Monday, January 21, 2008

Still Good

Okay, so the Dopey Happy wore off. In the last week I have experienced a full range of emotions both positive and negative. But nothing too extreme and nothing that I thought was worth blogging about.

Plenty of good stuff has been going on though.

Firstly, what you might call my Graded Exercise Therapy (although it's not official, it's just what I've decided to do) has got off to a good start. The plan is, to do a little bit of a walk each day, gradually increasing over the course of several months until I can walk what you might call "a useful distance". I'm letting myself off on days when it's raining (because I can't carry an umbrella) and if it gets icy, I won't go out then either for obvious reasons. But still. Phase One is to walk to the end of the road and back, once a day, a round trip of approximately 400 metres. It hurts, and it takes a while, and I have to stop to rest, and I feel awful when I get back to the house - but I'm doing it, and feeling quite proud of it. Once I'm definitely on top of doing that walk every day, and managing to stay on top of it for a couple of weeks, the next step will be going round the corner to the next corner of the block, making a 600m round trip. Once that's nailed, it'll be the post-box - 900m - and after that, completely round the block, which as far as we can work out, is a full kilometre.

Then, it'll only be another 200m on top of that, to get me all the way to the bus stop, which is my definition of "a useful distance". Unfortunately that last 200m is all uphill, so we could have upwards of a year to go before I swap my community transport membership for a bus pass. Still, like I say, Phase One is going well.

Secondly, the jumper I'm knitting - my first adult-sized one - is coming along nicely. I am only a couple of rows away from having the back piece finished. I think I should get it done tonight, and probably cast on for the front piece as well. As I suspected, I am on schedule to get it completed just as the weather gets a bit too warm to wear a jumper.

And thirdly, Access to Work. Since I bang on about all the trouble I have with these schemes, it's only fair that I should report when things go right.

The job I do has two major elements. There's the boring part, which is looking at the order someone has placed, picking the CDs they want off the shelves, scanning them to book them out of the stock, and printing off the paperwork. Then, there's the really totally insanely boring part, which is wrapping and packing each set of CDs and sticking the paperwork into a documents pocket on the package.

The packaging we use is this self adhesive corrugated card, with the hand press which squishes the layers of card together at either end of the package, sealing it. As you can probably imagine, it's rather difficult for me to use. I can do it once or twice quite easily, and I can do it five or six times without too many problems, but after about the tenth package, I can barely lift my arm any more, much less squish the card with the force required to seal it properly.

Of course, usually I'm not working alone, so I do the picking, and my fit, healthy and energetic CoWorker#1 does the packing. But there are two problems with this. Firstly, it's unfair on CoWorker#1 to always be doing the insanely boring physical part of the job. Even if he didn't complain, I would feel bad about it. And secondly, CoWorker#1 does sometimes get sick, or take holiday.

This might have been enough to make me turn around and say "okay. I can't do this job for four hours a day after all," except for The Machine. The Machine was sent to us on approval at about the same time as I arrived. It works much like a mangle. Two mechanical rollers spin, and you feed the end of the package through, and it squishes the card shut. No physical strength required. It means I can do as much of the "packaging" end of the job as they want me to do.

However, the approval period has come to an end. It's an expensive piece of kit, and I'm the only one who needs it - CoWorker#1 hates it (he just can't get the hang of it) and no one else does enough packing to have an opinion either way. In the words of The Boss, "so you find it useful... but is it really £severalhundred worth of useful? Because we don't exactly have that much money going spare."

Well, it's necessary for me to be able to perform all aspects of my job description. Enter Access To Work. There's a certain amount of paperwork to be done (isn't there always) but the advisor reckons we can get help with purchasing The Machine. I don't have to give up my job. CoWorker#1 doesn't get the nasty end of the stick regarding distribution of tasks. The Boss doesn't end up out of pocket. Everybody wins!


Anonymous said...

Ooh that's good about The Machine! And well done (for the already achieved) / good luck (for the soon-to-be achieved) graded exercise.

Anonymous said...

I'm liking the video of the machine, though I can already see better uses for it than fastening packaging... :D
The walk around the block project is helping me get some fresh air too, which is a Good Thing (plus I get to take photos of anything interesting at the fields at the end of the road).

The Goldfish said...

I'm glad things are going so well for you. Can I very gently suggest, from very painfully-won experience, that if you're feeling really crap when you get home from your walk, it's too much just yet. It is entirely up to you but I would suggest a distance which feels manageable now, and then to very gently work up from there (a few steps every few days as opposed to a lots more steps every few weeks).

The entire nature of GET is that you are overcoming atrophy and increasing your muscles' ability to cope, not pushing through the pain of your condition (which has the potential of increasing what the muscles have to deal with).

Gentle suggestion, we're all different.

Mary said...

Thanks Goldfish - got to be honest, I don't know the first thing about GET other than the very basic premise of "start of doing a bit, then do a bit more, then do a bit more". So thanks for the pointers :)

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Glad to hear things are still going so well overall. As for the my experience that method should work. I know very little about ME or the actual problems it causes, but did something very similar myself after a long period where my joints became too unstable to support me. I think 400m is very ambitious, but don't know what your mobility is like generally, I started with trying to sit on a wobble cushion at first and worked up from that, but you might find using a gym ball(just to sit on) very useful as it builds up your core stability so much.
Good luck and let us know how you get on, BG x

Supermouse said...

GET depends on a lot more than doing a little more each day - there is a heartbeat component, and you calculate how much you can do without raising your heartbeat above a certain calculated threshold that is personal to you.

Since I can't stand up without going over my threshold, I gave up on the idea and now don't remember enough about how it is supposed to work. Sorry.

The only things I've personally found helpful are rare red meat, the 70% rule and beta blockers, and the jury is still out on whether the beta blockers are a long term solution. I get them for migraines and since being on them have been able to push the boat out physically.

I think the only thing that is generally applicable is the 70% rule - only ever use 70% of the energy you have.

Mary said...

Beta-blockers made a difference to my migraines - I still get them, but nowhere near as often or as badly, and they don't last as long either. But they didn't make any physical differences to me.

Supermouse said...

That shoots down that idea then.

I suppose what could be happening to me is that the n-times-daily migraines are keeping me from overdoing things so I have more reserve. Or something.