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TEMPORARY UPDATE: I’m currently really behind on blog posts – I’m really sorry. Last week was so hectic but I’m trying to catch up now. I’m at home though now and doing physio which is really good but so tiring! I’ll try to catch up this week so the blog is live and then to fill in the blanks from Day 7 in tandem with a live update but please bear with me especially as physio makes me sleep a lot! Lots of love to you all, Em xxx

 

Hello all! Finally got around to writing my blog! For those of you who do not know, I was involved in a nasty bouldering accident which occurred on Wednesday 23rd March, almost two weeks ago but I am finally comfortable enough in hospital to write a blog for all you morbid creatures who love a story filled with gore and adventure, from the depths of ketamine holes to sailing above the Torridon munroes via helicopter!  Unfortuntely my lower leg was too badly crushed to be saved and so I am having it amputated next week. Nevertheless, I hope to keep you entertained so that you will donate to Mountain Rescue Torridon and Kinlochewe and donate your blood to the NHS vampires for without one or the other, I would not be here now writing to you. Bare with me as I am having to back track two weeks and will only post a couple of posts a day. This is the story of how my leg was crushed, how I was transported to London, my time in hospital and my recovery before and after the surgery.

To find the first day, scroll to the bottom and work you’re way upwards for the story in chronological order. Chronologically, this isn’t going to make sense until I’ve finished writing everyday up until now because I want to keep on writing how I am on the present day as well as filling in the gaps from past days.

 

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Ode dear Dad

 

I realised that I may have forgotten someone very important in my life in my blogs who I absolutely take for granted….. so I thought I would post a poem and hope he likes it!

 

rosie_bday_3Oe dear Dad

I may have forgotten you again

We just sort of take you for granted

Like when we forgot to tell you we were getting a cat… before we got one

 

So when I didn’t write about you in my blog,

It wasn’t because I didn’t care

Or notice all the things you do day in and day out

It’s that I always just sort of expect you to be there

 

Waiting to pick me up in your car as I chat to my mates

Walking Mum’s mad dog – a task we all dread

The crap job of cleaning the commode

And pushing the wheelchair up impossible hills til you’re pretty much dead

 

The coffee that magically appears by my side in the morning

Or the perfectly buttered crumpets or toast

The hours of looking for what I’ve dropped under my bed

You’re not such a bad dad I suppose

 

Lest we forgot what you do for Greenford and Ealing

No one is more deserving of mayoralship than you

From sorting out bins, benefits and other people’s problems, among others

Well we’re all well proud to be true

 

You may watch football – well we’ve all got flaws

And I may forget to tell you I love you – well I do have mine too

See to me, you’re my dad – a word that means so many things

But the one thing I know first: I know I always have you.

 

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One year on…

So I thought I should tell you I am finally back to Manchester…. 7 weeks after I moved. I am sorry I have been really bad in keeping you up-to-date with my progress. I don’t have many excuses really but I shall try to outline why a little later on. But first what have I been up to? What stage am I up to in my rehabilitation?

Well I’ve finished really. I don’t walk with an aid anymore really and you can’t tell that I have a prosthetic leg just from glancing at me. Going down stairs in particular is a bit annoying as my leg gives way a bit but I don’t have pain, not on any more drugs and just back to normal really.

After three months in a wheelchair and then three months on crutches, I had to learn to walk again which, bizarrely, is a really hard adjustment. Crutches were an utter pain – literally – so I’m very glad to be able to walk around without the blisters and burning pain through my wrists! I felt like I had a life stuck on the pause button just waiting to press pay again. Actually, the first time I thought “I want to blog again” was when I saw the x-ray which showed that my bones had finally fused together and I could come off the crutches. I was such an amazing feeling that I couldn’t quite believe it at first.

I felt like a waddling duck when I first started walking. It’s so frustrating because you remember how to walk but your body doesn’t seem to! Ballet training really helps though – having to think about the level of your hips, shoulders, knees and then the tempo and evenness of your footsteps and the swing of your arms. I didn’t realise just how much bum muscle goes into walking – sounds intuitive but it really does put so much work in! To help with all this, I progressed onto a rather fancy-looking waking stick which I still use sometimes when I’m feeling tired. The picture below is of my first steps.

first_Steps

Actually I was at a “Stand-up for Ealing Labour” comedy event in November where one of the comedians was complaining that young people don’t realise that old people are just the same as young people except I quote: “they just feel lucky to wake up alive in the morning.” Thus, I learned that threshold for old age is 22 but then again I do have a walking stick and freedom pass!

But what have I been up to? Well, I went away with my family to the Yorkshire Dales which was really lovely. I learned that the National Trust have really good ways to make things more accessible and can’t praise them highly enough. At Malham Tarn, you can hire a motorised all-terrain wheelchair for £5 though my grandad’s foot did not appreciate this… twice!

