Ride on Time

My husband is a member of British Cycling, and last night printed the first page of a PDF file that he was directed to as part of his membership package. This details an eight week Sofa to 50k Bike Ride training programme.

As it transpires, I’m quite tempted to use this as the warm-up to Eroica because it ensures I get plenty of rest before the day. I’m going to take it and show my PT as a discussion starter next week, but before then I need a new Fitness Plan on the wall.

Next Five Weeks planned. Orange is the bike.

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My starting weight from five weeks ago is EXACTLY THE SAME as it is now, except with a crucial difference: I am eating more to fuel the extra workload. That means, logically speaking, once I adjust to more miles and start eating less? My weight will fall. The PT (quite sensibly) suggests not fixating on the scales, especially as I’m adjusting to a completely new form of exercise. Undoubtedly my stamina is improving, and the fact I’ve increased just about every weight in my upper body sessions suggests that side of things is benefiting from the change.

Now, all we need is legs at a consistent level.

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The key in all of this is the Weighted Average Power number: the higher that number, the harder my legs are effectively working. This is the second day in a row I’ve been able to maintain 134w and the plan now is to settle at this level for a while and build the endurance. Ideally I’ll want more but both ankles and knees need time to get the plan and work with it. I also need a Physio to poke my right foot at some point which I suspect has a trapped nerve somewhere. They’ve done wonders for my hands via shoulders so I would hope something can be done to at least reduce irritation.

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The other massive, positive change is my sleep pattern. I’ve had no choice but to go to bed at 9pm all this week, I’ve been physically incapable of anything otherwise. Both body and brain have been shattered and that lasts until I have to pee, almost without fail. Tonight I can afford a couple of extra hours because there’s no 7am school run but honestly, my life is getting better and not worse despite the need to rest more. I’m noticing more attentiveness and crucially, when I am tired, it is everything that shuts down. Fighting the tail end of my cough/cold/illness this week my body pretty much insisted I go have a kip, or we were not doing anything at all.

I cannot remember the last time that happened.

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The plan remains to aim for 110 miles a week, which is utterly doable at my hourly rate. As this is a static bike there’s no worries about the weather, and the recording tools I have (heart-rate monitor, Zwift) allow some decent number crunching after the fact.

I’ll let you know how I’ve gotten on in five weeks.

Getting Better

I went to bed last night at 8.30pm. I read, and then I slept in fits and starts all night.

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I got up an hour after my Fitbit tells me I woke up, and have been working ever since. The left ear is a bit bunged up, left side of my throat is sore and my vocal chords are clearly suffering but, if I’m honest, I feel pretty good. So much so, I will get my planning finished and go for an early hour on the bike, so I can come back and use endorphins to power my afternoon work. There is one small niggle however: a coughing fit resulted in hand covered in blood. My tonsils have a habit of doing this, historically, but I am always a bit careful because of that one time I got pneumonia and ended up in Hospital.

It’s okay, I’m really fine, and if that changes I’ll go deal with it.

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It is time therefore to make the most of the fact I’m still the only person up in the house and counter the fact that tomorrow is traditionally known as Blue Monday. In fact that gives me an idea for the first song of next week’s #Indy31 Playlist… :D

This is the Day

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Once this is written, I’ll be off to the Gym, for my first ‘serious’ hit at exercise since the Operation.

When I say ‘serious’ I am well aware I cannot go back to the level of exercise I was doing before. However, what can take place is a restart with glutes and obliques, strengthening my core muscles, and see how push ups and planks will work. I can also go back to the Octane machine for a lovely gentle all-over body warm up. My Trainer has details of what can and cannot be done, and on Monday I fully expect to be given stuff to keep me occupied. What can happen in the intervening period is lots of walking, and an emphasis on making sure moving is prioritised over inactivity.

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Most importantly of all, my thirst for writing fiction has resurfaced. I have a plan to completely re-write the start of my main WIP, based on some ideas that have surfaced since the Operation. I also have a 2000 word short story to complete for the upcoming Internet of Words project, which will be kicking into high gear this weekend. There’s probably a series of posts on my mental state post-operation as well, because I’m only now beginning to grasp just how much better I feel psychologically as a result of the gallbladder removal.

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Let’s start the way I mean to go on. Every day from now on starts with the Personal Post. If you want to know what’s going on in my head? Here’s where to find it. Every so often, I’ll post a nugget of personal background too.

Let’s make this place earn its keep, shall we?

