I was sat in the hairdressers getting my hair sorted before our holiday and the stylist asks me her usual question “So what have you been up to lately?” Well, I had a quick think to make sure I didn’t miss anything out and replied, “well, we had a new extension built, a new kitchen installed, we opened the caravan after a very long winter, I sang in a huge concert at St David’s Hall in Cardiff with my choir and ummm, in between all that, my sister got married too?”
It’s been unbelievably busy lately and whilst it’s all been crazy and exciting, it’s also taken a bit of a toll on my health. I’ve been pushing and pushing myself and adrenaline can only do so much! So unsurprisingly I have spectacularly crashed over the last week and whilst it’s been physically difficult, it’s also been mentally hard too.
I’ve taken things a bit easier and have been really using my meditation and mindfulness techniques from our usual Tuesday classes to help me relax and to mange the spike in my pain.
I’ve also started going to wheelchair yoga and it’s been really interesting. It’s been specifically designed for wheelchair users or people whose mobility is compromised in some way and are unable to get up and down so easily.
Why wheelchair yoga? What’s that all about?
Well, it’s early days but from what I’ve learnt so far, it’s proving very interesting; there’s more than the usual expected meditation as there’s an upper body workout kind of thing to it. It’s somewhat weird but great at the same time and I can already feel a benefit from it. The breathing techniques are familiar to me from the meditation class so that’s helped to get me into it and it’s nice to have something structured to do with my body instead of just tensing it up when the pain is bad.
I already use a meditation and breathing to help take the focus away from my pain when it’s flaring up and now using ‘yogic’ breathing is helping loads too. It’s funny way of breathing where you vibrate the back of your mouth and make a weird sound whilst breathing in and out (I’m probably not describing it properly so apologies to all you yoga buffs out there!) but I do find that mad as it sounds, it actually works on some level. At the very least, it forces me to concentrate on ‘the breath‘ – a useful tool to keep my focus away from the pain.
Then there was this……
That ‘breath‘ came in very handy for my choir concert too; a combined concert with ‘Con Voce‘ (us), ‘Noteworthy‘ (a choir from Tredegar) and ‘Cambrensis‘ (a huge choir from Cardiff) What an honour! Plus it was a challenge of ‘how to get the wheelchair chorister onto the stage!’ They were pretty good getting me on there but not so good getting me off, 15 minutes on the stairlift waiting for ‘the man with the key‘ to arrive! When the said man didn’t arrive, the breathing techniques stopped me from blowing my mind when both he AND the key disappeared and we had to struggle up on our own!
As you can imagine, the focus this month has been the ‘Dress’ – my sister’s wedding dress. It truly has been an epic venture to get just the ‘right’ one and she had been totally single minded in the quest for the sparkliest material, the finest lace and the ‘just right’ beading. She did an absolutely sterling job at getting it all put together and it has been a total joy attending each and every fitting to see how this wonderful piece of seamstress magic was coming to life.
Mind you, the quest for the perfect ‘sister of the bride’ dress was just as expansive ending up in a British Heart Foundation shop in Swansea where amazingly the staff got the ramps out, welcomed me and got me sorted in no time at all!
So all in all, this last couple of weeks has had lots of stress but some wonderful days as well. I’ve had a breathtakingly beautiful sister marrying a lovely man with all of our family together, I’ve learnt some new skills and more importantly, I’ve also met a whole new bunch of friends at my classes who can understand the ups and downs of this chronic illness rollercoaster.
So all in all, plenty of stress, a indescribably beautiful dress and more ‘breaths’ than I could count – what a month……!!