I’ve actually done so many things that I can’t really think.  I have amazing friends and family and have never been one to stay much at home anyway so I haven’t stayed still. My ballet friends, Charlotte, Lizzie and Lucy came to London in July for a picnic and then a Cuban dance show at Sadler’s Wells which was really fun. Actually Sadler’s Wells is another place that has great accessibility options and you can get a free carer’s ticket with their Access Scheme. It’s also really easy to get to from King’s Cross in a wheelchair. I’ve been a few times with my mum and also my good friend Kate since. Definitely recommend it.

Another huge thing – that was like one of the actual good things of 2016 – was that my sister graduated with a 2:1 in maths in Surrey! She was absolutely gorgeous as always even when she smoothed her top with chocolate – very classic Susanna!

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I also made some great friends through the local labour party and went quizzing with them every week. It was actually one of the really nice releases each week to enjoy three hours of feeling normal and not being treated differently or with care.

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I also enjoyed my physio sessions – as grueling as they were! And of course my physics friends too who I stayed with when I was in my wheelchair for a weekend and then again in December. They were so kind to me and even gave me the bed!

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Christmas was nice but I was quite ill along with the rest of my family – we joked that the Queen gave us the lurgies! I did go to the annual hiking winter trip the week before Christmas which was a lot of fun and so many of my wonderful friends were there. I did a lake and a forest bimble and went to the café every day. We had a ceilidh and just dome really funny memories. Aw, it was bliss!

I did have a bit of a stressful incident before the trip… so I decided to go to Scotland from Manchester with my friends but, the night I got to Manchester, my leg started wobbling…. The next day it was even more wobbly and when I tried to get to the limb fitting center in South Manchester, my leg fell apart at the bus stop. You should have seen the faces of the crowd at the bus stop! It basically looked like a really bad break but their jaws hit the floor when I put my foot in my bag! A very kind young man picked me up by the armpits and Laura helped me back inside. I was already very late for the center so was driven there by our friend Lisa and it was all fixed in 15 minutes!

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Another stressful incident over the summer was when a patient transport driver stole a package off me after wheeling me into my house. I think he’d hoped I hadn’t realised but I distinctly remember thinking that it was Mum’s Christmas present (ok so it was June but there had been a saga over what she wanted and we finally decided on getting something in June). And then it wasn’t there later on but my Godmother, who lives over the road, saw in with the package in his car. Anyway I thought I’d have to defend against my own mind – how did I know that the drugs I was on or post-traumatic stress didn’t cause me to see something that wasn’t there? But when it came to the first hearing, he turned up… with the necklace! I can’t commend the policer officer, Bryan Winson, enough for all his hard work and for such a successful outcome. He said he’d never heard of someone bringing back the stolen item but all’s well that ends well!

But what’s it like to have a prosthetic leg? Generally I don’t notice it except that I’m quite conscious of how I walk and try not to walk unevenly and it can be quite uncomfortable. My stump shrinks throughout the day as I walk on it or just by wearing the prosthetic which means that the bottom of it (which is basically bony like your elbow) rubs on the prosthetic and can cause sores or just general discomfort. In order to combat that problem, I regularly have to add more socks designed especially for amputees so I actually have to remember to take spare with me. This is quite a feat for someone who can’t remember their phone and would probably lose their brain if it wasn’t so firmly fixed in her skull – although I still think I leave it at home sometimes! The liner gets really hot and sweaty so this week I’ve actually had a pretty sore leg like a friction burn to the point that it was painful to walk on.

Actually just everything is made uncomfortable – sleeping is uncomfortable especially since it is only comfortable to sleep on one side. I’m mostly off the drugs but it’s still uncomfortable with the bulbous shape of the stump. Kneeling is uncomfortable due to my scars. Showering is uncomfortable but I’ve adapted. I have a shower stool and have adapted where I put my shower stuff and my towel so it’s all in easy reach. Also TOP TIP: use a 75 litre dry bag to put your leg in so you can have your leg in the shower with you.

And now I’m finally back settled in Manchester, feeding and having a lot of fun with my dear Laura and completing my studies and back with the hiking club! Most of my old friends are still around and of course I’ve made more! The picture below is Laura, me, Kim and Anita enjoying a very lovely and romantic Valentine’s day!

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We had our annual recently where we all dressed up and went for a three course meal out in the countryside. I did my first hike the week before last just walking up to Red Tarn from the Youth Hostel in Glenridding. My friend Matt had the best quote of the weekend. When we popped into the café at the nature reserve at Leighton Moss for cake and Laura commented that she was surprised there was Wifi, Matt flatly said: “Well, how do you expect the birds to tweet?!” I swear I went to bed with a headache that night from laughing so much! I went to karaoke for the first time last week with the same group of friends and we go for dinner all together and just have a lot of fun really. I was also elected ‘weekend secretary’ of the hiking club so basically I am back to the fray!

