Tuesday, 24 April 2012

In the city

The title and structure for this entry has been borrowed from Bassman, who has written his own version of our non-marathon jaunt to London.  Here's my (much more wordy) version.

Thursday:  I tried very hard not to cry in the car as we left home for the airport; Bess had reverted to not eating and I felt SO WORRIED at leaving her, even though I knew that she was in the very capable hands of Soo and Tony.  Actually, looking back on it, the guilty expression on Bess's face when I unexpectedly came round the corner outside the house to find her snuggled up in Soo's arms as they walked through the garden should have tipped me off that the cat had perhaps been putting on a bit of a 'poor me' act.  Still, I was relieved to get a phone message at the airport from Soo saying that Bess had eaten all of her food and was in good spirits.  I boarded the plane with a clear conscience.

The plane journey was uneventful, aside from Bassman not fitting into the seat provided and needing to move to an unoccupied row where he could stretch out.  I'm sure that the man across the aisle thought that we had had a huge argument, judging by the way that he kept looking over at me and then turning around to look at Bassman (who, by this point, was fast asleep).  However, after I scowled at him (the man across the aisle, not Bassman) a few times, he went back to minding his own business.

We stayed at The Sofitel at Gatwick Airport that night; the bed was very comfortable, but the room was either way too hot and stuffy (with the air conditioning turned off) or way too noisy (with the air conditioning turned on).  A crap sleep was had by all.

Friday:  I did, however, get to have French toast for breakfast which perked me up considerably.  A half-hour train ride and a half-hour Tube journey later, we were at our London base (the Novotel Tower Bridge).  We unpacked and set off on foot to explore.  We wandered along the Thames walkway, then across the Millennium Bridge, past the Tate Modern, and towards the London Eye with the vague idea of taking a spin on it.  But we're such country people these days...who knew there'd be such ginormous queues?  As Bassman hates queueing even more than I do, we did an abrupt about-face and retraced our steps back to the hotel where room service and Friday night telly awaited us.  Yep, Friday night in the big city... 

Saturday:  Yummy buffet breakfast but absolutely horrendous tea.  It was grey.  With some kind of scum floating on it.  Bassman thought it might be powdered tea.  I didn't know that such a thing existed and, now that I do, I think that it should be outlawed.  How appropriate, then, that our plan for the day was to go on the Houses of Parliament tour; we got there early enough to have some proper tea (and some nice cakes) at the Visitors' Cafe.  As a non-British person, I wasn't sure what to make of the whole thing (the Houses of Parliament, not the cafe).  On the one hand, I was very conscious of the weight of history (as they say); on the other hand, I thought that the House of Lords and the House of Commons looked like slightly shabby film sets and I was a bit annoyed by all of the laminated signs forbidding the tour groups to perch their bums on the benches.  The Queen's Throne was lovely, though (not that we were allowed to sit on that, either).  And I liked the idea that, when Prince Philip is in attendance, the Queen has to scootch her throne over to make room for his.  Sweet.

We got back to the hotel in plenty of time for a change of clothes and then the Tube to Covent Garden, where we had tickets to see The Woman in Black.  I finally got around to reading the book a couple of months ago and loved it, which made me a bit apprehensive about seeing the play but I needn't have worried.  The two actors seemed to be enjoying themselves and the story held up well on stage.  There were several moments where the audience collectively jumped and shrieked (except for Bassman, who is much too cool to engage in such behaviour); scary, and not a zombie in sight.

Sunday:  Ah yes, marathon day.  I was a bit melancholy at first, but this was quickly replaced by the excitement of being there.  We met up with Cathy and Paul to watch the race.  Paul (who is a properly fast runner and who has run lots of marathons - including London - before), and Cathy (who runs too and who has lots of experience spectating at Paul's races) guided us to the part of the course where mile 13 and mile 22 pass each other.  It was amazing seeing the elite runners, who looked like they were running just as effortlessly at mile 22 as at mile 13.  I was almost more impressed, though, by the more ordinary runners who looked effortless at mile 13 and then by mile 22 were obviously struggling, but who still kept running.

