Going out

Many of my friends will know that clubbing is just not the one for me. I am the worst twenty something out there in bed at 10pm and up at 8 am. I am just loving the granny life.

Unfortunately for me when starting uni I felt obliged to get involved in the clubbing scene although I can tell you now that Bristol nightlife missed out with me as I have never been a big drinker. The night would start with pre drinks at around 11 pm (already well past my bedtime). We than head out to the clubs around 1am and I am napping on the bus into town. Next up we have th queue to get in where I am shattered and freezing trying to find somewhere to sit down. Meanwhile my friends are just getting hyped up and excited. Once we finally get in I am already thinking about bed but for my friends, the night is just getting started. I feel obliged to stuck it out for a bit as we have paid to get in. As a result of my CP the constant standing up and dancing means I am quickly shattered as the only place to sit down is the toilets (I would not recommend). Also, on a good day my balance is like that of a hippo on a tightrope. When I add a minimal amount of alcohol the balance goes out of the window and ends up in Weston-Super-Mare. Combine that with the crowds, dancing and exhaustion and my balance resembles that of a hippo on a pogo stick on a tightrope (not something I think you want to see). I spends the evening (or early hours now) being pushed around the dance floor and spend a very high proportion of the time on the floor surrounded by the edgy Bristol trainer (on the plus side I suppose that lets me sit down!) I usually declare to my friends after about an hour of back and forth between this and the delightful toilets that my bed is calling so off I wobble home. Thankfully there has never been a trend in Bristol to wear heels clubbing so I have avoided a broken ankle. However I will wake up in the morning to multiple bruises, when I check with my friends how they were obtained I am told that particular smackers was on fall number 64!

Although this may sounds like a comedy sketch I have had some interesting confrontations on my nights out. One in particular has stuck with me from first year of uni. We had pre drinks in my halls where I drank a bit as did everyone but was not as far gone as my friends. We then queued up to get into the club. The bouncer let my friend in no problem (although I know she had had more than me). I was then promptly told to go away have some food and sober up before coming back. I know full well this is not due to being drunk but a result of my CP. I was wobbling around like a dodgy blamanche and in addition I have a squint which means that my eyes wander and do not look in the same direction. I guess it is not a particularly sober image to portray. I began to explain to the bouncer about my CP whilst my friend who had got in shouted ‘she’s disabled’. I know she had my best intentions at heart. Unfortunately this trick didn’t work so I used it as my cue to leave (I secretly didn’t want to go in so that was a win win for me). However it just goes to show that you will come across others that do not listen and respect those with disability. I simply use these experiences to prove those people wrong as they are not worth getting wound up about.

Botox

I know what you are thinking-what is she doing writing about Botox-she looks 12, this is definitely not something she needs. Well that’s where you are wrong. This is all about Botox but maybe not in the same way as you had previously thought.. Botulinum Toxin is used as a treatment for cerebral palsy in the same way as it is used to treat your wrinkles. It works by helping the muscles affected by CP to relax. After Botox intensive physiotherapy is used to maximise the potential of the relaxed muscles.

My Botox treatment is definitely the worst part of my whole CP experience. This is because of how the process works. Botox is administered through injections directly into the muscles. It is most effective whilst the muscles are still growing, therefore it is something I had a lot of experience of growing up. I have had Botox every couple of years since I was about 5 until the age of 12. I hope that by sharing my experience of this process it helps others realise what people suffering with CP have to go through.

I would have regular check ups with my paediatric neurologist. I would dread these check ups due to the fear that the dreaded word Botox would be uttered. Every time it was brought up in these consultations, especially when I was younger, I would end up in tears petrified. I have vivid memories of always thinking my parents were gang in up on me as they always agreed with my consultant. I used to accuse them of putting me through pain. This was really traumatic for both me and my parents, I now realise that they only ever wanted what was best for me and would have swapped places with me in a heartbeat. The worst part of these consultations were that they would be months ahead of the actual injections. As a result I would be freaking out well ahead of the injection-not helpful when I had to seriously focus on the 12 times table in year 3..

