A detail I left out yesterday was we had our first dropout. A second followed closely behind. There are now only three of us left in the hunger games programme, the smallest group they’ve ever had. There was some concern among our group that we would be disbanded or worse, sent to the hospital. But the PTs reassured us that the hotel costs are paid up, we’ll continue. I’m being handed over from one team to another however. Each PT and OT looks after four people. I had my own PT and OT and the others shared the rest (we still had the same amount of sessions) but with only three of us I’m being handed over and my PT and OT are being put to work at the hospital for the sake of finances. It’s not ideal obviously, and they apologised but I don’t really mind. It definitely makes sense not to waste resources, my starting point is so low it’s not like mine is a complicated programme and to be brutally honest I probably prefer the other team 😳

The girls who left were very young, at university and were able to play sport, work, socialise and generally live pretty normal lives. They found the talks boring (shock) and the physical side not challenging enough. One was gluten free and was disappointed with the limited menu options (although the other gluten free lady feels the food choice is excellent). Both were homesick. I think they were frustrated by the cornerstones of the programme: retrain your body to adopt correct posture in all positions, use correct lifting and handling to avoid injuries, keep exercise gentle and frequent and pace pace pace. I can definitely understand why they left when I think of my 19 year old self – but I can’t help but think it’s a terrible waste. They might not get this opportunity again, adopting correct postures now etc might help them avoid worse pain in the future… And what about all those people desperately waiting for a place? The NHS don’t get a refund from the hotel, it’s paid up, those places are lost. I don’t blame the girls themselves, but I think it highlights the need for prospective patients to be presented with more information about the course beforehand. If the girls knew exactly what they’d be doing on the course ahead of time perhaps they wouldn’t have attended in the first place.

The dynamic of the group has obviously changed as a result. I’m extremely lucky that the remaining ladies are lovely and we get on really well. Everyday ends with us having a drink and a gossip, we’ve got to know each other really well and genuinely hope we keep in touch in the future. As there’s so few of us, we’ve been given more activity classes (I’m cooking three times now) and the talks have become much less formal, we talk about how the issues affect us personally which is a big plus. That said, all of wish that we had a bigger group. We wonder if our experience won’t be as good – less people, less opinions, less support etc. There’s nothing to be done about that though so we’ve vowed no one else will drop out and we’ll see this through. We are definitely making the most of it.

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So: Thursday. All of us felt better this morning than yesterday, a welcome surprise. I had room service breakfast (sausage, egg, bacon, potatoes, toast, tea, apple juice, and pain au chocolate!) went to stretching and after a break my onslaught of classes began. At 10.30 we had a Family and Friends talk. This was very useful; discussing the ways chronic illness and pain effects relationships and friendships, tips on how to talk to people about our pain, how to ask for help from loved ones. It’s obviously an emotive area so I think we all felt quite drained by it.

At 11.30 it was time for swimming. Oh how I loath you, swimming! My half hearted attempts to hide were thwarted, the OT hearded me into the changing rooms (nice and clean by the way, showers, toilets, changing stalls, lockers, hair dryer etc) I just hate going swimming. Why anyone would want to submerge themselves in a tepid body of chemically treated piss water, and splash about amongst used plasters is beyond me. I hate it. After some prompting I got into the germ pond which was actually a reasonable temperature. A member of the hotel gym staff is on hand to hand out water and… I’m not sure what else exactly. He looked pretty bored. The pool is closed to the public during our session which is a relief because we looked completely lame. An OAPs water aerobics session was like a marathon compared to what we did. We basically walked from side to side a lot and flapped our arms about under the water. Once we had completed the “exercises” we could do what we wanted. I swam two lengths (hero) and got in the jacuzzi. Then came the hideousness of changing: squirming out of my sopping wet swimming costume in a room of strangers isn’t exactly my favourite past time. And the bit I hate the most: after any form of exertion I just sweat rivers. As fast as I could dry myself I was soaking wet with sweat again. Just gross. After struggling to get my clothes over my damp, clammy skin (a task as easy as trying to put your cat in a fancy dress costume) it was time for lunch. I took mine to my room in an attempt to hide my bright red sweating face, with mascara smudged eyes and soaking wet hair, from the world. Damn you swimming.

Straight after swimming was lunch. I took mine to my room to minimalism the number of people who saw my bright red sweaty face, mascara smudged eyes and soaking wet hair. I was exhausted but there was no rest for me. Straight after lunch I had a session with the psychologist. These are optional but I thought it best to take advantage as I struggle with depression and have a difficult home life. Luckily there was a Physio/hospital bed that I lay down on during the session. It was helpful to have an opportunity to get things off my chest. Obviously it was emotional draining.

I had yet another session at 3.30. I was really flagging by this point and feeling a little low from discussing difficulty stuff but my course mate bought me a drink in my little break and lifted my spirits. It is wonderful to be around people who really understand. My last session was Goal Setting with my OT and PT. We discussed my hand over (they were very apologetic) and set my Weekend Goals, which I’ll talk about over the weekend. They have me some very positive feedback. I’ve gone from disrupting the class to being an asset apparently! That was nice to hear. After that I joined my course mates for a few drinks before dinner (which we ate outside). All I was good for after that was a quick bath and flopping into bed. A hard day, but a productive one. I’m feeling good.

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