I wake up this morning with every muscle searing. It hurts to move, it hurts to attempt to sit. My body is in shock – the aftermath of a half mile walk with my dog yesterday that realistically was half a mile’s worth of steps too far. I hadn’t realised my body was quite such a poop. But it was worth it. It was freedom, it was happiness. My dog needs to be walked every day (and isn’t unless I’m able to) and, in a weird way, I do too (I mean hey I’d rather run but… That’s probably never going to happen again unless you listen to my blind optimism at the minute). I get restless being stuck inside the entire time. But do I listen to my body’s protest at half seven in the morning? Yes. I roll over and fall back asleep.
Do I listen to the same protest at midday when I wake again? Of course I don’t. Replying to some messages from my fellow third wheel, I go downstairs half dressed and find clothes, and then I see my dog and I see the sun and my parents are ranting at each other about the continuing family feud that has continued to take place in my absence and is partially a reaction to me (and I can’t even deal with the situation because NOPE)… And I grab the dog’s lead and harness and put his collar on, and before I know it, we’re gone.
This was not the plan! I think to myself as we walk away from the house, but the sun is shining and I instantly just feel so happy to be walking under trees and breathing in fresh air with the Goo Goo Dolls’ most recent album playing in the earphones that I managed to relocate this morning (I am discovering a lot of music lately that I really like!)
And we walk further than yesterday, because I am riding a high. I am loving being back outdoors with my dog and every step hurts but I don’t want it to end. I push on when breathing becomes difficult. I push on when my legs start to scream. I push on when my heart turns into a runaway train, and I push on when I don’t know how to take another step. Luckily we have a lot of friends who live in this village, so I adapt our route to take us past their houses, so that if I collapse there is somebody who knows me. There is literally no way but through this feeling, we have to get back to the house and we have to do so under our own steam. The sun beats down, I touch my dog’s fur and it’s so hot. He’s panting but still ok. I’m panting and near collapse. And a quarter of a mile from the house, my heart starts to scream. I slow right down, and it isn’t a conscious decision but a physical limitation. I am not what I thought I was. Walking is still not my thing.
I can’t breathe. I mean I can, but I am heaving air, and slowly an audible crackle emerges, with fluid catching on each exhalation and making me cough. This is what used to happen at swim training in the end, right before I stopped. I ignore it and let my lungs do what they want, until I can’t ignore it any more, and I am breathing laboriously and quickly as though I am running. And then I start coughing. And then I am dragged out of my denial and I have ALL THE REGRETS because we are still about 300m from the front door, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but is A LOT. I take slow, clumsy steps, and I savour every moment because all I can think as I look down at my dog, who keeps looking up at me and pausing for cuddles, is He’s 10 years old. Our last dog was 10 when he died. He’s having surgery tomorrow. The anaesthetic is risky given his age and stuff. What if this is his last walk? and then I have to shut that thought process off right there because it makes me want to cry.
We get home. I’m melting because for the first time in a few weeks I’m not wearing shorts. I fall onto the sofa, manage to wrestle my jacket off, and endure the awfulness. My head aches and I feel ridiculously dizzy. I feel like I’m going to throw up. My leg muscles scream at the amount of lactic acid they are currently bathed in. My dog won’t leave my side, he rests his head in my lap, but he is hot and exhausted and eventually lays on my feet.
Gradually I regain the ability to breathe at a normal rate. The headache fades and the nausea vanishes and the dizziness eventually subsides, but I don’t have the energy to move. A walk. A little walk. 3/4 of a mile in just over an hour. Painfully slow. And beyond my capability. Just a normal activity. And I thought I could manage it.
I finally respond to the multiple messages my fellow third wheel sent me while I was walking. And I am full of regrets but as everything improves all I can think is It was worth it. That was amazing. I WALKED THE DOG AGAIN. WE WENT FOR A WALK just me and my pooch and IT WAS HEAVEN. I’ve been kind of puffy for a week or two, retaining water and unable to increase my water tablets because of my kidneys (and because I’ve almost run out). My face has puffed right up and I’ve looked like I’m heavily pregnant for a while, but after this walk it is my lower legs that swell up. My nephew walks in and I realise that actually I LOVE having him here, and would probably swap him for my little brother, who is being a pain in the butt. My mum comments on how puffy my face looks. I need to sleep. Even though I woke at midday and it has only been an hour and a half. My body is annoyed.
A gentle swim would have been preferable to a walk. It is much lower intensity and less stress on my body.
“I sense a little regret?” My fellow third wheel messages me. And he’s right, there is… Right under the smile that I cannot shake off. I won’t do it again. I don’t want to break. But I am glad I got to walk this morning.
And now to finally set up my t-shirt selling website thing that I’ve been working on (I have a website but have yet to upload any designs because I am an idiot and have been going through some stuff because I’m all pathetic). OH AND I NEED TO REVISE BECAUSE I HAVE AN EXAM ON THURSDAY (and I am completely not in the right frame of mind to sit it, and exam stress is completely suppressed by my family making me feel like a screw up and wish I was dead with their stupid selfishness so I can’t find motivation to o anything uni right now, which is why I needed a walk). And call me an idiot, but this afternoon, my swimming friend (who I went for lunch with the other day) and I plan to go swimming. My aching muscles will thank me, the one that powers them all may not.
No way but through. And to a pool.
“Icarus is flying too close to the sun” – Bastille, Icarus