On the day of the injections, I would have the full day off school(a positive of some sorts I guess) but I would have to travel to the dreaded Yellow Building of Doom and Despair.. Every time I go to that hospital to this day the memories come flooding back. Initially I would have my injections whilst I was awake. The only form of pain relief I got was magic cream. This is supposed to be a form of local anaesthetic which numbs the area. Trust me when I say it does not do enough when it is up against a needle going all the way into your muscles. I would be lucky enough to get 8 injections in each leg. Four in each of my hamstrings and 4 in each of my calf muscles. This is because these are the muscles most affected by my CP. As a result of my CP the muscles are continually contracting even when they are not being used. Therefore these muscles are very tight. This is why the Botox is so effective. So anyway back to the big day, after the magic cream had time to kick in (or not) it would be time to shine. I have vivid memories of having the injections in a separate (non soundproofed) room off the ward. The nurses would hold me down, one of them on each side. I have decided to call them the Wicked Women of the Ward (WWW for short). For some bizarre reason, I was desperately keen to see what was happening to my legs. I would be twisting and turning to try and get around and see what the Dastardly Doctor of Despair was up to. These injections need to be put in exactly the right part of my leg muscles.. To try to keep me distracted from the pain and keep me still, the WWW would try to entertain me with a Where’s Wally book. I know they were trying their hardest but I can tell you now, it was pointless. The pain was incredible as the needles had to go deep into my muscles-just as visual aid we are talking mega needles 3 times you average injection-think measles on steroids. The worst part was also that as soon as the first one was done, I knew how much pain was coming my way but stuck had another 7 injections to face(thank you DDD) It like the seven stairways to hell. From my parents account of the drama is certainly sounds hellish with all my screaming ( after I had it the first time, Mum didn’t want to go in with me as it was too hard to watch-witnesses say my screams could be heard by the doddery, deaf geriatrics on the 7th floor. I hope you now have a vivid image of a classic torture chamber, that would seem about right to me. Don’t panic though in this situation I was allowed to survive but these memories have stuck with me vividly for the past 20 years

As I got older, this experience did improve as I could then have the injections under general anaesthetic. However, this brought about issues of its own. Firstly, the anaesthetic would terrify me as I was only put under for half an hour but I would convince myself that I would not wake up. Trust me, that’s never a good feeling. I know that the doctors know completely what they are doing but it didn’t shake me nerves. However on the plus side, I didn’t rememberer any of the drama, a completely different ball game to my previous experiences. On the downside to allow me to have the anaesthetic, I was not allowed to eat anything beforehand. Also the process of having anaesthetic was just ridiculously long and drawn out. This is because the anaesthetist was in high demand so I spent a lot of time waiting around. Also, after the whole thing was done, I finally was allowed something to eat. However, the anaesthetic is inserted through a butterfly and I just remember it being a nightmare to eat afterwards whilst this was still in. In later years I think this was removed after everything was finished and I was still under. That way as soon as I woke up I could just devour copious amounts of marmite toast-trust me it is a culinary delight. Another memory that has stuck with me from this phase of Botox was a particular anaesthetist known as the Delightful Doctor of Dreamland (just to keep you on your toes he is not to be confused with the the previous DDD). He came around for the pre procedure chat and told me that if I could count to 10 seconds after the anaesthetic was inserted before falling asleep, he would get me a present. Needless to say, I made it to a strong 6 when the time came. When I came round and was back on the ward, the anaesthetist came to see me bearing a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. He was kind enough to bring me a present despite the fact I failed miserably at his challenge. So there you go, there are some benefits of such a traumatic process.

The last phase of my Botox journey was by far the best. Laughing Gas. This was a gamechanger for my experience of Botox but just to clarify it unfortunately didn’t result in me getting the giggles. The laughing gas worked by making me feel very lightheaded and dizzy so I was not fully aware of what was going on (it basically makes you feel high on life). This means that those mega needles just feel like a pinprick so the pain is much more manageable. It also is much faster than general anaesthetic as it cuts out all the time spent waiting around for the anaesthetist and waiting to come round afterwards. I remember one occasion when I was given free rein over how much laughing gas I could use. I was happily puffing away as they kicked off and by the end the WWW were very impressed as I had manged to polish off half a canister of gas singlehandedly. If this is an option available to you when having Botox, I would definitely take up DDD on the offer as it just makes the whole process faster and more bearable.

