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Let’s get physical?

running   Last weekend Mr C, my sister and a number of friends ran the local half marathon. He completed it in a respectable time and has been laid up with the “flu” since. For me and the children it was a great event – meeting up with other families, dodging flying lucozade bottles, waving our banner, and even beating the three runners right at the back as we made our way around the course towards a pub lunch. As I watched I felt a familiar stirring of “oh, that looks like a challenge, maybe I could do that…” but, I am happy to say, I have firmly suppressed such a ridiculous idea.

Facebook tells me that Stuart Nixon, a man who struggles to walk 10metres at a time due to his MS, is undertaking a challenge to walk 60km in nine days. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-24382585  This is incredible stuff, and reinforces that I COULD do a half marathon if I put my mind to it. But the sad truth is that I was physically lazy before my diagnosis and the MS has not helped me find my inner Green Goddess. My list of excuses for not doing exercise is almost endless but most of them are pretty convincing (to me at least). I didn’t exercise when I was teaching because I was at work all the time and I didn’t like going to the gym; I didn’t exercise when my children were tiny because I was either at work or looking after tiny children or eating biscuits or going out with friends eager to relieve the shell-shock of having had children (and I didn’t like going to the gym); I didn’t exercise when I started medical school because I spent most of my free evenings staring at anatomy textbooks in terror and comforting myself with chocolate (and could no longer afford to go to a gym). Don’t get me wrong, I did bits of exercise – occasional pilates, “Salsacise”, yoga and even Zumba. I rode my bike and even went for the occasional swim but if I could find an excuse not to do it I would grab hold of that excuse with both hands.

And thus has been my reaction to my diagnosis. To me dizziness, muscle aches, fatigue and periodic lack of usable limbs have meant that, whilst refusing to believe I was “ill”, I had mentally let go of the guilt about not doing regular exercise. This letting go was reinforced by reading that I can’t do any exercise that raises my core body temperature or else risk a relapse so that rules out the fun stuff (ie the dancing) and so I was resigned to sitting with my feet up of an evening drinking Dr Pepper.

But there are two flies in my ointment of guilt-free sloth.

1) I am superficial and vain and I don’t want to get fat. As I approach another big birthday I calculate I have put on a stone in the last decade. Given this was a decade in which I stopped smoking and had two children I don’t think that is too shabby. But I don’t want to get any heavier and I REALLY love food. I recently tried the only drug licenced for MS fatigue, Amantadine, which didn’t really help the fatigue but did remove my appetite. This was a pleasant side-effect whilst it lasted but it was temporary and now the tablets join all the others in the drawer. I could give the 5:2 diet a go but every other feeble attempt at watching what I eat in the past had led to me looking so feeble by 11am that nurses keep offering to check my blood sugar.

2) While I wasn’t looking almost every single one of my friends has started running. Even the ones who resolutely declared they never would. It’s like an epidemic has struck those nearing or just past forty. Frankly it’s a little unnerving and I find myself seeking out those who don’t own running shoes, only to find they are going on collective bike rides or fitting in the odd spinning class here and there. I’ve gone from the middle of a peer group too busy to exercise and alleviating work and home pressure with crisps, to an outsider bemused that they all suddenly own some lycra!

So, it is probably time to find the jogging bottoms with the elasticated waist and get myself back to a pilates class (no cardiovascular exertion and at least it is not as dull as yoga – who in their right mind wants to go to a church hall to lie on a dusty floor to relax – I’ve got candy to crush!) I suppose I could take the university up on their offer of free classes if I wasn’t refusing to engage with them as the email offer was addressed to “dear disabled student.” Struclty’s back on but I don’t think leading a small child up and down a tiny living room in “hold” or “impressing” them with my Charleston is going to do much for the expanding waistline so I better go and check out the local leisure centre listings … but there will be NO running.


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