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RUN AROUND THE BLOCK 



RUN AROUND THE BLOCK COVER




Alan Carlton lives in Hobart, Tasmania with his family: his wife, four children and four grandchildren. 

He often goes for a run around the block. 

In 2015 he suffered a stroke.  

A run around the block aided his recovery, especially when he went with members of his family. He loves the social benefits of long-distance running. 

In 2019 he ran the Edmonton Marathon. This book is about preparing for, running in and recovering from the Edmonton Marathon.  He ran the race with two nephews who live in Edmonton. They helped him finish and he thinks he helped them finish. 

Alan loves the way focusing on something positive aided his recovery.  Something like a run around the block.

 

In Store Price: $24.95 
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AMAZON

EBOOKS
Ebook version - $AUD9.00 upload.

ISBN: 978-1-876882-53-2
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 312
Genre: Non Fiction

Cover: Clive Dalkins


This book is a work of non-fiction.
The author asserts his moral rights.

© Cover Design—Zeus Publications 2019 



 


Author
- Alan Carlton
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published:  2019
Language: English


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 Author Bio

  

Alan Carlton lives in Hobart with his wife, Lorna.

He has four children who all live in Hobart: Melissa, Jolene, Stacey and Bradley.

He has four grandchildren who all live in Hobart: Sophie, Bryce, Emily and Kaya. 

For over 20 years he owned and ran a dental practice in the centre of Hobart. He is now retired. 

He loves to go for a run around the block. Sometimes he goes with his wife, some of his children or some of his grandchildren. 

In 2015 he suffered a stroke. 

This book is about his recovery and rehabilitation. It tells you some of the good and bad things he did trying to recover from a stroke.

One of the good things he did was focus on something positive.

A run around the block.

 

Part One 

One night in October 2015 I went to sleep in my bed. I woke in a hospital bed.

Ultimately I spent two weeks unconscious on my back in ICU and seven weeks in hospital.

This section tells you how I tried to become fit and healthy by going for a run around the block.

 

Introduction

  

I began my running when I was 20. I was a student at Melbourne Uni. I used to drive home past Flemington Racecourse. One day, I felt stressed about my study. My mind was racing faster than my legs. I looked at the Racecourse and thought if I ran around there, my mind would slow down. It turned out to be perfect; a few horses but no dogs. No cars. The run restored my mind.

And my running career had begun. And it continued because it helped me relax, helped me study and made me feel good.

After uni came work. I realised that my job was not providing me with much physical exercise. When I came home from work I needed to go for a run to help me relax and help me sleep.

And I used to enjoy physical activities like squash. I loved sweating and puffing with mates. And fun runs started to appear. I could do that. I could do better. I could go further. I could run quicker. And I would run against my mates or play squash against them. And I realised men bond with other men by physical activity followed by a beer.

It was all about friendship. I didn’t run to lose weight or build up certain muscles or to look better or live longer. It was not about looking in mirrors. It was all about bragging rights. It was about the people I knew. It was what we talked about. We talked about the current squash competition or the next fun run. These were the people I mixed with.

At the age of 25-26 my heroes were sportsmen. I read the newspaper from the back. I read about Robert de Costella, Raelene Boyle and Alberto Salazar. They inspired me. Reading about my heroes made me want to copy them.

I was born and educated in Melbourne. In 1982, I thought I would see the world. I thought the world was a big place and living in Melbourne I had only seen only one tiny slice of one pizza. I hopped on a plane leaving Australia. I landed in Harare and then Johannesburg. At the time I did not know one person in the whole of Africa. I was young, fit and healthy. Everybody would welcome me. I was an Aussie. Nothing could go wrong.

I spent the first couple of weeks staying at the YMCA in Joburg. I was happy. I was surrounded by international backpackers – Swiss, German and British. And there is always one from New Zealand. I decided to show these backpackers I was an Australian. I had to show the world what we Aussies were like.

“You Aussies know how to drink beer.”

“Show us how you Aussies skull beer.”

“Show us your national drink.”

“You Aussies really know how to have a good time.”

I was very happy to oblige and to prove that we Aussies knew about drinking beer and having a good time. We knew how to enjoy ourselves.

At the end of my first two weeks, I checked the scoreboard. My score sheet proved that I was a real Aussie. I had gone to bed drunk seven nights out of two weeks. I didn’t realise it was so hard being an Aussie.

