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Feminist Themed

Let’s celebrate every women today.

The 8th of March marks international women’s day. A day that’s celebration can be traced back, 1908.

A day I have celebrated in some way for many years, often by posting on social media, meeting up with friends, and family and attending events. Last year we spent the day at Beamish with my family, we joined in a suffragette march, got questions by the police and had just the most amazing time.

This year, I’m spending it in hospital, surrounded by Women. Women that have been through it, but show the strength and determination of a thousand soldiers. Nursing staff that have worked throughout this pandemic and proved women’s worth, Physios, OTs, doctors, domestics and so many others, that work so hard to care for support, give reassurance and hope to many.

Tonight I hope to join a virtual celebration.

As I have lots of time on my hands I thought I could spend today, writing something about the women in my life that have shaped me.

Let’s start with family, of course my mother Mary, who would do anything to support her children, and their friends. Over the years she has fought for me to have a mainstream education, as people would see hemiplegia, and make so many assumptions. She became a governor at my school, and fought for so many other children to get the support they needed to succeed. She took some of my friends under her wing, that needed support, a roof over their head and guidance. She has always protected me, but also let me free to make mistakes and learn lessons.

Now she is a grandmother, she spends so much time teaching my niece, how to count, read, play, sing and be proud of who she is.

My grandmother Joyce died a few years ago now, but from her I learnt to look for the funny side, and how to care for cats.

Mine and my brothers auntie and godmothers, Sue, Carman and Pam, I learnt about my southern roots, faith and other cultures.

From my mums friends growing up, I learnt, that women can be whatever they want to be, they are intelligent, independent, free thinking women.

From my teachers I learnt so much, including the history of women’s movements that has fascinated me ever since. In particular I remember a history teacher, that liked to be addressed as Ms rather that miss or mrs. This is because unlike men, hearing your title immediately, tells you the marital status of a woman. I chose to use Ms.

The many identifying female friends I have had over the years tough me, although I was different, struggled physically and educational, I still had worth. There were some girls growing up that choice to bully and excluded me, but from them I also learn that sometimes it’s easier to disregard what you don’t understand, but it takes strength, love and support, to begin to see things differently. I’m sure many of those girls now have daughters or niece and regret how they treated others, they may have experience discrimination or loss. All I hope is they have learnt it might be harder to love, forgive and understand, but it sure feels better.

Other influences include musicians, activists, authors, politicians, actors, storytellers, new readers, historical figures.

In later years, networks of women both locally, and on social media have brought me comfort, inspiration, and validation.

The women’s suffrage movement, has always interested me, that they fought to been seen and treat as equals, that they asked for the right to vote, to own there own property, to have a career, even if they are mothers or wives.

The fact that there are still women in this world that still do not have these rights is beyond me. The fact that women in 1st world countries have to still fight to be treated and equals saddens me. The fact that some women take their education and lifestyle for granted, unaware of those that made that possible, disappoints me.

Please consider, others today and everyday. If a women hurts you, asks yourself why, don’t hate them back, ensure they understand the hurt they have coursed, forgive them and move on.

Let’s celebrate every women today!!

I hope I can have the strength to show, love, support, consideration and anything else the women in my life need.

Recovery

Will we ever get to skip to the end*?

Its Wednesday 10th February 2021, I have just finished my 14 days of isolation due to a false positive Covid swob and subsequently being exposed.

It’s not been all that bad, I have done a lot of colouring in, watched all episodes of Hustle and I’m half way though Dexter. So when I get out I’m either going to con people or murder them, only people that deserve it of course, you have to follow the code or it all goes a bit wrong.

An example of one of my pictures , all can be viewed on my Instagram search @ot_rach

I’ve had daily FaceTimes with Lyra (niece) who currently loved Friends, her favourite character is Joey, and she loves to get Alexa to play the theme song and dance around in circles wiggling her bum.

Because I’m so close to home, I get regular deliveries of crisps, chocolate, drinks and even a few takeaways. Sunday Anthony brought me in a Sunday dinner from the Chairman and Bedford Street, it was delicious.

One of the nurses told me about a blog written by a Dr that works in critical care, I have spent some time reading these, they are informative and worth a read. https://www.nomoresurgeons.com

I also had a visit from one of the hospital, chaplains.  It was honestly one of the most interesting conversations I have had in a long while, when you met someone new for the first time you find lots to talk about.  She has lead a very interring life,  its her story to tell not mine, but the highlights include entering a nunnery at 19 and leaving as she fell in love with a priest, they married as soon as they left, he converted to church of England, she got a job as a hospital chaplain, and is in training to become a church of England priest.  We also talked about everything she missed whilst in the nunnery, basically most of the 90’s and 00’s, she didn’t know who the spice girls were.  I said mind you I doubt my mother could name them all, and when I texted her she could not.  

I was also sent a dairy that nursers kept whilst I was in ICU, which sparked the idea for this blog, It only has a few entry’s from 20th April – 2nd May.  Some from James Cook hospital and the rest at the Freeman.  It’s pretty mundane, a little upsetting but in a way comforting to.  Each day the nurse would write who they were, and what I had done that day, some days I was out of it, others, Physio’s visited  and I sat on the edge of the bed. In the last entry a nurse wrote ‘you are doing all the breathing yourself I can hear your beautiful voice’. Another nurse wrote about things that were happing in the news like the day Boris had a baby boy. I liked hearing about things I missed.  

Yesterday I went through my partners instagram,  it was nice to see him keeping well and engaging in some of he’s favourite occupations. Some of my #Otalk* friends sent him some lego to build, he appeared to do some cycling in the garage, and photos for daily exercise walks. I love his photos,  but that is he job after all. 

During my time is isolation physio and OT did come to see me, we mainly practised standing with the walking frame, sometimes this felt easy, somethings it felt like the hardest thing in the world.  Today in-order to transfer to the rehab ward so I can finely start my rehab, to learn how to walk again, get home and back to work. I was able to stand with a rota stand, so no more scrapes tiring me in to things instead I have to support myself as the stand aid in turn for me. It’s a great step forward,  I’m proud of myself.  

I’m now in a bay with 5 other women,  this a first for me,  well in the early days I was moved around wards a lot, and was in some bays then,  but I was very unwell and have little memory of this.  Other than one lady that spend the whole day on her phone,  she relay the same information over and over again ,  it was a little irritating to say the least.  All the ladies in this bay seem friendly,  two are a little confused but don’t mind that, I’m used to working with people like that,  and the lady next to me is over 100 years old.  

