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Rock Maze
  • Writer's pictureNeil

The Fish, the Flamingo and the Wardrobe.

Sometimes sleep is really elusive. Tonight is one of those nights. For the last hour (and it's only 3:40am now) I've been wide awake. Fortunately writing these posts has become part of my plethora of coping strategies (just wanted to pop that word in there). Hopefully I'm not becoming too pleonastic.

I suppose, well in my case anyway, finding ways of getting through the days and weeks without slipping into some kind of morose state has become important. So, I'm sort of organically finding ways to cope.

When I had my bowel surgery in late 2017 I had my first chance to "make changes". It took a while to recover both physically and psychologically. During that time, very generously, I was offered the opportunity to convalesce in a beautiful French chateau. Hmmmm hard decision!

It was while I was there I realised how unfit I'd become. It hit me when we were visiting Rocamadour (worth Googling). A very steep village built on the side of a gorge. We met I.. and S.... and walked down from the top, starting at the bottom was simply not an option. By the time we'd arrived at the bottom I was so exhausted I was beginning to despair. Fortunately we could return to the top by mechanical means!

But a switch had been thrown, a pilot light had been lit, I needed to take more responsibility for my health.

I think the first thing to change was my diet. I don't know why but I began to dislike red meat. So it left my diet as did all other meat shortly afterwards. I still do dairy and fish. I think I may have become a pescatarian, if you need to label me. I just don't eat meat and I really enjoy my relatively new found diet.

The next thing I tackled was my weight. Rounded up (rounded being the operative word) I was 15 1/2 stone and had been for some time. As a firm believer of the philosophy "bollocks to no pain no gain" I needed to change. I decided to walk a bit. Just a bit, but that was a lot more than thinking. Walk? Why? Lauren and I started to pick away at the Cornish part of the South West Coast Path. We've done a few clockwise bits and we can genuinely say we've walked from Caffa Mill carpark to the Helford Passage (53.2 miles). OK not all in one go! Lauren is presently, and extremely frustratedly, trapped in Australia. Due to Covid restrictions Lauren can stay, or leave, but if she leaves she will not be allowed back for the foreseeable future. I'm glad it's not my decision. Anyway I may not complete the coast path but I'm going to try another chunk this weekend. Somewhere between Newquay and PadStein and if Lauren gets back, and I hope she can, perhaps we'll do a few more little bits.

My weight had begun to shift. I continued to walk when I returned to work. It's a couple of miles around the Eden Project so each day L.... and I struck off around the "pit" soon to be joined by other colleagues. A veritable walking club.

Already I sensed I needed to do more. A year had passed since my surgery. What now? Together Tricia and I had sorted my/our diet. My exercise regime had begun. I know, tackle that skill that had always eluded me........swimming! So off to our local leisure centre and join the Swim Doctor class. Over the next few months, very gradually I learnt how to swim. Clearly not a natural but little by little my confidence improved and eventually I even got a 25m certificate. Whoop whoop! Not only that, I was often the one chosen to demonstrate diving off the side at the DEEP END! Here I need to thank my very patient teacher, Helen, who was a constant encouragement especially when I found it sometimes physically challenging. Late last summer, with my new found confidence I learnt to kayak (actually not too difficult) and invested in the whole kit and caboodle.

My weight had dropped to 13 stone, my clothes were too big and I felt the fittest l had been probably since I gave up smoking 24 years ago.

So what now? Continue with my good works? Hell yes, and more.

The coping strategies just increase, activity abounds. The kitchen renovations are coming along nicely. I start collecting the units after I'm unchained from my next chemo. The walls get painted (or at least started) later this morning. Next week I need to sort out the flooring ready for the actual fitting. And just to add to the busyness, it's off to Foxhole (St Austell Healthcare leaves a lot to be desired) for a blood test at 2pm today. Tomorrow afternoon we're off for 3 nights to Lost Valley Camping and radio silence at Porthcothnan (until now I thought it was Porthcothnan). On Tuesday its lunch followed by a walk in the sunshine with E... and her dog. Thursday, a visit to the Sunrise Centre at RCH Treliske to meet with Caroline Parnell my consultant, I want to discuss my medication. Then plug and play at 8:40am on Friday. What a whirlwind!

And what of the Fish, the Flamingo and the Wardrobe? Well, interspersed with my uber busyness and loads of naps, we still love to receive visitors, while Boris still let's us. All suitably social distanced obviously (unless we acquiesce to a hug).

The Fish? A gift from J.... when she visited. J.... and A.. saw it and thought of me. A perfect colour combo for the kitchen. Thank you!

The Flamingo? Another gift. An exotic interloper into our collection of rubber ducks. A little bit of the Caribbean in Carclaze. Thanks E.... we're calling her Florentina!

And the Wardrobe? Well, a package arrived late yesterday afternoon with an array of fabulous clothes. For me a jacket, a waistcoat, two shirts, a pair of jeans and a pair of shoes. And for Tricia a dress. An act of kindness from the clothing company Joe Browns. I even got to appear on to their Instagram account! Now there's a thing.

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