Thursday was our last full day, even though we finished early. I couldn’t believe that the program was almost over and couldn’t help but feel a bit emotional about the thought of saying goodbye to such a lovely group of people. We have spent the last few weeks pretty much in each other’s pockets so I knew that by Monday it would be strange not seeing everyone first thing in the morning.
We were a bit thin on the ground as a few members of the group were really struggling with fatigue. I am not entirely sure how I managed to get myself out of bed on Monday morning I did not get much sleep and just wanted to stay in bed but, I I forced myself to push on.
We started the day off with some psychology (pretty much every day starts) and discussed the idea of compassion for others and ourselves. There are so many different ways you can be compassionate towards somebody you know or even don’t know. Taking time to listen to someone, being supportive or even just offering some of your time can make a big difference to somebody even if the gesture is only small. Thinking about being compassionate towards ourselves was a bit more difficult as many of us tend to put other people’s needs before our own. Being kind to yourself can be a form of compassion which can often be difficult for people in pain as you constantly beat yourself up for not being able to do things that in the past were so easy. Of course, they threw yet another metaphor at us to enable us to visualise what it is like when we push our emotions to one side. We were asked to imagine that we are sitting in a pool and a beach ball represents our anger. You want to get rid of it so try to push it under the water but, this will make it harder for you to swim and will keep floating to the top. By letting the beach ball float (recognising and acknowledging your anger) you will be able to swim without the beach ball holding you back.
During our physio session, we were given more time to challenge ourselves using the equipment that they had. A group of us decided to play some darts while listening to some music which turned out to be a lot of fun. Other people played some table tennis, did some drawing or jumped on the exercise bike so the session was a success to some extent.
I went for a nap during lunch as I could barely keep my eyes open. This was the first time I had done this during the program but, I I just couldn’t fight the fatigue. I can’t say it did me much good but, it was needed.
In our occupational therapy session, on, we were given a list of questions to answer in bullet points which we would then use to write a letter to ourselves based on us accomplishing all of the goals we set for ourselves. This letter will be sent to back to us within the next year so that we can see whether we have progressed and managed to reach our goals. I will share some of my answers below:
Why did you come to input?
- Because I wanted some answers
- Because of the pain
- I needed guidance
- It was the last resort/last thing offered to me
- I wanted to change my life
What have you found most useful from this experience?
- The physio sessions – yoga/small movements
- The routine – waking up early/having breakfast and lunch/having a full productive day
- Meeting new people who are supportive and understand
What kind/compassionate advice would the future you give your present self?
- Things may seem difficult and challenging right now but, things will get better. Take time for yourself and remember that a 1% day is better than 0%. You are strong and stubborn and this condition will not define you.
At 2 pm we filled in the same dreaded questionnaire that will be completed on our first day of the program. It was not put together very well and focused more on our pain than as a form of feedback about the program. There was a list of things about the program that I did not find particularly helpful such as the lack of knowledge about pain, the inability to answer some questions related to our pain and conditions, the ridiculous amount of metaphors that just seemed to steer away from the point and the lack of understanding. I could go on but I don’t want to bore you to death and despite my complaining, I did find a few things helpful such as the routine, the physio, the sessions with the doctor about t the pain and the nurse about medications and the group set up. There was a big focus on mindfulness which, to be honest, I still can’t quite get my head around and am still not convinced by its benefits but I am willing to give anything a try.
We each did our 5-minute walk up and down the corridor and 1 minute walk up and down the stairs which we also did at the beginning to track our progress. We were then free to pack and relax for the rest of the evening.
By this time I was extremely tired so I was thankful for the early finish. My boyfriend and mum came down for a few hours and took home some of my things and not long after they left I got ready for bed and went to sleep.