The heady days of boat life had to come to an end eventually and after pacing Andrew to a glorious 10k PB and a bit more wandering around ‘Yacht-land’ it was time to fly home.  I’ll admit to being a little tired by the time I arrived at that evening’s rehearsal, having arrived home to essentially collapse into bed.  But it was an important one – for the upcoming brass band concert in aid of a local hospice.  Given there’s a fair chance I’ll end up there before long, I thought it worth the effort of making the music as good as it could be, even at the expense of my energy levels.

An early morning wake up call the next day didn’t help with the general fatigue either, but it was Paul the piano tuner and I had good reason to have this majestic instrument in top condition. It then took me two solid days to surface again as I was just wrecked from the aforementioned ‘relaxing’ holiday’ and this bout of relative exhaustion took me completely by surprise.  Over the next week or so, the tiredness dug in as I proceeded to enjoy eight solid (half) days of music in the form of conducting, playing and watching various gigs and rehearsals.  It’s not like I was too knocked out to enjoy the musical experiences, particularly the afternoon with a trombone choir full of pros.  But this too came at a price and following the last of these – a most musically and charitably successful brass band concert – I just didn’t have anything left.  Batteries empty, out of spoons, completely drained – take your pick of metaphors but they all amounted to the same thing.  

This lack of energy was/is as hard to deal with mentally as physically.  It used to take so so much more to do me in like this and it’s like my sense of impetus hasn’t received the message from the creaking muscles.  It feels like I’ve suddenly aged about 20 years and it’s not like there’s any debilitating treatment to pin it on.  So maybe this is a blip.  Maybe I always used to feel like this but was more practised at blocking out the lethargy and getting moving.  Maybe it’s a sign these remaining tumors are taking hold.  Not that the oncologist is too concerned – the blood test data is looking fairly good and I’ve got a few more weeks to live without treatment before the next set of tests are reviewed – so we’re essentially treading water.

That’s a real gift, but right now, it’s like I’m wading through quicksand.  I want to do all sorts of things – keep a few of the tentative commitments that I now have a good chance of being available for.  Investigate a few speculative but potentially very exciting projects.  See family, meet friends, be a musician, runner, writer, charity campaigner, go back to work.  Recently, the last of those has felt like a real possibility and it’s hard to argue that I’m not at least physically ready if I’m capable of a 10 mile run.  But I wont be much use to school if I’ve only just about gotten myself moving by the time the kids have left school.  It’s really frustrating – over recent weeks and months, I’ve made a point of saying how I’m choosing to live as fully as possible.  But before about 3pm, that realistically means sitting on the couch and letting the 2nd cup of coffee sink in.

Mentally, it’s a similar story.  It takes very little for me to be overwhelmed these days and the smallest accumulation of thought streams, whether or not they require action, seems to be too much.  I used to be a master at keeping a multitude of plates spinning in the air as I achieved the colossal work and life load that produced a lot of success.  But if my body feels like it’s aged 20 years, my internal processor has regressed by the same amount – It’s like I’ve maxed out the RAM and everything’s being saved onto floppy disk.  Never mind ‘reduced bandwidth’ – this band’s in danger of snapping if I have to so much as get out of the door with the relevant equipment and arrive wherever it is on time.  Everything’s taking so long these days – if I ever had a reputation for punctuality and reliability, there’s a chance I’ve lost it now.

This is all in contrast to the spectacular achievements of Caroline, who’s in a pretty similar position to me at the moment.  Last Sunday, she drew on months of arduous but consistent training (during treatment!) to finish the London Marathon in under three and a half hours.  This would be an extraordinary achievement for a healthy person, as evidenced by the fact that, with this time, Caroline has qualified for the Boston Marathon – the most prestigious of the majors.  And that’s in addition to fundraising of over £20,000 for Maggies.  It cannot be overemphasised just how impressive this is.

I would have joined to cheer at the Running Club water station, but had this brass band concert on and the conductor can’t exactly fail to turn up, especially if it’s for a hospice charity and he left his holiday in order to make it to their rehearsal.  That meant I had plenty of time in the morning to run my planned 10k beforehand but I simply didn’t.  After the concert had finished (did I mention that it was really successful – we raised loads for the hospice and played very well!) I got ready to run in the most procrastinatory fashion and wasted at least half an hour. Then karma proceeded to quite spectacularly bite me on the arse.  And, in fact, give me a comprehensive pelting as – 9.5k in – the most almighty hailstorm descended.  If I’d started running three minutes earlier, I would have missed it.  But no – as the sound of those little ice bullet impacts reverberated around my skull, I dashed for the closest bus shelter and rode out the worst of it before giving in and sprinting home, head bowed in sheltering regret that I had again failed to get myself moving.  That’ll learn me, I suppose!

Today, the energy isn’t great but perhaps I’m getting better at pushing through the brain fog and physical inertia.  After all, I was only 45 minutes later for a post-park run coffee than I said I’d be, but did make it out of the house before 9am.  Are these the green shoots of energetic recovery?  I really hope so – that day isn’t going to cease itself and I remain grateful to be alive at all let alone being to live an almost normal life.

Time to get going!

… after one more coffee

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Thanks for submitting your comment!