Oh my God what a day.
I watched television in bed until 3ish this morning and then turned it off. Unfortunately though, my body was giving mixed signals and woke me up (which was good but also not), at five o’clock. I called for the nurse to hold my manual chair so that I could transfer from the bed to the chair and then from the chair to the toilet. Once I had finished my business I again got assistance to get back on the manual chair and on to the shower seat for me to have a wake up shower. With this all done I got my swim shorts, trainers and a tee shirt on and had a spot of breakfast. There was no point in going back to bed when I was down to be woken at between 6.30 and 7.00 anyway. No. I was staying up and having some breakfast, bran flakes was what I would be having with a cup of tea and so that was that decision made. It did not take long for me to be sitting with my cereal with my head dropping as I had clearly not had enough sleep. This was going to be a long day!
At 9.15 this morning I had a hydrotherapy session. I had asked when I arrived if I could be put in to the pool as my Wife and I have been unable to go swimming. I arrived and was asked to transfer on to the seat which would hoist me in to the water. I hoisted in and was met by a physiotherapist who would be taking my session of hydrotherapy, she asked about what I could and couldn’t do the last time I was in the pool which was two years ago, and so I told her. She was not too concerned with the fact that I told her I would sink and she asked me to lift off of the hoist chair and she would support my body. At this point I had a float around my neck supporting my head preventing it from going under the water. While she was supporting me she carried out some stretches on my back, legs and stomach, they were obviously very effective because I could really feel the stretch happening. My spasms were not too bad and in fact seemed to help with my body shape. With the stretches done, she removed the float from around my neck and pulled me out in to the deep end of the pool where she told me to swim on my back to the far end of the pool. This I did really well, I was told how to get upright and then I swam on my back all the way back to where we started, it was only on the `de-brief` of that part of the session that she told me that I had done everything myself, no help at all, not even her supporting my head, it was all me!
The next thing she wanted me to try was swimming on my front, obviously the difficulty here is that you can not push off of the side of the pool with your feet and so you have to effectively start swimming under water. I could do this, and I could get to the opposite side of the pool but on the `de-brief` I was told that it was a little frantic and that I was not really achieving anything. Next I had to try again which went a little better, I even threw in a little attempt at the front crawl….which did not work. Next on the agenda was for me to swim on my front, and breathe by obviously taking my head out of the water. This was a little more difficult but I did remember that she had told me how to get on to my back, this would be used if I got in to trouble. From this position I would be able to call for help, catch my breath or simply just stay like it to rest so I was really pleased that I could do it. Unbelievably, I had been swimming on my own. I was told to sit on a metal seat that had been put in the pool for me to try balancing and lifting and descending, (tricep dips), I had good balance and the physio said my lifting was adequate and so next was for me to swim to the deep end of the pool and hang on to the bar running around the pool that you have on all of them. In the deep end I had to try to lift using the bar I just mentioned, once up I then had to hold it and then descend again. This is important because it may be that you do not have access to a hoist in the pool and you will need to get out. My physio lady did show me by way of a demonstration how to get out of the pool which is what we are going to try next time. One thing I am very well aware of….I am going to be doing a mean impression of a beached whale as I wriggle about trying to achieve it but if it means I can go to a pool with my family then it is going to be worth the effort. The end of my session had arrived and I received a `de-brief` on everything we had done whilst I was hoisted out of the pool, put on a shower chair and got myself dried enough to put my tee shirt on and then after laying towels on my chair, I got on and headed back to the ward to get changed.
I had a really good sense of self achievement after my session in the pool, I had not drowned or needed floats to stay above the water line. I had successfully swum on my back and my front and whilst I was not going to be swimming the channel, (hmmm, that would be stupid), I could go to the pool with my Wife and kids (in time of course) and know that I was not classed as a non swimmer as I was able to conduct myself safely. Another goal ticked off of the list I had written, and I am looking forward to more of it. This afternoon at one o’clock I had a fitness session which is at the Guttman centre on the hospital grounds. It is a gym and leisure complex with two big sports halls amongst other things. This is where you go for the fitness if you have had it rostered on to your timetable, there were a good few of us there. I have been put in for a lot of physical exercise as requested by me as I am fat and I want to try to lose it. The physical exercise and the advice given by the dietician should help with this. Our instructor today for the fitness was Kirsty, and she obviously wants you to work hard. She did push me a little, a few raised “Work harder” commands and “Push yourself faster” did get thrown at me and I appreciated it. It was an hour session of shuttle pushes, zigzags, sprints and stop starts and something they call “Hot wheels” where you are not allowed to use long pushes on your wheels and so it is short sharp fast pushes on the top of your tyres, that is hard work. Fair play to her, I was sweating and my arms were burning. The session ended and those who had other things to do left, while we got a drink and transferred in to sports chairs.
