For some odd reason today I was reminded of a young nephew by marriage in Solomon Islands. For a long time I knew him as Lotion, which admittedly is an odd name. That’s what everyone called him and that’s what he answered to.
I imagined it must be a nickname and he probably earned it when he was young after an unseemly spill of insect repellent lotion or some similar story. That story pleased me because he was a pleasant young man and I could imagine him as a really cute funny toddler. All the toddlers I met in the villages were totally adorable. Pampered and loved, but somehow never spoilt, they were eager little puppies, keen to please and help in any way they could. They never complained if given a grown up task to do and would labour away while everyone laughed lovingly at their struggle.
But I digress.
One day I had to help Lotion fill out a form for school. He had to write his name and for the first time I saw it written in English. Lawson.
“So thats how you spell your name”I said.
“Yes, L A W S O N. Lotion”.
“In English we say that ‘Lawson'”
“Yes, that’s right, “Lotion”.
It didn’t matter how I pronounced it, Lotion heard his name. That was an insight to me, but I am still trying to figure out to what.
I went for a hat trick yesterday. Ride, Swim, Walk.
With my walking stick strapped to the bike I rode to the pool, swam my ninety minutes, followed by twenty minutes of physio exercises in the warmer indoor pool. Then I rode down to Bongaree Jetty for a walk around the park and along the esplanade and beach. I was glad of the stick on the uneven ground. Then I rode around Bongaree a bit, exploring before heading home.
I’ve finally got the handlebars and seat adjusted correctly, so I can pedal with a minimum of discomfort and pain. Nonetheless I still pedalled only about a fifth of the twelve kilometres or so that I rode. I definitely could not do it without the assist.
I was aching and weary on my return. After a light meal of low-sodium soup and vegetables I fell asleep watching The Canterville Ghost on Netflix.
This morning on my weekly weigh-in I found I have lost 14.5 kg since I committed. That is a heap of weight lost and I am still embarrassed to look in the mirror and see little change in my appearance. It doesn’t show yet. Such a long way still to go. But I’m not discouraged.
Assembled. Now charged. Before I ride, however, I shall take it to a bike mechanic for service and checking. I did my bit right, but maybe the factory didn’t do theirs.
Even so, I shall not be riding it to the pool just yet, until I’ve satisfied myself I can do the distance and back. For a while I shall just be riding around near home. I have knee braces, which will, hopefully, keep the knee bones aligned while pedalling but I suspect I may have to build up to riding longer distances even with electric pedal assist. I’ve decided not to turn on the no pedalling feature of the throttle as it appears to be illegal to use on the roads in Queensland and should only be used off road. Otherwise I’d have to register this as a motorcycle. No worries. This is going to be a benefit to my health and fitness.
Last night at my weekly weigh-in I confirmed I have lost 12.2 kg since I committed to trying to live a bit longer. That seems awfully good and encouraging, until I remind myself I still have another 30 kg to go at least. But I have proved to myself it’s possible. I just have to stay on top of it.
I have learned how to manage on between 5,000 and 6,500 kJ a day and still eat foods I really enjoy most of the week. I have found at least one form of exercise that is painless and enjoyable. I’m sleeping well and maintaining a good mental state most of the time. I’m even thinking about how I might look for part-time work if I get just a bit more of my mobility back. My original plan of doing locum EHO work for a couple of days a week could be back on the table sooner than I thought. I still know where the vacancies are.
A couple of posts back I indicated that I was fed up with blogging. That was me telling me I was depressed. Depression is not something one can just shrug off. On the other hand it is not something to wallow in. I was very lucky that a couple of friends invited me to join them on a bushwalk and picnic day, which I mentioned in my previous entry. A bit of social interaction was what I needed, along with some good challenging exercise. I have not been walking far lately, and not at all off smooth pavement. Uneven ground is painful to my knees and leaves me feeling precariously likely to stumble and trip at any time. I rely more and more on my walking stick. That is why swimming is my best option. In the water I am weightless. And painless. However, as things begin to improve I can manage walking better than I could. I should build on that.
