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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 – 

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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.

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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. 

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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 –

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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. 

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