Thursday, 14 April 2011

It is easy when you’re either single or just a couple for time to pass so quietly that it seems not to pass at all. Week days see the same tasks carried out and every weekend the same past times are enjoyed.  Days, weeks, months and even years can pass and one never really feels any older. Jobs may change; careers may advance but inside you feel you are you. Seemingly ever young with nothing to make you think otherwise.

I now find that once children come along, amongst everything else they bring, the rate they advance becomes an absolute and daily reminder of just how fast time passes and how quickly we get older. It has been a year since my little girl was born and it is a year that has flown by. Her birthday marking not just her arrival in the world but also the week I was released from hospital following a month and a half of post-chemo suffering.

The year has been one of indulgence although not to excess. I’ve enjoyed every moment possible with my little girl. I’ve concentrated on doing the things I enjoy and abandoned those I do not. And on the matter of food I’ve eaten whatever I’ve wanted. I figured that with the combination of leukaemia related weight loss and over a month of hospital food I could afford to put on a few pounds and that I have. I’ve not gone overboard, I’ll confess to feeling no qualms about occasionally indulging in a second piece of cake but I’ve always been reasonably healthy and I enjoy a massive salad as much as I do a burger. Everything in moderation as they say.

Recently though I’ve decided that I need to pull myself out of this torpor and get back into training. Aware now how fast time is ticking and with low platelets on my last blood test I know that all too soon I may find myself back in hospital having chemo and fighting off whatever that brings on next time. When I get there and the treatment knocks my health down I would like to at least be starting from a pretty good position. And so this month I shopped around and joined a gym.

I’ve been a gym member before. I joined my first in my late teens. It was a small local place populated with guys who seemed to spend every waking hour drinking tuna milkshakes and exercising their upper bodies so much that they turned into massive piles of muscle set atop tiny spindly legs.

More recently I spent a year as a member of one of these new plush chains of gyms but eventually the exorbitant fees and lack of any proper cleaning or repair led me to leave. I was a member of the local YMCA gym in the run up to my diagnosis and used it regularly and had put down my inability to make any real progress with my stamina too not being as young as I used to be;  unaware of my dwindling platelets and ever growing spleen.

This time I’ve joined the local leisure centre. It is affordable, no frills, and I figured that local services could do with my investment. My training has started and whilst for the first few sessions I felt I’d get more from just running to the gym and back without paying to actually go in, things are starting to change. I feel as though I am using all of my lungs again. I mean the full depth you get from filling them through exercise rather than the little bit you use in a typical loafing and sedentary lifestyle. And I just feel a lot better in myself.

In addition to the physical benefits I had hoped for I hadn’t really counted on the mental. The regular exercise really lifts the spirits and I find myself getting low and dwelling on this all a lot less often when I work out at least a few times a week.

This is all part of what I call my “one more day” plan.

Previous efforts at the gym have always been to get fitter, to look better; a purely cosmetic aim. This time it is very different. I do not expect the exercise to stop the Leukaemia coming back but what I do hope is that I can stay fit enough to see off any more treatment I have to go through. The real aim of all the work is to buy myself at least one more day with Emma. It is that thought that drives me each time I up the speed on the treadmill, squeeze more metres out of my row, and add another weight to the bench press.

“One more day”.