Saturday, 1 March 2014

why personal training...

As is often the way, time absolutely flies by!  I cannot believe we are into March already.  

Part of the reason its flown by at such a pace is that its been busy.  I've been working my way through a course with premier training to become a Personal Trainer.  Im pleased to say that at the end of last week I passed, and passed pretty well if I may say so myself! 

Having passed, Im now in the process of working out what to do with it and how to use it. Im eager to operate freelance to make fitness and exercise as inclusive as it can possibly be.  Whilst contemplating all of this its been hard not too spend a bit of time thinking about how far I've come as well since that fateful day in 2010  (this blog has only existed since 2013, in case you don't know - that was the day of the 30 odd foot fall, broken back, snapped wrist and ruined ankle...), and the way a passion for activity has, at least in part, helped keep my focused, progress my rehab, and guide my recovery.  

This is me about two weeks into my post injury life having just been winched into a wheelchair for the first time.  I'd love to say this was the lowest point but Im actually looking pretty good here compared many occasions in the days before this was taken.  At the time, this was a huge step (for want of a better word).  My legs were paralysed, my right arm had various canulars going into it, and it was a treat to have my left arm out of its vertical position in its sling.  A lot of this was crap but it was still a really positive step forward as it was the first step towards getting into a manual wheelchair and regaining some vague degree of independence.  

Since then its been six months in Stoke Mandeville, a rehab experience like no other.  A gradual process of learning to walk again over a very long period.  The realisation of just how seriously I had ruined my ankle as it became more limiting than my back, and was causing me to walk badly making my back far worse.  Three surgical proceeders to try and fix make the ankle something worth hanging onto.  The realisation that it wasn't. An amputation.  Another four weeks in hospital and countless appointments with the prosthetist (with on going physio throughout)!

Then last week I  earnt my t-shirt!  

There are a lot of things that have helped my get to this stage.  My faith is an important part of my life and has undeniably dragged my through some hard times and I hold it heavily responsible for my ability to keep positive pretty much whatever happens.   Morgan has been a HUGE part of every element of the recovery, from the great moments like successfully walking down the isle on our wedding day (ruined my for a week after), to making the decision to amputate last spring.  Its been a huge burden on her and I hate that fact but despite that, on a daily basis she has absolutely amazed me with her mental strength and her ability to support me through it all.  On a similar note, family have been a huge help and I consider us really lucky to have family on my side and Morgans, who are local and who would do anything to help us.  As much as I get frustrated with myself  at the help I need at times, its a real blessing that its there.  On a purely practical point, Im extremely fortunate that there is an ongoing legal case on my behalf.  Whilst it is a horrible process, it has meant that Im able to see and work with some spectacular physios and access some incredible prosthetics.  Later in March I will be trialling a bionic foot.  The sad reality is that its something that is a long way off being accessible without such claims.  

So where does fitness come in.  Ive always loved activity.  Thats not to say I was into your classic sports at school (never on the football team - couldnt have cared less), but never the less I was never happier than when I was being active, whether that was on my back or climbing or what.  As a rule, the greater the perceived risk, the more interested I was!  At the time of the accident, I was in good shape.  I was running most days, I was climbing and kayaking regularly, and biked a lot.  I also spent a lot of time working my core and training in ways to improve my climbing ability beyond anything.  There are two reasons why this proved a good thing.  1 - it meant I could handle more.  At least 4 surgeons have commented that my level of fitness is likely to have helped limit the damage that was done by the fall.  Put simply, the fitter/stronger you are, more muscle you have which helps protect the body, secure the joints etc, and the stronger your bones are! 2 - It gave me something to strive for.  It was incredible, laying in a hospital bed and realising how fast muscle wastage is.  I expected it on my legs as they were literally unable to move, but I was amazed by how scrawny my upper body became.  I was determined that in time, Id be in ok shape again in the future. 

Reality is that these things take time and its a process.  Regaining some upper body strength happened quite quickly but it came with quite a lot of body fat.  Working out how to train effectively from the position I was in wasn't easy and nutrition was, sadly, the last thing on my mind - in hospital, whether its first or last thing on your mind its challenging to get right.  

