7. Taking back some control ...
Updated: Nov 25
Now, I wouldn’t say I was a control freak. To quote the rather hilarious Sarah Millican, I would describe myself as a Control Enthusiast (all creds for that particularly awesome phrase to Ms Millican). A control enthusiast who had precisely, zero control over a single thing in her life. You can imagine the effect of this on an otherwise perfectly sane individual. A major issue. I was used to walking into any situation and being able to take control. Now the only thing I had any control over was my bladder, and that was only several months after the crash. Even the dog refused to mush, and I thought he loved me!
The longer I was immobile, the more weight I piled on. Add to that the cocktail of meds I was taking daily, and it was a dead cert that I would gain a significant amount of weight. I was becoming a Mrs Blobby. Ok, so that’s an exaggeration, but I still gained a massive 5 stone! This was an area I could take some control in my life again. My wonderful friend across the road had been a member of Slimming World for many years and looks Ab-Fab for it. It’s an eating plan that really works for her and her family. So, bundled into her car one Monday evening I joined a Slimming World class. That moment was another tick in the box of my recovery. As I say in my Instagram #hashtags, ‘we all have a story’, and joining that class I heard many many stories and made some lovely friends. It wasn’t just about weight-loss, although that was the primary goal. It was being out, socialising and more importantly being accountable. Being accountable for what food passed my lips and did or did not make it to my hips! The first consultant I had, has her own incredible story (which isn’t mine to tell) and I adore her for her positivity, beautiful smile and for being the wonderful lady she is. The whole class was gutted when she finished. I’m very lucky to still see her when we go to my local garden centre, where she now works. The second consultant was a totally different character, but I love her just as much …. She is as mad as a fish, but like the first, she was encouraging, inspiring and just a lovely person to be around. Between these two ladies I earned myself a crown. Not a Princess Crown, I’ve already got one of them. No, this crown was a Miss Slinky crown. A Slimming World achievement award for the hard work of losing weight. It had taken a considerable amount of time and effort, but I was at a weight I was happy with. That award meant the world to me, my first steps in achieving a goal. However, shortly after winning that crown the lovely bubbly consultant was replaced with a bloke. A man my Spidey-senses tingled at when I was in his company. I really couldn’t take to him. He’d done nothing to me personally, I just couldn’t get along with him at all. I also felt uncomfortable around him. Turns out my good old Spidey-sense hadn’t let me down after all. He was later arrested and convicted of sexual offences with a minor. This is 100% true, and I now hope the fleas of a thousand camels infest his crotch and his arms are too short to scratch. I also wish a lot of bad juju on him and hope he gets what he deserves from the inmates whilst he is languishing at Her Majesties Pleasure. W***er!
Given my weight-loss triumph I decided to tackle my medication situation. I was taking the maximum dosage of every painkiller and opiate I was allowed, and my body had gotten used to them. They were just giving me the most awful side effects and now, no relief. To me it was pointless taking them. As far as I was concerned, they weren’t helping me at all, just hindering me. I began to explore alternative methods of treatment to prescription medications. In hindsight I don’t think going Cold Turkey and just stopping the 48 tablets a day I was taking all at once was the best way to forward. Nevertheless, that’s what I did. Oh-my-bloody-god was I ever ill. I thought I knew what pain was. Nope, what I experienced during the first two weeks of withdrawal was only what I can describe as utterly hideous. It’s something I never ever want to go through again, and it’s also something I really do not recommend anyone doing. If you decide meds are not helping you, please, please, please, wean yourself off them ONLY with your Doctors help, and support.
Tikaani never left my side during those two weeks, I even messaged one of the dog handlers from work because I was so worried about him not sleeping. I was reassured at being told; he had taken the role as protector seriously. I was more concerned at what the lack of sleep would be doing to the poor thing. He must have been exhausted keeping watch over me. If he could have held my hair back for me whilst I was vomiting, I think he would have. He was a superstar.
When most of the drugs had left my system, I visited my GP, and told her what I’d done. To her credit, she merely raised her eyebrows, peered at me over the top of her glasses and said hmmmmm … I think I got off lightly. When I told her what my ideas were to control the pain, I suspect she thought I was barking mad.
