Viral tales!

Posted on: 23 Jan 2017

Hello Realbuzz Superstars 😀

This was only meant to be a short catch up, but you know me by now so grab those cups of tea! Well, the hope that the London Winter Walk would finally give the virus the heave ho was a bit of a vain one. More sore throats, coughing, high temperatures and abdominal symptoms, but finally, I really do think it's packing it's bags now as in the last couple of days, the gaps between episodes are getting longer 😊 This week, the abdo symptoms have definitely been dominant, mostly in the form of pain, nausea and lack of appetite but it could have been so much worse. The big downside has been that my meds don't seem to have been being absorbed and as the AS has still been been kicking off big time, I've been fighting it the only way I know how by keeping on pushing myself. There certainly seem to be some persistent viruses around right now so here's hoping that we all manage to steer clear of any more of them 😊
Monday and Tuesday were spent in catching up with routine stuff but with a good five miler chucked in each day to help loosen up, followed by the usual hours gym session on Tuesday evening. I pushed a bit too hard with that one so Wednesday was pretty lousy really. It woke the shoulder up a bit as well but generally that's feeling so much better now 😊 Thursday we planned to take a longish walk as the weather was just wonderful. Let's just say the day didn't get off to a great start when my innards decided to really protest. By 11am, I was fairly sure I'd be OK. The thought eating wasn't appealing at all but I did lmanage to force down a bit of yoghurt - hardly great fuelling though 😕 We decided to take things at Richards 'comfortable' pace and to be honest, I'd have probably found it harder to do anything faster that day. We set out from home, walked down to the Basingstoke Canal, following it to the Wey Navigation and eventually to the Thames. It's a walk we've done several times and it never disappoints, there's always plenty to see 😊 
              The frozen Basingstoke Canal
              Black Swan
              Mistletoe growing in a young Hawthorn
The ground was frozen nicely in the shade, but was still really muddy where it had thawed in the sun. Although the surface of the canal had been frozen solid,  the River Wey was flowing slowly and was full of the usual birdlife. We were very surprised to see a lone Black Swan. Past experience tells me that they're usually quite aggressive, but this one was very serene. As they aren't native to this country,and it was on its own, I can only presume that  it's escaped from a private collection somewhere. By the time we'd reached the Thames at Chertsey, I'd finally worked up a bit of an appetite and was glad of the small sandwich I'd taken along. We sat at one of the picnic benches by the river, watching the antics of the local waterfowl. By George it was chilly though! Then quite close by, we saw something really very special - a kingfisher. Usually we just see them darting past, a flash of turquoise and chestnut zipping down the canal or river. This one was sitting in the low branches at the waters edge. The it took flight, hovered for a few seconds, then dived for a small tiddler at the waters edge before returning to its perch. We were lucky enough to see it repeat this six or seven times before it was finally disturbed by dog walkers. 
               Pictures of the kingfisher - the second one while hovering
It took a good fifteen minutes of walking to warm up again. I was also beginning to feel the lack of fuelling and knew that the walk home would be far tougher than the walk out. The slower walking pace was playing havoc with my lower back. Every mile we walked it was getting colder and I was enjoying it less and less. My hips were pretty sore and I had to keep stopping and stretching my back out  as the muscles kept tightening up painfully. All I could focus on was trying to keep a good posture, not favour either leg and concentrate hard on not tripping up. I must admit, I was very glad to get home that evening and a long hot soak was deeply appreciated! Another 23km in the bank no matter how I felt 😊
Another crystal clear day on Friday and feeling slightly better despite sleeping really badly, I spent the afternoon pulling up brambles on the local Open Space. It's really satisfying to see whole areas of woodland floor being opened up again but there's enough work there to last a couple of years! The hard physical activity again provided a welcome distraction. Then tackling a particularly well rooted bramble I got a bit stroppy with it and gave it an almighty pull. As is I did that, the middle joint of my little finger partially dislocated - only me eh?  😂😂😂 Fortunately it popped straight back in again and with a bit of muttering, I carried on for a bit. Some bruising, aching, swelling and soreness but it'll soon settle.
Another beautiful but really chilly morning on Saturday. Parkrun day. Another lousy night's sleep, but at least I felt a bit better and could manage some breakfast, though still no carbs. 
                    Picture of the Homewood Parkrun start and finish area first thing on Saturday (courtesy of Homewood)