So all in all, I know that this has been a horrible experience to go through but I know it would not have been recommended for me unless there was a genuine benefit. As much as I hate to admit it, I know these injections have benefitted me by allowing me to maintain my active lifestyle and keep getting stuck into everything that I do on a daily basis.

Cycling

Learning to ride a bicycle is a challenge that everyone faces at some point. As a result of my CP this is one challenge that took me a number of years to master. This was not an easy journey for me as my balance is all over the shop. Trust me managing to stand on one leg for even 20 seconds is a major achievement in my book. Therefore even attempting to complete an activity on two wheels is a recipe for disaster.  Initially I took on the stabilisers-how hard could it be-there were 4 wheels so plenty of surface area. I could see how much the rest of my family loved getting out on their bikes so I definitely wanted to join in too. I loved my first bike-just the epitome of fashion and cool-bright pink with sparkly cheerleader Pom poms coming out of the handlebars. The problem that I faced with cycling besides wobbling from side to side was having to master this in my splints-they were just not ideal at offering me the flexibility to cycle.

When learning to cycle on two wheels without the stabilisers I have vivid memories of cycling countless lengths of our garden with Dad running up and down alongside me. Dad would continually try to reassure me by saying that if I fell on the grass it wouldn’t hurt. Trust  me I got the bruises to prove that this was not the case-I would fall off and the bike would just fall straight on top of me, not such a soft landing when the handlebar comes crashing into your thigh with force (even if it is disguised with a Pom Pom-still not fun). I am not saying that learning to cycle is an easy task for anyone but the problem for me was definitely the frequency of these crash landings.

At the time I really did not cope well with the frustrations of not keeping up with my friends. All of them already on two wheels and my brother who had already been flying along for years. I used to get very angry and upset that I was still falling off and would have many a strop, not sure how my family put up with me. I just didn’t understand why it was so much harder for me than everyone else. I have now come to realise that I am extremely fortunate to have such a mild form of cerebral palsy that I am still able to get out on a bike even if it took me a bit longer to master. I know that I am extremely lucky to be able to have the ability to do these activities as I know many others have more severe conditions. I hope this shows that despite my setbacks my constant determination to keep going (and keep falling off) meant that I got there in the end.

I vividly remember one specific victory moment for me and cycling. I finally won the battle against the lack of stabilisers on the Tow Path. On this occasion I was actually on my brother’s bike (I don’t remember what happened to the pom poms on this outing). I remember cycling the furthest I had ever managed on my own on two wheels. The sense of achievement was massive. It made all of the tears and tantrums up to that point worth it as I was final winning my battle.

Multiple crashes

The issue is that since learning to ride on two wheels I have had multiple crashes which just prove to me that it is something I will have to keep working on. However despite all these falls I still pick myself up and carry on cycling. Here are a few of my notable falls over the past few years:

One sunny Saturday I was out with my family cycling the North Downs Way when we came across an especially large and muddy puddle (therefore coined the Puddle of Doom).. Please bear in mind that this was at the end of a long day cycling and I was wearing a lovely pale pink t-shirt. The dry path alongside this huge puddle was very narrow and bumpy. Due to my CP I struggle to stay in a straight line and wobble all over the place to try to stay upright. Anyway on this occasion, I let everyone else go ahead of me through the giant puddle and they were all successful. Then it was my turn to take on the Puddle of Doom…I got halfway along (right to the deepest part)… And then splat-down I go-I managed to end up with a very distinctive pattern across my chest-half the lovely pale pink and half the delightful black, soggy mud. Of course it was just at this point that my lovely family decided to stop off at a café so I could show off my great new look. That is something I have definitely learnt to deal with over the years-just embrace the mud, scrapes and bruises from my falls.

Another occasion that comes to mind is on another family bike day out and up a particularly steep and long hill which I was struggling on. Normally when faced with a hill I am fiercely determined to keep going all the way to the top without walking, however on this occasion I was flagging. Dad decided this was the perfect time to offer me a Turbo Boost-this involved cycling alongside me and pushing my bike by the saddle whilst both he and I continued to cycle. Needless to say this genius idea did not go as planned. I fell, my bike fell on top of me, Dad on top of that and lastly his bike on the top of this dramatic pile up! Thankfully no major injuries were suffered and I then scrambled out from the stack and got back on my bike, determined to keep going but I can confirm the Turbo Boost has it yet been repeated.

