Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Physician, Heal Thyself?

This is just the sort of thing I do not want to happen when I am in the middle of VBW. Bowling along, happy as Larry, when wallop! Along comes a virus, reducing me to a coughing, quivering wreck.

It has been going on for a week now – a week in which I have done barely any walking, except for the surprising amount one does around town, and even that has been a bit much for me. I would certainly have felt incapable of doing 180 kms (which will be my average weekly walk from May to July next year) during that time. And if I had forced myself to walk anyway (as I would feel inclined to do when under the pressure of the 70-day deadline) I would likely have made myself more ill than I am now. I remember once going ahead with a marathon, despite feeling under the weather – I did not cover myself in glory during the race, but I was severely ill for the next week or two – a colleague rang me at home but put the 'phone down when I answered – he though he had dialled a wrong number when he heard such an old man on the line. I was about 40 years old at the time.

I am very reluctant to use antibiotics. Like most people, I know that all that is happening is that I am training the virus to adapt and to tolerate the drug, and that eventually there will not be an antibiotic which has any effect at all.

But after a week of coughing and wobbling, Gay and I went to the doctor here in Akaroa on Monday, as it seemed the enemy was not going to go away on its own. The doctor, who went to school at Rossall, not 10 miles away from my own school in Poulton-le-Fylde, confessed that he was suffering from a similar ailment himself! He offered us some antibiotics, if we wanted to use them, but said that the illness will blow itself out after 10-14 days. We decided to let the sickness run its course, despite the effect it is having, of completely curtailing our athletic activities.
If I am stricken with a virus while doing VBW, it will be a different story. It will be “gimme the tablets” and sod the future. With only 70 days allowed for the walk, I will not be able to afford to lose a week.

As mentioned, we are in Akaroa, which in many ways is a little bit of France in New Zealand. In 1840, the Maori chiefs were persuaded to sign a treaty with the uniformed representatives of Queen Victoria, turning New Zealand into a British colony, like much of the rest of the world at that time. Not long before this happened, some French explorers had discovered the Banks Peninsula, on which Akaroa lies. They were very taken with it and scurried home to raise an expedition to colonise it on behalf of France. Four shiploads of eager French settlers arrived at the British colony just too late to claim it for their own country but decided to stay anyway. Most of them, or rather their descendants, have dispersed around the country now, but there are still some French names about. Many of the streets have French names. Also many of the businesses, although this is clearly a marketing ploy, as the usage of the French language on the signs is pretty comical and obviously not handed down from the original French settlers.

The huge harbour at Akaroa was once a mountain, a volcano in fact, which blew its top, and also its bottom, long ages ago. The result is a beautiful setting for a splendidly photogenic little town which is a major tourist draw and one of our favourite places on earth. When you visit New Zealand, as everybody should do at least once in their lifetime, it it is one place you must see.


Gill Hook said...

Hi Vic, just thought I'd give you a 'hello' from Poulton-le-Fylde! Just found your blog but will be following it with interest. We think of ourselves as walkers but your distances and times - even when you're ill - are putting us to shame! Hope you feel better soon. Gill and Nigel

Anonymous said...

Hi again.
Good to see the infection has subsided and a little humility has set in. Perhaps there is hope the walk will be your success; your swansong.
David H(epinstall)

Vic Heaney said...

I really don't know what this person is on about. I have never made any bones about realising that the success of my walk will depend very much on continued good health - always a matter of luck. Perhaps if he reads my next post, he will realise that I am very aware of health matters in my family.