine/ activity and I mix them up with how I feel:

Cross Trainer

Exercise Bike level 3

Balancing on a ball board (I don’t know the proper name for this)

Marching while doing weights on a trampoline

Holding my balance on an exercise ball while lifting weights

Sitting on an exercise ball and catching a ball that is either thrown to me or I catch after throwing it at the wall

Rising on my toes (aided) holding and going back down

While this week I had to do them in burst and I could only do each one once in the session each week I will build this up and by the end of my 6 weeks I should be able to do all of them a few times in the session! I left completely covered in sweat, tired but really happy. I finally felt like I’d achieved something and although I was pretty sore I was ok, I could still walk which was a bonus. I had about an hour to get back, have a shower and be on the bus to uni, believe me a shower has never felt so good in all my life.

My next stop was the university doctor, again. I have reviews pretty regularly for my medication and generally how I’m doing. This time it was another increase in medication, this time to help me sleep. The pain in the day I’m pretty much stuck with and just have to take both the good and the bad days, do my physio and wait it out. Not sleeping because of the pain is an entirely different thing, if I don’t sleep it affects my mood, I quickly get very depressed and lose all motivation to do anything so making such I’m not kept awake all night is a priority. My dose of both my Dihydrocodine and Gabapentin have gone up at night and I have another check in two weeks.

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I also made it through my lecture without falling asleep too although I wasn’t really myself. All aside this spine focused day has given me some hope and don’t tell anyone but I actually quite liked going to the gym to start my day. When I have a bigger place/ am better I would definitely like to get a Cross trainer for me at home. So that’s the start of my gym time done and I’m kind of looking forward to next week although I may change my mind on that tomorrow…

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.

What have I done this summer?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the expectations of summer today and for the past few weeks. As we creep closer to September and the evenings start getting darker that little bit earlier summer is scampering away before our very eyes. While I was lying on the bed at my appointment yesterday, as my physio was telling me to slow down and not push the muscles too hard something in me snapped. NO! I wanted to scream in my head, No I’m done, I want a summer do over, I want to go and explore the world and write books and go all over London. Just give me a do over. But I was sat slowly trying to pull my knees towards my chest and having my reflexes checked every week to make sure that I wasn’t getting worse. I was waiting on doctors appointments and adjusting medication levels every few weeks. What the hell was I going to say once I got back to uni?

Almost on queue my anxiety  kicked in today, with a days of depressive thoughts too. What if everyone just ignored me when I couldn’t keep up or go on nights out properly? What if I just sat in the corner while everyone talked about how awesome their summer plans were and how they were glad they spent their last summer before graduating having fun and being young? All I could say was that I fractured my spine, got to go in an ambulance and slept a lot.

So I got sad, got angry, and tried to convince myself getting out of bed and getting dressed was going to be a good move. I threw on some clothes after a while and scraped back my hair, intending to take some pictures of Kingston in the sun. The short story is that it didn’t happen, the long version includes a lot of muscle spasms and swearing. So I moped even more and did housework. Now I bet you’re thinking why do I want to read her moaning about life being sucky, WAIT, this bits almost over, I promise.

I thought the words, what have I done this summer? After waves of negativity I had a lightbulb moment, I managed to get my spine to heal back together. I realised how awesome and amazing my body had been this summer. I might not have done anything that other people I know will have done like a trip to Australia or going to Reading Fest, but my body has managed to piece itself back together and escape never being able to use my legs again.

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I realised that it was pretty awesome that I’ve gone from needing help to get out of bed, to walk even the tiniest bit and helped out of the bath every time (now it’s not as often) to having the independence to go to work and my physio appointments without everyone being anxious about it. I’ve learnt to deal with doctors and have a love for nurses. I’ve learnt that I can handle levels of pain I wouldn’t imagine and that if my determination ever needed testing this would do it. I didn’t back down on going to Athens or performing at Basingstoke Live, as people keep telling me I’ve been pretty bad ass.

I still have a long way to go, more appointments, more physio and having to adjust my plans but your body healing itself is a pretty awesome thing and it even makes me forgive the stretch marks that have caused me so much upset lately. Even with all that and the chance I’ll never be able to ride again/ it will be too much of a risk, the experience has made me grow, as cheesy as it sounds. I’ve picked myself up from lows I never thought I’d have and I’ve seen the beauty in the people around me.

So that’s what I’ve done this summer, how about you?