The last notable dismount happened when I was cycling to the river. The route onto the tow path involves a very narrow path between a barb wire fence on one side and a high wooden fence on the other. Along the wooden fence is a mass of nettles, so a really promising combination of circumstances. Whilst cycling down this tricky route I was trying desperately hard to avoid the barbed wire and as a result ended up crashing hard into the mass of nettles and wooden fence. I think the shock of this fall was the worst part of it as I was completely wiped out by it. I was then encouraged to eventually get back on my bike and continue cycling. I ended up with some lovely rashes and impressive bruises from that fall. Worse still in the following week my shoulder was in agony, so much so that I ended up getting it x-rayed. Thankfully nothing was broken but it definitely shook me up and reminded me how I do not get on well with narrow paths.

Cycling in London

When I moved to London, Mum suggested I find a back route to cycle to work. I was immediately told by Dad that it was just not going to happen and I agree. Although I will not be defeated by much the idea of cycling in London absolutely terrified me and I will stay firmly on my own two feet. This is because of the crazy busy roads, narrow cycle lanes, my wobbling like jelly all over the road and the fact that when on a bike I forget that traffic lights apply! My cycling in London stays firmly in the gym where I take on spinning classes. These are a challenge in their own right as due to my CP and my knees going inward I have bashed my knees into the bike at high speeds on countless occasions. Not clever and not fun! Another element of spinning is when I manage to let my foot slip off the pedal and get that smashing directly into the centre of my shin! Ah well it is all worth it for the fun and freedom of pedalling away!

So I know this is a long one but I hope this portrays a bit of what it is like to do one of these everyday activities with CP. Despite all the dramas and scrapes I have got myself into I love cycling and am so grateful that I persevered with it as nothing beats the sense of achievement of conquering a big hill or the freedom of the wind in my hair. I hope this shows that despite the obstacles we are faced with, enough perseverance and determination will let you succeed at something you may not have thought possible.

The Trials and Tribulations of my commute

Ah, the favourite part of my (and I am sure many others) day! Who doesn’t love that 6:30am alarm clock. So I take with me a daily flask of tea which brings both joy and disasters on my hour and a half journey to the big smoke. The hot tea in the morning means that I actually can function. However, due to my hopeless balance as a result of my CP I tend to leave a trail of tea on my journey. I have one of those flasks that need to be poured into their lid but due to the combination of juddering train and my dodgy balance I have managed to spill my hot tea over far too many unsuspecting commuters. I also find that even waiting on the very flat and level platform I will have a random loss of balance whilst drinking my tea so need to put in a quick little jig to make sure I stay upright. Unfortunately this means I spill the tea creating a lovely puddle at my feet and getting some very weird looks from my fellow commuters. Regardless of all of this tea related drama, I cannot imagine my commute without my tea and refuse to use a different flask which may avoid these spillages as I have now started this routine and don’t fancy the idea of changing it.

On to another fun stage of my commute once the tea drinking drama is complete-walking along the platform. Unfortunately I have to change trains on my journey to London and this proves much more of a challenge than I first anticipated. As the trusty 7:24 am train seems to always be rammed it is a daily battle to get a seat. I have now worked out the best way to ensure I grab one. It involves racing along the platform to the very front of the train and ensuring that I am right by the doors the minute they open to grab my trophy of a well deserved seat. However, due to my CP this race takes its toll. Increasing the speed of my walk means my balance goes out the window and I am also not great at walking in a straight line, plus it just is pretty tiring barging past everyone else in the race for the top seat. In particular my daily frustration is that I am never able to beat my fellow commuters along the platform. Every single day I always build myself up for the race against my fellow commuter that I like to call Badger Man (he has some very interestingly coloured hair, unfortunately I don’t think going grey suits him). To give myself the best chance I choose to stand on the first (short) train journey so that I can be right by the doors to get off this train first and move it straight down the platform. To my immense frustration, Badger Man always manages to get a seat on this first train and still beats me along the platform to be first in line for the next train. This means that not only does he get a seat on the first train but also guarantees one on the second and he gets the major ego boost of beating me (although he doesn’t even know this is a race). So anyway, I hope that this exemplifies my determination on a daily basis and despite Badger Man beating me along the platform I still more often than not manage to bag a seat so there you go it is possible.

