So. 2014 is now well under way, and it is very odd thinking back to a year ago, when life was very different. But I’m sure you’ll be relieved to know I’m not going to go wallowing in the past – been there, done that, got the t-shirt, as indeed have we all – nope, I’m moving on. Goodbye 2013, with all your strange ‘gifts’ and ‘challenges’, and, bring it on, 2014. But the phrase ‘moving on’ implies a forward motion, and, despite some very good weeks, I think I have a case of ‘Oops, I’ve done it again’, as I seem to have ground to a halt. I was totally delighted when my referral for the ‘Bacsup’ rehab programme came through, and that, having survived the onslaught of chemotherapy I am now eligible for eight weeks’ free membership at our local sports centre. Bearing in mind my previous avoidance of anything resembling ‘the wall’, or the necessity of breaking into a sweat, you might be surprised to learn that I am really looking forward to this. My preferred form of exercise has always been swimming, but as I am still recovering from a frozen shoulder, this would involve me swimming in circles, which would look pretty silly, especially as the lanes obviously go up and down the pool. So my rehab programme is about getting my shoulder strong and mobile again, and then gradually getting all of me fitter. Just as a little aside, the BACSUP programme was initiated by the MacMillan Cancer Charity. They fund an initiative for the first year, after which it is hoped that alternative finance can be arranged so it continues. In this particular case, the scheme has survived for four years, but it will finish at the end of March unless a generous benefactor or sponsor steps forward. I think that is really sad, and I am inclined to find out more.
I duly pitched up for my assessment on Wednesday and was delighted to find I immediately got on with my advisor. She clocked fairly early on that I was likely to go off at a hundred miles an hour and spent most of the time assuring me that if I took it slowly and carefully I would make more progress. Funny that. Out of all the Big Lessons I have faced in the last 12 months, this is probably the greatest. Patience. Again, Margaret. Patience. I was lulled into a false sense of security during the fitness test which was a fairly easy (even for me) 20 minute bike ride with increasing levels of difficulty, while maintaining a certain level of rotations per minute at the same time as having heart-rate and blood pressure checks. Very impressive. Admittedly I did start to get a bit warm, but fortunately the test moved to the downhill session just as my legs were starting to feel uncomfortable. “You’re downhill all the way to the pub now,” my advisor grinned as we neared the end. My kind of gal! Turns out I was fitter than a few others that do the programme, which obviously delighted me, but it doesn’t say much for any of us really, does it? Still, baby steps, as I tell myself.
We sat back down after the test to work out a programme and given that Stephen and I try to walk/cycle or run at least once or twice over the weekend, the suggested level of two or three activities a week seemed a bit low and didn’t leave a lot of option for anything else. However, we settled on Hydro-fit (a very low level of Aquafit suitable for people who are anything but) the Wellfit circuit, for people who aren’t Well, and Hatha yoga, which I can’t make a joke out of as the words don’t work. I wonder if stand-up comedians get that? Halfway through a gag and the words stop behaving themselves. I especially like the bits where they pick on the masochists who insist on sitting in the front rows at their gigs, and make a whole piece out of their dialogue with them. SO clever. Anyway. I was desperate to go to the Hydrofit class on Friday but couldn’t book it because we were waiting for a call about a home visit from the RSPCA. That story will follow as it is really sweet. When I called on Thursday there was just one place left, which I was informed, would go very quickly as the class was very popular. I was agonising over the dilemma – book it and maybe have to cancel (and pay!) or not book it and lose the place. As a fledgling practitioner of Mindfulness I realised this was another test and that as I couldn’t actually book the class in the certain knowledge that I would be able to attend, I should Wait And See what transpired. What a novel concept. Somebody should bottle that and sell it. So I waited and then discovered I was in fact free after all, and guess what? The place was still available. I love this stuff.
