A fellow Blogger jeg700 responded to my Research around Pain blog and the piece about whether my pain controls me, I control it and mourning the previous me which she has worded brilliantly in this blog, so I thought I’d write something similar, it was a great piece Pain -Who Am I
So here I go, jeg700 is right, we are not who we once were, regardless of our stage of acceptance, our type of chronic illness, pain and or disability we are different, any life changing event impacts on you and forms who you are today our pain is no different. It just means we go through different planning rituals to what we once did.
Prior to my car accident I was a fit healthy person, I walked miles each day, enjoyed running and exercising having previously managed the Gym at my local leisure centre in the heedy days of when it was Harpers Fitness Gym. I regularly played golf, darts and snooker with two of the best friends you could ask for and there was always beer and betting involved. I worked hard and I played harder enjoying my time off and time with friends.
I have always loved sports playing regularly football, and representing my high school and county at this among others. I love Andre Agassi and had the obligatory curtains haircut growing up that may or may not have run into the odd bottle of Sun-In. I worked from an early age first as a paperboy, followed by part time on the fruit market stall, shops and as a children’s party entertainer and school holiday camp energy leader. I was never afraid to make a fool of myself for a good cause or just for a laugh and the words I dare you usually ended in some sort of mischief. I had a fantastic group of friends at school many of whom I am still in contact with and in each job since school I have made good friends who I continue to be in contact with. I maybe one of the few who can honestly say I would stop and have a beer or a chat with to all of my 300+ friends on social media.
I am inquisitive by nature and have always wanted to work hard, I obtained good grades at school and in work continued to educate myself up to degree level. Having a healthy mind has always been important to me so I have always strived to gain extra knowledge, love pointless trivia and quizzes and if it were not for my pain medication I’m sure I’d give the Chasers or Egg Heads a run for their money. I even enjoy pushing myself to University Challenge questions and I have to say I’m disappointed if I do not reach double figures of questions correct although of late this has been waning.
I loved all types of music, and what I listened to often depended on my mood, my mum taught me my love of the Beatles and being a teenager in the 90’s it is no surprise I was part of the Brit Pop movement. I enjoyed watching live music and my best gig ever was Knebworth in 1996 Bootleg Beatles, Chemical Brothers, Manic Street Preachers, Ocean Colour Scene, The Prodigy and finally Oasis – my dream gig then and to be honest would still be awesome today. The flip side is my Eminem collection and since I’ve been pulled kicking and screaming into the 21st Century you’d be hard pushed to find a more eclectic mix of music than on my iPod. I loved cooking and inventing new dishes and it was a way of unwinding at the end of a days work.
To my famiends (my made up word to encompass my family and friends) I would like to think they would have described me as honest, trustworthy and dependable, the life and soul of a party willing to try anything once and usually more. I was there for them at the drop of a hat if they needed me and was always willing to listen to them, help where I could and do anything within my power to make them happy. I loved unconditionally my famiends and didn’t expect much in return, just really for them to be honest and fun with me. Some would say I was impetuous I prefer care free and did anything almost at any whim.
So we get to post car accident Seachy, this year I have been on a journey of discovery and self awareness, having buried my head in the sand for the last few years with regards to the amount of pain I was in and have had to face some monumental decisions. Has my car accident and the last 13+ years made me a different person well yes there is no denying that, has it changed my underlying core values having liberated myself with Dr B and writing this I would say no it hasn’t!
I still love my sport only now it is watching it rather than playing it, I have found accessibility issues around watching most sports live so prefer to settle down in cushion paradise and watch it in my own time (Bundesliga Highlights recorded earlier are on now as I try to finish this). Golf alas is no more so it means no more 9 cans in 18 hole challenges which is a real shame, but it is not the end of the world. I am learning to play wheelchair snooker having got over my hang up of going to the snooker club in my wheelchair but an hour or so of this wipes me out for a week so this really has to be well planned and co-ordinated. I miss the exercise especially running (it was my thinking time) and have piled on the pounds which I am now trying to get off again but this will be a long process.
I still have the same work ethic as I did years ago, I returned to work long before my consultants thought I would and I have enjoyed 9 years in my current job. Unfortunately a combination of my lack of mobility and my pain has resulted this year in the very difficult and emotionally and physically troubling choice of having to stopp work through ill health. Having got over the initial panic I am now focusing on getting my new methadone medication regime sorted so I can figure out my new baseline of health and mobility and will look to give a few hours to my local community and/or disability charity as a volunteer. I want my LG to grow up knowing that whatever life throws at you, you always have choices as to the decisions you make.