I’m egger to get started with some intense rehab,  so follow my twitter feed for regular updates o how’s it going.  

Hopefully by the time I write the next blog we will have skipped to the end and seen if it was all worth going through with. 

Thanks again for reading and do comment below, it nice to hear from people and have something new to look at.

*’Skip to the end’ is a song suggested by my sister in law as a title for these blog it is by my favourite band the Futureheads. 

**OTalk is a weekly twitter chat about everything occupational therapy related that myself and 6 other occupational therapist organise. https://otalk.co.uk/about-2/

Recovery

We still can’t skip to the end.

I thought it was about time I posted an update, in many ways a lot has happened since my last post in November, but in other ways nothing has happened at all. 

I can’t quite remember when but I think it was in December, I was feeling unwell, it turn out I had Kidney stones, so I had some further surgery. After a few days I felt normal again.

Christmas was difficult,  but I did get to spend it with Anthony, we opened gifts, did a zoom call with family, and went for a walk in the park over the road.  New Year’s Eve I wrote and hosted a 2020 quiz on zoom with friends and family, it was nice to see in the new year with people, even if it was virtual.  

I continued to have visits from, Anthony, mum, Dad, Linda and some times my niece Lyra,  we would meet in the chapel as we were often left alone.  I also had a visit from some good friends and their two kids, one of which I had not had the pleasure of meeting yet,  he looked so much like his dad, and was climbing up everything.  

Once the new year came in some new hope glimmered, conversations, assessments and decisions were still being made about rehab options, we had to  get NHS England and my local MP involved.  At one point there was hope I might get a placement at a private place with a swimming pool but the funding never came.  I was literally talking with Anthony about setting up a Gofund me page for this place, when the news came of a bed at a rehab ward back at James Cook University Hospital.  

Meanwhile I had been working with the physio’s, on standing and even walking with the aid of an Arjo. The video I posted of me making 50 steps went just a little bit viral on twitter.  It was hard, painful but felt good. I just wanted to do more, but the wait for someone to say yes to a rehab bed was disheartening.   

So I was on the move or was I?  A transport Ambulance  was booked for the Wednesday 27th January,  that gave me time to write out the thank-you cards, and organising getting a small token of my appreciation for all the teams involved.   It was a little emotional saying good bye to all these people that had invested in me.  

As the ambulance arrived, I was waved off with nursing staff clapping as I was  push down the ever familiar ward corridor. Coming down in the lift I reflected on all that this journey had tested me with.  Wondering what the new wards challenges would be. As we approached the ambulance I knew my wheelchair would be too wide for the ramp,  and guess what it was, so it was back to ward six whilst they came up with plan B.  I spend sometime in the dayroom until Ambulance number two arrived. This time I was put on a stretcher, it was uncomfortable, but thankfully the road trip back to Boro didn’t take to long.  I enjoyed seeing the industrial sites again. 

Middlesbrough gets a bad rep,  but it’s a good town, with great people, however I know the towns shopping centres will be struggling even more because of the current pandemic.   Note to self try more to support local business that are doing everything to try and make it though this climate. 

We arrived at the place this whole sager started, 10 months later.  One of the down falls of the transfer here is that they are not allowing visitors at all,  unlike the freeman.  However I was hoping to be busy with rehab during the day, meaning I didn’t miss those pressures visits as much.  Once on the ward I was sleeted in my bed and was introduced to the three other ladies in my bay.  I had the obligatory Covid swob, some food then settled down to watch television on my laptop, hooking up to the Wifi was easy however the only website that would play anything was ITV hub.  This was going to be challenging. 

I’m not sure what time I finally got to sleep,  but about 4.30am I was woken by Ursula my nurse, the swob had tested positive, so I had to be moved to another ward.  To say my heart sank would be an understatement.  This meant even longer in hospital, possibly going back to square one, feeling unwell and ending up in intensive care yet again.  I cried.  

The new ward had four elderly ladies in the bay,  one of which screamed anytime a person touched her,  it safe to say I got little sleep.  But I was feeling well, no symptoms what so ever.  A further swob was done.  They are fairly unpleasant, but a necessary task.  

This test came back negative, so I was moved yet again in to a side room, not back to the rehab ward has I had now been exposed to covid. The new room was small but comfortable,  however it was right next to the nursing station so at shift change it could get pretty noisy.    So thats it I’m here in isolation, waiting to go back to Rehab.  I’m board, have little to do, little options of what to watch, and can’t even get off the ward with a visitor.  2021 is shaping up to be pretty much the same as last year.  

Thanks for reading and please, pray for me or wish me luck, I’ll take anything at this point. 

PS my hair is growing back nicely.

Recovery

If I could cheat, I would skip to the end, And decide if it’s worth going through with’ (skip to the end – the Futureheads*)

I’m going to attempt to reflect and explain this year most of which I am spending in hospital. I started the new year with Anthony in the Lake District as we stayed over night in a pub in Coniston. Coniston is a place I spend many childhood holidays, it was nice to be able to share this place with him.

Once we got home it was time to start my secondment within Secure services, as their lead OT, I was looking forward to the new challenge and to help imbed a new model of occupational therapy. The first three months were spent getting to grips with the many meetings that appeared in my diary, catch up with the OT staff in supervision, amalgamate the two occupational therapy teams, as well as beginning to refresh staffs understanding of how we were going to deliver OT with this setting moving forward.

Outside of work me and Anthony were busy with sending out our wedding invitations, doing table planning and all the other this you do in preparation for your wedding. We also managed a family holiday to Centre Parks, and celebrated International women’s day at Beamish.**

Then as March came to an end the nation wide pandemic Covid 19 became real, my focus was taken away from the new rehab model and more on how to support the service the patients and my staff to deliver care and hopefully some occupational therapy in a new world of lockdowns, social distancing and PPE. It was stressful to say the lest, Anthony was put on furlough so at least I had him at home full time for support.

Then on Friday 3rd of April whist at work I experienced awful heartburn, that just would not go away. After a few hours I chose to go home and Anthony picked me up as I was in too much pain to drive. The pain continued so after a while we rang 111 but could not get through so we rang an ambulance. As the paramedics, got me on board and I waved bye to Anthony little did I know that would be last time I saw him for months. A and E quickly determined I had Acute pancreatitis, they also swabbed me for Covid and it came back positive.