I started work and began mixing with local South Africans. I was alone in a strange country. I didn’t understand or speak any of the languages apart from English. And the English they spoke was full of bizarre slang. I didn’t understand why a shop was open on Sunday and was not permitted to sell me a biro. It was right there behind the salesperson. I didn’t understand food. They ate ox tongues, ox tails and fat cakes. I’d gone overseas to see different countries. When I saw these countries I began to see what was similar and different about them.

And the people. Why did they always call somebody black or white? What was the story? Why did everybody belong to a different colour and what was the story with them? I found myself put in the white box with people I didn’t understand. I tried a visit to the black box but got the same result. I didn’t belong there either. They didn’t understand or want me.

In the next few weeks, I developed a cough. One night, I didn’t sleep. I coughed a never-ending stream of foul-smelling, evil pus. The next day, I thought I couldn’t stay in those rooms all day by myself. It would kill me. I decided to walk to the bus taking me to work. I leant on a lamp post to brace myself for the stumble to the next lamp post. I eventually made the bus and finished up at my place of work. One kind lady saw my condition and told me not to do any work; to lie down on a bed.

The next day, I crawled towards better. My TB result was negative and my cough began to dry up and leave me. I thought I was getting better. I would go for a run. I survived the run. I was getting better.

A few weeks later, I started playing squash with a couple of South Africans. It was very enjoyable and pleasant. I pushed myself physically. Most of the matches were very competitive. Anybody could win depending on various factors. In most of the matches I showed good endurance. I finished most matches full of running. After the matches we sat in the sauna, covered in sweat.

One day in the sauna, somebody told me Johannesburg was holding a marathon.

I suddenly felt like an Aussie. We could do anything. We could show them how to run marathons.

“I can do that,” I said.

I followed up my idle boast by entering my first marathon.

I then realised as I had entered a running race, I had better practice running. On days I was not playing squash I went for a run around the block. If you know Central Joburg, you will know there are no parks, rivers and pleasant places to run.

The locals will argue with me. They will say there is a pleasant spruit near the zoo. I will argue that around Hillbrow and Berea there are very few places for a pleasant, relaxed run.

I did a bit of training but I thought that playing squash, physical fitness and me being an Aussie would lead to success. Actually I didn’t consider success or lack of success. My mind was spinning, trying to know something about this country and its history. In the first few weeks in this strange country all I did was find something out about Australia.

The Joburg Marathon was on a Sunday through the deserted streets of Central Joburg. At about 30 kilometres my legs started to ache. Every stride meant pain shooting through both legs. I went back to my light poles. I ran from the pole to the next one. I could see the next one. I arrived. I could then see another light pole. All I had to do was run to that. That couldn’t be so difficult. I saw it. I ran like a camel with neuro-muscular disease. Nothing about my running was smooth, graceful or athletic. It was all about struggle and battling to finish. It was archetypal South African. I was becoming a South African. I was becoming tough.

There were very few people watching. The few other runners stopped me from stopping. I eventually made it into the final stadium. I circled the stadium and crossed the finish line.

I had finished. I staggered across the finish line. I had run a marathon. There was nobody to greet me.

The next week, I returned to my squash mates. They said the Comrades was a race for proper runners. Something told me if I wanted to call myself a runner, I had to run the Comrades and I had to train properly. I had to have a plan for the marathon they all talked about. The Comrades was the only marathon that mattered.

I kept on running because I thought if I stopped, I would become sick again. My first marathon told me that if I was ever going to run another marathon, I needed a plan.

I then moved from Joburg down to Natal. I found that in Natal road running was one of the major sports and that you weren’t a proper runner unless you had run the Comrades Ultramarathon. This is roughly 90 kms of hills and valleys; a very popular and well-known ultramarathon.

I could do that. I entered and began to train. At the time my life was changing. My work was evolving and changing. I moved a couple of times. The first time I entered the Comrades I did not actually start and run it. I did not run the race because my life was in the midst of too many changes.

I finally settled down in Empangeni. I now had a family. I had a job. I had a house. I had work mates. I joined the local running club. I had running mates. I subscribed to several running magazines.

It was time to re-enter the Comrades. This year it started in Pietermaritzburg and finished in Durban. My wife was there in the finishing stadium. I remember lying on the grass of Kingsmead with my wife. I remember everybody talked about the race. A photo of me was printed in our local paper. I was now a member of the local running club. I was a runner. At work, at morning tea, everybody talked to me about the Comrades.

Going online, I see that I finished the Comrades twice – in 1985 and 1986.

The Comrades taught me that running is only a part of life. How I run and how I train depends on getting everything in life right. Running a marathon is not going to paper over a few cracks or hide problems.