My physiotherapist has been encouraging me to ride a bicycle. I gave two bikes away when I left Katanning, because it was painful to ride them. But my recent experience with an Exercycle suggests I should give it another go. I could ride to the pool. It is only 4.5 km from home, and flat all the way. But I was concerned that I could end up unable to get back if something goes wrong. The pain can become crippling. I thought about it carefully, did a bit of research on line, and slept on it a bit. Then I ordered an Ebike. It has a 250W electric hub motor powered by an 16 Ah lithium battery. This can assist my pedalling, so I get the movement and some exercise, but it can also propel me without my input if necessary. It has a range of 80km on a charge. So it can get me around. It is a mountain bike, with 26’ wheels and dual suspension, so I can use it on the bush trails on Bribie. Or on the hard sand of the beach at low tide. Sounds like a plan.
Maybe I need validation after all. I’m achieving things. I’m feeling pleased with myself. I’ve lost 12 kg. On Saturday I met some friends for a walk and a picnic at Mary Cairncross nature reserve and actually managed to walk considerably further than I have been able to do in well over a year. It is a good place to walk. The gravel path is relatively even and there are seats situated conveniently along the tracks for old codgers like me to rest a bit. Best of all, the wildlife is fascinating. Lots of birds, some of which I haven’t met before. The most interesting was the green catbird, a species of bowerbird that has a cry like a wailing cat, or a baby. I encountered a couple of pademelons, which are cute miniature wallabies that live in the rainforest.
I missed a python, as about half way up a loop track I realised I’d had enough, and should conserve my last energies for the return walk. Of course, I later learned shortly after i sat down to rest and await the others’ return, they encountered a beautiful carpet python. Just my luck.
Sitting still is a great way to see birds. I saw my first yellow throated scrubwren. By twittering with pursed lips against the back of my hand, as we do in New Zealand to attract the piwakawaka, I managed to get a pair of them to come quite close. But they flitted about so much and were so tiny, I could not get a picture. I had forgotten to take my cameras, and an iPhone is useless for this kind of photography.
Today was another great day. I disintered my mask and snorkel and, once in the water, soon learned that I can swim much better with them than without. The ache in my neck and shoulders was not from swimming, but from holding up my head. Once I started swimming head down and breathing through the snorkel everything became more efficient. I swam faster, though still not as fast as my neighbours in the next lanes. It was easy to average 9 lengths per 15 minutes with a steady rhythm. I did a length of the pool in less strokes. I did 50 lengths easily in 90 minutes and set out to do another 50. I managed 76 in 140 minutes and realised that I should have had more than coffee and a mandarin for breakfast. Hunger gnawed at my vitals, and I thought of the lean beef curry waiting in the slow cooker. So I called it a day. More tomorrow.
I have been a face down swimmer for decades. Today reminded me how I like to swim. I have not used my mask and snorkel since Fiji, now ten years ago. As soon as the ocean warms up a bit, I shall get out my Scubapro Jetfins and work on strengthening my legs. They are fins that take a lot of power to use. I’ve had those fins since January 1979 in which year I won the Hawkes Bay underwater orienteering competition with them. The last time I used them was in Fiji too.
On Raglan Road on an Autumn Day, I saw her first and knew That her dark hair would weave a snare That I may one day rue. I saw the danger, yet I walked Along the enchanted way And I said let grief be a falling leaf At the dawning of the day.
On Grafton Street in November,
We tripped lightly along the ledge
Of a deep ravine where can be seen
The worst of passions pledged.
The Queen of Hearts still baking tarts
And I not making hay,
Well I loved too much; by such, by such
Is happiness thrown away.
I gave her the gifts of the mind.
I gave her the secret sign
That’s known to the artists who have
Known true Gods of Sound and Time.
With word and tint I did not stint.
I gave her reams of poems to say
With her own dark hair and her own name there
Like the clouds over fields of May.
On a quiet street where old ghosts meet,
I see her walking now
Away from me, So hurriedly.
My reason must allow,
For I have loved, not as I should,
A creature made of clay.
When the angel woos the clay, he’ll lose
His wings at the dawn of the day.