Let me introduce the tribe About the tribe? Well, I’m on the wrong side of 40 with 3 crazy kids and a husband. We live in rural Nottinghamshire with regular trips to the big smoke to fuel my need to see more than five people […]
I often moan about the fact that because of my back I can no longer exercise. Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s not the fact that my back issues prevent me from exercising rigorously – that is true, but the impression that I ever did exercise rigorously is a big fat fib.
Aside from a period of fanatical diet, dancing and exercise during my year abroad in Aix-en-Provence, where my motivation was having an achingly beautiful best friend (she still is by the way, my best friend and achingly beautiful) and having to face the beach alongside her and desperately tiny French women, I have been a lifelong exercise dodger. At school I magically had my period every Thursday afternoon without fail. I was reliably the last to be picked for any team amidst sighs of ‘ahh come on – I got Proctor last time’. My natural instinct is to run in the opposite direction of an incoming ball and how anyone connects a ball with a bat will forever be a mystery to me. I can’t run, I hated hockey and my brief exposure to lacrosse was an exercise in torture survival.
My son, however, can turn his hand (or feet) to any sport he fancies, the little bugger can swim like a fish, run, long jump and is at his happiest when either connected to some form of fast wheeled device or is doing something with a ball.
Yesterday, in his little life, disaster struck. Sports day was cancelled. In my childhood days that would have been met with loud whoop and a fist pump. Leo’s day was irretrievably ruined from the moment opened his curtains to torrential rain. To find out that it couldn’t be rescheduled as it was so close to the end of term was the tin lid on it. He descended into a cloud of doom. He’s surely no child of mine?
But happiness was restored this morning, apparently as sports day was so cruelly canned they are going to play rounders all afternoon today – that my friends is a cue to leap into school clothes and hop and skip your way to school! Even my daughters are athletic and sporty (although the youngest perhaps the least so but she does it all with just as much gusto). Ella had all her gymnastics BAGA awards by the time she was six, danced before she could walk.
Having said that. I guess dance is where our paths meet. Dance is the one thing that I can’t do right now that I am sad about. I was never a pro tapper and the grapevine move in aerobics was only ever designed to confuse people like me, but I was always the first on the dance floor and the last to leave, the first to drag people onto the stage and the last woman standing (and the only reason that my University installed a rail on the back of the Students Union stage was because I spectacularly fell off!).
My husband will no doubt read this with a small smug chuckle. In his head he is the climbing god and fearless master of the outdoors. The fact that the last time he scaled a rock face was probably 15 years ago doesn’t come into it. Yesterday a fancy climbing rope arrived in the post. I raised a confused eyebrow… “I’m getting back into it” he said, “watch this space”. I’ll watch…as the rope gathers dust and joins the mountain bike and the rest of the gear in the shed. No, my dear, the kids don’t get it from you either.
One thing they do get from us both is sheer bloody-mindedness and a ‘right I’ll bloody show you’ mentality. If he reads the last paragraph I can guarantee he will be cycling his way to a sodding huge rock this weekend just to prove me wrong.
And as for me, the kids reminded me this morning that I promised them we would get a dog – this must have been in either a drunken moment of ‘let’s live this country life to the full’ or when I wasn’t really listening and just said yes. So, I’ll be adding one more member of the family to clean up after but I will get out and walk lots – and maybe even run a little…maybe.
All hail the sisterhood! (especially if you are a man) Raised by a fabulous, strong woman, educated in an all-girls grammar school and graduating from a red-brick Uni I have ‘feminist’ written through me like a stick of rock. I have had a good career, […]
Having put myself out there and shared the bare bones of my story, I boldly announced a journey. A road to self-improvement and empowerment. Felt good. Felt fantastic. Felt a bit overwhelmed actually. I need to be organised. I need a path. Where best to […]
What is your ‘back story?’ a PR guru asked me? She might now wish she had never asked…
The last four years have been a complete ball-ache (well a back ache to be more accurate. In fact it has been a back-absolute-agony!).
