The times they are a changin'...

22nd Aug 2016

Bday Pembs 1st juice Outside B4 2 Accident Leap Hospital again Paddling

(Left: A sunny birthday in Pembroke in April, bliss)

To say this year has turned out to be eventful for me would be an understatement; your twenties tend to be times of great change and dramatic events but being a late starter, I thought I’d wait until my mid 40’s to turn my life upside down!

The year started with recovering from an ankle operation to remove some metal work from an accident in 2012 and finishing off filming for a C4 show (which is airing 22/08/16).

Then, full of good intentions and New Years resolutions, Tim and I embarked on a 5 day juice detox, or reboot as it was billed. 5 days doesn’t sound much but they were possibly the longest 5 days of my life. It was the depths of winter and to go without any solid food and only living on 5 juices a day was hard work. I was constantly cold and shivering, although the juices were in the main delicious, the boredom factor was fairly high. And I kept waiting for an epiphanic feeling of my body becoming cleansed and feeling incredible but it just never happened. Not at the time...but afterwards, some striking things occurred. Our first cup of tea was yearned for but it tasted disgusting and wasn’t actually even wanted. Our taste buds had been ‘rebooted’ and it was like having the mouth of a child again. We could taste everything so clearly, all the subtle flavours in food and we just didn’t want anything too full on. For a good long while we lived on vegetable soups and very plain meals. We both lost about half a stone too which seemed a bit of a bonus after the excesses of christmas. Although the detox wasn’t the most enjoyable experience of my life, I definitely felt fantastic afterwards, re-energised and would definitely do it again but maybe during a warmer season.

Our enourmous pile of fruit and veg, we managed to consume the lot in five days

My musical hero, Mr Bowie, died during this period which was of course a shock and there was a bout of grieving. Even now I shed a tear at an unexpected moment, when caught off guard and something Bowie passes through my vision and the realisation that he just isn’t here anymore hits home once again. RIP great man.

(Left: A day out from the office on Stanage with the dogs, lovely)

On top of this, my life was changing in quite a dramatic way, I was on a mission...around christmas time, something ‘clicked’ in my head and I decided that I wanted to work in a hospital. Having been a professional climber for many years and having been on a roller coaster ride and loved it, now seemed a good time to have a change. I think my elbows had been giving me a lot of gip in the Autumn when I was trying to up my power training intensity and then having yet another operation on my body (albeit just to remove a lump of metal), I think it all piled into my psyche and was pushing me into feeling that being an elite climber was just becoming too demanding and damaging physically. My mind was still psyched, I really wanted a hard winter of training to set me up for 2016, but my body, elbows and another niggly shoulder thing, just weren’t allowing me to fulfill my dreams anymore.

And being an all or nothing kind of girl, staying in climbing in a half hearted way just felt wrong so unconsciously, I think I just started to move in other directions. Having never had any idea of what I wanted to do apart from climb, it just came to me - I love hospitals - so why not work in one! Strange as it seems, during my many stays in hospitals, I have really enjoyed every minute in that environment. Most people seem to want to go home as soon as possible, not me, love it and can’t get enough of it. So I started looking into the different roles available in the NHS and I came across ODP, which I had never heard of, Operating Department Practice. You work in the aforementioned part of the hospital in three roles, assisting the anaesthetist, assisting the surgeon and taking care of patients post-op recovery. Sounded perfect to me!

(Left: the day before my accident, little did I know what was to come. It wasn't the idyllic trip to Pembroke I had dreamed of...)

So within days of finding out about it I had a shambolic plan of how I was going to become an ODP.

The good news is if it all pans out, I will have, shall we say a more stable life financially which will be a first but the bad news is that it’s going to take me four years of toil and poverty to get there.

So, I needed to get a job in health to gain experience, so while I was moping around grieving for Bowie, I was also going to interviews for a role in NHS 111. The training was in Feb/March and just occupied all my time, we had exams, which I actually revised for and even managed 100% in one which shocked me rigid. Having thought I was a bit rubbish at exams, I proved to myself that actually with a bit (well it was quite a lot) of effort, the seemingly impossible becomes possible.

I came out of school/college with a handful of useless bits of paper and am now paying the price. I am doing a Maths GCSE online, which to my horror has got no easier than when I was a 14 year old schoolgirl. I was kind of hoping that a bit of age and experience would mean I would now ‘get’ Maths, but I just don’t! I have to get a C to be able to get onto the degree, so it’s a must do and the exam in in November.

In a few weeks I am heading back to college, to start an access to H.E. course in Health Sciences. I really didn’t do much for myself years ago academically so now, will be wading through science books to try and get the qualifications I need to get into SHU Sep 2017. 

It’s all very daunting and I am just kind of riding the wave of self doubt and enthusiasm, hoping I don’t crash on the reef of reality, that stops it all happening.

(Left: yet another painful trip to hospital, all good experience for the future I guess)

And to top it off, just as I was recovering from starting an office job, all the intense training and having no time anymore, my enthusiasm for climbing gently returned. Up until May I could literally count on one hand the number of times I had been climbing. So with my 5 days off once a month from 111 (I do get more but that is a block of five), Tim and I headed to the sun and sea of Pembroke...the story doesn’t end well... (Right: 150 feet down in Huntsmans Leap, a bit stuck shall we say)

I was involved in the fifth serious accident of my career and for once it wasn’t my fault. The guy I was climbing with down in Huntsman's Leap, slipped on some wet rock, his gear held, I was pulled into the air a little under the gear but then it ripped and he plummeted on top of me. I had no way of moving as I was also airborne and my time as a crash pad proved very painful. I couldn’t move due to the pain in my back, so after a lengthy few hours down the Leap, was helicoptered out to Swansea Hospital (thanks to Caff, Simon and the boys who cared for me whilst we were waiting). Turned out I had fractured a couple of vertebrae (T11 and 12) and I am now 3 months on from the accident and wondering how things will pan out. I’ve been told I should suffer no long term damage which is encouraging but I still get quite a bit of pain, when doing random things. I can now climb but my first foray to Tremadog with Katherine a few weeks ago was terrifying; it felt like I had a dose of PTSD. The environment felt threatening and not fun and it was quite a difficult couple of days. 

(Left: A trip to the seaside, the lovely Cayton Bay and our first paddle on the sea in Tim's blow up Kayak)

But I have just come back from a couple of days climbing in Gogarth and things seemed a lot better. If you aren’t getting crazily gripped there of all places, then my head must be on the mend. Climbing isn’t painful but I am obviously woefully out of shape, so VS and HVS seems about where I am happy to be at the moment and I’m not going to rush anything.

I think what with work, Maths and college starting soon, going climbing has dropped somewhere fairly low on my list of priorities, there is a time and a place for everything. But I can feel the glimmers of enthusiasm returning, so I will try to squeeze it in when I can.

But for now, I am joining the rest of the nation, spending a lot of time on my bottom looking wistfully out of the window and hoping there is a point to it all...

PS. I bought a motorbike in April, it has revolutionised my 15 mile commute to work, love it!!