Sunday, April 28, 2013

Back on my bike

5 weeks tomorrow, post spinal fusion.

As I went into physio yesterday, a lady was coming out from her appointment with my therapist, and my therapist remarked that we ladies were similar. We had both had similar surgery, although she was further post surgery than I was.
I don't know her story, I don't know how bad her pain is, so really, I shouldn't judge her, but talking to her was hard work. It made me realise that despite feeling a bit low last weekend, I see my fusion as the beginning of a new and eventual pain free chapter in my life and I can't wait to heal, get strong and start doing everything I love (and even things I don't love!) again.
The lady I met was not on my page, everything was very gloomy from her perspective, even though she admitted she was in less pain than she had been.

Is pain a perspective? Am I in pain? Do I recognise it? How is it 'easier' for me than someone else? Is it actually easier? Yes, sure, things ache, stuff hurts, yada yada yada, but everyone has pain - mine is getting better.

I don't have any of the answers, but I do know that my heart soared when the physio cleared me for light exercise bike action (this includes my beloved turbo -if I can get my leg over..!) and gentle treadmill usage. She has even cleared me for swimming, however she isn't sure if I will be able to maintain posture this early on. Breaststroke is over-extending my spine the wrong way, as I keep my head out of the water, and front crawl is twisting. Neither are impossible, but swimming may be a case of deep pool walking to start off with, who cares! I am so eager to try!
The physio has cautioned me about road cycling in the long term.. She talked to me about cycling posture and that try as I might, my spine is actually fused.. That did deflate me slightly. Of all of my 'sports', cycling is my absolute fave and I adore 'Amy' my road bike. To swap from my road bike and go to something more upright is difficult to consider. I liken it to giving up my porsche in favour of a more comfortable car. Pfffft!

Surely, If I (and by 'I', I really mean Paul!) get some upright handles, adjust it all accordingly, and just gingerly get back on Amy, taking it steady steady steady, it will become the norm. My body will adapt.

If I don't even try, how can I go forward on a 'lesser' bike, knowing what it was to cycle in total freedom beforehand?!

This is one of the many articles we have been reading - this doesn't sound to hard to achieve! How-to-cycle-with-lumbar-fusion 

So. Anyway.

This morning I made my own porridge (yet another first!), and managed to explode it everywhere, before Lucy picked me up and we went to the gym. I was so excited. It was all so familiar and normal.

I was embarrassed to have my stick in the gym, but Lucy insisted and actually it did come in handy at the end. It also mades me think about the people you judge in the gym - I didn't really break a sweat this morning, but was I working any less hard than anyone else in there?

I sat on the exercise bike for 15 mins and without effort cycled 3.75km, then walked on the treadmill for 15 mins, before getting back on the bike for another 15 mins and a further 3.75km. There was no pain. A GREAT START!

My playlist was sorted by my personal DJ, Vikki. She writes the sound track to my life and I hope she will continue to do so. I love the playlists more than I think she knows. The thought and care generally make me cry. But then everything does!
Can you see the theme!
My goal three goals for this week:
1) Ditch my stick in the house. I do not want it, I do not want to need it. If I can go round the house without it, I can start to think about walking outside without it.
2) Put my own socks on!
3) School run. I can walk the distance now, I just need to be brave enough to be in charge of an unruly 2 year old who I can't carry.

Come on Sarah, you can do this. You rule your own world.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

90 years young

My Grandad turns 90 on the 02nd May, so we had a little family party today. My Mum and Dad hosted, and everyone met at their house. I haven't seen my cousins since my own wedding, 9 years ago.. It was a good day to catch up - and a good day for my kidlets to meet their second cousins.

Friday, April 26, 2013


The synchronicity of life never fails to amaze me. As I hit 'publish' on yesterdays narrative, the postman delivered the plug plants I had ordered eons ago - back in February I ordered 70 perenial plug plants and paid the bargain price of £10. Hello deal!
Lucy nipped over for lunch yesterday, between clients, and offered to help me get them put in the ground.
How teeny are they!! They will get BIG! Lots of lavendar, fox gloves, poppies and geraniums.

This was one of my over-grown,winter neglected, beds, before Lucy got to work.

Niamh got stuck in too.
Lucy set too, as is her style, and even mowed the lawn for me. THANK YOU LUCY. I felt so 'normal' pottering outside with you today (letting you do all the work). Lunch too, just like normal. Thank you xxxxx

How neat and tidy now! Teeming with new little plants, and lots of slug deterrant. Grow plants, grow!

