Category Archives: australia

The Climb

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Yesterday was exactly one year since I couldn’t finish a fun run. I was doing the Maitland River Run and a surprise asthma attack had me sidelined at around the halfway point, waiting for a medical chap to come with Ventolin to my rescue. I had to make a decision: Do I do the run again this year to prove I can, or do I do something else?

I did something else.

Not because of fear or anything like that. But because, quite simply, I knew if anything went wrong again, that there wasn’t any real first aid stations along the course. It took ages to get medical help, and I was totally unimpressed that one of the official photographers told me he couldn’t help me and that I should walk up to the drink station, which was around 500 metres away. This isn’t an event I want to support.

So, the something else.

Mount Tomaree is a very big mountain. It’s near Nelson Bay. The gradient of the hike is Level 5 – very steep and difficult. But it promised stunning views, and I am generally up for a physical challenge. And so, off we went.

Within the first 5 minutes, I was panicking internally. This was steep, and we were nowhere near the summit. In my head I was trying to come up with the words to say that I couldn’t do it, and trying to justify to myself the reasons for not finishing this attempt. But while I was thinking all these things, my legs were pumping away and my feet were happily doing their ‘one in front of the other’ thing. It’s like they were not aware that I couldn’t do this, and they just kept right on going.

Something I see often, and have experienced particularly when it comes to running, is that your brain will give out long before your body does. You’re mind will challenge what you’re doing and tell you NOOO but if you don’t listen to it, your body can and will just keep going. It’s funny because it’s my mind that makes the decisions to do this stuff, but it’s my body that does it and it’s my mind that tends to be the first to back out.

But I digress.

The walk starts on paved ground. Then it changes to mega steep metal stairs and walkways. Then it changes to steps cut into the rocks. There are more metal stairs and more metal walkways, then more rock steps. And the whole thing just keeps going and going. But it goes somewhere. Directly up. Up and up and up.

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As the ups became steeper, I realised that I was doing it.

And as we got nearer to the top, the views got better.

One more step of steps. One more metal walkway. One more twisting path. And then!

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Amazing. Totally worth the climb.

But to be honest, we didn’t spend a huge amount of time at the top.

Because that’s not what the joy was.

The joy? Getting there.

Setting a challenge and completing it.

When we were at the top, I wasn’t really thinking about the views. I was thinking about these feet of mine. That have been to hell and back, rebuilt, relearning, and now doing the best they can to keep up with the goals and ideas I come up with. I was thinking about the way I was ready to pack it in before I’d even started. I was grinning because despite my brain and my feet, and a killer leg day on Friday, I’d done it. We’d done it. And I hadn’t struggled anywhere near as much as I had assumed I would.

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One of the reasons why?

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There she is, right next to me.

And so, Maitland River Run, you didn’t defeat me last year. And instead of coming back to prove it, I took on something harder, something more challenging, something that has brought me undone in ways you never will:

I took on myself.

 

 

The Goalposts

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It’s cold this morning, proper cold, the kind of cold that gets you by surprise after months of warm. Cold never used to bother me too much. I was well insulated. I recently went to Melbourne to visit my besty and her family, and we’ve known each other for around ten years, and for the first time ever I told her I needed an extra blanket because I was cold. She was thrilled because for the entire time we have been friends I’ve laughed at her for being cold. The tables have turned.

In the interests of honesty, I have to tell you that the visit to the plastic surgeon a couple of months ago sent me into a huge tailspin. While it was extraordinarily positive, it set off a complete nosedive in my mood. Let me explain.

The surgeon is a beautiful man. He was stunned at what I’ve achieved through hard work – most of his patients who come for skin removal have lost weight via surgery such as gastric banding. He has, he said, a soft spot for people who have lost massive amounts of weight through sheer determination alone. He looked at my body, my excess skin, and said some amazing things. That I more than qualify for medically necessary skin removal. That there’s around 7kg of excess skin in my belly alone. That really, I could just maintain my weight and after the skin was gone, I’d be at a healthy goal weight for my frame. After being substantially overweight for all of my life, this was incredible.