Another of my downfalls (literally) on my commute is falling over in the most public places possible. Unfortunately the majority of these could be avoided if I was to slow down but that just goes against my nature and desire to get the commute done in record time. Although I do not enjoy the process of falling I think that I have now become a natural at this artform. Due to my CP my balance is poor and as I walk toe-to-heal, I am much more likely to catch my feet on uneven ground. Therefore walking along the uneven London pavements at speed with many other people is a recipe for disaster. I seem to time my falls for the most public of locations.This means that I have about five people at once surrounding me when I go down to offer help. To me this makes the whole situation worse as I just want to get on with my record breaking commute time. Over many years of CP and many more falls I have learnt a few vital lessons:

  1. Always put your hands down first-it is much less painful to break your fall with your hands than your knees. I learnt this the hard way and had a period at school where I would fall at least 3 times a day. This meant that my knees resembled a range of underwater volcanoes-blue from all of the bruising and raised up due to the number of scars I have accumulated.
  2. Always carry plasters-I get through a lot of those
  3. Do not form an emotional attachment to any pairs of shoes. This is a big one for me. As a result of my frequent tripping and falling, shoe scuffing is my specialty. This means that when I buy or am give a new pair of shoes it takes me at least 12 months (yes 12) to get them out of the box and onto my feet. Every single time that I scuff a new pair of shoes it is heartbreak for me-by this I mean full blown tear tantrum I get incredibly frustrated by my ability to ruin a pair of lovely shoes so I have decided that I will just resort to Primark’s shoe selection to minimise damage to both my bank account and my emotional state. Just as an additional point if you do not follow my previous point about breaking your falls then be prepared for creating lots of holes in leggings, tights and jeans along with some pretty chilly knees.
  4. Double check for any post fall injuries. I recently had a very rough time with my feet. This all started with me breaking in a new pair of shoes (brave I know). I took the plunge and decided to wear them on a commute. This resulted in bad blisters but as I have fewer nerve endings in my feet, to me they felt like a minor graze. I carried on a usual sticking my feet into trainers and heading to the gym. To cut a long story short I carried on with this routine for a few days (by which time my feet had really taken on severe collateral damage). I ended up with multiple doctors appointments to get the wounds inspected (it was not pretty). In addition my office became accustomed to seeing my rock up in socks and flipflops to work for a number of weeks-the only way I could give my feet a chance to heal. So please save yourselves a fashion footwear disaster and make sure that you check any niggles that you may be feeling

One final drama I face daily is the wonderful underground. My advice here is hold on tight. As previously stated my balance leaves a lot to be desired so this causes a few issues when being rammed like sardines on the Jubilee line. I am utterly in awe of the people who can stand on the tube whilst it is moving without holding on to anything. They are just happily reading there book getting involved in some gripping thriller without a care in the world. Well, all I can say is I am very envious of their core strength and I would not like to meet them in a Pilates class. For me, standing on the tube is unfortunately an unavoidable but very high risk task. I find myself holding on for dear life (one hand is rarely enough for me to stay put) and concentrating immensely hard to ensure that I do not twist and turn up the aisles colliding with my fellow commuters and squashing far to many toes. My advice is to go for the spots by the door so that you can lean against the closed doors and ensure that you hold on with both hands. Trust me, although your fellow commuters may be annoyed that you have nabbed the prime spot on the tube they will be grateful when they avoid getting off at Waterloo with some seriously broken toes due to your loss of balance dance down the aisles.

Right so moral of all those ramblings is just to show you how much something as simple as commuting takes out of someone who suffers from CP but also that despite the problems I face on a daily basis I survive and make it to the office for my 8:30am start-I will also continue my race against Badger Man.

Skiing

I have a love hate relationship with skiing and always have done. I have now learnt to love the challenge but still find it completely knackering. I recently went on a skiing holiday with my family, they are the only people I feel confident enough skiing with as they know how far to push my physical limits! I was nervous before we left as I have not skied in a long time and was worried that my family (especially my brother who is a very good skier) would take me down some evil looking run.