My first task was locating a GOOD physiotherapist. Anyone can have a physiotherapist, I needed an excellent one, and that’s exactly what I got. I had of course been referred for physio by several of the consultants I was under. Each time I’d come from there more and more disheartened. Physiotherapists no longer ‘touch’ to find out range of movement etc. They sit down and talk to you about your pain, hand you a generic sheet of exercise (which I diligently did) and send you on your merry way. They did however refer me for hydrotherapy. That, to date has been one of the best things, besides the physiotherapist my Mr recommended. Very warm water and being weightless was just incredible for me, but as with all good things; must come to an end. Six sessions and you’re done, thank you very much. If I had the money, I think I would have built one in the garden. The final straw for me with hospital physios was when after listening to me talk, (but not hearing what I was saying - there is a difference) told me I should get a book on mindfulness. W.T.A.F ??? I took this to mean he thought all my pain and mobility problems were in my head. This instantly p****d me off as anyone with chronic pain and immobility can relate to, I’m sure. So, I didn’t punch him in his particularly large wine drinkers’ bulbous nose, nor did I knee him in his crown jewels, which was an urge I had to fight hard to contain. What did I do? I walked out of there. Well, wheeled out, but walked sounds much better and more dramatic…
From then on, I only went to THE Physiotherapist. I go every week (unless we are on holiday) and it has been lifechanging for me. He is what I regard as a real physio. Firstly, he listens, a rare commodity. Initially, I insisted I was fine, but the reality was, that if I didn’t tell him what was going on, he would be unable to help me. He became the first person I told how I was feeling; it was like I imagine a confessional to be. In a lot of respects. Telling him was part of the healing process for me, so our weekly sessions are based on total honesty. The methods he uses to treat me are many. I have massage, Faradism, Laser Therapy Acupuncture, electrically charged acupuncture stimulation and manual mobilisation. What I love is that he treats the symptoms, the cause and me as a whole person. His general questioning at the beginning of every session updates him as to what I’ve been up to during the week, and what I need treatment wise that day. Without him my life would be very different. He has given me a quality of life I could only dream of before I started seeing him. It’s down to him (along with a pinch of the Flairey stubbornness) that I am well enough to travel as I do and have a full life. He has learned my limitations, but he is also unafraid to push my boundaries. Giving me exercises and challenges as the weeks go by. I have been seeing him for 5 years, he can now tell as soon as I arrive at the practice what kind of day I’m having and can pretty much pinpoint the issues in the time it takes me to get from reception to his treatment room. Now that’s what I call a physio!
To compliment this, I began researching supplements and as a result began to take several to support my battered systems. They made a difference for sure. I won’t go into them all now, but if you’re interested, then please drop me a line with any queries you have, and I’ll try my very best to help you. Obviously, what worked and still works for me may not work for you, everyone is different and has very different needs and requirements. One thing I would say is research your suppliers carefully and buy the best and purest supplements you can afford. If your body is already struggling, ramming cheap and ‘filled’ products into it may not be of benefit, and may indeed, cause more problems.
We all have our go-to comforts when things aren’t great. For me it’s a cwtchy blankie and a hot water bottle. Two reasons, firstly I’ve discovered, being warm makes the pain a great deal easier to bear, so in cold rainy Wales a blankie always lies on the back of my chair and I always carry two in the car. Also, a hot water bottle is brilliant, I’ve found, for the spot patches as I call them. The really, achy painful places that no amount of jiggling will ease. Needless to say; where I go, a hot water bottle goes too. Yes, even to sunnier climes. An electric blanket is also another favourite accessory, particularity on a Tuesday after a physio session. When I generally feel like I’ve been hit by a goddamn bus! This too is utilised year-round.
