I’ve been coming to Ability Bow for around 8 years. It is a long time but I’ve hardly ever missed a session , I come rain or shine because exercise keeps me going , it’s difficult to gee yourself up at home but when you see others working out in the gym it gets you going. It’s been part of my routine for so long, as well as my family’s now. I’d had a stroke in 2005 and had spent 2 years in hospital. When I was sent home I was in constant pain; I had a carer coming in twice a day as well as my wife who had to give up her job as a support worker to become my carer. She would have to wash and dress me , help me into bed , I couldn’t do anything for myself, not only because of a lack of any mobility but the terrible pain I was in. My family all had to help me but started to moan that I was being lazy – it’s true, I wasn’t doing anything but it wasn’t laziness; I was truly scared to try and walk or stand as I had such a fear of falling – my biggest fear was ending up back in hospital as I’d spent so long there . I was also very fearful of bringing on pain. I avoided doing anything.
I was eventually referred to ability Bow; I was in a wheelchair when I first came here, and if I stood I slid all over the place ! I used to rely on my wife to bring me here twice a week but now I come alone on Mondays and with her on Fridays. After years of slow and steady progress I can take short trips alone to most places now as I can weight bear on my left leg, that means I can step up to the transport bus that I use to get around (I also book my own bus too which I never did before) It seems a simple thing but its massive to us, it gives both me and my wife a bit of freedom. I haven’t lost my enthusiasm in all these years , If anything I’m more motivated than ever as I can see the vast improvement in my health when I look back to the beginning, and that’s a big incentive. Now I can go walking with my daughters instead of them moaning at me to get moving.
I would never stop coming to Ability Bow , even when I can’t get my free transport I pay to come as I’m sure I would feel the negative effects if I missed even a couple of sessions . After all this time I know the staff on a personal level so it’s like catching up with extended family every time I come , I also know some of the gym members very well too ; when you come on the same days for years as other members you do become solid friends. Another important thing about being such a long standing member of the gym is that my story inspires others. When they have just had a stroke I can encourage them with the progress I have made and it inspires them to know that they could walk again or achieve their own goals with dedication.
Progress wasn’t fast but it was slow and steady and is consistently improving and I tell the other members to never give up!! I think it’s good for them to see someone who has the same condition as them who’s back up walking again, its stops them giving up hope. So it’s a positive for others as well as me. I don’t rely on a wheelchair anymore or upon my wife to take me everywhere. When your other half has a stroke your whole life is turned upside down, your social life and work life cease to exist and your life centres on your newly disabled partner. My wife is friends with other carers here who are in the exact same position, it’s very helpful for them all to be able to relate to each other, to know that they are not alone and that there is a chance of a much better future. If this place didn’t exist I’m certain I’d still be in a wheelchair.