Saturday, 15 October 2011

Last one.. for this season

CRPS does it's best to stop you doing anything and everything. From something as simple as having a bath, to going out, say to the shops. Everything I do has to be planned, in fact leaving the house to go anywhere is like a military operation. Every part is an ordeal, from being helped out of my chair, being helped to get dressed, shuffling out to the car, being helped into the car, the added pain that comes from having my legs down/vibrations from the car, being helped from the car into my electric wheelchair.... you get the picture. Without the constant support from my husband the house, no actually, the living room would be a prison. Even long standing appointments have to go by the wayside if I simply don't feel up to all that it involves. Spontaneity is not a word that applies to my life anymore. You literally have to force yourself to do things in the knowledge that you will pay for it tomorrow, the day after or even the day after that.

I talked, in my last post about adding new things into my life after I got CRPS. As time has gone on some of these have fallen by the wayside, simply because the benefit or pleasure gained is not worth the pain and the payback. I keep talking about 'payback' but what does that actually mean for a CRPS sufferer?

My payback varies in intensity depending on what I've done but there is no escaping it. Minor payback is characterised by increased pain in my legs and feet, a little more swelling. I will also feel tired and mildly 'punch drunk'. This typically lasts for the rest of the day after I've done something such as have a bath or go out really briefly, say for a dental appointment.

At worst the pain is so bad that I don't know what to do with myself, the exhaustion is such that I literally have no control over whether I'm awake or not and I feel so unwell that I can do nothing other than sit in the chair and wait it out. I can't even read. Concentration is impossible. My head throbs, I feel as if I have a thick fog around my head, stabbing pains in my eyes, which also become very bloodshot. Oh, and the swelling increases to the point where my skin feels too tight. Typically we're looking at 2-3 days of this before I start to feel 'better', i.e. when the pain, exhaustion, swelling etc return to 'normal' levels

You can now probably understand why there is the constant weighing up going on in my mind about whether what I am going to do is worth what will inevitably come later. Experience plays a large part. I know if I go to the local shopping centre, Lakeside I will be incapable of doing much for the rest of the day or the next. I was never able to go food shopping before I got my electric wheelchair but this again causes lengthy payback so it is not a regular thing. I no longer go anywhere to do archery, preferring to do it in the back garden, because I don't have the added ordeals of getting dressed, travelling there and back and so on.
I also need to plan ahead in an attempt to minimise the payback. Say we're going to try and go shopping on Wednesday. I will endeavour to do as little as possible the day before, so that I feel 'at my best' (or rather my interpretation of) on the morning of my trip out. Of course it doesn't help a lot and it is just as well I'm a bloody-minded, cantankerous wotsit and do things anyway otherwise I really wouldn't leave the house. Which brings me to the title of this post. 'Last one.. for this season'. What am I talking about?

In a word..... Speedway.

My view of the Speedway track
A friend took me along very early on in my CRPS days. He'd said to me about going several times pre-CRPS but I'd never take him up on it. After all there was so much else in my life. Now however there was nothing to stop me. We went to Press & Practice at Arena Essex, where the Arena Essex (now Lakeside) Hammers ride from March through to October. It wasn't a proper meeting, it was more about blowing away the cobwebs and getting ready for the new season. I loved it! The smell, the roar of the bikes, the speed, everything. I then went to my first meeting and it was fantastic. Four riders going hell for leather for four laps. A heat lasts less than a minute but it seems so much longer. So much can happen in 60 seconds, it's like a game of chess. The rider in front trying second guess the chasing riders to maintain the lead. For those chasing it's a case of trying other lines, trying to force a mistake. Did I mention they have no brakes? It takes a hell of a lot of bottle to go at speeds of up to about 80mph with little protection apart from a set of Kevlars and some body armour underneath.

My thirst for speedway isn't limited to watching th Lakeside Hammers in action live at Arena Essex. I also watch Elite League  and Grand Prix Speedway on Sky Sports, Polish Extraliga, Swedish Elitserien and Allsvenkan Speedway meetings streamed live on the Internet. Plus any other meetings I can find. It has become an integral part of my life, an absolute passion. I can't imagine life without Speedway, the Winter is bad enough!

Speedway is the only thing that truly takes my mind off the pain. It is so absorbing, plus there is the camaraderie of those who stand near me each meeting, every season. There is the debate about who we'd put in as a rider replacement, how the points will be shared in the next heat, how good or bad the referee's decision was for an incident. We moan when the team aren't doing as well as we think they should and celebrate our riders' achievements.

The lengths I go to to watch speedway
Unfortunately speedway rates at the top of the ranking in terms of payback. During the Summer when you can have a meeting each Friday for several weeks, my life becomes little more than trying to get over one meeting and prepare for the next. Saturday morning I wake feeling as if I've been hit by a bus. I wait for my tablets to kick in, but they only help a little. I don't remember much of the weekend, spending most of it unconscious. It isn't sleep because I don't get a say in it. I can't fight it, I literally pass out.
By about Tuesday I have rallied enough to possibly go to the Lakeside Shopping Centre. But that's it for the week. The rest of the time is spent doing as little as possible in preparation for Friday again.

Each season has become that little bit harder. If I'm honest this season has almost been too difficult. The pain has broken through more during the meeting and by the time we get back to the car the pain has become absolutely unbearable. How Eric gets me from the car back into the house, undresses me and gets me sat in the sanctuary that is my reclining chair is beyond me..

I am proud to say that despite all that I've described, my attendance has been nearly faultless again this season, as it has been in previous ones.It doesn't matter how I feel I go, it isn't up for discussion.  No matter what CRPS throws at me I will continue to go to speedway. I refuse to let CRPS stop me doing this where it has so many other things since I got it.....  the line has been drawn and is one that I don't intend to to be pulled over anytime soon!

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