This is a post I’ve written following a meeting with a new client this week. It is a personal story that, on the face of it, has little to do with family law and family life. However my client asked me if I would post it on my blog, because she thinks what I told her may also help people who are frightened of facing the future and giving up the way of life to which they have become accustomed, even though they have no choice. How do you go about accepting the inevitable? How do you face what was happened, usually without much prior warning? It all seems too overwhelming, too much to bear, too much to cope with. So the tendency may be to not to even try. But that’s not the right way.
The conversation came about because I told her that for the last twenty-odd years, until just over a year ago, I had been a keen long distance runner. I ran hundreds of miles a year. I used to go out running at least three or four times a week, and it was a big part of my life. I ran wherever I was in the world: city or countryside. Running was my saviour in a high pressure world in which I am a mother, a wife and a lawyer, with much to do every day of the week. Being able to get outside for an hour, no matter the seasons or the weather, and being able to breathe in fresh air, let my mind relax and come home refreshed was utterly priceless. Of course it’s easy to concentrate on good times.
There were bad times too. I sustained quite a few injuries every year and was off recovering for weeks at a time. Whenever I got flu I suffered much more than most because, my GP told me, the virus went through my body much faster.
Then just over a year ago, I had a bad fall. My recovery did not go well and I needed surgery on my knee. I knew that if I did have the surgery, my running career would be over. I resisted and resisted, taking up cycling to try and keep exercising, hoping the swelling would diminish. The consultant surgeon said in answer to my pleas that we would “see how things went”. I was filled with what I now see was nothing more than false hope. Eventually my knee swelled to the size of a balloon, and I had no choice left. Ignoring the problem simply made the recovery harder and longer.
The pain and swelling took time to settle and very strong painkillers were prescribed. My knee was still swollen and I was in agony every day. I had to limp around, and my doctor and surgeon were clean out of suggestions. I was also extremely unhappy but wouldn’t show it too much to anyone. I had a family to think about, a business to run and clients who needed help. I had to put up with well-meant sympathy I didn’t want from people who did know, and listen through gritted teeth to people who didn’t know, saying they hadn’t seen me out and about on the roads recently. I had to cope with a future which every injured runner knows hits you harder than you ever think it will. I couldn’t see a pain-free way forward, let alone a regular exercise regime. But… I didn’t give up. I tried to regard it all as yet another challenge: one to beat if I could. So I kept looking for an answer.
Then by chance, I was referred to a sports physiotherapist called Wayne Morton. A former physiotherapist for the England cricket team, Wayne is a very typically forthright Yorkshireman, who stands for no nonsense at all! He was in no mood to give me any sympathy and instead he was so straight talking, it was a huge relief and he made me laugh for the first time in ages. He gave me a cortisone injection for the swelling and suggested I kept on cycling and took on weight training and kettlebells straight away, to get myself strong. Wayne introduced me to Jon Draper, a sports podiatrist in York. Scans revealed my footfall was affected by heavy pressure coming from the problem area in my knee. Orthotics were made for all my footwear while I waited and six-weeks later the scans showed an evenly distributed footfall. The pressure on my knee was relieved and the pain had gone. Wayne then also introduced me to James Tapster, a trainer and former England rugby player – and the rest, as they say, is history.
My knee settled as Wayne said it would, and I have a weightlifting and kettlebell session with James once a week.
These days, I love cycling three times a week on my Wattbike because it is extremely challenging battling the computer and overall, I know it’s an equally tough regime I’ve set myself. When the weather is dry, I take the bike out and cycle outdoors. I am injury-free and fitter; I am also more toned than I ever was as a runner. I do have days, many days in fact, when I get very sad and think of the running I can no longer do. I hate it when I’m out walking and runners come sailing past. It happened a lot last week on my solitary, eight-mile walk round the great London parks: St James’s Park, Green Park and Hyde Park. Yes, I’d dearly love to be out running those wonderful routes, feeling the wind against me, the sun in my face, enjoying the thrill of being outdoors running, especially my most favourite run of all: beside the desert in Eilat, Israel running alongside the mountains and the sea.
But that part of my life is over and I’ve changed my lifestyle, not through choice but by necessity. And do you know what? I’m so grateful I seized the opportunity I was given. I could have turned into one of the greatest ever sympathy-seeking ‘Moaning Minnies’. Instead, thanks to Wayne and James and, I readily acknowledge, my own Yorkshire grit, I have again found my pressure release, albeit in a different form. I can look my clients straight in the eye when I give them advice about their need to adapt to life changes about which they can do nothing but face and deal with as positively as they can.
Our inbuilt, priceless human spirit is what gets us through adversity. At times such as these when it comes to the fore, we must jump aboard, take hold with everything we’ve got and…. enjoy the ride.