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Otherwise everything else is basically the same except for the elephant in the room.

As I promised earlier, I need to explain my lack of blogging and general communication up until now. Muerbauertraurigkeit is a word for the feeling of wanting to push people away even those you are close to, which I learnt about on a friend’s Facebook post. The describes exactly what I felt last Autumn. The short of it is that brains are weird and complex things. The long of it is:

August 2016 was rather hard for me. I think the effects of post traumatic stress took over my brain and so I just didn’t want to talk to anyone and some days I wouldn’t even get out of bed. I felt like I was trying desperately to cling on the rim of a bottomless pit but the rim was oiled and my fingers were slipping. Now, I’ve had more time to reflect and I think a better analogy as to why the response is so delayed is that it is like a pane of glass that has shattered but it hasn’t quite broken yet so it’s intact and just waiting to shatter properly. I can’t say anything in August triggered the glass to break, it was just inevitable that it would at some point and my brain chose August.

I actually forgot to tell most people that I was out of my wheelchair/ off crutches/ in Manchester. I bumped into a friend, Dowan, in Sainsbury’s and, when he said, “Oh my God,” I realised I had forgotten to tell that group of friends I was actually back in Manchester. But we went for a very lovely meal in Fallowfield, so all’s well that ends well. If there’s anybody who I’ve forgotten to tell who is reading this, I’m really truly very sorry!

The pieces that I then tried gluing together didn’t seem to fit anymore and what was more, to mix analogies (#sorrynotsorry), I couldn’t remember what the picture looked like before. In the end, I guess I just painted a new picture with the help of counselling and my own inward reflection. I can’t stress the importance of counselling. For me, it gave me an hour a week where I could cry when I was feeling really down without having to do it at home. Not that I didn’t at home – there were a lot of times where I did, especially to my mum. But I didn’t want to worry my family. If I was sad, they’d try to cheer me up when I did just need to be sad. It wasn’t like I wasn’t happy. I always felt like I had a high, happy line when I was with friends and family but I couldn’t shake this low constant line that felt like the elephant in the room. Now, I would say that the lines are reversed and, though the low line creeps up on me sometimes, I’m more the high line that not.

It did make me think I was being dishonest sometimes though and, in a way, I’m not really sure what Emily is any more. Am I the same person? Is the outside bubbly Emily the same one as before? I don’t really know but then we can only look forward, right? There’s no point in looking for an Emily that once existed when I am relatively happy with the Emily I’ve got now.

But I was, and am still, dishonest when it comes to telling someone the reason why I’m not hiking with them or whatever and they’re a new friend so they haven’t realised. I can’t bear when they’re face uncontrollably drops with pity or sorrow – it breaks my heart every time. So instead of saying that it is hard and infuriating – even the smallest things – I laugh it off and say it’s alright. It’s dishonest but it protects them and it protects me from heartbreak. Sometimes I wish I was a bit braver and just cried like I want to but I’m not very good with vulnerability so I’ll carry on smiling.

I don’t want to be pitied though – that is something I despise. I am very proud and stubborn, two things that I don’t think are necessarily vices. My pride and stubbornness have meant that I have been determined to get back to where I was and hence how I am in my room in Manchester typing to you now rather than languishing in my bed in London still. They are the reasons I have gone back to dancing and hiking and will be as good, if not better, than I once was. When anyone asks how I can be so brave in such a situation, I guess to me it’s not bravery. It’s definitely stubbornness and pride. There was never really a question of whether I would go back to ballet, tap, hiking, scrambling and just living normal life. The saying goes “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. Well, I’m not really content with just making lemonade and don’t think anyone should be. I want to make curd or a nice drizzle cake or screw the lemons all together and make the chocolate cake I’ve always dreamed of! And so stubbornness and pride aren’t all that bad – they’ve got me where I am now. Just like that immortal classic ‘Galaxy Quest’ says: “never give up; never give in; never surrender”.

I have learnt – or rather decided – what the meaning of life is and, to me, it isn’t 42 or a divine purpose, it is: “a faff” and “a fudge”. I never really could take the easy and straightforward or easy path and always cherished being different though I do have to admit I may have taken the biscuit here. Life is a major faff that we are all just fudging through. We all just have to adapt to the things that come at us, which I have done rather well if I might say so myself so don’t worry about me too much.

It is hard to think that this is one year on. A lot of it feels like a movie on telly I vaguely remember rather than that it happened to me. Yes, I do feel sad today; I can’t escape that and anyone would. So I’m spending the day cuddled up with Laura on the sofa watching brilliant films and eating takeaway. The memories are dull now though I still feel a bit sorry for myself and especially what I did to my mum. If I can become half the woman she is, that would be the highest compliment I could ever receive. I’ve even remembered Mother’s day this year before it’s passed by which, knowing me, is pretty impressive! I can’t lie and say that I feel happy today though. I hope I’ve amused you with this blog today but I think today I need to be sad for the day. I’ll be back to being happy tomorrow.

Anyway I think I’ve waffled on long enough! I hope I haven’t saddened you – that was certainly not my intention. I just wanted to let you know that I am – and will be – ok. I’m looking forward to the future now. Going to my friend Lucy’s wedding (the first wedding I’ve ever been to), exams and a more karaoke! Stupid 2016 has finished. Now I can focus on graduating and then eventually becoming a doctor whether it’s in 2018 or beyond, it’s not a case of “if” but “when”. Maybe I’ll be an award-winning writer too, hey! I’ve rather enjoyed this blogging and I can only hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. All that’s left to say is thank you for not giving up on me or not letting me give up on myself – I couldn’t have done it without you.

Week 13 – Walking on air

Monday 20th June – Sunday 26th June

Post to be read with “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves followed by “We’re walking in the air” from the Snowman being played in the background on repeat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPUmE-tne5U then https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aktgc7Irs8g

So yes I walked this week for the first time in yonks! To be fair it was on a giant air bag with a metal cage around it called a PPAM Aid – something that resembles a medieval torture instrument! It was so exciting though! Your legs don’t forget to walk but it is an odd sensation to get back into the swing of things quite nostalgia, maybe something very similar to nostalgia. The PPAM aid takes 50% of the weight and my arms take a lot too as I move along the parallel bars but I don’t actually get any extra pain from walking at all like I thought I might. Mr Nethwani said that the bones might still snap in my stump so we’re proceeding very slowly and cautiously.

Perhaps I should start from the beginning though. Basically, I saw Mr Simmons again, which is always a joy of course! On Monday I got a call from my physio (Laura) that my plastic surgeon (Mr Simmons) told her that my orthopaedic surgeon (Mr Nethwani) told him to tell me to come on Tuesday not Wednesday. This wasn’t exactly, or in any way, translated to the reception or nursing staff so that was a big confusion that carried on until the Monday after when I had to phone up to say that I had been at the appointment when I got a letter to say I hadn’t been and had now been discharged to my GP – eek! Oh well, confusion now sorted and everything is good.

Mr Simmons was impressed with how everything has healed and, after having another X-ray, Mr Nethwani was also impressed. It was his decision whether I would put weight through my stump and, I don’t know why, I thought that this would still not happen for a while especially since he said he would see me next in a couple of months. He was talking about some sort of contraption which I initially thought was the rigid dressing we want to get, which will mean I can use crutches without too much risk of damaging the stump. However, as we talked, I realised what he meant and eve nasked him if he really meant it. I could use the PPAM aid and I would be walking and hopefully walking with a prosthetic by the next time I see him.

I was over the moon – not quite literally, I’m more over an air bag, or at least not yet over the moon (Tim Peake watch out!).  That’s was the big happiness in the week that ended in absolute despair.

I had been running the campaign centre for Labour remain in Northfields and Walpole wards on Thursday so if anyone got knocked up (me and Susanna still snigger at that phrase) on Thursday by Labour remain, I had sent them to you. I was just sending people out in groups to knock on doors or leaflet to areas I thought were useful there and then but everyone was so helpful that I feel like I didn’t really do much. Helen, my godmother, accommodated us very well and Susanna looked after me though our plan to watch 22 Jump Street did not entirely go to plan. Our plan to order pizza on the other hand went remarkably well. It was all really fun though and I really like those sort of strategy things – it reminds me of the joys of decision maths.

Friday morning I just felt sick though. We drowned our sorrows in very yummy ice cream though and a bit of shopping. There’s not much I can say really except just how it will all turn out I don’t know. I just can’t see it and I’m usually quite good at seeing things happening. Maybe it’s like this boulder, it will break us and we’ll never be the same again – for better or worse.

On a more light-hearted note, it was my friend Emma’s birthday so we first went to a café up the road (different to the one I will describe below which only takes 5 mins to get to). This café takes at least 15 mins to get to on two legs let alone in a wheelchair but we were late so Susanna stormed me there. One sort of middle-aged-elderly man tried to stop us with banter by saying to me, “why don’t get out and walk?” I know it was only joking but I really don’t understand some people – how does he know I’m not completely and utterly traumatised… perhaps I am. Anyway Susanna showed him when he asked if she needed help (I should probably mention Susanna had not once given up on her storming during this discourse). Even though she said, “Nah, it’s fine, thanks,” he still tried to help but ended up running along beside us instead (Susanna is well fast) and we lost him a couple of minutes later. She didn’t even wait at roads… one van waited for us to cross a road as he was turning into it from the busy main road. Anyway, we got to the café in no more than 5 minutes and with all bits intact… or at least all the bits we left with.