As Lucy left, dinner arrived. We are still being gifted our evening meal and we have had the most amazing two weeks of food. Tonight we have homemade quorn and veggie pasties, with cheesy mash. I just can't tell you how much of a help it has been - and will be next week. Even though the rota ends on Sunday, everyone has been so generous that our freezer is full of leftovers and we won't need to cook next week either.

I am aware of how lucky I am. How loved I am. I am supremely appreciatve.
Thank you, you all know who you are x x x

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Yesterday my parents came to visit and we spent a busy few hours - they wanted to see Kiddicare, and where I will be working. That then prompted us to go and find me some uniform trousers and shoes, to go with my coveted pink t shirt.

I managed to find the worlds most ludicrously priced, least feminine, potentially ugliest, vile shoes for work. Heartbreaking. However I just can not fault their comfort. Like walking on (ugly) air. And as my mother pointed out, I'm going to have enough pains to worry about on my first day, without worrying about my feet.. Good point. Besides, at a size 10, I'm used to ugly shoes! Plus my trousers are long enough to cover most of the hideousness.

Anyway, I digress.

The adventures of yesterday have made me contemplative today. I couldn't have envisaged walking around long enough to try shoes on two weeks ago, let alone maintain upbeat ugly shoe banter with my father, and milestones like that need to be celebrated. So whilst I wasn't in the mood to go out today, I did feel the need to sit in the garden sunshine this morning. Another thing I have not yet felt compelled to do this year. Another milestone. I am well enough to want to 'potter' in my garden. Whoop!

The garden is a mess and as I started taking a few photos, I realised that my garden is very symbolic of me right now. The bare bones of it are there, its essence is intact. The new shed looks great and spring is out and shining through, but there is a lot of winter debris to clear away. It needs some TLC and a good bit of work, but it is singing with the promise of summer.

Everything is alive in the sunshine today. Everything feels connected today. Me included. I am plugged into me and my life, and what a joy it is.

Thanks for reading x x

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Little things

Today I am hugely grateful for:

My children.
Brenna had just helped me put my socks on, and we came downstairs to find Lochie and Niamh loading the washing machine for me.
I wrote in my last post about how I like to run the house and how I am not very good at relinquishing control. Of the many lessons I have learnt during this experiance, one of them is that the kidlets are hugely more capable than I give them credit for. They are amazing human beings in their own right.
Cake two nights running! Fruit and cream cheese frosted cupcakes, together with Jam and coconut cake pops... Hello goodness, healer of spines!
Please note there is only ONE stick here! That is right, I quit the second stick. Go me! 
Attached to the stick is my gun, my 'handy grabber'. I didn't understand its usefullness in the beginning, but as I get more active and competant, it is becoming more and more useful. Where I can't bend or reach, my handy grabber does the job. It is suprisingly nimble too, and can pick up teeny tiny things (like stickers on the carpet when the children have gone to bed!). It has a magnet on the end too. Attached to my walking stick, its like a healing transformers dream!

Knitting. Way easier than crochet, and quite quick too.  I started knitting a small sample piece and it evolved into a cuff type bracelet. Nice.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Back in the game

4 weeks tomorrow post spinal fusion.

I have struggled mentally over the last few days, and as I can't bear to read depressing blog narrative, I definitely couldn't bring myself to write any. So I thought I would save an update til I felt a little more positive.

On top of my own down beat mood, my mum has been poorly and I have been very anxious for her. She is now on the mend and we are all relived.

So. Ta da! A blog post!

Physio started last Friday. The first appointment was more of an assessment of me physically, rather than a progressive treatment session. We looked at my x-rays and talked through the metal work and how my spine will work now. Daunting stuff. The good news is that I am right where I should be at this point, I am as mobile as I can expect to be. The downside was that she talked about recovery in terms of months rather than weeks.. And whilst I knew this, deep down I hoped it wouldn't be the case. Another thing that got me feeling under parr.

This afternoon, Paul and the kidlets came with me to visit the new Kiddicare store (it opens on Tuesday) and support me whilst I met my team, my manager and picked up my uniform (I got a coveted pink t shirt!). I was hugely nervous, because so much has changed for me since the last time (and ironically, the first and only time in this job!) I 'went to work', I found the whole thing overwhelming. Vikki (Have I mentioned that before? Given that we are both totes-amaze, we both got jobs on the same team, in the same store! Uncanny! Go team Fristie! Chranks?!) was there (working), she showed me round, introduced me to loads of people. I feel so much better. More positive. Saturday 18th May is my goal now. All focus and intent is to get myself into work on the 18th. You have achieved so much in the last four weeks, think what you can achieve in the next four Sarah! You have trained to triathlon. You can do this. You will do this.
Range of movement on day 27/ improvements from day 18:
* I am much quicker on my sticks and only took one stick to kiddicare this afternoon - I feel less pitiful on one!
* showering and dressing is all me, still using my 'handy grabber'. Although I am still unable to bend to do my own socks. They are still so frustrating! Bebe remains particularly good at helping me with my socks and Niamh is still the queen of slippers.
* 'Log rolling' in and out of bed is so so much better.
* Bending to sit has hugely improved. I am still unable to bend forward because my back is too stiff, but I think even this is improving.
* My scar is still looking good. I am using 'Bio oil' on it. There is no change to my 'blank' skin. It is still a horrible burning sensation.
* Some days I have minimal painkillers, others I take more. It depends on how active I am. There is still no back pain as such, my discomfort (ache) definitely comes from a place of healing.

