As is the way with most of my blog posts these days, archery features prominently.Not surprising is it when you consider it is the only thing I now do and is the only reason I leave the house apart from hospital appointments and the occasional trip to Lakeside or a meal out every month or more like three?
Went to the long awaited physio appointment at the hospital yesterday with a Pain Specialist Physiotherapist, and it unsurprisingly proved to be a complete and utter waste of time. She could offer me nothing apart from get on with it. Of course we went under no illusions that it was going to be anything else, but human nature says that despite yourself (and believe me I am an utter realist about my situation) you can't help but have that little bit of hope. And that means that despite yourself, you feel upset when the stark reality of your situation is brought home yet again.
My broken nervous system means that my nerves are hypersensitive so my arms overreact to everything. Of course the usual stimuli that affect my legs so badly have the same effect in my arms. Tiny temperature changes register as unbearable by my nerves, normal air flow, the lightest of touches become a gale force wind and being whacked with a baseball bat respectively. The result is significantly increased pain, swelling and everything else that comes with CRPS. My legs sweat profusely as do my arms (especially when I'm shooting), my clothing and hair are always damp or wet because of it. My arms swell like my legs whenever I use them and archery only makes this even worse. Don't forget that I can't really use my legs other than to shuffle along for very short distances and only if supported by Eric. Not only do I want to use my arms for support which takes its toll, I want to do a sport that requires relaxation and solid technique in every part of the shot time after time over the course of several hours or more. With all the waiting around that comes with competition conditions.
The only positive that came of the appointment was that I do have a better understanding of just how much CRPS affects my archery. It is the reason why it takes my arms longer to get warmed up, why I can overheat really quickly and bizarrely how fast my arms get cold again. It is easy to see why shooting groups of three arrows at competitions is such a problem for me. Even the complete locking up of the left arm is due to CRPS, my nerves misfiring, exaggerating the effects of holding that arm out straight holding the bow. Relaxation through the draw is impossible when your arm is rigid, and you simply can't relax it no matter how hard you try. And believe me I've tried everything without success.
The worst thing is that CRPS doesn't need a stimulus to 'play up' to make archery all but impossible at times. My arms, like my legs simply have a mind of their own and I can do nothing about it. Other than try to force my uncooperative arms into a position that will let me shoot as I know I can. To get everything in line, release at the point where I'm floating over the gold. And then do it again and again. It's exhausting, which is why I've had to significantly improve my nutrition during a shoot. I now use fast release energy sachets together with hydration drinks which I consume continuously. It helps but it's something else to worry about.
Bottom line is that I've just got to carry on as I've been doing the last two years since my arms were affected. Pushing through the pain to maintain the range of movement I have yet balance this with the need to avoid a flare up. I'm on my own, battling with a condition that isn't understood, let alone has a cure, or even a recognised palliative care regime. You just have to get on with it and fight. It's so important to have something that you are good at. Mentally it gives me such an enormous boost when I shoot well.
I have to accept that how well I perform in any given archery session is to a large extent completely out of my hands. Or even how this changes during a session. For someone with the high standards I demand of myself this will be really difficult. No, make that impossible....