I woke up the next morning with bruised and swollen hands and wrists from beating them on the floor in frustration the day before. On top of that, making my woes on the treadmill even worse were my stiff, achy joints. The hormone therapy (Arimidex) that I was on was making movement challenging. After sitting for 10 minutes, it proved a monumental task to get up and just move around the house normally, never mind exercising on the treadmill. I felt like a 41 year old stuck in an 81 year olds body. Whenever I started to stride it out, it would take 15 painful and awkward minutes to get into my stride and finally start to loosen up. Also stacked against me was the scar tissue that I now had on my lungs from the pleurisies that had partially crushed them. The only thing I did have on my side was the fact that I had by that time managed to lose 10kg’s in total, loosening up the strain on my joints somewhat, but my knees were still hurting. I realized that I needed to be even more proactive and address these issues.
I decided to consult a physiotherapist at the hospital where I was receiving my treatments, and luckily I could coordinate my treatments with visits to her rooms. She was also a South African, and after explaining my troubles to her and my training for the upcoming expedition, she quickly went to task on working out how best to help me in the form of stretching and strengthening exercises whilst targeting my weakest areas, that being my knees and back. I increased my protein intake and my focus for the weeks to come would be to develop more lean muscle tissue while shedding the extra pounds that would make everything easier for me. My physiotherapist and dietician met up and putting their heads together, worked out an optimal diet and nutrition program for me to best prepare me for the trip.
I had developed a limp in my right leg from the radiation that I had to have to my pelvis in that area 2 years earlier. The muscle was hard and inflexible as a result and I had to stretch that muscle everyday to get the flexibility back. Without it being able to stretch, there was no way I’d be able to strengthen it. I had to work on my weak and sore knees by spending hours with an elastic strengthening band given to me by the physiotherapist. I would tie it to one of the banisters on the staircase and then tie it behind my knee. I would bend and flex, bend and flex till my muscles burned and they were shaky with exhaustion. I did exercises for my back that are practiced in Hatha yoga in order to gain the strength and stability that I so badly needed. I borrowed my daughters ipod and put music on it that would inspire and motivate me and then I got to work.
On my first week back on the treadmill I managed to put in 40 minutes. Three weeks later it became 45 minutes. I had shed another 1,5kg’s and was starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time since I’d signed up for the expedition, I was starting to feel like I was making progress and was maybe in for a chance. In the meantime, I attended an interview with another magazine and put in yet more work on the indoor ski slope with my team mates. It was on the second training session with them that I became very encouraged when I could at last start to feel that my hard work was starting to pay off.