I noticed that some people, even amongst the faster runners, were doing a run-walk.  My fear that spectators would assume that you were just unfit proved justified when Paul, upon seeing the first run-walker, critically said, 'It's way too soon for him to be walking!'  Nooooo!!!  He's PLANNED to walk!  It's part of the PLAN!!!  Aaaarrrrgggghhhh! 

Anyway, I think that I calmly communicated my thoughts on that to Paul...but I really do think that I either need to plan to run the whole race or to get a T-shirt made that says, 'Walking is part of my plan.  Really.' 

Bassman and I left after watching a couple of hours of the race because I wanted to go to the Tate Modern to revisit some paintings of Cy Twombly's that had made a huge impression on me the last time that I was there.  Unfortunately, they weren't there - a small photo will never do them justice, but here it is anyway.  These are his 'Four Seasons' and they're stunning.  Absolutely stunning. 

Monday:  And so to home.  It's good to be back with Bess (who has thrived in our absence) and to be back in our own house.  Seeing the marathon has helped to revive my flagging motivation and has confirmed to me that I really, really want to do this.  One year to give it my best possible effort...21 April 2013.  Put it in your diaries now and come to London to cheer me on!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

An update on The Cat

Followers of Bassman's blog will know that our poorly puss Bess has been back and forth to the vet entirely too many times in the last couple of months.  We were briefly distracted from the initial tentative diagnosis of chronic kidney disease (CKD) by a diagnosis of mild hyperthyroidism, but the vet is now firmly back on the CKD track.  As if that isn't bad enough, Bess is facing yet another bout of dental surgery.  She only has six or seven teeth left (and three of them are her canines); the next to come out is one of the molars.

She was meant to have the surgery on Monday morning but a pre-surgery blood test revealed that one of her kidney markers (creatinine), previously in the normal range, was now elevated.  One of the other markers, the blood urea nitrogen (or BUN), had come down but was still in the high range.  And, since her visit to the vet the previous week for a scheduled CKD follow-up, she had lost yet more weight.  All of these together made a general anaesthetic unsafe so the surgery was rescheduled for next Monday and instead Bess was kept for the day, receiving IV fluids to try to flush the toxins from her kidneys. 

We collected Bess on Monday afternoon, with much praise from the veterinary staff about what a good girl she had been.  (Aside from when they went to take out the IV and Bess gave them a good thrashing with her claws.  That's our girl!)  She's been an incredibly subdued cat ever since which, for a cat who has always spent most of her time mooching from one sleeping area to the next, is saying something.  She continues to turn her nose up at her food and doesn't even bother anymore to try to eat from her bowl.  Hopefully this is because her mouth is sore and not because the kidney disease is worse than her blood tests make it appear.  But, because it is SO IMPORTANT that she eats, I have had to resort to emergency measures.

Bess is now hand fed, and it seems to be working.  I think that she is hungry but she finds it very difficult to bite into her food and to chew it.  It's easier for her to lick it from my fingers.  Plus, I think she associates being hand-fed with getting treats so it's a more appealing option.  So far today, she's had almost two full pouches of the special renal food and a half-tin of Applaws tuna.  That's the most she's eaten in a day for weeks. 

Hand feeding a fierce cat
It's very time-intensive and, because she is very much a cat of habit, I fear that she will never go back to her bowl.  But, to me, it's worth it if it keeps her weight up.  Whether Sue and Tony, our lovely cat-sitters who will be looking after Bess while Bassman and I are in London, will feel the same about being slobbered on by a mostly-toothless cat remains to be seen. 

We haven't told them about the hand-feeding yet, but I guess that they know now!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Newton's first law

Although I decided in my head a couple of weeks ago that I would defer my place in the marathon until next year, it was only today that I officially withdrew.  I'll get an email sometime before the beginning of June asking if I want to run in 2013 ; as of now, though, I'm in marathon limbo-land.  (Limbo as in being unclear, not as in the dance.  My flexibility hasn't improved that much.)