I still have contact with many of my school friends either in the town we grew up in as our children now start to go through school together like we all did, they are still always there to lend a helping hand when it is needed and have helped with our bungalow renovations and building my self esteem getting me out. Some of them are my wives best friends and we regularly meet up and holiday together. We laugh about the old times at school and us all being famiends now! Immediately after my car accident I suffered from post traumatic depression and I gave up on my appearance, my friends didn’t give up on me though and they encourage me and eventually were directly responsible for me tidying up my appearance (well my mates wife had the joy of doing that) and now I have no need for Shampoo at all, although the beard takes some maitaining!
I am still just as inquisitive with my mind, although unfortunately my foggy mind caused by my medication causes lapses in concentration, means holding conversations is difficult and tiring and now more often than not means I know the answer to questions on quizzes but I just can’t recall them now, if that makes sense – like everything is on the tip of my tongue but that is as far as it gets. I play online scrabble with friends Sudoku’s take a couple of days instead of 30 minutes but I still plod along with them. The blog is an extension of this and although tiring and a piece like this takes hours writing a bit then going back, then writing a bit resting and going back and so on and so forth.
I still love all types of music although I only know a handful of songs post my car accident, being in the car less and not being able to drive long journeys like I used to means I do not keep up to date with current music although my 18 year old and my wife keep my toe dipped in the musical water! Give me my eclectic mix on the iPod, the burning playlist, Eminem Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr and everything in between. Cooking has had to change and I am learning a whole range of things that can be cooked in a slow cooker as I am not able to use our cooker now and I have to become well rehearsed at pacing my cooking.
Finally we get to the most important people in my life, my famiends. This is my wife, son and LG, extending out to our parents, siblings, extended family and friends. I was convinced that post accident Seachy had become a real pain in the arse to my famiends. Cancelling at short notice, having to arrange venues, days out or simply BBQ’s at each others home around my mobility access. Even my brothers stag do is being arranged around my needs love you Bro Rodin . Everywhere we go we take more mobility aids than stuff that we needed when our LG was a baby. They babysit me come over for lunch and do anything and everything. In short they are amazing people who I would not be without, they have helped me and my family and some of our best friends were my wife’s best friends at school and we all love spending time together as famiends even spending Christmas away with our families last year. In a recent exercise I did with Dr B to make me see how my famiends viewed me we answered some questions. I thought they would describe me as a burden, argumentative, grumpy, full of mood swings not much fun to be around and loving. I didn’t feel like the same person as I couldn’t see past all that I couldn’t do because of my pain, I couldn’t at the drop of a hat or on a whim disappear for a weekender and certainly all nighters and lots of drinking were out of the question (although this partly was due to my meds but mostly because I have a family who I love and prefer being around now as opposed to out on the beers with mates everynight). Trips and routes take careful planning, accesibility and whether to use my mobility scooter (incl battery and key both have been forgotten in the past) or wheelchair, my crutches, and making sure I can do my physio exercises and follow my medication regimes etc etc
They actually described me as caring, thoughtful, loyal, strong, helps others, great sense of humour, fun, trustworthy, honest, compassionate, gentle, unforgiving of himself, a fantastic friend, a great father, intelligent, competitive, stubborn and argumentative and finally my best friend. This was a real powerful piece of work that I did with my psychologist and it has helped me to realise that although what I do today and each day because of the pain has changed dramatically the person my famiends see underneath is still that same spirit as the pre-accident Seachy. The attributes I thought I had before and that I look for in others I believed I had lost because I couldn’t see beyond my pain and all that I thought I had lost they still see in me.
So Jeg is right I have to agree you don’t go through such a change without having to rethink how we do things, some things we loved we can no longer do but who we are underneath it all, peeling all the layers back, accepting the new me and embracing the changes in life our core values and morals are still the same. Still this doesn’t mean if sleep doesn’t get here soon I am not going do my nut at some poor unsuspecting individual tomorrow! Change is good, even if you have to mourn a loss to get there, it really is time to park pre accident Seachy safely in the memory banks and start to look forward with a love for life that others see in me.!