I was quickly disappointed though, given the (well warranted) cost of the surgery. Even with private health, still ridiculously out of reach.

What my brain took out of that was this:

Without surgery, I will never be at my goal.

And once again, I felt like a failure.

Just like that, my brain took over and everything got hard. I filled up with doubts about being a PT. Who wants a PT that looks like me? Unless you know the back story, and unless you realise that my bulk is largely made up of excess skin, I just look… unfit. Everything became difficult. I struggled to see the point of going to the gym, particularly when I was surrounded by teeny tiny PTs. My studies got harder, because it was a reminder that my body isn’t normal for a PT. Everything, everything spiralled.

I went back to the plastic surgeon to ask him more questions and to work out what to do to short circuit this funk before it got completely out of control. I was cutting it close, to be honest.

We talked about goals. We talked about long term plans. We talked about all sorts of things.

That was a week ago.

And today, I’ve woken up with a new approach. It’s been bubbling away and developing for the last seven days.

This photo is from a fun run we did on the weekend. I look at it and the noisy part of my brain focuses on the way the skin hanging off my belly makes me look so big in that area. But now I see my quads. I see the lines in my neck that I never used to have. I see the way my shoulders are back, the pride in my stance. Fuck yeah. I can do this.

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I’ve shifted the goalposts.

Losing weight and getting fit and healthy was never, ever about being aesthetically pleasing. It was never about forcing my body to be something it just isn’t built to be. I knew all along that my build and frame wouldn’t let me be a waif, which is fortunate because that’s not what I want.

I want to be strong.

That first step into the gym, almost two years ago now: it wasn’t about one day looking perfect.

It was about saving my life.

And just like that, skin or the surplus of it, is not such a problem.

Because I’m saving my life. And I can live with the apron. I can live with the saggy, empty boobs. I can live with arm skin. I can live with floppy thighs. And every day that I get to live with these things is a good day because it means I am achieving what I set out to do.

I’ve saved my life.

I don’t look like what you’d expect a traditional PT to look like. But on the other hand, I don’t actually want to look like that.

I want to be strong.

I might not have a body that you would aspire to. But determination? Stubbornness? Drive? I have those, and my god you’re going to need them if your goal is anything like mine.

Because when you’re fighting to save your life, when you’re battling the very shell you’re wrapped in, you need every internal resource you can summon. Because the battle is inside.

Which is a good reason to not worry about how the outside looks.

These are the things that matter when you shift your goal posts.

This is what matters when you realise that you’re saving your life.

Remember When

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Those memory things on Facebook, they can either make your day or break your heart, can’t they. Some days it feels like all they show you is your dead pet caterpillar and what noxious weeds can do to your prize petunia; they can make you wonder why you wore what you did to a social event eight years ago and relive the cringe-worthy moment that you spouted your love publicly for a toad. Day ruined before it even starts. Other days though, you can see a pattern emerging, or evidence of change and growth.

Three years ago today, I was recovering from yet another broken ankle. This was the break that finally pushed me to see a different orthopaedic surgeon, who would reconstruct my ankle, repair my calf muscle and fix my Achilles – the steps towards being able to finally walk correctly after seven years of managing with an ankle I’d destroyed quite well after falling down some stairs.

Two years ago today, I was finally allowed to leave the house after being diagnosed with whooping cough. This was a scary time, I remember feeling like I was fighting for my life. Aside from just breathing, one of the main issues the doctor kept talking about was my co-morbidities. Isn’t that a reassuring phrase. The GP who was managing the whooping cough had written a referral to both a respiratory specialist, and also to the emergency room of the local hospital, just in case. As an asthmatic, whooping cough was quite problematic. But the other issue was my weight. It was a huge amount of excess load to be carrying around with me while I struggled from the nebuliser to bed, and back again. It also made treatment tricky – it wasn’t until the steroid dose was tripled that I started getting any form of relief.

