Monday, January 24, 2011

Death and the Guinea Pig.

(right: Albert in former days)
Despite the fact that there is now some glorious sunshine pouring down from the blue (ish) sky I am definitely feeling a bit low today.
This is largely due to lack of sleep (Daughter #3 had a rowing 'head race' which necessitated a 4.30am wake-up to get us over a hundred miles distant for 8am start) which was compounded last night by being woken with a start at a loud noise (drunkards down the street) and an inability, it seemed, to get back to sleep fully.
Coupled with this, I went out to the guinea-pigs' hutch at bedtime and found Albert, the littlest fellow, inert and cold.
This wasn't totally a surprise: he had been failing gradually since before Christmas. I'd been bringing them both in faithfully every night and ensuring that they both had plenty of fresh greenery in their diet (g-p's, like humans and unlike many other creatures, cannot manufacture their own vitamin 'c') and keeping their quarters spotlessly clean. Alas, to no avail! Sometime whilst we were in Lincolnshire he shuffled off his mortal coil and headed to the Great Clover Patch in the Sky.

As usual, I got quite weepy (I don't even manage to dispose of the deceased goldfish without a snivel) and called upon the Husband to prepare a suitable grave under the back lawn, where so many other Small Creatures lie.
Albert was still reasonable flexible, and his little head lolled over my wrist as I lay him gently in the ground. I had to leave at the moment of inhumation itself to comfort a sobbing Bright-Eyed Boy who had just been made aware of the situation, and to dab my own eyes.
It's very strange but even had Albert still been warm, it was obvious that he was quite dead - there is something that leaves the body at the moment of death that is perceptible even if your were not a believer in the soul. It is a life-force that exits, a vital spark that seems to be more than just the sum of biological processes. The essence of Albert himself had left the building.
Alfred, big, daft, pink-eyed and pinked lipped ('like a woman, m'lord') appeared agitated. When I put him out in the hutch on his own this morning (life must go on, even for guinea pigs) he snuffled about where the body had been laid before retreating to the bed-department, no doubt to have a little weep of his own (anthropomorphism). I shall feed him spinach for his tea to strengthen and sustain him in his loss.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pigged Out

Well, tomorrow it's one week of from receiving the hard word from the practice nurse concerning my raised blood pressure.
How is it going, I hear you say?

We-e-e-ll, actually not too bad! I've adopted a far healthier eating pattern: bowl of low fat cereal first thing, 100cal snack mid-morning, lunch consisting of a pitta stuffed with salad and a dessert spoon full of houmous, 2 portions of fruit, mid afternoon cup of tea with low fat/low sugar snack and dinner consisting of two pittas stuffed with salad and a can of healthy eating tuna with some sort of dressing. I'm allowing myself a postage-stamp size portion of any dessert that's going, 2 squares of 85% cocoa-solid chocolate when desperate for a treat, and a regular sized of red wine with my weekend evening dinners. I've taken to power-walking as and when I can (for example, into an out of town, a good 20mins either way), and I've rejoined the gym (at vast expense, but I don't, as I've said before, want to have a stroke), more of which anon.
I'v also purchased a RespErate breathing coaching machine: it's supposed to reduce your BP by encouraging you to breathe more slowly thus causing your heart to slow and your blood vessels to relax. In fact, after the initial session today my BP registered at a very healthy 145/82, a good ten points down on both readings! Most encouraging! It's also recommended for relaxation and stress-relief too, so a bonus there - I'm aiming to do two 15 mins sessions a day.
It's going to be quite tricky to fit everything into my new regime, which includes a number of academic new-year's resolutions, and keep on course with writing up my thesis. Extra organisation will be required to make sure no one project slips, but when it comes to organising I'm as happy as a pig in what's-its-name!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Weight of the World

....a a're back in the room!

Re-emerging after the Christmas hiatus, I am pleased to note that it all went a lot better than expected. Silly of me to have been so gloomy and pessimistic, I think: I have decided that it's not Christmas that I dread, but the prospect of Christmas.

The Husband took the week before off work and threw himself into emptying and re-organising the cupboards and replacing worn-out and clarty pans and baking tins . I was so impressed by his dedication and the quite staggeringly rapid improvements that I was enthused enough to down lap-top and join in on a mini pre-Christmas spring clean. The result was a tidy, smear and dust-free house, and with a little bit of co-ordinated effort, it has remained thus, despite the vagaries of wrapping paper, extra stuff everywhere, Christmas dinner and more food and bodies around than usual. I have to say my mood was much improved to see it all so pristine: maybe we really should consider getting someone in for an hour or so each week to maintain the standard once both our noses are firmly back at the grindstone. For morale's sake.
We generally slobbed about a lot over the holiday, eating and drinking, which for me has come to a sudden halt as a visit to the doc confirmed that my blood pressure was still higher than desirable. Two alternatives were unequivocably given: a formal diagnosis of hypertension and tablets thereafter (possibly for the remaider of my natural) or some life-style modifications.
It's a no-brainer really - I know that being sat on my arse all working week in front of a computer screen and eating what and when I like will inevitably end badly. I am pretty lazy by nature and I don't like exercise much, never having found one that I didn't get bored with. Running?: hate it! Boring, boring, boring! And it hurts my dodgy hip. Swimming?: takes too long to dry off - and that smell of chlorine - phew! (also boring). Cycling? Er, no thanks!

Trouble is, there's no way (or time) to fit an hour's power-walk into my daytime routine, so I'm pretty much looking at joining the gym again so I can go and do something in the evening.

It's just got to be done: I'm overweight, and at my age it just ain't going to miraculously disappear. Measures have to be taken, and that invloves (duh!) eating less (and more healthily) and exercising more. End of.
I absolutely don't want to have a stroke/heart attack or get vascular dementia. Nightmare.

The awful thing is, I know exactly how to go about it, exactly what exercises to do (and how long for), exactly what proportion of carbs to protein to fat is optimal. I know because I used to be well-fit (though I say so myself, ahem!), in my thirties pursuing a regime of restrained body-building that made me lean and toned and lighly muscled. I have photos from the year before Daughter #3 was born , but I don't tend to look at them.
The arrival or Daughter #3 and soon after, the Bright-Eyed Boy, changed all that.
As an 'elderly' multigravida mother (the B-E B was born when I was 41) I didn't cope very well with the tiredness and didn't lose the weight I put on during the pregnancies. I did make a couple of attempts to start training again, but lack of time and exhaustion took their toll and I just gave up. Looking back at pictures of me then when the children were small, it would have been relatively easy to get back into shape, but I just lacked the impetus.
Starting on a degree course absorbed any energy I had and meant that I no longer defined myself in purely physical terms (no bad thing really). It gave me a different sort of pride in myself, and as I have always enjoyed food and wine I unconsciously (Ithink) allowed my appetite full rein, eventually becoming rather dismissive of those who spent any time exercising (jealousy?).
Well, I am now reaping the harvest of that lazy gluttony, and it serves me right too.

At the end of the day, it might all be to no avail - my dad has high blood pressure for which he has to take daily medication, so it could be hereditary and I make no impact.
Nontheless, I am going to give it a proper go: eat less, exercise more. Groan!
I have 4-6 weeks to get my BP a bit lower, and I am damn well going to do my best and use the knowledge I have to make a difference.