In addition to this list of things I’ve discovered for myself, I have a few things that really don’t work for me. One of the consultants decided it would be an absolutely marvellous idea for me to attend a Pain Management Clinic. Dear God, that is 12 weeks of my life I will never get back. What a complete and utter waste of time. The location of said pain clinic was the first hurdle to overcome. I was collected and returned home in a frickin ‘ambulance’. Not to appear ungrateful here, I should explain, that they are actually a wonderful thing, however, they go all around the houses to pick you up and again to drop you home after your session. This means that a 20-minute journey can take anything up to 2 hours. Oh, how splendid.
Having surrendered to that one on very rare occasions I was unable to get a lift, I then had to endure a spotty little oik, barely out of nappies, telling me that I needed to exercise more, and that the pain was all in my head. Had I tried meditating and how would I like to go on the treadmill after I’d done some squats. I-kid-you-not! I’m certain they hadn’t read through my notes and had absolutely no concept of the injuries I had. We were required to keep a journal. I never was any good with homework, and this was no exception. Needless to say, Tikaani was blamed for ‘eating’ the weeks homework. Besides, how could I write, I couldn’t even hold a pen at the time FFS!! If you are still under the illusion I got anything beneficial from the Pain Management Clinic you would be wrong. Except for the chocolate biscuit (singular) I received with a cup of tea, there was nothing beneficial in it for me. That’s not to say, it wouldn’t greatly assist someone who has had a knee replacement or a fracture or splinter in their thumb.
Always looking for an alternative to medications turned into an obsession, I read up on infrared saunas and spent hours online researching them until I had reached the conclusion that it would help me. As purchases go, its right up there with my best eBay bargains! Although not a cheap investment, how can you put a price on your health? You can’t. I was lucky enough to live near a garden centre that had a company in their premises that sold Jacuzzi, swimming pools and saunas. I checked them out and made the appropriate enquiries. whilst talking to them, I was told if I had a letter from my doctor outlining that the sauna was required for a medical condition then I would be eligible for VAT relief. This something that is available for disabled persons buying equipment for their conditions etc. Within a month I had my very own infrared sauna sat in the conservatory. I thought that Tikaani was going to empty his bladder all up the door of this new intruder, but thankfully he restrained himself. It is just over a meter wide and 2 meters high and comfortably sits 2 people. They did a single person one that was significantly smaller, but it looked like a damn coffin. Something I was not and still am not ready for!! Its an amazing piece of kit, all wooden with a glass door. Seals together and is clipped in place with hinges thus making it transportable if required. when I say transportable, I don’t mean on holidays I mean to a new house.
The sauna is wonderful, it’s a very dry heat and I can feel it sinking in through my skin and into every fibre of my being. It assists greatly in pain management and with muscle spasm and I bloody love it. Before you wonder, no it doesn’t have a name - it’s a sauna!! I can have my own private disco in it if I wanted. That’s due to the multi coloured lights in the roof and the rather swanky built in stereo system. Mostly though I just sit and ‘be’. Occasionally I will read, but a hot kindle is no fun to handle, and I get worried that its going to combust in the heat.
A hot tub is another fantastic piece of equipment. The warmth and the massage effect from the bubbles soothe me like you wouldn’t believe. The weightlessness I get in the water and its lovely warm temperature is just divine. I love it!
The learning curve has been immense, I know my limits at last, whether I stick to them is another matter. I know what helps and what doesn’t. I know what foods make me feel like crap; yep, you read that right, food, one of the vital things that’s supposed to nourish you, makes me poorly. Well, certain ones do anyway. I’ll cover this later.
This is how I obtained some assemblance of control in my life. Nowhere near as much as I had before obviously. I am still dependant on people for certain things.
For a long time after finishing work, I drifted along, and the days melded into each other without any direction. I was still desperately looking for a purpose in life, a way I could be of use and do something worthwhile. Someone with a lot more insight than me, told me I had a purpose and a job in life. I was understandably puzzled by this as I wasn’t medically fit enough to work, and I spent my days in a little dark living room with fairy lights everywhere making conversation with a dog. Their explanation was thus.
My job was to get as well as I possibly could. So simple, and an effective way to put it to me. He was absolutely right, and as my Mr always says, ‘we are all capable of more’. It’s his mantra.