Whooping cough was, I think, my absolute low point. At the time I felt like a victim. Like nothing was ever going to go right. That life was just relentless in it’s taunting and slaps. And even though I was surrounded by good people (albeit at a distance while I was in quarantine), I had a distinct feeling of being totally, utterly alone.

But evidently, something changed.

I had a slow recovery from whooping cough. Extreme tiredness. Trembling constantly because of all the medication and steroids. Gaining even more weight rapidly, again as a result of the steroids. But it wasn’t long after this that something shifted.

Because one year ago, on this day, I hatched the idea that maybe one day, I could be a personal trainer. And I referred to it so vaguely and so cryptically, that if I didn’t know that’s what I was talking about, I’d have skipped over the memory. But I knew what I was talking about.

I’d been going to the gym for about 8 months at this stage. Actually, maybe a bit longer. I’d made progress. I’d turned my sinking ship around and started sailing towards directions unknown, but I was OK with not knowing where I was going – I could feel myself being stronger and healthier and happier.

But I still had the issues of confidence and doubt. In that I had none of one, and a lot of the other. So much so, that when I finally squeaked the idea of being a PT out loud, I firmly believed I’d be laughed at and told to swallow a large dose of reality. But that’s not how it went at all.

As I spoke out that idea, it kept being met with unbridled joy and excitement. My people were confident in me, and urged me to push towards this goal.

I don’t think I’ve shared it here before, but I actually submitted my first expression of interest in the course around this time. When the information date rolled around, I panicked and didn’t go. I just didn’t go. The second time? I went.

Because now, on this day today, in 2017, I’m halfway through the Certificate IV in Fitness. I’m almost a personal trainer.

The facts?

I still have some weight to lose to be where I want to be. Not because of aesthetics, not because of the BMI – but for my goal of where I want to be. But I’m OK with that.

I still do not look like the traditional personal trainer. But I’m OK with that.

Already, I’ve seen that as an industry, there is a tendency to rely on how people look. In getting a job at fitness centres, how you look counts. And I’ve even seen and heard people commenting that they wouldn’t want a PT who doesn’t have a body they’d aspire to. But I’m actually OK with that one, as well.

I know my story. I know my truth. And I know that there are people that I can help, and perhaps best help because of this imperfect body.

And if nothing else, future Facebook memories will attest to that.

The point of this post?

As much as I hate the way the word has been trawled through crappy reality TV and cheap self help books, trust the journey. If you had told me on this day one year ago that I was indeed going to be a PT, I wouldn’t have believed you, even though the idea was in my mind. Certainly not when I was recovering from whooping cough. Not at all when I was sitting on my bottom watching my ankle change colours.

But sometimes, you can do nothing else but trust that somehow, you’re on a journey.

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Still, we walk

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Most people take a selfy at the beach and they look hot and beautiful and dignified. I take a selfy at the beach and I look like this:

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I am not classy, nor dignified. At this point I was being whipped by sand, my hair was in afro mode and I had hit the halfway point on my walk and realised that I had a particularly full bladder.

But still, we walk.

I’m currently doing the Walk for Autism. I’m on day two of seven days of 10000 steps. I generally do around that many each day anyway, but this is for a purpose.

What’s funny is that I think this walk is for promoting Autism spectrum awareness. I think awareness is shit. You can be aware of speed limits and ignore them. You can be aware of it being hot and know that you’re going to be out in the sun, and still choose to not wear sunscreen or a hat. Awareness doesn’t do anything.

I think we maybe need to be walking towards something more like acceptance, or acknowledgement. Seeing the speed limit and accepting it and following it. Seeing the sun and accepting it and respecting it. Seeing people who operate differently to you, and accepting them.

But these words mean nothing if we don’t actually teach each other how to accept. Which won’t happen, unless we actually want it to. Which is kind of sad.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about The Biggest Loser. The new format has copped a fair bit of flack, mainly because there is a woman on it who is 78kg. As a result of the sliding audience numbers, it’s now being screened during the day instead of during prime time.

This has made me come to several conclusions.

