Getting up in the morning, climbing stairs and walking outside are all things many of us take for granted in our everyday lives… and Gillian Bonar was no different.
However, when she suffered a nasty fall at the end of last year she saw her once active life completely transform overnight. Gillian, 44, was left needing crutches for months and unable to bend one of her legs at all.
Now, having spent a week at Jubilee House, she says she’s beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to her physical recovery, having received one-on-one care to improve her joint and muscle strength. And she never expected how much it would help her overall confidence and mental wellbeing too…
“Four months ago I fell… I just tripped on the kerb, and landed on both knees and both hands on the pavement,” says Gillian, whose husband, Paul, is a crew commander with Scottish FRS.
“I chipped my left patella and cracked my right patella. As a result of that I had a straight leg brace for a couple of weeks, then moved to the hinge leg brace… I continued attempting my general knee exercises issued from the fracture clinic from there.
“After about 10 weeks, my NHS knee trauma physiotherapist realised I had to go into theatre for a manipulation under general anaesthetic and, as a result of that, I’m now trying to regain the bend in my right leg and encourage the quad strength there as well.
“It’s been a bit of a journey!”
Before the fall Gillian, who has two young children, Lewis, 8, and Harris, 6, was incredibly active – taking part in regular sports including hill walks, cycle rides and other activities with her sons. Sadly, the injury put a stop to that and she’s been unable to do much more than a few steps unaided since.
“At the start I was dependant on crutches for mobility,” adds Gillian. “It’s only in the last week or two that I’ve started to develop more strength in my leg and tried to wean myself away from the crutches. My leg still buckles from time to time, but I think that’s to be expected.”
Gillian, who is a deputy head in a primary school, had heard about the support we offer, thanks to her husband taking part in fundraising activities through his job.
However, it was only when her physio recommended she get in touch that she realised we could help her too, as his spouse.
“I had a couple of video calls and a few telephone calls initially and then I was delighted to be accepted on to the programme,” she said, when we caught up with her mid-way through her stay at Jubilee.
“I was really excited because everyone I spoke to said really positive things… I was nervous because I didn’t really know what to expect, but I have to say it has exceeded all my expectations. I think everyone goes above and beyond and it’s been a fantastic experience for me – and I’m only on day three!
“So far I’ve done hydrotherapy, pool sessions, gym sessions, fitness sessions, rock blade therapy, even access to machines that I don’t have at home like the anti-gravity treadmill… plus going on the local area walk was so lovely because the physios taught me how to walk without my crutches, as well as how to use a different type of walking device which I’d never heard of before.
“My goal now is to regain the quad strength and increase the bend in my knee, while reducing the inflammation and swelling. I just want to generally become more active.”
For Gillian, the stay was about far more than rebuilding her physical strength, however, as she found the injury massively knocked her confidence too.
“The staff here are really good at building your confidence and keeping your spirits up, as well as the group I’m with this week,” says Gillian. “Everyone encourages each other and we have a laugh as well.”
She now says she’ll never take her physical health or joints for granted again, having seen how quickly it can all be taken away.
“Although I was very active, I kind of took my physical health for granted before,” says Gillian. “Now I’ve got a whole new outlook on what’s important and also how lucky people are to have mobility and how easy it is to take things for granted. To lose mobility is a horrible experience and the simple things become major…
“I’m now so glad I’m on the road to recovery.
“I am so looking forward to being able to drive again, to be able to do the school run and take the kids to their clubs in the evenings, plus returning to work in my busy primary school environment, as I have missed the buzz of working closely with the children and all my colleagues!”
We recently launched our #healthyjoints programme, with videos, exercise tutorials, cook-along videos and expert advice on offer on MyFFC, our health, wellbeing and fundraising app and portal. You can find all of that and more by registering for MyFFC. You can then join our Healthy Joints Group or search for #HealthyJoints and follow the topic. Anything new will appear there and you’ll also be updated when anything is added.
If you’re struggling with your health and wellbeing, or you need support from our Welfare Caseworkers, we may be able to help you. Call our Support Line on 0800 389 8820, make an enquiry online or visit the ‘Access Support’ tab in MyFFC.
You can also join our ‘Share Your Story Group in MyFFC to chat to others who have received the Charity’s support, or enquire about sharing your own story.