You don't realise how important something is until it is nearly taken away from you. Similarly it is hard to understand how something that was so integral to your well being has suddenly become less important to the point that you could see yourself not doing it again and not being bothered about that. I am of course talking about archery and going to speedway. The former I found again last August/September after a break of 6 years (and had only taken it up after I got CRPS in 2005). It has been well documented in my blog posts about speedway being my 'line in the sand', my ultimate sticking two fingers up at CRPS. I will go whatever you do to me during and after. So bring it on! Equally I've written about the pleasure archery gives me, the challenge, the doing rather than watching. Being coached by the wonderful Tom and Iris, who are the nicest people you could hope to meet and have been so supportive and taught me so much. Archery became a new 'line in the sand' to join speedway.
So what's changed?
Well, let me take archery first. Saturday was a huge day for me. Since early March, if not earlier I have been having trouble with my right shoulder and arm. At it's worst I couldn't move the arm at all, the pain was so utterly excrutiating. My range of movement has been restricted and putting any weight on it causes varying amounts of pain depending on whether I've rested it or not. This despite the fact that amongst other things there are 50-60mg of Morphine flowing round my system constantly. I couldn't pull my bow, couldn't cope with the weight of it, so I was forced to revert backwards, replacing the 28lb limbs I've been using since October to my old 24lb ones and removed all stabilisation apart from the long rod. This made life much easier initially, but I was soon overdrawing and still couldn't get myself in a good shooting position because of the stiffness and lack of full movement. Perhaps bizarrely shooting doesn't actually hurt so I have been able to carry on. Albeit getting gradually worse and worse. I've had x-rays which prove there no stress fractures or other orthopaedic issues. My GP has organised Physiotherapy which unbelievably isn't going to start until June 25th. My archery 'form' had deteriorated to the point where I had no idea what I was doing, arrows were missing the target, not a single onegetting near the gold. That is not enjoyable. It's not only frustrating it brings me down mentally. I have had such incredible feelings of anger inside which I couldn't explain.
Spare a thought for what life is like for me at the moment, being reduced to one good limb. With a duff arm, getting about is harder, I can't do any exercise on the Wii because it hurts and I get a bad reaction afterwards. So I worry even more than normal about my weight. I am even more a prisoner to CRPS than ever. My legs are consistently worse than normal because I cannot support myself to the same extent. They have been flaring badly. Sitting watching TV, reading, doing sudoku puzzles, playing a video game whilst Eric walks the dogs isn't exactly fulfilling at the best of times. Going out is a boost but is harder, so I've been even more housebound than ever. I have been watching loads of speedway from Poland, Sweden, Denmark and even Russia at any and every opportunity as always. No change there. However actually doing something physical, be it waving my arms around as I box, play table tennis or whatever on the Wii adds colour to my (drab gray) quality of life. Both mentally and physically. Archery (which would have to be a fluorescent yellow) has added so much joy and excitement to my life. It's something I can do whenever (depending on how my legs are), having a target down the garden or go over to the club's field to shoot longer distances. Archery gives me such a buzz, it's a challenge, fulfilling, good exercise and something you can never say you've mastered. No sooner have I finished shooting than I'm itching to shoot again. I can't get enough of it.
I hadn't realised how down I've become about my archery becoming such a disaster, with the realisation that there was a very real chance that I may have to give it up because physically my arm simply can't cope. Less than a year since I found it again. I stuck the 28lb limbs on eBay as I won't ever be able to pull them again, and ordered a set of 26lb ones which I hoped would allow me to draw comfortably, and get into the correct position to score well. The 24lb weren't ever going to be a long term solution so it felt make or break. Would I be able to shoot? Get into a good position? Cope with the poundage? Shoot with any degree of accuracy? To say I was nervous was an understatement. I was terrified. It was Eric who suggested I do archery on the Saturday which in itself is unusual. Eric was obviously nervous as well, he knows how much archery means, how vital it is for me. How much of a kick I get out of shooting 9s and 10s. If this session was as disastrous as the last, where would I go from there?
It all sounds terribly dramatic, but you have to realise that for someone who can do so little for themselves finding something so fulfilling is like finding the Holy Grail. The thought of having that taken away is almost unbearable. Not so it seems with speedway. This season I have only been to one meeting out of the 5 or 6 there have been. Not so long ago I would have been to every one no matter how cold it was, how I felt before I went, what it did to me during the meeting and of course in the days that followed. I prided myself on mot missing meetings. I would spend days resting up before each meeting and sit out the payback days that followed. Now I can honestly say I'm not fussed if I go or not. I follow the updates at home, and don't get that 'I wish I was there' feeling. My love of speedway remains as strong as ever. As I said I watch any live streamed or televised speedway I can. Love it. But I am completely non-plused by going to see the Lkaeside Hammers live. I was hoping that by writing this I might get my mojo back, but those feelings are simply not there any longer.
Could it be that the 'doing' involved in archery makes it more fun, fulfilling and enjoyable than sitting in the freezing cold just watching speedway. Could it be that simple? On reflection I think it probably is. The racing over at Arena hasn't been terribly exciting in recent times. There isn't a lot of passing and the meetings tend to drag on for no particular reason. I was quite excited by the team that was announced but subsequent events which I won't go into have dented that enthusiasm. Perhaps watching the accident that subsequently killed Lee Richardson as it happened via streaming from Poland has contributed in some way? It certainly hasn't felt the same going there since. There are also so few meetings in a season now, which are spread out horribly, going for several weeks without a meeting, then three successive Fridays. I love being the European arm of @lakesidelive (the unofficial but endorsed live update service). Nothing else has changed, it's just the Hammers and going to their meetings. I could quite happily not go again, but we are going to the next one in early June to see if the sparkle, the buzz returns. I suspect that subconsciously at least I have come to realise that it simply isn't worth everything I go though to go anymore. Jury is most definitely out that's for sure. Something so vital has become an also ran. Who'd have thought it?
So, back to yesterday. My archery session....
After the first few tentative arrows, I got into a good rhythm and compared to recently had a really good session. I was able to get myself into a much better position immediately, wasn't overdrawing and I was getting arrows in the yellow part of the target again!! Okay, there were still arrows that were terrible, but overall it was so much better. I was and remain ecstatic. I can still do it, with these limbs I can shoot comfortably and it will only get better as my shoulder/arm improve. I'm not going to lose archery! Gone is the anger, that down feeling that has been lingering for weeks. Can't wait to shoot again but CRPS has punished my severely. Party pooper!
Who knows, perhaps when I go to speedway next I'll feel the buzz again, catch the bug and get back to never wanting to miss a meeting. Doesn't really matter to be honest. I have my archery and that's what really matters to me. Here's to years of happy shooting to come....