INPUT at St Thomas’ | Week 1 | Day 2

Sleep was most definitely not an option last night.  All in all I think I managed about two hours sleep tops. I was suffering with the stomach bug, and it’s severely affecting the absorption  of the OxyNorm so I was getting withdrawal type symptoms on top of everything else.  But on a more positive note, my back had not reacted to yesterdays activities as much as I had expected.

For day two, we had the following to look forward to:

  • An introduction to circuit training (the last time I had done circuits was back in 1999 during my rugby days with Calne RFC.
  • Talks on Medication and a review of my medication.
  • Making Changes
  • An introduction to “pacing”

We were scheduled for a 5pm finish, but I was feeling so rough I doubted whether I would make it through the whole day. I decided to go for a cooked breakfast over at Toms with two of the other guys and just hoped that I could keep it down (and in !!).  Tom’s is the name of the restaurant attached to St. Thomas’ Hospital and apparently serves the same food as served to the patients.

As far as meals at INPUT are concerned, you are provided with bread, milk, tea, coffee and serial for breakfast.  Lunch is ordered from the hospital kitchen, (btw INPUT food will have a whole post of its own at some point).  In the evenings you are left to fend for yourself.  You only have a microwave in the flat, so unless you like living off ready-meals, you need to either go to Toms2, or  trot off into London for something to eat.

Circuits was a nightmare.  I felt so crap with the stomach bug that my back was the least of my problems. I kept having hot and cold sweats and could hardly focus on what the staff were saying.  I was definitely now doubting if I would last the whole day. I’d been waiting months to get onto the course and I would be dammed if I would give up this easily.

One of the staff got everyone’s backs up today during the very first lesson of the day. It didn’t bode too well for the rest of the course/day.  “She” kept talking with a “holier than thou” attitude and talked down at everyone. I even got a telling off which got right up my nose.  (She was promptly given the name of “Vinegar Tits” by one member of the class and the name stuck for the duration of the course. I’ll refer to her as “VT” from here on in. (There will be more stories about ‘her’ over the next few weeks I am sure).

One of the guys (who I will call Bernard*) has Type 2 “Brittle” Diabetes and for some time has used a walking stick. His knees are basically shot and grinding away each time he walks on them and are ‘just’ one of the sources of his pain.  During circuits, one of the exercises is “leg lifts” which involves laying down on an exercise mat and strapping a small weight to your ankle and surprisingly enough, lifting your leg.  Now “Bernard” had not been down on the floor in some years (4 I think), so it was a major achievement for him to even make it down to the floor. Unfortunately, he had forgotten to bring over the ankle weight and so I walked across the class to fetch it for him. As I was passing it down to him, “VT” came rushing over and rather rudely almost shouted at me, “Don’t do that for him, he needs to do it for himself!”. She then bent down to him and chastised him for not getting the ankle weight himself. She was extremely condescending.
Now excuse me. But this was the first time we had done circuits as a group. It was also the first time in about 4 years that “Bernard” had been near a floor. It was also just our second day in class and hardly the encouragement that we needed.
The point that “VT” was trying to make was that we should plan our activities beforehand in order to minimize any possible pain. It would have been much better if she had said something along the following lines:
“Hey  Bernard, that’s a great achievement to get down on the floor after all these years, it must have taken a lot of effort, well done. Now I know this time you forgot to get the ankle weight, but use that as an example of “planning prior to an activity”.  If before each activity you think about what is required, you will over time reduce the possibility of causing more pain. Why make two trips when you only need to make one”.
Common sense really, but instead, “VT” chose to talk to “Bernard” and me like we were children, chastise him and do nothing for his confidence for the rest of the course.

Lunchtime arrived I couldn’t face the food from INPUT and began a daily trek to Subway. At least there I got something with some flavour and taste.

The subject of “Pacing” went down like a lead balloon.  Personally, I couldn’t see how I was going to apply pacing to everyday life but I understood the general concept. I won’t cover it here, but basically it means setting a baseline for each and every activity in life, and working to that baseline.  You gradually increase your baselines which over time allows to increase that activity. I’ll come back and cover this in more detail later on (probably after the course).

I got back to my room about 17.30 absolutely shattered. We’re going to go out tonight and find a cafe about 10mins from here to have dinner. We can’t face any of the food in Tom’s (as food is prepared by the same kitchens that produce the hospital food). We did have a look at what was on offer and it didn’t look too clever.  NHS Hospital food at St. Thomas’ isn’t the best which is surprising for such a large prestigious London hospital.

* As I mentioned before, I won’t use real names to protect the identity of those on the course.

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