3 years or 3 score years, which to celebrate?

Here I am sat by the river in Dalyan as the sun sets, in a couple of hours it will be a week since I arrived back in my home from home. The weather for the first few days was pretty normal for the season, now it is warming up again and temperatures of close to 40C have been forecast.

From the title of this post astute readers will have realised that there are two anniversaries to notice, both are significant in differenet ways. The reaching 60 years is considered by society to be one of those big important birthdays. I am unsure why 40 and 60 have such a significance whilst 50 does not. 30 is a biggy whilst 20 is not such a big one. When I was growing up your 21st still had signifcance, now I think it is more that 18 is the significant one, well in the UK at least. So here I am at the grand old age of 60 and retired, the later being something I was not expecting a few years ago. I am officially a year into retirement but due to the collarbone saga it only feels like I am 6 months into it, the months before felt like being off sick still.

I guess I should be reviewing my life at 60, but after the cancer it seems that reaching 60 is not such an important thing, living 3 years after the diagnosis seem a much bigger achievement, though one that is down to others more than me. All I did was go for the treatments, do the physio and speech therapy exercises and take all the many meds I was given.

In many ways it is not possible to separate the celebration of reaching 60 or 3 years, which is why I decided on the above title. Both are worthy to celebrate and yet in many way both are arbitary periods of time to celebrate, the birthday, socially constructed to be important, the cancer survival more arbitary and probably more about my need to mark my survival for 3 years and in fact the anniversary of the treatment ending is the ones my oncologist and ENT surgeon see as more important. For me though my birthday and the diagnosis are entwined, partly because of closeness to each other on the calender and partly due to being here for my birthday after the diagnosis.

So what did I do for my birthday, well very little besides being sent lots of birthday messages and a few friends in Dalyan wishing me happy birthday in person. I deliberately had not arranged anything, choosing instead to have a day doing things I like and going to places I liked. So lunch was in a favourite restaurant outside Dalyan, with a lovely walk there and back. Dinner was in a favourite restaurant in town close to the river. I did have a bit of a celebration on Saturday night, a few days later when a friend made me a cake as a suprise, which was shared with a few people I knew. I really didn’t want to celebrate on the day and would have hated having a party and being the centre of attention. I may or possibly should say might, arrange something once I get home.

What have I been doing in Dalyan I am sure you aren’t asking. But in case any of you are I can tell you not a great deal. I am taking the occasional photograph, doing a bit of gentle walking about and one longer walk on the other side of the river to Çandır and the harbour there. I am reading and sitting by the river, chatting with people I know around town and generally having a relaxed and chilled time. Today I have suffered from a bout of fatigue and I am not sure why, as I had not pushed myself over the last few days. I suppose it is just one of those occasional dips I sometime have and need to accept as being a part of post treatment me. Fortunately they are getting less frequent and I don’t usually hit me as hard as they did.

So here I am 3 score years into my life and hoping for at least another score of years of healthy and active life. If I don’t get them, well what will be will be. Like all of us my life has been full of the ups and downs we all experience but the main thing is that I am now enjoying life and feel very fortunate to still be here, able to do many things I want to do and have a future to look forward to, whether it is a short one or a longer one of bonus time. When I retired a little over a year ago, people were very kind to me, telling me that I had made a difference to many people lives through my career, which was good to hear. I don’t know that the next phase of my life will bring, I would hope that in some small way that I can have a similar postive effect on others as I have so far and to this end I will be seeking out voluntary work and possibly some paid work over the next few years. My life is good and I have plenty of good bits to notice and I hope you take the time to notice the good bits in your own lives, because when you do, the tough times we all experience seem a little bit easier to bear. This postive attitude I believe helped me recover better, suffer less from ongoing side-effects than my treatment team expected and survive longer. Surprisingly there is research that does inidcate cancer survivors who are more postive do better, so looking on the brightside is good for you.

And on this positive note I am going to end this post with my catch phrase, “life is better when you notice the good bits” and remember smiling is contagious, when you smile you feel better and others smile back and feel better and then as they go about their day they hopefully spread the contagion.

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Little to report, a quiet life can be good

Well it is about 2 weeks since my last entry and I am pleased to report that there is nothing major to report. I have been cycling a few times a week, seen a few friends and generally got on with life. Booked my next trip to Turkey, which I am looking forward to.