We carried on the festivities at the Ceramics Café where I painted a plate and Emma painted a teapot (Susanna went to Pride instead). I just did a bird on a tree and I’ll post a picture when I eventually pick it up. Basically, you pick something to paint, paint it, then it gets baked and then you pick it up a week or so later. It was actually really fun and her friends from university were really lovely – really recommend it for anyone needing something fun and tranquil to do.

Corin came over on Sunday and we went to the café up the road. I should get some sort of freedom pass for that place based on the frequency of my visits. However, they didn’t have any milkshakes or waffles which I had promised…. and Google maps had taken him to Wimbledon! There was much catching up, discussions on the Yu-Gi-Oh anime and insect analogies based on the EU referendum, which was as always really lovely. Also, Corin’s going to CERN for 18 months! We’ll have to go visit!

I’ve probably forgotten something else that happened but I can’t remember so never mind! Sayonara!

Week 12 – going swimmingly

Monday 13th June – Sunday 19th June

I am so behind on blog posts – I can only apologise! I am still blogging I promise! Blogging and writing to you so you know how I am and what I want to tell you is always at the back of my mind. I want to write in all the blanks (don’t worry I do remember and have detailed notes on those times) as well as also writing a blog about the adaptations I’ve had to make and one about FAQs so, if anyone has a burning question, feel free to add in the comments or email me. I don’t majorly think I can definitively answer the question of how and why Stonehenge was built (Jack I am virtually looking at you) but I’ll try to answer questions as honestly as I can.

Basically I’ve been having far too much fun. Yesterday, two Wallys, an Incredible, a land girl, Audry Hepburn, a mad scientist, a semi-pirate and Tinkerbell and a couple of normal people rocked up to my garden transformed into a pirate ship/ Hawaiian beach. What a way to start a blog post! They had all travelled from Manchester/ Coventry/ Swindon/ down the road to celebrate my birthday (Ok so it was 2 weeks ago but whatevs!) in true Emily style…. Fancy dress of course!!!

I dressed up as a pirate of course – Pirate Peggy! I had looked for a blow up wooden leg to complete the look but couldn’t find one. I also can’t find the lacy eye patch I bought… oh well will just have to dress up like a pirate again! Inflatable palm trees and a treasure map completed the look.

I can’t thank my parents enough for getting the garden looking lush, for preparing and cooking the food (Dad’s job of the summer is the BBQ!), for putting up the decorations and for getting me out into the garden. If anyone has ever been to a party my mum has cooked for, they know that they never go hungry… for the next week. All of the food really did taste good and I even instructed mum in the art of cocktails which tasted fantastic too!

Thanks so much to my maties that can to see me – love all of them to bits and I hope they had as good a time as me! Got some lovely goodies too – some lush goodies from Lush (I am smelling beautiful today) from Katie, a Tea-Rex mug (which I’m drinking coffee out of now) and cocktail recipe book (watch out Manchester!) from Laura, The Sound of Music from Kim and loads of goodies from Kim’s Auntie who I know reads my blog especially since her lovely card said “Keep bogging!”. The cocoa butter is well nice and we’ve already eaten the sweeties! Also Tonje’s cake!! Pecan and toffee and cinnamon and toffee goo!!! Tonje you’re a cooking genius!!! It was so so so yummy!!!

I’m just sorry it was so cold, especially since today is quite ice. Oh well nothing cannot be solved by fleece faux wolf fur blankets! I am now spending the entire day in bed now so maybe I can actually get some writing done.

I feel especially inspired to write because I’ve got this movie ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, which I watched on Thursday when I finally met up with Melissa, going round and round in my head. I just really love the characters of Sophie and Howl and really recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy. I finally got to meet up with Melissa as I said and this time I wasn’t having a terrifying time with PICC lines and panic attacks. I really had such a lovely time just chatting and watching this great movie that Melissa picked out for me – she knows me too well! Many happy returns for when you get married next week and look forward to seeing you soon!

And another exciting thing – I went swimming on Wednesday! They put me on a hoist which is just a plastic white chair that, like a crane, swings me very slowly over and then down into the swimming pool which is absolute agony when the water is so cold.

It was an odd sensation for my stump to have a new feeling all over it – a sensation I can’t easily describe except that all over the sensitive points on my stump are suddenly immersed in water that touches them all at the same time.

