My busy morning

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve already had quite a productive morning.

I’ve been back at the hospital today for a few things. First up, I popped to the orthotics department, (the one that I go to about my splints), to have a few adjustments made to the one I wear on my left leg. I got given this pair a few weeks ago, and the right one feels really comfy, but the other still felt a bit too tight for me. I went back and had it blown out a bit shortly after I got them, and it did make a difference, but I felt that it could do with having it done a little bit more for it to feel as comfortable as possible.

This is no one’s fault it just happens sometimes.

Now that it’s been adjusted again I could tell straight away that it feels loads better and I’ve managed to wear it for a few hours. Now I just have to bed it in slowly for a few days, like you would with a pair of new shoes, and then see how it feels after that.

While I was there I was also told that my night splints were ready for me too. These are ones that I’ll wear at night, or at times when I’m going to be resting for a while, like when I’m reading or when I’m watching TV.  I’ll take photos of these next week when I’ve had chance to use them properly and get used to them a bit.

I tried this pair on at the appointment and I didn’t want to take them back off again. They felt really soft and comfy. I don’t know if I’ll feel the same after I’ve had them on for a length of time, but we’ll see.

After I’d finished my appointment at the orthotics department, I went for an appointment with my physio. We did some stretching and then we worked on standing straight and she looked at how I walked in the new splints.

She’s given me some pointers of things to work on and watch out for, and then I’ll go back in about a month so she can see how I’ve been getting on. At first, I think it’ll be hard to get into the habits of the things that she wants me to pay attention to when I walk, especially if there aren’t any mirrors nearby for me to look in while I’m trying to do it. Hopefully though, I’ll be able to make some kind of progress, however small (or big) that may be.

Oh, I also picked up some equipment that an occupational therapist had left for me to try out. It’s a rocker knife that is curved so that you can’t cut up your food using a rocking motion instead of pushing and pulling the knife back and forth.  I think I’ve mentioned a few times that I find cutting things up difficult, so I’m really looking forward to giving this a go. It’s being loaned to me for a couple of weeks or so to give me a chance to experiment and then if I like them, I’ll get one of my own.

It looks like I could be in for an interesting weekend.

Letting things slip

Yesterday my mum commented that I needed to watch how I was standing when I was in the house and not using my walking frame Martha to help me get around. She said that she was concerned that I was standing slightly more bent over again and that I was starting to put my knees together which is why my knee caps twisted inwards when I was younger and I needed surgery to correct it.

As people who’ve been reading the blog a while will know, I’ve just been discharged from some physiotherapy sessions where I’d been working on learning to ‘stack’ myself properly when I’m using my walker, but when I’m at home I don’t use it around the house. It’s harder for me to pay attention to my posture when I’m in this situation because I tend to just hold myself in whatever way keeps me upright, but this isn’t necessarily the way I should be doing things.

After Mum brought the fact that I should be paying closer attention to the forefront of my mind, I started to notice that my left knee was quite achy, and that it had been for a couple of days, but I’d put this down to the extra long-sitting I’d been doing to give my legs a good stretch out. Then I noticed that she was right and that I was letting my knee twist in because it likes it that way and it’s more comfortable. Opps.

I’m not sure how long I’ve been letting my posture slip back into old habits, but I know it needs to stop ASAP otherwise there’s a risk that things will go back to how they were before my operations, which I know I don’t need to tell you is something that I don’t want to happen.

It’s harder for me to stand up straight when I’m not using Martha because she supports me on both sides and I’m just more aware of these things when I’m using her although I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because when I’m at home I’m usually concentrating on something else like making a sandwich or getting a cup of tea.

Mum is helping by saying “stand up straight” every time I go past her and I’m trying to think about forcing my knees apart before I do anything else when I’m standing still. It’s a hard habit to break, (or is it a new habit I have to get into?),  but now that my knee is protesting me every step of the way, I’m hoping that the dull ache and a mum’s reminders will help me along the way.

Change is in the air

Well, today I’m feeling really quite positive and motivated, which is nice. I think that it could have something to do the think fact that my room has been recently redecorated, and sometimes I think a change like this can do us all some good.

I’m quite excited because I’ve got a new wardrobe which  is lower down that my old one was so that it’s easier for me to get my clothes on and off the rails without almost falling over with the effort, or simply giving up and throwing everything into a pile at the bottom. The latter is what happened far too often.

There’s also a nice, new comfy bed. It’s much bigger than my last one, which will give me even more room to practice being a starfish at night, oh and it will make it easier for my mum to do my physio on it, but I’m far more excited about having more room to sprawl out in if I’m honest. I’m half in love with it already because I went to sleep with a very achy back last night and when I woke up it was as good as gone!

In my spare time,  (AKA when I’m not frantically job hunting),I do a lot of fiction writing as well as working on my blog. Usually as I do it I always hope that one day other people will read it and enjoy it, but I never expect that to happen. Today though, as I sit here in the writing cocoon that I have constructed for myself, tapping away and the keyboard and listening to Paramore, I’m starting to feel like maybe at some point they will. Not just yet, but it feels possible. We’ll see.