Paul has been amazing this week. I am very much the home runner and organiser, I like things done my way... and I am not very good at relinquishing control. He has taken fabulous care of me, the children and the house - even dealing with my little frustrated nuances in sauve style. There is nothing you haven't turned your hand too this week, and all whilst continuing to work from home and train for your NB charity heroes commitments. Thank you. I love you ❤
More thank you's are also due to my friends who keep gifting us with dinner. It is such a blessing. Thank you ❤

With Paul back at work tomorrow, I am flying solo. With yet more amazing support from our friends, I am looking forward to being more in control. More independent.

I am crocheting up a storm! I just need to get better at bigger projects, I can't currently fathom rows without losing stitches!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


3 weeks (yesterday) post spinal fusion

We came home on Sunday, at lunch time. It was the right time to come home, but I was hugely sad to say goodbye to my parents. I haven't lived at home since I was a teenager, and I certainly didn't appreciate their company at that point in my life. But including the holiday, and seeing them daily in hospital, I have really spent the last 4 weeks with them. I know a lot of that has been with them caring for me, but I have been so struck with just how much I enjoy their company. I just hope that I will maintain such a relationship with my own children, as they grow up and leave and then need me (us) again.

It's been a busy 3 days here and I have been spoilt - as I seem to be lucky enough to say constantly!
Rachel met us here as we got in on Sunday, and after lunch, she took the kidlets out. Paul was able to unpack and sort the food shopping and the myriad of jobs that accumulate when you're not at home for a while.
As I went to bed for a nana nap, Magda arrived with cake. Thank you very much.

We struggled with where to sit me at first, because we have a very low 'L' shaped sofa that is comfy to lounge on, but it has no support for proper upright seating. After faffing around with cushions and pillows, we hit upon the idea of digging a camping chair out of the shed. These chairs have saved my life many times, both when camping and during long past weaning night feeds. Perfect. It is fab to be by the window too, all my daffodils round the veg patch are out and extremely cheerful. As an extra bonus, in our small lounge, I'm now close enough to the tv to avoid needing the remote..! Lol.

It was so nice to go to bed in my bedroom on Sunday night.

Yesterday, Monday, both Lucy and Rachel visited. Rach went up to school to collect the bigs at home time, and Paul and Niamh walked with me to meet them as they walked back. It was an awkward walk. Lots of mums who I know to recognise from the play ground, were hurrying their children home and clearly doing a double take to look at me shuffling along.
I didn't walk very far, not even half way down my road, but it felt hugely pro-active to see them running down the road towards home.
After tea, Rach took the bigs to their swimming lesson, and after my mammoth walk I was having yet another nana nap, when Emma arrived with dinner!

It would seem that yet again, my amazing friends have found more ways to support us and they have sorted a two week rota to cover our evening meal. How generous is that!! Last night we had lasagne and salad, and Jenni has already been round this morning and delivered a mahoosive 'mac n cheese' ❤

Lucy and I are planning a little trip out this afternoon, she is going to take me for a walk and a coffee. By which I mean park far enough away from the coffee shop to make me earn my drink. I'm very excited. Having only been out 5 times in the last 2 weeks, I was delighted to feel well enough to dry my hair with my hair dryer this morning, in honour of the occasion!

I am starting to feel frustrated, and bored. My mind is sharp (as it ever was! Ha ha!) and I am clearly on the mend, but my body seems to have plateaued in its healing and I don't feel like I have improved much since my last update.

To end on a positive note, I have made contact with my manager at Kiddicare and I am going into store on Sunday to say hello, have a look round and talk about my return in May. That is something to hold onto. Everything is falling into place x x

Friday, April 12, 2013


18 days post spinal fusion.

We are leaving my parents and going home this weekend. Sunday to be precise. Paul has an 86 mile cycling commitment for his neuroblastoma charity on Saturday. He will drive to us on Saturday night, once he is finished, and we will all go home together on Sunday morning.

