One of the most vivid memories I have from the last decade is the moment - standing in my parents' kitchen after having had my pelvis sawn in three and pinned back together again - that I took my first post-op step.
I remember that moment because I remember thinking beforehand that I didn't know that step would be possible. I remember looking at my feet and wondering why they couldn't move forward. I remember smiling when I managed to cross the room unaided.
I also remember turning to my parents and saying that I would never take walking for granted again.
I am ashamed to admit now that the feeling didn't last long.
Why think about this now you ask? Well, having been in pain for more than three months, I have come to realise once again, just how much we take for granted. How many of us wonder if we'll get to work in one piece? How many of us wonder whether our next trip to the swimming pool will be our last? How many of us stop for a moment to thank the bits that work?
Pain has a brilliant way of focusing the mind.
I was speaking to my dad at the weekend and he said to me: 'when you feel well, it is easy to delay and convince yourself that you will always have tomorrow'. And he's so right. Sitting here with my throbbing calves and steroid-filled back, I regret the times I turned over in bed and missed the chance to run to work along the Thames with a motivational podcast for company. I regret not entering the races I thought would be best left to next year.
Sometimes there is no tomorrow.
I know regret is not constructive. But, right now, it is certainly a brilliant reminder of the fact that while my legs may be protesting, I can still carry myself through the water. I can still stand. I can still walk the length of an airport and get on a plane for a break. I can still taste food. I can still feel the sunshine on my face.
Pain hurts. But what hurts even more is living in the knowledge that you once had so much and you didn't say thank you for that gift every day.
I've been here before. And, it pains me to think I am back here again, having forgotten to cherish the bits that just work in the background without you even asking them too.
So, join me in taking a moment to thank your body. Thank the toes that wiggle (and you can feel). Thank the spine that keeps you upright (and is the reason you can still hold a pen). Thank your ears for hearing and your eyes for seeing. Thank your hands for writing and your brain for dreaming (and banking happy memories). And, thank your heart for pumping. Basically, if it works, thank it. And, if it doesn't, now is the time to find a way to live without it.
I am grateful for the fact I will, one day soon, hit the Thames path. And, I am grateful for all the physios, friends and hospital teams helping me along the way.
I'm off to the pool...