Wednesday, 17 August 2016
It's a familiar scenario. I have some academic work to do, but I need to take a break. Look at a thing too long and you can't see it clearly any more. However, take too long a break and you'll discover you never did your studying. It's been an hour since I sat down to knock out a quick blog, but I got caught up in looking at articles about the relationship between intolerance of uncertainty, low mood and excessive worry, and now an hour has gone by...
I'm making a meal of this current piece of work. It's only a 2000 word essay. Academically it's like a walk to the end of the street. Of course it matters what kind of steps you take, but really. I've already read far too much for it, and now I'm going to have to boil down a whole heap of stuff. It would help if things didn't disappear out of my memory like wet footprints on a carpet...but they do.
And I'm so easily led astray by things that I find interesting, and a desire to try to get to the bottom of things, or to get an over-view...
Anyway, I thought I'd tell you what's been happening recently. I don't think you'll believe it because I don't either, but anyway, here goes.
I know I've been moaning about my tummy not being right - well, it's nearly if not pretty much better.
"Oh Good", you say. Thanks very much. It is good. It went on far too long.
In the meantime, at the weekend, some less good stuff was happening. I've had a funny knee since I got back from Orkney. It didn't seem to be running related, because running didn't make it worse, but it didn't quite like cycling as much, and it absolutely hated anything that required me to kneel.
I don't do a lot of kneeling so that wasn't a big problem. But one thing I do kneel to do is to stand on my head. I know how this sounds but bear with me. Everyone has things they like to do, so don't be so judgemental.
I have a yoga book that says if you can only do one piece of yoga in a day, to stand on your head, because your innards like it. Your intestines like to slop forwards a bit, your brain and eyes like an extra flush of blood, your lungs like it, your spine likes it, your feet and your legs like it. Being a creature of habit I like doing the same things every day, and every day I stand on my head. So when I couldn't kneel I had to adapt the way I got upside down. I found a way of doing it from a kind of downward dog position instead of from a kneeling position.
I'm not entirely sure if this is what happened next but it's my best guess. Getting up into a headstand from a downward dog position somehow put more strain than usual on my sternum and before I knew it I had a sore bump at the top of my front ribs with pain going out along the ribs. I felt like I imagine you feel if you've had a car crash and bashed hard into an airbag. I went out running with Buchanan on Sunday anyway, with my sore knee and my sore chest and this time running did make my knee worse and by the time I got home I couldn't easily bend my right leg.
"Bummed out" is one way of describing how I felt. I had a busy week ahead, and a fair bit of studying, and the one piece of brightness that I had been hanging onto was that I might get out some nice runs in between pouring over books and papers. Come Monday I was not a happy pup. I didn't make a good job of studying, I couldn't run, I couldn't concentrate because I was sore. Eventually at 10 to 3 pm I left the house with my bike, because I wanted to test out if my knee was too sore to cycle to work the next day or if it was a viable option. I had promised to go and see a friend who lives nearby, so that's where I was headed.
I cut down a few streets and then came out onto a junction onto Easter Road. I couldn't remember exactly which street Susan lived on, but I was going to cross and if it was the wrong one it was no big deal. As I was stopped at the junction in the middle of the road, waiting to go across, a lorry came down the road and turned right onto the street where I was headed, and as it did its entire load of large sheets of ply came off and flew (in slow motion) across the road towards me. They had landed, but had very little friction so were sliding over the top of each other and still moving when they hit both my wheels and knocked me sideways off my bike.
Over I went and landed hard on my ribs and arm. My astonished brain was formulating something like this. "You're fucking kidding me. I haven't slept right for 2 nights because my knee and chest are sore and now I'm going to have bashed fucking ribs!"
I got up again in a daze, thinking mostly about whether my ribs were broken or not. They didn't feel like they were. The lorry man was trying to retrieve pieces of ply. Cars were stopping at the last moment. It was all a bit of a mess. Luckily nobody thought it was a good idea to just drive over the top of them because I think they would have slid out of control
The man came over to me, looking a bit afraid of me and seemed to be shouting "Do you need an ambulance Hen? Will I call you an ambulance Hen?" "No, I'm alright." I told him. "Are you sure Hen?"
A taxi was parked on the wrong side of the road, so parallel to me. The driver let his window down and shouted over "I ken Hen, You just couldn't believe it! You just couldnae do anything about it!"
"When is everyone going to stop calling me Hen?" I asked myself, and made my way off to see my friend Susan.
I knew it was only a matter of time before someone told me I was lucky. "You were lucky!" said Susan, "You could have really been hurt!"
"You were lucky" said Peter. "It could have sliced your head off. That's what happened in the exorcist". "Did you get his number? You should have sued him."
At work "Did you get his number? You should have sued him! Are you sure you haven't got PTSD? "
"Maybe you feel okay today but tomorrow you'll feel like you've been in a car-wreck" suggested Sarah, with a big smile on her face. "Maybe you'll fall apart!"
Actually, by then I was in a better mood, because my knee seemed to be getting better and I was pretty sure I'd be able to try a run today. It would break the day up nicely.
And it illustrated a thing I'd been reading about as part of my course-work. I'd been reading about people with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and some other mood disorders, generally having a lower tolerance of uncertainty. They (I should say "we") want to be safe and they want to be certain so it's an on-going project - trying to iron the uncertainty out of life. The trouble is, life isn't playing. It's not how things are at all. And anxious people tend to exaggerate how dangerous things are, while at the same time under-estimating their own ability to cope. The more you can tolerate uncertainty, the more you can just relax and get on with it. This rang true for me. I remembered that before I got my arrhythmia I had been worried for some time because I was on a low income and I didn't have any job security and I was worried things wouldn't work out and we'd lose the flat. As soon as I got ill I let go of that - or it let go of me. I had tried not to worry, because I could see it was counter-productive, but it was always there like a little background noise. The minute you're brought face to face with what you always knew - that you might not even be here tomorrow - you really can't go far down that road of what ifs. So maybe it's tolerance of certainty that's helpful. One day we're all going to check out unexpectedly and you probably won't even have done the dishes, your pants won't be clean and it's unlikely your house will be in order.
Anyway, I've been out a run. Damn it's hot! My ribs were sore but my knee was hardly any bother at all, and it's still fine now.
I ran in all the shadiest places I could think of, so I ran up the Water of Leith.
I ran past a gaggle of tourists with a "Tour Guide" who was explaining that the Dean bridge was built because there was a gorge there and people had difficulty getting from one side to the other. I wonder how much they paid for that astonishing pearl of wisdom? I should be a tour guide.
But I still have this essay to do. So I better go. It's been nice.