The next few months are a bit of a blur, I spend some time in the ICU, but was moved wards to my memory 4 times. ( Mum says it was 7 times across 4 wards). It was decided that I needed to move to a specialist hospital an hour away for treatment. I think this happened in May. I remember the Ambulance ride with a male and female paramedic there were nice and reassuring but the journey felt like forever.

One we arrived I went back in to ICU, again I have some memories of this, but its get muddled with dreams and hallucinations from the medication. When I have talked to family and staff about this time more recently. I apparently was on a ventilator on and off the longest of which was four days. I do remember feeling very weak and unable to hold my phone, I was nil by month by this point and had a feeding tube , urinary and Rectal catheters in place. 

I could hardly move, my voice was strained and difficult hear due to having tubes down my throat when unconscious. My dreams felt real and even when conscious I still believed that things like being kidnap,  and having a swimming pool on the roof of the hospital were true.  


During this time I saw the physio daily and had in put from a dietician and speech and language therapist. It was all hard work, I felt looked after but dearly missed my family and friends, I tried video and phone calling a few times but I was so weak and my voice so quite the effort was exhausting. I had countless get well cards arrive, which were pinned to my wall along with pictures of family and friends I felt very blessed and loved.

Eventually I was allowed to have my mum visit, I was very low in mood and mainly remember crying a lot and feeling helpless and even at times wished I did not wake from sleep. At this time I started to see a psychologist weekly. Shortly after Anthony and my dad were able to visit, only one visitor per day.

Once stable I was moved to another ward to await surgery for my pancreatitis. That first night on the new ward was terrifying I was in my own room right at the bottom of the ward, I wasn’t used to being alone, as I’d always had a staff member with me in ICU. I remember crying out most of the night. From here my health deteriorated and I when back and forth from the ward to ICU, the second time I also had the operation on my pancreatitis. Which left a hole and bag attached to the right side of my stomach , to catch the really smelly substance coming out.

I had countless trips for CT scans, and X-rays, taken down on my hospital bed I got to know a few of the porters well. CT scans were a little scary especially as I need pink dye injected in to me so they could have a clear view in the scan, this could only be done by a Dr and I often had a junior, who was inexperienced in this procedure, and was often more nervous then me, which did not help with my nerves, but by this point I was beyond caring and often had to tolerate long sessions as staff trying to get blood from me or to insert a line. The pain became bearable.

At some point during all of this I met and began to engage with Occupational Therapy (OT) staff. Some times joint working with the physio’s. Firstly it was lots of simple exercises to get my muscles moving again, then some sitting on the edge of the bed and out in a chair which I needed hosting for. The OT’s focused on some self care, getting me to attempt tobrush my own teeth and hair as well as wash my face.

Oh my hair, over time I was losing hair mainly at the sides, unfortunately my long hair got all knotted and staff were unable to brush it out, so it was cut off and I was practically bald.

I continued to work with the speech and language therapist (SALT), we made attempts to swallow, tea spoons of water, but I was unable to do this successfully for a long time, once a week the SALT would treat me to a facial and mask, I very much looked forward to these times. My swallow continued to be a problem, and I was unable to drink anything for months, I dreamt of drinking lemonade. I need to have an X-ray of my swallow live, however I needed to be able to tolerate sitting upright in a wheelchair for this.

Here’s where a great AHP collaboration took places, the SALT planned the time a place for the X-ray, the physio’s concentrated on building up my core strength. The OT’s located a suitable wheelchair that would fit in the X-ray machine and be wide enough for me to be comfortable, we also practiced hosting in to this chair.

Then the day finally came, my whole AHP team accompanied me down for the X-ray. As I attempted to swallow a small bit of stale cake, the SALT held back her tears, I had a perfect swallow, one of the best in Newcastle I was told. All the staff were emotional they had invested a lot of time and effort in me.

 I was able to eat and drink again the first time in over 5 months. This suddenly become terrifying, as all I could recall was the reasons why I was nil by month for so long, the fear of chocking became my constant fear. I remember crying a lots as I couldn’t face eating, I felt like I was letting people down. But slowly with help from AHPs and ward staff I became to eat small amounts and increase my confidence to eat alone.

I had a terrible time with all the tubes attached to me. The feeding tube would often come out of my nose and getting in pushed back in was horrible, then one day I suddenly had a bad taste in the back of my throat and I was unable to catch my breath, pressing my nursing bell hoping they would come quick, which they did they pull the tube out much to my relief. After some navigation with the dietician and medical staff it was agreed that I could take protein drinks and not have the tube reinserted. This was music to my ears. The rectal Cather had been removed at some point before this, and the unpleasant but necessary routine of nursing staff cleaning me began. My urinal Cather was always playing up and I needed in replacing often, one day I was in so much pain I was screaming out the Cather was removed and I leant to control my bladder again, mainly using a bed pan as waiting to be hoisted on to a commode took to long.

So let’s talk about these Physio therapists often given the nickname physio terrorists, They work you hard and it often hurts,

 Some of the equipment can also look like  torture implements, however I think they are more in to bondage. They are always strapping me in or on things. I started to use the turn table which when it first arrived looks like an electric chair. It lays you flat and your strapped in, it’s then tilled slowly to an upright position, it’s aim is for your body to get use to weight-bearing. The pain in my legs was difficult to manage I was often in tears even before being strapped in. But the physio were great at keeping me calm and we often listen to music during the

As the months went by so did some mile stones my hendo that didn’t happen, my birthday in July, again I was inundated with cards and best wishes. Then September 12th which should have been our wedding. We had made the decision to postpone a few months back but as we got closed to the date I found myself getting lower in mood, felling like I just wanted to be left alone.  Anthony made the day special he came to visit dress in a suit, brought me plastic flowers (your not allowed real ones ). For my birthday friends and family contributed to a video of well wishes, my niece stole the show at the end by singing happy birthday and telling me she loved me. Anthony’s sister had arranged a video of messages for us both to watch. They were lovely and made us laugh and cry. I will treasure these videos forever. 

I missed countless friends and family’s birthdays and feel guilty I didn’t even send a card. My niece turned 3 in October, although once I was able we FaceTimed several times a week, she had grown up so much and I missed her dearly. As I was now able to tolerate sitting in the wheelchair we organised an out door visit, with Lyra my brother and sister in law as I came down in the lift and was push towards them. Lyra beamed running towards me. She complemented my hair and said she like the shiny wheelchair. She spent the visit running up and down a little path that was filled with benches she counted them as she when. Visits always lift my sprites but this one was extra special.