I definitely find skiing the most tiring of all exercise that I do in terms of working my muscles. This is because wearing the ski boots is like wearing my splints at all hours of the day. I wore splints (braces for my legs) when I was younger every day. The purpose of this was that as my muscles were growing my feet would be fixed at right angles to make sure I had to put my heal down first and prevent me walking on my toes. Over time, I was moved onto short splints which only came half way up my calf. Secondly the reason I find skiing exhausting is because I spend all of my time leaning back. This is because the tightness of my legs and hamstrings mean that I cannot lean as far forward. As a result my calves are in agony as the ski boots dig into the backs of my legs so much that I end up with two whopping black bruises on the back of my legs. I look as though I am sitting on a chair as I come down the mountain because regardless of how hard I try to lean forward, much to my frustration I cannot do it. Also contributing to my exhaustion is the fact that I am constantly falling over (even more than the 3 year old beginner on the magic carpet!) I fall so often because of both my balance and my very relaxed (and leant back pose) when coming down the mountain. The worst thing about falling is that the more I do it, the more tired I become and so the more I fall. It is a very vicious circle. I am now of the opinion that I have fallen so much that I am now an expert in this fine art.


This year, despite being worried about not having skied for a long time, it came back to me very quickly (as it always does). I was grateful to avoid the trauma of ski school this year. As a child, I hated ski school and had many a tantrum over this whole experience. This is because we would often ski with family friends. My younger brother head off happily to ski school, in the same class as our friends on some crazy off piste adventure and have an absolute ball. On the other hand, I found ski school simply embarrassing. As skiing has always presented my with a real challenge, I would always be put into a beginner class with children half my age. This meant that when my parents dropped me off, I would be towering over all my classmates whilst I waved goodbye to my parents and brother. We were then taken to spend the next three hours on the nursery slopes working on snowplough (when I knew that in the afternoon, I would be heading down red runs at a much faster pace!) The instructors used to sound like a broken record, constantly telling me that if I just leaned forward I would be fine (how little they knew!) I hated the fact that ski school would not let me ski with poles. I would demand that my Dad bring them along for me to use in the afternoons after the horrors of ski school were over. I now realise that this is because I use the ski pole as my third leg, propping me up as I head down the slope. There was one single occasion that I enjoyed ski school as a child with the wonderful Michelle. This ended up as a private lesson as we stayed on the nursery slopes whilst the rest of my class were taken higher up the mountain. Michelle and I would spend all morning pretending to be characters from Finding Nemo. She even wrote me a card to apologise for not being able to make my last lesson which I still have. I finally started to enjoy ski school when I was allowed into the adult classes. This meant that I was in a group with other adults who were skiing for the first or second time so I no longer had the embarrassment of skiing with a bunch of three year old bombers.

Strangely for me on my most recent holiday I got a massive sense of satisfaction from feeling completely knackered after a full day of skiing and I would not feel that I had a full on day unless I was completely shattered at the end of the day. I think this is a result of the hard work I have put in at the gym recently which means I now understand better my physical limits. This year, although nervous the first time we did it, I gradually became really keen on doing an off piste and black run that we found. I was keen to do this despite falling on every turn (especially on the super steep and mogglely parts of the run) but I just loved the sense of achievement when I made it to the bottom. This would not have been possible without the endless patience of my brother and mum getting me down. On one particular black run, with a very steep and moggley start, I found that I was so scared of turning that I would continue to traverse across the slope until I was definitely a long way off piste. This is because due to my weaker legs, I really struggle to make tight turns when skiing. Turns should help to control you speed but I find that when turning I take so long to get around the bend that my skis are pointing directly downslope for quite some time, meaning that my speed increases rapidly. Upon completing the turn, I am then travelling so fast that I am out of control and my only option is to fall over! My brother would be teling me to turn the whole way across the slope (as he could spot the nicest parts of the piste to turn on) I would just continue to ignore him, far too scared to do the big move. I then would end up well and truly off piste or on the edge of a piste so I had no choice but to turn in a very awkward place making my life a lot more difficult but who doesn’t love a challenge!


