This is my original blog for all our non-caravanning trips since 2009 and more recently posts about coming to terms with being single again having been widowed in 2018. And anything else too really!

My caravanning blog is (Get Your) Legs Down and all our trips in the caravan are there. My grog blog is The Ale Archive where I list every beer I’ve ever tried.

Thursday, 27 August 2020

A Wake Up Call

As many of you will already know I’ve missed work a lot. Since the school closed early in March I’ve been longing for the day when I could get back driving, see my colleagues and the kids and return to the structure that working life brings. You’ll know that I found lockdown tough at times - as did many many others - and at times didn’t handle it well at all. Whilst the chance to finally get away in the caravan again was welcome it was the start of the new school term in September that I was focussing on - back to a routine and a sense of self worth in the knowledge that I would be earning money again rather than sitting on my backside and getting paid for it - although I should say now that I was extremely grateful for the furlough scheme - it did at least remove financial worries.

The first step in prior to the new term was a medical - not specifically because of the pandemic - as drivers we have one every two years anyway. That came on Tuesday 25th August - just a over a week before the start of term. 

And I failed.

My blood pressure - specifically the lower diastolic reading was consistently too high. I managed one reading within the lower limits specified by the DVLA for bus drivers but needed at least two to pass. Declared unfit to drive, I was gutted, having pinned my hopes on returning to work in September. I came away understandably distraught and upset.

My first call was too my GP to arrange an appointment, I hoped quickly, however nothing was available until the 8th meaning that there was no way I’d be returning to work at the start of term.

Whilst I was obviously upset the unpalatable truth was, it was my fault. I have not looked after myself during lockdown, initially at least treating everyday as a weekend.  Too many suppers of cheese, biscuits and salty meats, chocolate with the inevitable liquid accompaniment many nights of the week and a lack of motivation to get any sort of regular exercise, combined with regular mugs of tea and strong coffee have taken it’s toll. Sure I knew I’d gained a little weight but had no idea what was going on inside. Whilst I’d survived lockdown mentally, physically I had clearly suffered. Doing a jigsaw maybe good for the brain but not for the waistline, particularly when accompanied by excessive amounts or sugar, salt, fat, caffeine and alcohol.

I went to bed that night with a headache which was to persist for most of the next day. The Occupational Health practitioner had said that If I could produce three official readings within the prescribed limits then she would reconsider. I tried all the local pharmacies that normally offer blood pressure testing but none were doing so because of Covid. My manager was also exploring all avenues to see if there was any way of moving things forward more quickly in the hope of minimising the delay before my return to work.

Then a friend sent me a link to a pharmacy that offered private consultations with a GP over a video link in a cubicle equipped with various medical devices, including a blood pressure monitor. I booked and paid for an appointment and presented myself there the following afternoon. I explained the circumstances and did the blood pressure checks, the GP monitoring the results over the video link. I was just in the prescribed limits - although still higher than ideal - and came away a little happier knowing that, for now, I’d done what I could at least, forwarding the report to the OH practitioner as soon as it arrived by email.

With the headache still persisting I settled down on the sofa in the hope of a nap and was just drifting off when the phone rang - it was the OH practitioner. She had reviewed my case, along with the new set of results, with a colleague and was calling to advise that they would pass me fit to drive, subject to a review in three months. I can’t begin to describe to you the relief that I would finally be returning to work as planned. After a horrible 30 hours or so where I had mentally beaten myself up for being so foolish, I was back on track.

I’d ‘got away with it’ - just - but now it is down to me to get myself fitter. The routine of being back at work will help - the early morning walks will resume, my alcohol consumption will drop dramatically as I rarely drink during the week for obvious reasons - and partially as a result - the sugary, salty and fatty snacks will lessen considerably too. I’ll make changes to my diet - less caffeine, plenty of water, more fruit and vegetables. My appointment with the GP remains and if the changes I make are not enough and I have to go on medication so be it, but that will be a last resort. I’ve been extremely foolish but shouldn’t dwell on that - the best thing I can do is try to put it right. A wake up call indeed.




  1. ‪So many of us have eaten and drunk too much and not exercised enough through this strange lockdown Rich, but we’ve had to focus on our mental wellbeing to get through. I did the same as you but took action a little earlier as I was running out of clothes that fitted me! I’m so pleased that you can get back to work. You’ll soon put the bad lockdown habits behind you and will hopefully fly through your next review.

    1. Sorry for the confusing name, that comment came from Catherine Ross not Michaela (it’s a long story ...)

    2. Cheers Catherine. I'm confident that once the routine of work is restored things will improve but taking no chances. Life is too short as it is.

  2. Oh Rich, you have been through the ringer. So happy for you that you can go back to work.
    As you know, I was on furlough for 3 weeks and was trying very hard to find things to do. The main job being tidying up the garden, as we both hate gardening haha.
    So, be happy, stay safe and keep well.

  3. Blimey Rich you've been through it! Mind you I think we all have one way or another. If you fancy a bit of light exercise I'm running again, would happily have a running companion on a Saturday. P. S well done getting back to work xx

  4. Wow, that was close, Rich! But you know my recent story...and how I beat it. I can recommend the book 'How not to die' by Dr Michael Greger, which helped me get my BP down from 'scary' to a healthy level in 3 months without meds. Time to stock up on those Lidl spicy beanburgers and salad! Interesting you had 'The headache' too. Maybe time to consider the Couch to 5K as well? A decent pair of running shoes is all you need. Honestly, I have never felt so well in my life since cleaning up my diet and starting exercise. Good luck mate!

    1. Cheers Andrew. Running may be out, thanks to the issues with the knee, but more walking and runs out on the bike I hope will help.

  5. So glad to see you are ok to go back to the job you love so much! If anyone can get back to fitness it is you, love as always Matt, Kelly and Millie-moo x x woof

  6. Thank you all for your kind comments. It's down to me now and I owe it to myself, my friends, family and of course Trev. Onwards and upwards. I'll get there.