I was determined to return this week and Richard is still pleasingly keen even though he doesn't like the course much. It was -3C and the ground was rock solid. Once in the woods though, at least some of the mud had a bit more give in it 😊 I hoped that the trail shoes were as good on frozen ground as through the mud. As it turned out, they were brilliant and I didn't slip once again 😀 I only managed to overtake a few people, but at least I was running a little bit more this time. At the end of each of the three woodland loops is a nice downhill bit and I'm glad to say I think I've got the hang of relaxing into running downhill - far more comfortable than my first attempt a couple of weeks ago. By the end of the first lap, the familiar headache from my neck was starting, but it was copeable with. On the second lap, I caught up a lady (Wendy) a little younger than me and I knew she'd run most of it so far, but her shoulders were drooping and she looked disheartened. As I drew level I started chatting. This was her second Parkrun too and she said she was finding it so hard this time. I encouraged her to run the next flat bit with me which she did. Then we walked for a bit but she was finding it hard to keep up and asked how I could walk so fast. I gave her a few pointers about shortening her stride a bit and using her arms (thanks again Rob) and she found that much more comfortable. She encouraged me to go on though as she was getting quite tired. As we were at the top of the downhill again by now, I took the opportunity of having a bit of a Barber down it before starting the final lap 😀 By the end of that last lap of the woods, Wendy had almost caught me up again having got her second wind. I waited at the bottom of the slope for her and she said she'd seriously thought of stopping after the second lap but I'd inspired her to carry on. I asked how she felt now and she said so glad that she stuck with it but was absolutely shattered. The finish is half a lap of the playing field so I suggested we walked half the distance, then jog to the final corner before letting rip with a sprint finish. That's exactly what we did, and Wendy pipped me by 0.1 seconds and the smile on her face was an absolute delight to see 😊 I improved my time to 42:21 so that's definitely a step in the right direction. I felt absolutely great for half an hour afterwards, especially as the coffee wagon had gluten free chocolate brownies although after two bites of that delicious yumminess, my stomach was issuing warning signals again 😕 By the time we got home I was having a lot of difficulty putting weight through my left knee. As for walking up and downstairs, that rapidly became mission impossible. By lunchtime, the back, neck and knee pain was really driving me up the wall so Saturday afternoon and yesterday were reduced to slow but continual pottering just to stay as busy and distracted as possible. The knee feels like a kneecap/MCL upset - not too bad when absolutely aligned but grim if ever so slightly out or going up or down stairs. So yesterday and today it's been in a brace I use for skiing that reduces any lateral movement, I've used lots of ice and Voltarol gel, and hopefully it will settle quickly. Wonders never cease, I've actually cut myself a break taken things a bit easier. Still had to get out for a slow couple of miles before dark both days thought 😊 Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks 😉
                                          Proof that occasionally, both of my feet leave the ground 😂😂
I was very pre-occupied before Christmas. After 15 months of my local health authority denying funding for me to try the gold standard treatment for AS (anti-TNF therapy), my fantastic rheumatologist finally succeeded in persuading them. This involves injecting myself every two weeks with a drug that theoretically halts the inflammation. It won't stop any further fusion, but should slow it down. In many patients it's a real life changer and stops the pain as well, but there's no guarantee that it'll work for any particular individual. My first shot was scheduled for mid December, then I caught a cold so couldn't have it (the drug can make you much more vulnerable to infection although quite a few seem to not be affected thank goodness - fingers crossed on that one!). Then I started having doubts - if this worked, would it essentially change who I am? Would it change my motivation? Would it make the challenges less meaningful? The first shot was rescheduled for Jan 6th. Two days before, the sore throat and high temperature that marked the start of this dratted virus started so again, it had to be postponed. Until I caught this virus, those questions kept going round and round in my head - very stressful 😕 AS isn't pleasant. AS combined with a virus even less so as it really cranks up the pain. I've been fighting very hard through the last two and half weeks. Short term adrenaline fixes have been great but in all honestly, I'm totally exhausted. For the last week, my meds haven't been working at all because of the abdo problems and boy has that changed my perspective! It's helped me to realise that I should at least give this treatment a go and there's no reason at all it should change who I am or alter my motivation - I think it's kind of ingrained by now and the challenges I take on will still be hard ones because the even if the inflammatory pain does go away, the joint damage and the hypermobility and the problems they cause won't 😊 So, this Friday, as long as the bugs and viruses keep their distance..........
Happy training everyone 😊 

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