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...