Saturday 5th April – it’s smiles all round when we meet for Foundry session no.4. The jokes are about differing musical tastes and the daily variability of music style at The Foundry. I’m thinking there’s less caution about smiling now – confidence, about gear and technique, also about Clare’s enjoyment up there on the wall.
Climbing was Clare’s choice. Out of the blue, when she was asked to pick an ‘Elev8’ activity to do at the end of a Wednesday school day. Some “suitable” choices were pointed out to Clare. But she looked at the list and chose climbing.
Well, no chance. School has excellently supported Clare’s return to learning after 15 months away. But climbing was out of reach in the school setting. Clare joined the ‘Making sock monkeys’ group instead, and sociably watched other people sewing.
I detected a hint of ‘sympathetic reaction’ from some (“Ah, if only you could, Clare!” or “Poor thing, clinging to a lost past”), though definitely not from Clare’s switched-on Teaching Assistant. She and I mused about adventure holidays for disabled people … “disabled”, hmm, definitely need the p.c. “differently abled” term here, as the point is that everyone, so-called “able-bodied” or otherwise, needs different types of help to do their thing.
A highlight of 7 months in HDU was Sheffield’s Tramlines festival. Bye bye nurses, back later. Out the ward, carry all the medical stuff (hang as much from possible on the wheelchair), trog along to tram stop. Hey, city centre with music, sunbathers, icecream, freedom in the crowd. Those were the early days of the one-sided smile – smiles that struck like arrows of happiness.
So, Clare suggests climbing … really? Pre stroke she was leggy and bendy, clambering up rocks on holiday, finding a liking for trapeze. OK, then, I suppose it’s fun and I bet it’s possible somehow. Presumably needs ropes and someone to carry the ventilator? Where to start, who to ask?
Email to Pippa of ibk. “On a completely different topic I was going to ask you …”. And so, in New Year, Pippa was round at ours with Nick and Robin. And we got started.
After 2 practice sessions in our living room, Clare says she is going to write a climbing diary. She still intends to… 🙂 …but trying to get GCSE homework done is hard enough already. GCSE homework burden: Clare and Robin both. And a topic today, along with the music.
Also the blog is in the limelight as friends have read and liked it. Clare has linked to it on FB. We all agree it should become findable online. Clare and I get a lot of help and hope from others and it’s good to be in some way stuck in. I’m reading a few stroke recovery blogs (inspiring) and I’m going to tag this blog similarly … maybe spread the word that climbing is not on the forbidden list.
So, still chatting on all this stuff, also getting the gear sorted. Today’s session, not discussed so far, but now Nick proposes “workout”.
Nick reckons that a training session would be good. Don’t always go for climbing-high efforts. Really focus on strength and technique. Rather than get too tired, have breaks, hit it again after resting.
It makes sense. Slight delay in starting when Clare’s carer points out that the new padded strap for the ventilator is flimsily attached and in fact one clip is already broken. Helen produces karabiners and then Nick adds a sling.
First climb. Strong.
Second climb. Still strong.
“Could go for the top”, Robin says hopefully, more than once. But Nick says it’ll be easier to get to the top on the first climb of the day.
What about 5 linked moves, suggests Nick. Lift up and pull down, and onto the next…
Third climb. Clare is still pulling strongly. The 5 linked moves, then it’s 6 linked moves … and down, for a rest.
Clare isn’t exhausted, but she’s done enough. We review the kit. Descents have seemed slower today, with the jumar sticking, and Robin needing to help Clare get her hands out the hand loops. It might be good if Clare could peel her hands off the jammer at will … so what about cycling gloves and sewn on / glued on velcro? To be explored.
Rachel has a quick go. The 3rd carer to visit the Foundry but the 1st to try a climb. She’s been enjoying the music!
Then it’s time to think about the next session.
What about a trip to Horseshoe Quarry in the holidays? Not necessarily to climb but because it’s such a great spot, say Nick and co. Uncertainty over the powered wheelchair, which is nice for cruising round school or Meadowhall but makes heavy weather of even teeny steps. I’m thinking we could move the wheelchair seat back onto the non-powered base and then carry it if we have to. But possibly just go for a recce – find out how close we can get to routes, etc.