Yo yo yo! I hope everyone’s having a lovely weekend. I have had an absolutely fabulous one, mostly because FOOD. I went to brunch yesterday with some of my besties and it was lovely – not least because this is a group of girls who genuinely encourage each other, support each other and build each other up, and it was so nice to be in such a lovely environment. I had an equally lovely brunch today at Antipodea in Putney and honestly, if you’re in London do go! The food is phenomenal, the service is amazing and the atmosphere is great. What more can you want?
So onto the leg situation, and you’ll be delighted to know that I am feeling sooo much more upbeat! As I said at the end of the last blog, the differences between weeks 1 and 2 has been amazing. I think this is for a few reasons: I know now how to do lots of things so I’m not constantly figuring things out; I’m already two weeks in so I’m 1/3rd down and it’s not all stretching ahead of me, I’m much less tired ’cause I’m used to the crutches now and I’ve managed to do a lot more exercise. ANNNNDDDD … I have gadgets! ERMERGERD gadgets have saved my life. And, importantly, my hands. And my mind.
Also – excitingly – I’ve done FIVE workouts this week! Two strength sessions with George (one in the park, one in the gym), two swims and a session in the gym by myself! I thought when I’m all done with this I’d do a post with all my workouts on it separately so that anyone with a similar thing can see what I did and if it’s useful, they can use the workouts too. But having done them was literally the best feeling ever!
So here’s the round-up:
Well frankly I’m dandy! I’ve had a lovely week – I’ve been really busy at work, I had a lovely lunch with my boss on Friday, my friend Jess came to visit from Shropshire and I had the two lovely brunches this weekend. I also went to Glyndebourne on Thursday for a funeral, which I was dreading because I knew the travel would be a bit of a nightmare, and funerals are never all that fun. However it ended up being a lovely day full of the most adorable people – it was for my uncle and he was a well known timpanist, if you are in those circles. He actually died six months ago, but in Australia, and he’s had funerals and memorials all over the world since then before this final one. This was the final celebration, being the scattering of his ashes at Glyndebourne, so it was a fantastic celebration of his life.
Being able to get out and actually do normal things – albeit demanding that all my friends come to locations convenient to me – has been amazing. I was in such a daze last week I really couldn’t go out, not least because I needed the rest as I was so physically exhausted. But now I’m back in the swing of things, even on a slightly reduced basis, I’m feeling a billion times better. I’m sure all the endorphins from the increased exercise are helping too!
I’m also super proud of the fact that most of the time I have actually been able to do what I’ve wanted to do. Getting to Glyndebourne was never going to be easy but I totally nailed it, and that’s been such a morale-booster. It’s made me think that I can do almost anything now!
If I’m totally honest, this has gone downhill a bit – mostly because one thing no-one ever seems to mention is that muscular atrophy feels like someone’s hacking your leg off. You can literally feel the muscles withering and it is deeply, deeply unpleasant. 90% of the time it’s just a heavy ache, but sometimes, especially at night, it’s the same ache interspersed with sharp stabbing pains. Initially I was convinced that it must be a blood clot, but I’ve got no other symptoms at all, and eventually investigation with Dr Google revealed that this is indeed muscular atrophy pains. Hopefully all the muscle will be gone pretty soon and then it can calm down haha, but in the meantime I JUST found a way to relieve it, which I’ll talk about below. Other than that I’m in physically good shape, my hands and wrists and shoulders have calmed down and even the carpet-burns on my knees from crawling around have settled down. Banging!
Right so, here’s the thing – gadgets are AMAZING. I’m not a massively gadgety person normally, but honestly, they’re a damn life saver sometimes. So here are the gadgets I’ve found which have saved my sanity this week.
Crutch handle guards: I got these Oarsome Performance ones from Amazon. I got them mostly based on reviews and partly ’cause they looked sporty and anything sporty has to be good yeah?! Also because I was in agony with my hands and they were on Prime and thus came the next day. Seriously they are fantastic – my hands do hurt still if it’s been a big day, but all the bruises that I had across my palms have gone and all the tingling’s stopped. They are quite pricey though and you can get much cheaper ones – like I said, I was swayed by the fact they came the next day, but if you’re ordering before your hands are in bits then you can get cheaper ones which I’m sure are just as good.
Crutch carry pod: One thing I was finding extremely annoying was not being able to carry anything handily. I mean, a backpack is cool and all, and it’s fantastic for carrying bigger things, but it’s sad having to stop, find a wall to lean on, untangle yourself from your crutches and dig around in your bag to get smaller stuff out. Plus you don’t always want to be lugging a backpack round the house just ’cause you want a bottle of water or something. Oh man, the 21st century problems …! I can hear the orchestra of teeny tiny violins playing in the background 😉 … but anyway, for a tenner, I got this little basket from Amazon which clips onto my crutches and lets me pop my house keys or tube pass in it, or a bottle of water or thermos of tea or coffee. I would say it’s worth a tenner but probably not much more than that, it doesn’t hold that much. But it’s good. Apparently you can also get little zip up bags which hang over your crutches too, and I think they’d be great, but I haven’t been able to find any of those.
