Tuesday, 12 July 2016

One Year On

As you read this post I'm back in London, having a few nice days to celebrate my boyfriend's birthday, which is exactly what we were doing this time last year when I first got the horrible pain that set this whole chain of events off. 

I have come full circle. 

I've been feeling fairly reflective lately, thinking about what I've lost and gained. About what's changed. About what hasn't. I'm still working, but I do less than half the hours I used to. I still enjoy my job, though it's very different and mostly a lot less stressful. I've lost time spent with my friends and I've lost the events, the plays, the dinners, the cinema trips and the satisfied feeling I had from doing all these things I enjoy so regularly. I've lost some independence. 

But I've also gained time with my boyfriend. When I lived in London we saw each other one weekend a month. Sometimes 2 weekends a month. Now we see each other most of the week; he practically lives at my house and I still haven't gotten over the novelty of seeing him so much. 

And I've gained space. Space to take a breath. Space to take a step out of my life and live a different one for a while. Tread a slightly different path. Space to recover, to build my body back up and to eat better and to try and take care of myself properly for the first time in a long time. 

And that's the biggest thing I've gained. The desire to care about myself. My body used to be a thing I dragged myself around in. A bit defective, mostly hated, made fun of. Now I'm trying to nurture it, to listen to it. To fix it up a bit. New wheels. Nice paint job. Spring clean. I (sort of) eat better, I (try to) sleep better. I exercise. I even look after my hair and skin better. I wear those insoles in sensible, supportive shoes.

Progress feels slow. I thought I'd be doing better than I am, but I am better than I was. I'm more tired than ever and my muscles ache but the uncomfortable joint pains are lessening. The feeling that my knees are hollow and will collapse any second, the sharp knife-like pains in the fronts of my hips, those pains happen less. The scary pains. The ones that make me wonder what's wrong, whether I'm injuring myself, whether I should stop or keep going or maybe just lie down for a month. 

But everytime I look at my calf muscles, which are getting strong and developed from swimming, I feel a sense of achievement. I can do this. I am doing this. I remember the first time I went swimming and barely did 10 lengths, and subluxed my shoulder,  and was shaky and sick and stiff for 3 days afterwards, and I think about how I can now swim 1 kilometre like it's nothing and I can see the progress I'm making. I think back to the first time I did the Shoulder Bridge exercise and my thighs shook with the sheer effort of holding themselves up, and how I can now do 20 of them without that happening and how I can lift a leg off the floor each time and I can see the progress I'm making.

This is going to take longer than the year my Rheumatologist predicted last September. And maybe I won't ever get back to where I was, fully. But I'm learning to be okay with that. As long as I know I'm doing everything I can, I will accept whatever the end result is, and whatever that means for my life.

I will get strong, I will feel better. I will end up with abs like Jessica Ennis-Hill. 


  1. Hugely proud of you Caitlin! I'm reading this on a morning when I'm feeling very sorry for myself (ceased muscles in my back making walking difficult, and wondering if I'll ever recover from this decade old problem) but I can honestly say that this post has encouraged me more than you will know. You should read it back to yourself every time you're feeling low - hell, maybe I should too! Sending much love xx

  2. I, too, recently developed the need to take care of myself. It's really refreshing to not be fighting my body every step of the way.