#6 - ONE YEAR ON
As time creeps closer to the one-year anniversary of the bleed that occurred on my brain due to a ruptured AVM, my head has been bursting with a mixture of thoughts and feelings towards it all. So, what’s a better way to express them than by putting a good old-fashioned pen to paper (or laptop...)?
A few months ago, I was terrified of this one-year build up and almost didn’t want to acknowledge it. I felt like, as time moved on, I was moving further away from my ‘old self’, grieving a part of me that was taken without warning and thrown a million miles away – the carefree Georgie who was so physically fit and able. But sitting here in my conservatory, flicking through my recovery notebook and reflecting on all that I have achieved over the last year, I feel nothing more than proud and want this anniversary to celebrate not what happened, but how I have responded and how far I’ve come in ONLY a year. From tying my hair up independently and using a knife and fork at dinner, to walking confidently without a stick and returning to work part-time, I’ve exceeded all expectations and don't plan to stop here.
One of the hardest things to get my head around was the length of time this recovery is going to take, which still isn’t clear. But I like it that way. I no longer feel terrified of how long this process will go on for, but instead curious as to what more is to come. Like I said, it’s only been one year - can you imagine where I’ll be in the next two, or three? Let alone ten! I’ve realised that you can’t rush a good thing and have learnt to really listen to my body, to not cut corners, take each day as it comes and to trust the process. I also feel like I have reached that place of contentment I was seeking at the start of this year, which at the time felt so far away. I feel more accepting of my situation, comfortable with where I’m at right now but still extremely motivated and determined to progress further. Each physio session is rewarding, every walk feels stronger and I’m using my left arm more than ever.
The biggest challenge I face is the muscle spasticity (when muscles contract, become stiff, or spasm involuntarily) but I’m doing everything I can to keep the stiffness at bay. I’ve reintroduced yoga into my week and find that alongside the medication, my usual physio sessions, sports massages, my own stretch routines and greater exposure to ‘tense situations’, the spasticity has improved SO much since leaving hospital. Remember when my arm was a right angle 24/7? Or when my leg would beat uncontrollably after hitting the floor at a weird angle? Not so much anymore! I’m also feeling a lot less anxious about the seizures since starting on AEDs (anti-epileptic drugs) a few months ago and now find I have more energy and focus to channel elsewhere.
The recent reduction of Covid-19 restrictions has had a huge part to play in me reaching this level of contentment. Being able to socialise with friends, escape to Cornwall with Richard and get back in the gym has made me realise that I’m still able to do and appreciate everything I did before the bleed - albeit slightly different. Yes, I tense up when I walk into a busy room and okay, I’m not so smooth at moving past tightly packed tables in a restaurant (yet) - but when you’re sat socialising with your friends the movement is irrelevant. I’m still able to laugh, I’m still able to enjoy good food, I’m still able to exercise, I’m still able to work and I’m still able to think straight. With all these factors shining through thanks to Boris’ roadmap going ahead as planned, I’m feeling closer to my ‘old self’ than ever before. Mum recently asked me, ‘do you still feel like there’s loads to do?’ and my honest response was ‘anything more is a bonus.’ I believe that there will always be things to work on but they are not essential to live a good life. Since taking this approach towards my recovery I’ve felt less pressure, less stressed and genuinely excited about the future – the only way is up!
I could go into so much more detail about my recovery so far, but for now I’m going to keep this short (but sweet). What I have gained over the last year is beyond all that I have gained throughout my whole life - despite ironically losing mobility in my left side – and I’m weirdly grateful. I originally thought this bleed would turn my world upside down and although in the beginning it did, the dust is starting to settle and I’m coming to realise my life hasn’t changed that much at all. Bar popping a few pills (downplayed), committing to daily physio and not being able to drink alcohol, I’m still the same Georgie that I was pre-bleed and if not, a completely better version for it. This is what I want to mark, this is what I want to celebrate, and this is what I want to remember on the anniversary of my bleed. (Oh and the fact that it’s my sister’s 21st birthday – HBD Lillykins!! )
Head over to my latest Instagram post for a mini timeline of 'how it started Vs how it's going' or alternatively, enjoy this picture I took before walking round London (stick free) with one of my besties recently - the face says it all!
P.S. I just want to acknowledge and say a humungous thank you to my incredible support network, who have helped me tackle this recovery from every possible angle.
From the physical health experts: Jenny (physio), Rob (consultant & neurosurgeon) Christal (chiropractor), Vicky (sports masseuse), Queen Mary’s Hospital (The Wolfson, Gait Lab, Orthotics & Spasticity Clinic) and the Epilepsy Support team at FPH. *take a breath*. To my absolute rocks who have helped me mentally pull through the best and worst of times: Sara (counsellor), Mum, Dad, Lilly, Tom, Richard, my incredible friends and extended family ~ without all of you I don’t know where I would be!