As the months have rolled on Ive had different focuses.  In the early days of learning to walk, I knew that my legs needed to be stronger and I needed to regain the muscle mass Id lost.  Challenging when putting weight through one of your feet literally makes you want to cry.  As I was preparing myself for an amputation, I knew one of the key things that would help with recovery was improved core strength to improve my balance and control as I moved onto a prosthesis and so I worked my core hard (one of the key influences in my 3 week rehab, as opposed to the 6-8 week rehab I was told I would need). 

really, whats not to love....
So why a personal trainer?? I genuinely believe one of the key processes in my recovery has been my fitness level, and my determination to improve my fitness level throughout.  Exercise also keeps me going on a day to day basis.  If I don't, my body seizes up.  Everything gets harder, everything gets more painful.  In reality, at the absolute best of times, if I walk for more than half an hour my back will start screaming at me but I know that if I go a few days without training its made worse still.  The body and mind are a bit like a car engine when it comes to activity, they work at there best when the engine is warm.  If I don't exercise for a few days, everything gets cold and seizes up, and starting again becomes a 10x harder.  I also notice it in my mental state (as does Morgan I'm ashamed to say...).  If I don't train, I get moody! Part of that is probably linked to the increase back pain and discomfort though in all fairness...  

It literally improves my ability to function on a day to day business and I don't think thats limited to me.  Its the case for everyone and so as a PT, I want to help people to find that for themselves.  I also want to help people to find something they love to do.  It frustrates me when people tell me they don't like exercise.  The reality is that the body was BUILT TO MOVE.  We are not designed for the sedate lives thats western culture slots us into.   Most of us spend our days moving from one chair to another and spend our days sitting down, not on our feet, not moving.  Our bodies are designed to be upright, we are designed to be mobile and active and a huge number of health issues would be reduced if we fix that problem (we also work better when we have good quality fuel but Im not getting into nutrition now or Ill be ranting all night),  Even if your mind doesnt enjoy exercise, your body does, and in reality, exercise comes in many forms, theres something for everyone!   For me, its not about turing everyone into bodybuilding champions and fitness models (although if thats your goal, great, thats what we'd work on), instead its about functional exercise to improve how well you function on a day to day basis.  That might be as simple as a client saying, "I want to improve my health and not be out of breath when I walk to work", it might be "I've got three kids who all have more energy and I cant keep up".  It will vary from person to person.   

My hope is that, due to my own life experiences, as a PT I'll be able to empathise with my clients.  I understand that its hard, I understand that sometimes it feels like the body just doesn't want to join in, but I also see the importance and know that the benefits are hugely more than just looking better with your shirt off (although theres no harm in that).   

So my goals.  Work as a freelance PT.  Im currently in the process of going through the practicalities of creating a business, getting insured, setting up a website etc ( - its still a work in progress, ignore the typos, spelling mistakes, and need for more content). 

Long term, I plan to do specialist work looking at exercise referral, working with people with disabilities, and rehabilitation work along side the standard personal training work but you know what they say, one step at a time....  With a baby due in April, there is plenty to be thinking about after all! 

And on that note, Ive just realised how late it is and so Im going to hope this makes sense and say goodnight...

Monday, 2 December 2013

What no amputee should ever do...

So last week I had an accident that saw me in more pain than I ever want to be in again.  I'm aware some people read this who are new amputees or have an amputation coming up or are considering there options so I'll share this in the hope that no one who reads it will ever go through it themselves.  Although my prosthetist pointed out, every one falls, no one falls twice.  I'm gutted that I didn't prove the first bit wrong, I have every intention of keeping to the second part of that! 

So what happened. To explain that you need to know how I secure my prosthesis.  I have a thick silicon liner that goes directly onto my stump, this then fits snugly into the casing of the prosthetic (sometime with a sock or two to pad it out more.  I'm really lucky, in that my stump is an exceptionally good shape and so the prosthesis stays on really well just like that.  It means that around the house, or popping out of the car at a petrol station etc, it's quick and easy to stick the leg on and my thigh gets plenty of air.  If I want it really secure, I put a sleeve from the prosthesis, up over my knee and onto my thigh - two reasons why I wear shorts in this weather (legs well insulated and if I need to adjust the fit, trousers are a nightmare), so I'll add that security if I'm going out.   If the sleeve is on, nothing will get that leg off.  It can take my weight, literally! 

