Category Archives: Holidays

The “E”s

At Cardiac Rehabilitation, we were taught that many of the key factors that impact the workload on a Heart with an “E”… Exercise, Environment, Emotion, Eating… (I’m sure there were others, but I can’t remember them… please feel free to chip in!).

Many of the “E”s are impacted by travel to foreign lands… strange place, unusual climate, different food, etc.  As a result, I think going on a family holiday is a big step in the Cardiac Rehab journey.

A holiday obviously offers an opportunity for some Rest and Relaxation, away from the hassle of day to day life at home / work.  For me, it provides a chance to diversify my exercise routine and build on the base I’ve laid down.  However, I think it offers something more important.  I think it offers the opportunity to embed the change that we’ve been through over the past few months.  I say “we”, this definitely applies for me, but in a small way I think it’ll apply for Louise and the girls too.

The whole, “living with Heart Disease” thing was somewhat sprung on us.  We didn’t have any time to prepare.  One day we were “normal”, the next we were not.  In some way, leaving home as a “Survivor”, being away for a couple of weeks, and then returning a “Survivor” makes it more official, normal.  A little bit like moving house… you need a break of routine to really make it feel like home.

The Magic Kingdom… not sure my Heart could have taken the fireworks and the emotion of the whole thing!

Our holiday plans over the summer were severely impacted by my Heart Attack.  The plan had been to visit Florida and enjoy some of the theme parks we have all heard so much about… you could call it a “once in a lifetime” trip… but when you’ve got growing children, they all are aren’t they!

We decided that a long haul flight, the heat and humidity, the thrills and spills of rollercoasters, driving in a strange place, and the good old American cuisine probably wouldn’t be the best recuperation-aid five weeks after my Heart Attack.  So we spent the summer at home, making the best of what Scotland has to offer.

As it turned out, it had quite a lot to offer.  We enjoyed one of the best summers for many years, I certainly can’t remember a better one since I’ve been living in Sunny Scotland (and I’ve been there for over 17 year).

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The main pool and hotel complex. Always strangely deserted.

To compensate, we decided to book a “special” trip over the October School Holiday (Now!).  The girls get two weeks off, so it’s enough time to get away… and really get away!  We are in Rhodes enjoying a healthy holiday of sun, relaxation and exercise (in that order).

The “E”s have played quite a major factor so far:

The Environment is much warmer than back at home.  The average temperature so far has been in the high 20 degree Celsius range.  It’s felt hot!  Perfect for lazing around and doing nothing very much!

The Environment impacts everything.  It takes time for your body to acclimatise.  Quite how and when it’ll make a noticeable difference is unknown, until it does!  So, in the short term at least, this provides a need for a certain level of caution.

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The lounging pool. Beautiful, but treacherously chilly!

We have access to several Outdoor Pools and the Mediterranean Sea (I’m sure it used to be an Ocean when I was growing up!).  Both can best be described “refreshing”.  Again, perfect for a cool down if you’ve been lazing around in the sun, but they’re a little too bracing for my liking.  I’ve never particularly enjoyed swimming in cold water, but I suspect a fast immersion in any of these could be the last thing I do!  Definitely to be avoided!

There are guided Mountain Bike rides twice a day.  Definitely for me!  The temperature plays a key factors in these too, as well as the terrain over which we ride (I know this doesn’t start with an “E”!).  Being on the competitive end of competitive, the key thing for me is to ride at my own pace, to not worry about what everyone else is doing, and to listen to my body (and my heart rate monitor!).  My body has definitely reacted differently.  I guess I have to learn my limits again given the new conditions.

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Dad’s pool… before the kids have woken up at least!

Given I can’t swim in the outside pools, the Indoor Pool has become “Dad’s Pool”.  Unfortunately there are some other guests that might also lay claim to it, so I have to pick my times carefully!  It’s not big, probably 10m in length, but it’s enough for me to practice my breathing. If it really were mine I’d keep the temperature a few degrees cooler, and get some fresh air circulating in the room.  It is as close to a sauna as I’m willing to get right now!  Hopefully it’ll serve its purpose.

We’re in a great place to chill out, relax and enjoy a break.  There is a lot to do.  I just need to make sure I don’t overdo it!

Holiday preparations

While I have always enjoyed holidays, I haven’t always looked forward to them as much as I perhaps should have.  For some people, the planning, booking, anticipation and preparation are as much part of the holiday as the holiday itself.  I am not one of those people.

For me, the thought of holidays used to feel like a hassle.  An extra complication in my life that I could do without.  The fact that the complication was self-inflected compounded the issue.  The preparation required to be away from the office for a couple of weeks, and the subsequent “catching up” always felt like they added to an already hectic, often stressful situation.

Really not my idea of fun!

At work I often had lengthy periods of extensive travel.  I would spend too much time at airports, on planes or alone, eating Club Sandwiches in hotel rooms.  There were many elements of a holiday trip that were reminiscent of business trips.  Worse, I was likely to be surrounded by holiday-makers and the inefficiencies of Charter flights and Packaged Tour Guides!

I used to deal with the negatives by ignoring the fact that I was going on holiday until the last possible moment.  I would rely on last minute preparations and, in event of emergency, the Credit Card to dig me out of holes.

Really not my idea of fun!

To make things worse, I have never enjoyed packing / unpacking / re-packing – I used to get around this by living out of a suitcase.  On occasion this would last for weeks after I had returned from holiday.  My clothes returned to their proper homes as they are worn, washed and put away (not a quick cycle!).

When I was a kid, I used to hate missing school.  As a result, there was more to being ill than the sickness… I hated it!  I always used to feel like I was missing out on something.  It felt like the day I missed would be the day when some critical, life-changing knowledge would be imparted.  As a result I would be forever at a disadvantage.   I guess it used to feel like missing work had similar implications, on some level I would forever pay for lost opportunities as a result of not showing up.  After all, they do say that 90% of success is showing up!

As I say, I have always enjoyed holidays once they’ve (and we’ve) actually arrived.  In particular, we’ve had some fantastic holidays over the past few years.  We’ve created some really special family memories in some fantastic locations.  They are really restorative to us all individually as well as a family.  I’m relieved to say that I’ve never been quite so stubborn and narrow-minded as to think they weren’t a good thing.

My general feelings about holidays have softened considerably over time.  Nowadays I look forward to getting away.  To switching off and winding down.  I’ve even been known to leave my work phone at home, introducing “emergency contact only”!

Our resort in Rhodes. It looks nice and quiet!

“Why”, I hear you saying, “is he rattling on about holidays?”.  Well, on Friday we’re off to Rhodes (Greece) for a couple of weeks in the sun.  It’s a substitute holiday for the Florida Trip we had to cancel because of my Heart Attack in the summer (the long haul flight, high temperatures, Amusement Parks and lifestyle really weren’t favourable for a new member of the Heart Attack Survivor’s Club!).  We’re all looking forward to some sun, relaxation and healthy living.  The 15 day forecast promises temperatures in the mid-20’s C.

Anyway, as I’m looking forward to the trip, my preparations started today with a trawl of potential reading material on Amazon.  I’m quite excited about my choices – a variety of educational, trivial and thought provoking titles to keep me occupied.

Having got the “long lead” preparations out of the way, I guess I should start thinking about packing.  I do however still have almost a week before we go… so that can wait for another day!