In addition to my baking, I also love musical theatre 🎭 and was Chair of a local amateur Panto Society for some years. After my diagnosis (Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament, or OPLL) and surgery I stopped being an ‘active’ member (a performer) I didn’t take my diagnosis well and became very withdrawn. I was eventually coaxed back on stage after a second surgery to implant a spinal cord stimulator device, which was successful in reducing my pain level to ‘bearable’. I still have restricted movement, (so dancing is out 😂) and I have to be careful moving around the stage with my stick, but I still have my voice, and I’m so grateful that my Society ‘Greenbrook Methodist Church Panto Society’ were so supportive. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed it until I nervously got back up there. It made me realise that despite my limitations, I still have a lot to give, and because I enjoy it so much, those lovely pain relieving endorphins kick in as an added bonus.
I was given some sound advice by a therapist once when I was having a meltdown ‘I’m useless’ period. She said that I should focus on what I can do, not what I used to be able to do. And that I shouldn’t give up doing the things I love (within reason). She said it was up to me to make the choice based on:
(a) The benefits I would get out of the activity emotionally and mentally, and
(b) The after effects on my body physically.
I should then decide if the benefits outweigh the consequences.
So, as with any activity I undertake, I have to allow for ‘the consequences’, and plan carefully to make sure I have adequate recovery time in between rehearsals and performances. During show week, I think I run on adrenaline, and my lovely hubby (and carer) knows I’ll sleep for days afterwards, but for me, it was worth it.
Sadly, I have had to take a step back this year, and didn’t stand for re-election in the Agm. I love being on stage, and the camaraderie with the cast and junior chorus, but the committee side of things was becoming stressful, and spoiling my overall experience of the production process. Greenbrook now has a new enthusiastic committee and I’m looking forward to seeing what they achieve.
My condition isn’t that well known, and I’m not in the usual ‘target group’ for it either. Apparently it’s quite common in elderly Japanese men! Lucky me eh?
I’m very grateful to Royal Preston Neurosurgery Department, who diagnosed me in 2012, and operated on me then. I had a procedure called a cervical laminoplasty, which made room round my spinal cord and alleviated the pressure that the OPLL was exerting on it. Basically I had severe multilevel spinal cord compression from C2 to C7. They are the reason I’m not in a wheelchair! They also implanted the SCS in 2014.
So now you know a little more about me, and why I do what I do 😀
And I’ll leave you with this……
Stay safe and healthy