So what will be happening over the next week or so. Well firstly I will be enjoying the bank holiday weekend, well the rest of it. For once the weather has been good here for a bank holiday weekend and I think it will be tomorrow as well. The voluntary work application is progressing, I have been offered training dates which I can’t do so they are offering me more dates for when I get back from Turkey. I am looking forward to doing the training and am keen to start as I now feel that I am ready to move on from just being retired. It is good whilst a bit strange to be thinking about getting back to doing something work related again.

Life feels a bit like I am between stages at the moment, part of that is due to current events but a lot I think goes back to 3 years ago and the recent check up. 3 years ago I was waiting for the confirmation I had cancer and my biggest concern was would I be allowed to go on holiday or not. I was. Now I am in the post check up phase and feeling good, which is a very different place to be, a much better one than 3 years ago. So in 3 years life has changed a lot and despite the cancer and all that I went through I feel that in many ways I am happier than I was prior to the cancer arriving and domintating much of my life for a good period of time. The shadow of it is always there but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying life and finding plenty to look forward to.

Anniversaries and other events

If you read my blog regularly (you can probably get help for this if you do) and have a good memory you will know that I am now in the midst of lots of cancer related anniversaries. Fortunately though alongside there are some good anniversaries to celebrate. Firstly last week it was my youngest nieces first birthday, she is an extremely cute and happy little girl. The importance of the day and the family celebration a few days later was of no interest to her at all and probably won’t be until her third birthday. It was nice catching up with the family members who were there for the cake eating event. The other first anniversary was for my youngest half brothers (by around 2 mins) wedding last year. He wasn’t able to celebrate much due to a sports/activity related injury, we are good at doing this to ourselves in my family. And most remarkably I remembered that I have hit 30 years since buying my house, which is pretty amazing. In my first 30 years I lived in about 20 addresses, since just before hitting 30 I have lived in just one, so in a few weeks I will have lived here longer than I have lived everywhere else I have lived added together.

There is also sadly another anniversary, 2 years ago yesterday my colleague died of throat cancer. When I saw him shortly before cancer stole his life away, he asked that I make every effort to beat it and enjoy life. Well two years on I can say I am mostly enjoying life and that today I had a check up and got another all clear, so have 3 months till the next check up. I don’t believe in an afterlife but if I did I know he would have been pleased for me and that I am so far cancer free.

Being two and a half years post treatment I have taken the first steps in becoming a volunteer for Macmillan, having an interview today for a “Peer Evaluator” in a new project Macmillan are starting later in the year. I think if this opportunity came up 6 months ago I probably would not have gone for it, but know I am ready to. Whilst the distance from my treatment is a part of this, it is also that I no longer have a broken collarbone now am feeling that I am a relatively fit and healthy person for my age. Until recently I felt an invalid due to the collarbone and cancer treatment side effects. Now I am feeling that I am heading towards being back to my normal self. A big sign that I am feeling more myself is that I am being more sociable and am getting out more. This weekend I have had the busiest social weekend in ages, Friday I went to a private view, Saturday I had the family birthday event, yesterday I have a friends birthday lunch and met some new people and got to know then and tomorrow I am going out with friends to do a pub quiz. In between this I have fitted in a few cycle rides, interview and check up.

Over the last couple of years I have been quite reclusive and not really wanted to go out and socialise that much. At times this was due to energy levels, other times due not feeling socially confident and sometimes because I just was feeling reclusive. I was going out, not often and when I did it was with a small select group of long time friends or family. The exception to this had been meeting up with people from a Facebook group about cats, which led to getting involved in the Snowcat project and making a few new friends. When I went out to the initial social meetings with them, I nearly didn’t go as I had lost a lot of confidence. I think the warm welcome from these new friends helped me come out of my post cancer protective shell and their warmth and kindness towards me was instrumental in my return to being more social again. So over time I have developed good friendships with a few of them.

I know lots of people see me as being a very confident person and an outgoing person, this doesn’t always come naturally to me in some situations. Sometimes I really have to work hard to be outgoing, which I think can make me seem stand offish but in actuality I am having a bout of shyness. Whilst this normally happens with people I don’t know or only know slightly, it can sometimes happen in group situations of people I know well, which I guess makes people sometimes think I am mood or something. Sometimes when this happens I can break through it, other times I can’t so will sit quietly and not appear engaged in what is going on. Other times I can break out of my shyness shell and function normally, others I over compensate and probably dominate conversations. And this isn’t helped by my tinnitus and difficulty in tuning in on conversations when there is a lot of background noise. So when after my treatment I had lost confidence, energy levels were low it was just easier to stay at home.