Iconography

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I’ve been stealth writing stuff all weekend, since Thursday night, mostly because I don’t want to bore people with braindumps that means a great deal to me but not much to them. A friend told me I am perfectly within my rights to own my trauma, but there comes a point where the weight between exposition and boredom becomes very real indeed. I only need to look at my lovely and long-suffering family to understand that, like it or not, some days you just shut up and get on with life. The problem for me, right now, is that history is being rewritten. This is not revisionism, anything but. I am remembering the past as means to survive the present, and that is making for a lot of sudden and sometimes painful revelation.

This morning, we have returned to at least a semblance of normality.

Surviving #365photochallenge #photographer

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I went out after dropping the youngest off at School and did about ten days worth of overdue external running around: paying in cheques, posting mail, organising various things ‘outside’ including trying (and failing) to get a doctors appointment for my son. The earliest I’ll now manage outside of school hours is Wednesday, I’m glad he’s not horrendously unwell, or I’d be camping outside the Surgery tomorrow. I am also, inescapably, suffering what I now know is referred pain. Tonight cannot come quickly enough and yet, it is taking forever to arrive. However, I am making the most of the perception disparity by shoving as much work as possible into the space provided.

This may be only a semblance of normality, but it will do.

Consider Her Ways

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Normally my blog posts are named after songs. Today, I’m taking a book, one that was particularly significant in my youth. I remember being astounded by the main story in John Wyndham’s anthology and it having a profound effect for weeks after reading: I can’t really tell you anything about it either, because by doing so ruins a narrative that really needs to be read unspoilt. However, what I can tell you is that birth forms a key component of the conceit.

I was reminded of the Wyndham after reading this Guardian article about how premature lambs are now ‘grown’ in artificial wombs and, I must admit there was a stab of horror at the pictures I saw. Initially my thought was more of a ‘Brave New World’ scenario but then the same feeling emerged that I remember after finishing ‘Consider her Ways’ for about the twelfth time: humanity mucking about with nature does not sit well in my head. Of course, without that evolution, I’d be dead by now. I’d have never made it out of hospital as a baby.

Science has always trodden a delicate path between interference and assistance.

I suspect this has a lot to do with current concerns over my own health, but there is discomfort in growing amounts over what counts as ‘good’ science and what feels ‘bad’: I’m not a religious person, but the possibility that people could pick the sex of their child or ensure it has certain characteristics does not sit well in my mind. The Universe works best with the full spectrum of both diversity and chaos: trying to counter that or effectively guide the course of Evolution feels wrong. I’ve read enough speculative fiction to understand that for every wonder discovery or great idea, there’s always a price to pay.

I knew my great grandmother only for a very short time. One of my earliest memories is of her using a cloth hankerchief to make a mouse as amusement, and it always worked. She passed away, I remember, as not as a result of gangrene but the surgery that was supposed to extend her life. She never regained consciousness after the operation to remove her infected lower leg. I’ve always held a fear of being sent into a medically-induced sleep not simply because of this, but an incident when I was 4 or 5 and because of bad dental hygiene I had to have teeth extracted, and was rendered unconscious to do so. I can still remember exactly how this felt, enough to make me shake as I type. It is another fear that needs to be dealt with, as I have with so many others in the last year.

Science has made things immeasurably better in the last 50 years, yet it is still regarded by so many with a sense of trepidation. It is on days like yesterday I can understand that feeling, but the rational part of my brain knows that to move forward, this is yet another fear that needs to be overcome. Without science, there would not be a legitimate cure for asthma on the cards in my lifetime. When people with no other form of potential cure take gene therapy and the result is remission of their cancer? Science is amazing, and without it we’d all be lesser beings. Sometimes, taking the risk with the consequence is the best way forward, especially if it allows you more time to live.

The flip side of Science’s wonder remains the financial cost to the recipient.

When my husband and I spoke about the possibility of surgery, his first response was brutal, yet damning: at least I have the provision to do this without having to make a financial decision first. I am well aware of friends in the US currently in a state of near-permanent dread over what will happen to Obamacare, who have had to set up GoFundMe accounts in order to pay for unexpected medical expenses. I understand only too well that medicine is nowhere close to universally accessible to the people who need it most, and that this is intrinsically unfair. It may seem we live in a world full of wonder and potential, but if this is only available to a select few, is it really so brilliant to begin with?

There’s a lot to think about over my morning porridge today.

