Now it is very much time to ‘rebuild’ myself physically. I was told it would happen but still it was a surprise to see the level of fitness drop off. During my 2nd and 3rd cycle I had done very very short tennis sessions and some walking with the dog, but I knew that pushing myself was unwise at this time.
During my chemo I was told I would crave certain foods, 2 of which were noticeable were pineapple and pizza (homemade only though – thanks mum!), and as a result I maintained a pretty reasonable weight throughout. The most weight I lost was around 18lb (dropping from around 12 stone 12 to 11 stone 8) when I first had my diagnosis. I’m a steady 12 stone at the moment give or take.
Muscle wastage however is really crazy to get my head around. I understand why it’s happened because I’ve basically had 10 weeks of chemicals and drugs through me with the purpose of killing off the bad and good cells in the process and simultaneously ruining your immune system. Actually seeing physical changes you notice yourself is quite drastic. My arms, legs and stomach are like jelly compared, and if I do any sort of exertion the ‘burn’ is magnified a lot. I used to do hours and hours of tennis, especially if it was a tournament weekend I may have been on court for 8+ hours and never would feel any pain in areas like my forearm, but at the moment if I play for 15 minutes my forearm (and the rest of me) aches for days afterwards. I need to very gradually build my body back up. I’ve read up on a lot of forums where people speak in segments about their diagnosis and treatment but as soon as there is an all clear the information tends to end. I think it would be foolish for me to go back into everyday life and exercise and expect there to be no changes. Ultimately I’ll have fatigue for a long time and my body has changed in ways that I need to go back to basics to ensure I don’t start running and playing intense tennis and end up getting injuries left right and centre. But im incredibly determined to get back into the best shape I’ve been in, both to help myself get back to my sport levels I was at before and to give me the best chance of staying healthy and well.
It’s also worth mentioning that during my treatment I managed to really overhaul my diet, the lack of taste was both a blessing and hindrance. I no longer at all crave crisps and chocolate as a go to snack (at the moment I hate the crisps texture, and chocolate is far too sickly sweet) so continuing with a diet without a lot of these sugary treats will be only beneficial. However everything in moderation, I’ve no intention of becoming a militant no sugar or bad food eater because it’s not realistic.
I’m initially going to do a 5km Park run/jog/walk this weekend (10th June) to see what my level of fitness is so that I can compare. In no way am I going to push myself for obvious reasons however I am keen to see improvements and this seems a fairly straight forward way to assess so that I can go back and repeat in a few weeks/months time. After all setting tangible goals I feel will help me continue the momentum in the recovery.
My previous best running times this year
5km = 20min 35s (Jan 2017)
10km = 42min 44s (Feb 2017, right before my diagnosis ironically!)
Tennis – less easy to compare!
I’ll blog and update how the run at the weekend goes and in turn try and write my plan going forward!