I don't generally think of taking the bins out as going out and this is wear the problem occurred.  Bins are down a single step.  Having been lounging around the house the leg was just secured by friction, but when I picked up the bin to lift it over the step, I wasn't expecting what followed. 

What I thought had happened was that I stubbed my toe on a paving slab, it happens occasionally when you cannot lift your toes, so I stumbled to recover my balance.  What had actually happened was different.  My fake toes had got caught on the step and the prosthesis had come off so when I went to recover my balance, what instead happened was I landed with all of my weight, plus the weight of the bin I was carrying, straight through the end of my stump.  It was honestly up there as one of the most excruciating experience I have ever been through.  On the verve of throwing up from pain, I concluded that since I was stuck outside, the leg had to go back on and I had to get on with it even though I had no idea whether the stump was even in one piece still - the liner of course was still on.  So leg went back on (ouch!!), and I picked the bin back up. I didn't take it out as it wasn't that full but for some reason standing it up seemed important.  

Because I was both angry and ashamed of myself for making such a stupid mistake, I was determined to make as little of it as possible so didn't say anything but instead stumbled and hopped to the kitchen, sorted Morgans hot water bottle out and went to say goodnight to her.  

By the time I'd said goodnight, I realised there was no way I could make it out of the bedroom on the leg so I hobbled to my side of the bed and took the leg off.  It was a great relief to discover I wasn't unleashing a blood bath and that the liner nad protected it really well.  As the liner came off, the stump swelled before my eyes which was slightly alarming and it was then that Morgan realised something was wrong.  I went into early stages of shock.  I was light headed, I and felt sick again.  I also found myself suffering from horrific phantom pain, along side the actual pain whilst all the muscles in the leg went into spasm.  For some reason I still felt like I could ride it out, and just self medicated on drugs to help phantom pain and drugs for real pain.  20 minutes later of uncontrollable pain and muscle spasm later and Morgan was phoning NHS direct for advice and we were off to a and e for morphines and x rays! 

I was exceptionally fortunate to not have caused serious damage and only to have soft tissue issues.  A huge dose of oramorph and a really good nights sleep meant I felt much better in the morning, although having triggered so much phantom pain I will be on medication for that for a while before I start lowering the dose to see if it's gone... It may be gone already, it may be something I've triggered forever but only time will tell.  Thankfully, even if I do have it forever, I know it is managed well with Meds.  Having experienced it at it's worse, my heart goes out for those who struggle with regular or constant phantom pain. 

After a week of rest, generally the stumps feeling much better, although I tried the blade on again today and discovered I'm still far to bruised and battered for that kind of strain on the stump.  A gym session that was meant to be an hour starting with a warm up on the treadmill became about a minute on the treadmill and then an eternity icing a stump before hobbling off home!  Incredibly frustrating but I will get there!  

So the message of the story, never fall on your stump!!!   

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Six months on!

So november the 8th crept up surprisingly quickly and marked the 6 month mark following the amputation which has come around disturbingly quick.  Doesn't time fly!

So a few things have been going on.  Most excitingly in august we found out Morgan is pregnant which is incredibly exciting.  Baby is due at the end of April.  As thrilled as I am, there's no denying that it .  Suddenly I'm not working at my own pace, instead I need to be as able as I can possibly be in terms of strength, mobility and stability by April.  It's not just about me any more!  Daunting as this is, I do like a challenge and often operate best with a deadline!

Working towards that goal, I was pleased to pick up my first ever running blade last week from Jamie at pace rehab.  It's crazy.  The unit is so incredibly light weight and flexible.  First time you stand up in it it's actually a little disconcerting.  Feels far too much like nothing is there for it to be trustworthy but nevertheless it didn't take long until I was bouncing around the physio room outside of the bars (literally a couple of minutes).  It's a wonderful feeling to be so bouncy, for want of a better word, on my feet.  

When switching back to the walking leg, however much I love it, it feels so incredibly heavy! It's ridiculous.  First time I did it was in front of Jamie - he was keen to be there as he's been there before and knew I might nearly fall over - good for a laugh basically!  He wasn't wrong, nearly fell over.