The occupational therapy continued we had aims about dress in night wear and then my own clothes, to work on my fatigue, and most recently have attempted showering, with Hilarious results. It was lovely to feel really clean, something a bed bath doesn’t quite reach, both the OT’s who assisted me got almost as wet as I did. Other sessions included working on fine and gross motor skills by playing games. We also would venture off the ward in my chair to the hospital cafe. I have really enjoyed working with the OT’s there has been banter, collaboration and mutual respect. Not forgetting the dancing and singing. I was a refreshing change for the OT I received in the past.

As I post this at the beginning of November we have just gone in to the countries second lockdown, which will for me impact on visitors. However this time as least I have the strength to phone and FaceTime. I’m beginning to connect with friends and family a lot more using technology and social media, I have joined in quizzes with my friends, and joined in an OTalk***session.

I got some news this week the rehab centre that assessed me on Monday do not think I am currently suitable. So I will remind to focus on rehab here. I have build up good relationships with the nursing staff, they help me daily with a wash, getting dressed and toileting ( when I’m more independent I will miss having company whilst I use the loo). They pop in when they have time for a chat, but mainly I think they want to stroke the fake but breathing cat my mum brought in, or to try and win the marble solitaire I have.

I still have a way to go, before I get home and them back to work and normality, whatever that is these days.

Thank you for reading.

*’Skip to the end’ is a song suggested by my sister in law as a title for this blog it is by my favourite band the Futureheads. 

Beamish.** is a world famous open air museum, telling the story of life in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s, 1940s and 1950s.

***OTalk is a weekly twitter chat about everything occupational therapy related that myself and 6 other occupational therapist organise. https://otalk.co.uk/about-2/

Feminist Themed

Our Feminist Catholic Wedding – We are doing it our way. – Save the Date Blog

Today (12th September 2019) is a year until, we take our wedding vows, and also a year since we made rings and officially became engaged. Today we have chosen to send out our “save the dates” that included a link to this blog.

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Planning our wedding so far has been more challenging than we expected and if we are honest we worry about others expectations and visions for our day, one thing we have in common is worrying about letting people down, and what others think, the last thing we want to do is make anyone feel left out, or unwelcome.

From our own experiences and from our research planning a wedding can be a stressful time, it’s easy to get caught up and believe you need all the extras, that the wedding fair’s push on you, but that’s not what makes a wedding for us. In the early planning stages the advice we got was – ‘it’s your wedding do it your way,’ and that’s what we intend to do, it might not be the most traditional, but it will certainly represent who we are as individuals and a couple.

Rachel is an intersectional feminist and Anthony a practising Catholic, so our day aims to combine these both.

How do you have a Catholic feminist wedding you might ask?  Well, this blog aims to answer that question, and in turn hopefully help you understand some of our thinking and decision making.

As a feminist, it was important to understand where traditions of marriage come from, and to ensure we did not carry out a tradition that upholds the idea of oppression or ownership, but also ensuring we respect the Catholic faith.

For those unfamiliar with the Catholic faith marriage is thought of as an equal partnership,  the primary purpose of marriage is the generation and nurturing of offspring; the second purpose is the mutual help of spouses, and the third is the remedy for concupiscence.

The Venue Choice

We have chosen to marry in Anthonys family’s parish Church in Blackhill, something very important to him, as many generations of his family have married there, followed by a celebration in Middlesbrough later that day.

The Marriage Course

To marry in a catholic church, you are required to complete a marriage course, although we joked about it in the lead up, we both found the day enjoyable and informative, it mainly focused on communication.  Marriage for both of us is a life time commitment. We know at times it’s not going to be easy,  however this course gave us some advice and techniques we plan to use throughout our life together.

The Hen and Stag Parties

In researching its history , we found that the stag party can be traced back to as early as the 5th century BC.  It is believed that the ancient Spartans would hold a dinner in the groom’s honour and make toasts on his behalf to celebrate his last night as a single man.

In Ancient Greece the Hen Party can be traced to a party referred to as the Proaulia, held during the last days before the wedding. The bride and her family would make an offering to the gods and later celebrate with a feast.

The modern pre wedding party has developed in to a whole celebration often taking up a weekend,  we are encouraged to dress up and make fools of ourselves often with reference made to what some might consider lewd behaviour,  that in turn might be seen as objectification.

At first, we talked about having a joint weekend away, but the more we have talked and planned this idea has lost momentum.

Rachel is planning on a weekend away with friends. I’m not into big nights out, and the thought of dressing up, and watching a stripper fills me with dread. I would much prefer, a nice cottage or hotel with spa, a comedy show, visiting historic sites or an art gallery to see Grayson Perry’s latest exhibition.

Anthony is planing a weekend away that will involve a group activity followed by a night out.

The Rings

Getting married was a decision we made together and to celebrate this we booked a ring making workshop and made each other silver engagement rings.  It was important that we both wore engagement rings as modern symbol of love and our plans to marry, as the history of the engagement ring is surrounded in ownership of woman.

The first ring was made from grass twisted into a circle, however due to the temporary nature over time what was used evolved from other plants to rope, leather and finally metal.

In the 2nd century BC the ancient Romans gave betrothal rings instead of high-priced gifts and dowries. This was a physical representation that a woman was taken and was meant to show ownership.

We also looked in to wedding rings having a religious meaning, and found that although the exchange of rings for marriage is not mentioned within the bible, other Bible passages show jewellery being used to symbolise a special bond between people.

We plan to embrace the symbolism of a bond between us rather than a symbol of ownership and plan to attended a further workshop to make our wedding rings together.

The outfits

The white wedding dress, is a common tradition in the western world, it originated with Anne of Brittany on her marriage to Louis XII of France in 1499, But it wasn’t until 1840, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, that the white dress was made popular.

Up until the nineteen-hundreds, brides hardly ever bought a special wedding dress, opting for their best outfit instead, of any colour, both Rachels Mother and Grandmother did not wear white for their weddings.

We are at the stage of looking for wedding outfits, this is something we are going to do together, for me the colour of dress is not important, it’s more about what flatters my shape, so watch this space.

Shoes are also a concern for Rachel her disability means she has always had an issue finding shoes that support her.  Growing up wearing callipers, splints, and now specially made orthopaedic boots I have never and could never were a shoe with a heel.

