Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Why walk when you can run?

Competing in Tough Guy
To cut a long story short (in the words of Spandau Ballet) about 18 months ago I lost the ability to run properly. It was a weird feeling. My brain was saying one thing, but my legs were doing another... the best way to describe it was an involuntary mimicking of a string puppet; even walking felt odd. I could now imagine what it felt like to be Troy Tempest.

Having been checked over, undertaken a number of co-ordination tests, X-Rays and MRI scans it would appear I had a condition called "Myelopathy".  The cause of which is usually old age, but still being eligible to be a member of any boy band around today, this wouldn't be true for myself. The condition has been caused by a little bit of excessive wear and tear from silly sports pursuits over the years. The scans showed the spinal cord in my neck looking a bit like a string of sausages, with three vertebrae applying pressure due to scar tissue....potential over repair of previous damage.

I've always tried to push the physical limits (not sure why, I'm sure there is some deep rooted psychological reason from my childhood), from my time in the British Army, to other such pursuits like competing in Tough Guy competitions 5 years running. So when the specialist said, 18 months ago, that I should take it easy and consider surgery to "shave the bones" in my neck, I didn't really hear him properly. He also said that this condition could not improve without surgery.

The Tiny Workmen
In my opinion, professionals who work in hospitals, as well as doing fantastic work, live in a world of trying to find things wrong with people; sometimes offering extreme "solutions". Having seen the images of my MRI scans and noticed a slight improvement in my co-ordination, I was convinced I could fix this myself. Mentally, I started to visualise tiny workmen scaling up and down the inside of my neck polishing the bones (weird, I know) and physically, made a point of walking everywhere I could, typically covering around 8 miles a day. I also read somewhere, that apart from your teeth, every cell in the human body is replaced during a 2 year period. True or not, this gave me the belief that "damaged" cells could be replaced with good ones.

Troy Tempest
Over time, and little by little, I could feel my co-ordination coming back, to the point where I could start to race my children again. Today, as I write this, it does feel as if I'm very much back to normal. I appreciate, I can't go as mad as I used to, but I'm now running 3 miles every other day and feel in control of my legs (goodbye Troy Tempest). Having thought that this would not be possible, I very much welcome the pain of burning lungs and aching legs with a massive smile on my face.

Most importantly, I can once again overtake my children and whoop them all on the XBox Kinect...but I know this time window is limited, as they are growing up very quickly, so I'm making the most of it!

I'm not entirely sure why I've written this post, other than feeling the need to document it somewhere. I'm setting myself the challenge of entering Tough Guy 2013 and appreciate I will not retain my "Front Squad" status, but back as a "WobbleMucker". That's ok, completion in under 2 hours would be good. Who's with me?!

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