1. We wanted our contestants to be less like the everyday population and more overweight. I’m not sure if this is about wanting to feel better about our own weight, or if it’s the appeal of gawking at people who have huge struggles with their health. Either way, every day Australians were not appealing enough to sustain a large enough audience to remain in prime time.

2. We don’t understand that whatever someone’s weight is, they still deserve the chance to work on creating a body that they are comfortable with. We should understand this. Gyms are full – full – of people who are at a healthy weight for their body shape. But they still go to the gym. Everyone has something that they’re not happy with. We need to stop being judgemental dickheads and start cheering on each other. You’re at the gym at 78kg? Bloody good on you. You’re at the gym at 160kg? Bloody good on you.

3. We wanted a spectacle and we didn’t get a spectacle. We wanted to watch extremely overweight people deciding to take part in food challenges and eating chocolate to get secret powers at eliminations and challenges. We wanted what we’ve watched for years on The Biggest Loser. The new format? I think it was better, and certainly more relevant. But, it’s not what people wanted. And if people don’t want to watch something then they’re not going to watch.

There are days when I am not sure what happened to the human race. And then there are moments when I see humans helping each other, and it’s nice.

I guess the point of this post is that awareness is shit. Acceptance is optional but preferred. People watch what they want to watch.

And at the end of the day?

Still, we walk.

 

 

The Measure

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I wanted to write a quick post mainly because The Biggest Loser kicks off tonight on Australian screens. If you’re not familiar with the show, a quick introduction: people apply/audition to be on the show based on their weight and wanting to change their lifestyle. Contestants are picked from the applications, and are then designated a group and a trainer for the group. The trainer generally yells and motivates the contestants through a variety of means. Contestants vomit, work hard, lose weight. Each week they weigh in and their weight loss is recorded. At first this is done either topless (men) or just in a sports bra (women). As they lose weight they start to wear singlets to the weigh ins. Then there’s a finale, and the person who has lost the greatest percent of their body weight wins.

The reason I want to write a blog in response to this is several-fold.

The Biggest Loser tends to encourage people to work on their fitness and lose weight. But you need to realise a couple of things.

1. You will not get the extraordinary weekly results that the contestants on The Biggest Loser get. There are several reasons why. The first is that the weigh ins are not actually weekly. I have read differing amounts of time between weigh ins, but in general they seem to be every ten days or even fortnightly. Not weekly. The second reason you will not get those same results is because the contestants are taking part in an extreme and gruelling exercise regime. We’re talking many hours in the gym per day. This is not sustainable in real life, because we have things like jobs and kids and partners and pets and washing.

2. If you are particularly well endowed in the chesticle region, you will struggle to find a sports bra that offers the required scaffolding to support the girls. Do your research, they are out there but you do need to work hard to find them. I got my first few online. They’re expensive but they are absolutely necessary.

3. Most importantly, is this: If The Biggest Loser inspires you to get moving, or even to jump on the scales and assess where things are at, remember this. There is no number on earth that will ever be an accurate measure of who you are as a human being. Not the number on the scale. Not the number on your clothing. Not even the number that represents your chronological age. You’re more than a number. You’re worth more than numerical digits that attempt to sum up your worth. I am worth no more at my weight now than I was before I started my weight loss adventure. I will always be thankful to who I was when I started, because she did the hard yards: walking into a gym for the first time. God, even just walking. You are more than a number. You are.

The Biggest Loser isn’t a bad thing. Not at all.

But it always helps to remember the reality behind reality television.

 

 

Just Be.

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I have a friend, a woman who has been a part of my world for years and years. And the most consistent thing she has told me is this:

Just be.

Whatever the situation. Whatever the moment or mood or swings or roundabout or event. It’s always the same. Just be.

I think as we live more and more on social media, documenting ourselves doing life, those two words become more relevant. I’ve been making a conscious effort to not use my phone when I’m with friends, and to resist the urge to take photos of every moment. Mainly because I want to experience things in real life, rather than through a screen. And as I write this blog post I’m aware of the irony because I’m writing via a screen and it will be read via a screen; and there are plenty of times where to zone out I’ll play pointless little games on my phone; and when I need to be distracted I’ll again connect dots or scroll through music or word games.

