As they say on Top Gear, I’m back! Yes after months away honing my grumpiness skills your humble viral meningitis survivor returns with more tales of my life post near fatal VM.
Where have you been I hear you cry? Well I have been ignoring advice and getting on with life as best as I can until everything went bang at Christmas. As some of you will know I have a bit of a thing about triathlons and indeed long distance ones at that. The sort you see on TV with the soundtrack from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest. Picture the scene….August 2013 and I have just finished my second half ironman triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run for good measure) following which I had planned to take two weeks off work. I’m self employed which meant two weeks without being paid and so when the offer of some more work came in starting two days after the race I turned it down, no hang on a minute, no I took it. Staggering into central London (almost literally) to sit in an office and sort out a failing project to be precise. As this was a part time role and the other role I had was also part time I was managing two projects for two different clients in two separate locations.
By this point I was also down to officiate at the International Triathlon Union world championships in Hyde Park for five days so I took time off work to do that. No hang on a minute no I didn’t take time off, I worked around the shifts and my two clients often starting at 4.30 a.m. and finishing well after 9.00 at night. I finished that on the Sunday night and immediately took two weeks off, err no I didn’t I went back to work full time across two clients, two sites and two major projects one of which was in deep trouble. My life went into sleep, eat, train, work mode. As I clearly wasn’t pushing myself enough I decided that it would be a good idea to spend a weekend doing a triathlon coaches course as well. Add in to this the other work I do as chairman (I refuse to use the word ‘chair’ as I only have two legs) of Triathlon England Eastern Regions it was only a matter of time before something would give.
I finished both contracts just before Christmas and decided to take a break. Over the first week I came down with four concurrent infections and was asked by the doctor if I knew what that meant? I explained that since I was the patient and I hadn’t been to medical school that I was rather thinking that he would know. Apparently it meant I was run down due to stress and overwork. On that I immediately took a month off, no hang on, no I didn’t I went back to work on a project which was also in trouble and required commuting in to London 5 days a week. After a week, and writing my car off in an accident, I had to stop. I took three days off and then started work again working for an excellent organisation which was going really well until I changed boss. The workload kept going up and up and in fairness she did keep saying that she thought I was doing too much but no I was fine. I kept going until August when I had to see my GP as I was sick of feeling awful the whole time. My doctor diagnosed complete exhaustion and told me to take a month off which I did, or so you would have thought but no I went back after a week’s holiday. With my doctor’s warning in my ear and her view that I was risking another attack of VM I then decided to talk to my boss and sort out my workload. Spotting a theme here, all the advice was coming from ladies.
I did take two weeks off and went back to work having not trained at all for triathlon for months and pulling out of the events I was entered in to, working for my old boss who is, yes you’ve guessed it a lady, and things have started to settle down. I am back to training for 8-10 hours a week and although I still get very tired (well you would too if you were working 40 hours a week plus all that training!) I have realised that my doctor’s warnings were serious. I had come within a whisker of another attack of viral meningitis. So even 12 years on and as pig headed as I am I have come to realise men are most certainly from Mars (well we help you work, rest and play if nothing else) and women are always right, well almost always! If you are a VM survivor and someone says rest, for heaven’s sake listen to them, they can almost always see what you can’t.