Rehab

One of the (many) surprising things about being a cancer patient is the lack emotional or psychological support that’s available to deal with the non-physical impacts of the disease and its treatment.  It may be this is just the case in my locality because my Healthcare Trust is over-budget and the Government refuses to offer an extended loan. I’d be interested to hear whether other people have a similar experience?   In this area it seems unless you’re on the verge of complete breakdown or pose a threat  you’re expected to take care of yourself.  I imagine this must be very difficult for people who are on their own or prevented from maintaining social contact due to treatment or it’s side-effects.

To aid with my self-managed physical and psychological rehabilitation process I’ve thrown myself into growing things.  I enjoy being outdoors creating aesthetically pleasing flower beds and patio containers, mainly because I’ve always loved nature. The greater variety of plants and flowers in the garden, the more wildlife comes to visit. Back in the early 1990’s I used to grow vegetables as well as flowers and I’ve decided to re-establish this practice in earnest now I have the opportunity to do it.

I’m tired of my post-chemo, herceptin-inflated body and I suspect its tired of me as well.  I want to disperse the gallons of extra fluid I’m retaining.  I also want to regain my physical strength and overall fitness levels both of which have been seriously depleted during the course of the last 9 months.  My target is to lose 3.5 stone taking me back to the weight I was as a teenager at which point I should be lean enough to enter the Bristol 10k next year.  According to popular weight loss calculators a steady 2lb per week will see me hit my target weight in 25 weeks time – 1st November.  The manual labour involved in gardening will help rebuild strength and tone, time on the cross-trainer and bike will help with stamina and cardio-vascular performance.  With luck this will take care of the physical side of things.

Psychologically being outside in the natural world is the most healing activity I can think of so a combination of gardening, walking, tai-chi and yoga will hopefully restore my somewhat frazzled nerves; the past year has been incredibly stressful. The present continues to be traumatic and since I don’t want to turn into an axe murderer to help secure support from my local Healthcare Trust I intend to create some mental down-time without the use of drugs or alcohol.

I planned on spending an hour in the garden today but didn’t bother checking my watch.  I spent six hours out there without a break.  In reality it was probably three hours work but the 2013 version of me operates at a much slower pace than the 2011 version. In particular I have to avoid standing up too fast from kneeling or bending as I also get faint far too easily these days and passing out when there’s no-one else around isn’t a good idea.

I was pleased with the results of my efforts.  Although it doesn’t look like much at the moment the flowers in the border will fill out over time to bring some colour and perfume throughout the summer.  There are snapdragons, hollyhocks, foxgloves, grannies bonnets, rock roses, aubretia, various kinds of daisy, violas, primulas, campanula and cornflowers.  On the organic homegrown vegetable front there are tomatoes (cherry, plum and beefsteak), onions, garlic, parsnips, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, beans, peppers, rhubarb, lambs lettuce, rocket, thyme, rosemary and oregano.  I’ve also planted strawberries, blueberries and loganberries.

Although it’s officially Spring, we’re forecast to have some very bad weather tomorrow with heavy rain, temperatures down to 5 degrees C and a risk of snow! Fortunately the flowering plants have already been acclimatised and the vegetables are in the greenhouse so they stand a chance of growing into something tasty in a few months time.

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