Mini Magnums=Mini Calories.  Really.
I seem to have lost that running feeling.  I don't have any definite running goals now because...well, because I can't run and have no idea when I'm going to be able to again.  I know that my much-reduced cardio sessions are important for my rehab and that they, therefore, have a purpose.  Most days, I've been able to motivate myself enough to carry on with the programme; recently, though, I just haven't cared.  I haven't been to the gym since Monday and I haven't done any stretching since Tuesday.  And I've eaten entirely too many cakes, cookies, and mini-Magnums.

I'm very good at doing nothing; it's my natural state and, in the absence of any external forces (e.g. needing to earn a living), I'm quite happy drifting through life, not doing anything more than the absolute minimum required to get by (actually, that applies to earning a living as well).  Running is one of the few things that I'm prepared to put effort into, but it has to be consistent effort.  Otherwise, I quickly revert back to Inertia Woman.  Having goals - whether they are time, distance, or race goals - motivates me.  Faffing about for 15 minutes on a cross-trainer doesn't.

I know, I know - positive thinking; getting better all the time; change my goals to fit my current abilities; yadda yadda yadda.  I'll drag myself back into that mode tomorrow.  For now, I'm having a glass of wine and another piece of cake.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Leave it to the professionals

In my endless search for something - anything! - that will heal my calf injury more quickly than it wants to do on its own, I came across KT tape.  KT (or, kinesiology) tape is meant to provide stability, support, and pain relief for various injuries; I asked Adam about it, and he thought that it wouldn't hurt to give it a try, so I ordered a couple of rolls from Amazon (pink & purple - there's no reason for supportive strapping to be dull). 

Not my calves & not Bassman's foot
There are a bazillion different ways that one can tape a calf.  For someone who has a difficult time choosing, this presented me with quite the dilemma.  It's also really hard to tape one's calf oneself which meant that I had to ask Bassman for help, and we all know how much I hate having to ask for things.  However, needs must.

I narrowed the options down to three, thanks to YouTube.  My first attempt peeled off after a day, but my calf did feel a bit better with it on.  For the second attempt, after much shouting, directing, and walking off in a huff (all on my part - Bassman remained patient as ever), Bassman got me taped up to resemble the photo on the right.  I was amazed at the almost instantaneous reduction in pain, which lasted until the tape came loose a few days later.

I tried the third taping configuration next, but did it myself this time.  I also pulled the tape snugger than Bassman had, figuring that a bit of extra support could only be a good thing.  And then I headed off to Shetland.  Once I was settled into the flat, I walked a very brisk and pain-free 15 minutes to Tesco and spent a pain-free 20 minutes wandering up and down the aisles.  The walk back to the flat, much to my dismay, hurt.  A lot.  I limped most of the way and even had to stop a couple of times to let the pain subside.

By the next day, not only was my calf still very sore but my hip joint was sore as well.  In fact, my hip hurt so much that I spent the first hour at work terrifying myself by googling 'stress fractures'.  I limped around work all day, then limped to the gym.  The bike and elliptical didn't feel too bad, but the walk home hurt so much that I wanted to cry.  By the time I got back to the flat, I was aware that the tape was pulling at my calf so I took it off.  Immediate relief.

By the next morning, I was pain-free again and have remained so ever since.  Puzzling?  Mmmm, not really.  Every KT tape video says over and over again, 'Don't put any stretch on the tape!!!'.  Not only did I contravene the Supreme Taping Rule, I also changed the placement of the tape slightly from what the video showed.  I think that the too-snug tape and the incorrect tape placement combined to interfere with the proper working of my calf muscle which had a knock-on effect for how my entire leg functioned.  Sheesh, I though that this tape was only going to be a pretty pink and purple placebo.  Who knew that it's actually a powerful clinical tool?

Adam texted me yesterday to see how I was doing and, in response to my whingeing about how the tape had injured me, said, 'I think you had the tape on too tight.  You should have asked me for help.'  I've learned my lesson.  Next time, I'll leave it to the professionals. Or, at the very least, to Bassman.