I’m hoping that at the time of our wedding current treatment will have reduced the swelling in my right foot so I can wear a pair of Dr Martins the boots I lived in as a teenager,  although I want everyone to feel comfortable in what they are wearing if you own a pair of Dr Martins or have a comfortable pair of shoes we would love you to wear then in solidarity with Rachel.

The Bouquets

Interestingly this tradition of the bride carrying a bouquet was first introduced to mask the bride’s odour, Rumour has it, the scents of fragrant flowers were used to ward off evil spirits.  Traditionally, the bride also throws her bouquet. Rachel is opting for a non-flower-based bouquet, and she’s not going to throw it.  We have commissioned a bouquet made of paper and feathers, something we can keep and treasure.  Rachel promises to shower, and use deodorant and perfume on the day so hopefully won’t smell that bad.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue.

Meant to bring a bride good luck, this poem originated from England during the Victorian Era. This wedding tradition, is full of well-wishes and embraces the past, present and future success of the newly married couple.

The old signifies the bride’s past, her heritage and how she got to this point. The New is an optimistic look at the couple’s future ahead. The borrowed symbolises the ongoing support from family and friends. It is a blessing for marital bliss and a pledge that you will have support when needed. The blue has been around since ancient Roman times, blue was worn to symbolise loyalty, fidelity, purity and love.

The more we have learnt, about this tradition the more we like it, but we have agreed that it’s not just the bride, and plan to uphold this tradition between us.

Not seeing each other before the wedding.

This tradition dates back to the days of arranged marriages, when marriage was more of a business arrangement than something done for love.  This is not a tradition we want to honour. We are planning a relaxing spa day the day before our wedding at will be stay in a hotel together in Durham the night before.

The Bridal Party

In the book of genesis (29:24, 46:18) Jacob, and his two wives Leah and Rachel, literally came with their own maids, a possible origin of bridesmaids. These women were handmaidens (servants or slaves) instead of social peers.

Some sources state that, in ancient times, originally the bride and all the bridesmaids wore exactly the same dress and veiled their faces heavily, for the purpose of confusing jealous suitors and evil spirits.

The tradition of the “best man” is thought to have originated with the Germanic Goths of the 16th century. He was the “best man” for, specifically, the job of stealing the bride from her family, and he was probably the best swordsman. 

Given some of this history which again is drowning in women not being seen as an equal to men.

Anthony has chosen to have his sister Hailey as his best person, although we are unsure of her swordsman skills.

Rachel has chosen not to have bridesmaids, we would however like to invite our friends children to get involved and if any would like to be flower people / aisle escorts they are more than welcome, to walk down the aisle, wearing anything they feel comfortable in. 

We also plan to have somethings to entertain children at the back of the church so please feel free to use this during the service, children should be children and noise is fine with us.

Being given away

While it is considered normal for the bride to be given away by the father, Catholics believe that the bride and groom give themselves to each other as equal partners. This means that the bride and groom should walk in together or be escorted by both their parents. While you hardly ever see this, it is what is recommended according to the Sacrament of Marriage teachings.

The tradition which dates back to the days when marriage was more of a business arrangement. Brides would quite literally be handed over to “a new owner, usually in exchange for money or dowry.

Rachel does not want to follow this tradition  it’s so important (just as her Mum did) that she walks down the aisle as the independent woman she is, and that no mention of being given away is referred to.  Anthony wants to wait at the foot of the alter to meet her as he wants the surprise of seeing her coming down the aisle. Be prepared for waterworks from either of us (especially Anthony). 

The Ceremony and Vows 

For us the most important part of the day, the part where we make a commitment to each other, in front of God our friends and family, and ask you to help and support us in our married life.

Perhaps a common misconception, the word obey does not appear in Catholic wedding vows. The word was introduced by the Church of England in 1549 when it released its first Book of Common Prayer.

We are still planning the hymns and readings, but there will be connections to our family’s history here, any suggestions would be warmly welcomed 

Confetti and being environmentally aware 

Where possible we are trying to be environmentally friendly, we would encourage people to share lifts or use the bus service we will be providing.  We ask that you do please consider the environment, and the church we are marrying in does not aloud confetti, due to the remembrance garden being located at the door of the church. Traditionally, rice was thrown at the newly married couple to encourage fertility, but it was the Victorians who first used shredded paper. Although we happy for people to bring and thrown confetti, when we arrived at the reception,  you might want to explore ideas on creating environmentally friendly versions,  like making biodegradable confetti with a hole punch and leaves. 

The Theme

We have had lots of ideas of themes, from Ghostbusters to the 1920s but the more we plan the more we go off the idea of having a single theme, but there will be elements of these themes plus others and things that represent us.

The Occupational Therapist in Rachel wants to have activities for you to engage in during the day, there will be things to entertain you on your tables and we ask that you share any photos of the day or things you are doing in the lead up to the day using our hashtag. #BoothGardinerWedding

The Cake

Most wedding rituals are to encourage fertility, and so it is with the wedding cake. The tradition began in the Roman Empire with the Romans breaking small cakes of wheat and barley over the bride’s head, the tradition was a symbol of his dominance in the marriage and over her.  

During the reign of Charles II, the three-tier cake with white icing we use today was introduced. The cake takes its shape from the spire of Saint Bride’s Church in London. The couple cuts the first piece together as a gesture of their shared future, whatever it might bring.

We have commissioned song bird bakery in Middlesbrough to make our three teared cake that Anthony has designed. 

The Party

Often the mostly costly part, we have made some compromises here, as there are some many people, we want to share the day with, we have chosen a venue for it size, convenience to places to stay and reasonable priced food.

The party will be held in Teesside Uni’s student Union, this is the University Rachel went too and holds many memories for her. (Transport will be provided for those that need it, please let us know your requirements on our wedding website which will be on your official invitation)

We are planning a Hog Roast Buffet meal with half being a traditional Hog roast & half being Parmo, to bring a bit of Middlesbrough to the event.

The Parmo is a traditional Middlesbrough dish, it consists of chicken or pork topped with a white béchamel sauce and cheese topping.

(If you are not a meat eater you will be catered for again please let us know your requirements on the wedding website.) 

The speeches’

Always Rachel’s favourite part of the wedding, tradition states that the groom, father of the bride and best man give a speech.  We will both certainly be giving speeches, but as we are not having a traditional bridal party, It’s important to us that you feel part of our day, so if you would like to say something at this point just get in touch and we will fit you in.

The Name Change

Rachel could write forever on this subject but we feel this blog is already to long,  however this article https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/dec/12/im-getting-married-should-i-change-my-surname perfectly explains her thinking when it comes to changing her surname.