There There

This week has been tough. Mentally I’ve coped pretty well but physically, my digestive system is a mess. Having to lose what I’ve become reliant on in terms of high fat foods was a wrench my body initially wasn’t at all happy about. However, a week in and I’m beginning to cope. The other major loss is what counted as rewards on Treat Days are effectively out of the window too until I can get the all clear on my scans. I’ve been living on coated nuts in small portions, the occasional flapjack and luck, mostly. I wondered if I was doing this right until I got on the scales: my weight’s dropped consistently this last week, and I’m almost two pounds down. The key here is that there’s been only light exercise, because again I’m on orders not to strain my trunk area too vigorously.

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It is more than a year now since my last period. The night sweats remain, but are slowly tapering off, and I don’t seem to get hot in the daytime nearly as much as was the case before: *gasp* I’ve felt genuinely cold on a few occasions this last week, which is a distinct change. The biggest difference is my skin, which used to be really greasy: now I’m almost permanently dry, but the skincare routine is taking care of that. Oh, and body hair’s stopped growing, which means that I’m brushing my hair less and it is undoubtedly thinning. If genetics isn’t lying I won’t go bald, but even if I did I think that’s a hurdle I could tackle. I love my long hair now and I’ll be making the most of it for as long as I can.

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It seems odd at this stage to be undergoing so much change, but I’m quite sanguine about everything that is happening at once. I’ll be doing a session at the Gym later with weights but only light Cardio, just so I can keep momentum going. I don’t have a PT on Monday as my trainer is away so I think going forward I’ll plan to do *something* daily in order to keep the weight loss moving but not get too stressed if I don’t break goals. I’m certainly not in a mental state of panic or unhappiness over anything related to weight or exercise right now, and long may that continue.

In fact, everything’s looking just fine.

I Might Be Wrong

There is a eucalyptus tree in our garden, almost pulled over in the last round of Winter storms. We’ve decided it was too unwieldy, that our whole garden is going to be remodelled in the next year, and this (plus many things) had to go. My husband had taken most of the height from it, but showed reticence to finish the job, and after a particularly passionate discussion over commitment to maintaining the outside of the house, I stepped in. That meant that yesterday morning, as remnants of a teenage LAN party were filtering into unusually warm April sun, I stepped into the garden with a huge hacksaw and a plan.

Today Girls and Boys, Alt is tidying the Garden… #spring #photographer #365photochallenge

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I am not, as a rule, an outdoors person. Sure, I enjoy going to places and looking at things, but relaxation for me is never outside. However, now I’m beginning to grasp that my future is changing, it is only right and proper that I force out of my normal comfort zone and start doing stuff that is not fun. That eucalyptus was taken to almost ground level yesterday, and has a root system that is a metaphor for how sometimes it is hard to remove things from your life. Every time I thought I’d got on top of removing the stump the thing showed me how deep to dig and strong I’d have to be to cut it out. I’ve done good work, but one day will not be enough, and I’ll be back this week to finish the job. However, what I did manage was to clear more than half the rest of the mess, and call out for a chainsaw because sometimes, you just gotta use the big equipment.

However, yesterday was exactly what was needed.

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The change to my upper body strength was the biggest revelation: sawing shit is FUN when you don’t get tired after 30 seconds. In fact I hacksawed so many things it was enjoyable: once upon a time I’d have never coped with the job I’d set myself in one sitting. Yesterday, by 3.30pm I was tidying up and feeling the effort had been very much worthwhile. The other massive upswing from last week is the ‘nothing fatty that could set off another gallbladder incident until you’ve had bloods and an ultrasound’ warning from the Doctor. I now know that peanut butter is off the books, organic included. It meant the roasters had to be omitted from last night’s chicken dinner too, but that didn’t diminish the awesomeness of the experience, because I sneaked bread sauce in.

This has also stopped me looking at calorie content at foods and pushed me back to the ‘fat’ part of the nutritional information. Even though I’ve been better with food, there were indulgences (especially in the cheese and butter departments) because I’d be able to burn the calories off. The problem now, of course, is if my body cannot handle the process of breaking down high fat foods, there has to be accommodation and I will need to start logging those indulgences to ensure I’m not potentially causing more harm. What I really want to avoid is surgery, because that will put back all my hard work potentially for months. If I can manage this without the need to do so, that will be the long term aim.

I might be wrong, but the more I think about last week is turning out to be a massive positive than negative.