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Stretching out his hand to catch the stars he forgets the flowers at his feet
17.1 "....we had joy, we had fun...."
During that long months at home it was necessary to address the problem of filling time again
While we’re on the subject, let’s share a secret about time. Time is elastic. The more you cram into it, the more it will stretch, do nothing and eventually you will wonder how your days had pased so quickly. At the time of my illness I had reached the stage at which contemporaries whose approach to career matters had been, shall we say, a little less cavalier than mine started to contemplate their decline into old age. After spending years in the same daily routine they would complain of how time had slipped away and all they things they had planned to do would now remain undone.
That is a load of (excuse me, I want to say bollocks in bold type. Its an English thing.) BOLLOCKS
Age is just a number. Most of us are sensible enough to know our limitations (for example I'm not contemplating entering any marathons in future) but if we feel passionately enough about something we will find a way to do it.We must always live in the hope that our dreams are reachable. In pursuing a seemingly unreachable goal like ours we (assuming you are reading this while trying to beat the after effects of a stroke - if you are just here out of interest this applies to whatever you want to do in your life) have to remember no matter how long it takes or how difficult the path we must never surrender to the tyranny of doubt.
To some people I may seem to have had a life and a half already, but it seems absolutely ages since I was twenty - one and yet it is a mystery how everything has been crammed in. There is one of the great truths of the Universe here I am sure. Fill time to overflowing, use it properly and it will reward you with a well lived life. It is worth repeating that after the onset of disability we may have to rethink our position and make a lot of adjustments but life can still be lived well.
Many people equate making the most of time to rushing around a lot, filling their diaries, always having someone to see next, somewhere they have to be. This kind of life can be as empty as that of a couch-potato life spent watching low budget TV game shows. It is important to leave space to be impulsive, to do things on a whim and to just BE.. Many people have lived for years in London and yet never explored some of the fascinating corners I found on evenings spent simply wandering around. Similarly few local people know of a beautiful little wood less than a mile from my Lancashire home. People have forgotten how to live with their senses. Just as a bassic meal taken at a leisurely pace is more enjoyable, life tastes better if it is savoured. What is this paragraph saying? Well, two things really I guess.
We must never surrender to the tyranny of the appointment book AND chew your food properly like granny told you.
17.2 "....hit me with your rhythm stick...."
Once fully restored after the ups and downs of the medication adjustment I began to think about attacking long standing physical problems. First had to be the way my foot still turned in when any muscles in the left leg were contracted. In trying to lessen this effect I had persisted in lifting from the hip and not the knee to walk. Also, because of the same problem the foot was not being stretched as I was not putting weight on it properly.
Using the long stick had caused my right shoulder to become over developed but the odd stride pattern developed through leaning on the stick from such an unusual posture effectively tied up my right hip, preventing that from moving properly too. Walking had degenerated into a mess. Well degenerated is the wrong word. The walk I had first learned with Sarah, Cathy and Sue had been a mess, it had just evolved into a different kind of mess, one that got me further, faster and less unsteadily but for which I suffered more.
Armed with some ideas from studying Physiotherapy websites I contacted the rehab unit and asked for advice. Because of procedures the only way they could see me was as an in - patient so reluctantly I agreed to spend two weeks having therapy. Since the end of my previous session the dark forces of conservatism had really gained the upper hand. Many experienced rehab. nurses had left, Kathy looked stressed out and the atmosphere among patients, never good, was soul destroying. Toe the line, don’t question our authority was the management attitude (these silly, self - important people should think about who really pays their wages.) It was like one of those nineteen fifties comedy films where patients are regarded as a nuisance. Two weeks were hell in fact I seriously though of discharging myself after two hours. All the good that was done was done in twenty minutes with Sue. During our first session I told her of the desperate need for something to brace my ankle and stop the foot turning under as my knee lifted. She was reluctant, saying it was "policy" to let things come back on their own. My argument was that it was two years since my stroke, almost eighteen months since discharge and things were showing no sign of returning to normal. How long did I have to wait. As well as being a darling, Sue is a very reasonable person and realising no argument could justify the policy she fitted me with a very simple device which should have cost only a few pounds but given public service accounting procedures probably costs several thousand. There was an immediate improvement in the walk.
Next I suggested we shorten the stick but the physiotherapist would not agree to that. It was possibly my fault. I thought they all knew I was cheating, that there was not enough in my left hip to hold me as weight transferred across to the left leg. On finishing my two weeks it looked as if I was on my own. There was no way we could afford private treatment and no chance of any further help from the National Health Service. All European nations guarantee a good quality of healthcare funded from taxation but as the well of funding is not bottomless this cannot extend to every need. All bureaucracies draw lines though and too often that line is drawn just a few short steps from the goal of an individual's therapy program.
Forward to : Chapter 18