My advisor had warned me that the majority of the other ladies were probably very slightly older and a bit less fit than me. I am so glad she mentioned that as I felt as if I had stumbled into a Saga holiday. But wait! I am in that age group too, though I hate to admit it. The ladies were absolutely lovely, and it was quite a relief to be with people who just wanted to have a bit of fun twice a week, and an instructor who was about our age and didn’t have a PA system belting out inappropriate music through the class. In fact the back row were far more interested in discussing Russell Brand’s amazing hip action on the Jonathan Ross show last week than doing much exercise. Utter filth, and I loved it :-). Just before we got into the pool I got chatting to another lady who asked why I was there. I mentioned my shoulder rather than go down the whole cancer route thing, and she immediately offered to give me healing until the class started. It was sooo nice and definitely helped me through the class, which was much harder than I expected. Cue laughter on other side of face.
I was on a real endorphin high after that. One of the good things about being unfit, or in rehab, is that it doesn’t take long to do a bit of good. Half an hour in the water doing weird things with floats is really tiring, and serves the purpose nicely. I wasn’t quite so chipper that evening though. Fairly soon after eating a nice dinner I started to feel sick. I managed to avoid an appointment with the porcelain shrine but felt very grotty by the time I woke up next day. I expected to have aching muscles, but instead my stomach felt completely ripped apart (not in a nice post-exercise way), and I had that horrible chemo taste in my mouth again. I had been warned that exercise helps to expel toxins from the body, but, for heaven’s sake, how long does this go on? So this whole weekend has been down-sized to picking at food and feeling generally very post-chemo with all the accompanying loss of energy. Blargh. I can do without that! I’m ready to move on in a physical sense, but there is clearly more processing that needs to happen on several levels. But on the basis that the sooner I get it out of my system the better, I have just dragged my very unwilling body out for nice blustery walk down to the beach. Not at the cracking pace I have been able to achieve recently, but at least I had my daily exercise. Now I just need to get strong enough for Unfit circuits on Tuesday….
Back to the nice story I had in mind to tell you. We were recently admiring the amazing new pictures of Saturn and its moons that NASA has made available online, and in the depths of my mind, I quietly thought that Titan would make a brilliant name if we ever had another cat. No idea where that one came from. Fast forward several days. Stephen, Matt and I were having dinner and the talk moved to the NASA pictures, then out it came. “I was thinking that if we ever had another cat, Titan would be a lovely name.” Big mistake. Stephen and Matt looked at each other then started getting really excited that we are getting another cat. Um no? When did I say that? I was just saying that IF…….But apparently it was job done and all that remained was to find another cat. We looked on the local RSPCA website and found a really cute kitten called Splodge. We thought that, having two older cats already who can’t stand the sight of each other, a kitten might be more easily accepted, and maybe even change the dynamics of the situation. For the better, obviously. When we got to the rescue centre it turned out that Splodge had been reserved and the computer system hadn’t caught up. Oh well. We looked at a beautiful young tortoiseshell called Fifi, but she was very shy. So shy in fact, that we couldn’t imagine her coming out from under the wardrobe until at least next Christmas, and of course she also couldn’t be renamed Titan. She clearly wasn’t part of the Plan. We had just come out of her little cubicle, having failed to make any contact with her at all, when the warden came back to say that the reservation had been cancelled and that we could go and look at Splodge if we wanted to. It was love at first sight for all of us. It is just as well that Splodge’s siblings were already reserved because it would have been very, very hard to resist their charms. When you see the picture you will understand the name; he has a dirty thumb print sort of smudge on his head which makes him even more adorable.
The RSPCA usually like to carry out a home visit before releasing the animal to a new owner, and who can blame them after the sights they get to see. The receptionist was telling us that nothing surprises them any more, especially the depths to which humanity will sink in its treatment of animals. So sad, but thank goodness there are organisations that will care for them. There were a few admin issues, but yesterday, after two weeks of waiting, we were finally allowed to take him home. He is currently residing in Matt’s room until he acclimatises and also he has yet to have his second round of inoculations. We are looking forward to introducing him to our other two cats, who we really hope will take him to their hearts. Or at least not hate him. So, I proudly present to you, Titan:
Wishing you a happy week ahead,