After three weeks in hospital I could hardly walk. Being in an isolated room the longest walk I took was to the en-suite toilet, a journey of around 3 metres. A physiotherapist took me to a stairwell on the day of my discharge and I wheezed up and down a flight of stairs. I did enough to convince him I could go home.
The next day I had to go to my GP's surgery. It's less than half a mile away, but constituted quite a challenge. In February my surgery took away the top of my infected left lung, so I'm left with about 75% capacity now. It means I get out of breath much quicker and have to take things much slower, especially after a stint in hospital. Suddenly I have the mobility of a 70 year old. Luckily there is a great park at the end of my road so I used that as a staging post to my GP's. Park benches are my new favourite friend.
In my stem cell transplant guide it advises you to try and go for three walks a week between 20 - 30 minutes in length. I have used this as a goal and have tried to go for a walk every day. Even if it's just to the post office to pick up a parcel, getting out of the house and getting moving has really helped me. Luckily we've been blessed with some pretty good weather recently so there's been no excuse not to go out. Day by day I've been able to walk further and feel stronger.
I've even used my trips to Bart's to incorporate a walk. After meeting friends for lunch on Bankside I walked over the millennium bridge and past St Paul's. After a visit on Saturday afternoon, I wandered through the City and ended up at Monument.
On Sunday I attempted my longest walk yet. After going to the Southbank centre to hear Matt Haig talk as part of the 'Tell me something I don't know' literary festival, I decided to walk the Thames Path. The section from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge is one of the great city walks in the world. It's flat, traffic free (if you discount the joggers) and there's tons to see and do.
I picked up the path outside the Royal Festival Hall, with the millennium wheel looming to my left. I set off towards Waterloo Bridge, soon passing the skate monkeys out in force in the undercroft of the Queen Elizabeth Hall. They were drawing quite a crowd on this sunny afternoon. Underneath Waterloo bridge the second hand book stall was in full swing and the BFI was advertising the London Film Festival. If you have the time climb the steps up on to the bridge for the best view in London. You get the whole sweep from Westminster to St Paul's. Then it's on past the National Theatre and ITV's London studios, where often people look through the fence to see which minor celebrity is appearing that day on 'This Morning'.
Next it's the OXO tower with lots of little artist's shops to poke around in. You skirt around the new Mondrian London Hotel on the old Sea Container's site before walking under Blackfriars bridge and the new Blackfriars station, it's solar panel roof glinting in the sunshine. I'm getting a little tired now so glad of the site of the Tate Modern. Not only does it hold a permanent collection including some great Hockney's, Warhol's and Lichtenstein's , but there are plenty of places to sit down.
Refreshed I continued past the millennium bridge to Shakespeare's Globe. As a fellow boy from Warwickshire I take pride in old Bill's achievements, which include getting people to pay 50 quid a ticket to see plays in a place with no roof. After Southwark Bridge and Cannon Street Rail bridge the path narrows as it passes the old riverside wharfs. These are now multi-million pound flats. Next is the mooring for The Golden Hind, a galleon from the time of Sir Francis Drake. You can continue onwards to look at Southwark Cathedral, but I turned right and headed through the foodie heaven of Borough Market. My destination was one of the better London pubs, the Market Porter and a well deserved pint of Harvey's Bitter.
My journey ended there as I went and got the Northern Line home from London Bridge, but it's well worth continuing on as you pass Hay's Galleria, City Hall and finally arrive at Tower Bridge. Walking has given me space to think, gets my endorphins flowing and generally improves my mood, which for a grumpy cancer patient is no bad thing.