But I’m learning to be. To just be.

Accepting where I am, what I’m doing, what I’m experiencing, and just being in that moment.

No regretting, no resenting, no longing for something different. Just being. And the more I just be, the less I am actually regretting or resenting or longing for something different. Life is, generally, very good.

I have big things in mind for this year. I’m working on a second book. I’ll be kicking off the study towards being a personal trainer. I’m taking on #nofearnovember as a way of life, and rising up to just do the things that scare me. And it is good. I’m seeing again and again that I can do things.

We had a party recently, something that generally fills me with dread. And it did, but fuck it, I took it on. I also went to a BAR that I had never even heard of before, and it was awesome. And I saw my GP about a couple of things that had been worrying me, and I feel so much better knowing that she’s got things under control.

Just being. Rising up when I can and when I need to, and finding out exactly what I am made of.

And I am learning and realising that what I am made of is probably the opposite of what I used to think I was made of. I’m strong. I’m brave. I treat people well. I care about the underdogs. I’m stubborn, but I use it well.

I want 2017 to be the year that I am guided by what I am made of, instead of what I am afraid of. It’s going to be the year where I learn more about what I am made of, and then just be.

This song, Steer, by Missy Higgins. It’s on my playlist when I am at the gym, and it’s currently on high rotation in the car. These lyrics are the theme song for 2017 for me.

“But the search ends here
Where the night is totally clear
And your heart is fierce
So now you finally know
That you control where you go
You can steer”

Thanks, S.

 

All is well

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It’s been another big week at The Naughty Corner, one that I ended in Sydney with my sister for early birthday celebrations. We tend to do a lot of giggling, a lot of gazing at her dog and discussing his resemblance to Dad, and a lot of watching Harry Potter.

I was only there for a couple of nights, we have a huge week about to kick off here in Newy so it was back home to do a spot of pressure washing. I love this. It was a bit shocking though, to see how much mould and grot can accumulate when your back yard has no drainage. These are my sexy legs afterwards:

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I’ve gotten myself into the routine of getting up an hour earlier than I need to, then having some quiet time watching the day start. We live opposite a park, so it’s usually pretty quiet at that time. Just birds waking up and random people off on a run to start their day. And I watch them run and wonder what is going through their heads. I tend to have an internal mixture of Christmas Carols and theme songs that provide the soundtrack to my own walks and runs, regardless of what I have playing through my earphones. I’ve accepted that I’m not the kind of person who is cool enough to trot along in time to something more modern and sophisticated. Besides, I quite like carols.

The flatmate who isn’t my flatmate anymore is coming up to visit this weekend; I am so freaking excited about it. There are some people you miss, but then there are others where it feels like they are missing from you. That second one is the flatmate who isn’t my flatmate anymore. I have other friends like this, they’re pretty few and far between though, which is what makes them fit into that second category. I think eventually you work out who your people are, and then you treasure the guts out of them. Yes, the guts.

It’s nearing time to start the day. We have a To Do list that’s a mile long. But all is well. Life is changing, life is the same, life is trundling along, life is happening.

And all is well.

PS It’s not too late to donate to the Variety Children’s Charity as I get ready for the Santa Fun Run this Sunday!

What would you do?

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I’ve come up with an idea.

It’s based in that feeling. I don’t know if it’s a feeling only I get, or if other people get it too, so bear with me and I’ll flesh it out for you a bit.

You know that rising jittery feeling you get in your tummy when something you’re scared about happens? Or even looks like it might happen? What about when all paths seem to be leading to you having to compromise on things that you have avoided because they make you anxious? Are you like me, and refuse to do things because you honestly don’t think you can? Or, commit to doing something, then pull out at the last minute because it’s just too scary and confronting?

