One small step…

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gouldian-finch-091You probably all know the phrase “ I had a shite week”.

Well, I had a shite week. And I need to talk about it. Last update had me in Spain after the “Wexford” experience with lots of sun, swimming and walking. A great four weeks. I substituted the pool for the gym and swam every day. The pool was 20 metres long and I gradually built up my lengths, peaking at 40 on two days in the last week. I would usually have a short stop after ten lengths to get my breath; a minute or so. The rest of the last week it was 30 lengths. I was very pleased with my progress and felt great except for a small cough that had developed in my throat.

Flew home on Saturday 22nd October and as usual felt knackered after the flight. Now the cough had developed into a wheeze and gone lower in my chest. By Sunday morning I was whacked and had no energy. I took some photos on Sunday evening for a friend and tried to play golf on Monday. I was feeling worse and rested most of Tuesday. I had a commitment to take more photos on Tuesday for a dear friend, which I did. Then an hour processing them on Wednesday morning. By midday I had to get back to bed and that was where I spent much of the next few days. I visited my doctor on Friday and he put me on an antibiotic. I felt awful and not in control of my body or condition. I had not been swimming, to the gym or getting any real exercise in over a week.

In my mind I knew that I would feel better if I could get to the gym. I finally got there on Tuesday of this week. I did 22 minutes on the cross-trainer followed by 35 minutes resistance work then finally 6 lengths in the pool. I felt great. I came home a new man. I felt more in control. I was tired on Tuesday evening and very sore yesterday. Not being in the gym showed. Swimming uses different muscles and I had pains in places I didn’t know I had places. Not as bad today and I will get back to the gym tomorrow at the latest.

The question here is how can you go from a programme of swimming up to 30 to 40 lengths of the pool a day, followed by walking for 2 to 3 hours to being a total wreck, overnight. Yes, I did have an infection and I did need an antibiotic but there was more to it than that. I had to push myself to get back to the gym. I knew it would do me good yet my body (or my brain) was trying to tell me I wasn’t able for it.

I believe that regular exercise is a key element in managing my CFS/ME. There were times in the last ten days that I felt I was back to square one and could not drag myself out of bed; a stark reminder that the underlying condition is still there. It took control and I felt awful. But I did get up and I did go to the gym. I surprised myself with the workout and the swim. The resultant muscle pains are understandable with the switch to swimming for a month.

I write this piece to try and help others who find themselves in the same situation or those who haven’t made that first step to regular exercise. It is a step only you can take and believe me it may be one small step to start but one giant leap on the road to recovery.

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