Finding that job, was another major step in the recovery, and I know there are people who are no where near as fortunate as me, and they maybe physically incapable of doing that, but even they are capable of more. At least that’s what the Mr says, and to be honest I agree with him.
When I started my new ‘job’ I wrote a list of the goals I wanted to achieve each day. I bloody love a list, they’re so therapeutic!
Top of my list every single day was as follows
Get out of bed
Get washed or showered
Get dressed – don’t forget pink crash helmet.
Get downstairs without falling down them, and knocking self out
Doing this meant that every single day, no matter what sort of day it was when I woke up, I would achieve something. I would be able to tick it off my list and have it in pink and white (never use a black pen, depressing, use pink, its happy) to see at the end of the day.
As I grew into my job the list became longer. I even managed to plant pots in the garden. Well, I say ‘I’ it was actually Boy Friday who technically planted them, but it was my idea, so I’m taking the credit. Besides, I was there at the purchase of the three 15 kilo bags of compost that Boy Friday and I bought home laying across the arms of Mildred. I was also there when we took Mildred to the local Market and bought so many plants I couldn’t actually be seen because they were piled up so high in my lap. I had to carry the strawberries home in the hood of my fluffy pink coat. So yes, I Planted pots.
The feeling of being in control, I must confess, went to my head. So much so I felt able to go to a rugby match. This was a huge step. In crowded situations I started to panic and get very disorientated so for me the trip to Cardiff to watch Wales play England in the Millennium Stadium was momentous. We didn’t have tickets, merely watched it in the pub. I did struggle with it, I must to be honest. There were so many people. I got covered in beer and farted on, (as mentioned) but that all paled into insignificance when we won the match. The experience was exhausting, but I was so pleased I’d managed to do it as it was another thing, I believed I wouldn’t do again. My friend could see I was wilting and took me back to the railway station. I was being picked up at my local station, so it was just down to the conductor to get me on the train home. Simple enough task even for an idiot. Well no.
It was when the announcement came across the public address system in the packed train; ‘this train will terminate at Bristol Temple Meads’, I realised I may have a small problem! I don’t live anywhere near Bristol, f’ing, Temple Meads!!! The sheer horror of my situation hit me like a brick. Not only did I have to get off the train by myself, with no ramp in sight. I was wearing a very classy kilt made out of the Welsh flag, Welsh rugby jersey, scarf and bobble hat with pull down ear flaps. In bloody England. We had just beaten them soundly in our national Stadium. To my relief (and mortification), I was lifted off the train by two strapping individuals who were football fans and had no interest in rugby. I then wheeled Mildred to find a conductor and was politely informed that the next train back to Wales would be another hour. To add insult to injury, it was direct to Cardiff Central. Which meant I had to go all the way back and get on another train (the right one hopefully) to take me home. It didn’t even stop at Newport, which is closer to home. I found myself looking longingly out of the carriage window at the empty platform as we passed by in the wrong direction. Had it stopped there; I would have been home in less than half an hour.
Arriving on a different platform in Cardiff Central to the train I needed, meant I was wheeled at great speed to the lift by the a guard, down in the lift, through the underpass, back up in the lift and on to the waiting train home. As you can imagine, I gave the same conductor who had put me on the wrong train one of my best hard stares (the ice melting one), He did have the grace to apologise to me which mollified me somewhat. Getting home a full 2 hours after my friend didn’t amuse me in the slightest either, but at least I was home. Bundled into the car and soon snuggled into bed. It took me a full two days to warm up, and a further fortnight to recover from that escapade! I think Rugby needs to be a summer sport. Better still, train conductors should put people on the right train.
Feeling rather pleased with myself I decided I needed to embark on a well-deserved holiday in the sun. My lovely Justy, was off to Jamaica; 5 star all inclusive, did I want to go? Pah, do Bears poop in the woods?? Of course, I did!! That my friends, is the next instalment in the Chariots of Flyer. As always thank you for getting this far and joining me in my adventures. I told you things wouldn’t be all doom and gloom!! Much love, Flairey x