2022… what?! I know I’m not alone in feeling like the last two years don’t count. And I realise it’s already the end of February so hardly counts as the New Year any more. The last two years made it easy to fall into the isolation lifestyle where the days and weeks just slip by, but with all UK restrictions ending last week, as much as I will continue being Covid careful, it’s time to shake out of it.
The impact of the last two years on my health has been clear – I have lost mobility in my right arm. Despite lengthy work with a physio (first private, then NHS), I never recovered from the crash during the first 2020 lockdown, when my regular physio and swimming sessions were stopped. I have since been referred to a specialist team to look at spasticity options like Botox, but the referral has been six months and counting, so I’m not expecting miracles.
It’s safe to say I felt no desire to return to the swimming pools when they reopened in the middle of last year, after what turned out to be over a year’s gap; it was definitely a case of mind over matter, and the first few months were ducking difficult. I needed someone else in the water with me, and having gone from swimming 20 lengths weekly, I was struggling to do four. My body was actually barely able to get through the water, it was scary (with a few near drowning experiences), and truthfully I didn’t think I’d be able to swim again… just another lost activity, as we get used to with MS. I battled on, and after a few months entered the pool on my own. Since then I’ve been doggedly going weekly with a carer.
It’s still far from easy (I’m averaging 12 lengths an hour, and still needing to swim along the edge of the pool for mid-length breaks), but I saw how quickly my body deteriorates when I stopped. To be honest I’m just proud I managed to salvage an activity on the brink of going into the ‘Things I used to be able to do’ bin. I doubt I’ll get back to my pre-covid ability given my arm function now, but if I maintain my new level, I’ll take it as a positive. I’ve bought myself a new swimming costume, nothing but good intentions.
I found returning to the office far more exhausting than I ever remembered it being, but new flexible ways of working mean I’m currently doing it once a week which is manageable. This winter is certainly passing more quickly than last, when the UK was stuck in lockdown, and it’s such a relief to have holidays to look forward to (fingers crossed these go ahead, subject to covid/war). I’ve learnt that having holidays on the horizon is almost as important as the trips themselves to me. Apparently I’ve reached the age where my spring bulbs flowering is a significant event (having watched them slowly peek out during the cold winter days). My crocuses are here: spring is coming.