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Friday, 26 February 2010

Do I have a disability?

In order to improve the running experience I have invested in a kind of cummerbund which holds me tightly round the middle and stops me feeling as if I am about to open up like a book.

One day I walked at speed to the forest recreation ground (mile and a half) which warmed me up, and then started to do the run / walk routine. Plodding so slowly and oafishly round the field whilst others seemed to spring painlessly past, carefree of their natural energy. Bastards!

I discovered that on the forest there is an outdoor gym which uses your own weight rather than weights. I sweated round all the bits of equipment and it felt really good. I felt almost euphoric as I pumped and pushed. I was me again.

I had also decided was that I was going to swim again, and so Clare and I arranged a visit to a company called Ostomart to look at some high waisted-swimmers. I was not really sure about these as have been used to budgie smugglers all my life. The thought of wearing such a voluminous garment in the water gave me black and white and grainy images from the mid 1950’s, and did not appeal.

We found ourselves in an office staffed by about 5 women behind computers, and on phones. They showed me a pair of the sail like swimmers; and these were the small ones. My god! You could catch fish with these things. I decided against them. I asked about changing my prescription to be with them and before we knew it we were in a room stacked to the ceiling with “products” and “supplies” The woman showing us round this odd new world seemed to know everything. She was easy to talk to, very re-assuring.

“People get used to a product and don’t like to change, so we have to stock old designs as well as modern ones.”

She described how some people have a rubber bag which they keep on for a really long time and which they wash out. Not what I want.

The sartorial problems of swimming seemed to half solved when I bought a pair of Bermuda shorts. These in combination with a pair of high-waisted elasticised pantaloons from Ostomart, seemed to offer the possibility of swimming again.

So yesterday I walked to the Noel Street Baths, and asked for a ticket to swim. The woman asked if had a city card. No I said, so she gave me a form to fill in.

I admit that forms can defeat me quite often but this one looked a doddle; name, address etc. But then I got to the question

“Do you have a disability?”

I was stumped and I didn’t know what to put. Does anyone out there know the answer to this question?

Having got my ticket I entered the pool area. It’s one of those really old pools that have changing cubicles all round the sides, and vitreous tiles .

I slipped into my new pantaloon / swimmer combo and opened up my new goggles. I was ready to swim. In the pool I started swimming with great pleasure. It was wonderful. I used to swim everyday. I really miss that, and the sauna too. As I got to other end I did a quick grope to make sure everything was still in place. The Bermuda shorts had slipped down to my hips, and my bag was poking out of the top like a large dog’s tongue.

I leaned against the wall and flipped up the goggles on my forehead and started to adjust everything. It was at this point that one of the goggle eyepieces slipped back down over one eye.

I had suddenly become a strange squinting man fumbling with his nethers in the shallow end. Not so cool. Shorts tightened to the max, I set off again, but at the other end I was one eyed and fumbling again.

I returned to the changing cubicle and bodged two holes in the waist band of the swimmers with my car key. These allowed my to rethread the boot lace at the front in such a way that I could really tighten them up. I emerged from the cubicle like a man wearing a whalebone corset.


In the pool I was swimming again. Brilliant.

And I’m so much better at swimming than running.

I’m happy

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Learning to run again

Rome 2007, a limping Roger sweats his way around the Coliseum accompanied by The Marchioness of Basford and Sherwood.

It is now about 5 or 6 weeks since a masked man in green pyjamas cut me in half. I am feeling a lot more like the old me now. I have more energy and I have got used to the new plumbing.

One of the strange side effects of having colitis has been that my leg joints have been really painful at times. Sometimes it meant that I lurched slightly in the street, and being quite large and bewhiskered, people would cross the road in case I asked them for money.

At times I've had to use a walking stick, and I have been rendered virtually immobile. Some UC patients will have experience of Infliximab which I was on before the surgery. Apart from playing around with my immune system it also gave me a few weeks pain free walking before I would slowly seize up again.

I used to run a lot, many years ago now I admit. I used to casually run 10 miles without a thought. Then I got the Ulcerative Colitis and running didn't seem like such a good idea. It shook my guts, and as time progressed hurt my ankles and knees. So then I used to go to a gym and grunt on the machines there before swimming a lot of lengths - (100).

I was going to the gym right up to the day before I went into hospital to meet the masked man. Now, after the operation, my legs don't hurt me anymore. I can walk with ease.

One cold night last week I was coming back from a pub, and I took it into my head to combat the cold by running. So I started to run and despite still looking a little frightening to other pedestrians (not wearing running gear you see) it was not too painful.

So a few days later I set off to run round a large park area of Nottingham called The Forest. It was cold morning and my eyes and nose and ears were cold.

I started to run very slowly the length of The Forest. It was a bit odd, I seemed to have leaden legs and I ran out of breath pretty quickly. All around me were athletic people gliding by at speed almost as if riding bicycles whilst I trailed along at petty pace gasping for breath. Some of them slips of girls that ran like whippets, some of them big muscular men in football gear nonchalantly trotting past me like horses.

Today I had another go. This time I had planned to walk for a bit, run for a bit, walk for a bit, run etc. I started by going for a walk up a hilly road to warm and loosen the legs, then on the flat I began an inelegant run. I managed to keep it up for about three minutes (That really is bad) then I walked for about the same amount of time. I repeated the walk run routine for about 30 minutes.

My knees and ankles have become very weak, and going down hill I fear that my knees will give way.

IT DOESN'T MATTER! I'm running. Just a little bit, just a step at a time.

I will run again.