Monday, 24 August 2015

Week Three: Stanmore Pain Management and Rehabilitation Programme, Part Eight

| Day One |

That was my last night in the hotel; I can’t believe I’m already in my final week of rehab. I arrived at Stanmore at 9 am and unpacked my things ready for the weekend review. I completed the majority of my goals but didn’t download WorkRave as I was being stubborn and wanted to get quite a bit of writing done. My shoulder paid for the lack of rest breaks I took and I’m definitely going to
download it when I go home as I think I’d really benefit from it, otherwise I just wouldn’t stop. 
I had a two hour break so caught up with the ladies on the ward and did some reading. Then I went over to the physiotherapy department and went into the kitchen with my OT who showed me lifting and handling techniques which were so simple but I’d never implemented them before. She also showed me ways to use my grabber for loading and unloading the washing machine so I didn’t have to bend down. 
I then met with my new physiotherapist, Sophie and she was fab; we worked on my neck and she assessed my walking. She told me to be aware of the position of my head and not to clench my jaw as often. I am also practising walking with my crutches on opposite legs instead of moving both of them forward at the same time. It’s quite difficult and as my coordination is rubbish, I’m not that great at it yet.
My day was finished at 3 pm, so two of my ward friends, Natalie, Poppy and I went shopping in Brent Cross. I hired an electric scooter to get around and we had a really good time. I bought some Nars and Charlotte Tilbury make up (surprise, surprise) and despite getting lost on the journey there, we had a laugh. We went to Asda on our way back as I needed eggs because I’m baking brownies tomorrow.

| Day Two |

I didn’t sleep, I don’t know why I’m so shocked about it but I was very restless. It didn’t help that one of the newbies on the ward was snoring and the other one in the bed next to me was huffing and puffing every time I moved. Stretching was good and I felt much more awake afterwards.
I then had a session with my OT and we made my Flare-Up plan, we talked about things that happen when I’m having a flare and how I can manage it. Other than medication, I added heat pads, gentle stretching, calling my best mate and watching videos of my nephew to cheer me up. They’re quite simple, obvious things but when you’re in agony you can’t exactly think straight so it’s helpful to have a list. I’m totally laminating mine and hanging it in the bedroom.
Then I went to a group discussion on Maintaining Change where we discussed ways in which we can help keep up the things that we have learnt on the programme once it’s over. We also talked about the difference between a lapse and a relapse; a lapse being missing a few days of stretches/exercises etc. recognising that you’ve gone wrong and making a change, and a relapse is stopping altogether. I was quite annoyed by some of the other patient’s comments assuming that because I was young, I was lucky, but didn’t mention anything. I just made a swift exit once the discussion was over. 
After lunch I was portered up to physio for my meeting with Sophie who rearranged my exercises into a more manageable order and went through them all with me. We arranged for my next session to be done alone to see if I would be able to do them all when I got home.
Straight after, I literally had a five minute break, I went with Jo into the kitchen to bake chocolate brownies. Oh my days, they were delicious. Anyway, the kitchen aids, adaptions and techniques I learnt were amazing and made baking a lot easier. Jo set a timer for my sitting and standing baselines and I stuck to them, it was annoying at first as I had to stand up every five minutes but it really did help. My shoulder still really hurt but my shoulder hurts if I move it the slightest bit so I expected that. 
Finally we had a Pain Talk and discussed various ways in which we describe pain and the emotional aspect of pain. It was quite difficult during the talk because it highlighted the difference between patients that had been on the programme for three weeks and those in their first week. Some comments from older patients annoyed me as they seemed to think it’s easier to be younger and have chronic pain as we can get treatment but they know nothing about how challenging it was to get a diagnosis. I also found it testing because they have already lived their lives and didn’t appreciate that we hadn’t had the chance. Anyway, I digress, there’s always going to be people that don’t think before they speak. Luckily, we’ve learnt some amazing tools to help us manage the pain and live a more fulfilling life. 
I didn’t feel great during the evening but luckily Nat and Poppy cheered me up; I don’t know what I’d do without those girls.

| Day Three |

Funnily enough, I had a really bad sleep and it took me ages to drop off; I was up at 6:30 and beat most of the others to the bathroom so got ready and waited for toast. We did Tai Chi during Your Move and I enjoyed it but it makes me so relaxed I could easily fall asleep. I had to do the moves with my eyes open so I stayed awake as the previous two weeks I’ve almost dozed off. I then discussed safe ways of lifting/handling children with my OT, as I want to be able to pick my nephew up without injuring myself.
I was absolutely shattered and had quite a long break before lunch so took a twenty minute nap, it was much needed and I felt a little better afterwards. I had a tuna melt for lunch and then a discussion on Coping Skills and how people in our lives are also affected by pain and how some chronic pain sufferers expect their family/friends/partners to be mind readers. I know I certainly think my boyfriend knows how I feel without me uttering a word and then I get annoyed at him for not noticing – but how can he know if I don’t tell him? Will definitely be changing that.
I didn’t go straight to my PT appointment because I’d arranged with Sophie to do my exercises on my own in the gym and unfortunately Nat collapsed and subluxed her hip so I didn’t want to leave her. She kept passing out and then crying in pain, so I called her mum and then went up to the physio department (a little later than planned) and paced my exercises. I managed to do them all in 40 minutes with breaks, but called Sophie over twice for prompts as I hadn’t made thorough enough notes. 
Straight after physio it was time for Sport, I arrived in the hall in the Aspire gym and didn’t throw myself straight into a game as I was too tired from physio. After a five minute rest, Zoe, Reece, James and I all went to play basketball. I say ‘play basketball,’ we had perching stools underneath the hoop and shot baskets, boys against girls and I scored four, I may have shouted pretty loudly when I scored the first one because I was made up. I was wearing Adidas basketball hi-tops and as I was showing Zoe how appropriate my shoes were, I slammed my foot into the floor and dislocated my ankle, the pain was off the scale but it went back in and I taped it when I got back to the ward. Ouch.
Natalie, Poppy and I were meant to be going out for tea with Nat’s family as it was her sisters birthday but as Nat wasn’t feeling great her family came to the ward and we got a takeaway. We had a really good night, her family is so lovely, and I might have to go live with them! Poppy was hilarious at bedtime, she was chatting to one of the new ladies about the most random things and I genuinely nearly wet my bed.

| Day Four |

I fell asleep after 1am and woke up at 6:59, moments before my alarm. I had jam on toast for breakfast and got ready. One of the blokes from last week called Natalie and I the ‘troublesome twins,’ and we were meant to buy matching t-shirts this week but completely forgot when we went shopping. We both wore black tee’s (I wore my Sherlock one back to front) and Nat wrote ‘Troublesome Twins’ on medical tape and we put it on the front, we’re clearly comedians. 
I was portered to Your Move for 9am and did some gentle stretches; I’ll definitely be keeping that up when I go home as I feel like it wakes up my body. 
I then had a joint session with my PT and OT, and I made my three month goals. I only had one goal in mind but after talking to Sophie and Sally I realised there was so much more I wanted to achieve in three months.

1. To plan writing my novel (oh my days)
2. To stick to my baseline for typing up to 25% of the time
3. To plan an independent trip out of the house
4. To stick to planned routine up to two days a week
5. To complete my physio exercises up to two days a week

There’s leeway on the goals, the above is my ‘expected level of achievement’ and if I do more then that’s great. Wish me luck! I was under the impression that I had to do my physio exercises at least once a day or twice if feasible but I have to think about other things I’ll be doing during the day and not overdo it. 
After lunch we had a really interesting lecture on Medical Management, we discussed drugs and the different types of pain they treated. Gill, the consultant nurse leading the session said the medication only ever ‘takes the edge off,’ there is no miracle painkiller and it is trial and error for most meds. I’ve got a few drugs to discuss with my GP about managing various aspects of my pain but I found that talk extremely beneficial and actually learnt quite a lot.
The rest of the ward went swimming but I stayed at my bed, did some writing, colouring and caught up on Great British Bake Off. I had a late session with Declan, my psychologist, we talked about how I’m getting on with the programme and he asked if he could read some of my poetry. I’d promised him during our last session but completely forgot to take my iPad with me. I went and retrieved it and he read my newest poem. I sat in awkward silence as he read and he was genuinely impressed, he quoted lines that he liked and commented on the interplay of masculine and feminine voices within the poem. I was over the moon. He said he can’t wait to see my books on shelves. Yay!
Thursday is takeaway night so the ladies on the ward ordered Chinese and we sat in the conservatory listening to music, singing, bopping in our seats and eating our delicious feast. I got sweet and sour chicken, Hong Kong style and it was lovely. A representative from the hospital radio asked for requests for the show later on and the Troublesome Threesome (Natalie, Poppy and I) asked for a few songs. I then did mine and Poppy’s make up, Nat did her own (that girl’s eyebrows are perfection) and we took some selfies. I’m going to miss them both loads; we’ve had such a good time. 
That evening was hilarious, Poppy needs a TV show, that girl is so funny. We got to know the new ladies on the ward a bit better and the nurse had to tell us all to be quiet because we were all giggling – oops.

| Day Five |

My alarm went off and I nearly threw my phone against the wall, I was so tired and didn’t want to move. We didn’t have to go up to the gym this morning, Nat took the stretch class in the conservatory and she was awesome at it, I totally didn’t try to put her off every time she looked at me…nope, not me.
Afterwards we had a discussion on what we’d learnt from the programme, and as well as Pacing, Planning and Posture, I’ve learnt so much, but that’s for another post. 
It was finally time to pack and say our goodbyes, I procrastinated packing as I didn’t want to go. Every other time I’ve been in hospital, I’d have gladly ran (hobbled) out of the door within hours but this experience was different, I’ve made so many friends and each night felt like a sleepover, why would I want to leave that? We kissed and hugged until there was only Poppy, Nat and I left to leave. Nat’s dad and brother kindly took my belongings to my car and the Troublesome Threesome had a group hug and went our separate ways.
Finally, my three weeks of Pain Management was over and although I’d spent my summer in hospital, it’s been absolutely amazing. I feel much more equipped at handling my condition, I’ve learnt so many skills and techniques and I’ve made the most incredible friends. I honestly love the ladies I spent two/three weeks with. We’ll be reunited soon, you gorgeous lot. Good luck with everything, miss you already.


  1. I'm so pleased you met some lovely people while you were there, Sarah, it really does help when you have someone going through similar issues and I'm sure it made your time away from home much easier.
    Look forward to reading about your new purchases you nabbed on your break too :)
    Gillian xx EyelinerFlicks

    1. Thanks, Gill, I love all the girls, they made the experience so worthwhile.
      Haul is up ;) x

  2. It was amazing to read your journey, thank you for sharing it! I'm so glad you enjoyed your time, found it useful & met some amazing people! I find standing up for myself difficult too, so thank you for highlighting this - I'm going to work on this aspect too. Good luck on achieving your goals, I'm always here for you! Xx

    Tania |

    1. Thank you, Tania. I'm always here for you too, my lovely.
      Assertiveness is so difficult but we'll get there :) x

  3. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. Wish you the best on this road you're taking!

    Natalia | Lindifique

    1. Thank you for reading it :) Thanks so much x


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