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What do you do in your Spare Time?

This question was recently asked of me. And to be honest I didn’t know. They might of well asked me ‘who are you’, an answer I still cannot give. I’ve started to feel less transparent like I was almost wiped out by a pencil rubber (which technically I was).

I’ve thought about what I do with my time a lot, so much of it is taken by rehab. My every day activities and priorities are so so different to what they were. They had been changed by pregnancy and then the newborn and baby bubbles and of course COVID and once again it has been changed although to an extent no national self isolating policy covers.

I can’t just refer to my old hobbies. Too much has changed and the commitment free, work and lots of play with a glass of fizz in hand Rachael was over three years ago and although fun she has gone.

But it’s ok just to lightly try things and not over commit. You don’t have to have the same likes, that’s okay, you can change your mind. I’ve actually taken up painting by numbers which is a gentle hobby, just a great set and fairly cheap from Amazon. It’s actually very calming and so nice and positive to create something. It’s probably a ‘mindful activity’. What I’ve needed to do is let go of heavily self criticising myself if I make a mistake or find something tough. With painting I have no comparison, as I didn’t do this before and it’s ok to get better, practice usually makes perfect, plus I need to accept I’m injured. Having a go is an achievement on its own!

"I’ve taught myself it’s ok to have some time to think."

Along with these new interests I’ve taught myself it’s ok to have some time to think. Having structured days and weeks was suggested to me and although I understand the point of this, to keep motivation up, I’m lucky my motivation is still the same or even stronger. I don’t need my day planned out to every hour, which was also once suggested to me, I won’t repeat my response to that.

I’m now in control of my rehab timetable and schedule, which I think will help my buy in and my memory so I will know it’s a Tuesday that means 'X' therapy, currently that means speech and language in the afternoon. Not having that structure leads to a pot luck effect to my treatment and I feel anyone could turn up at my house and demand my time.

"We know we can’t change anything but my god we are going to own it and make it ours."

There have been few points in my journey so far when I had control of what was happening. When I was in hospital a weekly timetable of what was going to happen was given to me. Which given my state was understandable, although even then I did add a to do list to my notice board in hospital of things I wanted to do. Control is a big part of my recovery at this stage! I was never a control freak before (although my friends and family might laugh out loud at that!) but it’s now so important to me. Chris and I lost total control of our lives when this happened and it’s only in the last few month we are getting it back. Well Chris felt some form of control moving my treatment and hospital care and me coming home. We know we can’t change anything but my god we are going to own it and make it ours.

As part of this I need some clear time to be with my thoughts, and that’s ok. I don’t need to have a full timetable all the time. It’s so important for me to have a clear day each week when I can be gentle to myself. Fridays seem to work for me, I try to limit appointments and social media etc, when I can be alone with my thoughts. It’s nicely summed up as being kind to yourself. I would strongly recommend it to anyone regardless of the situation. On these days I have no expectations for myself, I can gently think about our Louis and cry as needed without having to pull myself together for an appointment (or as I regularly find to be assessed).

"I try to limit appointments and social media etc, when I can be alone with my thoughts. It’s nicely summed up as being kind to yourself."

That’s another downside of this situation, there is a significant amount of medical legal assessments, you feel like what you share will make it’s way into a report and as experience has taught me it does.

I’ve mentioned before the feeling of being over analysed and I get it’s very important but outside of this situation it’s not good for self-confidence building, it plants doubt into your mind. At one point I was told I wouldn’t be able to deal with abstract concepts, there is nothing more abstract than seeing yourself critically and then explaining how you are different and what isn’t going so well. Some alone time creates that much needed space for me. Everyone should have their own space and privacy and enjoy that. I had mine taken away and I need to enjoy it again.

Quick Wins

Getting Chris and I coffee and a croissant from a coffee shop, nipped into Waitrose on my own and got us some bread, headed to a pub quiz and more importantly our team won!

Taking the opportunity to experience new things such as an essential oils workshop, pottery making and a candle making class.

But substantially more exciting and much more importantly while Chris was at the hairdressers I took myself off from the coffee shop next door into Lululemon and Sweaty Betty down the road and a pedestrian crossing and made a few much needed purchases (as photographed) including replacements for some of clothes which I was wearing at the time which was hard but I was pleased I could walk into a shop on my own choose and buy new things. The assistants in both shops were so nice and helpful which I know they would have been anyway but it made this experience easier.

Rachael xx

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