Last Wednesday, on my usual weekly visit to Headway in Gloucester, I achieved another personal milestone, as I finally got to type with my weaker left hand on the computer.
I have done many useful activities at Headway, but this latest one felt absolutely fantastic.
As well as catching the bus to Headway all by myself, I have also cooked simple meals to take home for myself and Amy to have for dinner, making a useful contribution to our "home life" and thus boosting my confidence and usefulness, so Amy does not have to do everything.
To expand my horizons, I have also made desserts at Headway and taken them into my work to share with colleagues, because I'll let you in on a little secret: us journalists love cakes, especially free ones!
To conquer my sweet-toothed addiction, I have also done plenty of exercise at Headway courtesy of their Nintendo Wii, on the Wii Fit game, I'm sure, in reality, I haven't burned many calories, certainly not enough to cancel out all of the puddings, but it still feels good to do any kind of exercise and use my once-dormant limbs and muscles, especially my left hand/arm.
As I have said before, one of the worst affected areas has been my left hand, which, firstly, I must thank the heavens, it is not my stronger right hand. This means I have not been able to type properly with both hands just like before.
Without trying to sound big headed but before my bleed, I was pretty good at typing. I used to imagine colleagues making jokes about steam or smoke pouring off my hands as I pounded the keyboard letters as fast as I possibly could when writing up quotes from an interview I had done.
One of my tasks at work used to be writing up the weekly local rugby column by former Gloucester prop Andy Deacon, who speaks pretty fast in his strong Gloucestershire accent, testing my typing skills even further! All I can say is, thank god there's a button on my dictaphone which can slow it down!
Therefore, not being able to type at my previous speed has been a hard thing to stomach, as it leads me to question whether I will ever be able to do it again, or ever be able to perform my role as a journalist again. This has been a hard task to face; the prospect of not being able to do my job again. So I must, yet again, thank my work for persevering with me and keeping faith in me for a return to work, their faith really has meant a lot to me.
A huge thanks must also go to Headway, as I really feel like I have taken the first steps towards getting my career, and life, back on track.
Activities operate on a rotational basis at Headway so everyone has a fair crack of the whip at everything. So last week, I went into a room with a lovely chap called Matt, which was easy to remember, seeing as it's my brother's name too, and we had a go at a typing course to get my left hand working. All it involved was just "googling" a free typing programme, which means I can even do it at home with Amy, but she's pretty competitive so I'll have to watch out for her!
So off went me and Matt. As I have mentioned previously, not being able to perform the duties of my job has been one of the hardest things to accept, because I love my job. I have said I have had to sit back and happily, but frustratingly, watch friends/colleagues take big strides forward in their careers, leaving me behind, watching on enviously from the sidelines, if you pardon the sporting analogy. So thanks to Headway's help with my typing, I'm convinced they have set me on the right path back to achieving full fitness and resuming my career again one day.
I don't know what I was expecting, perhaps that my hand would simply just not respond to my brain's orders sent to my fingers to move up and down, pressing certain keys.
One of the worst affected mental areas of my bleed has been my confidence as I feel I have lost so much ability, but I have to focus on the positives, seeing as it's my word of the year, and not what I can't do; but what I can still do. Seeing my left hand typing away gave me a huge boost.
I want to leave you with some encouragement, whoever you are, whatever your goals, they can be achieved; it just requires patience, hard work, faith and perseverance.