Sometimes things fall to pieces and that’s OK

Monday 28 Aug – Sun 3 Sept 2023

The week just gone really was one where things fell to pieces in terms of my exercise routine. I had been flying high and inspired by the Athletics Championships (read about it here) until a painful resurgence of my Achilles problem on the previous Sunday. TBH, I was really pissed off particularly as I couldn’t see what had triggered the problem again after a fortnight of recovery. I just woke up on the morning with pain and difficulty walking again.

This adversely impacted the whole rest of the week to come. But shit happens and you have to get on with it. Indeed, there is an element that when our plans are disrupted so we learn and find ourselves on a new trajectory. Plus it is rare that things are not recoverable in some way though not necessarily the way you planned.

The end of summer

I wrote in my previous blog how I love all banks holidays but August Bank Holiday makes me sad primarily because it signals the end of summer. The day itself was quite nice with sun and cloud but no rain. Good weather for the Notting Hill Carnival, Reading and Leeds Festivals as well as Manchester Pride. I went to some of these when I was younger but they don’t appeal to me now – too many people, too crowded.

Health and Efficiency

Achilles: Slow recovery again

As I have said, I can’t understand why this problem has recurred after a fortnight of slow recovery. But I know the answer is my old friend RRICE – rest, raise, ice. Plus paracetamol tablets and ibuprofen gel. I swear I could feeling these working to alleviate the pain at times and it felt a lovely bit of relief. If this recurrs again then I swear I will go to the GP about it.

I had to abandon my plan to go for a swim on the Sunday it all kicked off and the same for my planned gym sessions for Monday and the rest of the week. My brilliant plans all fallen to pieces. Indeed, from Monday onwards the week was simply hobbling short distances like to the coffee shop. With a focus on avoiding anything that might aggravate further like going up and down stairs. Pleased to say that the Achilles felt better as the week progressed but I have been here before.

What to do? Giving it over to fate

A new perspective?

But when everything comes apart and you are left picking up the pieces, then you get a new perspective on things. Perhaps I have been putting too much onus on exercise. Am I one of these desperate people trying to cling onto their youthfulness? Like these professional sports people who can’t accept their time is over. Certainly my limited mobility has made me far more aware of the struggles that face people with impaired mobility everyday.

And I am getting older. Yes I can stay physically active and lose weight. But my existence cannot just revolve around the gym and the swimming pool (plus ideally jogging). When even walking is difficult at the moment, I know I do have other things like my reading and language learning. But perhaps I need something that fulfils my existence more, perhaps I seriously need to think about getting a job again.

Our Future is Greater than our Past

Weight: Will it continue down and fermented foods

Can I continue to lose weight (or at least not gain what I have lost) without exercise? That’s what this week was about after the Achilles resurgence totally screwed my exercise plans. And the good news is that I managed to lose another half pound. TBH, the pain and discomfort in my leg really put me off eating at times.

weight

Meanwhile, I listened to a very interesting series of BBC podcasts about ways to stave off the deleterious effects of old age – listen to them here. The recommendations are bursts of high intensity physical exercise, weight training, eating brightly coloured fruit and veg, learning new skills, and eating fermented foods. The latter is the one I don’t do so I have embarked on a diet with sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha. I’ll let you know if it makes a difference.

Just one tentative swim

A week of recovery and by Sunday just gone my Achilles felt less painful though tight. Need to remember I have been here before and everything went into reverse. But I felt I needed to do some easy exercise to test what I can do. So a swim on Sunday morning of about 20 lengths. Slow and lazy front-crawl and back-stroke. Everything felt OK though only time will tell.

Books and Reading

‘Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow’ by Gabrielle Zevin

This is a very contemporary novel published in 2022. It is on my famous reading wish-list and I was surprised to pick it up in the library. It has had some great reviews and I was intrigued to read it partly because it isn’t necessarily my normal sort of read. I didn’t realise how chunky it is (c.400 pages) and that filled me with concern that this would be a slog.

However, this was a book that I found far more addictive than I expected and I zoomed through it. I can see how it would be popular with younger people with its story about romance among Millennial video game makers. I’ve never been into video games simply because I ain’t got enough time in the day with the other stuff I do particularly reading.

The plot is two gamemakers who set up business together. We follow their lives through the 90s, 00s, and 10s. Their ups and downs in business and romance including when their lives fall to pieces and have to be rebuilt. It’s very young and American feeling, a bit like an episode of ‘The Apprentice’. But it’s a hopeful story with lots of sadness and very much sums up modern life particularly with the importance of the online world.

inter-connected tech

‘Oranges and Lemons’ by Christopher Fowler

This is total comfort reading – at least I didn’t turn to food with last week’s problems. Indeed, there is part of me that is slightly depressed as Christopher Fowler has now sadly died. A tragic loss and that means there is no more new material. And, after this book, I only have one proper installment left to enjoy in the series about the adventures of Detectives Bryant and May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit.