One morning in late November, 2012, I tried to get out of bed and couldn’t move without banshee screaming. The pain was like nothing I had ever experienced which is saying something having birthed my three children (one back to back and one whopper) at home with no more pain relief than hot water and a paracetamol. I managed to drag myself to the top of the stairs, calling for help then passed out on the bathroom floor in an undignified state of undress.
One appointment with a totally disinterested doctor later, I left with the first of a myriad of prescriptions for increasingly potent medication (some that are banned in the US, even amongst their military as they are deemed so addictive and damaging, but dished out like penny sweets in the UK). It took the NHS, our typically wonderful NHS, a staggering 10 months to finally diagnose it as two seriously herniated discs and a degenerative disc condition at the top of my spine. A consultant later referred to the standard treatment of back injury on the NHS as ‘cost-cutting induced negligence’ but that is another story – my soap box is lost somewhere beneath a thousand Lego bricks right now.
Over the past four years I have called in a lifetime of favours and my friends have seen me at my worst, most miserable and most frustrated. I spent the first four months crawling around the house on all fours, unable to walk properly or drive, with a two-year-old to look after. I did more jigsaws than I could care to count, lost the will to live watching daytime TV and came up with more than one evil plan to turn Peppa Pig into sausages. On the plus side though, my youngest daughter could fasten my shoes for me before being able to do her own and through sheer bloody frustration, I learned to find a patience in my typically frenzied self that I would never have thought possible.
Never again will I ever think someone with back pain should ‘shut up whining and get on with it’. Serious pass-out-from-the-agony chronic back pain and the often-resulting sciatica, numb legs and drug-induced mental fog is hell sometimes. There’s no getting away from it.
Unable to sew, my business dipped and so did my self-confidence. In desperation I tried every trick in the book to self-heal. Some worked, some didn’t and were a case of good money after bad. Acupuncture was the first complementary treatment that finally set me on a slow path to recovery – even if the woman doing the needling was, I’m sure, a closet S&M junkie. I will never forget the day that I cried in the middle of town, tears of pure joy from being able to walk from the car-park to the coffee shop or the bliss of being able to hang out my washing – hey – it’s the small stuff.
I’m so much better these days, I can walk happily, I play with my children and even brave the odd silly dance around the kitchen when the mood takes us. I have launched a new business, as I can sew for maybe two hours at a time but not for days on end. anymore. I’m still designing and making clothes but focusing on sustainability and fair-trade items and working with charities to boot – all things that our family care passionately about.
But, and for me it is a big ‘but’ (well quite literally actually, my big butt is a huge part of the problem!). Four years of little or no exercise, four years of nasty horrible chemical drugs, and four years of pain and not taking care of me, has left me at least two stone heavier and a tired and run-down version of my former self. I barely recognise the person I see in the mirror. I watch the current #bodypositive movement with the likes of the fabulous @stylemesunday with a sense of mixed joy and frustration. Joy that women are finally joining together to break the mould of what a beautiful woman should look like, but frustration that I am so far from feeling able to join them.
However, I have decided that the time has come. Self-pity never did anyone any good. My business @InkRocket is growing fast and so are my children. I don’t want to waste the precious dwindling years of their childhood feeling sorry for myself, hiding in the back of photographs and missing out on their experiences as time races by.
I’m going on a journey, of rediscovery and self-improvement. I am going to feed myself slimmer and feed myself healthy – cutting out the junk and stoking up on the good stuff. I’m going to explore new ways of self-healing and repair. I’m giving myself a year. It took longer than that to get in this mess so it will more than likely take longer than that to climb back out of it, but boy are we going to have fun doing it!
This ‘big fat caterpillar’ is off to become a ‘beautiful butterfly’ (without eating the one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon – yes I’ve read it so many times I didn’t even need to check it) – unless it works. In which case bring it on!