Setbacks, uncertainty, and frustration

Mon 2 – Sun 8 Oct 2023

This has been a really frustrating week. Previously my blog indicated how I have been positively drifting – read it here. Not working hasn’t led to the sky falling in and I have achieved another new normality with the main features being exercising and caring. But things aren’t always straight forward. Indeed, a large part of life is about accepting ‘bumps in the road’ and the frustration that comes with them as last week showed.

Head in hands


  • A week of huge frustration with the recurrence of my painful ankle / Achilles problem. Out went all my usual exercising.
  • News about mum’s cataract operation (it’s next week!). Lots of time spent reassuring her.
  • Reviews of 2 books: ‘Lote’ by Shona von Reinhold and ‘Shrines of Gaiety’ by Kate Atkinson
  • Updates on Personal Development, Art and Culture, and Sustainability

Health and Efficiency

The ankle / Achilles setback again

My life is very much about learning to live with health issues rather than overcoming them. I wrote in my previous blog about becoming borderline diabetic and in the week gone I had another flare up of my ankle / Achilles problem. The ongoing impact of this problem is really getting me down.

As has happened before, things seemed to be recovering well then I wake up with the ankle / Achilles really painful again for no clear reason. This is what happened through Monday night (indeed, I had to get up during the night to get painkillers) and into Tuesday morning. I have contacted my GP and been referred to the muscular-skeletal service.

Meanwhile, back to my old friend RRICE: raise, rest, ice. Indeed, spent a lot of time just keeping the leg up on the sofa and avoiding walking as much as possible. You can imagine how frustrated I feel. I also bought a compression bandage and am seeing if that works. A complete passion-killer, have you ever seen a sexy man wearing a compression bandage?

Like banging your head against a brick wall

Trying to take it in my (hypothetical) stride

Setbacks, uncertainty, and frustration are inevitable parts of normal life. Nobody wants them but they come when we don’t expect them. And the key thing is how we deal with this. I can’t deny that I feel really pissed off. Exercise is a big part of my current life and it’s gone. And part of my new normality is turned on its head.

Albeit hopefully this is temporary but I don’t know how long this could go on for. All I can do is get on with my recuperation patiently and hope this does not take too long. But it will take as long as it needs to. One day my ability to regularly exercise will be gone forever. Currently I am sure I will get back to the gym and swimming at some point but I wonder if I will ever get back to my jog-runs?

“It Is Health That Is Real Wealth And Not Pieces Of Gold And Silver.”

Mahatma Gandhi

The frustration of enforced rest days

I like to make the most of my time. It’s that sense of, as you get older, time ticking by. And much of my time is focused on exercise which I really enjoy. So, this painful recurrence has caused me enormous frustration. I had decided to have a non-exercise day on Tuesday but I had intentions to do other things with it. All gone as I needed to rest. Then I decided to forego the gym on Wednesday to give things more time to recover.

And to be fair, the ankle / Achilles pain level did start to reduce a wee bit – could it be the compression bandage LOL? But if I am going to get on top of this then I need to give it as much rest as possible and more than I have done previously. So I cleared the decks and did no major exercise for the rest of the week and did very little walking as well. The frustration was accented by the fact that the tube strike I thought would cause me problems getting to and from places got cancelled – doh!

Acceptance or struggle

Gym 1, Swim 0

A complete setback week in terms of exercise but if an old problem keeps recurring then you need to take new action to remedy it. Madness: doing the same thing and expecting different results. Thus just my one gym session on Monday. Nothing felt bad with my ankle / Achilles then. Had planned to also go to the gym on Wed and Fri. But that made nothing as with my planned swims on Thurs and / or Sun.

100 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £4.95 per session.

Weight: Some comfort in uncertain times

In a pretty dreadful week, I had the compensation that I managed to lose weight on the week before – a half pound. I think it was due to the fact that I felt unwell which reduced my appetite. When you have a localised pain (head, teeth, ankle, etc) then that can often make you feel ill across your whole body with food being a bit nauseating. Or the weight loss may be due to muscle wastage with the lack of exercise.

Family and Friends

Mum gets ready for her operation

There are so many people suffering frustration with the NHS at the moment. Indeed, I haven’t heard anything yet about seeing a urologist though my GP confirmed a referral had been made. But mum has heard that she is having her cataract operation next week. Great news though we found out in a confusing way with an automated phone call but no letter or email.

She’s certainly not excited but rather very apprehensive at what she sees as an operation with an uncertain outcome. I have tried to reassure her that it is a very common operation and several people she knows have had it. The success rate is very high. But her nature is to worry (I’m sure I’ve inherited part of that).

My brother actually spent a lot of time with mum last week giving me a break, including taking her for a big shop. However the news on the operation came after his stint and so much of my time last week was about trying to calm mum down and discourage her from worrying as well as dealing with my own frustrations.

Books and Reading

Two books read last week linked by the era they are set in but with little else in common.

‘Lote’ by Shola von Reinold: challenging experimental writing

Normally I know if I have read a good book or not. Have I enjoyed it and been inspired or underwhelmed and perhaps even bored? Then some books come along and I really can’t tell whether they are genius, crap, or a bit of both. This was definitely one of those.