So here I am, with 3 months to my next check up, a healed collarbone and whilst I still suffer from fatigue I am relatively fit and healthy for my age. I now have to decided what to do with the next few months. Of course a trip to Turkey will feature in my plans and hopefully getting involved with the voluntary work. Keeping in touch with new and old friends is also something I want to do and will make efforts to do this, even when my confidence ebbs which no doubt it will. I think I have mentioned it here and I have definitely spoken with a few friends about feeling that until recently I felt I had been on extended sick leave rather than retired. I am now moving more into thinking I am retired and that the being long term sick phase is over and I can get on with the next stage of my life. I have no idea where it will take me and what it will bring but I am now taking tentative steps to starting this new journey or journeys into the next stage. What ever the future brings, I know that there will be many good bits and that any challenges that come my way will be made easier if I continue to notice all the good bits. And talking of good bits, whilst walking to the hospital for the check up today, I got to thinking or maybe wondering is better description; How many times have I walked through Queens Park on the way to and from the hospital and enjoyed it and focused more on the pleasure of this than the reason for the walk, which was the hospital appointment for treatment etc.

Well must end soon as I am getting hungry so need to go and cook something to eat. Something chewy and chunky I think, because as my consultant reminded me today, not everyone who goes through my treatment keeps their swallow reflex and that I kept eating a little bit all the way through, that is was very unusual for people who had the very high radiation dosage I needed to maintain eating all the way through treatment. I am also fortunate that my sense of taste is pretty intact so I can still enjoy the flavours, smells as well as the textures of a normal for me diet. My consultant though doesn’t see this as fortunate, he sees it as being a result of my determination and forcing myself to eat proper food when I didn’t want to and it hurt to chew and swallow solid food. So partly because of being determined not to be tube fed and hating the meal substitute drinks they gave you during my treatment I can still enjoy eating now, which I am very grateful for, so good bye as I head off to the kitchen.

A stormy wet day three years ago

It is wet and windy here but not as much as it was three years ago when I first found the lump. A year ago I wrote a post about finding the lump. Last years blog entry So I will try not to repeat myself, well no more than I usually do in these posts.

Time is a strange thing it can be objectively measure but we experience in a more subjective than objective way. For me and I expect you too, it flows in a very variable way, sometimes it seems slow and others it rushes past and on occasions it does both at the same time. In many ways it seems like yesterday that I retired, yet in the last year despite being in a sling for much of it I have done a lot and kept busy when I look back. Yet during the last year I remember feeling frustrated at times a not being able to do much and being constrained by the collarbone and the fatigue. I am still adjusting to retirement and as I have written before it was only around Easter this year when I finally could put the sling aside that I felt I had moved from being off sick into retirement.

Since retirement I have been to Dalyan twice, both times for 4 weeks or more and I am planning another trip soon. I went to a brothers wedding and managed to take photos of the event that were well received by most who have seen them. I have kept in touch with work colleagues and other friends. I spent a lot of time exploring Brighton on foot and discovered lots of places that I want to go back and photograph and other places I wanted to explore more. I am now cycling again and whilst a year ago I wrote about cycling daily, I seem to go about every other day at the moment. Whilst the distances are not great I do mostly go on hilly routes so my fitness is slowly coming back and I am beginning to get a bit faster again. Yesterday I did around 20 km in an hour, most of it into a head or cross wind which was hard work, felt great afterwards though.

Earlier this year the few months I spent working on the Snowcat project took a lot of time up and got me out and about and meeting new people which was good. I enjoyed doing it greatly, learnt about a different type of photography. When I offered my services to the charity event I was unsure whether they would want me to take the photographs and whether they would like them. They did want me and my photographs were well received which was nice. Whilst I enjoyed doing this it has given me a lot to think about. If I shift my photography from a hobby to paid work, I would probably be doing commission based work. In the Snowcats project I had a pretty free rein (artistic freedom) and could decide on how and in which context or setting I wanted to shoot each Snowcat. If I was doing commercial work I wonder if I would have as much freedom and whether I would want to work without that freedom. They other way of doing photography would be to take photographs and try sell them, but that is probably very hard work and would entail lots of marketing which I am unsure I want to do. So lots to think of here.

