RIIPP!! Oh No! Another pair of jeans torn! the second in a month! Now you see im faced with two choices, do IA.) Express my disgust at the multi national company Levi’s selfishly using unskilled child labour to make their products, robbing kids in third world countries of their right to a childhood.! OR
B.) I could admit that I have been spending much more time lately sat on my bum and no time exercising at all! Calories burnt have been replaced by calories gained, my sixpack (whatever!) has been buried and sitting down has become much comfier these days with the padding! Sorry I’ve not posted a blog in a couple of weeks (there must be at least one person that has been following these! Haha). I want to talk about exercise!
That can relate to anyone though, theres a danger of blaming things on the fact I have a brain injury that has nothing to do with it at all and are simply human failings. For example that feeling you get when you went upstairs but cant remember what you went for, its when that happens over ten times every day when you start to think it could be the head injury. Theres a lot to be said for looking after the body though especially when you have a head injury. The fantastic neuro physio at Trafford hospital in Manchester once said to me that that the body is like a car, look after the engine and it runs better. Ie keep yourself fit and healthy and all of your bodies functions run a lot more smoothly. Being fit meant that I slept better, my skin looked better, I looked better so I felt more confident.
I was very fit at the time of the very serious accident I had on the 15th May 2007, I was at the gym almost every day and hadn’t touched any alcohol for a few weeks. Fitness was not me, it was very out of character in fact, rewind a month and I had been showing the same level of commitment to Stella Artois and kebabs. What makes a young man change his ways so drastically? Its almost as if there was a girl involved…… Of course there was! Girls make us guys do some crazy things but in this case it saved my life! (I never did get the girl though!) My body was fit, strong and healthy, Ive since been told that was an immense help in recovering from an injury and a rather large injury is what I have to recover from! I say that in the present tense because I still recovering, it is unlikely that you ever recover fully from a brain injury. A good recovery is an excellent adaptation to the problems that you are left with.
I remember waking up one morning before I had an occupational therapist or a support workers and thinking that I had nothing to do. My fatigue was so bad that simply staying awake for a few hours at a time caused me to get back in bed for a nap, my presence on earth would achieve nothing positive that day I thought. The only thing I would achieve that day was to guess the outcome of the lie detector on the Jeremy Kyle Show. Now I must admit that I did love a bit of Jezza, but a terribly disheartening way to start the day all the same whether you guessed the outcome or not. I felt so pathetic and so weak. To try and get your head round the fact that you would never be you again was very discouraging indeed, like an itch that you could never never scratch.
I have spent the last 8 years generally quite positive but with the odd day that it becomes too much and I would get very down. I used to work at a printers factory in Scarborough, quite a dull uninspiring place except for one guy called Les who used to make me laugh at 2am on night shift by saying things like “come on Brooke there was no time for sulking in the war, it was get over that trench and at them bloody Germans!” I know that in the modern day that’s not very PC but it has worked for me many times in my own recovery! I used to ride my bike to work and Les insisted I wore this hi-vis vest that he brought me and I should wear a helmet, I used to moan but now I hate to see people without a helmet. Its funny how things turn out!
Where was I going with this? Oh yes cycling is aerobic and aerobic exercise is best I was told because of the way it supplies oxygen to the brain, makes sense doesn’t it! Exercise has got so many benefits, in fact Bill and Julie’s gym in Scarborough and running around Scarborough’s marine drive saved me from falling into bad depression.
Core strength or stability is also very much promoted during brain injury recovery, the core is your abs, pelvis, lower back, the pelvic floor up to the diaphragm. Its what stabilizes your body, pilates has been recommended and so has ballet. In my determination to get well I actually tried ‘Ballet for boys’ at the Steven Joseph in Scarborough, rather than a flock of graceful swans it looked like a family of sparrows being electrocuted! Hey I tried! Hahaha
Resistance exercise (weight lifting) has its place too! Strengthening the muscles is good, I have just started again because I feel so much benefit from it. Its hard to describe but I only feel 99% in control of my body (no wonder ballet didn’t take off!). Its like my body doesn’t react as fast as my brain tells it to, like its buffering! Like when youre downloading a video from the Net and it plays faster than it downloads. Not porn! (I don’t even know what that is! J) from YouTube or something! I remember the first time I tried to leapfrog over a fence, it felt like a different body, I suppose that because the brain controls everything including movement of limbs, some connections must be misfiring.
Exercise is a wonderful thing, I volunteer at the Mobility Gym in Salford and I could get more than 50 of their clients to agree, but like anything it should be done in moderation. We should all stay fit and look after our bodies it’s the only one we will ever get. I am not and never will make a 100% recovery but I am so fortunate to be as well as I am that I’m going to run in the London Marathon 2016! (did I say that out loud!?)