Balanced life program Nuffield orthopedic hospital Oxford April 2019

I really hoped that I was going to be able to blog everyday and tell you everything,  but to be honest there wasn’t that much to say each day as it’s an cumulative course. 

That’s not saying we didn’t do much,  as we really did a lot, were either doing or learning.

I will be adding smaller posts with some information of things i found helpful or enjoyed 

We start every morning saying  telling the physio how we are, a bit like circle time at school. What i loved is the honestly of the group, some might say that they had a great evening and that they had practised being mindful, and others would say how crap it was because of the pain they were in and some might say “I managed to achieve some goals” (this word will be changed to values from now on and i will explain why later) and some says they try to achieve goals and failed. But it’s OKAY, we all get it, we understand pain, tiredness and brain fog.

Spent a lot of time with our first physio *A* and she’s so lovely so understanding,  I’ve never known physio’s so understanding of pain and limitations but the same time she finds things that we could do whether it be literally one minute on a sit-down bicycle or it might be that we can do some arm stretches but we still achieving  things that we maybe didn’t think we could do or that we haven’t then before. She was also very aware of the payback chronic pain sufferers get, for example my trip to London, i was in bed for 3 days after beyond exhausted and in lots of pain.

I think the main thing i’ve got from it is this, is  honesty and understanding, saying “yes i know this is shit, but there are good bits and you can capitalise on these” and learning to say “i need to rest right now” or “no i cant come out tonight” without the terrible guilt that all of us are plagued with.

It helps you be kind to yourself to acknowledge the inner bitch saying bad things (eg you cant do that like other mums or your house is shit or you need to do more ) and choose whether to listen to her, to acknowledge the pain you have (aimed at chronic pain sufferers not acute pain) and rather than fight against it – (for example, I fight my pain —its fine i can do it … i power through but i then crash) – but it teaches to just slow down – This is not to “give in” to pain, more,  lets look at it what can i do – what bits might i need assistance (and not to feel like shit for asking for help), because at the end of the day those around us love us and are probably chomping at the bitt to help, its taking control of our own mind. 

I think i’m going to do a full post of this to give it the space it needs for a good explanation – 



I spent time in the gym,  the actual gym!!!!  and I have used equipment,  ok,  it was one minute on the recumbent bicycle and about 30 seconds and I could balance board but that’s the most i have done in a gym for 15 years.  I did this EVERYDAY and i could see my strength improving, may have been subtle but it was there.


20190403_130621.jpg 20190403_130511.jpg

We’ve been doing is hydrotherapy twice a week and this is amazing with the pool is fantastic  it’s so warm, the changing area was warm and there were chairs in the changing cubicles. A game changer there are real steps to get into the pool rather than those horrible ladders. The pool is not very deep, at its deepest it’s probably at my chest. Initially we started with guided sessions ie blue eyes or A lead telling us what we should be doing – things like  sitting on the shelf bit and doing bicycle legs, exercises or  doing stretches.

Every time we did stretches the whole group would laugh so much , for example we held onto the bar at the side of the pool all looking the same way (think ballet class) and he might say lift you leg out to the side of your body – and me being a  bendy bugger (cheers eds) I would have my size 7 sticking out of the water whilst the others were miles away from the surface and i felt no stretch lol. 

We did very simple  exercises, it  initially seemed easy but my cockyness was short lived. We were stood in the water and we were swishing Arms forward and back (each going opposite direction), well that was easy, until you realise you need to use your core to stop you twisting and turning , this we the first time i realised how bad my core was, i couldn’t stand still i was like a rag doll. That said it was great  I was weightless I felt strong, the sessions were only ever 20-25 minutes and initially i thought i wanted more,  but i soon realised how exhausted i was after hydro. It was like I had run a marathon it was overwhelming tiredness because we had  worked hard but we had the support of the water so it didn’t seem so much at the time – i wasn’t alone with this we had some nodding off afterwards lol. But again the team were super understanding. 


In another session we had to float in a certain way, (we had pool noodles wrapped round our back and our arms resting on them at shoulder height and our legs were bent 45 degrees so nothing was touching the floor) I tried to stabilise myself – ie stay upright by just using our core, no arms or legs. Looking round everyone was staying upright and barely moving, whereas i looked a shark attack , seriously i was all over the place – i face planted countless times i fell sideways and back – it was ridiculous, but my group were great and encouraging and supportive and again the team of physios were great.    

