Upping the ante

Most of the time these days I’m pretty tired. I’m up a little after 6.30 in the morning, travel by train to Prahran, and walk to the hospital in time for my treatment. A couple of hours later I’m doing it all in reverse. At home, I get caught up in work, which is a combo of meetings, emails and deep analysis. There’s a lot to do. At the end of the day is bed and sleep, which is not nearly as good as it used to be.

Nothing here is too extreme. In reality, I’m using as much energy – or less – than in the good old days when I went into the office every day. The difference now is that I’m still recovering from cancer.

It’s not pleasant feeling this weary, but I don’t mind it, mainly because I think it may be necessary.

I don’t know if most people understand how utterly draining major surgery is to the body – not to mention the radiotherapy and chemo that followed. I’m still amazed to remember how weak I suddenly became after my surgery last year. I was a big, strong man who could go all day. Once I regained consciousness, I couldn’t raise my arm above shoulder level and needed therapy to walk again.

Much of the last half of last year remains a haze to me. I was very weak and frail and lived from treatment to treatment. I think back to the mind-numbing routine every day with an ambulance arriving to collect me and take me to the hospital for my treatment, and the trip home afterwards. There was very little else.

I was physically incapable, pretty much. I averaged between a thousand and fifteen hundred paces a day up to Christmas. I picked it up a little after that, but only got it up to about 3000 paces a day by March. Even a month ago, I was probably doing no more than 4,500 paces. Now, and for the last couple of weeks, it’s been north of 8,000 paces.

Last Saturday, my whole body ached from the unfamiliar exertion. I felt pretty old. But, no pain, no gain. I would do 10,000 paces easily before, and often quite a bit more. If I want to recover fully, if I want to get back the strength I’ve lost, then I have to get the miles in me. That’s all there is it to it.

Unfortunately, what makes it more difficult is my hip. I didn’t have to deal with that before. By the PM most days, my hip is aching and have a distinct limp. I hope that is something that will improve, but I don’t know. Motion is lotion, my stepdad used to say, so I’ll err to believe that the increased exercise will do it good also.

Ever since surgery last year, most of my physical indicators have been elevated. That’s no surprise with the body flat-out trying to recover.

I used to have a resting heart rate in the sixties. Now, it rarely falls below 80. It might peak after a brisk walk at around a hundred. Now it’s nearer to 130.

My blood pressure is all over the shop. It was high last year before surgery. In the moths after it feel drastically so that I was prone to faintness and even collapse because it was too low. Now it is high again.

I hoped and expected that as my fitness improved they would improve also, but that hasn’t been the case. It may still happen in the near future, and perhaps all it needs is for my fitness to stabilise and my body to adjust. For now I take it as a sign that my body is still busy healing. There’s a lot still happening in the background, and I hope that’s all it is.

I’ll review once my hyperbaric treatment finishes. I’ll be very disappointed if there’s no evidence of improvement. For now, I’m taking blood pressure medication again, and thinking about seeing my GP in the near future for a general check-up.

It’s easy to overlook other things when it’s all about the cancer, but maybe there’s a cue to look further, look deeper. But then, I don’t really know.

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