It must have been at least four years ago, when I sat with my physiotherapist and discussed my goals for the future. They were short, medium and long-term goals. This sticks out in my memory as I signed it, and promised him I would do all I could to achieve these goals.
On Friday the first of July I realised one of my long term goals, which was to travel by train to visit my sister in Sligo. From a previous post you would have seen that I went to wexford last year. So I had began to move out of my comfort zone. My sister Mary moved to Sligo sixteen years ago, but since my second back surgery in 2005, I have not been to visit.
As soon as my sister said she was having a party to celebrate her sixith birthday, and that she would love if I could make it, I made up my mind that I was going. That was the easy part!
Mary put a lot of time and effort into planning her birthday. All the family were invited. Its not often that we all can get together, so everyone was looking foward to it, especially me. We all booked into the same hotel and thankfully, for me it was right beside the train station.
As it got closer to the date I was getting excited and nervous in equal measure.
At last the day arrived, no more waiting. I was ready to go. A good friend of mine brought myself and my friend Colette to the station. He had literally said goodbye when I realised that something felt wrong. I was getting a migraine , which considering my stress levels, was not at all suprising. Over the following few hours I was totally zonked. Luckily I had Colette with me, otherewise I dont know how I would have managed.
Arriving at the station I almost had to pince myself. Eleven years seemed to melt away.
Later that evening I met up with Frances, whom I got to know through Chronic Pain Ireland. Frances and her husband Tom live in Sligo so it was a great oppertunity to meet them both. We had a lovely chat and a few laughs.
Waking up the following morning I felt so strange and happy to have made it to Sligo. Over breakfast plans were made for the day. Some of the family called to to my sisters to help with the finsihing touches for the party.
As for me, well I rested a lot!
As soon as the taxi pulled up outside my sister’s house, I realised how significant this trip really was. Mary was standing at the door waiting. We hugged each other, and shed a few tears. It was an emotional moment for us both.
The place looked amazing. Loads of her work collegues were there along with her pals from Dublin. It was a really great night. Everyone was in great form, especially my sister.
I took my leave around eleven. How did I get so sensible! Back in the hotel room I felt contented, if not a little sad, to have had to leave early.
The following day we returned to the scene of the crime! I decided to travel back by car with my brother and sister-in-law. When it came to leaving a few more tears were shed, but they were happy tears . Truthfully it took me quite a few days to recover from the tiredness, but it was worth it. Once again I want to say thanks to my friend Colette who travelled down on the train with me. She was going on to Mayo after the party. Thats a whole other story!
I had put off doing that trip for so long, because I believed I would not be able for it. I had listened, and believed my internal, fearful voice. Maybe on this occaission, there was a confluence of events that made it possible. In recent times I have been actively trying to regain control of my life. With chronic pain there will always be set backs, but there is nothing more empowering then realising one of your goals. For me it has given me a little bit more confidence and belief in myself, and in my own resilience.
I am planning to visit Mary again next year!