These are the things that have governed so much of my life. And at 38, I’m calling bullshit on those things. They are valid – this is not about saying you shouldn’t be scared or anxious or any of that. Because those responses are always valid. You’ll get some gurus who tell you that fear is irrational, I call bullshit on that, too. Fear is totally rational. It’s generally based in experience, or research, or gut instinct. Three things you cannot refute.

But what if it didn’t control your life. What if?

Just over 12 months ago, I made a choice to change my life. I suddenly had an ankle that wouldn’t let me down. And I had realised that unless I worked on my health – seriously worked on it, getting my weight under control and increasing my fitness – I was signing up my family to the heartache of another sudden death.

So, I made a choice. And it was a choice. I had two options: keep going how I was, convinced that my body wasn’t able to do anything to help me and to continue to be lost in grief; or just test out what my body could do, and turn that grief for my mum into a motivator.

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It was not easy. It. Was. Not. Easy. Not at first. But slowly, it became routine. Get up, go to the gym, walk slowly on a treadmill. Or get up, get my shoes on, and walk slowly around the block. I started where I was, probably at less than where I was, so convinced was I that I couldn’t do anything. But the thing is, I started.

Which leads me to now.

Throughout this experience, the biggest thing that has held me back has been fear. Even now, when I know I can do all sorts of stuff. It’s almost like a habit, to doubt myself and come up with reasons to be scared.

But imagine what we could do if we removed fear from the equation.

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I have deemed this November to be NO FEAR NOVEMBER. I’ve challenged myself to turn off that fear reaction. Because ultimately, I still have those doubts about what I can do and how far I can push myself.

#NofearNovember is about doing things anyway, until I find out that I can’t do them.

We’re 9 days in to November, and so far?

I’ve gone to a different class at the gym, with an instructor I don’t know, and been totally fine.

I changed plans and rescheduled stuff, and been totally fine.

I organised a confronting Christmas gift for beloved (big shout out to Style By Divine and Pearl Davies), and been totally fine.

On Saturday I’m taking on my first Park Run. And I’ll be totally fine.

The thing is, I’m still scared doing these things. But I guess there comes a time when you have to again, make a choice. Be stopped in your tracks by fear, and regret the fuck out of the things you don’t do.

Or.

Do them until you find out that you can’t.

#nofearnovember

Are you in? Use the hashtag and show me what you’re going to take on. Or, search it on your social media to see what I’m up to.

A HUGE thanks to Josephine, Suzi and Alice who have all gotten behind me with the Variety Fun Run – you can still donate, the link is here!

 

Just an update

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Today is Friday.

Actually, no, no it’s not, it’s Thursday. Sorry about that.

All week there has been social media and news reports and updates about that tragedy on the Gold Coast, at one of the theme parks. Four people died. Tragic, yes. But do we really need all the updates every half an hour? And the recordings of people who were there and the people who say it’s in bad taste that they could still buy their souvenir photos from other rides and the people that say they were on that ride once many years ago and oh my god it could have been us? Something like this happens and the attention whores come out to play don’t they. I’m looking at you, Mamamia. I’m not downplaying the tragedy, or the heart-wrenching world the families are now living in. But god, when did it become so vital that we knew every single detail about every single event?

My memory of this particular theme park? About four years ago we went there, beloved and I and the Bear and her mini-me and beloved’s kids and one of their friends. And I was too fat to fit on the first ride I tried to go on, so then I was too scared to try to get on any more after that.

I would fit on the rides now. But to be honest I don’t know if I want to go back there. That extremely overweight, morbidly obese fat person mentality is really hard to change, to realise that I don’t need to hang on to it and wear it like a coat of distancing from the world anymore.

I haven’t seen a lot of writings about how to recover from what I am affectionately naming “Fat Head”. It’s a brain space, that I believe anyone who has been significantly overweight learns. The mentality of automatically grabbing the absolute biggest sizes in clothing stores. Of walking straight past the majority of retailers because you still assume there’s no way their clothes would fit you. Of sitting carefully on fold out chairs, in case you flatten them, of coming up with reasons not to sit at all in case you flatten chairs. Of realising that the foibles you have long focused on – gut, arms, arse – that they’re becoming less of a problem, but you just can’t see it. You just can’t see it.

