I know, I know, I know – it’s been a ridiculously long time since my last blog and the whole thing about the Atrial Fibrillation creeping back again. So here we go. This is a blog of many hues.
Firstly, an update on the AF situation.
Coffee definitely brings on an episode, so that’s out the window. Even one, occasionally.
Being extra-tired – ditto. That one’s not so easy to manage with all the wee birdies (and bloody great seagulls) around here. This is how it goes: a loudmouthed insomniac seagull starts a low, noisy territorial fly-by that takes in frequent passes of our bedroom window shortly before dawn. Backwards and forwards, again and again. This wakes up the insanely screechy fledgling seagull currently trying to escape from his snuggly nest on the roof several houses down – I’m praying for those feathers to grow, I can tell you – which wakes up the flock of thirty-odd sparrows that seem to sleep in the bushes RIGHT outside our bedroom window. And so it goes on. By the time the cacophony has calmed down and they’ve got breakfast sorted it’s almost too close to getting-up time anyway to try getting back to sleep. Yaaawwn. But dawn is creeping forwards (sob) so I live in hope of more sleep.
Stress definitely brings on an episode. If more than a couple of busy, adrenaline-fuelled days filled with busy-ness pass without doing some deep relaxation I can feel the old heart starting to thump that bit harder. I use this Yoga Nidra, which is incredibly powerful.
And now a bit of good news. As you know, I’m trying to sort the AF out without resorting to drugs that have horrible side effects (I fall over) or having the misbehaving cells of my heart burnt away with a white-hot electrode (not at all happy about that bit). So imagine how overjoyed I was to hear of an NHS doctor who has managed to heal himself of AF. I might be the last one to the party on this as Dr Rupy Aujla is all over the television as well as having two books out, doing masses of cooking himself, oh, and doing a sterling job in the NHS as a GP. Thank you Darrelyn Gunzburg for the heads-up on that. It is so comforting – nay, amazing – to find someone inside the NHS who feels the same way as I do about finding natural solutions, who has cured his own AF, and even better, is setting about educating the medical profession about the importance of real food as the path to good health. A huge hurrah to that! The link to his books is here if you’re interested.
With all the focus on the AF, and seeing how long I can go without an episode, and cutting out coffee and squeezing in Yoga Nodra, life seems to have been a bit intense recently. Also, summer has been busy in sunny Swanage, and in the last few months we have packed a lot in, with little time for the precious relaxation I apparently need to stay well. So when Steven Malone of H2OAdventures called asking me if I’d like some kayaking classes to help him progress to his British Canoeing Sea Kayak Coach Award, I was on it like a thirsty dog to a bowl of water. A chance to get out on the water, in beautiful Swanage Bay? Yes per-lease! Okay, so my day is already a tad busy with the day-job, dancing classes once a week, gig rowing whenever we can actually get down there, Nordic Walking, spending time with visiting relatives, updating the 1970s interior of our home, keeping the garden at bay and trying to swim in the sea every day to help lower my blood pressure. But ever one to stretch the time available by starting the day earlier, I met Steven down at Swanage Boat Park for my first session on Tuesday at 8.00. Fortunately I’m at home with wading straight into the sea now, as that’s what I had to do to launch the kayak, after learning how to set it up so it’s actually comfortable and safe. What I didn’t expect was what turned out to be quite a tough work out at that time in the morning – mentally and physically. I guess it’s always the same with a new activity: there’s no muscle memory to help you and being taken out of my usual comfort zone – although I did a couple of taster sessions with Steven last summer – was certainly mentally demanding too. Wow. I was tired after that one, but still managed to do a lot of typesetting for the next Wessex title. Yay.
The sessions are progressive, so this morning with a moderately strong wind making me work that bit harder, Steven followed up on the skills I learnt on Tuesday, but pushed me further again, working towards the point where I can eventually paddle out to Old Harry Rocks, at the edge of the Bay. Which TBH feels quite some way away ATM. Being on the water is beautiful, and I’m enjoying it more as my confidence increases, but what has really shocked me is how cautious I am. Paddling in a straight-ish line is fun and relatively easy but can obviously be massively improved upon. Learning to turn on the spot was also fun if exhausting. Paddling sideways was pretty much beyond me at first but fortunately I have a patient coach :-) A coach who took videos for me to watch back to see just how tentative I am. FFS woman, stop tickling the water and get on with it! (My comments not his.) Note the bored fisherman in the background.
I’m fully aware that to be safe on the water I need to be able to cope with capsizing (not looking forward to that At All), and no, I didn’t do that today, but one of the skills I need to learn is how to avert said crisis should it seem likely. And I don’t mean, ‘Oh look there’s a bit of a wave coming, I should get ready’. No. Practising means (deliberately) tipping the kayak as far as possible over onto one side to the point where it seems – from my perspective – very likely it’s going only one way. And at that exact moment executing the correct move to save myself; and then doing it again and again and again until it becomes muscle memory so it would happen on reflex should the need arise. And that’s where the fear kicked in. It really shouldn’t be a problem. I’m a strong swimmer, I love the sea, we were practising in shallow waters, I had somebody right next to me to rescue me should it all go horribly wrong. But still, this huge lump of fear rose up from my stomach and practically reduced me to tears at the thought of being trapped upside down in the kayak. Okay it did.
Steven was really patient and I did practise over and over again, but as we paddled back to the boat park my thoughts returned to something I’ve often discussed on the blog; the way that encountering the raw power of the elements can reduce us to our smallest and most humble selves. Whether it is to tears at the beauty, the sound, the glorious scent of nature, or fear in the presence of something so much more powerful than ourselves; today, for me, it was almost the stuff of nightmares, but then I remembered that in nature we get the chance to strengthen our resolve and experience an outward expression of our innermost fears. And that the internal battles we all face, like lack of confidence, fear of asserting ourselves, all those situations where we wish we’d been strong – out here, on a choppy sea, we get the chance to rehearse being strong. Over and over and over again. Until we are.
With much love and wishes for your good health