A retrospective on 2012

My bedside table
A view that I saw far too much of in 2012.

I’ve never been a massive fan of new year, even after my dad died shortly after 1998 began. I’ve always preferred Christmas Day. It’s the reason for the season, so they say. At least, it’s one of the reasons. I never really enjoyed sitting around while my mates got drunk, I never really got into the whole new year resolutions thing, and for me it was really just another day (albeit it one where the shops were closed, and we always ate steak pie).

Health

But twelve months ago, as 2011 rolled into 2012 I decided that this was going to be good year. I was determined that it would be a good year. “This is the year that I get fit,” I decided.

However, 2012 wasn’t the year that I got fit, and not for want of trying. In between periods of intense back pain in February/March and trapping two nerves (C6 and C7) when my twin boys, Reuben and Joshua, jumped onto my neck on the sofa in June, I managed to get out on my bike as much as I could and even lifted my dumbell weights a few times.

But I slowly realised that I was actually becoming afraid of doing any exercise. Whenever I did any kind of moderate exercise I would shortly after come down with a cold, or pull a muscle, or injure my back. It was incredibly frustrating. I even asked my renal consultant about it (I have polycystic kidney disease) but she wasn’t interested and told me quite clearly that that shouldn’t happen. “But it does,” I said. “But it shouldn’t…!” But it does, and it has continued to do so.

During 2012 I spent £420 on private physiotherapy. Having been diagnosed with trapped nerves by a stand-in GP who told me to take some time off work, see if things get better, and if they don’t improve within six weeks come back, I phoned the physio the following day, shortly after both my arms went completely numb.

I felt desperate. I didn’t want to have to wait the three months or so I had to when my lower back went in September 2011. I phoned, explained what was going on and the receptionist kindly said, “I’m really sorry, but I won’t be able to squeeze you in until tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?! That’s brilliant.”

I saw a chap called Clayton Hardisty in St Andrews. He was excellent. I told him what I thought were the vaguest of symptoms and within minutes he had both diagnosed and confirmed what the problem was. And it all stemmed from my bad posture. I’m 6’4″ and for years I’ve apologised for my height. No longer. I now sit and stand tall, and what a difference it has made. I’ve not thought about my posture so much since I sang in the National Youth Choir of Great Britain.

I was signed off work for 60 work days in all, to give my body the chance to rest and recover. I returned to work on a phased return programme: two weeks half-time, two weeks three-quarters time, then back full-time.

Then the week after I was discharged by occupational health, I came down with the ‘flu. Like, proper ‘flu with all the symptoms, and a temperature of 39.8°C. And then a chest infection. And then a tummy bug. Rubbish!

Family

Clockwise from top: Joshua, Isaac and Reuben.
Clockwise from top: Joshua, Isaac and Reuben.

What has got me through this past year of one health frustration after another is my faith and my family.

Reuben and Joshua turned four in November, Isaac turns two later this month (late-January). While we have had our fair share of ups and downs with them (I imagine no more than the next family), particularly as they fight one another and jostle for attention, they remain my little delights. I have enjoyed nothing better this Christmas and new year holiday than cuddling up on the sofa with all three of them and watching films and silly children’s programmes.

And Jane has been amazing this year; I love her very much, and more so each year. As well as living with and trying to manage depression, she’s had to put up with me recovering at home, as well as refereeing children and escorting them from one engagement to the next; they have a far better social life than we do. She’s amazing.

So… 2013. Two-thousand and thirteen, that’s the year I get fit. Oh yes. And the year that I continue to try to be better at putting my family first. Here’s to a much better year.

What would also make it better, or at least neater, would be to always write the year as 0123.

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