I’ve just had a weekend home alone while my wife and kids went to visit friends in the North East.
As usual I had a list of jobs to do and as usual I missed their company.
On the Saturday I made a concerted effort to finish everything. I tidied out our garage making a couple of trips to the tip. I chopped up some wood for kindling, I also changed all the beds and did all the washing, sorting out and putting away all the dry things from earlier in the week.
Jobs done, I treated myself to a curry and had an early night.
I didn’t sleep well, I never do when I have the bed to myself, and I eventually got up at about 7am with a blistering headache.
I had promised myself that I’d go for a run in the early hours as part of my gradual easing-myself-into-getting-fit campaign, but the headache was going to scupper that one. I’d probably slept funny, judging my the pain in my neck muscles, but it felt like one of those dehydration headaches that you get when you’re hung over. One that feels like your brain has shrivelled up like a prune.
I downed two ibuprofen, put the kettle on and ate a banana, thinking…
I was up early for a Sunday and I had time on my hands. If I couldn’t go for a run, why not go for a brisk walk instead?
I’m lucky enough to live on the edge of town and there’s countryside only a ten minute walk away.
So after I’d finished my cuppa, I put on my waterproof and I was out of the door.
Fab! Typically for a Sunday morning there was no traffic and no-one about, just a bloke jogging to start with.
It wasn’t long before I found an old farm bridleway that I used to frequent when I was doing my masters degree and needed to escape, some eleven years ago.
At one time I had walked every footpath in that area, but it was so long ago, I’d forgotten half of them existed. I had to remind myself that the vicious looking dog that used to live in one of the farms was most likely dead by now. Some of the eccentric architecture of some of the buildings came back to me like a nice surprise as well, like the un-nervingly tall but thin house standing on its own on a muddy lane or the old rickety house with the stone tile roof.
It was lovely, the sky was still starting to brighten and with my headache now gone. A fine rain dampened my hair. The smell of mud and leaves filled my nostrils. The birds were singing, and a cow stuck its head out of a barn and watched me as I went past.
I said “good morning” to a handful of dog owners. I even shared a laugh with the owner of a large black Labrador that had run, leaping and body-checking me – something that would have frightened me silly at one time.
After about an hour of walking in what had become a steady drizzle, it occurred to me that a strange, yet familiar feeling was engulfing me. Something I seriously haven’t felt for perhaps years.
I was deliriously happy.
Half an hour later I returned home with a box of mushrooms from the local shop. I reckon I walked for about six miles. After cooking up brunch, I sat down, plate on lap, and opened up my Woody Allen box set. I watched Manhattan.
A while ago, I wrote on this blog about a sixteen mile walk I had once done in the snow, a few years before any big relapse and way before I was diagnosed. I wondered whether I’d ever repeat that, whether I’d ever just pull on my walking boots to hit the hills, pocketing an ordnance survey map on my way out of the door.
I’m not altogether sure I will, in terms of distance, but I have resolved, particularly as the days get longer, that if I can’t get back to sleep post-4am, I may just have to cut my losses and make the most of the early hours.
I’m not saying that I’m unhappy, but there are stresses and strains in everyday life that can build up and drag you down, particularly when you have a chronic illness and perhaps can’t manage everyday life in the same way that you used to.
I guess I’ve just resolved to take advantage of that me time while everyone else is buried beneath their duvets. Endorphins are the best drug and I fully intend to become addicted.