Today, a week ago, I handed in the final and completed manuscript of my upcoming book with Massey University Press. Needless to say, there was a sense of relief as I emailed it off and I am thrilled to have reached this point. By the end of this week, I should have the book layout, printed, in my hands. With the brunt of the writing work completed, I am now beginning the work of recovery as I prepare for the next goal: climbing in the South Island in July.
Writing this book has been the single hardest thing I have ever done. Harder than climbing Island Peak (6189m) in Nepal, and the book was challenging in every regard: mentally, emotionally, and physically. Coming back from Nepal in November, my body crashed just before Christmas and the symptoms progressively worsened. Trying to write while in poor physical condition was difficult, particularly when I felt continually exhausted but had to press on to meet my deadlines. While I anticipated a small degree of physical struggle, I certainly did not expect the emotional struggle. As it turns out, writing about my past struggle with MS was staggeringly difficult and I realised that there was a large amount of stuff (for want of a better word) that I had not yet properly processed. Also surprising was the physical stress that this caused, further exacerbating my physical symptoms and causing me to have problems with balance, bladder control, and proprioception. I was so grateful of the support of my friends and family during this time.
Mentally, the task of writing six days a week, for 2.5 months straight, with the goal of accomplishing approximately 10,000 words per week, was a huge mountain in itself. While it was a challenge to write creatively each day, the act of trying to get that many words on paper each day was itself gruelling. However, I was exceedingly grateful for the fact that my mind was clear thought this difficult time, and not weighed down by the intense brain fog that has typically encumbered me during times like this. In fact, I was nothing short of blown away by the mental clarity I experienced. This is, without doubt, thanks to the MitoQ supplement that I have been taking for the past year or so. I am very grateful for their continued support!
Getting back in shape always involves lots of little steps. With the stress of writing behind me, I have been encouraged by the improvement of my symptoms, however I have a long way to go. Nevertheless, I have begun taking a few small steps to get back into action, in hope that I might be able to do a bit of climbing around Queenstown and Wanaka for a few weeks in July.
A couple of weekend’s ago, I went for a short tramp up Deadman’s Track in the Ruahines. This was my first tramp in a while and so I was not sure how far I would be able to make it. I packed my tent and chose a track that presented a number of good campsites along the way. At the top of the first main ridge, I sat down for rest in one of the better campsites — a natural clearing sheltered by the stunted mountain totaras and leatherwood, next to a shallow, hidden tarn. It was 7:30pm, dark and raining, and I knew that the next good campsite was over an hour away. I had been slogging up the hill for 45mins by this point and was starting to feel a bit tired. I decided it would be best to take it easy and stop for the night, so I pitched my awesome little Macpac Solo Light tent, ate some dinner, and went to bed.
I slept a solid eleven hours and woke up feeling refreshed. The morning was overcast and drizzly, so I lay in the tent for a couple of hours, snoozing and reading — it was great! After a quick lunch, I cruised back to the Rangiwahia carpark. It was just awesome getting out and enjoying the smell and sound of the bush. I always come away feeling grounded and clear, particularly when I have problems pressing on my mind. I returned home encouraged by my trip and excited about training again.
Last Sunday, I spent a bit of time down at VertX, the Palmerston North climbing gym, doing some route setting. One of the main climbing walls, recently cleared of holds and repainted, needed new routes to be developed, resetting all the holds. This is great fun, albeit a lot of hot work, and very gratifying. The manager and I plugged away for a few hours, setting up a few nice climbs. Again, I came away encouraged by what I was able to do and felt a renewed energy for training.
I have recently restarted my gym routine, working on the basics again and making progress. Because of my crash, I have had to focus on basic balance and core exercises, rebuilding a base capacity from which I can start to rebuild my fitness and strength. In many ways, I feel like I have taken several large step backwards over the last few months, nevertheless, taking these small steps to get active, I feel excited and ready to get into it.
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