The choice to take your husband’s name or keep your maiden should be a choice made without judgement.

As explained in this article the history of changing surnames for women is again surrounded in the ideas of ownership, and by the end of the article the writer states ‘To abandon my surname and take that of my partner would mean abandoning me, along with all her luggage — the errors, achievements and resonances created over the years. I would become, first and foremost, my husband’s wife. And that’s not the whole of me. So when it comes to my own wedding day I will be “ambitious,” “pert” and “forward”. I will keep the name, and its luggage. And as I sign my unchanged name, I’ll think of all the women who made it possible for me to do so.’

Although I love her words in my own research of those within the suffragette movement, I found that many like Middlesbroughs first female Labour councillor Alice Schofield Coates and her sister in law Marion Coates Hansen, chose to double barrel their names upon marriage.

The idea of keeping Rachel Booth with all her errors, achievements and resonances created over 37 years is a must, but to also to acknowledge that we are making a life choice to tie ourselves together until death us do part, doing as those pioneering women did by double barrel feels right.

We have discussed this a lot, and feel we want to have the same surname so once we are married will both become Booth-Gardiner’s.   Ms and Mr Booth-Gardiner in-fact (keeping the Ms which I switch to using a few years ago)

We hope this has helped explain our thinking and we would love you to get involved, join in the spirit of the event and share any ideas this blog might have sparked. Most of all we just want everyone to feel comfortable and have fun.

Love Rachel and Anthony.

Feminist Themed, Occupational Therapy

Protest as occupation, following in the footsteps of women before me.

If you google ‘protest as an occupation,’  you will get lots of hits for protests that occupied buildings. As Occupational therapists occupation refers to everything you need to, want to or have to do, from waking up to going back to sleep again.  At this year’s Royal College of occupational therapists conference one of my favourite presentations was an occupation station about the occupation as protest.  

Having attended a protest today,  following Boris Johnson’s move to shut down Parliament, and after engaging in a conversation with a friend, it sparked and idea for this blog. 

Why do we protest? 

After a little online research,  (I know not always the best resource) I read a few interesting articles and blogs. One article about Art Markman, a Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, particularly interested me.

Art wrote, ’ I’ve been really interested over the years in motivation and trying to understand the factors that motivate people,” “Those motivations affect both people’s performance in tasks, as well as the evaluation of that performance.”

His interest in motivation led him to write several articles on the topic, drawing on other people’s research and trying to bring more psychology into the discussion.

He found that people who have an issue with something that is important to them rarely start with violent protests first. “What they normally do is work through other channels to try to resolve the issue that they’re having,” says Markman.

When this doesn’t provide a satisfactory outcome, they will next try protesting in a public, but inoffensive way. “You’ll see people holding signs or writing articles or doing things that are outside of, say, the legal system, but still within the general bounds of what we consider to be civil discourse,”

If this does not work, the next step is getting people’s attention by offending them. Markman says the psychological mechanism for offending others is to transgress their so-called “protected values.”

As I read this, it screamed occupational therapy to me, understanding what motivates people to be able to engage in the occupations they need to or want to do.  

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Within the Royal College conference’s occupation as protest presentation we were asked to think about protest in its widest terms. 

The act of engaging in a protest like I did today, But also why our service users may protest against injustice, these may include the treatment services are trying to engage them in.   

 

Is challenging behaviour the result of motivation, to protest against something someone is not happy with?  

As occupational therapists do we explore the reasons why people do not engage,  or show behaviours that could be interpreted as protesting?  

I find a lot of meaning in the occupation of attending a protest,  it allows me to express my thoughts and feelings,  and makes me feel like I’m part of something.  All important aspects to a persons well-being.  

However the act of protesting is difficult due to my disability,  i’ve been on one rally in London, ‘ I loved every moment of it, the feeling of solidarity,  it happened to also be the day that Jeremy Corbyn was first elected as leader of the Labour Party,  so the atmosphere was electric. But moving in the crowd was difficult,  and walking the long distance was painful,  I don’t think I can do that again.  Today’s protest was more standing and listening and it was only for an hour,  Although I have had to rest for the rest of the day.  It was worth it. 

When I looked around at today’s protest I saw meny in wheelchairs, scooters or using walking sticks,  so that says something about the motivation to protest, overcoming difficulties  in order to engage in this occupation that was important for those who attended today. 

Feeling part of something,  feeling like you’re making a difference,  feeling like you’re telling the world about injustices,  it’s a very important occupation.  But how can we make the act of protest more accessible for others? 

In the 21st-century social media has become a big part in both organising,  and allowing people to engage in online discussion and protest.  But for me it doesn’t have the same feeling as being there in a crowd with others.  

What other occupations could be seen as an act of protest? We could create art,  boycott organisations that serve themselves over the needs of others.  Be more conscious, in the ethical values of the services and products we use. 

Does Protesting alone make any difference? 

It’s a place to start, a place to form ideas and learn from others. The suffragettes had the slogan,  deeds not words,  but the suffragists let by Millicent Fawcett followed her words ‘courage calls to courage everywhere and its voice cannot be denied.’

I often debate with myself whether I would’ve been a suffragist or a suffragette.   I admire all women that fought for us to have the vote,  and I’m sure they would be a shame to see what is happened to democracy today.  But I think I would’ve followed in Millicent’s footsteps.  She lead rallies and marches, always peacefully but also lobbied MPs, and policymakers.   Yet it’s the suffragettes,  their violent acts, and hunger strikes that we remember.  

Perhaps there is a place for both.  

Does protesting change minds?  

I’m unsure if I’m honest within a work context I think we still have a long way to go in understanding the act of protest, in a wider context history shows us that protests can play a part in change.  

I love reading good night stories to rebel girls to my niece Lyra who accompanied me on todays protest, one story from history that springs to mind is Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus. Following her defiant act, a boycott of the bus services spread until, The US Supreme Court  a year later made segregation on public buses unconstitutional.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” — Rosa Parks

With her words in my mind,  I’m given the motivation to carry on with the occupation of protesting.   

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References 

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/gallery/2010/nov/14/ten-best-protests

http://spsp.org/news-center/member-newsletters/12-18-2017/why-do-people-protest

 Good night stories for rebel girls. 

https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/RachelBooth/deeds-and-words

Disability, Occupational Therapy

My take on engaging in the occupation of laughing my head off at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  

For those of you unfamiliar with my blog, I’m an occupational therapist, as an occupational therapist I’m interested in how we engage in everyday occupations,  by occupations we mean everything you need to, want to or have to do, from waking up to going back to sleep again. 