You just can’t see it.

So I’ve decided I’m going to do some exploring into this Fat Head thing. What it is, how it gets there, and how to change it. Not today, I have other shit to do, but soon.

What is driving this for me is the sheer frustration I cause myself. I spend so much time thinking I can’t do things. But I actually can now. I can.

This photo is the most recent update. The left is last Friday night, before I disgraced myself at a local bar thanks to a steady stream of cocktails. The right? About 4 years ago.

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I feel so sad when I look at the girl on the right. She has the same brain as me. The same musical talent. The same heart, the same attitudes. She treats people well. She cares for others. She loves long and hard and is devastated when she sees people feeling hurt or sad, and tries to fix it. She loves animals and the quirks in life. She laughs, and means it from the pit of her belly.

But she’s a before photo, and she didn’t even know it at the time. Maybe learning to love that girl on the right is at the beginning of unravelling Fat Head.

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I’m not where I want to be yet, in terms of weight loss. But I’m getting closer each day.

But essentially, this is just an update.

Do you know what I mean by Fat Head? Have you experienced it?

 

 

Two

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Two years ago, I was waiting.

The surgeon was running late.

I got a call from my sister, who was quite worried about things.

Beloved was by my side, the queen of my army of supporters.

And we waited.

Finally, I got wheeled off to surgery.

Drifted off to sleep, and woke up with a brand new ankle.

The original injury happened around seven years earlier: I’d fallen down a flight of stairs, severing the ligaments that support my ankle and gravelling off the end of one of the bones. The surgeon I had to see at the time looked at my body, looked at the xrays, and said (and I’ll never ever forget this) “If you were an athlete, I’d fix it. But you’re not”.

So, for the next seven years, I broke my ankle. Again and again. Or twisted it. Or sprained it. And it got worse and worse.

Then I saw another surgeon.

This man, he became one of my heroes.

He took one look at my ankle, gave it a tug and watched how that pull had no end point except for when my skin got too tight.

He told me how he would fix it, and when.

On surgery day, he was running late.

So two years ago, I was waiting.

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I didn’t know it then, but that surgery saved my life. It certainly altered the path of my life. It took another surgery on my calf, a procedure on my Achilles and a shit load of physio to get me walking correctly again.

Exactly twelve months after I took my first steps, I did my first fun run. The Variety Santa Fun Run, raising money for the Variety children’s charity. I got slightly lost on the course and did an extra kilometre, but I did it.

Since then, I’ve done at least one fun run a month. I’m not sure on what the final tally is, but I’ve collected a swag of finisher medals and shirts and bibs.

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So far this year, according to the app I use, I’ve clocked up almost 800km. Just me and that repaired foot. And I still, still, get that buzz of joy every single time I start.

It’s not until you’ve been unable to do something for so long that you realise how much you love it. Love the freedom that being functional offers. Love the sense of achievement that one step after another brings. It’s been hard though. Realising that the barrier that I had for so many years no longer exists.

It’s so hard to explain, the fullness of the emotions that surround this day. Grief, for the years spent just… unable. The joy at these new days – and yes, even after two years, they’re still new days. The sheer amount of time I lost, not able to do stuff. The things I avoided. But now, the almost daily surprises I get when I do something that I couldn’t do. Or when I jump on and off beloved’s truck tray, then realise that I stuck the landing.

I stick the landings now.

In November, I’ll be back where I started with these fun runs. To finish off the year of fun runs, I’m taking on the Variety Fun Run again. I’d love it if you could throw in a buck or two, to help Variety help kids in need. Here’s the link for my profile.

It’s funny. It’s joyful, but it really is a sense of sadness about those years spent thinking that the first surgeon was correct; that I didn’t need or deserve surgery because of my body shape.

Well. I’ve fucking shown him.

But I know, without doubt, that I couldn’t have done it without that new surgeon, beloved and my beautiful army of supporters.

Thank you.