Today I met a lady who only a few years ago was paralysed following a stroke (the only movement she had was a slight twitch in her big toe). She was told that she would not walk again.
The mind boggles at how anyone would feel upon hearing this news. Sat in her hospital bed I am sure millions of thoughts must have entered, left and re-entered her head. Having been a squash and badminton player and regular dog walker and gardener only a month prior to being told this, I can only imagine the sense of devastation, worry, stress, sadness, anger and probably a wealth of other emotions she felt.
Today she is walking and, although perhaps not playing badminton daily anymore, she has the ability and freedom to move where and when she wants, to potter in the garden and move around her home. Today she was laughing at her time being rehabilitated with a lightness which I am sure did not give justice to the enormous amount of work and energy she (and of course the support team) put into rebuilding her muscles and getting her up and moving again.
She said she joked with the trainers when they encouraged her to do another hour on the cycling machine – “Don’t you know how old I am?” Their response? “We are not age-ist here.” What a wonderful job that must be – to take a person who has been told by medical professionals that they will not walk and then helping them, guiding them, supporting them to do just that.
The lady told me that she believed the reason for her recovery was that she was strong, having done regular exercise before her stroke – she pointed to her legs and told me they were strong. I imagine, however, that it takes a great deal more mental strength to overcome a diagnosis such as she was given. She must have really believed in her own strength and fought hard to build her body back up again.
Today I am feeling so grateful for my body. I am grateful for its strength and how it gets me from A to B with ease. I am grateful that I can exercise. It is a privilege to have a body which (nearly always) does what I want it to do, what I need it to do. I don’t want to take this privilege for granted – I want to celebrate it. This challenge – exercising for 100 days – has shown me how important it is to value my body, to nurture it, to love it.