Today I had an appointment at the hospital with the neuro physiotherapist – these are always pretty tiring, especially on days like today when I have another appointment as well! Although they’re tiring, they’re also actually fun. People have physio for all sorts of different reasons, and quite a lot of people who read this blog probably have some experience with it, but as with many things, I keep saying that I have physio without actually explaining what that means.
I like it because it makes me feel like I’m ‘achieving’ something, even if that’s only five minutes on an exercise bike or walking for 10 metres. It’s also something I can work on – so much is out of my control that it is nice to have something I can do better at, and improve. The temptation to push myself harder than I should is always there but I think I’m getting a bit better at knowing what my capabilities are.
I’ve had a few different physiotherapists but it’s settled down now to being the same one each time, which is useful because the continuity provides more space for comparison. Today I practiced balancing, walking, standing unaided and then had a go on the exercise bike! I also got a splint for my right foot, to try and build up some more strength in it and keep it from turning in and doing all those kinds of unhelpful things! The fact I see the exercise bike as a sort of reward will probably surprise anyone who knew me at school! One of the major issues I’m experiencing at the moment is with my posture, which has never been very good but has definitely got a lot worse, so much of my physio appointments are finding ways to try and improve this. I’m also working on my balance and general muscle strength – I’m not going to be breaking any Fitbit records anytime soon but walking a little bit more each day, even with a frame, is a realistic goal to have.
So much of what I’m aiming for involves becoming more independent – my independence has always been something I’ve valued, sometimes too much, and so while being reliant on others (mostly my parents) for so much is inevitable, when I can do things for myself I want to. Physiotherapy helps me with that because it forces me to practise and gain the skills I need – my next appointment isn’t until March, and I’m not the best at keeping up with things at home, but I have a list to work on. The main thing is just trying to keep as active as possible while being aware of my limits. It’s always tempting to either do too much and exhaust myself or use not wanting to exhaust myself as a reason not to do it at all – there’s probably a happy medium somewhere!
This isn’t to say that physiotherapy is some kind of miracle cure – it’s not a treatment for the cancer itself and it won’t stop me having a tumour. It won’t even mean that I’ll be able to walk 10000 steps a day, or go up stairs unaided and without thinking, but it might mean that I can double my time on the exercise bike, or stand for longer without holding on to something or someone. It might mean that I can feel more confident about standing and walking around the house, and when it gets a bit warmer, maybe even outside. Realistic goals are the way to go, and at the moment, physio seems to be the best way to achieve that.