There is a lot of learning to do and so in due cours I'm meeting with Hayley Ginn from Carbon Motion to do some running training.  I've not met Hayley yet but I've not heard a bad word and her reputations is fantastic - she worked wtih Jonnie Peacock amoung others.  I'm fairly sure she'll destroy me in no time though - in a phone conversation, when my prosthetist suggested she go easy and pointed out that I have a spinal injury and haven't been an amputee long her response was "guess you'll need to learn to man up a bit."  I think we're going to get along!! 

Until the training can happen, I'm applying some time to getting used to wearing it. I try to spend a bit of time each day wearing the leg. It's anew socket and a little different to the walking leg so I spend some time just trying to get used to the fit, bouncing around the garden with the dog and so on.  Tonight I tried my first jog!  I'll be honest, it hurt and was hard work.  Part of that was just that my running fitness is pretty much non existent.   A more substantial part was that my stump needs to adjust to the new pressures and stresses that jogging puts on it.  It'll take time.  Tonight I did what would normally be about a half hour walk, in about 20 minutes.   It went along the lines of run 50-150m, rest, repeat.  Ended up becoming a bit of a high intensity interval training workout.  Not my intention but it's a step close to running naturally.   I was pleased to find my back held up fairly well, at least to begin with.  It hurt, obviously (always hurts), but didn't really hurt any more than walking.  My concern was always that running would be hugely more painful than walking but so far it seems ok.  Watch this space I guess!   The aim is a decent 5k time.  Then the paratriathlon potential remains a potential...

In other news,  come the new year I'm signed up to train to become a personal trainer with premier training.  I'm really excited about this.  I'm sure the course will be hard work but I'm excited about helping people achieve their goals in life, in terms of fitness.  Long term I want to do a level 4 course in excersice referral so I can also work with people going through rehab process or dealing with disabilities or medical issues.  I think it has the potential to be exciting and satisfying work.   I've been amazed at the way a good level of fitness helps through a rehab process (in both the rehab process' I've done so far).  I'd love to help more people tap into their potential.  Hopefully I'll be able to do a decent job.  Like with the running, time will tell! 

Training and my own physio etc remains vital.  I was reminded of just how vital it all was a couple of weeks ago after pulling a muscle in my neck meaning I couldn't make it to the gym until I had recovered.  Through general business at the same time, I didn't have physio for a couple of weeks.  My body just siezed up!  It was crazy just how stiff and sore I became in such a brief space of time. I also found I quickly became so much more lethargic and lacking in energy.   It seems the human body, however battered, and beaten is still built to be used and moved.  Not moving enough for a couple of weeks led to a seriously painful couple of hours at Neurolink physio! 

Monday, 19 August 2013

Three months on.

ohhh new leg
On the 8th August it was three months on from the day of amputation surgery, and what a crazily busy three months it's been and how dramatic progress has been. 

To give some perspective, prior to amputation I was told I would he at roehampton for 6 to 12 weeks so there was a possibility I would at this point have been writing about my discharge from hospital.  Instead, having been discharged after 3 weeks I covered that what now feels a very long time ago. 

bit of biking
On the 8th I was lucky enough to be in Wales on holiday with morgan and her family. This has become a bit of a yearly tradition and it's been fascinating to see how I've changed over the years.  If you go back to 2010 we went prior to my initial accident when I was fully able bodied, the following year I was pretty much Wheelchair bound, 2012 I was hobbling around on my feet with huge amounts of pain prepping myself for an ankle fusion. 

getting out with the pooch 

This year I was getting used to an amputation!  Just prior to the holiday I'd been fitted with a new leg so I had that To get used to but it was a big step up (thank you Jamie at pace!). Whilst walking is still hard work, it's so liberating to be up and walking and not be in huge amounts of ankle pain.  I pushed myself quite hard while we were away and did a fair amount of walking on uneven ground, a bit of cycling and a bit of almost scrambling.  All in all the back, the stump and the prosthesis held up extremely well and I was pretty much able to keep up with everyone most of the time.

