The irony with me starting pilates (about 10 years ago) was that i was not in pain. I went to a class with a girlfriend who fundamentally didn’t GET it. She tolerated me begging to go to the second stage classes but would do no more….
When i started to suffer neck pain, it was constant. I was sent to a pain clinic for steroid injections in about 2003/4. I hated those injections and decided to try going to pilates 1:1 with Pamela.
The 1:1 classes, compared to the mat class were a new world to me. I could roll like a ball, i loved using a spine roller, i really loved the “scooching” over the barrel that went before trying to put my legs over my head. There must have been a lot of rolling over in my childhood but the extension that those moves gave my spine was “WOW”to me.
Over the next years when i had to retire from teaching, Pilates was my base… i was still there, experiencing the icy-blue hands of the 1:1 class, i had started an evening class with my daughter Cora and then was promoted to the “loopers” class on a Thursday morning – Maura, Gemma, Karen, Jane, Noeleen and me were the regulars. It was not strict pilates – it was painful, it was fun, it was unrepeatable…and we LOVED it.
I had stopped my pain injections, but not lost my pain. I had also had a bone density scan IMPROVE when the only weight bearing exercise i did was Pilates.
2009 was the year i had a car accident. Little boy racer drove into a parked me. I had a very painful reaction. It was months later, and on a regime of painkillers before i even ventured back to Pamela. She now had the Reformer in place, Yje Cadillac (and still the blue hands).
Despite the fact that I was now at a different pain clinic, as i had quite a range of pain and neurological symptoms…having the repeated steroid injections, and moving up to the lumbar back ablations, i still clung to my pilates.
I found it mentally difficult – since in my mind i had a great awareness of the pilates basics, that i would feel frustrated when Pamela would stop me having spotted i was working into my lower back.
The machinery really helped. I learned to love the reformer, the cadillac – especially “trapeze” as I referred to (when my knees went over the bar), the stirrups killed me in a good way. I good feel muscles where i was meant to, and not work wrongly. I found a new one to love – “boxing!” – where both your feet went on the moving circular plates, and you held yourself centred by leaning forward slightly with your core, and were able to “box”…very therapeutic for many reasons.
but we both knew a class was not a real option. i would never again roll like a ball, nor snake over a barrel. I tried evening classes. But i had, had to adjust so many of the roll ups, roll like a ball, …too many that i felt upset more than happy at a class.
Meanwhile the gamut of invisible neurological symptoms and painful bits led to several hospital shorts stays- for brain scans. I was at a loss as all of my symptoms were invisible, but once i got a new symptom, it remained with me…numb fingers, numb toes… tingly cheek…soles of feet, and constant back, neck pain and headaches.
I battled on like a good Pilates warrior until eventually a brainscan in 2013 reported a defect. On examination of one done in 2006 BOTH had missed the real issue. To cut a long story short I had 8 hours of brain surgery Dec 27th 2013, and 8 weeks later after many complications including meningitis, and several more smaller operations, i came home.
I improved from the structural pain in my head/neck. But the surgery was never going to be a cure and in my case despite the pressure of hydrocephalus i had obviously had for years, the symptoms remained.
I have a chiari malformation – where basically your cerebellum descends out of your skull, and prevents normal flow of spinal fluid. It was a rare condition, and rarely is fully symptomatic (allegedly)… in hindsight? mine has been layering up symptoms since I had those shoulder problems way back in 2004. It’s a lifelong, degenerative neurological condition. The normal range of symptoms can include:I have also been injured/ damaged in the brain surgeries as since then my eyes do not work as a pair although each function as an organ in its own right..it makes for very attractive photographs! And the more difficult one for me to see the humour in, is the fact that my legs no longer really get on with my brain – neuro pathways are irreparably damaged : in reality, i can walk (with Hazel- my stick) for about 5 minutes, and beyond that i feel that my legs have run marathons…all the time. This, despite a year of rehab has not improved.
You probably have not seen me, ladies, as to be honest my life is very limited. I have a wheelchair – a basic self propel chair – as i am willing to be as disabled as i need to be, but not more. The chair means I can “conserve energy” for the things i choose today, by avoiding wasting it walking.
Just to challenge me further my husband has had a back scan reveal bulging and damaged discs in HIS spine – therefore he will not, is not able or allowed to push me in my wheelchair.
I had never looked at the land in Enniskillen before I was this limited. It is a series of hills – you finish one and you meet another. So i am unable to propel myself anywhere locally but Erneside.
I have a “rehab” specialist who recommended i use power assisted wheels which looks like… a NORMAL self propel wheelchair which is great…yet they have touch sensitive power which means i push a wee bit, but they move a big bit. I tired it – it WORKS… but i need just £4844.
i have come to adjust to my condition. My new me. I went out to visit Pamela a few weeks ago, and i found it so emotional. The only way i can describe it is the way i texted to my dad:
“the last time i was here, I was able”
i miss the old me in lots of ways, but walking in on my stick to that studio i was fighting tears…i longed to be able …..be able to MOVE. I miss bending. Cat stretch, Swan, just the ability to extend through my spine…peeling one vertebra at a time. I DID lie down (on a wheat pillow) on the cadillac and lifted two small balls…and for that moment to feel my shoulders and my chest “open up”…. bliss. I can’t replace that. I have to try baby rehab…a tiny step at a time…but please GOD do not let me lose the use of my legs that i have.
THAT is my personal target. SET that day.
Pamela then overwhelmed me completely by telling me that you ladies were walking Cuilcagh this month, and that she had mentioned the possibility of raising funds towards allowing me a way to get out of my house…the connection of that was an emotional one …more tears…humbled completely at the idea that you felt that was something you wanted to do.
This is it. All i can do is tell you how I am, and tell you how my life is… I LOVE the holistic care that Pamela Fyfe for her ladies in pilates, and the ethos of concern for each other which does exist and always has in the Pilates Studio. Bless you all and genuine thankyou for your thoughts and kindness.