Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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Back and back

Posted by Oli on Friday 12th January, 2007

So the New Year has started proper now, hasn’t it?  First day back at work notched up and I’m relishing the challenges ahead.

It was awesome to be back at the Theatre and to see the group again.  The majority of the girls are still the same people I’ve been working with for a while now and it was like slipping back into a comfortable pair of shoes, or a freshly made bed, or something similarly warm, comfortable and welcoming.

The guys I did know seemed so happy to see me that it really lifted my spirits and the ones who I didn’t didn’t seem to think of me as too much of a freak, which was good.

I have to confess, I was feeling pretty nervous ahead of time – it’s been over 6 months since I last properly set foot inside the Theatre and whilst it’s full of familiar and friendly faces, I couldn’t escape the fact that for me, a lot has changed since I was last there.

Striding in with my oxygen cylinder (OK, strolling), I tried to embody the kind of confidence with which I normally arrived at the building, but I found it a lot harder to muster my usual sense of artistic bravado.  Somehow the oxygen makes me feel weaker, and more self-conscious, and at the same time I know that it’s only my attitude which is creating that impression.

As much as people tell me that no one notices the O2, I know that it’s not true.  It may not be as big a deal to other people as it is to me, but it’s also nonsense to pretend it’s invisible.  My hang-up about looking “ill” came back with a vengence and seems to be staying firmly put for the time being, although I’m trying hard to learn to ignore it.

I didn’t wear my O2 all the way through the session – apart from any vanity-related reasons, it’s hard to fully engage with a group when you’re tied to a cylinder and I sure as heck wasn’t going to have the energy to lug it all around the rehearsal room with me.

On reflection, I should have been more strict with myself and re-attached when I was sitting down discussing ideas or talking to the group and only coming off when we were doing something that demanded me being on my feet.

That’s a big part of the learning curve that I’m going to be on for the next few weeks, though, and I know I’m going to have to push my boundaries to a large degree and see what I can and can’t cope with.  I appreciate that I don’t have much room for error, but if I don’t try things I’m never going to know how much impact I can have on things.

The rehearsal itself went really well.  The group are all really keen and worked really well, incorporating the new people quickly and in a much more friendly and welcoming way than has often happened in the past. 

They were also all really pleased with the ideas for the show that Suze had drawn up and happy with the casting for the sections we’ve decided on.  There’s going to be a few tough calls on casting for some of the pieces and I think the Hamlet section could prove a tough one to fill – whoever we choose is going to have to work hard.  The great thing with this group, though, is that you know they all will work hard and give it their best.

The 4-hours I was out of the house was, I think, about my limit for the time being – although the strain was doubtless enhanced by my being off the O2 – and on Thursday I really felt it. 

I woke up feeling pretty good, although tired, and I knew I had to take it really easy all day.  Things seemed to go pretty well in recovery terms until about mid-afternoon when everything took a bit of a nose-dive and I completely ran out of energy.

About 5pm my reserves seemed to have deserted me and I was left absolutely shattered and dying for my bed.  I eventually made it until about 9pm, but not before I’d managed to cause a mini-argument with K over the phone by trying to organise things when I was tired.

I really knew I was exhausted when I found myself in bed reading Ben Fogle and James Cracknell’s story of their Atlantic rowing race and getting emotional with the ups and downs they were experiencing in their moods.  When they talked of missing their wives and getting tearful and I started welling up too, I knew I’d let myself get WAY too tired.

Still, today has been a clear and bright day (mentally, if not meteorologically) and I’ve been to Oxford, where my lung function was only ever-so-slightly down (which I still put down to it being taken before not after physio) at 0.7/1.3 and my weight had risen to 50.8kg.  I also spoke to the dietitian about the sickness I’ve been feeling and she prescribed me… something I can’t remember for a couple of weeks to see if it takes it away.

Tonight, with my Gramps here and my bro heading off into the sunset on another punishing course (who’d be in the army, eh?), we sat and ate dinner together before he high-tailed it away to colder, wetter climbs.  Rather him than me. 

Now all that’s left is for me to get my beauty sleep before Phase 1 of the Move Home tomorrow.  If all goes to plan, I’ll be back living in my little apartment paradise by this time Sunday!

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One Response to “Back and back”

  1. Jacqui said

    Hi Oli,

    Hope the move’s gone well.

    I reckon most of us would feel at least a little self conscious wearing oxygen. Not sure if this will be of any help, but on the occasions J (now aged 12) has been around anyone wearing O2 it really did prompt very little, if any comment from him. Apart from a bit of curiousity as to what the nasal specs were for.
    In fact facial piercings have illicited more of a reaction!

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