Ice Skating and Skateboarding

Summer here in Sydney seems to be dragging on and on; which is fine with me, being a warm weather kind of guy. But now that the water at the beach is just a bit too cold for bodyboarding, I’ve taken up ice skating and skateboarding to get me through till next summer.

I go ice skating once a week for about an hour and a half. I used to ice skate when I was a teenager, so it’s fun getting back into the swing again. It took a couple of weeks to really feel comfortable on the ice again, during which time I managed to take out a cute figure skater by running straight into the back of her, and crashed into the barriers quite inelegantly several  times. I notice the fine balance muscles in my feet are getting quite a workout as they regain strength. After a session I feel a little tired, but then feel really energized after a quick rest.

When I’m not doing that, I ride my skate board about 3 or 4 times a week. I’m still learning so this is a bit scary, but I really enjoy it. I notice that my balance is much better when I crouch down, and this also makes pushing a lot easier for riding up hills and along flats. When I start going too fast, I jump off and run out to a stop. This is definitely working my gluts out; I can feel the burn the next day. But it’s a good burn. 🙂

My band has a gig this Saturday night, so I’m also hitting the drums quite a bit. The music we play isn’t really my cup of tea, so I tend to practise other songs than the ones we’re going to perform. I think I need to get me a new band.

When I’m not ice skating, skate boarding or drumming, I’m playing tennis about 4 times per week. So life is pretty good; I’m probably about 80-90% recovered physically. In many respects I’m probably way fitter and exercise significantly more than most 45 year old guys.

Late afternoons are still challenging and I don’t go out at night much, preferring to stay home and get to bed nice and early, around 10PM. My main symptoms now are a constant mild anxiety and tension in the head and teeth.

I’ve been exploring the Alexander Technique and noticing how much tension I habitually hold in my body, especially my neck and throat. I notice when I consciously relax my throat muscles while speaking, my voice is much deeper and more resonant. I suspect that’s my natural voice, and my normal slightly whiny voice is the result of years of holding tension. I don’t really expect the Alexander Technique to help with CFS, but I do think it’ll be handy in my future career as an actor/comedian.

I’m planning a long road trip later in the year; it’ll be the first holiday I’ve had in 6 years where I’ll actually feel well enough to really enjoy it. I feel pretty burned out with my current health-focused lifestyle to be honest so I’m looking forward to the break, but I’m also very grateful that I’m not lying in bed feeling comatose much of the time now.

I hope you’re on the road to recovery too. 🙂

Playing Tennis and Even Squash

Time for a fitness update: for the last couple of months I’ve been having tennis lessons and playing regularly during the week. This means I can play for a couple of hours at a time without feeling exhausted. In fact, I feel pretty good after a game. One of the guys from tennis even invited me to join him in a game of squash, so last weekend I played squash for about an hour and a half too. Against two guys about 15 years younger than me. Their game was more strategic than mine, meaning that I spent a lot of time running all over the court. One of the guys remarked that I “had more stamina than both of them combined”. So all that morning exercise must really be helping.

I’ve also been going to the beach to go bodyboarding every day that I can, which tends to work out at about once a week. The weather is getting too cold now though, so I doubt I’ll be doing much more bodyboarding for the forseeable future.

When I’m not out playing tennis or bodyboarding, I’m often playing my drums or going cycling. So yeah, I’m pretty goddam fit now. Probably more fit than the average 45 year old.

That’s the good news. Of course there’s bad news too though; well, no bad than before but just not a whole heap better. I still have a tense feeling in my head most of the time, and feel anxious a lot… to the point where it becomes debilitating.

I’ve noticed during exercise that I’ll often suddenly feel kind of nauseous and start throwing up; but I’m not vomiting anything from my stomach. It’s all coming from my head. And it’s not like I’ve over-exerted myself when this happens; it seems to be just the movement of tension in my head and body that does it. The other day I felt really tense in my teeth, and found myself heaving while cleaning my teeth. Oddly enough I’d just had lunch yet nothing from my stomach came up. It’s like the nausea I used to feel when I’d get really bad migraines way before I had CFS; after throwing up the tension releases and the pain would subside. Never heard anyone else talk about this before. I wonder if it’s related to some kind of trauma release.