Another option might be to start up a consultancy alone or with others, offering consultancy and training around child mental health etc. I was approached about delivering some workshops at a conference but turned it down as it was around the time of my collarbone surgery. I also did not feel ready to take this on then, partly due to the fatigue but also due to lacking confidence I could do a good job. I feel more confident that I could do it now and and am now giving this some consideration. I hadn’t realised for a long time how big a knock my confidence had taken due the cancer and side effects following the treatment. When I entered into this three years ago I was totally convinced I would breeze through it, I was fit and active and thought I would be fully over the treatment a few months after it completed. With my colleague having proceeded me into treatment by 6 month I thought knew a fair bit about it, I knew a bit but nowhere near enough. Both of us I realise now, minimised the impact of the treatment on us, a sign of our inherent optimism.

Sadly he is no longer alive, dying from his cancer, as have many other people I know have. It makes me realise how fortunate I am to be here still and taking your time with theses blogs. So 3 years ago today, I found the lump and discounted it, thinking it could not be anything serious, lightning couldn’t strike twice so close, that two colleagues couldn’t get the same cancer. It was only the next day when I went to my GP and he was unsure what it was that I wondered if it could be something a bit serious. Initially I wasn’t that concerned, so only mentioned it to colleagues and didn’t say anything to family and friends as I truly thought it was nothing. I only went to the GP because I was convinced to go by two colleagues.

It would be easy to focus on all the bad bits of the last 3 years, but whilst there were some, the treatment was horrendous and very traumatising, the check ups are stressful because you have to go back every few months to find out if you will get terrible news. The two collarbone breaks and surgeries were not the most pleasant experiences, when they immobilised my neck during my time in A and E for the first one I did wonder if I might have done myself some serious damage, fortunately I hadn’t. The ongoing fatigue is an irritant, something that I am getting better at managing and I think is less frequent now. Whether this is because I am getting better at managing it or it is lessening I am unsure. I have felt lonely at times over the last 3 years, being single and living alone does mean I have had to get used to seeing people a lot less than I did and I do miss the social aspects of working, though when I worked I sometimes yearned for more opportunities for solitude, as the say goes, be careful what your wish for.

The good bits of the last 3 years greatly outweigh the above downsides. After my treatment I managed to spend a lot of my recovery period in Dalyan and other places where the sun can be seen more reliably. During my treatment I was able to walk through Queens Park everyday and since then due to my regular appointments I have been fortunate in being able to experience the park over 3 years of seasonal changes. I have made new friends, reinforced some existing friendships, got into contact with some lost friends, one only a couple of days ago via Facebook, one of my closest friends during my sixth form at Maidstone Grammar School found me and contacted me and it is good to catch up. I have had the opportunity to take early retirement and move into the next of my life and despite my recent mishaps am fit and healthy for my age. I have enough to live on and travel a bit. In reality compared to most people on the planet I am very fortunate. As I have written many times, life is better when you notice the good bits and I have many good bits to notice.

So what I am doing to mark this 3rd anniversary of lump day, well by coincidence a old friend wrote a play that is on tonight, so I am going to watch that. It has been on in Brighton and all over the country before but I was unable to go due to the after effects of the lump so it seem appropriate that I can go today.

The fatigue brick wall and looking forward

I have been feeling fairly good recently, occasionally feeling a bit fatigued but nothing that bad. Today though is different, I feel like I am wading through treacle physically and mentally. When I woke up this morning I felt a bit sluggish and thought a couple of coffees and a shower would sort me out. Well I was wrong there, feeling worse now and thought I would try some mental exercise and typing to see if that can shake it off. Over the last week or so I have felt a bit fatigued but nothing really like this and was thinking that my cycling was helping and still do. I think this fatigue is due to having a stomach bug that is going around a couple of days ago. I took it easily yesterday because of this, all I did was go to the shop to get a few bits of food that I needed the rest of the day I rested in front of the TV watching the Tour de France or listening to the radio. However, I am now thinking the bug took more out of me than I thought so another quiet day in on order, which is a shame as I had plans that I am having to shelve. I expect that I will be fine tomorrow, well I am hoping so and able to get back to being more active.

