I’m running. I go past the lake, below the trees and on up the path. It’s a push and it’s a sweat. But then it’s supposed to be that. I’ve done it for decades. It makes you fit. It controls your weight. It makes you young.
I didn’t really begin until I was 40. Went out and found I could do it after all. You ran for half an hour and you didn’t die. Your legs didn’t come off. Felt good the day after too. Ate healthily. Began to get younger. In two months I got myself back to age 35. People I met would say, say you look good. Didn’t you used to be that bloke with the beer belly? Gone. Wonderful. I ran some more. I got back to 34.
After that, though, nature’s natural calendar kicked back in. Age returned. Been like that for twenty-five years now. Run to keep yourself on track. Run to control the weight. Run to think. Run to keep yourself in contact with the physical world.
That was until Polymyalgia (PMR) intervened. Aching legs, aching trunk, aching neck, aching upper limbs. Should I run? I asked the GP. Do what you feel you can was the standard reply.
To be fair my faithful friend Prednisolone has helped. PMR slows you to staggering stop but prednisolone lets you start again. Slowly.
That’s been the trouble. It’s slow. When you cease exercise fitness leaves at a prodigious rate. Getting it back is a mighty task. PMR reduced me from miles to almost feet. Could just about get myself down the lane out back when I felt fit enough to restart. Take 15 mgs Prednisolone, put on the running shoes, clamp the Nano to the ears with Santana on, out for five minutes, then stagger back.
Then the pains began. Leg pains, chest pains. The leg pains could well be skeletomuscular suggested the Rheumatologist. But the chest pains may need checking. Hell, off we go again. Another worry. Something else to get under my skin. I look it up. Furring of the arteries, angina pains. That could be it. Pain which runs across the chest. Is there while you exercise. Yep. Stops when you stop. Yes again. That’s me, that’s what it is.
In cardiology they’ve got me up on their running machine. I’m in day clothes and work shoes and have eight or nine leads attached to me. Just walk, the assistant instructs me. We’ll see how you do. Good, good, she says. Now I’m going to up the incline and see what happens. It’s slightly harder but not much. So the process goes. I walk, she turns up the pressure, I walk some more.
Gradually it gets so I’m running, Heavy shoes not the best for this but she’s so encouraging. You’re doing great, keep on. Many give up at this point but you’re fine. I’m on there for more than twenty minutes. Sort of sweating at the end. You’ve done excellently. I have?
The cardiologist returns and looks the results over. In between a conversational rambles about Ireland, the far reaches of Wales and recent fiction he tells me that I’m totally normal. Not a flicker of heart trouble. Nothing he could detect. Blood pressure brilliant. Cholesterol quite acceptable. Stop worrying about this. The pain is skeletomuscular, my other familiar friend. What do I do about it? Run to get to the other side.
You need to do an hour at a stretch three times a week, that’s the current Cardio vascular advice. I might not manage quite that given my prednisolone disability and the PMR still there deep down below my supressed immune system. But it’s good news. Whoopee.
On the way out I barely notice the smokers. I pass the Council dump on Wedal Road and give the operators a friendly wave. Time for a single malt when I get home. Yes yes.