The next activity, which others joined us for whilst some left, was hockey. I was looking forward to this in a weird kind of way even though I had an incline I would not be great but that I would be working really hard at it. Kirsty picked the teams which included another physio called Georgie and Izzy’s mum. Izzy (apologies if that is spelt wrong), is a young lady who I have met in here along with a young lad called Ryan. There are two more, a young lady and her Boyfriend (he is able bodied), who all hang around together, they are in my intermediate wheelchair class which is where I met them and they seem like very determined and motivated young people. The game of hockey was pretty mad, very hard work but really rewarding. I do not know who won and in fact that wasn’t important, the importance was that we had all taken part and had a good work out, as well as trying a sport to see how we got on. The hockey session finished and some of the players left for other activities whilst more players came along. The next session was an hour of Basketball. My arms were absolutely on fire, I was sweating from my head like you would not believe but I was ready for this. Again the teams were picked and this time we had a Lady called Jo, Jo is the Mother of another young lady called Harriet who made me smile when she had the ball as Ian who is a big lad, would got for her to try to take the ball and the look of panic on her face was classic. Two of us got in a bit of a tangle while I was trying to support Jo and the other guy from the other team was trying to get the ball which resulted in Jo coming out of her chair, fortunately the two of us managed to almost stop her from landing on the floor but although she did it was very controlled and more like her sitting down voluntarily. A really good laugh was had by all as soon as it was clear that it was not serious and in fact Jo I think was laughing the hardest. Another fantastic team building exercise and workout. This session too took an hour and then it was time for the next event or session, we would be splitting in to two teams and playing rounders. Rounders saw some more people leave and others join which was great as it kept things interesting, as you can imagine my arms were now ready to fall off. They really were feeling heavy and on fire but this is what I needed if I was to stand any chance of losing weight or rather circumference over any period of time. The rounders game was hard work but in a different way, we played it for a time period and then swapped until that time ran out. This concluded our session of rounders and ultimately the sports and fitness. I had been ragging round in sports wheelchairs and my wheelchair for four hard hours, four long hard hours but despite feeling like my arms were going to fall off, I felt that I had worked hard and that I could say honestly to myself that had left very little to give, I was knackered.
Kirsty and Georgie had to help me transfer from the sports chair in to my chair as I am still learning to do it properly, my arms had definitely had better days and more importantly I was too knackered out to do it on my own! They got me swapped over and after ensuring everything was packed away we left the sports centre and made our way back over to the Spinal centre where they would be serving up tea, and boy did I need it. I received a message from an old friend of mine today. “Hatch” was on my first tour of Afghanistan when we served on peace keeping operations in Kabul attached to the Second Royal Ghurkha Regiment (2 RGR) back in 2003-2004. On that tour, on the 28th February 2004 while escorting a foreign EOD team, a Taliban suicide bomber detonated his explosives which were packed in to his car causing devastation to the convoy leaving three of our friends with varying levels of injuries and killing a forth. The name of the soldier killed was Pte Jonathon “Kit” Kitulagoda, a 23 year old lad who always had a smile on his face and who found nothing too much trouble. The reason I am telling you this is because “Hatch” has decided to raise money for one of the fantastic military charities who exist to help serving and ex serving military personnel in times of need. The charity he is raising money for is SSAFFA, who if you have been reading my Blog for a long while will know that this is one of the charities who looked after my family while I was in hospital and continue to check up on us even now. They do not simply give you a financial hand and then leave, they keep in touch and let you know that they are always there. But what is “Hatch” doing to raise money? Well, check this out…
He has decided to mark the 10 year anniversary of “Kit’s” premature death by doing something he has called the 529 Challenge. Between 28th January 2013 and the 28th January 2014 he is going to run 23 miles for each of “Kit’s” 23 years of his life. His website is at http//529challenge.wordpress.com/about so please have a look, have a read and if you can spare some pennies or pounds, donate and support not only what “Hatch” is doing but the charity who supports not just the service personnel but the family in need as well. Thank you.