Thursday 15 January 2015

but i don't want to be THAT guy

And after newbie’s euphoria comes… this.

Last night was my second session of Tai Chi. I saw the tutor beforehand, who told me that everybody forgets everything they’ve learnt. In fact, she said that when I went home that evening, I would be able to remember what we did last week – but nothing from this week. Which turned out to be true.

I really enjoyed the warm up and I get the fact that what seems complicated at the moment will eventually (hopefully?) turn into muscle memory as opposed to the Directors Cut of King Arthur On Ice.

However, the main thing I took away from last night was how appalling my balance is and how incredibly weak my legs are. And it made me feel very, very self-conscious in a room full of strangers.

I know – BLOGGER GUILTY OF SOLIPSISM – steps back in amazement, I’ve never heard the like, etc.

And I don’t want to be a master of Tai Chi – but I do want to be a little less shit.

Like I said, the warm up and the focus on breathing are great – it’s just when you have to string together phrases and are required to place your foot down slowly heel-to-toe. The word galumphing springs to mind. And I have literally no idea where my hands are meant to be at any point.

In reality, I know that no-one in that room is going to be marking me down – we’re all too busy looking at our own feet.

The reason I’m doing this is to try to stave off my (inevitable?) physical decline, which feels more and more noticeable (and, yes, inevitable). The idea of leaving the house without my stick and/or car seems frankly ridiculous. But I need to keep moving – otherwise I’ll just stop, right?

Later that day I was talking to my wife about all the great holidays we’ve been on in the past and how we’re probably never going to do anything similar again – and that really hit me hard.

It’s the occasional subtle reminder of just how much you’ve lost – MS is truly a condition which takes and takes.

As an aside, I’m the Vice Chair of a group to do with where I work (CULTURAL ELITE) and the Chair is stepping down – interestingly she’s the person who got this job way back when. Anyway, I just mentioned to her earlier today that I wouldn’t automatically be stepping up to take the Chair’s position when she left.

And she said, “Steve, you’re f**king amazing, why wouldn’t you?” – I swear I nearly broke down at her feet.

I can talk a good game about the Spoon Theory and it’s failings, and that "it's at least part of a culture which encourages people to think about what they can't do instead of the things they can". But I’m just as guilty as anyone of taking the easy way out.

Will I be going to Tai Chi again? Yes. 
Will I position myself by a wall? HELL YES. 
Will I beat myself up for not maintaining the proper form? Probably – but I know I shouldn’t.

And will I step up to lead the CULTURAL ELITE to a brighter tomorrow? Hmmm…

Friday 9 January 2015

strange moves

Earlier this week I went for my first session of Tai Chi. We do these classes where I work, I get a free ticket and I’ve been hearing about the potential benefits for people with Ms pretty much since I was diagnosed.

So it seemed like a bit of a no-brainer.

I did a course of Pilates a couple of years back – actually it must have been longer as I would probably have written about it on here – and I’ve dipped a toe into the waters of Yoga intermittently over the years.

Also – New Years and all that.

I had a quiet word with the instructor before we began and she said she’d heard that Tai Chi can be beneficial for people with MS (although she’d never knowingly taught anyone with MS before).

Despite being mad as a box of frogs she was lovely and told me to leave any phrases / poses I was uncomfortable with (I explained that my balance is a major issue).

I really enjoyed it – the focus on breathing and posture should be really helpful for me in my quest to avoid my body completely seizing up. It’s early days but I’m going to try my best to stick with it (although I didn’t appreciate her comment that when the weather improves she’d be taking the class outdoors – it’s a little out of my comfort zone as it is, with classes in a closed studio with little natural daylight!).

After the class the tutor made a point of telling me that I’d done well and asked if I’d be going back – I definitely think I will. BTW I didn’t tell the tutor that I worked there until after the class had finished.

A colleague of mine who’d done the class previously warned me that I’d ache in the morning – but I’m pleased to report that I actually seem to be less stiff in the morning than I am usually. I’m quite prepared to concede that this might be Newbie’s Euphoria or something but we’ll have to see over the coming weeks.

The whole form is insanely long and when I tried to demonstrate the brief phrases we’d attempted in class at home, I was delighted to find that I couldn’t remember anything beyond The Opening. Which is nice.

I was really nervous before I went in, so – as is the way these days – I tweeted the fact, which led to the following discussion:

Frank is probably best described as a tightly-coiled spring in person, so this was a genuine surprise to me. He's also the genius behind Frankie Machine, the band I played guitar and keyboards with at Indietracks in 2011.