I go jogging five times a week for about three quarters of an hour at a time. I do stretching and other exercises at home. I go swimming with my wife.
How come I am so active?
I had lymphoma in 2014 and leukemia in 2015-2016. I had a heavy cytostatic regime for both conditions and a further stem cell transplant for leukemia. Cytostatic medication made my condition go up and down. I was always weakest two weeks after the treatment. By the time I began to feel better, I was soon due to another IV session. When my condition was worst at the beginning of the leukemia treatment, I unable to walk at all.
While in hospital, I walked within the limitations of my condition and the treatment schedule. When in the isolation room, I walked a short, square route along the walls and the furniture. When on a regular ward, I walked along the corridors, and when I was allowed to leave the ward, I also walked around the other buildings of Meilahti Hospital and the underground tunnels.
As soon as I recovered from the infections following transplant surgery, I began to walk outdoors. When I was weakest after my discharge, I only walked on the yard of our condominium in Herttoniemi, Helsinki. Once I took a walking trail toward Viikki. I was glad to find that I was doing well, going mostly downhill. I then took a path that went uphill at a gradient that a healthy person would not have even noticed. For me it was an ordeal. I struggled to get back to the paved street and called my wife to come and pick me up.
We moved to Turku in 2017, and I continued to walk. Last spring I cautiously began to run. I had realized I needed some aerobic exercise because going up the stairs or walking uphill tended to be a challenge.
I thought I would try to run the traditional Cooper test at some point. When we were young, we used the Cooper test to measure our fitness. For the test, you need to run for 12 minutes, and the distance covered is measured and related to the person’s age to indicate their fitness level.
I gradually began to run longer distances and walked in between them. In the fall I ran the Cooper test at the Paavo Nurmi stadium and did about 1650 meters. In early January I ran the test again in Antibes, France, and did about 1750 meters. Depending on the scale used, my fitness was moderate or average for a man of my age.
Now that we have coronavirus lockdown, I run along some quiet streets from the center of Turku toward the Turku Castle by the sea and then back home. Sometimes I take a break in the Castle park, sometimes I don’t.
I think that jogging is like a trip without a clearly defined destination. The level of exercise reflects my condition and my position on my life span. My Cooper score is a little over what I had in high school. Seniors run in their own league.
It is not possible to estimate the full effect of cytostatic medication on my cells. By this age I have lost the resilience of youth. My current medication probably also has an effect. But I can still run. I am happy about that.
One day I noticed a youngish man running about a block’s length ahead of me. I tried to keep the distance constant but found that I was getting out of breath, which meant that he ran too fast for me. I slowed down, but after that it was difficult to reach my natural speed again. Thus, when I tried to keep up with another jogger, I lost my own rhythm.
The man soon turned at a crossing and stopped to wait for the green light. I saw him better and realized that he was already middle-aged with some grey in his dark hair. I also paused at that traffic light. When I began to run again, I found my natural speed easily. Running was enjoyable again.
My current condition is what it is. With my background, it is difficult to define it as either good or bad.
I believe that our Creator has given us all a desire to develop. We want to make progress in whatever we are doing. Yet, I hardly find I am improving in loading the dishwasher. I guess my attitude toward development depends on what I am doing.
I do not know the length or the quality of my remaining journey on earth. But I will trek along. I will run the Cooper test when I feel like it. I will get a result. I can write something about it in my blog.
Text: Heikki Honkala
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original blog post here.
Kesäseuraradion lähetys alkoi 17. kesäkuuta, viikkoa aiemmin kuin edellisvuosina. Jo ennen tätä kuultiin seurapainotteinen kevätlähetys, joka oli kuultavissa pelkästään nettiradion kautta. Kun Kesäseuraradio päättää tulevana maanantaina lähetyksensä, sen vastuunkantajilla on takanaan melkoinen määrä työtä.