Over the weekend I went for 3 rides, which were enjoyable and I think it is getting a bit easier. I am still slow compared to pre treatment, I have realised though that it is not only going up hills that I am slower, it is down hills that I am most noticeably slower, I am still less confident than I was. My speed is coming back slowly but I am still taking it very easy when going down and expect I will for a bit yet. I have never been a really fast downhill rider, preferring to rest and pedal gently rather than pushing on. Partly because I need to take a breather but more because it is often the best time to take in the view. Being able to take in the view and exercise outdoors is the reason I like cycling and running. With both you get the buzz of exercise and the enjoyment of being outside enjoying the sights and sounds etc. of being outdoors. Whilst I was in Dalyan earlier this year I used to do my physio exercises outside and found them much more enjoyable than doing them indoors.

In fact doing exercise indoors has always seemed like a chore to me, whereas going out for a run or cycle is much more pleasurable. This might be part of the reason I have never really got into swimming. I have done it, ground out the lengths and enjoyed the buzz of exercising but it has still felt like a chore and not as enjoyable outdoor exercise. A few people have suggested I try sea swimming, I haven’t for a couple of reasons, firstly the water is bloody cold in the UK but more importantly I don’t feel that I am a good enough swimmer to do it. So I will stick to cycling and maybe take up running again.

I have just been sent some information about a volunteering opportunity with a cancer charity, this has come at just about the right time for me. I have been thinking about what I want to over the next months and years to keep me mentally stimulated and active. So I think I will apply for this and will look for other opportunities. I really enjoyed being busy and active whilst doing the Snowcat project and taking photographs to help publicise the event this helped me realise or recall is probably more accurate, that I like having something to do. Not sure what else of note that has been going on since my last entry, basically life is good and I am looking forward to my next trip to Dalyan and working out the dates I travel. Wondering how long to go for at the moment.

More rides completed safely

As I write I am sat in front of the TV watching the Tour de France, it is a flat stage so a sprinters day, which means nothing much happens apart from a flurry at the start where a few rider head off into a break away. Then towards the end the main bunch of riders chase them down, catching them with a few kilometres to go and then the sprinters race to the line, the middle bit is pretty much everyone cycling in formation and chatting so not very entertaining. Unlike Sunday’s stage which was a mountains day, with lots of up and downs where the General Classification riders try to get away and get a lead over the other competitors and the mountain specialists are competing for mountain points. So a much more engrossing day with tactic playing a part, sadly though these types of day are riskier for the riders on Sunday there were some horrendous crashes, fortunately no one was critically injured, the worst being a broken collarbone and pelvis. After watching the stage on Sunday I got on my bike and went for a ride of around 12km as I did the day before. Since my accident I have noticed that I am more cautious going downhill than I was before and if I have a left hand turn I am very cautious. But as I tend to prefer going up hills I am OK with taking it easy on the downhills and work hard going up the hills.

Since my return to cycling I have now done 6 rides, which is about one every two days. Today’s ride was the first one when there was risk of rain and there were a few drops whilst I was out. This did cause me to pause for thought briefly as it was a morning like this when I broke my collarbone the second time. Immediately after the accident happened I had thought it must have been greasy roads, which made no sense as I was not travelling fast enough and there was no sign of diesel on the road. Which left me wondering why I had come off, it was not until I picked up the bike and tried to ride it home one handed that I noticed the front tyre was flat. So the accident was not due to the greasy road, this did not stop me briefly thinking about riding on roads as they get wet with rain. This is the time when they are most slippery as the rain mixes with the muck on the road to create a lubricating emulsion. A few minutes of hard rain washes away the muck so they become less slippery fairly quickly and if you are reasonably sensible you should be fine. However, with my recent misfortune I was wondering if I should cut my ride short. I didn’t and continued on my planned route which included another hill to climb up and then as gentle slope down back towards home.