I thought it would take me a long time to get back into swimming. I used to do a lot as a child – managed to do 2.5km once – but I’ve been so lazy recently, actually not even that recently but quite a long time. I thought that my leg would compound the fact I hadn’t done much swimming and I would struggle but apparently not. After just a little bit of adjustment, I was doing lengths and a bit of acrobatics and having a wail of a time. As the saying goes like a duck to water, I must therefore be a duck. It really wouldn’t surprise me.

What was funny though was before Susanna came to meet me, I was just waiting near the shop, quite settled with my paper, my sweeties, ice coffee – the works. I had already dropped my sweeties and a kind lady had picked them up for me as I st

Friday was an interesting day too. There was a lady about my age who was telling her physio about a form she had to fill out and the last question was, “Do you consider yourself disabled?” She broke down at the last word and I couldn’t sit in front of her and let her cry. I stopped my arm bike, took her hand and told her the truth, “I know exactly how you feel. Up until March, I wouldn’t have considered myself disabled or needing benefits but, if you tick the form where it says you’re disabled, then you can get the support, the money and the random bits and bobs you need.” I’m disabled – it’s an odd word that I’m sure people will disagree with but I do have serious mobility issues that I do need help for but there’s nothing wrong with it and the more disability is talked about, the more the stigma around it will dissipate. That doesn’t just go for physical disability but also mental health too. The accident all seems like such a bad dream from a long time ago but it hangs on my every thought – like one of those weird stick men hanging off ladders. You can imagine hanging off my lip when I say I’m alright. Ah, I’m in this problem and it doesn’t help to be all doom and gloom or bogged down in it. Pragmatism and adapting to the current situation is what is what I do. She laughed though when I talked about the money side and left, I hope, with a ray of hope through the gloom to think about… or munch on.

So that rounds up the week. I’m still in bed (although relatively dressed mine) and watching random snippets of anime and writing this. It’s so good doing nothing for one day

Week 6: Mayoral election and I’m in stitches

Monday 2nd May – Sunday 8th May

So amputee life begins. Not exactly something I’d ever imagined. It’s as frustrating as watching Boris Johnson try to answer a questions – moves nowhere and is a bit of a joke. Talking of Boris Johnson, I highly recommend, if you happen to be in my position, taking all the laxatives you possibly can – trust me. I’m still me – stay positive and strong, I know and I do but… well it’s a big but isn’t it? But then adaptation is always a key point I stress upon in my CV.

I’m so sorry I haven’t posted in a blog in a while. Since being back at home, I’ve been doing so much! (mostly sleeping!) I’ve decided though to write a whole week in one post rather than individual days at least for when I’ve been at home. Writing retrospectively from 4 weeks in the future, catching up on the posts would virtually impossible. Unfortunately, time just won’t stop and let me write all my posts. Instead, the day I’ve written a post, that day then becomes a post. Honestly, it’s like the ironing! It just won’t stop! Not that I want it to though. I want to let everyone know how I am and that I’m alright, and it’s quite cathartic as well.

In any case, most days are relatively similar now. Exciting things still do happen but I’m in a routine now of going to physio three times a week (and sleeping all day after them), going shopping with my mum, grandparents coming over and seeing Jack for brunch. Oh, and going to sleep with the cat at my feet, which is the definition of bliss if I could sleep soundly.

A question I get asked a lot is am I bored or am I lonely? I don’t really have time I think and I’m pretty much never alone. Actually, I sometimes just like to be on my own, lie on the sofa and watch really bad day time TV. I mean Bargain Hunt just has that way of curing all ills with fake tan and tacky vases that are supposed to be worth the moon. Nap time is strictly from 5-6pm. There is no point in communication with me during these hours. Emily is out.

On Tuesday, the lovely lady who runs the transport lounge had a lovely motto: if there’s something you can change, change it, but if there’s something you can’t change, accept it. Exactly right and she went on to say how people how complain about things they can change, don’t change things when they should. Change things while you can but I can’t change that I only have one leg so I’ll accept it but change how I live to accept it. She had an analogy to describe being asked about your disability: that that it’s like a non-drinker being asked why they don’t drink like it’s something wrong. Or a veggie being asked, why don’t you eat meat? When it’s just something you do without thinking. Basically we have the modern day Descartes in out transport lounge. I really like being in there actually, most of the time. It’s quite the social event of the day.

