New Directions : Introducing ‘Fifteen on Friday’

‘Fifteen on Friday’

I am relieved to be writing again after a hiatus of some weeks. Several times, I have begun posts but been unable to finish them. Often on a Friday I would look up the ‘Five Minute Friday’ prompt, write that, and then share it with others who have written on the same thing. However, I have written here for well over a year now save a couple of longer absences for illness I was unable to work through. Owing to another of these absences, it’s some weeks since I had an immensely helpful Skype chat with writer and blogger Robin Norgren about the direction she thinks this blog should be heading in.

Together, we came up with a plan, We decided, that as the ‘Five minute Friday’ prompts took me fifteen minutes to write the same length of text as other writers wrote in five, we came up with Fifteen on Friday, focusing on some aspect of life with a disability, with Lisa-Jo Baker’s blessing (the creator of ‘five-minute Friday). My first subject is one of my favourite hobbies, and one of my favourite ways to exercise save for horse-riding. It is a mix of swimming and physiotherapy exercises, hence the name hydrotherapy.

A snapshot captured in words: hydrotherapy

The air is still, and close, humid in fact. Those on the side-lines slowly swelter, though those who have luxury of the warm soothing water delight in its caress. The only sounds are of chatter, between those on the side-lines or those in the water, and sometimes between the two. There is one, however, who is perfectly still other than when disturbed by others around her. Still, though by no means emotionless …

Slowly, sore tired muscles begin to relax in the warmth, as joints old before their time are unusually buoyant, helped of course by two cylinder-shaped multi-coloured floats (‘noodles’).  Breaths become deeper, slowly exhaling the stress of the week, and inhaling the still warm air. Joy begins to seep in, from one pore to the other until eventually, all else is forgotten but the gentle rhythm of the water, allowing the person in the middle to bob gentle up and down, unfurling piece by piece. Sometimes, the air is punctuated by laughter.

The bit in the middle is the hard work, kicking, stretching, moving stiff joints, until the last five minutes are free to relax the same way as in the first five, floating gently and calmly… the last final gasp of warmth and joy. All too soon it is over, with just 20 minutes time allowed. Off for all the hassle of changing and the banter of lunch in the café before heading home to chores, errands and the day to day things. Until next time…

The one about the ‘Magic Moments’

Hands up who remembers the song about ‘magic moments’, which graced a television advert or two some years ago? It might be a cultural reference which is UK specific. I have been thinking a lot about ‘moments’ recently from different things I have seen, and read. One is an e-book, another a blog post, and another, a campaign led by a daytime television programme here in the UK. Each has expressed a similar sentiment in different ways.

What is wrong with ‘take a moment’?

I think, judging by the success of the latter, this sentiment about seizing, or making the most of the moment, is having a ‘moment’ in the spotlight. I say this in part because our government has seen the bright lights of the’ popular vote’ and declared that for every ‘moment’ of their time This Morning show viewers give to someone in need (it if is then recorded on the show’s website) our government will donate £5 to ITV’s Text Santa campaign. They are asking for 50, 000 moments, which means a lot of donated money by the government, which sounds good in theory…This morning are doing this to celebrate their 25th Anniversary which asks views to select their favourite moment from their 25 years of the programme.

I am sorry that I sound such a cynic, but in my opinion the above is nothing but a gimmick. I get that the government’s donations to ITV’S Text Santa campaign will do some good, but instead of the Government donating this money to charity, I would rather they dedicate this money to supporting poor and vulnerable children and families in the long-term, and by safeguarding the services they rely on, rather than cutting or dispensing with the services they dependent on altogether. As ever, the Government is giving with one hand, and taking with the other, while those they are supposed to help suffer. So much for the ‘Big Society’ which ‘Dave’ (Cameron) was formerly so fond of.

The other major flaw I can find with This Morning’s ‘Take a Moment’ campaign is that by volunteering to help, the public is giving of their skills, time and talent temporarily rather than on a longer-term basis. This is ill-advised for a variety of reasons. If an older, ill, or disabled person needs help with a particular task, they are likely to need this more than just once. Therefore, to only help once smacks of tokenism. Additional benefits of offering help on a longer-term basis are, that vulnerable people are less isolated, vital in an age where families are fragmented from estrangement, geography or being time-poor. It also gives families surrogate grandparents, aunties, and uncles, while teaching children of the necessity of, and value in helping those in need, demonstrating kindness, compassion, and how to share what they have with others.

Why ‘moments’ matter…

Though I have expressed cynicism and found much to criticise ­­­­­­in the first part of this post I see much value in another aspect of the ‘moment’ – making the most of every single one of them. This is something I am coming to value as ever-more important, the more limited my energy seems to become. It has taken me multiple attempts to write this post as I keep falling asleep, or being unable to concentrate. In the times I can however, my Twitter friend Lou’s post on making the most of her time while she waited for her baby to be born really spoke to me.

I have a choice here. I can believe that as I am in a transition, I have nothing to offer until I become a mother or I can do all I can, as I can right now. I don’t want to miss out by rushing ahead. I don’t want to miss opportunities that I will not get to have again.