When you stand on the start line there is a lot you can’t hide. They can see my legs, my shirt and shorts. But everything else will be revealed for all to see. Any lack of training, lack of social stability, emotional or mental problems, and lack of knowledge will surface.

After the Comrades in 1986 we moved to live in Australia. In Australia marathon running was not the thing. Bushwalking and swimming was. Work and my family also pushed running aside. I kept on running around the block, but serious running had died.

In 2013, I was reborn as a serious runner. I can’t remember why but I entered and ran the Gold Coast Marathon. I was back. I enjoyed it and ran it again in 2014 and 2015.

Several months after the 2015 marathon I suffered a medical emergency.

One Wednesday in October 2015, I went to work. I then went home and went to bed. I woke up two weeks later in a strange bed. I was told I had suffered a stroke and was now retired.

This medical emergency eventually resulted in my third birth as a runner. After hospitalisation, rehabilitation and recovery I was eventually reborn again as a runner in the Canberra Marathon in 2017.

Because of my illness, I was retired. I have found that when people use the word ‘retired’ they always mention the word ‘travel’. They assume travel is my new job and I will enjoy it. This results in me having occasional discussions with my wife.

“Well, if I have to go to XXXX then I want to see what run I can do.”

I then do ‘research’. This means going on the internet and seeing what races are held in that area. And I normally find something suitable. A race that fits in with a bit of sightseeing. Once we have agreed about which marathon is suitable, other things follow.

My wife starts booking flights and accommodation.

We both start reading about the locality. What are the main attractions? What should we try and see?

My preparation for a marathon doesn’t begin with one step. I begin by writing out my training plan. This tells everybody my personality. I don’t know where it came from but I like preparation. I don’t welcome surprises when running.

It may be exciting and possible to just turn up and start running a race but I am a very boring person. I am in the habit of preparing. My experience tells me that running a marathon requires preparation and training. Every day I can do any exercise I feel like doing. I don’t know why but I don’t go this way. I go with a training plan. At the beginning of the week I have an idea of how much I will run. Before a race I want to know everything I can about it.

I have been running around the block for over half my life. For more than 30 years. In all the races I have entered I have never won anything. Not even a lucky entrant prize. I have never come first or last. I have always made up the numbers. This book is for runners who make up the numbers. For people who never come last or first. For people who want a healthy life – physically, socially and emotionally healthy.

 

Chapter 1

 I injure my brain

  

 

In October 2015, I acquire a brain injury. I don’t know why.

I open my eyes and I see something. What is it? What can I see? What is happening over there? I can see I am in a bed. I think it’s a hospital. That’s what it looks like. Immaculate neat beds and floor. There is another bed in the room. There is a man lying in the bed. There is a door. It looks like a toilet or a bathroom. It looks like the door is leading off to another little room. I’m actually dying to go to the toilet and it looks like it is right next to me. I move the blankets off me and swing my legs onto the floor.

If I just walk around this other bed, I will find out what is happening in this other room. I cannot walk that freely. I shuffle, holding on to what I can. I finally arrive at the small door. I push it open. I immediately see strange objects. A toilet like nothing I have ever seen before. A shower and mirror. A bench which has on it soap, and I go for the toilet and sit on it. A pee would feel so good. Put me back in control. I hear running water and lie back in bliss. Feels so good. Where am I? I reckon I can wash my hands and shuffle back to the bed I came from. The other guy is still asleep. I sit back on the bed and swing my legs under the doona.

I reckon I will shut my eyes and have a rest.

I wake again and this time Jolene, my daughter, is sitting next to my bed. She is looking at me. I sit myself up, resting on the pillow and say, “I’ve had enough of this place. I think I’ll go home.”

Jolene raises her eyebrows and asks, “Do you know how long you’ve been here?”

“No, no idea.”

“Two weeks in hospital; in this ward and Emergency. I’ve visited you.”

“Two weeks. Not true.”

“You’ve been here for two weeks. I’ve visited you. I’ve seen you here.”

I’m silent. I immediately think she’s telling me the truth. I can’t argue with her. She knows everything. I can’t say: “I think you’re lying.”

I sit quietly and imagine the last two weeks. It’s not possible. I remember nothing. Not one second of the last two weeks. It’s all gone. She’s telling the truth. I have been here for two weeks. I don’t remember a second of it.

There’s nothing I can say about the last two weeks. There is no question I have about the last two weeks. The only thing I want to know is how to use the toilet correctly. How to use it without dribbling. How to finish everything before I stand up.

