So much for my resolution to update this blog regularly - a week has gone by since I last wrote anything!
It's been a week filled with exercise, really - after trying Pilates last Tuesday (not a raging success; I felt as if it was all a bit too slow and not active enough for me), Amy and I trotted off to cardio-box, an exercise class based on (yes, you're there already) boxing! After the warm-up, we did about thirty minutes of shadow boxing, repeating arm movements and bouncing on our feet, ducking, etc. It was all going so well till we had to move our arms in double time while keeping our feet at the same pace That's when I got my feet and arms completely out of sync and ended up dancing in a vain attempt to copy the instructor and the rest of the class! At least it kept Amy amused, watching me pretending that what I was really doing was floating like a butterfly while stinging like a bee. We then worked our way round 10 stations, doing press-ups at one, tricep curls with weights at another, sit-ups etc and as part of this, we got the chance to don the boxing gloves and hit that punchbag. I found it much easier to co-ordinate my hand and legs when I was hitting something (watch out, Neil, when I want to practise my moves!). By the end of the class, I really felt as if I had worked harder than in any other class I've been to.
Thursday brought the excitement of a replacement hose for my Henry vacuum cleaner (you can tell my world has shrunk somewhat when a bit of plastic tubing gives rise to such heady pleasure). I'd like to point out that nothing in the previous sentence is a euphemism, by the way. Inspired by this foray into domestic excellence, I decided to bake some teabread. I was commenting to Neil this evening that I really enjoy being at home because I feel so much better now - while I was at home for most of last year, bar the first few months, for much of that time I felt so dreadful and weak that I couldn't enjoy it properly. Now, feeling stronger each week, I am loving the chance to cook at a more leisurely pace, to keep on top of housework, to free up weekends to spend with Neil, to be able to go to the gym and exercise classes during the day, to catch up with people and generally not to feel everything has to be crammed into Saturday and Sunday. That's not to say that I don't want to return to work - I do - but not full-time, since I think I need this balance and not to be at work every day to keep me fit and well, not just physically but mentally as well. I can see how easy it might be to get sucked back into that long hours culture and end up undoing all the good I am doing myself by focussing at the moment on getting fit and healthy.
Our weekend was a very sociable one. On Friday evening we were invited over to our friends', the Dodds, for supper and an evening playing board games. What fun! We played Old Maid, Pit, Qwirkle (yes, I have spelt that correctly!) and Chase the Ace. I'd forgotten how much enjoyment there is in playing simple games, no computer or fancy games console involved. We enjoyed it so much that first thing on Saturday, I ordered us Qwirkle and Pit from Amazon so we can do more of this kind of stuff at home. I really liked playing cribbage with Adam over Christmas and playing Jenga etc on Christmas Day. What was especially nice for me was that the last time we were over at the Dodds' house, I had no appetite and was terribly tired, but this time I was eating properly and had loads more energy, so we were able to stay until a respectable time (and I tucked away a respectable amount of food!).
On Saturday, our friends Steve and Gwen travelled up from their home in the New Forest to visit. Steve's back garden backed onto Neil's, so they have known each other since they were knee high to a beer bottle. We haven't seen them for a couple of years, so we had a lot of catching up to do. After lunch, we sat around chatting and, as often tends to happen, coming up with solutions to all the world's problems :-) They left in the early evening, which was perfect timing as I was aware that I would feel really tired the next day if I carried on talking for much longer (it's still the thing that makes me most tired, talking - ironic, eh?).
Sunday, after church, for some reason I started feeling a bit low. The sun was shining, so it wasn't weather-related, as often happens with me, so I think it was just a bit of a dip with no apparent cause. Neil spotted that I was a bit despondent and suggested I put my running gear on and went out for a run. After a bit of grumbling (I'll be too slow, I won't enjoy it, people will laugh, yada yada yada), I did as he suggested and went out for a run. I ran the same route I ran the previous week, didn't have any walk break and ended up shaving a few minutes off my time, so well done, Neil - you knew exactly what I needed to do, as I came home with a smile on my face and feeling much better. I am so lucky that I have found a medication that is totally natural and chemical-free - exercising helps me so much.
And so we come to Monday and the start of a new week. I popped next door to have a cuppa and a catch up with my neighbour and went into Redhill in the afternoon to sort out my mobile phone upgrade. I like to look at and feel the handsets, so need to go into the shop, not just do it online. One spanky new iPhone 4S and pair of trackie bottoms later, I returned home, a happy shopper. Legs, Bums and Tums with Amy last night as the first of this week's exercise classes - not sure I'm seeing much difference in any of those parts of my anatomy, but my stamina is good!
Today, Tuesday, I've spent a total of three hours at the gym, starting with an early morning session at half six with Neil. I had a really good, comfortable run on the treadmill and did lots of resistance work, squats, sit-ups etc. Later in the morning I had Zumba (always a feel-good class) and this evening I did Pilates. I'm glad to say that this evening I "got" Pilates - I felt much more at ease in the class and understood properly, not just conceptually, how valuable this kind of class will be to complement all the aerobic and active stuff I do. In fact, today, for the first time since last April, I almost managed to forget that I have been ill or that I have facial palsy. Apart from the fact that during some of the positions in Pilates I had to be careful of my shoulder and neck, I haven't been limited in any of the activities I've done today. I chatted to several people at Zumba and Pilates without feeling the need to explain (apologise for?) how I look. I think this is real progress for me and I hope tomorrow is the same. I do understand that it might not be as good as this every day, but just realising that I can feel like this at least once is really positive.
I am sitting here this evening feeling pretty good. I value the preciousness of life and the fact that I have a second chance at it. Maybe the realisation that I am in remission is finally starting to take effect. It may be that now it's starting to feel real and I can leave the limbo I have found myself in for so long. Whatever it is, I wish I could bottle it and then uncork it whenever I feel the need - and not just for me, but for others who need it. Wouldn't that be brilliant?