What a difference the right chair makes

Something exciting happened to me this week!

My new, made to measure work chair that was recommended on the back of my Access to Work office assessment finally arrived at my office, complete with a beast of a footrest that moves up and down as my feet do.

This might not sound very exciting to you, but it was for me and all of colleagues. We were all hoping it would reduce my pain, and you know what – it has. Way more than I dared to hope it would.

I would say my hip pain levels have improved by 80% across the board, by which I mean not only while I’m actually at work. I’ve been in a lot less pain in the evenings and on my commute too!

My back pain is also much better during work hours, and I haven’t felt like I am going to spasm and spring out of the chair once yet. I know it’s only been four working days, but I am so happy and grateful to my employer for investing in me like this that I could cry.

Cerebral Palsy and Migraines

As I write this I have a pretty rotten headache. It’s not quite crossed the boarder into migraine city yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does. The main bulk of the pain is nesting in the nape of my neck, so I think I must have been sitting in a weird position.

I don’t get migraines too often now, but I feel like I had them every day from the age of about 14 to 16. They used to make me go dizzy and fall over.

When I was 14 I started getting horrible shoulder and neck pain. This was back when I was still knock-kneed, and stood with one knee behind the other. I did this so much that my kneecaps had rotated so that they faced inwards instead of outwards.

In other words: my posture was poop, and the way I stood back then gave me migraines. My doctor gave me some stronger painkillers, and my physio at the time tried some intensive therapy on my shoulders to lessen the pain, but we all knew that there wasn’t much we could do until I’d finished my GCSEs and could have operations to reset my knees.

Once I had my hip surgery and the muscle-lengthening surgery afterwards, the migraines went completely. I Hardly even get headaches any more. I’m so, so lucky. I wouldn’t wish them on anyone.

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.

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.