On my bad days, in pain and exhausted,  is easy for me to believe that I don’t have anything to offer, however this is not how my Heavenly Father sees me.  I too have opportunities that I should grab before they go. Other things I am reading at the moment are encouraging me to make the most of the little things, and to find adventure where I may not have seen it before. Normally, I try to do useful things in my support time, however, as a one-off, I went to see a movie with my main carer. Something I would not normally watch. We had junk food lunch, which I try not to eat normally, and popcorn, and settled down to watch the movie. ‘Rush’

Time
Time (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

directed by Ron Howard, is about the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt during the Formula 1 season in 1976. I love human interest stories, which this was, and the sense of danger in the movie just made it more exciting. I definitely recommend it, if you haven’t already seen it! By trying to find the things I can do to vary my life a bit, I am trying to make the most of my time. I’ve been inspired to do this by the sense of adventure in Wendy Van Eyck’s e-book Life, Life, and More Life, which s­­­­he wrote after she and husband Xylon found out he had cancer. They made a conscious decision to make the most of whatever time they have:

The reality is that life doesn’t wait for me to be ready before good and bad things happen. In the midst of life happening around me, in hospitals and on holiday, I’ve realized I can embrace life. I can live fully, and I can live without regrets.

Again and Again I have found nuggets within Wendy’s writing which not only encourage and inspire me to live a Godly life in the midst of my own messy life, but also teach me about the faithfulness of the God I serve and his unfailing love for me. I urge you to check out Wendy’s blog, if you have not already done so (http://www.ilovedevotionals.com). I am trying to find other ways to make my restricted life an adventure. The next of those was hydrotherapy with Community Physio, tattooed and pink haired carer, risk assessor … basically a hoot from start to finish. The next several hours of ‘moments’ will be spent comatose continuing to recover from hydrotherapy yesterday! Night night!

Exercise, but not as you know it…

I’m aware I’ve done the absence – post – absence – post thing a few times now. I am sorry about it. It’s either been illness or just not having the energy or headspace to write. it had slipped down the priority list somewhat as i might have said before. As of yesterday though, I am determined to begin again.

I did truly want to begin (again) on Thursday, but I was simply exhausted. You see, I woke up achy and sore that morning, more than I had for the past few. I knew I simply had to go though, no backing out, just grit my teeth and get on. And so I arrived at my destination slightly later than expected, more tired than I wanted to be, helper in tow. I handed over the form, which thankfully, this time the doctor had signed the right place, but it was close!! I watched her check the form as i chatted to a physio, and introduced her to my helper. Form complete it was time for the tour. The pool looked lovely, shimmering with heat though. After a short search, one of the physios found us a free room to change in, and off I went. Tracking Hoist next, in my day of firsts. Once in the pool, a cushiony pillow behind my head, I lifted my body so the sling could be detached and the float attached. To my horror, I was being given ‘quite a bit of support’ from both physios. At that point my mind flitted to the past, the monotonous lengths and the medals. After a short time floating, I was helped to stand, supporting myself in the corner of the pool, one arm on each side. The exercises  continued at a acceptable pace, while my mind railed against the simplicity of the moves, things that were once manageable were now embarrassingly effortful. One by one, each one I could manage added to the draft of the ‘exercise plan’.

Eventually, the physio I knew best suggested I swim, so I began to float on my back. Well, I mean I hoped to float on my back, but began sinking fast in the middle, as I had when I last attempted to swim. One of the physios came alongside and explained that she would have to support me while they consulted between themselves how much support I needed. Very quickly, they decided on a ‘noodle’, which the supporting physio quickly added, while asking me to try again, while never leaving my side, and  helping me spin round before I hit steps, or the side of the sitting hoist. We finished with a few ‘warm down exercises’  before ‘chucking out time’. Each person or group of people is only allowed 20 minutes in the hydrotherapy pool due to the temperature/heat the pool must be. ‘Them’s the rules’ as it were. My attempt at using the chair hoist to exit the pool was rather more successful than anyone expected. Someone (I forget who) made the hoist the same height as the shower chair and I simply slid my bottom from one to the other – result!!

Once finally showered and dressed, we opted to visit the cafe before the taxi home. I chose A mug of tea and a ‘lighter breakfast later’ which my helper and even the physio said I had earned.(FYI: this consists of one sausage, a rasher of a bacon, a friend egg, a tomato, some mushrooms and a tomato in place of beans). I decided there and then to make it my main meal, as calorie wise it seemed the most sensible thing to do.

Once in the taxi, it was not long before sleep beckoned.’ Sliding out of the taxi, my helper told me I was ‘asleep on my feet’, Making an effort, I got to my door in my little chair without falling asleep. The helper made up some dioralyte and a coffee, and went on her way, which incidentally I didn’t drink. I slept sat up in my chair for three hours solid. After this I cooked and ate some pasta before falling asleep again, waking only to the sounds of the buzzer when the carers arrived Having slept so long I decided to say up for a bit. Predictably I fell asleep in my chair, waking when the phone rang. Call finished sometime later I crawled into bed and slept more or less solidly all night, waking exhaustedly.  So far so normal for someone who gets next to no exercise.

Though by now, I’ve had a days grace, I am still exhausted. I fell asleep as I wrote this. I am determined to finish this in good time and attack my to do list after lunch, so I get a good rest tonight and hopefully avoid falling asleep in church tomorrow!! I am already thinking about what to write and auto-publish for tomorrow, so watch this space!

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Hydrotherapy is a form of physio/physical therapy exercise done in a small pool, heated to a correct temperature. The heat is good for muscle pain/spasm/joint pain, and so on. The water aids bouncy allowing the likes of me to exercise in a way I couldn’t on land. It is the least restricting form of exercise and can make a big difference for some individuals. My exercise program includes side-stepping, walking, attempts at pelvic swivels to build some kind of ‘core’ from the natural resistance of the water.