Nine o’clock this morning and I was outside of the physio department or spinal gym as it is labelled ready to do the weights session that I had not done yesterday as I had been to the ranges. I am sure that people say that they are going to do the session the following day but actually don’t bother but the sessions are put in place to build your strength ready for the lifting you will be doing throughout your life; to that end and mixed with the fact that I have only days left here, I was going to do the weights as I had arranged. I asked for the sheet that had my workout on it, found the weights I required and made a start. There is no time limit and the slower you do the reps the harder your muscle is working and as I had the hour to do the session I was going to use the full amount of time. The weights are not large amounts but have the reps and sets to make you work harder than you think are going to, today I upped the weight of three of my exercises by 1kg which whilst it is not a huge amount, did make a hell of a difference and I really did feel it. With hind sight I should really have thought about doing the weights session at a different time today as I had just worked my arms and shoulders for a complete hour and for the next hour I would be doing transfers with my physio, that’s right, Jo was back from her holiday!
I had asked Ian the Spinal Injuries Association representative to come along to my physio session to help advise me and give ideas on my transfers. I trust my physiotherapist Jo implicitly, as do I the other physiotherapists but they will never be able to replicate what it is like for a paraplegic. Therefore I asked him to come along as I would really value his opinion. I managed to do a lot better with the transfers and each one was critiqued by Ian and also valuable input from Jo helped me get them slightly better than the one before. It has been decided that I over think the transfer. I break the move down in to the three stages and then mess it up, but the couple of times that I did not think and just did it were the best ones I had done. My arms were a little tired, well more than a little tired but never the less I cracked on. The end of my session I transferred in to my chair from the plinth but it was ironically the worst one I have done since being taught the correct way, I was reliably informed by Jo that actually, my ass had landed on the wheel and not half on the cushion and half off. Not a great end but focussing on the achievements and good transfers of the session helped to end on the positive note that you should. A quick toilet break and then, as I had nothing in the 11-12 slot, Jo said that I would benefit from an hour of lying on the plinth with a large triangular wedge lifting my torso up and thus forcing my hips down creating a good stretch. I lay there for an hour watching Harriet do her floor transfers. The physio working with her would offer assistance for the last little bit if Harriet was struggling but was there more for stability if Harriet was to over balance. I was so impressed by Harriet’s determination to get up on to the plinth, her inquisitive mind encouraging her to ask questions to which unless you are paraplegic you will not understand the relevance or importance, such as “Where do I put this leg if I have to move that way?” After watching her get up on to the plinth, all be it with around 20% assistance from her physio, I was so very pleased for her mixed with a bit of jealousy, Jo has said that she wants for me to try a few things before I go though so I will just wait and see.
With me back in my chair it was time to go and get my salad for lunch, wash it down with a cup of tea and then head over to the physio department to meet for the next session which was table tennis. With the patients assembled in the corridor and Kirsty with us ready to go, we headed over to the Guttman Centre which is where we do our sports and swimming. It is named after Doctor Ludwig “Poppa” Guttman who started the spinal injuries centre at Stoke Mandeville, he literally wrote the book on the rehab and treatment and it was this very man who invented and started the Paralympics Games, (quite an important chap really!), so look him up on the internet and read about him, if you haven’t already seen it then try to watch a film called “The Best Of Men” and you will know what he did. Anyway, I digress. We went in to the sports hall but nothing had been set up, Kirsty got right on this and very quickly we were playing table tennis. I was on a table with Harriet, an older gentleman whose name I do not know and a wonderful older lady whose name I have forgotten which is a bit rude but all you need to know about her is that she truly is fantastic. We had an amazingly funny hour playing table tennis, we had the physio staff running around chasing ping pong balls for us and despite there being four of us on the table, which also included a patient called Ian who swapped over with Harriet half way through the session, we did not manage a rally greater than six! I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that it was one of the best sports sessions I have had since I have been here purely down to the entertainment value that this lovely lady, gentleman, Harriet and Ian managed to create. With that hour over, people had to go to other appointments and while we waited for others to arrive, the table tennis stuff was packed away, next sport….Hockey.
I was shocked at how few people came down to play the games this afternoon, I spoke to Kirsty to find out why this would be, was it due to the other appointments or sessions that were on but by all accounts it is because if the weather is a little iffy or wet then people will not take the five minutes to come across. I have to be honest here that I have struggled to bite my tongue on a number of occasions when I have heard people say that they just aren’t going to go to different things. They really have no idea how important those things are or how fortunate they are for having the opportunity to have rehab, irrespective of where they are having it, the fact that they are having it should be enough for them to make the most of it. I just hope that they do not have to come back later and learn the correct way that it should be done, as I have. Izzy and her Mother came over, as well as Paul, Shea and a few others, including two six year old kids. Their wheelchairs are so small. The kids are full of life and are really amusing but in my head I get the same comment going round, “Wheelchairs should not be that small”. There are so many lazy people out there who would rather drive a couple of hundred meters than walk it and are overweight who have a functioning pair of legs and no excuse to not walk even short distances and yet there are young children and what were hard working active adults pre injury who would love to have the opportunity to walk and run around but can’t. Makes me sick to be honest but I must not go off on one, back to the game. I decided to go in to a sports chair today which I haven’t done for a few sessions now but I really wanted to get in there today, crashing in to other players (I am not going to lie, I don’t think it is strictly legal in the game but hey), is not something I can do in my chair as I cannot afford to get it damaged and beat up, itis too expensive and also is my way of getting around. To that end, the sports chair it was.
Hockey was a good laugh as well today, I cannot for life of me manage to push myself while holding the hockey stick and had to resort to holding it between my teeth, this is all very well but you can’t play the game with the hockey stick in your mouth and so I had to try to keep it on my lap while racing to chase the ball, this was going ok until Izzy would knock it off of my lap with her stick and consequently beat me to the ball. Two people I missed not playing today were Kirsty and Ben but they must have had other appointments as they never miss the games. With Hockey over with some had to go and we hoped for more to arrive, the numbers were very few which again was disappointing but one of the patients who did come along was Josh. I have got to know a few new people in here now which has been really good, I am hoping that I may stay in touch with some of them but again, we shall see. Basketball was pretty full on as usual, no one was out of their chair but there was plenty of rough play which is what really does make it a laugh. I have no idea what the score was but no one really cares, it is just the exercise and the fun had while playing that keeps certainly me coming back. With the time expired for the basketball more people left. We had no new players which I have to say I think is both rude and disrespectful. The staff gets paid whether we are there or not but have still taken the time to set the games up, book the facilities and organise the equipment so for people not to turn up is to me a bit out of order. The sports and fitness is on your planner as part of your rehab. It is not there for you to choose, you would not simply chin the physiotherapy session off if you wanted to so why should the sport or fitness be any different? Again I am in a position to know what happens to the body when you are no longer burning calories by walking, using the biggest muscles you have to burn the calories can no longer happen and you will have to rely on fast pushing and your biceps to burn the calories instead. Some of the attitudes of some patients do suggest to me at this stage that they are going to be very large people, it could however be that people are still struggling to come to terms with their injuries and their new lives but that is also what the sports are for, to join in with the other patients and learn to play sports in a new way and to socialise, a very important thing to happen.
From the basketball we played “Crickers”, (I have just this second named it), it is rounder’s with a cricket bat to be held how you wish. It always tests your sprinting ability as well as your balance for catching and throwing and your confidence in reaching down to pick up the ball. Another excellent game for testing skills, socialising and really enjoying yourself; as well as getting a good amount of exercise. I have no idea who won this either but as I have said; no one actually cares as long as we all have a laugh. With our afternoon of sports over, people needed to transfer back in to their manual chairs from their sports chairs and head back over to the spinal centre for tea. I had an excellent day today having had no real breaks except maybe for the lying down stretching. I can feel that I have worked quite hard today, and tomorrow is more of the same. With only six days of rehab left I need to keep pushing to ensure I get the maximum out of the opportunity I have been given by being admitted here.
Andrea came over tonight on her way home from work for a couple of hours so it was rude not to play Rummikub. I’m definitely getting the hang of it now, even winning games which is always a big plus. We had a bit of a catch up and chat whilst playing the game until she headed off for tea and bed ready for her work day tomorrow. She came in to the cafe where I was sitting and told me that she had just had to split up a fight between two of the guys on our ward, who were fighting at the main entrance. I have no idea what has been going on and I am not really that bothered, but these two guys shared a bay, this has now changed though as Steve and I have been moved to make room for two ladies, Steve and I are in our own rooms now, I have a room to myself! And I think that one of the guys who was fighting is in a room on his own while someone else has moved in to the bay that he was removed from. Seriously, you could not write it! I spoke to my Wife tonight as well which was nice. She is clearly enjoying me not being at home by taking it easy and relaxing, sitting down watching the tele, or not as she is redecorating the hallway with a new wood stain for the doors and skirting and a freshening up of the paint on the walls and ceiling, bless her. `Pickle` is getting on alright with her new bike practicing by riding up and down the hallway in the bungalow at the moment! My Son and eldest Daughter have been working hard on their extra learning course that we pay for them to do and seem very happy with how they are doing. I am very proud of them for doing the extra work as most children that age just want to do the homework and play, not spend time doing extra as well, although it will benefit them in the future I am still massively chuffed that they know this and are willing to work at it.
So that was my day today, busy, busy, busy and more of the same tomorrow (which it would appear is already upon us), so I am off to bed now. I won’t be watching much tele it would appear as I have inherited a room with a television that only has a half of the channels working and the one channel that I do watch before I fall asleep is not one of the ones that works, bugger!