I’m ready to move on. I’ve got things to do. Jolene introduces me to a member of staff. The member is a sitter. Later I learn what she is here for. She is to sit with me all day to prevent me injuring myself. This bores me. Why would I injure myself? Most of the time she does nothing except watch me. Without speaking to me.

The next day, I decide to survey the room. It contains two beds. My bed is where I spend all my time. There is a wardrobe opposite the bed. It contains the flimsy remains of a few clothes. They look like my clothes. How did they get there? There is a sink between the two beds. There is a small door leading off to the toilet and shower. I wonder how I can use the shower. The room is very neat and clean. Every surface has been scrubbed and shines. Within a few weeks I learn that the bed is the only thing that matters. I lie on it and look out the window.

I listen to the nurses in the corridor and anticipate if they are coming into my room. If they come in, they will glance at the chart and say: “Have your bowels moved?”

Initially the question surprises me and I want to say: “Mind your own business.”

This is a very bad response. Later I learn to say: “Yes” as soon as they ask and they immediately, without looking, put the chart down with a very pleased look on their faces. I’ve worked out I can easily make them happy by saying yes, not by saying they feel like they are about to move or they moved yesterday. So easy to make someone happy. I can even say yes when the real answer is no and it’s just as effective.

I look around the room. It is immaculate. Beside the bed is a radio and reading light. How do I control them? I give up. Below them are some cupboards containing shirts, socks and underclothes. I am pleased because they are mine. My underpants are next to my bed. Well, that makes sense. I just have to think about when I am going to wear them.

I notice the door to the corridor. It is unlocked. People keep on opening the door, peering in and then moving on. Who are these people that keep on peering in? The corridor is continually busy with people moving up and down. Some of them peer in and shut the door. Some leave the door open. I prefer the ones that leave the door open. Then I can watch the people moving up and down the corridor.

A face I recognise turns up – Stacey. One minute I am staring at the cavalcade of staff patrolling the corridors. The next Stacey’s face suddenly appears in front of me.

“What can I do for you?”

“That’s easy. Play the piano,” I reply.

She looks slightly stunned. I have no idea how this can be arranged but it really is what I would like her to do. To play the piano the way she used to. When she was young we would sit in the lounge room at home. She would practice for her exams and I would lie down and listen.

“There’s a piano in the chapel.”

“Okay let’s go there.”

She nods silently.

“What floor is the chapel on?” I ask.

She has risen and waits for me to shuffle out of bed through the door. We hobble down the main corridor towards the area outside the lift. It is a security area. Stacey goes off to speak to a member of staff and I wait. She returns then enters my name into a keyboard. We then wait for a lift to come up. The lift eventually comes. It is very wide, enough for a couple of stretchers. The lift is empty and Stacey presses the button to the fourth floor.

On the fourth floor the direction to the chapel is obvious. The chapel is a collection of chairs arranged in rows and facing a pulpit. On one side is an organ with some music on top. I grab a seat near the organ and motion to Stacey to sit down.

She sits down in front of the organ and starts rifling through the music. She finds a piece and tentatively opens it and starts to play. I sit motionless with eyes closed, listening to the music. Nothing else matters as I listen to the notes move up and down. She finishes and I say, “Very good. That was very good.”

She is happy that she managed to play it, to get through it, and then sits quietly. We are both silent until I say, “Do more. I really enjoyed that.”

She looks around at the other music and finally grabs a piece. I once again listen very quietly. Motionless, I listen to every note, afraid one may be played without me hearing it. I don’t listen for mistakes. I listen for every note and try to absorb every note. I want every note to be a part of me. To listen to its pitch or sound or length and to guess what is coming next.

Back at the room I say, “I really enjoyed that.”

It’s nice to say something which is true and which I really believe. The music is so different to everything else I hear in hospital.

Stacey sits next to my bed.

“What else have you been doing today? How’s your work going?” I ask.

She talks about her work and it sounds very exciting. Does she know how lucky she is to be able to work? Her enthusiasm for her work is exciting. She talks without pause about her work. She is doing something she really loves. I’m curious about the issues she is having at work and about problems I can help with. How can I help my kids like I used to? What can I do now? And I lie on my bed and I know that those days have gone.

I turn around and Stacey is gone. I’m all alone again. I look at the toilet. I reckon I know the way to use it. I can sit here and I reckon this handle flushes it. There is a collection of soap containers in front of the shower. Can I use this soap? I reckon if I push this lever, soap will come out. Does it belong to the guy sleeping in the other bed? I play with the taps over the shower. One must be hot. One must be cold. I try and get the hang of them before returning to bed.

