Friday, 6 June 2014

A night at the theatre

Photo source: Sian Wootton

Something fantastic happened the other week (Wow time seems to be flying by lately). I was able to go out for a night at the theatre. Just getting out is a big deal. So this was an even bigger deal. Firstly because it was around a 45 minute drive (not that I was driving) each way. Then of course there's the sitting upright without having my legs up for the duration of car journey and the show. And all the extra sensory stimulations, lots of people talking before hand, the music, the lights. The negotiating the crowd in your wheelchair. 

Photo source: Sian Wootton

The getting all glammed up before hand too, takes up a lot of spoons. I had to do my make up lying down and then have a rest before getting changed into my gladrags. There has been so many occasions where I have used up all my energy getting ready to go out and then not actually had any energy to go out. Which is always disheartening. Of course I had my heels on too. My glitzy strictly Princess ones as made by Glam it up Laurna. Not whilst walking mind. Heels and wheels! Strictly shoes for a Strictly show. Yes, I went to see Pasha and Katya from Strictly in their own touring dance show. 

I am a huge Strictly Come Dancing Fan. I love it, it makes me want to dance. I went to see them last year too but at that point I could still walk. But after having such a great evening last year I was determined to try and make it again this year. 

Going to the theatre can be a bittersweet experience for me having worked in the theatre and having to leave my masters degree due to M.E. Let's face it not many people get to 'just visit' their old professions. If you were a lawyer you wouldn't be going into a court room. Well unless you were battling a court case. However when you had a job that was also a big part of your interests and social activity it can feel very strange to be back in that environment. Obviously being well enough to go is always the main issue. As well as being worried about falling asleep during the performance. How rude would that be? But of course it would be no comment on the performance. 

I always found it wierd enough watching a show as I would be analyzing it. Sometimes I'd even be cueing the show in my head. The singer Alfie Boe was once misquoted as saying 'he hated watching opera'; when what he meant was he would rather be the one on the stage. And whilst I wouldn't want to be on the stage I understand his frustration as I want to be working in that environment. So now that I can't work at all it can obviously be a bit of a slap in the face. So at times it has been something that I have purposely avoided, which is sad as it used to be my  favourite past time. 

Photo source: Sian Wootton

I have managed to go to the theatre a few times since being ill though and yes I did feel left behind in a way. Last year just before my M.E got more severe I went to see the same show and loved every second of it. For the first time in a long time going to the theatre was 'just for fun' again. I'm not sure if it was because it was a dance show and therefore a little removed from my remit that helped though. And of course my major crush on Pasha didn't harm matters. So when they announced they were touring again I jumped (well as best I could) at the chance to get tickets and hoped and hoped I'd be well enough to go. And luckily I was and I had a fantastic night.

In the week leading to the event I was really careful and made sure I rested even more than usual. I was so determined to go. I knew it was a big ask but hey it was for Pasha! (And Katya too of course.) I limited my activity and made sure I had no other plans that week and even limited my social networking time; all to give myself a good chance of going. I coped far better than I had anticipated, which was a relief and also amazing at the same time. 

I finally recieved my blue badge a few months back, which has made life on wheels that bit easier. The disabled bays at the theatre were really poorly marked though, no definite bays, just a small sign at the end and 'disabled' in mostly worn away letters on the ground. It looked like a bus stop/lay by- infact there was even a bus parked across it. Luckily there was just enough room for our car. Just as we got out of the car, the heavens decided to open with heavy rain meaning my chair was soaked before I even got in it. Nice! So a trip to the loos and making use of the hand dryer was our first port of call. It's a good tip actually. Another good tip put into use was to take an extra cushion for my back to help with sitting upright for that long. We had booked a wheelchair space and were kindly escorted to our seats. I was worried that with being slightly higher up I was blocking the old dears behind me's view ( I could not deny them the gift of Pasha) but they said not to worry, one even jokingly tried to kick off, haha. The other asked if she could use my handles for her coat and bag, which was fine by me. She said I was very handy. 

As for the show, I loved it. I laughed and cheered and even tried to do a wheelchair wiggle. The only time I struggled is when there was a local dance school performing and the lights were too much as they kept moving up and down quite fast. So I had to look away. At one stage in the show they asked 3 ladies to volunteer to go up on stage and get to dance with Pasha. Well you can imagine that I was cursing the chair at that point. What an opportunity to miss! 

Photo source: Sian Wootton

However as you can see I did get to meet them afterwards as they come out to sign programmes. This year Pasha and some of the other Strictly stars took part in Sport Relief with some Paralympians, which was great to watch. I told him that I had really enjoyed seeing that and could he take me for a spin. Well if you don't ask you don't get. Unfortunately I didn't have a 'spinny' wheelchair but he said he had enjoyed the challenge and he did look over my chair to see if he could. They left their seats to come round to me for a photo, which was kind and he did push me a bit which made me  giddily say "come on, out the door." Haha shameless. And of course Katya loved my glitzed up shoes. So did some bloke walking past me too, which made me giggle.

So all in all I had a brilliant night. And the best part, well besides meeting those two beauties, was the post exertional malaise was not as bad as expected! Woohoo!! I was so shocked. After being so ill after ME awareness day I thought I'd really be in for it. But asides from an increase in fatigue and a bit more pain than usual I did well. Again I made sure I rested a lot to help the recovery but I was able to get down stairs each day and was able to feed myself. So a big Brucie bonus. Time will tell whether that is a good omen but I'm just so made up by the whole experience. The worst pain was actually in my face from smiling and laughing so much. 

Sian x


  1. Just thrilling thanks for letting us share your evening

  2. This sounds so lovely Sian! Your dress is ever so pretty, that's exactly the sort of shape I love wearing. Good on you for going glam with the heels too.
    It is such an unusual circumstance that you can, like you say, 'visit' the profession you've had to take a step back from for the time being. It's so good that you didn't let those difficult feelings associated with it hold you back.
    Managing to do things like this make all the difference but are often quite scary to even contemplate as you don't know how you'll be feeling. You've inspired me to actually go ahead and book something lovely to do even if it will be a challenge.
    Great tip about taking an extra cushion too!
    So pleased to hear you had a nice time :) I always enjoy reading your blog
    Faye |

    1. Thanks for the lovely comment. So glad to hear you are going to plan a big adventure of your own. Make it something really special, but obviously have in the back of your mind that it might not work. Not to be negative if you know what I mean, I guess that's just standard for us sick chicks anyway. However there is plenty of world out there still for us and amazing to go out and get it.
      The dress is from Tesco. I love it as it's really fitted and well tailored but not tight. I prefer to wear dresses when I'm not in my pj's as they're much comfier but also they're instant glam.
      Sian xx

  3. Awww look at you getting in there with the gorgeous performers ;) i'm so glad you could go and have some fun! Maybe by this time next year you'll be well enough to dance the night away yourself!

    1. I had a good go at trying to dance. Smiled and laughed all night though, which is always great medicine. They came out to sign programmes afterwards which is so lovely. Such lovely people.