Another issue I had on this holiday was an excruciatingly painful shin when wearing my ski boots. This was unheard of for me as usually it is my calves that are dead at the end of the day. I think the pain in my shin this time was a result of my stress fracture I managed to get before going skiing, ill fitting boots and potentially actually managing to lean forward a bit more this time (this is what my parents said although I am not convinced!) Whatever the cause of the pain, it got so bad in the middle of the week before I changed my boots that I could barely walk in my ski boots. Despite this, due to my immense determination (and frustration at being in pain) I refused to stop skiing early (also because I didn’t want to make my family finish their day early for my benefit). I kept pushing through the pain and managed ot get through the full day- I think this is a result of my high pain threshold!

So all in all despite my nerves at the start of the holiday I ended up having a great time and hopefully this shows that although something might be challenging and scary it is possible with the right amount of determination and support. Give it a go you may surprise yourself but what you can achieve.

Gym

The gym is a place of mixed emotion for me. I am constantly comparing myself to the ability of others in the gym which means I am always at a disadvantage. Having said this, the gym is also a space where I can prove to myself my abilities despite all the setbacks I face physically. I often forget how much energy and effort I need to do classes or exercise in the gym so have to remind myself to ensure that I keep my achievements in perspective. I decided to share a few of my experiences from this Aladdin’s Cave

Running
I have now given myself the initials EOT (elephant on a treadmill) when using the running machine. This is because I make such a racket when using this piece of equipment. Everyone else around me seems to effortlessly sprint away in silence whilst I bang along with every stride. I have now become completely immune to everyone’s stares as soon as I get moving as there is nothing I can do about it and frankly, if others have enough energy to be bothered about what I am doing then they are not working hard enough.

However, this EOT does not come without its own issues, last weekend, despite my foot causing me pain all week I decided the best thing to do on a sunny Saturday morning was go for a 6km run. To be honest, this was done at an exceptionally slow pace and did take me a whole 50 minutes (I would really love to be faster at running but one of the frustrations of my CP is this is just unachievable). When I returned from my run the pain was so great I could barely walk and had to resort to hobbling and hopping to move around. I have since been told that this is a stress fracture as a result of too much high impact activity-great timing by me given our ski holiday next week. As a consequence I am banned from the gym and any exercise this week to try to improve the state of my foot before hitting the slopes next week. This has given me a serious case of cabin fever, but I suppose needs must. The point of this story is again to show that my determination, although usually positive does mean that I take things too far and don’t know when to stop.

In addition my noisy slow running as my CP means that my knees point inward, my feet are flying out at all angles as a result. Also, I often manage to clang my knees together whilst running giving me a nice purple splodge right on the inside of my knee. I feel a huge sense of achievement if I manage to come home from a run outdoors without falling over-usually I return muddy and bleeding-a great look. This is because, when running my walking pattern is exaggerated meaning that I am more likely to catch my toes and go flying or trip over a stray tree root or stone in my path. I never manage to look up whilst running, I continuously have to look down at the ground to minimise crashing to the floor. Even on the treadmill I will randomly wobble from side to side, sometimes completely stepping off the moving section as I lose my balance for no reason. This then means I have to rapidly grab the handrails and get my feet under control all whilst the belt is still moving to avoid a comedy sketch situation with me falling off the treadmill. I try my upmost to avoid this as I really don’t need more attention drawn to me and my EOT.

Classes
As my balance is very much all over the place trying to get deep into a squat whilst maintaining the correct form is just shambolic. As my knees and toes point inward due to my CP I have to work very hard to keep my knees over my toes when in a squat. This takes a heck of a lot of hard work and I always feel as though I am fighting with my legs. In addition, when in the gym class I never understand how my fellow sweaters manage to get so low, they are literally like frogs hopping around with they behind nearly on the floor they can get so deep in their squat. Meanwhile, I feel like a giant towering over them all as my tight leg muscles means the depth of my squat appears pathetic. This really frustrates me and I often feel I am on a losing battle but it really does knacker my legs. When it comes to lunges, my knees are definitely not over my toes-my legs seem to have a mind of their own no matter how hard I try. Also as the instructor seems to do the lunge reps at a super speed, I really struggle to keep up so my balance is out the window, resulting in me flailing my arms like the windmill in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

So despite all of the awkward situations I manage to get myself into in the gym, it has really helped me to cope mentally whether it be to prove to myself that I am capable or just to clear my head of all the madness of the day. It also means that my daily stretches which I have to do for my CP are part of my gym routine so I am much more likely to get them done!

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