I had a couple of shocks. One was when I was leaving the hotel after the FSDP scholarship and a lady asked if I wanted help with my case. I politely declined and she explained that her husband is disabled and she always tries to offer other disabled people help where she can. It’s the first time I realised that strangers on the street view me as disabled. The other was from my sister, I am very good at hiding my feelings and I don’t think many realised where I was from a mental health point of view, when I started my FSDP journey. My sister said to me that she couldn’t believe reading my article about my experience of Cranwell and in particular the interview – that’s not my kick-ass sister, she said. That made me feel quite sad, perhaps in hindsight I should have opened up and told her where I was. You can imagine my joy when she commented on a couple of the photos of my flying saying – that’s it! That’s my sister back. She told me that when I am flying or talking about flying (which I do a lot) I am back to my old self, which is lovely to hear.
I am taking forward the positives from flying and to keep the momentum going of feeling a bit more like myself. So, I have been to the university and met with my professor to go through my PhD and where I am. I now have my formal upgrade viva booked for the end of the year. I have also started work on a book, based on my blogs from the last two years and I have been booked to give a talk at my local EDS meeting about my FSDP experience, hopefully I can encourage people to apply.
I have also been accepting more help, instead of trying to do everything myself or the hard way. Social services have been round and assessed the house and I have implemented some elements to make my life easier, hand rails here and there and half steps – things like that. I have actually been using my seat in the kitchen, which is nice as I have got back to baking, although bad for my waistline. I’m using my stick more and more and trying to be sensible about using the wheelchair when out. Also, silly things like putting my foot down with taxis, when I go into London for hospital appointments I use taxis instead of the tube and give them very specific instructions of where to pick me up. Usually if they are not there and they phone I go to where they are, now I explain my reason for using them is my limited walking and they have to come to me.
Having just finished 2 weeks of antibiotics at home, with daily visits from a nurse to administer the antibiotics through a PICC line, I am now finished the course and will find out this coming week if they have worked or not. Unfortunately, I had a visit to A&E last week as my heart was misbehaving, frustratingly it was on my birthday so I missed out on a nice meal out. I also saw my spinal consultant last week and now need to have a CT scan on my spine, we think it is subluxing around the fractures, so may well need more surgery. It also looks like I might need some surgery on my elbow again as the nerve is dislocating over the bone – yes, it is as stomach churning as it sounds – thankfully the surgery should be quite simple.
Going into this I am feeling much more relaxed and much more comfortable in my own skin. If nothing else surgery recovery will give me time to study for my navigation exam, do some research analysis for my PhD and do some knitting for the homeless charities. My FSDP journey has taught me so much about myself and my disability and has changed my life, for the first time in years I do not feel like I am on the scrap heap, I feel like I have a future.