The extra effort that I’m supposed to be making with physio has actually got off to a pretty good start. I know it’s only been two days since I wrote the post declaring that I was going to try really hard so I shouldn’t get too excited, but it all helps, right? So far I’ve only made a few small changes, but hopefully they will all combine together to have a big impact on me for the better.

Doing the “Make Sure I’m Standing Up Straight Dance”

A couple of weeks ago, while I was busy doing my Surgery Diaries set of posts marking the six-year anniversary of my operations, the physio I had been seeing over the last few months decided that she was happy enough with my progress that I didn’t need to see her anymore, until my next set of problems arises, that is.

I’d gone originally because the backs of my knees had decided that they wanted to give me some grief after we’d had the kind of winter that I spent yesterday’s post complaining about. My muscles and I have a mutual hatred of the cold, as you all know by now.

So, back to the physio I went to try and nip it in the bud before it got any worse and she did all the right stretches and gave me some exercises that would fix it. I was amazed at the fact that I could do them all within the space of about five minutes before I’d even got out bed in a morning! (They were lying down exercises, I wasn’t being lazy) . I found that because there was someone there watching my progress who would be able to tell if I hadn’t done my homework, I actually did them.

As well as this, we worked on trying to improve the way that I stood to improve my walking and posture generally. It was really quite funny at first. As she tried to help me stand straight to show me what it would look (and feel) like, my limbs pretty much decided that they would what they wanted and not listen to anyone else. As soon as my knees were put right, my already aligned shoulders would go back to how they felt most comfortable, then my hips would follow their lead and we’d have to start all over again. Eventually though, the physio won and I was standing tall and straight. It felt really odd, like I was stood curled up in a ball, but I could see from the mirror that I wasn’t. It felt really comfortable and made me ache quite a bit.

After a few weeks (and lots of practice) I’ve managed to get to the point where I can just about do it for myself as long as I’m holding on to something. It still takes a while to ‘stack’ (they called it stacking) my head, shoulders, hips, knees, and feet all at once, but as long as I’m patient I can do it! For now I’m working on doing to for short bursts while I’m stood talking to people on my walking frame. I’d love to know what it looks like to others while I stand there, doing a sort of frustrated dance type thing that it takes to get everything lined up properly so I’m standing straight. I have now decided that I’m personally going to start calling this process the Make Sure I’m Standing Up Straight Dance, mostly for my own amusement.

Preparing for winter

This year, I plan on starting to prepare for winter early. No, I don’t mean that I’m going to pretend that I’m a squirrel and bury lots of acorns and nuts in the garden; nor I am going to be like a bird and fly south for the season (although, I won’t lie, a holiday would be great right now). Ah, a girl can dream…

No, what I mean is that I’m going to try and get into some habits now that I’m hoping will stop the cold weather from having such a big impact on me this time around. I’m not a professional doctor or physiotherapist, nor do I pretend to be, so I’m not sure if making an extra effort this my physiotherapy now will make me less achy in the winter, but I figure it’s something that I should probably start doing anyway, because as I’ve said time and time again, I know I don’t do as much as I should.

The end of last year things seemed a lot worse than normal because it was far more bitter than I remember it being for a long time. When I get cold, my legs get tight and my muscles ache more than usual. I tend to spend a lot of winter using my wheelchair rather than my walking frame because it’s more comfortable that way. Plus, if we have snow, there’s just no way that the tiny front wheels on Martha will cut through it all, and I don’t want to risk slipping on any ice either. This just means trying to do as much more physio as I can at home to make up for the shortfall in exercise.

At the beginning of this year, things started bothering me enough for me to give my physiotherapist a call and make a set of appointments. I had around six spread out of the course of the next few months and she finally discharged me again a couple of weeks ago. More on that later.

So, it’s only September but there’s already a chill creeping into the air, and I’ve noticed that my legs and hips are already starting to show their dislike for it, especially first thing in the morning and the last thing at night as I’m trying to drift off to sleep. I’ve decided that if I start working hard now and paying more attention to my stretches sooner rather than later, I’ll, (hopefully), have got into the habit by the time the worst of the cold hits so having to work harder might not seem like such a chore.

Although I need the help of another person to do some of the bigger ones, there are lots of little things that I can do for myself that I’m hoping will help, like spending more time lying on my stomach for half an hour while I watch TV or read a book get a good stretch out, and it feels like my wheat bags barely have time to go cold before I’m reheating them again (I’m sat with one under my knees as I type). This is to help keep me warm as much as it is to sooth my muscles. Oh, and I’m going to have to remember to keep on to top my physio too. I’m pretty sure that will do me some good, no matter what time of year it is.

I am aware that wheatbags might not be suitable for everyone to use, or help everyone. I’m not a medical professional so I can’t offer advice on when a person might like to use one or when it might not be suitable for them. This is a reflection on how they help me personally only.

Feel free to help keep me on the straight and narrow by leaving me note in the comments section, or on Facebook and Twitter, from time to time.