Health is important too – goes without saying. Fitness without health is like a car without an engine. Last weekend i was in Galway on Saturday visiting friend and relations – blessed that so many are both. Sunday morning was time for a short drive north to my home of homes, where i grew up, south Sligo. The reason was a Mass for my parents, who passed away in recent years. It was a beautiful cold sunny morning and we had plenty of time. I love that drive home, i can feel my spirit settling down as i get closer to south Sligo. There is a point in the road, not far west of Charlestown when you suddenly breach a small hill and the skyline with the Ox Mountains spreading as far as you can see in each direction, suddenly appears.
My kids reckon i always, always, get into a good mood as soon as that skyline appears – who am i to argue? That skyline is so embedded in my subconscious that my brain patterns, if recorded on an Electroencephalography (EEG), would probably mimic it.
However, last Sunday morning, between Galway and Charlestown my brain pattern probably reflected something somewhat different as the power in my can kept disappearing. Just like that, one moment we would be cruising along and the next – nothing – no power, no revs. Fortunately the road was quiet, even more fortunately, the car restarted every time. So we made it but it was a bit stressful as i did not want to miss my parents Mass. The little church is in Kilmactigue, close by the National School i attended, closed now due to dropping attendances. As we sat in the church, i became aware of the tiles in the aisle and on the alter, unchanged since my very first day there, over half a century ago. Another pattern imprinted in my mind. My brothers and sisters and their families were all there – you get to appreciate that simple fact more and more as the years slip by. Family and friends again, important for the living as well as those who have passed on.
I spent a few moments with an old family friend who used to be our postman for many a year and who told me that he is fast approaching 90 – special moments.
The trip back to Dublin was uneventful in that the car only chose to take a rest twice and both before we reached the busy motorways that filter all the traffic of returning country fold into the big city to be ready for work on Monday morning.
To the garage i brought my somewhat less than trusty steed on Monday. An expert diagnosis informed me that this wasn’t something strange and hitherto unexperienced, like an encounter with a UFO, in fact it was merely a problem with the fuel supply. “Bring it back in the morning and we’ll change the fuel filter – if that doesn’t do it we may have to change the fuel pump but we won’t know until we see if a new filter sorts the problem” There you go, in a world full of unknowns, a relatively definite diagnosis.
Now, i haven’t mentioned a wee potential health problem of my own. The previous Monday night after a spinning class i felt rather unwell. So i took it easy for the rest of the week – rest being the definitive word – and rest i did. However, come Saturday morning i felt fine and there was a parkrun in the offering – there almost always is – little aside cheer for those wondrous beings who volunteer regularly to, quite literally, keep the show on the road – or in this case, on the track.
The good news is that i knocked another 3 seconds off my 2016 time, down to 27 minutes and 1, yes ONE, second. Another Marlayparkrun clocked up. But i didn’t feel to well afterwards – bit like Monday night only worse. Bloated stomach, cramps, pains in my chest and shoulder. My stomach is the part of me which reacts firstly, and most strongly, to stress, emotional, mental and, of course, physical, stress. So i put it down to my stomach but opted not to drive – just in case. I genuinely didn’t believe it was anything to do with my heart – my friends and family were not so convinced. Many of them, too many really, have experienced slight wear and tear of their hearts and arteries and all warned me to get myself checked out.
So i did.
Straight after i got my motor diagnosed.
Thought i’d better pay attention to my own fuel pump.
I had hardly finished the sentence which began with, “i’ve had some chest pains over the weekend since …..”, when i found myself lying down in the nurses station wired up with enough electrodes to mimic a power station and having an electrocardiogram (ECG). Clean bill of health from the nurse but she wanted the doctor to check me out too. He pronounced me not only healthy, heart wise, but fit too and was impressed with my time of 27 minutes and 01 seconds – us runners never miss an opportunity to discuss our running, maybe even boast a little.
As the doctor discussed my medical history, my age, my almost awesome running achievements and examined my ECG, i peeked over his shoulder at the computer screen. There was a record of my heart in action.
And i swear as i gazed at it i could see a mimic of the shape of the Ox Mountains as seen from the front door of the house i grew up in. It appears it is embedded not just in my brain but also in my heart.
Stay healthy my friends.
And keep your friends and family close.