Here is why I'm pedalling like a dervish
Basically, I have Type 2 diabetes and P.A.D. (Peripheral Arterial Disease).
There is also a blocked aorta where it meets my iliac arteries, meaning there's limited blood going to my legs.
If you want to see what's happened, there's a comprehensive account HERE.
It's an (vaguely) amusing look at why a fat bloke got into difficulty.
It includes a sincere hope that 'you' can avoid the self-inflicted angst that I've suffered.
At first, it was all very nasty and frightening, but in actual fact it's turned into a tale with a bit of hope attached. I wrote all that stuff as a therapy for me but it may actually spur you on and be useful to you. A few people have got in touch to say thank you for spurring them on. One thing though, it's best not ignore stuff – particularly men! What I did find out is that I COULD do something about it.
Recent blood test results were good. I’m pleased about that because I don’t half make an effort. I’ve explained a little about the ins and outs of the results previously so I’ll not do there again. I’ll just say that my HbA1c is 42. The best it’s been since diagnosis and right at the bottom of the pre-diabetes readings.
I wrote this at the end of November 2020 when we were in another lockdown, a course of action I believe has been proved dead wrong. Anyhow, I did abide by the ‘rules’.
Nevertheless, we’ve had a fairly productive year. Created a garden, re-vamped my books and continued to eat well and exercise. Everything we achieve is the result of the shadows of ill-health that still hang over us. Jan (thank the Lord) continues to be well but what drives us forward are the memories of when she was poorly. We try not to sit still. It’s been a funny year but we’ll still come out of it with new tales to tell. Sub-consciously we’re driven to it I suppose.
Me? Every time I look at my legs I see blue blotchiness all over my thighs, tell-tale sign of knackered arteries. It’s worse when it’s cold or when I’ve been sitting down for a long time. The practice nurse has a real job finding any sort of pulse in my feet. I tell her the machine is knackered. She laughs politely but we both know things are not just as they should be. It’s basically been the same for 5 years and she tells me that other people have had far worse outcomes than me. She doesn’t need to elaborate. In fact it's better than it was five years ago, I used to have a blue little toe, but that's got nice colour now so I'm doing something right. My resting pulse-rate is ‘ideal’ as is my blood pressure. I quip that it must be all the wine I consume.
‘How much do you drink,’ she asks.
‘Mind your own business,’ I tell her.
She's a great lass called Janine, daughter of one of my wife's school friends. She's a generation below us but now trained and helping keep folks in the town fit and well.
Actually, I am 29 days into an alcoholiday, no booze for another couple of days. I started with the recent lockdown and vowed to do something positive.
I have to keep the blood flowing so exercise, not manically, but fervently. Now we have a new addition to the household, my e-bike Columbanus. Here it is in all it's glory.
Humour is how we got through Jan’s tough times. Recently, it’s been my turn. Of course, having a medical condition isn’t funny but making light of it can help. It helps us anyway. Although we never consciously did it, we created the smiles that now light up the dark. When we look back there is a salve to soothe some giant bruises in our past.
Here is an example of a light in the dark. Jan was in remission and decided to volunteer at The Christie Hospital in Manchester, where she herself had been treated. She went along and made tea and chatted to anyone wanted or needed to talk. One lady was waiting for her appointment so Jan made her a cup of tea. She came back a few minutes later to see the tea untouched. ‘Don’t you like it?’ She asked. The lady looked down and pointed. Jan had dropped a tissue in without noticing. It was now semi-dissolved so it looked like a radioctive puddle, the like you might see in Chernobyl. It had nasty-looking scum floating on top and was most unappetizing. They looked at each other and laughed. Then the lady was called for her chemotherapy. She walked off down the corridor with a big smile on her face, just for a moment or two the edge taken off her fear.
Anyone who knows me understands I’m not good at doing serious. If you seek it out, most things in life have a daft element. In all my books there is a humorous element as there is with the cycle-writing pages. So, who are the biking warblings aimed at? Anyone really. I hope you take them for what they are, primarily a bit of fun. You can gloss over any bits you need to. In my sporty youth I was super-fit. Against the elite, maybe 8 out of 10. Now, much less so, 4 maybe. But I was 3 a couple of years ago. I hope to get to 5 or 6.
It’s funny where we find solace. A good mate is physically worse off than me but we cheer each other up with banter. I don’t see his dark times and he doesn’t see mine, but rest assured, they lurk. My next-door neighbour has recently passed away. She was wheelchair-bound but somebody of wonderful spirit and an inspiration to many people. When she passed she left a light on so we can see where we’re going.
I befriended a man recently, a fellow dog-walker I met out on the fields. He’s recovered well from a stroke but says he’s still a little down on where he used to be. That last 15% will never come back and he tells me he’s in mourning for his former self. It sounded peculiar but he explained he was grieving for a time when he was fully fit and carefree. ‘The psychological side of it is something I never considered while recovering,’ he told me. My wife had said exactly the same. Her battles took something from her that is gone for good. I now know what they mean. Something of who I used to be is gone. It’s not just gradually slowing down, which I’d expect, no, it’s more fundemental than that, it’s a new base level. I must come to terms with it and manage what I have.
Our dear old dog is keeping fit, he and I walk 3 miles every morning. I feed him then set off again. I either walk another six miles or cycle between ten and twenty. Although it’s electrically assisted I make sure I have the bike set so I have to push myself pretty hard. The real bonus though is being able to tackle some decent sized hills which has opened up a new world – or more accurately re-opened a former one.
Overall, pretty positive. I have a friend who has just done a six-week health trip, a really good effort. Lost weight, got his blood sugars down, stayed off the booze. People are aware of their health a bit more I think, perhaps it’s age-related. I know how hard I try which is why I encourage people having a go.
Please keep well