The PBC Foundation is the only UK based organisation that specifically deals with PBC.
I spoke earlier of taking a wee rescue dog Holly and the benefits to her and to me in enjoying our walks. Holly is a cross between a corgi and a Jack Russell terrier and when off the lead, takes great pleasure in hiding in the bushes looking for rabbits (as Jack Russell terriers are known for). Many times I could be heard calling her name over and over trying to encourage her to come back enticing her with the ‘treat’ in my hand which was much nicer than what was in the bushes! As you can imagine, I was becoming quite well known – “ oh there’s that lady shouting on Holly again, poor thing”! One of the ladies I met helped me bring Holly back and she chatted about her two dogs, (one of which is a Jack Russell) what works with dogs and basically what doesn’t. This lady invited me to walk with her and her two friends each morning at times to be agreed suiting our busy schedules.
Holly benefitted hugely from these walks, she was corrected by the other dogs and she also learned to play and run with them. The dash for the undergrowth to catch rabbits (not that she ever caught any) became less and less. Not only was I enjoying these walks more and more as she behaved better, I very much enjoyed the company of my new friends. We come from different backgrounds; there is a twenty five years age difference from the youngest to the eldest; we have different fitness levels and we all enjoy a jolly good laugh.
We all have our burdens to bear too, me with PBC, one lady is a young widow, another lady has a very unwell teenage daughter and so on. Sharing our problems has been such a positive experience particularly as some of these problems were ‘new’ - they had never heard of PBC before they met me. We support one another and laughter is very much a big part of that. On one occasion, the walk was particularly hot and sweaty and my hair felt horrible around my neck, no hairband to hand so one of the girls tied a poo bag round my hair (yes, unused)! Now the walks don’t seem such hard physical work for me as I have become fitter and as we are doing what women do best – chatter, the walks therefore pass so much quicker.
Meeting with one or two others on the walk, we have now started a book group. We have met twice so far, the books suggested for reading I have struggled with and I believe I am not the only one. Feeling like a naughty school girl, I am looking forward to the next meeting because I know that again, we will all enjoy a good laugh about the choice of bookswhich has resulted is some of us playing truant!
What next? A knitting circle? Not for me, my knitting days are over. I am sure that like many of my readers, we knitted for our children because money was tight and it was cheaper to do. Who knows but I am pleased to be enjoying a bit more in life given I carry the weight of PBC.
Last week I was in Newcastle at the School of Medical Science discussing with eminent scientists what is termed as ‘Movement as Medicine’ for people suffering chronic health conditions. I was happy to learn that there is now medical science to prove that moving our bodies is beneficial and that is official! Next time I shall tell you about the seat in which I sat and its previous occupants: none other than the Hairy Bikers…