Back in my bed, I wake from my slumber and she is back right in front of me again. Stacey. If she is back, it could be another day. Or perhaps it is later the same day. She leans towards me and quietly says, “Do you want a cup of coffee?”

I immediately realise what she is talking about. She is not talking about something to drink. She is talking about an exciting adventure. A trip where you buy things. A trip where you tell a barista exactly what you want. She is not talking about the coffee in the room up the corridor.

I nod my head yes. Of course I want to go. Of course I want to get out of this place. We go back down the corridor to the area in front of the lifts. I wait while Stacey fiddles on a few security keyboards and we are out. Into the lift, down the lift and then out of the lift. Down a busy passageway, passing normal people. In my bedclothes I shuffle, looking at my every footstep, worried about where to put each foot. The normal people glide past me, dancing and floating with speed, not looking at their feet. I am in their world. Who am I kidding? They know I am not one of them.

The coffee shop is proud, noisy and announces itself before we arrive. The barista is patrolling the area behind the cakes. He is in complete control of all the cakes. We get a lot of pleasure out of asking about each cake and then telling him what we prefer. He gets pleasure out of making exactly the drink that we ask for. I watch the froth in the cup, the foam and the streaks of chocolate on top.

We drink the coffee and agree that it is nice. We then stand up and leave our empty cups and saucers covered in crumbs and go. We head back to the lift area and go up to my floor. I wait while Stacey does all the official stuff. Now I am officially in. Now down the corridor. Past the central nurses’ area full of nurses looking at screens. I shuffle back to my room and lie on my bed.

“How long have I been here?”

“Two to three weeks, including downstairs and now up in this ward,” she replies.

I can’t tell Stacey I don’t remember anything about the last few weeks. I have to say something. I can put the question back to Stacey.

“Well, what have I been doing for the last few weeks?”

“What do you remember?”

The truth is I remember nothing but I can tell she hates the topic as much as I do. I can’t go with the last two weeks. Instead I ask her about her work. She prefers this. I then follow up by asking, “How are your favourite children going today?”

She also likes this question and I lie back as she talks about her kids. She is happy, which makes me happy. I love her stories and I try and prolong them by asking about her children and husband. Why did she have to wreck everything by asking me about the last few weeks? For the last few weeks I’ve been out cold, not responding to anything or anybody. I have been lying on my back being fed through a tube. That’s what I have been doing for the last few weeks. Don’t ask about it.

The nurses have spoken to my daughters (I don’t know when or where) and they have all agreed that the injection I need will be given to me each morning. First thing in the morning a nurse enters and says, “Which side?” and then complains that it is too sticky.

The injection is into the lower abdomen (let’s call it the stomach) and doesn’t hurt. That is followed by a tablet and a glass of water to wash it down with. At this stage nobody has told me why I am in hospital and what the medication is for. That is not something that is relevant. They are preoccupied with other things, such as not getting into trouble by doing the wrong thing. A chart says to give this patient IM injection every morning. Now do it. It doesn’t say to tell him anything about the injection.

One morning when a nurse is injecting me, I behave like a mortal enemy of Western civilisation, the most evil, nasty person imaginable, and ask her, “What is that for?”

“To prevent strokes,” she replied.

“I’m not going to have a stroke.”

“That’s because we are preventing them.”

“I’ve never had a stroke.”

She ignores that comment and looks at the tablet and the glass of water.

“You have to take your tablet. I’m watching you. Make sure you take it.”

She places the tablet on my tongue.

“Now swallow it,” she adds.

I make a few pretend swallowing movements and push the tablet under my tongue. She then grabs my head and says, “Let’s see what you have done. Open your mouth.”

I open my mouth and the tablet is not visible. It’s hidden under the tongue.

“Good,” she says, and then goes.

Now I have to get rid of this tablet which is going to kill me. I head for the toilet.

I am moving very slowly. Whenever I rise or move or try to move, my thinking is very slow. This afternoon there will be another tablet. I can see it coming and it’s going to kill me. It slows you down so much your life is not worth living.

Since I have been here, I have never seen a doctor. It’s only the nurses. No doctor has never told me what tablet I need and why. I am beginning to think doctors don’t exist. They are just a rumour created to try and frighten people. Instead we have nurses who inject me with stuff that is destroying me. Stuff they will not talk about. The last time I asked a question I was told: “You are always fixated about the same old thing. These tablets are preventing strokes. Get used to it. We are trying to help you. Do you really think we go to all the trouble of giving you something that is bad for you? Are we that type of person? We are here to help you, okay.”

