Me and Exercise

by barbznz

I have never really been what you call athletic. Totally uncoordinated. Not that I didn’t try. Over the years I have played sports of all kinds, tennis basketball, netball and even ten pin bowling.

I was never any good. That is probably because of my Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia. Though I was only diagnosed in my late forties, I suspect that I have had symptoms for years. Marty said that I walked funny when we met and I have just got progressively worse.

But I did try. I played basketball for the Kohanga team one year. It was a lot of fun but I was hopeless. I can hardly catch a ball and shooting goals was never going to happen.

Once I went into a wheelchair, I gave up all ideas of exercise. I didn’t want to make things worse. However, my friend Cathy at work suggested I go to QE for rehab. Eventually, I saw my GP and I asked him if he would do a referral. He thought it might do me some good so he sent in a referral. And they lost it.

QE, or Queen Elisabeth Hospital in Rotorua is a rare gem. It specialises in Rheumatoid Arthritis and uses the natural goodness of Rotorua’s thermal waters and mud for therapy. It was origanally built for servicemen coming back from the war. The building are pretty old and run down looking but it is pure gold. They run a rehab programme that builds on what you can do rather than looking at what you can’t.

After months of pestering, Cathy finally got me to ring QE and find out where my referral had gone. They apologise profusely and went looking. Once it was found they organised an appointment with the specialist to see if I was a suitable candidate. I really had my doubts. I didn’t have arthritis, I have a rare genetic condition that no one has ever heard of.
But I went to the appointment anyway. The doctor walked into the walked into the waiting room and called my name. The time has come he said. And I added, to talk of many things: Of shoes and ships, and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings.

I liked him immediately. When I was in his office he asked me why I wanted to come and what I hoped to get out of it. I said well, I work with Cathy and she said it would do me good. Oh you poor thing he laughed, that’s tough. I quickly added that, I sat in my chair every day and I was too scared to do any exercise and I was just getting fat.

I wanted to know what I could and couldn’t do. I wanted to test my limits, find out if I could exercise without doing myself any damage. He said I was a perfect candidate for the programme and they would let me know when I could come. He said two weeks would be enough.

I went back to work and told Cathy I would be going and taking some annual leave. Don’t do that she said. Use your sick leave. I talked to the boss and she said that would be fine. Once I got the dates I sorted out my sick leave.

I worked in Mental Health and when I told people I was off to rehab they looked at me puzzled. We didn’t think you drank or did drugs they said. Rehab has a whole different meaning there.

So I was off to rehab as a day patient, we started at 8am and finished at 5, just like going to work.

I couldn’t wait.

© Barbara Hart 2014

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