Over the last 10 days I had a fairly busy time catching up with colleagues, seeing 4 of them, some for the first time in ages. It was good catching up with them, finding out what is going on for them in their lives. One I saw with her 2 year old daughter, who is lovely and very entertaining. Another of them I hadn’t seen since her trip to Sri Lanka and it was good to find out about this. It made me realise it is around 6 or 7 years since I was last there. She wanted to hear about my trip to Dalyan and was wondering when I would be going again. I haven’t booked anything yet so will have to get round to doing so. I am unsure when I want to go, sometime in September, but when is to be decided. As I have a check-up mid August I feel mixed about booking flights. Sometimes I leave booking them until after the check-up, other times I do it before the check-up. It is hard in some ways planning things for after check-ups and yet I often do. I keep thinking that check-ups will become easier, well not so much the check-up but the run up to them. For me they don’t appear to be getting easier. This is despite the knowledge that the further past the end of treatment the odds move in my favour. However, until I get to 5 years post treatment there is enough of an increased risk for them to want to keep checking-up on me, at the moment 3 monthly and then 4 monthly and finally 6 monthly. I don’t feel like the cancer has come back so part of me feels that I worry for no reason, another part knows though that it is a sneaky disease and could be preparing to come back as I type and I won’t know anything because it has to be fairly advanced before you notice symptoms.

Because I have been having a busier time recently I have been feeling fatigued at times. I am hoping that having the opportunity to do strenuous exercise again I will be able to banish the fatigue by returning to being fitter and that my stamina increases again. Tine will tell. My shoulder and neck continue to be painful much of the time, cycling does not increase this and in fact the endorphins released through exercise banish the pain for a while. I was warned that side effects of my surgeries and radiotherapy could be pain and I am thinking this is something I will have to live with for the foreseeable future. When I get bad pain I do take some medication but mostly I grin and bear it as they say. I think cycling is helping my shoulder regain strength and with the physio exercises should help me get back to fuller strength and movement sooner. I think I have said I don’t feel restricted in movement now, strength is not fully back yet but I guess with time it will be.

What else has been happening, not much. I have been giving thought to moving, downsizing, not been looking beyond glancing at a few flats online in a few different areas in and around Brighton. Seeing what I can get for my money in different areas and what is available. But before I do more than casually look online I would need to put my house on the market and I don’t feel ready to do that yet. I think the reason I don’t want to take this step is that I don’t know where I want to move to. Do I want to remain in the Hanover area? If I go to live in Dalyan or somewhere else, then buying again in Brighton makes sense as it is easy to rent out property here and you get a good return. If I moved outside Brighton it might not be so easy to get tenants. Or maybe I would be best selling up and investing my money when I am ready to move to sunnier climes. So something I need to think on for a bit longer.

Well time to be finishing this entry as today’s stage of the Tour is getting towards the and the racing is starting to get interesting again.

Nearly a year since the last bike ride.

Yesterday I found out that the result of the CT scan showed that my collarbone has fully healed which was to put it mildly, rather good news. This meant that nearly a year after the second collarbone break I was again able to cycle, well actually I could have cycled again earlier but it was thought best to wait until I got the result of this scan. I still am getting pain from it which is unexplained but as I get pain from the neck it all gets merged together and when I am busy doing stuff it is easy to put aside. It is mostly mild in level, I guess with the occasional period of moderate pain so whilst not pleasant is OK and manageable. When I got the news I thought I would wait a few days before going for a cycle ride and fully intended to wait until next week before going for a ride.

This morning I initially woke at around 4:45 which is not unusual for me. Got up had a wee and a drink of water and thought I would try going back to sleep again. I did and woke again at 8:30 which for me is very rare these days. After a coffee I was heading down for a shower and after cleaning my teeth suddenly got the urge to go for a bike ride, got dressed and headed out of the door before I really thought about it. Got on the bike and rode for 5km, with a fair amount of uphill riding and overtook another rider on one of the longer hills which pleased me. I could have ridden further but decided that as I had gone further than I had thought I would on the first ride I better stop. Over the last few months I have often imagined being back on the bike again and wondered what I would feel. I guess I had ridden about 500 metres when as I rode up a gentle slope I realised I had a great big grin on my face and was loving being back on the bike.

In addition to riding the 5km I have probably walked around 8 km today, mainly because I felt like getting out and about and being active rather than sitting around at home. Over the last year all my exercise has been walking and whilst I like it, it doesn’t really compare with cycling so I am looking forward to more bike rides and getting much fitter again. I had been worried that due to my enforced reduction in exercise I had put on weight, this I found out yesterday at a routine asthma check up was not the case. All I have done is probably lose a bit of muscle and convert it to fat, so over the next few months I want to do the reverse process and lose my slight middle aged belly and regain leg muscles. Of course to do this I need to avoid falling off and breaking anything, which with a bit of good fortune will be the case. If not it will be another delay before I get back cycling.

