Off The Drugs
It’s been an odd couple of weeks in my recovery process. I tapered off the serious painkillers and am on ibuprofen and paracetamol only. This had two effects. Firstly my sleep has become quite fractured, and I’m struggling to reach six hours a night, often five hours. Secondly, I’m feeling “new injuries.” For example, my left ribs were severely broken, but my right side ribs are sore post-painkillers. Overcompensating? – who knows? Hitting the gym has been in my mental plan. Was this the week or a step too far?
You may know by now that exercise and my mental health are closely linked. Lack of sleep, feeling odd being tapered off hard drugs, and lack of exercise have messed with my mind. It’s been a tough few days.
It’s exactly two years today since my mental health was at its lowest ever ebb. Reflecting, I realise that I also had an appointment this day two years ago due to a torn knee meniscus. Again, mind and body can come together and double down. When you’re down, you can really be down.
But also, I have worked hard for two years on my mental health. I’ve had excellent professional health and great people around me too. It’s been a life-affirming experience, and recent times have seen me feeling better than I have ever felt. And feeling optimistic about the next chapter of my life.
I can live with a few down days because I have a tried and tested toolkit to move me through it to the sunnier uplands.
Hitting The Gym
The nature of my injuries has seen me progress slowly, with careful supervision from Stephen Davies of Real Health London. But with every week, progress. Until a week ago when “new injuries” slowed me, and my mood dropped. Have I been pushing too hard? – I don’t think so. Indeed the opposite has been true in the last week.
I decided to get disciplined again and back into my good habits. Writing my journal. Breathing. Mobility work. The stuff that serves me well. The one groove I am not back into is meditation. I had sat for 1,273 consecutive days at the time of my accident. A spell in the hospital put paid to that streak. I haven’t had one session since, as it’s impossible to get the mindset straight with pain niggling away from my ribs. Very soon, I will start a new streak at day one.
The Big Dumbells
I wandered off to my favourite Gymbox in Farringdon for a workout. It felt a little surreal, given it’s been eight weeks since I went there. Walking down the steel steps to the basement was a dream-like experience for reasons I couldn’t understand.
Ten minutes on the Wattbike to test my hip; all good. Then my lower body mobility and bodyweight exercises, and again, it went well. I picked up a two-kilogram dumbbell for the upper body and did three sets of front raises. Then three sets of dumbbell bench presses with the same two-kilo weight.
The bench presses felt as good as setting a personal best. I saw another lifter giving me the side-eye. The “What’s this old fool doing, lifting that tiny weight?” He doesn’t know me. As David Goggins would say, “You don’t know me, son.” Never has such a small weight generated so many endorphins.
Hitting the gym, there will be more. My physio has given me clearance to train in a tight set of exercises for the coming weeks. I cannot tell you my joy. The level of muscle wastage I have is shocking, and I’m sure it’s the source of a lot of the pain I’m feeling presently.
I’m a stubborn and largely self-deprecating type. I have refused to accept my body has undergone a major trauma. All my close confidantes and medical advisors have told me this, and I’ve brushed it off. The last weeks have felt like forever and no time at all. A couple of wise owls told me there would be a mental barrier to overcome, and this last week has illustrated that to me in Technicolor.