There was a lady in the transport lounge who is a lot worse than me on Tuesday. I won’t go into her story but I said sorry, naturally, and she said, “I don’t know what to say when people say sorry. There’s nothing you can do about it.” I know completely how she feels, not just when people say sorry but also when they talk to my mum as if I’m terminally ill, but you, even though it’s so easy to fall into, falling into an attitude of “don’t say sorry, there’s nothing you can do about it” or “well it’s not your fault” is wrong because there is something they can do. They are saying that they will be with you for that 5 minute conversation and show that they care. It’s only common curtesy even if it’s nothing else. How would you feel if they didn’t say sorry?

Anyways, I had my stitches taken out on Tuesday – 43 in total. The removal of them actually wasn’t that bad except for a few long ones and quite fascinating really. However, the initial removal of the adhesive dressings – well mum’s hand that was holding mine got thoroughly crushed. I literally have no idea how anyone could have a wax and those that do I salute your bravery! Let’s just say though tht the waxing parlours of Ealing and Manchester are safe from my hairy legs… I don’t say anything about the others.

HOWEVER…. On Thursday night, more scabs had fallen off (gross I know sorry) and I noticed something – blue. I was quite excited at first and called in mum to witness the cutting of the stitch. I cut it, I pulled it out, I pulled some more and some more. It became quite clear that it was somewhat stuck. Looking along the suture line, the stitch ran like running stitch quite far down the suture line and disappeared into a scab.

So we rang up the GP surgery (after the district nurses weren’t particularly helpful) the next day and the practice nurse saw us but she couldn’t work it out either. It took her, one of the GPs and over half an hour to figure out where the stitch went and unbury each bit that was originally outside my skin but had each begun to get enveloped by skin. There was a moment where I thought we would never find the other end but the practice nurse pulled on one bit and the other bit came free, having been cut off in the original stitch removal.

We again found another similar but slightly smaller stitch on Sunday but I removed that myself. I might like to add that it was all incredibly antiseptic conditions. I even washed my hands in proper water opposed to just wet wipes which is a rarity. This one looked like the Go-Compare man’s moustache and I keep them both in a specimen bottle in my drawer.

On Thursday, I talked to Laura for an hour and she’s coming to see me next week which is very exciting! Even more exciting, Sadiq Khan won the London Mayor election! (Even if my vote didn’t actually get counted because I apparently put my date of birth down wrong – embarrassing!)

A couple more panics happened this week. Firstly, on Friday, when Ben went to call patient transport after the physio session to say I was on the way, I didn’t have patient transport booked even though I had booked in hospital for 6 weeks and it hadn’t been 2 yet. To make matters worse, because I hadn’t got transport to physio (Mum drops me off on her way to work), I couldn’t then get transport back home.

I panicked a bit and I think Ben, the physio, did too. I tried to ring my grandparents but they were out. Then I found Dad who wasn’t really sure what to do except go to Mum’s school and pick up the car. And then a light bulb struck! I remembered that Jack had passed his driving test and could potentially pick me up. I phoned him up and he and his dad came and picked me up. My heroes!

The second panic was on Saturday when a boy fell into my wheelchair in Marks and Spencers. We were on our way out and this twelve year old was walking backwards and bickering with his brother and with their mum. Mum shouted, “Watch out!” but he tripped over and on to me. I managed to catch him and save my leg but can you imagine a person falling on my leg? How devastating that would be? Mum was quite restrained I think with her, “For God’s sake! Watch where you’re going!” It was so frightening and really shook me and I even had a bit of a cry.

After that, we went to Litton Reserve open day in Greenford, which is a really lovely wooded area with a bug hotel and pond dipping and a Viking hut sort of thing. It was actually really nice and, if you’re in the area and it happens to be open, definitely well worth a visit. There is a pond there which is made from a bomb crater from WW2.

So concludes Week 6 of this ordeal. Mayoral victory, philosophical questions and I’m in stitches… or out of them actually.

Day 39 – Good food, good company and retail therapy

Saturday 30th April

With my hair still looking alright from my haircut the day before, some really pretty blue/ purple earrings Mum lent me and the white scarf with silver feathers, I really felt pretty. Everyone needs to feel pretty once in a while, whether they are or not in the eyes of others but then who cares about the others! I felt pretty for the first time in at least 5 weeks.

Mum had been thinking we’d go to Kew gardens in the morning but I take too long to get ready in the morning and we were faffing so we decided to go the next day as we were meting my uncle Jim, aunt  Vi, cousin Rosie and my grandparents John and Doffy. Unbelievably, me and Mum were the first ones there – Dad had dropped us off on the way to football. I almost corrected Mum when she said that there were only 7 of us – I’d forgotten Susanna wasn’t with us! What a weird sensation – like forgetting you haven’t got your leg! Sometimes I do feel like I’ve lost a part of myself when she goes away.