While i remember we did address my non existant core in the gym a bit later on and i was shown the most basic of sit ups – lay down and as if your going to do a sit up prep the muscles or curl body slightly as if your doing a 2 inch sit up, i could do 2 or 3. The second exercise was to get on to all fours and try and defy gravity by pulling belly in – now this one i couldn’t do – i was telling my brain but my body wasn’t fireing –



I will say this course is hard work – i mean mentally and physically and at time emotionally – for example week 2 day 2 – I woke up in my BnB and my back was in spasm (T4-T7 where i had my surgery and i have scar tissue issues) – i couldn’t get dressed and could barely move – – I had to call in and said i couldn’t make it – i felt terrible physically but CHOSE not to feel bad about not going – ie I’ve let them down / I’m missing out / what will they think of me etc – I made the decision to say FUCK IT – whats the worst that could happen – feeling this way will in no way help my day – and would make me feel terrible – so i chose to watch crap TV tale meds and chill – Okay this is my take on mindfulness but it bloody worked – yes my pain was still there but that was it. 


Balanced Life Program Nuffield Orthopaedic Hospital for patients with chronic pain.

Balance Life Programme – Nuffield Orthopaedic Hospital Oxford- this is a 3 week course – you attend Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays 


 *Balanced life programme* an intensive physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and psychology course. Aimed at helping patients maximise what they can do within their capabilities and disability or illness. Due to it being so intensive nature I will be staying in a BnB Wednesday to Friday each week.

I plan to blog my days good and bad to give a real look at the programme.

Wish me luck.

Week One Day One 

This is my honest opinions and view of the course (disclaimer everyone had different opinions and takes different things form the course my opinions are simply that – opinions)

Getting there…. We live 45mins to an hour away which would make it unmanageable for me so the hospital has an arrangement with a local B n B – The mulberry Guest House – as check in was midday we dropped my bags off. I take my own pillows and then theres all my meds, being liquids there is a lot to carry.

10am Introduction 

We all walk down the ridiculously and ironically long corridor to the physio department where we sit in the waiting room and make small talk, we are then shown don’t to the
course room, where we find a semicircle of chair to sit on, the physio explains that we can sit / stand / move which ever works.


We all inevitably look at each other sussing each other out – theres the quiet ones – the bloke who makes the dry jokes (we get on funnily enough),  the massively positive people and those who are there not hoping for much ….me?  I’m not sure where I am at this stage.

The first session is general intros etc and most importantly our coffee order is taken!
10.45-11.15 coffee break.

11.15 – Introduction to exercise

(we moved to some chair in the gym)– we talk about expectations, thoughts and feeling relating to starting exercise in the gym. The talk brings up words like “worry/fear/anxiety etc” and one or two say determined and excited – but the overwhelming wave is anxiety / fear of pain related.

We are then asked to do some leg extensions (sitting in chair – feet on the floor – bring
leg up to straight and back down). Well this I CAN do.

The physio then announces we have done some exercise in the gym and we all survived! she wasn’t wrong … The next task was to see how many times we could do Sit- stands (i.e. stand up from chair no hands), she says if need be we can use a plinth …. I sit there thinking like THE stupidest person on the planet – what the fek is a plinth and do I need one ????? so I ask.. apparently, it’s a bed …in physio talk….
Well of course I can?… stand up and sit down … easy peezy …..
not a single one, I try … and try again…. And start giggling like a right twit, making grunting noises like a hippo birthing a beachball! Turns out I need a fekking PLINTH after all.

12.00 to 12.30 Introduction to Gym

We are shown how to use the equipment including the recumbent
bicycle the stretchy bands and the wobble boards. Wobble boards – I didn’t have high hopes for this to start with but as I’m walking over the male physio (Mr Blue eyes) says,  “lets go for the easy one” GREAT START lol. So he shows me the board, it’s a square board that can either wobble left and right or back to front depending on the orientation.


We start from left to right and what a EPIC fail….. oh my god – seriously it was funny how shit I was – my misfiring muscles in the legs caused me to have, what looked like seizure like activity in my legs – if I wasn’t holding on to the bars for dear life I would have been on my arse lol – That said when we turned it to rock backwards and forwards it was much easier and even appeared in control of the situation. Both of these probably took less than 5 minutes total yet once finished my legs were like jelly – I was exhausted – mentally I found this quite hard to process as ..come on 5 minutes of standing up !! and I was done …. But hey it’s a baby step right??


We finish off with a meditation – mindfulness meditation which I think I will talk about next time – its not something that I ever rated or even considered to be anything other than baloney, so this has its own challenges. BUT I am trying to be open minded and give this a real go – so here goes nothing. 


I get the buss back to my BnB where the lovely owners have put my bags in my
room, I get in – video call the kids and G, set up the iPad to watch something then wake up at 9pm….. so
I have some meds and a yoghurt and go to bed ready for day 2 !