I often reflect in these blogs on how my disability, dyslexia and/or my environment, impacts on how I do the things I need, want and have to do. 

I came to the festival with my partner Anthony,  it was a last minute decision, which is not like me at all.  I love to plan,  it makes me feel secure,  but I was intrigued after listening to the Standard Issue podcast, interviewing women that would be preforming here.  We already had plans for a family holiday to the Isle of Arran, so decided, to set off a day early and go via the festival.  

Getting round Edinburgh itself was a bit of a nightmare. It has cobbled streets  and  lots of hills,  but with some online research, a few tweets and emails to venues clarifying things and the use of google maps to work out distances we would need to walk,  it was manageable.  Without modern technology the occupation of planning would have been impossible, and that would have put me off coming.  (I’m great at avoiding what I don’t understand, can’t figure out for myself, or feel too stupid or uncomfortable to ask about). 

On a whole I felt the festival caters well for those with access needs. Although I found the web site overwhelming and difficult to navigate, when I spoke to a human on the phone,  they were so helpful, explaining how accessible venues were. 

Once we got to the festival we were impressed by staff attitudes. They went out of their way to accommodate my needs,  providing chairs whist queuing, and making sure I had seats in the venues that were comfortable and with room to stretch my leg out. This was honestly refreshing, and not my usual experience.  

So what did we ‘do’? The anxiety that drives me, created a schedule, which I’m pleased to report we stuck to. 

We got up and left the house at ridiculous o’clock in the morning making the 3 hour drive  and arriving just after 10am (a few mins later than planned) at the Grayson Perry exhibition : Julie Cope’s Grand Tour.  Now when booking this my dyslexic brain was confused by the title, and the fact that the website said it started at 10am.  Was there going to be a grand tour? Did we need to be there at 10 or would it be like a normal art exhibition and you just rocked up and went in? A few tweets clarify that it was not a tour, and that we could come between 10am and 5pm.  I still felt the needs for us to be there for 10am as my brain worries I might have misunderstood.  (I’m a worrier) 

The exhibition of beautiful tapestries displayed the life of a character named Julie Cope.  There was lots of written narrative to go along with each piece, but if I’m honest I only pretended to read it – you know to look intellectual.  Instead I chose to make up my own narrative from each tapestry.  The vibrancy, and attention to detail was breath-taking.  

For me Julie was full of potential but the social constraints that are put on women, including what they are expected to do, meant at times she found it hard to muster the energy to fight but at other times she found the strength to strive and do the exciting things like travel. 

As I write this blog I highlight the words ‘Julie Cope’s’, to get Siri to read them to check the word reads Cope’s rather than Coope’s.  I now think perhaps by giving Julie this surname,  Grayson was making a points about a women’s role in society, are we just expected to cope?  Or is it a strength of women kind,  we have learnt to cope? (The occupation of coping, existing and living are perhaps ideas to explore another time) 

As an occupational therapist I often use engagement in the arts as my assessment and or treatment,  the process of how someone does something (the doing part) is the interesting part.  I have watched a number of Grayson Perry documentaries, he also appears interested in the process of making art,  maybe that’s why I find his work so intriguing, as it somehow comes through in the finished product. 

We then took a break from the festival and caught up my good friend, fellow member of the  OTalk* team Kelly and her 11 month old,  Isla, for lunch.

Our first comedy act was Laura Lexx: with her show Knee Jerk. We thoroughly enjoyed her energy on stage, she reflected on her own experience of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and how it had helped her to break down and understand her anxieties, with sharp observations and hilarious consequences.

One of the ideas she explored was how as young children we are taught how important we are, simply by the sports they are encouraged to play,  boys are given the universal recognisable game of football, that has a few simple rules, and can lead to a career of wealth and fame. Where as girls are taught the game of netball, which has more complex rules that restrict your movement around the court, and can lead to not being as valued as a sports person, and mostly likely only ever a part time low waged career. 

Next up was Sofie Hagen: with her show The Bumswing, a thoughtful and astutely written piece of stand up,  she talked about how the British and Danish cultures differ,  particularly when it comes to communicating with each other. She explores her memories and tenancy to remember only the things she wants to believe, told some funny anecdotes,  of growing up with false memories that shaped her future.   What I loved the most was she really challenged the audience at times, making some excellent points about positive body image. 

We finished the night off with the amazing Rosie Jones and her show Backward. She literally took us on an emotional rollercoaster.  

She had the room filled with laughter, as she explored her lived experience, of being a disabled gay woman in comedy.  Until a poignant moment, where it all went dark, as Rosie detailed a story of reading a text message over the shoulder of a stranger, that described Rosie with words so derogative that I can’t quite bring myself to repeat them here,  I was in tears. 

She made some excellent points about being prejudged on her ability. Then brought the room back to laughter again, with her sharp wit. 

Rosie is everything a disabled woman is not allowed to be, clever, witty, rude and lewd,  definitely not an ‘inspiration’ but a fucking genius (and the daddy) I can’t recommend her enough you owe it to humanity to see this woman’s standup.    

What stood out for me as I watched and listen to these three women was how they all touched on occupational deprivation** 

That it was the attitudes of others, not their mental health problems or disability or bring a women, that created the barriers to engaging in the occupations they wanted. 

How we and others perceive us will  impact on what occupations we choose to engage in. Like for me growing up being a child with a disability,  at school they struggled to accommodate my needs and often I was left out of playing sports; you know in case they broke me. 

We both had the most amazing day and will definitely be coming again. Thank you Edinburgh Fringe Festival, for ensuring my engagement is this occupation was not a deprived one.

*OTalk is a weekly twitter chat about everything occupational therapy related that Kelly myself and 5 other occupational therapist organise. https://otalk.co.uk/about-2/

**Occupational deprivation is a relatively new term which describes a state in which people are precluded from opportunities to engage in occupations of meaning due to factors outside their control.

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Politics

Brexit – despite the chaos we should still have compassion for others.

I voted remain in the referendum in 2017 and still feel the same.  I believe that immigration is both important and crucial,  to ensuring we grow as a country.

I understand that the European Parliament is not perfect,  but I believe it is better to be part of something,  that will  always effect us as a country and to influence it from the inside rather than powerlessly watch from the sidelines.   

