#care, #degree, #engineering, #friends, #home, #pain, #pride, Achieving, Aiminghigh, Career, chronic pain, Disability, University

Balancing Act part one

For those that cannot read deutsch. The elephant says “I think my side is broken” to which the hedgehog replies “what a pity”

Since surgery and my accident I have pretty much learned that I now walk a tight rope in life. All of sudden I had limits I could not do what I used to be able to do. From lifting, walking, using a clutch, standing too long this I “should” be able to do.

This took its toll on me mentally and physically. It battered my pride I had gone from being heavy goods vehicle mechanic/engineer (the clue is in the name, the work I don’t was heavy related). I used to work long hours and as much as I could. I was now limited to what I could do and also had to change the way I done things. Being an engineer you would think that it would be simple. I can tell you it’s not. The saying about teaching old dogs new tricks come to mind.

I thought I was going to be fixed within 6 months and here I am nearly 3 and half years down the line. Still fighting the good fight. It has beaten me down so much, but I am learning and adapting. I am even starting to learn to dust myself off.

There is a friend who has been an absolute diamond through all of this has taught me how to cope and deal with my problems. She introduced to the spoon system to explain it easier to people. This was borrowed from some one who was suffering with Lupas.

In a nutshell you start the day with 10 spoons for each activity or task you do during the day it will cost you a spoon. Basically if you spend all your spoons by midday, you cannot so much more because it usually means you are in a lot of pain.

This means that timing has to planned and worked out. Before any of this I was doing to much which was where I was failing. My expectations of my self were still raised very high. As pointed out by a couple of counseller. It’s in my nature to strive to be the best when I can be. To quote Ricky Bobby from Talledaga Nights “if you are not first you are last”. Which is probably why I am doing motorsport. I want to win!

The start of my recovery seemed OK. I was walking unaided and doing all the excersizes given to me by the physio terrorist. For the first few weeks I was dependent on my parents help with things. This was OK but I am my own person and do things differently to them so I wanted to start doing things by myself again.

I would walk to the shops as part of my exercise I would get bits and pieces. I got my first feeling of defeat. I say defeat but what I really mean is one of my limits. I bought 6 pints of milk and thought I would be OK carrying it home. Boy, was I wrong! As I was walking home I and carrying my items. With every step I took I could feel a pinching in my lumbar region near the op site. That day I learned my carrying limits were only 10% of what I used to be able to carry.

This in a way was a soul destroying and made me feel a bit worthless. But I carried on. I was still doing my walking, physio and later progressing to hydro therapy. This was all good and well until……….. I fell over!

I felt like an idiot when I fell I’m glad no one saw as it was embarrassing but I suppose if I was with someone and done I would have laughed it off. Truth is it hurt, I mean was really painful.

The second time I fell was in the bathroom I was stepping into the shower and boom I over I went. Bang my head the wall and landing in a heap in the bath. I was too proud to ask my parents for help though and struggled to get my self up.

Like a wounded animal I limped about for the next few days took extra medication and the pain flare up died down. That is the trouble with having a quarter of your body that you cannot feel. It makes you struggle to know how much pressure you and putting down and this is why I fall. Especially on wet surfaces.

Over the Last few years I have numerous falls which is why I use the crutches to stabilise myself and to stop me toppling over.

Another thing which seemed to agitate my pain and my back was how I walked. If I took massive fast strides like I used to walk I would end up in lots of pain. So I basically had to learn a new walking habit which was dropping my pace and taking smaller steps.

Every day I discovered new factors and variables that I had find balance for. It included having to find aids to help with daily processes. Simple things I was struggling with, it was extremely frustrating. I had to learn to live with this “new life” not out of choice, but out of necessity! Especially if I wanted to some sort of quality back in my life. There were times it felt like I did not have any at all.

But once again it was all down to balancing my activities and learning new techniques. For example with the walking:

Problem: falling over when walking due to lack of feeling and sensation in my left leg.

Solution: use crutches to make more stable and balanced

Finding the solutions was the hardest part about all of it. I literally was grieving for my old life at times. I went through the “grief” cycle at the start. I was in complete denial, very stubborn and arrogant about my whole situation. I didn’t want to be this way but I had no choice in the matter.

This whole situation, not being able to use my left leg, not being able to drive my, living in excruciating pain, falling over, having nothing to occupie me but the Xbox and tv, failing the simplest of tasks as well as numerous other things felt like I was sat on a see saw with and elephant!

This of course made my life so unbalanced it was affecting me. I wanted to give up because becoming strong enough to balance out that seesaw. I use the term seesaw because it is on a pivot and they were invented to aid moving/lifting of something heavy. To lift something heavier than you can lift the pivot will need to be longer.

So in order to balance my life I would need to be longer then the elephants side of the seesaw. This was achieved by using aids and appliances, getting help from others and dedication.

In three years I have learnt so much about how to cope with how life is for me now. I could have given up so many times yet I still managed to pull it through and survive. I am still extending my side of the see saw to get my life back in equilibrium.

I have bought numerous aids and appliances to help me with day to day life. Using these stop me having to use unnecessary spoons each day. Meaning my endurance each day is increasing. There are still of things I can not physically do but I get around these obstacles.

At first I would head into things like a bull in a China shop meaning I would screw myself over and be buckled and out of spoons with in a few hours of being awake. As time has gone on I have figured out ways not be uneconomic with my spoons. There are also other days where I wake up with no spoons and can not do anything due to pain.

Coming to university was a god send. It added alot more ballast to the “seesaw”. I felt like I had purpose again because I had activities to keep me busy. Also being able to move away and be semi self dependent.

I had spent three years stuck trying to get some balance and an opportunity to regain my life cropped up and I jumped at the chance and jumped in at the deep end and I’m still a float.

What I said before about not accepting the fact I was less abled, I didn’t sign on for disability till a year after my operation as my health was not getting better. Applying for and getting awarded with that was not an easy task. The system is screwed. The ones who genuinely need the help that they paid tax for get alot of flak and put through an extremely difficult test of patience, ridicule, lies and forgery by the DWP (Department of work and pensions)

This process added extra weight to the elephants side meaning everything I was trying to do to help myself I was failing at because of a broken corrupt system. With the help of a local charity I won an appeal for esa and lost the tribunal for pip but was awarded it straight away.

As my case was one of the worst that the charity were dealing I had the chance to goto the houses of Parliament and talk to a panel of mps about how bad this system is. A government program that is supposed to be helping people made them feel worthless and in some cases there were suicides caused by sanctions of benefits. It made me feel like I wanted to take my life because I thought what was the point if I can not even get help.

Winning the tribunal for ESA really added weight to my side. I had won and it meant things would be easier. The extra money just managed to help take the strain off my monthly outgoings that I had from when I was working.

All these positive things happening are balancing my side out nicely. I still have a long way till my feet touch the ground but I am. 47% of the way there compared to where I was.

I am learning new ways of adapting each day.

I have accepted the fact that sometimes I will need a wheel chair because I cannot walk the distances I used to be able to. I am doing my best to stay positive. It is working some of the time, I will say it has gotten a whole easier as time goes on. Almost like when you are learning something new. The more you practice the better you get.

Becoming aware of what the causes of my pain are. Help my daily balance, I am learning to listen to my body and knowing when to stop has been the most important skill. I have been bitten by this more than once. I do to much and then end up a broken mess for a few days after.

The main thing is that I am on the right path to having a career again and something to be proud of. In the short space of being at uni I have felt my worth on more than one occasion. I have helped the younger students numerous times. I do not have any problem helping people. It makes me feel good about myself.

Time to end this for tonight as I’ve been writing this on and off all evening.

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