I was chronically ill with a Respiratory dis-ease during 2014. Once the Resp.Specialist, Resp.Nurse and I got on top of the illness, I was informed that my recovery time would be 18-24 months. At around the 12 month mark I was discharged from Resp.Services after completing a 10 week Pulmonary Rehab programme that consisted of two components: education and exercise. I exceeded the expected mathematical projection of outcome by completion of programme. I felt so proud of myself. The Resp.Physio commented that I had a body that liked to exercise.
On discharge from Resp.Services, a referral was made to a specialised gym – the only one of its kind in NZ that rehabs people with chronic Respiratory, Cardiac or Diabetes complaints. It is a 12 week programme that I contracted to attend 2-3 times a week. Upon arrival of every session participants ‘check in’ with a trainer who measures Oximetery, Blood Pressure and asks whether regular meds have been taken that day and also whether said person has any necessary meds with them in case needed. For me that is an inhaler.
My Blood Pressure readings are pretty steady however one session my BP was quite low and my trainer was uncertain as to whether I was safe to train. The manager, a very heart felt and warm generous man came over to assist. He remarked before even knowing what was going on “Blood Pressure too high I’m guessing?”. I felt initially shocked that he could make such a flippant comment based on my size and then I felt extraordinarily proud that based upon my size he was wrong! I took great delight in hearing my trainer say “No, it’s too low” and then seeing the surprise on his face as he took my file from my trainers hands.
Same man a few weeks later, this time I’m doing hamstring stretches. I use a stretchy band and sitting down I put one leg up on a chair, place the strap over my foot and then pull my foot towards me. God I love doing the stretch this way. I actually feel the burn. So I’m doing a stretch and the manager over hears a low series of sounds escaping my mouth. He tells me that I’m over doing it. Not to push myself past a 5-6 on a scale re difficulty. I looked at him feeling frustrated that again he has made judgement because of my size and said to him “I’m about a 4” to which he replied “you must be quite flexible then”. “She is”, my trainer piped up noting the look of surprise on his face. Using the strap I can bring my foot back a heap further than what I could doing the stretch 2 other ways I was shown which resulted in a far less burn.
People often feel entitled to look at the contents of my supermarket trolley. I now feel strengthend enough to be able to ask them if they would like me to take a selfie next to my trolley and pxt it to them free of charge. It wasn’t that long ago I would have been filled with toxic shame and embarrassment. I would have shrunk down deep into myself so as to become invisible – unseen. A nobody. A piece of shit whos only value would have been to decay and get out of the way of the more important people as quickly as possible.
What changed? Finally attracting people who were actually helpful. People like Kai Whakaorakai, the therapist I’ve been with for almost two years, the Diabetes Podiatrist, the Respiratory Specialist, Nurse and Physiotherapist. These people dared to take off their professional hats and treat me like a human being instead of a client or patient. They all brought me into their personal worlds through sharing something of their own journey. In the world that I reside in, connection on this level comes second to nothing. People just like those mentioned, have provided me with the best medicine – the time to connect with me beneath the surface. This in turn has strengthened me and given me hope, courage and the will to keep going even for just one more day. You can’t buy that sort of medicine from a Chemist.