I’m also passionate,  about human and women’s rights,  most of which are European laws,  and fear that the progress we have made will be lost,  in the transference of laws from the EU to the UK. 

I was pleased that the Scottish referendum voted to remain part of the UK,  and understand their frustrations and fears for Scotland’s future as they are being drag along in something,  their people did not vote for.

I’m also highly aware that the North (the place I live and love) voted overwhelmingly to leave,  I heard others say,  ‘they were sick of not being heard,  being ignored’ by what is seen to be a power centric London,  This may well be true,  but everyday,  I see compassion, kindness a willingness to develop, learn and a want to not to be forgotten or left behind, within this Northern population.  

I grew up in the 80s and 90s and remember daily news reports of Ireland’s troubles,  even being in a bomb scare myself once when visiting the national Science museum in London.  I fear that the good Friday agreement might be jeopardised, by a border, a backstop or a even just a pure lack of memory and understanding of Ireland’s history.  

Since my teens I have had an interest in politics.   I have never claimed to be an expert, but fundamentally I’m lead by a sense of human compassion, and ensuring that everyone regardless of faith, creed, race, gender, sexual orientation,  ability and class gets a fair chance in this world.   

Whether that’s through education, health, work, pay, or a safe place to live. But after 2 years of this brexit mess,  and after watching and being both fustrated and confused  by the amendments parliament have voted on this week. 

I’m beginning to think that parliament as a whole is old fashioned and out of step with modern times,  and the whole syteme needs revisiting to truly reflect and respect its Constituents.  I have no idea and little faith that this will happen.   But as MP’s across all party’s continue to play power and mind games with each other,  the people have lost  interest and patience.  History shows us,  when people feel  betrayed and not listen to,  their only option left is disruption!!!  

Which is something we really don’t need.   

I urge anyone that reads this post,  to only treat every person they come across, no matter how they voted in the last referendum with respect and compassion.   Let’s show parliament we can act like grownups and demonstrate that tolerance, kindness and a push towards equality is truly a representation of what it is to be British, and in turn European.  

Feminist Themed

When you know you know –  So we made rings.

fullsizeoutput_47c3Regular readers will know that in the last couple of years,  this blog has focused less on

Occupational
Therapy a more on my recovery journey after breaking my hemi leg.

This experience has change me in so many ways,  One of which was to begin to concentrate on me a little more and in my last blog post, I talked about how I had met someone, that I now planned to spend the rest of my life with.

I honestly never thought I would meet someone (sick buckets at the ready), that understands me, challenges me,  loves me faults and all, with such honesty, passion and  consideration.

Being in a committed relationship takes work and compromise.   (I’m still learning)  Marriage has never felt important and if I’m honest, I always saw it as a way to control women,  marriage is still full of traditions and expectations of which as a feminist make me feel very uncomfortable.

The idea that the man asks the woman’s father for permission,  then is expected to propose buying an expensive ring that the woman then wears as if she is now owned,  than thats the mans job over and the woman is expected to take over,  plan the day and look amazing in a white dress, feels so very odd.   But for Anthony as a Catholic and from a loving family where marriage is respected and worked on.  Showing the world that you are committed to this person is an act of love and respect.

It’s the social pressures and expectations that are the things about marriage on reflection I have an issue with, and when Anthony says I’ve been googling how to have a feminist  wedding,  you know you have landed with a good one.

We have talked at length about our hopes, wishes and desires,  we both want the same things,  and I’m now in a position,  where I feel comfortable with the idea of marriage,  as long as it’s done our way, and for us.

So I would like to say that today was an exciting day.   We recently made a joint decision to get engaged and eventually get married.  Today we attended a workshop and made each other rings to mark this joint decision, and a celebration of our future plans together.

We could not be happier.

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Broken Leg, Disability

Broken Leg Part 4- Two Years on All Change. 

20th December 2015 will be a date I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Two years on I’m now at the stage, where I can reflect objectively on the experiences.  Those of you that are regular readers on my blog will know this is my 5th post on the subject.

https://otrach.com/2016/01/05/from-the-other-side-what-i-have-learnt-part-1-the-break-and-wait/

https://otrach.com/2016/03/31/the-broken-leg-part-2-what-does-independent-really-mean-do-prescriptions-differ/

https://otrach.com/2016/07/02/the-broken-leg-part-3-six-months-on-and-getting-back-to-work/

https://otrach.com/2017/06/29/loving-the-dead-leg-again/

My thoughts and feelings about the experiences have fluctuated, often due to the treatment I received when I initially broke the leg,  and the on going pain I have been in, but I’m also thankful for the experience.  It has made me re evaluate, what I want from life.  Two years on I’m in a better place than I was even before I fell down those pesky stairs.

Following on from the last blog — loving the dead leg again,  where I talked a lot about the pain I was in on a daily basis, I have had a further operation which removed scar tissue from my ankle.   This has made a difference,  I still have pain,  but there are some days where I’m pain free, and I can walk a little longer and tolerate standing up in the morning meeting at work.  Pain will always be a part of my life, I’m struggling to remember what my pain was like before, so I can’t really compare it.  But my weekends are no longer waisted resting in bed,  I have enough energy to do something.  Those that know me well will know during the worst times I would just say I want the leg chopping off,  and joked about chain saws, and what sort of blade I wanted to replace my leg.

I have a lot of people to thank, my family, friends readers of this blog who have often sent messages of support, and of course the OTalk* girls who have all been a consistent support.  I know I have not always been easy to get on with, at times shutting people out.

In my revaluation I looked at want I wanted from life,  and what I had already achieved and had.  The career I love, a home, close friends and family,  but no one to share this with.  With the support of The Otalk girls I ventured into the world of online dating,  something I would advocate, if you have ever thought about it,  it’s an odd world and you need to be careful.  I had some weird conversations and dates,  which created much amusement within the Otalk WhatsApp group.

Five months again I found someone very special,  who shares my hopes and dreams. He is caring, supportive and has quickly become a firm fixture in my life.

So without falling down the stairs I don’t think I would be in the place I am right now.  I hope to draw a line under this experience and move on to a new chapter.  I have recently become an Auntie for the first time and although I have fears about how my physical health impacts on my ability to help care for her, I’m learning every day.

If I have learnt anything its that Life is good – live it, you can always work around the barriers life throws at you.

Thank you for reading, Merry Christmas and Happy new year.

*OTalk is a weekly twitter chat planned and organised by myself and 6 other occupational therapist across the UK and Ireland. https://otalk.co.uk/about-2/