Olympic Year - it is with excitement, anticipation and frustration the start of 2012 has Welcomed. This year will be the culmination of a huge amount of hard work for everyone involved in London 2012 including me and my colleagues. It is therefore ironic and a little Irksome to start the year an invalid. On the positive side, I really do have an insight into the extraordinary athletes that compete in the Paralympic Games and what they have to go through to achieve world class sporting excellence. I have only recently borrowed a wheelchair with large wheels that I can use to propel myself rather that rely on others to push me around. I have only just learned to get from one room to another. Watching athletes wheel themselves around a track or manoeuvre around a basketball court whilst passing a ball is a revelation. Whilst I was disappointed not to get tickets for my family at the Olympics I am chuffed that we have tickets for a Paralympic athletics session.
Work - we are to a degree defined by what we do in our work lives. My role is entirely focused on London 2012 so it is unsurprisingly deeply frustrating to be largely out of action, not just for me but for my colleagues. A month in hospital, a few weeks home adjusting to my disability, drug regime and family then Christmas has taken two months out. During those few weeks before Christmas I started to work. What became clear was I needed to build up stamina again, physically and mentally. To begin with I could manage an hour then needed to lie down, literally. It was not just the mental effort but being sat up and typing put strain on my back, neck and right arm which was still largely immobile. By the Friday before Christmas I had just about managed a full day – that’s starting at 7am, having breakfast at 8:30, lunch at 12:00, a two hour kip at 1:30 and finishing at 7pm. Well, maybe not a full day but near enough. Now we are in early January. My GP has said I really need to take it easy or I will lengthen my recovery but on the other hand, work, inevitably, is piling up and deadlines in an Olympic year are not moveable. Everyone at work has been supportive and accommodating and I need to repay their patience.
Side Effects - apart from the Labrynthitis (which I am sure is not a side effect of my injuries in any case) I do have a couple of irritating side effects. First is chronic backache in the small of my back. It is worse when sitting in a chair for any length of time or even sitting up in bed. This I am sure is just a result of being bed and chair bound for two months but annoying none the less. The other is a fluctuating temperature. Actually it’s more like hot flushes and whilst I used to have these a few times a week now I have them half a dozen times a day. They can also be set off by things like failing to have a leg outside the duvet to keep me cool when I go to sleep. Daft I know but who knows, the blow to my head may have caused the onset of male menopause. That would explain an awful lot on reflection and I am sure Karen will receive my diagnosis with the sensitive concern it deserves.
Mental - I mentioned my mental state and it’s changes are also a side effect I am sure. Being self-reflective on such things is always hard. Karen is convinced I have lost some memory. I am not so sure but the other day I watched the Top Gear special when they flew into Iraq and had to drive to Bethlehem a la the three wise men of the nativity story. After watching I recounted the story of the programme to my family. They all said I had seen it before and had in fact watched it with them. I had no recollection of any of the programme at all. It was all new to me. Also, being an avid reader you would have thought I would have hoovered up books at hospital and at home. The reality is, until a week ago I was unable to read. Pages just contained a bunch of words. Within minutes of trying to read I was exhausted mentally. I have now read two books in a week so I am hoping I am on the road to recovering. As for the memory, who knows although it is quite convenient at times!
Boredom - up until recently this wasn’t an issue to be honest but now I am heartily sick of existing in three rooms downstairs with the occasional excursion outside being pushed around. I am sure this is a good sign. I am desperate to get out and about under my own steam. I have borrowed a new wheelchair that I can self-propel. I can’t do this outside but at least I have some semblance of independence inside. I have also started to become interested in things again. Having the iPad means I have access to information. I was always a fan of Christopher Hitchens who sadly died of cancer in December. I didn’t always agree with him but admired his contrarian and fearless approach to established and in particular, doctrinal thinking. With the help of YouTube I have been able to watch his many interviews, debates and verbal battles. This has led me to research the basis of his thinking and the works of other related scientists and philosophers, particularly those interested in the relationship between science and religion. A particular favourite is John Lennox, an Oxford Professor of Mathematics and a committed Christian. I had the privilege of hearing him speak a couple of years ago and he was electrifying in a jovial, avuncular, gentle sort of way if that is not a contradiction. He actually debated with Hitchens a few years ago and won (one of the few times Hitchens was defeated I am sure as his ascerbic wit and humour as well as his well honed arguments normally win over audiences).
On reviewing this post I fear I am in danger of sounding like a moaner or at least a hypochondriac. That certainly isn’t the case. One thing I can be certain of is that I have remained positive throughout. Whatever this year brings I know I am fortunate to be alive and should face the future with that thought and I hope my new found physical and mental restlessness means I am on the road to recovery. Belated Happy New Year to everyone.