Fowler was a great writer and his books are his legacy. It’s a much more positive and useful legacy than most other people leave behind. Several recurrent themes in this book akin to his others in this series. Things are not 100% true to life and it’s some sort of paean to a mythical London that has now gone or is rapidly disappearing.

Also a tribute to the little people fighting the bureaucratic establishment and a robin hood theme of stealing from the rich (or nouveau riche) to give to the poor. Ultimately, it’s all more wishful thinking than anything and, as with many crime books, the end point is over clever and needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. But I cannot say how happy I am that Fowler’s books exist and the characters he has made in the Bryant and May series.

be grateful for books

My two good new reading books

  • ‘The Stasi Poetry Circle. The Creative Writing Class That Tried to Win the Cold War’ by Philip Oltermann. A nice but short review of how culture was used and controlled in East Germany.
  • ‘Exiles. Three Island Journeys’ by William Atkins. Details on the exiles of 3 revolutionary leaders on 3 different islands.

Family and Friends

Mum OK but not happy

My Achilles problem reoccurred whilst I was at Dave’s which meant I couldn’t get over to be with mum for a couple of days. But we kept in touch by phone. When I got over towards the end of the week, I was pleased that she was OK though pissed off on Friday when she got a call to cancel her GP appointment and move it to another day.

Dave’s very busy week

I said in last week’s blog (read it here) that my partner had to go off for work. Dave’s had a very busy week. He came back on Tuesday and accompanied our friend Patrick to a hospital visit on Wednesday. Thursday he came over to see my mum then accompanied a group of care home residents on an outing to Bournemouth on Friday. On Saturday we both met Patrick again. I’m very proud of how much effort Dave has put into life in the week gone.

Art and Culture

My kind of TV

Whilst picking up the pieces of last week and resting my injury, so I have been watching many of my favourite programmes.

  • Bargain Hunt, Antiques Road Trip, and Flog It. There is something fascinating about telling stories and histories through objects. But these programmes also shoot down the lie that money can be made easily by finding the mythical object that will go for a fortune at auction. 95% of stuff is just crap with very limited value which links to my belief that one of the best ways to help the planet is simply not to buy things in the first place – I wish I had realised this a long time ago.
runners making progress

  • Place in the Sun, Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun, and New Life in the Sun. All these feed into my fascination with what living abroad would be like. Not least in a sunny place. But happiness is where you make it and running away doesn’t really change anything. Rather change happens in our head though our environment can influence how we think. Plus, TBH, I can’t leave the UK yet (and neither can Dave) whilst we have our mums to look after.
The seafront at Sitges

  • My 600lb Life. Easy to see this as exploitation of fat people but these are people simply with an extreme version of the obesity problem that most of us are grappling with. I am in awe of how people realise their lives have gone to pieces and how they are trying to change things – losing weight is hard. It definitely inspires me.

QPR: Turning the corner?

To say QPR fell to pieces last season would be an understatement. Basically we went from top of the Championship to just escaping relegation. This season will probably be one where we end up in the bottom half. In that case, to avoid relegation you have to beat the teams around and below you. So bloody good news that we beat bottom of the division Middlesborough 2-0 at their place.

Personal Development

Everything in pieces gave me a chance to put more effort into my language learning. As I couldn’t hit the gym or pool so I could instead spend more time on Duolingo. Several hours done improving my Spanish and German. Plus I’ve gone back to trying to also enhance my knowledge of French building on my O Level from many years ago. It’s that thing in the podcast about keeping my brain young by learning several different things at once, pretty much as young children do.

progress being made

The Road Ahead

  • Very much a week when I continue to put the pieces back together. Gonna have to take things easy because I want my Achilles to heal. So possibly just one or two gym / pool visits to further gently ‘test the water’.
  • Monday I have a scan on my bladder as part of the investigation of my prostate problems. Has to be done on a full bladder so I ain’t looking forward to it. Plus I am currently doing a diary of my liquid intake and urinary output for 3 days. Ah, the joys of being an old man.
  • Weather-wise, looks like we will have a bit of an ‘Indian Summer’ with predicted temperatures of the high 20s. The last gasps before Autumn properly arrives?
  • Be an interesting match for QPR on Saturday. At home against Sunderland whose tails will be up after their 5-0 thrashing of Southampton. A point out of this would be good news.

And Finally…

How awesome the sky is

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