TENS/EMS machine: Ahh now, I already had this actually but I never thought of using it for this injury. I got it because I have a blood clotting disorder, and the EMS is good to hook up to my calves when I’m on flights to help prevent clotting. However … when I was frantically consulting Dr Google about muscular atrophy pain, I found a forum which suggested using a TENS machine to relieve the pain. Since mine happens to be a combined TENS/EMS machine, I immediately dug mine out and overnight, when the atrophy pain was worst, I hooked myself up, set it to TENS and let it do its thing. Almost immediately the pain dulled and it was gone within about five minutes, which was phenomenal. I’ve really struggled this week with atrophy pain so I’m so happy to have found this! I’ve also been experimenting today with the EMS side of it, because that should help the muscles to stop atrophying anyway (that’s what EMS machines are for) and should also help prevent blood clots to some extent. I swear I’m not sponsored by Amazon (haha if only, imagine how much I’d save with the ridiculous amount I spend on there) but you can get them there – this is the one that I have. Just a note – TENS and EMS are different things and perform different functions. You can’t get a TENS machine to stimulate a muscle, and you can’t get an EMS machine to relieve pain. Therefore you either need to pick which one you want or otherwise get a combined machine like mine.
iWalk 2.0: My last gadget – which I got as a measure of last resort, but which is worth it I think – is my
bionic leg hands-free crutch. This is expensive, and it’s definitely not a necessary thing to have BUT it makes life a lot easier! Basically, you strap it onto your leg, and it supports your damaged leg in its cast on a little platform from the knee down. It means you can sort of walk normally and you can use your hands like normal. There are really three things that I wanted/needed this for:
- Doing the grocery shopping, because with crutches you literally can’t carry more than one or two things at a time, and it was exhausting going back two or three times just to get enough for a couple of meals … and then repeating it all the next day.
- Changing the sheets on the bed, because I need both hands to get the duvet into the cover, and wrestling with a kingsize duvet and cover while balancing on one leg threw me off balance and I fell every time.
- Doing the vacuuming because although I tried, I have a very heavy Dyson which is manoeuvrable but which pulled me off balance and I couldn’t lean on it because the handle is one of those ergonomic things that moves with you … which in my case was onto my arse on the floor on a repeated basis.
On top of that it’s really really useful for things like doing the cooking and laundry and that sort of thing because you don’t have to run the risk of falling over while you’re hopping away or balancing on one leg. I only got this on Friday so I haven’t really used it that much yet, but it was easy to put together and it’s incredibly easy to learn to use – I was on it using it hands free within seconds of strapping it on. I cleaned the entire house with it this morning and it honestly made a huge difference from last week; it still took ages but I’m now happily sitting in a sparkling clean shiny apartment with fresh sheets on the bed – woo hoo! I’m pleased I bought it – and there’s a thriving black market on eBay for second hand ones too, so I can sell it when I’m done with it. It cost me £159 (astoundingly, not from Amazon but from Think Sport) and you can sell them on eBay for about £100 so I think it’s worth it net.
Shout outs to amazing people
So one section I think I really do need to add to these posts are my shout-outs to amazing people who’ve just been lovely. I didn’t do this last week so here’s a round up of all the lovely things people have done which have kept me going and happy:
- My friend Flora for scouring the interwebs on a daily basis and sending me funny memes and jokes to make me laugh;
- My friend Jess for the cupcakes sent all the way from Shropshire, together with a hilarious card, for listening to me and for texting me on the daily to offer support;
- My friend Rachel for offering to drive all the way from Greenwich to Kensington to take me grocery shopping;
- My friends Harri and Romy for the balloon and card;
- My friend Julia for the card;
- My friend Rosh for all the lovely caring texts;
- All my other friends who’ve sent me texts and checked in with me regularly to make sure I’m okay;
- Everyone at the gym, especially Freddy in the pool and Monica in the locker room, who’ve offered to carry stuff for me (and occasionally physically wrested it from me), together with RJ on the gym floor for making me laugh;
- Simon and everyone else at Glyndebourne for being so kind and caring at the funeral – I didn’t need it but you are all lovely;
- My sister Suzi for being so encouraging and knowledgeable, having been non-weightbearing herself – and also for having to put up with me on the way to Glyndebourne;
- Alasdair McGill who wrote such lovely comments on my last blog and who shared his fantastic blog with me – you should really go read that!;
- The tube guy at Sloane Square who had to carry me up the escalator;
- The team at Timmy Green who went out of their way to make me comfortable while I was at breakfast there, and who gave me a free rocky road when I left to make me feel better;
- The security guards at Tesco in Kensington who have followed me round the store, helping me to carry my groceries when they realised how hard it was for me to carry stuff;
- All the people who’ve jumped up out of their seats on the tube or the bus;
- All the people who’ve let me on the tube/bus first (a very unselfish act at rush hour!);
- The amazing lovely people at Antipodea today who not only gave me free brownie bites but also handed me a loaf of sourdough as I left so I wouldn’t have to go to the grocery store on the way home (they had overheard me say I needed bread);
- The guy who sits outside the cafe on my road and makes jokes about my soccer career being over and how Roman Abramovich is crying ’cause I can’t play for Chelsea now;
- The homeless guy on Strand who saw me struggling with my crutches and called out such lovely, gentle encouragement;
- My doctor’s secretary who booked my follow-up MRI one day earlier than six weeks rather than one day late, because she knew how much it means to me to get out of this cast and she realised my specialist is away on the six-week anniversary;
- My office manager for offering to do anything I needed for me;
- My boss for offering to pay for cabs for me to and from work and for not minding me sitting with my leg on a pillow on the desk and/or crawling round the office and/or sliding down the stairs
I’m sure there are more and if and when I think of them I’ll add them to next week’s list. I couldn’t get through this** without all the love I’ve had so thank you everyone!
** Jeez will you listen to the drama. #dramaqueen or what?!