These shoes

One of the things I’m trying to do more of is move my body about a bit. Not because I have weight to lose or some particular fitness goal in mind, but because I want to make full use of it, while I’ve got it.

Last year (nearly a year ago), my back gave out and I had excruciating sciatica down my whole right leg, foot and toes – starting from somewhere in the middle of my right butt cheek. I couldn’t walk without limping, and very slowly at that, I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t lie down, I couldn’t sleep. It drove me to distraction. The simplest things, I couldn’t do, like put my socks on. That’s when you realise how much your body does for you, without you even thinking about or appreciating it. We take it for granted (mostly, usually) when we are healthy and able bodied. I had surgery, it worked and now I can walk, run, cycle…and put on my socks. “Look, I can run again!”, I’m saying in my head as I’m running (dragging myself) around Bushy Park on a Saturday morning. I’ve done it twice, lets not get ahead of ourselves…but that’s just it, I’ve only done it twice and I’m better at it already. On the first time round, it kind of hurt and I had to stop a few times and walk for a bit and I was really sore and stiff two days later. The second time though, I didn’t have to walk (I wanted to, but I didn’t) and I hurt on day two, but not nearly as much. I think that’s pretty amazing really…not that I’m some great runner, because I’m really, really not. A friend once described my running as “like Pheobe’s, in THAT episode of Friends!”…no, I wasn’t impressed. I don’t actually run anyway…or properly jog for that matter. More like…fast shuffle. That’s just it though, I’m not a good runner but my body has adapted – and pretty fast, even after it was broken and needed major surgery to fix it. Our bodies are amazing and I want to use mine and look after it while I still have it in full working order.

A couple of weeks ago, a colleague told me about a friend of his that had been told that he had some form of blood cancer (possibly Non-Hodgekins, the one that got my dad), but that it wasn’t active and there wasn’t anything for them to do at the moment. It was found when the doctors were checking whether this person had potential skin cancer and the blood tests from that found this disease lying effectively dormant. Understandably, this guy is upset and shocked by this news and says he wishes he’d never been told. I thought about this for a moment and then said “I don’t know, maybe he’s actually lucky, in a way.”…yah, you an imagine the look on my friend’s face! No, I’m not being flippant with someone’s health, or unsympathetic to the shock of discovering something like this. But he is healthy now, he didn’t need treatment for skin cancer in the end, he didn’t have it. The thing they found may never actually become active and he is potentially wasting time worrying about it, when he could be using it as a very real reminder that life is short. His discovery could be seen as a gift of clarity and focus. 

My reality of losing Luna, along with the reality of losing both my mum and dad while they (and I) were still young (51 and 49 respectively), threw me into panic strickened grief. Bad things can and do happen. People I love have died, more people I love can and will die, I will die. I totally freaked out and started having panic attacks. The reality of how fragile life really is and that we have no real control over what happens to us was like a huge, crushing weight on my chest. It was suffocating. But, gradually, with help and time, the animal panic subsided, but it has left it’s mark.

So what am I trying to say exactly? Well, terrible stuff can and will happen. Fact. We all get ill, our bodies get frail, things break and may not be able to be mended so easily, and of course, we all will die. Is it better then just to assume – accept – that at some point, on some scale, it’ll not be going well? Would it make a difference to the way you lived your life when things are going well? Would it make you want to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of life? Would it make you want to be true to yourself and do the things you truly love as much as you can? Would you take risks? Push yourself, push against your boundaries, be comfortably uncomfortable in the knowledge that it all could really end tomorrow?

This all started with me talking about going for a run and my back that was totally fucked, and using what I’ve got, while I’ve still got it. I made a promise just after my back surgery last year: to take better care of myself. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It’ll be a life-long project, but I’ve made a start. Sometimes it does feel overwhelming and I wish none of this shit had happened to me. However, it has happened, and I intend to use it as a force for change and growth. I consider it my duty to myself to keep on pushing forward while I have the faculties to do so. I have a deadline (even if I don’t know when that will be) to fit in as much as I want out of life and myself – so, even at a fast shuffle, I’d better get moving…

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