During recovery of an operation which resulted in the removal of one of my adrenal glands as it had a so-called growth on it, this turned out to be a Hodgkinson’s Lymphoma, the growth was found during a scan on my chest due to a persistent cough. No relationship between the two. Two separate problems. A lucky scan so l was told, l didn’t feel lucky at this point.
Following this was six months of chemotherapy, which takes its toll, and makes you feel quite rough, and very weak. I suffered the usual, aches and pains, hair loss, loss of toe and finger nails etc.
When it was all finished, in the mind you have got through it, you should be feeling quite fit and ready for anything, l remember quipping a joke to my son for the first time since the start of chemo and he replied welcome back dad, l have always been a bit of a joker but the chemo seemed to take that away from me, didn’t feel up to it.
Unfortunately, just because the chemo had finished didn’t mean you are fit for anything, the mind may be thinking it’s over, but the body needs more time to recover, it does knock the stuffing out of you. I was at our son’s stables, l had already helped them to start laying a new manage, l was on a mini digger, so not exerting too much energy, which by the way l didn’t have. The manage was finished all but a few patches where the chippings needed spreading out, my daughter in law was out there with a shovel, as my son had broken his thumb, me being the typical gentleman l also picked up a shovel and started to help with the levelling, right up until my back went, it didn’t crack, or anything just started to ache. I had to stop as l could hardly move, and l had to drive home yet - a 45-minute journey.
Obviously, l thought I had just pulled it and give it a day or two the pain would go away, but no it didn’t. After a visit to my doctors some days later, he put me on pain killers something like paracetamol, which didn’t do any good at all, a bit like taking Smarties. He referred me to a physiotherapist at our local hospital, l went about three times and she was telling me to fight through the pain barrier and exercise, it’s the only way it will get any better.
I tried these methods but had to stop as the pain was so bad, and getting worse, l was even having to use a hot water bottle to get to sleep at night as the pain was so bad. I returned to my doctor l virtually crawled in to see him as l was I so much pain. He put me on morphine, and other strong pain killing medication, none of which did much good, the only relief was the hot water bottle at nights.
I started to go to an Osteopath and after a few visits she said my back is not responding as she thinks it should be, so referred me back to my doctor to discuss what to do next, she said l should really be looking for an M.R.I scan to see what is going on. My doctor finally caved in and sent me to a physiotherapist in Cambridge, who referred me for an M.R.I scan, yippee! but he told me not to exercise until we find out what we are dealing with.
It turned out to be crush fractures of the spine, so any exercise would have been the worse thing l could have done. It is in my opinion that if l had carried on fighting through the "pain barrier" as l was told to do by the first physio therapist l would have been in a wheelchair by now. I really think she could have crippled me. Some injuries may require you to fight through the pain barrier but only when you know what you are dealing with, not on an off chance.
My back gradually got better over time, a year in fact, but only improved to a certain point, it was still very painful, l was still having to use a hot water bottle each night to get comfortable enough to get to sleep.
Some years ago, my daughter was involved in a car accident, where the seat belt injured her shoulder. It had badly bruised her internally, she suffered with the pain ever since, but found Pilates a great help. My daughter suggested Pilates may help me, so she gave her teacher (Amanda) my M.R.I scan results and she said she is sure she could help me.
The first-time l went to see her and laid down on the mat l was as bent as a boomerang, she had to re-position (straighten) my body before we could do anything else. Looking back, we wish she had taken photos of when l first went to see her, so we could now compare the difference, l didn’t need proof, l believed in her. She asked me where l see myself in the future, I told her l used to go swimming quite a lot, it would be good to be able to swim again.
Amanda gave me some exercises to do, and l did them. Religiously ten of each, every day. As the visits went on she gave me more and adapted some to suit my injury, and suit the improvement my body was making. Adding a few more as time went on.
All thanks to Amanda l can now say my back doesn’t hurt anymore, it may be stiff at times but that is mainly when l miss out on the exercises, my fault. I have not needed a hot water bottle for ages now, l can get to sleep without it, or the pain.
As time goes on so does my age (67) l get aches and pains from my shoulders due to doing things l am not used to, Amanda is working on them in conjunction with my back, so we are keeping up with the exercises for my back but incorporating some for my shoulders too.
As I said l used to do quite a lot of swimming, but since my operation and injury to my back that is in the past. My wife and l went on holiday to Spain last year (2017), to visit friends, they have their own swimming pool, l swam for the first time in years, it is only a small pool but still a pool. It felt good.
Amanda knows l used to swim and it was one of her goals for me to be able to swim again, it will take some building up to what l used to do but l have time.
I think Pilates is underrated, it has been good for me, without it l would still be in a great deal of pain, with no light at the end of the tunnel. And still using a hot water bottle to be able to sleep at nights.
Since writing the majority of this, l have been swimming again, in a full size swimming pool, the first time l went l surprised myself by doing 20 lengths, about a third of a mile, l thought for the first time 10 would have been a good target, l have been since and now l can swim 40, l have only been a few times so l think l am doing extremely well, this is without putting myself under too much pressure or pain, in fact l am sure l could do more but don’t want to push it too much so l do more harm than good, soon l will be up to the 64 which happens to be a mile.
Thank you Amanda.