Jumping 50ft off a fourth floor balcony due to thinking I could fly (bi polar) changed my life forever , nothing could of prepared me for the journey I had to then embark on
That moment the physio on the rehab ward told me I would never walk again I sat and cried and cried , it felt like my whole world had crashed down , thinking about it now it still makes me upset because remembering how I felt at that moment was just heartbreaking. I didn’t know what my future held for me I didn’t know what to feel apart from pure sadness. I looked up at my dad longing for him to say ‘no he is wrong Rach, dont worry’ . He didn’t say that but he did say to the physio shortly after , I appreciate your just passing on a message from the main consultants but we will see where her recovery goes. That night after my dad had left when I was laying in my hospital bed I felt so alone, I never knew I could feel so sad , I honestly cannot explain what I felt like.
The months leading up to this moment were long and very hard and before I was told this news I had in my head that I would recover fully and be back up walking in the near future as no one had ever said to me that I wouldn’t walk again.
When the physio at the first hospital said I could get in a wheelchair it was amazing , I would go whizzing round the ward chatting to everyone and they would be like “your the girl that sings” – I think they actually really liked it ! After my back operations had healed I transferred to another hospital to have my heel fixed and this is where the hard work started. The physios at this hospital were literally amazing! They would come round once a day and they set me exercises to do once with them and twice on my own. The exercises were to get my legs moving. At first the exercises were just me imagining my legs moving as they wouldn’t move, it was all very very frustrating ! But I did them three times a day without fail and gradually they started to move , everyday they moved slightly more. Once my legs were improving with the movement they said I was ready to try stand up , so my Dad went and bought me some trainers , they were the most hideous trainers I had ever seen but that didnt matter atall. I was so excited to stand up, it was such an anti climax though ,I stood up using a Zimmer frame for support when I stood up though I couldn’t feel where my feet or legs were and I realised for the first time what I had done to myself , as soon as I sat back down I cried.( by this time the manic phase of the bi polar had faded so I was in pure reality).
The physios decided it would be best to do hydrotherapy in the pool they had in the Hospital, again my dad had to go out and pick a swimming costume for me – not something I would of picked but anyway !! It took two phyios to support me in the pool to stand up. I did this once a week. When I got a bit stronger I took two steps on the ward using a Zimmer frame , It was the most amazing feeling ever, I was knackerd though! soon I built up walking, a few more steps everyday, when I made it to the bathroom I felt on top of the world , it was literally about three metres away though but to me it felt like a massive milestone.I could move my legs but I couldn’t move my feet at all, but I thought -that will come in time. My Dad always remembers me saying ” this wheelchair , Im just passing through”, I had started to have a positive outlook , one day my dad brought in an article of a guy who had broken his back and was told he would never walk again and he defied all odds , so I always had this at the back of my mind.
This whole time I was at this hospital I was waiting to be transferred to a Spinal rehabilitation hospital, and I thought that It would be amazing to get there and start to walk fully again. I waited two months and I got transferred to a neurological rehab unit instead of a spinal rehabilitation ward. Once I got there I realised I wasn’t there to get back on my feet, it was to learn how to adapt to life in a wheelchair. And this was where I Got told I would never walk again. I was there for 10 weeks , Every morning I would wake up in dread, the second I would wake up the feelings of sadness hit me all over again. The physios did everything they could to help me, they were incredible , but I reached a point where I wasn’t improving anymore. All I did whenever I was awake was think – What could I have done that night to not be in this situation I find myself in now, I completly blamed myself.
Once I had completed the 10 weeks I returned home April 2010, after 5 months in various hospitals I couldn’t wait to get home. I saw a physio only twice so me and my parents decided It was down to me If I wanted to get any better so I joined a local gym. The people that worked at the gym were amazing and gave me free personal training sessions for a while, I seriously cannot ever thank them enough for how much they helped me. I went to the gym three times a week, I worked on building up my leg muscles. It took a lot of hard work and I was so depressed which made it hard to motivate myself to do anything , but gradually I started to improve, I just had to keep going. In my village I would practice my walking by going round the churchyard wearing my leg supports and using a zimmer frame, I really didn’t care what I looked like , but people driving past must of double looked when they saw me – a young girl using a zimmer frame. By christmas 2010 I was walking a few steps on crutches and wearing leg supports. I went back into hospital for two weeks to be reviewed , they told me that I would never walk without crutches, this didn’t really bother me as by this point I was just over the moon I could walk a little.
Shortly after Christmas I took two steps unaided, a few of My friends were with me at the time and they always remind me how amazing it was and how emotional they were to see me take two steps. I practised my walking everyday with the crutches. By now I had gone back to college , and one day I decided I would go in on my crutches. I walked into the room and my friend said it was as if Jesus had just walked in the room , everyone was stunned!! Everyday I started to walk a little bit more without crutches and eventually I felt confident that I didnt need crutches anymore. But the fact is I will always need crutches if I am walking more than a few metres as my balance is terrible without them !
When it got to May 2011 I decided I wanted to walk some of race for life ,previously in 2010 I had done it in my wheelchair.
When I was at high school it was a tradition we did every year with our teachers. It came to the day of the race and I was planning on walking a bit using my crutches and wheeling a bit , my sister and my friend were with me the whole way round and they pushed the chair If i needed it. Amazingly I Got to the half way point without sitting down once so I thought to myself I will just keep on going (bearing in mind before this day the furthest i had walked with my crutches was round the churchyard ) I couldn’t believe it but I completed the race without sitting down once ! I was the last to finish and everyone was applauding me to the finish line , it was a very emotional, surreal moment, it felt like a dream or something that happens in films. A year after the physio told me I would never walk – I managed to walk three miles wearing leg supports (splints) and using crutches.
Still to this day I cannot move my feet , so I wear leg supports that support my feet and aid me to walk. Today I rarely walk , I use the chair mainly. I can’t walk safely without wearing the leg supports , and the leg supports give me pressure sores. In the past though when wearing the splints , I have been sitting in my chair and then get up and take a few steps this really confuses most new people I meet! Especially On nights out in the past I will have been in my chair arriving at a club/pub then I park up my chair in the corner and get out my chair and walk off , people are confused and make remarks. People just do not understand that you can partially walk and use a chair. Strangers always ask questions . Everytime I have been out in the past I have found myself explaining to people about my injuries and how I use a chair but why I can walk occasionally. I will not ever be able to walk without my splints or as well or far as most able bodied people , but I am very happy and proud with where I am today. Although walking again despite what they said, is a massive achievement and involved so much hard work and hours and hours in the gym and hours practicing walking , the biggest achievement of my life to date, Is not learning to walk again but It is mentally coping with what had happend to me and getting myself out of the mind set and depression that followed after my accident. And coming to terms with my spinal injury and living a different way of life – one that other spinally injured people can relate too. Having everything you know taken from you in an instance is devastating. I will always use a wheelchair for the rest of my life and occasionally be able to walk very little distances using crutches and wearing splints (leg supports) but I have accepted the fact I am in a wheelchair and always will be – but despite everything I am happy . Thanks for reading!
rachelholly90.wordpress.com – my blog site
This photo is of me and my best friend , taken after I walked the whole of race for life !