I can’t remember exactly when I started to really love being outdoors. As a small child I remember playing in the sand on the beach, I’ve been to some stunning outdoor swimming pools across Europe and I played as much sport as I could. But I think at that stage I was enjoying what I was actually doing and not necessarily the fresh air and the feeling of just being outside.
As a young teenager I must have been a pain in the backside for my parents. Despite the fact I would play football and train outside, I hated being outdoors for anything else. I was a typical surly teenager who didn’t want to hang around with his parents. As a result many trips to the beach, walks along piers and walks through the forest were wasted on me. I put up with them but would still moan as much as possible. Basically, just enough to annoy my parents but not so much that I wouldn’t get the chips or ice-cream that came at the end!
Luckily I matured a little on this score and began to see the benefits as my teenage years went on. Ballybunion holds special memories for me. It was there I began to enjoy just being outside and breathing in the fresh air. I loved it down there and it always made eating cheddar cheese, apples and digestive biscuits (try it, it’s really tasty) taste like the best snack ever. I’ve done that on days of 25 degree sunshine and on New Years’ Day in sideways rain and it always tasted delicious.
The past week in Ireland has brought record high temperatures for March in many places around the country. It’s amazing to see the difference a bit of sun can do to the Irish person’s mood. We’re up the creek financially, everyone is struggling and we’ve heard that the Cead Mile Failte approach is diminishing but if we had some guaranteed sunshine I don’t think that would be a problem. I’ve heard of individuals with Seasonal Affected Disorder, I wonder is it possible to have it as a nation?
Personally I’ve really enjoyed having the sun on my back for the last few days. Unfortunately I had forgotten about some of the different side effects that extra sun brings on my fibro. My body isn’t as tight as in cold weather and so I’ve been able to stretch muscles and get a little reduction in my pain levels. On the other hand the hot weather is incredibly draining. An overbearing sense of fatigue has returned in the last few days. At night I can sleep a little because it’s cooler but throughout the day, what were simple tasks in winter now seriously deplete my energy levels.
I know I often cite my football memories in this blog but it’s what I know. When we went to England as 17 year olds we were going to play two professional academy teams in a weekend. After playing the first match we were brought to see the opposition’s first team play that afternoon. It was a beautiful August day and we went to sit in the seats that had been reserved for us in the stand. However within five minutes we were being moved to the away section on the other side of the pitch which was in shade. The reason? We had already played a match ourselves and our managers didn’t want us sitting in the sun for another two hours draining our energy before our second match the next day.
Even at our peak physical condition we were susceptible to being drained of energy by the sun, so this week, when I’m not even an inch the athlete I was then, I have found myself very quickly drained and worn out. It is always a balancing act with the fibro, some days the pain is worse, some days the fatigue is worse and sometimes they are as bad as each other. This week I am still in pain though it has lessened a little but moving about has become incredibly tiring.
Going back to when I was younger I remember my parents trying to entice me outside. During the summer, I was much happier sitting inside watching television rather than going for a walk or even just sitting outside. In the winter I had no interest in wrapping up and going for a walk in the rain.
Over the years that really changed. Once the good weather appeared I was off in my shorts looking to go for a walk or a cycle. Even if the weather turned bad I never minded. Sometimes you can get just as much joy from tramping through the rain and mud and coming home to the heating and a long shower.
I’ve just spent the first really bad winter of fibro symptoms in serious pain and unable to move too much. I thought the warm weather would bring some pain relief and I could get back outdoors. Well, I’ve just had a taster of summer weather this week and while I’ve had a little pain relief I’m too wiped out to enjoy it.
For the last 10 years, with regard to the great outdoors, I’ve lived by Billy Connolly’s expression; ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.’ If I’m too sore in the winter and too fatigued in the summer to enjoy long walks and the great outdoors maybe it’s time I found a new expression? any suggestions?