Walking on dodgy ground

this was fun!
There is no denying it takes a lot of effort though.  I have read that as a below knee amputee, time on your feet requires about 20% more effort than for a non amputee.  I think I'm finding it easiert than it was prior to the amputation with my mashed up ankle but nevertheless, the challenge is now to be at least 20% fitter than everyone I know so I can always keep up!  It was great to be away though and we had some fun little adventures while we were out in Wales!

me and my incredible wife! 
Following the holiday, I was lucky enough to be invited to Loughborough by the good people who run the UK paratriathlon team for what was discribed as a 'talent confirmation camp's as a follow on from the day in Birmingham a few weeks ago.  It was a good couple of days but my word did it knacker me out.  There was an element of sitting and listening, finding out about the sport, it's background, the classifications and so on - that was the easy bit.  A lot of it was fitness tests in each of the three disciplines, some strength and conditioning work and receiving some coaching.  I did a timed 750m swim (just over 15 mminutes), a 10km bike ride on a watt bike (half of a triathlon distance but time was short, 18 minutes - very nearly sick), and as much running as the stump would allow for.  I only did 2 laps of a 400m track but I think that was more than was expected of me given how recent the amputation is.  My first lap took 2:54, the second took 2:30.  I was pleased with the improvement, although as one of the coaches joked, clearly I wasn't trying hard enough first time...  I think he was joking!

All in all it was a good weekend.  In a weird way, although it was my weakest sport I was most pleased with the running as I literally had no idea how I would do.  It helped that one of the physios there has taught amputees to run in the past and so gave me some feedback but I felt the improvement was good, particularly when compared to my first attempt at running back in Birmingham. 

trying some running

bumped into Jonnie Peacock, came over all star struck... 

I can't claim it wasn't a massive relief to get ice the leg afterwards, or to take the prosthesis off in the car for the drive home but it was a great experience in some incredible facilities.  What's next in terms of paratriathlon, who know! I'll hear from them in the next couple of week and see if they want to pursue stuff with me further. Whatever happens, Im keen to try and do a triathlon, I think it'll be a great aim as something to work towards! I also had the pleasure of watching Jonnie peacock and stef Reid (incredible paralympions) training on the track.  They are both so fast, it was inspiring to see, in the flesh, how quick and agile you can become on one leg!
Incredibly, throughout all of this, my stump held up perfectly.  When I went to physio and massage on Thursday I discovered my other muscles had coped less well.  My word was I tight in various places. Physio and massage always hurts - if it's not hurting its a waste of time, let's be honest, by my word, that day was something else. After two hours of pain, Natalie and Bex taped me up with sports tape and sent me home to watch the bruises develop - and they did develop! I felt better for it though, at least
I think so! 
little bit sore

Irritatingly, despite my stump holding up to all this abuse, after one quick bike ride yesterday, somethin rubbed in my socket and I rubbed a sore behind my knee.  Thankfully, its nothing too serious and it doesn't rub when I walk.  As long as I stay of the bike until its recovered I should heal up on no time at all. It's just an annoying part of life with an amputation.  Realistically I've done incredibly well not to get any sores so far as the risk is certainly greatest early on as the stump changes size.  Every step is a new learning experience I guess!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Busy, so very very busy!

Last couple of weeks have been so very busy - great and good experiences but so so busy!  

Earlier in the month I had the pleasure of being best man at a mates wedding.  It was a real honour to be involved in their day but blimey the week put me through my paces.  Part of the nature of a marquee wedding reception is a lot of setting up, a lot of walking on uneven ground, lots of carrying stuff and a huge great pack down.  I like a challenge but before hand I can't claim I wasn't a little apprehensive about how the stump would hold up, whether my balance would hack it and the like - most best men worry about the speech, that was actually quite low on my list (Matt made it easy, he's a muppet :) )!  

I'm really pleased to say the day went really well, the leg and back handled everything I threw at them (on my feet in the heat all day every day for 5 days, uneven ground, ladders/balancing on the roof of my car, carrying stuff and so on), and the couple are now back from honeymoon and happy with how the day went which is the most important thing.  On the day, myself and the ushers decided the bouncy castle was calling at one point which was a fun thing to try.  I was a little concerned a screw in my ankle might of ripped a hole in it but I got away with it, it was fine. 

By the end of that week I seriously needed a decent rest but it just so happened that Morgan and I moved house the following week so we went from crazy busy with wedding stuff straight into crazy busy with packing and a house move.  I weirdly loved the challenge of just carrying on without a break and seeing what I could handle.  The move has really filled most of my time around the last two weeks between pre moving packing, doing a good 8+ trips moving landrover and trailer loads from one house to the other and all the unpacking.  It was crazy hard work but so satisfying to be able to do so much.  The comparison to the amount I managed between moving this year and moving last year was huge (Morgan and I seem to be getting into the habit of a yearly move, a habit we should probably break...).  Doing so many full loads meant when the removal men came on the Saturday they literally just had big furniture to move and we were almost totally unpacked by the end of the Saturday.  Was fantastic! Obviously, in and amongst all this I've been trying to keep physio going, prosthetist appointments happening, general rehab work going on and a pooch to look after.  

So Morgan and I (+poppy) our now settled into our new home and loving it.  It feels so much like home which is a real treat given how early on it is, but we could seriously do with a holiday... Good job we've got one on the way!  Although, saying that, holidays tend to be reasons for me to push myself harder than in normal life.  Ridiculously, between holidays, medical appointments, a para-triathlon training thing, I only have about six days in August where I don't have anything written in my calendar... Bring on some more busyness!! 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

New experiences!!

It's close to eight weeks post op now, which means I have been home for about four weeks which is in itself somewhat exciting.  A fair amount has gone on but there have been some key milestones.  

As the weeks have rolled on by I have been gradually attempting to increase my time not using my sticks or simply using the one stick.  Progress is quick but nevertheless it feels painfully slow - I think however fast a recovery may be, the patient never feels it is fast enough.   It was an exciting weekend on 22nd/23rd as it was a good friend, matts, stag do (for which I am honoured to be the best man) and so a decent group of blokes ended up in Norfolk finding various ways to make him look like an idiot.  It was an fun weekend and I was pleased to be able to spend a lot of time on my feet over the course of the three days.  

The Sunday and Monday ended up in fact being my first two totally stick free days which was a fantastic step forwards.  I didn't have to walk any particularly long distances in these days, nor did I go at much of a pace, but there was no point where sticks were used which was great. By the Tuesday I was unsurprisingly suffering a little and so the sticks swiftly came back out.  The increased strain has led to greater circulation in the stump and a reduction in the swelling. This in turn makes getting the fit right that much harder - every day now begins by padding out my stump with at least 3 and a half socks and so the fit is harder to get correct over the course of a day but I'm all booked up to visit Roehampton again on Thursday to discuss options with the prosthetist and to pick up my new foot which is ready and waiting.  I'm hoping I will persuade them to do a remould...  I guess we'll see what happens. 

This weekend was also fun!  Morgan and I went up to Birmingham with some friends because I had been invited to attend a Paralympic potential event day which we went to with very little understanding of what it would entail.  A night in Birmingham proved fun.  We arrived at the travel lodge quite late and asked the guy behind the desk where we could eat locally. His response was, "I go by hygiene rating, there's a few 2 or 3 star places around but if you want a full 5 star rating you want to go here!" 
Seriously Birmingham?? What's that about? Is kent so upper class and posh that I don't need to worry about what hygiene rating a place as I assume there all 5 star or were we just in a particularly crummy area? Still we went, got food at this buffet style place (which was incredibly busy - I guess if its the only clean place around that's inevitable) and then went to bed.

Following the worst night sleep imaginable, I got up feeling a little bit sick from the buffet, achy from a really rubbish bed and got ready for what was potentially a day of sport.  Once we made it to the uni where the event was taking place we found the sports area it was all happening in and were amazed at how serious it all was.  Having turned up with absolutely no idea of what to expect, it was a little daunting to discover this was an event seriously intended to find people who they felt had the potentially be fast tracked through a training programme as medal hopefuls for Rio 2016.   They had various fitness test and some representatives of specific sports.  It was an outrageously shattering day but I gave everything my all - despite a lot of gym work etc, I felt very unfit during the this day, I have a lot of work to do still when it comes to improving my fitness.  Various things were asked of me such as rowing, cycling, using a kayak ergo, weight bench and medicine ball throws.  The greatest challenge they set was a sprint... It been close to three years since I ran last and so soon post amputation I was far from convinced of the likelihood of being able to.  After a few practices in which I failed somewhat miserably to do more than a couple of strides, I made some adjustments to my fit and went for it.  I didn't attempt to practice, I just opted to commit and off we went.  The results were not impressive, instead I basically limped quickly but I was expected to do it 3 times and each of the 3 times I found myself faster which I was pleased with.  

