Monthly Archives: July 2013

Independence Day (FD + 17)

P:  “What time are you off to the gym?”
L:  “About 9. Why?”
P:  “Just wondering when to do my walk this morning.”
L:  “Why don’t you wait for the girls and go with one of them?”
P:  “What time do you think they’ll be up?”
[There is no reasonable response to this question.  Teenagers.  Week one of school holiday. Late nights.  etc.]

P:  “I could always go on my own.”

A few minutes later…

P:  “OK.  I think I’ll go for my walk.”
L:  “On your own?”
P:  “Yes.”
L:  “OK.  Have you got your phone?”
P:  “Yes.”

And with that, I regained a little bit of my independence.

Little things can make a big difference… I am able to leave the house on my own; a rite of passage I thought I’d bagged when I first nipped to the local newsagent for a treat, or the corner shop for a forgotten essential, back in the day (“Mum, I’ll be back in five minutes!”).  I’d guess that I was about 8 years old when I first did this, but it feels a bit young.

Things were different back then… Mars Bars were the size of bricks (certainly more than a chap could eat in one sitting) and you could pick up a couple of packets of Hamlet Cigars for the builders while you were there!

Mars & Brick

A Mars Bar and a Brick circa 1980

Anyway, the point is, some things have to be re-gained, re-learnt or re-earned.  I guess a lot of growing up, a lot of learning, is about being able to take things for granted… walking, reading, writing, mental arithmetic, riding a bike, driving a car, etc.  You should take these things for granted but for one reason or another some people can’t.

I’m OK walking.  For the first couple of days after leaving hospital I was tentative.  My chest wasn’t sore, but it was a bit tight.  I definitely wasn’t 100%.  I’m still not 100%, but I’m moving in the right direction.

Gentle, controlled exercise is the name of the game for me.  I’m building up strength to start my Phase 3 Rehabilitation (incorporating tailored gym routines, education, etc.).  The target is to get to walking 30 minutes twice a day by the time I start these sessions (just 2 more weeks).

We don’t believe in “No pain, no gain!”  “Pain” is not a target state for me at the moment.  I carry a magic spray that will come to my rescue if I do feel chest pain at any stage, but I really don’t want to go there!

That said, we live on the side of a hill.  It’s not possible to walk more that 5 yards from our front door without encountering a slope. Doing a 20+ minute walk incorporates many slopes… as long as I don’t feel pain, get out of breath or “over do” it, I’m fine.  So slopes introduce some variety and a (little) challenge.

I felt a strange sensation last night…

My legs ached slightly.  Just a little.  It wasn’t a scary ache.  An “I’ve done a little bit of exercise today”-type ache.  It’s the first time I’ve felt it since my Heart Attack.  It felt good.  I know I can’t push myself, but it’s the first sign that my “little” walks are doing anything more than getting the old ticker pumping.

Until recently, I’d always taken it for granted that my heart wasn’t my weakest link.  I look forward to earning that back too!

How the heart works…

OK, under exam conditions, there were some basic facts that I didn’t know about how the heart works.  I’m sure everyone else knows the details, but just in case, the following link provides a brief overview of the following:

  1. The heart and what it does
  2. What is cardiovascular disease? and What are the symptoms?
  3. What are the risk factors? and How can you reduce your risk?

Some of it is a bit Mickey Mouse… but one of the things I’m realising is that there are two steps to doing the right thing  (1) knowing what the right thing to do is, and (2) doing it!


Click on the picture to learn more about how the heart works

Routine, snails & another little disaster (FD +16)


You come to rely on small things when your normal routine is interrupted, replaced by strange, temporary acts that never quite feel “routine”.  I think the closest comparison is going away on holiday; we tend to jump straight into “the way we do things”, repeating them day after day (with the occasional change to accommodate “treats”).  For me, these breaks are always tinged with a slight paranoia that everyone else knows something that we don’t, that we’re missing out and everyone else is having a better time / getting better value for money / etc.

I’m developing a new routine, fortunately with no built-in paranoia!  My days are increasingly developing structure.  Intentionally unexciting*; exercise, read, rest, eat, (watch) sport, sleep.



Geoffrey, our friendly snail

Over recent days we have looked forward to our daily visits from a snail (we’ve named him** Geoffrey… no reason).  Geoffrey is huge (for a Scottish snail) and brave (foolhardy?).  Boldly raising two fingers to the birds of the neighbourhood Geoffrey lives his life in the open, relying on protection from the cats or perhaps his immense size to ward off potential predators.

There is something re-assuring in seeing him going about his business each day, as we go about ours.

Another little disaster

Today we had another little disaster… “Multiple Exchange Outages” resulted in the internet being out of action*** for most of the day!

When I was a kid it seemed like power cuts were run-of-the-mill, every day occurrences. In those days, the worst thing that would happen is that you’d miss your favourite TV programmes (there were limited repeats and definitely no “+1 hour” channels), that dinner would be an improvised cold meal or that you’d have to go to bed early.

Nowadays similar disruptions have much wider implications.  If I was trying to work I’d have been completely stuffed.  As it is, we are unable to communicate with the outside world (except by mobile, of course), and our entertainment options are severely constrained… we might even have to resort to another jigsaw puzzle!


* For the record, I should point out that others in our household are experiencing a rather more hectic and exhausting lifestyle at present.

** I realise this is sexist.  I’m also slightly conscious of the fact that it is potentially more correct to refer to Geoffrey as “it” rather than he or she.

*** At time of sending this situation has been resolved.