Stacey enters, apologises and asks me, “Do you want a coffee?”

I nod. Of course I want coffee. It means a trip out of this place, to be amongst the normal people, the non-pyjama-wearing people and the non-nurses.

We go down to the area outside the lifts. This area outside the lifts is a tightly guarded area separating the ward from the outside. This area belongs in a film as the area the hero has to try and cross. I imagine what sort of music would be playing as the hero attempts to cross this guarded area.

Stacey can get me across this tightly guarded area. She has a key and a password to transport this area. Stacey deserves an Oscar. We go down the lift and into a coffee shop. The chairs are all on tables. The floor is being cleaned.

I finish the coffee and immediately know we are going back up in the lift. Through the security guarded area. Past the nurses reading screens. Back to my room, my bed, my toilet, my shower. I lie on my bed and say to Stacey, “That was good.”

Stacey goes and I lie on the bed. How much longer until tea? Can I hear any activity which tells me food is being delivered? Not that I am hungry. I just want to watch what the staff are doing.

The following day, I am taken to the local gardens. Every time we approach a road Stacey comes and protects me. She holds my arm to stop me racing across the road. We stand beside the road, she with her arm around me as she looks up and down. She is continually protecting me or looking after me. She will see everything. I will look at my feet.

A nurse comes and tells me that they are coming at 11 o’clock tomorrow and I had better be here then. I’m not planning on going anywhere. The next morning, I lie on my bed and three doctors arrive. They simultaneously say, “Hello.”

The doctors are all very neat and hold clipboards. They look at their notes, add to them, look into the distance, show the clipboards to each other and nod. They do a lot of nodding. They talk to each other about me. They don’t ask me any questions. I also fail to ask them any of the big questions. They all say goodbye and go.

I sit in the room, motionless. A sitter comes and sits by me. She smiles at me and says, “Do you want a shower?”

It’s the middle of the day. Not my usual time but who cares so I say, “Okay, let’s do it.”

The sitter gets a towel. She turns the shower on. There is a small bottle of shampoo or soap. I take my clothes off and stand under the shower. The water feels great. I turn around and wet myself completely. Then I cover myself with soap. I keep on turning around and wetting myself. I don’t care how many people come in and watch. I’ve gone past that stage. My body is past that stage. It only wants to enjoy itself. It doesn’t care who is watching.

The next day, Lorna comes and tells me, “You are going home.”

What do I have to take with me? Everything I own is on the table or dresser. There is a book, a pen and some underclothes – my worldly possessions after seven weeks. I am told that I have been in hospital for seven weeks. I have no idea how long. I am leaving the security of this place. The place that has looked after me and provided everything I wanted, which was a shower, a bed and food. There was always a clock on the wall to tell me something. The staff were always polite and always went by the script. They always appeared caring, never yelled at me and never criticised me or my personality. They were always there. Always polite and then gone, never rough or unexpected.

It is the end of waiting. In this ward I have always waited for something. Waited quietly and patiently. I was never in control of anything. When and where something got eventually done was completely at someone else’s whim. I would wait for them to come, or wait for them to decide they were doing it or wait for them to decide how it was going to be done. I was the passive one, the one without any control.

But we must go with the truth. I enjoyed being there. I enjoyed the lack of power, the lack of control, the lack of deciding anything and the endless stream of sympathy. I was a patient. I was continually waited on. And the food; they always bought it to my bed and it was always nice. Now I’m going home. Tomorrow I might be treated like a normal person; an ex-patient.

And my children. What can I say about them as I go home? My life has changed. It will never be the same again, for them as well. My relationship with all of them has changed irrevocably and unavoidably.

There was a day that changed everything. I don’t know what day it was. I don’t know who the neurologist was. What I do know is that I said to the neurologist, “I’m going to run a marathon.”

He said, “You go for it, but you need to build up slowly and plan ahead.” He is the expert. He knows everything. I nodded my head. ‘Okay, I will build up slowly,’ I thought. ‘That sounds reasonable. When I get home I will start running. And stop hobbling to the toilet. Stop holding onto all the beds.’

Now I’ve done it. I’ve said it in public. I’ve said I’m going to run a marathon. Something tells me if I say I’m going to do something, I have to do it. Okay let’s do it.

 

 

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