I wake up feeling pretty good these days; not as good as I feel in my dreams, but reasonably OK. Then at about 4pm it’s crash time; for some reason I just feel wretched around then: very anxious and tense more than physically tired, but I almost always feel like I need to just go and lie down.

I recall Leigh Hatcher talking about this in his book I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell… which, in a freaky coincidence, I read purely out of interest about a year before falling ill myself. But while he put it down to his body running out of fuel, I reckon it’s some sort of emotional/nervous/body rhythm thing. It seems to happen every day regardless of what I eat; but it doesn’t tend to happen if I’m around people I like doing something I find very engaging. Or perhaps I just don’t notice it then.

Yesterday it hit me particularly badly. I went to bed about 4pm and got up again feeling relatively OK around 7pm. Problem is, this really messes with my lifestyle. Perhaps I should just quit my whining given that I now have a relatively functional 12 hours of waking life each day, but last night I just lay on the couch watching TV thinking: “I’m fucked… I really am fucked”.

Not to get too philosophical about it or anything… no bugger that, I think I will: look, we’re all fucked anyway. Eventually we all die. Doesn’t matter if you have CFS/ME/Rabies/Whatever-your-chosen-form-of-suffering. The Buddhists are right: all living things suffer. It’s not meant to be a depressing realization but a compassion-inducing one. Everyone is struggling with something they wish would just hurry up and fuck the hell out of their lives. Mine just happens to be this, and I get all upset and annoyed when I think about the handbrake it puts on my potential future. So I try to live in the moment instead.

I promise to stop whining soon. My tennis coach has some weird physical and mental handicap like cerebral palsy or something, and he seems pretty happy. We’re both big fans of Anchorman, so we walk around joking about our glass cases of emotion. I’ve never seen anyone serve the way he does, with his back arched all over the place. It’s amazing he can get the damn thing over the net. He can sure hit the ball though!

I definitely suffer more when I dwell on how much I’m suffering. I don’t suffer when I’m bodyboarding and some huge wave comes up to scare the bejesus out of me; I’m too busy trying not to drown. Or when I’m engrossed in thrashing some tennis partner. Or playing drums. But then, it’s not even 2pm yet so I’m still in a relatively functional frame of mind. Ask me again in a few hours.

I’m also really bored shitless living where I’m living. I want to move closer to the beach for next summer. In order to do that, I’ll need an income of some sort. Becoming a famous comedian is unlikely to happen given that I’m wiped out in the evening when gigs are on, and I’ve lost my sense of humour lately anyway. I might be able to get some acting work… and like that’s not competitive or anything. There’s always engineering to go back to if I’m starving, but solving technical problems doesn’t grab me any more. Something is bound to come up… and if not, I’ll just do the deep breathing thing. Anxious… argh!

I’ve been trying to do that gratitude thing lately too, where you think of all the good things you’ve got going for you instead of the bad shit that’s going down. So I’m grateful for you reading this post, and even more grateful if you’d leave a comment so I don’t feel so goddam lonely here blogging away by myself.

Just Started Tennis Lessons

Hot on the heals of my recent insight into Mickel Therapy’s hypothalamus theory, I’ve recently signed up for tennis lessons. I exercise every morning now, but up until now I have always done it alone which isn’t likely to alleviate feelings of boredom and loneliness. So I decided to pick a social sport that I could do instead, and tennis seems like a good choice.

I used to play soccer when I was a kid, but I always ran myself into exhaustion. I played volleyball a few years before falling ill, but it’s hard on the knees and I kept spraining thumbs which isn’t what I want now that I’m a musician.

So I picked tennis, and found that a local community college runs lessons at 8am on Saturday morning which is perfect for having me up and exercising early in the morning. I’m still pretty limited in how many evenings I can spend out but for the most part I have a fairly normal life now and rarely feel like I need to spend a whole day in bed. Sundays are my rest day when I take it easy and don’t consciously do any exercise. I figure even a healthy body needs time to regenerate.