Monday, 20 June 2016

Apocalypse Ready?

The universe is huge. 400 million stars are born every day. Thirty-three light years from us right now, there is an exoplanet covered in burning ice. There's a giant cloud of alcohol in Sagittarius B. There's a hell of a lot going on out there, and if I believed in gods, I'd definitely believe they have way too much to think about with all that to worry about me. And yet it's hard not to suspect you might be the butt of a cosmic joke occasionally.

I decided back in April/May to take up running in an effort to deal with a few things. Firstly was my general health - I'm in a very sedentary job, I love food, and I have a fiance who's an amazing cook. Secondly was my body image, which has been poor all my life, but has dipped down to pretty unhappy lows over the past few years. I spent most of my twenties working on not being an anxiety-ridden wreck, and I've mostly succeeded, but some things stick around. The third thing was my doctor re-diagnosing me with exercise-induced asthma. I say "re-diagnosed," because I was diagnosed as a child, but didn't get much support from the people who needed to support me (school PE teachers) and I grew up believing I was just lazy and unfit, and that asthma didn't play a part in that.

But my GP said otherwise, and then he said I needed to go do regular exercise so he could properly measure my lung capacity and figure out what dosage of corticosteroids I need. Ugh. Anyway, I dutifully bought a home stepper machine and got to it. Turns out stepper machines are deadly boring, so I decided to give running a crack. It would be a stretch to say I enjoyed my first attempt, but I was proud I did it without dying, so I went out again the next week. And got shin splints.

If you've never had shin splints, they're not or anything, but they are really, really painful and you definitely can't run while you're recovering. In fact, even walking was tricky at first. I just had to lay on the sofa taking anti-inflammatories for a couple of days and try to avoid stairs, or high heels, or moving. But I needed to keep up the exercise regime, so I started going swimming a couple of times a week in addition using the stepper.

And the swimming aggravates my rotator cuff syndrome. Basically, the ball-and-socket joints in my shoulders get inflamed, and whilst this is manageable, it's also painful, and it triggers other problems in my arms, wrists, and hands. It doesn't really take much to trigger an episode. Carrying a heavy bag, cold weather, sleeping on the wrong side, thinking "wow, it's been a while since my last episode!"...That would be fine, if I could just stop doing EVERYTHING while the problem passes, but since I can't take a month off work and sit quietly not using my arms every time it happens, I have to just take anti-inflammatories, do my physio exercises, and carry on.

So running was out, swimming is not ideal, and the stepper is boring. And over the past nine days, I wrote a 21k short story, and that was a really bad idea because hammering away at a keyboard for days on end in the day job and at home does not help settle the rotator cuff flare-up, but apparently I don't learn lessons. The universe is laughing at me. The universe does not want me to be healthy. The universe wants me to be chowing down painkillers and knowing my place on the sofa.

To which I can really only say, "no, YOU fuck off, Universe." Because I am making progress. I can run again now, which is great because I did weirdly miss it over the past few weeks. I mean, I've made a running playlist on Spotify. I only make playlists for things I'm really committed to. I've got the Zombies, Run app, and it makes the experience actually kinda fun. I went out on Saturday for a run round Milton Country Park and accidentally got swept up in a 2k race. I managed to extricate myself eventually, but I still got congratulated for my great effort by one of the stewards on my way out, so I feel pretty smug about that.

Note to self, avoid the Country Park on Saturday mornings.

Anyway, yes, I am making progress. I've lost a bit of weight and I don't wheeze and choke going up the stairs with the laundry basket much anymore. That's pretty cool. I don't think I could outrun a zombie yet, but I could probably outrun an old lady running from a zombie. Unless it was one of the old ladies I saw doing the 2k on Saturday. They were all pretty hardcore. Either way, it's encouraging after so many years to feel like my body isn't the enemy.

I'm viewing myself as a second draft right now. The basics are all there and they mostly do what they're supposed to, but it can be improved upon. If you consider that 90% of your body is stardust, that's some pretty good material to work with even if the Universe does occasionally laugh at you.

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