It is centred on an anti-hero named Mathilda. Though she goes by a number of different aliases. I have met various people like her in real life and they can be hard work. She has a drink problem and likes to sleep a lot plus she is very inconsistent and unreliable. Perhaps she has mental health issues.

However she faces daily racism and her big redeeming feature is her love for a group of artists and bohemians from the 1920s. In this clever novel, she finds herself on a residency in the foreign city where her heroine lived. But Mathilda also has to participate in an intellectual exercise that feels empty and pretentious.

Definitely a challenging read though frustrating and pretentious in parts. But I’m glad I made it through and I am pretty sure I will make references to it in my head in the future. Be very interesting to see what Shola’s next undertaking is. Are they a developing artist or is this a flash in the pan?

Ypres after the first bombardment

‘Shrines of Gaiety’ by Kate Atkinson: reassuring and clever

Another book with a theme based in the 1920s. Why is that fascinating decade so culturally significant at the current time? It feels more than just the fact it was exactly 100 years ago. Perhaps the uncertainty of that period reflects the unpredictability we are all facing at the moment.

Atkinson is a great modern female British writer. She has written several books and they are all wonderfully engaging. She’s one of those authors I am in awe of who seem unable to write a bad novel. The ease of her writing style is in contrast to von Reinhold but you also need people who go beyond comfort to challenge and push boundaries.

A long novel (plus 500 pages) but actually covering a relatively short period of time. Wonderful characters are created and an intricate adventure ensues where their paths cross in various ways. It is slightly theatrical and contrived but very enjoyable. Particularly as you try to work out who is double crossing who and what twist the plot will take next.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

Missing the Velvet Page

Another source of frustration last week was that I couldn’t make the Velvet Page Book Club as planned on Thursday evening. I was determined to attend and read ‘Lote’ so I could participate in the discussion. But my ongoing ankle / Achilles problem leading to my new period of intense resting meant I couldn’t do the walk to and from Waterstones in Piccadilly. I can’t go in November as I will be in Spain so, hopefully, I’ll be able to attend the Christmas meeting in December.

Velvet page book club

Personal Development

The value of perseverance

Basically managed to carry on with my daily dose of Spanish and German language learning. Though my routine is to do it at the gym so that absence means I do need to find a time to do it (and remember to do so).

I have also been trying to remind myself of the French I learnt at school by attempting to jump whole units in this language on Duo. But it’s been a source of frustration as you are only allowed to make 3 mistakes maximum to pass and I keep making silly little ones. But I have ploughed on for several weeks and managed to jump 2 units in the week gone. Proof of the value of perseverance.

Art and Culture

Big Brother returns

Clearly a week in which the frustration of my restricted mobility meant I couldn’t go wandering around a museum, gallery, or exhibition. Indeed, I had thought about the pictures but there is the problem of getting there and back. Thus art and culture was what I digested lying on the sofa.

Delighted with the return of the daddy of reality TV on Sunday night. I always loved BB until two things ruined it. First, messing about with the original format and making a simple exercise overly complex and too ‘clever’. Second, contestants stopped being ‘normal’ people and got replaced by people who saw appearing in BB as a means to media stardom.

Be interesting to see if the new series can recapture the old magic.

QPR are shit

I am totally despondent. As I predicted last week, 2 defeats. A ‘respectable’ 1-0 away loss to Leeds midweek. Then a home drubbing on Saturday by Blackburn. I can never understand how a professional team with all its players on the pitch can lose 4-0 or more to a team in the same division. OK it can be hard to score but how can you defend so badly to let so many goals go in?

Time for a new manager me thinks. But who is available? Mark Beale has been sacked by Rangers so we could give him another chance – what is there to lose? And whoever the new manager then they still need to energise a clearly failing team.


One way I have dealt with the frustrations of the week is to watch and engross myself in the Gymnastics World Championships from Antwerp (a city I love). The gymnasts are absolutely amazing with their agility, strength, and skill; totally inspirational. Though the clear thing is that everyone has their eyes on the Paris Olympics next year.

Male gymnast


We’re not taking things seriously

A massive sense of frustration is the general societal failure to take action to combat climate change. In the week that is was announced that we had lived through the hottest September ever – read about it here and temperatures in London hit 25 degrees centigrade. We are like drunks in a car travelling 100 miles per hour weaving in and out of traffic but not expecting a crash to happen.

The Week Ahead

  • It’s going to be a very interesting week. Mum’s operation on Thursday and me being her nurse for the second half of the week.
  • The ongoing frustration of resting my ankle / Achilles. If I get any exercise in this week then I don’t expect it to be more than 1 gym and / or 1 swim session max.
  • At least I have the reassurance of two very good books: a strong biography and a lauded sci-fi novel
  • I have booked to see a gay film at the London Film Festival on Friday. My attendance will be totally dependent on if mum is well enough to be left alone.

And Finally…

Sometimes I really don’t understand America

I don't understand America sometimes

2 thoughts on “Setbacks, uncertainty, and frustration

  1. Sorry to hear about your chronic pain.

    I got a copy of Manage Your Pain: Practical and Positive Ways of Adapting to Chronic Pain Paperback (27 Oct. 2011)
    by Michael Nicholas because my GP recommended it and it’s certainly helpful to deal with the mindset issues.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation Bri, I will have a look ! Hope you are doing OK. Time for a coffee again soon ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.