Pacing (otherwise known as arguing with your body)

You may otherwise know this more for ‘setting a pace’ which may intuitively sound fast, to you. That’s definitely how you would describe my style walking if you’d met me five or more years ago. Marching, perhaps. Which is what I did everywhere. Most likely with a rucksack on, a battered one I’d had for years but did the job. 

I still had this rucksack on just a few years ago, walking home in the dark from work which normally took 20 minutes only this time it was at least double that. Each step dragging, feeling like I was walking through mud which had been set with gelatine. 

After the diagnosis of chronic migraine I attempted a more medical version of pacing; keeping everything to a steady pace to not spike symptoms. I cannot begin to detail in one blog the difficulties that came with trying to make that a reality while working full time.  

In the last year I have all but stopped working and have been living on a narrow boat. Since then, I would say, I have been able to give this pacing malarky some kind of an actual go. Generally, it divides into three categories when comes to my health:

Bad days

These, luckily, are more irregular now and don’t last so long. Obviously they are the worst kind of days and I have to just lie in bed and do not a lot. I might briefly leave the boat to get some fresh air and relieve some boredom but that’s about it. In the past, these might have lasted up to five days, given me one day break, and started right up again. It’s difficult to say how often I get these now; it seems to vary so wildly but it’s safe you say it’s less than before.  

Good days

You’re going to think I’m crazy but these are kind of the second worst sort of days. My mind is allowed to run a bit crazy, however much I try to slow it down. I laugh a lot more. I get excited about the future. I might try and walk a bit more too. Either some time that day, or at most, on the third day, I will get the worst migraine I have had for a while and all that positive feeling is hard to cling onto. I almost wish I hadn’t felt so good. 

Mediocre days

Ah, the pure bliss of being average. What nonsense to always try to be amazing! On these days my body is already a bit pooped so there’s a natural ‘holding back’ to everything I do. I can come in from a short walk, and naturally sit or lie down for an hour, rather than rushing to make some food or other bits and bobs that need doing. It’s still possible to do too much on these days but thanks to the lifestyle I’ve had the opportunity to live, I rarely feel I ‘have’ to do this. I can take my time, notice the small things on these days, including any changes in symptoms which I can then respond to quickly. My brain doesn’t get carried away with the future and my legs don’t carry me too far down the towpath; instead they’ll stop and notice the blossom of the hawthorn and the white barn owl in the early evening.

I don’t think we can expect life to ever stay the same. Whether it’s because of ill health, natural aging, or a global pandemic (!), continuing to do the same thing and expecting the same results…well you all know how the saying goes. The pace of life is always going to change. For you, it may be speeding up, while mine has slowed down. Don’t let it speed away from you; there is beauty in the average pace


  1. Thanks for your latest upodate. I found it very moving and well written as ever.
    You and I go back a little while , so I can remember your fast walk ( hard keeping up) . I can also remember a time when you didn’t like long walks at all , but we’ll keep that to ourselves I think. Your description of bad days, good days and mediocre ones is powerful and it doesnt take much imagination to feel the full emotional force of that for you above all, and also the people who care care about your wellbeing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are becoming a wise woman: such a pity that wisdom comes through suffering, but I guess it was always like that. Certainly in my case. All of us will have to follow your example, now.

    Liked by 1 person

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