Caving, degenerative disc disease, Disability, fibromyalgia, Hypermobility, Mobility Issues, Yorkshire

What a Difference 6 Years Makes

I’m not sure about other people, but I kind of enjoy the Facebook Memories thing that pops up each day to show you what you posted about on the day since you joined.  Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes I find I cringe a bit about what I’d posted, and very occasionally it makes me kind of sad.

This photo appeared in my memories today.

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This was taken on 23rd May 2012.  A whole year before my back problems started and I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  It’s down Upper Long Churn, a cave system in the Ingleborough area of the Yorkshire Dales.  This trip was arranged as a taster trip for local accommodation providers by the wonderful Yorkshire Dales Guides, and as throwing myself down dark holes was my thing, my boss sent me along.  I’d been down the lower part of the cave before, but not that particular section.  I know caving won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it.  Even though I bruise so easily that I ended up looking like I’d been fighting an angry badger after each trip.

That was the last time I went caving.

I was too busy summer 2012 to make trips with one of the local caving clubs, and whilst you can cave in winter, it’s a very cold experience.  By the time the weather had gotten warmer in 2013, my health issues had started.  I couldn’t risk going down even an easy cave; it would have been irresponsible of me to risk needing rescuing.

Nowadays I can’t even get up the Clapham Nature Trail to visit Ingleborough Show Cave, which is accessible to people with disabilities.  The walk would be too long, though in recent years the people running the nature trail have started providing disability scooters to allow those less mobile to go up the trail.

What I’d really like to do is go to the Gaping Gill Winch Meet that is run next week by Bradford Pothole Club, but even if I used a scooter to get up the first part of the walk to Gaping Gill, and I’d be fine down the pothole, there is no way I could walk the rest of the distance.  If you ever get a chance to go down Gaping Gill, go for it. Being lowered into a deep dark hole on a chairlift may be a nightmare to some people, but it’s one of the most amazing places I have ever been, and well worth a look.  The whole cavern at the bottom of the hole is flood lit, so you can see it in its entirety, something you can’t do if you go down on a normal caving trip.

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(Picture from the Bradford Pothole Club page)

I came to terms with my mobility issues a long time ago.  But there are some days that really bring back to me exactly what I have lost alongside my ability to walk long distances.  Today has been one of those days.  However, I shouldn’t dwell on what I can’t do, and focus on what I can.  There are people who have things a lot worse than I do.

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