This isn't to say I can now run.  I don't think I could do it again today and I certainly couldn't do it without a similar 10/15 minutes psyching myself up and practicing and adjusting my fit.  Nevertheless, it was flipping exciting to find myself able, and it gives hope that to run may become a real possibility.

Here's how ridiculous it looked (apologies for side on video);

The next step regarding the Paralympic potential event day is to wait and just get on with life and doing sport for pleasure etc.   At some point in the future I will apparently be contacted following them having put all the data together and decided whether they want to put me through further testing or say thanks but no thanks. As much as it would be exciting to hear positively from them, I am not anticipating hearing much from them as I am well aware that less than two months post amputation is incredibly early days to be doing things like sprinting...  Only time will tell I guess.   

In other news, yesterday was Oliver, my brother in laws birthday and he fancied going cycling! Like running, this would prove to be my first bike ride in nearly three years.  It was a little nerve wracking if I am honest but Oliver, Sammi, Morgan and I went and gave it ago. It was so good to be back on a bike and to be able to propel myself at a pretty reasonable speed.  

It was a little iffy at times, the odd clunky gear change sent my fake foot straight off the pedal, and standing up to get extra power was (at this stage at least) a total no go but the ride was nice and has left me fully inspired to get myself riding again.  I'm only talking gentle trails at this stage, no seriously mountain biking but it was great to do.  

Also, a great way to exercise the pooch who ran determinedly along with whoever was at the front for the entire ride! 

Here's some proof! (ignore the dodgy start)

And so the progress continues... 

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A whole week at home!!

It's now been a whole week since I was discharged from roehampton and it's been an interesting week of learning about how to live with this new prosthesis and I've made various observations.

1 - walking is hard
Whilst the progress I've made is incredible, walking is undeniably still a hard thing to do.  I'm pleased to say that my balance is good, walking will become easier (and is becoming easier - slowly but surely, I just have to remind myself of this fact), but with a five week old stump that is still a bit bruised and battered. It will get better but it will take time.

2 - my right foot is MASSIVE!
We discovered this whilst in Cotswolds.  I've been told with no doubt that I must keep the fake foot dry and so I thought I'd buy myself some decent boots that would help me to do just this! Whilst there my feet were measured by Steve (not sure he's measured a prosthetic foot before), but we discovered there is quite a difference in size. Not ideal!!
During my outpatients appointment I suggested we just amputate the toes on the prosthetic but instead a new foot has been ordered.  Hopefully I'll get it in the next week or so!

3 - my assumptions regarding socks were wrong...
I joked pre op that I would get through considerably less socks. Turns out I was wrong! I am currently wearing one sock on my biological foot which is pretty standard, but Im also wearing two thick socks, one thin sock and a think half sock on my stump, all of which is pretty standard by this time of Day! It's a lot of socks to deal with...  Getting the number of socks on the stump correct is a real and constant challenge.  its the key to getting a comfortable prosthesis And tiny adjustments make a huge difference. Learning to get this right is tricky, but I'm getting there!

4 - you have to make the physio happen!
It would be so incredibly easy to just stop the Physio/rehab activities when you get home after something like this.  I can walk a bit with sticks, I can get about (I'm back to driving - thank you DVLA) and so I literally have to remind myself what my goals are and what I hope to achieve!  By doing so I force myself to get up, to go to the gym, to do laps of the house or garden, just to keep moving forwards.  As  part of that progress today I challenged myself to walk all the way around the park (I'd taken poppy for a run around) with just one stick.  I was pleased with how it went but won't be getting rid of the stick for distances like that for quite a while.

And so there we go - progress continues and however slow it may feel, in reality I'm moving pretty quickly.
Happy days!