Thursday, 17 June 2010

A shot across the bows

This picture shows me and Harrison Mungai of iServe Africa at Carura Church in Nairobi in May 2009. I think it says it all about my need to change, at least physically.

A week ago, I announced that it was the start of the rest of my life, and I would be endeavouring to change. Boy, was that a prediction! I soldiered on for a few days, trying to lose weight (lost a pound, so was feeling OK about that) writing and lamenting the lack of time to do so. I dearly wished I could have more time to me.

Well, you should be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.

Tuesday of this week, I had some pains in my chest and side. I thought I had twisted it, or eaten something that disagreed with me. I took things easy and waited for the pain to go away.

Throughout the day, it came and went. Each time it came back it got stronger. I went to bed with ibuprofen and hoped to sleep it off.

No such luck. By 3.30am, I was in agony. Nothing I did would make the pain go away. I felt like someone was crushing my chest under heavy rocks at the same time as stabbing me, hard. I wondered whether to call the out-of-hours doctor. Being me, I decided not to waste his time.

8.15am, I called my GP's surgery. I explained my symptoms to a very unsympathetic and dismissive receptionist, who said the duty doctor would phone me. I gave my mobile number and went to work. Although fat lot of use I was there. I couldn't concentrate, I was tired, ill and in pain.

The doctor phoned and I explained my symptoms. Within ten minutes, an ambulance was outside my workplace, and I was carted away, feeling very foolish and a bit of a fraud. When they discovered this was just indigestion, they were all going to be rather cross with me.

Only it wasn't indigestion. It was my heart. And I am a very lucky lady. Not only am I still alive, but there is no actual damage to the heart muscle. I have the chance to get better.

So, that diet I was sort of kind of doing has become imperative. That one pound a week I was sort of kind of aiming for losing has now become a minimum target. I've cut out cakes and chocolate, sugar and unnecessary fats and salt. I'm taking gentle exercise, and resting when I need to do so. No more alcohol - not that I drank more than a few times a year anyway. Lucky for me, I have never smoked.

My father died of heart disease aged 59. I don't want to join him. I want to see my grandchildren grow up, and reach my goals, attain my dreams. All of which rely on me making sure this warning shot across the bows is heeded.

On the plus side, I am now going to get some time to me, to write. I'm not expected to do so much, I'm not expected to run ragged after my family and friends, I've even got a few days off work. So no cloud is completely without a silver lining.

I just would have liked the lining without the storm cloud, thank you very much.

Watch this space, as I go from death's doorway to fit and healthy in the shortest possible route.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The first day of the rest of my life.

It’s my grandson’s fifth birthday. He’s quite excited by this. Not only is he older than he was yesterday, but he had lots of presents which were “cool!” and “Look what I got!” types. Presumably, the combination of being older and getting great presents is why his parents had to shoo him back to bed at 3.30am.

It’s my birthday at the end of the month and I am slightly less excited than the lad was. I’m quite a bit older – ten times his age to be exact, so when looking for “cool”, a remote control plane designed to smash into the wall is probably not going to do it for me – although I have dropped huge hints about the latest Lee Child book. :-)

But although I may not share his taste in presents, the lad and I do share one thing. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. What we did yesterday is gone. We can’t change it. What we do NOW is what really counts.

It may hit me harder than it hits the lad, this truth. I’m much more conscious of time passing than he is, and much more aware it isn’t available to me in limitless quantities. If I want to achieve my long term goals, I’d better start working for them, before I find I’ve lost the chance altogether.

Thus, I have decided to make this the official start of the rest of my life. June 9th 2010 is the day I stop messing about, procrastinating, accepting less than my best. No more, “I’ll just have a cup of tea while I plan how I’ll do it.” No more, “I’ll do that in a minute, but I’ll just read a chapter/magazine article/watch the news first.” Those things come when the day’s to-do list is completely ticked, not when some or all of it is still waiting.

So what is on my to do list? Well, there are two lists, a short term and a long term. The long term is easy:

1. Finish my latest work in progress and get it published/produced

2. Make a decent income from my writing so I can continue the lifestyle I enjoy and continue to buy the lad birthday presents in the years to come.

3. Lose (a significant amount of) weight.

4. Regain my health, which is slipping away.

5. Make a difference to the world in which I live.

The short term goals are not always so easy to define. There are what I want to do by today, this week, this month, by Christmas. You start mixing them up, meaning to plan today, then reaching a little further ahead, and suddenly you’re looking long term again. So I am simply going to list today’s goals, what they are, how I want to achieve them, and how yesterday’s attempts turn out.


Starting tomorrow, I will list my goals, and starting Friday, I’m going to be honest and open about how I managed. Hopefully, not wanting to embarrass myself will galvanise me into actually doing what I set out to do.

We shall see.