I haven't been in my house, surrounded by my things, my life, for three weeks. I am very nervous. My parents have looked after us with such love and care for two weeks, and I have wanted for nothing.

Paul is working from home next week, so he is in 24/7. The Bigs are back at school, so they are sorted day time. Niamh will fall in with whatever, as she always does with amazing grace. I know my fabulous friends will be round all the time. I know that I shall still want for nothing. But somehow, going home represents a return to a normal that I'm not feeling right now.

I need to acknowledge that I am a new normal I guess, and recognise how lucky I am.

On a physical level I am improving daily. I have been out for two 'walks' this week. On Tuesday, my dad drove me to the end portion of a little route my mum had taken the kidlets on, with their bikes and scooters. I probably didn't walk further than 250 yards, before being driven home (and then going for a nap!), but the act of being outside was uplifting.
On Thursday my mum took the Bigs to an activity at the library. This encouraged my dad and sister, together with Niamh, to take me out for a walk. I pushed myself to my limit yesterday, by the time we got home I was physically uncomfortable and ready to stop. I managed 0.8km.. In 34 mins.. I'm immensely proud of that. I was running 5k in 34 mins before Christmas. What a base line for improvement!
Lucy and I are already talking about my come back strategy.. Once I've ditched the walking sticks, I will need to learn to run again, and get back on my beloved bike.

Range of movement on day 18/ improvements from day 13:
* I am still shuffling with my walking sticks, but I am definitely getting quicker - on the stairs too. I am even brave enough to use just one stick on occasion.
* With the help of my 'handy grabber' (a long metal stick with a pincer hand thing on the end) I can now shower and dress myself. It is painstakingly slow, but it is something I can now do for myself. Apart from socks! Socks are so frustrating! Bebe is particularly good at helping me with my socks. Niamh is the queen of slippers.
* 'Log rolling' in and out of bed is so much easier. I am already forgetting just how stiff and awkward I was only last week.
* Bending to sit is still improving.
* I am still unable to bend forward because my back is too stiff. I can lean forward a couple of inches and then everything just stops. There is nothing else to give. We are still putting my food plate on a tin to raise it up for me to eat etc. Physio starts next Friday and I am eager to re-train my muscles into being useful!
* My wound is looking amazing, all 19cms of it - do I start referring to it as a scar now? The swelling is getting so much better. It is still bruised and tender, but the new pink skin is shining through. Being on my back, I obviously can't see it easily, so I have a million pics of it that I scrutinise regularly. To have such a thing on my body, and to not be able to see it, frustrates the life out of me!
* There is no change to my 'blank' skin. It is a horrible burning sensation.
* I am really down on my painkillers, which I'm thrilled about. There is no back pain as such now, my discomfort comes from a place of healing I think. My body has to get used to having metal in my spine and that will take some getting used to. Things ache and things are stiff, but there is none of the old 'catch' pain. I have experienced my first post op sneeze this week and it was a revelation. No pain! It used to cut me in half, and on a bad day, make me cry. Not any more!

I'll leave you with a pic of the crochet I have been learning this week. A gift to keep my hands busy. Plus a hideous pic of me wrapped up, post walk, in my mums big chair, choosing a necessary choccy biccy.. My sister took the photo and I told her it wouldn't make the final editors cut.. Well I guess it did!

Thank you for reading Clanettes. Thanks for your support x x x

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


By my own design, I don't have many friends. I am far too judgemental, I find social situations awkward and I can't be bothered with drama. I find the whole thing exhausting. I will take you at face value - if you say no to something, or drop out of contact, I will accept that and move on.

So the friends I do have are pretty exceptional. The cream of the crop you could say.

Writing a post about friendship is quite dangerous really. How do I give credit where credit is due, without singling anyone out and potentially forgetting little things other people have done?!

Frankly I can't.

But what I can do is write down the many amazing things I have experienced through friendship in the last three weeks.

Friends will throw you a party, make cakes and a playlist for you. They will clean your toilet, and wash your floors, even when they aren't feeling very well themselves. They will light a hundred candles for you and pour their hearts into beautiful notes and cards. They will bring easter eggs to you in intensive care. They will drive to visit you in hospital, when driving on their own, and at night, terrifies them. They will calmly watch master chef in your hospital room, and make you feel valued, whilst hiding the twitch about their drive home. They will provide you with endless distraction whilst you recuperate. Treat you to heartfelt gifts, chocolate and send flowers. They will write you amazing texts to make you smile and they will lift your spirits.

I can't name you and shame you, but you know who you are. Thank you.
Love you x x x x