Anyways, sentimentality apart, we sat outside for a little while, drinking coffee and enjoying the sun whilst it lasted. I joked that maybe the vitamin D would grow my leg back. The meal was gorgeous as always at Ask – me and Vi had a long chat about Masterchef, which I love now (I have been in hospital too long), and the multitude of cooking shows on TV. I was a bit delighted really that Ask had an accessible toilet – well  just accessible toilet to be perfectly honest but I was glad not to have to do plan B of somehow hopping into the normal ladies’ toilet. Rosie is so grown up already; I can’t wait to see what she’ll end up being in 10 years time and I’m sure she’ll be successful in whatever she wants to do though I sincerely hope that does not include anything to do with rocks.

To get home, we had to get the bus which meant public transport for the first time in my life. The 65 bus wasn’t actually too bad and gave a fair amount of space for the wheelchair. The people on the bus could have been better. One lady decided standing in front of me – though to be fair right be the wall – in the wheelchair bay was the best place to tuck herself. She almost got run over as we got in. Basically, if you’re on the bus and a wheelchair gets on, the wheelchair bay is that size because the wheelchair needs that amount of space to turn so please do move out of the bay so there aren’t any awkward hit and runs.

I was really excited to go shopping with Mum. I really genuinely enjoy clothes shopping – talk about retail therapy – not that I really ever have the money but hey I needed a new wardrobe because al my clothes are up in Manchester. H&M was the first shop and I’m glad not that last because it was awful. Crowded with narrow aisles to get to the clothes and actually a fashion that I wasn’t into anyway, I pretty much had a meltdown/ panic attack. Because it was all so crowded with clothes, I couldn’t really self-propel myself around and see the clothes I wanted to and, I don’t know, it all just became too overwhelming. We left quite quickly and I had a bit of a moment with Mum outside and went and bought some makeup, the essentials in life, to cheer myself up.

New Look on the other hand was a completely different kettle of fish. It was just a lot more spacious and I could look around and pick up the clothes that I liked. I tried on a selection of clothes that I could wear in the physio gym and then also for going out with friends. It actually fun trying them all on with Mum and then actually having some tops to have for the rest of the week. I was also impressed with the accessible changing room which is something I’ve never thought about before all this happened.

The E2 home wasn’t that bad but the bay is probably a little too small for standard wheelchairs let alone the larger wheelchair I had. When we got home, the ramp was already out and Dad was at the top ith a smile on his face – Watford must have done well and they had or something! Otherwise the rest of the night was uneventful.

Day 38 -It’s a curl thing

Friday 29th April

I was too exhausted to go to physio and also thought I was coming down with a sore throat but I now think I was just a bit dehydrated. I was just so exhausted that waking up seemed impossible to me. I know it sounds ridiculous but I genuinely think I exhausted myself to the point that getting out of bed would not have been a good thing. Anyway, mum phoned up my physios and I did feel bad but had no energy to do anything.

I slept most of the morning with various bits of equipment delivered from MedEquip – a pressure cushion for the chair, an overlay mattress for the bed (which did disturb my sleep!), a ramp and key safe for the front door and a heel protector to prevent pressure sores on my stump, which as such an ingenious idea! It gives me better protection for my stump and is quite comfy actually.

Just before 4pm Mum rushed in, “I’ve booked an appointment at the hairdressers but the appointment’s at 4!” So we rushed out – rushed is a bit of an extreme word because I can’t do anything at a fast pace. The discussion in the car revolved around how I would actually get into the hairdressers. There is one large step into the hairdressers that I had to overcome like a mini Everest. In the end, I put my foot on the top of the step and stood up on the one leg as my Dad hauled me up and in. Mum picked the wheelchair up behind me and put it inside so I could flop back in. When I saw our hairdresser, Donna (I wouldn’t trust anyone else with my curls!), I said, “You look different!” in reference to her hair that had been dyed a really nice and stylish grey since I last saw her but I don’t think she quite got the joke that I meant that I was now quite a bit different too.

It was so nice to get my hair washed warm, flowing, actual water and get a bit of a massage too. Donna is a really great hairdresser and it’s really nice that she has a bit of a natter with you at the same time. I never have a clue what I want done with my hair except the length I vaguely want it and that I want some resemblance of layers. She always cuts it so there’s curls at different lengths which I really like. Apologies for th pun at the top – it’s a curl/girl thing – it’s the best I could find! Anyways, I’m rambling on about very boring things – basically me and mum got our hair cut and blow dried straight and now feel like superstars.

We took the dog for a walk afterwards, which was really good and +was nice to go to somewhere so familiar, but the pavement there and back was so bumpy which meant my stump got really upset. It was not happy. Mum reckons we should name it. I reminded her that it is still part of my body and is still probably called Emily. Because I was tired and pained, I spent the evening, like most evenings nowadays, asleep but, unlike most evenings, with a great hairdo.