I know several people have questioned my judgement in returning to cycling. As my orthopaedic surgeon said, better to be cycling and happy than unhappy and putting on weight or words to that effect. So I will be doing my be happy and be fitter through cycling. I am also hoping that by getting back to doing strenuous aerobic exercise that it will help with overcoming the fatigue. I do believe that one of the reasons I did so well initially was that I was doing exercise and getting fitter again soon after the end of the treatment. Once I went back to work and exercising alongside went well at first, it was when I started working full time or more and was doing a couple of 2 hour or so rides at the weekend and an hour or so ride mid week it was a bit much. On advice from professionals I cut this back significantly, with hindsight I think that was mistake, or cutting back so much was a mistake. Cycling for some reason seems to reduce fatigue for me rather than increase it, whereas walking a lot seems to cause fatigue in much the same ways as trying to do to much of most things does. My theory, which is based a little bit on reading about current ideas about fitness training is; that cycling, which can mix very hard exercise with periods of gentle exercise and relaxation if you push hard going up the hills, amble down hills and work gently on the flat is really good at getting me fitter and as a result my stamina improves and this reduces my fatigue. Whether this is totally the case is in some ways irrelevant because it works for me and it might just be an effect similar to the placebo effect.

On Monday I went out for a day out which included a fairly long but gentle walk with a colleague, I drove a fair amount around an hour each time on the journey there and back. I had intended to drop her off and then go to the supermarket but was so exhausted that I decided to drive home and have a rest. Tuesday I felt pretty fatigued. Compared to today I think I probably did less on Monday but it effected me more, I feel fine now and whilst I know that I have exercised in my legs I do not feel exhausted. I feel relaxed and content after the exercise and think that I could do more, I won’t because I know that would be a mistake. This is why I think cycling helps me overcome the fatigue more than anything else does. Maybe some reader who is an expert in the science of exercise and recovery etc. could tell me why this is so or that it doesn’t fit with current theories.

So 360 days since the last ride I was back on a bike, I am hoping that I don’t have such a long break again, well not for several years and a bit more. Being back on a bike is a sign that I am getting close to “my normal” and whilst I had the illusion of returning to “my normal” in 2015 I am hoping that this time I can get back there. I know that age means I won’t have the energy and ability to recover that I had before the cancer, I can though reasonably expect to get closer to it than I am at the moment. Life feels like it holds more potential following the bike ride, or maybe it is that I feel more able to go out and get on with my life more now that I am back on the bike again.

Also driving again and getting out and about has been good. Because of the pain driving caused I hadn’t been doing much, since getting back from Dalyan it has got easier to drive. I am not going to claim Dalyan is a miracle cure, it is more that I had another month to do my physiotherapy exercises that helped. The pain caused by driving has got slightly less, more importantly I now feel I have the strength in the arm to drive properly. In fact I believe I now have near to full movement in my arm again and that the limitations in the movement are as much to do with the residual effects of the neck surgery as the collarbone break and surgeries. With ongoing exercising I am sure I will gradually gain a bit more movement and more importantly regain strength in my left arm. So all in all it has been a good few weeks since coming back home. Not perfect, but life never is, for me personally more than good enough.

Regular readers, you fools, will remember me mentioning my mother breaking her hip, well after a slow initial recovery she is making good progress now which is a relief. It is hard watching on when someone is ill or injured and you can do nothing about it. Sure you can encourage them to follow health professionals advice and offer support, but until they believe they will get better I am not sure how much it helps. It is much easier being the ill one in some ways, you don’t have the feeling of helplessness that you can’t help the sick person. My mum being ill and my stepfather just before I went away have given my a view of the other side of being ill, the observer of someone you care for. It is not nice and I do remember feeling bad about how my cancer was negatively impacting on other people whilst knowing that the people who cared for me didn’t feel that. It is a complex interaction and something I know that has been written a lot about by systemic therapists and I think I might go and look at some papers to see how I think about the theories around it now. When I read them before it was a much more academic exercise, now I will bring something additional to the reading and my interpretation because of my different understanding of the impact of illness of relationships.

So this is me at the moment. Life is definitely on the up at the moment and I am hopeful it will continue in this direction, of course there will be the normal ups and downs we all have. Time will tell but I am feeling positive about my personal future at the moment. I hope you are all feeling equally positive about your futures.