Friday was my birthday. It definitely led to a lot of reflection, thinking about this past year and how much I really have improved, but also realising how far I still have to go and this time last year, as I've said before, I really thought I'd be back to normal by now. It was, however, a big improvement on last year's birthday - not that that would have been hard!
I was comparing photos, so I did this:
On the left, last year's birthday. Turning 30 with my super-sling on was definitely not a high point of the year.... Note the arrows:
- My SLING!! Permanently attached at this point
- You can almost see my socks and leggings - I couldn't put my own socks or shoes on at this point, and even the leggings were awkward and a bit of an effort to get on - but I could only wear those, or sweatpants, because I could not fasten buttons or ties; also my leggings were pretty much the only thing that fit me properly because I had lost so much weight in the time between injury and surgery because the pain made me feel so sick all the time. This year I am about a stone (14 pounds) heavier - I am a size 2 now; no more double zeroes! - and I am delighted about that, so I am announcing it here. In public!!
- Top: a vest/ tank top that I could actually step into and then put my arms through the straps - with help - getting anything over my head on my own was impossible, and even a baggy T-shirt required help... so I lived in the tank tops and cardigans (which I also needed help getting on)
- My hair: washed in the kitchen sink by my Mum the day before so I would have clean hair for my birthday, and obviously just left to dry on its own since I couldn't style it; also spotty face from the stress, no make up because it was almost impossible... and also, I really didn't have the energy to care!
On the right, turning 31, one year and 3 weeks after my surgery... These arrows:
- NO sling!! In fact, my right arm is 'holding' the cake box (actually it's not really taking any weight yet, but it can reach it...)
- Boots! With laces! Tied by me! (I do still have to sit on the floor to tie my laces/ put my shoes on, but it's still progress.)
- Tights! Try to put on tights one-handed and then you will appreciate this achievement!
- The arrow on my shoulder is actually pointing to my dress - which goes on over my head, no zips or buttons (that might still be a good thing), and which I can get on and off on my own. I actually bought this dress last summer and I tried it on in the shop and had to call my mum to come and help me take it off - again, marked improvement. The little things add up!
- Also, given that my entire health details are available for all to see anyway, why not point this out too.... I am wearing a BRA under that dress! Still soft and wireless and carefully selected so the straps don't press against my sore bones, but this is also progress!!
- Styled hair, pink hair (dyed with my own left hand), the ability to wash my hair on my own, style my hair on my own, and put on make-up. To be fair, these are all currently done left-handed (totally ambidextrous) but last year even that was painful - actually, I wasn't even supposed to use my left hand for much at this point last year according to the Dr's instructions as it could still pull against the surgical area across my back.
Plus, we went out for dinner. I still had one pillow with me, and I do still have to make sure I am adequately drugged to survive any trip out, but again, it is all baby steps and they add up.
It can be quite frustrating for me trying to examine my progress day-to-day, as it is slow. I don't see big differences, because it's not happening like that. Having a visual comparison really helps me to look back over the past year and realise that I have made huge steps forward in what I can do now - all because the baby steps add up.
And, yes, I wish it was faster, I wish I could just work harder and see results quicker, but I think it has been pretty much established that isn't going to happen; this surgery doesn't work like that. So being able to play 'spot the difference' between the photos was a pretty positive mental exercise for me. And I hope that next year's birthday photo will just be a normal photo of a normal me ... actually, being upside down or hanging from a flying trapeze or something similar would be even better...! Watch this space!
A day to look forward to:
“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky”