Learning to walk again Part 1

You may remember me  saying, that when I came out of my biopsy operation I had suddenly lost the ability to walk. In fact, I could barely stand up by myself and this was not fun. Having been such a sporty girl before this all happened, being in pretty much all of the sports team at school, I found it really frustrating that I couldn’t even get up to switch the TV on when I’d woken up from one of my many naps. So to get myself moving again, I had some physiotherapy.

To start off with I found the physiotherapy sessions quite patronising. ‘I know how to walk’, I thought. ‘I used to be so sporty, I don’t need someone telling me how to do it’. For the first few weeks of physiotherapy I felt quite stubborn. Luckily though my physiotherapist was a lovely lady called Michelle. After a few weeks of seeing her, she suddenly seemed to get what I was all about and tailored our sessions to suit me and what I wanted to do.

I remember the first few sessions, they were mainly concentrated on my left arm, to see if anything could be done about the intense pain I was having. The sessions were pretty much me lying on the bed whilst Michelle lifted my arm up and down, checking I still had a good range of movement and massaging my arm to try and calm down the pain. She used to laugh at me, as whilst she was doing this, I’d often have my eyes closed and would be dozing off, having been so tired from Radiotherapy. Whilst she was playing around with my arm, she noticed that my left shoulder was risen, pretty much to just under my neck. It was almost as if I couldn’t relax my shoulder and she said that this probably wasn’t helping the pain situation. Every time she brought my shoulder back down to where it should be, it immediately shot up again. So my task for the first few weeks was to try and keep it down as much as I could.

When I started to feel more awake on a day to day basis the physiotherapy sessions changed from focusing on my arm to getting me walking again. I was now able to sit up on the bed rather than having to lie down. Michelle still worked on my left arm, but was more focused on getting me walking as well. I remember her bringing out some steps and whilst assisting me to do so, telling me to walk up and down them. I found this really boring and Michelle picked up on this. The next session, instead of bringing the steps out the cupboard she brought out a ball. She said that she could see from the reaction on my face that she had done the right thing. As I still wasn’t that steady on my feet I used to sit on the bed whilst she stood opposite me and we basically played catch for the whole session. When I got a bit more confident on my feet, she would bring out a basketball net and would tell me to throw the ball into the net, I went from doing this standing still with Michelle collecting the ball after I’d thrown it to Michelle telling me to go and collect the ball myself because now I could walk! Albeit still a bit unsteady I was so pleased that I could move around the room, I felt free and independent again and if it wasn’t for Michelle I don’t know what I would have done!

Michelle was great and she soon became one of my favourite people to go and visit at the Royal Marsden. As well as helping me to start walking again, she helped in other ways too. My Mum explained to her one day about the troubles I was having with the pain in my arm during the radiotherapy sessions. One day whilst I was waiting to go in and have radiotherapy, Michelle walked into the side room that I was in and gave me a smelling stick that smelt of lavender. She told me to give it a go, that the smell of lavender was very calming and it might help my situation. From then on I used it every time I had radiotherapy and it helped a lot. I still find the smell of lavender very calming today and I am very grateful to Michelle for introducing me to it.

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